Monthly archive for June 2017

Minimalist Mindset: How To Declutter Your Schedule

Two years ago, my life was a mess. I was working full time, studying, and trying to keep up an active social life in between my family time and time with my partner. I was a dedicated schedule keeper, constantly carrying around my full sized planner in my bag. It was exhausting and I knew that something had to change.

Then I found minimalism. Minimalism changed not only the amount of stuff I own, it changed how I spent my time. Over the past two years, I’ve gone from that jam-packed schedule, to a clear and open calendar, spending most days how I wish. I just took a few steps to get from there to here:

How To Declutter Your Schedule Free Time

1. Clarify Your Priorities

The first step in figuring out how to clear your schedule is to clarify what is most important in your life. To me, family, time in nature, down time for things like reading, hiking, etc, were my top priorities. When I looked at my schedule, it was filled with tasks like happy hour, networking events, and weekends stuffed with housework. Once I decided to make a change, I stopped going to all of those events, halved my wardrobe (no more days spent doing laundry!), and all of a sudden had free time to do things like go for day-long hikes or spend the day at my parents house.

2. Learn How To Say No

There is still only so much time in the day. We must acknowledge that although there are so many things we can do, we don’t have to do all of them. Learning how to say no to the things that aren’t a priority was difficult to me at first. Eventually I created a massive goal (save money to travel the world), which made my priorities much more clear and made it much easier to say no to happy hour or events that didn’t help me get to this goal.

3. Reignite Your Passions

How To Declutter Your Life Calendar Once I had all of this free time, I had to figure out what I really loved and wanted to spend my time doing. I had gotten rid of the tasks that were stopping me from doing what I loved – but I didn’t know what that was. After 27 years of being uber busy with school, work, family, a social life, I had no idea what my true passions were. It wasn’t until I had the free time to try new things (I got a camera, started a website, checked out books from the library), that I found out what I really loved. I love photography. I love learning about websites and writing. Now that I have time, I can do these things, when I want to.

4. Find Something Deeper

The thought of world travel was really exciting to me at first. Once I actually started doing it, I found that it was much more fulfilling when I could share my experiences. I started writing about what I had learned, and how minimalism changed my life and led me to follow my dreams that I’d pushed so far away. I now live my life happy and fulfilled, knowing that I create something regularly to enhance the lives of others.

How To Declutter Your Schedule

Decluttering my schedule was just one of the many benefits of minimalism for me. Minimalism has completely enhanced my life for the better, leading me to where I am now – traveling the world and living a happy, fulfilled life.

Your Turn!

  • What do you want to take out of your schedule?
  • What would you like to spend more of your time doing?

10 Ways to Cut Your Spending

No matter where you are financially, everyone loves looking for small ways to cut their spending and save some money. Those smallest of savings can really add up. If you can cut just $6 from your daily spending, that adds up to $2190 a year!! I don’t know about you, but I can put that amount of money to some good use.

Let’s look at 10 simple ways that you can cut your spending so you can free up that extra cash for the things that are really important to you.

1. Switch to Store Brands

Did you know that making the switch to store brand labels can save you on average 25%? There are big savings to be had by making this simple change to the way that you shop. Worried about sacrificing quality? Over the counter medications and many staple food items are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so the store brand pain reliever will offer you the same benefits as the national brand. The only thing you’re not paying for are the marketing and the pretty packaging.

2. Shop with a List

Shopping with a list, and sticking to it, is an easy way to cut spending because it helps you to avoid those impulse purchases. This doesn’t just go for groceries. Next time you’re headed to the store to get the children or yourself some new clothes, be sure to inventory what you have and write a list of what you need. This will help you stay focused while shopping and save you money.

3. Meal Plan

Meal planning has been the biggest single thing I’ve done that has saved my family money. It has allowed me to cut, on average $200 a month from my grocery budget! Once a week, sit down with the store ads, see what’s on sale, and plan a week’s worth of dinners. Not only will this help to simplify your week, but it will also help you to avoid those trips through the drive-thru.

4. Carry Snacks

Speaking of trips through the drive-thru, one of my favorite ways to avoid spending money on food while we’re out and about is to carry snacks with me if we’re going to be away from home for more than a couple of hours. My stash of “car snacks” has saved many trips to the convenience store or fast food restaurant because all of a sudden one (or both) of my children are hungry.

5. Use it Up

Before you head out to buy another bottle of shampoo or another bottle of salad dressing, use up what you already have first. If you want to make sure that you are truly using it all up, be sure to cut open the end of that tube of toothpaste because even if you think it’s all gone, you will find that you have another week worth of product left in the package.

6. Talk to Your Service Providers

Call up your service providers to see if they have any promotions or special pricing that you can take advantage of. If you mention that you’re looking at shopping around, they’ll be more than happy to give you their best offer so that they can keep your business.

7. Pack your Lunch and Bring Your Coffee To Go

If you are the type of person who grabs lunch and coffee on the go, this simple change could save you $50 a week or more. It might take a few extra minutes in the evening to put together your lunch, but the savings are more than worth it. If you took that $50 a week and invested it in a fund with an average return of 6.5%, in 15 years you would have just over $61,000!!

