Outsourcing life: Unconventional advice for when you’re financially secure

You’ve pulled yourself out of debt, are saving a reasonable amount of income for your retirement, have built an emergency fund, and your daily needs are easily met with your income. Congratulations! Now what?

That’s exactly where I was in 2007. I sold my business and generated a huge windfall — over a million dollars. I paid off all my debt. And then I looked around and said, “Oh, crap.”

I had absolutely no idea what to do with my money. Previously, any extra money I’d earned was immediately stuffed back into my business, and I had been running deficits nearly everywhere. This was the first time in my adult life I’d ever had my head above water, financially speaking.

Over the next three months, I proceeded to blow over $50,000. Oh, don’t get me wrong — it was fun! I bought a new car (that I still drive), some really beautiful artwork from artists I loved (that looks great on my walls), and thousands of dollars in clothes, new furniture, and other indulgences, such as $4,000 custom hand-made stereo speakers (that I’m listening to right now.)

It was fun…for a couple months. Then it got boring.

My Spiral Into Depression

Like many lottery winners, I spiraled into depression. The business I had spent six years of my life building was gone. I felt adrift — like I had no purpose. Despite having been “successful”, no one knew who I was. I had marginalized most of my personal relationships in favor of growing my business and working myself to death. And money wasn’t going to buy me out of the situation.

Slowly, I pulled myself out of my depression. I realized I had the opportunity to make myself into anyone I wanted to be. I could do anything I wanted. I had complete freedom. The thought was both exhilarating and terrifying.

I bought a shelf full of self-help books and read them all, relentlessly seeking to answer the many questions I had. Some of them were philosophical, like “What made me successful when so many others have failed?” Some were practical, like “How do I invest my money?” But all of them led back to one deeper question: “What should I do to be happy?” I soon realized the latter question was incorrect. The better question was, “Who should I be to be happy?”

In December 2007, I started blogging. I exposed a significant amount of my business life and thoughts. I wrote about my successes and my mistakes and failures. I enjoyed writing, doing videos, and interacting with my readers. Helping others figure out their purpose, their businesses, and their websites and blogs was a fantastic experience.

Spending With a Purpose

I made a point of trying to achieve greater states of happiness on a daily basis. Instead of being merely content — or even apathetic — with my current state of being, I realized I could be happier daily. And suddenly it hit me: I understood what I wanted to do with my money. I wanted to outsource pretty much everything I hated doing.

In order to live a simpler, calmer, but more effective life, I had to drop the shackles of wanting to do everything myself. To allow time to meditate, think, write, and create, I had to get rid of the drudgery of daily tasks. I realized my money could serve a fantastic dual purpose: To allow others, whose passion is cooking, cleaning, or assisting in various ways to help me — while I supported them by giving them income to do what they loved.

My life fundamentally changed that day. I started hiring people to do everything I didn’t want to do. The first step was to hire a cleaning service. Then I hired a personal assistant to work out of my house, filing papers, doing laundry, and organizing. I hired virtual assistants to do all the menial tasks I hated doing: bookkeeping; video editing; audio editing; even setting up my Facebook fan page. (Lisa, my VA who set up the Facebook page for me, said happily: “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” And I realized…we’re both lucky.)

My Daily Routine

I wake up in the morning and my VAs have sent me their updates. I am building a business where I create how-to videos for small business owners and bloggers who want to drive more traffic to their sites and get more customers.

I learned meditation, and currently spend about 40 minutes a day relaxing. I also spend a few hours a day doing the parts of my business I love, from creating videos to writing to programming. When I walk down to the kitchen, it’s clean; Elia, my housekeeper, comes in every week to make sure it’s spotless. She spends 2 hours cleaning our kitchen; total cost to me: $30.

My VA in the Philippines edits my videos and does a fantastic job for $3.33/hour.

Whenever I do an interview with another entrepreneur, I send it to another VA in the Philippines, who, for $9/hour, edits it perfectly, getting rid of all the strange pauses and “um”s. I send the edited interview off to a transcriptionist. For less than $30, I get back an excellent transcription, often 12-16 pages long.

Lisa, my VA here in the U.S., has set up an entire website and integrated it with a shopping cart for my customers to order products and access them once they have ordered. She charges $30/hour (my most expensive staff member) and she’s worth every penny.

I treat my staff members well, and they love the fact that they can work from home and get paid great wages ($3/hour in in the Philippines is equal to about a $65,000/year wage here in the U.S.) They are happy — I can see it in their emails and text chat messages.

My partner Richard and I fight less. There’s no scrapping over who will do a certain task. If no one wants to do it, we work together to figure out how to hire someone.

A Disease Opens My Eyes

I was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. The management of the disease may sound simple, but it’s not: eliminate wheat, oats, barley and rye from your diet. Most restaurants have very
few gluten-free items; I’m lucky if I can order one non-salad item from a typical menu. Some restaurants are impossible to eat at; soy sauce, for instance, has wheat in it. I’ve gotten sick from things as odd as bacon, cake frosting, and ranch dressing.

After a few weeks of eating mostly hot dogs and tuna fish, I grew tired of my limited options. I thought about learning to cook, but it wasn’t something that excited me. So we hired a personal chef to cook our meals — one who understands the challenge of cooking gluten-free. We pay her $10/hour, including travel time to deliver the food to us, and she gets a fun side job.

In a randomly-chosen week before I hired a personal chef, I ate out four times and went to the grocery store twice. I spent a total of $179.91 on restaurants and groceries. Last week, I spent $215.49, including groceries, for eating out and paying my personal chef. My “eating out” expenses dropped from $86.14 to just $32.28 — over 60% less! My total spent was $35.58 more, but to me, that’s a small price to pay for gourmet food of my choice delivered to my door. Another remarkable and unexpected side effect was that I no longer have an urge to go out and spend money at fancy restaurants — I simply ask my chef to make what I want and deliver it to me.

It has been more than two years since I sold my business, and I am happier than I have ever been. I made different choices than most: We rent a house instead of owning (a savings of nearly $4,000/month in our neighborhood — more than our monthly rent payment!); we only have basic cable; we don’t have a landline, credit card debt, car payments, or student loans.

I chose, instead of buying more Stuff, to live a more fulfilled life. For me, even more important than holding onto my money tightly was to learn to let it go — to give it to others in exchange for work well done, and to trust that they could do tasks well. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

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There are 309 comments to "Outsourcing life: Unconventional advice for when you’re financially secure".

  1. Jonasaberg says 10 February 2010 at 05:29

    “…I chose, instead of buying more Stuff, to live a more fulfilled life…”

    That’s basically what I’m striving for as well and it’s something I believe you can do even though you aren’t a millionaire.

  2. Chickybeth says 10 February 2010 at 05:51

    I always said that if I won the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a maid. This confirms what I always thought: to be happy you need to be doing what you do best and not worry about the small stuff.

  3. DJ says 10 February 2010 at 05:52

    I cannot believe that you are bragging about how cheaply you can hire people from the Philippines when there are so many qualified people here in the US that need the work so desperately. Yes, they won’t/can’t work for $3.33 an hour, but, according to your post, money is not the issue.

  4. Adrian says 10 February 2010 at 06:21

    I found it fascinating to hear about life from the opposite side of the spectrum, and I find very few people who have amassed great wealth are open to conversation on that topic; I guess they too, like many people, are guilty of the belief that “money is the ultimate taboo topic.”

    As for oursourcing your time, I believe that it is necessary to do that only when you are doing something more personally-productive/fulfilling OR bringing in more income than what is being outsourced to your workers.

    I’m sure many people that have reached Erica’s level of financial independence have a bit of an “identity crisis” as so much of our life is spent working, we tend to lose focus of our true desires which we want to pursue in life. Clearly, she has began making ammends with that issue and I’m glad for you.

    Thanks for sharing a peice of your life with us here at GRS Erica.

  5. Kathy says 10 February 2010 at 06:23

    I really couldn’t relate to this piece. “I’ve just sold my business for a large sum, I’m lost.” I would love to be in that ‘predicament,’ but alas, it did offer a chance to see that sudden wealth can bring its own problems.

  6. Broadcast Thoughts says 10 February 2010 at 06:46

    I have to agree with Erica. While I’m not independently weathly just yet I do value my free time more than 10 bucks for a lot of stuff.


    Recently my wife got on board and discovered she could pay $10 to have her pants hemmed which traditionally took her an hour to accomplish.

    While being frugal is admirable in most cases moderation in all things has value too. Cutting expenses at the cost of quality of life is not always the best decision when you are still able to meet your financial goals.

  7. Chris H says 10 February 2010 at 06:49

    Great article. I’m glad that some of the pieces are shifting to a more financially independant theme as some of the readers are surely progressing from a debt stricken base to a more financialy secure group.

  8. AG says 10 February 2010 at 06:54

    One nice article Erica … 🙂 Sometimes I feel good that I don’t have so much money and I have to go to a job next morning!

  9. Sandy L says 10 February 2010 at 07:00

    Loved the article.

    Regarding DJ’s Phillipines comment, I’d like to add an alternate view.

    I’ve been to many developing countries. Income from foreign jobs helps improve a person’s standard of living tremendously.

    Erica gets more bang from her buck both in goods received but also in changing someone’s quality of life. I doubt if these side jobs were done in the US, they could significantly impact pulling someone out of poverty. I personally don’t know anyone in the US who lives in a dung hut or shanty without running water or electricity. I’ve seen plenty in Asia and Africa.

    I want to remind people that the USA used to be the low cost country once upon a time..so was Japan.

  10. bon says 10 February 2010 at 07:03

    Oh no, I’m a little upset — DJ — do you have a passport?

    When you say that people in the US need that work desperately — do you mean to feed their families or to upgrade their cable package?

    I have no problem with the fact that opportunities for success are now available to people beyond the US border. Lots of people in the states have had vast opportunities for success at their doorsteps their entire lives and never realized it, or made poor choices and squandered it. Sure, sometimes bad, unfair things happen — but I encourage you to think about the scale of the unfair things faced in less developed economies.

  11. Wes says 10 February 2010 at 07:04

    @Kathy – not everyone can relate to the “how to pay off your debt and develop a budget” articles either. like JD talks about, there are stages of personal finance, and while most people aren’t in the last stage, it’s still interesting to read more about it.

    @DJ – maybe you missed the part where she hires a US-based maid and a US-based personal chef?

    Overall, great post, and a great complement to JD’s “money as a tool” post from a couple weeks ago.

  12. DJ Wetzel says 10 February 2010 at 07:05

    Like previous comments, it goes to show that money does most certainly not buy happiness and that we will only be satisfied when we find the things in life that really give us peace and true contentment.

  13. Taiyab Raja says 10 February 2010 at 07:06

    If you really are having trouble with how to spend your money, I would recommend setting up a charity or trust of some kind, and go out to poorer countries and donate and work to help their lives and experience what they’re going through. By helping them, you’ll feel very content, and you know your money is being put to good use by helping to save lives.

  14. Alexandra says 10 February 2010 at 07:14

    I like that some of the reading here has to do with more philosphical pursuits once a level of income is attained that frees us from debt. That is where we will all eventually be, right?

    This article is a perfect demonstration that money doesn’t neccesarily lead to happiness, but can very easily provide you with the freedom to do the things you want to do, and conversely, choose not to do the things you don’t want to. Excellent.

    #4 Adrian – I disagree that you should only outsource your time if you replace it with something “more personally-productive/fulfilling OR bringing in more income”.

    In order to truly feel the freedom of having money, it is a two-part formula. First you need to choose NOT to do something you hate, and pay someone else to do it. Then you just need to enjoy that freedom without feeling you need to justify it with replacement tasks or income. Without the second part of the equation, you don’t really have the freedom, do you?

  15. EscapeVelocity says 10 February 2010 at 07:23

    The part of my life I’d really like to outsource is the part that brings in the income, unfortunately.

  16. Adam says 10 February 2010 at 07:28

    Message I got from this article: If you’re rich and unhappy, pay people do everything you hate/are too lazy to do yourself.

    This will make you more happy by eliminating the things you do that you unhappy.


    For me, I don’t mind cleaning my condo, but I’m not the best at it. So once a month I hire a Philipino lady who I love to come clean it. She makes $60, I get my floors scrubbed. I do it because I’m not talented enough at mopping for the perfectionist in me, not because I dislike cleaning.

    I was hoping this article was going to talk about charitable donations or volunteering when you become independently wealthy (through hard work as Erica did, or the lottery/inheritance). Not why/how to hire Philipino VA’s cheap and why its a good thing.

  17. Carrie says 10 February 2010 at 07:28

    I loved this article. I feel strongly that hiring someone to do tasks I hate is a means to circulate wealth – as long as I am treating and paying the service provider well (usually a bit above the going rate). Whenever we can EARN (vs get a handout) a living (especially if we enjoy the work) providing a service, we feel better about ourselves and can further our goals. I view doing something I hate to do myself so as to save money (when I can well afford it) denies someone with that skill an opportunity to earn – to me this is a form of “hoarding”.

  18. Kent Thune says 10 February 2010 at 07:37

    I believe a key takeaway from this post is that we all are searching for meaning and often become diverted from our path by searching for money…

    “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

    “If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.” ~ Epicurus

    “Money often costs too much.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.” ~ Epictetus

  19. Lesley says 10 February 2010 at 07:38

    I can really relate to this article. We’re financially comfortable, and I recently spent a year working only 3 days per week. I was so much happier and the additional time was more than worth the 40% pay cut.

    I’ve also begun the process of outsourcing since returning to full-time work. The first time I had someone in to clean, it felt like the greatest thing ever! I love the idea of some sort of personal assistant like she mentions, someone to do various household tasks and errands, but I’m not sure where to find a person to do that or if it would even be affordable at my income. It would also require a high degree of organization, since I would have to make sure to have everything ready for the person before their arrival.

  20. Sarah says 10 February 2010 at 07:40

    Interesting article.

    I’ve often thought that I would not do well if I had a lot of money. I need to be busy to keep from driving myself crazy.

    I noticed that Erika attributes her loss of happiness (and regaining it) to outsourcing menial tasks, and I can see how that might have a part in it. But what usually makes people feel depressed is feeling like there is no point to live. Not having a purpose. Also, being isolated from other people. When she sold her business, she no longer had purpose, and when she began doing something she cared about again – working to help small businesses – she began to feel better. On top of that, all of her assistants allow her to be connected with other people and not isolated at home.

    So another thing you could take from this article is to think about your purpose in life, and if your job is your purpose, plan ahead if you’re going to retire. Depression is extremely common among retirees, especially male retirees, for this very reason. Don’t let your job be the only meaningful thing in your life, or when you get hurt/sick/retire/laid off, you’re screwed.

    Just a thought from your friendly mental health professional 🙂

  21. Laura says 10 February 2010 at 07:43

    I enjoyed this article so much! I feel exactly the same way. I work two jobs to get my bills paid (and debt paid down- debt snowball here I come!) and I pay someone to come into my house to clean it every two weeks. Costs me $70 a month. And most people say – “Wouldn’t you rather work one job and clean your own house?” Not a chance. My second job (teaching voice and piano)is my dream job, my first job is the “I have to have health insurance job.” So if it comes down to teaching or cleaning, there is no competition. I love teaching and I hate cleaning!

  22. Abe Smith says 10 February 2010 at 07:45

    Some of these guest posters are getting annoying. They offer few insights or original thoughts. The one above merely babbles on about her life. Most are regurgitating self-help books again, and again and again. And most self-help books are written by Tony Robbin-like losers anyhow. They rip off advice and common sense that have been with us for centuries, repackage it with a slick title and sell it to the ‘tards.

    Let’s hear more about gardens and box factories.

  23. Kevin says 10 February 2010 at 07:56


    “I was hoping this article was going to talk about charitable donations or volunteering when you become independently wealthy”

    If I had so much money that I never had to work again, why would I want to continue working, for free? I want to become wealthy so I no longer have to work at all.

    Why would I give money away, and risk not having enough to maintain my “don’t-have-to-work-ever-again” status? If I give away $10,000, then the markets take a tumble and I’m faced with the prospect of having to rejoin the workforce, will those charities send me a cheque and return the favor?

    Thanks, but no thanks. Once I have enough cash to guarantee a lifetime standard of living, I’ll be hanging on to my money until I die. After that, it’s all yours. I don’t have kids, so I don’t really care what happens to it once it’s finished providing me with a carefree life. But why in the world would I work hard and sacrifice for my whole life, then just give away the spoils of my labor?

  24. gn says 10 February 2010 at 08:00

    It’ll be interesting if/when Erica has children. The temptation to outsource their care will be quite difficult to resist for all the same reasons.

    IMO A personally-fulfilling life doesn’t come from the things that money buys (including outsourced menial tasks) but from the mark we leave on the world. Donate big money to a local charity and get involved (donating time) and see some real meaning in life.

  25. KC says 10 February 2010 at 08:02

    I totally agree with buying services for the things you don’t enjoy doing when you are in position to. My husband and I lived frugally while he was in med school, residency, and fellowship (10 years). I worked long hours at a job I wasn’t crazy about (but paid well). He was paid as a resident and fellow, but not very much. Our goal for when he became a full fledged physician (one that made decent money) was to be debt free except the mortgage. And we were, we even had an emergency fund of 2 months.

    So when he started making a respectable living I quit my job – we both knew it was the one thing that would make us both happy. I did all the house, yard work, etc. I’m even handy enough to do small repairs. We were both happier and I was healthier without the stress (I got my weight and cholesterol down, and my blood pressure dropped back into a safe range).

    So a year ago we moved for an even better paying practice in a place closer to our families. We decided it was time to get someone to do the yardwork. My husband despises yardwork. I didn’t mind it when we lived on a tenth acre lot and I could cut the grass with an electric lawnmower. But now we were on a hilly acre and we’d have to buy and store lawn equipment. That, coupled with my raging allergies, made us decide hiring someone was money well spent. And it is.

    We still drive the same modest, used cars we drove before I quit my job. We still have the same material items in our home, only replacing things that have worn out with time. In other words we realize that there are some things in our life we just aren’t happy doing and money is well spent in those areas.

  26. Mike says 10 February 2010 at 08:02


    I really love this piece especially about how Erica hires people to help her out. It’s refreshing to hear about someone who really understands the value of their time.

  27. Julia says 10 February 2010 at 08:09

    I can’t relate to this post at all. I am somewhat secure financially; however, I hope I’m never “secure” enough to smugly advise people to outsource things they’re too lazy to do to other countries and tout that as a skill.

    To those claiming that outsourcing work to the Phillipines will help pull these workers out of poverty, that’s simply not true. People living in dung huts or shanties are not getting these jobs – she says they work from home, which means they have homes with internet access and video editing equipment. But hey, as long as she can tell from their emails that they’re happy, I guess it’s the right thing to do, right?

  28. Kate says 10 February 2010 at 08:13

    I love this post.

    The PF blogosphere has been a tad monotonous as of late. There can only be so many posts on how to build a budget, make your own burrito, hang your clothes out to dry…

  29. SecondhandMoon says 10 February 2010 at 08:20

    I don’t disagree with the premise of hiring people to do work you hate when you can afford to do so, but I think, Erica, your privilege is showing. I sincerely doubt your housekeeper’s “passion” is cleaning other people’s houses. Hire out your work, fine, but don’t act like you’re doing your maid a favor by letting her scrub your kitchen. This sort of attitude contributes to the barriers between classes, and frankly I see it a lot in personal finance writing. The general LACK of that attitude at GRS is why I read this blog.

  30. Willow says 10 February 2010 at 08:29

    I can’t relate to this post at all. The self congratulation around paying someone $3 an hour in the Philippines made me sick. If $3 an hour makes the Filipino VA happy, imagine how happy an American minimum wage would make her, how life-altering and philanthropic that would be.

    So far the track record for female guest posters is pretty poor as far as I’m concerned, what with the designer purse rentals and paying Filapinas $3/hour. I might stick to the archives for my inspiration for awhile. I know JD is busy with his book but it is getting to be too many guest posters for my taste.

  31. Ami Kim says 10 February 2010 at 08:30

    Wow, interesting discussion.

    I used to share the view of some that extra funds should be donated to charity. However, on reflection, I think that Erica’s choices to outsource DO make a difference – to the people she pays. No administrative overhead (as many charities have), she receives value in return for her spending AND the person she pays directly benefits. Not sure if this is any different than, for example, charities that allow people to “sponsor a child,” except that someone works for the money and the giver receives a tangible benefit.

    Perhaps conscious spending to enable people to support themselves performing valuable services is as virtuous as giving to charities. Even better, it gives the people being paid something to be proud of.

  32. Nicole says 10 February 2010 at 08:38

    When we can afford it again, I’m looking forward to hiring a college student to personal assist for us. Well, I’m not actually looking forward to the hiring because that can be stressful, but I am looking forward to having someone take care of clutter (e.g. load the dishwasher) and that to-do list that seems to build up.

  33. Kathleen says 10 February 2010 at 08:43

    I hope, Erica, that you don’t have to call on a credit card glitch any time soon. You’ll be patched through to someone in the Phillipines or India to talk about your money–and good luck to you trying to understand what they’re telling you!

    Outsourcing to other countries makes sense for people who want to save a few dollars–but horrible for Americans so in need of money to buy groceries or shoes/clothing for their children. (Other reader up above: Do you really need to see mud huts along our streets to feel empathy for people in need?)

    And I DEFINITELY agree with the other reader: It’s absurd acting like you’re doing your maid a favor by paying her to scrub your kitchen floor.

  34. Poultry in Motion says 10 February 2010 at 08:48

    I’ve read Erica’s stuff in the past, and this post is very similar in both writing style and topic….honestly, she seems like a well-written author, but I can’t relate to many of her topics. This one included.

  35. elysianconfusion says 10 February 2010 at 08:55

    I’m glad Erica is not depressed, but I really cannot relate to this post at all. Outsourcing one thing or another that you hate doing is fine, but outsourcing it all and pretending others love what they do for you….
    I think there’s some joy to be found in all the little things we do in our lives (that we don’t always love). I don’t love folding laundry, but it’s nice to sit next to my husband and fold it all up and put it away. And I love cooking good food for my family (even though it can be a daily drudge sometimes).
    I’m with Poultry in Motion.

  36. Meg says 10 February 2010 at 09:01

    I have liked the idea of the guest posts, as they strive to represent “all walks of (financial) life.”

    However, this one sounded like it was written as an infomercial, and it really just turned me off to the writer’s post.

  37. Dotty dot dot says 10 February 2010 at 09:02

    I have to agree with Abe and Willow: all the guest posts are getting tiring. I read this blog because I really enjoy JD’s “voice”. I know guest bloggers provide alternative views, but they are no longer resonating with me…

    Good luck with your book, JD. I hope it gets finished soon and you come back to us!

  38. Loyal Reader says 10 February 2010 at 09:03

    Hi – I’d just like to say that I appreciate, and would love to see more, articles on the more advanced stages of personal finance. I know budgeting and the realization that you need to spend less than you make is a critical stumbling block for many, but imagine that many of your regular readers have taken that step (we are nerdy enough to be reading PF blogs! :). I know I appreciate articles like this that help keep the bigger goal of financial independence/stability in mind and give some concrete steps of what can be done. Thanks!

  39. Beth says 10 February 2010 at 09:09

    I’m trying really hard to like this post, but I can’t help but cringe. The “I’m so much happier because I don’t have to do menial tasks!” attitude can be a little hard to swallow when you haven’t reached financial independence (or may have quite that level of freedom).

    More power to her, though. Different things make people happy, and we have to work with what we’ve got.

  40. Courtney says 10 February 2010 at 09:10

    I saw nothing in the article to suggest that Erica was actively seeking out people in other countries to work as virtual assistants at a lower rate, instead of people in the US? I’m guessing she didn’t put a classified ad on Philippine Craigslist – she probably went to a VA clearinghouse and said “I’m looking for someone to do X” and they said “Here’s a qualified candidate and this is their going rate.”

    Personally I like this idea, even though I can’t relate to it just yet. It is my goal in life to have someone come clean my house though – I hate housework.

  41. MikeTV says 10 February 2010 at 09:14

    I think the author is missing her own point. Hiring people to cook or clean isn’t what made her happy — it freed up time, to be sure, but what made her happy was getting back to work.

    There are many posts here on GRS about the subject of money vs happiness, and I see it in my own life and those around me.

    Many, many people focus all energy on accumulating enough money to be happy. Some make it, and are happy for a bit. The author relates this experience.

    To be happy, though, she started up a new business. This new business is more closely helping other people, which I see as a step in the right direction.

    It is my hope that she will be able to either sell or outsource her new business also, so as to take the next step. Having gone from business serving self to business serving others, perhaps she will move forward to freely serving others.

    Christ, love, and charity. The giving of oneself without expecting anything in return. Serving others, and in turn being a part of something greater than ourselves. In this small, short, limited life, that is where we find peace, contentedness, purpose, and happiness.

  42. mmeetoilenoir says 10 February 2010 at 09:16

    Great article. This is exactly where I want to be within a year or two.

    It’s interesting that many people say, “I can’t relate.” Here’s the thing: the path to amassing wealth is fraught with giving up control of things like labor, cleaning, etc. Knowing that you can’t handle it all is an important step to becoming wealthy and affects scalability.

    I don’t think she sounds smug at all. It could be that some are threatened by her candidness about a very taboo topic – outsourcing. It’s personal to many, and can be hard to excuse for that reason. However…she uses a mix of domestic and international help, so…I’m not seeing where she’s sold anyone out.

    We also have a very Western-centric view of the rest of the world sometimes. We imagine that those who are getting higher money are keeping the poor down, and that, by hiring those educated, middle-class people, we’re perpetuating the cycle. We may not think that that $3/hr is going to the poorest inhabitants of that country. But…we don’t know. We cast our own biases on the situation and twist it in such a way that the rich person is bad, and the poor are downtrodden. This is poverty thinking at its finest. Many times, that salary is shared within families. So, yes, it may be going out to the countryside.

    But we don’t know.

    At any rate, I’m working on doing more than relating to this post. I’m focused on having it myself.

    RE: Charity – Once again, people assume because she’s rich and doesn’t toot her own charitable horn, that she doesn’t give. How do you know? You don’t. However, there’s virtue in poverty, right? The rich person MUST be doing something greedy to keep that money, amirite? I think the best giving is the silent type, and she may feel the same way. How you fill in the story blanks of this very fortunate woman says everything about your money mindset.

  43. bon says 10 February 2010 at 09:27

    Seriously? (sorry, I’m usually a pretty calm commenter, and its been a long day — I really mean no offense)

    I don’t think Erica’s maid is following her passion, nor do I think Erica does — so should the entire field of low-wage, low-skill, often difficult work be eliminated “so that everyone can pursue their passion”? THINK.

    I love the quote “its absurd to think you’re doing your maid a favor by letting her scrub your kitchen floor” directly below an indignant comment about sending work overseas — um… ironic much?

    Julia — income generated through small business (and skilled workers) both trickles down to the local economy and does far greater good for development than charity, which is the primary vehicle to target the poorest in developing countries (and the Philippines has 3 P’s and one L)

    For what it’s worth — I don’t love this post or its message much — but these comments are the most disappointing!

  44. Bryce says 10 February 2010 at 09:35

    Too bad I don’t have $1 million to blow to rid my life of all the things I hate to do.

  45. The Skeptical Housewife says 10 February 2010 at 09:36

    Hmmm, I too feel uncomfortable with the idea of paying someone in the Phillipines $3 an hour and calling it a good thing. It’s another example of that sense of entitlement that we in first-world countries have, and our fortunes are built on the backs of people who weren’t as fortunate as we were because of where they happened to be born.

    Maybe that’s a good wage in the Phillipines, but what if they wanted to move to North America? Or take a vacation to another country? Not such a great wage anymore, is it?

    However, it’s really not my place to judge, and maybe there is something I don’t understand.

    I do have to say that I would LOVE to even start a business, but I have no idea where to even begin. I wouldn’t even know what kind of business. So I find it admirable when people build their own businesses, especially at such a young age.

  46. Wayne K says 10 February 2010 at 09:39

    My takeway from this article is to look at all the things I do (outside of work) that are unpleasant to me and evaluate 1) whether outsourcing the task would provide me with overall value (value=benefit > cost) and 2) if I can justify the cost within my budget.

    As long as the cost can be worked into a budget that meets the criteria we talk about on this site and other PF sites every day then it is worth considering as a quality of work improvement.

  47. Jennifer Lissette says 10 February 2010 at 09:42

    I’m a daily reader of GRS, though I don’t often comment. However, I just want to back up some of the other comments and say bring back JD! It’s one thing to write an article about improving your best asset – your ability to make money. I appreciate posts about negotiating your salary, starting a side hustle, etc. And I understand the need for posts about using wealth to create more wealth.

