Financial

Do This With $100 NOW

With more bad news every day regarding the supply chain and the food supply, it is no longer a luxury to have extra food on hand. With more drastic food shortages already being forecast in the near term for 2022, consider spending $100 now to stock up on food.

How Much Food Can $100 Buy Right Now?

According to economists, the real rate of inflation is now 15%. That means for every $100 you have for groceries, it buys $85 worth. Most of this the public doesn’t see because for many years food has been packaged in ever-smaller sizes, while prices remain the same. This is why it is vital to spend at least $100 now on some food staples as the economy continues to erode the value of your money. Your money will buy more today than it will next week, and so on until further notice.

Taking my own advice, this is what I spent $100 on this week:

  1. One dozen 64 ounce canning jars. (I had to buy these online and pay for shipping since they were sold out everywhere in my area).
  2. 24 cans of diced tomatoes at a dollar store.
  3. Three 4 lb. Bags of pinto beans.
  4. One 20 lb bag of long grain white rice
  5. 10 cans whole kernel corn
  6. 10 cans sliced peaches

Here’s the breakdown on cost. I rounded up to the nearest dollar and included approximate sales tax as a separate category.

Jars (12 total), including shipping – $42.00
24 cans diced tomatoes – $24.00
Pinto beans (three 4-lb. bags) – $4.00
White rice (one 20-lb. bag) – $10.00
Canned corn (10 cans) – $7
Canned peaches (10 cans) – $10.00
Tax: $3.00
Total $100

I decided to buy more beans and rice, because when combined, beans and rice form a complete protein and have more fiber, making them superb in nutrition. Beans and rice are also cheap and give you the most bang for your buck. I chose pinto beans because they are the most versatile of beans, and can be prepared any number of ways. They also taste great by themselves. I combine plain beans with diced tomatoes and canned corn and slow cook them. By adding different vegetables and spices to them, you can make a complete nutritious meal in one pot.

Once I get the jars, I will clean them, sterilize them along with the lids, and dry can the beans and rice. I dry can without oxygen absorbers because I hand-pump the air out of the jars using a brake bleeding vacuum pump and a wide-mouth Food Saver accessory. I will have more than what I dry can, but I will use it up in the next few weeks of normal meals. The filled jars will be placed into storage and rotated or stand ready to help my neighbors should the need arise.

How many meals can I make with this food?

Beans
According to the USDA, 1 cup of dried beans equals 3 cups of cooked beans. So a filled 64 ounce jar contains 8 cups of beans and therefore represents 8 meals of beans for two people (1 ½ cups per person) per meal.

A 2-lb. Bag of dried beans = 5 cups
A 4-lb. Bag of dried beans = 10 cups
1 cup of beans uncooked = 3 cups, cooked.
So I purchased 30 meals of beans for 2 adults (1 ½ cups of cooked beans per person).

White rice
There are approximately 2 ½ cups to every pound of rice (long grain white). So the 20 pounds I purchased equals 50 cups.

1 cup of uncooked rice equals 3 cups when cooked. So the 20 pounds of rice I bought equals 60 cups of cooked rice which equals 30 meals for 2 people (1 ½ cups of cooked rice per person).

The 24 cans of diced tomatoes can be added to 24 of these meals, along with half a can of corn for 20 of these meals.

The remaining rice can be the foundation for additional meals of other canned soups and stews I have stored. Yet the beans and rice alone represent one month of meals of beans and rice for 2 people, plus an additional month of rice for other meals for two people.

Quick Reference Guide

A one quart canning jar holds 4 cups, and a 64 ounce canning jar holds 8 cups.

2-lb. bag of beans holds 5 cups.
4-lb. Bag of beans holds 10 cups
1 cup of uncooked beans = 3 cups of cooked beans (a large serving is 1 ½ cups per person).

A 1-lb. bag of rice (long grain white) holds 2.5 cups
A 10-lb. Bag of rice (long grain white) holds 25 cups
A 20-lb. Bag of rice (long grain white) holds 50 cups.

1 cup of uncooked rice (long grain white) = 3 cups of cooked rice (a large serving is 1 ½ cups per person).

As you can see, $100 can still buy a lot of food. Before prices go higher, I urge you to add to your food storage now.

About the Author: This is a guest post by PJ Graves. PJ is a retired award-winning radio broadcaster, news reporter and writer, whose reporting has been featured on national radio networks and whose articles have been on Survivalblog, Prepper Website, Rapture Ready and various online news magazines. In addition to writing,  PJ runs Golden Page Media*, a digital publishing business with free email newsletter featuring innovative ways to save money, side-gigs, prepping tips and little-known ways to change careers without going into debt or paying for training.  She enjoys home church, living in Amish Country, exploring historic sites, classic films, cooking, volunteering at a local food bank, and small town living.

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How to Be Financially Free – Tangibles Investing in an Uncertain Future – Part 3

If you are a student on the verge of graduating from high school or who has just graduated from high school, (or anyone who desires to live a happy and financially free life), you don’t need to go to college in order to find financial security.

This article will show you how you can skip college altogether, and the extremely high student loan debt that comes with it, and secure your financial future better than if you go to college.  Instead, consider a different path that can lead to greater financial security at a much earlier age, even in times of double-digit inflation.

IS COLLEGE EVEN NECESSARY?

I’m going to let you in on a big secret:  unless you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, physicist or other education-intensive profession, there is absolutely no compelling reason to attend a college or university right out of high school.  There’s a phony statistic floating around that says people with college degrees earn on average 1-million dollars more during their lifetimes, than those with just a high school diploma.  This is no longer true, especially in this time of pandemic and the so-called Great Reset.

In fact, since late 2007, the United State’s economy continues to crumble.   Jobs are being outsourced overseas and overseas workers are being brought in to take jobs from native-born Americans, making it even harder for new college graduates to find work.  Almost half of ALL college graduates can’t find jobs that pay more than $15 an hour.  Even with a bounce in wages since the COVID-19 lock downs, according to an article in The Atlantic, it is reported that upwards of 61% of recent college grads are still living in their parent’s home.  Since 2020 and the pandemic, that percentage has only gone higher.  Nearly every reputable economist says it will stay this way for the foreseeable future, with inflation destroying the buying-power of our wages.  One simply cannot lose a decade of earnings and ever hope to recover enough financially to make an impact over a lifetime.  That is why you must chose to change your future by choosing a better path.

