Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

The Art of Thoughtful Spending

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

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

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

But I do not want to be that person.

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

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

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

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

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

I do not want to be that person.

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

On the top of that list was my freedom.

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

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

But what can be better than freedom?

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

Start making a list by asking yourself:

What do I want?

At the very top of your list, write:

I want my FREEDOM.

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

The answer will change your life.

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

As for the rest, I am still thinking.

How do you deal with the urge to spend? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

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


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

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

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Financial Freedom

Claiming My Reward

It was raining. The drips hitting the buckets matched the tears that flowed from my eyes, matching the constant drips from my bank account that threatened our very existence. I’d barely enough money for food, much less to patch that leaky roof.

I had kids to feed back then and a never-ending dread: what would happen next to decimate my bank account? Would I ever be able to survive in such a hostile world? Maybe I was dumb and hopeless; maybe I should just do the world a favor and eat a bullet.

It would make it easier.

I didn’t eat that bullet; I decided to make a promise instead.

I would do whatever it took to become financially secure. I would not only do whatever it took to become financially secure, I would make sure that I was free as well. Never again would I have to worry about kissing the asses of some greedy corporate giant just to survive.

In order to fulfill that promise I resolved to take my expenses as low as they could go and keep them there for as long as it took to achieve my goal.

But once I reached the end of it, I would have a reward. I would do something for me that I’d never in my life been able to do.

I would give myself the pretty home, nice wardrobe, and all of the things I’d wanted but I’d never been allowed to have. It would be my personal “fuck you” to the society that had told me that I was unworthy.

Like water, I would wear away the rocks that held me in the chains of poverty. And like water, I would be patient. I would wait.

In hindsight I could have achieved my goal much faster than I did. That said, I do not regret my roundabout path. The lessons learned and the experience gained are worth far more than the time I sacrificed to earn them.

But now it’s come. It’s time to claim my reward.

My vision of an ideal life has changed immensely from the night I made that promise to myself. My reward will reflect those changes. I see no point in buying the things that no longer suit the person I have become, so I have taken this time since we last talked to search my innermost soul.

I sat Katie down and gave her the news. Like you, I swore her to silence. For some reason, I feel the need to keep this success private in the real world. Perhaps it is the result of spending decades being criticized. I’ve been called crazy far too many times over the years to share my achievement with them.

Once Katie digested the information she reminded me of a promise I’d made several years back. Both of my daughters have been pressuring me to acquire a cell phone; they worry for my safety. I promised them that I would grant their request the moment I could afford the exact cell phone I wanted. Since I could easily afford the purchase now, she told me it was time to pay up.

I did.

After that purchase we began to purge. It isn’t a new life if I cling to the detrius from my old one. While I’d initially planned to relocate to a new place for this phase, the Coronavirus situation has changed my plans. I will start right here, where I am, and move if and when I feel it is both safe and logical to do so.

As we purge, we are debating upon color schemes, whether we want to invest in wallpaper, paint, or some other combination, and the furniture that will convert our haven from the home of someone who has carefully hoarded her pennies to the sanctum of a woman who will spend the remainder of her days in comfort.

Katie is so impressed with my achievement that she has decided to launch her own path to financial freedom. She took some classes and started an aromatherapy business locally. Her business has been so successful that she’s decided to take it online. While she is nervous about opening an official website just yet, she made the leap to the online world by opening an Etsy account. You can visit her page here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/WholesomePotions

I feel an immense satisfaction in knowing that I can help guide my daughter on her own path to financial freedom. While she isn’t as driven as I was (she is determined to become a doctor), she has seen the logic in establishing an income that isn’t reliant upon a single corporate source. Given our current economic climate, she may need that freedom as she completes college.

The beauty of my plan to achieve financial freedom is that you can start anywhere. Lower your bills as far as you can, use your skills to create new sources of income, and invest your excess for passive income. Diversify to cover yourself in the event of economic adversity. This not only allows you a backup income source, it enables you to continue growing your passive income over time.

And, like me, once you achieve financial freedom, you can keep or discard your frugal ways as you see fit. While I doubt that I will ever become a spendthrift, I am definitely allowing myself the things that give me pleasure now that I can easily afford them.

The need for financial freedom is stronger than ever now as more and more people are losing the jobs they counted on to pay their bills. Having lived through this before, I can state with certainty that now is the perfect time to launch your path to freedom. I hope that you will join me.

~#~

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


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

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

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Financial Freedom Goals Law of Attraction

Mission Accomplished

When we walk away from something, we can gain the distance needed to see. When we walk away from something, we change our perspective in a way that reveals aspects that we’d previously been blinded to.

