Author Topic: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder (book recommendation): when frugality isnít a choice  (Read 6355 times)

HenryDavid

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Stories of van dwellers, mostly older, doing things some might do by choice, for fun.
But being forced into it by poverty, without any safety nets, is another story.
Amazing resilience shown here. And eyes opened to the hollowness of the getting/spending ďdream.Ē

pachnik

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I've heard about this book before.   Just put a hold on it at my library. 


Dr Kidstache

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I just read this, too. Much of it was not news to me because I had been full-timing in a truck camper and am familiar with Bob Wells and cheaprvliving.com.  But a lot of the book is a take-down of Amazon's labor practices and it definitely made me reconsider using Amazon.

pachnik

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I just read this, too. Much of it was not news to me because I had been full-timing in a truck camper and am familiar with Bob Wells and cheaprvliving.com.  But a lot of the book is a take-down of Amazon's labor practices and it definitely made me reconsider using Amazon.

I have never really used Amazon - i think it came to Canada more slowly than in the States?  But yes, labour practices are things I consider when spending my money. 

RocketSurgeon

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I just finished this a few weeks ago as well. Now I'm reading the book that 'The Ninth Gate' was based on because I wanted something less terrifying.

fatcow240

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I'll have to check this out.  Although, I will likely order it from Amazon.


I also enjoyed: Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom, lgunas, Ken.  This was living in a van by choice to get through school.

Dicey

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It's funny about people who say frugality isn't a choice. In many cases, it actually is. Forced frugality (i.e. lack of resources) is often a result of a long series of bad choices.

I understand that some people are born in places where there is lack, but that's probably not the case for most people any of us knows personally. There are many people who grew up poor. In that case, it's the choices of their parents they're paying for.

I believe a lot of poverty could be eased if we educated our children on basic finances from a very early age, rather than virtually ignoring it. Financially literacy would make a huge difference in people's lives. That, and solid nutrition education.

And while I have my soapbox out, does anybody notice that since mandatory driver's ed was eliminated (in the U.S.), the driving experience has become increasingly worse? I see people rolling stops and rolling reds at an increasingly alarming rate. Gah!

Cranky

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Driver's Ed is still mandatory in Ohio, it's just that your parents have to pay for it from a private company, not through the schools. You can't get your driver's license without it if you're under 18, though.

Dicey

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Driver's Ed is still mandatory in Ohio, it's just that your parents have to pay for it from a private company, not through the schools. You can't get your driver's license without it if you're under 18, though.
A few sessions from a private firm does not equal a semester of education. Our school also had a car and the DE teacher was a coach. You didn't want to mess up during driving practice with coach and your peers in the car. The current system sucks, IMO.

grantmeaname

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I just read Nomadland and really, really liked it. I'm shocked this book isn't much more widely read in the FI community, because I saw so much that felt familiar.

This is a group of self-described "conscientious objectors" from the consumerist lifestyle template we are all presented with. People look at us and think we are odd for driving ten year old modest cars, just as they look suspiciously at van dwellers. Our community's core tenets have been that 1) our happiness is driven much more by non-material factors of our lifestyle like making a difference in the world, having abundant time to spend with friends and family, and working on updating the paradigms we take with us out into the world; and 2) "lack" of material things is not only itself not a hardship but actually a good discipline to force us to stop and look around and what does and doesn't contribute to a good life. Add the strong vein of oddball humor and the willingness to take society's rejection as a badge of pride, and it felt in many ways like looking into a mirror! As the MMM community has moved far up the income scale over the 8 years I've been around it, this was a really nice reminder of the broader tent we had in the early days.

At the same time, it was really troubling to see how little of a safety net there is underneath people. The author knew little about personal finance and was uncritical of impossible claims like a $140k housing loss being the difference between manual labor and retiring on a sailboat to never work again. But the book also profilrs people who worked hard to get through hardship and decades of alcoholism an intact person, people who pieced together a string of jobs only intermittently contributing to social security, people who worked two jobs without health insurance only to lose everything they had to cancer, ALS, or hard to pin down chronic pain issues. Should those people have saved more? Undoubtedly. Would it be nice if we were better at personal finance education to stave off some of these stories in the next generations? Perhaps. And if people did not save enough, should the richest society in human history afford those people enough of a hand that they can get by with food and an inexpensive one bedroom apartment somewhere? Just as clearly, the answer is yes.

grantmeaname

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Bump bump bump
Searchlight is putting out a movie adaption, coming out next month on 2/19. The trailer looks really good. I think it will touch on a lot of the big issues in FI too - choosing a different lifestyle than the mainstream, giving up commonly assumed items and spending to focus on things that actually make a difference, changing your mindset.

Serenity

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people who worked two jobs without health insurance only to lose everything they had to cancer, ALS, or hard to pin down chronic pain issues.

Thanks for the book tip. Have downloaded sample. Just wanted to say meantime that, as someone posting from the UK, your post has just made me even more grateful for our NHS.

ice_beard

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I read this book a year or two ago.  It's depressing because these are people who are putting up their absolute best effort to not end up on the streets and they are busting their asses.   Most of the people profiled in these stories have bodies that at this point are unable to do hard physical labor any longer, yet they do it.  This is an unfortunate reality for a lot of people in this country and it's sad.   

Cakes9617

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Searchlight is putting out a movie adaption, coming out next month on 2/19. The trailer looks really good. I think it will touch on a lot of the big issues in FI too - choosing a different lifestyle than the mainstream, giving up commonly assumed items and spending to focus on things that actually make a difference, changing your mindset.

