My oldest and closest friend and I were having a long chat on Saturday. As two 40 year olds, each with young children and each in a job they've been doing for fifteen years, the conversation was always likely to turn all deep and meaningful as some sort of explanation (justification?) was sought for the lives we lead.
Modern life is quite tough really, isn't it? Job security is largely a thing of the past. Gone are the days that a university education almost guaranteed a natural entry into a profession, within which would lie a career path that could be mapped out with a fair amount of accuracy from the off. Retirement would be reached forty years later as the individual hit sixty, and it would be a comfortable one, eked out of the years of national insurance contributions allied to the extra put away into personal savings of some form or other.
I get to my place of work at 8.00 am. I leave it at 5.30-6.00. Not the longest of working days really, and certainly 15 years ago when I was a bright eyed, bushy tailed go-getter (*cough*) I was doing longer hours. But that said, that's a heck of a large proportion of my life spent working. And for what? Well, it pays the mortgage, and my children's school fees, and a week away each year (before school fees, that would be three weeks - the sacrifices we make!). What it doesn't do is guarantee a decent, comfortable old age free of financial concerns. I put away what I would guess is more than the average into my pension each month, but the annual statement makes for depressing reading. The likelihood is that I will be lucky if I can retire at 60, and if I can, my annuity will not be that impressive.
The daily commute is one that I have done every working day since 1996. I sit amongst fellow commuters at the traffic lights, and looking at my fellow drivers, rarely see a happy face behind the wheel.
I'm an expert at what I do, and on the face of it, am relatively well paid. I get on very well with my six colleagues, all of which I have known for a minimum ten years. We have a laugh. It could be worse.
But it could be better, too. I spend a lot of time stressing over the future of the small company for which I work, which is undoubtedly suffering from the effects of the recession and has done since 2008. I worry about beng able to provide for my family, the stress that my wife comes under doing a job she really doesn't enjoy.
In my line of work I often see honest, hard working folk in their fifties who have worked for established, big corporate companies for twenty years or so, before being forced into redundancy. They then find it impossible to get back into work because they are seen as not having as much to offer, and are more expensive to employ, than the younger, up and comers that they are competing with in the job market.
Does all this sound familiar? I'm sure it does to many - I think I'm typical of millions of working people. It's life. But - and here's the thing - I can't help thinking that I could well get to 70 years of age, look back, and think, "What the hell was I doing?". Why am I doing the same thing every day, just to keep the lifestyle that is easy to grow comfortable with, but comfortable only in the sense that it's "safe". What example was I setting to my kids, who went the traditional route and now find themselves trapped in a job they may not enjoy doing with a mortgage to pay and bills to meet? Was it worth the stress?
Well it is, if there is no viable alternative. Of course, finding an alternative is the thing a lot easier said than done. Now, this being a gambling blog, I'm sure you can guess the next question...is gambling a realistic option?
Up until fairly recently, I would have said not. Now, I'm not so sure. The biggest obstacle most people put up to the idea of gambling for a living is that the sheer insecurity of it all renders it a daft option for someone in a full time, "proper" job. Really? In this day and age of mass redundancy? In these times where lots of companies, both large and small, are looking to take as many measures as possible to minimise costs (despite many of them, especially the bigger corporates, sitting on massive cash reserves).
I don't accept the "you can't gamble for a living because it is too inherently risky" argument any more. No pun intended, but to my mind, that is a redundant argument. There is very little/no security in this day and age. For some, yes, they may be fortunate to be entitled to feel pretty secure in their place of work. For many though, such a position would be a luxury.
I'm hoping to dig deeper into this subject throughout the week, at the end of which I'm buggering off on holiday for a few days. All this isn't leading up to an announcement that I'm quitting the day job and am punting full time. I'm not. But what I do want to do is set out the arguments for and against, see how preparation and adequate setting up of funds might make it a more viable option; how income generated would need to provide for the future, and not just for the here and now, and how that could be achieved; and what differences would gambling full time make fundamentally to lifestyle, for better and worse?
This may be a shot in the dark, but I know there are a couple of blog readers who have gone "professional". I would love the input of people who have done so and would be prepared to say why they did, what difficulties they've had to overcome, how they've adjusted and ultimately if they feel it was worth doing. It would make fascinating reading. If someone would like to contribute but not "formally" to be published verbatim on the blog, they could always leave a comment which I won't publish, asking for my email address. I've no issue in putting things into my own words based on what they email to me.
Perhaps no-one will respond to this invitation, which is fair enough. Would be great if they did though. :)
A good day for The Market Examiner, making just one selection which won at a very nice price Act Your Shoe Size - Windsor - 7/1. No such luck for Northern Monkey (0/1), or Winning Racing Tips (0/1).
Two bets from Summer of Football, one of which returned half the stake.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 0.4pts, -0.4pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
The Market Examiner: Staked 1pt, +7pts.
Summer Of Football: Staked 2pts, -1.75pts.