Categories
Finances Frugality

Financial Surprise

It is amazing. One day you decide to quit your job. You’re concerned about your expenses even though you know you’ve got it covered.

But then you pay your bills and you realize:

Your bills have plummeted.

This frugalista has just realized that she was spending over $100 a week just on food and other things while she was away from the house.

That’s a bit embarrassing.

Categories
Finances Happiness Life Simplicity

How to Live an Intentional Life

It takes a bit of thought to sort through the chaos and programming to determine just how you want to live your life.

My first trip down this path was simple in comparison. I had one goal I wanted to achieve. I wanted to be a stay-at-home single mother for my daughter, so I did what I had to do in order to make that happen.

Life isn’t static, however, so once that goal was complete it was time to set a new intention.

Throughout your life, you will encounter different phases. When you’re young, you may want to go out and see the world or strive to be on top of the world through your career choices. As you start a family, your focus may change to becoming a good parent, to raise your children in a thoughtful, responsible manner.

And when your children are grown, you will have to figure out what you want to do with yourself once your children are gone. Depending upon what you’ve already experienced, you may simply be tired and want some time to recharge.

There is nothing wrong with that.

I honestly believe that we will never have it all “figured out.” We will never be able to set a single path for our life because life is a journey with many different paths to choose from. Instead of trying to figure it out, trying to figure out a single path to follow until the end of our days, we simply need to determine what we want in the foreseeable future and head in that direction.

In my life, I’ve realized that I want to acquire the financial stability required in order to eliminate the need to work a public job. While I doubt that I will ever want to stop working entirely (sitting around the house can make you stir-crazy), I do want to have that option.

I want to focus a bit on my health as well as grow a bit mentally and emotionally, and I’ve also realized that writing is a part of who I am now. Even at my lowest points I search for a meaning that I can pass on to help others. While I never imagined it being more than a hobby when I first started blogging, it has now become a major focus of my life. I am okay with that.

I’m going to share with you the steps I’ve decided to take in hopes of giving you an idea as you decide upon the path you want your life to follow. I may not have everything figured out but that’s okay. I’ve got a basic plan and that’s all you need as well to get started.

In order to achieve financial freedom I will continue living beneath my means. I’ve changed my plan a bit to accommodate the fact that I want to reduce some of the stress on my life, however. I intend to take 10% of everything I earn (passive or active income) and place it in the safest investments that I can over time. This is based upon the advice given in George Clason’s book The Richest Man in Babylon (Clason, n.d.). In this book he stresses the need to keep 1/10 of any income earned to save and invest in the most cautious manner possible. I’ve decided to combine his advice with that of Michael Cheung’s from the book Sun Tzu The Art of Making Money: Strategies for Getting Through a Tough Economy. He discusses the importance of having a good foundation in place to establish financial security. (Cheung, 2012). To fulfil that need, at first the 10% will be used to fully fund an account that will only be accessed in the direst of emergencies. The overflow from that account will be invested in the safest investments I can locate over time. The money I have left over each month after the 10% deduction will be saved up and invested as usual, though perhaps not quite as often, since investing fees can add up on smaller stock purchases.

This new procedure will allow me to hedge my bets as I move towards my ultimate goal of financial freedom.

Since I prefer a simpler, calmer life I intend to simplify the things around me, eliminating my excess over time as I move forward. I’m wiser now from my previous experience with minimalism and I intend to use the wisdom gained. Instead of simply eliminating the excess I’ve acquired I have resolved not to purchase more until I actually need to. I will use up the items I already own instead. I see no point in donating them to an agency where they may end up on a landfill (due to the surplus already available at thrift shops) until they have reached the end of their usefulness. Items that I know that I won’t ever need again will be passed on to the best of my ability.

As you can see from my example, it doesn’t take an immense amount of work to reconfigure your life. With just a bit of thought and planning you can not only enjoy your present but slowly work towards the life of your dreams.

What steps can you take to lead a more intentional life as you work towards your dreams? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

REFERENCES

Clason, G. (n.d.). The Richest Man In Babylon.

Cheung, M. (2012). Sun Tzu The Art of Making Money: Strategies for Getting Through a Tough Economy. 1st ed. Allysky.

Categories
Finances Minimalism Retirement

How Minimalism Can Help You Achieve Financial Freedom

In 2011 I broke free of wage slavery for my very first time. My book royalties had reached the point where I could live on them without the need for a job, so I quit it to achieve my goal of being a stay-at-home single mother.

I enjoyed that life for several years but I found myself too close to the problem when my royalties dipped. After struggling for a bit I went back to work to regroup for another attempt.

What I don’t discuss much on this blog is the fact that I would have never been able to make that first leap if it hadn’t been for minimalism. If I had not actively pared down my possessions and my spending, I would have never been able to quit my job to stay home with my daughter at all.

In hindsight, I realize now that my pursuit of minimalism was behind my ability to take summers off to stay with my daughter for several years previous to achieving that goal. By limiting my purchases and my household expenses, I was easily able to conserve enough money to support us for several months each year.

In light of that fact, I must confess that I haven’t given minimalism the credit it deserves in my success. Even now I apply minimalist practices to my life as I prepare for my next, hopefully permanent attempt to achieve financial freedom.

Anyone can do what I’m doing. While your individual circumstances may be different, the act of reducing what you own and spend can make a massive change in your life. If you add a passive income source into the formula, you have the secret to attaining complete financial freedom.

How to Attain Financial Freedom

  • Look at your life right now. Chances are you have stuff you rarely (if ever) use, rooms that stay empty the majority of the day, and a vehicle or two you rarely (if ever) drive. Eliminate them. If you can sell the items for extra cash, use that money to pay down any debt you may have and build up an emergency savings account. Don’t worry about investing at the moment; right now we’re just trying to reduce the amount of space you need and how much money you need to survive.
  • If your home isn’t paid for (or the payments extremely low), consider moving to a smaller home as close to your job and basic shopping (such as a grocery; Wal-Mart delivers these days) as possible. If you own your home, consider renting it out to develop a passive income stream. Use caution if you owe a mortgage on the property. Unless you can rent the property for more than the mortgage payment (and have enough set aside to cover any down-time between tenants as well as some basic repairs), you may end up struggling financially whenever your tenants move out. If you can manage it however, that passive income will take you closer to freedom.

I need to note here that this was the primary way that my daughter and I managed to minimize our expenses. By ruthlessly minimizing our possessions, we transitioned from needing a two-bedroom home down to a one-bedroom, slashing our housing expense immensely. I shopped around until I located a rental in town that was extremely cheap to maximize the savings. It wasn’t in the prettiest area of town but since we don’t own the things that thieves like to steal (and we keep to ourselves), no one ever bothers us. We managed to cut our housing expense in half (more, considering that local rents have went up a bit since we moved here) as a result.

By eliminating our excess possessions we also eliminated the need of having to rent a self-storage unit as well, which saved us a few dollars more each month. We also benefit from lower utility bills year-round since it costs significantly less to heat and cool a smaller home than a larger one.

