Living Without a Salary

How to reduce your expenses, so you can live without a salary!

Personal Credit Rating–Who Cares? December 22, 2008

So many people today are very concerned about a number–a number that will determine whether or not they can afford to go into debt. In fact, many businesses today profit from reporting on these numbers to consumers on a daily basis. This is the topic of many media sources, as well as forums and blogs all across the ‘net. And it has people worried and stressed when life and debts work to whittle away at this number. People are actually losing sleep over this number! Why?

For many generations before these modern times, people worked hard at creating shelter and food. Whether they had to use money, or they built it from scratch anywhere they could find to set up shelter. And no one really worried about whether they had good credit or not to be able to secure the most basic of necessities. They either afforded the best of the best, or they did without. It was never “Get it now, whether we can afford it or not, and then be in debt up to the eyeballs later” type of thing. It was more of, “Can we afford this? No? Then save until we can”….

Now, however, we have this instant gratification mentality where we see something we want, and have to have it right away. Credit card and loan companies are built upon this mentality. They say, “You can have that trip, or that new car right now. Why not? You deserve it!” What they don’t say in the ad is, “You also deserve the high debt you incur too…”

And in these difficult economical times, the people who incurred debt up to their eyeballs are not able to pay off their debts, which then in turn affects their credit rating. A rating that just basically tells future lenders that you messed up in the past, and then they judge your performance in the  future by the circumstances from your past. Regardless of whether or not you think this is fair, it is the game that they play. And by accepting loans, credit cards, etc, you are telling them that you are playing their game, and are going to play by their rules. 

When living the simple life–that of a conserver lifestyle–there is no need to worry about your personal credit score, because you won’t be incurring debt. If you cannot afford something, or find suitable substitutions, then you will do without. And your credit score has no bearing on your life. When I was a kid, I didn’t even know what credit scores were about. My parents were poor, and we lived in the country and rented from a very generous landlord. (Yes, they do exist!!) We got by sometimes on the generosity of the community, which is why I love small towns now, by the way. My parents were able to get their cars either by finding cheap used vehicles that were still in good working condition, or by people giving them vehicles. And we ate simply…nothing fancy for the every day living. For holidays, we were able to get a turkey and all the trimmings, which was a nice treat. But most of the time, we made do with little. So a credit score was an unfamiliar term in my world back then.

The first time I heard about a credit score was when my student loans came due, and we had no money to pay them. A not-so-friendly voice on the phone told me that if I don’t pay them back, that it would affect my credit rating negatively. I said, “So what?” That voice turned snooty and said, “Well it means that you won’t be able to get a loan for a house, or buy a new car.” Yeah whatever…later, I got caught up in the “credit score madness” with my ex-spouse. We weren’t able to qualify for loans to buy a house, but we still had shelter and transportation. But every time the bills weren’t being paid on time, he would say, “My credit is getting screwed.” And I was thinking, “So what?”

So what? Besides not being able to qualify for loans that you can’t afford, or being able to live in the more snooty area of town, what does a poor credit rating keep you from? It basically keeps you from being to have what you want–RIGHT NOW! So? Put away that “gotta have it now” mentality and think about things for a moment. If you save money for a decent used car, you will be able to get what you want eventually. As for housing, you can work around the poor credit rating. And with the real estate market the way it has been this year, it makes more sense to rent until it turns around anyway. Defenders of a “clean credit rating” would argue with me that one can’t get decent housing, even while renting, unless you have a great credit score. I would like them to come to my house for a moment. (Besides, what is defined as “decent” housing?) I was able to get into this nice 3 BR house on a few acres without an annoying credit check. And the landlord is as generous as the one who rented out the house I grew up in. 

A credit score is just a number. It means nothing but what people say it does. If you say it means nothing, and that you get around a credit score by finding alternate means of shelter, food, etc, without having to depend exclusivly on others, then you are further ahead in this economy than those who have spotless credit ratings, and are chained to their jobs. (Isn’t that a form of slavery?)

Either way…stop getting so caught up about your credit rating, and enjoy what you do have in this life.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you have access to a computer and internet connection. (Whether at home, on the job, or in the library…) Life isn’t so much about credit numbers as it is about family, love and freedom. Enjoy your holidays!

