One of the things I'm often asked is, "What does it require to start out on this road to more practical freedom - and do I need lots of money?"
This got me thinking that there are obviously a number of basic questions which people may want answers to, answers which perhaps I take for granted - having lived this lifestyle myself now for many years.
So I thought I'd list some of the more common questions I've been asked over time - and provide my own answers.
I trust this will give you more pertinent information on what it takes to get started and increase your practical freedom -and something to think about.
DISCLAIMER: What follows is my own personal viewpoint - and is given under the accepted rights of free speech. It is not to be construed as advice, legal or otherwise. Individuals seeking to implement policies to increase their personal and financial freedom and privacy should take proper consideration of any and all legal restraints, as may apply in their particular country. Always seek professional advice before embarking on any specific freedom or privacy strategy.
Q: What exactly is a "sovereign individual"?
A: Well, that's a term coined by Davidson and Rees-Mogg in their path-breaking book, "The Sovereign Individual". Essentially, a sovereign individual is one who sees himself as the owner of his own life, with full responsibility for it. More importantly, he realises that no one has the right to tell him how to live his life, that he is in fact his own "king".
Q: Practically speaking, what does being a sovereign individual involve?
A: Essentially it's all about personal freedom, and its moral flip side, personal responsibility. In a world where collectivism has run amok, staking your claim to freedom is a battle - for at every turn you are up against ardent philosophical enemies. It's much more than just a philosophy - it's a way of life, a way of designing your life to ensure you enjoy more practical freedom.
Q: What do you mean by "practical" freedom?
A: I'm talking about the freedom that matters - the freedom to take action in line with your own chosen goals. This involves being able to lead your life as you see fit, to arrange your business and financial affairs in a way that protects your vital interests. In other words - freedom in your personal, business and financial affairs. It should also be noted that an essential component of freedom is the right to privacy.
Q: Is this freedom strategy only available to those who are rich?
A: No, not at all. Obviously, money makes all decisions and actions easier - so having money can smooth the way somewhat. But as for being "rich" - no, not necessary. The important point is that you can proceed on this track in a gradual manner - step, by step, at your own pace.
Q: What sorts of steps are you talking about?
A: Well, starting out on the road to more privacy and freedom does require that you begin to do things differently. And the best way I can answer that is to think back to what I did at the start. First, you should seriously look at opening an offshore bank account. For me this is normal and everyday life - as I do not have accounts in any of the countries I live in. But I realise that for most people this is quite a foreign concept. However, in opening an offshore account you are doing two important things. You are deciding to create more financial privacy for yourself, and you are taking a first step to a more "international" way of doing things.
Q: What's the main advantage in having an offshore bank account?
A: Privacy and security. Not many people realise that money in a domestic account is not really secure - at least, not secure from the government. In any case where you are deemed to owe money - either in taxes, payment of certain fees, or even (in some countries) child maintenance payments - then the government can actually "trawl" your account and withdraw funds - without your knowledge or permission. In a sense, a domestic bank account is an open wallet to anyone who can persuade the government that you owe them money for some reason - even if you don't!
Q: Are offshore banks safe?
A: Most definitely! In fact, the bulk of the world's private wealth is kept in offshore accounts. However, it still requires prudence when sourcing such banks on the internet - as there are a number of smaller banks, which may be ideal for smaller transactions - but not suitable for holding or managing larger amounts.
Q: What makes a bank an "offshore" bank?
A: That depends entirely on where you live. Basically, "offshore" simply means in a country other than your own. So, if you live in the USA, an account in the Isle of Man would be offshore. And in the same way, it's possible for a person outside the USA, to open an account there - and treat it as an offshore account. However, for most people, an offshore account is in a country other than their own, which also offers increased privacy - as is the case with known tax havens.
Q: How do I open an offshore bank account?
A: The first thing to realise is that offshore banks want your business. The second thing to realise is that since 911 there has been an increase in the level of disclosure required by such banks. But opening an account is still relatively easy. You should plan on having around US$1,000 available as an opening deposit. Some offshore banks will want more, some maybe less. You will need to provide a legitimate state-issued photo ID - usually your passport. You don't send your passport - but a copy. However, most banks will require that this copy has been notarised by a Notary Public, or certified in some way - to confirm the copy's authenticity. Most banks will also ask for some or all of the following: a utility bill - to confirm your address; a bank reference from a bank you currently use; a statement as to what you intend to use the account for (if it's business or corporate account); a statement as to the source of funds.
Q: Does an offshore bank operate the same way as my "onshore" one - and does it provide the same services?