8. Cancel Email Deals and Sales Alerts

I started doing this after Christmas and I’ve come to appreciate my less cluttered in-box. The biggest thing I don’t miss? That feeling of temptation when seeing “75% OFF!!” and “Brand New Markdowns!!”.  After all, you’re not really saving any money if you didn’t need the item in the first place.

9. Buy Things Used

Thanks to online buy and sell sites, good old thrift stores, and garage sales, it is easier than ever to buy quality items used. I’ll buy used clothing for myself and my children, books, and some furniture pieces for my home. No longer will I spend $80 for a pair of jeans when I can get the exact same pair for $15 at my local thrift shop.

10. Practice the Art of Contentment

I love this quote because it really puts into perspective just how fortunate most of us are. Rather than craving the next new item or upgrade, focus on being thankful for and appreciate what you do have.  When you spend your time appreciating what you have, you’ll find you will spend less time focused on the things that you want.  

Your Turn:

  • What are some spending cuts that you have made to reach your financial goals?


What To Do If Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Be Minimalist

When I first went minimalist, I was living with a partner who could not have been farther from minimalism. He was not too keen on my plan to get rid of most of our stuff and live in a clear, clutter free space. He wanted to hold on to his things, because his stuff was associated with his memories. So, what is one to do when they are minimizing but their partner is not into it?

What to Do If Your Partner Doesn't Want to Be A Minimalist

1.Start With Yourself

I knew that being a minimalist would help me. I wanted to minimize my belongings to create more focus on what really matters in life – relationships, spending time how I desire, and making my life easier. Focusing on his hoarding tendencies would not help any of those outcomes that I desired. Focusing on my own minimalism journey made my life and my daily routines easier, and it did what I wanted – it helped my relationship by creating more time for me to enjoy my partner.

2. Be Patient and Understanding

Trying to understand my partner’s point of view in this matter helped immensely. He wanted to keep his stuff because they meant something to him – he associated memories with these items. He wasn’t ready to let them go, and he made it clear that he may never be. Accepting that your partner may not ever be ready to let items go is a helpful step in continuing your own journey.

3. 50% Minimalism is better than 0%

What to Do If Your Partner Doesn't Want to be MinimalistIf your partner is not willing to try out any part of minimalism, remember that 50% minimalist is still better than 0%. By focusing on myself and my own minimalist journey, I was able to clear out areas of my house that were causing me stress. I cleared out my bathroom cabinet, which made it much easier to get ready in the morning. I cleared out the kitchen, putting the extra appliances in the garage – my partner didn’t want to get rid of them, so this was a middle ground for us. My own minimalism journey led me to a much calmer lifestyle and an easier morning and evening routine.


4. Focus on the End Goal

I wanted to try out minimalism to get more time, and I wanted to have more time to spend with my partner. By decluttering my own stuff, I did reclaim a lot of time – and this did help my relationship. My life was more streamlined – it was easier to get dressed in the morning since I didn’t have to sort through clothes I didn’t wear, or sort through makeup that I didn’t use. This created a healthier and more enjoyable start to my day, which set the foundation for an enjoyable rest of my day.

What to Do If Your Partner Doesn't Want to Be A Minimalist

Though my partner wasn’t as enthusiastic about minimalism as I am, I still reaped so many benefits of going minimalist on my own. My workspace was decluttered, my bathroom was decluttered, my half of the closet was decluttered. I was able to clear my mind and focus on how minimalism could improve my life – and it worked. There are so many ways to cope with a partner who doesn’t want to try minimalism.

Your Turn!

  • What does your partner think about going minimalist?
  • Which of these techniques would you try?

10 Reasons to Live Off-Grid

The security of self-sufficiency and the freedom that comes

wood heat

from being a producer rather than just a consumer is what our family is working toward. We have found it on so many levels here on our suburban homestead and look forward to increasing that as we eventually transition to our off-grid homestead.

We have started taking steps in the direction of an off-grid lifestyle by heating our house with wood and growing and preserving a lot of our own food.

On the coldest night of this winter, our county lost power, thankfully only for a few hours. There were stories of families huddled together to keep warm as the temperature plummeted outside.

It took as much as a full day to heat their house back up to a comfortable temperature. We have been heating with wood so we stayed cozy and warm. The only worry we had, was for the neighbors.

As we work toward our off-grid dreams we have put pen to paper and compiled our top ten reasons for wanting to live off-grid.

1. Freedom from utility bills

Likely the first advantage that comes to mind when considering an off-grid lifestyle is eliminating utility expenses. Exploring alternatives for power, water, and sewer is a great way to reduce the cost of living.

2. Good stewards of the Earth’s resources

When we are responsible for our own resources we are more aware of where they come from and how much we are using. Eyes-wide-open awareness is the most effective way to bring true change in any area of life.

3. Security

When tied to the grid we are tied to more than just the electric company. There are so many variables that could cause us to be without power. We want to eliminate that risk as much as possible. Not just by creating our own electricity but learning to live without it too.

