Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

The Art of Thoughtful Spending

An interesting thing happens when you realize that you have achieved your financial goals. You look around and want everything. This commonly happens to lottery winners. It’s the primary reason that they quickly spend themselves broke.

This is why I decided to purge before I allowed myself to spend. The reminder of how easy it is to accumulate too much serves as a counterpoint to the desire.

Even so, it became more and more difficult to resist the urge. My daughter has watched me pass up the things I’ve wanted so many times that she is actively encouraging me to cut loose.

But I do not want to be that person.

I didn’t achieve financial freedom by following the path of others. I didn’t achieve financial freedom by following their advice to spend and spend. I achieved financial freedom by focusing on my mind and my business. I refuse to step backwards.

That said, I could feel the urge rising as the kid persuaded me to window shop and browse online. I would catch myself ready to place something in the cart and realize that it was only a passing whim.

That was why, instead of buying like mad, I invested in a small notebook instead.

Every time I see or think of something I want, I write it down. I don’t worry about how outlandish the desire; anything that pops into my head is dutifully noted. At night before bed I pull it out, review the list, and make a point of adding to it. Then I close my eyes and visualize how my life would change if I added this thing to my possessions.

An amazing thing happens when you allow yourself to mentally spend money. Your mind begins to visualize the clutter. I could see myself wondering where I would stick things. I could even see myself using an item for a time before throwing it away.

I do not want to be that person.

That was when I began making my gratitude list. I started making entries about all of the things I already had that I was immensely grateful for.

On the top of that list was my freedom.

Everything I have added to that giant wish list pales in comparison to my freedom.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the urge to buy things. That said, in most cases we feel the urge to buy not because we truly want something, but because we have been programmed to believe that these things will somehow make our lives even better.

But what can be better than freedom?

The next time you feel the urge to buy-buy-buy, go out and invest in a little notebook instead. Pick one that makes you feel wealthy. Add a nice pen to that, and go home.

Start making a list by asking yourself:

What do I want?

At the very top of your list, write:

I want my FREEDOM.

Every time you feel the urge to spend, pull out your luxurious little notebook and jot it down. Then ask yourself: Will this thing take me closer to my freedom?

The answer will change your life.

As for me I’ve yet to spend much. Aside from honoring my promise to buy the phone, I am still purging. I do treat us to meals out on occasion, since one of the things I wanted to achieve with my freedom was the ability to do just that. I lack the skills or the desire to cook much, so this provides us with some healthy variety. Even better, it allows me to do something to help my local businesses survive the pandemic.

As for the rest, I am still thinking.

How do you deal with the urge to spend? 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
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

How to Acquire a Cheap Car

Shortly after the near-miss flood, Katie announced that she’d become tired of walking to work in the rain and wanted to buy a car.

I watched her scroll through posts and eye the selections at local lots before I made a suggestion: “why don’t you ask around at your job? Surely someone knows of a car that you can pick up cheap.”

It took three days. A gentleman at her work had an older one. He’d parked it, intending to fix it up but the task was proving to be more time-consuming than he could manage. If she would reimburse him for the new set of tires he’d just purchased, the car would be hers.

“It needs a lot of work,” he warned.

Years ago, a mechanic told me that any car that would start and run was worth at least $500. This car would not only start and run, it had a brand-new set of tires.

I encouraged her to go for it.

True to his word, the car did need some TLC. But the tires and battery were both brand new so she practically got the car for free. We drove it home and went to work.

One day was spent sorting the fuses. It took several hours and an entire package of the things but I managed to get the windows, door locks, and a range of other things to function once more. Katie spent that day scrubbing the interior.

I am far from a mechanic so I recommended that we have the car inspected. We used his advice to create a list of repairs, sorted by urgency and skill set and got to work.

You can do an amazing amount of auto repairs if you are willing to learn from videos posted online. While I lacked the equipment for some of the jobs, I saved her a small fortune on the things I’ve fixed so far.

Even better: Katie no longer has to walk in the dark for her early morning shifts. She has a car that will take her wherever she desires now, and will soon have it in good enough condition to weather the cross-country move she’s planning in the future.

She doesn’t have a car payment. The car is even old enough that the insurance cost is negligible, so her bills haven’t went up that much.

At first some of her friends called her crazy for following her mother’s advice. They told her she wasted her money on a clunker. But then she pointed out that their expensive cars, complete with car payments, were costing them far more in repairs than her vehicle was.

The critics fell silent when they realized she was right.

We have been programmed to believe that newer is better. We will bypass the older, “uglier” car in favor of the new and shiny as a general rule. Yet if one is willing to do the work (or hire it done as money allows) you can save a fortune by purchasing one of these unwanted vehicles. Provided that the frame is sound, everything else can be fixed.

The thing that most don’t understand about used vehicles is that, unless you can afford to buy one that’s still under warranty, you will inevitably spend at least a thousand dollars that first year as you work out the kinks, so why not spend that on an older vehicle that costs less in taxes and insurance, skip the payment, and enjoy the cost savings?

I learned that lesson the hard way after I financed my first vehicle. Trying to repair one when you’ve got a payment and full-coverage insurance can be almost impossible if you’re in college or work a low wage job. After that first mistake, I made it a rule to buy old, fix them up, and drive them until the frame died.

This one lesson has saved me a fortune.

While I do believe that it is better to avoid owning a car if you can, that can be a challenge in many parts of this nation. I see no point in giving money to finance companies if it can be avoided; older vehicles solve this problem nicely.

If you already own a car that is paid for don’t trade it off for a newer one. Fix it up and you will have something that will last for many years.

Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

The Freedom of Frugality

Over six months have passed since Covid-19 reached the shores of the United States.

Thanks to frugality, I haven’t had to worry about it much.

I spend my days at home. I’ve no need to chase money at a public job; my savings combined with my royalties and investments have provided more than enough to live comfortably.

This would not be the case if I had allowed my expenses to keep pace with my income; by keeping my expenses as low as possible during the rich times I was easily able to save enough to live on even now.

The economy will become even worse as time moves on. While I no longer bother to keep a close eye on it, that much is obvious.

If you have not adjusted your expenditures downward, if you have not began to reduce your spending, I urge you to do so. Once the spiral starts, everyone will be affected.

I warn you now through the looking glass of experience: I have lived through challenging economic times in the past. Those who try to continue living as if money will always be plentiful tend to be the hardest hit when their incomes dry up.

I won’t bore you with a step by step tutorial; I’ve written several books on the subject should you realize the truth of my words.

As for me, I am taking this time to focus upon something other than the death and misery and terror around me. I’ve ceased using social media and rarely bother to even check the news.

My friends know to tell me if something important happens.

Have you began to reduce your expenses? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

The Shoe Patch

A few years ago the kid bought this cute pair of “boat shoes.” I liked the shoes so I watched her enjoy them because I knew that, in time, she would get bored of them and pass them to me.

One night I noticed she had tossed those shoes in the trash can, so I fished them out.

“Why are you throwing away your shoes?” I asked.

“They’ve got a hole in the toe,” she responded. “I wore them out so I knew you wouldn’t want them.”

I examined the shoes carefully. One little hole had formed upon a single shoe, right where the big toe rests. Deciding that they would still work for running around the house, I added them to my collection.

That was a year or so ago. The other day while I was wearing them to mow the yard I noticed that the other shoe was developing a matching hole. Since the original hole was growing larger, I realized that it was time to make a decision. I checked the soles to discover that they were still well-secured and in good shape and then headed for my sewing kit.

