Money, Personal Growth

My Early Retirement Failure

I retired from the paycheck world in 2011 for a variety of reasons — unfortunately, every single one of them was wrong for me. I had thought that all the bases were covered and that I knew what I was doing and why … but none of them were truly honest with my core self. This situation was a recipe for disaster, and disaster is exactly what happened.

From my own experience, now when I think of retiring early a number of questions leap to mind because I REALLY do not want to repeat that mistake.

(1) WHY? This is a simple sounding question, but if the answer isn’t fully investigated and really understood, there could be all kinds of hidden subconscious reasons which are waiting in the wings to spring out and blind side you. In my case, insecurity and the need to end the burn-out were the subconscious motivators I never even saw coming. Combined, these threw me into a depressive spiral that took me a few years to dig out of. So really, consider all the myriad and sundry whys because there’s never just one. Specifically look for the clues as to where the subconscious pitfalls may be hiding.

(2) PURPOSE/VALUE. Looking into where your sense of purpose and value comes from is related to the why but a bit deeper. I had no idea just how much of my sense of value as a person was derived from my paycheck. What a nasty eye opener that one was! Combine a sense of giving no value to the household with a sense of having no purpose to get me up in the mornings and this absolutely gave me the knock-out punch to the depression I mentioned above and why it lasted so long. Once I formally re-entered the work-world and got my first real paycheck, I was shocked at how quickly I was able to not only recover but suddenly my interest in pursuing my own business went from drudgery to an exciting challenge. The irony! I even had energy left-over to tackle some of the many hobby projects which sat idle while I was “retired”. Again, this is a very serious set of questions to consider. Retiring to discover that self-esteem and sense of purpose vanish is another potentially devastating surprise I wouldn’t want anyone to face.

(3) SUPPORT. There is nothing worse than leaving the work-force only to face a partner who has changed their mind about the situation. The questions of Why and Purpose/Value need to be explored through the partner’s perspective as well. In my case, my partner was all for it before hand. Totally supportive. Until the paychecks actually stopped and his value of “financial security” felt threatened for the first time. Not the case, but he felt it was true and so it may as well have been. Combine that with my depression and he really was unsupportive. Again, not a fun situation. If you have a partner who won’t be retiring at the same time you do, discuss the plans until every facet has been covered as best as possible – and keep talking even after. Consider also the possibility there may be a discrepancy between “theory” and “actuality”!

(4) EXIT STRATEGY. What if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason? I listen to the early retirees and there are a number who go back to work. I am one of them. Fortunately, my stint being “retired” gave me a whole new perspective on the meaning of work. Now I work where I want to and because I find the work exciting or challenging. If that changes or doesn’t allow me to keep growing, I’m going somewhere else. No qualms about that! What did come as a surprise is that most employers aren’t really interested in hiring entrepreneurs. It’s been challenging digging my way back into an environment that I want to be in. I’m still not there, but I’m much closer.

And that’s a bit about what I learned from retiring early. I also learned that I can never do that again. I’ll be working until I die – though being freed from the feeling of being trapped by any job has been amazing. I could retire if I wanted to, but I choose not to. A very different place to be!

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Hall of Mirrors

Some Ideas Should Pack a Punch

Human trafficking. What an … innocuous sounding phrase. Sanitized. Intellectualized. Removed from the grit. In other words, it’s been churched up. Feel your gut emotional response when you hear about modern human trafficking issues.  Pay attention to the power those words have on you, on your attention. This a concept we can sit around at tea discussing like civilized people with our pinky in the air.

Now let’s replace those sterilized words with their original ones.

Slave Trade. Feel your gut emotional response when you hear about the modern slave trade in action. How many children are stolen for the SLAVE TRADE, by SLAVE TRADERS today. In 2017. Right here in America. It’s not about race. Or gender. Or class. It’s about money, and assholes who have no soul who’ll do anything for it.

There are some concepts which should NOT BE sanitized. Which should punch you in the gut and rob you of breath in horror. This is one of them. There are no ‘human traffickers’ — there are only slave traders.

 

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Money

Money Tip #1

Never shop hungry.

