MINIMALISM AND SCHEDULING OUR TIME – GUEST POST!

minimalism and scheduling our time

Today’s post is a guest post from Ana of  Goatdog Simple. I am so excited that Ana is the first guest blogger for a Life on a Dime! She was one of the first bloggers I connected with. She has been very supportive and I am very honored she wrote a post for my blog. Here are Ana’s thoughts on minimalism and scheduling our time.

MINIMALISM AND SCHEDULING OUR TIME

About five years ago, I straightened up our finances and we paid off our mortgage. Life suddenly felt better. I had tidied up our money clutter and this gradually eased us into minimalism. Somehow, simplifying one area of our lives had a far-reaching effect in our home. It was that same year around Halloween that I tackled our physical clutter and eliminated many items my kids had outgrown. Letting go of stuff made me think about how my family’s lifestyle was changing—how we were finding minimalism and scheduling our time.

Back then, I would assemble the annual Halloween parade in our neighborhood. Picture a banner, a gathering of jittery costumed kids, a fun group photo and the official start of candy gathering as the bunch trots down our main street.

This role was passed down to me and, after four years, I was no longer excited about it. My kids were heading into middle school and not interested in participating. I realized that it was time to let this task go. This made me revisit my calendar and reevaluate how I was spending my time.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

I’m a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I made financial sacrifices to make this arrangement work. I’ve been active in my kids’ schools volunteering in everything from field trips to fundraisers. I did this because it was important to me and to my kids. What I discovered while making some changes was that I wasn’t considering the value of my time. I needed to define my priorities and schedule my time in a mindful way.

I decisively handed off my Halloween duties to another mom and it felt great. She was excited to take over and it made me realize we should do what inspires us and let go of what no longer does.

take an honest look at your schedule

 For starters, scrutinize your calendar. Look at your routines and ongoing responsibilities. Are you spending your time productively to reach your goals? Do you still want to give your time to certain commitments? Are you doing things you enjoy?

There’s a good chance you’re doing an abundance of busywork that leaves you exhausted and not feeling like you’re making strides when it comes to the quality of life you envision. I know because I was keeping a little too busy. Take some steps to redistribute your efforts.

prioritize your goals

Our time is limited and invaluable. If we start from this perspective, it’s difficult to squander it on meaningless tasks or wasted efforts.  Think about your priorities. Your time should be filled with your life’s plans, relationships you care about and those moments that have meaning for you. Of course, we all have work obligations and other factors that we can’t eliminate. But, there is a lot we do control and can shape to fit the life we’d like to be living.

Once I started to prioritize my scheduling, I made changes that allowed more time for things that mattered most to me. Then, I would check if I had room for smaller things that came up. I’ve also kept in mind that free space in my schedule is a must. I have the option to add something or relax and enjoy the unstructured time.

decide what you are willing to give up

You can’t do everything and you shouldn’t have to. Clutter interferes with our physical space and it does the same to our schedule. We tend to do too many meaningless tasks that don’t help us move forward with our goals. You need to revisit your commitments and place value on those that are truly important to you. Minimalism is about choosing what’s essential to your life’s path.

One thing I no longer do is attend every school meeting. I went to one under a torrential downpour, struggled to find parking. Once in my seat, the teacher introduced herself, mentioned the online course she would be teaching and asked us to email her our children’s information. She was available to answer questions for anyone who wanted to stay. It was a quick five-minute talk. I picked up a class syllabus on my way out which she later sent to us by email.

What was the point of attending such a meeting?

minimalism and scheduling our time

LEARN TO SAY “NO.”

Prioritizing your time means having to say “no” to things that don’t serve you. This may not be easy but it’s a way of maintaining control of your time. And not making everything a must. You need to decide what deserves your time and what things you can pass up. There are things that you may need to do but pay attention to how often your schedule has commitments that you had the option to opt-out of.

My schedule included many volunteer commitments that I realized filled up my day and had me scrambling to get my other tasks done. I don’t have to volunteer all my free time. I’ve decided on a few hours a month and I choose what projects merit my time or I feel will be rewarding.

WHAT YOUR SCHEDULE COULD LOOK LIKE

Think about how you’d like to run your schedule. You’re in control. What will your week include? How will you spend your time and what do you want to accomplish? A few areas to consider–

  • Work/productive hours
  • Family time
  • Socializing
  • Self-care
  • Hobbies
  • Volunteering

Mindful choices and scheduling our time carefully can help us find balance in our lives. My schedule is weighted equally with a mix of productivity and purpose that I have welcomed into my life. Weekdays include housework, errands, writing, exercise and time with my family. Weekends are for family and friends, hobbies, venturing out to new places and quiet downtime.

THE TAKEAWAY

 You are in charge of your time. Choose wisely how you spend your days. Minimalism is about removing what doesn’t serve you and making room for those things that do. Don’t allow overscheduling and tedious, time-consuming tasks to rob you of the life you could be living.

Take some time now to revisit your schedule. Just as we clean out our closets and make room for what’s necessary, it’s important to work into our calendar productivity, social connections and good times.

Your time is yours to live. Use it well.

MUST-READ MINIMALIST POST ROUND-UP

minimalism post round-up

HELPFUL POSTS ON DECLUTTERING & ORGANIZATION TO GET YOU MOTIVATED THIS MONTH!

We all love a good declutter and organization! Well, I do at least! Here is a great minimalist post round-up to help you get your spring cleaning on! Or just help you get a little more organized. Whatever floats your boat; I’m here to help, not judge. If you are up for a full declutter or just want to organize your clutter a little better these posts are sure to help. And, it’ll introduce you to some great bloggers. Win-win right?! Okay, here goes – this is my 2020 must-read minimalist post round-up! That’s a mouth full!

MINIMALIST POST ROUND-UP

Here are some great posts from around the blogosphere to give you advice and insight into minimalism as well as tips on getting decluttered and organized.

MINIMALISM IN GENERAL

DECLUTTERING POST ROUND-UP

ORGANIZATION POST ROUND-UP

minimalist post round-up

minimalist in march continues!

