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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

countdown 2


COUNTDOWN 2
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note: I have a CD I foolishly pre-burned, so there is only the old 14 rather than the new 18 files.  If you are genuinely poor and would actually appreciate the reading, e-mail me and I'll send it to you.  I'd rather see it go to use than throw it away.
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note: as per a minion suggestion, I've changed my "rules" ( which keep me disciplined on writing ).  All articles are now a minimum of 1500 words.  I'll go up to 2500 on a single day.  Beyond that, you get a two parter.  I think any more in a single day won't get read.  So, once again, more for your money.  I don't consider my shorter works very good, lacking detail.  If you want a Twitter size article, go anywhere else.
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Today we continue with the question is debt elimination good or bad.  It is both.  So you need to ask yourself what we are in store for.  What are you prepping for?  Because in an economic collapse you need to be out of debt but in a systematic collapse debt doesn’t matter as much.  And, no, Scooby, I’m not talking about an overnight collapse but the waterfall collapse.  Overnight, is literally just that, an immediate collapse.  Solar flare, global nuclear war, Yellowstone super volcano eruption.  The waterfall collapse is a long drawn out slow collapse with events relatively gently falling downhill until suddenly one event is the straw on the camels back and every problem henceforth dwelt with adds up altogether in a Perfect Storm and everything goes to complete crap.  We’ve been in collapse for almost fifty years.  Expect the waterfall event soon.  How soon is soon?  From tomorrow to likely a dozen years from now which, granted, you may not share in my timing.  I adhere to the Olduvi Theory which states 2030 will see the same oil production as 1930 did.

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This theory is of course just that and it might be incorrect.  I do submit to you however, that it is a far more scientifically valid idea than “infinite growth on a finite planet” or “fracking is energy independence even though most fracking wells are down up to 90% production in just five years, each well cost ten million and change, but I’m still pretty sure it can go on for another two hundred years and support a global population of 15 billion”.  And if the bell curve is correct, we are already screwed, for the simple fact is that a hundred years ago the population was a lot smaller and if you go by EROI rather than volume for production we are probably already at 1930 levels.  Total energy derived, not per capita oil availability which would be far less.  The fat lady has already sung and the opera is already letting out.  And that is the BEST problem we could be facing.  A 2008 derivatives implosion repeat, a too rapid petrodollar collapse, we can see our global empire crumble very quickly and with no warning.  Not an overnight collapse but a few months long collapse. 

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Now, I’m not trying to counter my advice about debt.  I still think the powers that be will find the time to harass you about delinquent payments.  What I am pondering is whether it will truly matter.  If systematic collapse is in the cards, rather than another decade or two of economic collapse, debt isn’t as of important a consideration as we’ve all believed.  If you mail in the keys to the house and deliver the car to the bank, you are left with student loans and credit card debt.  You can, mostly, discharge the credit card debt or at least reschedule payments in bankruptcy.  Some states, you are screwed and assume the unpaid liability of your house, but if I’m not mistaken sometimes an attorney can play that game to your favor.  But if you conceive of a waterfall collapse playing out in mere months rather than years, you can probably string that along until it doesn’t matter.  I’m not claiming you can escape consequences due to everyone else also defaulting.  You can’t count on that.  But can you count on legally sidestepping most debt through the collapse until you can then walk away? 

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Again, if all you think is going to happen is more long slow collapse, you need to be out of debt completely.  Me, I truly believe in Malthusian Survivalism.  You know where I stand.  This bitch is going down and nothing will save us.  But I’m also not stuck in your situation.  Only you can decide.  I just don’t think I’m giving dangerous advice here.  If getting out of debt is impossible, how are you doing anything you aren’t already doing, anyway?  Instead of killing yourself somewhat paying down some of your debt, just keep scrimping for that extra funding and prep with it.  If you can easily get out of debt, it does make your life easier and gives you extra options.  Which you might need to utilize as coping with a faster and faster collapse becomes more and more difficult.  But if you can’t pay off the debt ( if you live in a state you are stuck with the house, if that hundred grand student loan isn’t close to being paid off ), then don’t even try.  Minimize your payments-hell, refinance if possible, if they are even still allowing that-and prep like crazy.  As long as you prep smart and frugal rather than panicky toy buying.  It will come in a lot handier than having your bankers gratitude.

