Category — lifestyle optimization

Early Retirement Extreme

As explained by Jacob Lund Fisker, blog host of Early Retirement Extreme,

If you’re new here, this blog will give you the tools to become financially independent in 5 years. Here’s how I did it and here’s how I currently do it. The method is robust and replicable (no need to win the lottery, start a blogging business, or win at real estate), but not easy; much in the same way that a diet results in weight loss but is hard to follow persistently unless you set your mind to it. The key is to save 75%+ of your net income and invest it in income producing assets (bonds and dividend stocks). There is a “21 day” step-by-step plan for how to get beyond 75% in the left side bar.

Early Retirement Extreme is one of my favorite blogs (and I’ll eventually get around to ordering Mr. Fisker’s book). The key word in his early retirement plan is “extreme.” He cut his expenses back to a point that most people wouldn’t be willing to do. However, if you want what most people don’t have, then you have to be willing to do what most people won’t do.

Even though I’m not willing to cut back on my creature comforts and pleasures to the degree that he did, his ideas have greatly helped me streamline my expenses. I fall into the “Expeditioner” category the Sovereign Man blog host talked about in his post The 7 Expat Categories:

EXPEDITIONER: You are a classical traveler in the mold of British merchants and explorers– you want to make the journey overseas, but you want your amenities too, complete with a triple mocha latte.

You want to storm the plains of the Serengeti… with an armed guide. You want to see India up close and personal… then go back to your five star hotel.

I want my hot cocoa whenever I want it . . . and my pillows fluffed up “just right” with a chocolate mint left on them. I don’t want to cut my own hair or give myself manicures. I want others to do that for me. I’m not into “roughing it” sorts of lifestyles. Nevertheless, it IS possible for people to combine:

  • the creation of multiple passive income streams, and
  • the tips and strategies for reducing expenses described in great detail at Early Retirement Extreme

to create a lifestyle for themselves in which they DON’T have to trade their life for money with the daily grind of a 9-to-5 job. At minimum, it’s possible to significantly reduce one’s dependence on a job.

As Sojourners, we already know we can create our own “luck.” And make our daily lives more about what we want to do, as opposed to what we have to do. Take a look around Early Retirement Extreme.

February 27, 2011   70 Comments

Exit Strategies: Anti-Kraak In The Netherlands

I REMEMBER THE TRUTH ABOUT THE REAGAN YEARS

I was in high school during the reign of Pres. Reagan. I remember the ugly realities behind his idiotic grins and statements. I watched local steel mills close their doors while their mostly White and Latino employees voted as “Reagan Democrats.” I saw his destruction of the air traffic controllers’ union. Most of the kids (of all races) I knew at my magnet high school hated him with a passion.

The closed steel mills never reopened. Those jobs went overseas, never to return. Reagan Democrats continued to vote for Pres. Reagan each step of the way as they were increasingly impoverished by his policies. Apparently, the emotional gratification they felt while fervently supporting him outweighed the reality of their diminished life circumstances. Most of all, I remember reading interviews with senior citizens who supplemented their diet with dog food because they couldn’t afford an entire month’s worth of real food plus their medications. I remember.

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Many of the same dynamics are in operation during the Obama Administration. See the Black Agenda Report post, The New Black Politics: All We Want Is A Black Royal Family, Not Jobs, Peace, or Justice.

The once expansive horizons of black America’s political universe have shrunk and withered. Our class of black political misleaders abandoned long ago the internationalism and Pan-Africanism of Robeson and DuBois. Black America’s self-proclaimed best and brightest have traded the “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” refrain of the King era away. For themselves, they reap perceived access to power, or possible contracts or appointments, or just the thrill of basking in reflected glory. For the black masses they offer hollow excuses and the uncritical worship of a black royal family.

It’s no exaggeration. Black political discussions in this age of Obama have assumed an almost feudal tone. Scarcely any black political discussion can be heard over mainstream airwaves or print that is not ended, begun and punctuated with avowals of love for the handsome brown president and his beautiful family. Once the vigilant advocates of fairness, decent wages and peace, our political talking heads fill hours of air time and reams of print obsessing over perceived and real slights to the dignity of the first family, while ignoring the president’s vicious assaults on public workers, his unwillingness to halt the wave of foreclosures, his continued prosecution of unjust wars, and his vacuous prescriptions of “competition” and tax cuts for the rich as answers to record black joblessness.