Did you catch yesterday’s YouTube video? It’s part one of two in my Spring Clean with me mini-series! In this post, I tackled the kitchen, living, and dining areas. If you get a chance go check it out and show it some love with likes and comments! 

Be on the lookout for a guest post from Ana at Goatdog Simple Tuesday morning! And be sure to use the #MinimalistInMarch on social media so I’ll see your decluttering and organization progress and be sure to include it in my stories! 

Until next time, stay frugal and minimal my friends!

THE MINIMALIST’S SPRING TO-DO LIST

.minimalist's spring to-do list

GET READY FOR SPRING WITH THIS MINIMAL LIST

I am really excited about warmer weather, sunshine, and a good spring-cleaned house. #MinimalistInMarch continues on a Life on a Dime! I just did a good declutter, which you can watch on the YouTube channel, and have been working on my To-Do list for spring. This post is all about this minimalist’s spring To-Do list!

Not surprisingly, items from the Minimalist’s Pre-Holiday To-Do List are making an appearance on my spring list. If you want the full checklist to print out then be sure to sign up as a frugal friend and it’ll be yours! If you’re already a frugal friend it’s coming your way shortly!

Now let’s get down to it! I’m sharing all about how this minimalist is getting ready for spring now!

A GOOD DECLUTTER

I’ve already gotten a good start on this one! I plan to do a quick run-through of the kitchen and laundry room as well as more of our room this week.  

We recently bought a new mattress (I may share more on this in a post next month), and had finally been able to deflate the air bed (long story, for another post – or check out my Instagram post on the matter). We need to get that stored in the attic and find a new purpose or home for the old topper. I couldn’t keep kids off of it so it is just hanging out in our room taking up space. 

We’ve also had toddler bed pieces taking up space for a few months now since transitioning little man to a twin. He wasn’t having it on the tiny bed anymore. It will be rehomed with my best friend for her littlest one. It’s at the top of my list to get together with her and pass it on along with some of the decluttered clothes from the kids.

Minimalist’S SPRING To-Do list: declutter leads to a resale shop visit and thrift store donation

The clothes my friend doesn’t take will be designated as resale or donation items. I will take what I have to the resale shop for store credit on spring clothes for the kids. After decluttering it became painfully obvious my daughter needs short-sleeved shirts, sweaters for Sunday dresses, and pajamas. 

Little man will need shorts and lightweight pants as well as shoes. His boots have held up well, but he outgrew his tennis shoes. What the resale shop doesn’t take will be dropped off at the donation center. 

A GOOd CLEAN!

I need to clean pretty much all the things and check filters. The latter task I am not so good at doing, so I’m adding it to my checklist!  

I start at the top and work my down going room to room by category. I like to clean both bathrooms in one sweep, the bedrooms in one go, and the living areas together. I’ll include more of the details in the checklist and have a YouTube video up next Thursday showing the process as well as recipes for what I use! 

I love having a deep-cleaned home. It gets tidied up several times a week, but a good deep-clean doesn’t happen as often as I like. Deep-cleaning usually happens on a seasonal basis. Be on the lookout for a Clean With Me video coming soon on the YouTube channel!

MINIMALIST’S SPRING TO-DO LIST: PANTRY CLEANOUT AND RESTOCK

We tend to eat differently in the winter months than in the spring and summer months, so typical items in the pantry change a bit; winter months we eat warmer, heartier meals like soups and a few more casseroles. In the spring and summer months, we eat more salads, fresh vegetables, and it’s somewhat lighter fare. I also like to cook some turkey, salmon, or veggie burgers more often in the spring and summer. 

It’s a good idea to go through the pantry and check the labels on foods once in a while. I think this is a great time to do this. Sometimes when we have veggie scraps for the compost pile I toss them in the freezer to deal with later. I recently pulled them out and went through the fridge contents. Then I made a quick trip outside to the compost heap. I  also discovered two partial bags of noodles in the cabinet that needed to be consolidated. Now I can use them up before I open a new bag. I wondered where all the bag clips had gone!

Aside from the changing menu affecting the pantry, as I explained in Panic vs Preparation: a Minimalist’s Take we are also slowly building our emergency kit and keeping more nonperishables on hand than we typically would (we don’t eat a lot of canned vegetables).  So not only have I been adding a bit more produce on the grocery list I’ve bought bottled water (which, if you have read 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money On you know I don’t typically use them) and a few more shelf-stable items the last two trips to the grocery store. 

LET SOME FRESH AIR IN AND GET OUTSIDE!

It is nice to not rely on central heat or air conditioning and enjoy a fresh breeze coming in through the house for a while. I like to get some of that winter stuffy air out and enjoy crisp spring air… for a little bit at least. I also don’t want a bunch of pollen inside setting off allergies. 

I have some outdoor-loving kids and while I’ve never been outdoorsy per-se I do love the kids entertaining themselves without large messes and almost anything that involves no mess in the house, screen time, or spending money is a win in my book. So we’ll be soaking up some more vitamin D than we have been and enjoying the warmer weather.

We also have plans to get a garden in this year so we’ll have to do quite a bit of work to make that happen. We haven’t had a garden in three years so I am so excited about the possibility of getting a few veggies as well as a variety of greens in the ground.

WHAT’S ON YOUR SPRING TO-DO LIST?

Do you have a list of chores or cleaning you do every spring? I love releasing some clutter and cleaning up what’s left periodically; it’s so much easier to clean and maintain when there’s less stuff! And remember, if you do any decluttering and share on social media be sure to use #MinimalistInMarch! I’ll share it in my stories! I love a good declutter!

