What To Do After High School When You Have No Idea What To Do

after high school

If you have just graduated High School you probably have a few questions about what is next. Some of you may already have a college and a major picked out, others may have no plan at all.

The good news is, as long as nothing is paid for yet you are still in good shape. Far too many parents, teachers, and guidance counselors will push the almighty importance of college on our youth.

Some parents will even go as far as to disown or kick out their children who decide not to attend it right away. So what should you do after high school?

Take A Gap Year

after high school

This should honestly be mandatory for any 18-year-old with the slightest doubt about college. I would even go as far as to say that all students should.

Taking a gap year after High School would give new graduates a few advantages that jumping right into college would not. If we are going to be honest with ourselves, we should admit that NO 18-year-old child knows what they want to do for the next 40 years.

They have no experience with the world and have been living in an artificial environment for 12 years. What benefits would come from a gap year?

Real World Experience

Taking a job out of High School, desirable or not to the graduate would give them a valuable lesson in working for their money and dealing with other people.

They would also learn about personal finance and budgeting their money. It is a lot harder to blow your money when you worked the long hours to receive it instead of just taking it out in student loans.

It also doesn’t hurt to have some kind of work experience to add to a resume.

Reconnaissance

Another benefit of taking a gap year (or two) would be the option of doing some reconnaissance.

What this means is, instead of just jumping in to college in your home state you would take time to work up the money and explore other states first.

You would take small trips with the money you earn from working to map out other areas of the country and may even find a more desirable place to set up shop in the long run.

One book that goes into more detail and lays out a roadmap is called Reconnaissance Man by Aaron Clarey.

Research Job Prospects

If you take a gap year, you will have one whole year to do your research on different college majors and what they have to offer job wise on the other end of that four-year stint.

Most of the time when someone in High School has to choose a college major, it is very rushed with a short deadline.

The student is unprepared to make a wise decision and is more or less told, “pick whatever you are interested in!” Regardless of the job prospects or practicality of that major.

The rub is, that student will still have to bear the full cost of that degree whether it is useful or not. This is one situation where “haste makes waste” truly applies.

 

Learn A Trade

after high school

Most believers in academia will scoff at this idea because blue-collar work appears to be “beneath” them.

The truth is, trades are still largely in demand. Some are even short of skilled workers such as the welding industry. The funny part of this is, most skilled trade workers I have personally met do better financially than college graduates.

Trade school normally has a much higher ROI than going to college. (Unless you major in certain business fields and have some pre-made connections. Thanks dad!) 

The fact of the matter is, learning a trade is an almost guaranteed tool for financial wellness. There is a two-pronged approach to learning trades as well.

You not only will be qualified to work for companies in that field, but you may even start one of your own.

There are plenty of people who have gone out and learned a trade at a company or school, but went on to become an independent contractor or start their own company. “Blue Collar” doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?

 

Become A Freelancer

after high school

When most people hear the word “Freelancer” they tend to think of a starving artist type of worker.

This is no longer the case in modern times. With the leverage of the internet, freelancers are able to work from anywhere on their own time.

As long as this individual has a marketable skill that is in demand, there is money to be made. The greatest part of it? You are not location dependant.

This brings us back to the point made earlier about doing your reconnaissance. You can effectively kill two birds with one stone if you have a skill that can be done online.

There are always people looking for skilled web designers, writers, programmers, coders, etc. If you manage to learn these skills before or even after High School, you may be able to build a list of steady clients ahead of time.

Having steady clients that like your work can prove to be a reliable source of income to fund your mission.

 

Conclusion

Which ever route you decide to go, just know that jumping in to college right away is often counterproductive. Taking a little time after High School to figure out who you are and what you want in life is insanely important.

It may also give you the chance to live a lifestyle you could have never dreamed of. Progress in life should always be made, but you can do your due-dilligence first. You never know, it just might be the best decision you ever make!

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How To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle

If you are reading this there is a good chance that you have a lot on your plate in life right now, and want to start cutting out all of the crap.

This post will go over the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle and how you can start making the right changes. The idea of a minimalist lifestyle is a trending philosophy, and with good reason.

Most people in modern countries are always gunning for the next toy, the next promotion so they can make more money, the next thing to impress other people.

