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
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
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
Happiness self-improvement

Breathe

I had a small panic attack this morning.

It happened as I sat down to plan my day. My mind wandered to all of the things I want to accomplish this year when it suddenly became difficult to breathe. Every inch of my body tensed up as I tried to force air into my lungs.

I stopped, set my pencil aside, and forced myself to take a slow, deep breath.

In

Bit by bit I focused on the air entering my lungs. Focused on my diaphragm expanding, my chest growing.

Out…

I began to count mentally as I felt the air glide through my nostrils. Concentrated on emptying my body.

All is well. Just breathe.

When my thoughts wandered, I brought them back to my breath. Time wasn’t important. Goals weren’t important. The only thing that mattered was the life-giving oxygen coursing through my lungs.

My body slowly relaxed.

As I felt the tension slip away I reminded myself that all is well. I am safe. I am healthy. I have more than enough to meet my needs, so much more that I am even able to save and work towards a better future.

Life is truly good.

We all have moments when Life seems overwhelming. Moments when we panic, when we feel that we are incapable of handling the tasks we’ve set for ourselves. Slices of time when our chest gets tight and we quail in terror at our now and our future.

That’s okay.

It’s perfectly normal to feel fear. Fear is what tells us that we’re alive. It’s how we handle our fear that defines us.

Every day above ground is a good day. Regardless of what we currently face, we can rest secure in the knowledge that we are still here. We are still alive. As long as we have life, we have hope.

All we have to do is breathe.

Categories
Finances Investments

The Fear of Being Wrong

I ran my bank account a bit lower than I like at the end of August. It was a deliberate choice; not only did I want to give my daughter one last, really nice birthday in light of the fact it may be the last one I spend with her, it was the last time I would have free trading on my investment account. That said, at the end of the month I took my book royalties, chipped in a bit more from my checking account to round it out, and sent the money to Merrill Edge.

And I choked. I completely choked. I didn’t break down and sob like a baby but I had to force myself to sit back, close my eyes, and breathe for several minutes to slow my heart rate before I made my monthly stock purchase.

I mean, what if I’m wrong? What if the criteria I’m using to invest is completely incorrect? What if I lose every penny of the money I’ve scrimped and saved? I’m blinking tears from my eyes right now as I think about it. I don’t know if it’s just hormones. I don’t know if it’s simply the fear of doing something new. I don’t know what is causing this.

All I know is that, right now, the thought is scary.

But I’m not going to stop. I’ve started this path. I’ve set my goal and by golly I’m going to see this through to the bitter end. If I lose it all I’ll just start over. If I don’t do this, if I don’t at least try I know for a fact that I will be doomed to working a public job for the rest of my life, and I don’t want that. What’s the point in struggling so hard if you don’t have at least the hope of a better life in the future?

There is no point if I don’t have hope. I am going to do whatever it takes to achieve financial freedom.

Regardless of my demons.

Categories
Finances Frugality Housing

Winter Worries

The kid will be moving out this winter. She plans to get married once her fiancée graduates BASIC training and move on base with him once he gets things sorted. Here’s a picture of him in training:

The demon Fear has raised its ugly head since I’ve received this notice. She will probably move out mid-winter when the bills are at their highest. Should this come to pass I might have to suspend my investment plan until spring returns just to survive.

Sometimes working for minimum wage sucks.

I’ve gotten rather spoiled with her sharing our household expenses. As a result I’ll have to limit my spending just to make the bills. Since I only bring home about $600 a month from my public job I’ll have less than $100 a month to buy food and supplies while I wait for spring to come back around. I might have to use my book royalties to make things easier, at the cost of my future.

I don’t like that thought. Every penny that I invest takes me that much closer to achieving financial freedom. I miss my freedom. I also don’t like the thought of having to tighten my belt once more. The memory of those two lean years still haunts me.

But that’s okay. I know I can make ends meet regardless. It might be tight but it’s not impossible. Some way, somehow I’ll not only scrape through, I’ll figure out how to continue investing at least a little bit towards my future.

One bright spot: I’ll be able to sleep in a bedroom for the first time in over seven years once the kid moves out. I’ll even be able to rearrange a bit to make this place more usable.

Look on the bright side Annie. 

Maybe I’ll stumble across a way to increase my income so things won’t be so tight. Who knows? Anything can happen. In the meantime I am thankful that my daughter is on the verge of a brand-new adventure. I am also thankful that I know how to live extremely cheap. It allows me to survive in situations that would make the average person choke, so despite my fears I know that I will be just fine. I just have to ride the emotional wave.

How do you encourage yourself when fear raises its head? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Frugality

Panic Attack

Earlier this month after paying expenses I decided to get a jump on my new goal. Instead of absorbing my current round of royalties into my life I decided to transfer the amount into my brokerage account instead. While I had planned to start next month, I was anxious to begin. I sat down at the computer and logged into my accounts. After calculating exactly how much royalties I had received last month, I started setting up the transfer.

I suddenly couldn’t breathe. My heart beat a staccato in my chest and I started shaking. What the hell? I stood up on wobbly legs and staggered out to the front porch. I needed to breathe, I needed to stop trembling, I needed to think, dammit–what in the world was wrong with me?

It took several moments of deliberate breathing for my mind to function again. It dawned on me that I was having a panic attack at the thought of saving the source of money I had relied on for several years. The reaction made no logical sense; I’ve ran the numbers so I know for a fact that I can afford to live exclusively on the income that my public job provides, especially now that I’ve gotten the bulk of my house sorted for the long haul. To make things worse, I’ve spent the past couple of decades relying on every single penny I could manage to earn.

I closed my eyes and just breathed. I knew that the reaction was illogical. I wasn’t blowing the money; I was simply shifting it into another account. I would have it available to use should a need actually arise. In the meantime, that money would earn a bit more money for the future.

Bit by bit I regained control of my body until, still trembling, I went back in the house, sat down at my computer, and finalized the transaction. Wiping away the tears from my weakness I finished getting dressed and headed to work.

My boss was confused when she saw my upset and promptly gave me a hug. We talked for a moment about how the mind can play games with us before I clocked in to work. I forced my emotions aside and focused on my duties.

Guess what? I lived. I not only lived, I arranged for the transfer to be as automatic as I could make it in the future. While I’ll have to manually transfer the money some of my distributors pay (since they only pay by PayPal), the bulk of my royalties will be automatically deposited into my brokerage account each and every month. In the meantime I am growing accustomed to having a lower balance in my checking account.

Sometimes you have to face your fears head-on in order to grow.

What fears have you faced lately? Please share your stories in the comments below.