Until next time stay frugal and minimal my friends! Good luck with your spring cleaning!  

minimalist's spring to-do list

PREPARATION VS PANIC – A MINIMALIST’S TAKE

panic vs preparation

PANIC VS PREPARATION: OBSERVATIONS MADE AT THE GROCERY STORE

Today, like most Thursdays, I attempted to do my grocery shopping. Ninety-five percent of our groceries come from discount grocery chain Aldi. The other five percent that isn’t available or satisfactory from Aldi I get at Walmart. I attempted to purchase items from the Walmart portion of the list today and was shocked. What I saw (or rather didn’t see) made me think about the concept of panic vs preparation; I see a major difference between sufficient preparation for an emergency and all-out panicking and buying a year’s supply of everything. Here are my thoughts and observations on the matter.

First I want to emphasize that I am not a health care provider and this is in no way to be considered medical advice. That being said, on with the post.

SOME DEGREE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IS ESSENTIAL

Recent events with the current outbreak prompted a conversation with my husband. We’ve talked about getting an emergency kit together but haven’t done it yet. This would be the preparation end of panic vs preparation. This need was further emphasized by the recent tornado in Nashville.

According to ready.gov, the typical home emergency kit should include

  • three days worth of water – one gallon a day for drinking and sanitation per person
  • a three day supply of non-perishable food
  • flashlight
  • battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • first aid kit
  • extra batteries
  • whistle to signal for help
  • dust mask that filters contaminated air
  • moist towelettes, garbage bags, and ties for sanitation
  • wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • manual can food opener
  • local maps
  • cell phone chargers and backup battery

Again, you can download the supply list and check out their additional supply suggestions at ready.gov. Additional items for those with medical/health needs are included in the additional items list. There are also helpful suggestions about what to keep on hand at work and in your car.  And, I would like to note that a six month supply of toilet paper is not on the list.

I have made a point as of late to buy one or two items on this list each trip to the store. I believe in being prepared, but I also believe in my budget. I’m not going to wreck it sheerly out of panic.

PANIC VS PREPARATION – THE FLIP SIDE

So there’s being prepared, for a general emergency as I stated above, and then there’s panic. Now we’re going to talk about panic. Panic is what I saw signs of all over Walmart even though the shoppers all seemed calm. There is absolutely no hand sanitizer at the Supercenter. Not one bottle in any size or formulation. There also isn’t much hand soap. I realized this just wandering through the store looking for items on my list. Out of curiosity I even asked an associate where the hand sanitizer was since I saw no empty holes where it should be and was told they’re completely out.

My in-laws are retired and recently talked to an associate at their regular pharmacy. Face masks are currently hard to find in our area as well. People are worried. The concern is probably warranted, but panic is not. I don’t believe panic helps anyone. In fact, in this case, panic is hurting people who need to use face masks and hand sanitizers due on a daily basis due to suppressed or low immune systems.

I was shocked that the multivitamin aisle had a lot of empty spots, and not just the Vitamin C and other expected items like Emergen-C. In the grocery section, there was no bread flour to be found. I’m used to not getting my brand of choice, but something is usually in stock. I try to make my own bread on a weekly basis. We have pizza at home every week. Bread flour is best for these uses, yet there was none in stock whatsoever.  All throughout the store, there were seemingly random empty spots of sold-out items.

problems arise when people panic

I’m not sure why, but any time snow, or rain, or a virus, or severe storms are predicted people line up at the stores to buy a year’s supply of milk, bread, eggs, and a toilet paper. I exaggerate somewhat, but I’ve seen the empty shelves and heard from friends that toilet paper in our area is already becoming a bit of a hot commodity (thank goodness I bought a pack last week).

People need to realize that when you buy additional perishable goods in case of emergency, chances are ( and thank God) that emergency won’t come. News channels feed the panic and then report product shortages said panic caused. I’ve seen it play out on what little television I’ve seen lately and it really disturbs me.

Take a deep breath and think before you buy twelve packages each of toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. And really, why in 2020 are we still blowing through paper towels as we do? I stopped buying them, and I really don’t miss them. In fact, there’s a partial roll under the sink for really icky don’t want to throw in the wash messes, and I haven’t touched it in almost a  year. I touched on this in 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money On by the way. I like to think it’s my most popular post ever for a reason.

panic vs preparation

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS DURING THE 2020 CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK

If you feel scared or panicked about the 2020 coronavirus outbreak please get informed before making any rash decisions. I have family members and friends in the healthcare industry and they tend to think the concern is overblown by the media. If you’re in the US, ignore the news and go straight to the CDC Coronavirus Disease page. It has all the information you need to make informed decisions.

If you are near an affected area or live close to any international airports or large cities where viruses tend to spread more quickly it seems to be advised to have a two week supply of household essentials on hand. My minimalist heart can deal with this quite easily. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself to have two weeks of essentials on hand. If you don’t want to take just my word for it on the matter refer to the CDC link in the above paragraph or check out the below list of linked articles and posts discussing the issue.

USEFUL LINKS

CDC Coronavirus Info

Preparing for COVID-19 from A Dime Saved

CDC Emergency Preparedness Recommendations

Is It Hard to Get the Straight Info on Coronavirus from This is Life Mental Health Blog

panic vs preparation: takeaways

Please remember if you’re a mostly healthy individual shopping for a mostly healthy individual household not to go overboard when at the stores. If more people slowed down and got informed before they raided the shelves at the store not only would they save money and spare their budget (not to mention potential food waste from overstocking), they’d help prevent a shortage on products for the people who need them most every day.

I will continue to work on our emergency kit by purchasing a few items every week. My husband was given a hand-crank radio a few weeks ago and we have plenty of flashlights. I started buying water and additional canned food.

My prayers are with those under quarantine, and my hopes are that I am able to finish off my regular grocery list today. It’s a first-world problem, I know, and it makes me truly appreciate what I have. While I always appreciate my family’s health, I truly do now. Please be mindful and save, even be prepared, but do not panic.

I’ll be back Monday with the newsletter for frugal friends and will have a new post up Tuesday.  This wasn’t my planned post, but I will get that one out as well. #MinimalistInMarch continues, most recently with a Declutter With Me video on YouTube. Until next time, stay frugal and healthy my friends!