I often think about the dog food-eating seniors from the Reagan era, and wonder how many modern day African-Americans are setting themselves up for similar futures. If you’re planning on relying solely on a company- or government-backed pension plan to get you through your senior years in the U.S., I respectfully suggest that you think again. Whether public or private, employee pension plans are increasingly under attack. The odds are that these various strained and underfunded pension plans won’t pay out enough for you to live a decent lifestyle in the U.S.

EVEN ON A SMALL, FIXED INCOME IT’S STILL POSSIBLE TO LIVE WELL―THAT IS, IF YOU’RE WILLING TO LOOK BEYOND THE UNITED STATES

Once I became an adult, I realized that it didn’t have to end that way for the impoverished seniors from the Reagan era. Even on their small, fixed pensions they could have lived much better than that. That is, if they had the knowledge and willingness to look beyond the United States. There are places in the world―decent places―where you can retire in style and have excellent medical care, a maid, and frequent dinners out while living on a Social Security-type of budget.

THERE’S A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES IF YOU’RE WILLING TO LOOK

I see the various problems that I’ve warned about over the past few years. I see The Gathering Storm. At the same time, I also see a world that is still alive with possibilities if you’re willing to seek them out. Of course, it’s best to create multiple income streams and have as much money coming in as possible. It’s best to be affluent.

Nevertheless, it’s still possible to live well with much less money if you’re willing to create overseas options for yourself. However, you can’t wait until the storm hits to make preparations. You can’t wait until you fall ill or reach retirement age to start wondering what you can do for yourself. If you want to have options, you have to start doing the groundwork to create these options as soon as possible.

The first step is to open your heart and eyes to the possibilities that exist. Too many African-Americans have the mindset of condemning themselves to a No Options At All Lifestyle. I’ve talked about this before:

The delusion that somebody else is going to rescue us is why we do very little to rescue ourselves. It’s also the reason we are so quick to give up on self-rescue efforts.

FROGS IN A GRADUALLY BOILING POT TELLING OTHER FROGS THAT IT’S “UNREALISTIC” TO JUMP OUT

Intertwined with the rescue delusion is the frequent refusal to accept responsibility for our own choices. This includes most African-Americans’ free and voluntary choice of refusing to even try to upgrade their life circumstances. Instead of taking action in support lifestyle optimization, we proclaim all such strategies to be “unrealistic.” Meanwhile, we watch people from other ethnic and racial groups use these same strategies that we’ve labeled “unrealistic” to get ahead. In fact, for almost a century, we’ve watched several waves of immigrants (including some Black-skinned ones) come to this country and do all sorts of “unrealistic” things.

I’m reminded of this because I recently ran across a comment by a detractor over at The Black Snob Blog. My frequent discussion of strategies for developing additional income streams and international relocation options seems to frighten and upset this individual. According to her, this sort of conversation is “unrealistic.” I upset her even more when I spoke of sitting out this recent election, and researching third party candidates that I could wholeheartedly support in future elections.

This concerned individual proclaimed that, “. . . The truth is that MOST Americans of any race do not (and will never) have the resources or wealth to thrive even when the economy is not doing well and most Americans CANNOT run to a foreign country at will. We have to try to fix things here. If we throw our hands up in the air and do nothing, then we are GUARANTEED to fail. I hope that most black women will go out there and vote tomorrow, even though they may currently feel discouraged or disappointed.” See the comments to this post at The Black Snob Blog for the entire comment.

I wonder if this concerned individual believes that it’s more “realistic” for African-American women to continue hoping for new programs in the midst of a failing economy. Thereby putting their fates in the hands of the American voting public—roughly half of whom have repeatedly shown themselves to be insane.