Two tiny scraps of denim later and I’d repaired those holes. It was a challenge to sew on the scraps with a straight needle, but I’m happy with how they turned out. Not only did I use what I already had to repair them, I used up stuff that most people would have thrown away to save something else that most people would have thrown away. Even the thread was something that most would discard – it’s so old that the spool is made out of wood!

I’m rather proud of the fact that I repaired those shoes. I saved them from going into a landfill far before their time despite the fact that they were engineered to be used during some trend and then discarded.

To my surprise, I am enjoying the fact that I am able to do things like this. With every stitch, the joy I felt at doing my part to defeat the consumerist programming we have all received was immense.

Think about it. What do we all think when we find a cute pair of shoes that we like? We go out and buy a pair for ourselves. What do we do when those shoes fall apart if we really like them? We toss them in the trash and purchase replacements.

I did neither. I fished those shoes out of the trash. I wore the heck out of them, and then I repaired them so that they will last even longer. I’ll wear the soles off of those things for sheer spite, because fuck the corporations who have programmed us to buy-buy-buy. Fuck the corporations who are now spreading fear over our food supply because they got caught allowing sickness to spread in their factories for the sake of their millions. Do you think they care that the Coronavirus could possibly contaminate our food supply? You can bet your bottom dollar that they don’t.

I spent my entire childhood believing the lie that we’re supposed to buy solutions to our problems. I spent my entire childhood watching my father complain when he had to repair things due to lack of money. To him, it was a shameful thing to wear patches on his clothes because he considered it a sign of poverty.

Well guess what, Sunshine? We’re all going to be struggling for money before this is over. Well, the average person will. I’m not so sure about the millionaires. If we continue to listen to their lies, we’ll continue to buy their stuff and they’ll continue to weather this in the Hamptons. Oh, they’ll complain because they can’t afford to hire their private jets as often but I really don’t consider that to be struggling, especially since so many of us are having to rely on food banks just to eat these days.

Every penny that we can avoid giving the corporations, every penny that we can keep for ourselves will not only help us weather this storm, it will slowly add up until it begins to hit their pocketbooks. All of those bailouts that the US government is giving to the major industries won’t do a bit of good if no one buys their stuff once this is over. It will only delay their inevitable collapse.

I am now looking at this as a challenge. I now look around and ask myself: what can I do to prevent making the rich even richer? What can I do to show people that we’re throwing too much perfectly usable stuff away? What can I do to counter the programming?

And it’s apparently working. My youngest daughter hauled in a pattern and some fabric so that I could make her two pairs of pants yesterday. She’s remembered that, while initially more expensive to make, that the clothes I make at home not only can use the fabrics and patterns that she prefers, that they last a lot longer than almost anything she’s been buying at the store. Her friends are admiring the purse I made her a while back and realizing that they can make their own purses out of the fabrics they choose while building in features that make them more durable than one can find in a store. Even business owners are contemplating the financial impact of paying over $1 each for cheap disposable masks over having a seamstress construct masks that will last for the long-term.

I know. As they’ve seen how well the kid’s masks are holding up, they are starting to come to me for quotes.

I don’t know how this is going to pan out, folks. All I know for certain is that our current state of affairs is not sustainable. We’ve reached a choice between buying their disposable crap or conserving our funds just to eat. I see no point in letting the rich get richer while we go hungry.

I’ll start on the garden when this rain stops. I’ve already planted a few items in salvaged containers that I’ve repurposed to get a head start, and Dolly Freed’s logic of raising rabbits for meat has become oddly appealing. I don’t know if I’ll go that far, at least not here, but I’m going to keep my options open as I monitor the situation.

~#~

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
Finances Food Frugality Organization

The Difference Between Stockpiling and Hoarding

“I’ve got coupons for the crackers!” Katie dug through her coupon holder as we entered the cracker aisle. “How much should we get?”

I checked the expiration date upon the boxes, holding one up to show my daughter. “How many boxes do you think we’ll go through by this date?”

Katie frowned. “Not a lot,” she muttered.

There is a difference between stockpiling and hoarding. It’s easy to forget that in the middle of a pandemic while facing an erratic supply chain. When we see something we use in stock, we instinctively want to buy it all because we honestly don’t know when it will be available again.

I struggle with this personally.

My life could be described as a financial feast or famine situation. I’ve had times of plenty and times of having not near enough. When I figured that out, I began to balance things a bit. During times of plenty I would stock up on bargains in order to survive the times of want.

For instance, a few years back I came across a back-to-school sale that had composition notebooks for an incredibly low price. Katie thought I was crazy as I hauled whole cases of notebooks home. I worried that I’d overdone things as storage and privacy concerns found me shifting my journaling habit to the computer instead of using notebooks but since those notebooks cost nothing for me to store I kept them.

And it paid off. My grandkids have used quite a few of them for school and play. I’ve used a bunch of them to make lists and take notes. My Katie is now working on the last batch, using them in college. Because they have been used, that purchase can be considered a stockpile.

Several years previous I faced an entirely different situation. I worked at a food plant for a while. They primarily made cereal and crackers. They kept a bin of the discards (imperfect boxes, wrong weight, etc.) that the workers were free to take home. I knew I would not have that job forever (I was a temporary worker) so I stocked up. I filled my pantry with those items.

A lot of it went bad before we could finish it. I felt like a fool for hoarding the stuff.

But how can you tell the difference? How can one know if they are simply stockpiling or if they are hoarding? Here are three general rules that I follow.

Can I Afford It?

This might sound silly at first but it is easy to blow your budget when you find a good deal on something you want to stock up on. I have done this more times than I can count over the years. I would see a stockpile of fabric in a thrift shop, arrange to buy the entire lot for cheap, only to realize that, while it was an excellent bargain that I spent all of my excess cash on the acquisition. While the fabric was used over time, I still remember my mistakes. I have adjusted my purchasing habits accordingly after that experience and others.

Sometimes it is better to pass up a deal, no matter how good due to budget constraints. While you can always save up a bit of money to have on hand with which to take advantage of good deals, depending upon when you stumble upon a bargain, your money stash might be a bit low to comfortably make the purchase. Bills and food must always come first. Remember that.

Will I Use It Before It Expires?

Many items like food and medicine have expiration dates. While the dates are just an estimate of how long the item will remain safely usable, those dates can be used as a guideline. When stocking up, check those dates. Estimate how much of the item you will use before the date on the container. Remind yourself that if the item isn’t used up by that date that you may not feel safe trusting it and limit the amount you purchase accordingly.

When it comes to items that expire, less is better in the stockpiling arena. It is better to use it up and purchase more than it is to invest in a stockpile that will go bad before you finish it.

BONUS TIP: Rotate your stock! The restaurant industry has a term for this: FIFO. It means “first in, first out.” Always use your old items first. This will ensure that nothing goes bad before you use it.

Do I Have Enough Room to Store It?

The catch to having a stockpile is that external storage is NOT cheap. Even worse, if you store your stockpile off site, you might forget that you have it and purchase even more. Look around the space in your home before you decide to stock up. If you can reserve a space that will allow you to access the items with little difficulty you are in good shape. If you find that area beginning to overflow, know that you need to stop for a bit and use up what you already have.

I recently had to do that with my book collection. It had outgrown the shelf I had assigned to it by at least a factor of two. Instead of being able to keep the books neatly organized I had them stacked in layers upon that shelf, to the point where it would take several minutes of hunting to retrieve a single book. In fact, when I thinned down my collection I discovered that I’d inadvertently collected duplicates of some titles. I’d collected so many that I’d forgotten what I had.

