Monday, March 30, 2009

Coming Soon

For some time we've been considering adding podcasts to this space or to the IOU NO MORE website. In the end, we decided to kick that up a notch or two and try Blog Radio. I got the account set up over the weekend. Recession Proof Radio will begin with a weekly 15 minute program. It will be a fairly typical talk format, broken into either 3 five minute segments or 5 three minute segments. We will talk about budgeting, managing debt, saving, Faith matters, self sufficiency, and more. We'll have a Q & A segment (watch for a special email address to send questions for the program), and if all goes well, we will try a call in segment from time to time. We might even have a special guest from time to time.

I'm pretty excited about it and a little nervous. Stay tuned and tell your friends.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Herb Garden

Brittan and I planted our herb garden yesterday. We decided to make it an inside 'kitchen garden', meaning, the majority of herbs will be grown in a space in our kitchen. We took a couple of the grow lights from the basement and put them up under one of our cabinets. We went to the Kingdom of Wal-Mart and bought some colorful pots, then went to work planting our seeds. Because we wanted something bright to add visual interest, we paid a little more for the pots than we normally would. There are quite a few herb sized plastic pots (6 to 8 inch) that can be obtained for less than $5. Another great option is to cut milk jugs to the size you want, or to use things like sour cream or cottage cheese containers. Simply poke some drainage holes in the bottom, place a saucer or something under them to catch any water that drains out, and away you go.

Even with spending a little extra for colorful pots, we were able to plant 10 different herbs under grow lights for less money than growing 7 herbs in one of those fancy 'aero garden' thingys.

Don't misunderstand, I don't hate the 'aero garden'. I'd have one in a minute. They are excellent space savers and produce great results. I'm just into saving money. An outside herb garden would have been less expensive still and could be used to add visual interest via a window box or an herb patch near the house. Our rosemary, for example, is planted in an urn and looks like a little tree. We keep it on the front porch during warm months and move it inside to the entry area during the winter. I will put one of my chive pots outside and let it go to flower later this summer. I happen to think chive flowers are pretty.

Finally, our seeds and soil together cost us around $18. We will have visual interest and a tasty harvest all season (including drying some herbs for the winter) for far less cost than buying fresh or dried at the market. Another side benefit, Brittan and I spent a delightful day doing something fun together.

Let me finish with an important safety tip. Last year our herb garden failed miserably because we over watered them. Most herbs, except chives, aren't all that demanding. And cilantro pretty much hates water. Do you homework first. Have fun, eat well, save money.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

IOU NO MORE Referral Program Goes Live April 1

This is the biggest announcement from us since the publication of IOU NO MORE. We are launching a referral plan that will allow those in the revolution to make money while you spread the word. And there are NO strings attached. I could not be more excited about this plan. I've been working out the details for months and the time is right. I'm going to include the entire text of the announcement (warning: long post ahead). It will be available on the website shortly.


Referral Program

When was the last time you were offered FREE MONEY? Ok, When was the last time you were offered FREE MONEY without it being a gimmick or con? Probably never!

That's just one of the things that makes the IOU NO MORE Referral Program unique. You can earn money with NO STRINGS ATTACHED and without paying a fee to get in. You can earn a little or you can earn a lot, it's up to you. Let me explain what it's all about.

I wrote IOU NO MORE because I wanted to change the world. Really! Brittan and I were so excited to be debt free that we wanted everyone to know the financial peace we know. But I didn't just want to write a book. I wanted to start a REVOLUTION. A financial revolution. With that vision in mind, I went to work chronicling how we beat debt and offering practical suggestions on how ANYONE could make the system work for them. After writing the book, I polished up the set of money management forms I'd created to help us manage our money and before I knew it, “The simplest money management plan on earth” was born.

Since the book has been on the market, thousands of men and women have used our program as a Quick Start Guide to begin their own journey to financial freedom. We have been touched by the many TESTIMONIALS we've received from people who have found the system both practical and easy to implement. And they didn't have to spend a ton of money on some scheme to make it happen.

In our current economic climate, it's more important than ever expand the revolution. Every day, the television, radio, newspapers and Internet are overflowing with stories of financial uncertainty and failure. From Wall Street to Main Street, we are reaping the consequences of decades of mindless borrowing and spending. For a large number of Americans (and other nationalities as well), the future looks bleak.