What cost does all of this have on the average person though? Surely there has to be another way to approach life? That is where adopting a minimalist lifestyle comes in.

What is a minimalist lifestyle?

You probably have a good idea of what it is from reading about it, but maybe you would like a more in-depth explanation.

A minimalist lifestyle is when one decides that they will no longer place the value in their life into material things. They no longer want to spend their hard-earned money on trinkets that lose their novelty shortly after purchase.

There is a psychological application to living a minimalist lifestyle as well. Perhaps you already live a frugal lifestyle but have way too much going on in other aspects.

Changing your philosophy on what you allow in to your life and how you organize your thoughts will also benefit you. You want to “cut the crap out of your life” in a non material sense.

Okay, so how do I start doing that?

We will take two approaches to this, depending on which one is more important to you for the time being. Ideally, you want to work towards implementing both into your life.

Material Things –

The Two Year Rule

This is a very simple concept that you can apply to most things in your house or apartment. If you have not worn, used, or eaten (yikes) something in your house for the past two years, chuck it!

Think about it, if this thing has been laying around for two years untouched do you really need it?

What are you saving it for, a rainy day that hasn’t come? Do yourself and your home a favor and chuck the crap, you don’t need it. You’re just trying to justify hoarding it.

Where Does All The Money Go?

To dumb shit. No really, I’m not trying to be funny here. Most of the stuff you buy is dumb if you have a semi decent job but have money troubles.

Have you ever actually went over your income and where it all goes every month?

I didn’t for a long time. Did you know that there used to be a $600-700 deficit PER MONTH in my finances until I actually tracked and added up where it was going? It went something like this:

  • $150 on macchiatos ($5 a day!)
  • $200-300 on eating out (on a good month)
  • $200 on bars/clubs/etc.
  • $30-50 on a new clothing item (I didn’t need)
  • $40 on cable (That I never watched)

To put that all into perspective, $700 a month is rent or mortgage in some parts of the country (unless you live in New York like me) but can certainly help you pay down bills or be applied to the rent.

This is just my example of where my money was going. I couldn’t possibly evaluate everyone’s situation, but anyone can go over their monthly spending and find waste.

How Long Will It Last?

Another way you can support your minimalist lifestyle is to spend the few extra dollars on quality things (that you ACTUALLY need) instead of buying cheap and having to replace it shortly after.

Think of the things you use every day, and couldn’t live without. Now think about the last time you replaced it. Was it because it broke, or because you got bored with what you had? Either way, this can be resolved by purchasing quality items with the intent of using them for a long time.

One example I like to use is shoes and boots. I HATE having to replace them. So when it comes time, I make sure to spend a few extra dollars on a reputable brand that I know will last me a long time.

Two years ago, I purchased a pair of Red Wing shoes for $200 and they are still going strong. I will probably get another few years out of them because I bought for quality with the intent of using them forever (not literally of course.)

Philosophical Application

Okay, so what if you are already frugal and have your financial house in order? Is that all there is to do? Not quite. A minimalist lifestyle applies philosophy to it as well. There are some great benefits:

  • Lower your stress levels
  • You can prioritize better
  • You’ll more inclined to socialize
  • You will let less things bother you and ruin your mood/ thought process
  • Make better decisions

How Do I Do All That?

It all starts in baby steps. You can not change the entirety of your thinking at once but you can take small steps every day to make it happen.

Start Cutting Toxic People Out

This is one of those touchy subjects because a lot of people feel this moral obligation to keep people around just because they’ve known them a long time. If you dread getting a call or a text from a certain person and try to avoid them whenever possible, CUT THEM OUT!

I don’t care how you think that sounds. Do you not respect YOURSELF enough to do something beneficial to your mind? This person clearly doesn’t, otherwise you would like being around them.

One type in particular that I’ve mentioned in my last post is people who complain about problems they fail to ever fix.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Some people are genuine go-getters. They have the capability of sleeping four hours, crushing it at work all day, and then pursue their outside goals and dreams.

This is the exception rather than the case. Most of us simply take on too much responsibility and try to do it all when we simply can’t.

We try to multi-task and end up with a bunch of mediocre or poorly done things. What you should do is pick one or two things you are good at doing and master them.