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So, since we’ve covered prepping while being OUT of debt many times, let’s focus on prepping while IN debt.  Your first priority was getting your bare bones supplies.  Then you got junk land.  Then you decided paying extra to get out of debt was counterproductive ( I’m assuming you are aware of all the risks such as immediate complete payment insistence by the bank and etc.  I don’t pretend to be a financial consultant here ).  Now your next step is to actually change your lifestyle so as to actually free up those extra funds.  This isn’t THAT hard.  If you are stuck with your cable bill, being on a contract, or your cell phone payment, there is still eating out to consider.  40% of all American meals are eaten outside the home.  That is insane.  Even worse, 40% of that 40% is at McDonald’s.  God, how that food is retched.  I can eat their fries and their chicken nuggets and everything else gives me an immediate stomach ache of historic proportions ( and lately it seems they did something to the fries, and I won’t eat them anymore as the taste is terrible ). 

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Please don’t use the excuse that you don’t have enough time to cook.  With a microwave, crock pot and “air fryer”, cooking simply cannot be easier.  And I’m NOT talking about frozen processed foods for diner but cooking from raw ingredients.  How hard, really, is to throw together a salad, cut and fry chunks of meat ( use a cleaver instead of a knife, and keep it sharp with a Rada sharpener and it is easy peasy ) and mix them in with instant rice?  Three people, about $3-$5.  How is spending $13 at McDonalds better than that?  Left over mashed potatoes get nuked as a paddy, and you throw those meat chunks into a few cups of gravy and you are done.  I hate tomato sauce, so for pasta I add hamburger to angel hair, mix in butter and add parmesan cheese.  A chunk of bread added and there’s a meal ( I don’t usually worry about a veggie for dinner as it is part of lunch.  Well, a second lunch as my metabolism usually demands four or five very small meals.  And I despise cooked veggies-they have to be raw.  So that saves a lot of time ).  I grant you readily that McDonald’s tastes far better than home cooked.  But it is terrible for you ( if you watch the documentary on Netflix, “Super Size Me”, the guy got a POUND of sugar a day eating three McDonald’s meals ).

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Nothing wrong with eating out once a month.  It becomes a treat, it tastes better, it is a lot cheaper and a lot healthier for you.  The Lots Cheaper being the primary focus right now ( of course, if I knew when the collapse was due, I’d splurge and eat out a lot for a few weeks.  Not Mickey’s, but eating like I’d never see some food items ever again.  Big steaks, curly fries, seafood.  Okay, I’d still eat McDonald’s chicken nuggets-and McRib if they had it.  I think.  I haven’t had one of those in twenty years ).  But let’s not wander too far off our collapse activities priority list.  You know how to save money-you just don’t want to since it involves deprivation.  I’ll leave it at that.  So, assuming you’ve freed up spending cash, what is next?  Add to your bare bones.  Not insanely.  It isn’t time to buy 9mm pistols, freeze dried foods, bug-out $1k bicycles or that Gott Damned night vision scope.  Keep being frugal.  Remember, we are on a strict timeline and severe budget constraint.  You can’t go nuts.  But you can add powdered milk, even if from the store in boxes since you can salvage enough plastic trash to store it in.  Can some meat or even get a food dehydrator and dry 99 cent hotdogs ( or, if on sale, far better a ham ).  Anything except freeze dried #10 cans.  More ammunition.  A scope or three.  Just keep adding inexpensive but needed items.  Hell, even lumber, glass and insulation. 