Of course, the outlook doesn't have to be bleak. The future can be bright. If we follow a few common sense financial principles, we can all become debt free and live debt free forever. But as a soldier in the IOU NO MORE revolution, you already know that. You are already taking steps to change not only your destiny, but your family's as well.

Now we're asking you to enlist others in the fight against debt and uncertainty. We are looking for three million soldiers to join the revolution. That is less than 1 percent of the population of this great country. But we are utterly convinced that it will only take a small percentage of people to infect America with financial healing.

We need CARRIERS. In order for the revolution to expand, we need ground troops to spread the word. Time is of the essence. A slow burn won't work. We need a WILDFIRE. So we are going to PAY the soldiers of the Revolution to recruit others.

Everyone who purchases an IOU NO MORE STARTER KIT or a copy of IOU NO MORE (the book) from OUR ONLINE STORE, beginning April 1, 2009, will receive, along with their product, a set of REFERRAL CARDS. The card will have a place to put your name, address and email. Give the cards freely to those you know who want to live debt free. Then when that person orders a Starter kit or a book, we will PAY YOU! We will pay you $5 for every person you refer who orders a Starter kit. We will pay you $1 for every person you refer who orders a book.

The orders must be made through our ONLINE STORE or via U.S. POSTAL SERVICE rather than from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ebay or any other commercial outlet. That's the only way we can track the order to the referral network. All the individual needs to do is include your card in the envelope with their mailed order or if ordering online to send an email to with your information (name and either address or email) at the time of purchase, so we will know who to credit. There is NO LIMIT to the number of people you are allowed to refer. Payments will be mailed to your address (the one we shipped your order to) quarterly (April, July, October, December).

Wait! There's more. When those you refer also refer others, we will not only pay them, We will PAY YOU AGAIN. Yes, you heard right. We'll pay you for your SECOND and and even THIRD generation referrals. When one of your referrals, refers someone else, we will pay them the normal referral fee and we'll pay you $2 on every Starter Kit and 50 cents on every book. For the third generation, we will Pay you a $1 for each starter kit, at 25 cents for each book!

For example, let's say you refer 10 people who buy a starter kit. We will pay you $5 for each kit ordered. That's $50. Not bad for handing out cards and referring the “simplest money management plan on earth”. Now, if each of them refers 10 people, we will pay them just like we paid you, but we will also pay you $2 for each of their referrals. In our model that means 100 more individuals have joined the revolution, so that's $200 more dollars to you. Here's where it gets interesting. If each of those 100 people refer 10 more, that's 1000 new soldiers in the revolution. Because you helped start the fire two generations before, we will pay you $1 for each of those kits purchased. That's $1000 to you. Right there you have your beginning Emergency Fund. And all it cost you was your enthusiasm about the revolution.

Ok, for a minute, let's go crazy and imagine you refer 100 people to the program and they order Starter Kits. That would be $500 to YOU. Now lets suppose each of them only refers 10 people. That's 1000 new revolutionaries and your referral bonus would be $2,000. Again, each of them only refers 10 more, that's 10k kits and a $10,000 referral bonus to you!.

I doubt very many people will be able to refer enough family and friends to create a second income from the program, but it has the potential to help get your snowball rolling, or to create the lever and fulcrum to launch your emergency fund, or even to pay off one of your credit card bills. That alone is worth getting involved. And a few WILL be so excited and committed that they will make some decent coin. And the best news is, there's NO CATCH. The program is open to anyone who purchases a Starter Kit or Book from our online store beginning April 1, 2009. It's our way of saying 'Thank You' to you for helping us change the future of America.

If you have any questions at all, just email them to LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION!

God and His darned sense of humor

For the most part, I don't complain about rain anymore. We've been in a drought for so long here in NW Georgia, that rain is welcome, even when it is inconvenient. And this week it is inconvenient. I'm on vacation and had plans to do a great deal of garden work. But, nope, instead it rains. And rains. And rains.

We thought it had stopped at lunch time, so we put all the seedlings outside to get some fresh air. After a couple of hours, here comes the rain. Since the small cups are sitting in a series of cardboard boxes for ease of transport, Brittan and I had to rush around and bring them in before the boxes disintegrated. After that, I said, "Phooey, I'm going to plant my little trees anyway." They are bare root trees and I didn't want them drying out too much.

I grabbed my garden fork, pick axe, shovel, potting mix, watering can and saplings and went to work. Brittan came out to help to speed up the process. She was my extra pair of hands holding the trees upright while I filled in the dirt. As life would have it, the longer we worked, the harder it rained. By the time I got the three trees in the ground, I was soaked to the bone. But, hey, at least it was done.