  • As a result of selecting a smaller home that was close enough to stores that offered the essentials like food, we were able to eventually eliminate our next largest expense: our vehicle. We both walk to work, hitching rides with coworkers and friends occasionally when the need arises but for the most part we can easily walk wherever we need to go. At first, however, we simply settled upon a nice older van that we purchased for cash, since financing a vehicle can almost double the price you pay for it if you aren’t careful. This allowed us to gradually transition to a life that didn’t require a vehicle for our daily needs.
  • Limit your exposure to advertising. Advertising is designed to make you feel insecure if you don’t spend your money buying the stuff they want you to buy. Traditional television programming is filled with advertising so the fastest (and easiest) way to drastically cut down on the advertising you are exposed to on a daily basis is to eliminate it. If you enjoy watching shows and movies, consider investing in a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription. Since many modern televisions allow you internet access, you can continue using it while limiting your exposure to ads that are designed to make you feel insufficient. I noticed an immediate change years ago when I cancelled our cable television subscription. My children asked for things less frequently and I personally noted a desire to purchase less within days of cutting the cord.

There are other ways to cut expenses but those are the ones that will save you the most money. If you wish to learn how to lower your expenses even more, I urge you to read my book The Shoestring Girl. It goes into detail about how I manage to live on $500 or less a month.

Once you have pared down your finances to the point where you know how much money you need to live on each month, proceed to the next section.

  • Develop a passive income stream. The Internet has created an immense opportunity for those who decide they want to escape the rat race of wage slavery. You can share affiliate links (like I do on this blog occasionally) to promote products and services that you believe in. You can develop your own products to market and sell on a website. There is a huge demand for steamy romance novels currently, so if you enjoy fantasizing about that, you could turn those fantasies into a passive income stream by publishing them online. I have a number of friends who have become quite wealthy doing just that. In fact, I have explored that option personally. While I am much more comfortable sharing my personal experiences to help others, you may find that writing romance novels both enjoyable and lucrative. If so, I highly recommend it. My friends report that they receive thousands of dollars a month in book royalties from their romance novels, and E. L. James became very wealthy simply by converting a piece of Twilight fanfiction into a book series.

For those who have no interest in writing books or internet marketing, don’t worry. There are things you can do to develop passive income streams as well. The most lucrative of those is in real estate. You can purchase inexpensive homes (mobile homes, even) to start out. Clean them up and rent them out. You’ll have to go around once a month to inspect your properties and collect the rent but that is a lot less work than having to show up each day at a 9-5. There are many books available that will help guide you through the process.

You can also invest in dividend-paying stocks as well as bonds. Both of these provide a somewhat stable income stream (no form of passive income is perfect). I am currently investing in dividend stocks as an additional passive income source for when I decide that I am ready to reduce or eliminate working at a public job again.

I highly advise you to create at least two passive income streams before you decide to quit your day job. Things can happen that will cause your passive income to drop, if not disappear. Everett Bogue discovered this the hard way and ended up stranded in Japan. He was forced to sell his laptop for air fare back to the states. I would link to that story but it is old news and has faded from the internet. He is currently working two jobs to survive.  I experienced this personally when my book royalties dropped to the point where I felt the need to return to a public job. If I had been smart back then, I would have heeded the warning his experience provided and adjusted my life accordingly. I could have easily invested enough money back then to have eliminated the need to go back to working at a public job. I didn’t, so I am paying the price of that mistake now.

  • Eliminate your debt. Every debt you eliminate will take the amount you need to live on even lower. While a credit card can benefit you if used wisely (pay off the balance each month), credit as a general rule is verboten. You want to spend your money enjoying your life, not funding the excess of the bankers. The only possible exceptions to this rule would be to finance rental property or to invest in a class that will teach you how to grow your passive income further. Use extreme caution before making these decisions.
  • Build up an emergency fund. You need to have several months’ worth of expenses saved away in an easily accessible interest-bearing account in the event your passive income takes a slight dip or another emergency arises. In hindsight, this was one thing I did right. I stashed away my excess money each month when my book royalties were high. That enabled me to survive for quite a while as my royalties began to drop.
  • Develop your passive income stream to the point where it will more than cover your normal expenses before you decide to stop working. This way you can invest the excess into dividend-paying stocks, bonds, or another form of passive income source such as real estate. This way, even if your current passive income remains stable (or drops a bit), your passive income will continue to increase over time.
  • Once you have created an emergency fund, paid down or eliminated your debt, reduced your expenses as low as you comfortably can, and developed a passive income stream that more than covers them you can safely make the leap. You can reduce the amount of hours you work gradually or eliminate working entirely.

Even now, by following these precepts, I am able to work only part-time instead of getting a full-time job. My monthly expenses are lower than ever now that my daughter has become my room-mate, so we have taken advantage of the situation by investing our excess money and using the time gained to our advantage. Katie enjoys eating out and spending money a bit more than I do, so she has opted to work full-time since she likes to keep busy. She still manages to set money aside each month into her savings as well as attend college full-time by paying as she goes. Like her mother, she has an aversion to debt.

I have money left over from my part-time paycheck every month. I combine that with my (once again) growing book royalties to invest in dividend stocks. I use the extra time I have available to go to college as well, take care of my home, and to write posts like this one that will hopefully help others achieve their own financial freedom.

If you found this post informative, please take a moment to share it with a friend. You may help them realize that they don’t have to be trapped in the chains of wage slavery forever. They too can achieve financial freedom if they want.

If you have already achieved financial freedom (or are working towards that goal), please share your story in the comments below. We all benefit when we share our knowledge.

If you have a blog of your own, consider writing a piece about this post. Do you agree with these steps, or do you feel that something is missing? Be honest in your comments. This will help others learn from our beliefs and experiences. If you feel that my experiences will help your readers, let me know so that we can arrange an interview. If you feel that your personal experiences may benefit my readers, email me as well because I would love to interview you. You can reach me at annie at annienygma dot com.

Have a great day,
Annie

Categories
Finances self-improvement Success

The Accumulative Power of Small Steps

I recently achieved a milestone in my goal of restoring the older posts on this blog. By just uploading a single post a day I’ve managed to restore all of the posts from 2009.

It doesn’t take long to restore a single post. I can take care of it in moments before I go on with my day. Yet that tiny little bit of progress each day allows me to inch a bit closer to my ultimate goal.

I do the same thing with my finances. Today I calculated the gross amount of my last raise and transferred that amount into my emergency savings account. While the amount isn’t very much it adds up bit by bit along with the pennies I manage to save in my daily life.

Just by saving money a few pennies at a time and using those savings to invest in the stock market I’ve managed to go from absolute zero to an investment account containing several thousand dollars that provides an extra half months’ worth of passive income each year.

The average person laughs at the thought of baby steps. They believe that a single penny is worthless so they don’t bother to save it. They believe that writing a few words a day won’t ever result in a book that they could publish. If they can’t achieve their goals in a short amount of time they don’t even bother.

When the average person thinks of improvement they think that it’s the massive changes that make the difference but it is the opposite that holds the truth. Tiny little changes hold the keys to massive progress. As with money, those miniscule steps you can make in your day to day life will compound into massive results.

