Categories
Happiness

The Art of Reducing Paranoia

The subject of privacy is much like American politics: there are two main camps and they hate each other. I normally don’t worry about that but after recent events I noticed tinfoil hats appear on my head to the point where it was beginning to make me uncomfortable. I aim for moderacy, yet I was starting to question everything.

I finally resolved to sort through the chaff, separate paranoia from reality as much as possible, make adjustments where needed, and get on with my life. I was beginning to get on my own nerves.

It is reasonable to assume that anything you put online can be hacked, tracked, or somehow compromised if someone is determined enough. While there are ways to make it harder for all but the most determined to associate your web browsing with you, the moment you use your credentials to login to a website all assumptions of privacy can be considered forfeit. Websites, phone service, and Internet providers are all known for storing information. And since all of the above have been known to be hacked or otherwise reveal said information to other parties, a cautious approach would be to assume that anything one places over the Internet may not remain private forever.

It is also reasonable to assume that any device one uses to connect to the Internet has the potential of revealing more information than you would like. Articles about hacked baby cameras along with the occasional hacked television, phone, or computer confirm this assumption. I know for a fact that a talented hacker can quietly seize control of systems, browse your files, add your system to a botnet, or do other nasty things. I have worked with computers far too long not to be aware of the power of a determined hacker.

That said, one can achieve a reasonable level of privacy without being paranoid about it. If Osama bin Laden, the most hunted man in recent United States history, could avoid being located for a decade by some of the most determined hackers in the world by utilizing a low-tech solution, the average person can achieve some privacy as well.

One of the primary ways that bin Laden used to avoid being tracked was to keep his computer completely disconnected from the Internet. This method is called air-gapping, and is used by security techs and privacy experts worldwide. Air-gapping is extremely simple: Select a computer that does not contain a wifi card, do not connect it to any network that contains any sort of connection to the Internet, and use that machine to store your sensitive documents. Governments have used this method to protect sensitive data for decades and they use this practice even today. As long as someone cannot get physical access to a computer, this method provides a reasonable level of privacy.

If one is concerned about an undesirable person gaining physical access to an air-gapped system, there is an additional layer of security that can be used called encryption. Modern operating systems will offer to encrypt either the entire hard drive or the user folder; barring that, compression programs (ZIP files) can be encrypted so that they cannot be opened unless you type in a password.

Aside from my iDevices, every other system I own can be manually disconnected from the Internet and shut down. Since there are concerns about iDevices (and even my Katie’s Android phone) recording sound and video, I analyzed my daily patterns. The three most common statements I make on a daily basis are:

  1. “I just let you out ten minutes ago! Okay, let me finish what I’m doing and I’ll take you out again.”
  2. “Will you hurry up and pee already? I’m freezing (or sweating, depending upon season).”
  3. “I can’t give you treats unless you move out of my way!”

Anyone who hacks a camera in my home will be treated to the view of my wrinkly, saggy, toothless body. If I don’t break the camera, I doubt they would linger I’m so scary. If someone is that desperate for a free show, let them have at it. I really do not care. As for ads popping up related to private conversations whenever I go online, fuck them. I don’t buy that much stuff and I am slowly shifting what little I do buy to smaller, less intrusive companies so let them waste their time and their money trying to convince me to buy their crap. I will use those ads as a reminder not to shop at their stores and be done.

That said, I spend an immense amount of time writing in my journal or working up these posts when I am not beating my head against the keyboard as I attempt to bleed out another book. I also read books on a wide variety of subjects that would raise eyebrows for the casual visitor.

Those are the things that I truly want to keep private. Nobody needs to be exposed to some of the more eccentric ways I use as I compose these posts and I have no desire for anyone to have access to my intimate thoughts. I have had my fill of critism concerning my personal reading choices, so some of my more colorful titles need to be kept private as well.

This review calmed my nerves immensely and told me what I needed to do. A single computer kept completely disconnected from the Internet would resolve all of my privacy concerns. By dedicating a single system to my writing, journal, and more colorful reading material, I would have a reasonable assurance of privacy.

I selected my desktop computer for my safe haven. I installed a spare hard drive, encrypted it, and installed Linux Lite. Once I got it configured and updated, I disconnected the ethernet cable, transferred my personal files over, and breathed a sigh of relief.

I chose Linux over Windows because Windows 10 has gotten on my last nerve. Despite the fact that I have dug deep into the settings, configuing it to stay OFF when I turn it off, Windows 10 insists upon turning itself on at 5am each and every morning. While I didn’t want to erase Windows 10 entirely, I decided to completely disconnect the hard drive from the system while I continue my research into the issue. Since Linux stays off when you turn it off, it was a no-brainer for me. Few things are more disturbing than being awakened by your computer attempting to contact the mothership, scan your system, and God knows what else! I was already nervous enough without having to deal with that nonsense.

Due to the sensationalism that comes part and parcel with modern media, it can be difficult to avoid paranoia or emotional upset. If you allow yourself to step back and think things through, however, you will often discover that things are not as bad as they seem. Simply by stepping back and thinking things through, I eliminated my paranoia and got on with my life.

Have you ever grown paranoid over things in your personal life? How did you resolve the problem? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Life

The Flood of FAKE

This evening a friend of mine pried me away from my keyboard. She insisted that some new scenery might clear the cobwebs from my head. Our local McDonald’s had redecorated, replacing the “wall of smut” that I had held in affectionate disdain so she decided to show me the new theme they had chosen.

Something felt off about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I played with my straw as we made small talk while I pondered.

“Earth to Annie!” K waved a hand in front of my face. I was so puzzled at the discrepancy that I hadn’t even realized that she had asked me a question.

“Something’s just…wrong…with this place,” I confessed. “I can’t put my finger on it so it’s bugging me.”

“Eh,” K shrugged as she took a bite of her sandwich. “It’s the same old McDonalds but with a different face.”

The brick wallpaper, carefully designed with a splash of ‘spray paint’ caught my attention. I followed it upwards, spotting the fake wallpaper bars. Glanced around at the plastic paneling that had been carefully curated to resemble plywood. Even the chairs had a worn look that had been artfully integrated.

But the chairs were new.

The chairs were new. The wallpaper was new. The paneling, the floors, everything was new yet it had been deliberately designed to look….

“Oh my God, they went grunge.” It finally clicked what disturbed me about the place. It had been filled with brand-new, very expensive decorations that were designed to give it a careworn, “welcome to the ‘hood” appearance all the way down to the fake graffiti.

This newly redecorated restaurant had tried to be what it was not and it had failed abysmally. It was the silk purse trying to transform itself into a sow’s ear, and it was the perfect symbol of what our society has become.

We are taught to be all of the things that we are not. We are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things because it is “important” when in reality it is not.

We have fake food now. Tofu masquerading as cheese and meat and God knows what else. We have fake fur, fake leather, fake cotton, fake nails, and fake jewelry. We have fake wood, fake friends, fake news, even fake money these days. We swipe a card filled with fake money instead of using real cash based on real metals with more fake money added to the pool whenever the government runs low.

We rarely even see the truly old stuff anymore. When we want something old we go to the store and buy a cheap new replica. Old means ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ and ‘wrong’ so we buy the fake stuff and call it fashion.

We live in an age where people buy their pants pre-ripped so they can have the grunge without the grime. We want the gritty without the grit. We want the bling without the bankroll and it’s fake, it’s all fake.

My wardrobe of choice has become a fashion statement. Rich people want to look poor so they pay a fortune for the appearance. Poor people want to look rich so they max their cards to buy the brand names.

Neither group is what they are pretending to be and I find myself horrified at the revelation. It’s no wonder that Trump won the election. He was the only one honest enough to own the fact that he’s an asshole.

And who will they pit against him in the next election? Chances are it will be the rich bastard who’s playing himself off as a middle class saint. Millions of dollars, multiple mansions, yet he pretends to attack the very thing that he is and he expects us to swallow his bullshit.

Seriously, if you don’t like the rich, if you detest the fact that the rich are getting richer then get rid of your fucking mansions and come live in the ‘hood with the rest of us. We’ll be happy to share our roaches.

I don’t care if you’re rich or you’re poor as long as you own what you are to the world. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not because in the end we’re all going to end up dead regardless.

It’s okay to have money. It’s okay to be broke. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Just own what you are and get on with your life.

What’s not okay is when we waste our time and our money pretending to be the things that we are not. What’s not okay is when we waste our time worrying about what others think when it doesn’t matter. That is my problem with the world today and that’s a problem that I just realized that I have with myself as well.

I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I am the daughter of an ex-con and a stripper. I grew up helping my daddy bootleg because we did what we had to do in order to survive. I learned how to talk my way out of trouble at an early age when dirty old men tried to drag me in their cars.

I hated school because it was boring and we skipped ahead every damn time we got to the interesting parts. It was more important to color inside the circles than it was to actually learn something. I can read and I can research and I can learn more in a month than most classes teach me in a year. I resented the waste of my time but I just tried to pretend that this wasn’t a problem. I told myself I needed a piece of fucking paper when in the end all I needed was the knowledge.

That piece of paper was just to prove to the world that I was a person.

I was molested as a toddler. I was raped as an adult. I had my first two kids out of wedlock and I thought that made me wrong so to fix it I got married. The worst part of that was that he was fake too. I just couldn’t see it through my own damn fakeness. I was too busy trying to be something that I was not.

And right now I am a toothless old crone who is aggravated as hell at the fact that the truth was all around me and I missed it for ages. I live in a run-down shack on a grungy street like so many others yet the world looks for us and all they find are the mansions shown on TV.

Hell, we all believe that we’re supposed to live in mansions now because that’s all we’re allowed to see. We glamorize the rich and vilify the poor because “fuck them, they’re trash.”

People jump here from across the world looking for streets paved in gold only to land in rat-infested tenements. They wonder what they did wrong when they thought they did everything right.