    Yet, it’s another thing entirely to smugly opine that you’re improving somebody’s life by granting them the privilege of cleaning your kitchen and washing your dirty underwear. What’s next? Her toilet’s going to break and she’s going to hire a plumber and ask him, “Aren’t you glad I had that third burrito? You’re welcome.”

  48. Taylor says 10 February 2010 at 09:42

    Umm…am the only one who thinks that $1M at 26 isn’t going to last her very long if she used some of it to pay of her debt and she continues to spend as she appears to be spending? I don’t remember the article speaking of her savings, retirement nest egg, etc. Indeed, she mentions not even owning a place – that is a hefty chunk of per principal for a down payment right there – if she ever decides to buy.

    I get that $1M is a lot of money. But at 26, that is a lot of her life ahead of her.

    At my age (31), the retirement calculators put me at needing $2M to retire comfortably – i.e., continue working to retirement, then living off of $2M in today’s money.

    Anyway, just my two cents. I wish I had more facts on how much she has socked away and any savings goals that she still has. Plus, whether her videos are generating enough income for her to not have to touch the principal she received from the sale of her business.

  49. Raghu Bilhana says 10 February 2010 at 09:42


    I guess these guest articles are really deviating from the purpose of this website.It is supposed to be about how to get rich slowly but not how you get windfalls and brag about it and how you brag about being able to hire labor from philippines for $2/hour.

    I really like articles written by you and these guest articles are really disappointing.

  50. Eric says 10 February 2010 at 09:51

    I love the comments on this story. They really show how the ‘poor-and-going-nowhere’ think about the world.

    -start snarky sarcasm-
    Ohmygod – you pay someone to clean your house and dare think it’s a win-win? You are degrading that cleaning lady. You pay a freelancer (and a non-US one GASP!) to do work for you at a rate you both agree on and think it’s a good thing? HOW DARE YOU!!?!
    -end snarky sarcasm-

    The article was ok, but take a look at yourself if you posted or agree with some of these comments saying ‘i can’t relate – i’m soooo poor, and you take advantage of poor people. hire only US workers. blah blah blah.’

  51. Beth says 10 February 2010 at 09:54

    @ mmeetoilenoir: There’s a big difference between not being able to handle something and not wanting to. For example, Erica could have learned to cook, but she wasn’t interested in doing so. Since I don’t have the money to pay someone to cook for me, I spend time preparing food rather than in leisurely pursuits.

    I don’t mean that to sound self-righteous or like I’m having a pity party — that’s just the reality of her situation versus mine. (I like to cook, actually) When you’ve got money, you’ve got more choice. Like Erica, I don’t care about stuff. I care about being able to choose.

  52. Naomi says 10 February 2010 at 10:00

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned this yet: a million bucks ain’t what it used to be. There is NO WAY that $1 million (minus taxes and whatever she spent) can sustain this lifestyle indefinitely. [If she’s paying these expenses out of income from her online business, then I’m not sure what the million dollars has to do with it.]

    I also find interesting the rationalization of her choices (e.g., I have celiac so I need a personal chef). My sister has celiac, and does just fine cooking for herself. In fact, she eats better than anyone else I know.

  53. Pat says 10 February 2010 at 10:07

    Wow, a lot of mixed feelings on this article.

    Many of you aren’t comfortable paying $3.00 an hour to a VA overseas, but guess what, that’s above average in the Philippines, so most are more than happy to accept jobs for such a wage.

    If you look on websites like odesk.com, where you can hire developers or VAs for various tasks, many of them offer their services for $1.11 USD an hour. Yes, $1.11 an hour. This is what THEY put as what they think their services are worth.

    To us, that’s almost nothing, but to them, that’s a decent wage (convert it to pesos and compare, and you’ll see). That’s food on the table and shelter for a family who may need that extra $3 an hour. Should we deny them the ability to make money from us hiring them just because they are overseas?

    It’s not just people in the U.S. who are struggling.

    Follow up thoughts? I wish there was a way to reply to individual comments.


  54. J.D. says 10 February 2010 at 10:09

    As you may have guessed from my preamble to this guest post, I have mixed feelings about the article, but I ran it anyway because I thought it was interesting, and I thought it would generate discussion.

    I agree with Erica that money does indeed allow a person to outsource tasks that she’d rather not do. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but Kris and I have paid for a housekeeper for years, even when I was struggling with debt. We currently pay $90 every two weeks, but it’s worth every penny to us. Why? Because it’s like salve for our relationship. I’m a slob, and our housekeeper de-slobbifies some of my slobbiness, leaving me to work more on my writing.

    But remember my article about the guilt of wealth? For me, hiring a housekeeper very much == the guilt of wealth. I know that millions of Americans do it, and I know that these folks come from all sorts of financial backgrounds and hire housekeepers for all sorts of reasons. But having grown up poor, there’s a part of me that looks at having done this for the past few years (decade?) as…I don’t know…elitist, I guess.

    And it doesn’t stop there. For the past five months now, I’ve been buried in my book. It’s been my top focus, and I’ve neglected a lot of other things around our home, including the yardwork. I’ve been sorely tempted to use some of the book’s advance money to pay somebody to come in one weekend and do all the yardwork.

    But I haven’t done it. I can’t bring myself to do it. It feels like a slippery slope to, well, I don’t know where. Plus, I’m with those who find this post a bit condescending.

    So…please don’t think I necessarily endorse Erica’s views (or those of any other guest poster). I just like to feature a variety of viewpoints at GRS, especially if I think they’ll help generate discussion…

  55. DreamChaser57 says 10 February 2010 at 10:10

    I really enjoyed this article. I do not believe that all of Erica’s choices would be well-suited for my sensibilities, yet the article is well written and reminds us that a content and fulfilling life is the end game not a specific monetary sum. Money is simply a tool that can facilitate our efforts. I genuinely believe that GRS is a thriving community because it brings something unique to the PF blogosphere, the topics are diverse and it has a philosophical component. Our everyday lives are not just about the numbers. JD – I applaud you for supporting diverse content!
    Every post and author will not appeal to everyone, plain and simple, nor should it be. We are all at different stages of our fiscal journey.

  56. LoJo says 10 February 2010 at 10:10

    I love this post… thank you for showing a non-conventional, and very interesting way to manage the things we all have on our to-do list each day. I’ve started looking at VA’s for some simple tasks surrounding my start-up business, and this post has helped me see that I need to do it. Today.

  57. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 10:12

    She has $1 million plus whatever this video business is bringing in.

    I appreciated the article simply since I do see money as a tool. My husband and I choose to have biweekly maid service and biweekly lawn service and live frugally elsewhere. We aren’t rich, we make about $78,000 annually before taxes, and our net worth grows about $2000-$3000 a month. We live inexpensively and splurge on what’s important to us…not doing all the chores or weeding my flower bed is important to me. Expensive cars or houses are not important to me. It’s all about balance and priorities.

  58. Mary says 10 February 2010 at 10:16

    Uh, I’m happy that Erica doesn’t have to scrub her own toilet any more. But I am utterly stunned that after getting a huge financial windfall, it apparently didn’t even occur to her to give one penny of it away to help those less fortunate than herself. Amazing…

  59. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 10:19

    Oh, and my maid appreciates the work. She is having a hard time making ends meet since the economy crashed and people started letting her go to save money. I’ve given her a 15% raise and leave her care packages when she comes by…I don’t think it’s demeaning. She calls to express thanks that seems very sincere.

    It’s only demeaning work if people treat you like a slave or talk down to you…otherwise, it’s cleaning for money. Seems like a solid job to me.

  60. Avistew says 10 February 2010 at 10:27

    I think if I were really rich I would definitely pay more for services than for stuff.

    However, while I can easily see hiring a cook (or I would if my husband wasn’t a great cook already), I don’t think I’d feel comfortable imposing my sloppiness over other people, and making the clean up after me. It doesn’t feel quite right.

    So to some extent, yes, but I still think you should make sure not to overdo it.

  61. BD says 10 February 2010 at 10:27

    Wow, I think you guys are being very harsh on a young woman who’s following a conscious spending plan.

    She decided to outsource menial personal tasks to US-based workers, and hired workers abroad to help with business tasks. This makes sense as a business decision because they can work cost- and time-effectively. (Keep in mind: daytime in the Philippines is night time here, so even while Erica is sleeping, her business is not losing productive time).

    I would like to see more articles about people who have made other choices once they got past the basics of personal finance. Where do people give their time and money? What will JD do once he gets beyond his Stuff accumulation phase? etc. There’s a lot here.

  62. mmeetoilenoir says 10 February 2010 at 10:28

    These comments are making me shake my head. Wow. People will find all sorts of reasons to keep themselves broke and self-righteous.

  63. Nicole says 10 February 2010 at 10:29

    @54 A little one-off thing like long-neglected yard work doesn’t have to become a slippery slope unless you let it. If it’s causing you stress, figure out if it’s worth the time/money/aggravation and do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Plenty of landscapers will do a one-off spring cleaning or you can hire someone to work along side you.

    I’m not crazy about slippery slope arguments. Either something is worth the money or it isn’t. Just because putting a dent in the neglected yard work might be worth it, doesn’t mean you’ll be willing to pay someone to mow the lawn every week (unless it actually is worth having someone mow the lawn every week). They are different things.

  64. KW says 10 February 2010 at 10:29

    Outsourcing to the Philippines (or India or wherever) is IMO the computer version of hiring illegal immigrants to clean your house. No thank you. Even if I had been interested in using Erica’s services, I am very much not inclined to do so now.

    I’ve been unemployed for close to 2 years now because my previous help desk job was outsourced to Manila. Happens that I was damn good at my job too, but you know, the company wanted to save money (and likely so the CEO can buy another useless sports team since his first one isn’t doing so hot.) I can’t go find a different help desk job in this area because all the other PC support jobs also got sent overseas. And let me tell you, the customers I’ve talked to since I left HATE said outsourcing with a passion. “Customer service” is truly non existent for companies like my previous employer and others who have outsourced overseas.

    Since there are no more jobs in the area doing what I was trained for (and I can’t relocate due to hubby’s job) I’m going to have to go back to school again for job (re)training.. at the age of 47. I just hope there’s some jobs available whenever I finish school this time.. and hopefully we can survive until then. Somehow. It hasn’t been easy the last couple of years. I’ve considered starting my own business, but in this economy, I think getting career training would be a better option right now. 🙁

  65. J.D. says 10 February 2010 at 10:34

    @63 (Nicole)
    Thanks for the rational view of my slippery slope. 🙂

    There’s no way I can see hiring a regular gardener. Plus, I like mowing the lawn; it’s meditative. But yeah, this spring, I think getting somebody in here is worth the cost.

  66. Amy says 10 February 2010 at 10:37

    How thrilling that Erica pays her Filipino VAs more in real dollars than her American VA – $72k American equivalent for the $3.33 Filipino and $195k for the other versus $60k for the American (at $30 an hour).

    I don’t think I’d be going around bragging about outsourcing to those nice people who will work for pennies on the dollar. No wonder she has an American VA for the Facebook page – the American is working for less, in real dollars, than the Filipinos.

    And protip: No one is deeply fulfilled by cleaning or editing your videos.

  67. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 10:41

    What makes you more deserving of the job than someone in the Philippines? If customers are truly unhappy, they could stop using the company’s services and force the company to hire in the USA again…but they won’t because their fees would go up.

    I’m against slave labor and sweat shops, but I have nothing against international competition. If they can do the job cheaper, I’d hire them too. It would be a bad business decision not to.

    As a customer (definitely not a boss), I have left companies due to bad customer service (Comcast most recently). I explained why I left so they have it on file…it’s up to the company to choose what resources it uses.

    If my job gets outsourced, I’d be sad and angry since I’d be unemployed, but that’s the way of the business world. I live in Houston, so there are other jobs. If I couldn’t find one in 2 years, I’d move.

  68. Shara says 10 February 2010 at 10:45

    Either she’s drawing on her $1M to pay these VAs or she’s paying them from what she earns in her new business.

    If she’s paying them from her nest egg, then that is a very bad lesson to be covering at GRS. If she’s making enough and paying them as employees to do work that is worth more than they are paid, then it has nothing to do with the fact that she is *rich* and is a lesson on paying people what they are worth.

    To those saying there is something wrong with paying someone $3/hr overseas, you are presuming that it’s a one for one if she didn’t hire that person. That is to say that she would hire someone here at whatever the going rate. Even if she paid someone $10/hr, perhaps the work isn’t worth that. So she would be editing her own videos and NO ONE would have a job. Babysitting is worth $4-6/hr to me. If someone wants to charge me $7/hr, I’ll just stay home. Wages are about the most you are willing to pay compared to the least someone else is willing to charge.

    I’m not sure if Erica’s advice is good or bad for getting rich slowly, I’d have to know more specifics (like what kind of money her new business is bringing in). I like the discussion about if it is worth it to hire someone to do a task, in terms of money, time, and comfort. What is Erica’s professional time worth? What is her personal time worth?

    Personally I would worry more about not having enough to do to keep me busy. I wouldn’t think of hiring people as a slippery slope, but I would think freeing up time would be. Busy people get more done, and the less people have to occupy them the more they seem dissatisfied. How many people retire and fight depression? It is about losing their professional identity, but also about having too much time to just sit. My mom retired and she has been very satisfied to get out of the rat race, but she fights depression because there is nothing useful she is doing with her time. She’s *happy* to sit and read, but in the long term she needs more than the hedonistic stuff to keep herself satisfied with life.

  69. KZ says 10 February 2010 at 10:45

    I think it’s great to hear stories from all ends of the wealth spectrum and even though I’m not rich, I could relate to aspects of Erica’s story like feeling depressed after a great accomplishment. Outsourcing tasks seems like a little (when you have the money) thing that makes a big difference in her quality of life and it does give other people the opportunity to earn more money.

    _However_, I think minimum wage and environmental laws become pointless if people/companies can skirt them by going to other countries. I also personally believe in supporting a local economy, so as glamorous (and altruistic?) that it may seem to have a $3/hr overseas assistant, that wouldn’t fit with my principles.

  70. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 10:46

    @J.D. and everybody else that seems to have wealth guilt:

    If I enjoyed lawn care, I wouldn’t hire a service either. Sadly, I don’t enjoy it. What is wrong in hiring people to do a job you don’t like? Obviously they either want or need the job or they wouldn’t advertise their services. I don’t just grab random people and make them clean my house or mow my lawn. I don’t understand why it’s wrong to hire someone else to do what you don’t want to. I get paid to do a job that my boss either can’t or won’t do…I don’t feel like less of a person because of it…

  71. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 10:51

    If I had tons of free time, I wouldn’t be depressed. Come on, get some hobbies, make some friends, volunteer for some charities! I definitely don’t need work to be happy. I need free time with friends, more time to volunteer for the Houston SPCA and Meals on Wheels, and time with my husband to be happy.

  72. Shara says 10 February 2010 at 10:54


    I agree. Change is hard, and it’s even harder when it’s your job on the chopping block. But I think rather than railing about companies that send jobs overseas we need to understand why they do and work against those realities. As an investor I expect companies to make decisions good for the bottom line. That can mean sending call service jobs overseas, or it can mean bringing them back and paying more because the service is better.

    Ultimately the system is very dynamic. We need to take into account things in this country that make hiring workers expensive. It is a balancing act, we like to make companies do things, but we have to understand that it adds costs to the business. Some costs are worth it and some aren’t, but we have to acknowledge them. You can agree or disagree with ‘living’ wage laws, environmental protection laws, mandated health insurance laws, etc. But all of these add costs to doing business. There are also international trade/employment issues. I was reading recently about the VAT China uses that lets them undercut American companies, it is essentially a tariff that isn’t called a tariff w.r.t. free trade. That is wrong and we need to put pressure on our politicians to put pressure on trade partners. Not to necessarily “protect American jobs”, but to keep them honest.

  73. Honey says 10 February 2010 at 10:55

    Not everyone finds volunteering or donating money to charitable causes fulfilling. I think it’s a bit narrow-minded and unfair to assume that since she’s financially comfortable that she *should* be doing those things, or would necessarily enjoy them.

  74. Nelson says 10 February 2010 at 10:58

    KW – “America first” is just being self centered and unambitious on a large scale. I did help desk work part time in college for minimum wage and I was good at it, but hey, guess what, there are better jobs out there if you’re willing to put some effort into educating yourself. After I graduated with a CS degree I found a much better job.

  75. Nate says 10 February 2010 at 10:58

    Raghu@ 48 — seriously?

    I think you are way off track. I really enjoy the variety of financial topics and situations on GRS. JD — PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING!!!

    I think this was an amazing glimpse into a life MANY OF US are striving for here on GRS — and the struggles and decisions that come with that life stage.

    LOVE this guest post.

    PS: SHE IS NOT BRAGGINGGGGGGGGGGG — good lord — are you serious… Some of these posters really sound like they hate rich people — and they surely will never be one with this attitude… Unreal…

  76. elysianconfusion says 10 February 2010 at 10:59

    I think many people struggle with what to do after retirement. My own father took early retirement intending to start a business, but he wasn’t disciplined enough to do that and spiraled into depression. My father-in-law also took early retirement and has basically sat at home drinking. And messing up his money. They’ve both done that.
    But my grandfather-in-law retired at 52 and lived till 86 and really had a wonderful life with family and travel.
    So, you know, retirement is different for different people, and for some it truly is a disaster. Work you love can really give your life joy and meaning. And that doesn’t mean I don’t love my family and pets, volunteer locally, and spend time with friends. Some people are better at meaningfully filling their time than others 🙂

  77. Jenn Sutherland says 10 February 2010 at 11:08

    Interesting article…and even more interesting discussion here. As I think about starting my own side business again, the idea of outsourcing is one I’m going to have to come to grips with – I can’t do everything myself, and our creativity and prosperity increases when we do the things that we’re passionate about and good at. If someone else can take a few of the more tedious tasks off my desk in an affordable way, it’s definitely something I want to think about.

    And, I’m a celiac food blogger, and it’s always nice to see little splashes of awareness thrown into posts on non-food topics.

  78. Nicole says 10 February 2010 at 11:10

    Like the article or not, I am definitely enjoying the discussion!

  79. liveyourdreams says 10 February 2010 at 11:13

    Erica’s post reminds me that EVERYTHING is a choice. There are trade-offs that we all can make to help us achieve the life we’ve dreamed of, if we just took some time to think about it, instead of blindly living our same-old same-old lives.

  80. dP says 10 February 2010 at 11:23

    Funny, I first read this article at 7AM today and there were no comments. My own early morning gut- reaction to the article was not positive. Something like “excuse me while I go vomit my coffee.” It’s interesting to come back and now read so many diverse reactions.
    The tone felt a bit self-absorbed to me; particularly coming from a 26 year-old. Really? Is there something wrong with learning how to cook in order to take care of yourself? or do your own laundry? Are you now SO important that you can no longer be bothered with the menial tasks of self-care?

  81. Jack Bennett says 10 February 2010 at 11:26

    Hi Erica,

    We all outsource like crazy when you think about it – it’s the fundamental basis of division of labor in our economy.

    I certainly didn’t mine the metals or process the petrochemicals that went into my BlackBerry, or weave the fabrics that went into my clothing. Or, for that matter, drive myself to work this morning.

    The choices we make about what to do “in house” and what to delegate are fundamental to how we want to spend our finite time on this planet.


  82. tpgirl says 10 February 2010 at 11:36

    What I find most intriguing about this post is that it illustrates how wealth reverses the equation set forth by “Your Money or Your Life.”

    Instead of thinking about how many units of working time are spent by money decisions you make (spending money = loss of time), you start thinking about how many units of fulfillment time are spent by that same set of decisions (spending money = gain of time).

  83. K.L. says 10 February 2010 at 11:36

    Interesting comments. I don’t have any problems with the idea of outsourcing things, but I think what has rubbed several of us the wrong way is what sounds like a condescending attitude about providing “fulfilling” jobs for others. Fulfilling? Maybe. But not necessarily or even likely. That doesn’t mean the work isn’t appreciated or the money needed – but let’s not wax on like we’re offering nirvana by hiring someone to do menial tasks. I agree with SecondhandMoon (#29!)!

  84. Lesley says 10 February 2010 at 11:37

    Re-reading the comments, I find myself wondering, how much of the negative comments are because she’s 26, seems to be childless as far as I can tell, and had a major windfall? Would people be reacting the same way as they would if she was instead 40, raising a family, high-income (but not sitting on a large chunk of money), and doing it to have more time with her kids?

    I think the point remains that outsourcing certain things is a worthwhile financial tradeoff. Others can make a viable business of tasks that we, individually, may not be as effective at or just plain don’t enjoy.

  85. Matt says 10 February 2010 at 11:37

    Worst. Post. Ever.

    Excuse me for not understanding how the average GRS reader can relate to a 26 year old millionaire that lives pays over $4,000 a month in rent (Manhattan?), outsources menial tasks to third world countries and has a personal chef.

    Seriously; there are people on MTV cribs who probably live more modestly!

    I get the “finding your purpose” angle, but do us a favor and find someone who the readers can see themselves as. There just aren’t many parallels here, and even I consider myself pretty well off.

  86. Kevin says 10 February 2010 at 11:48

    JD, for what it’s worth, I loved this article. It doesn’t necessarily match my own personal values (it’s not how I’d spend the money, I’m much more independent and frugal), but I love that you’re finally posting more articles about the final stage of wealth. I find too many PF blogs focus too much on poor people, and people deeply in debt. Sure, they need advice too (and it’s certainly a huge target audience), but this is, after all, Get Rich Slowly, not Get Out Of Debt Slowly. I would love to see even more articles illustrating how different people manage their fortunes, to give me a better-rounded perspective on how I might want to structure my own life when I eventually reach the same level.

    Also, I think a lot of people are letting their envy show too much. I think situations like Erica’s should be celebrated and held up as examples of people winning at life and achieving their goals. It’s inspirational. Those of you who are piling on and tearing her down would be well-served to take a few moments and reflect on why it angers you so much that this woman has been able to succeed while you are so unhappy with your own life. Does the problem lie with Erica, or yourself? Her success does not impede your own ability to succeed. Your life is the result of your own choices, just as Erica’s is. Don’t begrudge her the results of her choices just because you’re unhappy with the outcome of your own decisions.

    Regarding the suggestion that Erica didn’t give any of her windfall to those less fortunate than her: I disagree. I’m fairly certain she paid taxes on the money. Beyond that, no one deserves her money more than she does. She earned it. If others feel entitled to it, well, that’s a pretty sad commentary on the state the country has decayed to.

  87. Cara says 10 February 2010 at 11:48

    @Comment #62: “People will find all sorts of reasons to keep themselves broke and self-righteous.”

    Agreed, which makes me wonder why they’re reading a blog called “Get Rich Slowly.” If they resent rich people so much, a blog called “Get Rich Never” might be more appropriate reading for them. I, for one, liked this post because it helped me think about optimizing my own spending since I’m in the final stage of personal finance myself.

  88. Ami Kim says 10 February 2010 at 11:49

    Wow! I’m surprised and a little unsettled by the very strong emotions being shared on both sides.

    I think that when we can see money as a tool, one of many, we can release the good/bad feelings it provokes. These feelings can be irrational – but they are valid. But if we cannot release those feelings, then money controls us more than we control it (if that makes sense).

    Does a business person, deciding how to spend his/her budget feel guilt, shame, embarrassment, elation, delight, greed or any other strong emotion? I think the company shareholders would hope not (tho’ business people are human, so) Shareholders, the owners of the business, want the decisions made based on value provided to and realized by the corporation. And I think maybe that’s the mindset to aim for in managing personal finance, the mindset of using a tool to create as much value as possible – with value determined by the owner.

  89. Anastasia says 10 February 2010 at 11:51

    I outsource too. I go to the grocery store regularly and buy milk and eggs, so I don’t have to keep my own cow and chickens. I buy all my clothes pre-made. And I will freely admit that the little pizza place down the street from me makes way better pies than I can.

  90. Tyler Karaszewski says 10 February 2010 at 11:58

    I appreciate your success, and recognize the amount of time and work you must have put into building that business in the first place. You’ve done what most people haven’t been able to, and will never be able to, and you have every right to be proud.

    That said, there’s more than a bit of disingenuity in this post. You “allow others, whose passion is cooking, cleaning, or assisting in various ways”. You’re not doing these people as big a favor as you think. Sure, you’re employing them, at least part-time, and I’m sure they’re grateful for that, but your cleaning lady isn’t excited to be following a “passion”, she’s cleaning your house because she can’t afford not to.

    Ask yourself this — if these people you’re employing each had the same million-dollar windfall that you did, do you think they’d all quit tomorrow? They would, and then they’d hire their own personal assistants to do the jobs they no longer want to — the ones they’re doing now. Just because you’re an employer and therefore distributing money to those you employ doesn’t make you a philanthropist.

    And I don’t think “I’m rich, so now I don’t have to do the things I don’t want to” is exactly a revolutionary idea in the first place. You’re not the first one to decide, “I’ve got more money now, I’ll just pay someone else to clean my house.” This seems to be a pretty well-established course of action among the well-off, the only difference I can see is that you’ve moralized it such that you think it makes you a better person for employing a staff of personal assistants, or at least that’s how the article comes off.

    I don’t really care if you pay a Filipino lady $3/hr to be your secretary, we all do this when we buy shoes made by Chinese factory workers for $0.11/hr, and we’re not sitting here feeling guilty about that. At the same time, we’re not preaching about how much better off the factory workers are than their neighbors who are making even less as farmers. If you put me in the same position you’re in, and threw a million dollars at me, I might hire a cleaning lady, too, and I wouldn’t feel bad about it. But I wouldn’t delude myself into thinking I’m helping her to pursue her passions, either.

    Nothing you’re doing is wrong, or bad, and hiring these people *is* economically beneficial. Still, it’s got the same economic effect as buying a new TV (then you’d be employing the people who build TVs). It’s not a moral victory for you, and you certainly wouldn’t be talking about the “passions” of TV factory workers if that’s what you’d purchased instead.

  91. Raghu Bilhana says 10 February 2010 at 12:02

    @75 (Nate)
    I really did not want to respond to your comment but could not resist myself from putting my view out there.

    1) Being rich does not mean successful. If only being rich is successful then are all people who are poor not successful?
    2) No body loves to cook or clean for anybody who is not your friend or relative. People do that because they have to. They need to put food on the table for their family.

    Disclaimer: I do not hate rich people. I just love poor people more. 🙂

  92. Laura says 10 February 2010 at 12:03

    I agree with Tyler–the unsettling part of this otherwise readable article was, for me, the assumption that her cleaning lady has a “passion” for cleaning. I think that’s incredibly unlikely. I’ll grant that she may find her job satisfying in the sense that she enjoys doing a task well, but I agree that if she had the chance, she’d probably quit. I really can’t add anything to Tyler’s post, but it does seem to me as if there’s something a bit morally slippery going on in this article.

  93. Nicole says 10 February 2010 at 12:04

    Tyler K– Very nicely put!

  94. Katie says 10 February 2010 at 12:06

    LOVE this article! @ Nate pretty much summed up my exact thoughts. Keep up the variety of guest posts, J.D.

    I was so excited to read this and send it off to my husband… We are in that spring yard work predicament and disagree on the idea of paying someone. While he thinks if we just did it together, it’d save us money and we’d have a sense of pride in doing it ourself. Whereas, I loath yard work, have no desire to do it myself, and feel that it is money well spend to pay someone to come in and take care of it for us. At least once to get it under control… I’d love to tell him that the author of Get Rich Slowly did the same 😉

  95. sashie says 10 February 2010 at 12:06


    Thanks for sharing some of your thought process with us. I think making choices consciously is one of the most important things that any of us can do if we want to live our “dream” life. Each of us will obviously make different choices, because each of us probably do want different things.

    When I decided to get serious about building our net worth, one of the first things I did was I stopped using our cleaning person. We were paying her $100 a week to clean the house (about 4-5 hrs each week) and I decided that I would rather spend that ~$5000 elsewhere each year. My house isn’t as consistently spotless, but the difference still worth it to me.

    I have found that I don’t mind cleaning now as much as I did when I had 3 children under the age of 4. And that I would actually be happy cleaning if someone was willing to pay me between $20-$25/hr for my services. So, I took that job back because it was worth it to me. Like JD with lawn mowing, I find cleaning to be meditative. And ideas and plans that I am working on always seem to have a breakthrough moment while I am doing something rather mundane.

    Now, clearly I was willing to pay a true living wage for my cleaning lady. And I think a lot more people might be happy to clean if the wage was between $20-25/hr. But are those people willing to do what you need to in order to make that wage? Our cleaning lady was running a small business as the sole proprietor. It was largely built on word of mouth and she busted her bum to show people that not only was she a great cleaner, but reliable and trustworthy. When I stopped using her – she had a waitlist of people wanting to have her clean their house. She seemed to love the job because she had more flexibility with her hours than she could find in other areas, and she was getting paid well. But she also had all the risk. Those were the trade-offs she was willing to take. And be happy about.

