The Parable of the Prime Minister and the Monk: Budget Hacking Philosophies (Entering the Antifrugal)

*loosely paraphrased and adapted

The Prime Minister and the Monk were childhood friends before they went their separate ways. Many years later, they bumped into each other again.

The Prime Minister, garbed in grand robes, pitied the scrawny, scruffy monk before him. “My old friend, if you would but cater to the king, you would not have to live on rice and beans”

To which the monk responded, “My old friend, if you could but live on rice and beans, you would not have to cater to any king”.

The short parable cleanly shows two approaches to life. That of the prime minister, who has the influence over the corporeal but is stuck in the treadmill of the rat race; and then the monk, who is beholden to no one but at the cost of detachment.

In trying to change the world, one cannot act in a vacuum; yet the threat of the rat race and keeping with the joneses will always severely inhibit one’s ability to make a difference. Be it Steve Jobs, Philip Knight (Nike) or Walt Disney, drawing existence from dreams and visions takes exertion and dogged determination to bring the intangible into the present.

Everyone has their own goals & path in life. Even should it not involve business, thinking of yourself as a startup or small business heading towards your wants, dreams or ambitions will go a ways towards optimizing the resources you have available at hand for your use.

Budget hacking reduces your financial exposure, increasing your resilience against being beholden to anyone, allowing you the financial gunpowder to stick true to your principles (ethical &/or philosophical) or to build your own temple (be it your business/hobby/family)

The world today is in a state of technological upheaval, shifting bargaining powers & decentralization eroding consolidation of powers. New possibilities abounds at every corner, crushing old industries and established incumbents. Quantitative Easing at every turn by Central Banks has starved hedge funds and venture capital into a bloodied frenzy for yield. Much as a cartel manipulated oil price heralded the advent of shale oil technologies that completed the circle torpedoing its price, cash flush startups challenge monopolies and incumbents with abandon. (As Uber sieges taxi medallions, Airbnb hotel lease rights)

This is all an unprecedented reforging of social-political-economic playing fields ; Uber and Grab locally acts as counterweights against salary lowballing by the famously named SMEs in a country without minimum wage.

The vast flush of very real monopoly money allows you to tap on VC funds, froth and largess, channeling it for your own devices and developments.

Defending against your financial expenses and tending to the garden of your temple will go towards building your antifragility in the roller coaster of modern living.

The Antifrugal

As Taleb describes his antifragility; the fragile is that which breaks upon impact, the robust/resilient that which survives the impact, and the antifragile that which grows stronger upon impact.

To understand Antifrugality accordingly: the prime minister/spendthrift bleeds money through every orrifice keeping up with the jonses, the monk/scrooge bleeds money as a rock would (the blood comes from the hand gripping it), the Antifrugal/Budget Hacker grows stronger channeling the excesses of venture capital.

As the banks made taxpayers foot the bill in 2008-2011, the Antifrugal channels this path in the opposite direction.

Learning the strategies of tapping into marginalities will go towards becoming your own sovereign individual, an unbeholden temple exerting the realization of your own goals. In exerting against the world, you have your own balance sheet, your own cashflow considerations, accruals/assets and liabilities/writedowns. The better you restructure your temple, the stronger you will be in sticking to your core principles (ethical or philosophical) in the face of pressures peer or otherwise. You will become unbeholden to the treadmill.

Identify the key essence of your quality of life, and push the costs to the hedge funds while you channel the value generation and/or savings into your main goal in your life. The overarching strategy is to channel the hedge fund froth into subsidizing your own temple, whichever purpose you may bring your mind to bear.

As a friend puts it, Uber and Grab will be the easiest Venture Capital/Hedge fund monies you will ever take.

Financial firepower with zen expenditure is not just about money, it is about the antifragility and resilience to stick to your principles, or hunker down waiting for a better moment to strike. It will also hopefully, with time and effort, build the foundation of your temple to better reach your goals and aims.