And they did do everything right. It’s the world that’s wrong.

It’s the image we give, the lies we tell when we say we’re all doing well while most of us are struggling. It’s the shit we buy that we can’t afford so we can brag to our friends that we’re special.

But Tyler Durden of Fight Club had it right:

We are not our job.
We are not how much money we have in the bank.
We are not the car we drive.
We are not the contents of our wallets.
We are not the clothes that we choose to wear.
We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

We are. We really are. We are born, we live, and then we return to the earth from whence we came so the circle can continue.

There is no point in being fake. There is no point in pretending to be what we are not. All we do is make ourselves miserable in the end.

Life is too short not to be enjoyed. And we cannot enjoy it if we believe the lie that we are somehow wrong.

It is time we ended the fakeness. It is time to stop pretending to be something that we’re not. It is time to stop believing the lie that we are only worth something if we dress a certain way or act a certain way or buy the certain stuff or do the certain things.

It is time we realized that we are okay where we are with what we have right now.

So keep your stuff. Use the things you already have because something new won’t make you better – it will just make you broke.

And stop supporting the companies that feed you the lies that they’re ‘just like’ you and they ‘care about’ you and they ‘want what’s best’ for you because the truth is this:

All they want is your money.

They want to use you up and spit you out and laugh when you’re tossed in the gutter.

~

We are nothing to them, and it is time that we accepted that.

And it is time we treated them the exact same way that they treat us.

Just like that McDonald’s I visited tonight, they dress up their lies and call themselves authentic. They believe they have us brainwashed enough that we’ll believe it. I hope that they are wrong about that.

Don’t fall for their games. Stop feeding the monsters.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Frugality Minimalism

The Television Adventure

When I eliminated my television back in 2009, I had no intention of acquiring another. I was perfectly content using my computer to stream videos or watch DVDs, so I thought I would have no reason to bother.

Katie disagreed. As everyone knows, my beloved daughter is not a minimalist. She works hard and shops with the same enthusiasm. I do not judge my daughter for this; she has the right to earn and spend her money as she pleases.

So when Katie came home one afternoon with a television in her arms, I shrugged and went on with my life. She wanted to watch movies and play games in her room and had decided to do just that.

I didn’t think about that television much. I watched it with her once a year, the day after Christmas, when we have a tradition of pigging out on clearance candy and watching Forrest Gump.

But then one evening after helping a friend move she came home with yet another television. Her friend had an extra that was larger than Katie’s and had gifted it to my daughter as a ‘thank you.’ Katie was delighted as she showed it to me; she could watch her videos on a larger screen thanks to the generosity of her friend.

My only question was what she intended to do with her old one.

Katie didn’t even give me the opportunity to ask that question. “As soon as I hook it up I’ll give my little one to you,” she announced. “It’s about time you joined the modern age and watched TV like normal folks!”

Oh geez.

That was how I found myself the proud owner of not only a small television but a Roku as well. She helped me hook it up and handed me the remotes with a smile.

I didn’t know how to work the remotes. The last television I owned didn’t have one. What the hell was I going to do with a television when I didn’t even know how to work it? I kept my thoughts to myself, thanked her profusely, and pretended to be happy with the gift.

That television sat in my room for a good six months untouched. I didn’t know how to work it, wasn’t motivated to try, yet I couldn’t bring myself to part with it because my daughter had loved me enough to give it to me. Eventually I realized that the situation was bordering on the ridiculous so I sat my butt down and figured it out.

Televisions have changed immensely since I last bothered with one many years ago. They do things now that I find amazing. I started out watching YouTube videos on the thing and eventually added one of those gadgets that play ancient video games and in time complemented it with a cheap DVD player.

It would save wear and tear on my computers, I reasoned.

As I developed the habit of watching a movie before bed, I realized that I could reduce my reliance on Facebook and the Internet if I had a way to capture the open air broadcasts from local news stations. I like to keep up with local news but I have a weakness for reading the comments. There was a problem with this, however. In order to capture the signals I needed to purchase another device and I was too cheap to spend the money.

That changed last night. While I was out to purchase some groceries, I stumbled upon a little antenna for $5. After asking the workers a few questions, I decided to give it a try.

It took several attempts but I managed to stick it to a window to gain reception. I fiddled with the remote, pressing random buttons until I finally found the proper menu and I managed to pick up a few channels.

For the first time in over a decade I watched the eleven o’clock news without losing myself in the comments section.

I feel as if I have stepped into an alternate reality. I can press a button and watch the news when it comes on instead of waiting for the highlights to go online. I don’t have to worry about my Internet going out when bad weather arrives. That’s an issue in my tiny area.

Part of me feels guilty for buying another gadget. Part of me feels odd because I am no longer part of the Minimalist Crowd that looks at televisions with disdain. But if I am going to allow others to live life on their terms, then that gives me the right to live on mine. The television was free, the antenna was $5, and now I can rest easy during storms. I can also use the device to play music when I slip a CD or MP3 DVD into the player I acquired, which means that I can shut my computer off entirely sometimes. I can even play games from my childhood, which I have discovered is a wonderful way to clear my head.

This little adventure has made me realize that change can be a very positive thing. It has made me realize that I need to abandon my comfort zone more often. It has also made me realize that if I embrace the older technology that I abandoned in the past that I can reduce my reliance upon the Internet. The world will not end if Annie cannot connect. To be honest, if I could teach myself to check email, respond to comments, and go offline after I upload my daily blog post, I would probably be better off.

I would definitely have more time.

If you happen to have a television (or manage to acquire one for cheap or free), you may want to consider buying one of those little devices that allow you to pick up stations for free. You would not only eliminate your cable expense, you may be able to drop some of those online movie subscriptions you pay for. They have a range of them, designed to pick up channels of varying distances from your home, so take care not to purchase until you find one that is powerful enough for your needs. The $5 one I purchased covers a 25-mile radius – just enough to watch the news, which is all I wanted. This is what the box looked like:

And always remember – minimalism is about living life on your terms, not the terms that some “expert” living out of a thousand-dollar laptop says you should live. You have the right to keep anything in your life that you find useful or gives you pleasure. If those experts want to judge, send them to me. I will be happy to show them what spot on my anatomy they can kiss.

So keep the old record player if you use it. Watch your DVDs. Play your cassettes and your VHS tapes. Wear the clothes you have in your closet. It is far better for the world if we use the things we already have anyway.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Frugality

The Soap Rebellion

I’ve spent the past several days discussing the big picture that surrounds us but the reality is that some of the most effective rebellions take place at home. When we make changes in our personal life and use those changes as talking points to teach our friends and family, over time people begin to listen and make changes of their own.

I’ve noticed this over the past decade as I walked the path that led me to today. People who used to condemn me, who called me insane to my face are now slowly making changes as they start to emulate my practices. Relatives now announce that they are culling their clutter. Friends come to me for advice on financial matters. Readers email me for similar reasons and I strive to help every one.

One by one the people around me have discovered that my particular lifestyle allows me a freedom that they cannot conceive of and have given me the honor of assisting them as they make their first steps to freedom.

I follow a simple plan to accomplish this feat. I listen to criticism, acknowlege their concerns, and do my own thing regardless.

And now it is time for a story.

When my Katie left for the Navy I didn’t expect her to return quite so soon. I started arranging things in my life to suit myself rather than continue the compromises we had made over the years.

One major surrender I made to maintain peace in our home concered liquid soap. My daughter loved it. I hated it. I felt that it was wasteful to spend a dollar or more on a product that was mostly water when one could purchase a small multi-pack of bar soap that would last longer, have a lower impact on the environment, and cost less as well. I grew up on bar soap; there’s nothing wrong with it except for the fact that companies prefer the higher profits they receive when we are persuaded that liquid soap is better.

That was why one of the first things I did after my daughter left was chuck her bottles of liquid soap beneath the counter and replace them with bars. I would have them available whenever she would visit but otherwise I was free to follow my conscience. My wallet agreed with this decision.

When my daughter returned from the Navy after being injured in BASIC I faced a quandary. Did I go back to our old way of doing things when I really didn’t want to?

I decided to experiment with a compromise instead.

I left my bar soap in prominent display. Beside those bars I placed the containers of liquid soap that my Katie preferred. When she asked, I explained the reasons that I preferred bar soap over liquid. While I would not try to force her to switch to using bar soap, I would continue to use my bars. She was free to use whatever she liked but when we ran out of liquid soap, the burden of restocking the stuff would be up to her.

I’ve refilled the bottle by the bathroom sink once in the months since that announcement. Little by little I noticed her use of it waning. I can no longer recall the last time it was low; after that first refill the bottle has sat mostly unused.

Every time I look at that bottle I have a little chuckle. My daughter has now began to experiment with different brands of bar soap as she searches for one that she likes. She has even mentioned that we might want to consider switching to bar shampoo because that would help the environment as well.

It can be a challenge to live a simpler lifestyle while we are surrounded by people who don’t share our views, but if we do our own thing while allowing them to do theirs, in time they will not only experiment, but come around to our way of thinking–at least to a degree.

This is why it is essential that we live life on our own terms. We may not make a difference in the world as a whole, but we do start to create ripples in the fabric of the society that surrounds us. Create enough ripples, and those ripples will merge to become a wave.

That is the only way to create a lasting change. That is the only way that we can stop the progress of the monsters. If we buy less, if we reveal to others that we’re buying less and explain why, in time others will pay attention.

So pick a monster and stop feeding them. It doesn’t really matter which monster; just pick the one you dislike the most. Tell others why you are doing what you do and ignore their calls to stop. Use up the things you have. Spend less. Focus on the things that are important to you and don’t be shy about that fact.

Between us all, we can start to move mountains. It just takes courage and a bit of patience.

Has your decision to live on less inspired others to do the same? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Personal Security

Gremlins?