Today, instead of asking yourself how you can build an emergency savings account start tossing your spare change into a jar. As the jar fills, so your emergency account grows.

Instead of asking yourself how to complete a massive project now, pick one tiny thing that you can do each day and watch the progress build.

Don’t worry about the end goal. Just focus on what you can achieve now. The goal will take care of itself if you feed it with daily progress.

What is one thing that you can do each day that will take you closer to your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Productivity Success

Why the Turtle Beats the Hare to Success

One of the blessings that come with age is patience. Time has a way of making you realize that instant wealth or success is a fairy tale concocted by marketers to place your cash in their pocket by taking advantage of your impatience.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses how mediocre companies develop long-lasting success. His research demonstrated that the companies that made sudden, drastic changes weren’t the ones who succeeded.

It was the companies that made tiny, incremental changes over time that achieved lasting success.

This principle applies to every single endeavor.

If your house is a pigsty, cleaning it from top to bottom might provide a rush of pleasure as you look upon your freshly cleaned home but it won’t stay that way for very long unless you change the habits that allowed your home to get out of control in the first place.

If your finances are a disaster, a spending moratorium may help you achieve breakeven and get caught up on your bills, but unless you alter your habits to the point where you routinely live beneath your means you are one splurge away from catastrophe despite your best efforts.

This is why the turtle always wins. The hare starts out at a rush, going full-tilt to defeat the challenge in one fell swoop. He may be able to achieve breakeven on his finances by not spending any money for a month. He may be able to deep clean his house in a weekend by tossing a bunch of crap out and scrubbing it from top to bottom. He may even be able to jump start his business income by following the tips in one of those get-rich-quick tutorials.

But none of the hare’s success will last for very long. By the time he completes the massive accomplishment of cleaning his house, catching up on his bills, or bringing in the first few dollars of business income he will be so exhausted he will be forced to take a break. During that break things will go back to what they were before he began.

The story ends differently for the turtle. They start very slow, focusing on one tiny aspect of the thing they want to change. They may make it a personal rule to scoop the litterbox once a day. They may start washing their dishes up as they use them. In their business, they may start out by writing one tiny article or blog post, or by investing a few dollars in the stock market every month. The goal they set for themselves may be so tiny that no one around them even notices at first. Those whom the turtle shares with may even laugh at his progress.

While everyone is clapping the hare on his back for his massive weight loss the turtle will be plucking away in the background, altering the habits that made him overweight one meal at a time. As the hare starts to regain the weight he lost in his drastic fast, the turtle will grow continually slimmer and maintain his smaller figure.

While the hare is out celebrating his business success with his buddies the turtle will be at home tinkering on another aspect of his business venture. The hare will look at his bank balance and realize that his income is dropping. He may get desperate, repeat the actions he did to generate the first flow of funds but then decide that it’s too much work and quit.

The turtle will still be plucking away, happy because his business is steadily growing.

I’ve seen this scenario play out more times than I can count in the writing business and in life. Friends who stopped spending money for a month, who ended up asking me for cash because they’d blown every penny they’d gained celebrating with a major purchase after. Acquaintances who quit their job after making a sudden success in a business venture ending up broke in a town far away because they took their eyes off of the prize for a moment too long.

One by one I’ve watched my writing and business friends throw up their hands and quit. I’ve listened to them rant about the unfairness of it all so many times that I can almost predict what the recent quitters are going to say before they open the chat box.

But I am the Turtle. I chugged away for years before I gained my first success, so when that initial flood of cash began to slow I made a few adjustments and just kept going.

It would have been easy to quit. I was tempted to do just that when I went back to working a public job. All of my writer friends were dropping like flies, going back to their day jobs because the Internet life “didn’t pan out.”

But I didn’t. Instead, I took a long, hard look at my life. I analyzed what I’d done right and what mistakes I had made. Instead of throwing my hands up in surrender I started making adjustments and kept going.

That slow, steady pace is quietly paying off. Month by month I can see a small uptick in my book sales. Month by month I can see a tiny increase in the readership of this website.

Month by month I can see my investments growing, building towards my ultimate goal bit by tiny bit. So far this month I’ve received $60 in dividends and more will arrive before the calendar flips.

This turtle isn’t going to rest on her laurels, however. This turtle will do the same thing she’s been doing since she started. She will keep her expenses as low as she comfortably can and continue her steady march towards lasting freedom.

Whatever you desire in life can be achieved by taking slow, steady steps. It’s not as glamorous as throwing out all of your stuff, going on a financial fast, or hitting the gym in a frenzy but if you want to make a lasting change in your life it is the only method that works.

Stop trying to imitate the hare. It’s the turtle that wins in the end.

Categories
Finances Housing Organization

The Value of Household Inventory

I opened the last tote of kitty litter this morning. As soon as I topped off the litterbox I sat down and penned a note to my daughter, asking her to order more come payday. We had 1.5 totes of cat food on hand, so I informed her that we would be good on cat food for this round.

This is a slice of the inventory method my daughter and I use to keep track of supplies in our home. I inspect our consumables on a monthly basis, ordering my portions as needed and leaving reminders for Katie to order her portion.

Daughter and I have worked out this method of dividing the expense of consumables over the past few years since she started working. The person whose turn it is to order is free (within reason) to decide upon which brand they select and we take turns or split the expense depending upon our current financial circumstances.

This allows us to not only turn over our mutual household supplies on a regular basis, it prevents us from running out and eliminates the issue of brand preference that we faced during the early days, as well as the feeling that one of us is shouldering the bulk of the burden.

How do you handle your household inventory and expense? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances

Do We Need a Job?

Everyone knows that we need money in order to live. That’s a given. We need to buy food and clothing. We need a place to live. In certain nations (like my own) we need money in order to afford healthcare even.

But do we really need a job?

We’ve been taught that we need to go to school, get a good job, start a family, and so forth. But what if that teaching is wrong?

What if we’re looking at the problem from the wrong angle?

We need money to live, but do we really need to get a job in order to acquire the money?

In 2011 I quit my day job in order to be a stay at home single mother for my daughter. If one needs a job in order to make the money to survive, why was it that I managed without one for several years?

During those lovely years of freedom, I didn’t have to look at a time clock. I didn’t have to worry about what hourly wage I was receiving. Instead, I did what I enjoyed (writing books and blog posts while enjoying my daughter’s fleeting childhood). Despite the fact that I worked for neither wage nor salary, money flowed into my bank account like clockwork.

It still does to this very day.

While the amount of money isn’t enough for me to be comfortable living on currently, the fact remains that money comes to me each and every month regardless of how I spend my time.

I am currently using that money to bring even more money into my life through my investments.

Considering this, perhaps we are looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Perhaps instead of thinking “I need money so I want to find a job,” we need to think “I need money so I want to find a way to provide it” instead.

One could write books as I do. One could share affiliate links as others do. Some create websites to sell items that they never even see in a method known as drop-shipping. Henri from Wake Up Cloud started out by creating poker websites to create a passive income flow.