I’ve been aware of the theory for ages. I’ve rarely seen it work, however, so it’s just been a random bit of knowledge that I’d tucked away in a dark corner of my brain.

And this has been a stressful year. I reached the point where I had to step back, to walk away from almost everything just to maintain my sanity.

That decision allowed me to gain distance from a goal I’ve been tinkering on for close to 30 years…

…a goal that I’ve just discovered that I’ve accomplished.

I don’t know whether to shit or go blind. OMG…I did it. I really, truly did it.

I developed a self-sustaining, perpetually growing passive income. Not only have I managed to develop the Mother Lode of income sourcing, I’ve actually managed to accomplish something that I’d privately given up on.

I did it, folks. I’m free. I’m really, truly financially free.

We’ve shared this journey together for over a decade now. You have followed me through every single one of my zany adventures. You’ve stuck with me through the blood and the sweat and the tears and the countless mess ups I’ve made.

So I feel that I owe it to you to tell you that I finally made it.

I don’t have to worry about needing to acquire a public job during the Covid crisis. Given that 97% of Covid deaths here in Kentucky are people that are my age and older, I’ve been terrified at the thought that I may have to expose myself to that danger just to earn enough money to survive.

I’m free. OMG I’m free.

Do me a favor. Keep this to yourself. I’m telling you this out of obligation because you’ve been there with me for all of these years, but I don’t know if I’m ready for this to get out yet. I need to process this. I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life pursuing this dream, and to finally realize that I’ve accomplished it is a bit much for me to handle at the moment.

I need to think.

Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

How to Acquire a Cheap Car

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

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

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

“It needs a lot of work,” he warned.

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

I encouraged her to go for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The critics fell silent when they realized she was right.

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

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

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

This one lesson has saved me a fortune.

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

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

Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

The Freedom of Frugality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My friends know to tell me if something important happens.

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

Categories
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
Books Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom Update

It is amazing to think that I started my third semester of college last week. It’s even more amazing that despite the challenging assignments, I managed to complete them with time to spare.

I’ve spent most of my downtime recharging when I haven’t been focused on my book. The first draft is completed so I’m giving it a few days to settle before I tackle the rewrites. In the meantime, I’ve done a lot of reading and resting.

It seems my battery was lower than I thought. For several days I did little more than sleep! I guess you never know how much a public job takes out of you until you escape. My body is delighted that I’ve done it again.

But I got to spend some time with my granddaughter! I’ve not gotten to spend much time at all with her due to my obligations with work and college, so this is an entirely new experience for me. I was able to attend her second birthday party this time, something that my public job schedule never allowed.

And I even went with my daughter to her doctor’s appointment a few days later so I could babysit Granddaughter while we waited.

Here she is digging through my purse while we waited. We had to put on lipstick. We had to examine everything I carried with me as she played with the fascinating items. My keys were a big hit.

My Katie has finally started to relax now. While she was worried about our finances at first, she has now realized that I’m actually okay and has volunteered to help with the cover art for my next book. She’s starting a small book cover business online so we intend to help one another. Here is the cover art she crafted for that book.

Cover Art for Book

I haven’t quite worked out a title yet; I’ve decided to break the whole thing down into major steps to make it easier for readers to understand and to hopefully help others avoid the pitfalls that can result when you get too excited and skip a step.

With that in mind, the first book is about finding your path.

You see, it is actually easy to build a business that will allow you to escape your public job. You just find a way to make money and get started.

The problem with just picking any old way to make money, however, is that it may not bring you happiness. It may not take you towards the life you want to lead. I fell into that trap with the first few businesses I started. I made money but I was miserable. It wasn’t until I figured out the life I wanted to lead and worked from there that I embraced any sort of real success and happiness.

It took me years to realize my mistake. I want to help you avoid that should you decide to pursue your own financial freedom.

I’m not certain what to call this book. Part of me wants to name it “How to Find Your Path,” or “How to Find Your Path to Freedom and Happiness” but I haven’t decided.

Do you have any suggestions?

Categories
Financial Freedom

The Fear of Risk

“So when are you going back to work?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me that question I could live on the money for quite a while. Even my daughter seems puzzled over my decision. Part of that is my fault; in order to blend in I’ve kept quiet about my finances so she doesn’t realize that, at the moment, I am doing okay.

I believe that my friends and family are so concerned because they believe that I am taking a major risk. They believe that I can’t afford to support myself on my royalties and investment income.

They believe that I will have a problem locating a job that paid me as much as I earned at the job I quit.