Remember when I wrote about the strange advertising issue I experienced recently? A friend of mine in another section of the country reminded me of another incident that happened several weeks ago. I want to share that incident with you today because this is becoming rather creepy.

As many of you know, I search out random subjects on the Internet for sport. I’ve done this for decades; whenever something pops in my head I reach for my computer and look it up. Maybe I do this since I grew up before the Internet was a thing and felt starved for information. I don’t know, but this is just something I do on a daily basis.

Several weeks back (a couple of months, maybe?) I was reminded of a high-profile criminal case in my area. I fired up my favorite search engine to refresh myself of the details.

I could find nothing.

I thought I was going insane. I remembered the case like it was yesterday; why wasn’t anything related to the incident showing up in my search results? Have I lost my touch? While I was digging, an old friend, who lives in a different geographical region than I do, happened to send me a message. I shared my frustration at my inability to locate anything on the incident. While I was venting, my friend ran a search on the subject.

The information I was seeking appeared on the first page of my friend’s results.

We were using the exact same search terms. We were using the exact same search engine. My friend pulled up the information easily but nothing relevant appeared in my results. We thought it curious, so I fired up the DuckDuckGo search engine and repeated the query.

I found what I was searching for on the very first page.

When my friend reminded me of that earlier incident, I realized that there may be something going on with my searches on this particular search engine in particular. For the past couple of weeks, I have ran troubleshooting procedures on my internet connection multiple times because when I would search for particular topics, the results page frequently wouldn’t load; if it did load and I clicked on a result, sometimes the link I clicked on wouldn’t load. Many times the results it displayed were completely irrelevant to my particular search.

Curious, I fired up Tor Browser to mask my location and identity a bit and typed in the queries that had been giving me issues.

The results appeared. I didn’t have a single issue clicking on the links or anything. I was able to locate the information I had been searching for without a single problem.

I don’t know what’s going on. I may be over-reacting. But I am starting to wonder if, for some mysterious reason, I’ve been shadow-banned on a particular search engine when I search out particular subjects. When combined with the strange advertising issue (which has yet to reappear since my Katie discussed it in front of our devices), I am beginning to wander if there is more happening in the background than I realize.

Over-reacting or no, I have started using Tor more and more for my everyday Internet searches. I don’t know what’s going on but I am starting to grow concerned.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, you may want to consider using DuckDuckGo as your search engine to see if that resolves your issue. If you are feeling paranoid (like I’m starting to become), you may want to consider installing the Tor Browser to obscure your searches a bit more. It isn’t perfect but it’s better than nothing.

And if you are experiencing a similar issue or have in the past, please let me know in the comments of this post. I would like to find out if this is an isolated occurrence.

NOTE: This bit of information is for the curious.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Frugality

Minimalist Revelation

I awoke this morning with a surprising revelation. Aside from food, I no longer buy much.

At first I thought I was over-reacting so I looked at my purchase history for this past year. I didn’t spend even $500 last year at Walmart and they were my primary online ordering outlet.

Once every month or so I would order a bag of pet food, add some food or household items to achieve the $35 amount for free shipping, and that was it. While I did visit the local Walmart store twice last year, even factoring those two occasions in I spent under $500 total.

I did order several books that I could not attain locally, but I typically ordered used copies through Thriftbooks. The majority of my splurges were at three local restaurants and one local coffee shop. All of those are completely local establishments.

I don’t spend near as much money as I thought I did. Certainly not enough to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The largest purchase I made last year (aside from my investments) was a gadget I purchased used from my daughter. She had purchased an iPad Pro to replace her aging laptop, discovered that it would not meet her needs, and offered it to me at a sizable discount so she could purchase another used laptop instead.

I had believed that I had been quite profligate with my purchases over these past two years, so to discover that the majority of my spending was on food and household supplies is quite the shock.

I looked back even further. I didn’t have all of my records, but it was fairly easy to calculate. I can look at anything I’ve acquired since I’ve lived in this little house and recall where and when I purchased it. The conclusion is glaringly obvious after that inventory: I stopped spending money after my experiment with extreme minimalism. Since I currently feel as if I own too much, I suspect that the experiment affected me more than I thought.

My little $500 I spend at Walmart each year is a drop in the bucket compared to the $7,000 the Walton family earns in a single minute. I doubt that they will even miss that tiny amount. Still, that’s one less bottle of fancy champagne that they can buy so I will have to be content.

I wonder what would happen if we all embraced minimalism. Most people spend a lot more than me; I spent a lot more than I did before I began this path. If we all just started buying less, would that make a difference in the world of the monsters?

And who am I to complain about how large they’ve become when I drastically reduced the amount I give them over a decade ago?

This makes me wonder if I could make more of an impact by simply encouraging people to spend less overall rather than to boycott individual companies. Regardless, my little blog is invisible in the face of the big name frugality and minimalism blogs out there. Does it matter what I do, since my refusal to promote this website limits my reach?

I don’t have the answers to my questions. They are heavy on my mind, however, so I thought I would share them with you today.


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!


Categories
Personal

My Heart is Broken for RheaLeigh

There is something wrong with a society where people hurt their own children. There is something wrong with a society that thinks severe child abuse only warrants a small charge. There is something wrong with a society that no longer cares what happens to our defenseless members.

This morning I received word that a friend of mine received a horrible call. She was told that her baby had fallen out of bed. When she rushed to the hospital, she discovered that the truth was far darker than that. Her own husband had been abusing that tiny little baby since the day she was born.

The guy admitted to it.

We can talk and we can preach about wanting to make a change on a grand scale, but in the end, the goal isn’t to vilify the rich.

The goal is to help our society.

I want to leave a better world for my children and grandchildren. I’ve seen a malaise within my tiny community, and based upon my research, if we can make things better on a small scale by providing more opportunities, people won’t be driven to such madness that causes then to harm the helpless.

But for now, I would like to set everything aside. For now, there is a tiny little baby fighting for her life in the hospital. Her mother isn’t rich. She can’t afford to play the legal games to bring her baby’s abuser to justice. I don’t even know how she will afford her baby’s medical bills.

I hope you will find it in your heart to help her.

Her GoFundMe Page is here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1vf6669ruo?utm_medium=social&utm_source=fbmessenger&utm_campaign=p_na%20share-sheet&rcid=86a21197ee21456aa71b928b2d37ccf8&fbclid=IwAR0Jp8C-83mzunRs8uKGRK6n7rnB-in1n-E74Oof6hS6zXEz7m3Ohi5KN4o

My prayers go out to little RheaLeigh.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Education Finances

A Question About Debt

There is a lot of discussion about how to handle student debt these days. When I came online this morning, I received the screenshot of the above tweet along with a question (abbreviated for clarity):

“I have $XX,XXX in student debt from a college that forced me to leave when I became pregnant. Despite the fact that they refused to allow me to attain my degree, they still charged me. I cannot complete my education until my debt is paid in full because my original college refuses to release my transcripts, and I cannot find a job that pays enough to eliminate the debt without that degree. What can I do?”

I don’t know. I volunteered to write this post in hopes of finding someone who does.

Debt is growing ever more common in our society. In the second quarter of 2019, consumer debt was listed at $13.86 trillion. While I refuse to get into the reasons behind this massive number, today I would like to ask you a question:

Can we fix this? And if we can, HOW?

I think we can all agree that the debt situation has become a problem. Student debt alone has reached the point where politicians are using it as a weapon to gain more votes.

The book Plutocrats even discusses how people in the finance industry have profited from this debt. In an earlier post, I even discussed the multi-million dollar paycheck that a single CEO in the credit card industry has attained.

Back in the age that the Old Testament of the Bible was written, Israelites were ordered to cancel all debts of their fellow man every seven years. The text excludes foreigners, but Deuteronomy 15:1-6 is a fascinating solution to the issue of debt at hand. Here is a direct quote from the start of the passage:

“At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” – Deuteronomy 13:17, NIV

For the record, I do not have debt. Therefore, I feel that I have no right to contribute to this discussion. That said, the massive amounts of debt that our populace has incurred warrants attention.

If you could propose a solution to the massive amount of debt our nation’s populace is facing, what would you propose and why? Please share your answers in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Economy Happiness

The Problem With Wanting Change

“I don’t care what you say to me. Just give me the money!”

– unknown

The problem about change is that everybody wants it but nobody actually wants to do the real work that brings it about. I can preach about the dangers of the Walton Family until Hell freezes over, but if I’m still shopping in their stores I’m not part of the change.

I’m part of the problem.

I’ve wrestled with that dilemma for years now. I have seen cashiers in the front of their stores sobbing as their hours have been cut, just to walk in the back and hear the managers laughing over those exact same wage cuts.

I’ve watched factory managers tremble in terror at the thought that we were scheduled to run a Walmart order on the line – “Make sure you watch those boxes like a hawk! If Walmart sees anything wrong with a single box they will refuse the entire order and we could all lose our jobs!”

I’ve seen truckers curse them in a fury – “I didn’t get paid for my last delivery because I arrived outside of my window. How the hell could I arrive on time when I was stuck in traffic on the Interstate after an accident!?!”

I’ve seen Walmart shift one of their stores about a mile down the road because one little grocery store survived their intrusion. Walmart wanted to kill them all. They closed a perfectly good store just to open up next door to the one little grocery they had been incapable of killing in their last location–and I watched that old man cry as his whole entire life was destroyed.

I’ve personally witnessed Walmart do horrible things and yet the sniveling, worthless sack of shit that I am, I STILL gave those bastards my money.

Oh, I had plenty of reasons for my hypocrisy. Walmart was close, their prices were cheap, and surely to God the Government would figure it out and fix things in time, but you know what?

I was part of the problem.

Walmart doesn’t give a shit what you or I say. Walmart doesn’t give a fuck if we complain that they’re taking over our nation. All they do is laugh their way to their champagne carts because we’re still giving them our money.