There are as many different ways to generate passive income as there are stars in the sky but we don’t see them. When we think of money, we automatically think of getting a job in order to acquire it.

But do we need one?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Car-Free Finances

A Slice of Slavery

Katie had to walk to work in the pouring rain this morning. I grieved for her as she headed into the downpour to walk the mile-long trek to her public job.

I’ll have to do the same in a couple of hours.

I could sit at this keyboard and whine that life isn’t fair; why can’t we own vehicles like the others do?

I could sit here and juggle my budget. I could pull some money out of my investment accounts, buy a car, and eliminate the discomfort.

But if I do that, I will never be free.

I will be just like my friend, who is nervously awaiting a heart cath and possible stents at the hospital this morning. Even though they are aware that she is having the procedure, her job scheduled her to work tomorrow.

She could very well have complications. She could very well die, but does her job care? No. All they care about is her next shift.

I can’t even go up to the hospital to be with her because I’m scheduled to work and I can’t afford to take off. If she’s still there at the end of my work shift I’ll walk up to take her home or keep her company, however it goes.

This is the life of a wage slave. Forced to work until we drop, then replaced like we are nothing.

They don’t even want us to realize that there is a better way. They don’t want us to know that we can learn how to play the games that they play so we don’t have to trade our lives for money. That is why they brainwash us at school to go to college, rack up a lot of debt, get a job, and buy, buy, buy.

They want to use us up and spit us out because we are nothing to them.

Guess what, World? I know that there is a better way. I know from personal experience that one can achieve financial freedom. When the kids were young I would save up my money to take summers off to be with my kids. When I learned how to write and publish books I used that to stop working at a public job so that I could savor the remaining years of my youngest daughter’s childhood. Despite my lack of formal education (or perhaps because of it) I managed to do what most consider impossible. I was a stay-at-home single mother for years.

I made a few missteps. I over-estimated just how stable my royalty income was. That is why I will be walking in the rain to work today as I stress over the fate of my friend at the hospital instead of sitting at her side.

Instead of whining about my mistake, I choose to learn from it. I learned that there is a better way. I learned that we don’t have to be a slave for the entirety of our lives.

And I am angry enough to run with that. I am angry enough to do whatever it takes to beat those bastards at their own game, to not only improve my life but to show others how to do it as well.

I know what I’ve got to work with. I’ve got this writing business. I’ve got a public job that might pay shit for wages but is stable with a few benefits. I am an expert when it comes to saving money, and I understand the basics of investing.

Somehow I will figure out how to make this work. The day will come when my daughter won’t have to walk to work in the pouring rain. The day will come when I won’t have to do the same, when I won’t have to force myself out of bed at ungodly hours to get stuff done before I head to a public job because I know I’ll be too exhausted at the end of my shift to work towards my goal. The day will come when I don’t have to decide between paying my bills and being with my friends when they need me.

We deserve to know how to escape the chains of wage slavery. I intend to learn how, and I intend to teach others how to do it.

I will be free and I will teach others how to be free if it is the last thing I do.

You have my word.

Categories
Finances Retirement

Repeating My Way to Freedom

I just calculated the dividends I will receive over the next 12 months. I have finally topped the $250 mark.

In order to consider myself financially free I need to have $6,000 a year minimum in passive income, or $500 a month.

I am halfway to my one month’s goal, even with the sizeable investment I’ve made in one non-dividend paying stock.

I am 1/24th of the way to achieving my goal of freedom.

All I have to do is repeat that feat 23 more times and I will be free. While I won’t quit working at that point (I won’t feel safe unless I have considerably more than I need to live on coming in to avoid what happened with my book royalties), things will start moving a bit faster now. My dividend payouts are becoming large enough now to actually move the needle when I reinvest.

You truly can become financially free through dividend investing. I am seeing evidence of that in my own investment account. All you have to do is drop your expenses as low as they can go, build a small emergency fund (so you’re never tempted to sell your stock), and invest every penny you can afford to spare into dividend stocks.

Each and every month you simply repeat your actions, rolling over your dividends until you eventually gain your freedom.

Anyone can do this. All it takes is a bit of patience and a willingness to learn. The speed of your results will be based upon how much you need to live on and how much you can invest each month, but this is completely do-able. If I can do this while earning around $700 a month income between my public job and my book royalties, the average person who makes a lot more than me can do even better.

It just depends on one thing:

How badly do you want your freedom?

Categories
Finances Minimalism

Minimalism, Cash Flow, and Turnover

One of the ways that businesses maximize their funds is by utilizing turnover to increase their cash flow.

Instead of purchasing a year’s supply of whatsits in order to make their widgets, they instead purchase just enough to get by for a certain time period like a week or a month.

The store I work at uses this principle. They receive two shipments a week so the general manager strives to order just enough stock to make it to the next shipment. This allows them to maximize their profit by turning over their stock on a regular basis.

It’s not a perfect science. Unexpected bad weather causes runs on such things like bread and milk but overall, in the time I’ve worked there it is quite effective.

Restaurants and other businesses do the same thing. I’ve worked many a time where we had to stretch our supplies through the evening because our truck wasn’t due until morning.

I’ve been thinking about that lately. I’ve always been a “more is better” person. I feel safer when I have stockpiles on hand. I spent so many years in economic uncertainty during my marriage that I tend to stock up instinctively. I did that not too long ago with groceries and I’ve got a stockpile of paper, clothing, and other items that demonstrates that I returned to those old habits several years ago.

That said, I’m beginning to wonder if some facets of minimalism might make economic sense. I can order supplies online on an as-needed basis. I can pick up groceries during my shifts at work. I’ve got an emergency fund established and my income is fairly stable these days. Do I really need to stock up as much now as I have in the past?

In some cases, stocking up makes financial sense. Purchasing melamine sponges (magic erasers) in bulk saved me a small fortune. But in many cases, it might not be as wise.

What if, instead of buying certain items in bulk, I instead purchased them only as needed? I could use the money saved to make more money that way. If the cost difference between buying as needed and buying in bulk is negligible, I may come out ahead in the long run.

I would definitely free up some space in this tiny house if I applied that principle.

I have decided to experiment as a result. I have placed a moratorium on certain supplies I have in bulk like paper, pencils, pens, clothing, and food. I no longer need a large wardrobe since I can now wash clothing on a daily basis and the other items can be quickly attained either online or locally when I need them.

If this girl can conquer her fear of lack, she may be able to not only free up some space around her home but to increase the amount of money she has available for investment each month.

With that thought in mind, instead of purchasing a three-month supply of flea treatment for my pets the way I normally do, I opted instead to purchase just a one-month supply for my dogs. The lone cat we have (Loki died a while back) has enough to last him for a while.

Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Categories
Finances Health

Self-Analysis

Last night I face-planted into my computer keyboard.

That was a definite sign of why I’ve become so grumpy and frustrated as of late. I’ve pushed myself a bit too hard again, sacrificing sleep for my goals.

I have really got to establish some limits here. While I’m happy that I am more productive than I’ve been in quite a while, I do not want to push myself so hard that it negatively affects my health.