I read the book and then have recently seen the movie. The movie seems to have been inspired by the book but I think they are very different. And I often like a book better than the movie but this time, the movie is just amazing. It's on Hulu and in the theaters but I haven't been back to one yet. The cinemotography is gorgeous and the storyline is similiar to the book but it also weighs heavy on dealing with grief. Fern loses her husband, her home, her community and her job in pretty quick succession. Deciding to live in her van independently instead of the typical life with friends or family she has some unique experiences even hints of finding companionship again. In the end, she finds a renewed sense of freedom and perhaps awe of the world. I loved it. The book was definitely more from a lived journalistic viewpoint which is who the author is... 

Dicey

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Bump bump bump
Searchlight is putting out a movie adaption, coming out next month on 2/19. The trailer looks really good. I think it will touch on a lot of the big issues in FI too - choosing a different lifestyle than the mainstream, giving up commonly assumed items and spending to focus on things that actually make a difference, changing your mindset.

I read the book and then have recently seen the movie. The movie seems to have been inspired by the book but I think they are very different. And I often like a book better than the movie but this time, the movie is just amazing. It's on Hulu and in the theaters but I haven't been back to one yet. The cinemotography is gorgeous and the storyline is similiar to the book but it also weighs heavy on dealing with grief. Fern loses her husband, her home, her community and her job in pretty quick succession. Deciding to live in her van independently instead of the typical life with friends or family she has some unique experiences even hints of finding companionship again. In the end, she finds a renewed sense of freedom and perhaps awe of the world. I loved it. The book was definitely more from a lived journalistic viewpoint which is who the author is...
Watched it last night. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I used to follow Swankie's blog many years ago, so it was fun to see her in the movie.

This may have been mentioned upthread, but a book that has stayed with me is Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel* and Dimed". Similar people, similar struggles. To this day, I cannot look at a package of hot dog buns without being reminded of a person in the book.

* Ha! I was so focused on spelling the author's name correctly that I totally blew it on the five-cent piece. Fixed.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2021, 06:34:21 PM by Dicey »

grantmeaname

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We watched it last night too! Einaudi's music was really touching, the cinematography was gorgeous, and Frances McDormand was perfect. It made for a great, really touching movie night.

Nickel and Dimed has been on my list for a long time. I need to actually read it at some point.

solon

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Anyone reading Nickel and Dimed should also try Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. He wrote it partially as a reply to Nickel and Dimed.

https://smile.amazon.com/Scratch-Beginnings-Search-American-Dream/dp/0061714275

dang1

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Anyone reading Nickel and Dimed should also try Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. He wrote it partially as a reply to Nickel and Dimed.

https://smile.amazon.com/Scratch-Beginnings-Search-American-Dream/dp/0061714275

oh Shepard, a college grad white guy, lol, jk, lol

Dicey

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Anyone reading Nickel and Dimed should also try Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. He wrote it partially as a reply to Nickel and Dimed.

https://smile.amazon.com/Scratch-Beginnings-Search-American-Dream/dp/0061714275
I'm sure I read that. It didn't leave nearly the lasting impression that Nickel and Dimed did.

catccc

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It's funny about people who say frugality isn't a choice. In many cases, it actually is. Forced frugality (i.e. lack of resources) is often a result of a long series of bad choices.

I understand that some people are born in places where there is lack, but that's probably not the case for most people any of us knows personally. There are many people who grew up poor. In that case, it's the choices of their parents they're paying for.

But if you go back far enough, some of those parents didn't have a choice.  Some people's parents (generations back) came to the US against their will as slaves.  And their future generations have been held down ever since by a racist system.  For many it isn't a choice.

Dicey

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It's funny about people who say frugality isn't a choice. In many cases, it actually is. Forced frugality (i.e. lack of resources) is often a result of a long series of bad choices.

I understand that some people are born in places where there is lack, but that's probably not the case for most people any of us knows personally. There are many people who grew up poor. In that case, it's the choices of their parents they're paying for.

But if you go back far enough, some of those parents didn't have a choice.  Some people's parents (generations back) came to the US against their will as slaves.  And their future generations have been held down ever since by a racist system.  For many it isn't a choice.
Nothing to argue about, because we're not in disagreement here. I would suggest that the people you're citing are just a small portion of a much, much larger group. Appalachia comes to mind first, but there are plenty of other examples. Some here feel that financial education doesn't belong in schools and that parents should impart their values to their children. This is exactly the problem with that position. The parents can't teach/ model what they don't know. Obviously, because they were never taught. And so it goes...

SunnyDays

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Anyone reading Nickel and Dimed should also try Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. He wrote it partially as a reply to Nickel and Dimed.

https://smile.amazon.com/Scratch-Beginnings-Search-American-Dream/dp/0061714275

Thereís a show on Discovery called ďThe Undercover BillionaireĒ that has a similar premise, that is, that the American Dream is still possible to attain.  So actual billionaires go to a city totally unknown to them with $100 to their name and no network and have to build a business valued at a million dollars in 90 days.  If they fail, they have to contribute a million of their own money.  Last yearís ďhostĒ failed, although not by a lot.  This year, there are 3 people and itís not looking good for any of them.  Especially with Covid thrown in.  It sounds hokey, but itís actually quite good, I think, and gives business tips along the way.  Itís worth a watch.