Measuring Privilege

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites. 

privilege privilege

Meet the Frugalwoods

This weekend, I read Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence through Simple Living. I was hesitant to write a review of this book because I was afraid I would not find the words to explain my feelings from the book, or how it was presented.

The book is a first-person memoir-style accounting of the life of “Liz Frugalwoods”, as she is affectionately known online. Liz tells her tale which starts with the end of university, and entering into the real world as a young adult. Without telling any part of her story, she weaves you into this dreamlike state where you follow her as she becomes a married woman still seeking her own definition. You will want to cheer for her, you will want to nudge her in the right (or different) directions, and you will simply not be able to put the book down.

It’s been three days since I read the book, and I want more. I want to know what happened next, what new things they discovered as a family, etc. That’s the impression it made on me.

There are many reasons it moved me.

Liz is so resourceful and frugal! Listen to the lessons in the book. There were tons of choices that they made as a couple that the majority of us would likely have chosen different, like the apartment they stayed in. She made a comment in the book about how their friends had already inflated their lifestyles by renting or purchasing larger homes, and she and her husband were still in the basement apartment. They resist joining the race to have what the Jones’ have, they choose to use what they have, and they recognize that what they do have is enough.

Related: More about the Jones’

It’s enough.

I don’t know where you hail from. Maybe you are a low-income earner, fighting poverty. You could be someone who is newly single and looking to change your life. Or, you could be part of a family and want something different than your folks had. I don’t know your story, and it doesn’t matter because this story is for everyone.

Liz opens the book with a conversation about privilege. It’s important to understand privilege, and it’s been a very sore subject for me for some time, and I think I found out why. I was angry that I felt like I had to apologize for being privileged, like it was my choice or my fault I was born white, or heterosexual, or identifying with a female gender, or coming from two parents that are still together, or being raised with a roof over my head, and food on my table. However, by learning more and more about privilege, the reason why I was so angry was because I wasn’t.

privilege

I wasn’t as privileged as I thought.

I thought I was. Yes, all those things I mentioned are all factors that contributed to my life. It’s much more than what some others have had, and I recognize that.

However, and my parents will deny much of this, we were raised in scarcity. There was never a guarantee of anything. We were always told how fortunate we were to have a bed, a room, a home, etc. I recognize now that those statements created guilt, not gratitude, for me. We knew that we would be fed, but there was unstable employment throughout my childhood (a side-effect of living in an auto city that lost much of its auto work), which made my parents angry and likely felt hopeless, or at least desperate and embarrassed. They would tell us that we have cable – for now. We have food, but where’s the next meal coming from? It was truly confusing for a child, or at least for me. We had food stored in the basement that we put away when it was on sale, and yet we never felt as though we could just help ourselves without permission in case it was a meal for later. It always felt like we were two steps away from not having anything, and the small bit that I thought I had as a child – my room, my belongings, my space – was never mine. It was always the parents’ space, and there was not respect for space. Yes, my parents would argue that I didn’t clean my room enough, or that I forgot lunches in my school bag, or that they found inappropriate notes between friends… and I would come home and my space, my sanctuary, had been thoroughly gone through, things were re-organized, furniture relocated around the room, and the nest was gone. It was not mine to be safe in, it was always theirs.

Post-secondary education was a necessary luxury. 

I did not have education paid for, and it was never discussed that it was my responsibility to find out that there were exorbitant fees associated with the prescribed post-secondary education that one is expected to obtain. There was no instruction about money, other than the lecture that I should put some of it away because my father said so, or how funds were always limited, and cherish every dollar you had. I remember going to the mall when I was a teenager, and my friend wanted to purchase a snack. I was looking for the cheapest alternative at that place, and bought a brownie. It was one of the cheaper options on the menu, yet I remember having enough money for a brownie, and probably more, but I was buying something non-essential, and without permission. I always felt guilty about spending money. 

When freedom cost nothing but dreams.

When I was 18, there was a situation that led me to move out on my own. I recall having $2,000.00 in the bank, and thinking it was so much. I had college starting in a few months, and I found work in a local call centre. They paid enough, and I recall sitting in my cubicle, calling people to talk about going to a free seminar, or signing up for this or that event, and having people get really angry with me just doing my job. (Side note: whoever thought blowing a whistle in the phone would stop the telemarketers, please stop. We are just doing our job, and now we are doing it with hearing damage.) 

My Crown Heights, Brooklyn

My first place was the second floor of a house in a “bad neighbourhood”. The upper street was lined with half-way houses for parolees, addicts and anything inbetween, and the hospital was down the block. I had a bedroom and a second room that was converted into a kitchen, and I shared the bathroom with the thirty-something-year-old man who lived across the hall in his mirror bedroom/kitchen suite. I had orange shag carpeting, and a cinderblock basement that flooded on one half when it rained. On the dry end, there was one washer and one dryer. Thankfully, the laundry machines were included, but we were told when we could use them and use was monitored, as was our comings, going and visitors.  

privilege

It was my then-boyfriend who helped me get settled, and the rules of the house were no opposite-sex sleepovers. The older couple who lived below were used to having exchange students upstairs, so I was an anomaly for sure. During the first month or so, I didn’t speak to my parents, and six weeks into living on my own, the relationship with that boyfriend ended. He was my support system, and a friend for many years, and the loss of that relationship devastated me. Never had I felt so alone. 