It is plainly evident that college graduates are being hit now with a double whammy:  crushing student loan debt and double-digit inflation.  Compared to others of their high school graduation class, they start life under a heavy debt burden. Add to this the double-digit inflation, they are no better off than others who immediately struck out on their own and began working towards a different goal.  How can college graduates earn a million dollars more than those with only a high school education under current economic conditions?  How they can earn that much when they also have to pay back crushing student loan debt?  Most are looking for work and doing side gigs to simply stay afloat.  They are treading water and are one poor decision away from drowning. 

In fact, the student loan debt crisis threatens more than just college students, as financial institutions will not make risky loans to others who cannot show how they will pay it back.  This further erodes the economy and forces all taxpayers to pay for loans not being paid back, as well as footing the bill for the loans in the first place.

In such a confusing economy, the only solution is to commit to a financial plan that will instead give you more financial freedom and choices. 

The KEY to being financially free is to eliminate as much of your largest recurring monthly expenses as possible.  This concept is so important, I will repeat it:

The KEY to being financially free is to eliminate as much of your largest recurring monthly expenses as possible.

Previous articles have shown how you can invest in tangibles as a hedge against inflation, and how learning to cook from scratch can help find the money within your existing budget to pay for your tangibles investment.

I’m now going to suggest that the biggest tangible you can ever invest in is a house owned free and clear. 

Since the cost of housing is the single largest monthly expense for most Americans, by reducing or eliminating this expense, you can spend that money on other things.   You get to keep that money and leverage it to your advantage. 

Make Your Own 4-Year Plan to Home Ownership

Instead of going into debt right out of high school, why not create your own 4-year plan with a goal of owning your own home at the end of 4 years?  

The goal of home ownership is a good one because most Americans pay the largest percentage of their monthly income towards housing.  Your goal is to eliminate the cost of housing as your largest expenditure in the shortest amount of time possible, rather than incur crushing student loan debt.  You have a 4-year head start towards the same goal as your college-bound friends.  Why not make your a reality in the same time it would take to complete a Bachelor’s degree?

How to Get Started in Four Steps

Here’s how to achieve your own 4-year plan:

  1. Get a job
  2. Save as much $$$ as possible so you can
  3. Buy a house and own it outright within 4 years. 
  4. Commit to this goal!

Here are several examples of how people just like you managed to do this on modest incomes. 

If you find your income is less than these examples, then you will need more time to accomplish the plan and you can adjust your time line.  If your income is higher, you will need less time to complete your plan.  It doesn’t really matter how much you earn, because what matters most is your determination to complete your plan!

TOM’S STORY

Tom’s Mother and Father divorced when he was 8 years old.  Now he is 18 and soon graduating from high school.  His mother Judy, works as a secretary for a title company in the suburb where Tom, his Mom and his sister Kristine live in an apartment.   

Judy income is only $2,000 a month before taxes and Social Security are taken out of her wages.  Her real take home pay is $1490 a month.  She rents a 2 bedroom apartment for $875 a month.  Her children each get their own bedroom while she sleeps on a pull-out sofa bed in the living room.   Her utilities cost her $250 a month which leaves very little money left for groceries, insurance and travel to and from work by car.  

Tom has been contributing to the household for some time by doing a paper route and mowing lawns.  His monthly income averages about $150.  Now that he is 18 and will be graduating high school soon, he wants to help his Mom even more by NOT going to college.  He wants to expand his lawn care business and go full-time.  He also earns extra money during the winter off-season by harvesting firewood and selling it by the cord and smaller bundles to families around town and in a nearby city. 

Here is Tom’s plan to launch his financial independence after High School and help his family:

Tom agrees to pay rent for his bedroom to his Mom at $300 a month.  His rent includes all his utilities and food.  This helps out Mom because she is getting an extra amount every month to help with bills and Tom benefits from having a goal to reach and achieve each month, learning financial responsibility.

Tom has already managed to buy a used pick-up truck and save $300 from his part-time jobs, which he uses to launch his lawn care business.  He knows how many regular customers he must have in order to earn what he needs to earn in order to pay his rent every month to his Mom and meet his 4 year plan goals.  

In March, before he graduates, he has some business cards printed, advertises his lawn service in a local publication and has his business name and phone number painted on the cab doors and rear tailgate of his truck.  Additionally, he promotes his business to his existing customer list, not only to find new customers among their friends, relatives and neighbors, but to sell add-on services they may need, such as trash hauling, tree and shrub trimming, preparing a garden for planting, edging and landscaping.   This helps to increase his profit per customer.  

Using these simple methods, Tom quickly builds his business to earn $2300 a month.

On the weekends, Tom and a friend gets permits to harvest firewood from nearby US Forest Service lands, haul it back to town, where they split it, stack it in covered shelters and then sell the seasoned wood; (his sister sometimes goes with him and she collects hundreds of pine cones, which she sells on eBay and Etsy to crafters).  Tom earns an additional $3000 from this activity during the off season from his lawn care business.

Here is Tom’s monthly budget:

  • Gross wages                               $2300
  • Savings                                      $1200*
  • Rent to Mom                               $300
  • Upkeep on lawn care equipment   $40
  • Upkeep on truck                          $50
  • Gas                                            $100
  • Vehicle Insurance                        $90
  • Misc.                                          $520

* Tom’s savings and misc. amounts also cover his quarterly federal tax filings, of which he gets most back at annual tax time when he does his taxes.  Any tax refund he gets goes into his savings to be used towards buying a house.  Tom’s firewood side business income also goes into savings.

In 4 year’s time, Tom saved $69,000.  He would have saved more money but for two mechanical emergencies involving his truck and a trip to the emergency room for a bad splinter he received while working.  Instead of a stick-built house, he decides to buy a  newer but used 3-bedroom 2-bath double-wide manufactured home in a safe and friendly family mobile home park in town.  The space rent for the home is $350 a month.  He is able to buy this entire house for $35,000.  Once Tom and his family move into the home, their monthly housing costs drops to cover just the monthly space rent and home insurance, which he splits with his Mom.  This allows his Mom to live much more comfortably on her own income, save more towards her own retirement and help his sister Kristine with college, if she decides to attend. 

