Do You Have a B Rated Life?

by Bill on January 16, 2014

Low-Budget LivingYou’ve heard of “B” rated movies right? These are those movies that are low-budget, low-expectation and lower production value. Do you see your life in a similar fashion? If so you may have a B-rated life. Here’s how to find out.

According to Brian Taves in the book “Grand Design” (Chapter 8), a B-rated movie is meant to finish quickly (to get it out of the way); target areas and venues that had to cut operating costs to bare minimum; and get income through whatever places they could pick up after the better, larger productions.

We can apply this same principle to people living as underearners.

Making Yourself Low-Budget on Purpose Could be a Sign of Underearning

Everyone thinks that having fewer expenses is a good thing; and this most often is true. But one thing a B-rated movie is known for is being low cost, often bare bones, lowest allowable budget to keep the movie alive.

Now, put yourself in perspective here. Do you do anything similar to the following?

  • You believe that money is unimportant, or will come from “somewhere”; but then worry each month if you can pay both the electric and phone bills.
  • You have heat that runs off of an electric thermostat. So you make sure the electric payment goes out, figuring if the heat runs out you can always use the electric oven or a heater until you get the heat back on.
  • You know you can support yourself on lunch meat, or know what time of day the meat counter at the market puts out discounted meats and are always there for the bargain.
  • You put off buying new clothing because you can still make it look “presentable” for another month.
  • You continuously put only a gallon of gas in the car just to get to the next destination because you don’t want to spend too much on gas; but then you always worry about that little red light staring at you on the way home.

If so, you are living a B-rated life.

Having Low Expectations is Better Than Failure

  • You make yourself believe that where you are at right now, even if you hate it, is better than nothing.
  • You don’t want to try new courses, new training, or new jobs because if they fail you will have nothing.

Being Lower Cost May at Least Keep You Alive

If you are at a JOB you are most likely living a B-rated life. JOB (the old acronym for Just Over Broke) rings true for many whose lives depend on paycheck to paycheck for support. Here are a few signs for you:

  • You continuously borrow from family and friends to hide the fact you cannot support yourself on your own income.
  • You use payday loans to hide the fact that you cannot support yourself on your own income from family and friends.
  • You are seriously one flat tire away from having no transportation because you have no emergency savings.
  • You don’t create, or even look for, better opportunities to earn more income.
  • You don’t see yourself as more worthy than what you have now.
  • You accept whatever position or project you can because it at least generates money.

Like the low rated, low-budget movies you are happy to have the money you have to keep going another day sometimes. Don’t ask questions, because something might break right? What many successful people call “cash on hand”, you call a “windfall”. And it doesn’t matter the amount.

Do You Have a Production Schedule for Your Life?

The better question would be, how far behind are you normally in doing routine things? I knew a guy once who was so chronically late to work we named the status after his last name. He’d call in and we’d ask “is that in normal time or Lacomy time?”, meaning should we automatically add fifteen minutes onto his announced arrival time.

Here’s a few more to ponder:

  • Do you know approximately when certain bills arrive each month, but fail to plan for them thinking there are other things to worry about?
  • “I just wing it” is a normal term for you. Also known as those who “go with the flow” without regarding what the ‘flow’ is.
  • Do you find yourself changing things around to fit into the current situation or problem?
  • Do you often think that things aren’t going to work, so you just change course or give up the project?
  • At the end of the day do you wonder constantly where the time went?

My friends, you have a B-rated life. It doesn’t matter the profession, nor the income level, nor the education.

Genevieve Smith best describes the problem in her commentary in Harper’s Magazine:

As the test makes clear, it’s not the dearth of earnings that makes the underearner. Underearning, according to UA’s adherents, is more a reflection of the feeling that we’re not where we thought we’d be, whether in terms of savings, career goals, or however else we measure prosperity and success.

It was this anxiety, more than my sorry bank account, that drew me to my first UA meeting. I’d come not because I was destitute (I’m not), but because I’d grown anxious that I’d never achieve the financial security I’d always assumed was inevitable. Given that there’s a lot of real poverty in the United States, I was sure I’d be exposed as an employed, debt-free fraud and booted from the proceedings. As it turned out, the underearners were a diverse coalition. Sure, there were those struggling with debt, eviction, and long bouts of unemployment, but there were also many people whose financial circumstances seemed enviable—one guy claimed to be bringing in more than $200,000 a year—who nevertheless felt they were underachievers.

According to Underearners Anonymous, a 12-step program for compulsive under earning people seeking to get better at reaping the rewards of their life. this is normal.

But how do you fix it? Should you fix it? Do you even want to fix it? I’ll go over those answers in the next post.

William Swan, writer

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