How to avoid the stagnation of wage slavery

A man at his desk job stares pensively off into space.

Dreaming of breaking free from wage slavery. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Brent Simpson/Flickr)

Do you live to work, or work to live? Anyone who does either of these things runs the risk of becoming a wage slave, trading freedom for meager subsistence, day after day. It’s a slippery slope that leads to choreographing every aspect of your lifestyle around living paycheck to paycheck. If you have given up your freedom to the whims of your employer, here’s how to regain control and avoid wage slavery.

Making the mental shift away from wage slavery

Fear is a key factor in becoming a wage slave. To borrow a phrase from English Romantic-era poet William Blake, the bonds of a wage slave are “mind-forged manacles.” Workers fear that if they didn’t have to go to work, they wouldn’t go, and they’d disappear down the rabbit hole of non-productivity and draw the ire of judging society.

The following are some ways to ensure that even while you’re working, you do not become a wage slave.

Live frugally

Living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean using a rope for a belt and newspaper for shoes. It means using resources with discretion. Rather than being a miser or cheapskate, a frugal person takes what she needs and tries not to be wasteful. Cost of living is kept within reasonable limits, so that an ample savings account becomes reality, rather than a dream. With savings in place, vacations – one of the key elements of avoiding wage slavery – are possible.

Stay out of debt

A credit card is not a golden ticket to unlimited purchases. Similarly, taking on more loan debt than you can comfortably repay, whether it be for a home, education, car, appliance or anything else, is also a bad idea. When saddled with seemingly infinite revolving debt, you’ll have to work more wage slave overtime than you can afford to take from your span of years in order to pay it off.

Earn money on your time, not theirs

Earning non-job income is a great idea, so long as you are still able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Whether it’s a small business or simply a profitable hobby, having other money-earning options helps you avoid the manacles of wage slavery.

For those on the cusp of turning a hobby into a money-maker, here are a few safe, legal options:

  • Sell and barter hand-crafted items at garage and community sales and fairs, or online via sites like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, et al
  • Get paid to teach others a skill via schools, community centers and other organizations
  • Make a training DVD and sell it online
  • Pursue freelance writing assignments and e-book publishing opportunities
  • Become a local supplier representative. If for no other reason than to get materials for your hobby of choice at wholesale prices, becoming a local representative is a great way to land paying demonstration gigs at hobby club meetings and fairs. While you probably won’t get rich off the honorariums, the smallest acorn can become a great tree, given time and care.

Expand your skills

Whenever possible, those looking to avoid wage slavery should look to expand their skill set. It doesn’t even have to be something within your current job field, just something you find interesting and that will have wide enough appeal and application to create future employment possibilities. Go back to college, pursue vocational training, search for online educational materials, read books and join interest groups pertaining to your field of interest. With options on your side, the bonds of wage slavery feel that much lighter.

[In moderation, a cash advance can be helpful. Click here to apply]

Noam Chomsky on wage slavery


Wage Slave Rebel


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