Here’s the thing: While various Black “frogs in a gradually boiling pot” are busy telling each other that various strategies are not feasible, other people—who are much poorer than even the poorest African-Americans—are busy using these same strategies to upgrade their lives.

The November 6, 2010, issue of the New York Times featured a story titled “In Venezuela, A New Wave of Foreigners.” Among other people, the story mentioned a gentleman named Etienne Dieu-Seul, a street vendor who arrived in Venezuela from Haiti a month before the earthquake.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, many new immigrants continue to arrive on tourist visas and overstay their visits, drawn by incomes that are still higher than those in some of Venezuela’s neighbors and by a broad array of social welfare programs for the poor championed by Mr. Chávez’s government.

“One can live with a little bit of dignity here, at least enough to send money home now and again,” said Etienne Dieu-Seul, 35, a Haitian street vendor, who moved here a month before the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. After the disaster, officials here said they would grant residence visas to the 15,000 Haitians believed to have been here illegally.

I would bet that Mr. Dieu-Seul the street vendor is very thankful he did something as “unrealistic” and “not feasible” as leaving desperately poor Haiti to go to Venezuela. The people in Haiti that he’s sending money to are probably also very thankful.

I won’t even get into the steady stream of American retirees on fixed incomes who relocate overseas each year in order to live much better for much less money. There’s nothing “unrealistic” about taking the minimal action steps of getting a passport and researching your options. Ladies, keep in mind there are a lot of nervous crabs in a barrel out there who are deeply frightened by the idea that you might make the leap into abundant life. It’s one thing to discuss the hurdles and difficulties involved with an undertaking. I’ve never pretended that making any of these moves is easy. All the things I talk about involve putting in effort and work. Some of us don’t want to put in that sort of effort, so we proclaim various things to be impossible or unrealistic.

As I asked during that post, which voices do you listen to? The crabs in a barrel who tell you that abundant life is “unrealistic” for you? Or the voice of your own hopes and dreams? Either way, it’s your choice.

THE EXIT STRATEGIES SERIES

I’ve decided to do a new, ongoing Exit Strategies series of posts for those audience members who choose abundant life and maximizing their options. I’ve been running across all sorts of interesting information while researching and creating my own options. From time to time, I’ll share the information I find about issues affecting potential expatriates (from residency requirements and health care, to employment opportunities, to travel). The more general Exit Strategies posts will be open to the public. The more detailed posts will be part of the Sojourner’s Passport Confidential dispatches sent to regular commenters.

Like an earlier post, How To Work On A Cruise Ship, the point of today’s post is to emphasize that there are all sorts of surprising opportunities available. Opportunities that don’t necessarily exist in the United States, due to the differences between various countries’ laws. Opportunities that you only find out about because you’re actively looking for them. Because many of you have expressed an interest in Northern European countries, today I’ll mention something that I recently learned concerning the Netherlands: anti-kraak.

ANTI-KRAAK IN THE NETHERLANDS

Apparently, in the Netherlands it’s legal to squat in a building or house that has been unoccupied for over a certain period of time. Here’s a basic explanation of how antikraak (“anti-squatting”) works from an American expatriate named Sam Coleman:

The Anti-Kraak means you’re basically living there to stop a flat from being squatted. A property agency will contract you for extremely cheap rent to put you into a place where the property owner doesn’t have a plan yet for leasing it but want to prevent squatters from moving in. I’ve done it. You can pay like €150 (Khadija speaking: this = $205.14 USD at the moment) with your utilities. It’s really great. You have to sign up with a company, but you have to have a residency permit, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22 because you’re not getting a residency permit without a flat. So you have to have a residency first, get your residency permit, then search for an anti-kraak. If you’re lucky to get one, it’s a great way to live there.

Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America, pg. 185. See here and here for more information about anti-kraak. It seems to me that once a person has found a way to get some sort of residency permit, this anti-kraak arrangement is a good way to save money while exploring what it’s like to live in different parts of the Netherlands.

BOTTOM LINE: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT OPTIONS MIGHT EXIST UNLESS YOU ACTIVELY LOOK FOR THEM

February 20, 2011   120 Comments

“Limitless,” Part 3

This post is part of an an ongoing series that explores tips, techniques and resources for:

  • Becoming the perfect, optimized version of yourself; and
  • Fully using the talents that God has already given you.

