There was a time in my life when I had approximately 20 boxes of cereal in my pantry at any given time. Why? Because they were free after promotions and coupons. It was a time when I was very coupon and sale conscious and helped me develop some very frugal habits.I’m proud to say that being frugal, being driven and being disciplined all paid off. When we moved back to Iowa from California a few years ago, my husband called himself retired and I called myself a stay-at-home-mom. We could have opted to continue to work but we wanted to take the opportunity to raise our kids when they are both young and impressionable (and we were young enough to be able to keep up.)  If an opportunity arises, we can invest or open a business.  Otherwise, we can choose to return to the workforce when they are in school.  The nice part is that we have options.

Some people may say that we got lucky. Others may say that came from roots or education that gave us an upper hand.  I’m not going to debate how we got to where we are but rather point to a book, Scratch Beginnings, that shows that passion, hard work and determination open doors for people in all walks of life.

While he could have pursued a higher degree through traditional schooling, Adam Shepard opted to hit the streets and see where it took him.  Using his real name, but a fabricated background, he ventured to Charleston, South Carolina with nothing but the clothes on his back, a journal, a sleeping bag and $25.  His goal was to see if it would be possible to get $2500 in the bank, a car and a furnished living space within one year.

The book chronicles his time in a homeless shelter – and we’re talking months not nights – along with his attempt to find suitable work.  Never did he divulge that he was a college graduate, so he took whatever work he could find.  While his work ethic and his attitude were what kept him employed, the book provides examples of how different approaches to the same environment and work land people in different places.

I found this book to be very honest and interesting, reading it whenever I had the opportunity.  Adam lived the life of a homeless person and showed that getting out from underneath is possible.  The story revitalized my conservative opinions about whether or not the government should be responsible for the welfare of the less motivated. (Note that I didn’t say less fortunate.)  The only problem that I had with this book was when I reached the epilogue.  The author stood on a soapbox and took a very liberal stance to what he felt the government should do.  It was completely the opposite of what I had taken from the experience.  I literally could only read a few paragraphs of the epilogue at a time before huffing and throwing the book down in disgust.  Thankfully, I managed through it (a few paragraphs at a time) and got to the part where he says that more neighborhood heroes are needed to set good examples.  People who are fighting their way out need to show other people it’s possible.  Programs like Big Brother/Big Sister are out there and have positive results.  It isn’t necessarily about raising taxes as much as raising the bar on attitudes.This is an inspirational book that shows that there are always options in life.  Buy a copy, get one from the library or borrow it… it’s worth reading. Here’s a chance for you to win an autographed copy!

The Prize(s)
One autographed copy of Adam Shepard’s book “Scratch Beginnings”. (approx value $20).


Thanks to HarperCollins for allowing me the opportunity to review this book and to Adam Shepard for providing the prize for this giveaway!

16 thoughts on “Retiring Before 40. It IS Possible

  1. I am here to proclaim that later on today I will be totally oblivious to what is going on around me at work.
    I added a link for the book website as well as a blog entry about your contest and I used two SAT words simply because I like the words he has listed on his site 🙂 Thanks for a great giveaway!

  2. Implement – carry out, put into effect.

    I have so many good ideas, both from a personal and a professional stand point, but I NEVER implement them. I’m always afraid to and I’m afraid I’ll just fall flat on my face.

    It looks like a great book and certainly one I would love to read.

    HunnyV “at” Optonline “dot” net

  3. Concoct – to devise, using skill and intelligence – you’ve got such a funny sense of humor, saying

    “Although I would love to say that I’ll be using PRIZEYWinners, I can’t be sure since I haven’t been able to figure out how to do it yet!” – makes me giggle!


  4. I was just re-reading my old entries and fixing mistakes and found a comment you made about buying your mil a NDS. We have totally redone that area in our store and I’ve realized we hare some games she might like such as My Word Coach, Crosswords, and some other My…Coach that are language learning. If you are going to get her some more games for Christmas you should check out the website for

  5. Quip – clever, witty joke (pg. 124) And this sounds like an amazing book, and really makes me think about life in a different perspective. Thanks for entering me!

  6. Therapeutic – even saying the word out loud helps me relax! =)

    I’ve heard great things about this book…I would love to read it!


  7. I won’t *squander* a chance at a giveaway, especially one for a book!

    Nice to see your blog posts again, Nicole.

    Nyssa AT concentric DOT net

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *