Do You Drive Your Own Money?

Key Takeaways

  • Henry David Thoreau’s two years living at Walden Pond were spent pondering how to live a good life and make a good living.
  • There are five key principles, Waldenomics, that outline Thoreau’s philosophy on the business of making a living.
  • This philosophy can help us understand the context of our own lives.

Philosophy is something that can help us understand the context of our lives, and no one was better at that than Henry David Thoreau. In the early 19th century, he lived at Walden Pond for two years. During that time, he contemplated how to earn a living while also living a good life.

This is the subject of a recent article, “Waldenomics: Modern Lessons from Henry David Thoreau.” The author takes five key principles regarding Thoreau’s philosophy on the business of living and refers to them as “Waldenomics.”

Number one, redefine capital. You spend more than money – you spend your life, you spend your time. When you consider the cost of things, look at the bigger picture to get the true cost. The dollar amount may only be a portion of the cost. Perhaps you’re looking to purchase a luxury car, but the stress of the monthly payments will be a concern, or you’ll be worried every time you park it somewhere. These are costs to consider.

Number two, your passion doesn’t need to be your paycheck, but don’t let your paycheck destroy your life. This is about being very intentional about your goals and about where you’re going. When you’re intentional about that, you won’t let paychecks and jobs drive that.

Number three, be willing to quit a good job and beware of dangerous prosperity. As you become more successful in your work, you may find yourself making more money, and this can start to take over your life. You may go down a path you never intended to travel, and then spend a lot of your life trying to redirect yourself, to get back to your true passions and interests in life.

Number four, use technology selectively. The author points out that if Thoreau were alive today, he would likely say “We do not use social media; it uses us.” It’s easy to let technology drive our habits, versus allowing it to support who we are and simply be a useful tool for us.

Number five, feeling lost is a memorable crisis. This is a feeling to embrace, and it’s a way to grow. Great things can come from feeling lost. You’re forced to sit back and ask where you’ve come from, where you are now, and where you want to go in the future. You find yourself taking stock and looking forward when you’re in this uncertain space.

A lot of this philosophy is driven by money, by economics, and we can allow that to drive us, or we can take control and decide on the direction we want to take. It’s been almost 200 years, but Thoreau’s musings on life are still very much relevant today. Until next time, enjoy.


If you’d like to read more on this topic, here are a few of our past Coyle Blog posts that you might enjoy:

Living a Wealthy Life

What are your priorities in life



Gary Klaben serves as a Financial Advisor, and visionary for Coyle Financial Counsel. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

Learn more about The Coyle Process, approach designed to get your arms around the big picture, so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about The Coyle Process and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.
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All information is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty is made to its accuracy or completeness.   This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only, and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective client.  The information is not intended as investment advice, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or invest in any particular investment or market segment.  Those seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.  Coyle, our employees, or our clients, may or may not be invested in any individual securities or market segments discussed in this material.  The opinions expressed were current as of the date of posting but are subject to change without notice due to market, political, or economic conditions. All investments involve risk, including loss of principal.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

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