Tom makes a few upgrades on the home which costs $4000 and they move in.  At the end of 4 years, Tom has:

1.  Bought a house and lowered his family’s monthly housing cost dramatically;

2.  Improved the quality of life for his family as they get a much larger home and small yard; they each get their own bedroom, and they have more living room and kitchen space with a pantry; and

3.  He still has $30,000 in the bank as an emergency fund for the house upkeep, business-related and personal needs;

4.  Because his housing cost is now a fraction of his monthly income, Tom can save even more money from his income (adding to what he still has) and by helping his

Mother, she also has more money to save and invest from her monthly income;

And most important of all…

5.  Tom has no debt.  He owns his house free and clear and is in a position financially to have more options available to him such as expanding his business, or buying into another business, or taking some courses to help him run his business better, etc.  The sky’s the limit!  He’s his own boss and can take time off when he wants to and has the cash to really enjoy life. 

All of this was achieved because Tom made a plan and was determined to stick to it, in order to achieve his goal of home ownership.  He spent his savings wisely by the outright purchase of a home, instead of merely using the money as a down-payment on a home.  Tom chose to buy and own a house free and clear because it dropped his monthly housing cost to about $400 a month (mobile home space rent plus home insurance).  If he had purchased a stick-built house, then the cost of the home would have been tens of thousands of dollars more expensive and the resulting mortgage payment would be $1200 or more, and a much higher property tax bill. From the standpoint of how much money Tom gets to keep each month, instead of having to pay, Tom is way ahead of the game! 

What happened with Tom and his family? 

Tom’s mother was able to quit her secretarial job and start working for her son.  She now works for her son Tom.  She schedules his work, assigns daily tasks for his work crews, markets the business to new customers, and does his billing and bookkeeping.  This frees up his time to train employees, and start bidding on larger projects. 

Eventually, Tom landed a lucrative, long-term contract to do grounds maintenance for a local business industrial park and is branching out into providing janitorial services for these businesses as well as lawn care.  Tom is now on track to build his two businesses up to the point where he can retire before age 40 if he so desires, all the while living a much less stressful life free from financial worries.  Tom credits the key to his success was his initial 4-year plan to buy a house free and clear.

Is a Manufactured home the only type of home you can buy to help you become financially free?

In a word, “No.”  Many people are able to find existing real property homes (homes that come attached to land) for under $60,000.  They may not be the newest or nicest homes but they can be lived in and maintained and if you buy in the right locations, such a home can be sold for more money than what you originally paid and put into it.  One man has created an online cottage industry about finding and buying home for $50,000 or less, here:  http://www.housesunderfiftythousand.com/affordabletowns.html

In fact, if you do a search engine search for “homes for $50,000 or less” you will find untold numbers of available cheaper houses for sale.  Just remember, you will be buying older homes that will require more upkeep, adding to your cost to live there.  But think of what you can do with the larger yard space that typically comes with older homes!  Most of the older homes in small town America come with a 20th of an acre or larger yard, because back in the day, people typically had large gardens, lots of kids who needed space to play, and oftentimes kept chickens and even their own dairy cow.  If you can find a home that you can buy free and clear with the money you save in four years or less, and carefully budget for upkeep and upgrades going forward, you too can reach financially security and have no debt.  

Here’s how one gal did just that.

SARAH’S STORY

Sarah lived at home with her parents in the suburbs.  She decided not to go to college after high school.  Frankly, she was an average student and was simply tired of school.  She wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do but just knew she wanted to enjoy life, travel and not be tied to a 9 to 5 job.  Her best friend Kathy decided to attend college because she wanted to become a teacher.  More about Kathy later.

Although Sarah wasn’t sure about the direction of her life, she did understand that she wanted to make the next few years really pay off so she would have more options and be able to do the “non-work” things she dreamed of doing.  So she devised a 4 year plan to buy a house to at least have a home already paid for which she could never be put out of and for her work to be home-based for whatever direction she pursues.  While her plans seemed vague, she actually committed herself to doing whatever it takes to earn enough to buy a house free and clear in 4 years time so that she would have more financial freedom and choices down the line.  That’s enough of a goal to work toward to start with. 

Sarah realized she didn’t have many skills so she looked around to see what she could do.  What she lacked in skills, she made up for with enthusiasm!  She decided to apply to be a waitress at the most popular upscale restaurant near her parent’s home where she lived.  Luckily, she was hired and learned how to give great service to customers in order to increase her tips, because it was her tips that gave her the biggest portion of her take-home pay.  Legally, a restaurant must pay workers minimum wage or higher and because waitpersons get tips (compared to other restaurant workers who don’t) they are paid a much smaller minimum wage every week (typically $2.00 or less), and thus must rely on their tips to round-out their real weekly take home pay.

Sarah learned quickly how to get the big bucks in tips by waiting on people promptly, being friendly and helpful.  She always kept her areas bussed and cleaned and pitched in with other tasks during the dinner rush hours.  She kept busy and people noticed.  She took an active interest in how the chefs cooked the food so she could describe it better to customers, and learned about wines so she could recommend a good wine to go with every meal.  Her employer really appreciated this about Sarah because she helped him sell more wine and he even started a wine club on the side because Sarah helped to create more of an interest in wine among the customers.  All of her efforts led to promotions for Sarah and she got the pick of the best times to work.  This enabled her to increase her income exponentially each year. 

Sarah was soon working 5 dinner shifts a week including the lucrative weekend shifts and because she had applied herself, she got very good at her job.  She started out at $1.95 an hour minimum wage yet earned $22,000 her first year (her minimum wage checks totaled $4,000, and tips made up the rest).  Each succeeding year she increased her income and tips by $2000 annually.  So in 4 year’s time she earned a total well over 6-figures.  After paying her parents $200 a month for room and board, plus paying her taxes, transportation costs and other miscellaneous expenses, she managed to save $67,000.

At the end of 4 years time, she had saved enough to shop for a house.  In a smaller town just 17 miles from her parent’s house (and slightly closer to the restaurant where she worked) she found an older 1920’s house for sale.  It was a 2 bedroom 1 bath cottage-style house with a walk-out basement on a quarter acre of land.  Sarah paid just $57,000 for the home and owned it free and clear. 

The home needed some upgrades including a dry-sealing of the walk-out basement and fresh paint inside and out.  She removed all the old carpeting and found wonderful original wood flooring, which she sanded and refinished herself.  With all these upgrades, Sarah had depleted her remaining savings down to just $4,000 for her “emergency fund,”  but luckily, her best friend Kathy finally graduated college and had landed a job as a teacher in this same small town.