Today’s resource is a podcast that I expect will be a “game-changer” for a lot of people. There won’t be any new blog posts until the next Friday Finishing School, because I want people to take the time to listen to the podcast and seriously think over the ideas being discussed. . . . . The rest of the premium content in this entry has been sent to regular commenters.

February 12, 2011   No Comments

“Limitless,” Part 2

This is a follow-up to Part 1 of an ongoing series that explores tips, techniques and resources for:

  • Becoming the perfect, optimized version of yourself; and
  • Fully using the talents that God has already given you.

. . . The rest of the premium content in this entry has been sent to regular commenters.

February 5, 2011   No Comments

As A Quality Lady Would Think, Part 2: A Lady Does Not Rally Around Criminals And Deviants

This is a follow-up to Part 1 of this series, and the ideas discussed during the Joining Better Networks series of posts.

WHEN YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE DOING SOMETHING, THAT’S A CLUE THAT WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA

Here and at the previous blog, we’ve discussed a number of self-defeating behaviors that only African-American women engage in on a mass level:

African-American women are alone on this planet in making loud, public announcements that they would never date or marry outside their race. This is usually said to emphasize the point that they would never date or marry White men. Nobody else is making these sorts of public statements. Certainly not Black men. And also not other women of color, including Arab women (many of whose men are actively at war with the White West). Including Black women from other countries. Everybody except African-American women keeps their dating and marriage options open.

African-American women are alone on this planet in characterizing all romantic interest from men outside their racial group as a negative “fetish.” As I said during this post,

Faith, blog host of Acts Of Faith In Love And Life, is currently having an extremely important conversation. She’s raising points that need to be repeated among African-American women and girls who want to live well. And among those African-American women who want to maximize the odds of their future children living well. She asks the question, Are Asian Woman Trophy Wives, Or Just Smart At Picking Quality Husbands?

I would answer “both.” Yes, non-Asian men have stereotypes about Asian women. However, Asian women are shrewd enough to work those stereotypes to their individual (and indirectly to their collective) advantage! This is a lesson that more African-American women need to learn. We’re so preoccupied with issues of political correctness that we cut our own throats in terms of maximizing our marriage options. Nobody else operates like this. Certainly not Black men, including the many Pan-African Black male activists who talked “Black” this and that, and married White women. Including that scholar-hero of the ultra-Black, “Blacker than thou” crowd,

Cheikh Anta Diop (yep the very one considered one of the greatest African historians of the 20th century a senegalese) married Louise Marie Maes, a French woman in 1953 in Paris.

Many African-American women worry about nonblack men having a so-called “fetish” with the traits that these men find attractive. Let’s think about this for a moment. We’re actually bothered and offended when a nonblack man finds our West African-derived skin tones, features, and hair textures attractive. Why is it called a “fetish” if a nonblack man is able to appreciate Black women’s beauty? Meanwhile, we live among a collective of African-American men who are open about their hatred of those same West African complexions, features and hair textures in women! [See statements by creatures such as Yung Berg, NeYo, and so on. See statements and actions by countless other African-American men.]

And instead of calling these Black men the anti-Black racists that they are, we water down the language we use to describe what these racist Black males refer to as their “preferences.” So, there’s a post that asks, Does Hip Hop Like Light Skinned Girls Too Much? I need not say much more about how that question is being framed. It’s sort of like asking, “Does the Klan like white sheets and hoods too much?” In both cases, phrasing the question and the so-called “preference” that way deliberately misses the point.

Back to “fetishes.” Does it still count as a so-called “fetish” when the nonblack man is willing and eager to make a particular Black woman his wife first, and then the mother of his children? This type of “fetish” seems so much more respectful of the woman involved than a male who never offers marriage, and is willing to see his children by that woman born out of wedlock.

Instead of screening, dating, and possibly marrying nonblack men who might have a so-called “fetish” about their undiluted West African features that operates FOR them, many African-American women restrict themselves to dating Black men who have openly-declared fetishes that operate AGAINST them. How crazy is that?

