Categories
Business

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

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

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

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

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

Because I’ve realized something.

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

We are nothing in the eyes of our employers.

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

But you know what?

They’re wrong.

We don’t have to take their abuse.

We don’t have to work their crappy jobs.

We don’t have to tolerate their disrespect.

We can walk away.

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

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

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

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

I want to help with that.

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

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

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

But I can’t do it without your help.

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

Together we can change the world.

Categories
Finances Minimalism Retirement

How Minimalism Can Help You Achieve Financial Freedom

In 2011 I broke free of wage slavery for my very first time. My book royalties had reached the point where I could live on them without the need for a job, so I quit it to achieve my goal of being a stay-at-home single mother.

I enjoyed that life for several years but I found myself too close to the problem when my royalties dipped. After struggling for a bit I went back to work to regroup for another attempt.

What I don’t discuss much on this blog is the fact that I would have never been able to make that first leap if it hadn’t been for minimalism. If I had not actively pared down my possessions and my spending, I would have never been able to quit my job to stay home with my daughter at all.

In hindsight, I realize now that my pursuit of minimalism was behind my ability to take summers off to stay with my daughter for several years previous to achieving that goal. By limiting my purchases and my household expenses, I was easily able to conserve enough money to support us for several months each year.

In light of that fact, I must confess that I haven’t given minimalism the credit it deserves in my success. Even now I apply minimalist practices to my life as I prepare for my next, hopefully permanent attempt to achieve financial freedom.

Anyone can do what I’m doing. While your individual circumstances may be different, the act of reducing what you own and spend can make a massive change in your life. If you add a passive income source into the formula, you have the secret to attaining complete financial freedom.

How to Attain Financial Freedom

  • Look at your life right now. Chances are you have stuff you rarely (if ever) use, rooms that stay empty the majority of the day, and a vehicle or two you rarely (if ever) drive. Eliminate them. If you can sell the items for extra cash, use that money to pay down any debt you may have and build up an emergency savings account. Don’t worry about investing at the moment; right now we’re just trying to reduce the amount of space you need and how much money you need to survive.
  • If your home isn’t paid for (or the payments extremely low), consider moving to a smaller home as close to your job and basic shopping (such as a grocery; Wal-Mart delivers these days) as possible. If you own your home, consider renting it out to develop a passive income stream. Use caution if you owe a mortgage on the property. Unless you can rent the property for more than the mortgage payment (and have enough set aside to cover any down-time between tenants as well as some basic repairs), you may end up struggling financially whenever your tenants move out. If you can manage it however, that passive income will take you closer to freedom.

I need to note here that this was the primary way that my daughter and I managed to minimize our expenses. By ruthlessly minimizing our possessions, we transitioned from needing a two-bedroom home down to a one-bedroom, slashing our housing expense immensely. I shopped around until I located a rental in town that was extremely cheap to maximize the savings. It wasn’t in the prettiest area of town but since we don’t own the things that thieves like to steal (and we keep to ourselves), no one ever bothers us. We managed to cut our housing expense in half (more, considering that local rents have went up a bit since we moved here) as a result.

By eliminating our excess possessions we also eliminated the need of having to rent a self-storage unit as well, which saved us a few dollars more each month. We also benefit from lower utility bills year-round since it costs significantly less to heat and cool a smaller home than a larger one.

  • As a result of selecting a smaller home that was close enough to stores that offered the essentials like food, we were able to eventually eliminate our next largest expense: our vehicle. We both walk to work, hitching rides with coworkers and friends occasionally when the need arises but for the most part we can easily walk wherever we need to go. At first, however, we simply settled upon a nice older van that we purchased for cash, since financing a vehicle can almost double the price you pay for it if you aren’t careful. This allowed us to gradually transition to a life that didn’t require a vehicle for our daily needs.
  • Limit your exposure to advertising. Advertising is designed to make you feel insecure if you don’t spend your money buying the stuff they want you to buy. Traditional television programming is filled with advertising so the fastest (and easiest) way to drastically cut down on the advertising you are exposed to on a daily basis is to eliminate it. If you enjoy watching shows and movies, consider investing in a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription. Since many modern televisions allow you internet access, you can continue using it while limiting your exposure to ads that are designed to make you feel insufficient. I noticed an immediate change years ago when I cancelled our cable television subscription. My children asked for things less frequently and I personally noted a desire to purchase less within days of cutting the cord.