When you do that, THEN move on to the next thing you want to learn. You don’t need to learn French while taking karate lessons before learning the history of ancient Egypt.

You are human and can’t do it all at once. Accept that, and you will be happier.

Give Yourself “Me” Time No Matter What

If you chug through every day of the week with no period of relaxation in sight, you will burn or. I don’t care how “determined” you think you are, it will happen.

How do I know? It’s happened several times. I would try to get as much done as possible and put off relaxing over and over. “I can do it later” I would tell myself.

If you don’t give yourself free time to do something you like, (even if it’s doing nothing) you will start to stagnate and your work will suffer.

You’ll become more easily frustrated when things don’t work out. Everyone from the cashier to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company needs to set aside time for themselves, it’s how we are able to keep going.

Conclusion

A minimalist lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people truly value material things more than their happiness.

Some people enjoy crazy, hectic, over-the-top schedules. Good for them, you don’t. Start taking steps today to change your life philosophy and actions towards minimalism and you will be happier.

We have so many unnecessary distractions we place upon ourselves and sometimes the things we really want from life are cast aside.

Get rid of it all, material and mind wise. You don’t need it, you won’t miss it, and you’ll be better for it.

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Don’t Help People Who Won’t Help Themselves

people who won't help themselves

One of the most frustrating things a lot of us come across in life is resistance when we try to lend a genuine helping hand. This normally comes from people who won’t help themselves. We’ve all been in a situation where we know someone who is displaying self-destructive tendencies. They continue down the same path making the same bad decisions and repeatedly complain about it. So naturally, you have the third-person insight to try to offer some genuinely helpful advice.

The person seems receptive, even interested in what you have to say. A week or two goes by and this person still has the same problem. You’ll ask, “What happened with doing XYZ like we talked about?” and get nothing but a lame excuse or justification for why they did the same thing again. Then they will have the nerve to complain in detail about their plight.

Why?

In very big on the “whys” of life, you could say they even keep me up at night. So let’s dive into why people act in this frustrating manner:

We as humans, are very prideful people. We tend to think of ourselves in a solipsistic way which in Lehman’s terms, means only one’s own mind is sure to exist. We are kind of like the main characters of life in our minds. So when an outside idea or suggestion comes our way that contradicts our actions, its natural to resist or disregard it and continue our habits.

Now that we have identified the “why” of this behavior, what can actually be done to resolve this issue? How can we get them to just see our point of view and use the solution we gave them? The short answer is, you can’t. You will have little success in trying to do so.

“So just like that? Let someone I care about go down the path of destruction?” Look, I’m not saying just flat-out give up on the person. Maybe the second time they will realize that your advice might be a better choice than what they have been doing. It’s just very unlikely if they are stuck in their ways or let their emotions control their actions instead of reason and logic.

The Other Cost

dont help people who won't help themselves
You lose out too.

There is a cost to you as well. If you continue to try to help someone who will not reciprocate you will not only waste your own time, but may also find yourself stressed or angry about it. “I’m telling this idiot exactly what they need to do and they won’t do it! Then they complain about it!” It can be insanely frustrating to anyone with a more logical personality.

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to let life happen to this person. The hardest but most effective way for someone to learn a lesson or change their ways, is through their own mind. Your mind could work in an entirely different way than theirs does. They don’t know what you know, they haven’t seen what you’ve seen. I’m not giving these people a pass, I’m just trying to construe the differences between your logic.

The Other Side Of The Coin

So what if you have someone who actually took your advice and it didn’t work out? You continue to help that person. They have already shown you that they value what you have to say, and gave it a shot. They are genuinely trying to make a change and not complaining anymore, they want to fix a problem.

The truth is, there is a good chance this person would have tried to resolve their issue on their own, even without your advice. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to help anyway. You may have something to offer that they didn’t think of or didn’t know about. It is ultimately their drive and determination that will be the deciding factor. Problems not acted on go unsolved.

If you need a real world example of this post, use my blog as one. I provide advice and wisdom that may genuinely help others. I have received positive feedback and emails from people who took what they found here and made a positive change. There’s one thing though:

They found my blog. I didn’t go banging down their doors or shove it in their faces like a cheap salesmen. They went and searched the keywords and browsed the correct forums for self-improvement. The blog was only a tool. Those who made a positive change did it because they WANTED TO.

people who won't help themselves
“Look at you, you did that shit alone.”