 

And What do You do for a Living? December 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — joetb @ 8:16 AM
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Oy…what kind of question is that? And how is one supposed to answer that so that they don’t sound like a bum or a mooch? It sounds just like the question adults ask kids, “And what do you want to be when you grow up?”  When people used to ask me that, I made up all kinds of BS just to get them off my back. Stuff like: “An adult.” Or…”I’m going to be a doctor…”, or “A cat.” I never really knew what I wanted to be…but see, that was the problem–I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be, when I should have created who I am “right now”. Meaning: when I wasn’t sure who I was, it was awfully difficult to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. What I wanted my life to BE about.

Now, with me doing various odd jobs, and rarely specializing in anything, I go back to childhood where I just make up any crap to satisfy the listener. Although, to make network connections, and to gain more clients, I guess it would be a great idea to tell the truth, and darn those consequences! 🙂 Seriously though, I guess I could say, “I do odd jobs, and I write part time.” Wouldn’t that be the truth?

But now comes the other part of this: Isn’t it weird that most people define themselves by what they DO, rather than by who they are BEing? If you are being a jerk, but you have the most philanthropical job there is, who gives a damn what you do? You really won’t be liked anyway, so what’s with the job definition of who you are? Oh…it just occurred to me–people like money, and if you don’t have a lot coming in, they will judge you as being lazy and un-like-able. Oh…now I get it. People seem to be more concerned with money, than they are with who you are being.

Will someone please prove me wrong? (There’s a loaded question, isn’t it?) I mean, why else would people care to defind you by your job, rather than who you are? Unless that is what society has dictated we should do, and we are all in the trap. In which case, get out of the trap! 🙂

That is all for my rant today. Enjoy your day, and go BE who you truly are!

 

New Parents Just Don’t Get it! December 17, 2008

Filed under: Living without a Salary — joetb @ 9:12 PM
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When a new baby comes into the world, it’s a blessed event. And a huge responsibility! But it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money up front to support this baby. All it needs is a warm and safe place to sleep, some type of nourishment, and lots of love and nurturing. Okay…if you want to get technical, it also needs clothing, especially in a colder climate. 🙂 But it seems that many new parents here in the US spend thousands of dollars on crap for their baby that the baby doesn’t even really need! Why? It must be sleep deprivation, or something, because most of the items parents buy are pure crap! Oh, they say it is for “mental enrichment” or “to give their child the best advantage” in life. In my experience having had 3 babies, who are now 13, 10 and 6 and all in school, babies respond to love, affection, and care that comes from being an attentive parent.

I recently saw something I had to laugh at. There was a video series made for babies and toddlers that was supposed to be able to teach babies to read before the age of 1. Are you kidding me?  Some observations were made on twin girls who were 3 and half years old, who had been watching those videos since they were about 1 or so. They were shown the words from the video, and were asked to point out a certain word. Every single time, they got it wrong! Did it work? I think not! And how much money did the parents pay for this crap? I don’t know, but it seems to be a luxury item bought to do something that obviously didn’t work.

As an aside, I should mention that when my kids were babies, we weren’t able to buy the crap that most parents do today. We didn’t even read to them–much–and all three are now getting straight A’s and B’s in school. This is the public school system we’re talking about here. Nothing wrong with the public schools when parents get involved with their children’s learning.

You don’t have to spend extra money on things that frankly will not give your child any advantage in school. Especially for babies. Really–what do babies really do? Drool….eat…sleep…poop…and cry. Not really open at this point for extra learning, are they? Why not put that money in a college fund for when they are ready for more advantages, then to waste it on stuff that will not help them now? Believe me–you will not be doing them a disservice if you don’t get that for them at this point in their lives. It would be better for your baby to spend time with it, instead of plopping them in front of a stupid video that is, at the very most, entertaining. You will provide many more advantages for your baby if you give him or her the attention from you, rather than some cold video. And if you are trying to make do on only one salary right now, because of being on maternity leave, then you could stand to save the extra money–right??

 

Living on $10 a Week??

Are you effin’ kidding me? Maybe 100 years ago, this would work okay. But today? In this sh*&ty economy?