4. Freedom to choose your lifestyle

Living off grid gives you options. Maybe you want to live in a yurt with no amenities. How about an RV? A tiny house? You might want a big house with every convenience but on a property that is too far from the electric grid. These are all possibilities off grid.

5. Location, location, location

Being free from the electric grid means that you can position your house in the best or most beautiful place on your land no matter how far it is from the electric lines.

6. Living as producers instead of consumers

orchard-fresh apples

Our family has really enjoyed our garden and livestock so much! Learning how to grow, harvest and preserve our food feels incredible. We are looking to expand that into so many other aspects of our off-grid life.

7. Environmentally responsible

Learning how to use much less electricity, recycling gray water and having a composting toilet are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint and make off-grid living work.

8. Learn new skills

I am excited to learn more about solar, harvesting water, building from the ground up and living more in touch with our land.

9. The sense of accomplishment

This might be the thing we are most excited about, building our homestead from the ground up. To be able to really express who we are in every aspect of our lives then look back and see all that we have learned and accomplished.

10. Encourages a life unplugged

Living off-grid is a chosen departure from everyday modern life in some form or another. That departure causes change, even if it is as simple as hanging the laundry to dry instead of throwing it in the dryer. Many off-grid tasks connect us to nature and life outside of a screen. We plan on embracing that with open arms.

Going off grid is not the wonder-drug that will solve all of your troubles. There are many choices that can be made, no matter where you live, to reduce your carbon footprint. For our family, it is the combination of all of these reasons that inspire and compels us to work toward our dreams of building our off grid homestead.

Your Turn!

  • What does off-grid living mean to you?
  • What reasons for living off-grid would you add to this list.

How To Get Out Of Debt

What would your life be like if you didn’t have any debt payments? How would your financial picture change if you weren’t tied to those payments month in, month out? Let’s break the cycle and finally get out of debt.

Three years ago, my family had close to $60,000 worth of consumer and student loan debt. I had been in debt since I got my first credit card at 19 years of age and after spending close to 20 years in the debt trap, never thought we could climb out of it.

After feeling fed up and tired of juggling nine different debt payments on top of the rest of our monthly bills, I knew we had to make a change. Using these 5 steps, along with focus and determination, we were able to pay off our consumer debt in 25 months. Here’s how we got out of debt, and you can too.

5 Steps to Debt Freedom


1. Stop Using Debt:

Seems obvious right? If you want to pay off your debt, you have to stop using debt. It’s time to cut up the credit cards or at the very least put them on ice (literally). In order to get out of debt you have to commit to using cash for your purchases from here on out. This means being patient, saving up, and planning your future purchases. If you’ve been relying on debt, this will be the hardest step, but this is the first step in finally freeing yourself from the mountain of bills.

2. Establish your Emergency Fund:

Inemergency fund order to have a bit of a financial cushion between you and life, and cut ties with the credit card or line of credit, you’ll want to make sure you have a starter emergency fund. For most of us $1000 set aside in a separate savings account will cover most emergencies that arise while getting out of debt. You must commit though to keeping this money in case of emergency only (and no, that pair of boots that you’ve had your eye on and have just gone on sale for 75% off are NOT an emergency).

3. Get on a Budget and Stick With It:

If you want to get out of debt, changes in how you behave with and manage your money are key. The biggest change you can make that will see the debt gone once and for all is to get on a written monthly budget and stick with it. If you’re new to the budgeting process, this article will help you get started.

4. Organize Your Debts:

Time to take out those debt statements and organize them in the order that you’re going to pay them off. There are two ways to organize your debt. Both work because they force you to focus your attention on one debt at a time, and the power of focus is key. 

Snowball: Organize your debts from the smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. Pay the minimum payments on all of the debts, except the smallest, and throw every extra penny you can at that debt. Once the smallest one is paid off, you take what you had been putting towards it, plus the minimum payment, and start attacking the second smallest debt. By the end, you’re putting a significant amount of money towards your largest debt, making that disappear faster than you could have thought possible.

Avalanche: A second way you could organize your debts is by using the debt avalanche. In this method you are lining up your debts from the largest interest rate to the smallest interest rate. Like the snowball, you’ll keep making minimum payments on the other debts while you pay off the debt with the largest interest rate first and then keep working your way down the line.

5. Throw Every Extra Dollar at Debt:

In order to get that debt paid off as quickly as possible, you want to make sure that you are throwing every extra penny you can at the debt. This means revisiting the budget and seeing what can be trimmed in the short term so you can free up money to add to your debt payment. It may also mean making some extra income.

Getting out of debt requires making some short-term sacrifices, but they payoff is well worth it. Your paychecks become yours again so that you can save for retirement, help pay for your children’s education, and save up for that vacation you’ve always wanted to go on.

Once you start living a debt-free life, I promise you’ll never go back to using credit again.

You Turn:

  • What are you willing to cut from your budget to pay off debt?
  • What would you do with your income if you didn’t have debt payments?
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