On another front, a friend of mine has decided to create some goals of her own. Like mine, her goals include increasing her current income and establishing passive income.

She has heard about some local factories that may be hiring, so we have made plans to apply together at several places as soon as our days off match up. We can split the cost of fuel if we work the same shift, which will buy me some time to build up the extra funds needed to comfortably purchase a vehicle and pay for the higher insurance that I’ll be charged for the first year.

This has the potential of helping both of us if we work together. It would propel both of us income-wise, into “lower middle class.” While she is currently right on the border of that based upon her gross, I make a bit over half of her current income, so the financial change would be dramatic for me.

I would be forced to work a bit less on my studies (and my book project) but the increased income would greatly benefit my long-term goals.

That is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.

In the meantime, I clocked out early from work today since we were really slow, came home, and took a long nap. I need to start taking care of myself if I want to do this.

Categories
Car-Free Finances Frugality Investments

Desire and Frustration

I underestimated just how heavily it was raining as I left work yesterday afternoon. By the time I realized that I should open my umbrella it was far too late. I was soaked to the bone.

“I have got to increase my income,” I muttered as I sloshed my way home. If I acquired a full-time job making just $10 an hour, I would basically double my current income. I could afford the extra maintenance and insurance expense of a vehicle.

Unfortunately, I would have to work the same shift with someone I completely trusted to actually show up every day in order to earn the money to afford a vehicle, or sacrifice a lot of time walking to and from one of the local factories with my current transportation situation.

Basically, I’m caught in a Catch-22. I need to earn more money in order to afford a vehicle, but I need a vehicle in order to work a job that would provide that money.

That f*cking sucks.

So what can I do now, with what I currently have, in order to meet both short and long term goals?

I gave that a lot of thought last night.

I am already making progress. I’ve got an optometrist appointment scheduled for later this month. That is the first step in re-acquiring my driver’s license. Once I purchase a new pair of eyeglasses I will feel safe about applying for a driving permit. Once I attain that permit, I’ll have to wait around six months before I can even think of taking the driver’s test.

I am in the process of building my credit. To make myself feel better about my progress, I sent the credit card company $20 to pay off my current balance with money to spare. I’m doing everything I can do in that area, so after I made the payment I moved on to the other areas of my life.

Each day I restore at least one of my older posts to this website. Each day I work a tiny little bit on a new book that is in the works. It is still in the initial stages, but that book may provide a little bit more money to invest in the future.

Each night I read before I go to bed. I’ve got plans to attend the latest library book sale on my next day off in hopes of acquiring more books to further my education, so I’m doing everything I can do in that area of my life.

I am keeping up with reading the SEC filings on the companies I’ve invested in and plan to invest in at some point in the future. I pitch in a bit more money each month towards my investments. Other than pinching my pennies even further, I’m doing all I can do at the moment.

Since I’ve managed to reduce my smoking expense from 7-8 packs a week down to 3-4 packs a week, I’ve even managed to increase the amount I have free to invest. That means I’m making more progress in both areas of my life right there.

So what can I do now, on top of what I’m already doing, to meet my goals? I turned that question over a thousand times last night. I am busting my ass, burning the candle at both ends, just to do the things I’m currently doing.

Yet there are two tiny Baby Steps that I had missed.

I had yet to initiate my plan to stash half of my raise into my emergency fund. While I had established the savings account and transferred my emergency fund over in order to start receiving interest on the money, I had yet to sit down on payday, calculate half of my tiny raise, and transfer it over.

I pulled out the pay stub I’d received earlier in the day, calculated half of my raise, and transferred the money over. It wasn’t much, but it’s better than nothing.

Then, in order to signal to myself that I was serious about eventually acquiring a vehicle, I created yet another sub-account. I added $10 to that one.

It’s a measly amount, but at least it’s something. At least I am actively saving up, not only to purchase a vehicle, but to cover the cost of insurance, repairs, and maintenance when the time comes when I feel comfortable to buy. I’m not sure how much I’ll add to that fund each month, but as long as I do something, it will be better than nothing. It will be a lot better than bitching and complaining whenever I grow frustrated.

I will have something to show myself that I am taking steps to reach my goal.

But last night it just didn’t seem like I was doing enough. Ten dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money I would require to feel safe to even consider purchasing a vehicle.

Depressed by that thought, I sat down and cried.

I gave myself a few minutes to feel sorry for myself, then I washed my face and got back to work. I am making progress, even though it doesn’t feel like it. All I have to do is keep working. The rest will come in time.

I pulled out my Success notebook, the book where I write down motivational passages and encouragement. I read every page. Motivated by that, I read one more chapter in my current business book and went to bed.

I can do this. I don’t know how I’ll manage things yet, but at least I’m making progress. I will channel my frustration into white-hot rage, converting it to the fuel I need to keep moving forward.

This is about more than me. I want to prove to the whole damn world that just because you’re poor it doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. I will learn how to run with the big dogs, and I will teach others how to do the same.

I’m gonna do that if it’s the last thing I do.

Categories
Education Finances Investments self-improvement Success

2019 Goal Update

I received a call on my day off from work yesterday, asking if I would come work for a couple of hours. I wasn’t thrilled at first but then I realized that those hours worked would take me a tiny bit closer to my goal.

I worked that short shift with a smile on my face.

I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my goals for this year. To recap, my goals were:

  • Have a will drawn up.
  • Get dentures
  • Get new eyeglasses
  • Get my driving permit/license
  • Determine job/career path for my next steps
  • Continue investing
  • Continue writing
  • Continue reading and learning
  • Change the stories I tell myself
  • Establish an official Emergency Fund account
  • Establish the habit of going to bed around 10pm and waking up around 6am

I placed one of my goals, acquiring dentures, on hold. I would like to avoid having my jawbone scraped (dentists occasionally have to level the bone so that dentures will fit properly), so I’ve decided to let Nature take its course for another year before I consider getting them. I’ve still got tiny little shards of bone working out of my gums; while normal, I’ve decided to wait as a result.

I’ve done some research concerning wills. I may be able to download a basic will on the Internet, make alterations as needed, and create one without the need to hire an attorney. A friend of mine is a Notary Public so I could make it official easily enough. That would save a small fortune should I decide to go that route.

I’ve made my optometrist appointment and gotten my insurance sorted. The place didn’t realize that they accepted my vision insurance at first, despite the fact that my insurance had them listed as a provider. I’ve reserved my copay from my income tax refund so I am on track to not only acquire glasses but to take the next step in my game plan–reacquiring my drivers license. While I don’t intend to purchase another vehicle at the moment I may have to at some point in the future. I want to be prepared for that eventuality.

Since I’ve recently received a promotion at work, I’ve decided to remain where I’m at for the moment. I want to see if I can eventually attain a full-time position there instead of finding another job. Since a full-time position there is only 35 hours a week, that would still allow plenty of time to pursue my other projects, which is a large concern should I find another job.

I’m still investing, studying, and writing. I’ve read 18 books so far this year; as long as I continue my progress throughout the remainder of the year I will consider this goal as attained.

