Minimalism – My new year will be the beginning of something wonderful

In a few months, my son will be moving back home from Japan. For awhile, he will be staying with my husband and I, until he gets settled back into a routine and gets his life situated. That means some rearranging of rooms will need to be done. I will be relocating my office/craft room upstairs to a bigger room where I won’t be so closed in. This room will be a multi-functional office, craft room, photo studio, and music studio all rolled into one. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Daunting? Perhaps, but I am super excited about the move. What I am most excited about, surprisingly, is the opportunity to go through EVERY SINGLE ITEM in my current room and deciding what I can get rid of! I’ve mentioned before about my fascination with minimalism. I know I could never pare things down as much as those minimalist, tiny house TV shows. I do know, however, that I can rid myself of things that I have been holding onto for years. You know, those things that have been stuffed in my closet and nearly forgotten about because they’re buried behind my guitar, cello, totes of fabric, stacks of paper, notebooks… There is seriously SO MUCH in there! You all should know by now that I hold onto things. I am a recovering pack rat, after all. I am always thrilled when the need arises for an item that I can run to my closet and, usually within a minimal amount of time, come out with said item in my hand. I’m telling you, it’s an amazing party trick! When my girls and I get together and the magic question is asked, “You know what we need?”, I can usually say, “Hold on a minute”, run to my room and emerge victorious. The response I get is, “Of course you have one!”.  That may be good, and it may be bad, but hey, I’m prepared!

Here are the questions to ponder, however… How often does the “magic question” get asked? How often do I use all those mostly unused things? Is it really worth having a closet so full of things that I have to take at least half of the contents of the closet out to find what I want? Is it worth all the stress I feel when I open the closet door and see ALL THE THINGS stacked up (as neatly as humanly possible) in there staring out at me? I WANT the answers to these questions to be truthful justifications in order to let my mind be at peace. It NEEDS to be a truthful reality that slaps me across the face… (Lightly though, I have delicate skin.)

Have you ever thoroughly deep cleaned and de-junk-ified a room? Vacuumed, dusted, completely organized… There is a feeling of complete satisfaction. You have a sense of relief and a wave of calm that washes over you. You look around and just… smile. This room is inviting and blissfully peaceful. I have felt that, and I want to feel it again… In every room in my home.

Too much stuff for sale

The new year is quickly approaching. I am mentally preparing myself for a year of being brutally honest with myself about my stuff, whether it be clothes, shoes, crafting tools, music related items, or camera equipment.  I’m determined to get rid of a lot of my things. I want to SELL as much of those things as possible to build up my savings. I have been told that Poshmark is a great app to use for selling clothes, so I am going to try it out. I’m going to use the Facebook Marketplace to sell other items. I’m going to contact my friends that have similar interests and see if they’re interested in those specialty items. I’m going to have at least one, or possibly two garage sales this year. Whatever doesn’t sell is going to be donated… IMMEDIATELY. What’s left in my home will be thoroughly cleaned, and put in a well thought out, very specific, purposeful, useful place. I’M GOING TO MAKE THIS WORK! The beauty of going to through my things this way is partly out of necessity, and part (to be honest) laziness. The more I choose to get rid of, the less I have to haul up a flight of stairs and find purposeful, useful places for. If I can make some money throughout this entire process as well, then that is an added bonus!

I will have approximately 4 months to get my rooms swapped around. That should be more than enough time to go through my current room and get everything moved upstairs. My son will be staying in my soon-to-empty office, and will have plenty of room and closet space.

I have quite a few goals for the upcoming year, which you will be hearing about very soon, BUT, one of the most important ones is this one. I have to have somewhere for my child to stay.

Are you tired of living under a pile of stuff? Are you ready to rid yourself of clutter instead it moving from place to place around your home? Are you ready to retrain yourself and your family to actually put things back in their designated place? I am!

I want 2019 to be a year of calm, peace, and a feeling of contentment. I’m so ready to make this happen! Are you? I’ll be your cheerleader. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

WE’LL DO IT TOGETHER!

 

 

Happy Holidays! Time to clean up your spending habits

Can you believe it? Christmas is finally here! In some ways it feels like just yesterday was the beginning of 2018. It also feels like it’s been, well, a year. How is everyone holding up? Have you all opened your presents after waking up entirely too early because of children or just sheer anticipation?