Sounds simple, yes? Well, it is. I had NO idea just how much hunger affected my tendency to put stuff I didn’t really want into my shopping cart. Shopping while hungry at the grocery store is the WORST of the possibilities, though. The hungrier I am when I walk into the store, the more junk I walk out with. “But these Oreo’s were in a big display case and they looked soooo … gooooood”. *drool*

If I go to the store right after eating, I’m 99.9% more likely to stick to my list or not get anything at all (I made that statistic up). Now? I try to always eat before doing any kind of shopping, especially grocery shopping but anything really. If I’m hungry, it’s like that hunger demands “grab everything!” and I do. It’s so sad.

Try it for yourself. Shop while hungry, then when you’re full. Find out how it affects you … and your wallet.

 

About the Featured Image: from a post on ABCNews about shopping hungry and how much more junk food is purchased on average. See?! It’s not just me with this advise, though my take is $$ not health.

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Hermetic, Magick

Greek Aspirate

Been trying to learn all the information in 0=0 ritual, using Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn” book (pgs 117-133). Specifically, I want to understand the 3 chief officers: Hierophant, Hiereus, and the Hegemon and I’m going to do this by first looking at what I am informed is the significance of the names. The names are of merit because they all begin with H – which presents “life; because the Letter H is our mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing, and Breath is the evidence of life.” (pg 118)

I know wikipedia is not a particularly reliable source, but here it is:

Eta (uppercase Η, lowercase η; Ancient Greek: ἦτα Greek pronunciation: [êːtaː] or Modern Greek: ήτα Greek pronunciation: [ˈita]) is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet. Originally denoting a consonant /h/, its sound value in the classical Attic dialect of Ancient Greek was a long vowel [ɛː], raised to [i] in hellenistic Greek, a process known as iotacism.

In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 8. It was derived from the Phoenician letter heth Phoenician heth.svg. Letters that arose from eta include the Latin H and the Cyrillic letter И. (1)

And this:

Heta is a conventional name for the historical Greek alphabet letter Eta (Η) and several of its variants, when used in their original function of denoting the consonant /h/. (2)

Trying to find out more about this, I learned some things about ancient Greek. Specifically, that “Every word that begins with a vowel will have a breathing mark above the initial vowel (or vowel sound).” (3)

So if these Greek names are pronounced, the Eta would have a little mark in front of it. If the mark looks like a reverse comma, this a “rough breathing mark” and denotes than an initial “h” sound is to be pronounced. If the mark goes the other way, like a comma, then there is NO “h” sound. Kind of like listening to a British national saying “‘orse” and an American saying “horse”. This sound differential is why the Standard English Rules of Grammar call for an “AN” before any word beginning with a vowel or the letter H: because in some English dialects, the H is silent so “an ‘orse” makes complete sense, but for those dialects that pronounce the breathy “h” then “an horse” sounds completely stupid.

Bear in mind, this breathing mark is for EVERY word that beings with a vowel — not just the Eta. So the eta in the middle of a word does not necessarily have the H sound, and an Iota at the beginning of a word might or might not be pronounced with an H sound depending on the breathing mark.

Anyway, the very hhhhhuhhh sound belonging to the H (or ἡ) can definitely be associated with breathing. I know that for astrology (a largely Greek system), the time of birth is actually marked as “when you first drew breath”. If an infant died before it ever drew breath, it was never really alive in that world-view.
So I get the H association with breath. Got it. Why Greek? Why throw in a reference to Greek at all? The wording does not say “because the Greek letter H represents…”, no. They say the letter H – our regular letter H from the modern alphabet – “is OUR mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing”. What is the Greek aspirate? Why is the Greek reference important rather than just “representing the aspirate or breathing”?

Attempting to find this answer is where I came across the breathing mark references. In fact, …

“During the Hellenistic period (3rd century BC), Aristophanes of Byzantium introduced the breathings — marks of aspiration … and the accents” (4)

I think indeed calling out “representing the Greek aspirate or breathing” is indeed a reference to the breathing marks and an indicator that the hhhhuhhhh sound is what is being sought, since an H is not necessarily an H as I pointed above in the ‘orse/horse comparison.

Alrighty. I think I beat that one to death.

 

About the Featured Image: included in a post entitled “Your Breath of Life” by Lisa Gawles. I’m not sure if she was the creator of this or just used it, but this is where I got it from.

