Are Charities Enough To Stop Poverty?
Poverty because of Health
In my last post where I talked about managing regaining my health through adopting a healthy lifestyle, I mentioned writing about how I turned my healthy lifestyle and inability to gain employment into a thriving business that allows me to ability work from home with my kids… getting paid to help other people live a higher quality of life... and how you can do it too!
When you lose everything
I’ll never forget it. Couch surfing with friends and friends of friends… just to keep a roof over my head. It was no secret… my health sucked. So much that I physically couldn’t function when the temperature raised above 78 and below 70. If I became too hot or too cold, I’d fall unconscious. And my inability to regulate my own body temperature was definitely not something to brag about. It was a season of life that quite literally sucked the life out of me.
If you don’t know my story, you can read it here. The basics: I developed a severe autoimmune and seizure disorder while serving in Bahrain with the Navy. We don’t 100% know why, what, or how my health declined… but it was quite literally overnight, and spent 3 years regressing to the point where I was forced out of the Navy with no benefits. My neurologist was the one person who was charged with starting a “medical board” so a group of doctors could assess my case and decide whether or not I deserved a medical retirement. The week the paperwork was due, he deployed to Afghanistan without turning my case over to a different doctor.
At the same time, my enlistment ended, with no ability to continue the involuntary extension I was already on. My personnel office served me with paperwork to begin my less than a week transition out of the military with no benefits, no ability to work, and no income… saying to take it up with the Veterans Hospital and hope for the best. The Veterans Hospital granted me disability that amounted to $974 per month, and disregarded my list of symptoms because I was not properly diagnosed with anything in their system that called for disability ratings.
If you’ve ever tried to live off less than $1,000 each month… you know all too well the struggles to keep a roof over your head and food in your stomach. Meanwhile, workers at the veterans hospital told me to seek help from civilian offices for housing… and the civilian offices told me to use veterans homeless services… just to leave me standing there with nothing. All the employers I applied to told me I was unreliable because I couldn’t schedule my seizures, and the veteran support offices remained unresponsive when I applied for my benefits to be increased to handle affording the basics of life. Come to find out… I wasn’t the only one. This is common among the disabled veteran community… to be hung out to dry by the systems that are supposed to be there to help.
I felt hopeless. I felt helpless. I felt incapable.
To go from feeling indestructible and invincible… to not even being able to walk up a flight of stairs… or stand up long enough to fully brush my teeth… and constantly being judged anytime I was in public. Hearing over and over again “but you don’t look sick” – all while being told at the VA that I needed to sit and wait for my dad or my husband (because women are often treated that way at veterans hospitals)… depression snuck its way in.
I ended up with a bad case of being incapable at everything. Until I landed myself in the middle of an unexpected healing journey. My neurologist warned me that using food and natural remedies as medicine would kill me faster than my condition, making it clear I wouldn’t live to see 30. It was music to my ears after 16 seizure medications hospitalized me… and seizures also thwarted my suicide plans… all I knew was my suffering needed to end.
What I didn’t expect… was for it to end my suffering through HEALING me… physically, mentally, and spiritually through renewing my faith.
After regaining my health… I thought life would go back to “normal.” Find a good job… work… afford life… live happily ever after.
Boy, was I wrong…
Seeking normalcy after healing
I networked like crazy. Numerous small business owners were impressed by my ability to help them solve numerous problems, save them money, and provide ideas to help them better organize to maximize their business’s efforts. A few even offered me jobs, saying to send my resume just for “formality.” I was SUPER excited.
Business strategy is one of my favorite things to do. I love critical thinking and helping people become more efficient, maximizing profits. Especially with small businesses. I eagerly spent hours refining my resume, showcasing my talents and work history to perfectly identify with their office staff needs. And never received a call back. Upon following up… I was thanked for the strategies I had already provided, and learned how “unreliable” I was because of a 5 year employment gap. I was crushed all over again.
A Wake Up Call…
At that point, I was providing free consulting to a few friends and a few referrals from friends to help people live a bit more healthy and overcome some of their own “permanent” health problems. While talking with a friend on how to best support someone she knew with similar issues to what I was going through, she asked me “why are you not charging for this? What is keeping you from starting your own business.”
And it hit me…
Why was I doing everything for free? While I was helping a LOT of people, and super happy about it… why was I not honoring my time and knowledge by monetizing what I was already doing so I could also take care of myself in the process.
Increasing Your Income Without Finding Another Job
This really stuck with me. I loved helping people. I LOVE strategy. So why was I doing everything for free, while simultaneously struggling to make ends meet, and seeing my credit card balance increase every month.
For a couple months, I really struggled with the idea. I mean… people really needed what I was doing… and I heard over and over again how they wouldn’t be able to afford the services I was providing had I been charging. I can’t count how many times I’ve received messages and phone calls filled with gratitude, talking about how my clients felt blessed beyond all measure for receiving my consulting at no charge. And it totally resonated with me… I wouldn’t be able to afford paying someone either.
But not being paid for the time I invested wasn’t paying my bills either. I still needed to pay for a roof over my head… still needed to pay for the food I needed to eat… still needed to pay for the personal care products I used to keep my body clean…
$974 wasn’t cutting it… at all… Even when I was able to decrease my food bill through gardening vegetables. And then it dawned on me…
I still needed to increase my income to survive.
While I desperately needed to increase my income… I was also stuck in a mindset that kept me in my own way. I needed to make money… but I thought “who am I to charge.” From my perspective… no one wanted to pay someone to help… unless that person had the alphabet soup next to their name in certifications and degrees. Here I was… a bachelors degree in business, a disabled veteran, and unemployed. Who would want to pay me? Who am I to charge for my knowledge?