    I don’t know why so many people in this thread seem to think that manual labor is so demeaning. It doesn’t have to be. And there are lots of people who are making decent livings providing superior labor. If someone wants to be a chef, cooking isn’t demeaning or depressing. If someone owns their own cleaning business/cleans as an independent and enjoys making other people’s home pleasant to live in, that’s not demeaning either. Not everyone wants to do the same job. Lots of people love to work with their hands and have a special talent for making a home environment pleasant, clean and organized. And what might be a dream job to one person would be awful for another.

    I am not trying to say that all manual laborers are fulfilled in their jobs. I think that there are lots of people who work jobs they hate to pay the bills (and some of them are highly skilled and highly compensated). But there are very few jobs that are purely repugnant. Cleaning, cooking and VA jobs are not deficient jobs. They just might not be jobs you might want to do.

  96. Joe M says 10 February 2010 at 12:09

    JD, please don’t post anymore articles like this.

  97. Lisa Morosky says 10 February 2010 at 12:12

    I’ve never heard Erica advocate JUST hiring people overseas to save some money. I’ve always heard Erica advocate hiring the best person for the job. And I guess I don’t think it’s too uncommon that if the best person for the job is cheaper than another best person for the job – you choose the cheaper person. I don’t think a political statement is trying to be made here. It’s business, in that regard.

    And of course, if the cost thing was what it was all about for Erica, she wouldn’t have contacted me. She knows I compete based on quality of products and services, not on price. 🙂

    And from a business standpoint, outsourcing is just a must. Can’t do it all yourself if you ever desire to move forward.

    Outsourcing personal things I think is everyone’s choice. If laundry and cooking and whatever else are a real burden to you, and you are financially capable to outsource, do it. Life’s too short, I think. I too am gluten-free, but I’ve chosen to cook everything myself – because I love cooking.

    I can’t speak for anyone else but myself – but Erica’s quote about me is totally true. I love what I do (and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it, period). I love helping people get stuff off their plate so they can move forward. And I regularly do the same by outsourcing various areas of my businesses.

    @Amy – You’re assuming I work for a consistent $30/hour, for one client, and have one business that I own and operate. None of which is the case. I can’t speak for anyone overseas or anyone else, but I don’t feel slighted in the least. I make a nice living. I’m fairly certain that if I decided to increase my rates (actually, I don’t work hourly anymore, it’s not scalable), Erica would hang around. It goes back to not competing on price, but on quality.

    Just my $.02. Really interesting discussion and ideas presented here.

  98. Andrew says 10 February 2010 at 12:14

    This article had nothing about personal responsibility once she got the $1 million windfall. In fact, it seems that all she’s done since getting the money is SPEND. I find this all pretty funny – basically, she’s bored and now has a video company that’s probably losing money; she admits she’s blown $50k on other stuff…
    Heck, I’d say her time is less valuable than ever. So, maybe these little outsourcing dalliances and Facebook fan pages should be getting done by the girl herself.

  99. Troy says 10 February 2010 at 12:17

    This post is a perfect example of someone who thinks they have more than they really do.

    $1M windfall. After taxes that is likely about $600K.

    Pay off debts and “blow” 50K and my guess is she was sitting on about $500K in cash. In 2007-2008 at the TOP of the market, so I doubt there were massive market gains.

    I could be wrong, but my guess is she has half a million and while that is a large amount of money, especially in your mid to late 20’s.

    But it really isn’t that much in the big picture, and that is what bothers me about this post. The assumption she is “rich” and hence outsources her life. IT certainly isn’t enough for me to justify the outsourcing.

    This isn’t rich. $500K throws off $25K annually at 5%. That is peanuts. I know lots of people who have $500K, or $1M liquid who would never act this way.

    This post is very condescending to those that actually have money…and to those that don’t.

  100. Kathy says 10 February 2010 at 12:19

    @Eric 50 “The article was ok, but take a look at yourself if you posted or agree with some of these comments saying ‘i can’t relate – i’m soooo poor, and you take advantage of poor people. hire only US workers. blah blah blah.’”

    Eric, my point was I can’t relate to it that much. I am poorer than her. I don’t have a million dollars at 26 and find myself strangely depressed about it. I read GRS because I am ‘getting rich slowly,’ that is the information I would like to have. The only thing I gleaned from it was should you hire someone to do something when you have the $ and need the time. I don’t disagree with that. It’s your choice, your money.

  101. Chris Johnson says 10 February 2010 at 12:25

    @ Comment 87: Amen! This site and its comments for me offer valuable insights into what’s been helpful for people and what has not been, and the way I apply them in my life will not match the way other people do, AND THAT SHOULD BE OK! I don’t know why people insist on others ratifying their own life choices, or why they insist on me (and guest posters, and JD, and commenters) making the exact choices they make.

    I’m not about to drive a duct-taped leaky van like one recent guest-poster, but his post challenged my thinking, and I like that.

    I enjoy cooking my own meals and getting great deals on food at the Fresh & Easy supermarket, but I don’t insist that my significant other or my employees shop there and cook their own meals. Maybe the gem these “be just like me” commenters can take from today’s post is finding what makes them happy. I know that happiness doesn’t come from outsourcing itself, but if the outsourcing allows you to do things that make you happy and fulfilled, that should be OK too.

  102. Nathan Hangen says 10 February 2010 at 12:28

    Sounds to me like a lot of jealousy and bitterness. Sucks to have an audience that complains as much as this one does JD.

  103. Honey says 10 February 2010 at 12:30

    I also think it is strange that everyone’s acting like she oppresses her housekeeper or that the work is somehow demeaning. I have a very good friend who does housecleaning on the side and LOVES it – she’d do it full time but is a little too risk averse and so has a day job that has great benefits.

    Just because you can’t imagine that someone could find being a housecleaner fulfilling does not mean that there aren’t other people with a different point of view and who chose that profession.

  104. Karl says 10 February 2010 at 12:32

    I am amazed of how much this article seems to offend people. Really, it is not bad to be able to employ people. It is obviously a benefit to both parties involved.

    Congratulations to Erica for being successful. I am sure this is not the first time success has put people off.

  105. DreamChaser57 says 10 February 2010 at 12:34

    Ummmm – well, J.D. you wanted discussion, here ya go, LOL!!!

    Several posters have referred to the million dollars as a windfall. Should we really be characterizing the million dollars as a windfall? In my mind, windfall has the connotation of something easily acquired based on luck not skill or sacrifice. If you build a business from the ground up and are able to get a million dollars in the marketplace that is a result of hard work and tenacity. I think people who struggle financially, including myself, have a tendency to dismiss the efforts of the rich because then we will not have to be accountable for our own choices, which may have cumulatively undermined our financial security.

    #75 – Love your last statement, quite profound.

  106. Rosa says 10 February 2010 at 12:36

    I’m nowhere near a millionaire, and older than 26, but I can relate to this article much more than the “cut up your credit card & total up your debts!” one.

    I think a lot of us are at the “now what?” stage, where we’ve managed our wants down, our careers up, our budgets are firm, we’re saving & investing…and then what?

    Plus it’s ridiculous to call the cash from selling the business she built up a windfall. It’s not like she won the lottery, or cashed out and took plain early retirement.

  107. Kasule Kenneth says 10 February 2010 at 12:36

    Dear all,

    I do reside in Uganda a less developed country. I think Erica was sharing her experience. Being a resident and a citizen of Uganda sometimes makes me think people in developed countries like US don’t know what it is like to live on such money. This kind of money if I got it for 4 days i.e working for 8 hours a day would pay my rent, a 2 bedrommed house with running water and electricity. So please don’t think Erica is actually doing that philipino a favour. I am actually looking for such jobs could some body connect me to people who would like to do data entry, data analysis, edits for their reports, write proposals for developing countries and monitoring and evalution work? I will be more than glad to assist. Get to me on [email protected]. Erica could you please get in touch with me? Hold a bachelor of science in economics and statistics and Masters in public health.


  108. Adam says 10 February 2010 at 12:42

    @DreamChaser & Rosa. Please READ the article again. ERICA HERSELF CALLS THE MILLION BUCKS A WINDFALL:
    “I sold my business and generated a huge windfall – over a million dollars.”

    So you can forgive other posters for calling it that as well.

    That said, I agree that the million dollars doesn’t meet my definition of a windfall. It was the result of hard work, not a lottery win or a slot machine pull.

  109. DreamChaser57 says 10 February 2010 at 12:48

    @105 – Kasule, thanks for the different perspective, that was moving.

    I also have a general comment. Irrespective of your position on outsourcing, it does not do anyone any earthly good to constantly bemoan the state of this country’s economy and not take concerted action to change their lives. In America, most people have more access to education, opportunity, and wealth than some people in other parts of the world could ever hope to see. I have only recently recognized this truth, our jobs should not be our only source of income. The world is changing, the Internet has made it truly flat. Just because you close your eyes to the world around you does not mean the pendulum will swing back to yesteryear.

  110. Ashley says 10 February 2010 at 12:53

    JD–I love posts from this end of the wealth spectrum and I hope you continue to feature them on GRS.

    It strikes me as odd that so many of the above readers cannot find anything to relate to in here. I think (but I’m not sure) that JD has previously written posts on optimizing one’s time and Trent over at Simple Dollar frequently writes about calculating the hourly value of different tasks. Erica appears to have looked at how she was spending her time, what the cost would be to outsource certain tasks, and whether it would be better for her business and her own happiness to continue to perform those tasks herself or to outsource them. I think this is a pretty basic and uncontroversial topic in the PF blogosphere and I’m not sure why so many people appear to object to it now. I’m not in debt but I find points of interest and information of value in many posts on the subject of getting out debt.

    What I think some people ARE objecting to is Erica’s use of the word “passion” to describe the feelings of her employees. Since, unlike Erica, I don’t know any of those people personally, I really can’t say what their passions are. Maybe passion was the wrong word to use to describe how they feel about their job, although maybe it wasn’t.

    But honestly and in all seriousness, why is it acceptable to be passionate about cooking at a restaurant but not as a personal chef? Why is it acceptable to be passionate about being a professional organizer but not a personal assistant? Why can a VA in the Philippines not be passionate about video editing? I have friends who do jobs that I would hate to do. These same friends think my job would make them miserable. I don’t judge them for the things they enjoy doing and they return the favor.

    I have known people who clean houses for a living and hate it. I have known people clean houses for a living and find cleaning really satisfying–which is why she started doing it in the first place. I’m not disputing that many people working in low-paying “menial” jobs would change jobs for a higher wage but the only people who come off as smug to me in this entire debate are the ones who presume to judge which jobs are ok for people to enjoy doing and which ones aren’t.

    I read Erica’s post as discussion of using our time and money to pursue the job or activities we most enjoy. I don’t think she was commenting on poverty in the developing world, global unemployment, or the lack of job opportunities and advancement for the working class. These are all interesting and worthy topics to discuss but there are other places to do so. This is a personal finance blog and Erica kept her post relevant to her personal situation.

  111. Steve says 10 February 2010 at 12:58

    Wow, I was surprised at the vehemence of some of these responses. OK, so maybe the viewpoint that her housecleaner is following a passion is a bit over the top. But the truth of the matter is, it’s not up to Erica to evaluate how happy her housecleaner etc. is. That’s up to the other party to determine. Nobody is forcing the housecleaner, chef, nor VA’s into the arrangement – they’re doing it of their own free will. If the arrangement wasn’t mutually beneficial, they wouldn’t take part, as simple as that.

    I do wonder how long a million dollars will last at this burn rate. Doesn’t seem like it will last all that long.

  112. Erica Douglass says 10 February 2010 at 13:01

    Wow! Well, it’s taken me almost an hour just to read all the comments. Thank you–all of you, regardless of your viewpoint–for commenting.

    There are a few points I want to address. First, the charity point that came up. There’s no way I could have explained everything I’ve done with my money–that would be a book, not a blog post.

    Yes, I do donate to charity–thousands of dollars a year. I also donate my time. Two instances that come to mind recently are helping a local non-profit with their website and volunteering 30 minutes of my time to help coach a mom who wanted to make her blog her full-time income.

    Hiring people isn’t charity in the same sense, but it is giving people a leg up who need it and are willing to work hard.

    I apologize for not knowing the proper definition of “windfall.” My understanding was that it was any time someone got a large amount of money. It apparently has an “unearned” connotation. Good to know. 🙂

    For the folks complaining about $3/hr, this is an upper-middle-class income in those countries. People are people, and these folks are willing to work hard for a good wage. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I wouldn’t hire someone just because they are American. I hire the most effective person for the job (and price does factor into that, but it’s more about quality for me.)

    Those folks who have a problem with outsourcing to other countries will be happy to know that both of the people working on my new startup company are from the U.S. Both live here in California, even.

    Regarding the housekeeper work: There are many people out there who genuinely enjoy cleaning. My housekeeper enjoys it and gets paid well. And I help the local economy by hiring her. A win-win.

    My personal chef was looking for a waitressing job and was super-stoked to be able to do this instead…so she’s happy about her job, too.

    For those of you wondering about my income: I have plenty of savings and my blog and info product business is doing well. I may share income numbers for February on my own blog.


  113. RJ Weiss says 10 February 2010 at 13:03

    J.D. – I enjoy guest posts such as these. Keep on posting them. I’m not sure why people are in uproar over another persons personal choices.

  114. TheMerricat says 10 February 2010 at 13:09

    For Jiminy Cricket’s sake will all you haters just swallow it and deal? Erica’s post was insightful and interesting.

    And stop making yourself look like jingoists by screaming about sending money outside of the US. It’s one thing to bitch about companies mass laying off existing workers to outsource jobs simply to get the CEO a fatter bonus at the end of the year, it’s a different thing to have your head so far up the end where the sun don’t shine that you are bitching about someone creating an entirely new job and hiring someone outside the country. Especially given if you are in the US, the majority of our possessions in life have been created by people who were lucky to have been paid $1 an hour to make them.

    And for $%#@ sake, get over your little “Well if I had all the free time in the world, I would definitely not be…” because you wouldn’t. PERIOD. There are very few of us who have had to work for our living who really know how to handle our free time when it regularly comes in packages larger than a weekend.

    Neither sets of my grandparents or my parents could handle retirement, in fact despite the fact that all three couples have more than enough money stashed away to live comfortably for the remainder of their expected lifespan, all of them decided to go back to work once AFTER they had retired, simply because they didn’t know what to do with themselves. And I completely expect them to die working if they have that choice. And it won’t be because they have a passion for the work, it’ll be because they’ve experienced what it feels like to wake up day after day and not have some sort of goal to be working towards.

  115. Erica Douglass says 10 February 2010 at 13:14

    By the way, I am amazed that no one commented that I justified all my ridiculous purchases. I read my own post back and thought surely that someone would point that out! I had to laugh at myself for all my justifications on blowing $50,000+.

    The post wasn’t intended to be smug, by the way. I write in a really blunt style. It can come off as smug–I can see that–but that wasn’t the intent.


  116. LiveCheap.com says 10 February 2010 at 13:15

    @Troy: I agree, the amount of money here is not really that great, but remember its long term capital gains. What this article does give you insight into is what happens after the big win.

    Last night I had dinner with someone that just cashed out with $50 million a few months ago. Now that’s real money by almost anyone’s standards. I know a number of people that have exited with $10 million plus and what happens is something that most people don’t have much insight into. Unlike the lottery, most of these people were the #1 person at their company. They get bought out which is supposed to be the pinnacle of success and then they find they have nothing to do. Furthermore, they are no longer the boss and that is really difficult for a lot of people. They go through the buying stuff phase and catching up on the life they deferred but then there is the “what next” moment. Their options are 1) start the next venture, 2) play golf, tennis, etc., 3) Give back to younger entrepreneurs by being an advisor,lecturer, etc. Sounds like Erica is doing a little of this with her blog.

    I have to imagine that after a while the bug will hit Erica again and she’ll be looking for a serious next venture. $1MM doesn’t last forever but it does allow you to live more comfortably.

    To the people on the blog that think Erica is not representative of the audience, remember there are plenty of people reading this blog that have been doing what JD preaches before this blog existed and do have 7 figure net worths.

  117. Afzal says 10 February 2010 at 13:18

    Erica, Thanks for sharing!

    Good Post and Comment#110 🙂

  118. RetirementInvestingToday says 10 February 2010 at 13:20

    I choose to live frugally saving around 60% of my gross earnings and live a very happy life. It costs very little for a good book (maybe even free from the library), nothing for a long refreshing walk etc.

    The society that we live in today really forces people to consume and keep up with the ‘Jones’s’ next door. It’s something that I actively chose to remove myself from and feel a lot better for it.

  119. Beth says 10 February 2010 at 13:25

    @ Honey — I agree! I often think that people who read these PF blogs think that everyone has to have a job that is their “passion” or their “bliss”. Many people simply have jobs they enjoy or they don’t mind. What’s wrong with that?

    I’ve seen people pursue their passions only to burn out later and wind up hating the thing they once loved so much. I don’t think everyone finds their bliss at work — or needs to.

  120. Erica Douglass says 10 February 2010 at 13:27

    #113 LiveCheap.com wrote: “I have to imagine that after a while the bug will hit Erica again and she’ll be looking for a serious next venture.”

    Nice guess! 😉 It already did. In 2009 I had a startup idea. I offered to buy another small company that was already doing what I wanted, but we couldn’t agree on a price. That founder eventually abandoned his offer in the market and I decided to jump in with both feet. I’ve released the name of the company on my blog, and expect to launch an alpha version in the next 30 days.

    This idea just would *not* let me go. I woke up at night thinking about it. I diagrammed the structure of the site and my brain kept coming up with feature ideas. Finally, I gave in and decided to run with it.

    I just hired two people to get it going. I will, of course, be sharing a lot about it on my blog (especially since the company is centered around blogging!)

    I did discover I like running companies even more than I like blogging…which actually came as a shock to me, since I enjoy blogging. I plan to continue blogging and also do my startup.


  121. Raghu Bilhana says 10 February 2010 at 13:37

    Completely agree with Tyler Karaszewski .

    He said exactly what I wanted to say.

    When somebody employs another person to do work, it is only an exchange of services. Exchange of services is what any economy is about. This exchange of services could be with a person in US or with a person abroad. This is called globalization. Just because somebody is providing that service to an employer does not mean that the employer is doing the employee a favor. The author should clearly note this.

    I am happy for her that the author could make a million dollars “windfall” from her business. But she should note that a million dollars before taxes does not make you rich. It is a different culture here in America but outside of US in Asian cultures not even the richest person of that country would say in public that I am rich since that is considered disrespectful to others who read or hear about it.

    I don’t have a million dollars but am very very content with what I have and I am in no way jealous of the author. (What is there to be jealous of her, she says she was in depression after getting that million dollars). I don’t need the million dollars and don’t need that depression.

  122. Shara says 10 February 2010 at 13:45

    @ Erica

    I think many are misunderstanding your point. By pointing out your windfall (“an unexpected gain or piece of good fortune” so I think yours applies even though you earned it) it seems as though you are using that as the justification for paying someone to clean or cook for you. It sounds like it has instead allowed you to live debt free and take on more risk with your newer ventures. But other than setting the scene it is a non-issue.

    There are two stories here. One story is receiving $1M and finding not working isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and this propelling you into the last stage of personal finance. The second story is being in the last stage of PF and being willing to pay other people to do your work.

    I think the second story is partially muddied by comparing someone who cleans your house with a VA/contractor who helps you do business. They aren’t the same thing.

    So in other words, your writing style is okay and you were clear with what you said, but the story as a whole is a little muddied and your point was lost.

  123. Amanda says 10 February 2010 at 13:47

    Ugh, I thought this was a terrible article. So bad that I had to come out of Google Reader to comment on it. More than 1,000 words talking about how she pays people to do her chores so she can spend more time meditating? Where is the value in this article?

    And, does she really think that her cleaning lady has a ‘passion’ for cleaning. Ha!

    And nothing about this post indicates that she’s living a sustainable life. $1million dollars isn’t that much money!

  124. Alexandra says 10 February 2010 at 13:47


    Good for you – thanks for responding to the replies and for writing the article in the first place. Like some of the other commenters here, I suspect that a lot of the negative reactions stem from jealousy.


    Please continue to post articles from people who have become wealthy. Ultimately, that is our goal (although reading some of the comments today, I wonder). It inspires me and gives me an idea of the types of challenges I will have. Part of what makes a successful journey a success is the ability to look forward. Hopefully, the naysayers will begin to understand the value of that instead of merely being stuck in the “now” of debt.

    For what it’s worth, I personally can’t relate to the “create budgets, clear debt, be frugal” type of posts, but have a simple solution. I just don’t comment and wait for the next post. Maybe some of the people commenting today should have done the same.

  125. Naomi says 10 February 2010 at 13:49

    I, too, would like to see more posts on the “now what” stage of personal finance. Unfortunately, this post offered nothing useful to me. I don’t need to know how to spend my money. I’ve mastered that!

    I need to know when I have enough.

    When I have enough, I need to know how to make it last indefinitely.

    I need to know if I should continue saving in my retirement accounts (which I can’t touch for many years) or start contributing more to non-retirement accounts (which I can use at any age).

    I need to know if I should stay in my current house or downsize.

    I need to know how much I’ll need *just* for health insurance.

    These would be useful discussions.

  126. kozhalmannam shriram says 10 February 2010 at 13:59

    Clearly being rich is a state of mind. I live at India, I knew Erica because she hired me. I use an iMac ride a bicycle and would like to believe I’m happy. The biggest cause of misery is debt, or more specifically credit card debt with atrocious interest charges. I am surprised that such thing is actually not outlawed in the United States. We in India and the rest of the world are far more prudent about who is eligible for a loan Personal or otherwise.

    What am I waiting for?
    I am waiting for wireless broadband to hit India so that I can sell off the apartment I am living at and move to a smaller village and keep transcribing or working online and maybe teach at a village school how to read and write english! Sometimes not working is an important stage of life.

    And about the million bucks let us not forget she managed to sell off the business at the right time at a good price. Timing is everything!

    I have never travelled or live in the Unites States, all my knowledge of the country is second hand.

  127. Luis Q says 10 February 2010 at 14:01

    Hate this post, truly and absolutely hate it. You are not doing all those people a favor by hiring them, don’t kid yourself. They work same as many people do in something they probably don’t like.

    Regarding some people that wish they can be rich to stop working, maybe your goals aren’t properly focused. You should love what you do, love going to work, to the point that you would work for free (if you didn’t need the money). Otherwise you will continually live an unhappy and unfulfilled life, waiting for that day that you will be “free” of work.

  128. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 14:14

    I’d love to get the chance to see if I’d be depressed if I had a million dollars! And I promice not to become a snob, now all I need is someone to give me 1 million and I’ll prove it….=)

    Such strong emotions on both sides..it makes for really interesting reading. I see the points made in each of them.

    Um, yes..I’ll admnit I’m a tiny bit jelous of her..

  129. DreamChaser57 says 10 February 2010 at 14:22

    #126 -hmmm, i really do appreciate getting an international perspective. you rarely hear people characterize a credit card as a loan in the states, but that’s essentially what it is. as to why it is not outlawed, freedom cuts both ways.

    i want to echo all of the previously expressed sentiments on here encouraging J.D. to post about the end stage of personal finance and its inherent challenges. or even different kinds of debt that is often more enduring for people who attend (ed) graduate school, student loans, the total debt may be anywhere between 75-200K. something more nuanced than figure out what type of loan you have, pay it off early, i would love to see success stories about how people paid it off much sooner than anticipated.

  130. Erica Douglass says 10 February 2010 at 14:23

    I’d like to point out two comments from people I hired:

    #97 Lisa Morosky, who is my VA–she’s based in Chicago
    #126 Koz, who is based in India

    You can judge for yourself whether they are happy, fulfilled, etc. Or better yet, ask them personally. 🙂


  131. Claire says 10 February 2010 at 14:31

    Erika is her own business. From a business standpoint, she is concentrating on her Critical Success Factors (CSFs), which are the things she does particularly well to support the main goal of her business, such as conducting interviews, and brainstorming on ideas for the direction of her business. Since she is self-employed, her personal and business lives collide. The result is that she outsources items (which happen to be personal, such as cooking & cleaning) which are not CSFs. Companies outsource their CSFs everyday. In fact, Cisco is renowned for being “the hardware company that doesn’t make hardware”. Cisco’s employees are the brains behind the hardware, but Cisco doesn’t make one piece; they outsource the hardware building to other companies.

  132. Crystal says 10 February 2010 at 14:33

    I’m not the same Crystal as the one above, but I completely agree…and I’m jealous of her freedom. I don’t hate my job, but I’d like being retired even more.

  133. KF says 10 February 2010 at 14:36

    WOW, there’s a lot of really ugly envy out there! This post was well-written by a well-intentioned person, and like most other blog posts, it’s merely an interesting glimpse into someone else’s life and life choices. I found it refreshing to read a wealthy person’s honest thoughts about wealth and what they do with their money. It’s hard to get information like this, as money-talk is so taboo in our culture. Plus, people like this author probably get tired of being judged for speaking their truth.

    A couple of other points…

    People are revealing themselves to be idiots with their judgmental comments about paying people in third-world countries. If you are critiquing Erica for doing this, then I hope you aren’t buying the 90% of consumer items that are sold in this country but are made by people in sweatshops in China, the Philippines, India, etc. Those people earn less than a dollar a day!!! (NOT the $3.33 an hour that Erica pays.) Yet most of us happily wear the clothing they slave to make or buy our kids the toys they make that are sold at Walmart and The Gap and everywhere else. Furthermore, you cannot do direct comparisons. $3.33 is middle income or upper income in the Philippines. I assure you that no one is being exploited. And if you’re a capitalist, I don’t see why you are complaining. Erica has the right to pay people anywhere in the world to do the work she wants as long as they aren’t being exploited. There is no moral duty to hire someone in the US. They aren’t any more deserving of work than people in other countries. And paying someone $3.33 in a developing country is A LOT more more than the equivalent of what any reader is paying their housekeeper, babysitter, gardener, or other low-wage worker in the US. A lot more of you are low-wage employers yourselves than you realize!

    Second, some of the commentor’s financial analysis of Erica’s situation is purely idiotic. She gave you the breakdown of her spending in her post, and if you pay attention, you’ll see that she’s actually not spending much on outsourcing what she doesn’t want to do. Her chef obviously delivers the food (is not full time) and costs less than may of you spend on restaurants and groceries. Her virtual assistants are a small budget item if you add up the hourly wages and the number of hours she probably uses them. And part of what she outsources is obviously related to her current business, so I assume that Erica is making money. Finally, I appreciate Erica’s point that she hasn’t blown money on things that aren’t important to her. She rents, and $4000 for a house in SF that she shares with someone is very reasonable for her situation. She’s chosen not to tie up all of her money in equity. Were she the average American, she’d still be shopping like a crazy person, which she seems to have curbed after her initial spending spree.

    So, maybe pause long enough with the judging and envy to see if you could possibly learn something.

    JD: I hope you keep posting articles that are relevant to people who are already financially secure. All of your readers aren’t drowning in debt. And even poor people can benefit from reading about the lives and choices of people who are wealthy.

  134. I see stupid people says 10 February 2010 at 14:42

    1. Why are there regular readers of a blog authored by a lucky girl who didn’t “get rich slowly”. She apparently “got rich” by selling an online business to somebody who had more money than brains, and was told by an advisor “you need to be ON THE INTERNETS!!!”. Much like people who were flipping houses in 2006, the idea was to find a bigger moron with more money in order to resell this “business”. Note that this scheme blew up in 2007, for both real estate and online “properties”. The music came to an end, and the last sucker still in the game is left with no chair to sit in. (This is an allusino to “musical chairs”, for the dumb people who read this blog).

    2. As a poster above noted, a million bucks comes out to around 600,000$ after taxes, and she reaped it at the peak of the market bubble, so likely she has not increased that sum since then.

    3. Her “strategy” of renting everything, doing nothing, and paying others to do all of the activities in life that required of independent human beings, means she is living like a 5 year old with a Mommy.
    5 year olds are not that interesting, really, to any adults except their parents.

    4. This “life” she is championing is the very definition of a mindless, vapid, and pointless existence. Ironically, with this blog posting, she could be the poster child for the truly rich and infantile people that clutter up the curbs on Wall Street. She, like they, will be focused on seeking the answer to the only question that will remain in her empty, soulless life: “How can I get more?”.

    5. I’m going to bet that this 26 year old is fat, dumpy, narcissistic, monomaniacal, and, in a word, a tedious boor.

    Seriously…you folks who adulate this person? You are the passengers on the space cruise ships in Wall-E.

    And again, because you’ve already forgotten the top of my comment: You are reading a blog called “Getting Rich Slowly” by someone who has exactly ZERO knowledge of how to do that, based on her own description of her own life.

    That said, I’m out of here. Off to climb a mountain.

