Living Without a Salary

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

Spending Money is Good for the Economy June 22, 2010

Yes, this goes against what everyone is telling you these days–“Stop spending money”, or “Save your money”. But spending money can be good for the economy. There are the obvious reasons why this is true, such as it create jobs, helps small businesses stay in business, and other things like that. However, no one really talks about the real reason why spending money is good for the economy.

Money Goes ‘Round and ‘Round

Have you heard the expression, “Money makes the world go round”? You may have thought this meant that we need money to live on or survive. While this interpretation is true, it is not the entire story. The myth of money is that there is only a “fixed” amount of money in the world. Physically, this is true. However, this is not exactly the way things work. Money must circulate on a daily basis for the economy to be healthy. This is similar to the way blood must circulate constantly for the body and mind to be healthy. In fact, the body needs several thousand quarts of blood every day, but on any given day, there is only 5 quarts of blood in a body. How do we get what we need? It is circulated.

Money circulates in the same way. It changes hands from one person to another, creating a healthy economy. What one person’s extravagant spending is another person’s amazing successful income. Eventually, that money comes back again as income for you. If the circulation slows or stops, everything falls apart and we have a sick or dead economy.

Spending Responsibly

While spending money may be good for the economy, it may not always be good for your economy. What this means is that, while it is okay to spend money every so often for more than just your needs, it’s not always prudent to do so. You must prepare for your needs and some wants, but you do not want to spend so much that you are in debt and stressing out about your finances. If you strike a nice balance, then you do not have to feel bad about spending money on yourself every so often.

 

Rent to Own Scam June 11, 2010

“You can have a house full of new furniture for X dollars per month!” says the commercial for rent to own companies. These commercials are usually shown during the times when those most likely to fall for this scam are watching TV. And if you notice, most of these stores are located in the poorer neighborhoods, where people do not have as much money and would be enticed by such deals. However, these deals are not the bargains they are made out to be, and if you have ever fallen for this scam, you will know what I am talking about.

Example

Say you want to buy a furniture set for your living room, and you see an ad that has what you want for $27.99 per week. After looking at your finances, you realize that you can indeed afford that, so you sign up to get the furniture. They deliver it and it looks so nice in your living room! You’re thinking, “Why did I wait so long before doing this? It’s perfect!”

Yeah, perfect. Let’s take an analytical look at your “perfect” deal. First of all, that price is per week, which makes your monthly expense about $112. That is almost a car payment, which if you are driving a beat up wreck, would it not make more sense to buy a different vehicle? Okay, so you know that you are spending over $100 per month on your furniture, and you justify that if you buy a furniture set elsewhere, you would have to make payments as well. Let’s take a look at that aspect.

A Different Example

Suppose you went to a different furniture store that offers a payment plan, and you find a a set that you like that costs $859, with total finance charges of about $100, making the total price $959. They want you to pay $100 per month, and you think, “But I can get the other set for $27.99 per week.” Of course, now you can see that they are really $12 cheaper per month than the rent to own place.

The Scam

Here’s where the scam really comes in…how many weeks are you obligated to pay that $27.99 per week? According to the fine print, you would be paying on your set for 91 weeks. $27.99 times 91 weeks is $2,547.09. This amount is a lot more than $959! You would actually be paying 3 times more for the same set. In that same fine print, they admit that the set is only worth $859, but the finance charges are over $1,200!! Talk about predatory lending–this is much worse than a payday loan! You would be better off saving your money in a high yield savings account until you have enough money to buy a furniture set outright.

