My confession

When my wife Michelle decided to stay home with our kids, I became the sole “bread-winner” for the family. Money was tight but we were getting by OK.

Then on a random Thursday morning, my boss called me into his office at 9am. I knew it was not going to be good when I saw the head of “human resources” (nicknamed the Hatchet Man by my buddies) already waiting in there for me…

They told me that I was being let go. Effective immediately. No severance money, no nothing. “Your services are no longer needed” and some BS about the economy going south and dragging the company down with it, etc etc etc. I missed a lot of what they were saying because I was in absolute shock.

Then, they took my security key that got me into the buildings and the Hatchet Man walked me downstairs and out the door. They didn’t even let me clean out my locker, they said they’d mail home my personal stuff including the the photos of my kids I kept in my locker.

Just like that, and after years of doing good work, I was literally walked out of the building and had no job and no paycheck.

Let me tell you, it was a mighty uncomfortable conversation when I got home and had to explain what happened to Michelle. Totally embarrassing and really scary at the same time. Thank God she was totally understanding and supportive. Quite a great lady, I am a lucky guy.

Our income went overnight from “getting by OK” to O. And we had the kids and the house payment and the car payment and the cable bill and a dozen other bills that come as regular as the sun sets.

Not a fun time, believe you me.

I know a lot of people are hurting out there because of the economy, and the truth is I understand completely because I’ve been there too.

It was right then, when things were the worst and when we really didn’t know how we’d make things work, that I decided to NEVER AGAIN be so reliant and dependent on others for supporting my family. I promised that I’d be more independent and be more in control of my life, not at the whim of my employer or the government or the bank or whoever.

We took a hard look at our finances and cut back on a ton of “nice to have” things that we’d gotten used to over the years. And we decided that we needed to sell our house and move to a much cheaper part of the country because we could no longer afford the mortgage payment to the bank.

We made the move down South and then really started down the path to becoming more self-reliant. Michelle planted a vegetable garden, started to sew and knit, and picked up part-time work. And that’s when I began to seriously experiment with solar power as a practical way of saving money and getting more control.

It was a difficult 9 months, but we eventually got back on our feet. We ate through our savings and learned to live with a lot less, but we survived and came out the other side. We’re doing a lot better these days and we know we were tested and came through.

These days, Michelle and I are a LOT less reliant on Corporate America. I started my own small business at home and now I’m responsible for making things happen, and I’m not controlled by a Fat Cat Boss who played more golf than he did do actual work. We grow a lot of our own vegetables in our backyard garden and we’re thinking about raising our own chickens for eggs and meat. We simplified our life quite a bit. We use and buy a lot less Stuff.

And it feels great to know that no matter what happens with the economy or government (and Lord knows there’s a lot of bad stuff happening these days), our family will still have enough free, 100%-clean electricity for us to get by on.

I guess if there was one piece of advice I could give you from my story… something that I believe so strongly and is so near & dear to my heart… it is that I’d really encourage you to think about simple ways in which you can BECOME MORE SELF-RELIANT, starting today.

Whether it’s putting in a vegetable garden, or starting a part-time business out of your home to supplement your income, or just finding easy ways to “do with less”, I promise you that you’ll be very glad.

You may never face the shock that my family did (and I pray that you never do), but whatever your circumstances and how things play out in the future, you’ll be glad that you took back some control.

Thanks for reading, and speak soon.


Frank Bates


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