Sarah rented Kathy a room in her home for $400 a month, which was the going rate for this type of room rent in her area.  This arrangement worked out very well for Kathy, because she incurred student loan debt of over $47,000 between both her Bachelor and Master degrees in Education.  After completing all her college degrees, the Federal Government began enforcing the repayment of the loans, so even though she was working, she could not afford to rent her own apartment!  Kathy figured at least renting a room for a few years from her friend gave her some independence and a way to pay off her student loans quickly.

Sarah saved the money Kathy paid her and used it on more home improvements, including having a second full bathroom built in the basement, where she created a separate apartment to rent to a female teacher friend of Kathy’s.  She charged $600 a month for her 1 bedroom basement apartment plus $400 for the room upstairs to her friend Kathy.  Thus, in just four year’s time, Sarah had:

1.  Learned a trade and increase her knowledge base to earn a modest income;

2.  Saved enough money to buy a house free and clear;

3.  Became a landlord through renting rooms and leveraging the room rental to pay for

creating a basement apartment in her home, all of which;

4.  Added to her net worth and increased her monthly income;

5.  This extra money helped her maintain her home and helped her discover another use for her yard which she soon learned to leverage as another income stream, enabling her to quit her waitress job and start a home-based, part-time business!

How did Sarah use her yard? 

While reading about inexpensive ornamental plants, shrubs and trees (which she wanted to use in her own yard), she discovered she could grow them herself and then turn around and sell them to landscapers and plant nurseries and make a nice income.  After further research she learned a certain ornamental tree accounts for most landscaping needs around new home construction, buildings and industrial parks.  This specific species of tree is the most lucrative tree sold by landscapers and nurseries.

Armed with this information, Sarah felt confident she could earn $10,000 growing this tree to a certain height within 2 years time, in order to sell them wholesale to other growers for $10 each.  Spending $600, she bought and planted 1,200 of this type tree as seedlings in her backyard (which surprisingly didn’t take up much space at all).  All she had to do was make sure they got plenty of sunshine, water, the occasional plant food, and mulch before winter.  In 2 years time 1,100 of the 1,200 seedlings grew to sufficient height and she sold them all.  The experience was such a pleasant one for Sarah, she determined to do it again, and grow other kinds of plants to sell.  The point being, she had found another way to earn a huge amount of money with part-time effort, which could finance almost anything she wants to do!

All of this happened because Sarah wisely determined to save enough money in four year’s time to buy a house free and clear rather than go to college and go into deep student loan debt. 

Today, Sarah’s monthly expenses are practically zero because she has no house payment to a mortgage company.  She has additional passive income from her rentals and has found a way to use her large backyard for a lucrative part-time business.

Given what Sarah was able to accomplish in just 4 years, eventually she quit being a waitress and began a small market garden in her yard, growing the herbs used by chefs in restaurants.  She added a year ’round greenhouse with ventilation and heat and grows enough fresh herbs to supply several area restaurants, working only part-time.  In fact, her former employer was her first customer!  Sarah still grows the ornamental trees and sells those, too.

Between the part-time herb and ornamental tree business, plus her rental income, she has replaced her modest former income as a waitress.  At age 25, she owns a home free and clear, is financially solvent, debt free, works part-time yet earns a full-time income and can afford to do just about anything she wants.  This is real freedom!

Additionally, Sarah discovered she really enjoys growing things and has made this her career.  She is even contemplating buying a couple acres of farmland to expand her herb and tree business.

Not bad for an average high school student who chose not to go to college, is it? 

Here’s another example of how people can leverage their savings to plant themselves on firm financial ground and give themselves a better future.

JOHN AND SALLY’S STORY

John and Sally were high school Juniors when they first went steady.  An unplanned pregnancy during the fall of their Senior year meant that Sally completed her high school diploma online at home.

Right after John graduated in June, the pair were married and Sally gave birth to a healthy son.  At first they were living in the basement of John’s parent’s home.  Rather than go to college, John decided to take a job offered to him at a local lumber supply company.  He earned $11 an hour working long hours, always volunteering to work overtime and to fill in when other employees were out sick or on vacation. 

Sally also chose to not go to college, as she now had adult parenting responsibilities.  She did find work as a babysitter/caretaker in the home of a career woman who worked full-time but had a 2-year-old daughter.  This was a perfect job for Sally because she could bring her own infant son to work with her and care for him at the same time she took care of the 2 year-old girl.  Her duties were fairly light:  making meals, doing some housework and playing with the children.   This was a full-time job for Sally and she was paid $180 a week.

John and Sally’s combined income was $730 a week.  They determined to have a place of their own and to be financially free as soon as possible, so they made a 4 year plan, as follows:

After taxes, their net income was $30,000 a year using every legal deduction available to married couples. 

They determined to pay John’s parents $500 a month for their basement bedroom and half bath, including all utilities and meals.   Since John owned his own car, he would drop off Sally at work every morning and pick her up later each day.  On days he worked longer hours, John’s Mother would pick up Sally and son and bring them home from work.  John’s transportation costs were gasoline ($50 a month) and car insurance, (rather high at $1200 a year).  Here’s what their 4 year plan budget looked like:

Rent, utilities and meals – $500 a month x 12 months = $6000 a year

Gasoline – $50 a month x 12 months = $600 a year

Car insurance – $1200 a year = $1200 a year

Total amount = $7800

Out of the $22,200 that remained, they were very frugal and saved $21,000 each year.  They got all their clothes at resale and thrift stores, and asked for gift cards from friends and family for birthdays and holidays and used them for “date nights,” family occasions and diapers.  In 4 year’s time, they were able to save $84,000.

John had an interest in building things and decided to buy a 3/4 acre property on the edge of town that had a run-down, older 2 bedroom 1 bath single-wide mobile home on it for $62,000.  It didn’t look like much but the property came with an intact septic system and well water with a good flow rate.  Kathy spent her weekends cleaning and fixing it up and it was quickly made livable for the growing family. 

Using his employee discount at the lumber yard where he worked, plus finding doors, windows and hardware at a salvage yard, John built a small combination shop and single-car garage, for less than $14,000.  He saved money pouring the concrete foundation and doing most of the finish work himself.  Many passers-by were impressed with his work and contracted with him to build similar structures.  John discovered he could earn more money and do a faster job by buying prefabricated garages at wholesale prices, and then erecting them in one or two days, hiring temp workers to help.  During the warmer months, he would erect 5 to 8 of these structures and make additional money which went into savings.