A: There are differences, however, depending on the bank you choose (and there are many), you should expect levels of service to be equal - except for some financial services. Don't expect to raise a mortgage from an offshore bank - because, like all banks, they require security - and in the case of property, they wouldn't be able to lend funds on something in another country. All offshore banks offer a range of other financial services, including various types of accounts, in different currencies. Sometimes they offer a full multi-currency account - which means it can accept any major currency, and you can wire out in any major currency. You can expect such a bank to provide debit and credit cards. However, with credit cards, they require a security deposit which is greater than your credit line. Credit (debt) is a bad idea anyway, for a freedom seeker, so you should not miss this.
Q: How can I use an offshore bank account?
A: The purpose of an offshore bank account is to allow you to accumulate and manage your funds in a more discreet way. You could use your offshore account to fund an offshore brokerage account - for the purpose of investing. You could use your account to receive and distribute funds from a business - either online or offline.
Q: How do I access my funds in an offshore account?
A: Obviously, you can't just walk in and do business face-to- face, unless visiting that particular country. However, most offshore banks have advanced internet capabilities and various phone banking services. You can wire funds in and out of your account, and you can access your funds using a Maestro or Cirrus debit card (good for anywhere in the world).
Q: Are offshore banks more expensive?
A: Some are - usually in the area of monthly fees and/or the charges they make for wiring funds out of the account.
Q: If doing business, should I have an offshore corporation?
A: This is a very good idea - as it provides yet another layer of privacy, and also asset protection. However, unless you have a an active business concern, you shouldn't rush into setting up an offshore corporation - as you have to justify the set-up and maintenance costs involved.
Q: How much does it cost to open an offshore bank account or offshore corporation?
A: Most offshore banks will only require a certain minimum opening deposit. There are a few banks that charge an account- opening fee - usually in the $100 range. Some more exclusive banks are not readily accessible on the internet, and operate through agents. In cases like this, you can expect to pay an "introduction fee" - which could be anything from $200 - $500. As for the cost of an offshore corporation - that depends on what country it is incorporated in. Panama is one of the cheapest and can cost from $600 up to $1,000 - depending on the level of service you require. In other jurisdictions, you may need to pay up to $2,000. Maintenance costs run from $150 or so, to around $500 per year.
Q: What other steps can I take to start out on the "freedom" road?
A: Always start with the simplest ones first - like opening an offshore bank account. You should also consider a private mail drop - a place where you direct all your written communications. This type of service will collect mail for you - and forward it to you wherever you are. The advantage is that it cloaks your true residential address. You should also upgrade your email security - by using more privacy-focussed services. You need a way to communicate securely by email. Learn how to use PGP software, so you can encrypt sensitive emails - and receive likewise. Another wise move is to learn how to use web proxy services - which allow you to browse the internet without leaving telltale "footprints". Another practical way to increase your financial privacy is to make use of various digital account services - like e-gold etc.
Q: If I don't have enough money to get up and leave my home country - how can I make this strategy work for me?
A: Using an offshore bank account, and possibly an offshore corporation, you could begin to earn money (either from business or investments) and create your own offshore nest egg. This would become your "freedom fund" - a growing stash of money which you intend to use in the future, to enable you to take more serious steps towards your personal freedom. One of the advantages of the internet is that it allows you to potentially do business in a more private environment. You can accept payment by credit card, and have those funds sent to an offshore account. You can build a business outside your home country - and gradually increase your financial capability to lead the life you desire.
Q: Does a freedom strategy ultimately require that I leave my home country and live internationally?
A: No, it does not. Many people would find the international lifestyle unsuitable - for a variety of reasons. For those who desire this life - then it's there for the taking, and there are specific, legal strategies you can follow to literally unplug yourself from your "home". However, if you want to maximise your freedom, while still "at home", then you would build an "alter ego" - a private version of yourself. This "private" you would earn money outside of whatever other forms of income you have. You would, in fact, have two lives: your public and your private. Using such strategies you could seriously reduce your actual income tax liability - and use the money so saved to secure your financial future, or give you discretionary funds to do things you would not normally be able to do.
Q: What are the advantages of joining SovereignLife - your private club/community designed for freedom seekers?
A: The main advantages of membership include such things as being able to investigate various suggested offshore banks, to cut to the chase on how to decide on what bank, or what country for an offshore corporation. We also offer a 25% discount on a full range of privacy products and services - due to our working relationship with a reliable offshore services provider. You are able to post questions to our forum, and gain valuable insights from other members - information that can literally save you from making costly mistakes. SovereignLife is a community of freedom- loving individuals, who all have the same objective - to make their lives freer, and to find and use whatever tools will make this process easier and more successful. There are extensive information resources in our members' area on all the topics a freedom-seeker needs to know about - including alternative residencies and passports, alternative income earning ideas etc. Basically, it's a place to hang out and learn - then do, so you can make real changes to your life - and gain a much greater measure of practical freedom. And best of all, becoming a member is a once-only event. You can stay for as long as you like - with no renewals ever.
To learn more about the specific benefits and advantages of joining SovereignLife, then go to this link: http://www.sovereignlife.com
Yours in freedom