Okay, I digress. I have been slacking off a little from posting here, mainly because I have been researching other people’s ideas on how they are able to eat on $10 per week. And I have seen some hellish, and then…not so hellish ideas. Some people swear by ramen noodles and hot dogs, while others claim that couponing is the way to go. Hey, at least some food is better than none, right? That’s what the prevailing consensus is on many of these sites. Well, I guess if you want to pay exorbitant health care fees later on, then what the heck? Go for it!

Other people aren’t so keen on those ideas, and have proposed that feeding a family of 4 on $30 a week is much more doable. And the menus they have proposed seem a bit healthier than they did on the $10 a week plan. (Oh, by the way–I should mention that these people were using $10/week for TWO people, so it was more like $5 per week for one person.) At least the $30 per week plan had fruits and vegetables, along with some good protein and dairy. And I could actually get behind $30 per week for a family of four, than I could $10/week for 2. Although, that is a bit hard to do either way.

The major point that kept slapping me in the face about all of this, though, is that no one was even touching the idea that maybe, just maybe, all the food-like stuff they are including in the menus are bound to make one need heavy and intensive medical care later on.

I should take a moment to point out here and now that I don’t subscribe to the “conventional”  nutritional ideas stemming from the 1980’s and beyond. Internet research, personal experiments, and other factors have led me to believe that maybe our evolutionary (caveman days) and recent ancestors (from the early part of the 20th century) might have had the nutritional thing correct. That animal fat is not the enemy…that cholesterol is our friend…and that grains and starches are what led humans down the dreaded path of obesity. Radical ideas, I know, but it is what I believe.

Anyway…back to my point. What people aren’t realizing is that when they eat the grains, no matter whole grains or not, and the starches, they are overly stressing their bodies to the point of breakage. The kind of breakage that requires thousands of dollars in medical care and treatment. Which then causes the body to break down even further. Listen…I know what it is like to be strapped for cash, and not know what to feed my family in lieu of what I hold dear in nutrition. It can sometimes be a huge struggle. And many people will probably blast me for saying this, but it has to be said. Buying fruits, vegetables, and high quality proteins aren’t that much more expensive than dinner in a box, or rice and beans…or even ramen noodles. Well, maybe not ramen noodles, but you get the idea. If you carefully plan your meals, and plan that you will only buy the foods that are healthy, then you not only save money immediately, you also save money in the long run by staying healthy.

Now I am not saying you need to go out and buy the most expensive meats, or the most exotic fruits if they are not in your budget. Goodness no! But, you can plan to get some type of meat that would be inexpensive and healthy. For instance, Wal-Mart carries 1 pound rolls of ground beef (I like the fattiest kind they have) for $2.28 per roll. Granted, that may seem expensive at first. But, if you plan an entire meal around the meat with items you may have on hand, or even with other really inexpensive items, your meal for a family of four will total to about $3-4 for the entire meal. If you have frozen veggies on hand, and if you buy an inexpensive bag of potatoes that will last for more than one meal, you will have a healthy dinner for 4 people. An example of this would be our dinner tonight. I made a meatloaf with things I already had on hand, plus heated up a can of peas, and made mashed potatoes. The peas were given to me, and the potatoes I already had on hand. (Yes, a starch…sometimes I don’t follow my own advice…but hey, I am learning, right?) The entire meal cost about $3.00 for 4 people.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot. But it does take some planning.

Oh…one more thing. If you are finding it hard to make ends meet financially, and cannot even afford to get decent proteins in your diet, let alone fruits and vegetables, you may want to see where you can cut other expenses to make up the difference. What good is a newspaper subscription, or a cable TV subscription when you are not able to eat healthily? Look at where you can skimp on some unimportant things, so you can put money into the more important items of life, such as your and your family’s health.

 

The Point of this Blog December 5, 2008

Filed under: Living without a Salary — joetb @ 8:18 PM
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I haven’t updated this for a few days, as I have been busy actually living my theories. Meaning: I have been working at odd jobs, and getting a free table for my kitchen. Living without a salary does not mean you have to live without money. After all, we all have bills to pay and need food to eat. Living without a salary frees me up to make money by any means I want to, and how it resonates with me. I recently completed a job for someone where I ripped up the carpet and cleaned up the staples, etc. It took a few hours, and I got a good workout. Just because I don’t have one of those “jobs” where I have to slave away all the time, even when I am sick, doesn’t mean that I don’t work, or that I am lazy. All it means is that I am in control of MY life…no one else is.