  135. Beth says 10 February 2010 at 14:44

    I liked the article. We all outsource, even if we call it something else. I pay for yard service and it is the BEST thing I ever did. Seeing how cheaply JD gets housecleaning (we’re in the same town) I might have to look into that.
    It is important to realize that making a million dollars selling your business does NOT make you a millionaire. She’s not independently wealthy, as one person said. She’s made choices (no debt being the biggest) that allow her to decide how to spend her money. ALL of her money.
    Thanks for sharing the article with us, JD.

  136. KF says 10 February 2010 at 14:47

    One other thought: What’s up with the self-important rants from commentors about the level of happiness of the people Erica hires??? She seems to be providing fairly-paid jobs to people in the US and overseas who are treated well and who are in reasonable bargaining positions. It’s unclear to me how one can critique this. Thousands of companies similarly hire people every day in the US, yet Erica seems to be held up to some higher standard. She seems to be a more ethical employer to me than 95% of corporate America. I’m guessing that most of the ranting commentors have hired babysitters before (or someone else for some other purpose). I will assume that you paid them $50 an hour and only hired people who are 100% passionate about your children or your other labor. Furthermore, why do you get to rage against Erica based on your assumptions about the passion-level of her housekeeper? Who cares? Some people really do enjoy housework, or even if they don’t, they enjoy having their own small business and being in control of their hours and their work.

  137. Willow says 10 February 2010 at 14:52

    I think it is really interesting that in so many comments defending this article we who did not like it are accused of being poor and jealous. Some of you even forecast our futures of continued (deserved! lazy!) poverty! The more reactive defenders sound far more scornful of the poor than I think we sound jealous of the rich. I’m not poor nor am I jealous. I simply did not like the guest post but I think the discussion opened up a big vein of Blame The Poor as much as it did Blame The Rich. This makes the post worthwhile for me after all, because it illustrates that money is NOT a morally neutral tool.

    And Posts #133 & #135, your posts contain some of the most ranting and raging tones of all. Please stop the name calling.

  138. Christina Gremore says 10 February 2010 at 14:56

    @127–If I was in a circumstance where I had to clean houses for a living (not something I enjoy, but I manage to keep my apartment tidy), the only thing worse than offering to scrub someone else’s toilet would be no one taking me up on the offer.

    So yeah, in a way, she IS doing them a favor. By hiring them. And giving them money. Which they obviously want, and are willing to earn.

    I like what another commenter said–it’s not like she’s grabbing random people off the street and forcing them to clean her house. They offered. How do you think these workers would be feeling if NO ONE hired them?

    And to the people who are complaining about the (admittedly dreadful) situation of outsourcing, how many of you are voting with your dollars to keep the economy local: shop at independent boutiques, not Marshalls. Buy meat and vegetables from local farmers, not from Safeway. Support independent music and book stores, instead of purchasing these products from Amazon.

    Lots of people don’t do these things because they’re MORE EXPENSIVE. It simply costs a business more to have American employees. You are trying to save money, so you go to the places that have the best price. It makes sense. So why, exactly, should Erica pay an American worker more to do her video editing?

    It’s easy to be generous and free-spending with someone else’s money. What are you doing to support YOUR local economy? I’d love to see some guest posts about that. People who consciously choose to buy less at a higher price, because it gives back to the community and brings better quality. Maybe I will pitch that guest post myself… 🙂

  139. Adam says 10 February 2010 at 15:07

    A few final points from me:
    1) While my initial response was negative, please do not mistake this negativity due to jelaousy.
    2) I too would like some posts for people at the later stages of personal finance like Erica.
    3) A windfall is either unearned or unexpected or both, Erica was right to call it a windfall if it was unexpected she could receive that much for her company.
    4) No one commented on blowing $50k because that’s a relatively small portion of Erica’s “windfall” (5%) to blow on clothes, furniture, etc. If you spent $500k on a sportscar, you might have heard grumblings.
    5) I’m glad Erica is fulfilled now and has found joy in her new work and start-ups rather than reading self help books all day. That should have been the focus of the article, not about paying people to do things you dislike doing and why this is good for them.

  140. Rachel211 says 10 February 2010 at 15:09

    Just as a note:

    I am freelance editor. I charge $35 to $50 an hour depending on the project. I also own none of my own equipment.

    My guess is that she looked into a US editor – found out how expensive they were and looked elsewhere. I don’t blame her one bit.

    Also, did anyone consider that perhaps this person only quoted her $1.50 an hour and she might be paying them double? Or that $3.33 in American dollars in some countries can buy several times more than it can here?

  141. Shara says 10 February 2010 at 15:19

    Christina Gremore @137

    I don’t care about my local community. At least not enough to pay more for goods and services simply because they are local. I don’t have a problem with people who do, but that’s just not how my philosophy works. I pay people who offer the service closest to what I want closest to the price I want. But I DO try to take into account exactly what service is being offered. Very often that is beyond a product. I have a hard time with people who spend hours at Best Buy checking out electronics just to go buy it cheaper on Amazon. If you are using the ‘service’ of physically being able to interact with a product then you shouldn’t buy it via mail order.

    Perhaps I am jaded. I grew up in a pretty rural area and if you wanted something you were typically charged a lot for it. Sometimes this was justified, sometimes it was just because they could. But ultimately the local people aren’t running a business as a favor to me. They are in it to make money. So why should I spend more to buy things from them as a favor to them?

    Figure out how to make a profit, or go out of business. But then again if Walmart is the only shop available in town I understand that’s an economic reality, just like higher prices were a reality before Walmart moved in.

  142. Nicole says 10 February 2010 at 15:25

    @126 I was at a talk at the ASSA meetings in January (that’s the American Economics Association’s annual conference) where a book on loans in India was discussed. There’s a lot of high interest short-term loaning (similar to pay-day loans in the US, but with a lower default rate because of the personal repeated game nature of the loans) going on… maybe not where you are, but definitely somewhere in India. There are both personal lenders and micro-finance lenders and both charge much higher interest rates than do credit cards in the US. The case studies were very interesting… some people preferred high interest debt to low interest debt because it forced them to moderate their spending and pay back the loan quickly.

  143. KittyBoarder says 10 February 2010 at 15:45

    BRAVO on #42 comment by mmeetoilenoir.
    Very well said!!!!

  144. Ely says 10 February 2010 at 15:46

    I really liked this post. (And the ensuing discussion!!) It’s good to hear from people from all over the financial spectrum. And who knows, I could find myself in her shoes one day. (hey, I can dream…)
    I admire people who can create. Create jobs, businesses, ideas, products that people want and can use. I also admire the drive to follow through on these ideas and make them happen. Not everyone can do that. Erica created a business that became in demand, and paid off well for her. Good for her. Now she’s creating another one, providing a service which there’s a demand for, that no one else is providing. Good for her. If she wants to outsource to Pluto that’s her business; her customers will let her know if her quality suffers, or if they don’t think she’s being as ethical as she could be.

    I do not have my own business, nor am I likely to, but I’m now a fan of Erica and her blog. I think there is plenty I could learn from her.

  145. Christina Gremore says 10 February 2010 at 15:50

    Shara @141,

    I see your point. I don’t think people have a moral obligation to spend more at a local business just as a favor to them. I agree: if you can’t make a profit, go out of business. Although I generally shop local because it’s worth it to me, I admit that I get 80% of my wardrobe from the Gap (mainly because they always have sales and coupons I can use). Clothes just aren’t worth that much to me.

    My comments about buying local were more directed to the commenters who were bothered by the fact that Erica had hired VAs who live in the Philippines because they only cost $3/hr, instead of paying Americans more to do the same work.

  146. Sara says 10 February 2010 at 15:54

    I don’t mind the occasional guest post, but I have to say that this article really doesn’t seem to belong in Get Rich Slowly. What a revelation: “I’m rich, so now I’ll hire a maid.” Gee, if I had a million dollars, I would never think to hire a maid. Who knew that life would be easier if you could afford to pay someone to do stuff you don’t like to do?

    The whole post comes across as a bit financially irresponsible. It seems like it could be titled: “Have money to burn? Here are some ideas on how to spend it!” I know this isn’t the whole story, and she didn’t say what she’s doing with the rest of the money, but what about a plan to make the money last, so she doesn’t end up like those lottery winners who go broke in a few years? A million dollars really isn’t that much, especially in a high cost of living area (and if typical mortgage payments are over $4000/month, I’d say Erica is living in an expensive area).

    J.D. often cautions against lifestyle inflation. I see nothing wrong with upgrading some things in your life if you have more money, because really, what’s the point in working so hard to get more money if you can’t enjoy it? But I do think that such upgrades should be evaluated against a long-term plan. Will these VAs pay for themselves in increased productivity for Erica? Will she be able to maintain her standard of living indefinitely? If she has kids, will she be able to set aside enough money for their education? Maybe, maybe not, but I think that type of information would have made for a better article.

  147. KittyBoarder says 10 February 2010 at 16:18

    Wow! I think the comments generated from this post are far more interesting than the post itself.

    The dividing views truly show the thinking structures between the “Poor” vs the “Rich”. No offense to anyone who hasn’t “made it” yet. This is just simply an observation.

    For those people who are still struggling with daily bills, debt and wondering where the financial stability is, they simply claim that they can’t relate to his post. “How dare you let other people clean your toilets while you have your own hands???” It seems some people just hate rich people because they can buy something that the poor normally wouldn’t or couldn’t buy. If you have that mentality, you will never be one of the riches. Being rich isn’t a sin.

    For those more well off people who have been there and done it, they understand the value of time and freedom to do what is more productive so they don’t see anything wrong with hiring people to do services for them.

    And for those Americans who hate the word “oursourceing”. Sorry, this is a global economy era. If we Americans can’t compete with foreigners on cost and quality, we will lose to them. Simple as that. The right way of thinking is how do we provide better values so the jobs stay in house, rather than “oh Erica, cuz you are an American and I am an American, I deserve your job better than those Asians even though you have to pay me 5 times more!!”. That’s pretty sad if you think that way…

  148. charity dasenbrock says 10 February 2010 at 16:26

    while I appreciate the intent of what you are doing, as a personal chef I wish to point out that no personal chef I know or have ever been associated with would work for that price. We are members of professional associations with high standards and training. If a chef is charging prices like that, likely she is operation illegally, cooking out of her own kitchen. Stories like this give the personal chef profession ( that is what it is not a side gig) a bad name.

  149. Des says 10 February 2010 at 16:35

    I think it is difficult for a lot of people to see too far beyond where they are currently financially. JD has talked about the different financial phases we go through, and I think it is hard for someone still trying to pay off debt to fathom that one day they will be free from the burden of that and will move on to greater things.

    I have been thinking about a similar topic recently. Not outsourcing, necessarily, but working less. The industrial and technological revolutions were supposed to give us more leisure time (since machines should be doing all the work, right?). Instead, we work just as hard but buy more stuff. That seems wrong. Why not use our resources to create more leisure time? I have been thinking about trying to work part time. I could easily live on half what I make, so why work twice as much as I need? Why is working 40 hours a week valued so strongly in our society?

  150. a skeptic says 10 February 2010 at 16:44

    Oh boo hoo that your sudden wealth made you depressed. It’s nice that you can rationalize paying someone $3 an hour as a great wage – no matter what country they live in. It sounds like your life is still very superficial, and you are only happy because you don’t do anything!

  151. Amy H. says 10 February 2010 at 16:46

    I found this post, and the comments, very interesting and thought-provoking. I’m with the other commenters who hope that JD will continue to include guest posts from people at different points in the wealth spectrum and posts (from himself and others) directed at people in all different phases of gaining financial independence.

  152. sakura-chan says 10 February 2010 at 16:54

    I am a Filipino and I don’t think that $3.00/hr is equal $65,000. For them to be equivalent they have to purchase the same lifestyle.

    Let’s take me for example.
    I earn about $582.75 a month (after taxes). And I am working a 45 hour work week. I have been working for 4 years now.
    So, what do I get for this?

    Food/groceries – $87
    Transportation- $43.50
    Internet/Phone- $32.75
    Electricity -$43.50
    Water -$11.00
    School -$65.50

    For a total of $392.75. So, I have $190.50 left. But what exactly does this lifestyle get me?

    -I have never owned a car, I don’t even know how to drive. And yes, a car here costs the same. About $16,000.
    -I always take the bus. I almost never take a taxi.
    -I rarely eat out or watch movies. (the budget above doesn’t include this)
    -It took me long to earn enough to buy one of those laptop computers ($655) and yes, they are more expensive here than in the US.
    -I know that the regular Filipino here is not into reading. Why? because reading a book for leisure simply costs too much.
    -Clothes are also not on that budget. I don’t really buy clothes and I’m lucky that the company I work for doesn’t require me to dress up in corporate attire. So I make do with $4.50 sneakers and $5.50 shirts.
    -I rarely go to salons and I just let my mom cut my hair for free while i do my nails.

    I am single and I know what I earn now is not even enough for a family. In the past 4 years that I have worked I have only saved about $12,000. (I have done everything I can to save.)

    By the way, I graduated from the most prestigious university in the philippines. I am also an engineer by profession. Am I paid too little? I know I am. But I’ll turn this around after I finish my masteral.

  153. Chris says 10 February 2010 at 16:57

    This post doesn’t mark a moment of inspiration for me. Just search the comments for the phrase “I cannot relate to this post” and you’ll find my feelings are in line with theirs. What this post does provide me with is a nice example of irony in the PF blogosphere. This is a post championing “outsourcing.” JD outsourced his post to someone who loves doing it herself and claims it is a key to success for those that are financially independent. In doing so, he has severely smashed the credibility of the blog (judging by the comments) and by assumption damaged his own financial independence.

    Also, judging from the amount of ads on the guest author’s site I’m guessing she’s not that financially secure. You should read her story on the site as well. Her business plan miscalculated the rates they should be charging clients and as such they were under water financially and having nervous break downs weekly. Out of desperation she jacked up client rates (alot) and LUCKILY none of her clients left. This is supposed to be inspiring? Sounds more like a bait and switch credit card interest rate. Dodging a financial and business bullet doesn’t make you the oracle from Omaha…but the tone of the guest post seems to come from this angle. I wish good fortunes on you in the future.

  154. I see stupid people says 10 February 2010 at 17:09

    I find it highly entertaining reading the posts of people who say things like, “It’s a global economy..if American’s can’t compete, too bad!”.
    The posters are talking about competing with highly protected economies, which PROHIBIT COMPETITION FROM THE USA within the countries. Of *course* you can hire someone in India for pennies an hour to fix your own shortcomings in spelling, grammar, and, (likely) thinking. India PROTECTS ITS ECONOMY from external companies, leaving its people living largely in the dirt, under the boot of A SOCIALLY DESIGNATED CLASS STRUCTURE. (Lookup the word “Caste”).
    Same deal in China. A billion people living in the dirt, and kept there, by a government that assures the poverty of the vast majority of its people, along with the crazy wealth of a ruling upper class. Seriously, American posters here, you need to learn about this “global economy” of which you so glibly write.

    As the “economic crisis” has demonstrated, the US, and its Wall Street ruling class, are quickly headed down the road to an identical two class system: The rich, and the poor. The poor will be made poor by the US Government failing to do the job for which it was created: To represent the people of the USA.

    The US government, backed by Wall Street money, has dissolved the economic protections that every other country in the world keeps in place. The result is that the US is being gutted by artificially cheapened 3rd world labor..which is enriching a few at the top of the economic heap in the USA…at the expense of the many.

    Now, if you are reading this blog, you probably hope to crawl into that top tier. Forget it. Here’s why:
    By the time you get there, this will not be a place you want to live.
    2 class societies are universally unjust, unsafe, and unsavory.

    I seriously suggest that these readers buy themselves a clue with their next ‘windfall’.

  155. J.D. says 10 February 2010 at 17:27

    Chris (#153) wrote: JD outsourced his post to someone who loves doing it herself and claims it is a key to success for those that are financially independent. In doing so, he has severely smashed the credibility of the blog (judging by the comments) and by assumption damaged his own financial independence.

    Fascinating. I really did outsource part of the blog, yet that parallel had never occurred to me. However, I should sincerely hope that credibility built through four years of work isn’t smashed through one guest post that stirred divided reactions. That seems…well, silly. Let’s argue the post on its merits (or lack of them, if you’re in that camp), learn from it, and move on. But to say that this one post defines the blog seems extreme.

    @I see stupid people (#154 and earlier)
    Chill. You’re making some good points, but you’re being a jerk as you do so. This isn’t Digg, YouTube, or USA Today. Just because you’re anonymous doesn’t mean you should be an asshole. Make your points, but don’t belittle other readers. There’s no call for it. Thanks.

  156. John Stevens says 10 February 2010 at 17:28

    I find this post very annoying and sad; and if it’s not obvious why… then I put up my hands in exasperation.

  157. Investor Junkie says 10 February 2010 at 17:32

    Interesting responses to this guest post.

    Let me be frank. I follow this blog, and I find many of the topics quite boring. Basically rehashing the same topics but from different angles.

    Also the PF blogsphere seems to have many wannabes. People who are just starting out giving advice on how to manage finances. It’s akin to someone telling how to raise kids when they themselves don’t have any. I’m NOT suggesting JD is one of them.

    If you agree with Erica or not, it can be said she’s had some level of financial success. I sure will listen to Erica’s advice over someone who is 50k in consumer debt and took out a interest only home mortgage.

    At least for me as a business owner and entrepreneur mindset I think she’s spot on with her discussion. It’s amazing how many on this blog don’t get it. I’m not sure if it’s because of their background (primarily employees), jealousy seeping through, or some “buy American” isolationism. Rightly or wrongly, globalism is here and here to stay. You can either use it to help make the world a better place, while you profit from it in the end, or bitch about it.

    I would consider myself interested in more advanced topics. I’m way past the basic topics commonly presented here. I realize I might not fit the web site’s demo, which is fine, and was one of the reasons I setup my own blog.

    Let’s all be on the same page. Personal finance is VERY simple. Spend less than you earn and invest the difference! While you might not be consumer debt free yet, the concept itself pretty straightforward.

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see topics discussed openly that aren’t discussed anywhere else. This is a real topic if or when you achieve financial independence. After all isn’t that the reason you are reading this blog to begin with?

  158. imelda says 10 February 2010 at 17:34

    Like many commenters, I found this post to be off-putting. She writes with a very patent smugness, and bragging about paying someone $3/hour is gross. Moreover, I think Erica is deeply misguided. I’m sure no one here will agree with me, because it goes against the philosophy of most PF websites. But IMO, humans are really, really bad at identifying what makes us happy. The richer we get, the worse we eat and the worse we feel. The more leisure time we have, the more hours we spend in front of the TV or aimlessly browsing the net. Our dissatisfaction grows.

    I predict that in a few years Erica is going to look back and realize she wasted a whole lot of money, and got used to a standard of living and a tremendous sense of entitlement that cannot last.

  159. Nathan Hangen says 10 February 2010 at 17:40

    What’s funny here is that not a single person complaining pays a dime to JD for his free fricking content every week…yet they feel they have a right to complain…classic entitlement mentality.

    If you want to control the content, then try paying for it…works like a charm.

  160. forty2 says 10 February 2010 at 17:46

    Wow, cheap much? $30 for cleaning up after your mess? You can’t spare two whole hours a week to keep your kitchen clean? Oh, right, it’s only your personal chef who sees the mess… silly me. And seriously, gluten-free cooking is not rocket science. Avoid prepared foods and anything grain-based. It’s just not that goddam hard unless you insist on eating gluten-freen junk food like cupcakes and Chee-tos.

    This post reeks of gloating, insufferable entitlement. “Look at all these poor people I have working for me for nearly nothing! I am impawtant! Oh BBL gotta go ‘meditate’ while Consuela cleans up my mess and Eduardo edits my urgently-needed blather for $3/hr”.

    There’s these things called empathy, tone, and self-sufficiency. Have you heard of them?

    Fail, GRS.

  161. jim says 10 February 2010 at 18:02

    Disliking this article doesn’t mean you are poor, a jingoist, jealous or that you hate rich people.

    Sakura-chan #152, thank you for elaborating on the cost of living in the Philippines, that is something people like my self in the USA don’t have much idea about. Given the numbers you cite, it sounds like $3/hr where you live is closer to the standard of living of ~$7/hr or minimum wage level in many parts of the USA.

  162. Funny about Money says 10 February 2010 at 18:03

    I don’t know why this post seems to bother me, but it does. Not meaning to be unkind to the author, but something here feels self-indulgent; or maybe “smug” is le mot juste. Plus some of the factoids give one pause.

    For example, if you paid a VA $3.33 an hour and she worked 40 hours a week for you (somehow I’ll bet yours doesn’t), you’d pay her $6,660 a year, assuming you gave her a two-week vacation. According to World Salaries’s international cost of living database, the cost of living in the Philippines is .226 of the COL in the United States. My calculator says $65,000 x .226 is $14,690, a far cry from the peanuts you’re paying this lady.

    I find it profoundly offensive that, in a time when our fellow countrymen and women are suffering widespread unemployment and underemployment, a person who claims to be so affluent she can “outsource” everyday tasks is exploiting people overseas instead of hiring Americans for a fair wage.

    LOL! If, as a laid-off American, I could afford “basic cable,” if I could afford to rent a house, if I could afford to hire out the scutwork to slave-wage workers overseas, I’m sure I’d feel “fulfilled,” too! Spare me, Lord! 😀

  163. Naomi says 10 February 2010 at 18:14

    “volunteering 30 minutes of my time to help coach a mom who wanted to make her blog her full-time income”


    I’m starting to think this post was really a joke! Is it April Fools?

  164. Kyle says 10 February 2010 at 18:35

    I’m not sure why these things are so offensive to some people. Money is a tool to make your life better – I outsource some parts of my life in order to have more time to do the things I enjoy. I outsource different things than Erica does but that doesn’t make it any different.

    I have a personal trainer because my own workouts were getting a bit dull and ineffective, so I work out with a trainer once a week who gives me advice on what to do on my own. Sure, I could spend time researching new exercises on the web, but its easier and more motivating to have a trainer. This isn’t something I think I’ll always pay for but right now its worth the money.

    I have a financial advisor. I tell him my goals and he helps me put together a plan to accomplish those goals.

    I enjoy cooking so I’ll never outsource that, but I’ve considered having a grocery delivery service before. Some of the grocery stores around me even do this for free – though they tend to be more expensive up scale grocery stores.

    I’ve changed the oil on my own car before, but normally I pay someone to do that for me. Sometimes I wash my car by hand and sometimes I go through a car wash – especially in cool weather.

    Get over it people.

  165. G says 10 February 2010 at 18:48

    The conversation on this post was interesting… I think I would have agreed with what the author was doing if only her windfall was a lot more than a million dollars. How long will it be before she runs out of money? What will she do about her many outsourced tasks then?
    Personally, if I can ever afford it, I’m going to hire a driver to drive me around during the winter months. I’ll do my own cooking & cleaning though.

  166. Darwin's Finance says 10 February 2010 at 18:57

    Wow, lots of haters out tonight. While the author may have rubbed people the wrong way, I think many are missing the trend that’s been underway for years now and will only continue…The Theory of Comparative Advantage – do what you do best and outsource the rest.

    Each time you pay for an oil change or a haircut, you outsourced. You’re guilty too – you just beg to differ with WHAT is being outsourced and to what degree.

    I say, if she wants to piss her money away on stuff she could do herself, that’s her business; she sounds rather content in doing so.

    I can’t say I outsource much at all, but I can’t take too much fault with the author. I loved the topic; just did a post on this one tonight linking in with the bigger picture IMHO.

  167. KF says 10 February 2010 at 19:11

    We all outsource tasks that we’d rather pay for than do ourselves. Funny how we are used to some of them and they have been normalized in our culture, and others we still moralize about (especially given that Erica pays a lot better than many of us probably do for things we never think about). ALL of these are luxuries. Almost every American lives luxuriously by international standards and can afford to have others do things for them, yet we judge others for doing it in ways we can’t afford. I used to get paid $1.50 to babysit, which was well below the minimum wage at the time, and on one cared.

    A sampling:

    Babysitters, chefs (at restaurants just for 1 night or personal chefs), dog walkers, pet caretakers, retirement homes workers and others who take care of our elderly family members, hospice workers, private tutors and educators, maids/housekeepers, personal assistants, trainers, gardeners, people to shovel snow, lawnmowers, car washers, mechanics, masseurs, spa employees, manicurists, hair stylists, waxers, stylists, accountants, lawyers, chauffeurs, taxi drivers, day care providers, butchers, and the list goes on for every service we utilize yet don’t do ourselves…

  168. lyn says 10 February 2010 at 19:19

    I love the post and I totally agree with #86 Kevin and #42 mmee….

    #42 said:
    “It’s interesting that many people say, “I can’t relate.” Here’s the thing: the path to amassing wealth is fraught with giving up control of things like labor, cleaning, etc. Knowing that you can’t handle it all is an important step to becoming wealthy and affects scalability.”

    That comment is very true and may be why some think the “haters” of this post may never “get rich,” because getting there is a mindset. I also found it interesting that some of the most-offended comments come from women, and in a relationship women usually are the ones doing a majority of these domestic jobs. In my family we “outsource” work, because both my husband and I have jobs. I could not be nearly as successful as I am today, if instead of doing my work, I were cleaning dishes. Time is a commodity.

  169. sakura-chan says 10 February 2010 at 19:28

    @jim (#161)
    thank you. I just wanted people here to see that $3/hr is not that big. it is not upper middle class.
    I would agree with #162 (funny about money) that $14690 is reasonable wage. That kind of salary in the Philippines is ok.
    I am not against outsourcing but rather, I want that people be paid what is due to them.

  170. Nate says 10 February 2010 at 19:57

    JD — I am sorry about some of these insanely mean comments that are being tossed about… You are doing a fantastic job — this post was a great addition. Your credibility is safe (it was never in danger in fact…).

    I am getting ready to pre-order the book tomorrow – am very excited for you 🙂

    I would hope that you would continue to offer diverse offerings like the post today — was very pleased to see it. Have a great one!!!!!!!

  171. Marie says 10 February 2010 at 20:00

    I’ve been struggling to find work for 18 months, and I can’t muster any emotions about this post other than aggravation.

  172. Chris says 10 February 2010 at 20:28

    I agree with others that have said they like hearing about the final stage of personal finance. This post, however, doesn’t really seem to relate to that at all. After you’ve worked hard to be sensible with your money and are at a stAge with some more mature philosophies maybe then you can share a post with us about financial independance.

    Well done on hiring some poor sucker From a less affluent country for such a pittance. Why not pay them the same as your American servants?

  173. Pat says 10 February 2010 at 20:44

    I enjoyed this article in that it gave one person’s experience in finding what worked for HER situation. I’m not in the financial situation that she is, however, I learned long ago that I can only do so much and sometimes it is worth “outsourcing” certain tasks than the stress of trying to take care of them plus all else on my plate.

    I work two jobs, my husband is retired military and is currently a stay-at-home dad as we have two children with multiple disabilities whom require a lot of care. Due to lack of time on both of our parts and health issues, we outsourced our yard work. We first invested in having our yard completely redone into a low maintenance, outdoor living space and we have it maintained by a yard service. As it is, my husband barely keeps up on the 4 small garden boxes that are his domain. Plus if I have time for working in the yard, it is either dark or raining. With the service, we know it is being taken care of properly, we can ENJOY the space – which is the only getaway spot we have at times and we are not stressing about it. To us, it is well worth the cost of $89/month. We will cut out other items before we cut out the yard.

    Just my 2 cents.

  174. Amy says 10 February 2010 at 20:56

    JD is doing a fantastic job and I’m so thankful he produces this blog. I look forward to each post. By criticizing a guest post I’m not criticizing JD or even the blog – every blog has its hiccups, and this post is one of them.

    The core of the post – “When I got enough money, I outsourced chores” – is a great point, though I find it to be a pretty obvious one. One makes money in order to be able to afford time for themselves. When I lived in a large city and was making decent money and had a busy lifestyle, I dropped my laundry off at the laundromat. It was only slightly more expensive than using the machines, and saved me a good 3 hours a week. I pay someone to do my taxes because I don’t feel like doing it. I use the drive-through car wash rather than the self-use coin-op one. In other words, even the not-rich-yet look at their income and expenses and calculate the payoffs from outsourcing.

    In a nutshell, “outsource when you can afford it and it gives you time enough to be worth it to you” seems almost too basic, though it’s good advice and it *is* always interesting to see the basics explored in detail.

    However, the way this post explores outsourcing mundane tasks (which I criticized heavily in an earlier comment) is highly offensive. Ever notice how when corporations outsource production to third world countries, they never brag about the 50 cents an hour without benefits they get to get away with paying? Yeah, that’s because it pisses people off.

    If someone wants to get away with paying below-market wages to third worlders, fine by me, but I reserve the right to shame them publicly when they pretend that they’re doing both the third worlders and the first worlders a favor.