Merry Christmas one and all

This year has been a bit different than any other one I’ve ever had. My kids normally would wake us up around 8 am so that we can open presents, whether they lived at home or not. Today however, my son is spending some time in Japan, and my daughter and her husband (I love saying that!) are coming over this afternoon to exchange gifts and stay for dinner, along with one of my nieces. How bizarre it is, now that my children are all grown up and living on their own. Traditions are morphing into entirely new ones. I don’t mind, as long as my family is happy and healthy.

As I was getting ready this morning for the upcoming festivities, I was thinking about several things… First and foremost, I am gearing up for January. Those who know me know that January always means SPENDING FREEZE. The last month has been filled with buying presents and spending extra on groceries. It doesn’t take very long for my attitude and outlook to change when it comes to spending money. The Christmas season is brutal on me. I’m sure it has taken a toll on many of you as well. I have become accustomed to seeing things suitable for a gift and buying it. I will make a little side note here however… I AM very proud of myself for the amount of money I spent. With the help of coupons, store rewards, and rewards from my Amazon rewards credit card, I only spent around $25.00 out of pocket. My budget for Christmas was set at $250.00. I can’t complain about that! Every year millions of people go deep into debt because of Christmas. Maybe it’s the frugal side of me talking, or maybe it’s the budding minimalist emerging, but I am proud to say that I have incurred ZERO debt this holiday season! In fact, I am setting aside my saved $225.00 for next year!  WOO HOO!  

The second thing I was thinking about was a new budget for the upcoming year. In years past, I have dreaded drawing up a budget. We had a mountain of debt… multiple credit cards, car loans, house payments… It was incredibly stressful, and there was always too much month left at the end of our money. What a horrible existence! We have since paid off every credit card, and have locked them away. (I am still fighting with myself over closing some or all of those accounts.) All we have left for bills is the standard things… Mortgage, home and auto insurance, natural gas, cable/internet, cell phone, fuel, groceries, garbage, and our Amazon rewards credit card. There are still too many bills for my liking, but, I refuse to go without a phone, internet, or cable in some capacity. Please note that I DID NOT mention electricity. We invested in solar panels quite a few years back, and have never regretted it. I haven’t had a power bill since the month after we had them installed.  The panels paid for themselves in about 2 years! It is such a help to our finances. My husband renegotiated our cable/internet bill and got it lowered by $90/month. We did the same with our cell phone bill. Our natural gas bill is paid on an equal pay plan. No matter summer or winter, we pay the same amount. I always budget and pay an extra $10 per month to offset the winter months, just in case. They send me a check in the spring if there’s an overage. That goes straight into savings. I cannot stress this enough… HAVING A BUDGET AND STICKING TO IT IS SO IMPORTANT! I urge all of you to sit down over the next week and make a budget for 2019. I have included some helpful worksheets to help you. Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” is an amazing book that I have read and reread over the last several years. These worksheets, which I have included two below, are amazing tools that will allow you to build your budget. I highly recommend acquiring this book.

I’m going to let you in on a secret here. As much as I detest credit cards, I am in love with the Amazon rewards credit card. I pay every bill I can with that card… cable, cell phone, insurance, doctor bills, garbage, gas, and groceries. I budget the hell out of everything just like I would if I was paying cash. You have to have a lot of self control, but I am going to spend the same money, whether I pay with cash, check, or debit card. If I use my Amazon card, I get money back. True, it is only useful on Amazon, BUT, I can get just about anything my heart desires there, and sadly, usually cheaper than a brick and mortar store. On top of that, since I live in a smaller city, there are many things I can’t get locally. You might not get the item instantly, but I can get it FOR FREE. I have had this card for just over a year, and I have made more than $800! Items for my daughters’ wedding? Paid on that card. Homeowner’s and car insurance? Yep. Cable, cell phones, gas, groceries… everything possible, and I get a percentage back… anywhere from 1% – 5% depending on what I use it on. Every little bit helps. I pay my credit card bill every two weeks when my I get my paycheck, and I love it. My frugal self is ecstatic about it. Yes, I am still frugal about the things I spend my free money on, of course. I still want the most “bang for my buck”, after all. If nothing else, this card has funded my hobbies, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. There are other rewards cards out there, and I’m sure other types of rewards could be more useful to all of you… airline miles, literal cash back, etc. If that works for you, then by all means, go for it! Just remember the reason you’re using the cards. If you choose to use a rewards card, use that credit card solely. Do not be sidetracked by the rewards though, YOU STILL HAVE TO ABIDE BY YOUR BUDGET!

