It's been quite a while since I hatched a newsletter, so I thought now would be a good time. When a new subscriber asks, "Did I miss it?" that ought to be a sufficient clue for me to get my act together. So, here it is.

Usually, I just talk about updates to the site, but this time I'm going to include my take on current events and a little advice as well. Times are financially challenging to say the least, and I think it's appropriate to discuss what I'm seeing and thinking, even if it's from a very limited perspective. As a minimum, I hope to get some of you thinking.

Over the near term, and for quite some time to come, I'll be working on changes to the site and I want you to know what they are. In a nutshell:

- Three columns are coming; left is navigation, center is content, and the right will be reserved for other stuff.

- Look for a new header that more fully addresses the breadth of site content; frugality, living debt-free, self-directed living, and creating your own marketplace alternatives.

- More photos are on the way. I have a ton of them and it's time to get them on the site.

- I'll be adding some video too. Perhaps video will be a good way to help tell a story when "read all about it" just doesn't cut it.

- Material will be reorganized for better flow.

- I'll be re-evaluating the number of links on each page and trimming them down to the minimum. Lots of links can be distracting.

- Overall, I'd like users to enjoy a better experience.

I've updated the home page so far. You'll note that the multitude of links are gone, and there are more graphics gracing the front. The rest of the changes will be coming, a few pages at a time. It's a big undertaking because the site is more than 550 pages and I'm the only one wearing all of the hats around here at Frugal Living Freedom central. Wish me luck.

For those following the debt crisis and economic issues that are driven by politics, understand that we likely won't see any "collapse" of the economy, rather we'll see it shift. The key to financial survival is to shine up your crystal ball and be prepared to adjust to how things are shifting. People talk about the coming financial crisis, and my view is simple, "It's always coming at us." The key is to pay attention and respond appropriately.

In addition to inflation, the price of oil and the general price of doing business in a heavily taxed and regulated environment are what drives quite a bit of what we see in terms of rising prices.

Here are some things you might think about:

- Establish additional revenue streams (that you control) to supplement your regular income. Perhaps a sideline business.

- Make better use of private sales to avoid high retail prices and sales tax.

- Lower your profile to be a smaller target for the cost of living associated with government; downsize your home, eliminate multiple vehicles, move to a state with no income taxes.

- Review all of your spending to see what might be reduced or eliminated; focus on housing, food, transportation and discretionary spending.

- Simplify your life (including your financial affairs) to help you manage them more easily and more successfully.

- Create marketplace alternatives like growing your own vegetables so you can offset or minimize the effect that price increases will have on your household budget.

- Identify areas where you waste resources and do your best to plug those leaks in your financial boat; letting the car idle, leaving the lights on, food waste, buying things that don't get used much, etc.

It seems to me (from my cheap seats in Cheyenne, Wyoming) that certain businesses are just hanging on by their fingernails. If your job is associated with some of these businesses, you might want to rethink your employment situation. Here are some examples that keep me wondering.

- How many of the $74,000 Cadillac Escalades does GM expect to sell? I know I'm not buying any - ever.

- With very few customers, and heavy competition from Wal Mart, I just don't see how Kmart is still a viable enterprise.

- With interest rates pushed so low for so long, how do these smaller banks stay in business? Their profit margin has to be razor thin. One bad loan will nearly sink them.

The point is simply that we all need to take a look around and read the handwriting on the wall. If we're in a job that is on shaky ground, you might want to get prepared to find another one. Here are some things you can do to put yourself in a better position with respect to income from employment:

- Be a specialist instead of a generalist.

- Settle into a part of the core business instead of the "bleeding edge" or being a member of "support" staff.

- Get skilled up so you have more options in terms of upward and lateral mobility.

- Interview now, while you have a job, to see what your skills and experience might bring elsewhere.

- Don't wait until you're "right-sized" to get a resume together. Have that dusted off and updated now so you're ready to respond when you see changes coming.

- See what your skill set can bring outside of your normal work environment. Test the waters.

Okay, I'm down off of my soapbox for a while. Hopefully there are kernels of truth and value in my comments somewhere that you can make use of.

I'm glad to have you along for this adventure in frugal living. I wish you all the best,


P.S. If you are receiving this in text format, the links to the new pages might not be complete. You'll have to copy and paste the link into your browser in order for it to take you to the correct page.

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.