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Spirituality

Why I Don’t Like Charity

Yes. I said it. I don’t like charity. Does this mean I refuse to help others? Not at all. I help all over the place — I just don’t give something for nothing (and this means I don’t give something without a goal in mind). Why? Empowerment.

I love that line about teaching a man to fish (see featured image). When I think of charity, I think of giving a man a fish. Sure, he eats today but he’s still dependent on someone giving him a fish tomorrow. Did I really help him? I mean, REALLY? No. I just enabled him, but I did not empower him.

As an example, I’m a HUGE animal lover. I’ve been donating to Alley Cat Allies for almost 20 years now with plan to stop. I love them! Why them? Because ACA is not a RESCUE group, it’s an ADVOCACY group. They work to educate communities and local governments about feral cats, train care givers, promote responsible stewardship, and work to change the laws. I don’t give money to pure rescue groups because there’s never an end – there’s always another dog or cat or horse etc in need. It never ends, and it never changes. I’m just throwing fish around. But by working deeper, by changing laws and policies and getting caregivers on board with the goal and the methods … that’s making real change. That’s the art of teaching many men to fish. Does this mean, to use the metaphor, that I will let the man starve as he learns to fish? *chuckles* If that’s where your brain went, consider seriously your own concepts of charity, advocacy, empowerment, enablement, and disempowerment. I won’t let the man starve as he learns to fish, but I will never just hand him a fish and go on my own merry way. I am all for helping my fellow creatures, but my goal is always empowerment. It’s always “to make better in the long run, beyond just today.”

I don’t rescue animals. I help them heal so they go on with their lives. I loathe that everyone who gets an animal from the shelter now a days claims “I rescued my dog/cat”. Ug! I got my cat from a rescue group. I adopted him, and he adopted me. I didn’t rescue him. He didn’t need rescuing. He needed a good home, and I helped him find that. Now he’s fishing up a storm and bringing me heads. Ew. Thanks?

Those I know personally who identify strongly as a Rescuer or as big in Charity are also people who need others to constantly praise them for their work. “I gave X to charity. Aren’t I just so generous and beneficent? Adore me.” Blah. “I rescued this cat, now he is beholden to me. As a result, I feel like a powerful and good person for doing this good deed that I just HAVE to tell you about so you too can think I am a wonderful person.” *rolls eyes* That’s right up there with the fire fighter who demands that every body they save has to call them everyday to tell them just how wonderful the fire fighter is and just how grateful they are for having been saved. Egad. This kind of identification is more about self-aggrandizement than it is about helping others. It’s also about ensuring that those helped today still need help tomorrow. After all, identity is based on helping and if the help-ee doesn’t need help anymore, what else is there?

So yeah. I don’t like charity because I view it as disempowering. I love helping if the goal is empowerment. The world needs everyone in it to be as strong and as capable as they are able to be. I do my part to help that happen. Quietly.

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Archetypes

Home Ownership is NOT the American Dream

Home Ownership is NOT the American Dream. *gasp* I know, I know. You have likely swallowed the red pill that was given to us all, and I’ll probably come across as crazy as Neo appeared to those still in the Matrix. Hear me out, if you will.

The American Dream is about opportunity. It’s about being free to pursue your own goals, be your own person, regardless of your parents. Back in the 1700s when this country was founded, a child’s life was largely determined by their parents.

Son of a baker? Guess what YOUR occupation was expected to be? If you said ‘baker’, 10 points to you!!

But as this country began to form and develop, mercifully free from the ravages of convention and looking at a fairly blank slate in terms of landscape (at least by European standards), this opened the mind to possibilities. “You mean … I don’t HAVE to be a baker like my dad?” All those penniless second sons, of which I have many in my family tree, came here to make something of themselves because they believed they could. Other ancestors of mine came over as indentured servants to pursue something bigger for themselves.

That’s the dream — the freedom to make of yourself what you will. The “made it” goal? To be a land owner, or in common parlance “to own your own home”. Again, in the 1700s only the truly wealthy owned land. Even earlier, land was owned solely by the crown and granted to families for stewardship — revocable at any time, at the pleasure of the crown. Eventually, those families became the owners of the land and then eventually people wealthy enough could own land. It was a very exclusive club. Now? Any shlub like me and you can buy property. It’s amazing! Yet claiming that the American Dream is home ownership is a crass bastardization at best, and an egregious disservice to the true Dream at worst.