There are other ways to cut expenses but those are the ones that will save you the most money. If you wish to learn how to lower your expenses even more, I urge you to read my book The Shoestring Girl. It goes into detail about how I manage to live on $500 or less a month.

Once you have pared down your finances to the point where you know how much money you need to live on each month, proceed to the next section.

  • Develop a passive income stream. The Internet has created an immense opportunity for those who decide they want to escape the rat race of wage slavery. You can share affiliate links (like I do on this blog occasionally) to promote products and services that you believe in. You can develop your own products to market and sell on a website. There is a huge demand for steamy romance novels currently, so if you enjoy fantasizing about that, you could turn those fantasies into a passive income stream by publishing them online. I have a number of friends who have become quite wealthy doing just that. In fact, I have explored that option personally. While I am much more comfortable sharing my personal experiences to help others, you may find that writing romance novels both enjoyable and lucrative. If so, I highly recommend it. My friends report that they receive thousands of dollars a month in book royalties from their romance novels, and E. L. James became very wealthy simply by converting a piece of Twilight fanfiction into a book series.

For those who have no interest in writing books or internet marketing, don’t worry. There are things you can do to develop passive income streams as well. The most lucrative of those is in real estate. You can purchase inexpensive homes (mobile homes, even) to start out. Clean them up and rent them out. You’ll have to go around once a month to inspect your properties and collect the rent but that is a lot less work than having to show up each day at a 9-5. There are many books available that will help guide you through the process.

You can also invest in dividend-paying stocks as well as bonds. Both of these provide a somewhat stable income stream (no form of passive income is perfect). I am currently investing in dividend stocks as an additional passive income source for when I decide that I am ready to reduce or eliminate working at a public job again.

I highly advise you to create at least two passive income streams before you decide to quit your day job. Things can happen that will cause your passive income to drop, if not disappear. Everett Bogue discovered this the hard way and ended up stranded in Japan. He was forced to sell his laptop for air fare back to the states. I would link to that story but it is old news and has faded from the internet. He is currently working two jobs to survive.  I experienced this personally when my book royalties dropped to the point where I felt the need to return to a public job. If I had been smart back then, I would have heeded the warning his experience provided and adjusted my life accordingly. I could have easily invested enough money back then to have eliminated the need to go back to working at a public job. I didn’t, so I am paying the price of that mistake now.

  • Eliminate your debt. Every debt you eliminate will take the amount you need to live on even lower. While a credit card can benefit you if used wisely (pay off the balance each month), credit as a general rule is verboten. You want to spend your money enjoying your life, not funding the excess of the bankers. The only possible exceptions to this rule would be to finance rental property or to invest in a class that will teach you how to grow your passive income further. Use extreme caution before making these decisions.
  • Build up an emergency fund. You need to have several months’ worth of expenses saved away in an easily accessible interest-bearing account in the event your passive income takes a slight dip or another emergency arises. In hindsight, this was one thing I did right. I stashed away my excess money each month when my book royalties were high. That enabled me to survive for quite a while as my royalties began to drop.
  • Develop your passive income stream to the point where it will more than cover your normal expenses before you decide to stop working. This way you can invest the excess into dividend-paying stocks, bonds, or another form of passive income source such as real estate. This way, even if your current passive income remains stable (or drops a bit), your passive income will continue to increase over time.
  • Once you have created an emergency fund, paid down or eliminated your debt, reduced your expenses as low as you comfortably can, and developed a passive income stream that more than covers them you can safely make the leap. You can reduce the amount of hours you work gradually or eliminate working entirely.

Even now, by following these precepts, I am able to work only part-time instead of getting a full-time job. My monthly expenses are lower than ever now that my daughter has become my room-mate, so we have taken advantage of the situation by investing our excess money and using the time gained to our advantage. Katie enjoys eating out and spending money a bit more than I do, so she has opted to work full-time since she likes to keep busy. She still manages to set money aside each month into her savings as well as attend college full-time by paying as she goes. Like her mother, she has an aversion to debt.

I have money left over from my part-time paycheck every month. I combine that with my (once again) growing book royalties to invest in dividend stocks. I use the extra time I have available to go to college as well, take care of my home, and to write posts like this one that will hopefully help others achieve their own financial freedom.