One day he was approached to build a small house on a trailer frame for a young man who wanted to travel the country yet have a tiny house to live in rather than purchase an RV trailer.  He needed a small darkroom in the tiny house because he was a professional photographer and figured a custom built dark room would give him everything he wanted, rather than trying to rig a darkroom in an RV.       

John found this to be a very interesting project and started to work on building additional small homes on trailer frames.  He enjoyed this work because it didn’t involve the hassle of dealing with hired day labor and he could custom craft a home with his own special touches, except when he had the electrical and plumbing systems professionally installed. 

John’s income from this extra work enabled Sally to stay home with the children (a second child, a girl, by this time) and he eventually opened his own business creating and building tiny homes, tapping into this lucrative niche housing market.  3 years after moving into their own home, John was able to afford a custom-built stick home on their property, which was also paid for free and clear.  They finally moved out of the 900 square foot mobile home and into their custom 2300 square foot stick built home. 

Let’s Recap

In just 4 year’s time, John and Sally:

1.  Decided not to attend college and instead, found work locally that fit their skill levels right out of high school;

2.  Used their combined income to save enough money to buy a home free and clear, which;

3.  Helped give John additional experience in construction; which he leveraged into;

4.  A nice side business which enabled Sally to be a stay-at-home Mom, which;

5.  Allowed John to gain the skills and experience needed to make custom tiny houses in a lucrative niche housing market; affording them enough money to;

6.  Have a custom built home on their own land (all paid for free and clear) PLUS a new full-time job for John as a tiny home builder. 

So by age 22, John and Sally owned a home, had no debt and were financially secure.  

Additionally, in just 3 more years by age 25, John had gained enough experience to work from his own custom-built home on his 3/4 acre lot, building custom tiny homes for others, earning more than 6-figures a year.

All of this was accomplished ONLY because they made a 4-year plan to save enough money to buy a home free and clearand NOT go to college, incurring massive debt.  All of the extra income that would have been spent on housing went into their savings, which gave them a nice emergency fund, and the means for John to make a very lucrative living and provide for his family.  

Because they made a financial plan and stuck with it for four years, they were able to eliminate a future cost for housing.  Today, John and Sally can save and invest most of their income, providing financial security for their entire family well into the future.

All of these examples proves this Truth: 

If you are willing to do for a few years what others are not, you will achieve more than mere wealth;  you will achieve a self-disciplined life which can enable you to do anything.  THIS is the real education we should all pursue.

Is It Too Late For You?

Even if you have been out of high school for many years, it’s never too late to start a four-year plan of your own.  If you are willing to do whatever it takes to save as much money as possible in order to buy a house and own it free and clear, you can achieve real financial freedom!  This is not impossible. 

Regardless of when you begin this journey, you still must ask yourself the same questions:  What will your future look like?  What will you choose to do?  I encourage you to make your own 4 year plan today and find the discipline to pursue the completion of your plan.  If you do, I guarantee you will be better off financially and be able to weather any financial storm.

Good Luck!

About the Author: This is a guest post by PJ Graves. PJ is a retired award-winning radio broadcaster, news reporter and writer, whose reporting has been featured on national radio networks and whose articles have been on Survivalblog, Prepper Website, Rapture Ready and various online news magazines. In addition to writing,  PJ runs Golden Page Media*, a digital publishing business with free email newsletter featuring innovative ways to save money, side-gigs, prepping tips and little-known ways to change careers without going into debt or paying for training.  She enjoys home church, living in Amish Country, exploring historic sites, classic films, cooking, volunteering at a local food bank, and small town living.

Note:  To get PJ’s free newsletter, click on the link to Golden Page media and click on “Contact” in the upper right hand corner.  Let PJ know you want the free newsletter and include your email address.

Financially Free

How to Be Financially Free – Tangibles Investing in an Uncertain Future – Part 3 Read More »

Tangibles Investing in an Uncertain Economy: How a 42-year-old book holds the key to beat inflation

Everywhere you look, financial experts are warning we could see double-digit inflation in 2022. Like all bad news, it never comes at a good moment when our debts are all paid, our investments are doing well, and our jobs are secure. Life doesn’t happen that way. However, investment advice published 42 years ago in a book laid out a plan that still works and will show you how to beat inflation. Moreover, this plan is easy for anyone to do, is 100% risk-free, and guaranteed to save you money now and long into the future.

The Alpha Strategy by John A. Pugsley came out during double-digit inflation in 1980. It quickly became a national bestseller, staying on the New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks in 1981. The author, John A. Pugsley, set out to show average Americans how they could use the idea of tangibles investing as a hedge against rising inflation. Additionally, he showed them how the strategy could help them save and invest money for the future. He dubbed this strategy “The Ultimate Plan of Financial Self-Defense for the Small Saver and Investor.”

The core idea of The Alpha Strategy is to invest in what Pugsley terms “Level Four Consumable Products.” These are commonly-used tangible items like health & beauty products, cleaning products, clothing, tools and parts, paper & plastic products, home & yard maintenance products, vehicle maintenance products, food, and other miscellaneous products. These everyday household consumer products see price increases yearly, either by design changes, corporate re-branding, downsizing the packaging, or inflation. Pugsley showed how to protect yourself from inflation and save money over the long term by buying several years’ worth of each item you often use. Using The Alpha Strategy can mitigate the effects of inflation, giving you greater cash flow and savings.

Practical and Financial Self-Defense to Beat Inflation

Pugsley’s idea of “financial self-defense” is not only practical but easy to do for nearly everyone. You can invest in tangible products at today’s current low cost, which is guaranteed to be less than you will pay for the same item in two years, ten years, or twenty years. Once you know how much of a single product you use in one year and know its shelf life, you can invest by “buying ahead” as many years of it as you can afford.

The more years you can buy of a “year’s worth” of a product, is how you beat inflation. Just make sure you don’t buy more years than the maximum number of years of a products’ shelf life. With all this description of purchasing several “years’ worth” of numerous products, you’d think this was an expensive investment. Luckily, this strategy can be started with small amounts of discretionary income and is not out of reach for the average saver and investor.