Roughly 10 minutes after we came inside, the rain stopped. The sky is clearing off and it's even possible the sun may peek through. God is having a nice chuckle. I guess I like making Him laugh. It's a whole lot better than ticking Him off, I reckon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strangely, there ARE Bargains at the Supermarket

I rant and rave about grocery prices, but I don't hate supermarkets. They have made shopping very convenient. I can still remember having to go to the bakery for bread, the green grocer for for fruits and veg, and the butcher for meat. Now, it's one stop shopping. And, if you are paying attention, there are still bargains to be had. Our local Wal-Mart, for example, marks down meat early Saturday mornings for those packages that are getting close to sell by date. Brittan and I have picked up some fantastic deals on beef, pork and chicken. We take them home and get them right into the freezer. Our Kroger store has a 'day old' bread bin where we've gotten hamburger and hot dog buns for half price. Again, straight to the freezer. They also have a 10 for $10 sale from time to time. We've found some great buys at those. We only buy things we would be using anyway, so it becomes a bargain. Publix has a 2 for 1 bargain bin. That one takes a little more work for us because they don't often have the things we would use, but once in a while something we need is there. But one of my sisters finds deals on lots of things there, so for her its a jackpot.

The simple point is, there are bargains all around us. We just need to ask around and keep our eyes and ears open. Supermarkets aren't the enemy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Save Money By Growing Your Own Fruit

We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. We also know that they are expensive. That's the reason why we have begun growing so many of our own vegetables and why I'm writing so much about it in this blog.

Tonight, I want to focus a bit on growing fruit. First, I resent the prices we pay at the store for fresh (or frozen) fruit. Recently, for example, we bought some strawberries at the supermarket. These were Florida raised and were "at the peak of flavor". We paid roughly the same for that quart of berries as it would cost for about 15 strawberry plants. And they weren't even sweet. Well, one of them was. Same goes for most commercially grown blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Not to mention, apples and pears. If you go to a farmers market, the quality is better, but the price is higher (worth it, though).

My solution is to grow our own fruit. Let me use one example to illustrate how modern research has made it possible for virtually anyone to grow their own fruit and save money in the long run. One of our trees is a "fruit cocktail" tree. But careful grafting, this tree will produce peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. The tree is self pollinating and grows only 10 to 12 feet tall, making it easy to maintain and manage. You can buy them as saplings from many online nurseries for under twenty dollars, or buy them a little larger from places like Home Depot for around $50. I chose the cheaper route. It will take an extra year of growth before we get fruit, but tending the young trees is part of the fun. We're also planting apple and pear trees that have up to 5 different varieties of apples or pears respectively. These save space, time and money. As with the vegetables, the primary investment is labor. And since we all could use more exercise, the labor should be welcome.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Little Gardening Progress

What a beautiful day it was here in NW Georgia. Low 70s and plenty of sunshine. Too bad I spent most of it driving. Brittan and I spent a wonderful weekend in Savannah. On Saturday, we met up with my sisters and their husbands and we had dinner and a horse and carriage ride through the Historic District, featuring some of the more interesting Ghost Stories that abound in Savannah. On Sunday we walked around some of the old squares that make up the city, then decided to take another horse and carriage tour during the late afternoon. This one was more general history of the area. We had a delightful time.

But today it was time to come home. The drive took an extra hour due to an accident just south of Atlanta. So we got home a bit later than planned. But I still had time to re-pot a few seedlings and get everything outside in the sun for a few hours.

Tonight it was off to home depot to get some potting mix for a couple of the earth boxes. Tomorrow I will sow Brussel Sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. I also hope to get out the onions and finish a couple of raised beds. Any bets as to how much of that I get done?

Big Garden Prep Week Ahead

I'm on vacation this week. That means I have a lot of work to do. Ah, irony. Don't you just love it. But the truth is, Recession Proof Living requires a good deal of labor. But it's labor that pays off tastily.

For some reason, I've been reporting my gardening updates in my personal blog, Old Musher, but it really belongs here, so I'm moving it to this space. Sustainable gardening is such a big part of our new lifestyle, that it only makes sense to cover it here.

At any rate, I still have a good number of pepper plants that still need to be re-potted from their peat pellets to seedling cups this week. That will be project # 1. With nearly 300 total plants needing potted, you can imagine how time consuming it is. I seriously underestimated the time investment. Fortunately, Brittan has taken up the slack and done the lion's share of that duty. But this week it's my turn.