I will have a similar situation with clothing in the near future. Both of my daughters happen to adore clothes; whenever they thin down they bring their discards to me. Since the local clothing pantry is shut down due to the pandemic I will have to devise a solution. Since I now have a sewing machine, I will probably cut up the ones I can’t wear to either store in my fabric bin or recycle them into cleaning and family cloths. That will keep the storage space to a minimum and allow me to recycle them naturally. I may end up making a lot of patchwork items until the clothing pantry reopens but that’s okay – at least the items will be put to use.

Remember: if you find yourself beginning to trip over your stockpile, you’ve reached a danger point. While it is okay to stock up, it is painfully easy to start hoarding. If you cannot organize and keep track, you’ll find yourself with a problem.

~

While there are a range of other questions you can ask yourself, those are the three primary ones that I personally use. Do you have any questions that you ask yourself that I missed? Maybe you can teach me how to stock up more efficiently. Thank you!

~#~

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
Finances Frugality Minimalism Recycling Simplicity

The Art of Reframing Your Circumstances

“Here you go, Mom!” Katie dropped a stack of tee shirts on the kitchen table. “Cut these up so we will have them ready. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get more towels or toilet paper at the store so we may have to switch over soon.”

“Okay,” I replied as I picked my jaw up from where it had fallen on the table. The older she had gotten, the more she had grown to prefer using disposable paper products. We had been debating their use intermittently over the years. I wanted to go with cloth to reduce expense and our environmental footprint. Katie wanted the convenience of disposability. To see my modern child actively encouraging me to switch to cloth after arguing against it for so many years speaks volumes for the times we currently live in.

And I have a confession to make. I’ve never in my life experienced a time when we could not buy things like paper towels and bathroom tissue. Aside from my switch to family cloth before my move here, the only time I’d ever had to experiment with alternate sources of paper towels and bathroom tissue was when visiting the homes of friends in the mountains. Back then, quite a few people lacked access to indoor plumbing. While almost everyone had running water, outhouses were common, and within the outhouses of older folk you would see corn cobs, stacks of newspapers, and the occasional catalog (typically a Sears catalog) in lieu of the bathroom tissue that is ubiquitous today.

People thought I was insane when I switched to family cloths and menstrual pads. Even I thought I was going a bit overboard when I did that but I wanted to experiment so I did. Now I’m beginning to wonder if we all might have to switch.

That frightens me. The thought that our world has changed so much that things I’ve grown up with, things I’ve taken for granted may no longer be available scares me in a way I cannot explain.

To prevent myself from going insane (I’ve got people who used to make fun of me pestering me for advice now!), I’ve had to start reframing how I look at our current situation. If we look at this a bit differently, look at this from another angle instead of thinking about the fact that we are doing these things out of necessity, I believe it will remove at least some of the feelings of deprivation and make this entire situation a creative challenge.

But how do you reframe the fact that the shelves are growing rather empty at the stores? How do you reframe the fact that things you took for granted are disappearing?

I thought long and hard about that during our last shopping trip the other day. I stocked up even more than I’d planned, spending $200 on canned goods and other shelf-stable items as I felt the fear mount at the sight of the empty shelves. The kid must have been feeling the same emotion because our cart was overflowing by the time we dragged it home. Our freezer is stuffed and the canned goods have overflowed my pantry. I’ve placed the overflow on my living room shelf to compensate for lack of storage. I’ve not attempted to garden in the back yard, so based upon my failures in the front yard I am concerned. Will I be able to grow enough back there to supplement? What will we do if I can’t?

Reframe, Annie. Reframe this. This is just another challenge. You can handle a challenge. You are one of the foremost frugal living experts in the United States. This is your time to shine. You can do this. You can not only figure out a way through this, you are going to do whatever it takes to show others how to get through this time as well. So stop whining, reframe this situation into the puzzle that it is, and get back to work.

If I was concerned at our dependence upon Big Business before, I definitely am now. Based upon how this plays out (Trump’s “absolute power” and “LIBERATE” tweets are NOT HELPING!), our current situation may become the new norm. So how do we get through this?

It dawned on me that the more we can reduce our reliance upon the major corporations – the more we can reduce our reliance upon mass manufacturing, period, the better off we will be. But how do we do that?

Our primary needs at the moment are food and shelter. Most of us have enough clothes to get by for a while (you haven’t thinned out your wardrobes, have you? Please tell me you’ve not thinned down your wardrobes), so as long as we can pay the rent (or mortgage) and keep food on the table, we’re in good shape. So what about the rest of the stuff that we take for granted – like bathroom tissue and paper towels?

I don’t believe my grandparents ever bought paper towels. As far back as I can recall, they would use recycled cloth for towels that they would wash and re-use until those towels fell apart. My grandmother would sew repurposed fabric into potholders and thicker towels to handle larger messes. I just grabbed a handful of repurposed fabric to use before the kid persuaded me to switch back to paper.

When you think about it, using repurposed clothing as hand towels, cleaning rags, and family clothes is actually better on the environment. The damage is already done with those; they were made, they were sold, and they were used for their intended purpose until they reached the point where they either wore out or went out of style. If we cut those items up, converting them into rags or family cloths, we can not only reduce the burden on our landfills, we can reduce our dependence upon the corporations. If we reduce our dependence upon the corporations, it won’t affect us if they go under near as much as it would otherwise.

Even better, by reusing the things that we already own instead of buying disposable stuff, we can significantly reduce the amount of money we need to live on. I don’t know about you, but cutting costs is high on my priority list at the moment. “Da Corona” (as people jokingly refer to it here) caught me a bit flat-footed financially. I’d planned to go back to work come spring and had budgeted accordingly since I quit my job last October. Because of that I don’t qualify for unemployment like so many others are fortunate enough to do. While I do make a few dollars each month from my book sales, it’s not enough to make me feel secure. Since this old bat is in the age range where this stuff becomes seriously deadly, I’m pinching my pennies as tightly as I can in order to wait this out. I like living too much to risk it.

“Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.”

Unknown

That is the mantra I am chanting as I go through my days. That was the mantra I chanted when I realized that I am spending more of my writing time plopped upon my bed instead of at the kitchen table. I needed something to place my laptop on to allow it to breathe since overheating can kill a laptop. My first instinct was to order something online, which I immediately rejected. The less money I can spend, the better.

As I pondered the issue, I noticed the boxes that our latest pet supply order had arrived in. The cardboard was rather sturdy; all I needed was something flat and firm to rest my laptop on. I grabbed a roll of tape from my bin and got to work.

A bit of cutting and a few strips of tape later and I had my solution: a “board” made out of layered cardboard that was large enough to work as a lap table. It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever created but it works.

Laptop on stand.

I could dress it up with some paint or fabric but I decided against that for now. I want it to look rough; that way people will know as soon as they see it that I did not purchase a solution to my problem.

I want the world to know that I made it myself in order to encourage others to get creative as well. The less we buy and the more we make, the better off we will be. The more we repair and the less we replace, the more money we will have in our pockets moving forward. I am embracing that whole-heartedly.

For instance, not only is the laptop stand handmade from recycled cardboard, the laptop is a handmedown. It was gifted to Katie several years ago (thank you again!) and she eventually passed it on to me when she upgraded. This laptop is close to seven years old, which means that it is a dinosaur in our consumerist society. I installed an SSD in it that I found on clearance, added a lightweight version of Linux (Linux Lite, for the curious), topped it off with a keyboard protector to extend the life of the keyboard (that came with a matching cover for the trackpad), and placed it into service. With a bit of love, this machine will last for years, especially since the operating system I selected uses a fraction of the resources that Microsoft Windows does.

Big Business will not like my solution. They want me to buy their stuff rather than make something using stuff I already have but you know what?