For example, toothpaste lasts indefinitely. Your favorite brand of toothpaste costs $1.89. If you buy ten years’ worth of this toothpaste for yourself today, you have locked in the lower price for a decade into the future. That’s one less item you will need to pay for over and over again, and you never have to pay a higher price for it at any time in the next ten years.

Let’s Look At the Math:

The average household uses two toothpaste tubes each year, brushing twice daily.

So ten years’ worth of toothpaste will be 20 tubes (10×2 tubes = 20). Each tube cost $1.89×20 = $37.80 + tax at the current price. You may pay less for the same toothpaste if you purchase it on sale or with a coupon or buy all the toothpaste at a Dollar Store. However you do it, you have now eliminated the cost of this item for the next ten years. You will save the amount you pay, plus any cost difference based on rising prices due to inflation or the same cost for a smaller-sized tube. Either way, you save money.

Read More: Hygiene Supplies – How Much Do You Really Need?

How much can you save if you created your own “store” and stocked it with all the products you regularly use – up to ten years’ worth? Once you have a 10-year supply of something, you will not need to go to the store again to buy any more for ten years. So no matter what it costs in the years ahead, you already have enough on hand at today’s lower price.

It’s So Easy!

To utilize The Alpha Strategy, keep all receipts when you shop, so you can track what you buy. Next, write down all the level four consumer products you use and the current price for each. Then figure out how much of each item you use in a year. Once you have these numbers, you can budget your purchases. Finally, look up their shelf life.

If the shelf life of an item is ten years or more, stockpile ten years’ worth of it. Do this for as many items as possible on your list, provided each item will last that long or longer. (The Alpha Strategy has a long list of the Shelf Lives of Level Four Consumables in the Appendix at the back of the book. For a FREE copy of the book without the Shelf Life Appendix, SEE link at the end of the article).

Alpha Strategy

The goal is to know how much of each product you use in a year and purchase ten years’ worth of that product at the least-expensive current price to lock in those savings for as many years possible. If you can’t afford ten years’ worth of an item, then try to buy ahead seven years or five or three. Be consistent! Buy the same number of “years’ worth” of every product on your list, provided its shelf life is not less than that number. Do what you can afford, but get started!

How I Beat Inflation

I started doing this type of tangible investing by spending $60 at a Dollar Store and bought 10-year’s worth of 3 products I use all the time. After bringing the items home, I stacked them neatly inside a file cabinet I keep for storage at the back of my clothes closet.

Every payday, I took another $60 and repeated the process for more products I use all the time. Over 51 weeks, I built up my “store.” I now have ten years’ worth of 153 products I use all the time in my store. The cost to me was $3060, but I have ten years’ worth of the 153 items I use all the time. That $3060 will not need to be spent during the next ten years to replace these items because I have these items already on hand. When I run out of one, I go to the file cabinet and take out another.

The effect of doing this on my lifestyle was nearly immediate. I started to see that my spending went down each week, which improved my cash flow and allowed me to do other things with the money I wasn’t spending to replace any of these items. Granted, we are not talking huge sums of money here. Still, savings add up if you diligently apply this technique to ALL the consumer products you use on an ongoing basis. Depending on the size of your household, it can free up a few hundred dollars or much more each month, which you can invest, get out of debt or save for a rainy day.

Read More: Financial Preparedness: 5 Ways to Better Your Financial Situation

The Bottom Line

The Alpha Strategy is a common-sense way to protect from the ravages of inflation. Best of all – it’s 100% risk-free. As supply chains are breaking down, its’ good to know you have a modest stockpile of the items you need for years to come!

You can find a free copy of The Alpha Strategy online at The Wayback Machine, here: https://web.archive.org/web/20131220063428/http://zombieprepdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/book2-preface.pdf or purchase a copy on Amazon.

Author: This is a guest post by PJ Graves. PJ Graves is a retired award-winning radio broadcaster, news reporter and writer, whose news reporting has been featured on national radio networks and whose articles have been on Survivalblog, Prepper Website, Rapture Ready and various online news magazines. In addition to writing, PJ enjoys home church, living in Amish Country, exploring historic sites, classic films, cooking, volunteering at a local food bank, and small town living.

Tangibles Investing in an Uncertain Economy: How a 42-year-old book holds the key to beat inflation Read More »

60 Ways to Save Money NOW (Without Too Much Effort) For Saving, Investing or Buying More Preps

Everyone can always use extra money.  Having more money tops the list of every New Year’s Resolutions.  Most people don’t realize the extra money they need may already be within what they already earn.  It’s just a matter of re-thinking how you spend it.  If you want to save money now, here are 60 ways to help you find more money for saving, investing or buying more preps.

1.  Bake your own bread.  Store bought bread runs about $2.00 – $3.95 a loaf.  Homemade bread typically costs about 60 cents a loaf.  Plus, it is much healthier for you.

2.  Learn to make soups, stews and casseroles using cheaper meats or no meat at all.  All can be frozen and made in large quantities for leftover meals for days.  Very economical and healthier way to eat.

3.  Buy in bulk quantities and learn to cook from scratch.  The combination of these two can literally cut your grocery bill in half or more.  Once you build up a repertoire of meals from ingredients you buy in bulk, your monthly grocery costs will dramatically decrease.

4.  Go without a vehicle.  Walk, ride a bike, carpool or take public transportation instead.

5.  Set up “averaged” utility payments.  Just contact the utility service and ask to be put on “averaged” billing each month.  They will take a year’s worth of your bills and average them, and you will be billed that amount.  This will eliminate the highs and lows of your bills, making it easier to see how much you are really saving when you take steps to eliminate energy waste at home.

6.  Trim and/or cut your own hair, or cut down on the number of trips to the hair salon/barber.

7.  Start a garden.  Not only will you get the satisfaction of this wonderful skill, you will literally be making food for yourself and your family at pennies on the dollar.  Start small, and keep a log of all you do.  That is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t each growing season to growing season.   Use heirloom seeds and you will never need to buy seeds for the next crop ever again.

8.  Learn to preserve food.  Dry canning is the easiest way to start and will make your food budget smaller. 

9.  Eliminate or cut down on eating out. 

10.  Instead of Starbucks, make your own coffee.

What to Eliminate and Make to Save Money Now

11.  Eliminate cable/satellite or reduce your monthly bill by getting a cheaper package deal.

12.  Read more.  Use the local library for books and magazines.  Also check out their DVD movies and audio books. 

13.  Make your own cleaning products.  There are many You Tube videos that show you how by combining low-cost ingredients to do the same or better cleaning job than what you spend on brand name cleaners. 