 

GO MINIMALIST IN MARCH WITH A LIFE ON A DIME!

minimalist in march
march into minimalism

JOIN A LIFE ON A DIME AND LET’S GO MINIMALIST IN MARCH

I am so excited about March! No-Spend February is winding down and it’s about time to start some Spring cleaning! Why not go minimalist in March with me? What better way to get into the Spring of things than to unload some clutter and make room for the new than to jump into minimalism?!

HOW A LIFE ON A DIME CAN HELP YOU GO MINIMALIST

If you need some extra inspiration to get into Spring cleaning or have been curious about minimalism (maybe even checked out my YouTube mini-series) or just feel it’s time for some good old fashioned decluttering, then this is a great time to become a Frugal Friend!

What are Frugal Friends? Well, simply put Frugal Friends are subscribers to a Life on a Dime, but it’s so much more than that! As a Frugal Friend, you don’t just get post notifications (although you do get those), you also get a weekly newsletter with a free meal plan every Monday!

You also get a little extra motivation in your inbox during savings challenges, exclusive content, and a heads up on things to come from a Life on a Dime! What you won’t get? Frugal Friends will never get sent emails just to tell you that you’re paying too much for your phone bill or that you have to take advantage of this exclusive offer. I don’t do that to my friends! I don’t hesitate to click unsubscribe when it happens to me, so I sure don’t want to do that to you.

Rest assured, if you become a Frugal Friend you can look for fun tips and motivation for the Minimalist in March challenge, weekly meal plans, but no spam. And to make it easy, you can just click the link to sign up as a Frugal Friend.

JOIN THE MINIMALIST IN MARCH CHALLENGE AND KICK CLUTTER TO THE CURB!

I plan to do some major decluttering in my house and will be sure to include you in the fun! We’re a couple of months past Christmas. I’m sure the kids have already broken some toys and more than a few are collecting dust. And if you haven’t worn that sweater from your Aunt Louise by now, you probably aren’t going to. Why not get a good declutter going on?!

Be on the lookout for some clean/declutter with me videos, some checklists, and challenges to help. I don’t know about you, but my house could sure use it right about now so let’s just march right in with some minimalism!

WEEKLY EXERCISES AND TIPS TO KEEP YOU MOTIVATED

Every week I will announce a new little challenge or exercise pertaining to minimalism. Frugal Friends will get the scoop first, along with a little extra encouragement.

Go Minimalist in March will also take over the YouTube channel so be sure to tune in every Thursday! This might be a good time to get some Frugal Friends in on the fun. I sense a few collab posts and videos coming up!

FOLLOW #MINIMALISTINMARCH ON SOCIAL MEDIA

If you follow along with the weekly challenges use the hashtag #MinimalistInMarch on social media. A Life on a Dime is on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, so be sure to share your minimalist adventures with the hashtag! I’ll post under it, follow it, and share some in my stories and tweets as well!

THE FUN STARTS MARCH 1ST

Frugal Friends can expect some details and tips beforehand. If you know anyone who might be interested to go minimalist in March or have questions, as always feel free to contact me. Bloggers looking to collaborate can fill out the Work With a Life on a Dime form and I’ll be in touch!

If you’re curious about minimalism you can check out all the Minimalism articles on the site.

IF YOU’RE STILL NOT SURE YOU WANT TO GO MINIMALIST IN MARCH CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS

I have a short video where I address 5 Myths of Minimalism. There are a lot of misconceptions about what it is and isn’t. Here are 5 things it definitely isn’t to help clear up any confusion! It’ll take no time at all to watch and should answer some of your questions.

And since I’ve outlined 5 things minimalism isn’t, I also have a video on  5 real Benefits of Minimalism that can come from adopting minimalism just in case you’re still not sure about giving it a try. It just might convince you.

And, if you decide not to become a full-fledged minimalist the worst that can happen is a little less clutter in your Spring cleaned house. Let’s give it a go, shall we?!

Until next time, stay frugal my friends! I’ll see you next month. Let’s go Minimalist in March together! I can’t wait!

MINIMALISM & CHRISTMAS: 5 TIPS TO INCORPORATE MINIMALISM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

minimalism and Christmas

Minimalism and Christmas may not seem like they belong in the same sentence, but I believe they do. The holidays are stressful enough. Why do we make them even more expensive? You don’t get much more minimal than the first Christmas if you think about it. Save yourself some time, stress, and money with my five tips to keep it minimal this holiday season.

**This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.**

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Experiences instead of Items as Gifts

When it comes to gifts, experiences are a wonderful idea! Instead of giving stuff that may go unused in a closet (or just donated if you’re like me) or put a lot of strain on the budget. Avoid all that and give the gift of an experience; this can still be just as if not more thoughtful than a store-bought gift.

Examples of experiences include a gift certificate to a favorite activity such as an indoor sports place (TopGolf, ax throwing) for a more active individual, skating rink or indoor trampoline park for kids, or a certificate for mini-golf or bowling for the entire family. Just keep the recipient in mind. Know someone with a creative flair? What about a gift certificate to paint their own pottery?

Keep the Calendar as Simple as Possible

When (if) the party invitations come rolling in don’t feel the need to RSVP yes to all of them. If the holiday season typically includes a lot of social invitations have a family meeting prior to the deluge of mail and agree upon a set number of social events to attend or discuss which annual gatherings are the highest priority.

Keeping the calendar as clear as possible will save a lot of time, stress, and might even reduce your potential exposure to a few winter bugs. It’s cold and flu season folks and you never know who’s been sick or is coming down with something at large gatherings. Be sure to bring some hand sanitizer.

It’s also worth noting that it is not very minimalist to buy a new outfit for every function you plan to attend; if you have room in the budget for one fancy outfit to wear and most social events you plan to attend include different social circles then guess what? That same outfit will be “new” for all events. Even if you’re seen in the same dress at more than one event does it really matter?

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Couple or Family Gifts Instead of Gifts for Each Individual

This is something we’ve chosen to do on my husband’s side of the family and it just makes life easier. There are a lot of kids on his side and they all have a lot of stuff already. Thankfully, nobody truly needs much of anything, and most of us have made efforts to pare down our possessions so adding a lot for everyone in the house seems counterintuitive at this point.

