“As Long As There’s Money In It”

11“As long as there’s money in it”. Seven words which literally give me an instant headache while simultaneously making me hate everything about society. From a very young age we are all told that we can do whatever we want when we leave school, as long as we work hard of course. Teachers, parents and even a giraffe puppet in a van all tell us that there is a light at the end of the twelve year tunnel and that after we complete our HSC we will no longer be subjected to someone else’s century old idea of “education” and be free to do what we want. This is almost never the case, at least with anyone I know. Yet I was daft enough to believe it.

Now before you go and call me a new age hippie let me tell you that I am all for working hard (not to be confused with “Hard Work” because there is a difference) and that I don’t expect to wake up one day with millions of dollars in the bank and a lifetime of leisure to show for it. What I do expect is to be able to choose to work in the industry I want without the only considering factor to be “how much money is in it?” Personally I am not all that swayed by money, I never had it when I was growing up with a single mum with zero support from any family or friends so I never got accustomed to fancy things, nice cars, vacations and all that stuff that most of the people in Sydney had, particularly the North Shore, which is where I have resided for the last few years.

The reason I’m saying all this is because I always cop so much heat about what I am doing with my life. For example, today, while speaking to my girlfriends grandmother, she asked me what I was up to lately. At first she jokingly said “You’re doing nothing right? Just on a long holiday…” and chuckled. Although I know she didn’t mean anything bad by it I still took it to heart. Nevertheless I am actually quite proud of the work I have been doing with AusGarage lately so I quickly told her that I am actually doing a fair bit of writing for a rather successful automotive website. She then replied with “is there money in it?” without even acknowledging how writing about cars is a dream come true for me. I then cringed and thought about what I wanted my response to be. I lied and said yes because even though I don’t get paid a yearly salary, there is potential for me and the experience is invaluable as I have never had formal training in regards to writing and I as I said, it’s a dream come true. She then walked off and said “well, as long as there’s money in it”. Which brings us to this article and why I’m writing it. Now, I don’t want you to think that she is a bad person, she’s actually quite sweet which is why this was even more concerning to me. It is also not the first time I’ve heard those words and I highly doubt it will be the last. What I don’t get is why does money matter so much? You can work your whole life and die with hundreds of thousands of dollars in your account and that is considered a good life? I don’t get it. I’d much rather say I had six Aston Martins and an elephant called Barry as a pet, that is what I’d rather leave behind. Granted I understand when you have children you want them to be secure and all that but I just can’t get my head around why it has to be the be all and end all to have loads of money. I live in Australia, it’s not the middle ages, I don’t have to hunt for food, everything is relatively stable here. It’s not like I’m bumming around getting stoned all day either, I’m constantly working towards something. Whether it be an article, photo or video, I am always working towards my goal of becoming a professional writer, journalist, photographer and film maker.

Full disclosure, I am completely insane when it comes to handling life. I’m a firm believer of the old “do something you hate and you’ll be wealthy, do something you love and you’ll be rich” mindset.  I’m not a money saver, lemming office worker who sees the big picture as working my ass off pushing papers for 30 years so I can retire and buy a house for my 2.5 kids to grow up in so they can do the same thing as daddy did. That isn’t a life I’d be proud of at all. What I am however, is clever, not in a Steven Hawking kind of way, more like a “I can look at a situation and objectively work out the best possible outcome for the little resources that I have to work with” kind of way. Although it doesn’t always work out so well. For example, in late 2012 I had been working in a skate shop. I was able to sell $2000 worth of stock all on my own, in one day. I’m not even that a good sales person either, I just knew a lot about skateboarding and people would come from all over Sydney to buy stuff from me personally. My employer even had some customers who would refuse to deal with anyone besides me. After realizing that I was good at selling skateboards I decided to start my own online skate shop and somehow managed to do it with only $1000. Fast forward to mid 2013 and I had built a business that was so profitable that the old shop I used worked for was offering to partner with me and let me use their warehouse and facilities. At this point I was turning about $1000-$2000 dollars worth of stock a week without a huge warehouse, all by myself by delivering to the customers’ doors by driving my car around, working really long hours, blogging, reviewing the products I sold, making videos and all around having a great time. I was also getting free gear from a number of different companies because of my reviews being so popular, life was good.

