The Money Wars

At some point in the future, those who have the privilege of writing the history about our present day events will find clever turns of phrase to describe our times. If those future scribes have any inkling of what actually transpired I imagine they will be able to clearly communicate these were the years of the ‘Money Wars’.

It certainly is an ingenious way to keep the world’s population passionately quarreling between themselves while the pirates, those who are actually looting the world, are busy scheming and directing the pillage. It is my sincerest hope it all ends on a positive note, one that entails some big unintended consequence for all the plotting parties involved.

While we live through this Great War of Money, the initial battles of which are already well under way, it is fascinating to observe, study and most importantly learn what is going on. Doing so provides an opportunity to examine the flaws in our systems and engage our fellow man in conversation and debate. This in turn has the potential to lead to innovation and solutions. For me any conversation where learning is involved is indeed a worthy one.

But there is also a need for urgency. Sadly this urgency creates fear and heightened emotions which impede our conversations and seem to be fueled in many ways. The burning question eventually becomes, “What should I do?”

Since we live in a society of magic bullets where an expert, usually a specialist, is appointed for any problem that may arise, we have learned to reach for an answer. Not only do we want answers, but we feel we are entitled to answers and will gladly let others do the hard work and show us which line to get in for the answers we deserve.

In my opinion there is only one specialist who has the answer to what you should do when you awake to find yourself in the throes of The Great Money Wars. That specialist is you.

rolled currency on a chess board

The concept of our money and wealth work the same way as our health. No two people are alike. Needs and wants vary depending upon genetic and environmental factors and are greatly influenced by society. Only you know what you need and value most, and these factors will determine what you do to best buffer yourself through the Money Wars. Become your own expert even as you learn from the vast wisdom of others.

I do not have your answers and I suggest you be wary of those who say they do. Be very skeptical and critical of those who would charge you for services they say will supply your answers. That said I am perfectly willing to share some of my answers as nothing more than food for thought.

From my point of view the best way to win, perhaps survive might be more accurate, a war where money itself has been weaponized is to take money out of the equation to the greatest extent I can. If I structure my life in such a way that I attract only a few monetary bullets rather than a full barrage of artillery I am way ahead of the game. The only way to win in a lose - lose situation is not to play at all. If that is impossible, than at least I should attempt to limit my exposure as much as possible.

It has been a difficult emotional transition moving from a life where success is measured in money and happiness is often defined by what pleasures and comforts we can afford. Bigger is better. Top shelf is status. More is more, at least until one chokes. I have found the hardest part so far has been the ongoing withdrawal from my consumer addiction. Not so much with the shopping and spending itself, but rather with what I do with my time that replaces the consumer fix with healthier and more satisfying endorphin surges. Intimately connected to this is learning not to care what others think of me while I make drastic changes to my life. These were, and are, my biggest hurdles.

Once I decided the answer for me was to try to live a life that required less of the money-now-weapon rather than more, as Cog eloquently pointed out we had to go even further into the armory in order to find our way out to the edge of the war zone. But a funny thing happened once I decided to get my money out of money; I discovered it wasn’t really all mine to begin with.

Weaponized Money

Do you have a 401K, an annuity or IRA? Perhaps you invested in a piece of rental real estate which now has some equity? Should you decide to remove your ‘wealth’, or money, from the hands of a brokerage, retirement plan or town where it is located, the surprise is you can only leave with a portion. That loud explosion I just heard was a monetized grenade packed with wallet piercing penalties and steep taxes. Luckily for me, the IRS was willing to take just one of my kidneys in payment and leave me with the remaining one to make due……for now. The game is rigged to keep you at the table. Leave and you exit with much less than you had while seated.

For me, getting out of the game was the only way I could discover to largely eliminate my monetary third-party risk. Any corporate, municipal or government agency with direct access to my assets and under great stress would likely be willing to appropriate my assets for their ‘greater’ good. I prefer to possess my own chair when the music stops playing and was willing to suck it up and deal with the damage sustained from the exit costs. That’s just me; I never did like casinos anyway.

After proceeding in the opposite direction any traditional financial planner would have sent me, thereby incurring the substantial costs to secure a temporary, then a more permanent place to bunker my life, I set about further reducing my ongoing need for a steady flow of money-weapons. On the face of it, what’s really strange is that while racing the clock to de-money, quite contrary to apparent logic the weaker (more worthless) money gets, the stronger a weapon it becomes. The fear of losing some or all of it exponentially strengthens the desire to acquire it.

