Thursday, February 26, 2015

Productive Day at Home

It's a dreary, rainy Winter day so I'm focusing on being productive indoors. (This was actually yesterday. I'm publishing a day later.)

I've scrubbed down the bathroom. 

The plastic shower curtain was looking rather horrid so I took it down for a good soaking in bleach and then scrubbed it with a brush. Though not perfect, it looks a lot better than it did!

I made my hardworking husband lunch before he left for work. 

I realized I've spent less than $14 this week on food items by using what's in the pantry/freezer.  

There's a load of clothes in the washer. I will do Alfred's work clothes next.

Alfred added at least $3 in change to the money jar last night. I wonder how much that jar holds? It is quite an old moonshine jug?

Scrubbed the tile kitchen floor on my hands and knees with diluted vinegar. The mop doesn't always get all the stains up, so occasionally I like to do it the old-fashioned way.

Washed up dishes from breakfast and lunch.

Vacuumed dining room/office.

Fed the dogs.

Decluttered my desk and found a dime. :)

Made a pitcher of tea.

Clipped coupons and organized them. 

Had dinner and cleaned up afterwards.

Alfred has a plantar wart on his foot and it is sometimes quite painful for him to walk. I applied clear nail polish to cut off air and then covered it with a piece of duct tape. It is a home remedy I found on the internet that has apparently helped many with the same dilemma. We shall see.

Relaxed with a book to read before bed.  
Having had enough of a pity party and sitting around worrying myself to death, I finally decided to get up and get on with things. The situation is what it is.

I'm focusing my attentions on my home and doing the best I can with what I have now. Time has taught me that this too shall pass, though sometimes I am slow in remembering. Smile. I will survive and things will improve with time. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Dreams Are Made Of

For years I have dreamed of a life of simplicity and I've slowly taken steps to bring those dreams to fruition. I'm still far from where I want to be, but major changes are not always easy.

Life has given us more lemons than I care for. We've made plenty of financial mistakes and, on occasion, still do. We can only do the best we can and hopefully learn from the hard times.

A few years ago I had a dream of a young woman who lived in a little house with her family. There wasn't anything special about the house. In fact, it was a little shabby looking. She had a husband, several little ones and her mother lived with them. 

She wore a cotton dress and was barefoot as she went out to get eggs from her hens. Her young children, though they didn't have many toys, were happy exploring the world around them. Soft music wafted from inside the house with the doors and windows open and where grandmother was baking.

In the eyes of the world, she was poor and was to be pitied. Oh but she was so happy and content  in her simple life! That's what I remember most from the dream. 

She wasn't caught up in consumerism and a "need" to have the best or the newest. Instead she was focused on loving her little family and creating a happy, cozy home. 

And so, the dream of simplicity lives on in me.

I'm choosing to look at this season we are currently in as a blessing because it is forcing me to get back to basics, to be creative with what I have, and to realize that having the love of my husband and children is all the riches I need.

I am content in that knowledge.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Radical Frugality

Sometimes, you have no choice. You are forced to really tighten your belt and get radical at reducing expenses and saving money. 

Right now, all our bills are being paid but there's not much left over. And, it sucks to be in this position. 

We have three options:
1. Give up.
2. Reduce expenses.
3. Bring in more income.

I'm going back to the basics.

* I'm tracking every cent we spend. This will help me see where we have gotten lax in spending and reign it in.

* Stretch the food budget further. I'll start by using up all the foods in our freezer and pantry aka pantry challenge. Prepare more vegetarian meals. Meat will be a side dish, not the main course. Plant a container garden in Spring. Get back to couponing and do so effectively. 

* Back to basics cooking. Make everything I can from scratch. Use up all leftovers. Let nothing go to waste.

* Pack my husband's lunch each day. He has no way to warm food up so I'll need to look for creative, yet inexpensive lunchbox ideas.

* Involve the family in reducing electricity usage. Turning lights off when leaving the room. Unplugging all cell phones, computers, tvs when not in use or when done charging. Keeping the thermostat lower in winter, higher in summer. Use the dryer less. Use a lamp instead of overhead lighting with multiple bulbs.

* Involve the family in reducing water usage. Short showers. Catch the cold water while waiting for water to warm up to be put to use in other ways: filling pets water bowls, watering outside plants, etc. 

* Cut expenses to the bone. I cancelled Netflix at $8.99/month. I can't cancel my cable until December when the contract is up but I did save $21/month on the bill with a phone call. I could drop my cell phone and save $50/month. I honestly don't use it much anyway, but the only way Alfred would be able to contact me would be through Facebook.

* Sell valuables that we don't need or use.

* Looks for ways to bring in extra money without having to go back into the work force. 

* Go over the budget/expenses weekly with Alfred so he knows exactly what is going on and where we stand.

* Buy only what is necessary for the time being. Really, there is not much we actually need at the moment. 

* Make do or do without. Priorities must come first: shelter (home), utilities (electricity/water), basic hygiene needs, food, medical needs and supplies, basic clothing...

* Reduce, reuse, recycle - as much as possible.