I still have raised beds to finish. I should get three or 4 finished off this week. I would like to do more, but that will depend on how much it rains later in the week.

Let's see, I need to clean up all the earth box containers and bucket containers that have been sitting outside all winter. I need to some compost to till into the existing beds and I need to start a compost pile of our own.

I have to fertilize our strawberries and the fruit trees we've already got out. If my other fruit trees arrive this week, I'll need to get them in the ground. And I need to build 'tables' for our plants that will soon be going outside for hardening off before planting.

Finally, last night there was talk of installing a rain barrel or two in back of our house. If we're going to do that, it will need to be early in the week. But that's a project that can wait.

Evenings will be spent writing. "RECESSION PROOF LIVING" is only about 5 months behind schedule. How wrong is that?

By the time vacation is over, I'll be needing one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Two Book Recommendations

Y'all know I've been promoting self sufficiency for a while now. And y'all know that my next book, "Recession Proof Living" is long overdo (I hope to remedy some of that by doing some serious writing during my vacation next week). If I don't hurry up, the recession will be over, before the stupid book is on the shelves.

So in order to keep your minds stimulated while waiting for my tome, I want to recommend two books to everyone who wants to become more self sufficient. And, you don't need to live on a farm (oh, how I want to) to take the first steps.

Both books are by Edward C Smith and are published by Storey Press. Both are found in most big book warehouses and both are available online. The first is: "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible". For my money, it is the very best beginner's guide to vegetable gardening available. It has great tips, excellent vegetable descriptions, garden designs, common pests and how to deal with them and so much more.

The second book is "Incredible Vegetables From Self Watering Containers". For anyone stuck, like we are, in suburbia, or in a townhouse or apartment, this book is a must. Smith includes many of the great information from his "Bible", but tailors it especially for self watering containers. He even lists the best varieties for container growing. It is fantastic.

Brittan and I use both raised beds and self watering containers. They are big space and time savers. We are living proof that you don't need acreage to grow delicious, prosperous, abundant fruits and vegetables. And you certainly don't have to pay grocery store prices. There will be some initial investment, but as I keep saying, the sweat equity is free and pays great dividends.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How Badly Do You Want To Win?

I am trying desperately to lose weight. I've struggled with my weight for most of my adult life, except for a 7 year period from late 1990 to 1997. At the moment I'm winning. I am following a good weight loss plan. I have a long term goal and a series of intermediate ones. I'm focused. And most of all, I want to lose weight more than I want pizza. And I want pizza a lot!

I'm using the same approach to this battle that I used to beat debt. But desire is the key. Until we want to win badly enough to step out of our comfort zone and change our behavior, we will ultimately fail. But once the desire balance tips in favor of winning, we are on our way.

Beating debt and living financially free is hard work sometimes. But the end result is so very worth it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Revolution Joins Facebook

We launched a Facebook page tonight. It's pretty basic so far, but we hope to expand. We want to use every channel available (especially the FREE ones) to spread the Revolution.

Some Testimonies from People Who are Winning

I found this article this evening while surfing the personal financial pages and thought there were some encouraging testimonies in it. We're not alone. Millions of people are fighting to WIN. Read the testimonies HERE.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Common Sense is Still the Key to Financial Freedom

Recently, I stopped by on of the giant chain bookstores to pick up a book about gardening with self watering containers (very good book, btw). In order to get to the gardening section, which was about the size of a decent home sized book shelf, I had to pass the finance section. In contrast to the size of the gardening section, finance had several rows and hundreds of titles. Some looked interesting, many I've already read and a few were quite exotic and odd. It seems like everyone has an angle. P.T. Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute. By the looks of some of the money books out there, not much has changed since his day.

But the simple truth is; common sense will be your best path to financial freedom. No, you won't 'get rich quick', very few ever do with any scheme. But you will 'get comfortable eventually'. The rules are so simple: Work Hard, live on less than you earn, avoid debt, tithe, save 10 to 15% of your income, have an emergency fund, use a spending plan (budget).

If you are just starting out, or don't have debt problems, I guarantee that if you follow those simple rules, you'll end up just fine. If you have debt problems, then we have to add a few more steps. They are all described in detail in "IOU NO MORE".