Conclusion

As much as we all want to be heroes and save the people in our lives from themselves, realize that only we can save ourselves. Others can nearly provide the tools for us, and we have a choice whether to use them or not.

Do not cause yourself undue stress over other people who won’t help themselves. Extend the olive branch to them and if they take it, do what you can to aid them. Give them the push they need and the encouragement to do better. Just don’t force it on them.

Until next time – The Simple Bachelor

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Spartan Living for the Modern Minimalist

Are you capable of spartan living?

 

 

A while back I started learning how to live as frugally as possible. (Which is different from being cheap by the way.) It has become a way of life. When we hear the word “frugal” we tend to think of some middle-aged coupon-clipping housewife or a tightwad dad who lets minor fixes turn into costly repair.

By definition, frugal is described as:

Frugal: – simple and plain and costing little.

This does not mean cutting costs in every aspect of your life. Here, we are speaking in terms of frugal living. This way you may have excess cash flow for life experiences, large purchases, investments, etc.

So how does one apply this spartan way of living to achieve maximum liquidity? Here are a few categories on how to make smarter choices in survival. This will afford you greater opportunities in the enjoyment aspect of your life.

Living Arrangement

You are likely a bachelor. This gives you an enormous advantage on control of your living situation because you only answer to yourself. You have no wife/kids/family to factor in when making this decision and therefore, you have many options.

  • Live at Home – The most frugal (but not always practical or attainable) option, would be to live at home for as long as possible. I understand there is a stigma as a grown man to live at home with family. You will be looked at by others as a failure to launch. Fuck them. YOU are the one who is in control of your finances and this may be the best situation for you to build your war chest.
  • Rent the Smallest Apartment You Can – Bachelor pads are supposed to be well, spartan. This means all it is providing you is a place to sleep, eat, shit, and shower. The larger the home/ apartment, the larger your rent, and the larger amount of material items you are likely to have. Find an apartment that will provide the bare minimum amount of space to live comfortably and downsize the amount of possessions you have to the bare minimum.
  • Buy Property To Provide Living Space/Income – If you have managed to save a lump sum of money and are now considering something more long-term or “investment” driven, you may consider buying rental property you can live in. While this is much more involved and requires tons of real-estate research, it will provide you a living space that is subsidized. Over time, you will pay off the property and have income as well as a place to live.

 

Food

Possibly one of the biggest money pits we face is food. A lot of us will eat out every night, go to fancy dinners, not learn to make simple meal preps, etc. the reason that this is so important is because good/ expensive food is an occasional treat, not a right. There are cheaper ways to go about eating as you hammer out the 5-6 day work week.

  • Meal Prep – One of my least favorite things to do but most cost saving is meal prep for the week. I do my shopping at a big box store such as BJ’s and buy enough food for the whole week. I typically spend either Saturday or Sunday cooking or making up my lunch and dinner. These meals can consist of any simple items such as chicken, rice, vegetables, soups, etc. The goal is to keep the meals as simple as possible and easy to prepare. Yes, it is tough to eat the same simple things every day. Compared to what I would have spent on eating out all the time, the opportunity cost would be huge.
  • Fast Food – Certainly not the best choice, but in a pinch this may be your best option over a restaurant. We are human and may leave our meals home by accident or not be home for a day to pick them up. I try to opt for the “cleanest” thing I can find such as a grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad or a deli that has turkey/chicken/ etc. Once again, sucks but is still better than wasting money that could be used for life enjoyment and improvement on the expensive stuff.
  • When You Do Eat Out – Make it count. Don’t go for some shitty place with shitty food that still ends up being expensive anyway like Red Lobster/ Applebees/ Cheesecake Factory. If you’re going to spend the money on this food outing you might as well make it count. Find a restaurant through Yelp or Google before hand that offers an authentic meal as well as a good dining experience. Remember, you’re shelling out this extra cash…make sure it’s worth it.