* Find joy and content at home with projects and fun to keep us all busy and entertained. I'm quite content to spend 99% of my time at home. The rest of my family, not so much...

* Look for free outings, for those in the family that have wanderlust. Easy in the warm months because there are parks, beaches, and nature preserves/hiking trails. For Winter, I'm thinking museums with free admission/free days. I don't want to be outdoors for extended periods of time when it's freezing! 

* Non-urgent needs will go on a list and will be purchased according to monies available and priority.

* Avoid paying full price as often as possible by shopping sales, and using thrift stores, yard sales and craigslist in order to get what we need at the lowest possible price.

In essence, I will be re-evaluating everything we do and making necessary changes and cuts because I'm just stubborn enough to not throw in the towel. I will stand and fight to the death if need be. But I will not give up! 

I am willing to do whatever it takes to get out of debt. I am determined to conquer once and for all! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Here Comes a Rant

It all started with a post I saw on Facebook this morning about a man on a boat who was so absorbed with his  cell phone that he missed seeing a humpback whale just feet away from him. You can read the story here.

It's possible the man sees humpback whales all the time, but that's not the point. 

I'm tired of everyone being so obsessed with their cell phones! It's ridiculous how dependent people are on them. They even carry around their chargers into businesses to plug them up lest they miss something. I have seen that happen way too many times...

Technology is a beautiful thing, but it's meant to be a tool. It's not supposed to replace face to face communication. 

I've been to parties where a lot of people are on their phones, oblivious to what's going on around them. What's the point? Why are you even at the party? Or the dinner? Or out on that date? 

Not to mention it's rude to those around you who would like to spend time with you and have a conversation.

People no longer know how to talk to each other or even write properly. And forget about punctuation! What's handwriting? No one does that any more!! Typing in slang is easier and faster these days. I have found myself resorting to it myself on occasion.

But I am putting a stop to it. I am turning off all notifications on my phone. I will not let the dings of my cell phone notifications control me any longer. 

I want to be present with my loved ones. I don't want to be available 24/7 to the world. It isn't making my life better. Is it yours?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Letting Go Feels Like Freedom

I'm in the not-so-simple process of giving the master bedroom a makeover and I can see I have a lot more purging to do in this room.

Honestly, I don't have a problem with that. I'm ready to release even more clutter and radically so. My husband, on the other hand, thinks I've lost my mind. 

Um, whatever.... :)

As we are transforming our bedroom with paint, I am also deep cleaning and purging. It feels good to let things go.

It feels like freedom.

As I edit another layer of belongings, I realize that these things have very little importance in my life. They do not represent who I am now, nor who I am in the process of becoming.

Over the years, I have evolved from shabby chic to a more modern minimalist look. I yearn for simplicity, spaciousness, and greater ease.

I have no desire to hang onto things that have little, if any, value in my life. And these days, I need very little to be happy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thoughts On Living Well

For many, I think there is a misconception about what living well means. Living well has very little to do with the amount of money you have. It is so much more than that.

Living well is being content with your place in life.

Living well is loving yourself and others and receiving love in return.

Living well is doing what you love. Do you love to garden, bake or write? Go do those things!

Living well is living now. By focusing on today and taking each day as it comes. 

Living well is enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning (or cocoa), bird song, reading a good book, or soaking in a warm bath - the simple things make life just a little bit sweeter.

Living well is being satisfied with enough. We don't have to fill up every nook and cranny in our homes. Less is more.

Living well is eating well.

Living well is moving your body. When the weather is nice I like to go for a walk and we are talking about eventually getting bicycles to ride around town for the fun of it. 

Living well is celebrating the good. A promotion, a new baby, holidays, birthdays, or simply because it's Wednesday! 

Living well is doing your best with what you have.

Living well is not wishing your life away. Enjoy each day because you never know when it will be your last one.

Living well is living without regrets

What I want most to convey is living well is not about how much money you have. It's about creating a life you love and doing things that make your heart sing.

It's never too late to start over and begin to live well.

P.S. Here's a few more thoughts on living well. Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Benefits of Less

Do you ever feel like you will never be fully decluttered? I know I sure do. 

Some days I dream about lighting a match and burning this mutha to the ground and starting over! Don't worry. I won't follow through on that thought. Orange jumpsuits are not my style. Ha!

Alfred and I are working on painting our bedroom and I intend to do a massive edit and reorganization of the space, much to his chagrin. This room is the worst in my house and that should not be!

I want space and lots of it. 

I will need to buy a couple small things for this room: a wall mount bracket for the tv and a small table to hold the dvd player. Then I can get rid of the monstrosity clutter-holding entertainment center!

I truly believe less is more.

Less stuff equals less stress. Less debt and outgo of cash. Less worry. Less to maintain and clean

In return, you get: more peace. More time to do things you love to do, which makes for a life you love. You get to keep more of your money because it's not going to debt repayment and you're not buying needless stuff. More experiences. More freedom. More clarity.

The benefits of less far outweigh living with the status quo.

And so with that, I am off to begin tackling the clutter in my bedroom with gusto!