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 Life

The World Doesn’t Care About Us

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

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

But does it?

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

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

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

What I read next taught me exactly what they meant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thank you for your support!

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.

Categories
Economy

State of the World Today

I’ve been called paranoid more than once for my belief that we are on the verge of a major problem. I’ve even received a bit of hate due to the fact that I believe that we need to take steps to prevent the rich from getting richer. I’ve even been called crazy for stating my belief that a large number of people will lose their jobs to robots over the next few years.

So today I am going to show you a few articles that I have encountered recently. I didn’t search these articles out; they either appeared on my feed or were shared with me by others.

What would you do if you suddenly lost your job? There is a factory in my old home of Paducah, Kentucky that has laid off 100 people so far. You can read about it here

https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/indefinite-layoffs-affecting-genova-products-nationwide-as-paducah-plant-awaits/article_ae81e19e-1adf-11ea-bc5e-a3cb3f280ce1.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_WPSD-TV.

While you’re reading this, ask yourself how you would survive if you were one of the ones affected?

Over the past two decades people have mocked me for my decision to work in an assortment of fast food restaurants. No “normal” adult would ever sink themselves so low as to work a job designed for kids, I’ve been told. Even when I told them that I didn’t have a choice, they continued to mock me.

To those people, read this. It very well might be your future if you don’t wake up.

https://theheartysoul.com/senior-citizens-are-replacing-teenagers-as-fast-food-workers/?utm_source=PPV

Another thing I’ve been mocked about is my opinions on medical insurance. I don’t have medical insurance and neither does my daughter. Many of my friends and family cannot afford medical insurance. Like me, they only go to the doctor when they are in desperate need because it is so expensive. Due to the expensive nature of American health care, poorer people are dying. Here are the numbers:

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/09/09/poverty-america-literal-death-sentence-says-sanders-following-devastating-gao-report?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=facebook

Last but not least, I’ve been told to remove my tinfoil hat because I have stated that over the next several years cashiers, truck drivers, and factory workers will be replaced by machines. After stumbling upon this article, I think I’ll keep my hat in place.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/end-of-the-world-this-futurist-has-some-grim-news-for-the-middle-class-2019-12-09?mod=mw_latestnews&link=sfmw_fb

This is why we need to stand up and take steps now to protect ourselves. We need to learn how to generate an income that isn’t dependent upon a public job, and we need to STOP making the rich richer!

Wake up, people!

Categories
Business

How to Change the World

Big Business cares nothing about you. If it doesn’t benefit their bottom line, it doesn’t matter to them. The lip service they give you is meaningless. Some corporations even acknowledge this with backhanded ways of “helping” their employees.

We aren’t supposed to believe that, however. We’re supposed to believe in “by the people, for the people” despite the growing evidence that our beloved nation is no longer a democracy. Big businesses owned by the extremely wealthy are the ones who control us but what do we do?

We spend our entire lives making them even more powerful.

There is something we can do to change that, however.

Sam Walton made a prescient quote about the subject in his book Made in America, My Story. He stated:

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

Every time we agree to work their jobs we make them more powerful because we help them become even wealthier.

Every time we buy their goods and services we make them more powerful.

We are giving them the money that they are using to buy our government, to use our government to fulfill their desires. We are literally giving them the power when we choose to work for them and give them our money. We bring them joy when we take the money they “give” us in our paychecks and hand it back to them.

If you are content with this knowledge than there is nothing for you to do. Just keep doing what you’re doing so that you can continue to help them.

But if you’re tired of being a legal slave, if you are tired of businesses running your nation, then there are a few things you can do to begin changing the world.

Stop working for major corporations. They use your work to make the money that they use to control your nation. The less workers they have, the less money they will make and the less power they will attain.

Stop buying from major corporations. This one is really hard because we’ve given so much of our power away that we no longer know how to do without the things that they provide. There is a workaround to this for many things:

Buy used. Buy used items from local dealers, people who live with you, have kids that go to school with your kids, and don’t use their money for power. The damage was already done during the initial sale but doing this prevents the damage from getting worse.

Fix your stuff. Don’t replace something just because a new model came out or it gets a few scratches. Wear it out completely and keep it in service for as long as possible. This keeps your money out of the system and away from their hands.

Cut your expenses. You have to pay for certain services like housing and utilities but you don’t have to give them as much as you do. Be conservative. Spend less. Get the smaller home. Live in the slums. Buy the used mobile home. Isn’t freedom worth more than a fancy house on the hill?

Watch your charities. Here is an article that will help you identify the worst offenders. Many large charities spend most of their donations fattening the pockets of those in charge and fueling the donation system by paying other companies to advertise. Helping others is a wonderful thing but don’t fall for the wolves that lurk among them.

