The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Less, less, less. 2017 is all about less. Less clutter, less nonsense, less of what no longer serves a purpose.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay was a book that I was super excited to delve into because I had heard quite a bit about her in the minimalist circles and her book lived up to the hype!  🙂

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Can we just pause and give thanks for libraries? Because seriously, without them I would be lost! ♥

So back to the book… the author Francine Jay runs the popular website missminimalist.com and her book is chock full of awesome tidbits. I really love how she opens the book with the term “philosophy”. We have to change our mindset and change our relationship with stuff in order for this whole minimalism thing and life without excess to work. Our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around.

“A container is most valuable when it is empty. We can’t enjoy fresh coffee when old grounds are in our cup and we can’t showcase our garden’s blooms when wilted flowers fill the vase. Similarly, when our homes -the containers of our daily lives- are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff”. – Francine Jay

Ms. Jay had an interesting passage in the book about “aspirational stuff”. Basically these are items that we bought to impress others or indulge in our “fantasy selves”. You know, the one who is 20 pounds thinner, the one who has fabulous cocktail parties, the one who, well…you get it. Human beings have a tendency to acquire many of their possessions in order to project a certain image. Clothes, cars, etc… Ready for some minimalistic truth?

Products will never make us into something we are not.

High-five, Ms. Jay. High-five.

Less stuff equals less stress and I completely agree. In the book, it is pointed out that:

  • We stress about not having stuff.
  • We stress about how to acquire the thing we want.
  • We buy the thing and now have to be responsible for it and take care of it.
  • Then the item inevitably breaks and now we are stressed about our broken item and now… THE WHOLE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ugh, what a cycle!

Less stuff equals more freedom. Things can be anchors and tie us down. They keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. They can drain our energy and sense of adventure.

“Too much clutter can weigh on our spirits. It is like all those items have their own gravitational field and are constantly pulling us down and holding us back. We can literally feel heavy and lethargic in a cluttered room, too tired and lazy to get up and accomplish anything”. – Francine Jay

We want to be able to actually enjoy and live our life, right? Living simply, buying only what we truly need, and learn the joy of having enough.

Other brilliant tidbits:

  • Life is the space between our things.
  • We need space for our ideas and thoughts- a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
  • By creating space in our homes, we put the focus back where it should be: on what we do, rather than what we own.
  • When we clear our homes of all the excess stuff, we can devote our space, time, and energy to the people we love.

Friends, I really loved this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to start their minimalist/decluttering journey and I also recommend it to those of you already well on your way in your simplifying journey. My point is, this book is for EVERYONE!  🙂

“When we become minimalists, we strip away all the excess to uncover our true selves. We take the time to contemplate who we are, what we find important, and what truly makes us happy”. – Francine Jay

What truly makes us happy…that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  🙂

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: A Book Review

You’re never stuck-unless you choose to be. – Crystal Paine

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If you have read any personal finance blogs in the past 7 years or so, you might have heard of Crystal Paine, a.k.a. The Money Saving Mom. When I was a new mommy and completely overwhelmed with feedings, diaper changes, and oh yeah, finding time to wash the dishes and do seven hundred loads of laundry, I stumbled across her blog and it saved me. Literally. Crystal’s blog helped me with time management, meal planning, and taking some time for me, and still giving my all to my precious newborn. Seriously, I am forever indebted to Crystal ♥

That being said, I couldn’t wait to crack open her book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, when my library finally notified me that my requested reserve was in  🙂 Let’s dive in, shall we?

Crystal’s advice, although geared primarily towards families, can also be utilized for the single crowd. Being financially solvent applies to EVERYONE, amiright? And what she writes makes total sense and leaves you thinking, wow I can totally do this!

For example, she talks about the “$60 Principle”, which is in a nutshell, try to challenge yourself to save $60 a year. For some people, they might be like, whatever, I can totally do that, piece of cake. But for others who are barely scraping by, $60 is quite a bit of money. Crystal breaks down the challenge into easy steps and helps you see that it can be doable. She advocates to try and save $5 a month which breaks down to just $1.25 a week. Crystal states: “$60 isn’t going to make a significant dent in your debt payoff but the mentality behind saving the money will help you get there. Moving forward is better than standing still or moving backward”.