For the record, I liked Sam Walton. It’s the actions of his kids now that he’s dead that I cannot condone. Sam was a nice guy. Yeah, he liked his money but he dressed like a real person as he drove around in his ratty truck. He would walk up to you and shake your hand and treat you like a human being. I met him once and fell in love. Sam Walton was awesome.

But Sam Walton is not his kids. His kids were raised with silver spoons in their mouths because Sam thought that was best. And I can’t fault Sam for that, despite the fact that he turned those kids into the greedy monsters that they are today.

So I reasoned that it wasn’t Sam’s fault that his kids were assholes. I walked in those stores and gave them my money as I tried to ignore how Walmart was changing.

And it was Sam Walton himself that gave me a clue:

“There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

– Sam Walton

Sam Walton was right. If you don’t like what is happening, all you have to do is cut off their food supply and watch them starve.

That’s why our lovely little nation freezes bank accounts when they’re chasing people: the government knows it will starve them out of hiding.

Cut off their food supply and anything will die. Yet I, in my hypocrisy, ignored that message.

That stops now. This month, instead of doing my normal thing, I found another place to acquire my pet food. I paid a bit more but my conscience is clear. I’m not happy about the place I chose this round but that’s okay. I’ll find a better place to shop in time.

I am done with being a hypocrite. I am done with being part of the problem. I am done with the fact that I have sat on the sidelines whining about my powerlessness as I made the problem worse through my purchases.

Every time you walk into a Walmart you think about that. Every time you order from Walmart remember that you are the reason they exist. YOU are the reason that they are destroying our dairy industry. You are the reason that cashiers are losing their jobs.

It is YOUR fault if the Walton family continues to manipulate the government of our nation.

It was my fault in the past but I have ended my hypocrisy. The rest is up to you.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Economy Finances

The Walmart Monster

“The best slave is a slave that doesn’t know he’s a slave.” – www.zerohedge.com

The human race is the only species on this planet that is forced to pay money for the right to live. In the United States, our parents have to go into debt just to give us life. They sweat and they struggle to support us through our childhood until finally they release us into the world, praying that we can support ourselves.

Things don’t get much better for us once we reach adulthood. For those of us who attend college, hoping that it will give us a chance, we have to shoulder the burden of immense debt for that privilege. When we want to reduce the amount of debt that we incur, we search around us for work, a job that will allow us to pay our bills and eat something more substantial than ramen.

Many of us go hungry and homeless instead.

The story gets darker for those of us who discover that the privilege of higher education is beyond our reach. The story grows especially dark for those of us who start our families while we are young. For want of a single piece of paper, we are relegated to the waste heaps of humanity. We work in restaurants, we toil in factories, we slave away at gas stations and convenience stores.

We pray that we can find someone who can take our children in so that we can work the hours we are forced to work. We pray not to get sick as we beg for help to survive.

But we don’t deserve to survive. We are worthless. We are lazy. We are nothing but the scum of the earth. We deserve to die.

We are told from the moment of birth that we’re not good enough. We need to fix our appearance. We need to wear certain clothes. We need to buy the houses and the cars and the stuff. They tell us that if we work harder; if we get an extra job, if we get the degree–if we put in enough hours and do enough work that we can fix our situations.

But it’s all a lie.

Even if we get that piece of paper, we still won’t be able to make enough. By the time we repay our student loans, there isn’t anything left. And regardless of whether we choose college or not, our fate will be the same. We will work until we break and be discarded.

We are the slaves of the United States of America. We are the ones who have been lied to our whole entire lives. We have been lied to because we are not the ones in control of our nation. Our nation has been bought by the monsters. 

The monsters work hard to disguise this fact. They lurk in the background, paying off our public servants to pass laws that favor them. They barrage us with ads, ads designed to give us hope for the future so that we will continue to fund their excess while we struggle.

They think they are powerful. They believe they are unstoppable. This has gone on for so long that the monsters believe they are god.

I think it’s time we met the monsters. Let’s start with one of the biggest ones, the Walton Family.

Walton Wealth

As you can see from the image, we are giving this monster $70,000 every single minute. We are giving them more each minute than most of us earn in an entire year. In exchange for that money, they sell us cheap crap at slowly inflating prices. They move into our towns, destroy our businesses, and revel at their monopoly.

They pay us workers so little that we have to beg the government to have enough food so we can eat, but that’s still not enough for them. They have begun to eliminate the jobs we are forced to take just to pay our bills. They are so greedy that they suck our nation dry by exploiting loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

They have taken over our towns.
They have corrupted our government.
They are destroying the dairy industry.
And now they are after our children.

What will they go after next?

There is only one we can stop this monster. There is only one way that we can destroy their power. There is only one place we can strike that will hurt them.

That place is in their wallet. We have to starve them out if we want to retake our nation.

Stop giving them money.
Stop shopping at their stores.
Stop feeding the monsters.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Business Finances

How to Annoy Your Credit Card Company

It is becoming more difficult to live without a credit card in this world. You need credit cards to make online payments since more and more companies are moving exclusively online. Brick and mortar stores are beginning to refuse cash transactions now. I suspect that this trend will continue.

While you can use the debit card provided at most banks in lieu of a credit card, this carries risks. If your card is cloned by a skimmer or in any way compromised, you can lose access to your entire bank balance while you get the situation sorted. I learned this the hard way when it happened to me several years ago.

Credit cards can provide a layer of protection from this but the protection comes at a cost for the unwary. Accept the wrong credit card offer and you will find yourself paying outrageous annual fees for the privilege. If you decide to go with a prepaid “credit card,” as in the ones you find at the corner gas station, their transaction fees can be prohibitive.

That said, if you would like to annoy the finance industry while you’re protecting your bank account, a credit card is a wonderful way to do that. All you need to do is pay your balance off in full each and every month before the due date.

You see, credit card companies make their money through annual fees and interest fees. The credit card companies who don’t charge an annual fee rely upon interest fees and late payment fees to make their money. If they can tempt you into carrying a balance every month, these people are very happy campers. In 2016 alone, credit card companies took $63.4 BILLION dollars out of our collective pockets, and they enjoyed hoarding every penny of it.

Just imagine the good that $63.4 BILLION could have done for the poor in our nation alone. That much money could have benefited the poor worldwide, if properly distributed. Yet Richard Fairbank, the CEO of Capital One, a popular credit card company, took home $17,328,902 in 2019. You can look that up. It’s listed in the SEC filing right here.

That one man, Richard Fairbank, is a prime example of how the rich are getting richer off the backs of the rest of us. We slave and we sweat and we struggle while him and people like him sit in cozy air-conditioned offices and laugh.

But there’s a way to strike back at him and the others in the credit card industry. We can use their money for free, and there’s not a thing they can do about it.

Credit card companies hate when people use their money for free. They even have a term for it. People who use the money from credit card companies for free are called “freeloaders” and “deadbeats” by the credit card industry.

It’s easy to do. In fact, I’ve been doing it to get back at them for about a year now.

All you have to do is take out a credit card at one of the no-annual-fee credit companies and pay off your balance in full each and every month. Do not make the minimum payment. They will do their level best to persuade you to make the minimum payment. Pay off the entire balance in full.

It kills the credit card companies when you do this. If you’re smart, you’ll take the money you intend to pay the credit card company off with and stick that money into an interest-bearing account so that you can make a bit of money off of their money each month.

The funny part of this is the fact that the credit card companies cannot penalize you if you do this. When you pay off your credit card balance in full each month, they are actually forced to reward you with a good report on your credit rating.

Please note that if you have trouble paying your bills and with credit in general, you may want to avoid this bit of revenge against the credit card companies. If you cannot resist the temptation to spend more than you can pay off, I urge you to avoid this act of rebellion like the plague. Credit card companies work extremely hard to persuade you to carry a balance for a reason, and they are so good at it that the CEO of Capital One made over $17 million due to their talent.

That said, I enjoy using their money immensely each month. When I work up my budget, I transfer the amount I intend to spend on my credit card into an interest-bearing savings account. By using their money instead of mine, I am able to earn a bit of interest at their expense. It’s not much, but it makes me laugh every time I do it.

This act of revenge allows me to take a bit of money out of the pockets of at least one monster every month. Even better, it allows me to make money at the expense of that very same monster. If you have an issue with the usurious rates and the hidden fees that credit card companies charge, you might want to stage your own little revenge.

How do you fight the monsters? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I could use some ideas :).


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Minimalism Simplicity Wardrobe

The Art of Recovering from Disaster

A friend’s house caught fire over this past summer. He was at work. By the time the firemen departed, the house and its contents were destroyed. My friend was gutted. He’d not only lost everything he owned, he’d lost his trusted companion, a pet he’d had for almost a decade.

He took some time to grieve and then started the process of recovery. He rented a new place and began anew.

We can all learn from my friend. While disasters take different shapes and forms, the sense of pain from the loss is the same. With the right mindset, we can turn that loss into an opportunity to recreate ourselves from the ashes.

I started that process yesterday. By releasing the burden I’ve hidden for almost a year, I wiped the slate clean.

I had a good cry and then asked myself “what do I do now?” I found the answer in my friend.

It’s time to pick my butt off the floor and start over.

I knew that this was coming. I fought against it. I tried every trick I knew to how to try in an attempt to avoid my reality. I didn’t want to sacrifice the beliefs I’d held for a lifetime. I didn’t want to surrender to the madness. But ultimately I am a survivor, so I refuse to let what I learned defeat me.

I have no power to change the world. I have no power, no authority to do any damn thing but eat and shit and die.

I can work with that.

You see, I may not be able to change this world but I can change myself. I may not be able to change this world but I can control the choices I make and the things I do. I may not be able to change the world but I can go into the long night content with the knowledge that I did what I could.

