It’s been a while since I posted anything here. The past year and half rocketed by at a break neck pace with so many changes it’s hard to believe when I say them aloud. To name just a few, our family dog of over 16 years passed away, our SUV was struck by lightning, and Hubby’s mom came to live with us for a while… yeah I know, and that’s just SOME of the changes. Lucky for us, moving here and taking a more minimalist approach towards living our life helped in so many ways. For example, the unexpected cost and time of replacing our SUV wasn’t a massive financial burden or huge inconvenience trying to balance a hectic schedule.
As for our new abode, I’ve poured my heart and soul into making it cozy, comfortable, and our kind of stylish. After trying a super minimalist approach, I decided that really wasn’t me. I need some color in my life, although not much, and a nick nack or 2 can really set a space off. Finding our minimalist style is evolving. I more or less work towards finding balance between just enough and not too much. For example, technically we don’t NEED 2 sets of sheets for our bed but in the event they are soiled in the middle of the night by a sick child, we can just grab the old ones from our cabinet to get us by until we do the wash. It’s also become apparent that decluttering is an ongoing process. If you bring new in weekly, then weekly we should be letting go of the old. When we both worked outside of the home plus played hard on the weekends, we NEVER made time to declutter. We just shoved everything in a closet, under the bed, or up to the attic. Decluttering involves decision making and according to Tim Ferris in the 4 Hour Work Week we max out at a certain number before reaching decision fatigue. I’d burn 50% of mine just deciding what to wear each day in my maxed out, over stuffed walk in closet. We still have a large walk in closet, but it feels calmer now. There is space and I have put some systems in place to make decluttering faster and easier. For example, there’s a box in each of our closets to toss old clothes or items in when its time has come instead of just shoving in back in the line up or in a corner until “one day” when we can get around to clearing it out.
This year has been less eventful, however we’re still picking up the pieces from the crazy of 2017. It feels good to slow down, take a more serious look at our health, relationships, and budget. And get back to writing about how we are creating our unstuffed life.
I have been obsessed with clothes and shopping since I can remember. I have spent countless dollars and hours purusing stores for the latest fashions and trends, only to grow tired of them soon after and stuff them away in my maybe one day section of our walk-in closet. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all the feels and smells of my favorite department and cosmetics stores. Touching all the new leather handbags on the way in and picking up the neatly arranged glass perfume bottles to take a quick wiff of the newest Channel concoction. Retail therapy is real. At least for me. The high of buying a new pair of strappy leather wedge sandals or comfy super soft set of pajamas was too much to resist, especially after a long week of grinding away at work. All to often though, the high was fleeting and rarely lasted until the next time I could sneak in a few hours away from the office to get my next shopping fix. I never had a strategy or specific purchase in mind. I just bought what caught my eye and seemed like a good deal at the time. Clearance and markedowns are seriously my weakness. “Look at how much I saved today!” I exclaimed to my husband, laying out my purchases on the bed or sofa when I came home. I took pride in filling my closet to the hilt. I certainly never considered how I might run out of space or how much of my hard earned money was being thrown away through each blouse, ear ring, or head band purchase, I’d either never wear or tire of after only one use. I made shopping a hobby and stress release habit. We organized our attic and bought large plastic bins to keep it all safe and organized. The guilt kept me hanging on to clothes I could no longer wear because they either didn’t fit or weren’t trendy anymore. When it came time to clean and organize the attic, I saw the thousands of dollars stacked high in large purple and green bins, feeling a little sick to my stomach, I’d have to turn away and focus on getting the holiday decorations sorted instead. I was so ashamed of my negligence. How could I have let it get this far out of control? I was so busy pursuing the American dream I barely noticed the mountain of retail therapy growing in our attic and closets.
After leaving my office job and working from home, I had to take a sobering look at all the clothes I’d accumulated. I didn’t need suits, heels, and 60 pairs of trouser socks anymore. My first reaction was wishing I could just give it all away. I knew, however, that I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the searing guilt of watching all the time and money spent just tossed aside. I knew I would have to find another solution.
I found a great blog called missminimalist.com and read in awe at how she’d managed to pair down her wardrobe to just a few key pieces. She explained how her capsule wardrobe made getting dressed less stressful and that decluttering her clothes had put back valuable time and space in her life. She also writes about having the same predicament as me with lots of name brand and designer labels she couldn’t just toss out due to the guilt of using so many resources to secure them. So she decided to sell what she could on Ebay. I was already learning about flipping items on Ebay to earn extra income for our family so I decided as punishment/ redemption that is what I would do to recoup some of my monetary losses. It’s tedious and time consuming task but it has helped me declutter and relieves me of the guilt of just giving it away. I have had to set some parameters around it. Like making sure I can earn at least a certain dollar amount to justify my time in listing it. I snap some photos with my phone on a cute surface or bust form I got for my more expensive pieces. I edit them and then list it from my phone using the app. It’s easy but does take about 10 minutes or more per listing so you can see how just a few would steal a couple hours from your day.
