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.

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

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.

Essentials for the Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

the well-stocked medicine cabinet

Cooler weather is just around the corner and flu season has already arrived. Is your medicine cabinet ready? Ours is… getting there. Our medicine cabinet is actually in a bit of a transition. While we still have some traditional medicines I am adding in more natural remedies and supplements. Here are what I believe to be the essentials for my family’s well-stocked medicine cabinet.

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Traditional Medicines and Supplies

We still have traditional over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers for ourselves and the kiddos. I use them less often than in the past for myself and the children, but they are there when needed. There is also the typical stock of band-aids and thermometers. I don’t mess around with cheap bandages; rashes due to cheap adhesive are no fun. And like I said before, frugal isn’t cheap. Blogtober day 11 is here and we’re talking about my goals for well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Vitamins and Supplements

My husband is big on supplements; he takes a multi-vitamin, Aleve, glucosamine, Vitamin C (recently upgraded to Super C courtesy of Essential Rewards), and an OTC allergy medicine. The kids take multi-vitamin gummies, and recently I added these DHA gummies, which I need to replenish. I take these hair, skin, and nail gummies and Essentialzymes-4, which is wonderful, but I am terrible at remembering to take vitamins and supplements.

All-Natural Remedies for the Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

Since last winter I am a big believer in black elderberry, and try to keep it on hand as it never seems to be in stock at the local Neighborhood Market when we need it most! Any time I feel like coldlike symptoms appear I start popping those dissolvable tablets!

My husband has been taking apple cider vinegar daily for about a year now and swears by it. I have tried it a few times but just can’t seem to get over the taste and smell. Seriously considering the new gummies for myself. No sick days for this mama!

Oils for a Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

I love Thieves® for immune support and the smell! We have a roller in the oily shelf and keep a roller on the kitchen counter diluted with almond oil for the kids. I try to make it a habit to roll some down their spine on a daily basis.

There is also a roller of diluted lavender I use on boo-boos and behind their little ears at night. If you’ve read the blog or my Instagram for long you know that my son cut his hand this summer requiring surgery. He is healing well and I massage the lavender into his scar to help it stretch and continue to heal well.

I keep TummyGize™ (and am stocked up, again thanks to Essential Rewards) on hand for when the little ones have upset tummies. I use it on myself as well! This stuff works! We also give them MightyPro drink mix a few nights a week to help things in that department as well.

I also have R.C.™ and Ravintsara on-hand on the oily shelf. There are way too many oils on my wish list to mention them all, but I have a good, basic supply this frugal oiler feels confident using to support my family’s health with our modest budget and plan to add more every month.

I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention that new oilers who buy a Premium Starter kit in the month of October get free shipping when you sign up for Essential Rewards! Keep some money in your pocket and get a great start on oiling with all the set has to offer. Now is a great time to get all that oily goodness for a well-stocked medicine cabinet!

Stock Up Now and Try to Stay Healthy

Whatever you deem essential for your well-stocked medicine cabinet, don’t wait till somebody gets sick to make sure it’s on hand! Get your medicine cabinet ready now and have one less worry when you or a loved one gets sick. Better yet, do what you can and utilize what’s in your well-stocked medicine cabinet to prevent everything you possibly can.

Make sure your meal plan includes plenty of healthy, warming options this fall and winter and keep the kiddos bundled tight when they head off to school. I have gotten my flu shot every year since having kids and plan to get mine today! My daughter has a wellness visit coming up and I will get make sure both kids get their shots then. I’m neither a silky mama or a crunchy mama; I trust my gut and do what I believe is best for my family. I encourage you to do the same. Now go get your medicine stocked and keep your family frugal and healthy friends!

10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money on

… 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!

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!

3 Tips to Gain Peace of Mind: Be the Gatekeeper

peace of mind

Be the Gatekeeper Your Family Needs and Gain the Peace of Mind You’ve Always Wanted

Ever feel stressed when you walk in the door at the end of the day? Is home not the peaceful, serene place you hoped it would be? Wonder how all that stuff wound up there? Wonder what is in the stuff that wound up there? Need more peace of mind?

Lately I’ve noticed on social media and in real life a lot of people being more aware of things; aware of the fact that their home is not a source of peace, their finances are a hot mess, or they’re just fed up with all of the extra stuff they don’t understand listed on the label of the products they use every day in their home.

I also see a lot of people who seem to think that is just how it is. How it is isn’t good enough! They’d like to get more organized, but they have so much stuff and they “need” it all at some point so why get rid of it? Everyone is in debt, so at least they’re not alone in their situation. Non-toxic products cost so much more money, why try.

The government should just write off our student loan debt and ban certain ingredients (no disagreement from me on that last one). Besides, with those student loan payments, there’s no way you can afford non-toxic, cleaner products. It’s just not true friends.

What if I told you that I have three simple (notice I didn’t say easy) tips to help you with all three of those problems? Give you peace of mind in your home, your finances, and your health? You have the power to do that yourself.

I’m going to let you in on the big secret. Maybe you already know it or maybe you never thought of it this way, but you already are the gatekeeper of your home. You just need to learn how to be a better one.

1. Be More Minimal

I’m not saying sell everything and live on a bus, although being a skoolie does look pretty amazing. I am saying you need to take bite the bullet so to speak and start decluttering. Sell it all but the kitchen sink if you have to. We’re after counter space. Breathing room. Find a little of that and you’ll find a little peace of mind.