We’ve also all pretty much asked each other exactly what they want or need or if something from a general category would be alright. It helps a lot. Our Christmas savings account check was cut this week and I’m just patiently waiting for it to show up in our mailbox so I can start checking items off our list. Our gift shopping list is about 75% done at this point. I will tally the approximate total against our budget (the amount of the check) once I have it in hand and make adjustments where necessary. Our total Christmas budget this year is $500. I have added about $30 from the monthly budget to round this number out. The goal is obviously to come in under budget. This may feel like a lot to us, but it is below the average of $727.90-$730.70 National Retail Federation predicts American households will spend this year.

See: NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Will Grow Between 3.8 and 4.2 Percent

minimalism and Christmas

Or Draw Names for a Gift Exchange

In the years past we did this with my dad’s family as it is quite large and it was always so fun; different family members live in different states, so it was always exciting to see something picked out for you that wasn’t necessarily from a store we have here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, this area has grown significantly, but I remember when it was quite exciting to get gifts in boxes from stores I’d never been to!

This can obviously save a lot of money in larger families but admittedly isn’t for everyone. We considered it last year for my family, but we’re not really big enough. It’s not quite as fun when the odds are high you’ll be drawing the name of someone in your house.

Also with gift exchanges, this is something that the family needs to agree on fairly early as some people like to get shopping done early to save themselves some stress. I actually prevented a gift exchange from happening a few years ago because I had taken on a rather large handmade gift project and started it well in advance of Christmas.

Minimalism & Christmas: Keep it Simple with the Kids

As in years past, we plan to keep it pretty simple with our kids this year. Last year was the first my daughter could read. It was also the first year we forgot to label anything as specifically from Santa. She was so caught up in the excitement she didn’t notice!

We typically buy the kids a few things they need (this usually means there will be socks and underwear in stockings), an experience or larger want (by large I mean around $75- they’re still little and we operate on a budget), and a few smaller things. I will probably opt to skip on the few smaller things this year just because stuff for the sake of stuff isn’t very minimalist.

This year their large gifts are mostly things they need or have wanted for a while; my daughter is a boot girl and she finally outgrew the cowgirl boots we bought her two years ago for Christmas. When it comes to boots we buy quality ones from Cavender’s; they always hold up better and fit longer than tennis shoes or dress shoes. For our son, we will buy a plan rug for his bedroom floor with roads and such. He loves to play cars on the rugs around the house. I can’t say I blame him; tile is cold to sit on!

Related: You can find all Christmas posts published on a Life on a Dime by searching the Christmas category!

minimalism and Christmas

What About You?

Do you plan to incorporate minimalism into your family’s Christmas this year? Do you already keep it pretty simple for the holidays? This is how my family continues to use minimalism and Christmas is much less stressful (and expensive) as a result.

This post was proofread by Grammarly

THE MINIMALIST’S PRE-HOLIDAY TO-DO LIST

minimalist's pre-holiday to-do list

With Halloween this week I am reminded how time seems to speed up this time of year. With the holidays comes lots of company, special meals with family, and if you have kids… usually more stuff. Even if you keep it simple and minimal-ish around the holidays there are a few very minimalist things to put on a minimalist’s pre-holiday to-do list that can make this season much less stressful. Here are tree things I’m doing to prepare my house, and in turn myself for the holiday season.

**This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.**

My Minimalist Pre-Holiday to-do List

1. Declutter

Decluttering seems like a never-ending process, and if you have kids, chances are it is! They grow, tastes change, kids on the bus send them home with random stuff… Then there are birthdays and holidays when people who love your kids shower them with presents.

We have this pretty well under control, with family and friends understanding our minimalist approach to things and offering the kids more experiences than things (and sometimes money, which we deposit in their savings accounts).

By decluttering clothes and toys I can make room for the new. I also rotate out where toys are stored so they get more use. I also sort out artwork in my daughter’s room. Some get scanned or photographed, but eventually, most of it goes to the recycle bin. The really special ones I keep.

2. Deep Clean

I need to get on this. Minimalism isn’t necessarily about cleaning, but it sure makes it easier to clean! There are fewer surfaces to dust and steam mop, but sometimes I forget to do it often enough. I plan to spend a good day or two scrubbing the place for my fall cleaning in order to make any cleaning required for entertaining over the holidays that much easier. This makes it a must on my minimalist’s pre-holiday to-do list.

3. Take Inventory as Part of Your Minimalist’s Pre-Holiday to-do List

I do this for my own shopping needs, but also for when people ask what they can buy the kids. What do I know they want/need that we haven’t gotten? This makes it really easy in general to know what items are needed for season changes and age-appropriate activities, but it is especially handy around Christmas and birthdays. I don’t have to get back with someone when they ask what the kids/need want if I already have a list made.

This also helps to prevent duplication of items with everyday shopping. It helps stay in budget and ensures purchases are necessities and not just things you think you may need.

Related Video: See how I take inventory of our family’s wardrobe to determine clothing needs.

minimalist's pre-holiday to-do list

What’s on Your Pre-Holiday to-do List?

It’s not about the gifts, the lights, or even the food! And I love traditions centered around food! We’ve already been given the greatest gift ever, so let’s focus our time on what really matters; the people we’re blessed to have in our lives. I don’t want to be busy cleaning and prepping and tidying while memories are being made in the next room. Thanksgiving is about focusing on and truly appreciating what you have. I think if we spent more time on that mindset Christmas would look a lot different!

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I hope that by doing these three simple things memories of our first Christmas in our new house will be filled with fun, love, and special moments. Mostly I don’t want to look back and have a list of things I wish I had done differently. You’ve seen my list, now what’s on yours? Continue the conversation in the comments or head on over to my Instagram, where I’ll share your answers in stories today!

