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August 2014 Newsletter: A Call to Action; and Start Your Own Enterprise
August 31, 2014
Hello to all my frugal friends:

I've been up to my neck in summer projects, and great progress has been made on many fronts. If you see me in suspenders, sunglasses, a ball cap, and the tips of my ears smeared with sunblock, then you know that I'm focused on outdoor projects. We've enjoyed a rather cool and wet summer here in southeast Wyoming, and we're all very thankful for that. The grass is high, our trees have grown quite a bit, and the danger of grass fires has been rather low.

I'm following the same pattern as usual, two articles you won't find on the site; one on personal finances, and one on being better prepared from an economic and financial perspective.
The first article this month is about recognizing and responding to the call for action to better our condition with respect to our personal finances. If we're paying attention, the need for action should be easy to recognize.

The second article deals with the series I'm writing about economic and financial preparedness. I've talked before about making more money by challenging ourselves as an employee of another, and getting skilled up as an employee, but now I want to talk about starting a business of your own, a service-related business that requires very little investment, yet can have the potential to substantially increase your income.


Tough Financial Shape? Just Listen for the Call to Action

by Clair A. Schwan

At one point or another, many of us will recognize that we’re in tough financial shape, and that becomes our call to action. We ought to be thankful we can hear the call when it comes, because for some of us, we don’t “get off the dime” and act in our own best interest until it’s absolutely necessary.

And, some of us are financially hard of hearing.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to peek in on the lives of others, through social media, and learn a little about their challenging financial conditions. I’d like to share some of my observations, and insights and suggestions, all in an effort to get some value out on the table.

I do this in the interest of helping others understand there are various indicators that we should recognize as a type of wake-up call. We ought to create insights regarding these indicators, and put them to work for us, so we sleep better at night.

Casual Observations

Here is what I’ve learned about the financial conditions of others, just through casual observation of what is mentioned in public forums on the web. Some of these might be difficult to believe, but since the conversations are regular and between friends, I assume that there is far more sincerity behind the comments than drama or fiction. In any event, we can learn something by glancing at the lives of others.

  • A couple leaves their vehicle parked in the driveway from roughly the 20th of the month until about the 4th of the next month, unless they have an urgent matter that requires transportation. They do this because around the 20th, they run out of money, and they don’t get paid until early the next month. They have enough food on hand, but can’t afford fuel for the vehicle.
  • One regular forum participant has someone else pay for their Internet service because there isn’t enough money in the household to have their own paid Internet connection.
  • A single parent drinks water at some meals, while feeding their child, because there isn’t enough money for both to eat a good meal.
  • The lone income earner in the family has hours cut back at work, so their spouse scrambles to obtain ideas for living on less, and perhaps land some sideline income as well.
  • One individual concerned about inflation and civil unrest seeks ideas for being better prepared and more self-sufficient, but they have no financial resources – everything has to be at no cost in order to be feasible.
  • Another regular forum member is making use of the food stamp program until they can get their financial house in order. This is a subsistence program that provides meager benefits, the likes of which I would hate having to count on.

The more I learn about the lives of others, the more I understand the difference between survive and thrive. There are far more people living on the financial edge than I ever imagined. I believe it was Dave Ramsey who coined the phrase, "Broke is normal, be weird." Okay, so I’m happily weird, but very concerned about others who don’t have much of a grip, and are indeed in tough financial shape.

Insights and Suggestions

As usual, the examples above aren’t what's important, they’re only the attention-getters. The important part is what we might learn from these examples, and how those lessons might be implemented in our lives so we don’t slip into, or farther into an undesirable financial condition.

Here are my take-aways:

  • People can become accustomed to even dreadful conditions. Broke or nearly so is their "normal." As an acquaintance of mine once said, "You can get used to just about anything." Ain’t it the truth! Don’t get comfortable until you know it’s financially safe to do so.

  • Less commiserating is good, and solution-seeking is better. If the people we hang with just like to talk about financial problems, but don’t have solutions or initiative, we might be better off finding a more success-oriented crowd. If we’re serious about getting a handle on our personal finances, we ought to get involved with others who are serious about it too. They’ll have advice, applicable experience, an appropriate mindset, and better patterns of behavior that can be imitated. Spend your time constructively by seeking out others who have been successful, and find out how they’ve done it.

  • Get mad or be sad. I know it sounds odd, but sometimes it takes anger, fear, disgust, ridicule, shame or embarrassment before we act. Some of us need to be mad about hitting bottom before we take action. Get mad and take action now, so the sadness of financial disaster won’t take up residence with you and your family.

  • Don’t wait for others. Being a good life manager can be challenging, but some have given up and are instead waiting for others to make decisions in their lives. Those decisions might include termination of utility services, eviction, foreclosure, debt collection, and other unpleasant things. Some find it easier to be a crisis manager than an active decision-maker. Be proactive in bettering your financial position, don’t let things happen to you.

Resist Being Satisfied

Many of us might look at some of these examples, wipe our brow, and say, "Well, at least I’m not in that tough spot." I would caution against becoming overly satisfied with where we might be, unless we’re clearly sitting on top of the world – very few of us are. Instead, I would suggest we take these observations and insights, and compare them with our own situation, by "holding them up to the light" to see if we might need to make some changes. Are we getting too comfortable, talking instead of acting, not holding our own feet to the fire, or simply waiting around until the decisions of others narrow our field of choices by default? If so, it’s time to listen up so we can hear that call to action.