14.  Make your own beauty products.  All quality beauty products use the same raw materials.    Watch You Tube channels that show you how to acquire these raw materials at low cost, and how to make your own beauty products.

15.  If you must keep a car/truck/van, learn to repair it yourself.  At least learn how to do your own oil changes and tune-ups.  This could turn into a side-line business for you. 

16.  Find a cheaper housing option.  If you’re single, rent a room, or get a roommate, or rent out an extra room if you have one.  If you like living alone, find a much cheaper place to live.  For some in order to save money, they move into an RV, van or even their car.  Weigh all the options and decide what you are willing to do to lower the largest item on every household budget:  the cost of a roof over your head. 

17.  Don’t buy anything new.  Look for good quality used items first at thrift stores, on Craigslist or eBay.  Make sure it’s still a bargain if you have to pay shipping.  If you can’t find an item you want this way, ask family or friends for it as a gift for your birthday or Christmas.

18.  Cancel unused subscriptions.  Read current issues at the library or ask for new subscriptions as a gift.

19.  Buy generic.  If you can’t part with your favorite brands, at least try to buy them in bulk or in multiples at wholesale or reduced prices.

20.  Shop for new insurance.  Once you find a better price for the same or comparable coverage, contact your current insurer and ask them to price match it.  Most often than not, they will.  What have you got to lose?

What to Change to Save Money Now

21.  Turn down your thermostat.  Why pay for heating or cooling while you are away from home and at work or on a trip?

22.  Lower your cell phone’s data plan or get a new cell phone provider that has a way better deal.

23.  If you have an emergency fund already saved, then increase your deductible on car insurance.  Make sure you always have enough to cover any unforeseen repairs or accidents.

24.  Take advantage of free or low-cost health screenings at your local clinic/hospital and those offered through your health insurance plan.  This can save you additional thousands of dollars later and may detect anything serious before it gets much worse.

25.  Quit smoking.  Yes, Virginia, there are people who still smoke cigarettes.  Add legalized marijuana now to that list.  Quit this stuff!   Your overall health will improve and you will save a bundle on more than just shelling out for another pack of smokes.  Your health insurance costs will also go down for each year you remain a non-smoker.

26.  Learn simple sewing to repair your own clothes, instead of buying new.  Start small: learn to darn a hole or repair a tear by hand, using a needle and thread.  For more substantial repairs (hemming, new edging, or making your own clothes), get a sewing machine.  Look for a top-quality used machine on Craigslist/eBay or ask for a new one as a gift.

27.  If you own a vehicle, inflate your tires.  Did you know for every 3 pounds per square inch (PSI) that your tires are below recommended levels, you’re losing 1% in fuel efficiency? This is a common problem especially during the winter, when tires are more prone to leaking. By keeping your tires properly inflated, you could save up to $65 per year on gas.  This will also extend the life of your tires by over 1,000 miles, so you won’t need to buy new tires as often.

28.  Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, LEDs, halogen, incandescent, and compact fluorescent lamps use between 25% and 80% less electricity than traditional light bulbs. This can add up to a savings of $75 per year. Additionally, energy-efficient light bulbs can also last up to 25 times longer, so you won’t have to replace them as frequently.

29.  Turn off lights when you leave a room.  Why pay for energy you are not using?

30.  Start a “no spend” day habit.  Select a day each week where you spend no money on anything.  Can you do it?  If you can stick with it, you may be able to expand the “no spend” concept to more days each month.

Learn to Save

31.  If you own a vehicle, find the best gas rewards card available in your area and sign up for it.  Be careful to compare apples to apples!  A Sam’s Club membership of $250 may not save you money if you don’t buy at Sam’s Club often enough to justify the expense.

32.  Learn how to feed yourself and your family on a tiny budget.  There are several You Tube channels devoted entirely to feeding a family of 6 on $42 or less a week!

33.  Ask for generic prescription drugs.  Branded drugs cost more than their generic counterparts.  If you take more than a few prescriptions each month, you could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars per year just by switching to generic drugs. 

34.  Buy a water filter instead of buying bottled water.  Low-cost filter pitchers (like Britta) or a gravity-fed filter can save you money by eliminating bottled water purchases.

35.  Use a clothesline instead of the dryer.  The more clothes you can drip dry at home equals more money saved in electricity or at the laundromat.  If you rent, you can hang up clothes to dry over your bathtub, or in a utility space with the floor covered to handle the drips.

36.  Exercise on a regular basis.  Do it from home and save the cost of a gym membership. This will reduce your cost of healthcare, and improve your overall sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction.

37.  When exercising at home, use canned fruit or vegetables as hand weights, eliminating the need to buy them.   If you get heavily into weight use, look for a local used weight set on Craigslist or at a thrift store and don’t buy brand new ones.

38.  Buy Forever Stamps.  The cost of postage seems to rise just when you need a stamp and now your old ones are not enough.  Buying Forever Stamps means that you can use them without having to pay extra when the price of stamps goes up.

39.  Scour the dumpsters around a carpet store for used sets of carpet samples.  These typically come in large enough swatches so they can be used as door mats and car mats, and  under pet bowls.  Sew four together and make an area rug or bathmat.

40.  Scour the dumpsters by fabric stores.  They will often contain swatch books of fabrics in large enough sizes you can re-purpose as clothes patches or quilt blocks.  If you don’t need them, you can re-package them and sell them on eBay, Craigslist or at flea markets to those who do use them.

Dig a Little Bit to Save Money Now

41.  Oftentimes behind stores in strip malls are store fixtures to be thrown or hauled away. You can find scrap metal to sell, or items which can be re-purposed to use in your home.  I once found a bakery shelf used to sell local baked goods, which now works as a linen shelf in my bathroom.  Before taking anything, always ask permission!

42.   Learn to make your own furniture or refinish furniture for your own home decorating. What starts as a simple home project could become a way to earn extra income.

43.  Rent certain items instead of buying them.  This is especially a good idea if you only occasionally use power tools.  If you use an item only once or twice a year, rent it instead of buy.