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You have a lot of preps you need to even come close to being comfortable and safer, but they can all be cheap.  You should have enough grasp on frugal survivalism by now to know what to do.  Just don’t go crazy, like I did for three years.  After prepping poor for a dozen years ( except six months prior to Y2K ) I went hog wild making up for lost time, buying multiples of everything.  Nothing expensive.  A dozen bayonets, years worth of bike parts, more solar panels.  Just multiples of everything I’d need for years to come prior to and after the collapse.  A lot more wheat, more grinders.  More water filters.  I might have gone overboard.  You just need to round out the bare bones plan.  Next up, I’d recommend starting to save.  First up, put aside enough money for that attorney for bankruptcy.  The “expert” say save six months of your salary.  I say, save up enough to declare bankruptcy, have enough daily food in your home for six months eating, and THEN have six months worth of whatever small amount you’ll need for bills.  You’ll be on your junk land, with no debt ( or at least a lot less ) and no grocery bills, so how much would you actually still need?  Far less than your present salary.

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What comes after that?  Now you start prepping beyond a year.  Shoot for five years.  Lots more wheat, lots more ammo.  Underground shelter ( even if it is only a cinderblock hut with dirt piled up to the roof, not dug down due to flooding ) if needed.  And if you have harsh winters, it is needed.  If you don’t want to deal with dirt, even plastered sandbags, just double insulate, triple on the roof.  You stay comfortable with minimum fuel.  The trick here is to keep your preps at the bare bones level, just adding quantity rather than quality.  You have five years of wheat, but perhaps just about five months worth of dead animal protein stocked.  That kind of thing.  Lots of ammo but few guns.  You need to know when to stop so you can move on to the next item.  I’d focus on quality of life items now.  Not luxury items like $1200 HK-91 clones, or FLIR scopes or freeze dried foods.  No, ways to improve your life now.  Now might be the time to invest in your hobby business so you can plan on leaving the corporate nest.  Leaving the rat race soon voluntarily rather than waiting to be forced during the collapse.  Don’t just invest in post-apocalypse business, but one you’ll enjoy doing now.  If it is basket weaving, fine.  If it is computer programming video games, fine.  It is for doing what you love rather than what makes you money.  Semi-retirement, as it were.

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If the only investment you need is paying off your debt to be able to live on almost no income, now is the time to do so.  You are all set prepping, so now is the time to use that crappy job you hate to invest in being able to quit that job.  You can’t time the collapse.  So you don’t try.  Priorities first, working your way up to less immediately necessary tasks and tools.  But once you’ve taken care of business it is time to reward yourself.  Wouldn’t it be nice for all this sacrifice and hard work to be not only rewarding in the end, but actually having a discernable end in sight?  All prepping and no work that brings you joy makes Jack a very dull boy.

END

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22 comments:

  1. Having worked for JP Morgan among other evil corporations (but the food was subsidized, we had gastronomic lunches in the heart of Paris for under 30 Francs, which was below 5 Euros) I can tell you that no matter what happens with the outside world, their contigency plans are airtight. It may be twenty years after the apocalypse, but they'll get to you, knowing to the hundredth of cent how much you still owe them (and back interest !).

    This is why you should not only get rid of your debt, but also put as much time between the moment you're clear of debt and the moment things turn south. In desperation, banks might even invent debt that wasn't there or “failed” to record the last reimbursements.

    The main protagonist in my excellent novel “Glasses & Pulleys” ( http://solsysbooks.blogspot.fr/2013/04/e-reader-formats.html ) had the possibility to get rid of all its debt by selling everything he owned. That was most convenient ; in reality it might not be that easy.

    I believe Lord Bison Of Divine Follicles is preaching to the choir and most of his readership consists of people who already made the jump or are at least able to do it. What Jim advocates in basically closing down your current way of life and start another one elsewhere with much reduced means. Very few people with dependent people (children, wife etc.) will be able and/or willing to do this.

    In relation to debt, there is something of a flowchart that we can establish.

    A. Can you get rid of debt quickly enough (couple of months) by selling most of what you have and cutting your expense before buying & moving out to a small patch of junk land ? If yes, do it.

    B. If not, will you be able to do the jump before the economy collapses or you're fired ? (personal evaluation). If yes then work towards it ASAP.

    C. If not basically you're FCKed, but you may find such tricks as filing for bankrucpy etc. which I'm completely unfamiliar with. If those tricks work out then you're back into situation B.