I find great value in the strategic children’s games I once played. Perhaps the most important things I needed to know in life I already learned at an early age. My recollection of the game ‘Hot Potato’ helps me understand the urgency to move my money out of money and into tangible assets as quickly as possible: hot-Hot-HOT! The longer I hold my money, the more worthless it becomes and the greater likelihood of getting burned. In the game of ‘Tag’ I find myself at a distinct disadvantage when I am ‘IT’. And when playing ‘Hot or Cold’, once I put the blindfold on I am completely at the mercy of whoever is supposedly coaxing me in the right direction.

The answers that work for me are those that allow me to sleep well at night. Getting out of debt and learning to live within my means meant many changes. Tolerating and sometimes helping family and friends who are still playing the money weapon game, particularly my children, poses extra challenges. Quite frankly, the world offers little to no support for anyone who is looking to exit the casino. The money game only functions if everyone participates, though what exists today can’t really be described as functioning. No surprise then when the exit is found it is nearly as impossible to navigate as the maze.

Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to someone from my past who I once knew quite well. They asked me in a barely civil, almost accusatory tone, how in the world I could possibly live on no income. I carefully explained I still have several small streams of income, none of which rely upon an employer or a third party’s performance. Since I have no consumer debt, no cable, no country club or municipal expenses, my ongoing cost of living was quite low.

The electric bill is dropping now that the solar panels are up and running and we grow more than half our own mostly organic food. Aside from cell phone, internet and low property taxes, insurance is the real expense. Insurance for health, auto, life and homeowners creates the bulk of our living expenses. But all in all I live just as comfortably today as I ever have for 20% of the cost it once was.

In the end I have no retirement fund or pension held by another, nor will my future be diminished in quality because I was counting on something which no longer exists or is worth a pittance of what I require. In short I am relying mostly upon myself. My answers were met with silence. I am certain they are sorry they ever asked the question in the first place.

Although the ‘Money Wars’ have already erupted in pockets of physical violence throughout the world, even if tanks and bombs never reach your country, region or neighborhood, make no mistake about it, the Money Wars are raging everywhere in the world. As numerous contrarian financial observers will advise, a global financial escalation will ultimately leave no one untouched. Unfortunately, accepting this as truth makes it quite easy to become dejected while bouncing the proverbial balls of potential outcomes.

But my answers, the ones I provide because I am the ultimate ‘expert’ who knows me best and specializes exclusively in me, always looks for the silver lining in the dark clouds overhead. And as it turns out Silver is the most under-valued asset in the world right now. And I’m not just talking in the clink, clink, clink kinda way either.

If I had not faced the challenge of overcoming my fear of not being able to afford or access ‘health-care’, which I was conditioned to believe was the only path to a decent quality of life, I would never have researched alternative health and healing. And if I had not followed that path I doubt I would have discovered a entirely different method of keeping myself well, a bonafide alternative to throwing expensive and often ineffective darts at various diseases and conditions as they appear.

The ancient healing systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Indian Ayurvedic methods and many other indigenous practices have enabled people to live long and healthy lives modern big Pharma and medical industry literature seems to conveniently overlook. Many preventative practices, healing substances and even ‘cures’ can be realized that ‘cost’ little more than your time, an open mind, some physical effort and perhaps the right herbal seeds and their preparation.

While addressing the age old subject of growing my own food I blindly stumbled into the Genetically Modified and organic issues, motivating me even further to delve deeper than I expected was needed. I would not have become aware of where my food comes from and the qualities they contain if I hadn’t felt compelled to continue down the rabbit hole for additional ways to combat the Money War traps.

I cannot emphasize enough the immense satisfaction I receive from literally working for myself. My entire garden-harvest-canning fest circumvents the money meme and I’m actually living off the fruits (and vegetables) of my labors.

toddler gardening

The way I think about life has been dramatically altered. When I identify a need or want I now ask, do I need it? Can I obtain it in a more frugal manner? Is it something I could make myself? If I had no means (money or supplies) how would I improvise and create alternatives? This has led me to build and refinish shelves, make scented candles and healthier toothpaste, compost organic goods, plant several fruit and nut trees, learn permaculture and crochet and so much more. As I noted in a recent update the hubby is schooling me on how our homestead’s mechanical systems work. Soon I will add plumbing and electrical repair to my new set of life skills which already include mixing concrete and setting fence posts. Not too shabby for a former confirmed city girl.

It is easy to picture the simple life as dreary and drab. Modern media depicts urban living as flashy, edgy and chic with rural life just the opposite. Quite unexpectedly I have discovered more natural beauty and genuine satisfaction living in the middle of nowhere than any number of concerts, operas, museums or clubs ever gave me. Turns out those tree-huggers I always joked about actually knew what they were talking about after all.

