Categories
Frugality

The Soap Rebellion

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

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

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

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

And now it is time for a story.

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

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

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

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

I decided to experiment with a compromise instead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

~#~

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


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

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

Thank you for your support!

Categories
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
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.