    Situations A and B are pretty straightforward once you know the life you're living now is about to end and a new one will follow. It's a matter of opportunity, discipline and common sense. Jim gives excellent advice he tested himself so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

    Situation C is more interesting (“challenging”) but also more in the realm of fantasy. It could be something of an open thread, but to be blunt anybody in situation C has painted himself in a corner and well there's a reason why you shouldn't have done that in the first place.

    In this situation I don't think buying junk land under your own name is going to solve the situation long-term since the bank is going to repo it when it repoes everything else.

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    1. If you like long detailed character study novels, read the above! So sorry it is a "English as a second language" author, but he is still better than most out there ( you'll get into his style soon enough ). READ!!!!!!

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    2. Gee, thanks Jim ! :) :)

      I'm still looking for somebody to edit this novel.

      Paid job.

      So if you know somebody who might be interested, mail me.

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    3. Some would claim I need an editor of my own. Those are probably folks who don't pay to read, the fabled Orlov Content Fairy believers.

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  2. I filed Chapter 7 in 2011 or 2012 (Don’t recall exactly when now). As you say, it varies by state, but since I’m in CA, I can kind of give a heads up on what to expect here.

    I paid $1500 for the attorney. Yes, there are programs in which you can purchase a package online with all the proper forms, and for a fraction of the cost, if you’re willing to represent yourself. But I did not trust this, and borrowed the $1500 from my parents.

    I owned land, but you were allowed to retain up to $20k in assets (if I recall correctly) so I was able to keep my land. I asked my attorney about those “debt consolidation” programs, and mentioned their claims, and he replied, and I quote: “Bullcrap!”

    Fortunately I had my student loans paid off, but as you say, that’s the one thing that you can’t write off. For anyone in the position of holding lots of student loan debt, I think that your advice is sound, and I’d shoot for the bare minimum in preps regardless. I do fear that those holding such debt might find themselves in “work camps” or debtors prisons, as they were once called. I think that they will make a comeback. After all, it’s not like we only imprison a handful of people here in the U.S. So it’s imperative to try and get rid of any student loan debt as soon as possible. For reasons as to why, see link below:

    http://www.rawstory.com/2011/06/swat-team-busts-into-house-over-student-loan-default/

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    1. I hate lawyers, but like you say, can you trust the system when you do it yourself. Better to pay them their ill gotten goods. A judge will look at you representing yourself and screw you on principle, but perhaps if he likes your attorney, his golfing and drinking buddy, you catch a break. If you think our system is just or fair, not influenced by bribes, you are naïve.

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    2. Actually James, there was no judge present in my case, and apparently that’s how it is with most cases. Maybe it’s the chapter 13 in which you would face a judge? Rather than a judge, I had a “Trustee” which is usually a local businessman that sits in for the procedure. He was actually quite cool. My lawyer was also quite cool and interesting. The first time I met him, out comes this guy wearing an old pair of jeans, cowboy boots, and a western shirt (I live in a rural area). But of course, when he spoke, he certainly wasn’t no cowboy.

      There were at least a couple of people there that went with the do it yourself option. If you are a more savvy fellow than I, and have confidence in such matters, you would probably be okay. I just didn’t trust myself to handle it properly.

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  3. >>the fabled Orlov Content Fairy believers.

    You've got to elaborate on this, I don't get it.

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    1. Prior to going behind a paywall, Orlov was quite worked up over readers who wouldn't pay, who thought that the Magic Content Fairy came every night and magically replintished all the written, as if it wasn't the result of hard work by authors. I'm no where near as dogmatic about it-more sad than angry, I suppose you could say. I love my free stuff as a reader, myself, I just don't take it to extremes-there has to be at least a trickle to the talented ones. It can't all be library books and free samples, otherwise in the long run nothing gets published. Those that believe in the Content Fairy think otherwise.

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    2. OK, I get it now. It doesn't surprise me of Orlov, who has a large image of himself. How could it be different ? He got widely known with his book about the five stages of collapse, gets invited to conferences etc.