Because this book is all about saving money, she has many tips for doing just that:

  • Learn to meal plan
  • Use coupons when you can
  • Go plastic-free and try using just cash
  • Eat more meatless meals
  • Utilize your crock pot
  • Instead of going out to the movies, rent a movie from your library for free
  • Learn to batch-cook
  • Sell your junk

The parts of the book that I enjoyed and that appealed to my minimalist heart were the pages concerning organization, stream lining, and getting rid of clutter.

“If your life and home are not in order, you are just going to make things harder for yourself and likely end up frustrated and overwhelmed” – Crystal Paine

Can I get an amen?  🙂

Some tips, you can totally do today! Eliminate paper clutter. Unsubscribe from those catalogs, yo! Organize that pantry. What is actually in there? Know what ingredients you have on hand to start that meal planning, stat! Create a filing system for bills and receipts. If you are more of a digital person, scan those things and put ’em on your computer and get everything in order!

I think it is important that Crystal does emphasize practicing the art of contentment. If you are not happy with what you have, credit cards will be there to soothe you and skyrocket your debt at the same time. She advises for us to count our blessings and to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.

“A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst” – Crystal Paine

All in all, this is a great book for anyone needing to overhaul their financial picture but just don’t know how to get started. But make sure you go to the library and check it out because #frugal  🙂

2017: The Year of Wellness

Sometime in the last few years or so, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I always ended up breaking them sometime around mid-February and then spent the next 10 months saying to myself, screw it, I already messed up so what’s the point of trying to continue in that direction. Then January rolls around again and the same story would play out.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Having a specific word however, to represent changes you want to make in your life seems easier and more attainable in the quest to be a better person. That single word or phrase can encompass so much and we can steer our lives in a positive direction that allows for mistakes along the way without feeling like failure will derail the whole thing.

My word for 2017 is Well.

Be well. Feel well. Live well.

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According to the dictionary, wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Can also be an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

Wellness. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

See the thing is, I feel like the past three years have been for me, a twisting and difficult journey, emotionally and physically. I have gone through some pretty rough times and I believe that there is finally a light at the end of this very long tunnel that I have been proverbially crawling through. That is amazing in and of itself.

Last year, I made significant changes to my health. I started exercising and eating better and I lost 30 pounds. Awesome, right? But then the seasons changed, Fall ushered her leaf-swirling head in, and I fell off the health train hard. And then old habits crept back in, and faster than you can say uh-oh, I was in over my head and beating myself up for derailing.

That has to stop.

When I say I want to be well, I mean in all aspects of my life. As mentioned above, I want to be well physically. That means getting back to eating properly and moving my body more. Exercise truly has so many great benefits and I want those endorphins back!  🙂

I want to be well emotionally. I want to start doing yoga and getting into meditation. I feel that this will help me get out of my own head sometimes and give me the calmness I need in my life. I also have been seriously looking at my home space and decluttering on an even grander scale than I had previously done, because too many things gives me anxiety. And although I live in a very small space, I am looking at my things differently and looking at them with fresh eyes and asking myself, “Do I value this? Is this something that I value? Am I really going to watch/read/ look at this thing again?” If the answer is no, than I get rid of it.

I want to be well financially. The things that I am getting rid of, my husband is selling online for me to bring in some extra-needed cash. Paying off some bills this year and getting a proper financial foothold will be of paramount importance.

2017 will be the year of well.

This is going to be a good year my friends. I can feel it  🙂

530 Square Feet of Happiness

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I know “tiny homes” are the big rage right now and my husband and I dutifully watch HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters every week marveling at the creative uses of space. How they get everything they need and want into such a finite living abode is nothing short of marvelous.

But as I am watching these episodes, I realize hey wait a minute! My space isn’t exactly a hub of square feet deliciousness. My space is pretty small compared to some. I live in a 530 square foot apartment with my husband, daughter, and my cute fur ball of a cat. And you know what? We love it and we make it work.

We make it work because we want to make it work. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company and really do like being together. We have just enough space and honestly anything bigger at this point, would probably be overwhelming. Are we always going to live in this apartment until our dying day? Probably not. But for however long we choose to live here, we will be happy 🙂

530 square feet means things can become cluttered rather quickly if we’re not careful. It means that there is not that much space to clean so I am not spending marathon Saturdays trying to keep it sparkly clean and then collapsing from exhaustion. One bathroom works for us and cleaning it is a breeze.

