Website owner:  James Miller

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How little can one live on?

   How little can one live on?  What lifestyle or means of 
   livelihood can one devise that requires an absolute minimum in 
   cash income?  How about the story of Henry.  Henry has made his 
   occupation the care of elderly people.  He takes care of the 
   elderly in return for room and board.  He lives with them, 
   cooks, does housecleaning, runs errands, etc. and his 
   compensation is a place to stay, food to eat, and some 
   occasional tips.  When he approaches someone for a job he 
   explains that his needs are few and minimal.  His habit is to 
   sleep on the floor so he doesn't need any special room for 
   himself (he can lay down his bedroll and sleep anywhere).  His 
   diet is mostly vegetarian and inexpensive --- consisting mostly 
   of rice, beans and vegetables.  He doesn't drink or smoke, 
   doesn't have any wild friends and isn't the partying type.  His 
   possessions are few, all fitting into his duffle bag.  He 
   explains that he can provide very good references (indeed, 
   because of his honesty, trustworthiness, dependability, and 
   upright manner of living, people he has cared for have nothing 
   but good to say of him).  His hobby is gardening and if people 
   are so inclined he is happy to raise some vegetables and tend 
   to some flowers.  He lets them know that he doesn't like to 
   work for a salary or to work by the hour but if they are happy 
   with the things he does for them he is willing to accept an 
   occasional tip.

   Now let us ask a question.  What is Henry's cash outgo?  He 
   doesn't have any rent or mortgage payments.  He doesn't own a 
   car and so has no car payments.  He has no utilities to pay.  
   He has no food costs.  His dress is very simple, mostly 
   informal wear such as blue jeans, and he spends very little on 
   clothes.  In fact, the most of the money he gets in tips goes 
   directly into the bank.  He pays no property tax and no income 

   Henry likes it.  There is job security --- he has no trouble 
   finding employment.  There are millions of elderly people who 
   need care and would give a lot to have a person such as he.

   Actually, Henry is just a figment of my imagination.  But I 
   think he could be real. 

   June 1997

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