If you found this post informative, please take a moment to share it with a friend. You may help them realize that they don’t have to be trapped in the chains of wage slavery forever. They too can achieve financial freedom if they want.

If you have already achieved financial freedom (or are working towards that goal), please share your story in the comments below. We all benefit when we share our knowledge.

If you have a blog of your own, consider writing a piece about this post. Do you agree with these steps, or do you feel that something is missing? Be honest in your comments. This will help others learn from our beliefs and experiences. If you feel that my experiences will help your readers, let me know so that we can arrange an interview. If you feel that your personal experiences may benefit my readers, email me as well because I would love to interview you. You can reach me at annie at annienygma dot com.

Have a great day,
Annie

Categories
Car-Free Finances

A Slice of Slavery

Katie had to walk to work in the pouring rain this morning. I grieved for her as she headed into the downpour to walk the mile-long trek to her public job.

I’ll have to do the same in a couple of hours.

I could sit at this keyboard and whine that life isn’t fair; why can’t we own vehicles like the others do?

I could sit here and juggle my budget. I could pull some money out of my investment accounts, buy a car, and eliminate the discomfort.

But if I do that, I will never be free.

I will be just like my friend, who is nervously awaiting a heart cath and possible stents at the hospital this morning. Even though they are aware that she is having the procedure, her job scheduled her to work tomorrow.

She could very well have complications. She could very well die, but does her job care? No. All they care about is her next shift.

I can’t even go up to the hospital to be with her because I’m scheduled to work and I can’t afford to take off. If she’s still there at the end of my work shift I’ll walk up to take her home or keep her company, however it goes.

This is the life of a wage slave. Forced to work until we drop, then replaced like we are nothing.

They don’t even want us to realize that there is a better way. They don’t want us to know that we can learn how to play the games that they play so we don’t have to trade our lives for money. That is why they brainwash us at school to go to college, rack up a lot of debt, get a job, and buy, buy, buy.

They want to use us up and spit us out because we are nothing to them.

Guess what, World? I know that there is a better way. I know from personal experience that one can achieve financial freedom. When the kids were young I would save up my money to take summers off to be with my kids. When I learned how to write and publish books I used that to stop working at a public job so that I could savor the remaining years of my youngest daughter’s childhood. Despite my lack of formal education (or perhaps because of it) I managed to do what most consider impossible. I was a stay-at-home single mother for years.

I made a few missteps. I over-estimated just how stable my royalty income was. That is why I will be walking in the rain to work today as I stress over the fate of my friend at the hospital instead of sitting at her side.

Instead of whining about my mistake, I choose to learn from it. I learned that there is a better way. I learned that we don’t have to be a slave for the entirety of our lives.

And I am angry enough to run with that. I am angry enough to do whatever it takes to beat those bastards at their own game, to not only improve my life but to show others how to do it as well.

I know what I’ve got to work with. I’ve got this writing business. I’ve got a public job that might pay shit for wages but is stable with a few benefits. I am an expert when it comes to saving money, and I understand the basics of investing.

Somehow I will figure out how to make this work. The day will come when my daughter won’t have to walk to work in the pouring rain. The day will come when I won’t have to do the same, when I won’t have to force myself out of bed at ungodly hours to get stuff done before I head to a public job because I know I’ll be too exhausted at the end of my shift to work towards my goal. The day will come when I don’t have to decide between paying my bills and being with my friends when they need me.

We deserve to know how to escape the chains of wage slavery. I intend to learn how, and I intend to teach others how to do it.

I will be free and I will teach others how to be free if it is the last thing I do.

You have my word.

Categories
Finances Retirement

Repeating My Way to Freedom

I just calculated the dividends I will receive over the next 12 months. I have finally topped the $250 mark.

In order to consider myself financially free I need to have $6,000 a year minimum in passive income, or $500 a month.

I am halfway to my one month’s goal, even with the sizeable investment I’ve made in one non-dividend paying stock.

I am 1/24th of the way to achieving my goal of freedom.

All I have to do is repeat that feat 23 more times and I will be free. While I won’t quit working at that point (I won’t feel safe unless I have considerably more than I need to live on coming in to avoid what happened with my book royalties), things will start moving a bit faster now. My dividend payouts are becoming large enough now to actually move the needle when I reinvest.