      Which is different from running a blog, something that doesn't generate significant revenue at all, let alone in regard to the work put in it. To ignore that very evident fact tells us a lot about him and whether we should pay for his insight or not.

      I have a strong bias against Orlov, I will elaborate further below, but even just that paywall idea is completely stupid in an age where we can read newspapers (much more expensive to make and much better information in general) for free.

      All of Orlov's fame comes from a powerpoint presentation whose premise appealed to an US audience, in which he compares the current evolution to the collapse of the USSR. The imagery is very strong, but it is a fallacy.

      The success of the idea comes from the Cold War era, in which the USA and the USSR were something like twins, one good and one evil, like in comic books. The idea of a similar demise is hence very appealing because it fits this Hollywood formula.

      His powerpoint emerged in 2006, over ten years ago, in the same time as the excellent "Jericho" series. If you remember that series, you can remember how the world was feeling about the US, the Iraq quagmire, the Katrina disaster, the cronysim of the Bush era, neocons etc.

      Now that worldview is completely outdated. If Orlov would make his claim today it would be ridiculed because the situation, and the perception of it, is so much different.

      Orlov struck gold with his comic-book approach and his name stuck. He made a book about those Five Stages of Collapse that appealed to Ayn Rand readers because it made them think that the USSR collapse looked like Atlas Shrugged.

      Now that we can see how the Soros gang operates (Coloured Revolutions, Arab Springs, Ukraine), we can see how the USSR was suffering from a foreign attack much more than from internal decay, and how oligarchs (often US-Soviet binationals) were much more responsible for the Yeltsin Era collapse.

      Orlov has had moments when he sounded like a Soros stooge, he was very early in reverberating the European Refugee Apocalypse (when it wasn't yet clear that it was a NATO operation) and he also let Feminists use his blog for propaganda. I don't think it was as much of a plan as rather being gullible.

      Look at his plan of reforming the english language, or his survival plan being centered of a boat, to have a real idea of who that guy actually is.

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    3. I really love your alternate way at looking at things which makes me privy to another view which is very illuminating. Kind of like, "well, since you put it that way, now it's more understandable" ( no coffee yet this morning, my descriptive powers are still asleep ). I have issues with Orlov, based on a contact encounter, but try to excuse it as a Bad Hair Day for him. Now, after your analysis, I think he has a LOT of those kinds of days. Thanks, brother!

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    4. :)
      My (guilty) pleasure !

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  4. Shelter on your junk land...
    I agree on your cinder block buried or earth sheltered structure. In fact, I would go so far as to say that ONLY underground/earth sheltered should be considered. Remember that you'll be having challenges getting enough calories. And those calories are what actually keep you warm, not your clothing or shelter, which only keep the heat from escaping. If you're counting on a chain saw or even a buck saw/axe to survive the winter I would say you won't make it past the first one or past however much firewood you already had stored in advance. You'll have so much work to do without trying to figure out how to lay back x amount of cords per year. Also in the summer you'll be exhausting yourself doing necessary work in the heat and it sure will help you physically and psychologically to have a naturally cool underground shelter to recover from the heat. Also don't forget that it's the easiest type of structure to protect from a raging, unfought fire, which WILL eventually go through your area. I would fill EVERY core of the blocks with rebar and concrete, you'll only have one chance to build it right and probably no chance to rebuild it if it fails. It's small, so overengineering it won't be too expensive.
    Peace out

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    1. The aboveground cinderblock with earth piled sides, with earth over, gives you all the advantages of underground without any of the disadvantages. It would be silly not to build that way. You can even do that coating on the outside that reinforces/binds while being waterproofing, but I don't know how expensive compared to interior cement and rebar.

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    2. It's called surface bonding cement, has fiberglass fibers in it, and is stronger than mortaring the blocks. I prefer both the surface bonding cement and each core filled with concrete/rebar.
      Peace out

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    3. That sounds like it could be a tremendous amount of work Jim. You would have to build up the earth gradually at a good distance from all sides in order for it to stay put. I would think that you would almost need earth moving equipment for such a task. An easier alternative I think would be to use straw bale flakes, and then gradually build up around the structure. You would have to cover them with polyethylene for them to last. You would then cover it with a light layer of earth. But if the grade is too steep, the dirt will wash away. You might be able to spread a little cement powder over it to harden the dirt a little, or mix in a little clay, so that it stays.

