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
Finances Retirement

Social Security is Not Enough

A coworker is being forcefully retired at work.

At over 70 years of age, he has worked for my bosses now for 40-plus years.

Tears were shining in his eyes as he told me the news. He has one month’s notice before his last day.

“But you’ve got Social Security, right?” I asked, casting about for a way to console him.

“It’s not enough,” he sighed, visibly shrinking. “It’s not enough to take care of me and my wife. That’s why I’ve kept working.”

I didn’t know what to say. What could I say?

I listened to him talk instead.

Years ago my friend bought into the lie.

My friend had believed that Social Security would take care of him when it came time for him to retire.

But they lied. They’d lied to him, and now it was too late.

My friend faces a frightening future as a result of his trust.

I don’t know what is going to happen to him. I don’t know if he will be able to find another job at his advanced age. I don’t know if he’ll be able to pare down his expenses to compensate for the lost income.

And there’s nothing I can do to save him.

I closed my eyes in silent prayer as he left the room. I prayed that he would find a way through this.

I also made a vow to myself.

That is not going to be me. That is not going to be my future. I’ve seen the writing on the wall; if I don’t do something to build up my passive income I’ll share the same fate as my friend.

I’ve got to keep trying.

I’ve got 21 years before I reach the age of 70 in order to make my goal a reality. I will do whatever it takes to avoid his fate.

And while I’m at it, I am going to continue shouting from the rooftops about the dangers of relying on the Government to provide for you.

Hopefully people will start to listen.

Categories
Finances Security

Money

Unless you live in the woods you will need some amount of money to survive. There will always be property taxes, groceries and whatnot in our lives—all with hands out waiting for their share of our income.

Where does your money come from? Chances are you only have a single source. It could be a job or a pension, but it is a single source nevertheless. What would happen to you if that single source of income disappeared? How would you live?

I’m going to be blunt here: income sources can leave. It doesn’t matter that you have been on the job for 20 years or were so messed up in that accident that there is no way you will get better and get off of disability.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve qualified for Social Security ages ago. Sometimes for inexplicable reasons the income that we count upon goes away.

It may not go away forever, but a disappearance for a few weeks can be disastrous to so many of us who live on low incomes and thus is the reason for this post.

Having multiple sources of income is smart. They may not be big sources of income but the fact that they are income can really come in handy if you lose your job or the bank that held your savings goes under.

There are ways of earning money that are as different as snowflakes in winter so don’t panic and think I’m telling you to endanger your government check by taking a part-time job. Just consider how much safer your life would be if you had something, anything as a teeny tiny safety net in case something happened to your primary source of income.

Look around your home for ideas. If you love animals perhaps you can look in the local online classifieds for people needing a pet sitter while they go out of town. VCI in Paducah, Kentucky is a wonderful source if you live in the area.

Do you like children? You could babysit for a neighbor occasionally.  If you enjoy crafts perhaps you could sell some of your creations for a few dollars on Etsy? Gardeners can sell extra produce on a small table in their front yard or even alongside a busy road for extra cash.

Clean a house or look online for people needed short-term assistance. These jobs generally pay cash and you can pick and choose what you prefer to do. If you have a talent for fixing hoosie-whatsits perhaps you can place a small ad in a free online classified announcing your skill. I have a friend who made extra money by running an unofficial taxi service for friends and neighbors—not only did he make enough money to more than keep the maintenance up on his van but it enabled him to go out and explore places with the Amish that otherwise he would have never seen!

If you have a mower perhaps you can mow small lawns for extra money, or rent the mower out to others who don’t have one? If you have wireless internet you could share the connection with your neighbors in exchange for a portion of the bill! You may make enough money from this to pay your internet bill entirely—thus getting your internet for free!

If you have reduced the amount of stuff you own to save storage expense perhaps you find yourself with an empty storage building or even an empty corner in the garage. You can rent out this space and allow others to store stuff there!

You could bake homemade bread, labor-intensive foods like lasagna or even dog treats and sell the finished product. Of course on a bigger operation there are rules and regulations to follow but we’re talking occasional agreements among people you know and not necessarily a business-type arrangement.

If you know about antiques or a certain item you collect perhaps you can make extra money selling some. Yard sales and thrift shops are known for good deals so perhaps if you stumble upon something at a gorgeously low price you can mark it up a bit and resell it.

If you prefer to make money online there are places like Mylot, KGBMTurk and others that pay money for doing certain things. If you like to write sites like Helium, Associated Content, Factoidz  and others will allow you to make money on your creations. In fact, some sites will pay you to post videos and slideshows!

Blogging can give you a way to express thoughts and ideas in a form that can earn you some income as well. Adding Google Adsense to the blog or even Adbrite can earn you a little money for doing something you may do anyway—keep a journal.

You don’t have to do any of these suggestions. In fact I’m confident that if you look around you will find something that is uniquely perfect for you and your living situation. The trick to a happy life is not to just live simply and frugally but to be confident that no matter what–money is going to be there to provide what we need. Depending upon a single income source—no matter how reliable it is supposed to be—is a recipe for disaster.

Please look around your lives and see what you can do to earn an extra dollar or two. You don’t have to kill yourself but make a small goal to just make a couple of extra dollars this month. Stash that extra income in an online savings account or even in a jar somewhere until it builds up where you can do something with it. Save a little of it for the future, but enjoy some of it now—you earned it!

Having sources for extra income may seem silly if you are used to making big money but a little money is a lot better than no money at all in the event that something stops your regular income source!

With this said you may wonder what I do for extra money. Well, I write online for various websites, most of which don’t give me any credit but pay well nevertheless. I am working on increasing my Associated Content library, the articles I have at Factoidz and making this blog and my simplicity blog useful to others to increase traffic. Besides that I have a diploma in computer repair so I promote a small computer repair business and pick up odd jobs doing strange things on occasion. I’ve even started a book on simplicity and frugality that I plan to market at a later date!

It may seem like I’m doing a lot but honestly I’m not. When I get an idea for something to write about I decide where to stick it that is most appropriate and there it goes. Since computer work largely involves waiting on computers I can work on other things here while waiting for them to do their thing!

I have lived on a single source of income in the past and struggled when that income disappeared. No matter how small or large that income may be it hurts! I don’t want that to happen to you.