Walk away from work and live a better life? Count me in

Back in the day when MPR News would let me on the radio to actually host a talk show, I had a guest who wrote a book on reordering your life’s priorities and eschewing the rat race.

I even read the book before interviewing Vicki Robin, author of “Your Money or Your Life.” Her definition of money has stood with me for a couple of decades now. “Money is what you exchange your life’s energies for,” she wrote.

These sorts of books can make people wonder where they went wrong, even if they’ve generally been pretty happy with their lot in life and their kids remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day. But spend more time away from work and more time with family and/or doing what I’d rather be doing? Who wouldn’t choose that?

Downsizing? Sure, why not?

If memory serves, Vicki graduated from an Ivy League school and she’d done pretty well with her career in New York City when she retired and lived a simpler life, in Vermont, I believe.

What I found from her book — and why it didn’t work for me — is it’s a lot easier to walk away from the rat race after you slay the rats and make some money.

But how many people can really do that?

That was the question I had when reading today’s fascinating interview in the Star Tribune with former KARE 11 weatherman Jerrid Sebesta, who quit his job to spend more time with his family, and moved in with his wife’s parents in Winnebago.

Still like the idea of dropping out of the rat race?

“I knew from the way we had chosen to live our lives early on that we had a financial cushion that a lot of people don’t have,” Emily Sebesta said. “We could live for five or six years with no income — not because we have so much, but because we know how to live on very little.”

But the article was missing some key information. Numbers. Lots of numbers. Money. The things most people don’t like to talk about. How is it that he could live for five or six years with no income?

“TONS more content coming after I relaunch my website,” he replied when I asked him on Twitter today.

He’s a life coach now, much like Ms. Robin is. The money is in telling people how to live with less money.

Get out of debt. Get on a budget. Save money. Live on less than you make. That’s his instruction and none of it is new information. Financial planners have been saying it for generations. But, again, not everyone has relatives they can move in with.

No doubt, as a commenter on the Star Tribune website noted, Sebesta is rich in a different way.

And no doubt there are fools who don’t know the meaning of fiscal responsibility.

Somewhere between the two are people who are going to work every day, generally responsible about their money, living in fear that the next layoff will target them, who still are able to spend time with their kids.

We’ll wait for the website before passing judgment, but color us interested in how people can really take control of their financial lives when their existence in the working world depends on the whims of someone whose priority is profits and the bottom line.