      You could also go with earth bags instead of cinder blocks. For those on a budget, this would be way cheaper, and almost free.

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    4. 729-excellent, thank you. Yes, I would imagine with earth around and above you'd need the extra strength from filling.
      833-well, a lot of work now, with the option of mechanical help, or the option of too hot and too cold with far too few calories. Also, I'd be leery of sandbags due to the force of earth pushing in. Sandbags alone, no earth on the side or top, would be the way to do that. I'd double wall it, or else you'd probably not get the insulating you need. Not positive on that, but worth researching.

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    5. Not sandbags Jim, Earth bags. Even if the bag deteriorates, they still stay put because they get hard like a brick, assuming the right composition of earth. They do not slide because they have a course of barbed wire between the layers to prevent this from happening.

      And you can indeed use them in subterranean applications. Check out the link below:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=earthbag+root+cellar&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwiPzIyC_eDUAhVrh1QKHcqqDyIQ_AUIBigB&biw=1138&bih=510

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  5. I've been debt free since 1995. One of the best things I've ever done.

    To get debt free, my hubby and I bought an estate sale,fixer upper 4 bed, 1 bath house in 1990. We would remodel a bedroom and then rent it out to a college student looking for cheap rent. Remodel another bedroom and rent that one out, too. Rinse and repeat. We even had someone rent our unfinished basement and sleep on a cot.

    Was having 3 to 4 renters in the house fun? No, but it let us live payment free. All of the rent money coming in paid for the mortgage, heat, electric, phone, cable, water, garbage, etc.

    That let us put all our money toward a piece of land and having a pole building shop put up. The shop gave us a place to sleep when we came up on weekends to work on our property. Our property and shop were paid for in under two years.

    When we sold the house in 1995, we made $30,000. This was enough to build a house, some outbuildings, and buy a few other things we needed. We couldn't afford a contractor with that small amount of money so we had to figure out how to build everything by ourselves.

    Lots of hard physical work, willingness to learn new skills, and realizing that current sacrifices would make for a better future, are what worked for us.

    We didn't have running water for five years and we still don't have a well. Our drinking water comes from a local spring and our house water is from our rain water cistern.

    It's not easy but I believe that even today, it's possible to go debt free and have a good life if you make a plan, work hard, focus on the end goal, and refuse to listen to all the negative people around you who tell you it can't be done.

    Idaho Homesteader

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    1. Renting out rooms is the sadomasticistic way to make money. But it works. And seeing the insane rent amounts today, you should have a built in market. You can give them a deal compared to other places and still bring in good coin. Everyone wins.

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  6. "It is for doing what you love rather than what makes you money."
    ============================

    There ya go. TRUTH
    But....
    How do you know that which you love?
    (remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint)
    This is how:
    You choose a thing, then you do it.
    You do it 12 hours every dam day and never take a day off.
    After a month you bump it up to 18 hours a day, remember, you LOVE it, right? It's FUN!, and who doesn't like fun?

    If you can manage that pace for 6 months you will know if you LOVE something, or if it was just a passing fancy.

    If you allow the distraction of money acquisition propel you you will fail, big time. Enjoying what you do is the reason you do it and money is the by product.

    How do I know this?
    I tried all the other way and they all failed in short order.
    In 1986 I started doing something I truly enjoyed and and now 30+ years later I am still doing it every.dam.day. and still enjoying it immensely. You'll be amazed at the things you'll learn along the way, that make a much person all the way around. Untethered, the human ideal is limitedless. Get off your ass a get going. The sooner you start the sooner you get to enjoy that which you believe you deserve.

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    1. I wouldn't call it "fun", but rather "satisfying" and something that drives you, that won't let you rest. A calling. A bit of fun doesn't hurt, but for all the immense satisfaction it is still a tough row to hoe.

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