44.  Ask for discounts on any service you use regularly.  For example, if you visit a hair stylist frequently, ask for a discount on the price.  Explain you may have to cut back on the number of visits unless you get a discount.  Tell them you will also recommend them to others. 

45.  A frequently overlooked deep discounted food source is a local country or ranch feed store.   For example, they sell oats in 50 lb bags that are the same kind of oats humans consume, at a much lower price than charged at grocery stores.  What you don’t use immediately can be dry canned and stored in jars or food grade buckets.  The savings to you can be substantial.

46.  Another source of discounted food is a local market garden that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to area restaurants, often at significant savings compared to grocery stores.  Find them and negotiate a frequent purchase of those items you use.  What you don’t use, you can can for use later.

47.  Go to U-Pick farms and harvest your own corn, apples, green beans, berries, nuts, etc.  Can what you don’t immediately use for future consumption, sell it to friends and neighbors and recoup your cost.

48.  Another variation of this, is to find the local produce wholesaler (those that sell fruits and vegetables) and open a commercial account.  Consume what you buy, can extra for later but make sure to include bagged apples, oranges, pears, etc.  Then sell those to friends and neighbors or other groups you belong to at a discounted price from the grocery store price, in order to earn back what you spent on the food.  I know someone who does this and markets bagged fruit to people in RV campgrounds and parks and makes a tidy income for themselves, in addition to getting their own produce paid for by others!

49.  Learn to make your own fast foods.  Start with breakfast bars and branch out.  People usually spend way too much money on convenience and fast foods when they think they don’t have the time to make them.  Set aside one afternoon a week to bake/cook for the rest of the week.  This is one of the fastest ways I know to learn and improve upon new cooking skills that will save you a bundle every month.

50.  Downsize!  Start with selling off all the unused items just collecting dust in your home. You will be surprised at how much money is just waiting to be found sitting in closets, in boxes and on shelves.  You may discover some long-forgotten item that could be given as a gift, sparing you that cost outlay later.  Did you find old magazines?  Bundle them and sell them!  People have also found vintage advertising or photographs in magazines and placed them inside frames to decorate their own homes or to sell to others.  Don’t just sell everything on eBay, either.  If you suspect you have a vintage item, do a little online research and find out what it is truly worth, then sell on the best platform to get the highest price for it.  Even old clothes that no longer fit you can be sold on Poshmark, eBay and Etsy (if it’s vintage) for big bucks.

Be Creative to Save

51.  If you live near a college or university, mark when semesters end on your calendar and dumpster dive by the dormitories during finals week.  You will find scads of barely-used bottles of laundry detergent, plus plenty of other items like ironing boards, mini-fridges, small tables,  folding chairs – just about anything that can’t be fit into Mom and Dad’s car when going home.    I know a gal who literally finds a half-year’s worth of laundry detergent this way.  What you can’t use, you can still sell. 

52.  If you own a vehicle, make it a good used truck or van.  You get the benefit of having a means of transportation, plus a way to make extra income by renting out the use of your truck for moves.  If you don’t want to offer a full-service moving service, then you can help people save money on their move by paying you to drive the truck while they load it. Charge by the size of the job or how many trips it will take back and forth to their new residence.  You can also advertise for free that you will take loads to the county dump for people.  They load, you haul and you get paid.  You may need to get comprehensive vehicle insurance, but take all your costs involved when you set your prices.   If you are making payments on your vehicle, your goal should be to earn enough money to cover your loan payment every month.  With just a little hustle, your truck or van could be earning a sizable second income and pay for your vehicle.

53.  Make notepaper out of junk mail.  Everyone needs notepads in various places around the house, but why pay for those?  Take the junk mail you get, and recycle the blank portions of the envelope or inside papers and use them as notepads.  I’ve seen people take small boxes, cut them down to be a tray to hold all the re-purposed note paper they salvage from their junk mail.

54.  When you rent a carpet cleaner machine for a day, offer to do someone else’s carpet the same or the next day.  Charge them less than what the pros would charge, but more than what the equipment rental fee is to you.  You just got your own carpets cleaned for free and you made a bit extra to boot!

RELATED: Financial Preparedness: 5 Ways to Better Your Financial Situation

55.  Save all the little slivers of used bar soap.  At the end of the year, shred them using a grater and place the shreds in an old pot, melt them on a medium heat on the stove.  Using silicon or metal molds (like candy molds, muffin tins), lightly spray the molds with cooking spray and fill with the melted soap.  Let it cool down and harden, then pop out your new soaps for use.

56.  Buy clothes in neutral colors.  This will actually allow you to create more outfits based on your existing basic wardrobe.  You can change the look of an outfit by incorporating less expensive accessories (scarves, belts, vests, sweaters) in brighter colors giving you more variety for less cost.

57.  If you have room, buy a freezer.  Low-cost used freezers can be found on Craigslist or in local classified ads.  New freezers can be purchased for about $150 on up.  Owning a freezer allows you to stock up on perishables when they go on sale, saving you money overall.  This is especially important for you meat-eaters!  The money you save will more than pay for the freezer.

58.  Use online garage and estate sale reminders when looking for particular item(s).  Sign up for free at several of these type of websites, including:  https://garagesalefinder.com ; https://www.yardsalesearch.com/ ; https://gsalr.com ; https://www.estatesale-finder.com ; https://www.estatesales.net ; https://estatesales.org/estate-sales, to name a few of such services.  You can set up your search for particular items in your area, and set your search area to how far you are willing to travel to such a sale.  This is a very good way to find quality goods at low cost.  Be prepared to haggle!

59.  If you do not have a will, but do not want to pay the high attorney fees, in some states you can create your own will and have it notarized for free at your bank or credit union.  If you are unsure how to go about this,  ask at your local bank if they offer a notary service and if they have any will forms.  They should be able to help you. 

60.  Use the money you save or earn by using these techniques by starting a new savings account with a local credit union.  Credit unions are great places to do business because they typically offer lower-cost accounts and loans at lower interest rates than banks.  You may not need all of their services now, but perhaps in the future they will save you money.  So start that relationship now, by socking away all of your “found” dollars!

You may not need to do each of these suggestions, but if you find a few to be useful, it will help you find the extra money you already have to save, invest or buy more preps. 

This is a guest post by Dare Tuitt.

60 Ways to Save Money NOW (Without Too Much Effort) For Saving, Investing or Buying More Preps Read More »

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