    And on the topic of housecleaners or VAs loving or not loving their work: I, too, know housecleaners who enjoy their work. They get paid better than Erica’s cleaner too, and in an area of the country where a dollar goes much further. They love their freedom and gain satisfaction from a job well done. However, the test of loving/being passionate about one’s work is: would I do this if I didn’t need money and could do this as much as I wanted? I don’t know anyone, even the housecleaners I know who love their work, who would continue going to other people’s homes to clean them if they didn’t need the money at all. It may be fulfilling work, but cleaning other people’s homes generally is work, not a passion.

    And of course now someone will post about their neighbor who goes to each house in the neighborhood every week to scrub toilets because they love to do it and don’t ask for any money for it!

  175. Kristin says 10 February 2010 at 21:18

    I really enjoyed this article, and applaud JD for running content that he doesn’t 100% agree with. I look forward to reading more articles from those who have already achieved what so many of us are striving for: to achieve successes in business. And I find the author’s age (same as my own) an inspiration. How great that there are others in their mid-twenties who are working hard to build something of value, and who are smart enough to sell it for such a large profit! I would love to read more about Erica’s path to where she is now.

    I think the heart of this article boils down to:

    1) Achieving financial success does not always result in the satisfaction many of think it will
    2) It’s important to continue to look for fulfilling ways to spend your time
    3) This particular author found that she is passionate about business and helping others to build web-based businesses, so that is what she has opted to continue to do
    4) She took the very smart path of identifying those tasks in life that she either does not enjoy doing, or does not do as well as someone else (the video editing) and outsourced those. Good for her!

    I’m an American currently working in a large metro area in SE Asia for an international corporation. Entry level salaries for new college grads at this corporation are around $50,000 USD in the states, entry level in Taiwan at this same corporation is just under $15,000. My colleagues in Taiwan are able to maintain a ‘better’ (obviously subjective) standard of living than my former colleagues in the U.S. despite the salary difference. They are able to eat out for every lunch, buy new clothes on a more regular basis, and generally have far more disposable income after their needs are met than most of my American colleagues.

    Is the pay discrepancy ‘fair’? Taiwanese companies pay less for their services than U.S. companies do. It’s a market-based economy, and the prices and thus the salaries are based on what the market will bear. Nothing’s more fair than that.

    Americans are some of the only people in the world who would dare to fault someone for outsourcing personal tasks. In many countries it is viewed as an OBLIGATION- if you can afford to hire someone to take care of your lawn, you have a moral obligation to do so and provide another person with work. It is seen as selfish and miserly to ‘hoard’ those tasks and do them yourself. Good for Erica for providing work to others, and for focusing on building up a second successful business!

    I would highly recommend reading Friedman’s ‘The World is Flat’ for anyone interested in a good perspective on the globalization of our economy. I think a lot of the previous commenters could use a broader perspective.

  176. quinsy says 10 February 2010 at 22:08

    One fascinating point that it seems a lot of people are missing is how cheaply Erica is able to outsource everything she doesn’t like. There are tons of comments about how she’s blowing her money on an unsustainable lifestyle while she sits around and does nothing.

    I counted $60 per week for housecleaner, $35 more in food budget per week for deliveries of food from a personal chef. There is also a personal assistant who does bookkeeping and laundry etc. around the house, but no numbers on what that costs. I’m guessing it’s cheap. I don’t count the VAs and video editors, because they are really a part of her business, not her personal chore-avoidance plan. 🙂

    So let’s say it costs $200 per week for the cleaner, chef, and chore helper.

    In return you are probably getting something like 15 hours of extra free time per week to enjoy or be productive (2 hrs cleaning/wk, 1hr per day cooking, 6 hours doing chores around the house) – WOW. That is a bargain!! It would be worth a lot to me to have that kind of extra free time.

    Total cost per year using my estimations, $10,400.
    Would you pay $10,900 per year to never have to do any chores you didn’t like again, if you were a successful businesswoman? I think not taking a deal like that would be a waste of your time and potential happiness.

    How long would it take, I wonder, to use up $10,400 per year if you had $500,000 to blow and never wanted to put another cent towards it? Well, I am no good at math, but not including any interest income on the half a million in the meantime, it looks like it would take 47 years to spend your windfall on that.

    Is not having to do things you don’t like for 50 years a good way to spend your windfall? I don’t think most windfall-earners do anything that sensible with it. It’s hard for me to argue with it – in fact, go Erica!!!

    🙂 and I do know a few people who seriously LOVE to clean. Have one friend who literally used to like to come to my place when she lived close by and clean it because it just pained her so much to see it dirty and she is great at cleaning and organizing. And she never got any money in return, just my friendship! My aunt has worked as a housecleaner all her life and just got a windfall as an inheritance. I wondered if she would find a new way to spend her time. Well, now she cleans houses for our family for fun, and got a job making minimum wage working at a kennel, walking dogs and giving them baths, because she loves it! So it is easy for me to believe that people could get some pretty good enjoyment out of doing some of this stuff for a living, it isn’t for me but I’m not judging…

  177. laura says 10 February 2010 at 22:13

    Wow. I’m also unsettled by the negativity. I’m very happy for the author. I hope to be there one day and would like for people to also be happy for me when I get there.

    I can relate to this article because it is where I want to be. I know that the first step in getting to where you want to go is to visualize it. So while i’m not where the author is (nowhere near!), I can relate. That makes me happy.

    i think this is the perfect article for GRS because not everyone is an employee. Some have side jobs to throw at debt. Some love these side jobs and it’s inspiring to see someone build their job to such heights that they sell it for large sums of money. I think it’s great because you see someone going through the process of figuring out what they did wrong (not having a purpose) and what they did about it.

    @ the people who jump to conclusions and assume the author is lazy, why do immediately think people are lazy? This is a short article, not an autobiography. You don’t know the subtext of the author’s life. I have a form of autism and get overwhelmed with simple tasks that everyone else merely finds annoying. As a matter of fact, I spent 40 years being made fun of and put down because I was “lazy”. I’m not lazy. I’m very hard working. But i wasn’t diagnosed.

    But I don’t tell people that. It’s none of their business. I merely state that I don’t like doing “X”. You don’t know the story behind the story. You shouldn’t just assume people are lazy. the 4-hour workweek book is all about this subject. I don’t think that people have to do all the work themselves and be martyrs. That’s an out-dated “idle hands” work ethic. It’s silly.

    I don’t think the author was smug or bragging at all. She’s just excited and happy. I’m happy i paid off the mortgage last week. I’m very excited about it. I hope people don’t think i’m smug or self-righteous just because I’m happy about it.

    A million dollars isn’t going to go very far if she pays someone in the US to do the work. Plus, she said she spent some of the money. She’s no longer a millionaire, most likely, even though she has a new business. remember she said she kept putting all her money back into the original business. she’s probably doing the same again.

    Minium wage is $10 in places. That’s triple what she’s paying now. She may not be able to afford the much higher salary since she’s just starting out in her new business. So if she can’t afford to hire someone at minimum wage (plus an employer’s share of SS, etc.), she shouldn’t hire anyone at all? that makes no sense. Now, granted, I’m just guessing maybe she can’t afford to pay a higher wage, but everyone is just assuming she’s refusing to hire someone in the US. I don’t think people should discriminate and hire only people here in the US just because they live here. I know a lot of people, unfortunately, who take this view to the extreme (not that any of you are) and they have a sense of entitlement, “I don’t have to be the best, I live here in the States so you should pay me.” this is a personal finance site. It’s about getting the best bang for your buck. If that is in the Philippines, okay.

    @ All the people who assume housework is demeaning, you can’t be proud of it or have a passion for it, etc.:
    My cousin cleans houses and she LOVES it. She gets to work when she wants to work. She doesn’t have to worry about backstabbing coworkers. It’s quiet and she finds the work peaceful. She has a sense of security because if one client goes away, she still has others. If she inadvertently finds herself working for a beast, she finds a new client and gets rid of the beast. I don’t think that people should look down your nose and assume someone is being an elitist just because YOU consider the job to be so demeaning (or whatever) that you can’t possibly imagine someone thinking it is their passion. And she is VERY grateful she has each job. She dropped out of high school and doesn’t want to go back to school, ever. So yeah, she is very grateful for the jobs she gets. My bible skills are rusty, but isn’t there something in there about being grateful for what you have and for being where you are? Why is it so difficult to believe that some people can be grateful? Granted not everyone will be, but that doesn’t mean the author hasn’t managed to find the ones that are.

    People have been asking for more posts on what life is like after getting out of debt. This person wrote about it. And the vast majority of comments hate it! You may not choose to live your post-debt life this way, but it is one example of how life can be, which is what we asked for.

    Also, did the author not say it took her 6 years of hard work, sacrificing relationships, etc., to get where she is? How in the world is that not getting rich slowly? It’s not like she won the lottery or inherited the money overnight. Six years is a long time.

    For the people that posted on the “windfall’ before the author’s post: Women tend to put themselves down a little and dismiss their efforts as nothing. How do you know that’s not what she was doing by calling her 6 years of hard work a “windfall”? Just because she called it that doesn’t give the readers the right to do so. We should be calling her out for dismissing the work she did, not aiding and abetting this demeaning attitude on herself by also calling it a windfall. Granted, now we know what she meant, but you didn’t at the time.

    Please, please, please have more articles on what life is like after debt. This was great! Everyone has get out of debt articles. It’s refreshing to see what life is like on the other side, even if it wasn’t written the way JD writes or it wasn’t reflective of how you would spend your money. Ditto on what kevin @ 86 says. Kevin’s post was very well written (unlike this long, rambly one!)

    I like that the author figured out what it would take to make her happy and then made it happen. That’s not easy to do.

  178. Waning Moon says 10 February 2010 at 22:42

    First time commenter here at GRS! I’ve been reading through the archives for a few weeks and thought I’d pipe up now 😉

    This was a very interesting post and even more interesting comments; I’ve been returning throughout the day to read the new ones. I’m inclined to agree with those who take a more moderate approach to the article, which is to say that I may or may not choose to spend my proverbial money on these exact things, but there is nothing wrong with Erica doing so, and certainly nothing wrong with outsourcing jobs you don’t want to do yourself (as others have detailed, we all do this, all the time). It doesn’t make the author lazy or smug or any of the nasty names she’s been called.

    I was also disappointed to see that a fair number of commenters feel that this post reflects on GRS and J.D. himself, which–even if I were to be offended by the article–I think is ludicrous. Based on what I’ve seen in the last three or four weeks, following links to post after post from 2006 on, J.D. has put a LOT of work into making this blog helpful and insightful. Not to mention that I’m blown away by his honesty and integrity and transparency about his personal finances. Again, even if this post were a blight on the surface of GRS, which I do not agree it is, it is nothing to get one’s panties in a wad over, and certainly nothing to insult J.D. about! Sheesh!

    I agree with a previous commenter who insightfully said something along the lines of, “When I see a post I disagree with or can’t relate to, I hold my tongue and wait for the next one.” Apparently basic manners don’t matter when all it takes to flame someone is a few keystrokes and a mouse click.

    Keep up the amazing work, J.D.! You’ve been a tremendous help and inspiration to me and many others! Bravo!

  179. Erin says 10 February 2010 at 23:12

    Wow! This is a fabulous post! I love it. We am in debt, but so what? That is not the gist of this post. We’ll get out of it and then what? The post was all about setting out to deliberately create a life that work for YOU, not create a life that works for someone else. I, for one, am grateful that Erica shared so much about the details of her lifestyle. The money isn’t the message, the deliberation is.

  180. Dickpowerz says 10 February 2010 at 23:27

    This article is interesting. we can all learn that money does not bring happiness but without it is also can cause misery and depression. The most important thing is to manage our money properly, secure our future and do things that make us happy. Someone once said that there is no one at his death bed who ever worried about his bank accounts and the fortune he/she will leave behind. Most people who are sick love the company and fellowship of freinds and family members. I do invest so that i dont spend more time worrying about the next meal but focus on important things in life that make me happy.

    from Johannesburg. South Africa.

  181. Becky says 10 February 2010 at 23:48

    I found the article interesting and it certainly has generated discussion.

    I’m an American living in Poland. We do a lot of “charity work”. We have a couple of ladies who needed groceries and I was feeling the need to help them out. I remember thinking that it was ridiculous that I was running around like crazy trying to get things done, including buying “their groceries” (since we never “give” money).

    I knew I was going to help both of these ladies, but I decided instead, to have them work for me. One of them to do some major ironing tasks (quilt tops) that needed some major time and the other to come to my house to clean. I could have done the cleaning, but decided that if I was going to buy her groceries (like $30 worth), I’d rather she come clean for me for $5/hour.

    Yes, I felt guilty about coming up to the computer to work while she cleaned. I’m quite capable of cleaning. However, she told me she “enjoys” cleaning. Those were her words. She’d rather clean than take care of kids/babysit. (I’d rather teach English.) She appreciates the work (even if it is just cleaning) and I do appreciate the clean oven and floors. But the truth is, when people come to work for us, we always have to be here and delegate, explain, solve problems, etc. It is usually something we do to let others earn money–even more than because I/we can’t do the work ourselves.

    Anyway, if they work for me, I can give them money (pay them) and they can buy what they want.

    why do people (not only Erika, but others on the blogosphere) consider that cooking is so hard? Can you read? Do you have an oven that works? Get a cook book and just do it. What’s so hard about it? (I have a degree in Home ec ed, BTW…but cooking isn’t really very difficult. The hardest is organizing everything to get done at the same time while handling a household/managing children–which Erika doesn’t even have)–you could learn to cook, Erika, if you ever want to/need to.

  182. Fern Alix LaRocca CFP® says 11 February 2010 at 00:30

    Wow! How refreshing! I was in a similar situation. A horrific car accident turned by life upside down- for the better-even while being at death’s door for almost two years. I never went back to my home or my office. But my marriage was still intact and the windfall from the sale of my business still keeps us well off. After goofing off for a couple of years, I got a coach and got focused on how I can help others GRS. It’s unconventional and my old school colleagues think I am nuts. But I am enjoying myself, healing myself and helping others at the same time. The wealth is a by product- I feel empowered to be able to make money and support myself in any situation.

  183. CrystalsQuest says 11 February 2010 at 04:07

    I came across here thanks to a comment via Twitter (I follow Erica) and found it fascinating to read all the comments.

    You can almost pick the financial situation of the commenter by the comments they make – they all seem to run in bands. Those working in jobs they hate all sounded defensive and read the article as arrogant. People afraid for their financial future were all pointing out the sky that could fall in with only half a mil to live on – hang on, people, she’s managed to raise that by age 26 – I don’t think she needs to worry about a 401k, since she’s already well above the income level where it could be any more than loose change to her! Then the progressive ones who were open to Erica’s point of view and, funnily enough, seemed to mostly mention being in a comfortable situation themselves. Finally the commenters that found value in it all seemed to have got to a decent level of financial stability themselves.
    (PS I hate to think what financial situation DJ is in!)

    Hmm. Thanks Erica. Getting such a stimulating discussion going, you’ve just given me more proof that what I’ve long believed is true – your mind really does create and sustain your financial limits.

  184. David/Yourfinances101 says 11 February 2010 at 04:31

    Could not relate at all to this piece. To say the advice is unconventional is an understatement, in my estimation.

    Could be on the path back to financial struggles, the way I see it.

    Sure, enjoy yourself if you can afford to, but remember where you came from too.

  185. Beth says 11 February 2010 at 06:24

    Wow. There’s so much judgment in these comments, it’s unreal! It’s odd how people put down others for their judgments, then proceed to judge the commenter. Why are we being so mean?

    Since my comments yesterday, I was thinking about things I outsource. (I’m not the only Beth on this thread, btw). Some may consider it a waste of time to hem pants, but I can sew reasonable well so I consider that a money-saving step. I like to cook, so it’s not a bother for me.

    However, I don’t sew my own clothing (no talent there!), I do not do car repairs (no space, no expertise), and there’s no way I’m cutting or colouring my own hair! (that’s just a disaster waiting to happen!)

    My point is that we all have things that we can do based on our schedules, interests and talents. I truly believe it’s our attitudes towards ourselves and others that make tasks menial or not worthwhile. We live in a society where we’re taught to value people based on their income and the prestige of their job, and I think we need to challenge this idea more.

  186. quinsy says 11 February 2010 at 07:16

    I was just re-reading the comments too, and had another thought.

    I think a number of negative comments stem from the assumption that because something is not difficult, it’s inherently wrong to pay someone else to do it instead of doing it yourself. These people seem to be missing the point. Erica’s very talented, obviously she could cook or clean if she wanted to. But she doesn’t want to. She wouldn’t enjoy that. She wants to be happy. But these commenters would rather that she be less happy, but save more money, reflecting an attitude of ‘you may be well off, but that doesn’t mean you can relax and enjoy it!’

    Just because something is easy doesn’t mean you have to do it. It is interesting to me that so many people have obviously not embraced JD’s core message about doing what works for you and letting other people do what works for them, as well as using your money to make you happy instead of miserably penny pinching just because you could always save more.

  187. MossySF says 11 February 2010 at 07:52

    I’ll make a comment from the entrepreuner view. If you’re self-employed or run a small business, there is no such thing as personal time. A CEO of a company would not do every job themselves — that’s why they have employees. So when there is no separation between personal and business, outsourcing cooking or cleaning becomes a business decision. After all, several hours a day doing those activities means several less hours per day working on your business and could mean the difference between success or failure.

  188. James Schipper says 11 February 2010 at 07:56

    Great article, Erica. Thanks for putting it up here, JD. I have followed both this blog and Erica’s work for about a year or so. I’ve never interacted with either of them.

    The comments here are understandable. The majority of the people who follow this blog and most PF sites are not in Erica’s shoes. They might get there someday, but a lot of them will not. Those that are able to get their minds around the way the world works, the concepts presented here and other places, and take action on the changes they need to make in their lives will have a chance to get there.

    You don’t have to sell your souls to get there, but many of the commenters here are aghast at outsourcing, wages in other countries, and pay for labor jobs.

    $3.33 an hour is a decent wage in the Philippines. Someone alluded earlier that she should be paying that person more, and compared it to a $65,000/yr U.S. job. Find me a U.S. transcriptionist making that kind of dough. The person who makes that here has their own company, and outsources the labor to other employees just as Erica does (probably overseas, as well). They also don’t just have a single client, just like Erica’s contractor.

    Using the term windfall threw people off as if she hadn’t poured her blood, sweat, and life into her previous company for years. She risked everything, did well, and successfully sold the business she had built from scratch. She didn’t get an inheritance from a relative she never knew about. She earned it. I wouldn’t have chosen that term, but she meant it as she finally didn’t have to work, and she had a bunch of money after her years of hard work.

    She is also not nearly as dumb as a lot of the commenters are implying. She is not just spending into negative cashflow every month. She is a businesswoman who built and sold a company for seven figures. Do you really think she is pissing it all away to avoid using Windex? She may have gone a little spend-happy in those first months, like anyone would after finally “getting there” where we all are told is what “there” is supposed to be. But she didn’t just retire and expect $1.1mil to sustain her for the next 70 years while outsourcing everything willy-nilly.

    I’m sure if she’d had the time and space to include every detail of her financial life as well as her mindset and life’s story, she would have. I read the article and got several points out of it that I found useful. Then I read the comments.

    Different people will always interpret writings differently (look at the Bible), but going through life picking apart things people say makes it tougher to learn valuable lessons from them. Especially when it’s based on the wording of a few minor points about how they spend their money and assuming so many other things. It says a lot more about why you aren’t in her shoes than it says anything negative about her.

    Make no mistake: There is a big difference in mindset one needs to have between being a millionaire businessperson (either earning it or sustaining it), and those people who are still in the “ZOMG!! COUPONS!!” stage of personal finance. There may be rare exceptions, but generally they don’t mix.

    You just got a look into the strategies of someone who is where you are trying to be. You might want to learn from that if you ever want to be there yourself.

  189. Wayne K says 11 February 2010 at 08:18

    JD (155) – Thanks for standing behind the post. This is a thought provoking post. It’s obvious by all the comments. I do not understand why so many believe every GRS post has to relate to them? The “create an emergency fund” posts no longer apply to me. I skip over them and wait for the next post.

    Great job! I enjoy your blog. Keep it up!

  190. dmack says 11 February 2010 at 08:56

    Yes I would agree, there is more to life than mowing the lawn, taking out the trash and cleaning the garage. I personally marvel at how full life must feel when a person gets to be truly excellent at what they do (AND get paid for it) -regardless of whatever talent that may be.  So many of the ‘greats’ of history that made significant contributions to society received little or no compensation for their contributions. This discussion for me is about a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence “change” or development. A crucible if you will. Money is only one of the variables in the equation. So the way I read the blog was more about a sense of urgency to achieve desired results rather than ‘how much’ or ‘who’ to pay to achieve them. In other words, how to be a good steward with what you have been given.

    In general, I think you may agree – we are all given time, talent and treasure (ie money) in various amounts, and some can bloom like a rose and others are never even given a chance to sprout. And yes I would agree nobody ever said life is fair. Poverty, malnutrition, neglect, infectious disease and loss all these things have been with the human race from the very beginning. How we cope with them is what determines our final experience in life. (whether we have tons of money or not) Some end up bitter and resentful of their lot in life and some soar like the eagles despite them. From the time we are born if we are blessed, we start in diapers as a child with caring parents and maybe after a long life – ironically end up being cared for and again in diapers before we pass. Hospice, has a term called “actively dying” when a patient moves from living with an illness to losing a battle and passing over. I think we are all “actively dying” in a way if you stop and think about it. How you use your time talent and treasure is completely up to you. The bible is very vague about a couple of things – who to marry and what “job” you should do. Regardless of the job you have or how much it pays, it is important to remember what Romans 12:4-8 says:

    4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
    5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
    6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
    7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
    8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership,
    let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

    In Steve Pressfield’s book the The War of Art he states “We have two lives: the life we live and the unlived life we dream about. Resistance fills the gap in-between.” However it should also be mentioned that Resistance in nature is a necessary evil, for example wind is what strengthens trees, and allows eagles to soar, but too much and you have a tornado and too little and the eagle can’t fly. Resistance in life makes us grow – too much can also cause us to do nothing more than mark time. Psychologists note that trauma often leads to a shift in behavior — the worse the trauma, the more lasting the change. For example, a near-death experience typically leads people to permanently shift their focus from material success to intrinsic rewards like good relationships and personal growth. (Even a calm requires a grain of sand in order to create a pearl)

    How many people do you know that have a hobby but don’t pursue it, own a piano but don’t play, have a fabulous kitchen but are too busy to cook, own an ipod but don’t have time to down load music, a cell phone but don’t know how to get ring tones, exercise equipment or a gym membership and don’t go, or a Bible but don’t open it? How every you choose to spend your time and money remember like it says in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
    but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win”

    Finally I want to leave you with one last thought:
    The Parable of the Talents
    14″Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
    19″After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
    21″His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
    22″The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
    23″His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
    24″Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
    26″His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
    28″ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    IMHO Everybody is given a talent or talents (a little or a lot) to use or spend – No matter where you live or what you do (or who you pay) just remember that nobody wants to end up being the last guy that had just one talent when your story ends.

  191. Amy says 11 February 2010 at 09:06

    It’s interesting to see that many of the pro-Erica commenters accuse other commenters of making assumptions, such as the “passion” comment or the “$3/hr in the Philippines = $65k a year” comment.

    In fact those are not assumptions, but what Erica said in the post itself!

    Let’s not try to kill the messenger here, and deal with facts rather than making false accusations.

  192. Marian says 11 February 2010 at 09:42

    I was intrigued by the article and agree with Erica that sometimes it makes sense to outsource work. I also thought that she needs to find more meaning in life and not treat every “menial” task as something which must be done by someone else. There is dignity to taking care of oneself.

    Occasionally, we have people do carpentry, painting, landscaping or housekeeping. We always pay them a just wage regardless of who they are. Sometimes they are Americans; sometimes not. I try to buy American or Fair Trade foreign goods and avoid things made in China. I’ve commented before about our huge deficit with China. But I don’t angst if I can’t find what I want if its not fair trade or American made. I just don’t buy that much stuff.

    JD, I think that larger issues such as outsourcing, the deficit with China etc. do belong on a personal finance site if they relate back to personal finance and are not an abstract tutorial.

    To me Erica’s post points out the choices that people have as they achieve or near financial independence. How do they stop thinking about survival and maximize the positive impact their money can have and minimize the negative? The downside of capitalism is that what is rational for the individual (buying, hiring cheap) is not necessarily good for society.

    Overall, I’d say this was a good guest blog to post.

  193. KittyBoarder says 11 February 2010 at 09:44

    For those of you who are having trouble with Erica paying $3 an hour to a foreigner, I want you to all answer this question:

    Will you spend $7 at Wal-mart buying a baby blanket or $75 at a local boutique shop for practically the same thing, but made by the boutique shop owner?

    I mean, seriously, give me an honest answer… Then try to relate to business people’s decisions on outsourcing..

    And you know very clearly why Wal-mart can sell cheap goods… So give me a break!!

  194. Willow says 11 February 2010 at 10:00

    Kittyboarder, I’ll answer your rather aggressive question. I would spin my own yarn from fleece from a friend’s sheep and knit the baby blanket myself, actually. Walmart is not a foregone conclusion for every citizen.

  195. KittyBoarder says 11 February 2010 at 10:35

    Bottom line, there are three groups of commenters out there as #183 CrystalQuest put it:
    1) Those who are still struggling trying to make sense of their financial situations hate this post

    2) Those who are on their way to financial freedom but still working at it can accept it with an open mind

    3) Those who made it or currently running their own businesses successfully love the idea.

    So for those of you who can’t relate or making negative comments about this post, you might want to pause and ask yourself why you are not on the other side of the fence. Mindset is everything when you want to achieve something. So maybe you can put down your defense and learn a few things from those who have been there and done it.

    So first, re-read what commenter #187 has said:
    ” So when there is no separation between personal and business, outsourcing cooking or cleaning becomes a business decision. After all, several hours a day doing those activities means several less hours per day working on your business and could mean the difference between success or failure.”

    It’s so true for anybody who is running a business, Erica included.

  196. jim says 11 February 2010 at 10:57

    “You can almost pick the financial situation of the commenter by the comments they make”

    No. No you can’t. That would be making unsubstantiated assumptions.

  197. SP says 11 February 2010 at 11:08

    JD – Thank you for posting. It has certainly been a provocative discussion. Whether we relate to the post or not, I think it has given us all cause to think about what is important to us and what we might do if we were to find ourselves in a similar place. It speaks to finding our passions and our comfort zones (in Erica’s case building and running a business) and also provides a perspective on how we might (or might not) spend our money and our time when we get rich slowly (or quickly) and whether or not how we are spending our time and money reflects our own individual value sets. A very good discussion.

  198. Drummer says 11 February 2010 at 11:47

    I think while Erica seems like a generally well-intentioned person, I think it’s important to keep in mind that she’s a 26 year-old who grew up in relative affluence and security. And I’m sorry, someone that age in that situation simply does not have true life experience. Take a 26 year-old war orphan from Africa, that’s a different story.

    I think what a lot of people are picking up on as smugness is the seeming lack of appreciation on Erica’s part for the role luck played in her life. Yes, she worked hard at her business, but so do many other people who never get to cash out like she did. Right place, right time.

    Warren Buffet readily admits his fortune is largely a result of being born in the right country at the right time. I don’t remember the exact quote, but he openly admits that he’d be fairly useless in a society that didn’t have an investing class.

    In fact, most great people I know or know of tend to show a bit of gratitude and humility about the hand they’ve been dealt in life. And I see none of that displayed by her, either in her article here, her comments back, or her blog itself.

    But again, she’s 26 years old. She’s yet but a wee pup in my book. She’ll learn eventually, just like we all do.

  199. Crystal says 11 February 2010 at 12:53

    This post made me think about the difference between my parents and myself as well. My parents are way better off than I am but they always shake their heads when I bring up that the maid just left or the lawn guy’s coming (no, I don’t mention it on purpose…once I had to explain why I wanted them to take off their shoes – the maid had just left and the wood laminate was drying…another time they asked when we were going to mow).

    I’m 27 and married with a net worth at around $125,000 and we make about $78,000 a year jointly.

    My parents are retired and rich…I don’t know exactly how rich, but we’ve had discussions of them buying $250,000 properties with cash without making a large dent.

    We still butt heads over the fact that I have a maid and a lawn care service. My hubby and I live on about half of what we make including the mortgage overpayment. We live frugally in other aspects of our lives. But we do splurge on biweekly maid service ($45) for our bottom floor and biweekly lawn care ($25 including weeding).

    I’m now wondering if the very different views on this post are because of age differences? My parents spend way more than I do on things like $1000 fish tanks, but they are completely against paying someone else to do the things they don’t want to…I don’t understand.