Related Post: 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts

THE MINIMALIST’S GUIDE TO KITCHEN ESSENTIALS: WHAT YOU REALLY NEED

If you’re just starting out or looking to revamp the heart of your home be sure to check out this list before you shop for kitchen essentials. Chances are you don’t need the majority of the “must-haves” you would consider essential. Here is my guide on keeping a minimalist kitchen as well as my top Amazon picks for the truly essential items.

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Keep it Simple with Kitchen Essentials

There is nothing more stressful than going to prepare dinner and not being able to find what the tools you need to do the job all the… stuff in the way. I know, I’ve been there. These days I don’t have to second guess where anything is in my kitchen. I got rid of pretty much EVERYTHING I didn’t use. Yes, everything. It took a while, but it is so much easier to navigate my kitchen now. It all starts with knowing what the kitchen essentials are and saying no to everything that doesn’t fit the requirements.

Stocking Your Kitchen

If you’re just moving out on your own, starting over, or jumping into minimalism and want to simplify your kitchen you’re in the right place. Here is a simple guide on what kitchen essentials a minimalist might have.

Kitchen Essentials: Cookware

We keep it pretty basic in our kitchen; we have one stainless steel pots and pans, our Emerilware thoughtfully gifted to us by my best friend when we first married. It has held up well; I also bought a cheap, nonstick set (pre-minimalism of course), and it did not stand the test of time. Our exact set is not available anymore, but I love this set that comes with stainless steel utensils. On a smaller budget, you can get a basic 12-piece set with 4-star reviews on Amazon for under $60.

I have a few glazed stoneware casserole dishes, a pizza stone, muffin tin, small and large sheet pans, a muffin pan, and two loaf pans. That’s about it for bakeware. Oh, and a couple of cooling racks. They get more use when baking bacon!

Gadgets

I do not like one-trick ponies in general, but I would be lying if I said I owned any; I love to use our sandwich maker. For such a simple device it has really held up. My husband also makes waffles in it occasionally! We have a coffee maker, blender, and an electric pressure cooker. The microwave doubles as a vent-hood, so I don’t really lump it in here. I think that’s it for small appliances and gadgets.

Kitchen Essentials: Utensils

We are slowly transitioning our utensils from nylon/silicone to stainless steel; it simply holds up better. Over time the edges of scrapers start to burn and peel. Who wants that? Not us! I also have a good stash of several wooden spoons, scrapers for mixing, and a wooden rolling pin. a good set of stainless steel mixing bowls and a couple of good cutting boards are also handy.

There are good deals on huge sets of utensils, but I am not a fan; chances of using all the utensils in the set is slim. I prefer to buy a small set of the basics and then get my measuring cups and spoons separately, and love my Pioneer Woman set. I have also had my eye on this vintage soap dispenser set for a while. It would add a pop of color in my otherwise less-than-decorated kitchen, and still be functional. I have a basic corkscrew, can opener, and knives. My husband has a basket of BBQ utensils above the cabinet.

Tableware

We started using the stoneware set gifted us for our wedding a couple of years ago when I got tired of our Fiesta Ware colors. I was over red and cream. To be honest, the cream was more yellow than I anticipated. We sold all the Fiesta on Craigslist and decided to just use the white stoneware set until after the move. Turns out eight of everything is more than enough for us! I don’t think we’ll be replacing our dinnerware any time soon. I had planned to buy a set but decided we didn’t have a need for more dishes. We have a handful of coffee mugs and travel mugs as well.

I love glazed stoneware because it is dishwasher safe, unlike unglazed. Plain, solid flatware holds up much better than anything with embellishments; we picked a fun set and were gifted both it (fell apart) and the solid set. I’ll pick a no-frills solid set any day now!

We switched to these stainless steel tumblers (purchased with gift cards earned by taste testing, a side hustle of mine)and I plan to switch out the kids’ plastic cups with these stainless steel straw cups.

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Linens

One of the 10 things I stopped wasting money on after becoming a minimalist was one-time user paper goods. I have one set of winter placemats, 8 cloth napkins, 4 everyday placemats, oven mitts, and a good-sized collection of kitchen towels, which are a mix of Dollar Tree and gifted Pioneer Woman. I need to get into my scrap material and see if I don’t have anything suitable to use for napkins. Most evenings we share a kitchen towel. My husband built a farmhouse table for me and I do not like hiding it under a tablecloth.

Miscellaneous

I keep a bread box and recipe book holder on the kitchen cabinet as well. It really doesn’t take a whole lot. It turns out you can still cook if you don’t line everything with aluminum foil. I also stopped buying Ziploc bags. We use these reusable sandwich bags and have been very pleased so far. I plan to buy more when the budget allows. We still use plastic containers for leftovers but have a few stainless steel sandwich boxes and snack containers. I love the idea of these containers with bamboo lids. When the budget allows I will continue my efforts to replace plastic as much as possible in the kitchen.

Not as Much is as Essential as I Thought…

When we first stocked our kitchen I thought I needed 3 or 4 of everything and it turned out I had multiples of unused items I had been convinced were kitchen essentials and my kitchen wouldn’t function without them! Don’t you need a specialty tool for every new recipe?! Turns out, no you don’t. I do more cooking now with fewer gadgets, utensils, etc than I ever did when I had a fully stocked kitchen. I mostly used the same things then too, if I could find them.

Now I have fewer items, but I use just about everything! I haven’t broken out the stash of cookie cutters yet, but with the holidays approaching we may do this soon! I have two eager helpers in the kitchen, which is another motivator to keep the clutter down. This is not an exhaustive inventory of what is in my kitchen, simply an outline of the basics I use every day. Yes, I do have to wash dishes more often, but I cook from scratch. I dirty up a lot of dishes and prefer to wash a load a day anyway.

What are your essential, can’t live without items in the kitchen? I’d love to know.

3 UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM: MY EXPERIENCE

benefits of minimalism

I decided to go minimalist thinking it was about getting rid of stuff. I leaned that direction for some time, not going overboard with baby stuff or toys after we had our first child, but after the death of my mother, who was a packrat, and you might even say an organized hoarder (is that a thing?). Once I decided to take an even more minimalist approach in my life. I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff in general and wanted less of it in my life. I had no idea there would be numerous unexpected benefits of minimalism.