You truly can become financially free through dividend investing. I am seeing evidence of that in my own investment account. All you have to do is drop your expenses as low as they can go, build a small emergency fund (so you’re never tempted to sell your stock), and invest every penny you can afford to spare into dividend stocks.

Each and every month you simply repeat your actions, rolling over your dividends until you eventually gain your freedom.

Anyone can do this. All it takes is a bit of patience and a willingness to learn. The speed of your results will be based upon how much you need to live on and how much you can invest each month, but this is completely do-able. If I can do this while earning around $700 a month income between my public job and my book royalties, the average person who makes a lot more than me can do even better.

It just depends on one thing:

How badly do you want your freedom?

Categories
Investments

My Financial Freedom Game Plan

Despite the fact that I spent more than I like last month I still managed to have money left over for investment. I took the $67 I received in royalties and added $63 from my paychecks to it in order to scrape up $130 to invest this month. I plan to stick every penny into a single stock I’ve targeted.

This will increase my annual dividend income by over an hour’s wage.

My Game Plan

  • Keep my expenses low to maximize the amount I can invest each month.
  • Invest in stocks that fit the criteria I’ve worked out (I’ll write more on this later).
  • Reinvest any dividends received.
  • Repeat.

In time this method will allow the annual dividends to grow to the point where they match the annual income from my day job. I mark my progress by my original hourly wage of $7.25 an hour. Every hour’s worth of dividends I receive takes me closer to freedom.

So far, factoring in the dividend cut from my miscalculation on the one stock, I’ve managed to build my investments to the point where the dividends are close to a single week’s wage. I only have fifty-one week’s worth of wages to go in order to achieve financial freedom.

Not bad for a beginner.

Do you have a plan to achieve financial freedom? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances

Do You Dream of Financial Freedom?

Imagine waking up whenever you want to, without the need of an alarm clock. You sit up, stretch, and ask yourself:

What do I want to do today?

This is the life of financial freedom. You don’t have to work; you have enough passive income to cover your needs. Your time is your own. You can rest, learn something new, visit friends, volunteer…

…or enjoy the fleeting childhood of your children.

Do you dream of a life like that?

I achieved it once. I managed to be a stay-at-home single mother for my youngest child, a feat many told me was impossible.

What would you do with your time if you were financially free? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Investments

A Goal of Freedom

With all of the work I’ve put in to learn about investing and the stock market I’ve allowed one important piece to fall to the wayside. I need a concrete long-term goal to focus on in order to not only have a measuring stick of my progress but to inspire me during the dark hours.

I woke up this morning with that question burning in my mind. Just what do I intend to accomplish here? It’s not that I want to become rich, though to my current mindset it certainly feels that way. Studying the financial markets, investing in the stock market–those are actions that rich people take when viewed from the eyes of the poor.

And let’s face it: I’ve been poor my entire life. While there have been times of both feast and famine, overall I’ve spent my existence hanging out at the bottom of the food chain. There’s no sin in that but it does color my perceptions.

With the question of my goal in mind I sat down with a cup of coffee this morning. I turned my lucky coin over in my hands as I considered what I want to achieve here. I think I’ve finally figured it out.

I want to achieve financial freedom. I want to get to the point financially where I can work if I want to but I no longer need to in order to make ends meet with some money to spare. The taste of freedom I experienced for those years I lived on my book royalties was beautiful and I want to recapture that. More importantly, I want to do it in a way that can be duplicated by others who want to achieve freedom as well.

The next question is: how do I measure my goal? I can’t just say I want to achieve financial freedom and leave it at that. I need something concrete to work towards and in this case I need a number with dollar signs in front of it to aim for.

I know for a fact that I can live on $500 a month but to be honest I want to aim higher than that. To be truly comfortable living on my own I would really like to have $1,000 a month in passive income but that’s where I run into a problem with my mindset. Every time I run the numbers for the amount I have to invest to achieve that return I choke. It is simply too much money for me to comprehend having personally at this point in my life.

I need a number that I can actually visualize myself being able to achieve within the next twenty years–the time I would like to completely retire. A low number, one that I can actually conceive of to use as a starting point. I can always aim higher later.

If I am able to receive a 10% return in the stock market (which is doable if I’m careful with my investments), it would take a minimum of $60,000 invested to receive a $6,000 annual return.