Alternative Options

Of course, there are always alternatives when contemplating buying something. And to get to alternatives, you must ask yourself if you “need” or “want” that furniture set. Does it really matter in the larger scope of life that you have that set? What other things can you do for seating options in your living room? A few ideas come to mind:

  1. Get lawn chairs and place them in your living room. While this may not be the most comfortable option you have, it is a cheap option and if you do not have that much money to buy a furniture set, it can work for a while until you have enough money.
  2. Use blankets to make cushions, and sit on the floor. This could work for a while if you have no money whatsoever to buy anything.
  3. If you have a bit more money, you could buy a large beanbag-type item with foam in it. I personally have what is called a “sofa sac” and it is so comfortable! It cost about $359. But there are cheaper options for you to choose from.
  4. Hand-me-down furniture can work too. If you know someone else is getting a new furniture set, ask if you can have their old set. Chances are, they will be glad to get rid of it without having to pay to have it hauled away to the dump. You can also sift through the free listing on Craigslist for furniture.

Do Not Fall for the Scam

Many other rent to own items are set up in the same way. You will often end up paying 2-3 times more than what the item is worth, leaving you with even less cash in your pocket. Instead, put that money to good use by either saving it or investing it so that you can earn some money on your money. Look for inexpensive ways to get what you need (or want) without having to rent to own it. Or, choose to do without that item. If more people chose not to give these companies the business, they will eventually have to go out of business.

 

An Odd Way to Make Casual Income January 19, 2009

In this blog, we have talked about different ways to create a casual income for yourself and your family, but I heard about something yesterday that made me re-think, and re-evaluate what casual income is at its core level. You see, this way that I heard about is not only odd, but illegal in a few states. But not unethical…it’s only illegal because most people approach this method with a “get rich quick” attitude, and they fail miserably. This is why some states have outlawed this method.

I heard a story yesterday that this guy would go to a casino, play a few machines with just a few dollars, and win somewhere between $40 to $160 at one time. Not much, when one considers the cost of living today. However, bear with me, because I have more. Every time he needed to get some extra money to buy a part for his car, or buy wood for his wood burning stove, he would take a free bus up to the casino, play the machine on what they gave him on the bus, or even what he had in his wallet (a few dollars tops), and he would be able to get the money he needed to buy the car part, or the wood.

Now I can hear some of you saying, “Well that is not real work, and it’s based on luck, and not hard work.” But if you were really interested in working hard at a salaried job, would you be here at this blog reading my words on how to get along without a salary? Point made…let’s go on. Working hard is fine if you want to do that…however, working smart pays off, and sometimes, going to a casino would be working smart–if you do it right.

The first thing to remember is that you are working against the casino system–the system that says that they must make money off of you. That is the game they are playing…why must you play by their rules? Now, please don’t try to cheat them, because you will get in a lot of trouble. The rules I am speaking of are the rules that says you have to use up alot of money in their machines, or on the games, or whatever else is there, and that you cannot stop until your money is gone. (Well, that seems to be the unwritten rule that society has placed on casinos anyway.) This doesn’t have to be the case…here is how you do it:

If you have a dollar, which you will more than likely spend on something anyway, take it to a casino (assuming you are old enough to go) and play it in a slot machine. Chances are, you will walk away with nothing, and you are out your dollar. Oh well. Time to go home. However, there is also a chance you could win at least some money and walk away with enough to go out to eat, or even more. You don’t want to take a lot of money here, because the more you bring, the more you will be tempted to waste, and that is not a great idea. But if you risk just that one dollar, and you lose it, it’s not going to blow your budget or make you broke. Especially if that is not your only dollar. (But that’s another blog post.) Of course, you could go spend that dollar on something else…but that something else doesn’t really give you a chance to earn more money on it, does it?

The point here is…if you are going to go to a casino in the first place, make sure you play smart–not foolish like most people do. You don’t have to save up money to go to a casino if you play by your own rules. Take a few dollars to play the machines, and then go home. If you win $100, that is a great return. If you don’t, then at least you got to get out and enjoy life.

And this only works if you have some sort of self control. If you know you cannot control yourself when it comes to this sort of thing, then by all means, stay away!! Don’t spend more than you can afford….that is the philosophy on this blog.

You don’t have to go to the casino…you can create a casual income by doing other things that are more concrete and will give you “sure money”. But I wanted to share with you an odd way that some people create a casual income the gambling way. After all, isn’t that what people do on the stock market??

