Making your way in the world today can feel very overwhelming. Trying to thrive, let alone survive in our late-stage capitalist reality is leaving many people exhausted, sick, frustrated, lonely, depressed, conflicted, and overall less satisfied with life. Maybe you feel like that as well. If so, I want to offer you my top ten capitalism survival strategies to help you better navigate our current social and economic reality.
First though, it’s important to note that the strategies I’m sharing here are for the most part focused on actions that can improve our lives at the individual and community levels, which is vital. But we also need to push for systemic changes as well. It’s my hope that by implementing these suggestions you’ll be able to make more space, time, and motivation in your life to be part of that effort to create change on a larger scale.
I also want to acknowledge that all of you finding this blog post are walking different paths and have established varying levels of financial stability. Some of these strategies will feel more accessible and useful than others depending on what your life’s journey has entailed. My hope though, is that everyone will find at least one or two useful takeaways whether you are struggling to pay the bills, experiencing an existential crisis, or are tired of always feeling like you are compromising your ethics by taking part in the insatiable and destructive infinite growth economy. And if enough of us pursue these strategies we can simultaneously weaken the underpinnings of this infinite growth economy madness and evolve the world we want to live in.
- Remove Your Blinders
Capitalism entraps us on a precarious hamster wheel of spending and earning money to pay our bills. Once we’re on that hamster wheel it can be hard to focus on anything beyond just keeping that wheel spinning. As a result, we often understandably become much less likely to question our assumptions, look beyond the mainstream narrative, or think outside the box.
Having us ensnared like this only further benefits corporations and perpetuates capitalism. Not only do corporations benefit from our labor (whether we work directly for them or for example, the government agencies that bail them out and offer them tax breaks), they also benefit when we become so tired and overworked that we start purchasing things out of convenience instead of making or doing things for ourselves.
The more you can do to see and connect with what’s outside of the hamster wheel the more you’ll start to move beyond the manufactured reality that steered you onto that spinning object in the first place.
Unschooling ourselves can be a very useful strategy in our efforts to survive late stage capitalism
2) Redefine Rich
Research continually shows that what truly makes people happy is having autonomy over their time, meaning they can choose how and with whom they spend it. Yet media, advertisers, and society as a whole continue to inundate us with a vision of a wealthy life that includes excessive amounts of money spent on luxury items like yachts, mansions, and private jets. For me large boats and fast, expensive, fuel INefficient cars aren’t indicators of wealth and luxury. Instead when I look at them I see excessive resource consumption on a finite planet, separation from nature and other people, and a need for external validation, among other things.
Of course we benefit from a certain base amount of financial security in our lives, but once that’s established what we really want is the sense of control money can give us over our own lives and how we choose to spend our time. As Morgan Housel noted in The Psychology of Money, “More than your salary. More than the size of your house. More than the prestige of your job, control over doing what you want, when you want to, with the people you want to, is the broadest lifestyle variable that makes people happy.“
3) Recognize the Value of Your Time & Attention
Do you ever think about how time is a non-renewable resource? While you can find ways to earn more money, you can’t create more time. Once a moment, an hour, or a day is gone you can’t get it back. So how do you want to be spending your time? Do you want to be spending your time interacting with people who make you feel energized and uplifted or drained and exasperated? Do you want to use your time in ways that improve your quality of life or deteriorate it?
Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, like so many before them, have clearly demonstrated the financial value of our attention. I always encourage my coaching clients to get very clear on what a wealthy and fulfilling life looks like to them. Then they can design their lives around that vision being cognizant of whether how they spend not only their money, but their time and attention as well, is moving them towards that vision (or away from it).
4) Prioritize Social Capital
The Encycloepedia Britannica website describes social capital as a “concept in social science that involves the potential of individuals to secure benefits and invent solutions to problems through membership in social networks.” This form of capital seems particularly important to me as we confront the challenges not only posed by the capitalist juggernaut, but climate change as well. In terms of truly being resilient (and happy since we humans are hardwired for interacting with each other) social capital definitely trumps money.
Think about how communities come together after natural disasters. I interact with my neighbors on a regular basis, but never more than when we are helping each other prepare for or recover from a hurricane. Beyond my own neighborhood I’m also working to strengthen my relationship with a small group of friends in my community, who like my boyfriend and me are interested in growing closer and increasing our resilience together. I talk more about the decentralized intentional community we are co-creating in this TikTok video.
5) Think Beyond Financial Capital
Financial capital is only one of a number of forms of wealth and resources you have access to. Plus, financial capital is extremely volatile, fragile, and speculative. Even the conventional wisdom in personal finance encourages you to diversify your assets. This more expansive view of wealth diversifies your portfolio exponentially, lending stability, agency, and resilience that just can’t be achieved when relying on money alone.
We’ve already touched on social capital and we can also view our time and attention as forms of capital as well. Additional non-monetary forms of capital available to us include:
*living capital – our natural resources like water, air, land, parks, healthy soil, plants, and trees
*material capital – non-living physical objects such as stone, metal, bridges, tools, cars, buildings, and computers
*intellectual capital – knowledge, resourcefulness, creativity, and innovation
*experiential capital – hands-on knowledge acquired by actually doing things – riding a bicycle, writing a grant proposal, drawing, fixing something broken, etc
*spiritual capital – religion, spirituality, or other means of connection to self and the universe
*cultural capital – things shared by groups of people such as music, a common history, food, theater, and holidays.