I have no doubt that as the Money Wars escalate and the world’s central banks dial up the printing presses to exponential heights, we will each be confronted with our own unique set of heartaches and problems. The only answer I have for you is to find your own answers. Our own inner truth is there, waiting to be uncovered during our lifetime. I encourage everyone to recognize the unfolding Money Wars as an opportunity to wear new hats and explore new places that just might lead you to a brave new world made by you just for you.

Remembering the value of a better conversation and life's simple pleasures.
Remembering the value of a better conversation and life's simple pleasures.

 

02-20-2015

Mrs. Cog

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4 thoughts on “The Money Wars”

  1. Dear mrs Cog,

    Thanks for the thoughtful article. We are traveling down this path as well chipping away at the financial chains that have bound us. Five years ago we invested in 48 solar panels when our summer electric bill hit $800/month when we kept the thermostat at 80 deg. We will pay it off in a few more years and with a 20 year expected life, we think we have made a good choice. Our biggest worry is water. Our well is still good producing 20 gallon a minute and we have a 10k gallon storage but living in a arid climate is always tenuous. Our water is rain water trapped in rock, no limitless underground lake. This keeps us frugal unlike most who look at an ever flowing tap a unshakable given.

    The scary part for us has been capital improvements. Ten years ago we knew we needed a new roof. We were quoted $9k which we didn’t have so we assiduously started to save. Last year we had the $9k but the new price was 19k. Realizing we were playing a losing game imposed on us by Bernanke we took out a HELOC and did the roof. The water damage was getting bad so we realized to wait longer was going to put us in a worse state. Luckily I received $10k in an inheritance so it was paid off. So it did work out ( funny how those random gifts from the sky are exactly what you need, never more) but the whole experience has left us wondering how we can absorb these capital outlays when our income is fixed in retirement. The proverbial senior living on cat food comes to mind. Hopefully with our ability to garden, raise chickens and having great neighbors will keep us afloat in the possible dark times ahead but we are fully cognizant our retirement will nowhere resemble the carefree fun and travel our parents had. I can’t say I’m truly envious, there is much I am thankful for they did not have but we will definitely be faced with more difficulty.

    Miffed

    1. Hello Miffed,

      It sounds like you guys have a running start with your solar in place. I don’t know that we can do any better than to give ourselves as many options as possible these days. It certainly sounds like you are doing just that.

      I take great comfort that things rarely work out the way we think they will. Although we all see great change barreling towards us, I have hope that our gardens and diligence and compassion will help us navigate to a place that is less dark than we sometimes imagine. I personally think people who are careful and thoughtful of what is happening could be the ones to help lend perspective to what comes next. People like you who have an abundance of kindness and a willingness to share your views could make all the difference down the road.

  2. “I take great comfort that things rarely work out the way we think they will.”

    I had to laugh at that statement! For me, this is how I think and take great comfort in it but poor Mr. Miffed who is an assiduous planner for all things in life, an absolute horror. Life must be contained and controlled as much as humanely possible. Poor man has tried to herd a butterfly ( me) for thirty years with great frustration. I do respect his gifts and realize my impulsive nature and eclectic interests can wear thin so I try to go along with the flow of his direction. Funny how this can be so antagonistic when you’re young but now we respect each other’s gifts and prop up each other’s shortfalls. Maybe this is just the key to our success.

    This is the time for kindness and compassion. I see a world going so cold, bereft of hope. Everyday I see suffering and death at my job and feel so helpless to stop it. I struggle at times to find meaning in what I do. Is the sacramental aspect still there? I do doubt sometimes but I still feel I must be a beacon for those who need me. An open heart when so many have closed though it does get pained by the carelessness of others sometimes. Having the love of a good man does make it easier as I’m sure you can relate. ;-)

    Thanks for your perspective,

    Miffed

    1. Perspective is a funny thing. Cog likes to say where one sits depends upon where they stand. While your experiences are narrating an increase in a hopeless attitude by our fellow humans, I am seeing quite the opposite. Indeed, your assessment may be much more realistic as you deal with far more of the public and layers of institutionalized medicine than I am willing to expose myself to.

      On the other hand, the world I lived in until a handful of years ago was a fantasy where it turns out nothing is what it seemed but at the same time, nothing was ever quite right. Cog calls it my gilded cage. One of the most remarkable aspects of stepping out of that cage was experiencing real hope. I continue to be blown away by the bright minds and insightful theories and lifestyles people are living. Just when I think I have a grasp on this brighter side of humanity, I stumble upon yet more people and ideas and stories that paint the world even brighter for me.

      Being someone who understands the brightness and therefore cannot help but be moved by a lack of it makes your working with those who are suffering and in physical and emotional pain that much more admirable. You may never know the results of the ripples you make in the pond, but I would be willing to bet that deep inside your inner Self knows and understands the waves of goodness that your compassion and kindness produces.

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