I am working through all the bins I dragged with us during our move. It’s definitely a part time job getting rid of all these un-wanted clothes and sometimes a real struggle to get motivated to do my listings but one thing is for sure, It makes me really question each of my future purchases for fear of adding to my listings pile.
This blog of one of my favorites. It’s helped me to continue pressing forward when decluttering and minimizing has gotten tough.
I love the topic of distraction and how it silently pulls us from what’s truely important. Here Joshua Becker asks us to think about what we’ve allowed into our lives that may be stealing precious time we could be using instead to further our true purpose in life. He also includes several others posts he’s written on the topic. Good stuff!
Maybe the life you’ve always wanted is buried under everything you own. – Joshua Becker
So much has changed for us over the last 6 months. After stumbling upon minimalism and applying its philosophy, we decided our life needed an over haul. Getting serious about our health and fitness spilled over into other areas of our lives. We started defining and listing what is truly important to us and getting clear about our family goals and values. At the top of our list is freedom. We started asking ourselves questions about how we could create more freedom in our daily lives. For example, like setting a budget. Our savings and spending goals became much easier to track, taking the stress out of spending simply by implementing a budget. Obviously a huge factor in our freedom is debt. It determines how much we save, donate, need to work, and what retirement would one day look like for us.
An unexpected thing happened for us as a result of getting our camper this past December, we realized just how little we could get by with. I no longer required a large kitchen equipped with the latest gadgets to prepare dinner, or huge master suite with countless drawers and walk in closet to store my clothes and bath products. For an entire week, we got dressed, ate, slept, and bathed in less than 250 square feet, basically less than one room of our current home. It really got me thinking. Was our current living arrangement what fit us best? Could we get by with less? Do we want to get by with less? I thought of how much of our monthly budget was spent on our home and if that matches up with what we have determined most important to us. It was right for us at some point. However, that was years ago now and what suited us then, didn’t seem as suitable now. Our lives have changed so much since we moved into our big house close to town.
An important minimalist concept is to question everything. I am learning that each thing in our life should serve a purpose or feel that it’s beautiful and enjoy it. When I started questioning the things we own and how we were choosing to live, I began noticing how much we had that no longer fit our life anymore. Lamps and knick knacks tucked away for some future redecorating whim… Extra bedding we’d never be able to use up in a life time. Why were we keeping all this stuff? The upkeep for our home and all the stuff we’d accumulated over the years started feeling like weights holding us down.
We got educated on how others obtained more freedom in their lives. We started reading blogs/ books, watched documentaries, and joined online groups devoted to paring down and finding more freedom in life. We were able to rid ourselves of a sizable amount of stuff through on-line yard sales. We also created a budget and plan to get out of debt. With each bill paid off and item no longer needed sent away, we felt lighter, freeer and motivated to keep going! After seeing the restrictions our home placed on us, we knew we needed to look for solutions. We no loner felt our current living situation supported our goals and values. Getting totally out of debt would further support our freedom initiative and neighborhood life just wasn’t a good fit for us anymore. We wanted to keep our camper close by especially before trips and a little after to do some work on it, but the HOA didn’t support that. Our outdoor space was limited and the HOA had to be consulted to make any adjustments or improvements to our own property.
We expanded our search to include all of the husband’s work territory, which was about a 60 mile radius. Turns out, we didn’t have to look far or long. Within a month of our search, we found the perfect place. It was nestled along the coast just 20 miles away in a private sanctuary we knew we could make our own. It was rural and rustic and didn’t even have a traditional home. It was all about the land, the peaceful setting teaming with nature and solitude. It fit our budget and had future income potential. The mobile home was a bonus. Although I am not sure how we could have made it work without the double wide included, the property was a steal without it. There were so many possibilities for our future if we secured it. So we did! After we put a contract on the property we listed our home, and literally 1 week later sold it. Oscar and I always say when something is meant to be, it’s easy!
I seriously dreaded the selling and moving process but of all our past experiences, thankfully, this one was the least painful. By relocating, we were able to drop over $100,000 in debt and have continued paring down. Of course we’ve made some improvements to our mobile home, making it ours, that I can’t wait to share once complete! Now, we’re focusing on the essentials. Questioning everything we keep and how we set up our home. As we packed, we decided that we didn’t need a formal eating space and dragging around formal dining room furniture was not something we’d do this time. If we change our minds and want one later, we’ll get it then. I’m so over having stuff for the occasional need. If we have guests, we’ve got plenty of extra seating and I’m sure we can make due. I’m not saying I don’t still have tons of occasional things but I’m slowly working through and processing them out of my life. We’ve got a long way to go but we’ve made so much progress. We’re in a perfect spot here at our country coastal property, it’s peaceful with lots of space to spread out and relax. Our girl has plenty of room to explore and study nature. We’ve got options here we didn’t have before.