6) Unleash Your Imagination
Sociologist and urbanist Richard Sennett has noted that “modern capitalism works by colonizing people’s imagination of what is possible.” When you’re trapped on that hamster wheel with blinders on it can be especially difficult to imagine (or even hope for) possibilities beyond that wheel you’re trying so hard to keep spinning.
An easy first step you can take towards tapping your imagination, creativity, and resourcefulness is to start looking for opportunities to access some of those other forms of capital without spending money. For example, I forage a lot of the fallen avocados, litchis, and mangoes that litter the alleys in my neighborhood. Not only am I meeting a need outside of the capitalist economy and saving money when I do that, I’m also getting exercise and fresh air as well as cleaning up a nuisance in our alleys.
7) Design Your Life to Be Lucky
Did you know that research shows that luck is a self-fulfilling prophecy? It tuns out luck favors those who believe they’re lucky as well as relaxed and open-minded. Not only that, people who are open to opportunities instead of locked into plans and who avoid high opportunity costs tend to be luckier.
According to Richard Wiseman, author of the Luck Factor, lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. Wiseman’s research showed that lucky people –
- are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities
- make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition
- create self-fulfilling prophecies via positive expectations
- adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good
8) Pursue Regenerative Right Livelihood
Right livelihood is a Buddhist concept that encourages us to earn money in ways that do not cause harm or compromise our ethics. Although, some readers may be learning of this concept for the first time here, it’s actually quite well established. Since 1980 a Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ has been bestowed annually to “honour and support courageous people solving global problems.” Since our extraction focused capitalist economy has depleted both people and planet we need many more people to take up regenerative right livelihoods to restore, repair, rejuvenate and regenerate everything!!! That means there’s a lot of work for people to do in this new regenerative economy.
On top of that author David Graeber demonstrated very clearly in his book how we’re living in the era of Bullshit Jobs. He was referring to the many meaningless managerial and administrative jobs held by so many Americans, who themselves are often bored with their pointless professions that primarily serve to enrich the billionaire class and other shareholders. Finding or creating your own regenerative right livelihood opportunity can not only make you feel less conflicted, it’s also a way to find more purposeful work that helps address our challenges instead of exacerbating them. Check out my co-author Mike Hoag’s post on the DIY Green New Deal we so desperately need for even more inspiration.
9) Reduce Your Participation in our Harmful Capitalist Economy
There are many ways you can participate less in the destructive and extractive elements of our current system. Simply consuming less stuff as well as resources like electricity, water, and oil/gasoline can go a long way. People in more affluent nations often view consuming less as a form of deprivation or not getting to have things they want. Yet, there is tremendous joy, satisfaction, and liberation to be found by freeing up your mind and life for what’s really meaningful to you. And again, using your imagination, creativity, and resourcefulness to bypass financial capital can help you solve your problems in much more satisfying ways that don’t involve relying on corporations.
10) Step Up to Money (So You Can Use it for GOOD!)
Often activists, artists, permaculturalists, and other reluctant capitalists prefer to avoid managing or even earning money. It seems tainted, complicated, and boring. However, the more you understand how money works and how to wisely steward it, the more you can do to earn, spend, manage, and invest it as a force for good (and divert more of it from the accounts of greedy billionaires). You’ll likely find that the more intentional you get with money the less you’ll leak of it out into the entities and elements of capitalism that make you cringe.
We can also invest our money off Wall Street in each other, our communities, and the regenerative economy in ways that build a better world. Simply moving your money to a local credit union instead of keeping it in a corporate mega bank can be a great place to start.
Bonus Strategy – Grow FREE (Financially Resilient & Economically Empowered)!!!
So there you have it – my top 10 capitalism survival strategies!! Could there possibly be more to share on the topic??? Well, actually yes. So much in fact, that we wrote our book – Growing FREE (Financially Resilient & Economically Empowered): Building the Life of Your Dreams Without Losing Your Soul or Destroying the Planet – to compile it all for you. This book is the missing manual for surviving and thriving in the midst of capitalism and climate change.
And now we’re turning our book into a 3 month online course starting April 24, 2023. We specifically created the Growing FREE Together! course to help you design an amazing, and financially viable life outside the rat race doing things that address our major social and environmental challenges instead of destroying the very future for which you are preparing. Learn more and register for Growing FREE Together! here.
Laura Oldanie is a green living and money coach who blogs at Rich & Resilient Living, where she explores money and lifestyle choices for a regenerative future. Her goal is to help people achieve financial freedom and live their best lives in socially and environmentally conscious ways that equally value people, planet, and profit. She received her Permaculture Design Certificate in 2009 and has been exploring how to earn, spend, invest, and manage her money to bring about the change she wants to see in the world ever since.
Laura co-aurthored Growing FREE (Financially Resilient & Economically Empowered): Building the Life of Your Dreams Without Losing Your Soul or Destroying the Planet. She also contributed to the book Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World. She has been a sought-after source of knowledge on regenerative investing, and her work has been featured in Forbes, Good Housekeeping, CNBC, The Permaculture Podcast, and many others!
Connect with Laura
website – https://www.richandresilientliving.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/rich_resilient/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCelxbT9pITAScS9jD3C0ngw
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