African-American women are alone on this planet in being front and center with aggressively rallying around criminals and deviants. No other type of woman puts herself on the front lines of loudly screaming in support of criminals and deviants (grifters, chiselers, and scavengers). Criminals and deviants from other ethnic groups have women in their lives. The Italian and Russian mafia men have women in their lives. But you don’t see the Italian or Russian women who are hooked up to these criminals on TV or writing articles talking about how So & So The Mob Enforcer was sentenced to “too much” time in prison. You don’t see Latino drug lords’ women publicly screaming in support of their vicious, violent crimes. You don’t see the girlfriends and wives of Chinese-American Triad members on TV complaining about law enforcement. You certainly don’t see decent, law-abiding women from these other ethnic groups screaming in support of the vicious, depraved criminals who happen to share their ethnicity.

Finally, you also don’t see the nonblack women who are hooked up to Black men engaged in that type of Sister Soldiering. Not even on behalf of their own Black baby daddies or husbands. Not Prof. Henry Gates’ White wife. Not Van Jones’ White wife. And so on.

When you’re the only one doing something, that’s usually a hint that whatever you’re doing is a bad idea. African-American women’s programmed behavior pattern of publicly cheerleading criminals and deviants is a self-defeating pattern. One that will prevent many of them from ever being accepted into healthier, reciprocating, non-African-American social circles.

SISTER SOLDIER BRAINWASHING IS AT THE ROOT OF THIS KNEE-JERK RESPONSE OF SUPPORTING CRIMINALS AND DEVIANTS. IF YOU WANT A GOOD LIFE, YOU’LL NEED TO BREAK FREE OF THAT BRAINWASHING.

I understand the historical origins of this dysfunctional behavior pattern. It arose during the era of segregation and lynching. However, you need to understand that it’s a new day. The greatest (and most probable) physical threats to your life and your children’s lives are not coming from White segregationists these days. The greatest physical danger to your life is coming from mostly-fatherless African-American male criminals (with the support of their Black female enablers).

Modern African-American criminal defendants are not Rosa Parks or Emmett Till. Instead, they’re more likely to be like the demons in the Dunbar Village Atrocity (during which a pack of fatherless Black males gang raped a mother and forced her to perform oral sex on her own son). They’re more likely to be like the Black female neighbor of the Dunbar Village victims who reacted with indifference when told about that crime against humanity. Stop superimposing Rosa Parks’ and Emmett Till’s faces on the face of every modern day Black criminal defendant that you see. You’re insulting their memories when you do that.

ADDENDUM

Please note that this warning to stop rallying around criminals and deviants also applies to rallying around deviant Black women who are grifters, chiselers, and scavengers. That means to also stop rallying around Baby Factory Black Female Welfare Queens. You don’t see large numbers of women from other ethnic groups cheerleading the deviant “Octomom” types that are among their group.

A reader named Karen said the following,

Dear Khadija,

I commend you for taking the time to point out once again what is common sense to every other group of women. It cannot be underestimated the damage that brainwashing (i.e. “Sister Soldiering”) has done to AA BW. At the same time, I find it very sad and tragic.

The only real solution I can see to this is for conscious steps on an individual basis be taken to “de-program” through exposure to more healthy environments, seeking professional help where possible and disassociating from toxic people (along with many of the actionable items you have provided at this blog and your previous one).

Our “Mis-leaders” survive and thrive on the minds, bodies, labor and money from Sister Soldiers. Without them, they would cease to exist and THEY.KNOW.THIS.

AA BW have their destiny in the palm of their hands. I wish we as AA BW would use the courage that we have to fight everyone else’s causes to instead take that energy to save ourselves because frankly:
NO.ONE.ELSE.IS.GOING.TO.SAVE.US.

She’s right. You mark yourself as an undesirable when you rally around criminals and deviants. If you want to be welcome among productive, reciprocating social networks in the global village, you’ll stop rallying around criminals and grifters.

February 1, 2011   66 Comments