    My dad does not find lawncare “calming”…he hates it. My mom constantly complains about housework. Isn’t it silly to keep bitching when it would be so easy and semi-economical ($80 biweekly for a maid and $50 biweekly for the lawn) to have someone else do it? Especially since they are living way below their means anyway?

  200. JSKF says 11 February 2010 at 12:58

    I’ve found that the quality of the the articles posted on this site have gone down significantly since JD started writing his book. Prior to the book, I read every article eagerly and gained valuable information from intelligently written articles. However, articles like this one are pathetic. I gained nothing by reading it and feel that Erica needs to stop bragging about paying someone $3.33 an hour. JD claims to not necessarily agree with this article, yet he’s posted it which indirectly condones Erica’s choices. I’m finding myself deleting my morning Get Rich Slowly email without reading it more and more often because every time I do read them, I’m disappointed, angered, and often confused.

  201. KittyBoarder says 11 February 2010 at 13:00

    @199 Crystal,
    It might be the value system difference. A lot of folks don’t believe in hiring others if they can do the same job themselves.

    My mother runs a store. She hire people for inventory, tax and other stuff, but I know for a fact she will never hire anybody to brush her toilet. Not a chance.

  202. Crystal says 11 February 2010 at 13:07

    I value time with friends, with family, and even time in front of the tv more than I value cleaning my bathroom or weeding…wouldn’t everyone? Well, unless you truly enjoy cleaning, wouldn’t you rather be doing something else?

  203. Crystal says 11 February 2010 at 13:10

    I guess my real question is, what makes it wrong to hire someone else? If they need/want the work and you don’t want to do it and can afford it, why not?

  204. DreamChaser57 says 11 February 2010 at 13:21

    With all due respect, I must say that I wholeheartedly and vehemently disagree with the sentiments expressed in Post #200. I feel JD has displayed remarkable maturity by allowing the platform he has created and nurtured to be used to discuss diverse topics offered by people who have had different experiences. JD cannot possibly speak to every nuance of the spectrum of experiences in the world of personal finance. Every post cannot and should not be about discretionary spending, reducing debt, and considering living a credit card free life. I also think the body of JD’s work, on Get Rich Slowly, speaks volumes about his character and commitment. I do not think it’s a reasonable expectation to expect that you will thoroughly enjoy every post as this is a public forum. I live in a high rise apartment building in a Midwest burgeoning metropolis; I do not have the space to accommodate a garden as the outdoor spaces are common areas that does not mean I abhor the Gardening posts. I learn something from virtually every post, and the commentary, irrespective of the topic, is always insightful. JD should not be tethered to his computer every waking moment of the day because people cannot simply stand to read a post that he has not personally authored. My preference is JD, but I dare not say that no one else can offer something that can help me along on this marathon of fiscal fitness. JD – I implore you to remain courageous and continue to offer divergent viewpoints on the different stages of personal finance. A scarcity mentality is a sad thing and can represent a very real psychological obstacle to attaining and sustaining wealth. Debt is the place where I am now, but it is not the place I want to always be. Being a visionary means creating in your mind’s eye, the end game, -picturing yourself and the people who mean the most to you enjoying the fruit of all your labors.

  205. cashcow says 11 February 2010 at 13:34

    How do the outsourcing efforts affect kids? Do they see that mom and dad don’t do any housework, cooking, etc. and lose out on learning the value of work? Those with experience, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  206. Shara says 11 February 2010 at 13:35


    A lot of it is emotional. But there is a lot that can go into it.

    For example my grandmother never would have hired a maid because of privacy. Not necessarily the thought of someone going through her things, but the general knowing how messy her family was and what kind of ‘stuff’ she had.

    For some people it’s an issue of self sufficiency. Sure, I am a professional, but what does it say about me if I can’t cook and I’m dependent on someone else if I want something more complicated than Cherrios?

    For others it’s the whiff of snobbery. They think someone unwilling to do their own drudgery may think themselves too important for it, rather than it simply being a question of efficiency (I think this is big in this discussion as people latched onto the idea of cleaning as a ‘passion’).

    And some people find it a waste and the antithesis of getting rich. Instead of buying ‘stuff’ you don’t need you are spending money on ‘time’ you don’t really need. As others pointed out there is a grey area where hiring someone to do a task frees up your time. But I know people who make that claim and use the time to sunbathe or something equally as productive. That isn’t to say that downtime isn’t necessary but it IS a ‘waste’ if you are capable of doing the task yourself. Just read some of the discussions about how big of a house you ‘need’ and you will find the same attitude about big houses.

    Ultimately I think there is also a generational thing, not just Erica looking at things differently, but also because she’s so young. It is one thing for a 50 year old to say “I’m sick of cleaning my toilets. I have money so I’ll pay someone else to clean up.” But it is something different for someone who has only been out in the world for a few years to do it. There is an assumption of paying dues and developing a competence before putting off these chores.

    And there is a legitimate argument made when people talk about how long $1M will last. Any resources spent now aren’t saved for the future. That doesn’t mean that everything needs to be saved, but the spending/saving decisions she makes now will be huge later. A maid for one week now might be a month of a maid in 30 years.

    Her money, her decisions. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate criticisms. Especially when she puts it out there for public consumption and discussion.

    As I said above: my criticism isn’t for her spending, but her writing. I don’t think she left a true impression of what she was trying to say. People have been caught in the specifics rather than the story she was TRYING to tell.

  207. Shara says 11 February 2010 at 13:48

    Oh, and perhaps I am old fashioned in this, but I think doing your own chores can build character. No matter how qualified you are for your career, taking care of yourself is a specific set of skills at which I think everyone should remain competent (this is general as I don’t know enough about Erica to comment on her specifically).

    It bothers me a little how much emphasis she puts on seeking happiness. I don’t think you can find happiness when you’re searching for it. And it rings a sour note with me to read ‘I will be happier if I don’t have to cook or clean.’ That sounds immature and short sighted to me. What if her new venture goes under and she can’t afford a maid? Will she be less happy?

  208. Naomi says 11 February 2010 at 14:44

    I’m curious – how do you know that the people who didn’t like this post are poor and the people who liked this post are rich? You can’t possibly know that. Preposterous!

  209. Wendy says 11 February 2010 at 16:00

    JD thank you for providing these guest posts. ( I love yours too!) They bring different viewpoints and get lively discussions from your readers. I would like to read about peoples successes and their failures, and am frankly tired of get out of debt, scrimping and saving stories. Yes, you have to start somewhere, but where do people go from there?
    This particular post seems to have brought out the nasty in quite a few people. I will call them “haters”, since many were critical and sounded a bit jealous. “How DARE a 28 YO hire a maid and chef…ooh isn’t she all high and mighty.”
    Of the 200+ replies none offered her any sugestions about investing her money or ways to preserve her wealth. Is it because she’s young and they feel she’s “got enough” or more than she deserves?
    Everybody “outsources” everyday, yet when it comes to cleaning and cooking it’s something that’s taboo or only reserved for the “rich and famous”.
    It’s really about your priorities and what you enjoy and what your trade-offs are. Some would rather not have cable TV or a latte a day and hire soemone else that can do a better job at cleaning or cooking.
    At the end of the day we’re all running the “business” of our lives and weighing the opportunity cost of doing it ourselves or hiring someone else to do it.
    @ Cashcow- When I was growing up I was the “outsource provider”, I had chores- some were paid via an allowance and some were not and were more about learning responsibility and self reliance. I grew up poor but priviledged in my associations and contacts. Some friends had live-in housekeepers, some just had maidservice once per week. The maids only cleaned common areas such as living rooms and kitchens, my friends still had to clean their rooms and bathrooms and keep the other rooms free of clutter. When I asked my friends why the maid didn’t clean the whole house they said that their parents’ expected them to know how to be self sufficient and when the kids could afford to pay the maid for her services, she could clean their rooms. Of course it never happened because they realized if they did the work themsleves they’d be able to spend the little money they made on fun stuff.
    I think you can outsource some things while still providing opportunities for kids to learn the value of work. I have “outsourced” yardwork to my teenagers, but my standards were too high and they didn’t want to do all the work, so I hired a professional.

  210. EK says 11 February 2010 at 16:04

    While I’m not sure I would make the same decisions as the author, I’m intrigued both by the article and by the responses.

    I really love the premise of the post – namely, what do you do when you’ve attained financial security? With the immediate goals of getting out of debt and making the big purchase (such as a house) you’d been planning for, it’s great to get ideas on how the remaining funds available to you can enhance your life.

    I’d love to see more posts with different approaches to the same situation!

  211. Carla | Green and Chic says 11 February 2010 at 16:14

    I think it was a great post – very inspiring! Of course, the comments on GRS is more entertaining than the actual post in most cases. 😉

    Its great to see things from the other side once in a while, especially someone who is not in their traditional retirement age. Given I am still young (31) with some physical limitations from a chronic illness, I would love to be able to hire someone every once in a while to cook, clean, etc. I definitely could have used someone when I was at my worst physically. Being able to hire someone, even occasionally is what I’m working towards so that I can have more time to just take care of myself.

    Why cant we be happy for someone who “made it”?

  212. Rika says 11 February 2010 at 16:15

    I was really pleased when my parents (both busy professionals) hired someone to do the ironing, because it meant that all the fighting stopped. The lady was grateful for the work, too.

    Having it all doesn’t have to mean doing it all.

  213. sashie says 11 February 2010 at 16:35


    I think many of us are assuming that those who didn’t like the article aren’t financially rich because many of them made comments like “It must be nice to find out that having all that money made you depressed”, “I wouldn’t make those terrible choices if I had that much money” and “I don’t have a job because of evil outsourcing by people like Erica” and lots of other comments to that effect.

    I haven’t read one comment that from someone who has said they have as much (or more) money than Erica but are choosing not to outsource some of the work in their daily life. I haven’t heard anyone speak as a business owner and decry what she is doing. And I haven’t heard very much at all constructive questioning of how Erica has invested her windfall, how much of her principal she has invested in her new business or what her financial long term plans are. I think that is why many of us read the negative comments as sour grapes and jealousy.

  214. Tara says 11 February 2010 at 16:52

    I agree with poster #99, the amount she has isn’t really all that much. If I had that much in the bank, I would consider that a reasonable start on my retirement fund, and would keep working and spending responsibly.

    My partner and I do have a cleaning woman and gardener, a couple who have worked for him before I met him for many years. They need the money to support their family and we would not want to deprive them of their source of income, even though I was initially uncomfortable with the idea of paying someone to do something I could do myself. We pay them a good living wage and treat them with respect, so I have reconciled myself to the situation. It doesn’t have to be a slippery slope.

  215. Dan says 11 February 2010 at 17:15


    If you’re taking votes on content like this, I say “keep ’em running every once in awhile.”

    As others have written, there’s only so many times those in the PF blog-o-sphere can write about creating budgets, getting a second job, paying off credit card debt, cutting up credit cards, cutting out starbucks, dropping premium cable, don’t rent-to-own, drive a used car, etc.

    I’m ready for “what’s next,” too.

    One advanced topic worth introducing to your readers is that of Net Present Value. Just as “a million just ain’t what it used to be” your mortgage payment on the 360th month of a 30-year mortgage just isn’t worth the same as that those same dollars on the 1st month of your mortgage. When comparing the true cost of a 30-year mortgage of a 15-year mortgage, it’s wrong to neglect that… and every single PF blog does. (Or should I say, no writer has covered that topic.)

    I like the controversial topics, too. I’ve learned a thing or two from reading them. One thing that no other blogger has talked about is charitable giving. Run a post on the merits of it, and let your readers have at it. Personally, I get paid by the hour, and as someone who has yet to reach the American dream (positive net worth, home ownership) I want to know why I should be giving it away when I have outstanding debts. I mean, if I’m just going to give it away, why not just work less? Where does charity belong in the realm of PF?

  216. JB says 11 February 2010 at 17:32

    I know exactly what I’ll do when I win the lottery. First, the usual: pay off everything, buy the things on my lottery version of the bucket list; and travel the world at least once and see everything (should take about a year to get the full effect).

    Right about then would be when boredom would set in. To combat that, I’d go to grad school; get an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in I’m-Not-Sure-What-Yet; spend inordinate amounts of time playing with and riding my horse; and read. A LOT.

    I should be so lucky as to have the “problem” of being so financially above-water that I’m bored.

  217. Investor Junkie says 11 February 2010 at 17:37

    @sashie. That’s my point exactly. Comments like those aren’t made by someone who’s at Erica’s level of net worth or higher. Someone who is a business owner is usually high net worth. Though someone who has high net worth isn’t always a business owner. Erica’s post is about taking her personal life and treating it as a business.

    I think the greater disconnect in the comments are from employees, than from business owners. It’s a different thought process for each. I can understand the angle employees are coming from, but I don’t agree with it. 😉 Having others do work for you is foreign to anyone who’s never owned a business.

  218. katiya says 11 February 2010 at 18:42

    Erica and JD

    I enjoyed the article immensely and will go over to Erica’s blog and learn more. I took a lot away from the article and didn’t expect every point made to agree with what I would do. I was hoping to find articles here and there about people who have made and/or inherited money and what they wanted to achieve out of life.

    Personally, I live below my means so I can afford a housecleaner once a month to do those tasks I find harder to do. I also do my hair and go out to eat sometimes. My word, I must be squandering my hard earned dollars according to some here. Apparenty JD did not agree with Erica’s viewpoint on her article but it was a different point of view which I appreciated.

    That said, I felt many comments to be quite judgmental toward Erica. I figured she didn’t have the space to list everything she decided upon with her money. Sounds like she is living and spending her money and time where she feels it is appropriate to her situation. Very informative…

  219. gary says 11 February 2010 at 19:36

    I enjoyed the post and comments – and I love watching this site evolve!

    From my perspective why not hire a maid if you can? Being able to work instead of clean during that time could net more money or give one more time to relax, hence it is a better choice for Erica. Another thing – consider that the people Erica hired are working on being successful and need her and other employers to achieve their own walth. If her employees were let go because Erica decided to do all of those things herself then we would have that many more people struggling with their own goals in a bad economy. I’ve worked lower paying jobs before just to stay afloat, but it was with a goal in mind – I needed that work to get to where I am today.

  220. Not My Mother says 11 February 2010 at 20:09

    @DJ for economics to work, you need to look beyond your own doorstep to the world at large.

    We are in a global economy. Sure there are people in the US who need the work, but they can’t do it for the price the people in the phillipines can do it for. This is called free trade. In return the $3.33 the person in the Philippines gets is actually really good for them in their market where there are even fewer jobs, and allows them to get ahead. As their standard of living and economy improves, the prices they set will also increase to a form of parity. The US is not isolated in a bubble; it needs to compete with the rest of the world. If someone can’t do the job for the same price, then they need to find something else to do that they can do to give value.

    A really good book to read on the subject is The Undercover Economist (check Amazon). It explains these things far better than I could.

  221. Cathy says 11 February 2010 at 20:57

    I found this post to be rather sad, actually. I read nothing in it to indicate to me that she found what she was searching for. There isn’t the ring of epiphany of a life changing moment. Somehow, I don’t believe that hiring people to do her manual labor and working on a new business are really what matters. These are things to fill the time.

  222. Nelson says 11 February 2010 at 22:05

    I really enjoyed this article and found it valuable. I should look into outsourcing more of the things I don’t like to do. To the people who find this sad, get a life. If no-one hired anyone else to do the things they didn’t want to do, the unemployment rate would be higher not lower.

  223. Willow says 12 February 2010 at 08:44

    I’m amazed at how many people here are equating outsourcing a job to the Philippines with hiring a neighbor kid to mow your lawn! They are not the same. The difference is one of investment in one’s own community.

    I live in a community that I love and I hire locally. I buy locally, I shop at local merchants and keep my money in my town as much as possible, even when it costs more, because I see what happens when people don’t. Keeping the local small hardware store open is more important to me than finding the lowest price, since the value I get from spending my money is not solely measured by the thing I buy, but by the community relationships and diversity of small merchants that my purchase maintains.

    I don’t work because I don’t have to. I am NOT poor, yet I disliked this article. Please, folks, accept that thinking that outsourcing to foreign countries is bad for our neighbors does not make us jealous, poor, hateful, or any of the other names you have called us. We have different values. I value keeping my community afloat because I know and like my neighbors.

  224. Investor Junkie says 12 February 2010 at 09:07


    What you describe is nationalism and with a dash of isolationism. How do you truly do such things you describe in a globalized world?? I assume you have an “American” made car? You do understand while it may be assembled in the US, many of the parts of that car are not built in the USA? How does any country or local area do what you describe? You can’t. We are all inter-connected in some way. Not every place has the resources to do everything! It’s just not possible.

    What you are doing is artificially supporting local merchants. OK fine for you, but if everyone did that would decrease the standard of living. A local merchant CAN compete with a big box store or a foreign company, it’s just not on price. As you imply, products and services consist of many more things than just price alone.

    It’s other things like service, personal touch, combining other items into a package deal, etc…. These are the only reasons I’ll choose a local vendor. In the end it’s all getting the best value for your money and is ultimately why people choose one vendor over another. Location, while always a factor is becoming less and less of an issue than previous times in history. Your community is becoming the world at large and with specific niches that you enjoy. After all you are commenting on a blog that the world has access to. I’m sure most of your local community could care less about the subjects discussed here.

  225. Arturo says 12 February 2010 at 09:26

    Lots of comments! A friend forwarded this article to me. Interesting.
    It’s good to see people ‘financially independent’ (from here on known as “FI”). Especially when they continue to contribute after their success has blossomed. Like Erica, I’ve seen some people run into the dilemma as to what to do when they do not work anymore. I’ve found that what really has changed is purpose. You use to wake up and your energy was spent “working”. And then one day, you don’t need to anymore. It happens a lot with those who retire. Some even fear it because they don’t know what to do with the rest of their lives.
    In my opinion, this is a good article to remind me of what NOT to do. If I may share some points from the article and combine it with what I have learned so far in my life.
    Like many who receive a quick windfall of money, few of them go to financial advisors. Even fewer go to other seasoned FI people to ask what they did after crossing the FI bridge, and what their advice is for others who are crossing. As well, from the smarter FI people, you get the same consensus of “The harder you work for your money, the more you value it”. So those who reach this FI point slowly, more planned out, don’t swing to the wild side of spending their money like there was no more poverty on Earth. Moreover, those who enjoyed their life as they attained their FI goal, rarely change their lifestyle afterwards. It’s why you find lots of millionaires still shopping at discount stores and driving around in their reliable not-so-new vehicles. They found out that happiness is found in everything, not after x and y happens.
    FI should never be a goal for happiness. Specifically, becoming FI does not make you happier. Erica’s depression was a clear result of that expectation that a million dollars may bring. I believe that is a common illusion.
    There are lots who love what they do in their job and consider it being free because they get to do what they want to do. FI does not mean you should stop working, it just means you can focus more on the things you have a passion about without the distraction of a “job”.
    Real happiness comes from helping others (and not just paying them, but making a difference in people’s lives that ripple for generations). It’s why Erica probably feels that sense of fulfillment she has by outsourcing her life. So now Erica is independent of the things she has chosen to not like. That seems to be clear. She’s outsourced duties she considers to be chores to which have very little if no value. Because if the opposite were true, she’d be doing them. This is common for all of us. We are happy when we get immediate gratification, or feelings of joy. And when we don’t, we think we are unhappy. It’s why those who put joy in their experiences find happiness in all areas of life. I can understand why many those who responded here felt that despite the fact that she is giving paid opportunities for others to do what they like, there might be this sense of justification she is displaying of having others serve her for low pay (in our standards). This is a much longer topic of discussion but basically comes down to paying what you are think they are worth, not what they are willing to take. Clearly, she is proud of she think they are worth.
    Eating out is a luxury. So getting a chef isn’t cheaper. It’s just a less expensive way to not cook.
    The difference between someone when someone is financially independent and one who is not, is mostly dependant on their choice of lifestyle. Those content with less, will find they can be FI sooner than those who are not. And everyone can choose when to begin and how to get there. Notice I didn’t say “when”… because real freedom begins when you have that choice. And if you enjoy each day of that journey, then you have lived free and FI takes on a less important role. And if you want to reach FI sooner, then don’t require so many ingredients for your happiness.
    Definitely this article is quite the opposite of what I would recommend. As a financially independent 32 year old, I have done the opposite of what Erica has done. I actually spent less after becoming FI because most of my expenses had to do as a necessity to make my income (when I finished my job, so did those expenses)
    Don’t outsource your life. The displayed article is not in any way advanced personal financial techniques and even dangerous as at the beginning it presumes you are in a position of non-financial independence with a scenario of still saving for retirement and daily needs met by your “income”. I would say keep saving until you are FI. And when you are, don’t start spending like Erica did. Especially to avoid fights with your loved ones. If you need money to fix your problems, then your dependant on money for happiness.
    Erica’s quest to “what should she be to be happy?” is the wrong question in my opinion, her question should be “Who can I help?”. Help others to get what they need, and you will as well.

  226. Honey says 12 February 2010 at 09:52

    I enjoy cooking and lots of the day-to-day cleaning up of things around the house, though I could see hiring someone to do some of the more infrequent “deeper cleaning” tasks if I could afford to.

    The comments of Arturo and others are food for thought, though I will say again that not everyone finds charitable work or donations a fulfilling use of their time or money. If I were financially independent I’d do a lot of work for animal rights/rescue organizations, but my partner and I have made a committment to never donate to charities that benefit people.

  227. Arturo says 12 February 2010 at 10:33

    @Honey – I can understand your position about not donating to charities that benefit people. I think, however, it depends on the reason you would be helping them. Would you say it would make sense to help people if in turn they helped in the area of animal rights/rescue? You can do great work on your own, but put yourself to the power of a million and you have a force to which can make a difference worldwide.

  228. Honey says 12 February 2010 at 10:38

    I see what’s attractive about that line of reasoning, but I would rather make a huge difference in a limited number of lives than a tiny difference in a huge number of lives.

    So I’d rather adopt a cat from the Humane Society and take care of it for a decade than I would to donate a small amount of money every year to them (as it is I have only donated to specific emergencies, like when I donated to PETA after Hurricane Katrina).

    Similarly, I think Erica’s doing more good by hiring 4 people to work part-time for her than she would by donating the equivalent of their salaries to a charitable organization.

  229. Arturo says 12 February 2010 at 10:57

    @Honey – That line is not only attractive, I live it. And it’s using the same idea as the compounding nature my investments take as they take care of me. You help a few to get on their feet and do what their passionate about, and they in turn go and do the same. You can narrow down your focus to a group of people who want to do this. You grow in turn as you help them. Your purpose gets fufilled and when you eventually pass, you can say you helped more than just a few. Instead, you empowered many to empower others to carry on. But ideally, a few decades from now, organizations like PETA will not need to exist.
    Maybe my aspiration is too high for some, but the underlining behaviour of what we do is from what we think, and comes from what we believe. And I know we are all capable of outperforming our greatest dreams. Just need to help each other.

  230. Hilary says 12 February 2010 at 11:09

    JD, I liked this article. Thank you for offering a diverse array of views. It’s nice to have something other than a “how I got out of debt” article once in a while.

    As for me, I am currently a poor college student. I have paid to have my laundry done every 2 weeks. Does this make me lazy? I volunteer, work, go to school full-time, and am involved in extracurricular activities. Having my laundry washed, dried, and folded for me for $40/month is pretty amazing and I don’t mind paying for it. Should I be criticized for that? I hope not.

    When I get out of college and begin to work full-time, one of the first things I will do is hire someone to clean my house. I’m not the cleanest person. It takes precious time out of my studying or time that I could be using to actually enjoy myself to clean. I’m a slow cleaner and I HATE it. I couldn’t think of a better way to waste my time than cleaning, yet I hate living in filth, so I spend a few days a month doing a massive cleaning, but feel guilty about the time lost doing it, and during the rest of the month, it builds up again.

    So where did this notion come in that having a cleaning person is a bad thing? Why are some of you stigmatizing it as something that only the “rich” and “elite” enjoy and criticizing them for it? That’s the feeling I’ve got from some of these comments. In other countries, it’s very common for even the middle class citizens to have a cleaning person. For example, I lived in Guatemala with a host family and there was a lady who came every day to help my host mom cook and clean and she’d stay and eat lunch with us. She was like part of the family! My host mom wasn’t rich; her only income was from having students pay to rent a room in her house.

    Anyway, I am somewhat offended by the notion that those who choose to hire others to pay someone to do a job for an agreed-upon price is somehow a bad thing. The fact that some of us find no joy out of cleaning and doing laundry does not make us lazy.

  231. Honey says 12 February 2010 at 12:30

    @Arturo, yes! I have a PhD and lots of writing center and graduate program administrative experience, so I’ve helped friends revise their resumes to find jobs, get into grad school, etc.

    Animals pay loads of dividends, too. One of my cats is rescued from the pound the day before she was set to be euthanized (no one wanted her b/c she was 6 years old) and she has been one of the best things in my life for 7 years now. My boyfriend similarly adores his dog, which we found abandoned in a parking lot and who may have been a puppy mill breeder.

  232. Money Funk says 12 February 2010 at 13:13

    and you say, “I am happier than I have ever been”. After reading the 4-Hour Work Week and reading your post on your site. I realize if I outsource the mundane daily things then I can focus on the important factors, like spending time with my family.

    Great post. 🙂

  233. Naomi says 12 February 2010 at 13:53

    “my partner and I have made a committment to never donate to charities that benefit people”


  234. Honey says 12 February 2010 at 14:08

    @ Naomi, #233 – easy! Because with very few individual exceptions, we’re misanthropes.

  235. Arturo says 12 February 2010 at 14:16

    @Honey – That’s great. Goes to show how financially independant or not, one can still accomplish to live out their passions and help in the process.As for your misanthropy, that’s sad to hear if it’s true.

    @Hilary – Post #225 relates to what you are saying. But I was taught that the very basis of happiness was never dependant on anything other than making the choice to be happy. As well, that our dislikes, like cleaning, was not only a choice of attitude, but also a financial cost. The original post spoke of what one person did after they became financially independant. This in turn seems to have led to very interesting shared opinions. What I find as a common theme here is that there is this large justification in how we spend our money… and that is directly related to our values. So it makes sense that you might be offended. Someone challenged your values. And that’s good. It’s an opportunity to analyse why you might be offended. I was too before I became financially independant. But in my case, I refused to pay for my mess. I downsized my place and got rid of most of my stuff. I decided that items just accumulated dust and caused more time for me to clean it. If it wasn’t useful, then it went out the door. That not only saved me from hiring someone to maintain my stuff, but it saved the money from buying things. That got all invested. Now I make money from my “maid” and “my junk”. On top of that, my “house duties” take less than 2 hours total a week, giving time to more important things like family. The best part was that learning to clean my own things gives me perspective of what I consider of value, what my ecological footprint is on this planet and how grateful I am of the things I do have. And that’s just my opinion and where I have put my values.

    Check out what this Australian did: http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/luxury/tycoon-trades-high-life-for-bedsit-20100209-npsx.html

    I don’t quite endorse that, but I do admire those who make the necessary changes to put their virtues back on track.

  236. KittyBoarder says 12 February 2010 at 16:44

    I don’t understand why human beings are less than animals that we don’t deserv to be helped. There are elders, young ones, disabled ones all over the world that need others to help them. I don’t quite understand why animals are precious, but our little kids are not?

  237. Honey says 12 February 2010 at 17:07

    @Kittyboarder – I never said that. I just don’t think that private charitable organizations are the best way to improve people’s situations. Economically I lean towards socialism…I’d rather be taxed at 40% and have the government provide services than have people be helped through charity or churchwork (I am also atheist).

    Also, since the world is overpopulated by at least 3 billion people and people (unlike animals) have a choice about whether or not they reproduce, I think withholding my money from organizations intended to benefit people is consistent with my values. Though once I am financially stable I would TOTALLY donate money to an organization that gave free IUD’s to impoverished people in the US and abroad who felt they were unable to raise a child.

  238. Nicole says 12 February 2010 at 17:18

    Jeez, Honey, your website needs a NSFW warning. Innocent people could click on it thinking it might have cute kitten pictures.

  239. a Filipina says 12 February 2010 at 17:21

    It’s Erica’s money and she alone can decide what she does with it. But to say “I realized my money could serve a fantastic dual purpose: To allow others, whose passion is cooking, cleaning, or assisting in various ways to help me – while I supported them by giving them income to do what they loved” is just sad.

    I’m having a really hard time relating with this article. It’s hard for me to believe that the people Erica hires just love their jobs. I don’t love cleaning my toilet. And I especially don’t love cleaning other people’s toilet. I wouldn’t call that passion, I would call that a desperate necessity to make money to feed one’s family.

    Grow up Erica. Maybe by making other people happy (besides throwing a “lifechanging” $3/hr jobs” at people at impoverished countries)—-maybe by serving them for once (volunteerism) you might find a little bit of happiness too.