The new year is almost here, and I want each and every one of you to succeed. I want all of you to achieve your goals. Plan now, and reap the benefits in the months to come.

I hope this day has brought you love, peace, time with family and/or friends, and fond memories to reflect on later in your lives.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE

Love to everyone

Charity during the Holidays: Focusing on the GIVING instead of the GETTING

DECEMBER IS FINALLY HERE! Have I mentioned how much I love the holiday season? The music, the lights… I love finding/making the perfect gifts for my family and friends. Granted, I am not all that fond of cold weather and snow (I am nearly ALWAYS cold unless it’s above 70° F), but I can appreciate how beautiful it is… from indoors.

What this season also means for me is giving to those who are struggling. When I was a child, we were a very frugal family. My parents saved every penny, used an impressive amount of coupons, and had an amazing budget. Every meal was made from scratch, and our annual garden was gigantic. My mom canned, froze, or dried every food available. My dad was our sole income for a long time. He was an auto mechanic at one of the local dealerships, so his paychecks varied by how much work came through the door. No cars meant no money. There were times when my dad came home from work at noon and didn’t go back to work for a week. Times were tough.

Our church would put Christmas boxes together for the less fortunate (we always called them “poor boxes” when I was little) with presents and food. I distinctly remember getting some of those boxes one year. My brother and I never knew we were struggling financially. My parents never discussed finances with us. We knew things were pretty bad when the boxes showed up on our doorstep. My mom had tears of gratefulness and relief in her eyes, and even though my dad didn’t show a lot of emotion, I could feel the wave of stress flow away when he brought those boxes into the house.

As an adult, I also know what it was like to struggle. I remember one year, when my kids were small, how little we had. We couldn’t even scrape enough together to buy a Christmas tree. Honestly, we didn’t even have a place to put a real tree in our little home. I contemplated how I was going to make the season festive for our kids.

No money for a tree? Try taping construction paper to a wall. Sometimes it’s all you can do.

As you already know, I am a craftsy person. I hold onto various art materials… you know, just in case. (**NOT a hoarder! LOL!) I made a construction paper tree and taped it to the wall. I had some tiny ornaments that my grandma had given me. I paperclipped them to our little tree. I sure wish I had owned a camera back then. I recall being very impressed with myself for our little 3 foot paper tree. The kids were happy we had a tree to put presents under.

 

I WANT OTHER FAMILIES TO FEEL RELIEF AND JOY… ESPECIALLY DURING THE HOLIDAYS. I am able to do that, with the help of my employer.

Every year, my employer adopts local families for the holiday season. Every store within our company adopts a family. We contact our local schools or churches, and have them nominate families in dire need of assistance. Wish lists are made, and my coworkers and I get to go shopping and buy food, presents, clothes, shoes, and coats for them. I use my money saving skills to aid in the shopping. I use every coupon and sale to our advantage to give as much as possible with the funds available to us… Maximum benefits with minimal money. The more I can get, the better! We wrap them up, label them, and deliver them before school closes for the winter break. It literally brings tears to my eyes to see the parents’ faces when we walk in with bag after bag filled with presents. I cannot begin to tell all of you how much it means to me to bring some joy and peace to someone that is struggling.

Here’s what I’m asking of you for this year, and years to come… I want each and every one of you to do some random act of kindness for someone else – preferably a stranger. I don’t care if it’s as simple as a kind word or little gesture. Focus on giving joy. Don’t make this statement dirty, and don’t think it means that you have to give away everything you own. I just want there to be more good deeds being done. This world NEEDS more kind words and kind gestures… with nothing required in return, with no strings attached. The feeling of inner peace I get from serving others far outweighs any physical thing I could possibly receive.

One of my dear friends made me this pallet tree several years ago, and it’s what I use every year instead of a live tree. I adore it.

 

Let’s get out there and do some good in the world. Let’s show some kindness and set a good example for those around us. Let’s inspire others to do the same.

 

LET’S SHOW SOME LOVE!