Common Sense is still the key, and it's never too late to develop some.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nothing to Fear From Peanut Butter

We've all heard about the salmonella outbreak that originated from a peanut processing plant right here in Georgia. It was quite the national scandal. But it has caused some unnecessary panic in the peanut consuming world. Peanut Butter sales are tanking. Peanut farmers say that they may have to reduce their plantings by up to 1/3 this year. Wow! If that happens, everybody loses. I understand the nervousness. Nobody wants to get sick from food. But, let's not over react, either. First of all, peanut butter was not affected by the outbreak. Secondly, the salmonella came from a single source. The source has been located and the problem is resolved. Thirdly, peanut butter is a tasty, nutritious, inexpensive food source. Brittan and I have a jar of it in our pantry. I think I'll have some this evening as a demonstration of support for peanut farmers everywhere, especially here in Georgia. Go ahead, spread! Creamy, crunchy or extra crunchy, they're all good. We have "natural" peanut butter in our house because the diet we're on demands it. But its all safe. It's all tasty. Indulge yourself. It's cheap, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Good Conversation

I had a good conversation at work today with some young people who are really grasping the principles of recession proof living. We talked about budgeting, using cash instead of credit, avoiding debt and planning for the future. It was quite refreshing hearing that kind of common sense coming from young adults. There is hope!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dieting and Budgets

My doctor put me on the South Beach Diet a couple of weeks ago. So far, I'm losing weight rapidly. But it may all be coming out of my wallet. Just kidding...sort of. Dieting is expensive. Fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of chicken and meat, etc are not cheap. Potatoes, pasta and junk food are. That's messed up. Of course, fasting is extremely inexpensive. And it's fairly effective. But not desirable. Except on rare occasions for prayer, of course.

The cost of fresh fruits and veggies is the primary reason we are learning to grow our own. That and if we grow our own, we know what we're actually eating. Sometimes, when I read the labels on foods in the grocery store, it's like reading the inventory of some chemistry lab. Now, I no raving hippie or anything, but some of the stuff we eat is scary. If I can't pronounce it, how good is it for me?

Cost aside, South Beach has been great so far. I like the food, I like the variety and I like results. But the cheapskate in me hates the price tag. In the long run, though, extra grocery bills are better than hospital bills, I guess. And I have no time for a heart attack. It does not fit my schedule at all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More on Gardening and Self Sufficiency

Sometimes I rant. Occasionally I get on a soapbox, roar and don't come down until it thunders. But if even one person listens and joins the revolution, then it's been time well spent.

I've posted a few times regarding the value of growing one's own fruits and vegetables as a way of moving towards financial freedom. I'm sure I'll return to this theme repeatedly.

What's more, by producing some, or all, of our own food, we become self sufficient, and less susceptible to up and down turns in the market.

Advances in technology and gardening have made taking steps towards self reliance is easier than ever.

Let me share some examples:

1. The internet puts all the seed companies at your fingertips. I have a folder in my favorites of 8 or 10 of my favorite companies to do business with. I still love to get the catalogs and look through them, but when it comes time to order, I do so online.
2. Several companies make raised bed kits and "self watering" growing boxes. We are trying out several of them and I'll report back.
3. Back to the internet: a google search will help anyone find the best varieties to grow in any part of the country along with tips, tricks and discussion boards to share experiences and advice.
4. The variety of veggies and fruits available is astonishing. And many of them are able to be grown on patios, on roof tops and even indoors. We live in North Georgia and are trying our hand at growing dwarf lemons, tangerines, figs and even bananas. There are dwarf, self pollinating trees (growing between 6 and 8 feet tall, tops) that, due to grafting advances, will grow up to 5 varieties of pears, apples, or even "fruit cocktail" trees that grow peaches, plumbs and nectarines. We have ordered a cherry tree that produces wonderful fruit, yet grows only 6 to 8 feet tall.

These are just a few of the advances out there. I will add a few websites to the blog in the next couple days for you to look at. You don't have to try everything at once, but I hope you'll experiment and enjoy. Freedom is intoxicating.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Done Your Taxes Yet?

Finally got around to doing ours. Taxes are one of those chores that I dread every year. Ironic, too, because I work for a company that makes tax prep software as our primary product lines. Doesn't change my loathing of taxes, though.

This year, surprise, surprise, we're getting a small refund rather than paying in. Just one of the perks of moving from Maine to Georgia.

If you haven't done yours, do so asap. And avoid getting one of those "get your money now" offers. They cost a ton. Exercise a little patience and get your whole refund, if you you're entitled to one. It's good money management.