The key to all of this is to begin assessing what it is in life that you love doing. Are you an artist? Then create, and then find venues where to sell your art. Do you love working with numbers? Great! Find a market where you can provide accounting or financial planning services. Personally, I enjoy doing odd jobs, such as general labor or mental work on the computer. This lets me meet new people and make friends. And I get a great workout without having to pay a gym for the privilege to exercise.

One more thing for now: someone pointed out that I had mentioned in a previous post that my ex-spouse is still supporting the kids and me. And that is why I can make these claims. However, I barely get enough to squeak by, which is why I set up this blog. I want it to show the process I am going through to reduce my expenses, while reducing my dependence on someone who I would rather not have to depend on. As time goes on, and I learn more about living without a salary, I will be posting it here so that you can see how the process can work for you as well.

But for now, I still need to depend on the money I do get from my ex so that I can transition to being independent and self-sufficient. And unfortunately, right now, the money hasn’t been deposited that I needed. So, yes–I am struggling just like everyone else. But to feel sorry for myself would be self-defeating, because what purpose would that solve? Sure I can get depressed or stressed out, but being positive is much more fun, and I can begin pulling positive events towards me that much quicker. (More on that in another post.) So, for all who are wondering, life doesn’t have to be depressing even in the face of not knowing when money will come in next if you keep a truly positive attitude. Until next time, keep positive!

 

The Top 10 Luxuries of Life–And They are Free! December 2, 2008

One of the things that people take for granted are the “little things” in life–the things that make life worth living. The things that people wish they could have the time for, yet not actually make time for. Instead, they get hung up on making money and making ends meet. They get stuck in the mindset of trying to make a living that they forget to LIVE. Today, why not take a break from all that stuff, and actually LIVE? I have compiled a list of my personal top ten little luxuries in life that make my life worth living. Compare my list to yours, and see how it stacks up. When you are complete, think about this question: What really is more important–money, or life?

Ready to go? Keep reading…

#10–Making s’mores over an open fire. Okay, this isn’t completely free as you have to buy the supplies to make them. However, it’s one of those low-cost activities that are irreplaceable with money.

#9–Curling up with a great book from the public library. Why bother buying a book you will more than likely read only once? Save the money, and borrow a book from the library. Membership is free…so are the books. Make it a spa-like experience and light candles with your favorite scents. Get in bed, wrap up in your favorite blanket, and enjoy your journey into your imagination.

#8–Clean, cold, crisp well water. Now I realize not everyone can experience this luxury, especially in the cities. I live on the edge of a small town, and am privileged enough to have well water come into my house. However, for a small price, you can have almost the same experience by getting a filter that you can screw onto your faucet, or a filtered pitcher that you can put water in and keep it in the fridge. Either way, clean water is one of those “little things” that we all take for granted in this country, and one that I consider a great luxury of life.

#7–A leisurely stroll in the woods. I love the outdoors, especially trees. I feel at home in the fresh air and woods…so walking in the woods calms me down, and takes away the stresses that the rest of life has handed me. A true luxury for me! Find your luxury outdoors–either in the city or the country.

#6–Uninterrupted sleep. Sleep is one those times that our bodies can repair itself more completely, and when sleep gets interrupted, then the repair processes do not work as effectively as they could. Which leaves you susceptible to illness and disease. Once I got away from a bad situation where my sleep got interrupted for stupid reasons, I have been able to sleep more soundly and more regeneratively than ever before. And a surprising thing happened–one of the hardest things for me was keeping my weight under control. I failed that for many years…now, with uninterrupted sleep every night, I am actually starting to lose weight! If your sleep is being constantly being interrupted, then your body and mind will eventually break down. So, uninterrupted sleep is one of life’s free luxuries.

#5–The love of a loyal pet. Many of you probably already know this, but when you have a pet and you can cuddle with your pet, a sense of calm and peace washes over you. At least, that is what happens with me and my cat. When I am holding her, and she settles down into my lap, there is nothing in the world that can upset me. It’s a little thing that makes all the difference for me.