Eric West wrote a thoughtful piece on the subject of fear entitled You Fear Letting Go Because Humans Suck at Assessing Risk. If you’ve not read it, I highly suggest that you click on the link. Eric used minimalism to achieve his dream of downsizing into an RV so that he could travel full-time with his family. He has an awesome story if you are not familiar with it.

While Eric is focused upon our obsession with material things in his post, the fear of risk is prevalent throughout our society.

We fear needing an item (even if we never use it), so we refuse to throw it away.

We fear new places, so we refuse to relocate.

We even fear failure. This is why so many of us refuse to walk away from our public jobs to pursue freedom.

How to Defeat Fear

One of the best ways to defeat fear is to ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?

That simple question allows you to analyze your fear, to plan ahead for an unpleasant possibility. Bob Knight discussed this process in-depth in his book The Power of Negative Thinking. I believe that his book should be required reading for anyone contemplating a bold decision.

I have taken the advice from his book and applied it to my life several times over the years. I even applied his advice to think through worst-case scenarios as I made the decision to walk away from that job.

What is the worst that can happen in my case?

The absolute worst that can happen is that I will have to get another job.

The funny thing about that worst-case scenario is that any job I take in this area will pay me a higher wage than I received as a manager. Most of the entry-level positions in this area actually start out their workers at a higher price-point than I was earning when I quit. In fact, I received a job offer for a cashier position just yesterday. The pay was $1.00 more an hour than I was earning in my previous job.

That is my worst-case scenario.

What is the worst that could happen if you decided to pursue your dreams? Please share your scenarios in the comments below.

Categories
Financial Freedom Minimalism

The Joy of Freedom

I have spent the days after my final exam immersed in a new book project. I feel as if I’ve come back to life after walking through the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4, Revised Standard Version).

A part of me had been dying and I had not even realized it. Bit by bit, with every shift, I had been killing the spark that makes me, me.

The joy I have experienced while I sit at my computer, adding words to a book that will help people instead of slaving away at a job whose only purpose was to enrich a snobbish fuerdai is immense.

To think I almost surrendered that, almost allowed myself to drown in a lifestyle of slavish obedience is horrifying.

And I was almost there. A single phone call would cause me to drop everything, to abandon my studies and my life just so that I could race around the store of a man who barely acknowledged my existence.

And for what?

It certainly wasn’t for money. Almost every single business in this area pays starting workers more than I received as management.

It wasn’t entirely for pleasure. While I adored my coworkers and cherished my customers, I didn’t enjoy soothing growing lines of impatient shoppers while my “superiors” played on their phones and gossiped nearby.

So why did I do it?

I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it was the fact that I am surrounded by people in this area that believe that one cannot survive unless one spends their days making other people richer.

Perhaps it was the fact that I felt lost as my daughter became an adult.

Perhaps it was the constant criticism that I “needed to grow up” and get a “real” job for a change.

Or perhaps it was the doubt that seeped in after years of hearing people tell me that I couldn’t make it.

In the end, the “why” really doesn’t matter.

What really matters is that I would not have been able to do what I did–quit that job in an instant–if not for minimalism.

Jessica Dang of Minimalist Student states on her website that one cannot be truly happy when trapped in the rat race. At her post on the above link, she explains how we have become a society defined by what we own as opposed to what we do.

She makes some valid points. If you’ve not heard of her, I encourage you to visit her site.

Because she’s right.

We cannot be happy slaving away to enrich others. How can we be happy when we’re so exhausted after a shift that we fall asleep as soon as we sit down on the couch?

How can we be happy when we’re forced to drop everything and race to a job that threatens us with financial disaster through termination every time we become ill or need some time off?

How can we be happy when our financial lives are directly tied to the hours we are allowed to work, when the only way to increase our income is to spend even more of our lives at one or more jobs just to survive?

Why? Why are we so convinced that we need to devote our lives to enriching others when we have so much more that we would rather do instead?

Is it to become wealthy?

If that is the case then we are all screwed, because very few people ever become wealthy by working a public job.

The Odd Thing About Wealth

The odd thing about wealth is that the wealthy don’t define their wealth by the amount of money they have in the bank. They define their wealth by the amount of free time they have to pursue the things that they love.

Based upon that metric I am truly wealthy. I was able to quit my job without a backward glance. My bills are all paid and I just spent a relaxing afternoon with my daughter at the local coffee shop.

I didn’t have to check my schedule.

I didn’t have to check my bank balance.

I didn’t have to do anything but get dressed and enjoy my day.

You can do that too, if you want.