That’s a number I can work with. Sixty thousand dollars is the price of a nice house. I can conceive of $60,000. I can’t conceive of how I’ll come up with $60,000 at the moment but that’s okay. I know I’ll reach that number eventually if I just keep doing what I’m currently doing–invest my book royalties and any extra money I can afford to invest. I have a workable plan with simple steps to focus on as I move forward.

I’ve currently managed to invest $1,500 into the stock market so far this year. Due to my mis-step with the one stock I’m not up to my 10% return yet but that’s okay. There will be times that I hit, times that I miss, and times that I stumble upon a stock that doesn’t currently issue dividends that is too beautiful to pass up. It won’t be an exact science, especially as I’m learning and I’m comfortable with that. I have no doubts that I’ll work out the kinks as I focus on acquiring that initial $60,000.

I’ve got $58,500 to go. Not bad when you consider the fact that I’m bringing in around $600 a month from my minimum-wage job and under $100 a month (average) in book royalties. It looks even better when I point out to myself that I only started this project in May of this year and I’m not even factoring in the dividends I’ve reinvested so far. While not a huge amount, it’s still a start.

Now that I have a concrete goal it is time to work out the details. How in heaven’s name am I going to come up with $58,500 more to invest in the next few years?

I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Categories
Finances Frugality

Small Steps to Financial Independence

My gas bill came in today.  I have gotten it down to $15.66.  I’m hoping I can get it a little lower, but don’t think I can lower it much more than that.

We went to the store and to my amazement my daughter did not buy a single toy.  Instead she bought a little candy, and chipped in by buying her burger at McDonald’s.  We got chips and drinks at the store, and got us a sandwich apiece off of the dollar menu for dinner.  Nice, inexpensive meal – and a cheap way to eat out on occasion!

As I walked through the store and looked at all the things they had for sale I reminded myself that all my needs have been provided for, that there was really nothing in the store that I needed, only a couple of things that I wanted.  I picked up a few things, like some tomato plants, a box of borax, some sulfodene medication for the dog, a bag of chips on clearance and a pack of capri-sun for dinner, then it dawned on me:  we really honestly truly don’t eat that many tomatoes, so instead of paying money for the plants,  transplanting them, caring for them, dehydrating the excess why not just buy the couple I want to eat green, or better yet bum a couple off a friend of mine who has several plants in the ground already?

I also reminded myself that I still had a little bit of borax at home, and considering how little I use I could safely let the store keep their box of borax for a little while longer.  So I put the tomato plants and the box of borax back on their shelves, double checked our purchases, and left the store happier because I managed to put things back than I was going there thinking I needed all of these things!

Every time I buy less, every time I reduce our consumption will make the next time easier.  Yes we did not have to eat out, but it cost us just a couple of dollars at the restaurant, and a couple of dollars at the store for additions to the meal that will actually last us for days.  The chips will still be around for snacking next week, though the drinks will be gone with the weekend.  Considering that I could have spent that amount and only had a single meal but instead have a little more makes me feel better, especially since we have drastically reduced the amount we eat out anymore.  We used to eat out once or twice a week depending upon my schedule, but now we may eat out once a week tops.  It has been two weeks or so since last we ate out, so I am content with how well we are doing.

I mean, I want us to save money but I don’t want us to be totally deprived.

I have managed to pick up some hours to make up for the hours lost these last couple weeks.  I am having to give up my weekend, but such is life. You do what is necessary to pay the bills.  Once I saw they were drastically reducing our hours at work I hoarded my last paycheck, so I have enough for rent and stuff next month, but every single hour I can squeeze in at work will keep me from getting in the hole.

Besides that, when they send me home early I try to submit more articles at Associated Content.  Every advance payment, every single page view helps me to pay bills that much better.  My content producer page is here.  Will you please read my articles and leave a comment on them, for good or bad?  Every article you read helps me better support my daughter.  You can subscribe for free as well.  Thank you!

I wish that I had enough articles, enough page views every month that I could just write full time instead of worrying about a day job, but I am thankful that I have made it to clout Level 4 in less than six months! Then I would never have to worry about my schedule or my daughter’s schedule.  But it will come in time.

A long time ago I got a fortune in a cookie.  It says, “Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.”  I am making those steps.

Peace.