We don’t need to buy their solutions. Purchasing their solutions may allow their employees to make a few pennies, but it also allows the CEOs and investors to quarantine in their mansions. I may not be able to do much about income inequality, but I can fight back with my personal choices.

This old woman is choosing to use what she has instead of buying new. I hope that you will do the same where you can.

It takes but a bit of effort to cut old clothes into rags and use them instead of paper towels and bathroom tissue. It takes but a bit of creativity to repurpose cardboard into a lap desk. Bits of cloth scraps can be pieced together to create larger pieces of fabric even. I’m currently using tiny squares of cloth scraps from my mask making to create a quilt even:

Tiny scraps of fabric that ended up being 1-inch finished quilt squares.

You don’t need as much as you think you need, my friends. You don’t always need to buy a solution when you encounter a problem. If you learn anything from me moving forward, I hope you learn that.

As for me, I need to conclude this post and get back to work. I want to make sure that the kid has enough masks to get through the week without getting bored. I also want to craft a few extra for another friend, who generously gave one of the masks I made away to an elderly lady that had crafted a mask from a paper towel. She is my hero, so I want to make sure she not only receives a replacement mask to stay safe, but that she has a couple of extras to give away if she discovers anyone else in need.

I may not have much but I intend to help my fellow man where I can. As for the corporations who believe money is more important than human lives, fuck them. I will avoid giving them my money out of spite. I don’t care how much money the government gives them, they will still collapse if we stop buying their stuff in protest. Even better, we will weather the economic fallout of this pandemic far better than those who continue to support them.

I think I’m going to enjoy the challenge of growing a garden this year. I believe that I will enjoy removing my financial support from a food supply system that doesn’t care whether their workers live or die. With every spade of dirt that I shift, I am going to remind myself of that. I will remind myself of the lives being lost to feed the machine.

I hope that you will join me.

~#~

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
Finances Frugality Recycling

The Stitch Rebellion

As our governor began to list the dead yesterday evening, chants from the protestors outside drowned him out. He sighed, explained that this wasn’t about popularity. He would save as many lives as he could save, despite the protestors campaigning for him to let people die by reopening our economy.

It reminded me of a parable I read in the Bible ages ago. There was a shepherd who left his flock of 99 sheep in order to search for the single lamb who had wandered off. Preachers tend to use that parable to illustrate how the Christian God cares so much that they don’t want to lose anyone. Considering that our governor is trying to save lives, is deliberately challenging a society that says money is more important than human life, that parable seems to match this situation.

What would the shepherd in that parable do if his flock were in danger of dying from coronavirus? I pondered that for a long while last night. I do believe that that shepherd from the tale of old would do whatever he could to save as many sheep as he could – even if the sheep weren’t happy with his choices, especially if the wolves were whispering that they needed to endanger themselves, even endanger others rather than obey the shepherd.

To me, this is about so much more than Coronavirus now as I think upon the situation. We have corporate CEOs and other rich people who are upset because the economic shutdown is endangering their yachts and their summers in the Hamptons. They don’t like the thought of losing money so they are campaigning to eliminate restrictions, even at the cost of human lives.

Even now, as medical workers die, essential workers are falling ill and dying as well, and neither their employers nor the organization who was formed to protect them give a shit. They are expendable; we are all considered expendable in the money-making machine that is our current society.

At least it’s out in the open now; at least we know what the major corporations think about us. We are just fodder for their money machine. We need to work their jobs and buy their stuff even if it kills us because they need money to quarantine on their yachts.

These were my thoughts as I continued to rearrange my living room to make a home for the sewing machine. As I tidied, I stumbled upon a ripped sheet that I’d intended to reuse as scrap along with a pillowcase with failed seams. Rather than continue to use them, I was going to recycle them and replace them with new. I wadded them up to place them in my scrap bag.

But then I paused. What if, instead of scrapping them and buying replacements, I patched them instead? I’ve got quite a bit of random fabric scraps here. Both kids have given me their discards and I’ve quite a few mask scraps as well; what if I used the true scrap to repair these items and keep them in service?

I grabbed a leftover piece of tee shirt from the scrap bag, pinned it beneath the tear on my sheet, and started stitching. I initially began to stitch by hand but as I worked I grew angry. We have been programmed to believe that it is wrong to repair items; if something isn’t shiny and new and perfect, if it doesn’t match the decor in some fancy magazine, it is wrong. It is wrong and we are wrong if we don’t do what the corporations want us to do. We should toss our old crap and buy their new stuff, even if we can repair it because that’s what keeps them rich.

I grabbed a colorful spool of thread from my box, a spool of thread my kids picked from a clearance pile when they were small. Deliberately selecting a random, mismatched bobbin, I stuck that sheet upon my machine and went to work.

I vented my rage upon that patch, deliberately experimenting with random stitches as I sewed. When one bobbin ran out, I grabbed another and kept sewing until that patch ended up being a statement of rebellion.

Because fuck the system that says everything must be picture perfect. Forget the system that says we must toss our old stuff and replace it with new. Why not go back in time, to how the Japanese would continue to layer new fabrics upon old items for years in a method called Boro?

This is what the patch looked like after I vented my rage:

The backside of the patch. This won’t show when the sheet is on the bed.
The top side that will show. I went wild playing with the stitches as I vented my frustration upon the patch.
The patched sheet back in action. To my surprise, my patch gave Katie a giggle. She thinks it’s a great idea.

I know it’s not perfect but you know what; it works. It works, and it’s one less sheet I have to purchase from some stupid corporation who thinks money is more important than people. This sheet was purchased at a thrift shop at least 15 years ago and if I have my way, I’ll patch it from now until Hell freezes over, just because I can.

We’ve been so conditioned to believe that we need to toss things that aren’t perfect, but why not embrace the imperfection instead? Why don’t we go back to the ways of our ancestors who used to repair things instead of throwing them away? We can not only help our environment by keeping things out of landfills and reducing consumption, we can save money and quietly protest the corporations who want us to toss our old and buy their crap instead.

So instead of tossing that shirt or that sheet or whatever it is into the rag pile or even into the trash, take a good long look at it instead. Can you repair it and keep it in service instead?

And remember: this isn’t just about sheets. You can keep your car running, like my friend who ordered the mechanic to replace the motor in her truck instead of taking his advice to purchase another vehicle. You can keep your old computers in use instead of buying a new one. You can take old stuff and make it into something different when you get bored. You can even recycle leftovers into a completely different meal. You can do this in so many different ways, and each time you do that you make this world a better place.

If you happen to have something that you’ve somehow patched, repaired, or recycled around your home, please share your story in the comments below. Let’s show the world that this is a good thing.

~#~

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
Economy Finances Food Frugality Minimalism

Supply Chain Concerns

Okay, folks. At last count these are the situations we are dealing with in addition to the COVID-19 outbreak:

On top of that, there also happens to be a Swine Flu outbreak that I’m watching that will affect our food chain as well as the fact that the United States Postal Service is having its own financial issues.

Are you beginning to understand why I am urging you to grow at least some of your own food now? Because I didn’t link to all of the news reports I have found on this stuff; there’s actually more out there than I listed.

If you look back in history (which I did when I researched the Stock Market these past couple years, you will notice an astounding similarity to the Great Depression. While the exact details are different, the similarities I am noting are highly concerning.

When it comes down to it, however, our primary needs are food and shelter. As long as we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our bellies, we will be okay. That’s why I’m not going into too much detail about other areas at the moment. If you resist the urge to toss your excess at the moment, a bit of creativity will get you through this.

