Tom Kerr writing on self-reliance

One year I sat down to analyze my finances and realized I had a modest five-figure income that was being pummeled by a massive six-figure debt.

That’s not sustainable.

But rather than waiting and worrying to be forced out onto the street by creditors, I decided to take control of my life.

I got rid of whatever didn’t support my happiness and financial well-being, and then, with a much lower overhead, started to live a life that was elegantly simplified and exponentially more rewarding.

Within a year I was debt-free, living in the U.S. on 50 acres of beautiful land. My total monthly cost for housing – including utilities – was $350. Soon I also rented a small apartment near a ski resort 50 miles away, for another $150, just to enjoy the flexibility of a second home.

One day the manager at my local coffee shop said to me, “I see you in here every day, just hanging out with your friends or reading books and magazines. Are you a man of leisure?”

Men of leisure seemed to me to be posh guys on yachts living in Monaco. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was, indeed, living the kind of life that others my age yearned to experience.

Whatever assets I had, I owned and had paid for in full, with cash. I had a portable income as a freelance writer…and the freedom to set my own schedule and hours. I could wake up, go to bed, or take a day off whenever I felt like it. I was my own boss with nobody else to answer to except myself – and I was only 42 years old.

But I’m not the only one with this kind of story. I met a woman who used to clean houses for a living. She got sick of scrubbing toilets and wrote an e-book about how to launch your own housecleaning business. The last time I saw her she was making a few hundred dollars a day, doing nothing but cashing checks from the sale of her e-book.

I knew a fellow who had spent decades stuck in a cubicle, working as an engineer in a boring corporate environment. He ditched it and started his own business…selling fresh fish at local farmers markets. Now he divides his time between the ocean and the mountains, and couldn’t be happier…debt-free with no boss and a steady stream of money.

Another middle-aged man who used to live near me was working in the restaurant business. The hours and non-stop stress were killing him. After his wife got sick, he had to move to the city where she could access better healthcare. He started a dog-walking service in the city and within three months was earning enough in eight hours a week to pay all his bills – and spend the rest of the week caring for his wife.

A neighbor of mine adores cats and landed a job as a pet sitter that involved getting paid oodles of money to live alone in a billionaire’s mansion in Aspen, Colorado for a few months at a time. She’s the only cat sitter I’ve ever heard of who commuted cross-country, in a private jet, on somebody else’s dime.

Uber-economy philosopher James Altucher epitomizes this kind of forward-thinking, rule-breaking, stereotype-defying entrepreneurial rebel. He’s made tens of millions of dollars and always has more than half a dozen lucrative revenue streams pouring money into his wallet – even while he’s asleep or on vacation.

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