My journey through Autoimmune Hell and unemployment had totally shaken my confidence. It had totally shaken my drive to strategize my way out of my own situation.
No doubt about it… helping others was much easier for me than it was to dive down deep, face my own demons, and strategize my way out of my own darkness and into my own light.
Help from unexpected sources
I received an email from a friend of mine who sold essential oils. She is a blogger I connected with through Pinterest, and been buying oils through her for a few months. Her email was very timely, and very sweet… just briefly informing me there is a way to do what I was already doing and monetize my efforts without charging a consulting fee.
I wasn’t interested at first because the company is a network marketing company, and I had been burned by a few of those in the past, filled with empty promises and terrible coaching techniques. But I was also intrigued by her approach, feeling maybe this time was actually different.
At first… I focused on replicating what I saw her doing. I created my first blog, and started writing.
Within a month, I was approved for a few different affiliate marketing programs, and learned from her that because I was already a wholesale customer, I could use my oils as an affiliate income as well.
And she was right… I found a way to increase my income, and be paid without needing to worry about charging a consulting fee for the people who still needed my help but couldn’t afford it. This was a total win for my mindset that was stuck in all the excuses of why I “can’t” charge for my time, research, and efforts.
Now, I’m pretty skilled at helping people take their strengths and interests, and find a way to turn it into various income-generating activities.
Affiliate marketing is where a company pays you on commission for recommending their products or services. This allows the company to increase their sales without super expensive ad budgets. Affiliate marketing also works much faster than older forms of advertising. And I truly believe it’s the future of marketing, so much so, that I’m engaged in several affiliate marketing programs that all tie into my blogs.
I applied for everything I qualified for and was interested in… and was super excited to be accepted, especially knowing the affiliate courses and products I was endorsing would help the people I was already serving. At first it only added $50… then that grew to $400 in a single month… and I was beyond excited. When you’re used to making less than $1,000… having an extra $400 is a total game changer! My income has only increased from there.
I started thinking more about the email my Sponsor had sent me, and started talking to her more about how to use the business opportunity as affiliate income. Thankfully that company doesn’t have required monthly or annual quotas, and I was using their products all the time anyways, so I wouldn’t have to worry about purchasing requirements. We agreed that it was worth the effort to incorporate their info in with my writing, as applicable.
Then it happened… friends of mine who I didn’t even know were interested in adopting a healthier lifestyle started buying from me. Strangers I met online through my blog started contacting me about receiving my consulting by purchasing the products I endorsed. And a few wonderful ladies who purchased from me ended up also joining me in starting their own businesses… and my business was born.
From Failure To Feeling Blessed
I was actually being paid to talk with people about natural methods to solve their problems. And I was also being paid to talk with people about business strategy (still a favorite).
Next thing I knew… my income kept growing. $400… $500… $1,000… all from different sources coming in each month. A total game-changer, and total eye-opener.
Expanding my dream
I created a few online courses to provide to my customers, giving them my content for free. Some of them I offer publicly too. Then, after saving up $6,800 to hire a fantastic business coach, I realized how important it is to honor my time and start charging for my services. Through working with my business coach, learned how when you charge for your knowledge, the people you’re teaching end up learning more of what you teach than if they were to take the same course or received the same advice for free. My own experience coaching friends further proved that theory as I watched my solid advice being blown off for inadequate and outdated teachings they were paying someone else for (heartbreaking to experience, but true). Something about just adding a price tag helps people actually look at your course and pay attention to your programs.
While I still offer my courses for free to my monthly paying customers and business leaders… I started offering them publicly too, further increasing my income, and my ability to afford life. My courses and consulting topics include how to remove toxins from homes/offices, managing hormones naturally, building an online business without being obnoxious, self-care that actually works, and leading healthy lifestyles.
What’s crazy… with the exception of that initial $175 investment in my health (that I later recuperated)… I didn’t have any other initial expenses. Of course since then, I’ve invested heavily into growing my business and websites.
The affiliate marketing, blogging, coaching, and course creation can be done for FREE when first starting out. Which means… you can do it too without worrying about an initial investment.
Replicating My Efforts
My favorite thing about starting my journey of working for myself… I don’t need to rely on the ‘good graces’ of people who really have done nothing to deserve my time. I didn’t need to worry about picking up a first, second, or third job. I was able to increase my income and leverage that income, based on my own knowledge, interests, desires, and efforts.
All while I get to choose when I work… where I work… the people I work with… how I work… and what specifically I do each and every day. And I manage to do it with my young children hanging out with me.
I’m no genius. But I do care.
I know how hard it is to be down on your luck. I know all to well how it feels to not know where your next meal will come from. And I know all too well how difficult it is to figure out how to improve your life, when you’re in the thick of the fog.
This is why I do what I do with teaching you how to improve your life and move up out of the haze, and into where there is an abundance of opportunities, and plenty of wealth and health to go around.
A Note From Nicole
If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and share it with your friends and on your favorite Pinterest board to save it for later. Our website team LOVES hearing about your personal experiences and wins.
Let’s Connect! You can find me online at:
Nicole is a military-trained research analyst, homeschooling mom, healthy lifestyle coach, flexible business consultant, and writer for MotherhoodTruth.com and GracefullyAbundant.com. After living through and overcoming a season of homelessness and chronic health, Nicole developed a passion for helping others develop healthier habits using functional nutrition, herbalism, and renewing faith.