Personal Economy: Funding your choices

Your personal economy describes your assets and methods for growing them.

Asset: (Noun); A useful or valuable thing, person, or quality.

Note that this is a fairly broad definition. It includes money, obviously, but it also includes tools like wrenches and computers, allies, and personal qualities such as persistence, and intuition.

Computing the value of an asset can be difficult. For one thing, valuation depends on your situation. Let’s say you have thousands of dollars in the bank, but none in your pocket. No ATM card, no credit card, no cash. If you want a slice of pizza right now, the money in the bank has a value, in this situation, of nothing. The true cost of the slice is going to be the time spent going home to get your card or cash, and the time to get back, and possibly the time to go to an ATM, if that’s what you need to do.

Despite these difficulties, one thing is very clear: If you have things which you want or need to do, you must gather assets to do them, and these assets must be available in the situation where they may be employed. Given that, it becomes clear that a skill you must acquire and build is a method for gathering assets.

The most obvious method is to trade work for money. This is a very efficient means of maintaining a personal economy, which is why it’s popular. A similar method is to trade items for money. In this case, you are collecting or creating assets, and selling them to others, or possibly trading them.

You do this to fund your choices. Your choices are dictated by your goals. These may be lofty, such as acquiring a degree from a first rate college, or simple, such as acquiring a chocolate bar. Here’s where things become interesting: the order in which you meet your goals affects your personal economy. For instance, if you get your pay, and immediately spend the excess on expensive food or drinks, you won’t have any savings. Worse, you won’t be able to apply those savings towards tools or classes, which can raise your level of income. Simply put, if you don’t have the skills or capability to move away from your current job into something which pays more, your economy flattens. Your might still be earning, but you aren’t growing it.

Consider these assets:

Money is the basic asset.

Credit is like money but is worth less per unit, due to lending costs. Of course, you can get a lot more credit than you have cash on hand sometimes, which means it might be worth it.

Tools allow you to make or fix things. Combined with skill in their use, they are a powerful asset, as you can work for others, and get money or other assets generally at a much higher rate than without. Tools not only include screwdrivers, drills, and welding rigs, they also include sewing machines, computers, vehicles, and so on. It’s any physical thing which extends or augments your capabilities.

Skills are like tools, but are knowledge based. They might include accounting, programming, project planning, cleaning, cooking, persuasion (the basic skill of a sales person), improvising songs, and thousands of others. The value of a skill is highly variable. A few skills which people don’t quite see as skills is making and maintaing social and business contacts. This is actually a highly useful skill, because knowing someone in a business can give you a much higher chance of either getting work from that business, or at least getting help from them. It’s easier to talk with someone you know.

Qualities are properties of a thing, but in this case, we are talking about your qualities. These can include strength, height, relative beauty, looks (highly important in movies), personality, persistence, initiative, intuition, friendliness, and others. The value of these things is even harder to quantify, but rest assured, they do effect your economy. For instance, a highly persistant person is likely to do more work for the company, and so produce more value, which might mean the company wants to avoid losing them, and so gives them raises in pay and status.

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