Amazingly, the majority of my progress started once I began to change the stories I told myself. I allow myself to think about how my life will be once I attain my goals each night as I fall asleep; every morning before I climb out of bed I go through a small litany of affirmations as I restate my goal. When I begin to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, I take a moment to look at myself in the mirror to tell myself that I’m okay and that I can handle anything Life throws at me.

When I can’t look into a mirror I focus on the rage that has built up inside of me from decades of people who have called me worthless and crazy. I replay the day when Henry Walters, my old A.P. US History teacher, told me that I could do anything I set my mind to once I made the decision. I replay the times when my Dad encouraged me with those same words, then I pull out the coin from my very first investment and tell myself firmly that I will do whatever it takes to become wealthy just to prove the haters wrong.

The energy burst I receive from that helps me to power through.

While I’ve yet to completely acquire the habit of going to bed at 10 pm. and waking up at 6 am., I’ve managed to shift my bedtime to 11 pm. so that I wake up around 7 am. I’ve gotten to the point where I will begin to doze off if I try to ignore my bedtime so I’ve made a bit of progress in that area.

Yesterday I finally decided to bite the bullet concerning the Emergency Fund goal. I’ve been keeping the money in my checking account; I want to shift those funds into a savings account so that I can draw a bit of interest on the money as well as keep it completely separate from my primary account. I’ve had my debit card cloned in the past so I really needed to establish a financial buffer there. I started the process to open a savings account at my local bank yesterday to accomplish that goal.

Speaking of financial buffers, I’ve decided to take my Auntie’s advice since you agreed that it was a wise decision. I plan to acquire a credit card this year to not only build my credit but to use while making my daily purchases. I’ll keep you posted as I move forward on that plan.

To my surprise, I’ve made more progress on my annual goals so far this year than I have in any other year that I can recall. I’m not sure what the difference is but I’m definitely not going to complain!

How are you doing with your goals for this year? Nosey old biddies would like to know, so please share your stories in the comments below.

Hmm…that rhymed. I kinda like that :).

Have a nice day!

Categories
Finances Frugality Recycling

The Art of Building Wealth

The average person has been led to believe a lie. The average person has been taught that wealthy people can be identified by the clothes they wear, the foods they eat, the home they own, and the cars they drive.

They have been taught that the ones with the most expensive wardrobes, homes, and wardrobes are the wealthiest.

To quote Maury Povich, “that is a lie.”

If you see someone driving a fancy car, you can almost guarantee the person owning it is far from wealthy; if they own a nice car and an expensive home, chances are rather high that they have very little wealth, if not a negative net worth.

The wealthy become wealthy by living beneath their means. Many of them come from rather humble beginnings; in order to build their wealth they learned how to stretch their money as far as they could. This allows them to save as much money as they can to invest in things that will make them more money.

Verna Oller is a prime example of this. She used what she had, stretching her money to the extremes in order to invest. Her goal was to leave enough money behind to help out the small town she lived in.

My hero Verna Oller

This woman is my hero. She has shown me that anyone can become wealthy, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Including me.

When my office supply order arrived the other day, it came in a box that was stuffed with brown wrapping paper. I wadded it up, marched over to the trash can, and paused.

What would Verna do? I asked myself.

Verna would try to find a use for that paper instead of tossing it in the trash. She was fond of recycling things, of using them up completely before she discarded them. Could I do the same?

It dawned on me that I use a lot of paper around this house. As a writer, I am prolific when it comes to jotting down notes, journaling, and drafting out blog posts on paper. I keep a large supply of paper at all times since I go through so much of it.

I realized that if I cut up that long strip of wrapping paper that I could use it for notes. Grinning, I grabbed my scissors and went to work.

To my delight, that long sheet of paper was perforated at regular intervals; intervals that were identical to the width of a standard 8-1/2″ sheet of printer paper. I separated the pieces at the perforation, made a quick guesstimate, and quickly created a small stack of pages that were approximately the same size as a standard page. The scraps were then chopped up, clamped together into a makeshift notepad.

I now have a small stack of paper that I can use for notes and journal entries. A small stack of paper that cost me nothing but time yet allowed me to use an item that I normally throw away.

Even better, this tiny little stack of paper will take me closer to my cherished goal of financial freedom, since every penny I save is a penny more that I can invest towards my dreams.

Verna Oller would be proud.

What have you repurposed in order to save money? Did you realize that frugality can actually help you build wealth? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Food Investments

Income Tax Refund Report

I spent $296 at the grocery store the day before my birthday. The kid seemed nervous at our barren pantry so I sorted it.

I’ll not have her skipping meals because she’s worried that I can’t afford it. Just because she can’t chip in towards the grocery expense right now doesn’t mean that I’ll let her starve.

The food should last us for quite a while; more than enough time for her to get back on her feet and find a job. In the meantime I’ll have a bit less to invest but I can deal with that.

Food comes first. I may not spend much on extras like eating out but I’ll not have us starving.

I allotted the grocery money from our income tax refund. Along with food I purchased toner for our printers (we were on our last cartridges), some file folders and assorted office supplies, a paper shredder to keep on track with office upgrades, washable puppy pads, and leakproof panties. The last two were purchased to eliminate the need to buy two particular consumables: puppy pads and pantiliners. Now that I have a washing machine I can eliminate that expense.

I paid my annual hosting fee on this website, set the money aside to purchase new eyeglasses, and sent the remainder of my refund to my brokerage account.

Even with helping the kid through her current challenge, I am still making progress towards my goals.

I am content with that.

How did you spend your income tax refund? Did you choose to save or invest any of it? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Investments

2018 Financial Report

After a huge amount of struggle I finally located an online tax service that would handle the K-1 statement that was giving me so much trouble. I spent $95 to use the service but I consider it money well-spent. They not only managed to increase my refund, they saved me the bother of having to track down someone locally to do my taxes.

That said, I will definitely have to consider the merits of hiring a professional to do this stuff in the next few years, especially when I start investing in real estate.

Income Comparison

2017 Adjusted Gross Income: $5,631

Income sources for 2017: Part-time cashier at a grocery store and book royalties.

2018 Adjusted Gross Income: $9,964

Income sources for 2018: Part-time cashier at a grocery store, book royalties, stock market dividends and sale proceeds.

Income Increase/Decrease: $4,333 increase, or 77%.

Amount Invested in 2018: $2,153 (Includes reinvested dividends and sale proceeds)

Percentage of annual income invested: 21.6% of AGI.

2019 Income and Investment Summary

I did quite well last year! I knew that my public job income had increased due to my raise and additional hours worked but I had no idea that it had almost doubled.

My book royalty income took a serious hit last year but I only published a book or two of fiction. Those are under another pen name. I did them for practice and didn’t expect much. I can’t recall offhand if I published a nonfiction book last year but I doubt it. I’ve got a nonfiction book in progress at the moment that I’ll continue to tinker on as time allows. Hopefully that will give my income in this arena a boost. That income source is still pulling a profit so this website will remain active for yet another year. At this point I will probably keep it active whether it is pulling a profit or not, simply to chronicle my progress on this new adventure.