“If you find yourself confronting an unjust and corrupt system, it is much more effective to learn its codes from the inside and discover its vulnerabilities. Knowing how it works, you can take it apart – for good.”

– Robert Greene, The 50th Law

I have fifty years of experience in how this world works. Corporations convince us we are lacking to persuade us to give them our money. They use the money we give them to further their own purposes; their purpose is to make the rich richer by draining the rest of us dry.

To stop that scenario is simple. To stop the corporations from draining us dry we have to remove the source of their power.

The only way to remove their power is to stop giving them money.

The milennial generation stumbled upon this truth some time ago. They stopped giving their money to support certain industries. When those industries felt the blow to their pocketbooks, they began to scream with pain. Do a search for “industries milennials have killed” if you want to read the details.

I may be old and uneducated but I’m smart enough to see from the evidence that the process works. I’m humble enough to learn from their experience so I have chosen to follow their example. I may not be able to execute it perfectly but if I can arrange to give the monsters less, I can help starve them out in some small way.

I’ve already began that process. Instead of following their instructions to buy new clothing, I have chosen to use what I already own until it falls apart. Instead of following their instructions to discard the excess clothing I have thanks to the little washer I own, I placed the items in a box for future use.

The longer I can go without buying clothing, the less I will feed the monsters. Even better, there will be less clothing entering our landfills. That is a wonderful bonus.

For far too long I’ve fallen for the lie that I needed to look and dress a certain way. The only reason they want us to look and dress in a certain way is because it makes them richer. In the end, as long as we’re clean and our bits are covered, the details only matter to them.

We have a surplus of clothing in our thrift shops. We have tons of clothes rotting in landfills because of their programming. I may not be able to change that reality but I can refuse to participate in it.

Is there a way you can stop feeding the monsters? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Business Economy Finances Investments Security

The Man Behind the Curtain

I generally take my dogs outside around the same time in the mornings. And each weekday morning, for a number of years, my dogs have decided to bark towards a neighbor’s yard across the field.

I’ve looked each morning, scolding them, because I saw nothing of importance. I thought they were just barking at the wind so I told them to hush and be still.

Today as I sat on my stoop I happened to be examining the clouds in the distance when the dogs started their routine cacophony. Out of habit, I turned my eyes toward the yard…

…but this time I noticed something different.

Just beyond and to the right of that particular yard happens to be the entrance of one of our local water treatment plants. Moving around that entrance was a worker, opening the gates for the day.

Had my eyes followed their normal routine I would have never spotted him. He was far enough out of my normal focus that he would have remained unseen. Yet by changing my routine, changing the focus of where my eyes habitually go that man came into view.

I’ve spent this past decade scolding my pets for barking at that hour and in that direction. I spent this past decade scolding my pets for barking at nothing.

But they weren’t barking at nothing. They just saw something that I didn’t.

The same thing happened to me after Katie became an adult a few years ago. To settle the lost feeling I felt, I began to change my routine. I took a job, I read new books, I researched articles that I’d never thought to research in the past. I even started college.

I changed the focus of my mind as a result of those actions. And when I changed my focus I began to see things about our society that had previously passed unnoticed. During my research, I stumbled upon something that has shattered me.

Remember when I launched my grand goal to demonstrate that even the poorest among the poor could become wealthy? Remember even earlier, when I preached that we all just needed to live within our means? Remember when I announced that anyone could change their circumstances if they only worked hard enough?

I was convinced, completely convinced, that each and every one of those statements were true. I devoted my entire past life to proving the veracity of my beliefs. I spent this last decade, even longer, preaching those beliefs to you.

But when I shifted my focus I realized that I was wrong. There were things happening in the distance that I had not seen from my viewpoint because I had failed to shift the direction of my focus.

When my eyes finally traveled the right path they revealed to me a truth I found horrifying. A truth that I didn’t want to admit. I tried to turn away, tried to do the “business as usual” routine but I couldn’t. Once I spotted the truth, I was so disgusted that I could not look away.

My daughters must believe that I suffered some sort of mental breakdown over these past few months. I know some of my friends do. Because I went from chasing it “all” to where I stand today.

I quit my job and I lied to you when I did it. I lied to everyone. I told you I had enough coming in from my book royalties to surivive but the reality is a bit different. I was so horrified, so frightened that I couldn’t even process what was happening. So instead of revealing that I’d quit my job to supplement my income with my savings, I lied to everyone and inflated my income. I desperately needed to think, and in order to think I needed to remove the pressure that would have been placed upon me if I had revealed the truth. I needed to not only process what I had uncovered, but to make a decision about what to do with my discovery.

That lie is the reason I have not completed the book I promised to complete. That lie stuck in my throat and the words refused to come. I do not regret that lie but it is time to come clean. While it was a matter of mental survival at that point, I find the burden of that lie to be unbearable. It is time to explain my actions and accept the consequences of my misdeed.

When I began to change my focus to study the wealthy, the nature of business, and the stock market, I realized that the game has been rigged. Despite my father’s assertion that I could be anything I wanted to be, despite the fact that I have heard time and again that I can change my circumstances if I try hard enough and do enough work, the fact is that these statements are false.

I have been lied to my whole entire life. I am horrified and heartbroken and more than a bit embarrassed at the fact that I’ve preached those lies to the entire world my whole entire life. And I am not the only one who has been lied to. I suspect you’ve been lied to as well.

That is why the tone of my posts have changed. That’s also why I have been more than a bit erratic, because the pain I feel is so raw right now that I’ve yet to calm down. I am so upset, so furious at the truth I’ve discovered that I want to destroy it all. I have become the cat who has noticed the vase and I want so desperately to knock it down and see it shatter.

We are not poor because we choose to be. We do not struggle because we choose to struggle. If we pare our expenses to the bone, as I have, there is only so far down they can go. While frugality does help, it is not the solution to the problem.

The reason that we are poor and scared and broke is not because we’ve not done enough to improve our circumstances. The reason we are poor and scared and broke is because we have been brainwashed into believing that we are somehow wrong.

Want to score a date with the right person? Get the cosmetic surgery, have the hair colored, get the right cut and style and you will be good enough for them to notice you.

Want to score the right job, the job that will allow you to pay all of your bills with money to spare? Get the degree, buy the wardrobe, speak and act in a certain way and your path will be golden. You’ll never have to worry about money again. Don’t worry about the debt you’ll incur as you do this; you’ll be able to pay it all off with ease once you earn your fortune.

Want to live like “normal” people live? Buy the six-figure house and the $50,000 car. Go out to eat at the fancy places. Wear the little boutique clothing. Watch your labels! Work the job, get the promotions, raise the kids, clean the house. Buy the tablets and the gadgets and the stuff. The person with the most toys wins. Anyone else is a failure.

Do you know why we’ve been taught to believe these things? We have been taught to believe these things because they keep us quiet. It is hard to protest against something when it’s our own damn fault we’re in our mess, isn’t it?

But it isn’t our fault. You see, when we spend our lives pursuing these things and believing those beliefs, our focus is so great that we miss the man operating just outside our line of vision. Just as I missed seeing that man open those gates each morning, we miss seeing the truth of what is happening.

We have been led to believe the things we believe not because they benefit us or are even true. We’ve been led to believe these things because they inspire us to take actions that keep that man behind the curtain in power. With each and every one of these actions, we work to make him richer and give him more control. From behind that curtain, he is using us in a plan that I can barely comprehend.

Let me explain.

Check into the names of the stuff you buy every day and you will discover that those brands are owned by corporations. Those corporations are owned by other corporations, which in turn are frequently owned by even another corporation and so forth. Like tiny little nesting dolls, this chain of corporate confusion is being used to funnel the money you give them to a very dark purpose.

It’s hard to track. I barely scratched the surface during my research but if you look closely you will start to see it. Companies take over other companies by buying up their stock; if one corporation buys below a certain number of shares they don’t even have to report the specifics. So if the person in charge of one corporation buys several other corporations, then uses those corporations to buy some more corporations, he can ultimately use all of the corporations in that chain to buy stock below the limit of what they have to report, in a method that is not only completely legal, but obfuscated to a degree that we don’t have a clue about what is happening.

It is by that method that a unknown number of people are trying to take over the world.

All of the money from all of those corporations is being funneled up the chain to one or more people who are so rich that they aren’t just after the money now. Their primary goal is to corner the markets to consolidate their power. They are currently using the funds to influence our politicians through lobbyists, campaign donations, back-scratching, and other methods of control.

~

I know that I sound like a conspiracy fanatic. This is why I went off the deep end for a time. I didn’t want to believe what I had uncovered during my research. I certainly didn’t want to be labeled a nutcase, so I tried to keep the knowledge to myself and just go on with my life but I can’t.

I can’t. I tried and I’m sorry but I can’t.

Because in this case to keep silent would be wrong. To keep silent would be to allow them to continue to grow their power until they manage to conquer the entire world. I don’t know what their plans are once they accomplish this but what little I discovered has left me terrified.

I don’t know how to fix this. It’s so far beyond my comprehension that I don’t have a clue. All I know is this. Every single dollar we use, every single purchase we make to the corporations in question is being used to fund their actions. And they have hidden their tracks very well.

This is why the rich have become so much richer these past few years. They are draining us, sucking us dry as they move to shift the pieces into place. This is why I began to beg of you to become more thoughtful with your purchases. This is why I have been acting erratic and have altered the course of my life.

I feel as if I’ve stumbled off a cliff and gone into freefall.

I hope you understand my actions a bit more now. And if you have any idea about how to handle this, I would appreciate it if you would let me know because, to be blunt, I am scared completely shitless.

Have I gone completely insane?


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decluttering Finances Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

We Should Practice What We Preach

I stopped exploring most of the minimalism, simplicity, and frugality blogs on the Internet these days. As a general rule, they fail to practice what they preach so I find them offensive.

