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Our Lost Leisure: A Mortgage-Free Solution to Regaining Our Lives

The following is an excerpt from The Mortgage-Free Home: Innovative Strategies for Debt-free Home Ownership by Rob Roy. It has been adapted for the web.

In 1991, Harvard economist Juliet Schor wrote a fascinating treatise on our entrapment in a voluntary (or involuntary) work ethic that turned us into a nation of workaholics, The Overworked American: the Unexpected Decline in Leisure (Basic Books, 1991). Some of her observations are startling:

  • Since 1948, the level of productivity of the U.S. worker has more than doubled. In other words, we could now produce our 1948 standard of living in less than half the time. Every time productivity increases, we are presented with the possibility of either more free time or more money. We could have chosen the four-hour day. Or a working year of six months. Or every worker in the United States could now be taking every other year off from work—with pay. (p. 2)
  • Half of this country’s population now say they have little time for their families. (p. 11)
  • Nearly two-thirds of adult women are now employed. (p. 20)

At regular paying jobs. And weigh the previous fact against this:

  • For women, gaining a husband adds about five hours of domestic work per week. (p. 38)
  • Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. (p. 44)
  • A Harris poll finds that since 1973 free time has fallen nearly 40 percent—from a median figure of 26 hours a week to slightly under 17. (p. 22)

All this is very interesting, but what does it have to do with a mortgage-free home? Simply this: Released from the need of having to come up with the monthly mortgage payment, less money needs to be earned. Less taxes need to be paid. This can translate into more leisure time. Or not. It’s up to you.

If you’re interested in slowing life to a manageable pace, check out Mortgage-Free! by Rob Roy.

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