Consider the motives. When a college tells you that you will benefit if you attend their institution or a business tells you that it is to your benefit that you buy their stuff to be healthier or prettier or to have greater opportunities, consider their motives. Do they make money if you believe them? If so, they don’t have your best interests at heart.

Educate yourselves. You can find books at your local library for free or support independent authors to increase your knowledge. You can watch movies and videos. You can find a mentor and learn from them. Experience itself is a powerful teacher. Money does not prevent you from becoming educated, not in this modern age. The only one who prevents that is you.

Spread the word. Encourage others to live on less. Explain why you make the decisions that you do. Show the world that you are taking a stand by the choices you make.

Do no harm. It is not for us to judge how others choose to live their lives. When we support a local business as opposed to a major corporation we are helping our communities. Others may not agree. They may accuse you of being lazy, of “dropping out” or being insane. Accept their criticism calmly and move on. They are entitled to their opinions. We tend to sway more people by our actions over time than any loud protest ever does. Don’t believe me? Then ask yourself what happened to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It faded into nothingness and is barely a blip in the history books now.

How you decide to do this is up to you. You may decide to pursue full minimalism. You may decide to hit the road. You may decide to stay right where you are and make small changes in your daily life over time. There is no wrong way, only progress.

But the time has come where we are fast approaching a tipping point in our world. If we hit that point it will be too late. The blinders will come off and we will see the truth of the world for what it is.

“If you want to change the things in your life, the things in your life must change”(Kevin Trudeau). If we want our world to become better, then we have to remove the power from those who wield it.

The only way to do that is to take away the money that gives them power.

Good Luck.

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
Business

Slavery Days are Over. It’s Time to Take Our Lives Back.

I quit my job the other day. I had been asked to do more and more over the passing months, up to and including things that I normally charge $40/hour for in my computer repair business but at a pay scale that is less than the entry-level pay at McDonald’s and other local businesses. While I had already been considering the thought of leaving, it took a single moment of disrespect to make me realize that I had tolerated enough. The owner has a god-like reputation; tales of how he has mistreated senior management (and even low-level workers) are legend. If I had not stood up for myself, I knew from experience that it would only get worse.

The messages of support I received from family and friends since then have astounded me. Many of them expressed the desire to have the ability to quit their jobs as well, sharing horror stories that make my previous position look like a cakewalk in comparison.

The single most common question they asked concerned my finances: “How are you going to pay your bills?”

Between my investment income and my royalties, I’ve got that covered, so instead of accepting a job immediately, I decided to take some time off from working a public job to think.

Because I’ve realized something.

I’ve realized that despite the hope for better work conditions, that workers are still treated like slaves. We are used until we fall apart and then discarded like so much trash. God forbid that we grow old or get hurt because they just don’t care.

We are nothing in the eyes of our employers.

We work their jobs and buy their stuff; without us, they wouldn’t even have their businesses. Despite that, they tell us how grateful we should be to even have a job with their companies. We should accept whatever they decide to dish out because they believe that we would starve otherwise.

But you know what?

They’re wrong.

We don’t have to take their abuse.

We don’t have to work their crappy jobs.

We don’t have to tolerate their disrespect.

We can walk away.

Stop working their jobs. Stop buying from their businesses. We can hit them in the one place where they will feel it the most: their pocketbooks.

I realize that not everyone has developed a passive income that can support them.

I realize that not everyone knows how to manage their finances quite the way I do.

I realize that, due to the above two reasons, many people feel that they can’t escape their current circumstances. They are literally trapped in the chains of wage slavery and they don’t know the way out.

I want to help with that.

If you feel the same then I have a mission for you: I want you to find just one person who has achieved financial freedom and ask them for help.

I want to make this website a place where people can learn from all sorts of experts about not only ways to lower their living expenses but how to build passive income sources as well.

I want to teach the world how to break the chains of wage slavery.

But I can’t do it without your help.

If you are reading this and you’ve already achieved financial freedom, email me.

Together we can change the world.

Categories
Education Goals Inspiration

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

One semester down; 19 to go.

We can do 19 semesters.

When I shared that fact with my daughter Katie (who is studying for her Bachelor’s in Health Science now), she announced that it sounded so much easier that way. She had been a bit depressed at the fact that she just committed four years of her life to not only working full-time, but studying full-time as well.

Unlike my Katie, I am only capable of going to college on a half-time course load. The thought of taking four years to acquire a two-year degree would be depressing but 19 semesters?

I can do 19 semesters.

To monitor my progress, I decided to take the suggestion of reader Belinda to heart. She used a five-year journal to keep track of her progress as she stopped smoking and sorted some health issues. I decided to follow her lead and use the multi-year journal format to keep track of both my long and short-term goals. With each passing year, I will be able to look back and see how far I’ve come.

