Winter Arrangements

This year has been one immense roller coaster ride. Just one year ago, a few weeks from now, I made the decision to remake the world around me.

I realized that the world I’d created for myself no longer suited the person I was becoming. The last reason for the life I’d chosen was leaving. It was as if I was dying.

Did I want to “die,” to just fade away into that dark night, or did I want to embark upon another adventure?

The thing about life is that it’s about change. People change. Times change. It’s the ones that remain static, who hold onto the past with clenched fists that grow old and cold and miserable.

My life was changing. I decided to roll with those changes by exploring an aspect of myself that I’d never allowed myself to explore.

I decided to give myself permission to spoil myself, and to have fun while I was doing it.

This past spring it occurred to me that if I invested in a large enough air conditioner, that I would save money in the long run. I could cool my home with a single unit instead of the two air conditioners I owned. I bought one on sale and, sure enough, it did. That air conditioner paid for itself in a single summer season through lower energy bills.

But winter is coming, and winter is when my energy bills are the highest. I had shaved over $50 a month off of my energy bills by investing in a new air conditioner. Could I do something similar with my heating?

I looked around and discovered that there are portable quartz heaters that are rated to heat a space of up to 1,800 square foot. My house is only 500 square feet. They were still on sale due to summer, so I decided to buy one as an experiment. If anything, it will allow me to delay turning on my baseboard heaters. Since those heaters jump my electric bill $100 or more a month every winter season, I decided that it was worth a test.

The heater I purchased.

The heater arrived. I rearranged my living room so that I could place it in a spot where the air would blow towards my kitchen and bedroom. I will let you know what happens when the bills begin to arrive.

View from the front door.
View from the kitchen.
It looks so tranquil!

Have I shown you what my bedroom looks like? I can’t remember so while I’m sharing a photo of the newly rearranged living room, I’m including a photo of my bedroom as well.

I acquired my dream bed.
Another angle of my bedroom.
My bedroom at night. I feel like a Queen when I go to bed now!
The shelf behind the door.

It’s amazing to think that my home has changed so much. Here is an old photo for comparison.

Living room, 2018. The kid had the bedroom so no photos of that, I’m afraid.
Another angle of my living room/bedroom area.

Over all, the changes are immensely positive. Not only does my home suit the person I’m becoming better, I feel happier when I’m at home.

Have you ever decided to remake your world? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Are You Caught in a Monkey Trap?

If a monkey discovers a treat in a gourd, it will reach in, grasp it, and refuse to let go even if it cannot pull the treat-filled fist back out of the hole.

It’s a common way of trapping them, I gather.

Humans are prone to making the exact same mistake. We grasp onto things that do not serve us, to the point where it traps us into situations that make us miserable.

Part of that is due to habit and identity. For instance, I spent so many years living on as little money as I could that I had problems breaking myself out of that mindset when it was time to move on.

Another part could be societal programming. We hold on to things like clothes, furniture, food, and possessions because society tells us that it is horribly wasteful and bad for the environment to just toss that shit and move on. We’ll tell ourselves that we’re going to find someone to pass the items onto or place them in a donation bin but we never get around to it–and when we do, we ignore the cognitive dissonance of handing off the problem of “too much stuff” to someone else.

There are several reasons we could be holding onto something that doesn’t suit us. We could have been taught that divorce is wrong so we stay with an abusive mate. We may have heard that only sluts and “bad girls” wear cosmetics and actively dress in a certain manner.

Sometimes, we simply lack the courage to experiment. While we tend to experiment routinely while young, time can lock us into habits that we hesitate to change. “Why fix it if it’s not broke?”

There is a danger to this. If we refuse to change, to evolve with the times, we can become old and bitter before our time. If you’ve ever had a conversation with an elder who insisted upon complaining about technology, shifting societal mores, “kids these days,” and so forth, pay attention.

That is your future if refuse to let go and embrace change.

Monkey traps can sneak up on you. That outfit you wore when you were twelve. The furniture that belonged to your dead relative. The hairstyle you haven’t changed since high school. The types of movies you watch. The books you read. The places you go. The thoughts you think.

When was the last time you mixed it up, made an effort to do things in a different way? Have you ever looked around and realized that you keep the things that you keep and use the things that you use out of habit?

Did you decide to do things differently? What happened? 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!

The Art of Evolution

When the economy tanked in 2009, I found myself laid off with bills to pay and a child to support.

Instead of becoming bitter at the fact that the world was changing, I evolved instead.

I threw all of my energy into a free blog I’d created to toy with, mastered the fledgling online-publishing field, then I wrote and published my very first book.

When it became obvious that I wouldn’t be able to afford to continue living in the house I rented, instead of fighting the inevitable I evolved again. I cast about for cheaper housing, traded for an older mobile home, and settled into a life where I would continue to evolve for some time.

I realized that, by helping others help themselves, that I could help myself achieve my goal of being a stay-at-home single mother. To better facilitate the process, I shifted my spending patterns, cutting my expenses down to a level I’d not anticipated.

I didn’t do it all at once; the evolution from Average American to Minimalist Frugalista was a slow process. I evolved by making one small, single change, allowing myself to grow comfortable with that change, then moving on to the next item of transformation.

By evolving, I turned a situation that was considered disastrous by many into an opportunity to achieve a dream. I thrived where many struggled simply because I adapted to the situation.

We are now facing a similar era of change. Covid has upended our daily lives. People are dropping dead around us. Employers are severely understaffed, and childcare is not only dangerous, it’s prohibitively expensive if you have access to it.

If you attempt to maintain your status quo, the chances are high that it won’t work out so well. But if you allow yourself to roll with the changes, to evolve, then you can come out on top of the situation.