The current value of my stock market investments is laughable but I knew they would be. Not only am I still learning; I’m also using contrarian investment strategies and a long-term outlook to maximize my investment. I’ve not lost any money yet; based on my research that is what truly matters so I am satisfied.

Lessons Learned

I’ve learned the value of patience. I jumped too soon on my Corus investment; while I expected them to cut their dividends, I had no idea just how negatively it would affect their stock price. If I had waited until after the dividend cut I would have doubled the value of my investment when it slowly ticked back up; as it is I’m barely breaking even on stock price. While I’m not concerned (I’m still receiving dividends), it taught me a valuable lesson concerning how the market moves as well as the value of patience.

I’ve learned that while diversification is a good thing that right now I cannot afford to diversify too much. It is much better to own more stock in fewer companies than a little bit in a bunch of companies. As a result, I now locate a company that I like, work out the highest price I am willing to pay for the stock, and invest in it until it reaches my high limit before moving on.

This strategy not only maximizes the earnings potential of my investments, it greatly reduces my trading fees. It also drastically reduces the amount of research I have to do to locate potential investments.

I’ve learned from experience just how beautiful dividends can be. I have roughly a week’s wage coming in each year through dividends now. I repeat that feat 51 more times and I will be financially free once more. I don’t intend to simply focus on dividends, however. Before I will even consider quitting my day job I want to have at least two sources of passive income that will cover my living expenses. This will protect me if one of my sources takes a hit (like my book royalties have–lesson learned!), and will allow me to live on one income source while investing the other so that my income will continue in an upwards direction. I want to ensure that I have the inevitable cost of living increases covered with money to spare when I decide to retire from working a public job.

Plans for the Future

I want to slowly improve my quality of life over time. While I have no issues with living cheap, I want to grow my income to the point where I no longer have to out of necessity.

I’m also curious. Just how high can I grow my income since I’m starting at the bottom? Can an old woman with barely a high-school education, who brings in between $600-$700 a month from book royalties and part-time work become a millionaire?

Is that even physically possible? Can I read a few books and learn enough about investing to pull off such a feat? If so, how long will it take?

I don’t know, but I’m definitely going to find out.

Because if I can do this, if I can start from rock-bottom and work my way to the top, that will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the American Dream is not dead. It will prove that, no matter who you are and where you’re starting from, that you can improve your financial life as well.

On a personal note, it will prove that this “waste of humanity,” this woman who has been called crazy more times than she can count, isn’t quite as dumb as those around her thinks she is.

I don’t care if that’s childish; I still want a bit of vindication. I’ve been laughed at so many times over this past year that it’s starting to piss me off. I’m getting to the point that the anger inside of me is pushing me to work harder.

For now I’m going to take a break. I am going to enjoy the rest of my evening so that I can wake up bright and early tomorrow morning and get back to work. Have a nice night!

Categories
Finances Investments

Taxes are a Pain

I have just discovered something the hard way: filing your taxes on investments can be a major pain in the butt.

I’ve not only discovered that my usual online tax preparation service can’t handle the forms I need to file, but H&R Block wants to charge me an arm and a leg to file this stuff online.

For now, I’m going to walk away, calm down, and think about this. If I’m going to have to pay around $100 to file them anyway, it might be best if I simply hire a professional to do my taxes locally.

There’s one just up the street.

I’ve got one online tax preparation service that I’ve yet to try that I’m aware of: TurboTax. I may try them tomorrow. If I can file online without beating my head against a wall, I’ll do that. If not, it will be time to make some phone calls starting Monday.

Wish me luck.

Categories
Finances self-improvement

Operation: Katie

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 8am by the phone. Katie had finished the train part of her journey and wanted to call while she awaited her first bus.

She shared with me how she’d decided not to spend the money on a taxi in Chicago; she had gotten turned around and had to ask for help to reach the train station as a result.

Of all times for that child to develop my cheapskate tendencies, it just had to be while she was wandering around Chicago on a fractured leg!

Anxious about her arrival, I puttered around the house, keeping busy. I ordered Katie a pair of crutches (doctor’s orders), did laundry, cleaned on my house, and even made the stock purchase I’d planned to make this week.

I was so distracted at the thought of Katie coming home it barely registered. I didn’t realize until much later that I hadn’t even stopped to savor that tiny step taken towards my financial freedom.

My friend Kes came over in the afternoon and we spent an hour or so painting a large Welcome Home sign. Once that was completed, she went back to her house around the corner to finish preparing for the trip while I took a brief nap.

At 6pm Katie called from the bus station in Louisville, Ky. When I asked what time her bus left for Lexington she looked at her ticket and reported that the bus was scheduled to leave at 5:50pm.

I frowned, then realized that there was most likely a time zone difference between us. “Just in case, will you check and see with the clerk what time your bus leaves?” I requested.

Five minutes later she called me back. “I missed my bus,” she reported sadly. “It was pulling out just as my bus was arriving since mine was a bit late. Can you pick me up from here?”

My friend and I dropped everything and headed out.

We were 54 minutes away from the bus station when traffic on I64 came to a complete halt. An accident ahead of us had completely stopped traffic.

This mom transformed into a basket case after I called the bus station numerous times and could NOT get anyone there to pick up the phone so that I could get a message to her. I even tried to call the payphone back that she’d called me from with no success.

“My baby is alone in Louisville, stuck at a bus station with a broken leg!” I wailed numerous times. “She doesn’t have her phone, and I have no way of letting her know what’s going on! She’s scared, I know she’s scared. They may have closed the bus station for the night and kicked her out in the cold on the streets where there’s criminals and everything!”

I was more than a bit annoying during that hour or so we were stuck in traffic but my mother’s instincts were in full swing. I would have gotten out of that truck and started walking if I’d thought it would get me there any faster.

My friend’s old Ford was running on fumes by the time they cleared the traffic jam. We rushed to a gas station, topped it off (it only takes about $10 worth of gas at a time due to an issue with the fuel tank), and took off again.

We arrived at the bus station around 11:00 pm.

“Katie!” I raced into that bus station, holding the little sign I’d printed up as my friend waited in the truck. Considering the neighborhood she was afraid to leave it alone.

Katie stood up and began limping to meet me part-way. We fell into each other’s arms sobbing as I explained what had happened.

We had to do a round of “thank-yous” to the wonderful travelers who had kept my baby company while she had waited for me to arrive.

One gentleman in particular, a man who was traveling cross-country to see what he could do to help his own daughter out of a bit of trouble stands out in my mind. That poor man took time away from his own problems to comfort my Katie, enough so that she spoke with him for several moments in gratitude before we left.

I didn’t catch your name, but your face will be forever engraved in my mind. Thank you so much for looking out for my little girl.

We stopped for food and fuel at the Hurstbourne Parkway exit. We saw a Steak and Shake and pulled in.

Leo the waiter greeted us with open arms. He seated us, took our orders, and was incredibly nice and helpful.