About a week after I agreed to partner with the shop I used to work for, as the contract was being drawn up (we were good friends at this point, still are in fact) the biggest skate shop in Australia decided they were going to seek legal action against me for taking away from their business, arguing that it was wrong because I didn’t share the overheads of paying rent on a shopfront, even though I made it known to everyone that the plan was to use the online store to get the money to open a shop. Of course this was knocked back pretty fast but unfortunately it didn’t stop them, they went directly to the sole supplier of the gear I was stocking and threatened to pull their 10 year account if the supplier didn’t stop selling me stock. Due to the fact that the bigger shop was doing $100,000+ orders a year and I was only doing a few thousand a week, it was only a matter of weeks before my supply was cut and I had to stop selling. Believe me when I say that I fought it with all my power and even with all the help and support of a number of well established businesses I just couldn’t make it work. The rival business had a choke hold on the supplier and that meant they owned the market and after receiving numerous death threats, publicly and through my personal Facebook account (which was concerning and continued up until November 2013, even though I stopped selling in August) I just had enough of it all and thus my business died.

This was when I decided to start writing about cars on Tumblr, which lead me to being able to write for a number of different businesses and also helped me launch another blog about video games, which I co-own. It was then I decided to focus on writing, photography and film making as a career. Which brings us back to this blog post, slight detour there, I know. Sorry.

I would much prefer to be earning enough money to live comfortably while doing something I love, rather than doing something I hate and wiping my butt with one hundred dollar bills. But I’m starting to wonder if that is even possible in the world we live in. It seems in order to be respected and be considered a “success” you have to be waking up a 8am, getting to work at 9am, do something completely mundane for 8 hours and return home by 7pm for dinner before going to bed to do it all again. I can’t do that, not that I won’t, I CAN’T. “Won’t” implies capability but being reluctant. For example I have recently been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and have a morbid fear of needles, for the first few days I was unable to do the needle injections because I was just too afraid of them. It wasn’t that I physically couldn’t make my hand stick the needle in me, it was that I was so scared that I refused and wouldn’t do it. Now, a few months on, I can do it, although I have to bite my tongue. “Can’t” implies inability, even if you desire to do something, you just can’t. For example, I can’t fly. As much as I wish I could, I simply do not have the means to propel myself into the air at such a speed that defeats gravity for a desired amount of time. Much like I can’t get a shitty job which I hate, even if it pays well. I need a job that is somewhat stimulating and challenges me, which is what I think about first and foremost, not money.

Therein lies my problem. I don’t know if I’m being stupid and I should just take a job at Subway to earn money to save for things I don’t really want but that I’m expected to have. I don’t know if I should be clinging to my idea that my mother didn’t spend half her life stressed out, raising me on her own with little money and no support to have me end up being an accountant. It is possibly the oldest conundrum in history. “What am I doing with my life? What do I want?” I’m sure I’m not the first 23 year old to have this problem. I know what I don’t want and I know what I do want, but I just don’t know how to get there or how much time to spend trying. I also know that “as long as there’s money in it” can get f&*ked because it’s a stupid notion founded by stupid people, centuries ago.

I guess the point of all this is if you know someone who is like me, go easy on them. You can easily tell the difference between a lazy person and a lost person. The lost person may not get the credit he/she deserves but that doesn’t mean you should look down on them or make them feel bad. It’s a hard world, with infinite money problems and finite amounts of money. Not a good combo. In any case if someone is telling you about something new that they have started, please don’t let “is there money in it” be the first thing you say. Below is a video by a man who is much wiser than me, explaining essentially what I am trying to say.

I hope you enjoyed/endured my rant.

– L

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