My husband and I are careful about what we bring in, to make sure that we don’t start to feel overwhelmed by stuff. I regularly go through my daughter’s toys and books and together her and I decide if she still plays with the item and whether or not we can donate it to someone who will get more use out of it.

530 square feet also means we are not paying for space that is not being truly utilized. We use every square inch of our apartment and we save money by choosing purposefully, to live in smaller accommodations. We could pay more money for more space but that just didn’t make sense to us. Living smaller does.

530 square feet of happiness.

And we really are truly happy 🙂

10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget: A Review

“Frugality is more than just saving a few pennies and becoming debt-free. It is about pursuing your dreams and not letting someone else define your success”.

This little gem, like so many others, make up the multi-layered awesomeness that is the book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget by the writers of Wise Bread. Wisebread is a website that has frugal living and money-saving tips and as they state on their “about” page, they are a community of bloggers who are “here to help you live large on a small budget”.

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This book was such a great read and I wrote down so many nuggets of information because I just loved what these writers had to say! 🙂

  • “Frugal discipline does not have to mean deprivation. It is possible to have a life of abundance without spending more money that you’d care to”.
  • “The fundamental rule of personal finance: Spend less than you earn. There are 2 avenues to achieving this goal: spending less and earning more. By working on either (or both) of these areas, you can increase the gap between those 2 numbers- and that gap is your ticket to freedom. The harder you work on either spending less or earning more, the bigger that gap will become and the quicker that train to your dreams will arrive at that station”.

We’ve all heard it before but it bears repeating: Spend less than you earn. Simple words that pack a wallop of truth, but at times difficult to follow. But with spending less than what we earn, we gain freedom. Freedom to pursue what is important to us.

10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget also talks about minimalism and getting rid your junk:

  • “We often hold onto things that simply remind us if a nice memory”.
  • “You’ll probably be surprised how much stress is relieved by parting with your junk. It can be hard to part with things that you’ve owned for a while, but frankly, any potential monetary sacrifice can be compensated for by having a clean livable abode. When they say you can’t take it with you, they aren’t kidding”.

They even have a section about Roth I.R.A.’s, bonds, and investments which I found interesting even if I didn’t understand all of it 🙂 The writers recommended to put away at least $1,000 for emergencies or into what is commonly known as an “emergency fund”, and to pay off all your credit card debt before opening a Roth I.R.A. or at least make significant headway on that debt and have a plan for paying it off.

All in all, if you are looking for some tips to up your frugality game, by all means, head to your local library and check this book out. Like I did 🙂 #frugalforthewin

An Organic Butterfly

 

cropped-img_20151119_143840.jpegRecently while listening to a podcast, I heard the host utter the words, “Every time we make a decision, we exhaust ourselves”. Wow. Aren’t we already exhausted as a society? I mean, isn’t life already exhausting and now every little decision I make, no matter how compounding or how miniscule, is apparently just sucking the life out of me. No wonder I am so exhausted and literally crawl into bed every night!

I am tired of being tired. I don’t want to make hundred of decisions every day (What do I eat for breakfast? What am I going to wear today? Did I take out anything for dinner? When was the last time I took my multi-vitamin?) And on and on and on… By 9pm, I am just tired. And I can’t be the only one.

I need to lighten the load.

I know that there will always be stressors in life, but I need to learn to roll with the punches on a much more significant and meaningful level.

I need space. Space to breathe. Space to just be. And this little corner of the internet will be my own beach umbrella in the proverbial sand. A place for my thoughts to give rise to my words.

Simple living is important to me.

I want a meaningful life. I don’t want to just get by.

I want a simple life. I don’t want to befriend the chaotic.

I want a healthy life. I don’t want to get comfortable in the armchair of exhaustion.

I have been for too long, the caterpillar in the cocoon and now I am emerging from my chrysalis into an organic butterfly.

A simple living, mind fully loving, butterfly. As I navigate these waters and move into this wonderful new direction, I will share posts on:

  • Simple Living
  • Minimalism
  • Healthy Eating
  • Favorite Podcasts
  • Favorite Simplistic and Minimalistic Reads
  • Exercise and Meditation

I look forward to sharing my journey with you!