The first thing you see when you click on one of those blog links is a giant popup. “Sign up for my mailing list and I’ll give you this piece of advertising disguised as helpful information for FREE!” When you sign up to make the popup disappear, your inbox will be flooded on a regular basis with advertising. “Join my class! Sign up for my FREE webinar so I can talk you into paying money for this class, this app, or whatever it is I’m selling!” The variety of methods that they use to persuade you that you NEED to give them money is not only impressive, it is disgusting.

When you finally manage to dispose of the popup, you are then forced to read their content, content that is disrupted by ads as you scroll down if they don’t break it up into a slideshow format designed to force you to click several times and view a bunch of more ads.

Even worse, when you get to the content, what do they do? They review different products and services with the intent of persuading you to BUY.

Seriously, you don’t need to buy MORE crap. You’ve already gotten more than enough for your needs. If you happen to be visiting those sites, chances are that you’re so broke that you can’t afford to buy them anyway.

But they do this. They don’t care how poor or broke you are. They don’t care that you’ve got far too much stuff already. All they care about is emptying your wallets a little bit more.

It’s not about helping you; it’s about enriching themselves. Check into the private lives of many of these people and you will discover that they make more money (and live at a higher standard) than a poor person can even comprehend. How can they possibly have your best interest in mind when they don’t know what it’s like to be so poor that you have to cook a pot of beans just to eat that week? How can they possibly understand the challenges that they don’t have to face because they make so much more money than you?

See, it’s easy to buy a new gadget when you’ve got the money to spare. And it makes sense to them to spend dollars just to save a few pennies because that’s how they were trained. Even if they weren’t conditioned to purchase things that won’t really save money in the long run, they have realized that if they can persuade you to buy these things that they will have more money in their bank.

And the only way to tell them apart is if you see them practice what they preach.

An excellent example of this is Marie Kondo. I refuse to link to her site in disgust for her actions. I used to like her; I found her logic as related to eliminating items that didn’t “spark joy” to be refreshing.

Until she showed her true colors, that is.

I wasn’t bothered by the fact that she started a show about her particular brand of minimalism. I was grateful for that because it helped to spread the word that people as a whole need to thin out their stuff. I was glad that she managed to find a way to do that and make a bit of money in the process.

But then, after she preached and preached about the need to thin down and eliminate, what did she do? She released a whole line of stuff that she wanted you to BUY.

REALLY?

How does that even make sense? If you needed to buy something, you sure as hell wouldn’t be tossing your perfectly serviceable stuff away, now would you? How can you speak out of one side of your mouth to tell people to throw their shit away then open the other side and tell them to BUY?

It is hypocisy in the strictest sense, spurred entirely by greed. She doesn’t give a shit about you; all she cares about is filling her bank account. She doesn’t care that you’re poor and broke and overwhelmed; just toss out your shit, buy her crap, and suffer through the overdraft fees when you discover that the shit you’ve kept has worn out before you’ve managed to save up enough money to replace it.

Why do you think that I’ve refused to offer classes? Why do you think that I’ve refused to create a mailing list? Why do you think that I’ve patently refused the offers I’ve received to market tee-shirts and other items to you? Why do you think that I live in the Hood and dine on Ramen instead of filling this website with ads?

I do it because I actually practice what I preach. I do it because this is about more than filling my bank account. I do this because I’ve seen a problem with this world and with the ways we’ve been taught and I want to fix it, even if I have to starve in the process.

While I’m not starving (don’t worry), I have deliberately made choices not to market to you because I believe that you’ve been marketed to enough. I have deliberately made choices that have affected me financially because I believe in what I tell you and I live my life based upon those beliefs every single day.

It enrages me that there are bloggers and writers and so-called frugality experts preaching to you that you need to toss the shit you already have and buy their shit instead. And there is only one way to stop that. It’s the exact same way you can remove the power and control of the corporations who have taken over our nation.

Stop paying attention to them. Stop buying their stuff. Stop paying for their classes. Stop encouraging them to market to you and they’ll eventually go broke and be forced to quit.

When that happens, the ones who will be left standing are the ones who truly practice what they preach in regards to simplicity, minimalism, and frugality because they’ll be the only ones with the skills to know how to live on less. They will be the ones who will do the work for free, not because they don’t need money to live on (we all need that), but because they feel that the message is more important than profit.

Those are the people you want to support, because those are the people who truly want to help you.

So think twice before you stick your email into their popups. Think twice before you buy their classes, click on their ads, or buy stuff from their product lines. Because to them, you are nothing more than an income stream.

For the record, you can find some of my ebooks listed for free on the torrent sites. If you’re broke, feel free to download them. I know that they’re there, because I’m the one who uploaded some. I’ve given out scores of my books for free to readers who emailed me and shared that they wanted to buy my books but didn’t have the money.

I do this because this is about more than the money to me. This is about the fact that people are poor and broke and struggling and they don’t know where to turn. This is about the fact that I’ve struggled my whole entire life, and I don’t want to see other people facing that fate.

I want to make this world a bit better place.

I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford to do what I do without acquiring a job for the long term. And that’s okay. That’s okay because this is about more than me. This is about helping you realize that society is broken, and the only way to fix it is to stop feeding the monsters.

It’s time for me to stop ranting for now. I’ve a house to clean and a book to write. If I can be of service to you don’t hesitate to email or comment. If you find my posts helpful, please know that even the shortest comment helps increase my ranking on the search engines. Sharing my posts with your friends helps to get the word out as well.

Please help me do that. Thank you.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Life Security

Are We Being Watched?

I was born in an age where many people could not afford a telephone. An age where the Middle Class splurged for a Party Line (a single phone line shared between multiple households). One was considered wealthy if they could afford a phone at all, and only the “truly rich” could afford a private line or a long-distance phone call.

Such was the era that I grew up in that I didn’t even realize that computers were real until I started middle school. The only time I ever saw them was on television, so I dismissed them as fantasy.

Perhaps this is why I continue to be so fascinated by the machines today. I am astounded by the fact that a device as small as the palm of my hand can be used to connect with what seems to be a limitless amount of knowledge and information. I doubt that this is something that I will ever take for granted.

I have watched computers grow from keyboard-shaped devices that you connected to a television to becoming devices that are part of the television. They are even an integral part of automobiles, microwaves, air conditioners, thermostats, and innumerable other devices scattered around the average home. More and more of these computing devices have now gained the ability to connect to the Internet. They have even coined a new term for the phenomena, the “Internet of Things (IoT).”

While I am amazed at how far computers have come, I wonder about the long-term repercussions of having an entire home filled with devices that can “phone home” for updates and transmit “usage statistics.” Have we finally entered the age prophesied by George Orwell in his famous book 1984 or am I so old that I am just becoming paranoid?

My questioning began after my daughter and I discussed some items we would like to buy. Shortly after we had that conversation, I went online to do something and noticed that the ads were eerily related to that conversation.

I had never, not once, ever searched for the items in question.

How could a random website on the internet–multiple websites, actually (since the ads were repeated in various places) know that my daughter and I had been discussing this topic, a topic that had never occurred to me to be interested in prior to my daughter mentioning it to me?

No one else was in the room. My computer has neither microphone nor camera installed. The television is an older hand-me-down from my daughter, so it’s incapable of connecting to the Internet. My iPad was on the table as we had that discussion, however. And my iPad uses WiFi to connect to the Internet.

My daughter and I conducted an experiment after that event. She had noticed the same thing happening to her when she talked about things around her smartphone and was curious as well. We turned up some music, placed our gadgets by the speaker, and huddled in the bathroom to formulate our plan.

Sure enough, the topic we chose to discuss appeared in ads on both of our devices in the days after that. My daughter was so astounded that she began discussing the suspected eavesdropping in front of the devices in question.

After that, the ads stopped.

Was something or someone listening in to our conversations? Did they realize that we were suspicious of them after my kid mentioned the fact, or was it all a big coincidence that advertising related to our private conversations stopped appearing when the kid talked about it in front of the devices?

I don’t know, but it has made me more than concerned.

It is common knowledge that Google earns money through advertising. Microsoft began to follow that trend by forcing users to watch ads if they wanted to play their games without a subscription. Even Ubuntu Linux offered Amazon advertising based upon your searches in the Unity Dash for a time. In an era of devices set up to respond on “Hey Siri,” “OK Google,” and “Alexa, order this for me,” is it a stretch of the imagination to wonder if these devices are listening in more than they claim?

When you add the NSA to the picture things become even darker. Edward Snowden fled to Russia after he revealed that our government was collecting frightening amounts of information. Microsoft and other major companies actively aided the US government through a thing called Prism. While Apple was one of the holdouts when Steve Jobs was still alive, they now admit to the fact that they analyze the photos you upload to the Cloud. They claim that it is to help stop child abuse. In light of my recent experience with their devices, I am beginning to wonder if images are all they are scanning.

Businesses exist for the sole purpose of making money. They make this money by encouraging us to buy the things they want to sell. To encourage us to buy, they promote their products and services through advertising.

What would stop Microsoft from profiting from this? What would stop any company from profiting from this? Who would know if Microsoft sold our private information to advertisers? We can’t exactly go through the source code of Windows to find out if they’re harvesting it. What would stop Apple from doing the same now that Steve Jobs is gone? We already know that Google and Amazon do this with their devices. That is what they were designed for, after all. Watch the ads they display of people using their devices to order stuff online and that fact becomes obvious.

And what if all of this goes deeper than simple marketing? Is there a chance that the police will show up at our doors if one of our devices overhears us discussing something considered illegal? A woman has already been investigated by police after she searched for a pressure cooker online. Is that going to become our reality?