 

Clothing

We tend to place a lot of emphasis on clothing and style as a society. We as men, have a slight advantage here because we have much less need to accessorize, match outlandish colors, and coordinate our hair with our outfits. There are a few basic things we all need though. I’ve narrowed it down to the bare minimum of what should be in your wardrobe.

  • A Good Suit – One thing you will always want to have handy is a good suit. If you do not work a job that requires you to wear one each day that’s fine, but the interview for said job or the next one will require you to look presentable when you walk in.
  • A Nice Shirt and Jeans/ Pants For a night out or a casual meet up
  • Gym Clothes – Anything as simple as a pair of basketball shorts and an old T-Shirt will do. You have to have something to work out in!
  • A Pair of Sneakers, Loafers, and Boots – These three pairs of shoes are all I own and they get me through almost any situation. I replace them only as needed.

 

Work/ Life Balance

This alone is so important. For spartan living you must obviously have some form of work/service/ or business that provides income, but you must also have time for your outside life.

I live by the philosophy that if life were simply about saving and money with no enjoyment, why would be the point? Spartan living provides you a way to minimize your cost of living so that you can maximize your outside life. Some may think it is wise to take on a 60-80 hour work week. That is fine and I’ve been there myself, but you must have hobbies and adventures outside of work.

The ideal would to find a career/ business path that EITHER:

  • Provides you enjoyment and fulfillment while you work.

or

  • Provides enough income to live your life and support yourself without working so many hours a week that you burn out.

 

Conclusion

What I have provided you are just a few examples and ways to implement spartan living in your life. Remember, the goal is to think: “How can I minimize my survival needs to maximize my life enjoyment?”

Material items will never bring as much happiness as having life experiences will bring. Even if those experiences just involve having more free time from working less due to lower living costs. The choice is yours.

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What Actually Matters In Life

Are we focused on the wrong things?

 

what actually matters in life
“At least I had nice things.”

 

If you were lying on your death-bed tomorrow, would you reassess your life and be happy with the pursuits you’ve had? Would you have felt that it was spent on what actually matters in life? Most people unfortunately, are not able to say this about the life that they have lived. Our society has a heavy infatuation with material goods and social status, so we often end up in a hamster wheel of “make the money, buy the shiny stuff to impress everyone.” I too, was once caught up in all of that nonsense.

It took me a lot of time to realize that I was concerned with the wrong things in life. Things other people did not actually care about and would not add any value to my life. If anything, it was detrimental given the price tag of some items I was after. This is a normal situation for most people across first world countries. Some of us will even feel inadequate for not having the things that others around us do. We’ve all had that feeling of envy at one point or another: John just drove his new Beamer off the lot and posted a picture of it on instagram. Alison always seems to have new handbags, dresses, phones, and makeup kits. Theres always that one person on our social media feeds that is ALWAYS on vacation and you start to question their source of income.

 

actually matters in life
“Spending the next two months in Greece!” (On daddies’ dime) – 1324 Likes

 

A different perspective:

There is a way around this self-defeating thinking. What if, you instead chose to put more value into the people you have around you? What if your new goals or pursuits instead involved making new friends and connections? You can completely erase the need for high price material goods. Only invest in what you can afford, and that will get the job done for you. Think of it this way, what is the number one thing most people stress over in modern society? Money. Why do we stress over money? We over-extend ourselves because we buy things we can’t afford to impress other people. The truth is, NO ONE CARES what you have! If you have genuine connections and friendship with other people it will not matter that you have fancy and expensive “things.”

I have one friend who drove the same sedan from 1992 all the way up to a year or so ago. When he finally got a “new” car, it was truck from 2001 that his uncle didn’t drive anymore. Wanna know what his friends including myself thought of his cars? Nothing! No one cared that they weren’t brand new Dodge Challengers or Ford F-150s. What mattered was the fun times and memories made by driving those cars around and spending time with friends in them. This of course is just an example, but it is a universal one. What if you applied that way of thinking to all of your “things?”

One of my favorite quotes related to this is when Dave Ramsey said “The Joneses are broke!” He was making a point about how the picturesque family that seems to have it all is actually drowning in mortgage, car, and credit card payments. They only seem like they have it all. They are caught in the rat race of obtaining material goods for a high social image. There is no value in their relationships with other people because they are on the hamster wheel of earning money and giving it away to payments and big-ticket items.