  240. DreamChaser57 says 12 February 2010 at 18:04

    #237 (Honey) – wow, how gracious of you to want to donate your money to impoverished people to get an IUD. According to you, the world is overpopulated – and somehow you feel that poor people should be the first in to give up their reproductive rights. That’s your idea of charity, its disturbingly replusive

  241. CrystalsQuest says 12 February 2010 at 19:39

    Jim and Naomi – you ask how I know the financial situation of the commenters? Simple, I read them. A lot of the comments here actually include details of the financial situation the commenter was speaking from – most notably the ones who were improving their lot or financially secure already. There was a distinct LACK of any such mention on the part of the flamers, though. Yes, that may be ‘unsubstantiated assumption’ on my part to think that they might not be in the same category as the others, but from personal experience I know what my situation was like when my focus was on things like nitpicking and finding ways to hate people better off than myself, vs when I learned to value both money and myself, and allowed my life to start expressing that open attitude.

    So far I’ve only seen ONE commenter who identified that they didn’t fit in with that generalisation, but then they went on to explain that although they hated the article, there were entirely different reasons for it!

    Bottom line, your focus says a whole lot more about you than you think it does… and it also does a whole lot more to shape your bottom line, too!

  242. Russ says 12 February 2010 at 19:51

    The people pushing altruism as the only means to happiness in the comments are sickening me. Erica earned her money by selling something of value (her business) to someone else who voluntarily paid for it. She did not receive a handout. The idea that she is somehow obligated to turn around and give away what she earned is immoral.

    Those who are upset that she is paying 3$/hour for services are in for a reality check. We don’t live in an isolated society any longer. If someone in the Philippines is willing to do something for 3$/hour, and if you offer the same service, then you’ve got some stiff competition. Why the hell should people in the U.S.A. get preferential treatment? You’re not entitled to a job just because you live in the states, your not entitled to the fruit of someone else’s labor just because you “need” it.

    Those who are trying to tell Erica what she should and shouldn’t do are are the ones who are suffering from the delusion of entitlement. It’s Erica’s money, not yours.

  243. MossySF says 12 February 2010 at 20:03

    242 comments — then on her blog, she has a special offer to buy her secrets on guest posts to drive traffic. She certainly knows how to play the blogging game. I wonder if she put a few hot button issues in on purpose? (outsourcing, class divisions)

    I must say that even now living overseas where I could hire nannies, cooks, housekeepers really cheap ($150/mo), we’ve avoided doing it. Just an extra lack of privacy I guess.

  244. Financial Samurai says 12 February 2010 at 21:00

    I think we have to just admire Erica for how much she’s milking telling everybody she sold a business. She’s done a commendable job and is proud of her work. If she can build a reputation on making $1 million gross selling a business, and then upselling followers on whatever else she makes, that is the American way!

    It’s not the Samurai way, but to each their own.

  245. LMoot says 12 February 2010 at 23:11

    Meh, If I were rich enough to stop working, or not have to work as much I wouldn’t mind cleaning for myself. I think there’s a lot to be said about performing “menial” jobs for yourself. Even though I don’t LIKE cleaning, if I didn’t have to work 40 hours/week I think I would get satisfaction out of cleaning my home. I would take pride that I did this, I made it/keep it this way.

  246. Gia says 13 February 2010 at 04:08

    I live in NYC, and my net income is less than $40,000 and my rent in a very so-so neighborhood is $975/month. But, like Erica, I’m in the “Now what?” phase of my financial life.

    I spent almost five of the past six years paying off debts and the last year and a half saving an emergency fund. I understand Erica’s bout with depression, because I’ve felt somewhat lost since funding my emergency fund. There is a huge gap between having a fully funded emergency fund and having financial freedom. Attaining that goal seems almost impossible with my current income. But the goal itself isn’t impossible, so I’m always looking for new ideas.

    Therefore, it was very refreshing to hear another person’s perspective on how they deal with the “Now what?” phase. I would love to see more posts about this stage of personal finance.

  247. Honey says 13 February 2010 at 08:49

    I never said (nor do I believe) that impoverished people should be the first to “give up” their rights. I think that impoverished people have financial barriers to getting IUDs that the majority of people in developed nations do not have. Further, I think that if they choose to EXERCISE their reproductive rights by making a decision that’s responsible within the realm of their own circumstances as well as society’s/the planet’s, then we should help them do so.

    I don’t understand why that’s controversial.

  248. TR says 13 February 2010 at 14:54

    Surprised no one has really looked at the value of outsourcing, hiring a maid, etc: By hiring this person, am I allowing myself to be more productive in another area of life, and is the value I get from that productivity greater than the money I’m paying to free up that time?

    Paying someone to transcribe interviews so you can put more time into furthering your business or spend more time with your family is useful. Paying someone to transcribe interviews so you can play Xbox is lazy.

  249. JoeTaxpayer says 13 February 2010 at 23:01

    I’m reading the anger regarding the VA overseas and trying to wrap my head around it. Is the objection to the outsourcing, or to the low wage it appears to be?
    Erica stated this VA handles video editing, this is for her business, she not a lazy rich gal paying people run her errands while she watches soaps, she’s offering some insight as to how she’s staffed up for her job.
    The $3.33/hr? do you all have any idea on a global scale how much this is? 86% of the world makes less than this. See globalrichlist dot com if you doubt that. It’s not manual labor in the hot sun or freezing cold, it’s technical work for a fair wage. We have a very distorted view of money in the US.
    More important, would the world be better off if Erica or anyone else who outsourced like this, stopped? Would the Filipinos who all work as VAs be grateful the US flow of money stopped because someone thought we were taking advantage of them? Me, I don’t know what I’d use the VA system for, but if I ever found the need for that kind of help, I’d be asking Erica for a referral.

  250. Holly says 14 February 2010 at 06:33

    Many of you just don’t ‘get it’. A few have mentioned it, but it bears repeating…

    Some of us are just disheartened that this young woman seems to be extremely UN-gracious, UN-selfish, and self-righteous on top of that. It’s the ‘tone’ of the post and the whiff of snobbery that we find offensive.

    My eldest daughter goes to a VERY exclusive college prep school (scholarships) and she is mostly finding out that just because you’re well-off (BTW, we are not, but I would consider our income places us in the top 10%) that does not mean you aren’t nice; most of the girls are very kind and charitable and those who are not are considered show-offs, spoiled, and stand out from the crowd (not in a good way).

    What we are aware of is that Erica has simply become just another American with a silver spoon mentality.

  251. JoeTaxpayer says 14 February 2010 at 08:20

    Holly – “we” are aware of no such thing, unless of course you are either speaking for both you and your husband/fiend, or are the Queen.
    You are correct about Erica being Un-selfish, I agree there. What’s obvious to me is that people can easily misinterpret one’s writing and attribute attitude/motive where none exists.
    I know Erica only from her various posts, on her site and as a guest. I’ve gained both knowledge and time from reading her work, as well as a free eBook she offered.
    You offer a personal anecdote that I find interesting, comparing Erica to the girls with rich parents. The silver spoon metaphor is nearly always used for someone who is born into wealth or inherits it. A self-made entrepreneur is anything but.
    The spoiled classmates of your daughter seem to have had quite an impact on you. Try not to look at the world looking for that attitude where it may not exist.
    If you manage to filter out the attitude you find in this post, you’re left with a woman who runs a business and offers employment to 3 or more people. Would you prefer those three people to have that income taken away?

  252. Terry says 14 February 2010 at 13:54

    “Now what?”

    The cynic in me (that’s about 80 percent) says, quit twiddling your thumbs and start producing!

  253. Holly says 14 February 2010 at 17:18

    Dear JoeTaxpayer:
    My defensive stance regarding those who are affluent is common…net worth does not mean anything…it means more to learn to live outside of yourself.

    It’s a shame that Erica failed to portray her true altruistic voice that would allow us some insight. In my view, the writer’s message failed.

  254. JoeTaxpayer says 14 February 2010 at 17:56

    Holly – fair enough, but there’s a wide gap between “I don’t have a business and can’t relate to the concept of outsourcing” and the personal attack you launched.

  255. Marian says 16 February 2010 at 08:53

    To #215 & others wondering what giving money away to charity & others has to do with personal finance…I’m 55 and have given to a children’s charity since I was 18. This is in addition to money given to church and to other charities occasionally. Today I am very comfortable with little debt. I am rich by the world’s standards if not by U.S.A.’s. If I look over my financial decisions of the past 30 or 40 years, I can see mistakes. Charitable giving is not one of them. I wish I had begun saving for retirement earlier. I could have curbed my spending more. But I daresay that I spent more on ill-fitting clothes, weight loss gimmicks, unfulfilling entertainment than I ever did on charitable giving. And I have gotten more happiness from the charitable giving. Being rich is a very elastic idea; there is always someone richer. So one of the things that charitable giving does is to remind oneself of what you have rather than what you do not have. When you are content you feel richer. Plain and simple.

  256. Arturo says 16 February 2010 at 10:01

    @LMoot/@TR – Well said.

    @JoeTaxpayer – Your last question makes it seem as if Erica has the power to take their income away. Having a job is an opportunity to work for someone else, not a necessity. Remember that currency is just a form of trade. You don’t have to work for money, you can work on your own land, or trade skills, etc. Taking their income away will not change their ability to chose a different way of receiving income. On another note, self-made millionaires and entrepreneurs can have the same silver spoon mentality. Either before, during or after their success. It’s in the attitude. And that’s what I think a lot of people here are talking about in this article. Unless it was ghost written, Erica’s words display her attitude pretty clearly.

    @Marian – Well said. I’ve had a permanent charitable contribution I’ve made since I began working in my youth. I can say though, that I did start saving early. And that my whole life I’ve spent way less than I’ve earned. And because of that, I’m financially free at an incredibly early age. And I did it the “hard” way. And I think it was good for me. Because it taught me how to live, not how to spend. Now my wealth is measured not only in my net worth, but in my contribution. And that’s where we should all be focused. In how we can give, not how much we’re worth. The ironic part of that, is that the more you give, the more you receive. It’s why usually when people find ways to help others, they are rewarded by them. That’s how it started. But then it changed, people are finding lots of ways to trick people and to give them the least possible taking advantage of their situation and justifying it everyway they want. In the end, those may have a high net worth, but also a negative return on humanity.

    Here is a challenge for everyone to which I live: For every dollar you spend on yourself -> Give a dollar to a humanitarian cause to which can not benefit you directly. That’s a high challenge. But you will find that you will either spend WAY less, or find a way to make more so you can spend more. Either way, you will greatly contribute back to worthy causes. What priority do you display when you spend so much on yourself and very little on others?
    What if Erica paid the going USA wage instead of those few dollars/hour? That could be considered a charitable contribution, even if it’s tax credited as one (in Canada, at least, there is a difference between business tax deductions and charitable tax credits). Erica pays them that wage because she can. I never did really take a stand on this issue because it is debatable, but I can say that if she decided to up the anti (spelling?), she will begin a revolution which is not to just pay the lowest possible wage, but to also contribute back and voice that they are worth more. And then others follow, and then more. And then that country is receiving more than they need and they in turn and go and do the same… People usually get rich in two ways: Fulfilling needs or taking advantage of needs. In this aspect, not much has changed. Since the old days where you were not the landowner and the landlord always asked for just enough so you can survive, but not enough for you to go and get your own land. If you step back from this idea, you will find that if you help others become self-sufficient, they in turn can go out and do the same… and the world would change.

  257. JimmyV says 16 February 2010 at 11:04


    Thanks for sharing your story and your advice to help us small business owners succeed.

    If you want to outsource your nutrition, I’d love to help you with your celiac disease.

  258. JoeTaxpayer says 16 February 2010 at 11:30

    @Arturo – I didn’t say and didn’t mean to suggest ‘all their income.’ I said ‘that income’, i.e. the money she’s paying them.
    Specifically to the Asian virtual assistants, I don’t know where you’re going suggesting they find other work. These people have educated themselves to a level where they are comfortable to do video editing, and the wage Erica is paying is far above poverty. You want these people who have acquired a good paying skill to go back to farming?
    It’s a bit disingenuous to suggest she pay 10X the wage to have that work done locally when nearly everything you buy is priced low as it is due to overseas labor.
    Why not first put that expectation on all the companies you deal with here before burdening a young entrepreneur with that?
    What a very strange turn this discuss has taken.

  259. Arturo says 16 February 2010 at 13:26

    @JoeTaxpayer – Sorry for the misunderstanding, but it seems like my comment still stands with your reply there. With comments like: ” I don’t know where you’re going suggesting they find other work”. I know you don’t really mean that, but it does convey the syndrome that somehow (we) “developed” countries/people hold some kind of large influence on their lifestyle. Or how about: “You want these people who have acquired a good paying skill to go back to farming?” What do you mean by that? Erica classified “mundane” work as being of lesser value to her. I think maybe this is what you are trying to convey here. The Argentian countrymen/women are becoming famous for the way they hold value to their land. Each were offered $1.1M US (or about 3.5M pesos) for their 100 acres of land. They refused. Everyone has a choice. Everyone has different values in their lives. On another one of your notes, “It’s a bit disingenuous to suggest she pay 10X the wage to have that work done locally when nearly everything you buy is priced low as it is due to overseas labor.” Again, taking advantage of others. There is a clear line between paying someone what they are actually worth to you, and what you can get them for (knowing they are worth more). You may not be able to see it the way I understand it, but you can’t honestly say that spending your money wisely includes harnessing cheap labour because that’s what everyone else is doing.
    “Why not first put that expectation on all the companies you deal with here before burdening a young entrepreneur with that?” Not sure what age has to do with it. I believe it’s more about purpose. And it’s a full circle again to what I had said before. This is about where your heart is when it comes to money. This is reflected in the manner you spend your money.

  260. JoeTaxpayer says 16 February 2010 at 15:02

    Ok. You feel Erica is taking advantage of others. Do you realize that $6660/yr is more than 86% of the world survives on? Let’s stick with that for a second. The Filipino who has a skill and thanks to the internet is able to join a global market and sell that skill to an individual in the US for a wage he cannot get locally in that field doesn’t feel taken advantage of. Of course she’s only one individual, but if everyone in the US had tasks like this (i.e. things that could be done via the web) it would bid up the wages improving the recipient’s lifestyle further.
    I’m trying to understand the premise of your position as well as those who seem to be against this concept. When you buy a hamburger at McDonald’s you are taking advantage of the employees there, as their wages within the US are far below average. When Erica hires an Asian VA, that wage is above average in that country. There’s a degree’s worth of economic studying to understand how the world benefits by “more” of what she’s doing, not less.

  261. mike says 16 February 2010 at 16:21

    Erica’s post is a dry summary of pretty much any other affluent business owner’s daily routine that I’ve ever heard about… paying people to do jobs that she’s unwilling, unable, or uninterested in doing.

    @Honey, thank you for teaching me a word, misanthropy, that summarizes my view of most of the world around me. Having followed GRS for a while and having seen several of your previous posts, I’ve generally been in complete disagreement with your views (respectfully, of course), most recently including your preference for 40% taxes if the gov’t took care of providing for those in need. Personally, I think most gov’t policy and programs meant to help people generally prevent progress overall. But I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on providing a venue for free IUDs for folks who can’t afford them. Although, I’d argue that the world isn’t over populated – instead, there are just too many leaches who are content with laziness over actually working to improve their own conditions.

  262. Arturo says 17 February 2010 at 10:54

    @JoeTaxpayer – It helps to start your responses in a positive note. I understand the perspective you are asking me to see it under, but I feel it’s that same ideology I’m debunking. The economical sense I hear from you and many others is the same in my opinion, the old capitalistic format. I think to believe it is perfect, is foolish. So if it is not, can it be that this one area, as an example, is where the system fails? Where the enormous gap in economy is not helpful? One could say that this creates a void to which it gets filled eventually… but the system doesn’t do it, people fill that gap by choice and action. And it requires people to take action to do it. Look ay any great change in history worth noting, and you will find as well selfless contribution to make it so. To take for granted these blessings and then oppose the very compassion that gave us what we have today, is not only inevitable folly in our part, but arrogant. My intention here originally was not to say that Erica is selfish, but rather, she could do better… much better. And it’s attitudes like hers that give that prejudice that many who are not financially independent are selfish. But I also shared how many are not selfish, and you’ll be hard pressed to find them as selfless giving is not selfless if you are inviting others to see they have done. So most of the time, you never knew it was some rich guy who helped you out. Thus, it’s good that she wrote this article. It shows the path she took to arrive where she is. It can help lots understand why people end up doing what they do.

  263. Honey says 17 February 2010 at 11:15

    @ mike, #261 – thanks! And I’m well aware that my political, economic, and religious views are VERY extreme and thus shared by a tiny, tiny percentage of people – but at least I have the comfort of knowing I’m right (don’t we all!) 🙂

    For example, I don’t relate at all to the posters who thought that Erica was ungracious or silver-spoon-y in her tone. I thought she sounded exactly like someone I’d enjoy being around. But then again, it seems that modesty/humility is almost universally regarded as a positive character trait, whereas for me, that is one of the most unattractive character traits it is possible to possess.

    I vastly prefer confidence (which is often mistaken for vanity by the insecure) – provided, of course, that confidence is based on a realistic assessment of one’s potential and accomplishments, which I think Erica’s is. For example, I adore Stephen Colbert’s character on Comedy Central, but Jon Stewart’s character gives me the willies 🙂

  264. JoeTaxpayer says 17 February 2010 at 12:43

    Arturo, I appreciate your thoughtful response. There are too many aspects of this to fully discuss them all.
    Yes, I believe in capitalism. And I found the criticism launched at the outsourcing concept (aimed at Erica) to be hypocritical, in general.
    From the food people eat to the clothes they wear and the electronics they buy, there’s cheap foreign labor built into the price. An average American is able to afford certain restaurants because the workers there are paid below average. Are any garments still made here? Sneakers?
    As much as there’s talk of closing the Mexican boarders, has anyone calculated the cost that would come with hiring Americans to do this work?
    I understand there are two ways to look at things. From where I sit, I see that the average American lives better than 99% of the rest of the world. And it prompts one question, does it help those people to buy their services or hurt them?
    I’m not talking about the results of slave labor, of course that’s bad. I don’t imagine that VAs working on computers doing video, graphics, editing, writing are feeling abused. If Bill Gates offered to pay me for my time at $100/hr would you say he’s taking advantage of me or that the deal benefits us both?

  265. Arturo says 17 February 2010 at 13:37

    @JoeTaxpayer – Very well said. As for your last question… it comes down to value… would you be happy knowing that your services is making him $1,000/hr profit? I’m asking how you would feel about it, and not if it’s right or wrong.

  266. JoeTaxpayer says 17 February 2010 at 18:05

    @Arturo – you raise good questions and do a great job framing an issue to get a point across.
    In a sense, you point out a failure of capitalism, the worker doesn’t always get a fair share and those at the top often paid many hundreds of times those in the lower end make.
    Part of the Gates analogy is that as a worker, my risk is far lower, I’ve little to lose. I worked fast food as a teenager and in my record shift single handedly cooked 3000 hot dogs which sold for $1 each. Minimum wage was $3/hr. So I was paid $24. Of course I thought about it, and remember it 30 years later. But jobs weren’t as plentiful as were teens on the waiting list to work. And I chose how to sell my time to keep my own life in balance.
    It would be interesting to find a Filipino blogger willing to talk about the job market there and how they feel about the money coming in.

  267. Russ says 18 February 2010 at 07:16

    @Arturo, @JoeTaxpayer and others, Why do both of you feel the need to apologize for capitalism? I am selfish. I am proud of being selfish. I am proud that I have worked to point where I can see a successful financial future for myself. I am proud that the decisions I make are for the betterment of myself and my family. I will not work so that I can give my results away to someone who hasn’t earned them. It is only on the premise of individual rights and the capitalist system that I am able to support and better myself. To say the capitalist system has failed some and enabled others is a cop-out. If you fail you have only yourself to blame. Granted, success is not always deserved, but it is neither owed to anyone.

    I reject the notion that my happiness is dependent on charitable acts. If you choose to give your wealth away that is your right and your decision. But I find it repulsive that you (Arturo) would suggest that Erica, myself, or anyone else should follow suit. Or worse, that we have an obligation or a duty to do so.

  268. Investor Junkie says 18 February 2010 at 07:21


    Hence one of the reasons why I wrote this post:


    Being selfish on the individual level helps for the greater good.

  269. JoeTaxpayer says 18 February 2010 at 08:16

    Russ, for what it’s worth, I agree with you.
    My “failure of capitalism” remark to Arturo was to make a point not to suggest that was my own view. In this string of comments, I was still trying to parse out the anger I senses toward the article author. Arturo came closest to helping me understand that his objection had to do with how people hire others to their own benefit. If one can point out a flaw in someone making $200K/yr because the employer is actually benefiting from that, we are well beyond Erica, VAs, personal chefs, etc, and inditing capitalism itself.
    We are approaching the ‘flat world’ the book suggests. We are at the point where for example, I can sub out a piece of work, proofreading, video editing, etc, to someone who will do it for what to them is a fair price and to me is a bargain.
    There are a number of possible reactions to this:
    a) acknowledgment that the world has become an amazing market place and seeing how this can apply to us.
    b) discussion suggesting the employers in this case are taking advantage of the workers
    c) further judgment based on the motive/results of that work.

    Snapshots in time are funny things. When I walk by every Haiti collection can and say ‘no’ to every cashier trying to add a dollar to my bill, I am judged. When the crisis first hit, I became aware that an acquaintance was part of a church group that visit Haiti twice per year, and sent him a day’s pay (of mine) to help the cause as they were getting ready to provide aid. This tangent is just to point out that people are going off in many directions. Why would an article on outsourcing take a turn to discussing charity and accusing the writer of not being charitable, I bet she is.

    And in a difference economic structure, workers would get a ‘fair’ cut. They could choose whether to edit a business video for that cut, or my kid’s basketball video we want to send to grandma.

  270. Amy says 18 February 2010 at 09:07

    @Russ and Joe
    These would be sensible sentiments if the world actually were flat. Yet those of us in first world societies are able to make more and spend more because of the benefit we’ve received from living in those societies.

    What are these benefits? A stable government that’s not taken over by despots/military dictators every few years. A stable legal system to enforce laws and contracts. Interstate highways. A regulatory system that works to keep drinking water, medicines, and foodstuffs safe. An education system that produces well-trained engineers, doctors, lawyers, researchers and scholars.

    When we send the fruits of our labors to areas in the world that do not provide their citizens such benefits, yes we’re helping some third-worlder get by, but at the same time we’re supporting and enabling economic and governmental systems that refuse to develop their own resources, human and physical, so that their own people may prosper domestically.

    It’s like sending food aid to North Korea. It makes us feel good, in the same way we rationalize that 3 bucks an hour is a living wage for a third worlder so we’re doing a good thing, but Kim Jong-Il simply seizes the shipments and distributes them on the black market or among the country’s elite, and it doesn’t get to the starving populace.

    The world truly is today’s market, but there’s no need to delude ourselves that sending the wealth we’ve worked to build thanks to our stable economic, social, and political system abroad – to nations that rely on the influx of that wealth to keep from developing similar systems for their own people – is a net good.

    Recognize that it’s not capitalism in a vacuum that makes us wealthy, but rather the stable economic system made possible by a government that was created to further the common good (gasp!), that enables capitalism to thrive.

  271. Russ says 18 February 2010 at 09:28

    @Amy, The facts you state about third-world governments are arguments for capitalism and they are the reasons why we do not owe our wealth to anyone else. The only way government can “support” capitalism is by protecting individual rights and getting out of the way. Capitalism is by definition laissez-faire. Governments that circumvent this are acting to favor the interests of some individuals over others’ which is a violation of individual rights and a corruption of capitalism. Governments that do this and populations that put up with it get what they ask for. Liberty is truly rare and I don’t think we value it as highly as we should. Liberty is the reason “fairness” in the context of capitalism is moot — you are free to engage only in the contracts that you deem to be fair and reject those you deem otherwise. Under capitalism you cannot be taken advantage of unless you willingly agree to the terms.

    @Joe, I frankly am not really sure what you are saying.

  272. Russ says 18 February 2010 at 10:55

    @Amy, Re-reading your post I think that you have hit on a point that I may have over looked. The role governments play in all of this is huge. You say that our system of government has allowed capitalism to thrive. This is true in some ways and false in others, but I would take it further and say that Capitalism is more a philosophy of politics than of economics. A government that recognizes individual rights and does not intervene in private enterprise is a capitalist government. The US is certainly a hybrid system but it is arguably the best that we have (getting progressively worse since the creation of the federal reserve).

    To bring it back to outsourcing – If both parties are entering into the contract under their own free will to mutual benefit I cannot see how it would be wrong. That is exactly what has lifted this country to it’s current standard of living and it is what has to happen in order for third-world countries to be lifted out of poverty. If a counter-party’s benefit will be co-opted by a malicious government or if they are entering into it against their will then I think that would be an immoral contract. (The US government enforces its share of these I might add.)

  273. Arturo says 18 February 2010 at 12:01

    @JoeTaxpayer — Thank you. I agree with the employee/employer concept. The more risk you take, the less security, yet larger possible gain. I did both. And in the end, my business’ did not do as well as my boring “save for financial independence” plan. As for the Haiti comment, I agree completely. Happens to me. They don’t understand however, that I don’t just give when there is great necessity. I believe it’s always there, so even my donations are budgeted. So when you get a natural disaster, we do well to be compassionate and help out. I think the way you supported your acquaintance was awesome. When I talk about humane spending or donating, that’s what I mean. Flying money there is not always the answer. Supporting the country to restructure, as @Amy says, is money well spent. Assisting for them to make their own choices towards positive growth doesn’t just feed them once, but empowers them to feed themselves. So as an example, working on a disaster plan for a possible next time, should be the follow-up donation.

    @Amy — Very well said. I agree with you. And I can see in your example how you clarify that “making an actual long-term difference” and “spur of the moment to feel good”, is totally different. It may hurt more than help. It’s why planned out giving is more important.

    @Russ — I’m not apologizing, but rather assessing it. Systems evolve. I said that capitalism is not perfect. Human touch is needed and maybe part of the economic system can include that by default by building it in. I really don’t know. I’m not against capitalism, but I also think that pure capitalism does not work in favour for everyone. Capitalism is just another stepping stone. It’s because it is a growth-based system, disregarding the total cost of that growth (like our environment issues, as an example). It’s goal is to cause action. It works well. It fills gaps where needed. But just like a cell in your body does the same thing, it does not necessarily mean it keeps an eye on the other cells and assist where needed. Your words declaring your selfishness emphasizes what I mean by capitalism doesn’t always look at the human aspect of business. Hence the famous words “Don’t take it personal, it’s just ‘business’”. Such a cop-out way to get what you want and justify it. But I think your views and mine differ enough that we may not agree here. Because I’m not looking necessarily as to how much someone has, but how they got it. If your financial future is successful because of the advantage you took of others’ weakness, then I would not be proud of it. Let’s not forget how certain countries became the richest countries in the world. It’s good that you want to better the situation of your family, but if you do it immorally, I believe it’s safe to say that you will end up doing the opposite of what you hoped, even with a ton of cash in your hands. What good is it if you gained the whole world but yet lose your soul? Your last paragraph, in my opinion, clearly re-states your proud selfish nature. It’s no wonder you find the notion of charity=happiness repulsive. I find it to be an opportunity for you to ask why you find it repulsive. So why do you? Consider the fact that somehow, someone, somewhere… charitable acts have not only helped you, but changed the facet of your life for the better. But you may not fully appreciate this concept of returning the favour… with a selfish attitude.

    @Investor Junkie – Good article. I agree with much of what you say. I think you agree then that it is not perfect, but the best we have right now. The question I raise is best for whom, and best in what way? Just meeting our needs is not sufficient to live a happy life (considering that really that’s what the main objective for most of the world)… I feel capitalism fails to meet that in that way. Maybe a hybrid of all systems could work better? If the world is becoming highly connected and integrated and the earth is acting more like one brain, maybe capitalism is like the red blood cells and what we need is the white cells to protect and help. Maybe not a replacement, but rather one overseeing it. Anyways, I think I may be going loopy cause I’m hungry. Lunch time.

  274. Russ says 18 February 2010 at 12:48

    @Arturo (sorry for originally saying Amy), I suppose now you’ve gotten to the root of it: How do you determine what is moral and immoral? I abhor the use of force to subordinate others to your ends. Capitalism says the exact opposite. It upholds your freedom to make the best decisions possible. This is why I think capitalism is in fact the only moral system of government.

    I think you have an underlying assumption that selfishness = immorality, why? Selfishness does not equal my gain at another’s expense. An acknowledgement of the individual rights of all persons is a necessary component to my success and my ability to enjoy the fruit of my labor. Therefore it is in my selfish interest. Not because it is in the name of “the public good”, that is just a side effect, but because it is MY best interests.