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Benefits of Minimalism: Saying No Got Easier

I had a hard time saying such a simple word. It wasn’t just with bringing things into my home, I took on tasks I didn’t have time for, it was doing things that didn’t necessarily fit in the budget, putting up with stuff I didn’t have the emotional energy for, sometimes even putting up with people I didn’t have the emotional energy to be around.

I’d ignore a problem as long as possible (an inherited trait apparently) or would double my efforts and try to do more than I should in an effort to prove someone was right to put their faith in me. All because I did not want to let anyone down when it was plain for everyone to see that the expectation could not possibly be met. I exhausted myself and I let myself down.

Once I started purging I analyzed why I held on to things that had little meaning and no purpose. It became very clear that the only way to prevent more things that had little meaning or purpose in my life was to say no to them.

I suffered postpartum depression and crippling indecision after our first child. Walking around treating yourself like a doormat encourages others to do the same. It took a while to figure it out, but once I recognized what was happening I got help. I got better and was able to stop the meds, but anxiety has plagued my adult years. Again, it appears I inherited this trait.

I’ve said no to things recently due to anxiety because I knew I couldn’t handle it. I don’t know that pre-minimalism I’d have recognized the problem and chosen to make a decision for me rather than based on what I felt was expected of me; I feel much more proactive when it comes to my wellbeing.

The Urge to Shop Less Often

I grew up learning to appreciate the joys of bargain hunting and the value of a good deal. Pre-minimalism I spent entire lunch hours scouring stores looking for something I didn’t think we could live without. The better the deal the more you can buy, right?

I shudder to think how many of those good deals were hauled to donation centers in the last few years. In the last two years, I have really only frequented Target for baby supplies. Up and up was my favorite brand for diapers, wipes, and formula. I’d stock up once a month and get the$25 gift card for spending $100 (which I usually used the SAME trip). Something else always managed to find its way in the cart by the time I made it to the checkout.

benefits of minimalism

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When we moved a little farther out and I no longer worked I stocked up with online or drive up orders once we no longer used baby food and didn’t meet the free shipping minimum. A funny thing happened – I didn’t miss those Target runs! Lately, if I can’t get it at the grocery store or on Amazon, it’ll take me a good long while before I decide to venture out for it.

I’ve been to Hobby Lobby a grand total of once in the last six months, possibly all year. I spent less than $4 and used the 40% off coupon! We only went in because I couldn’t justify shipping for a $4 stencil that was a 20-minute drive away. My two-year-old kept reminding me why minimalism probably isn’t the only reason I dread shopping these days. We walked out with the item we came for and then headed to the donation dropoff to unload a few boxes.

Benefits of Minimalism: Focus on Quality over Quantity and More Thoughtful Purchases

With this newfound aversion for shopping, it should come as no surprise that I spend less money on frivolous things since embracing minimalism. My purchases tend to be more researched, and when I click the checkout button in my Amazon cart, I’ve found the best value for my budget.

If the value I want isn’t in my budget I DON’T BUY ANYTHING. I also tend to leave items on my wish list for a long time. I go back through every once in a while and delete items I no longer want. In the past, these items would’ve been shipped to my front door, and later made their way into the donation box without much thought.

This is a major shift in perspective; I can’ tell you how many times I walked out of a store with a shopping bag of consolation items. They didn’t have exactly what I wanted, but I bought something else that didn’t really fit the bill to lessen my disappointment in not finding what I wanted.

I’d rather buy fewer items less often and buy quality items. As I said earlier in the week, frugal isn’t cheap. I’m not going for cheap anymore. Lesson learned. Since transitioning to a single income (with no car or student loan, and typically no credit card debt) we’ve actually become better savers. We were always good at saving and cash flowing projects, but just saving to have money in savings? Not so much.

I had no idea when I first started on this journey that the benefits of minimalism would go so far beyond having less stuff. My whole perspective on life has changed since embracing minimalism. I can without a doubt say it has changed my life for the better mentally, emotionally, and financially.

benefits of minimalism

10 THINGS MINIMALISTS DON’T WASTE MONEY ON

don't waste money

… and you shouldn’t either

Becoming a minimalist makes life so much simpler; this can have a substantial effect on your budget too! As a minimalist, I don’t waste money on things I never gave a second thought about before starting my minimalist journey. I knew at the start becoming a minimalist would make my home more peaceful, but I had no idea it would actually help me keep more money in the bank!

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So what are some items minimalists don’t waste money on? I’m glad you asked! Here is my list of the top 10 items I quit wasting my money on after becoming a minimalist. Even if you don’t fully embrace the idea of minimalism you can still save yourself some money and give your budget a little more breathing room if you quit buying some of these items as well.

1. Minimalists Don’t Waste Money on a Lot of One Time Use Products

It just makes no sense to store 50 rolls of paper towels and keep throwing all that money in the trash! Literally! I never really thought about how much money we spent on paper towels, but I realized how quickly we went through a roll. The trash also filled up faster when we used paper towels. Not so long ago we were each using a half size paper towel at every meal AND I was cleaning the kitchen countertops with them as well as spot cleaning the rugs. That’s a lot of trash!

If you remember from 3 Weird Ways to Save Money we don’t pay for trash service. Eliminating the additional paper waste by simply using the abundance of tea towels and our set of previously almost never used cloth napkins we also saved some money by going through fewer trash bags. This is both a frugal and sustainable win!

2. A Different Cleaner for Every Application

Up until the beginning of this year, I bought hand soap, dishwashing soap for handwashing, kitchen countertop cleaner, bathroom cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, furniture polish, glass cleaner, dishwasher detergent pods, and carpet stain remover. Prior to owning a steam mop, there were also the disposable dry dusting and wet mopping floor pads.

That’s a lot of cleaning product under the kitchen sink! And the bathroom sink. And the hall closet… it felt like we had cleaning products everywhere! All that cleaner didn’t just take up a lot of real state in the house; it also took up a considerable amount of real estate in the budget!