The change in relationship status did not change my living arrangements. There was no happy homecoming, and the efforts required to obtain parental consent for student loans (which is how things were in the late nineties) were phenomenal. My parents had to remit forms that shared their income, and ability to assist me, and they were so secretive with the information that they mailed the application themselves. My student loans were half of what they could have been, but there was no financial support, and little emotional support, due to our broken-down relationship. 

As time passed slowly, the relationship between my folks and I started to improve. We kept our distance, as there were a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Other relatives weighed in with their opinion of a half-concocted tale they felt was the truth.

The summer before college

I worked hard that summer, and learned what it was like to be independent. My mode of transportation was either bus, walk or bike. I had a bicycle that I would ride to work, and around town. Like many, I learned how to fetch groceries with a backpack and a bike ride, or taking the bus. It meant choosing what I purchased, not in the best price per unit, but how many bags could I actually carry. I adopted my first kitten, and found out how heavy kitty litter really was when carrying it from the store to the bus to the house. I walked other places, and started to learn the neighbourhood I was in, and pushed the limits as I was a naïve, bull-headed 18-year-old on a mission, going to college alone and not knowing enough about life to warn me about the years to come.

I was a naïve, bull-headed 18-year-old on a mission, going to college alone and not knowing enough about life to warn me about the years to come. Click To Tweet

That’s the digest version of the first 18 years of my life. No family vacations, no educational symphonies or operas throughout my childhood. No summer camps, no big school trips, no escape to Paris for a week. I’ve never been a girl guide, and never been skiing. The big family outing was driving an hour away to shop in a different mall once or twice a year.

It was enough. I was enough. 

I was privileged enough to have a bed to sleep in, friends who cared, family who fed me and loved me in the ways they knew how, and to be in a good school district. I acknowledge this. I also acknowledge that life could have gone very, very differently. My parents were high school graduates, and my father returned to school for a post-secondary education after a number of lay-offs. I worked hard because I knew there was no one else to count on if I didn’t.

Perhaps that’s my privilege.

Besides talking about goals, frugality, family, and alternate ways to make things happen, the book makes the reader think. It’s possible that anyone could strive for the same kinds of goals, and I know that it created a discussion or three with my partner. He was raised in a similar income bracket, but he had more measurable privilege than I did. The home was more stable, employment was stable, and above all, his mother taught them about having enough.

We have so much, and we forget to acknowledge that it’s enough. When we have the basics, we can look forward, and create goals and have dreams. The book encouraged me to ask my partner where he saw us living in the future. While I do not have a dream of owning a homestead or living in the woods, I dream of a small home on water, where the winters are held off and tropical trees have a chance to flourish. This magical place is likely in British Columbia. I am nervous to go there in case I do not come home.

We have enough.

privilege

 

We have enough. We have each other, a roof, food in our cupboards, and jobs that pay us enough. It will never be a “banker’s” salary, and we will likely not see a high income, but together, we have as much as anyone could ask for, and that’s enough privilege for me. Thanks to the book, we have a goal that we will work towards together, for one day we will wake up and have coffee on our deck, overlooking the water and the mountains, and know that anything is possible, privileged or not.

Thank you, Elizabeth Willard Thames.

privilege

Series: Habits of the Wealthy and how I implement them into my Life (3)

 
Change isn’t easy, and learning new habits isn’t something that is done overnight. Much like any other habit, it requires passion, persistence and determination. One of the habits of the wealthy is about goals.
Goals are dreams or wishes that we want, but they are realized and written down. Goals are defined as the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result, according to dictionary.com. Wealthy people tend to write down their goals, and focus on the process, even if it is extreme or seemingly unattainable. In fact, Grant Cardone, author of The 10x Rule, says that goals need to be big, ten times the size as one that you think you could attain.
 

Nitty gritties:

Write out your goals

80% of wealthy people focus on achieving a single goal, compared to only 12% of poor people. (Thomas Corley)

Have more than one – you are allowed

This is not to say you should only have one goal. You can have many – in fact, write down as many as you can think of, because the purpose of doing this is to reach your goal, so you will need another and another to aim for as time goes on. What this does mean is that wealthy people keep their goal in their mind at all times, and use situations throughout the day as inspiration on how to attain that goal.  Keeping your mind open to possibilities might mean goal #2 is actually part of #4, and a subsection of #1… see? That list might be handy after all.

Be specific

Part of writing down your goals is ensuring you are using specifics. “I want to be wealthy” is not the same as “I want to invest $100,000 over the next two years, and I want to fund this project by opening a side hustle where I offer pies and pastries to churches.” Just an example, but you get the idea.
The wealthy are deliberate, dedicated goal-setters. Corley states that 62% of rich folks focus on their goals every day, as opposed to 6% of poor people – and 67% of the wealthy put those goals in writing.
(Side note: you have a to-do list, right? Go write down a reminder to write your goals out. Now.)
5 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People report that 70% of the wealthy pursue at least one major goal (see? You can have more than one). Only 3% of the non-wealthy do this.   