Remember:

How can you evolve to better prepare for the future? Please share your thoughts 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!

Chapter’s End

“I hope you hate your new job!” Gemma’s eyes flashed as she flounced up to me.

I smiled. “I’ll miss you too.” I had heard that sentiment several times over the past two weeks; managers and coworkers alike were upset when I had given notice. While on the outside the statements seem harsh, they are actually the highest compliment one can receive in the restaurant industry.

That is the statement you receive when you are truly loved.

So many people pass through the restaurant industry. Few stay. They become a blip on the radar to the crew who sticks it out long-term. Many times the old-timers don’t even bother learning the names of the new ones. Why bother when they’ll be gone in a few days?

While I’d never planned to stay when I started working at that restaurant, I’d lingered long enough for the crew to get attached. I’d gotten attached, too, so when I turned in my notice I quietly began to say my farewells.

While it was bittersweet to work that last day, this was something I had to do. Now that all of my children are grown, it is time to work on me for a change and for my next adventure I’ve decided to continue my exploration of finance and life. I’ve spent the last two decades actively exploring frugality (most of my life due to circumstances, to be honest). Now I want to see how far I can go in the opposite direction.

The job offer I’ve accepted is part of that process.

This new adventure is a continuation of the experiment I began with the purchase of a journal a while back. I gave myself permission to buy something luxurious to explore the Diderot Effect. I’d taken a good hard look at my home and realized that my personal environment had changed in a way that did not please me. I did not enjoy having my home look like something out of Deliverance, so I decided to change it.

I am still working on that.

I asked myself what I would own if money were not an object and I didn’t have to count my pennies. I asked myself what my ideal home would look like if finances were not a concern, then bit by tiny bit I began making changes, but I didn’t stop there. I also asked myself what I could see myself doing in my ideal life.

Once I adapted to Katie moving out, the answers shifted. I discovered that I needed the face-to-face interaction that a public job provides. Few things give me more joy than watching my coworkers smile when I sing out my greetings each morning. That said, I didn’t see myself remaining in the restaurant industry. I saw myself in a position that not only provided a stable schedule, but provided a larger income and insurance benefits as well.

I start that new job on Monday.

I will miss my old friends, so after that last day at my old job I took the evening to mourn.

Now it is time to move on. I will make more friends starting Monday.

Change can be scary, but change is also the way that we evolve. Like the butterfly, we have to dissolve ourselves in order to become something better. We have to pare down to the bones of who we are deep down and rebuild ourselves from scratch if we want to grow.

Have you ever decided to change your life, to evolve and explore something new? If so, what did you do? 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!

The Walmart Monster

“The best slave is a slave that doesn’t know he’s a slave.” – www.zerohedge.com

The human race is the only species on this planet that is forced to pay money for the right to live. In the United States, our parents have to go into debt just to give us life. They sweat and they struggle to support us through our childhood until finally they release us into the world, praying that we can support ourselves.

Things don’t get much better for us once we reach adulthood. For those of us who attend college, hoping that it will give us a chance, we have to shoulder the burden of immense debt for that privilege. When we want to reduce the amount of debt that we incur, we search around us for work, a job that will allow us to pay our bills and eat something more substantial than ramen.

Many of us go hungry and homeless instead.

The story gets darker for those of us who discover that the privilege of higher education is beyond our reach. The story grows especially dark for those of us who start our families while we are young. For want of a single piece of paper, we are relegated to the waste heaps of humanity. We work in restaurants, we toil in factories, we slave away at gas stations and convenience stores.

We pray that we can find someone who can take our children in so that we can work the hours we are forced to work. We pray not to get sick as we beg for help to survive.

But we don’t deserve to survive. We are worthless. We are lazy. We are nothing but the scum of the earth. We deserve to die.

We are told from the moment of birth that we’re not good enough. We need to fix our appearance. We need to wear certain clothes. We need to buy the houses and the cars and the stuff. They tell us that if we work harder; if we get an extra job, if we get the degree–if we put in enough hours and do enough work that we can fix our situations.

But it’s all a lie.

Even if we get that piece of paper, we still won’t be able to make enough. By the time we repay our student loans, there isn’t anything left. And regardless of whether we choose college or not, our fate will be the same. We will work until we break and be discarded.

We are the slaves of the United States of America. We are the ones who have been lied to our whole entire lives. We have been lied to because we are not the ones in control of our nation. Our nation has been bought by the monsters. 

The monsters work hard to disguise this fact. They lurk in the background, paying off our public servants to pass laws that favor them. They barrage us with ads, ads designed to give us hope for the future so that we will continue to fund their excess while we struggle.

They think they are powerful. They believe they are unstoppable. This has gone on for so long that the monsters believe they are god.

I think it’s time we met the monsters. Let’s start with one of the biggest ones, the Walton Family.

Walton Wealth

As you can see from the image, we are giving this monster $70,000 every single minute. We are giving them more each minute than most of us earn in an entire year. In exchange for that money, they sell us cheap crap at slowly inflating prices. They move into our towns, destroy our businesses, and revel at their monopoly.

They pay us workers so little that we have to beg the government to have enough food so we can eat, but that’s still not enough for them. They have begun to eliminate the jobs we are forced to take just to pay our bills. They are so greedy that they suck our nation dry by exploiting loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

They have taken over our towns.
They have corrupted our government.
They are destroying the dairy industry.
And now they are after our children.

What will they go after next?

There is only one we can stop this monster. There is only one way that we can destroy their power. There is only one place we can strike that will hurt them.

That place is in their wallet. We have to starve them out if we want to retake our nation.

Stop giving them money.
Stop shopping at their stores.
Stop feeding the monsters.


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

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

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

Thank you for your support!

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.