Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Financial Freedom: 5 Reasons to Run from the Corporate Cube

I've been out of the corporate cube for two months.  I've seen it from both sides.  Being on the outside looks and feels a lot better.  Here's 5 Reasons Why:

1.  It's tough to earn financial freedom in one lifetime by working for someone else.

If you still need to earn money, (i.e., your parents haven't willed you a couple of million in a trust fund), just know that owning our own business is one of the few ways in this country to create wealth in one life time.    I picked up these tips from the Millionaire Next Door classic book.   But I suggest you get your own copy and pour through it. 

Let's start with taxes.   I learned a lot in the Jackson Hewitt Tax School and I learned that Earned Income you get in the Cube is taxed more highly than any other kind of income.    Taxes are one of your biggest ongoing expenses.   Those who are self-employed, or who earn money from dividend income, or rental income -- well, they don't have as high a tax burden.   Do whatever you can (legally) to reduce these.

2.  Office politics is a soul-sucking form of hell.    Do I really need a source to prove that to you?

Can you believe that we actually have to discuss how to deal with bullying narcissistic sociopaths in the workplace?  That our culture tolerates this instead of shunning it?  Well, we do tolerate it, and if you have run into one of these types in your workplace, then you know what it can do to your life. 

 3.  The commute, and all that sitting, is killing you.

During one of my cube adventures I wrote a marketing research report on corporate wellness plans.  The ones that force you to watch videos and walk 10,000 steps a day.  Problem is, they usually don't work.   It's a dirty little secret and a lot of people are struggling with the issue -- good people who want them to work.  I hope those well-intentioned people come up with a great new solution.  But I've heard hush-hush conversations with professionals in the exercise industry telling me that "you just can't undo 8 hours a day of sitting, no matter what."   I'm not sure who is right, but at this time, people sitting in corporate America 8 hours a day are still gaining weight, which can lead to a host of other health problems.  Serious ones that damage the rest of your life. 

4. You don't have to be employed to get affordable health insurance anymore.

Call it the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Obamacare, SCOTUScare or government hand outs.  No matter, you can get some of your own right here (  It's not cheap, and it shouldn't be.  You could pay $200-$500 a month before you even start on the deductible.  But at least you'll have coverage.  Remember that medical costs are the number one reason for bankruptcy in this country. 

5.  Because You Can.  It's possible in this country to change your finances and your life.    

Opportunity + hard work = success.  Ask the guys on Shark Tank.  Or Ask "I Will Teach You to Be Rich" Ramit Sethi, he'll tell you.  The United States has a system that allows and encourages small businesses.

(I earned my first $1,000 side-hustle money with inspiration from Ramit.  I don't make a dime promoting him to others, he's just a great resource for us all.)

  Coming Next -- 5 More Reasons to Run From the Corporate Cube

Monday, May 4, 2015

Financial Freedom: Decluttering Your Way to Freedom. Watch Out for Those Emotional Barriers

From 2600 square feet (2010) to 1500 in 2010.    

From 1500 square feet to  697 square feet in 2014.  

 I’ve cut my living space and stuff by 66% in the last five years and never felt freer or happier.  But each time I scaled down, I had to step over and toss out more than unused clutter – I had to face the accompanying fears and bogeymen haunting my psyche. 

The Top 3 Fears:
  • What if all my stuff fit in the new space?  Would I end up embarrassed, with furniture or boxes of (fill in the blank) at the doorway, left by the movers who couldn't fit it into the new place?  
  • If I have to get rid of it -- how will I manage without it?  (i.e.,)   Could I really live without a (fill in the blank?) 
  • Wouldn't I be spending more money to replace the stuff I tossed?  Because obviously I would not be able to live with out.
Reality Check:  

The only things I ever gave away to movers because they wouldn't fit in my new space:
  • A chest of drawers handed down to me from my family that I really didn't like.   Good riddance.  The mover seemed thirlled!  0% regret.
  •  A 9 foot high bookcase.  10%  regret.  I really liked that bookcase, but it was a choice between the bookcase and the antique sideboard my daughter loves and wants some day.  The mover who loves books ended up with the bookcase.  I can buy another one someday.  So far, I've done great without it.

But as I consider downsizing to 280 square feet, I’m even more perplexed and wondering "good grief, how am I going to live without a living room??"  The rewards of downsizing draw me forward anyway:  pure joy, a new view of the world, a fuller life.  

The KonMari Method Is Helping This Time.  Real Life Case Study Below.

For those of you facing the same kind of emotional collapse that is either slowing you down or halting the process all together, I’m sharing some of the tools that helped me and recent photos from my current use of the KonMari, the process laid out in The Life Changing Magic of TidyingUp by Marie Kondo. 

Step 1:  DeClutter Your Clothes.  

Marie suggests that you start de-cluttering your clothes.  NOT your closet, because clothes are stored many other places too.  And clothes are the easiest.  So here goes my Saturday.  

Emotional Stage 1 – Denial

“This doesn’t look too bad, but I would like more space.”   Right.  Such an inviting closet.   I had to move the vacuum cleaner over to get to my favorite dresses in the morning.  And what was the laundry basket doing on the top shelf?  Storing something I really didn't need.    Truly I was in denial.

messy closet before organizing

Emotional Stage 2  – Overwhelm and a little confusion, 24 pairs of underwear?

The next step in the clothes clean out means that everything goes out onto the floor, so that you can see it.

“Oh good grief, what have I done.   And why do I have two black skirts with stripes that are almost identical?  And twenty-four pair of underwear?  Who knew???   I need a nap."



clothes before organizing with KonMari method

Emotional Stage 3 - Strong, Clear, Keeping what I Love and Can Care For


As I went through Marie's steps of asking myself "do I love this, do I want to re-hang this in my closet or refold it into the drawer?” game I began to get excited.  Suddenly I had permission to toss lots of things in my closet that frankly didn't fit, never would fit, and made me feel bad every time I tried them on and hoped against hope that they would finally fit.    Wish I had weighed all these bags!
Goodwill Haul KonMari Method


Emotional Stage 4 – time to SING Whoop!

Sigh.  There's even room for a full length morror.  I can breathe.  This feels so good that I have to stop myself from tossing out more clothes!.  I even needed less sleep that night, the feeling of new energy and hope was amazing.  

Closet Organized with KonMari Method


But if you aren't a fan of the KonMari method, here are other Tools I’ve used successfully in the past:  Marla at Flylady has a baby step method that gave me the first structure to getting rid of “the stuff.”    Her welcoming, encouraging tone and the simple process steps like "one box for keeping, one box for giving away, one box for trash" along with the “just do what you can for 15 minutes at a time” ushered me through my first struggles.  - the visual inspiration from this blog reminded me of how beautiful tiny spaces can be and offers ongoing ideas on how to store things in a Tiny Space.

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.   The most motivational and basic book for de-cluttering and money management.  It's not about budgeting, but about being aware of the value of every second of your precious life. 

Which makes you hyper-aware that you don't want to spend another minute buying, moving, storing, insuring or tidying up "things" that you don't love.

Have you been following the KonMari method?  I'd love to hear more about how your journey with the closet "right angle" is going and any other tips you've discovered!   Please share...