Now I find all I really need to handle most household cleaning is Thieves Household Cleaner, unscented Castile soap, baking soda, and lemon and Thieves essential oils. I mix a capful or two of the household cleaner in a spray bottle and use it to clean the kitchen countertops, stainless steel appliances, bathroom counters, mirrors, and to spot clean the rugs.

I mix a capful with some baking soda and lemon oil to make the kitchen sink and showers sparkly white. A combination of the household cleaner, water, and castile soap does a great job hand washing dishes. It also doubles as our hand soap in the kitchen. I currently use the Thieves dishwasher powder but am curious to DIY some pods and see how they do. The fewer things I buy the better! And to think I used to believe I needed nine different cleaning products to accomplish the same tasks!

3. Don’t Waste Money on Multiple or One Trick Pony Kitchen Gadgets & Utensils

I have a healthy collection of wooden spoons, a few scrapers, and spatulas, but nothing overwhelming. In the past this was not so; I pared things down considerably before we moved, but when unpacking still found three ground meat mashers (three!) and other multiples I quickly realized I didn’t even use! I googled the meat masher and Pampered Chef charges $15 for them! And I had three! I usually grab a wooden spoon when cooking ground meat.

As far as appliances go we have a microwave, single-serve coffee maker, blender, sandwich maker, and pressure cooker. The sandwich maker gets the most use in the fall and winter, but it was a wedding gift and 13 years later it is still going strong.

A pressure cooker is an awesome addition to the kitchen! We can cook a tenderloin in 40 minutes or less, can soup salsa, or veggies from the garden (when we have one), and slow cook soups or other “crockpot” recipes all day in the same appliance.

If it only serves one purpose or isn’t used often it doesn’t stick around long at our house. It is much easier to clean a kitchen with fewer appliances cluttering the countertops. Laptops are excluded from this statement; I work at the counter!

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4. Lots & Lots of Toys

At our old house, we only had one child when the living room became overrun with her stuff. We resigned ourselves to the fact that this would always be the case. Not so much anymore.

You see, the more toys kids have, the more they think they need. There is also an interesting situation that arises when there are so many toys to play with that the kid feels overwhelmed in trying to make a choice and plays with none of them! We had toys everywhere and yet someone was always bored and wanted something new to play with.

We put a lot of thought into toys we bring into our house now, and we focus on experiences more than things. This mama routinely goes through the kids’ rooms reorganizing, tossing or repairing broken toys, and taking outgrown or unwanted toys to the resale shop or donation center. The best part is that my daughter rarely notices something is missing!

We are also lucky to have friends and family who respect our minimalist wishes and buy our kids gifts of experience rather than unsolicited toys. This helps a lot!

5. Don’t Waste Money on Magazine Subscriptions

Apart from the fact that you can sip on your Starbucks at Barnes and Noble and read all the magazines you want, who wants all that cluttering their mailbox? If you read it and find value in what you read that is great.

I am all about educational literature, but I found decorating magazines and even family-centric subscriptions either made me feel dissatisfied with what I already had or didn’t really align with my personal values. All too often these magazines would set in a stack on the countertop, occasionally get carried off by kids or ripped up, and I would inevitably toss it in the recycling bin without reading the majority of it.

6. Monthly Subscription Boxes

I know these are all the rage and a potential source of income as a blogger, but I do not see the appeal. You spend $50 or more every quarter (or more) for a box of assorted stuff to show up at your door. Yes, it’s expensive stuff and you get it at a supposed discount, but do you really use most of it? Or do you buy it because your favorite Influencer unboxed hers on Instagram stories and it looked so fun? And she gave you a discount! That’s exactly what they want you to think. That $200 or more a year could be put to much better use paying off debt or building up an emergency fund. Better yet, if that’s all taken care of you can invest that $200! Yes, I’m boring. But I’m also right.

7. Don’t Waste Money on Over the Top Seasonal Decor

Now I decorate for Christmas and the kids decorate pumpkins in the fall, but that’s about as far as it goes. In the past, I would head to Hobby Lobby every time the season changed so you would know what season it was by seeing what was on display. I had a pretty candy dish to display on our ottoman tray every season. Some of these are currently packed away in the attic.

I have a beautiful glass decorative glass plate I will display for fall, but the majority of things I used to put out either have to be kept out of the reach of small hands or I simply no longer have the shelf space to display them. This doesn’t bother me. I’ve been hesitant to put up some really nice shelves in the new house because I do not want to fill them with clutter.

8. Duplicates or Bulk Items

While it can be nice to know you have a backup of something, minimalists don’t buy duplicates of things or a lot of items in bulk if they can easily be reordered or picked up at the store any time. I see no need to store or buy in multiples when an item is readily available.

This applies to toiletries, personal care items, even baby stuff. I only buy one case of training pants at a time; the store is 15 minutes away. In three weeks when we’re running low I’ll buy more. No need to take up valuable closet real estate. And not that many of us actually need to buy $50 worth of toilet paper at the big box store. You’re not saving as much money as you think to buy a lot of items in bulk. It makes sense for larger families, but not everyone.

9. Don’t Waste Money on Trendy Fast Fashion

Chances are most minimalists you know aren’t chasing the latest fashion trends. There is more than one good reason for that; apart from the ethical implications of fast fashion, there is the appeal of a smaller or capsule wardrobe of more timeless, quality pieces. I have fewer shoes now than ever before in my life and they’re much better quality now too. If I buy something new chances are three or four years from now it will still be in my closet getting regular use.

10. Impulse Purchases

Most minimalists don’t make impulse purchases; we study, research, and discuss what we plan to buy to make sure we not only get a good deal but buy what we truly need. Make it a point not to buy much at all while in the process of decluttering. If you decide to do some minimizing or decluttering around our house make a point to go on a spending freeze during the duration of the process. Implement a no-spend challenge or join one on social media for motivation.

What don’t you waste money on now that you have discovered minimalism and/or budgeting? What do you have a hard time giving up? I’d love to hear from you!