It will help me gain perspective when I feel as if I’m not making any progress.

How do you maintain a positive perspective as you work towards your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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
Education Life Success

How to Defeat Panic and Accomplish Your Goals

My daughter and I started college this past Thursday. We woke up bright and early to eat breakfast before we got started.

Katie began to cook while I turned on some relaxing classical music. After a brief phone call from Auntie wishing us a happy first day of college, we talked quietly as we ate before settling down in our spots to begin our studies.

I felt my chest tighten the moment I saw the tasks listed in this week’s unit. There was a list of items to read, a video that was suggested to watch, and a number of assignments to complete.

It is easy to become overwhelmed when we start a new project. Our mind gravitates to the big picture and we feel fear as that little voice inside of us screams that we’ll never get it done.

We’ll fail, so why should we even bother trying?

While our lizard brain is trying to protect us, it doesn’t understand is that we don’t have to do everything at once. We don’t have to complete everything in an instant.

All we have to do is focus on one step at a time and plod our way through. We are certain to reach the end as long as we keep walking.

The hardest part is getting through that first moment of terror.

My mind was screaming. What in hell were you thinking?!? There is no possible way you can do this on top of your job and everything else! You are going to fail, just like you failed the other times. You’re just throwing your money away and wasting your time. Quit now while you’re ahead!

I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and waited for the moment to pass. Fortunately for me, this isn’t my first rodeo. When I left my husband I had no clue how I would survive. While I accepted the panic, I picked one thing and got to work.

Since then I’ve managed to raise my kids and build a successful writing business. I’ve accomplished other things during that time as well. While I may not know just how I’ll manage this new project, I know I will do just fine.

I just have to focus on the next step.

The very first thing I needed to do was download all of my reading materials. Once that was complete, I selected the reading assignment at the top of the list and got started.

One by one I went down that list. I didn’t worry about the next step; there wasn’t any point in worrying about it until I reached it. Before I knew what was happening I had reached my first written assignment.

While I may be discussing a college class in this post, the knowledge I used to get through this first week can be applied to anything we want to achieve in life.

The steps are simple:

  1. Close your eyes and allow yourself to breathe through that moment of panic.
  2. Determine the very first step you need to take.
  3. Focus exclusively upon that step until it is accomplished.
  4. Determine the next step and repeat #3.

Don’t worry about the big picture. It will only make you insane if you do. Just focus on the task that is immediately in front of you.

The journey will take care of itself.

If you have a friend who feels overwhelmed, take a moment to share this post with them. You may be helping them achieve greatness.

On another note, I recently signed up all of my books for the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, that occurs during the entire month of July. Every single book I have listed there will be offered for free or at a significant discount so I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity. You can find my profile here.

Categories
Education self-improvement Success

How to Deal With the Demon of Doubt

After a long night at work I returned home to discover a surprise in my inbox:

“Congratulations! We are excited to inform you that your application has been reviewed and you can start studying at UoPeople in the upcoming term!”

I sat and stared at that email for an hour. I was accepted? Just like that?

They’re joking, right?

I logged into the website. It was real. While they were still processing the paperwork I’d submitted to prove that I was fluent in the English language, I had been accepted to study at their University.

I thought I would be excited. I thought I would shout my happiness to the entire world.

But I wasn’t.

I was terrified.

What in the world do you think you’re doing? My demons raged. You just committed two to four years of your life to acquiring a stupid piece of paper! By the time you get done, you’ll be so old that no one will want to hire you in an office job so you’re just throwing your money away. Just think! That $2,000 could be invested and net you about $200 a year! And just where do you think you’re going to get the time to do this, missy? You’ve got your job, your writing business, your personal investment studies…there is NO WAY you can handle all of this! It’s not like you haven’t tried before. How many times have you failed college in the past when you were younger and had the energy to spare? You’re too tired, you’re too old, and you’re too broke to even think about doing something this stupid. Stop chasing the rainbows!

Doubt = Fear

Every single doubt that we have is simply fear coming to the surface. Every single doubt comes from the negative words people have said to us in the past.

“You’re great at starting stuff but you never follow through; if it wasn’t for me you’d starve.”

“It’s a shame that child was even born. With the parents she was stuck with she’ll never amount to anything.”

“You might have book sense but you don’t have a bit of common sense.”

“I don’t know why you even bother; it’s impossible to get rich so you might as well enjoy what you’ve got right now!”

“You need to stop working so hard and get a good man to take care of you.”

The words may be different but the damage is the same. You internalize those doubts and every time you discover an opportunity to better yourself they come back to haunt you. They force you to question yourself just long enough for the opportunity to pass and you end up wishing that you’d made the leap too late.

