A Different Take on the Idea of Feast or Famine

For the last three years or so, I’ve been having breakfast with my grandfather a few times a week. When I told him I was not going to be looking for another “real job” after getting laid off, he approved and told me that it is possible to work for yourself, but it takes a lot of discipline. He was a first class mechanic, with specialized knowledge about hydraulics and welding machines. If you want advice on the best TIG torch kits or how to make or fix something, he is your man. Even though he hasn’t taken on any jobs at all during the last few years, people still call now and ask for his advice.

A few days ago, he went into a little more detail about why he chose to work for himself, despite the fact he was offered several tempting jobs. He said:

I was convinced that not knowing how much money I would make the next week was the best way to accumulate the things I wanted. And it worked. I did.

This is a whole new way to look at the idea of “feast or famine.” Most people see the cycle of making plenty of money and making almost no money as a barrier to running a business, an aspect of entrepreneurship to fret about and to try to avoid. My papaw raised five children and had many adventures and not only didn’t mind the booms and busts of running a business, but looked at those cycles as an advantage.

He went on to explain that if you know you are going to earn $300 next week, you will probably spend $298, but if you aren’t sure how much you will earn next week, you will most likely hold on to more of your money, just in case. Modern day experts tell you to build an emergency fund, but very few people ever tell you that the specter of a bad week or a bad month could be the way to riches.

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