Everett Bogue’s concerns about a potential housing crisis continue to bother me. There are calls for rent strikes in major cities where the cost of living is extremely high. I had trouble sleeping last night due to those concerns. While they shouldn’t affect me (I live on less than many do), there is still a chance that it might affect others. If Coronavirus continues to run rampant to the point where state and local governments are motivated to keep us in place we should be safe for the most part, but I am beginning to find the stories our governor are sharing in my state to be concerning. Landlords are apparently attempting to bully people into paying up or moving out; while our governor here is making an effort to shut that down, I worry about what will happen in the states where the governors don’t care who lives or dies. We still have a few governors who have refused to take the steps needed to flatten the pandemic curve; those states might very well allow people to be evicted if they cannot afford to pay their rent.

I am torn about this situation. I’ve always been a firm believer in keeping essential recurring expenses as low as they can go; I’ve learned through hard experience that it is easier to come up with $200 than it is to come up with $2,000. Unfortunately, I know that not all of you have followed suit. You’ve either rented or financed a place that is more than you can realistically afford now that you’re unemployed or you live in a city that has sky-high rents.

You need to have a place where you can stay home and stay safe for the duration of this pandemic. With state parks being shut down, I’m worried about how the van-dwellers and full-time RVers are faring. I’ve not even had time to look, so if you have any news please share it with me. I do need the information in order to best advise you.

That said, I am going to go out on a limb based upon my current information. If, and this is a big if COVID-19 eases up with warm weather, there is a chance that governments will reduce restrictions on movement and allow evictions and foreclosures to resume. Depending upon which way Trump jumps with his plan to re-open the economy next month, some of you who are struggling to pay your rent may have a problem.

Even if Trump backs down on the May thing, we might have a problem depending on what COVID-19 does in warmer weather.

Once the scientists develop and deploy a vaccine we will have the economic fallout to deal with. At least one person is calling for the US Government to allow Capitalism to work the way it was designed this time around but based upon what I have seen in the past with the bailouts of the auto and finance industry combined with Washington’s determination to continue that pattern, I am skeptical that Capitalism will be allowed to follow its natural course this time either.

If they don’t allow Capitalism to work naturally, the US government will continue to throw fortunes at these businesses to prop them up, not realizing that 1) the money will not “trickle down” to those of us at the bottom of the financial food chain and 2) helping those businesses stay afloat won’t do a bit of good if the general populace cannot afford to buy their stuff. The failure of a number of businesses is inevitable because of that, regardless of governmental intentions.

If the pandemic eases a bit with summer to the point where restrictions are eased, you may want to consider locating a cheaper place to stay in order to best weather the financial fallout, especially if you are currently struggling to pay your rent right now. I don’t care where it’s located or what it looks like, this is something you might want to consider but only if the pandemic eases with warmer weather.

It will do you no good to escape a sky-high rent bill if you catch Coronavirus and die in the midst of a move. If your choice is between avoiding Coronavirus and paying your rent, I hope you will prefer to avoid catching Coronavirus. It seems to be killing people in all age ranges.

Should you choose to remain where you are (which I honestly believe is best if you can afford to do so), you do need to minimize your recurring expenses regardless. The experts are already beginning to call this a Recession. While the stock market is up a bit due to the bargain hunters scooping up shares, that will change as companies release their quarterly earnings reports and revise their projected earnings downward. It will continue as smart businesses cut or eliminate dividends in order to weather the economic fallout.

Economists won’t make the call until it’s already under way, but once they utter the term “Economic Depression” I suspect that the stock market will really begin to slide. They are already growing concerned at the signs.

I believe that the chances are high that we will face an economic depression. I’m not saying this to frighten you but I am urging you to prepare for that possible eventuality. Cut your expenses. Grow a bit of food. There is only one way through this and all I have to guide you are the stories from my parents and grandparents because the Great Depression happened before I was born.

While I doubt you will be forced to go barefoot and shove your single set of clothes into the cracks of your walls in hopes of keeping the snow from covering your quilt each morning (yes, my father had to do that), I do believe that we will learn hard and fast what is truly important in the grand scheme of things.

Just remember: food and shelter are your primary needs. Unless you’ve decided to toss all of your clothing here recently, you should have enough excess in your wardrobe to get you by. Since more and more US-based clothing factories are switching over to the manufacture of PPE, you might want to keep the clothes you currently have, despite any temptation you have to thin your wardrobe down. Clothes do not last forever, and modern mass-produced clothing does not tend to last near as long as most believe it will.

I learned that the hard way when I moved here with a week’s worth of clothing. The items I selected wore out so fast it made my head spin, leaving me in a lurch because I spent so much replacing the appliances I foolishly left behind that I struggled to replace my ratty clothes.

It is not fun to walk around with holes in the crotch of your only pair of pants, so keep your clothing, folks. Depending upon how bad things get, that extra may come in handy. If anything, you may end up needing to recycle that stuff for rags if you cannot afford bathroom tissue and paper towels – or even diaposeable diapers. Middle Daughter is already struggling to keep her youngest in diapers due to this crap.

I’m running on about four hours of sleep, so I am going to conclude this post before I repeat myself further. I’ve been doing this for days as I hustle to not only make masks for those I love but because I want to get the sewing caught up before I start the garden, whose time is fast approaching. The sooner I can get this done, the sooner I can take a couple of days off to catch up on my sleep.

I am seriously looking forward to some sleep. I am exhausted.

Stay safe. Think about what I’ve written here. I beg you to begin making preparations now while there’s still a bit of time. As for me, I’ve got to get back to work. These masks won’t sew themselves and I’ve a purse to make for a lady as soon as they’re finished.

~#~

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
Finances Food Frugality Minimalism

The Perception of Minimalism and Thoughts About the Economy

Everett Bogue sent me an email the other day. We email each other on occasion and he’d stumbled upon an article he thought I would find interesting.

I had to read the article twice. Then I had to ponder the article for a couple of days because I could not believe what I was reading.

Why? Because based upon that article, despite the fact that I was one of the top Minimalist writers of the Great Recession, I’m apparently neither the proper gender nor a member of the appropriate socio-economic class to be considered a minimalist. Colin Wright made it though; I was surprised he even got a mention.

One of the aspects of the high-handed article that I found so hilarious that Everett himself, the central voice in the Minimalism movement and the very person who encouraged me to apply minimalism as I struggled after having my telecommuting job moved to another nation, wasn’t even mentioned in the article. He was the person who privately explained to me that I could achieve my dream of being a stay-at-home single mother. Despite the fact that it was Everett’s personal experience and voice who jump-started the Minimalist Movement of the Great Recession, he was written out of the history of the Minimalist Movement.

Even more hilarious, the very impetus of the Minimalist Movement, the Great Recession itself, wasn’t even discussed despite the fact that many of us were driven to live on less because we had to. A lot of us lost our jobs during that time, including myself. The author decided to delve into the art scene instead, which has absolutely nothing to do with our lifestyle.

Leo Babauta wasn’t even mentioned. None of us old guard were named in the article except for Colin, and they didn’t even deign to link to his website, which is infuriating. Instead, they discussed the pseudo-minimalists who jumped on the bandwagon well after it left the gate, the wealthy folk who decided that Minimalism was cool and had the money to do what those of us who started this movement never could and definitely never would:

Throw money away on super-expensive, impossible to maintain furniture, appliances, and gadgets that the true Minimalists would have never deigned to bother with.

Minimalism is the art of eliminating the unwanted/unnecessary in order to have more time/money/energy to focus on the wanted and the necessary. A true Minimalist would know that it is stupid to spend $1,000 on a high-end special hotplate when you could walk down to your local thrift shop or box store and pick up a hotplate that serves the exact same purpose for $20 – or free in my case. My hotplate was given to me by a neighbor.