Shortly after our food arrived I looked out the window to see patrons tugging at the door. It had been locked. Had we committed the Cardinal Sin of visiting a restaurant only minutes before close?  I sweated.

I nervously stood up and approached Leo.

“Oh honey, you’re fine!” he reassured us. “The dining room closes at midnight but I’ve still got my cleaning to do so you take your time; I can tell you’re exhausted!”

We watched him hum and sing as he did his work; his cheerfulness helped ease the stress of the evening. I made sure we left him a generous tip to thank him for his kindness along with a brief note to let him know just how much his treatment of us meant before we drove away.

If you are ever around the Steak and Shake on 2717 Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville, KY, I highly recommend you stop in for a bite.

And please say hi to Leo for me.

We arrived home around 2:40am completely exhausted. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow!

I cannot thank my best friend enough for having my back last night, so here’s a shout-out:

You are awesome, Kes!

A Tale of Gratitude

I have no idea how much money I spent last night. To my immense gratitude, I had more than enough.

This is why I’m doing this. This is why I am busting my ass, scrimping and saving as I invest my pennies. Just a few short years ago this adventure would have ruined my finances. Just a few short years ago I would have been nervously counting every penny, praying that I had enough to make the trip.

But I don’t have to do that now.

While I can’t afford to do this often, the fact that I was able to spend freely during the chaos of last night is proof positive that I am heading in the right direction.

It is proof that living cheaply has its limits; there is absolutely no benefit to cutting your expenses unless you actually keep the money that you saved. Until you learn how to make your money work for you frugality is pointless because all you will end up doing is lingering at the bottom of the Food Chain.

Unless you learn to invest the money that you saved you will never be able to achieve true peace of mind.

I am so very thankful that I finally figured it out. I am so grateful that I decided to leave my comfort zone of poverty and start heading in the opposite direction.

And this should be a lesson to you. If an old woman with a high-school education who brings in less than $700 a month can not only manage to invest over $2,000 in under a year and build up her emergency fund to the point where she can safely afford to spend her way through a crisis, you can too.

Don’t ever let them tell you that you can’t.

Categories
Finances Investments

A Tale of Cowardice

This is the very first year that I will file tax forms in relation to my investments. The very first time in my life that I’ve actually had real, Big Dog investment income to report.

I’m having to fight the urge to turn tail and run.

The other day I received the small package with the necessary tax forms to file on one of my tiny little investments. I turned the envelope in my hands, shaking at the fact that it was my name, and my address on the envelope. It just didn’t seem real.

I went to open it and stopped. Surely something as important as this needed to be commemorated? I pulled out my camera and snapped a photo.

And then, like the big fat coward I am, I set the envelope aside. I just couldn’t bear to open it. Opening it would make it real.

I have sat at my desk, turning that envelope over in my hands for days now. I’ve debated upon the best way to open it. Should I open it at the top, or tear off the side like my dad did his letters when I was little? Should I use a knife, or invest in one of those fancy little letter openers that I imagine rich people use?

I’d debate for a time then set the letter aside once again.

Did my dad feel this way when he bought his first apartment building in Chicago? Did he feel this way when he made his lone investment in the stock market?

I wish he was alive so I could ask. All I can remember is that he stored his important papers in a combination of cigar and shoeboxes. He preferred Choice-branded pencils (new) whenever he worked up his taxes. I can still see his papers spread out upon the table as he scratched out his calculations, cussed a bit, and made some erasures before starting again. The sweat would bead upon his brow as he leaned over his work, laser-focused on Getting It Right.

This really shouldn’t phase me. I’ve been filing taxes on my book royalties for ages now. But this is different and new. This marks my first Baby Steps into the Big Leagues.

The forms from my broker sent me were easy to open. They were digital so I downloaded them to my computer and plugged them into my online income tax preparation software without a thought.

But these? These forms are old school. These forms are real, right here in my hands. These papers are concrete proof that I’m either completely insane or in the early stages of something brilliant.

Before I went to bed last night I picked the envelope up once more and turned it over in my hands.

“Screw it!” I tore a small strip off the side of the envelope, just like Dad used to do and slid the papers into my hands.

I grinned. A tear slipped down my face as I quickly scanned through the document. It came with an instruction booklet, which is good since I’m still learning this stuff.

I’ve got three days off this week. My goal is to enter in the information from this form and figure out how to handle the info related to the stocks I sold over the past year while I experimented. I’ve already entered my W-2 from work and the 1099s related to my writing business. I’ve got to double-check, verify that I’m doing this right before I screw up my courage, close my eyes, and file this sucker with the state and federal government.

Wish me luck.

Categories
Education Finances Frugality Investments self-improvement Success

The Life of a Social Outcast

This past year has taught me that it is not socially acceptable to save money. It is not socially acceptable to want to educate yourself. And it is definitely not socially acceptable to spend your time pursuing your dreams.

With the exception of my auntie and a couple of friends I’ve been forced to go underground, to hide what I’m doing and who I truly am. The criticism has become too overwhelming. It’s gotten to the point where I’m forced to tell everyone that I am constantly broke just so they’ll leave me alone.

It’s no wonder so few people actually work towards their dreams. They are surrounded by a world that’s fighting to keep them down.

I don’t dare discuss my financial goals with my friends. I don’t dare discuss how I manage to save money every month to deposit towards my dreams. I stopped daring to discuss the books I read, since they look at me as if I’ve sprouted a second head when I mention books like Price Theory, Financial Management, or Sam Walton’s biography.

Most people around me read only fiction, if they read anything at all aside from Facebook posts. I’ve been called crazy to my face more than once for being happy that I scored a business book by checking the giveaways at the library.

Why is it crazy to want to educate myself and improve my life?

“You need to get your nose out of those books and start living!”

“You need to get away. Some friends and I are taking a trip to Florida. Why don’t you come with us? It’s only $700 to split the hotel room and gas. You can afford to cut loose!”

“Come out to the bar tonight after work. I’ll pick you up!”

“Ugh! You’re going to burn out your brain reading that stuff! Why do you even bother? You need to take your money and buy a car. Hey, wanna get your nails done? It’s only $35.”

“You work too much! All work and no play is making you boring! All you need to do is find a good man to take care of you; if you’d date for a change you wouldn’t have to work so hard! Seriously, you need to get a makeover so you can attract a man! And take that damned ring off your finger. You’re available!”

I find myself missing my former co-worker, Miss K, on a daily basis. She is a high-school student who noticed my inner battle.

“You’re going to be a secret millionaire.” She gazed at me with depthless eyes one evening as we shared a break together. “I can see it. They don’t understand but I do, and I admire you. And every day I see you sharing less because they just don’t get it. One of these days you’re going to make it, but don’t tell them that. You hide what you’re doing. It will make it easier.”

God I miss that child.

Perhaps in time I’ll make a friend who is as determined to succeed as I am, who is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals but until then I’ll just go it alone. I’ve got to do this, not just for me, but to prove that even the poorest of the poor can achieve financial freedom if they truly want it.

Until then I’m just going to keep my fat mouth shut.

Do you have to hide too? Please share your stories in the comments below.