Should we be worried, even if we feel that we have nothing to hide? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Edit:

Another question occurred to me after I published this post. If the government is collecting information on us, could it be that they are secretly repaying their information sources in the form of tax breaks? Inquiring minds would like to know.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Books Writing

Do Authors Make Money from Secondhand Books?

The other day an old friend contacted me. She’d stumbled upon a secondhand copy of The Shoestring Girl selling for an amazingly high price. You can see the listing here if you are interested.

My friend wanted to know just how much money I would personally receive should that copy sell. While I was responding to her questions, I shared the link on my Facebook page so that everyone could have a chuckle.

I have been responding to private messages and emails from people asking the exact same question ever since. I have decided to share this here to help future readers understand the situation.

When an author or other media creator produces an item like a book, a song, a video, or whatever, they receive a small royalty payment from their distributor whenever a new copy of their item sells. In the event of streaming media like music or unlimited reading services, the content creator will also receive a small royalty payment whenever someone accesses their content.

This changes for physical items like books, CDs, and DVD videos after that initial sale. If you purchased one of my books new for five dollars, I would do a little happy dance because your support has provided me with a bit of money to continue paying my bills. If you sold that book to your neighbor for a hundred dollars, however, you would be the one dancing.

You would not have to contact me and pay me a single penny from your profit. You purchased my book fair and square so that money is all yours. It doesn’t matter if you bought it new or found it in a dumpster. After that initial sale I receive nothing.

If you stumble upon one of my books at a library and read it, I receive nothing aside from the tiny allotment I receive when a library decides to stock one of my books. If you stumble upon one of my books on a torrent site, I receive nothing as well.

This same rule applies if you are a small author like myself or one of the greats like Stephen King. It applies if you are a small-time musician or a famous celebrity like the Beatles.

After that initial sale, we receive nothing.

Similarly, when one of us decides to publish a blog post or share something on social media, we receive nothing in exchange except for your comments. That is the reason why so many websites are overran with advertising. They stick it there and pray that you click so that they can afford to keep the lights on.

I have a serious moral issue with the sheer amount of advertising we are accosted with on a daily basis. I detest when a website tries to bully me into signing up for their mailing list with their stupid popups, because it means that I will receive even more advertising from them in the future. That is the reason why I refuse to start a mailing list. It is also the reason why I don’t have popups on my website or run a bunch of ads.

I do my best to practice what I preach. I occasionally offer the random affiliate link when I’ve discovered something interesting but I strive to do that as little as possible. I do this because it does help me to pay the bills. I might receive $20 a year from those little links but $20 is a lot when you live the way I do.

To be honest, I feel guilty whenever I receive even that small amount. I worry that I am being a hypocrite every single time I post one of those links.

But here’s the truth: I spend a lot of time writing the posts you see on this website. The only thing I receive in exchange are comments or the few pennies tossed my way if you do happen to click. I don’t mind that, but just like you, I need to have some money coming in if I want to pay the bills.

Content creators of all types have limited time with which they can use to create things. We can only write so many books and blog posts. We can only create a certain amount of music, movies or whatever it is we create.

And most of us don’t make a lot of money doing it. To be very honest, if I didn’t live as simply as I choose to live, I couldn’t afford to do this for very long but this is a labor of love and so I keep on writing.

I honestly believe that most of us creators feel the exact same way. We just feel blessed that you love us enough to toss us a comment or a few pennies now and again.

If you love your local writer or content creator enough (and have something to spare), please reach out to them and offer a small donation. The majority of us would be delighted to have that bit of extra with which to pay our bills.

And if you happen to be the lucky person who sifts one of my books out of a dumpster and sells it for triple digits or higher, know that you have my blessing. I am delighted to know that I have helped you in some small way.

Thank you. Thank you for just being there. Your presence is the reason I keep writing. I hope that this answers your questions.

Love,
Annie

For the curious:

If you happen to be interested in learning what the average author earns when you purchase a book, check out Mark Coker’s presentation on the subject here. I am personally at the very end of this extremely long tail, a tail that Mark illustrates in slide 16 of his presentation. I’ve clipped it just in case you’re in a hurry:


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Productivity Writing

When Older is Better – An Apology to the Creator of Vim

I first encountered the text editor Vim back in the late 1990s. I needed to edit some configuration settings in my first Linux install ever and the tutorials I found all told me to use Vim.

I cussed that program until the ears of the guy who created it had to burn. I hated that text editing program with a purple passion so I abandoned it with glee as soon as I completed my task.

A few years later I found myself with an ancient Windows 95 laptop that was far too old to even think about using Windows so I installed Damn Small Linux (DSL Linux for the polite) on the machine to restore functionality. My goal was to do a bit of surfing and to write my journal entries on that old beast. I was far too broke and entirely too stubborn to discard a laptop that was perfectly functional, if old and slow.

I hated the graphical text editor that came with DSL. I can’t remember why I didn’t like it, only that I did. When I eventually discovered that the battery on that ancient laptop lasted a lot longer when I used a shell (think really old school – no pictures), I cringed and tried to use Vim once again.

It wasn’t pleasant but I figured out how to operate the program enough to do what I needed. I used Vim on that laptop daily until that old computer died.

I forgot about Vim after that but after spending this last decade trying to find a blessed program that was comfortable to write in, a program that didn’t randomly delete chunks of my file or whatever, and didn’t cost a small fortune I became so annoyed that I decided to try again. I installed Vim on my writing computer and told myself that I would learn that program or die trying.

I spent the first few days searching up how-to pages but managed to knock out a few paragraphs. There was a bit of cursing involved but with this hillbilly, that’s par for the course.

But when I decided to move a chunk of text around, things changed. I looked up a tutorial and discovered that two teeny-tiny commands would allow me to rip a chunk of whatever size from one place and either delete it, create another file with it, or move it wherever in the document I desired.

Oh. My. God.

Anyone who has used a standard word processor like Word or even a basic graphical text editor knows what a nightmare that can be. You’ve got to fight with the mouse to highlight the chunk (the bigger the chunk the greater the pain), then scroll to where you want to stick it, and pray that it pastes it properly. It took what used to be an event I dreaded and made it amazingly simple.

Then I discovered that when you add another command to the process called folding, the task gets infinitely easier. You can fold up chunks of a document so that you only see the headings so that you can actually SEE the spot where you want to go. You can arrange those folds however you like in a way that is only seen in a Wordsmith’s wet dream.

I wasted 20 years of my life and thousands of dollars searching for a program that would allow me to write and edit my words easily. And I am more than embarrassed at the fact that I possessed the perfect program the whole time. Even more embarrassing, that program is FREE.

Bram Moolenaar, I owe you an apology. I have cussed you and your program for more years than I care to admit. But I am mature enough to admit when I’m wrong so that is what I am going to do.

I was wrong to dismiss the ancient text editing program Vim. You have created the best damn program for writing books, blogs, journal entries, and anything else a writer wants to write. I’ve just sent you a small donation and I intend to send more as money allows.

Thank you, Bram Moolenaar. Thank you from the bottom of this old woman’s heart.

If you happen to be a writer, you need to use Vim. You will curse that program until you’re hoarse the first few days because the way it works and the commands you use will be utterly unfamiliar to you. Keep a browser tab open and search for whatever it is you want to do. Make some notes as you go along, and don’t hesitate to look for tutorials to learn how to do stuff you think is completely impossible. Chances are there’s a command in Vim that will let you do whatever it is by punching a couple of letters.

I won’t go into the details about basic Vim commands here. There are pages enough about that subject so there’s no point. I am just going to tell you that Vim has changed my entire writing life for the better.

I cannot thank Bram enough.

We have all been programmed to believe that newer is better. Newer models, newer features must always be better than the old and tried and true. For writers, that means that we spend small fortunes on programs or subscriptions to programs that are supposed to make writing easier. Yet I have discovered that a 30-year old program, a 30-year old FREE program trumps them all.

Don’t dismiss the old stuff, folks. You may find yourself eating your hat like I have with Vim.

Do you have something old in your life that you’ve found more useful than the modern stuff? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Simplicity

Keep It Simple

This world has gotten so complicated that it is hard to keep track of things. We have to own and maintain vehicles, remember when to pay our taxes, determine which of the endless list of tasks need to be done, all on top of figuring out ways to pay our bills. Hell, go into a store these days just to buy a roll of bathroom tissue and you will discover an entire shelf of selections to choose from!

We’re faced with these choices every day. What do we want? Where are we going to get it? How are we going to pay? Which particular brand of this particular product should we buy?

The choices grow even more complicated when you realize that the decisions you make about what to buy, where to buy, and even what to use can contribute to building the fortunes of companies who are not acting in your best interest. When you realize that you are filling the coffers of companies who are using that money to control the government, it is easy to become overwhelmed.

I’m getting low on dog food right now but I’m torn about where to buy it. There are no local businesses in the area that I can turn to because they all died when WalMart moved in. I typically order my pet food from WalMart or Amazon but WalMart is spearheading the replacement of low-wage workers with machines and Amazon pays no taxes and has grown so big that I don’t really trust them any longer.

Until I can come up with something better, I have resolved to keep this process of decision as simple as I can. In the case of the pet food, I have personally seen the damage that WalMart has caused. I watched an old man cry because WalMart deliberately opened a store beside his little grocery when they couldn’t run him out of business from their previous location. I watched the businesses in this town and others I’ve lived in wither and die after they opened their stores. I’ve seen the fear in the factories that produce their stuff. I’ve heard the laughter from the managers as they bragged about their bonuses while the workers in the front cried because their hours were cut, knowing that their hours had been slashed by the laughing monsters in the back. As one explained to me, they only receive their bonuses if they keep their costs below a certain level–and slashing hours is an easy way to do that.

I may not like Amazon’s business practices but between the two, my issue with WalMart is much more personal. While I won’t stop searching for an alternative even to Amazon, at this point I would rather help them than WalMart.