Don’t be fooled. The American Dream is to have the freedom to make of yourself what you will. Next time you hear it different, give that speaker a metaphorical kick in the pants.

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Money

Penny Wise Pound Poor

One of the finance blogs I pay attention to is IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com by Ramit S. While he uses different language than I do, we have similar takes. I think I required many more punches to the face to learn these lessons than he did though. I’ll throw my 2 cents into the arena of what does and doesn’t work.

Does NOT work: Budgets

My husband is convinced we have a budget. We don’t. We have an “average expenditures tracking sheet”, and if anything goes over average then it get noted such as ‘new tires’. I tried for YEARS to make a budget work, and in my experience they just don’t. They are more a recipe for beating myself up than anything else. Why? Being told “no” all the time brings out the inner two-year-old of rebelliousness. So, no. I do not use budgets as a means of keeping myself in check. Tried that, failed. I still however keep track of every penny in and out – but not for budgeting purposes, for awareness purposes. I know from experience that the moment I start to let spending become something I’m not consciously aware of, that’s when I start to get into trouble.

 

DOES work: Automatic payments

While budgets have never worked for me, I’ve always worked with automated systems. Direct deposit and on-line banking makes this a piece of cake! What I do is take every bill (variable bills like electricity get averaged from the last year) and add them together. This gives me the monthly “Keep The Lights On” figure. I divide this in half because I get paid 2ce a month. That amount then gets automatically deducted from my “available funds” so I now never even see the total in the account – just the non-allocated spendable total.

Since everything is automated, all bills get paid on time and in full every month. This system for me has always worked, and worked very well … until my income fell below the KTLO figure.

I now include my investing and savings figures into the KTLO figure and again everything is automated. I learned that if I didn’t prioritize my savings goals, there wouldn’t BE a savings. It’s kind of like understanding that you’ll never FIND the time, you MAKE the time to do what is important. Ditto here, you’ll never have extra money, so take it out up front and deal with what you have left. I was always surprised at how readily I could adjust.

 

Does NOT work: skipping the lattes

My mom is coupon QUEEN. She never bought something that wasn’t on sale WITH a coupon. We never went out as a family to a restaurant and paid full price. When I was struggling to bring things back into control, I tried aggressive couponing and cutting every corner. Then I realized that I was fighting for pennies while ignoring the fact that I could easily fix things if I got a better job. I suffered from low self-esteem and didn’t really think I was worth getting paid more, so I kept fighting for pennies when in reality the KTLO figure was literally higher than my income – with 3 jobs. And I was hardly living high on the hog!

So fighting to save a few bucks here or a few bucks there is a nice idea and yes, it does add up … eventually. Unfortunately for me, cutting so many corners triggers rebellious fits of overspending, which just nullifies all savings. What I now look for are the big ticket monthly expenses and ask if they can be cut. Can I lower my insurance cost by raising the deductible? Ching! That’s a $50 monthly savings – how many lattes would that be? I dropped cable and replaced it with a Netflix/Hulu combo – saving me $126 per month. Daaaamn. I’d have to cut a LOT of corners to dig up that much money every month.

What I’m saying is don’t quibble over the pennies. Look for the dollars. That adage “A penny wise and a pound poor” EXACTLY describes this approach. Instead, be a pound (British Pound) wise and don’t fash yourself over the pennies.

 

DOES work: Getting a better job

After my bankruptcy, I decided to bite the bullet and apply for positions I never in a million years thought I would get. Surprise! I ended up earning many times over the poverty level wage I had previously been laboring under. Suddenly I HAD money. OMG. What do I do now??! I could replace my multiple crap jobs for the one and now I take in embroidery and garment decoration jobs on the side for extra money.

Ramit uses the phrase “going for the big wins”. Upping the income is the biggest win. It’s the one many people – including myself – balk the most at for a host of reasons. Unless the reason is “I love what I do and the benefits from being where I am”, then most likely the real reason is simple fear.

Ultimately, my recipe for getting myself straightened out was constant awareness through expense tracking, getting a significantly better job, and cutting down all necessary expenses as far as I could get them while simultaneously cutting down all unnecessary expenses that didn’t support me emotionally. And no, I don’t skip the proverbial lattes.

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