Minimalism isn’t about spending $1,000 on a high-end washer/dryer combo. A true minimalist would reduce their laundry and either wash their clothes in the sink (as I have in the past), go to a laundromat, or invest in a portable washer, hanging their laundry up to dry in order to minimize their impact upon the environment.

But since the elites hijacked the Minimalism movement in order to hawk their wares (you know who I’m aiming that dig at) and give fancy speeches to those who have so much money they can’t figure out where to spend it, the rest of us who started this movement, the ones of us who became minimalists due to our frustration at the economic climate at that time have apparently been written out of the history.

So I have one thing to say to the authors of that article: kiss my ancient female ass. I was a minimalist before you were probably out of short pants and I don’t give two shits whether or not I fit your paradigm.

I personally embraced minimalism because what I had been taught about life wasn’t working. The only way I could afford to feed my kids was to learn how to live on less money. The only way to live on less money was to reduce the amount I purchased. And as I reduced the amount I purchased, I realized that there were advantages to living on less that I’d not conceived. Not only was I able to become a stay-at-home single mother (which I’ve been told is still physically impossible), but I freed up the time that allowed me to write a number of books designed to teach others how to do the same if they wanted.

That said, I never imagined I would experience the time when minimalism, particularly my version of financial minimalism, would be desperately needed. I’ve already written a number of books on the subject; if you want to survive what’s coming I suggest you find one and start reading. I’m not about to repeat myself in a new book when my old books say the exact same thing and provide the advice you need to get through this.

Which brings me to the other subject I would like to discuss.

One of the things Everett pointed out in his email and bogcast shortly after was that, during the Great Recession, a housing crisis caused quite a few people to become homeless.

While I do believe that the housing sector is about to undergo a massive change, there is something different happening now. The Federal Government has suspended evictions and foreclosures. States are slowly following suit. They don’t want us to be homeless now. In fact, they are busting their butts in several states (including mine) to provide housing to the homeless, which is something I never imagined I would see in my lifetime. The governor in my state actually called out some landlords who were trying to quietly evict people just the other day, calling that a major no-no.

I suspect that the Federal Government is so determined to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that they might end up subsidizing or even purchasing the properties of tenants and mortgage holders in danger of being evicted. It’s either that or have the landlord class rise up in protest. Since Trump is rather fond of the landlord class (he happens to be one of them), I suspect he’ll act to serve his own personal interests and apply the method he devises to save his own butt across the board in some way.

So for now, while this stuff is running rampant, I don’t think any of us need to worry too much about being homeless. While a housing crisis is pretty much inevitable since so many of us can’t afford to pay rent, I see too many signs that indicate that the Federal and State governments won’t allow that to happen. The landlord class is at the top of the house of cards that describes our current economy; the Federal Government seems determined to throw whatever they can at those top layers, to the point that they are all but ignoring the cracks that are appearing at at the foundation. Because of that, they will do what they can to keep the landlord class somewhat content so we can remain in our homes. While I don’t know how they will do that exactly, for now I believe we’re safe.

So keep your stuff. Stay home. Plant a garden if you have a yard or scavenge some buckets to start a container garden. I heard of one lady who bought a bunch of $1 trash cans to start her garden in since she didn’t own any buckets, so that might be an idea you can use. While only time will tell how things will pan out in the housing arena, for now I believe we’re safe from being evicted.

I will keep an eye on the news and warn you if I see any indications of trouble. If you happen to stumble upon something in your area, let me know. This is definitely something I want to stay on top of.

While you’re at it, ignore the advice of frugalists who think living on thousands of dollars a month is living cheap. They have no fucking clue what we’re about to deal with. If you don’t like the advice I give, find someone else who practices what they preach. Find someone who lives on very little money like I do and follow their advice. Just as with the Minimalist Movement, the frugal living movement is filled with charlatans who have no idea how to truly live on less.

You’re not going to coast through this by living the status quo, folks. Prices are already starting to rise nationwide. They will continue to rise. Most of the stuff we take for granted (including quite a bit of our food) originates from nations that are being hit hard with this virus, and it will take a while for the production in our nation to compensate. That’s the real reason it’s hard to locate bathroom tissue and diapers in the stores. Worldwide production is down. While factories in this nation are working hard to compensate, they actually do try to pay somewhat of a living wage so prices will go higher.

But if the strikes over PPE, sanitation concerns, and hazard pay continue, we will have a rocky road ahead of us as they sort things out.

Minimalism, folks. You need it. While you don’t need the “toss all of your stuff” brand of minimalism that many propose right now, you do need to embrace the financial minimalism that my grandparents, my parents, and myself embraced as a way of life.

Water jugs and butter bowls can become bowls and planters to grow food. Plants can be grown to provide food instead of decorative greenery. Vegetables make pretty flowers too so don’t worry – they’re still pretty, just in a different way. If you can’t afford potting soil, make or grab a spade and a bag and dig some out of the yard. Find and “borrow” some if you have to. Do whatever you have to do to use what you have and locate what you don’t to start growing a bit of food. Some farmers are having to let their food rot in the field because they have contracts that won’t allow them to sell to the average person, so the cost of food will go up until that gets sorted.

If you happen to know a farmer, make that person your friend on Facebook. You can’t exactly meander out to their farm with the current restrictions, but if you can figure out a way to befriend them, they may allow you to quietly liberate some of the food they’ve got rotting in the field. If they have a heart (and dislike wasting food) they may be willing to turn a blind eye if some of that produce disappears into your belly.

Ask your friends if they happen to know a farmer who raises eggs and meat. I know some in urban areas who raise chickens and ducks. There is very little difference between chicken, duck, and goose eggs so don’t be picky. And if your kid happens to have a BB or pellet gun, clean it well and start target practicing. While I really hope it doesn’t get as bad as that, you can kill small game with a BB or pellet gun, and you don’t need a gun permit to own one in most areas.

If you really want to learn more about growing and quietly raising food, read Dolly Freed. I’m reviewing her book myself.

As for that surplus of clothes in your closet, you might want to keep them even if they don’t fit. Dolly Parton’s “coat of many colors” is a real thing. You can repurpose old clothes into rags (which will come in handy if you can’t afford paper towels, napkins, diapers, or bathroom tissue in the future). You can sew patches on your pants with the fabric, or even extend the legs on children’s clothing. You can piece them together to make quilts and other needed items. Hell, you can burn them in a stove in the winter if you get cold along with that stack of books you never got around to reading. It might not be the most eco-friendly thing to do but at least it will keep you warm.

I would rather have you over-prepared than under-prepared for this situation. Since we do not know what is going to happen, it is best to prepare for even the situations we cannot conceive of. I find it personally hard to even imagine that there will come a time when I cannot acquire food. I’ve not helped slaughter an animal since I was a kid but you know what?

That won’t stop me if my grandbabies get hungry. I hope it won’t stop you either.

So let the fools who think this is going to blow over in a few weeks do their thing. The so-called minimalists who are using their time off work to toss their stuff will learn the truth soon enough when their 401(k)s start plummeting to nothing. Everyone who has placed their faith in the stock market will learn a harsh lesson about life before this is over.

