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We are currently in the U.S. on request of family and, as we all know, family takes priority. Chile is still on the agenda. We like Chile and we plan to make this a more in depth survey of the country than we did last time, and cover some new territory. In the interim we decided to address repeated concerns of many subscribers about generating income.

Lots of expats are retired with few worries. They are just looking for a place to spend time on the beach. But even in our retirement, in the spirit of diversification of our lives and assets, we like the idea of looking for ways to generate additional streams of income.

If you are confident that nothing can happen to your retirement, then you’re fine. But we think building more than one stream of income is an important part of flag-planting–and not only that, it’s fun. When we already have a backup income, a lot of the startup stress is eliminated and we can think of something we would really love to do. Plus most of us have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews in our lives for whom we provide a family heritage and influence–for good or not so good–so there could well be ideas for them here as well.

First, although we are not financial analysts or advisors, we think that those who live in the United States have time to achieve your flag-planting goal. The sky may be falling (just kidding) but it isn’t likely to fall tomorrow. But we do suggest getting on with the program with dispatch, however.

First, especially for our younger readers, we suggest you start thinking like an entrepreneur. It is our belief that government schools do not teach you to think. If anything, they condition you to let someone else think for you. Thinking is a learned skill. You have to DO it yourself to get good at it.

This is going to be a bit more personal than usual but we are among those from a work-a-day family who have learned to think like entrepreneurs. It’s easier if you grow up in a family of entrepreneurs because you are exposed to a different way of thinking from very young. But it can still work for you even if you were not.

Years ago this editor’s family passed through a time in the US. wherein the country almost went over the brink economically. We had a Federal Reserve chairman then, Paul Volker, who did some things right–which we apparently do not have today–and brought us back down to earth.  But it was pretty tricky there for a while.

We were in Michigan during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The highways were fairly deserted. You rarely saw a car on the road and often, when you did, signs on cars said, “Will the last one to leave Michigan please turn out the lights.” That should give you an idea what it was like. Our gas stations had signs out that you could buy a gallon of gas for one pre-1964 dime. Silver and gold were on the rise. We were unemployed. We were looking for any way to support a family and could not think of anything. Plus we had extended family dependent on our decisions.

My husband was a concrete specialist, among other things, so we went into a business as a subcontractor building power company substations. It was not what we wanted to do because it involved travel, but it was all we could think of. But it was a start for us in thinking in terms of making our own job. Many things about it were stressful and even painful, but we learned a lot and even with all the stress, it was well worth it for that reason. We had not learned to think like entrepreneurs. As already stated, thinking is a learned skill.

We had a lot to learn.

We did this job until the family situation changed. It was what we did because it was all we knew to do in our limited thinking and in that scary economy of the time. We were relatively successful. But as the years have passed and we have continued in other businesses, we now see so many opportunities that were staring us in the face locally that we just could not see at the time.

Our thinking was limited.

We now agree with Doug Casey and others who say don’t waste your money on college or sending your children–unless they want to be an engineer or a doctor or some other occupation wherein certain credentials are necessary. But the consensus these days is that colleges are indoctrination centers that also enslave you with debt for much of your life. And if your major interest in college would be a business degree, save your money and do something else. You can learn to operate a business by operating a business and even taking classes that you need, either in night classes or online.

College does not teach you to think. If anything it discourages the ability to think and reason. It does not teach you to make your own job. Only practice will do that–undertaking a business, even if you currently have an 8 to 5 job, and starting to build income with a second project. You say I’m tired when I come home. This is one reason we focus on health as part of our flag-planting. It’s hard to accomplish a lot when we are not healthy. Subnormal health saps our strength and the energy that we need to achieve goals. Optimum health even helps us to think more clearly. Believe it or not, it’s worth quitting all that sugar and soda, for example.

Well, back to our story. We left our home in Michigan, kids in tow, and traveled for a while, building substations for power companies. But looking back after years of creating our own jobs, we see numerous opportunities that were right in our small town at that very time that we missed completely because we had not learned to think like an entrepreneur.