    The truly immoral notion is the one that says any person’s need holds a moral claim on another person’s product. By what right?

  275. Russ says 18 February 2010 at 13:03

    @Arturo, On the concept of charity=happiness. If this is truly what makes you happy then great, give all you can. It’s your right to do so, but only in a system where individual property rights are recognized is that even possible I might add.

    What I take issue with is the notion that I’m obligated to give and until I give I won’t be happy. Maybe that is an overstatement of your point? Either way, it seems to be an underlying theme for you.

  276. Arturo says 18 February 2010 at 14:36

    @Russ – It sounds like individual property rights is very important to you. Must be the same way I feel about human rights. At the same time, I hear you mention, now more than one occasion, how this pressure of “giving” may conflict with your current beliefs. I would feel the same as well if the world around me was telling me how I should do one thing or the other when I don’t think so. I stay open to the possibility that I may be wrong, and therefore, I’m constantly re-assessing. And that’s what led me to the belief that capitalism in itself, is more of a guide, and not a rule. I never bought in to the “American Dream” which to me = “consumerism”. Technically, I got financial independence by doing only 2 things to which at the time was hard, but now is not only easy, but I hold true to it. So when Erica is joyful of the way she is spending, I believe it’s just a moment of freedom she has discovered (read my original posts for more information). It will pass if she aspires for more. Just like when a youth gets their first car. They are not productive with it, they just ride around! Eventually though, you start using it for good. In my strict opinion, FI people who do not contribute back are a shameful waste of good resources. With so much time and opportunities on their hands, it’s somewhat gross to not see them aspire higher than themselves. And for those who are not FI, those who contribute more than your average FI person, are an elite class of people. Because it’s very easy to spend what you make all on yourself. Anyone can do that. FI or not.

  277. Russ says 18 February 2010 at 14:53

    @Arturo, I think our definitions of “good” and “productive” would differ greatly. I also don’t like the use of the phrase “contribute back” — implying their wealth was somehow a gift from someone else — give back to whom?

    I also have a feeling that your definition of human rights would conflict with the concept of individual property rights? If a so called “right” contradicts another, one of the two cannot be so. What would you consider to be a human right?

  278. Honey says 18 February 2010 at 17:47

    This is interesting because I have long thought that capitalism is a morally bankrupt economic system. Socialism = everyone gives. Capitalism = everyone gives…but me.

  279. Russ says 19 February 2010 at 06:38

    @Honey, At least be straight. Giving implies the act is voluntary.

    socialism = everyone steals

    But what’s so moral about giving anyway?

  280. Honey says 19 February 2010 at 07:40

    I suppose I was not specific enough. In a socialistic society, EVERYONE is forced to participate and EVERYONE has access to social programs. In a capitalistic society, huge swaths of people pay little or nothing yet they are the ones who have access to social programs, while the people who pay in get – what?

  281. Russ says 19 February 2010 at 07:45

    @Honey, I apologize I mis-interpreted your gripe with capitalism. However, what your pointing out is not a component of capitalism, it is a byproduct of the hybrid system we have here in the states. As I said earlier, this isn’t capitalism, it’s a corruption of capitalism.

    In a true capitalist system this situation wouldn’t exist. My comment about socialism still stands.

    Edit: I’d also add that in a socialist system you still have the same issue. If people don’t hardly make anything, you can tax them 100%, but it still wouldn’t cover the cost of the benefits they are receiving. In short, socialism creates the problem you’ve pointed out. It doesn’t solve it.

  282. Amy says 19 February 2010 at 08:15

    Wait. Russ, are you on FR too?

  283. Honey says 19 February 2010 at 08:24

    @ Russ, #281 – I believe that any government’s purpose should be to guarantee a middle-class standard of living for every single one of its citizens. Perhaps I’m wrong and socialism wouldn’t do that, but I’m pretty sure that vision is also fundamentally incompatible with capitalism, which strikes me as anarchy except we all agree that money is awesome 🙂

  284. Russ says 19 February 2010 at 08:27

    @Amy, Excuse my ignorance here, but what is FR?

  285. Russ says 19 February 2010 at 08:32

    @Honey, Anarchy is rule by brute force. The biggest gun wins. This is in direct contradiction to capitalism which at it’s core is based on upholding individual rights for all persons. Rights that can be objectively derived from the primacy of existence and the reality of the requirements of survival in the natural world.

    This is getting quite a bit off topic and your comments on capitalism are so far off base that it’s difficult to have a discussion. We are talking about two completely different things.

  286. Honey says 19 February 2010 at 08:40

    I think the off-topic stuff is always more interesting 🙂

    Capitalism, philosophically, may be about upholding individual rights for all persons. I agree that one of the problems here in the US is that we have a blended/corrupted implementation of it, but it seems to me that if anarchy is “the biggest gun wins,” capitalism is “the most money wins,” and for the most part the individual loses out in both systems.

  287. Russ says 19 February 2010 at 09:03

    @Honey, I’m really not sure what you mean when you say “the most money wins”. Does someone else having money impede your ability to make a better life for yourself? Having money does not give you the ability to subordinate others to your ends (as with a gun).

    Regarding your stated purpose of government: At whose expense is government to “guarantee a middle class standard of living for every single one of its citizens”? This is exactly the problem that you pointed out earlier. Who will provide the means to accomplish this standard of living?

    I’ll have to leave it at that. If you haven’t gotten my point by now, I’m not sure what else I could say. It’s been fun.

  288. JoeTaxpayer says 19 February 2010 at 09:53

    @honey “I believe that any government’s purpose should be to guarantee a middle-class standard of living for every single one of its citizens.”

    An impossible task outside of Lake Wobegone (where all of the children are above average).
    Government should strive for opportunity for everyone. Enforce non-discrimination, etc.

    Even in the US the last census data shows that 25% of households were living on less than 25K/year.

    The government is struggling to provide basic health care to all its citizens. While your goal is worthy, how it would be achieved is beyond me. I mean that literally, given the current state of the federal budget, I don’t know the process to get from that disparity, these 25% who can use some help, and the goal you suggest.

  289. Honey says 19 February 2010 at 10:17

    @ JoeTaxpayer, Since so many of our intellectual and physical abilities (or lack thereof) are determined by factors outside our control (genetics, socioeconomic status/access, freak accidents) then it seems like the only ethical setup for a society is (1) to provide everyone equal opportunity to maximize their abilities, and then (2) to pay everyone a middle-class wage, provided they are living up to those abilities.

    I have no idea how something like that would be achieved, either. Eugenics, perhaps? Ha! KIDDING…I don’t think that’s a solution although it’s probably inevitable that some society will give it a go at some point!

  290. Arturo says 19 February 2010 at 15:00

    @Russ – To me, wealth is classified as having enough or more than enough to survive. So giving back would be the next logical step if you have more than you need. Holding back would just be… greedy! Last time I checked, that was not a virtue. The Human Rights comment was just me trying to compare to how you felt about property rights. But the two should complement each other. Example: (Wiki) ”The Cochabamba protests of 2000, also known as the “Cochabamba Water Wars”, which were a series of protests that took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city, between January and April 2000, happened because of the privatization of the municipal water supply”. Property rights are not above Human Rights. Human Right to live is just one right. Water is a necessity of that without question. So here we find a conflict. Morality Is somewhat ambiguous with capitalism. So I won’t get into how if they wanted water under the capitalism rule, they should work for it, hence creating the economy needed to sustain and profit the company… um… I mean, the country. But with your comment to @Honey, it seems like you are not too concerned about morality. For someone who understand the psychology of morality knows that giving is crucial to remaining active in selflessness. In your other comment, I agree with you that having money does not impede someone else to have a better life IF there is enough for others. The problem is we live on a planet with limited, countable resources. With 10 million people on the planet, you can pretty much rest assured, there is enough for everyone. But with now 6.7B(ish) and counting, it will be hard to ignore that we are a global community that needs to take of each other. Because now we begin to see the effects where accumulation without repartitioning can hurt others.

    @Honey — Haha, “everyone gives…but me.”. Good example as to why you need more than just the rules of economy to make a world worth living for everyone. It’s safe to say then that the tax system is more of a socialism invention.

  291. Russ says 19 February 2010 at 16:10

    @Arturo, Again — give back to whom?

    If you are equating morality with selflessness, then your’re right I’m not concerned with that at all. But you’d be mistaken to do so. The question of what is moral and what isn’t is of utmost importance to me.

    Let’s take your example of what is required for survival. Humans are a rational species. The mode of survival is thinking, planning, and executing. One’s ability to do this determines ones ability to sustain one’s own life. The results of execution are the products necessary for your survival (either directly or indirectly). In order to own your life, you must own the product of your labor. If you say that another person’s need overrides your right to your product, then you do not own your life — you’ll be forever indebted to every person that has had less success than yourself. Therefore, property rights are the essential human right. The right to life is not the same as the right to exist. Life requires sustained action and is not guaranteed to anyone.

    You’ve picked a terrible example to prove your point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Cochabamba_protests) The issue here should be obvious from the second sentence. What would expect from a country coming out of “decades of military dictatorships”. Now read the third sentence: “In 1985 with hyperinflation at an annual rate of twenty-five thousand percent, few foreign investors would do business in the country.” Gee, I wonder why. The water business wasn’t profitable for the government to run, and it wasn’t profitable for a private firm to run without raising rates.

    At whose expense was it a right of the people to have running water? Even what we consider basic resources today take incredible amounts of work to reach their end consumers. Water must be purified, oil must be refined, coal must be burned, food must be grown/raised — this isn’t free! I’m sure I’ll get written off for this response, but you have to realize you can’t eat your cake and have it too.

  292. Holly says 19 February 2010 at 20:47

    Arturo, you are my hero. Thank you for your contributions to the discussion. You are plainly in the minority at this point: it seems you are sane!

    I love my country, but not necessarily my fellow countrymen.

  293. CrystalsQuest says 19 February 2010 at 21:28

    I can’t believe how many commenters here believe that there’s an automatic entitlement every person should have to reap the benefits of someone else’s hard work as soon as some arbitrary threshold has been reached! Sharing and giving is one thing, but there are things far more valuable to give than money, which a lot of you seem to forget has a purely subjective value anyway.

    Come on guys! On a blog like this, you should know that giving unearnt cash is not doing anybody a favour. There’s a reason success brings rewards, and there’s a reason others don’t enjoy those rewards – because they haven’t yet figured out their own path to success. Aren’t you robbing them by taking that climb and experience away from them? How many parents would think it was a good idea for all kids to automatically have jobs as soon as they finished school – regardless of whether that job was in a field they were good at, or enjoyed? Same thing.

    Life is about experience. Not about money. Erica’s figured that out, so now she’s trading one for the other. There is nothing wrong with that, unless your particular jealous reaction forces you to find some philosophical point on which to argue she’s doing something she shouldn’t. Truth is, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love to be in her position in that respect, and buy chunks of their life back to do with as they choose. Wake up and get with the program, people! Not only is Erica freeing up her time with the fruits of her labours, she’s rewarding others’ labours, and even more, giving freely of what she’s learnt in the process by guest posting here!

    If she was really a selfish, exploitative person, as some seem to imply, would we ever have heard from her?

  294. FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com says 20 February 2010 at 07:13

    To each, her own.

    Personally even getting a million bucks ($600k after taxes as pointed out by Troy), I wouldn’t have blown $50,000.

    Yes, $600,000 is a lot of money.

    Yes, $50,000 is a small percentage of that money.

    But $50,000 in absolute terms, is a LOT OF FREAKING MONEY to me.

    Note: This is coming from my personal perspective, and I used to earn (gross) $65,000/year and am now looking at bringing in about $200k/year working less than I did at $65,000 a year, and spending less.

    Nevertheless, that was not the point of the post.

    I think her point about outsourcing tasks you don’t want to do is a good point.

    From my perspective, I don’t have anything I would outsource. Not even my taxes — I do the corp & my own taxes.

    As for cleaning, we live in a small studio and it takes 3 hours a week, MAX.

    We all just have different perspectives and I think if it makes her happy to not scrub anything — go for it.

  295. Arturo says 20 February 2010 at 20:42

    @Russ — Your response is not written off. I can gladly answer it. You ask “give back to whom?”, if you must ask, then I probably am not explaining very well my perspective on this article. And you make it clear that you do not equate morality with selflessness. So either neither of those two matter to you, or I would like to hear on how you can be moral while being selfish. Your survival example is interesting. I agree with you, but I also add that animals don’t really think beyond survival mode. We do. We are more than just biological beings wanting to survive. I’m sure you can agree with me here. I believe that where we disagree is not on the details, but on principals like “If you say that another person’s need overrides your right to your product, then you do not own your life — you’ll be forever indebted to every person that has had less success than yourself.” In my view, I would hope so. How can I call it real success when it depends on taking advantage of others?
    To respond to the water issue from wiki, I think that was a perfect example. Had people been selfless, there would not have been a campaign of fear and power against humanity. Instead, there would have been people looking at how to selflessly provide help to those who need it. And just because you have people looking at their own success rather than that of the people, you have not only those who are hurting a nation, but not doing anything who can. It is a right for the people to have water if others in that area have that and more. This is quite different than say a right to own a car, or a house… right to survival is for basic needs. Right to luxuries, not. That’s where capitalism comes and does a great job of motivating people. But also does a horrible job of protecting them from the greedy. You can have your cake and eat it if you are sharing.

    @Holly — Thank you for your words of encouragement! I appreciate it, thank you!

    @CrystalsQuest — Just a quick response on your comment “(Erica is ) giving freely of what she’s learnt in the process by guest posting here! “. it’s not very good advice, or lacking greatly in the article. I think that’s why these comments are here in the hundreds. I am in her “position”, financially free, and find it somewhat immature her response to her success. But I also know that those who chose to grow, will pass that phase. @FB says it pretty good. Even with my financial success, I cannot justify spending not only a chunk load with no purpose other than self pleasure, but to justify my high cost of maintenance as a human being and have others clean up after me.

    @FB — Continuing from my response from @CrystalsQuest, I would like to further add to your comment: a person who has earned every dollar they have saved, spends every dollar in the manner they saved it. If one acquires money quickly, they spend it quickly. Erica herself admits she was in debt throughout her business, so it’s such an emotionally normal response to just spend when before you couldn’t. It’s obvious what she thinks is important in her life as I doubt few would argue that if you want to know where someone’s heart is, look at their money trail. I’m like you, FB, small sqft living and takes me only one hour to clean the place by myself. I do my own taxes but go to an accountant for the fancy stuff. That leaves me more money to help others with. I can’t say that my original intention of cleaning my own place and cooking for myself was because I liked it, but rather, it was to teach my son how to do it. Something I didn’t like, someone that I wasn’t good at… now like and am pretty good at. My son is learning and has a good grasp of it (he’s pretty young), but it was important to me that he grew with a normal spoon and for him to buy his own silver one, if you know what I mean. Because if not, you typically end up with someone who does not understand the value of hard work and could just end up spending like one who never really earned it.

  296. Russ says 20 February 2010 at 23:59

    @Arturo, Please, please, hear me on this: Selfishness does NOT equal exploitation, taking advantage, or sacrifice of others to yourself. Why do you say “How can I call it real success when it depends on taking advantage of others?” Where do you get that success depends on taking advantage? Who am I taking advantage of when I agree to work for X company at Y salary? Capitalism is built on the principal of engaging in contracts with mutual consent to mutual advantage. There is NO conflict of interest between rational persons. My success does not depend on others’ failure. Nor does the further success of others with more ability than myself. In fact I benefit from others who are able to do more and reach higher than I, without requiring that they give of their wealth to me.

    You say: “I would like to hear on how you can be moral while being selfish.” A rational self-interest is completely moral. Are you saying that entering into an employment contract through which I gain the means to support myself and my family is immoral? I will grant you that it is also within your right to give your wealth away if you choose. Where the line is drawn is when you say it is immoral to keep the fruit of your labor and that you must give it away. That is plain theft, and it can only be enforced with a gun.

    Let me respond to this: “We are more than just biological beings wanting to survive. I’m sure you can agree with me here” I disagree completely. The primary distinguishing trait of the human species is that we are a rational, volitional species, and we are such because of our biology, nothing more. When you say we more than this, what are you referring to?

    You also say: “It is a right for the people to have water if others in that area have that and more.” Bull. Running water is a service that requires significant work to provide. You’re only entitled to it if you can afford to pay those providing it. I heard no answer to this question: At who’s expense is it a right of the people to have running water? And what is your recourse if no one volunteers to provide this service? The answer is: a gun to force them — now you tell me which is the immoral notion.

    Good day.

  297. GG says 21 February 2010 at 13:22

    There are so few resources about what to do lifestyle-wise once money is not a major issue. I was in a similar situation a few years back, and there was just so little on the internet about it. Plenty of “How to get rich” and “How to invest so you can keep being rich”, but pitifully rare amounts of “I’m rich, now what?”

    I filled the first year or so by signing up for a whole lot of adult education courses in areas I was interested in, some health/fitness improvements to counter the stress I’d been under to that point, and general relaxation after fifteen years at the grindstone.

    If the GFC hadn’t put me back in the office, I would have followed up with looking into doing university degrees, pursuing research in areas I loved, getting a couple of back-of-the-envelope ideas followed up on, hitting a couple of interesting conventions around the world, and looking into low-level philanthropy.

    One thing I remember with great clarity from that time is that for about three months, I woke up grinning from ear to ear with the thought that it was entirely possible I’d never have to work another day in my life – and if I chose to work somewhere, I could walk away at any time. It was a real buzz.

    As a bonus, even though I was invested badly and got mostly wiped out by the GFC (c’est la vie), I’d had the calm, reflective time off needed to decide what I really wanted to do with myself as a career. I absolutely love what I’m doing now and wouldn’t change it for the world – I might even keep doing it if I get to my personal cash-out point again, it’s so much fun.

    Glad to hear you didn’t fall into the depression trap. Keep on truckin’!

  298. Arturo says 22 February 2010 at 09:07

    @Russ — I appreciate your long response. It sounds like you put some thought behind what has been discussed here. Although I appreciate the extent of your effort to help me understand, you do not need to ask repeatedly rhetorical questions. Moreover, even of questions to attempt to disprove or convince me otherwise of my own ideas. When I share, I stay open to the idea that I could be wrong or I could improve on what I already practice. It’s a huge factor in where I am, where I am today. It’s good that you ask questions. So ask to enlighten with open questions. I believe you will have more success than if you try to lead to a closed answer. It forces an answer that even if people are wrong, they will stick to it just because you hurt their pride and respect. Your examples are good. Your questions are fair. I think they are trying to defend an area to which I am not questioning. This is mostly because of the gun example. I think the extreme you are thinking of is on a borderline of living in agreed peace, yet near chaos. Maybe it’s the environment I grew up and chose to live in, but the questions I ask is to assess a much more difficult question, the ones which I have seen many avoid and even plainly deny. The question may even be more spiritual than your current understanding. So let that not sway you from trying to understand. I think it would be futile to answer each of your questions unless you think it is important. But I see it come down to one thing…you live in a world where your decisions (or indecisions) affect others. However, your decisions and actions does not need an over-analysis of what ‘may’ happen. But if you assess your goal with each one, you can decide against a ruler (to which this may be the actual reason these blog comments keep going on and on to discover how each one has a different one). Selfishness = “It is the act of placing one’s own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others.” That’s the definition I’m working with. To clarify one last time, I’m not debating capitalism (like I said before, it is a great motivator, poor ruler)…. what I am saying is simply: I not only disagree but highly recommend against doing what Erica did. I am glad to say this advice does not come from experience. I am, however, recommending you do, seek advice from more than one financially independent person and get their input. This, I can say, I am glad I am advising through experience. My hope is that there are more properly aspired people, then not. Thought for the day: Why are most people not financially independent right now?

  299. Russ says 22 February 2010 at 11:53

    @Arturo, I used to be an altruist. I am no stranger to changing my point of view. What made me change was the realization that my morality was based on nothing more than a feeling and could not be backed up objectively.

    I’m sorry that my use of the rhetorical device does not suit you. Though the questions weren’t intended to be overtly rhetorical. The fact that you find them as such suggests that you have some contradiction between the obvious answers and what you would like to say. You cannot say that is moral to work towards a better life for yourself, while at the same time say that it is immoral to keep your wealth beyond some arbitrary point of a “middle class standard of living”. If you have answers and can show me where I’ve gone wrong I’d love to hear them.

    What I’m trying to point out is that altruism as a moral law has the use of force as it’s only means of implementation (the gun metaphor). If it arises organically then its practice is morally permissible — I have no grounds to prevent you from giving, but for you to call me immoral for not participating is baseless and unenforceable. Notice here that my view does not violate any fundamental rights of yours, but that yours violates my fundamental right to the fruit of my own labor, and therefore my right to my own life.

    As to your definition of selfishness: “It is the act of placing one’s own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others.” I have no issue with this as stated, but it’s incomplete. Your working definition includes the idea that my interests are in direct conflict with yours, and therefore me looking out for me means you get exploited. This is fallacious except in the extreme scenario where natural resources are so scarce that a population is not sustainable. This hypothetical isn’t even worth discussing — it is an apocalyptic scenario.

    I recognize the world as a benevolent universe. After all we evolved to live in the exact world in which we are living. There is no reason to believe the cards are stacked against us. To base your morality on the exceptions to this seems to me a poor starting place and a depressing way to view the world. All that is required of you is that you love your own life enough to work to sustain it. If you cannot do that I would find the idea of sympathy towards you utterly repulsive. If you can do that, you require no sympathy.

    …sorry for the length. I’m sure I’m boring most everyone else to death by now.

  300. Honey says 22 February 2010 at 12:55

    @Russ, if I did not have a boyfriend I would demand your email address 😉 I think your clarification is awesome.

    For me, your line of thinking is one of the reasons that I am opposed to private/faith-based charity work. If something’s a “right,” then everyone should have access to it and everyone should also subsidize their access appropriately.

    The problems with private/faith-based charity work are that a) by endorsing this type of giving we’re admitting that not everyone has access to what’s being given, in which case the problem is with the setup of the society and not the individual, and/or b) we’re giving a certain class of person for free something that others have to pay for, and/or c) what’s being given is not, in fact, a “right” and is instead preferential treatment of the people receiving it. None of these are moral solutions for me.

    This is NOT to say that I believe that our society is perfectly just. There are horrendous injustices going on around the world all the time, and I think many of them are imperative and need to be rectified. I just think that if we classify something as a right, then the government should be the one providing access to it. If it’s not a right, then why are there organizations providing it to some people free of charge while others have to pay?

    I don’t want to live in a society that’s comfortable with shifting the cost burden of basic rights to external bodies. I want to live in a society that’s motivated to take legislative action to maximize the productivity and happines of all its citizens. Charity seems to be based in a zero-sum fallacy, when in actuality there are lots of circumstances in which more for everyone improves things for everyone.

  301. Arturo says 22 February 2010 at 14:05

    @Russ — I find it interesting how I’m labelled altruistic. As well, the presumption that I said you were immoral. Not only that, but that I claim that your interests are in direct conflict with yours. Russ, I clarified again in my last response that what I’m trying to get to is my opinion on the “unconventional advice” given by the article. Now if you feel that I touched a chord in you and you want to feel better in how you think compared to what I think, then we can pursue that. But I’m trying to be as clear as possible. I’m reflecting on Erica’s response to her financial independence. Not on the details to which she has to do. Your response was clearly explained. The way you write, gives me the impression you are trying to prove you are right and/or I am wrong. I’ll be the first to say that I am not trying to do that. As I said before, I’m just trying to share and learn. If it seems like I’m judging in any way, I’m sorry. So if the very basic ethics of writing cannot be respected, then I do not want to engage in conversation with you anymore… so respectfully, you could probably say a lot of things better, with encouragement for change, rather than try to take a cheap stab through text. Example: what are you trying to convey when you say “If you cannot do that I would find the idea of sympathy towards you utterly repulsive.”? Russ, I’m sure you can see my perspective on this. I would be happy to continue to share ideas and learn more if we keep the environment for that respect.

    @Honey — I agree with your statement -> “I want to live in a society that’s motivated to take legislative action to maximize the productivity and happines of all its citizens.”. So what do you think is stopping us from having that now?

  302. Russ says 22 February 2010 at 14:27

    @Honey, I’m not so sure we’re on the same page.

    @Arturo, I apologize, my use of the word “you” in the text you pointed out was not directed at you individually. I suppose that was a poor choice of words given the context. You have had an underlying theme of altruism throughout your posts based on an assumption that is a moral stance. I was challenging that assumption, that’s all. Perhaps a beer, or better yet, a scotch and a cigar would have made for a better venue. Take care.

  303. Honey says 22 February 2010 at 14:38

    @Arturo – I think there are several things stopping us:

    1) People falsely believe that if we give other people more, then it necessarily follows that they themselves will have less. Not only is having more employable/productive/tax-paying citizens better for everyone economically, there are numerous other advantages that can’t be quantified in terms of dollars per capita that are more important. This is why the talking heads drive me so crazy on TV – they say “If we did that, we’d have to raise taxes,” as if that’s always a bad thing. What if something’s intrinsic worth is greater than the dollar amount it costs to pay for it? Why is raising taxes a bad thing?

    2) Because the world is an uncertain place, people will cash in on smaller gains immediately rather than invest in long-term solutions that will have much bigger payoffs later. I.e., “I will vote against increasing the sales tax because it is more expensive for me,” even though by voting against it I am depriving my city of educational improvements/new hospitals/whatever that will have a more significant positive impact on my quality of life down the road than saving .01 per dollar would (as a made-up example). The penny in my pocket today is real; my future children and the possibility that I may get cancer one day and need a specialist are not.

    3) One of the great failings of democracy is that it indulges the human desire to put off acknowledging that we must save/plan today for things that are inevitable and expensive. Just like the average American doesn’t have a 6-month emergency fund (though the average GRS reader might!), as a society we ignore the fact that health care costs are skyrocketing, that the planet is overpopulated, that we are destroying our planet, and that all 3 of these things are inextricably intertwined in ways that we will not even be able to imagine until 2-3 billion people die of famine and pandemic – and even then our response will be as reactive and minimal as possible rather than as proactive and comprehensive as possible.

    4) Secretly, we are all afraid that we are the expendable ones. It seems that one of the purposes in arranging humankind into a society is acknowledging the fact that if it’s human nature for us to protect our own individual interests (when really our understanding of the world is so imperfect that we can’t even reliably gauge what our own individual interests truly are or should be), then we need to create an external body (government) that is charged explicity with discovering what is best for the whole and ruthlessly implementing those discoveries regardless of the short-term impact on some individuals. It’s all good in theory, but we’re all terrified that we’d be the short-term casualty.

  304. Honey says 22 February 2010 at 15:57

    @Russ, I am not sure what appreciating your stance and reasoning has to do with whether I agree with you or not.

  305. Arturo says 23 February 2010 at 11:39

    @Russ — Scotch and cigar sounds good. Thank you!

    @Honey — Excellent reply. I agree. In the end, all things will take some sort of risk for any kind of gain.

  306. Karen Haynes says 16 March 2010 at 00:56

    Not being an American, reading this discussion is quite interesting.

    Australia has such a strong minimum wage, that hiring domestic help is quite expensive and hard to find. It is also very culturally awkward. We have such an egalitarian culture, that being served, even when paying for it is incredibly awkward.

    I’ll “confess” that I hire a cleaner and a gardener. I do this with a clear conscience because I know how much they need the money and it releases my time to do more work as a Youth Pastor. Having said this, I don’t tell many people about it, I too am in my twenties without kids, so most people would see my choice as indulgent. Maybe it is, but it’s what I do.

    As for hiring help from Asia, I’ve got to say I have no problem being a citizen of the world and paying smart people to do good work, wherever they live.

  307. Philam says 18 March 2010 at 22:27

    Hi Erica, I read and posted comment(s) from your other articles that’s why I was able to follow you here. We admire you because you shared your blessings to those who needed it badly by hiring and paying them to help you on your household chores and to assist you with your online business. Your experiences inspired a lot to your readers.


  308. Margot says 30 March 2010 at 13:34

    I live in Morocco where most middle-class people have maids. Even lower-middle-class people have maids. The reason people have maids is that no one wants to be bothered with work if they can get someone else to do it for them. What is valued is LEISURE time. By hiring out household work, what you are buying is TIME for yourself.

  309. Jonha @ Happiness says 07 October 2010 at 17:26

    This is probably the second post when people would start reacting a little overly about people outsourcing in the Philippines. I understand just how disappointing it is that sometimes jobs get outsourced in less developed countries like India, Philippines and others but may this serve as a wake up call to continue innovating and embrace the change with a challenge not just judging those people who feel some fulfillment in what they do. I salute Erica for doing what she thinks would make her happy, even though it required giving up some things because in order for us to have something we really and badly want oftentimes requires emptying our hands with what we currently have, so we could have more space and capacity to receive more. And yes, giving it out to those who need counts!

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