How to Conquer the Demon of Doubt

While you may not be able to silence the demons completely there is something you can do to minimize their trauma.

All you have to do is analyze their objections one by one.

Two thousand dollars may net me $200 a year in passive income but a degree can help me acquire a job that pays considerably more than I can earn right now. Jobs that require an Associate’s Degree start at around $24,000 a year in this area. That is 150% more than my current wage. If I invest most of that extra 150% I will more than compensate for the loss of passive income now.

Two thousand dollars would allow me to escape the drudgery of manual labor. Considering how badly my shoulder aches after a busy day scanning at the register, how my feet sometimes swell painfully after my shifts, and the varicose veins that are starting to form on one leg, my body needs that reprieve. It may even allow me to extend my working years even further. Many of my compatriots aren’t physically able to continue doing manual labor into their 70s. Considering how hard I’ve used my body, there is a good chance I won’t be able to either. Because of this, if I don’t spend $2,000 now, the odds are high that another injury will doom me to spending the rest of my life begging for Disability payments.

I have no desire to spend my sunset years in poverty.

I’ve become so adept at managing my time that I know I am capable of handling a single class. I may have less time to blog. I may have less time to work on my book. I may have less time to hang out with friends and chat but I am confident that I can carve out the time for a single class.

As for the reasons I failed in the past no longer apply. I no longer have to choose between my family and myself. I’ve enough income that I can afford to take a class or two a semester if I pare down my investments a bit. I’m even due for another review over the next month so my income may even go up a bit.

As for the length of time it would take to complete the degree program I have decided not to worry about that. Instead, I choose to focus on the step that’s right in front of me: a single class. I’ll worry about the next steps when I get there, content in the fact that eventually I will reach my objective.

What reasons do you use to knock the demon of doubt away in your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Education self-improvement Success

Winners are Losers Who Gave it One Last Try

I’ve failed many times over the years. I failed to be cautious one night and ended up pregnant with my first child.

I failed in my marriage.

I failed in my first business attempts.

I even failed in my first attempts to start a writing business.

But when I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and tried again, a future attempt inevitably led to success.

One of my myriad failures is concerning my education. I’ve failed several attempts at college. Every time I was forced to choose between my family and my education, my family won.

While I’ve consistently worked to educate myself using the materials I’ve had available, the dream of having an official college education never faded. While I’d not shared it on this website, I’d fully intended to make another attempt at college once I’d regained my financial freedom. I’d built in backup income streams to attain that goal. My plan was to eventually go into real estate as well as build up my writing business so that my income would not only continue to grow but I could pursue my dream of attaining a college education without money being a major concern.

The amazing thing about dreams and goals is that when you hold them close and work on them consistently, opportunities present themselves seemingly like magic.

The other night I encountered one of those opportunities. I stumbled upon the University of the People, an accredited online college that offers a number of degrees tuition-free. Students simply have to pay a $100 testing fee for the final exam in each course.

I ran the numbers in my head. Each semester is ten weeks long with five semesters in a year. Part-time students can take a single course each semester. By reserving $10 a week from my paycheck I could actually afford to go to college on my current income. If I reserved some money from next year’s income tax refund I may even be able to double up and take two classes starting next spring.

The concept was mind-blowing. I could afford to go to college right now! It would reduce the amount I have to invest each month, possibly change things so that I wouldn’t be able to actively invest on a monthly basis but that degree would open doors to higher paying jobs that are closed to me currently. I wouldn’t be able to invest as much in the short-term but in the long-term, the higher earning potential would more than make up the difference.

It would allow me to work smarter instead of harder as I trod the inevitable path towards my golden years.

I went to bed that night with a mind filled with possibilities. I tossed and turned as I analyzed the changes I would have to make to my current budget and schedule. As attractive as it seemed I didn’t want to leap in on an impulse. I’ve had my fill of impulsive failures.

Logic won out. While the thought of undertaking a multi-year journey towards a college degree is daunting I knew I could handle just one class. If I focused on just one class at a time instead of dwelling on the big picture I could attain my goal of a college education without driving myself insane.

That next morning I screwed up my courage and paid the application fee. While there is always a chance that I could be rejected at least I will know that I made the attempt.

I will know that I am still trying.

How do you deal with failure?

All of us have had failures in our lives. How we handle those failures defines us. Do we throw up our hands in surrender or do we step back, evaluate what we did wrong, and try again until we succeed?

When we’re presented with the opportunity to try again after a failure, do we allow it to pass by due to fear or do we seize that chance? Do we climb back on the horse after we’ve fallen off or do we resolve to never go riding again?

I am climbing back on the horse.

What are you going to do?

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.