Club £26,244 – Obtain a fucking yield my friends (Or: ‘We need to talk about money)

£26,244 is what the average salary was in 2011 according to this article.  In my time and money design I said I wanted to be earning £25,000 per year in three years.  I plucked this figure out of the air as the amount I thought would be feasible to be earning from what I have chosen to do and it turns out it’s pretty bang on in terms of average earnings…  So this is what I am aiming for – and I’ve formed a club.  Club £26,244.  All you need to do to join is say that you want to earn this too and give yourself a time frame.

I know, many of you are recoiling in horror at this moment.  Beth is talking about money and her desire to get it.  Is this what Permaculture is about?  Money – the earning of it at least – is something that I have only just got over my distaste for doing.  I think this type of thinking is pretty endemic in the kind of ‘green’ culture that I exist in.  But actually, why shouldn’t I earn a ‘good’ (or at least average) living doing things I love to do and am good at?  Fair shares means making things accessible to as many people as possible, but it also means being fair to yourself.

Hedvig and I have had multiple conversations about how we get rewarded for what we do, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what constitutes a yield.  I think the culture greenies exist in puts other forms of economy above the monetary economy and demonises working for money.  I’ve come to the conclusion that this is bullshit.  Barter, goodwill etc have their place but aren’t better than exchanging cash.  Neither, I should add, is exchanging cash better than these ‘alternative’ economies.  Everything has its place…

Whilst sweating over hazzoumi, we talked a bit about barter and how it works in practice.  I said that in the past I had been asked to do scythe courses for free/less than I would usually.  On these occasions I usually say no (I already do lots of courses for free) and suggest that they get sponsorship or a grant to pay me to do the course.  I’d really like to offer ‘or equivalent barter’ but I wasn’t sure what I needed…  In saying this, I realised that there were loads of things that I needed.   A graphic designer, someone to look over my marketing plans and advise me, a photography teacher …  But barter here actually presents a few headaches.

First there is the thorny problem of the ‘double coincidence of wants.’  Let me explain this…  I have a place on my scythe courses and Bob wants a place on my scythe course.  Bob is a graphic designer and I need a logo.  That would be a double coincidence of wants.  If Bob is a piano teacher and I have no interest in learning to play the piano, then we have failed at the first hurdle.

Headache number 2.  Bob is a graphic designer and I want a logo, so I could swap him for a scythe course, right?  Well yes, but then the question of value comes up.  Last time I asked, getting a logo designed cost around £300 and my day course costs nowhere near that much.  Bob would feel really pissed off with our transaction if he felt like he wasn’t getting value out of it.

The last headache isn’t about methods of transaction.  It’s about dealing with people.  What if I want a logo and Bob is willing to design me a logo in exchange for a scythe course but actually, I don’t really like Bob’s designs.  Can I ask him to go away and do them again as I would if I was paying him?

Sometimes, I have concluded, cashmoney can be the way to go…  That said, my housemate recently took some professional photos (he’s a photographer) for his joiner friend in exchange for a new front door.  They were careful to work out that what they were bartering was of equivalent value though, so neither of them got annoyed.  They were careful to be fair, which is crucial.  And let’s be truly honest, most of us keep an unconscious eye on our goodwill and get irritated if we’re doing a lot for someone who isn’t pulling their weight in return.    Fairshares, fairshares, fairshares.

On another note, I am going to get a reputation as the Permie geek that swears a lot, aren’t I?

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7 thoughts on “Club £26,244 – Obtain a fucking yield my friends (Or: ‘We need to talk about money)

  1. There are worse reputations to have 😉

  2. really pertinent article/point. I’m often torn between wanting to reach out/not charge too much, but needing to make a living (yield) to pay my mortgage etc. Bartering is an option, but not always appropriate, not just because of the reasons above, but because at the end of the day, we still need actual cash. The current economic system (capitalism) isn’t one I like, but whilst working for a better world, we still have to live in this one. Fair shares certainly should encompass looking after yourself and means that you get a fair wage for the work you do. In permie circles we DO need to talk about money more!

    • betheatslocal says:

      Hi Julianne. It’s hard, isn’t it? Saying no to a request is especially hard because it makes you feel uncharitable. I find it equally difficult to work out where I want to put my charity… What I mean by that is, if someone writes to me and says, ‘hey can you teach my group to scythe for free’, then I am unlikely to say yes. But if I set up a free course and invite exactly the people that I want to (that I feel would benefit/deserve it) onto it, then I feel much better about it. I feel that if people really want to do something, they’ll find a way to do it whatever their financial circumstances. My usual answer to ‘can you do it for free?’ requests is ‘can you get funding/sponsorship?’ If people really want it, they’ll find a way of raising £45 per person.

  3. Fuck yeah! I am so grateful to read this simple and clear view on exchange, and these great comments. Fair exchange feels good. My innocence grew into ignorance as I volunteered myself — with unrelenting faith and positive intentions — into poverty, running The Maui Permaculture Network I founded in 2006.

    I had a vision and trusted it would all work out, and I had no proper guidance from within or without on a regenerative path for myself. For seven years, I have learned so much about transitioning, and why the butterfly can’t deny the value of the caterpillar’s many stages from slime to antagonist to full transmutation. I still have so much to learn, as I love giving and did not learn the art of receiving nourishment, or real care from money or family. The system I grew up in was false; invalidating, suppressive, and profit-motivated, so I still need to understand how to integrate the principles and ethics of Permaculture after a long life of disappointment and resistance to perpetuating what I grew up reeling against. I love that you are sharing this blog and we can learn together as we go. The system I thrive in is resilient, empowering, co-creative, kind and adventurous… and, compassionate, with plenty of cursing, as what could be a better, more efficient way to express and release so much.

  4. […] make the amount of money that I want to make from working outside.  As we all know, I want to make £26,244 pa.  That’s not a crazy amount of money, but it is a crazy amount if I want to do it by say, […]

  5. […] a reserve), so this is my focus right now.  I don’t want to earn oodles of cash, just the average wage.  But I want to do it entirely on my own […]

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