The compassionate person in all of us will be concerned about the future of others, and we’ll want to help, but the best thing we can do is to take good care that we’re crafting the best financial situation we possibly can for ourselves. It’s the only way we can be sure that we might be in a position, by way of experience and resources, to help others. Leading by example is powerful, and to do so we must be our own leader (and cheerleader) first and foremost.

Are the above examples of financial leadership of others akin to what’s going on in your life? If so, consider this to be your call to action. "About face, forward march!"

Economic and Financial Preparedness – Start Your Own Enterprise With Limited Investment: Examples of Service-Related Businesses

by Clair A. Schwan

When I think of economic and financial preparedness, one of my first thoughts is to start a service-related enterprise of my own, using not much more than what I already have. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs started on their road to financial independence in a garage. Many small businesses start in a garage, basement or small home office. And, I think these are some of the best small businesses you can possibly have.

Small service businesses you start yourself are great because you become a more integral part of the economy, you have much more control over your destiny, and they’re generally the easiest and least expensive to start up. And, it’s very likely that such an enterprise can be used to put you in a position where you can create wealth faster and to a greater extent than you ever thought possible.

Let’s start with my original suggestion from the article about creating wealth so we stay focused here:

Start your own enterprise – perhaps the best alternative for better control of your destiny and much higher levels of income. Many can do this right now based on what they already have on-hand and their current base of knowledge and experience.

The idea here is to minimize risk by making use of what you have in terms of knowledge, skills, tools and other resources. If you think you’ll be putting a lot of money at risk, you might discourage yourself before you even get started, and that’s why I’m suggesting you first think about something you can do now, with very little need for investment.

Examples of Service Enterprises

To give you some ideas to start thinking about, consider the following careers that you might kick off with just a small office in your home…or your garage or basement:

  • Appraiser – perhaps you’re already doing appraisals now as an employee of a company, perhaps an insurance company. What additional tools do you need to make appraisals as a onezee? It certainly couldn’t be much more than what your home office is already providing for you...a desk, a phone and reference materials. You’ll probably need a computer, printer and vehicle, but then most people have those resources already.

  • Independent insurance representative – let’s imagine you’re tired of offering whatever your current employer offers as insurance, you’re tired of not being able to provide your customers with good choices. Why not become an independent agent so you can represent multiple insurance companies and the various products they offer?

  • Real estate agent – you might work in a real estate office, but you don’t have to stay there, you can start your own operation by working out of your home. Besides, doesn’t an agent spend quite a bit of time in the field showing homes? It’s something that one can do on their own.

  • Shopper – there are shut-ins throughout your community that need help buying essentials like groceries. You charge a percentage of the purchase or an hourly charge, and something to offset your vehicle costs, and you’re in the business of helping people acquire things that just aren’t delivered via UPS, Federal Express, or other delivery services.

  • Consultant – this one is close to my heart because it’s the route I selected. I used to work for small companies and large ones, and they all operated about the same...taking a large cut of my hourly rate to put money in their pocket. While working for the last company, I transitioned to an office in my home, and from there I transitioned to working as a onezee, doing exactly what I had been doing for the larger company. Everything I needed was right there in my home office.

  • Home inspector – it was Yogi Berra who said, "It’s amazing the things you can see, just by looking." He’s right, and that’s basically what a home inspector does...looks around, makes observations, and performs some basic tests. There isn’t much investment to be made, and if you’re handy around the house with repairs and such, you probably already have the skills.

  • Tax preparer – this is the last one I’ll suggest, although there are many others that one might consider. Preparing tax returns is often combined with bookkeeping, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s the type of job that doesn’t require much overhead, and it tends to be seasonal, but perhaps that’s just what you’re looking for.

There are many more service-related businesses that one might start as a way of fostering economic and financial preparedness, but let’s consider this list of suggestions as sufficient for our purposes.

As a small enterprise, you have the best potential for making the highest income possible under your own direction. This is true because you’re directly connected with the source of income for the business...your customers. The money you earn comes directly to’re not funding unnecessary levels of management that suck the life out of your hourly billing rate with unnecessary expenses. It could very well be that your gross income doubles simply because you don’t have the overhead of the larger company. In addition, you get to decide what expenses your operation will have, so you not only orchestrate your gross revenue, but you control factors that influence how much more of that revenue gets turned into profit. All of this means you build wealth much faster than you would as an employee. More wealth means a better potential for financial preparedness. Direct control means you ride the wave of changes in the economy, instead of playing crack the whip as an employee of another.

More Details Next in the Series

Since the idea of starting your own business is a bit involved, I’ve elected to break up this topic into three separate articles, so let’s talk next about keys to success in your own business. It’s only fair that I spell out some of the ideas that I think are most helpful when starting your own enterprise.

Next Month

In next month's newsletter I'll provide an article about a different way of looking at financial assets, and how we might approach wealth preservation.

I'll also provide another article in the economic and financial preparedness series. This time I'll provide suggestions about the keys to success when starting and operating your own enterprise.

Thanks for being here with me at Frugal Living Freedom. I hope you enjoyed the articles and can put them to good use in your own life to better your financial position and enhance your own financial peace of mind.

All the best to you and yours,


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