#4–A stimulating and empowering conversation. If you have ever had one of these with someone you really get along with, then you understand what I am talking about. Even if you disagree with each other, but the conversation is done in a loving and empowering context, then it could be one of the best conversations you have ever had with anyone! I have these with my dad a lot, and after each time, I learn a little more about myself, as I am sure he does about himself.

#3–A natural and uplifting human connection. This is merely a polite way to bring up the romantic luxury of life, if you know what I mean. When you have a truly intimate and natural connection with someone, not even all the money in the world can make you feel this happy. ‘Nuff said.

#2–Allowing your passions to flourish and thrive. When you allow what you are passionate about to come out and thrive, it doesn’t matter how much or how little money you are making. Life should be about making your mark on the world with what you love doing–not by how much money you make.

And the NUMBER ONE luxury in life that doesn’t cost a cent…

#1–Being who you are called to be. For many years, I lived in a pretense about who I was. When I saw the truth about myself, and allowed myself to be who I am, much of my stress seemed to disappear. Everything else about who I am seems to keep falling into place naturally…and it is one of those little things that makes the biggest difference for my life. And money cannot buy this kind of happiness!

There you have it. My top ten list of life’s luxuries that do not cost a cent. (Aside from a couple of things…) When you get away from the consumerism mindset, you can start seeing the luxuries of life for yourself that doesn’t have to cost big bucks…now go back to worrying about money. 🙂

What are your low or no cost luxuries of life? Let me know, and it may end up in a future post, along with your name and website, if applicable.

 

Stop the Cable Madness! December 1, 2008

Filed under: Entertainment,TV online — joetb @ 9:03 AM
Tags: , ,

There is nothing more wasteful of your income than cable television. And there is nothing more wasteful of your time and energy as well. If you need to save money, or you want to stop your consumer lifestyle in favor of conserving and reusing what you have, then not having a television or paying for cable will assist you greatly in this manner. You see, cable television is only a medium for corporate America to peddle more of their wares, therefore creating more consumerism. And the cable companies make you pay to watch these commercials! How ridiculous is that?

Before you think I am saying that you shouldn’t be able to watch anything at home, and that you should throw out your TV, read further–because I am not saying that at all. In fact, the kids and I are able to watch all sorts of TV programs and movies. Even now as I am writing this, I am watching the movie, “Animal Farm”. (A fitting movie to be watching while writing this post, don’t you think?) We do have DVD’s, but that is not the only thing I am talking about. In fact, we rarely put in a DVD…and opt instead to watch shows from the internet. (Be sure it is the high speed internet, like cable or DSL.) Now if you are just thinking YouTube, or something like that, you couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s only the most popular video site, but not the only one.

The other night, in about 15 minutes or less, I wrote down all the sites that contained full episodes and movies online. And I came up with 25 top sites that have high quality and popular programs worth watching. As I wrote, I realized that one could essentially live without TV and paying for cable, while still being able to watch favorite programs. Plus, you can use the internet for a ton of other activities as well, making the internet one of the most versatile and multi-task tool you can ever have in your home. Sounds a bit promotional, I know, but think about it. Can you use your cable TV for checking email, or searching for bargains? Can you use it to research various topics at the click of a mouse? Can you use it to make money? Not unless you have a new type of cable TV, you can’t do all that with it. Can you do all this with the Internet? Of course! And watch programs and movies as well…

Technology has come a long way to allow videos to be played online, and that is the best part. Instead of having to pay $50-$60 per month for cable TV, why not put that into a savings account or an investment account? That is how much you will be able to save per month if you just used the internet…you can even get a steep discount on your monthly internet bill by buying your own cable modem at any department store, such as Wal-Mart, or Target, etc. I am paying only $19.95 per month for my high speed internet. Can you say that about your cable bill? Really…if you want to start living without a salary, cancel your cable subscription. The only thing it does for you is to keep you from having the life you really want.

Now, about that list I created. Here is a small sample of the resources I collected. I will add more in a resources section later on…

Hulu

Fancast

Surf the Channel

USA Network

…and there are more. You could just start checking out the websites for all the cable channels you currently watch. They all have websites, along with full episodes of their popular programs. These are just starting points…you will find that once you see how easy it is to watch TV online, you will become hooked, and you will want to cancel your cable subscription. Enjoy!