How I implement this into my life:

I shared a number of them with you earlier in the year.
I have decided what my focus will be for 2018: Money working for me. 
This means I need to attack consumer debt. Credit cards, loans and car loans are all getting the scrutiny this year.
Another area of focus will be for the future me: investing into my future.

Hey XB, what’s your plan?

I have a book I am publishing through Amazon: Build Your Business, Grow Your Team, and Make More Money in 30 Days and there will be a few more after that one.
Another goal is I want to read more, both for pleasure and for self-improvement.
I have actionable goals for my blog and I want to grow this community. I am hoping to provide quality content that will help readers and bloggers alike.
Understand that this habit is more about you making the decision to live intentionally, and less about how to fit it into your life. Once you have chosen a goal or two to focus on, we can break it down into steps to help you achieve it.
Share your goals with me, and let’s talk about them!  Don’t stop at just writing them down; let’s make it the year it happens for you.

Series: Habits of the Wealthy and how I implement them into my Life (2)

habits of wealthyHabits. These are what turns us from ordinary into extraordinary. Through an ongoing focus and a goal for this year, I am striving to build not only financial wealth, but a more professional, positive and productive mindset. One way to change what we receive from the universe is to do something different. This habit is about how we spend our downtime.

I don’t want to title this “Don’t watch TV” because I do not feel it’s that simple. Let’s think of it as maximizing our time. 

Maximizing Our Time

www.Businessinsider.com wrote an article entitled 9 things rich people do and don’t do every day. Here are some stats they share on the use of time:

They don’t watch TV.
“I watch TV one hour or less per day.”
Rich people who agree: 67%
Poor people who agree: 23%
They read … but not for fun.
“I love reading.”
Rich people who agree: 86%
Poor people who agree: 26%
Plus, they’re big into audio books.
“I listen to audio books during the commute to work.”
Rich people who agree: 63%
Poor people who agree: 5%

Variable statistics range in that the average person reads between 1 and 5 books a year. Wealthy people read an average of 30 minutes a day or more on self-improvement, and choose to listen to books during commutes and other times.

From Dave Ramsey’s website: President Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” In The Millionaire Next Door, Stanley says that the average millionaire reads one nonfiction book per month.

The Ways To Implement Change Into Your Life

I love to read. (Nerd moment: all reading is played out in my head like a movie. Just like a movie, I cannot stop it part way. This is part of why reading is hard for me to do in pieces – I want to read it all at once!)

While I was growing up, we had one television in the house. It was a 13” analog television, no remote, two dials and thirteen stations. One station was just fuzz, two were French, and the rest were of a basic variety. There were four of us in the house. While the demand on the television was not as bad as some houses, sitting on the floor and watching tv from a few feet away was not as comfortable as being in my room, on my bed, with a book or three, and not having to watch She-Ra because my sister’s turn to pick had come up. In fact, this tv was probably the reason we both were raised as readers. Neither of us prefer television as a means to pass time.

Today, I do not pay for cable television. We do not have a sports package, or the HBO channels. I watch what I want on Netflix, and avoid the commercials of the newest and greatest inventions that I must buy. Netflix binges do occur, but we try to limit them by turning it off after a few episodes. I read, listen to books, play puzzle games and have conversations. Follow it up with reflecting on and schedule my week. I load up my audio books for the drive to and from work, and I read other people’s blogs about the topics that interest me.

While it’s not an easy task to schedule in time to read, it’s easy to do when the television is turned off. How many hours can fly by when you are watching “something”, then just one more episode, and just one more minute. Same thing can be said about the internet: There are so many cute kitten pictures and funny videos of people falling down that you could entertain yourself all day. Instead, turn off the television and turn off the social media. Pay attention to where and how you are sitting, and get comfortable. Pick up a book (or e-reader), newspaper, or any other resource, and read. Stretch your mind, learn some new words, and best of all, think.  

There is a link above called Resources. You will find a list of books that I have read during my journey of learning about investments, and a few others that have motivated me. I recommend checking them out. Even a 30 minute break from the screen can help you sleep better, and feel better. Plus, you will have more to talk about at the water cooler tomorrow. 

Another option is audiobooks. I no longer listen to the radio in my car, as I was tired of hearing the commercials and the same songs on repeat. I wanted something that would make me think and improve my life. There are apps available to download free podcasts, audiobooks and news summaries. I use Podcasts for Apple, and subscribe to a variety of podcasts that interest me. The podcasts automatically download while I am on wi-fi, and automatically delete after I’ve listened to them. 

If you enjoy listening to the radio or having the television on while getting ready in the morning, you aren’t alone. Streaming a podcast or an audiobook is a great substitute and is a wonderful way to get in some extra reading. Wake up with your coffee and a great book while you get ready in the morning or walk the dog.  

So the next time you find yourself sitting in front of the television after dinner, mindlessly watching another sitcom about some dire situation made into reality tv, turn it off. Reach for a book and enjoy some learning instead. After all, these are the habits of the wealthy! 

Habits
Indigo/Chapters: So Many Books To Read