 

It’s 2009–What are Your Goals? January 1, 2009

Around this time of the year, many people make resolutions to improve their lives, and others’ lives around them. And while it’s a lofty goal to resolve to be better, what is usually the outcome of these “New Year’s Resolutions”? You got it–most, if not all, fall by the wayside and people go back to doing what they have always done, and reaped the rewards they have always gotten. (Rewards, punishments, etc…whatever the consequences of your habits–it’s all the same thing.) Nothing new ever happens, because no one is doing nothing new, at least in the long term. For example, if your resolution this year is to lose weight and be more fit, what are your long term plans to acheive this? For most people, they would say, “Cut down on sweets, exercise more, and eat more healthy foods.” While this is all well and good, there is not a real plan in the former sentence. What happens when the first temptation comes along, and you give in to have more sweets than you plan on? Most people give up by this time, and abandon all their well-intended resolutions. Same thing for finances–wanting to save money, and spend less, is all well and good. But this too will fall away without a definite plan.

The point to all this is that resolutions are fine as a wish list, but they won’t work in the long term. The reason is that if you don’t have a plan to implement them, along with a contingency plan to use when you fail, then all you are doing is making a wish list. Sounds harsh? Wait–it gets better. (Or worse, depending how you see things…) Say you want to increase your savings this year, but you have a hard time with your spending habits. You can’t have both. Either you spend or you save…not a hard point to understand. Unfortunately, this is what people keep thinking, and what a certain credit card company wants you to believe with their card where they put in a certain amount of money every time you use their card to spend money. The problem with this is–how much interest are you paying to save that money? Stop spending and start saving. Besides, you should be paid interest to save money, not the other way around!

So before you can start saving, you must decrease your spending. (Like with weight loss–less calories in, plus more calories spent equals weight loss.) This can be acheived by cutting down on the little things you spend money on, such as buying coffee on your way to work and bringing your own in a travel mug. Doing this little habit change could save you at least $3-$4 per cup, or more! If you were buying coffee every work day for a year, think of how much money you were spending just on your coffee per year! Let’s see…$4 per cup X 5 days per week X 4 weeks a month X 12 months = $960 per year you could save just by not buying a cup of coffee every day and bringing your own in a travel mug. I am sure that you could do that every day, right? And the money you were spending, you could put into a savings account. If you were to tally up every convenience option that you spend money on, and come up with a less expensive plan, I bet you could save a few thousand dollars every year just with very simple habit changes.

Or, say you wanted to lose weight this year. How are you going to do that? Popular diets don’t work, as you may have seen over the past two decades. Well, actually nothing will work if you don’t make a conscious choice to make it work for you. Fact is, if you implement very simple changes here as well, you could lose weight almost as effortlessly as you can save money. Maybe not as fast as you would like, but it will happen. Simple lifestyle changes, such as putting a bit less food on your plate at meal times, work better in the long run than the diet fads will. The other reason that diets don’t work is because human beings do not like feeling deprived of anything. Why do you think that the more impoverished a person is, the more stuff they tend to collect in their homes? The more stuff they have, the less deprived they feel. Same with weight loss…if you feel deprived, you will crave more food to the point of overstuffing yourself each and every time you eat. That’s why you shouldn’t cut yourself off completely from sweets…eat what you like, only in moderation. Nor should you cut yourself off from fatty animal foods, or delicious potlucks. The less deprived you feel, the less food you will eat, and the more weight you will lose.

Everything I have written today is all about choices–you make choices every single moment of every single day. If the choice you make doesn’t fit with the goals you create, then make different choices. You haven’t failed just because you made a choice that isn’t congruent to your goals. You just made a different choice is all…choose differently next time.

New Year’s Resolutions are stupid…only because people don’t put the effort to make those resolutions into reality. Every day is a new day…every moment is a new moment. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to choose to spend your life differently. Choose each moment that your life will be powerful, full and as wonderful as you want it to be!

 

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!

 

Living on $10 a Week?? December 17, 2008

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 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.