DISCLOSURE: I sold out of almost all of my stocks as I saw this coming. While one medical company I’d invested in went belly-up before I could catch it, the only companies I’ve still got an investment in are an entertainment company (since the demand for entertainment will increase for the duration) and a finance company that is essentially a “check into cash” place for the corporations. They make sure that they get their money first in the event that any company they provide financing to goes belly up, so they rode out the Great Recession pretty well. I kinda like the thought of someone charging corporations usurious interest rates the way so many of us are charged because we are poor, so even if I lose every penny I will receive immense satisfaction at the thought that those fat-cat CEOs are getting a bit of comeuppance.

I’m using the money from the companies I sold out of to help get through this. This girl is putting survival first.

I believe we will all learn some hard lessons about life before this is over, truth be told. We may have to learn and do things we never imagined to get through this.

But you know what? We’re going to be stronger in the end. So don’t be scared; just do what you can to prepare. While it could get rough, we are smart. We are creative. We will do whatever it takes to get through this mess. Just don’t waste your time casting blame, because at this point the reasons do not matter. What matters is that we survive this.

And we will survive this. I will share everything I possibly think of to help you through this. I’ve went through times when I had to feed a family of five on $25 a month. I’ve went through times when I lived on the scraps my kids left on their dinner plates. I’ve slept in stairwells. I’ve snuck into garages and huddled under mountains of scratchy curtains to sleep during the winter. I’ve even lived in my van in the past, so if anyone has the skills to figure out how to get through this mess it’s me.

Because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. And I will share every tip I possibly can to help you through it too.

But if you’re going to make it through this, you need to start preparing now. It is best to over-prepare than under-prepare. Hoard your cash. Cut your expenses to the bone. I’m even going through my expenses and doing the same as I wait for the danger of frost to pass so I can start digging.

For the record, I’m seriously dreading the digging. I’ve not had a garden in ages and all I’ve got is a spade to work with. If I’m lucky, Middle Daughter will find that hoe she thought she saw in her shed the other day. We’re combining our forces to grow a garden.

It will be a cold day in hell before I risk my babies going hungry.

And thank you for your email, Everett. I appreciate you more than you will ever know.

All you old-guard Minimalists who are still out there, who understand what minimalism is truly about, you need to get off your duffs and start writing again. Seriously, these fools that are popular now are not helping matters. I don’t care how you do it, you have a duty to help people learn how to live on less so they can survive this. Send me links and I’ll get the word out that you’re back.

We are all going to have to band together for what’s coming.

~#~

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
Finances Frugality

How to Plan for an Uncertain Future

Okay, folks. We’ve got some work to do. Sitting on the couch isn’t going to make things any better – it will only make you insane.

Best case scenario is we have another recession. We live through this, our friends and family live through this, but we have some financial challenges to deal with.

Worst case scenario is we lose some family and friends and end up facing a Depression that makes the Great Depression look like child’s play.

That’s what we’re facing. Either we square up and meet it head on, or we let it kick us in the private parts while we skulk off to cry.

Either way, we can’t escape this. The only direction we can go is through it, so it’s time to get to work.

That was the pep talk I gave myself when I felt myself becoming sad at our current situation. As skilled as I am at living on less, seeing the names of my friends in the obituary column really hit hard.

But do you remember that old TV show the A-Team? You younger folk might remember the movie based upon that old series. It was my favorite show when I was a kid. And my very favorite scenes were when Hannibal made a plan and the team prepared to take care of business.

I have personally chosen to look at this as a challenge. I’m not only a minimalist, I’m one of the foremost frugal living experts in the United States. If anyone knows how to live cheap, it’s me. That said, this is a completely different situation from any I’ve ever faced. Even during the Great Recession I was able to go out and get a job. It may not have been the fanciest job, but I could get a job.

This time I’m at the age where, if I go out and get a job, I could kill myself. Since I enjoy living too much for that, I intend to tough it out on as little as possible for the duration.

When creating a plan, you need to focus on immediate needs first. For us, that meant whipping up some face masks so that my daughter could be a bit safer at work and I could be safer should I need to leave the house.

I had a few problems with that need, however. Not only had it been close to a decade since I’d sewn anything, I’d eliminated almost all of my sewing supplies. On top of that, I had never sewn a mask in my life, so I didn’t know where to start since I was horribly out of practice.

I could have thrown up my hands and said it was impossible but I knew that it wasn’t. I had a needle and some thread; add some material and a bit of creativity and I knew I could handle it. I gave the kid my card and asked her to pick out some fabric and interfacing (non-woven interfacing increases the effectiveness according to several family members in the nursing community) while I sat my butt down and began watching mask-making tutorials on YouTube.

I took ideas from a number of different videos and went to work. I no longer had a dedicated set of fabric scissors, so I repurposed the kid’s rotary paper cutter for the cutting part. After scrounging a bit around the house I selected an old tee-shirt to sacrifice to the cause (elastic shortage in this area) and got to work.

As I stitched, the kid came into the kitchen hauling a 1970’s era sewing machine. Her dad had picked it up at a yard sale and gifted it to her several years ago. She’d never used it; did I think it would make the sewing faster?

About that time a friend called. She was at the same store that sold the fabric: did I need anything? I begged her for some sewing machine needles and oil. When those arrived, I cleaned that machine and used it to finish the first mask.

While I was at it I sewed several masks for myself and some friends. I want as many of my friends to make it through this as possible so it made sense. I’ve seen enough of my friends in the obituary column. I’ve kept myself busy at that project for these past few days.

Now that the immediate project is done, I’m making plans for my next project, which is ensuring that we have some fresh food if money gets really tight, supply lines break down, or inflation makes the prices go up. I’m not exactly fond of yard work so I’ve decided to plant what I can in repurposed containers and to establish a three sisters garden in my back yard. You don’t need to weed a three sisters garden, which makes it perfect for my personality. As an added bonus, it will remind me of my grandmother, who made me promise ages ago to never forget the Native American blood that flows through my veins. While I may have been too young to remember the tribe she told me our ancestors were from, I’ve kept that promise to the best of my ability. This little garden will give homage to my ancestors.

These are just little steps that I’ve taken, steps that have not only kept me busy but have allowed me to prepare for what’s coming. If anything comes to mind that might make the coming days easier, I jot it down in a notebook to consider once I complete my current projects.

This is something that all of us need to be doing. Take a serious look at your life and ask yourself what you can personally do to prepare for any hard times in your future. Try to look at this as a challenge: just what can you do to not only make things easier, but that will stretch your abilities a bit?

Instead of paying your bills blindly, examine them to see if there is any expense you can eliminate. Do you subscribe to several streaming services? Eliminate one. Can you reduce your phone, cable, or other utilities? Can you open a window and avoid using the air conditioner this summer, at least for a while? If you go to a laundromat, can you scrape together a bit of money and invest in a small washing machine? If not, have you ever tried washing your laundry in a bucket or a bathtub? If you’re not an essential worker and are stuck at home, why not give it a try? That will allow you to save money you would otherwise spend at a laundromat.

There are so many different ways to save money! Just look around your house for ideas. If you can’t come up with any, read one of my books on the subject. The less you spend, the better off you will be moving forward. The best time to prepare is before you need to; the next best time is now.

Think about it this way: you can either feel sorry for yourself or you can do something about your situation. The first option doesn’t help a damn bit, but the other one just might save your ass.

It’s up to you.

~#~

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
Finances Minimalism

This is Not the Time to Practice Minimalism

We are currently experiencing an entirely new situation. Millions of people are now out of work, told to stay home in order to control the spread of Covid-19 because that is the one thing we can do to minimize the spread and loss of life. Businesses are closing their doors and they may not be able to re-open once this is over. Some businesses that we rely on each and every day were so leveraged before this happened that they may very well fail before the “all clear” is given.