First, there was no local newspaper in our town. A family in a more distant city produced a small local paper with ads that was delivered to news outlets in our community and we had to call them long distance to place an ad if we wanted to sell or buy something. It never occurred to us to create a local newspaper. The market was there but we could not see it. In our narrow world, someone already had that covered. Knowing what we know now about local newspapers, it would have probably produced a better income than construction because we already lived there so the expenses would have been considerably less.

Next, there was no garbage pickup. You could haul things to the dump and everyone burned burnable trash. A few years later we had occasion to talk to our neighbor whose local construction company had gone under during that time. In his desperation he decided to take one of his trucks and establish a private garbage pickup. To our surprise, that man was ecstatic about garbage. He had learned to love garbage. He had established a business that was making him rich. With garbage.

Also at that time the Ben Franklin store in our town was for sale almost for a song. We knew it as a “junk store” and had no idea about the possibilities. At that same time, in another part of the country, a man named Sam Walton bought a Ben Franklin store in a little town in the boonies of Arkansas and . . . you know the rest of the story. Sam thought like an entrepreneur, though he was young at the time. He could see possibilities. We could not. At that time Michigan had never heard of Sam Walton or Walmart. My how things have changed!

It is these experiences that cause us to urge parents to home school their children and let part of your curriculum be helping them start and operate a small business. You may have to learn how to do that right along with them, but encourage them, make it fun for them to learn and have fun yourself. Kids  love for a parent to be involved with them on a project. Or even make it a family project complete with board meetings. Help them begin thinking like entrepreneurs at a young age. If you are interested, we suggest you read Brook Corbyn’s story at http://www.fourflagsjournal.com/home-school-another-path-to-independence/

Further, we suggest two books for you this week. First is Robert Kiyosaki’sRich Dad Poor Dad.  Kiyosaki will give you the overall story of his transition at a very young age from a mindset of going to college and getting a job to creating his own job.

Next we recommend Become an Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are the Currency of the 21st Century by Claudia Azula Altucher.  Altucher will help you train yourself to think. She gives you a subject each day for 180 days. You are to come up with ten ideas, good or bad, in connection with the subject. It often isn’t easy to think up those last three ideas out of the ten required. It is similar to mental weight lifting. You will be surprised the difference it will make in your thinking—in 180 days.

One more word for our young readers or those who mentor them. We hear a lot about how little opportunity there is. Our suggestion is that there is always opportunity if you break out of the mold that was prepared for you. More millionaires were made during the Great Depression than at any other time. We don’t hear much about that, but it is true. It is also estimated that 12 million Americans died of starvation and malnutrition during that time. YOU are the one that makes the difference. So learn now to think outside the mold and to plan ahead.

Our suggestion is don’t look for someone who will give you a job. Look for a way to make money. It might be a job at times, through which you make money, but don’t limit your thinking to that. And if you have a job, practice thinking like an entrepreneur. You are selling a product—your time and skill. Continue to learn to think and to look for ways to enhance the “product” you are selling, to add value, and also to add other streams of income to your life. Even while you’re on a paycheck, think like an entrepreneur. Who is your customer? How can you better serve them? What new skills can you develop so that you can provide more value to your “customer?” Not only is it fun–there is personal power in it. But it is also another form of diversification–another way to plant flags in your life. And if one falls through, you have others.

Here at Four Flags Journal we do all of this ourselves. We want to give you ideas along that line and some of the things we will discuss here in the next few weeks will be things in which we have experience. Others will be taken from someone else’s experience. There are many ways to build various types of income. We are not experienced in all of them but in most cases we know people who are, and we continue to research them. We are always interested in new ideas and we hope you are as well. And please feel free to add your comments.

We hope to see you eventually–in South America. But even if you decide on a different destination, these principles will work for you. Remember the most important investment you can make is in yourself and your own skills and abilities.