I have resolved to keep things simple in other aspects of my life as well. Instead of worrying about options and choices and price points, I have resolved to go back to the basics where I can. I’ll write more about those individual items as time allows.

For now I am going to order a bag of dog food and move on with my day. I’ve got a book to finish, after all.

How do you keep your choices simple? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Business Finances Frugality Simplicity

A Private Revolution

Sometimes the most horrible revelations can teach us. Yesterday I was presented with the reality of our world. The image of a man who was somebody’s dad, who reminded me of my dad burned its way into my soul as I read about the treatment he received from the nation I called home.

There is absolutely nothing I can do to change the past. I can’t change what happened to that man and many others any more than I can change what has happened to others who have suffered similarly over the course of history.

There is not even very much I can do to change the future. I am just one tiny old woman in a great large world. Aside from trying to encourage change, I have no right to even push because it would violate the moral code that I hold dear.

I can do something, however. I can reach down deep inside of me and use the knowledge of this current reality to change myself. Hopefully, by sharing the things I have seen and the changes I personally make my personal revolution will go a bit farther.

As someone once instructed me, if you want to understand the purpose behind a thing, all you have to do is follow the money. I thought they were being silly at the time but the older I get the more I realize that they are right. Money is the primary reason so many do the things that they do; the pursuit of money infects all of us if only because we all need it to survive now.

The poor make the money with the sweat off their brow. The rich take that money by enticing the poor to part with it in any way that they can. While the poor just want enough to lead a comfortable life, however, the rich have gotten to the point where they want to collect money just because.

My personal issue is in the fact that our society has gotten so unbalanced that the rich are removing the ability of the poor to just survive. They use their money to promote agendas that on the face seem to be aimed at protecting us but when you examine them on a deeper level, you realize that the only ones they want to protect are themselves.

It has gotten to the point in our society that even the placid farmer has began to rebel. When John Deere decided to force farmers to pay outrageous fees by citing “intellectual property rights” and so forth to eliminate their ability to repair their own tractors, these farmers began to fight back. Some of them have went so far as to hack the computers in their equipment rather than bow down to their draconian rules. Others have decided to eliminate modern farming equipment entirely by purchasing and rebuilding older, non-computerized equipment.

Rebels within the trucking industry are doing the same. Rather than comply with new rules and regulations that are destroying their livelihoods, they are now opting to purchase rebuilt older rigs instead of buying new vehicles. A friend of mine drives for a company who rebels in this way. The owner of the company he works for believes that once self-driving vehicles advance a bit more that they will force him to shut down his business. His plan is to conserve his funds as much as possible so that he can retire once his livelihood is gone. My trucker friend is planning the same thing.

The beauty within the rebellions of the farmers and the truckers lies in the fact that they’re not really trying to save the world. They saw a problem that affected them and started voting with their money to make a difference.

We can all learn from that. If we see a problem with the word in general or our lives in specific, we can stage our own personal rebellions by changing the way that we spend our money. We can choose not to support the things we do not believe in by voting with the money we spend.

With this in mind, my dilemma at the moment is pet food. I order their food online but I have yet to locate a smaller company that can supply what I need at a price I can afford. Do I continue to switch between Amazon and WalMart when my supplies run low, choosing the one that offers the brands they like when I don’t want to give my money to either of them, or do I locate another path?

I would like to find another path. I haven’t found it yet, so I will order as little as I can at the lowest price in the meantime. The animals prefer Purina and 9 Lives respectively but I am willing to switch if I can find a viable alternative that they will eat.

Do you have any ideas?


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Economy Life

The World Doesn’t Care About Us

We’ve been raised to believe that we live in a nation that cares about our well-being. We’ve been raised to believe that the land we call home is a place that we can trust. This is why, when our government passes laws that are supposed to be “for our benefit” that we might grumble, but we invariably comply.

Our nation wants what’s best for us, after all.

But does it?

I’ve spent these past few days reading the report (warning, it’s a big PDF) that was composed by a Senate committee on the treatment of CIA prisoners in the aftermath of 9/11. Our nation as a whole became rather dark in the aftermath of that event. In hindsight, that is when the United States as a whole began to change. I began reading with eyes wide open; I remember the news reports from that time period so I expected it to be bad but even so, I was raised to believe that our nation has a respect for human life that other nations lack.

“We are better than them,” sums up my belief, the belief that my father, who fought in the Korean War, instilled within me.

Page 117 of the report details some of the treatment received by a prisoner called “Bin Attash.” The official report notes that pseudonyms are used heavily within it so I am not certain if that is his real name. In the Footnote #686 on the previous page (it’s the bottom of the first footnote on that page, continued from page 115) a memo is noted that states that the prisoners in question were not considered official prisoners of war so the Geneva Convention rules that pertain to the humane treatment of prisoners did not apply.

What I read next taught me exactly what they meant.

This man by the name of “Bin Attash” had one leg. Of all the prisoners discussed within the document thus far, it means that I can understand his physical limitations since my father had a leg amputated when I was a child. The CIA decided to treat this guy with a bit more consideration, foregoing what was euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques” due to his disability.

They forced this man to undergo “standing sleep deprivation,” a procedure where inmates are forced to stand without sleep (I gather they’re tied in a way where they cannot sit), for 70 hours. That’s not considered part of the “enhanced interrogation” procedure because it’s two hours under the limit. After that, they let the guy sleep for four hours and then shackled him in the standing position again, depriving him of sleep for another 23 hours. When you look at footnote #692, you discover that this man’s leg, his only leg, began to swell horribly at that point, so they decided to be merciful. They tied him to a chair and forced him to live without being able to sleep for another 20 hours.

Note that while they’re doing all of this they’re holding the man naked and giving him “dietary manipulation” as well. Based upon what I’ve read, “dietary manipulation” in this scenario can either be giving him things he may not like to eat or pureeing food and squirting it up his rectum. The report doesn’t specify.

My dad had one leg. He could barely stand for an hour, much less 70 hours or 23 hours. He had to sit a certain way and stretch out his good leg for a time if he stood up for too long due to extreme pain that resulted from stress on his good leg.

Yet the United States government forced a one-legged man to do just that.

If our government, considered one of the best in the world, the government that is supposed to care about people can do that (and worse, if what I understand about the waterboarding sections are correct), do they really care about us?

Or are we just the means to an end, a way to fill their coffers and keep the government running?

Think about it. We’re urged to buy even when we can’t afford the things we’re told to buy. We’re hiring Ubers to take us to the emergency room because we can’t afford to hire an ambulance. People are searching up ways to pull their own teeth because they can’t afford the dentist. Women have shared with me that they’ve not only sold their own bodies, but the bodies of their female children, just to pay their bills.

We’re told to incur huge amounts of debt to buy houses larger than what we need, informed that we need to incur tens of thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars of debt to go to college, only to discover that we can’t afford the taxes on the houses we buy or that the paper diploma we’ve been told will help us get the job to repay the debt is worthless for our needs.

We’ve got tent cities and whole websites devoted to living in vans, cars, and tiny homes just so we can afford to survive while the elite in our nation buys supplements designed to allow them to literally shit gold. There’s even a restaurant where you can eat steak encrusted in gold; that’s how big the difference is.

And for what? We struggle and starve and die so the rich can get richer. Our food supply is virtually cornered by mega-corporations who use that money to pay off our politicians. Our medical industry sells us drugs with side-effects longer than the proposed benefits, promoting addictions so that they can grow even richer by selling us the cure.

The saddest part about the entire situation is that we can’t stop them, not on our own. The only thing we can do is make a dent, but if enough of us make a dent, if enough of us decide to give these bastards as little of our money as we can, maybe we can hit them in their wallets hard enough to make a change.

Because it’s reached the point where we can’t not give them our money. We have to eat. We have to have a place to stay. We have to have some medical care. Many of us need cars just to go to work and we all need clothes to wear. We need access to the Internet so we need to have computers or at least phones to acquire that. We have to pay taxes, if only to stay out of jail.

We live in an age where the “greatest government in the world” thinks nothing of tying a one-legged man into a standing position for days at a time! Do you actually think they care enough about the rest of us to treat us any better?

I don’t.

Please spend less. Even if you can just shave a few pennies off of your purchases, those pennies will add up if enough of us do it. If you can stretch the useful life of the things you currently own, you can avoid giving them the ability to shit their gold. If you have the skills and the land to grow a single tomato, do it. The less you earn, the less you’ll pay in taxes and the less money the government will have available to do stuff like this to people.

Because there is only one thing that they care about: money. They don’t care about you or me or anyone else. They don’t even have the common decency to grant mercy to a one-legged man; do you actually think they would grant you any mercy if you fell into their clutches, or would they throw you into a for-profit prison and brag about the money they’ve made?

I am far from an expert and I’m trying really hard not to judge but there is something broken in a society that can do the things I see it doing.

If we’re not careful we will lower ourselves to their level. As it is, we are all guilty of torturing that one-legged man because it is our votes and our tax dollars and even our purchases that made what happened to him possible.

WE did this! And while we cannot change our past, we can determine our future. We can rise above, we can say “no” by simply changing the way that we vote and earn and spend our money. It’s just like stopping a fire; remove the fuel that makes it burn, and the fire will go out. Stop giving them money and they will no longer be able to afford to commit atrocities like this.

I need to go think now. The tears are streaming down my face to the point where I can barely see the keyboard. I don’t want to live in a world where the poor are forced by necessity to sell their plasma or live in cars and brag about their thriftiness. I don’t want to live in a world where one-legged men are forced to stand to the point of agony for the purpose of “public safety” and hear it called “mercy.”

I want to live in a world where we all have the right to live in peace, with places to stay and enough to eat, a world where people aren’t forced to sift through dumpsters for things to sell just to survive. And the only way I know of to make that happen is to figure out a way to limit the money I give them and pray that it curtails their power.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!