We do not know how long this will last. We will never even know how many people actually died from this here in the United States because there aren’t enough tests. My friends are dropping like flies, healthy friends. I’ve had several that were found dead already, or became sick and died. I look at the local obituaries with dread now, shocked that this is happening so fast that someone I can talk to one week will be listed in the obituaries the next. I’ve never seen so many people die in our area – and none of my friends who died were tested for coronavirus. There simply are not enough tests for that to happen.

Now, think about this.

Most of the things we buy are made in China. China is trying to restart their economy, but due to the fact that there is no vaccine for this, they could get hit again and have to shut back down. We don’t know what will happen over there, we don’t know what will happen to the other nations who manufacture the other things we need.

One thing we do know is that our nation is, for the most part, a service economy. Compared to the past, we do not manufacture near as much as we buy in this nation. I watch my governor go on television every day, begging for someone to open a PPE manufacturing plant in this state, because every time we try to buy the supplies we need, our state government gets a notice that the items we were expecting to receive have been seized by the Federal Government. From what I can tell, that’s now happening internationally. If the US can catch it in transit or whatever (and I gather the manufacturer’s headquarters are based in the US), they’re taking it.

There will be repercussions from that in the future.

We do not know what we do not know. We don’t know what will happen at the end of this story. This is why I am begging you to be cautious.

Think about it. Say you’re off because of this current situation and you think it is a great time to thin out your stuff. You’re bored, so you decide to go full-on Minimalist. You don’t see any harm in it because you believe that things will blow over soon. You can always replace the items you discard should you need them.

But what happens if you can’t? What happens if you decide to thin down your wardrobe to a week’s worth of clothes, and the clothes you decide to keep wear out before this is over? Where will you go to replace your clothes? Will you even have the money available to replace those clothes? What happens if you decide to toss that extra refrigerator in your basement and your current one dies? You can’t just hop out to Rent-A-Center and get a new one right now. You may not be able to find a store open to buy one (if you do happen to have the money). You might be able to order one, but with the chaos in our shipping systems, it could take a month or longer for a replacement to arrive. What will you do in the meantime?

I am speaking from personal experience. When I moved here, I decided to eliminate as much of my possessions as I possibly could to minimize my moving expense and to explore just how little I needed to live. I know what it is like to need a way to cook and store food and not have the money to acquire it. I know what it’s like to have the clothes you decide to keep wear out before you are able to replace them. While my situation was a bit different (my issue was money), it translates over to the current situation because not only do we NOT know if we’ll have enough money to afford to replace the items we keep that fail, we may not be able to locate replacements to purchase.

I am begging you. If it is something useful or functional, please keep it for the duration of this time. Box up your extra clothes that still fit. Save your scraps. Definitely keep your sewing supplies and other “craft” supplies for the duration. Depending upon how this plays out, you may need them.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope this blows over and we are able to go back to “business as usual.” But there is enough uncertainty surrounding this situation that we may not be able to do that for a time.

You need to prepare for that.

Excellent leaders prepare in advance for all potential scenarios. I would be remiss in my duties if I did not urge you to do the same. While I do believe that, on the whole, we own and buy much more than we need, there is a chance that you may need that excess before this is over with.

Stop throwing your stuff away! If it is functional, I am begging you to keep it. Stash your excess for now. You can always toss it when it is over.

Categories
Finances

Cautious Preparation

If you’ve paid attention to the news, some workers are discussing the possibility of striking due to what they believe to be unsafe conditions in the workplace thanks to the spread of Covid-19. I found an article the other day about Purdue workers walking out because of their concerns.

Before this hit our news feeds I realized that our supply lines might possibly be in danger due to Covid-19. If the current workers fall ill, would anyone want to step up and replace them? While I hope that my concerns are unfounded, I decided to do a little something now to ease my concerns.

I’ve recycled some containers, converting them into pots. Within these pots I’ve began to grow some vegetables from kitchen scraps and seeds. I have a challenge obtaining seeds since my daughters have joined the chorus echoed by friends and family that I need to stay home for my safety but my youngest has assured me that, as soon as her store manages to acquire some seeds, that she will buy some packets for me.

In the meantime I have started the few packets I managed to obtain before those around me began to pressure me to remain at home. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

The modern food chain revolves around workers in the field, the shipping companies, and in the stores. What will happen when more of those workers fall ill to this virus?

While I am not panicked, I have given thanks that I live in a somewhat rural area. There is a slaughterhouse nearby for meat, and a number of my friends raise gardens out of habit. Even with that I feel that preparation is best.

I have personally taken a “plan for the worst, hope for the best” attitude to this situation. As I watch more companies struggle, in a worst-case scenario they will fall like dominoes in time. I don’t even want to think of what will happen to our medical system, local, state, and federal governments. I can’t change it, so I see no point in stressing over it.

I look around for the things I can do right here, right now, with what I currently have available. I can keep my house clean. I can recycle plastic containers to use for pots, I can grow a little bit of food, and I can distract myself by reading books and journaling to keep myself sane. I can also eliminate leftovers entirely as I do all of this, which is something I have done. These little things may prove to be helpful in time, or I may end up laughing at my over-reaction once this is over.

In the meantime, the steps that I am taking allow me to sleep at night without stress. They allow me to sit upon my front porch and enjoy the sunlight without worrying much over the future. What will come cannot be stopped, but I can rest easy in the knowledge that I am doing what I can just in case things become even worse.

What are you doing to pare down your expenses and prepare for a potentially darker future? 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
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 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
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 Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

The Power of Lowballing Your Finances

The most important step in attaining financial freedom is cutting your expenses to the bone. I don’t care what the “experts” say, it is a hell of a lot easier to come up with a few hundred dollars each month than it is to come up with a few thousand.

A friend of mine reminded me of this when we began to discuss retirement. He shared his dream of building his passive income sources to $6,000 a month. While he only needs $4,000 a month currently, he wants to add some extra padding to his passive income flow in order to cover any cost of living increases during his retirement.

I don’t need that much money.

That is why I was able to quit my last job at the drop of a hat. It is also how I was able to become a stay at home single mother to my youngest daughter–a feat that everyone told me was impossible.

If you want the freedom to live life on your own terms you will pay attention to this.

In order to live at a comfortable minimum I need around $500 a month to cover my expenses. That means that I only need to have $16.67 a day coming in to meet my expenses and have some money to spare. To give you an idea of the difference that makes, my friend would have to find a way to earn $200 a day if he lost his job tomorrow.

Which one is easier to accomplish: $16.67 or $200? More importantly, if you were to lose your job tomorrow and had only $1,000 in savings, which path would allow you to take your time to locate another position?

Do the damn math, folks.

The greater your living expenses, the more you need to earn just to survive and the lower your chances of replacing the income from a public job with passive income sources. In fact, the higher your living expenses, the harder it will be to find a job that pays enough to keep body and soul afloat. If your living expenses are low enough, you will be able to pay your bills in almost any economic climate. You want proof of that? I can work a part-time job at minimum wage to earn more than enough to live on. In comparison, my friend would be screwed.

You listen, and you listen well. We live in a tumultous age. The jobs we know are in the process of being replaced by machines and yet despite that, our cost of living keeps increasing. I saw the first signs of this back in 2009 as corporations downsized to protect their profit and sent droves of people to the unemployment lines. I have no doubts that it will happen again.

If you want to protect yourself, the time to prepare is now.

The lower you can take your expenses, the greater your ability to survive.

I won’t belabor the point. I’ve already written a book on how to live on less so if you want to do the smart thing you will read it. I’d recommend other books if I could but I haven’t encountered anyone who lives on less than I do to brag about.

I pray that you heed my warning before it’s too late.