 

actually matters in life
“Give it away give it away now!”

Conclusion:

One added benefit of putting value into your friends, family and fellow-man is that you can lower your need for more and more money. Imagine being able to take that lower paying job in a field you really like. All because you gave up the desire to buy new things. Most of the stuff marketed to us these days is pure useless garbage and will not bring happiness to your life. There is this thing called “novelty” and it wears off quite fast after a new purchase. Think of the hours you had to work to obtain this item to have the excitement go away shortly after.

Forming good relationships and building the ones you already have is…FREE. It will also do much more good for your mental and emotional health to have a network. One of the 48 Laws of Power (as manipulative some may call them) is “Do not build fortresses to protect yourself, isolation is dangerous.” Robert Greene made an outstanding point with this law. Isolation coupled with the constant drive for buying crap is a surefire way to feeling depressed and empty.

So as I say, “cut the crap out of your life” and start focusing on relationships with other people. Make a vow to yourself that you will no longer chase the next iPhone or new car if you already have one that works. Start to truly free yourself and improve your well-being.

Until next time – The Simple Bachelor

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Why You Should Pay Cash For Your Car

Pay cash for your car

 

Story time. I have finally freed myself from a huge financial burden known as the monthly car payment. Not long ago I found myself walking into the Chevrolet dealership to buy a used car for 5 grand, and found myself walking out with a 3 year car lease. I had felt the sweeping sensation of buyer's remorse before, but this was on a whole other level. "What had I just done? Did I really just sign a car lease? Why didn't you stick to the plan and pay cash for your car?!"

We live in a very "I want it now" type of world riddled with materialism and consumerism. We just can't wait for that shiny new toy. The question most people ask now is not "How much?" but rather, "How much down and how much per month?" I fell victim to this rather quickly and found myself no longer controlling my own impulses when I saw the brand new cars on the showroom floor. I ended up ditching my plan to pay cash for a clunker to get around and instead, leased a new Chevrolet Malibu.

Of course, the feeling that I had just made a huge mistake was not immediate. In fact, driving off the lot in this brand new sporty car was a feeling I never had felt before. This was my first legitimate new car I ever "owned" (hah!)… The next day I felt quite different about my new set of wheels. The reality of the burdensome monthly payments and the required full coverage insurance hit me a little too late. I started to try and rationalize this decision any way I could. "Oh well it's new…it won't have any issues! The car is fully covered too…I probably won't go over the contract miles too much…"

Not even one year later, I found myself scraping by with my credit cards to hold bills over and 5000 miles outside of my yearly allowance. To put this into perspective, for every mile you go over your contract allowance, you pay 25 cents. So for a three-year contract, I was facing a nearly $4000 bill before all other fees just to turn the car back in! What in the world was I doing? "I'm going to get slaughtered when I turn this thing in." I told myself. I needed to do something fast to get out of this.

It was time to go fishing. I posted the car on multiple lease swapping sites, as well as Craigslist. Things were starting to look desperate and a lot of callers about the car did not pass the credit check to transfer the lease. Eventually I did end up finding someone to take over the car and couldn't have been more relieved. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could get things in order again. I vowed never to lease a car again. I do not own a car at the moment and have opted to use public transportation for the time being, but you can bet my next car purchase will be paid for in cold hard cash.

My story is not unique. Millions of Americans have gotten themselves into the same (if not worse) situation as I had. Not all of them were as  fortunate to have the lease taken over. Repossesions are at an all time high as many fail to make good on their car payments due to poor financial planning. Car repossessions can also have devastating effects on your credit and income as you may be sued for the balance on the vehicle after it's auctioned off.

If you are reading this and were considering leasing or financing a new car, DONT. There is no good reason to do this as a car loses its value far faster than you make payments on it. You will almost always be upside down on a new car. Your financial situation matters not, it is simply a bad deal for most. Do yourself a favor and take it from someone who has already made the mistake, if you can't pay cash for the car you cannot afford it. Find the best car you can pony up the cash for that runs and drives, and enjoy the feeling of complete freedom from a monthly car payment. I know I will.

Until Next Time  - The Simple Bachelor

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