This can be a daunting task, but you landed in a great spot to find more information on minimalism, decluttering and even organization. It happens to be a passion of mine. Sometimes in order to be a better gatekeeper, we need to throw some stuff out of the gate. A lot more stuff in some cases than others. That’s okay. Start small, see how it feels, and then go from there.

2. Read the Label- Don’t Buy What You Don’t Understand or Trust for Some Peace of Mind

Before you put anything in your cart read the label. If you don’t understand what’s in it Google it. If you don’t like what’s in it don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. It’s your job as the gatekeeper to keep anything you deem harmful, inappropriate, or contradictory to your goals out of your home and budget.

This is one of those times Google is your best friend; google every ingredient, process, or item you don’t understand. Download an app such as Think Dirty and find their independent grade for any number of products while you’re still in the store. You’ll be amazed at how much you don’t buy when you pay attention to the labels.

If the labels with items you do approve of come attached with a high price tag weigh your priorities. Are you willing to spend more money on products you know will meet your standards or will you spend time to DIY some solutions of your own? Be sure you budget your time and money accordingly. You can also check out my Non-Toxic Home and oily pages for some frugal and non-toxic DIYs. I mix my own dish soap, hand soap, and am currently researching my own facewash using non-toxic bases and a few drops of essential oil.

3. No is a Valid Answer. Use it.

Start saying it more often. It is amazing the freedom that comes with one simple word. Don’t want it in the house? On the kids’ calendar? Don’t want to keep spending money like you’re in congress? Then don’t.

The hard truth is that every, “yes,” is a “no,” to something else. Choose your yeses and nos carefully. You don’t get more time back with your kids when you overload the schedule, you don’t build up your emergency fund when you max out the credit card every month, and you don’t pay off debt unless you quit adding to the total. It’s a hard mindset shift for sure, but it does get easier with time.

Choose what matters most to you and your family. Prioritize around what matters most and say no to things that don’t align. Adjust the budget, clear the schedule, and hold fast as a family. One shift in thinking, one decision made more intentionally, and then the next. Slowly but surely, one step at a time you will feel yourself becoming the gatekeeper your family needs at home and peace of mind won’t be too far behind.

3 Month-end Actions for Continued Budgeting Success

month-end actions

Month-end Actions for Budgeting Success

Since you’ve already asked yourself three questions concerning your goals for the month (if not, go back and read Get Those Goals! 3 Qs to Ask Yourself Every Month first) and set up your monthly budget. Now that the month is about over it is time to evaluate how you did this month. Don’t worry if it didn’t work out so well! The first few months can be bumpy when you’re just getting started, but it gets easier with time. Here are three simple month-end actions needed in order to set yourself up for continuing budgeting success.

1. Finish Tracking All Income and Expenses

This isn’t difficult if you have done this all month. If you haven’t been good at logging transactions it will take some time. I like to do it on a weekly basis so I don’t get too far behind. If you use a budget tracking app such as EveryDollar that can connect to your bank account you can download all the transactions at once and simply allocate them to budget categories. I use EveryDollar, but I do not have the Plus version. It is $129.99 a year.

If paying for the convenience of downloading all your bank transactions makes the difference in whether or not you budget by all means pay the fee. I choose not to for the savings as well as the added accountability. You feel the money more when you have to enter it yourself.

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If you are using the cash envelope system you may just find it easier to track spending with pen and paper as you go. Just keep a notebook with your cash. You don’t have to spend money on fancy envelopes; I use the bank envelope from the initial withdrawal for our cash sinking funds. If you do choose to invest in an envelope system be sure to buy reusable envelopes. I am personally not a fan of printable envelopes because ink costs money and I prefer to print as little as possible at home. We’re trying to be frugal and sustainable at our house. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get organized.

2. Calculate Actual vs Budgeted Amounts in Every Category

After recording all transactions and assigning them to their budget categories it is important to analyze the total actual spending and income versus budgeted amounts. Chances are you will need to readjust.

If you come in under budget in one category consistently and over in another you can simply “borrow” from the category you were under and reallocate it to the category with the overage. It may seem tedious, but these month-end actions are important if you want your budget to succeed. The goal is to eventually be able to put some of these categories on auto-pilot and not spend as much time calculating the budget. This takes time and practice.

Once you actually see what you spend in a given month on certain expenses (cable, lattes, and dining out are good examples) you can decide whether or not to make room in the budget or buckle down and pack a lunch, drink homebrew, or stream your favorite shows. If you need help deciding what to cut check out my article Cut it Out! 7 Budget Cuts to Make Now.

3. Reevaluate Monthly Spending in Relation to Your Monthly Goals

Look back at the monthly goals you wrote out earlier in the month. Were your budget expectations realistic? Did your budget help you make progress toward your goal? Did you follow your budget? These are all important questions and you need to be honest with yourself. If the answer to any of these is no don’t give up! This is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate how realistic your expectations may have been or face your bad habits head-on.

If it seems overwhelming just pick one problem category in the budget and tackle it. Say you spent too much money eating out; pack your lunch and meal prep (bonus points if you batch cook and freeze for later) some easy dinners and repeat after me, “We have food at home!” Say it again now, “We have food at home!” We probably have coffee at home too if we’re being honest.

If you did really well and didn’t spend all the money in multiple categories or just have a few bucks left over, great! Excellent work! Take that money and use it to get you one step closer to your goals! Make that snowflake payment, transfer it to your new sinking fund, or simply cash it out and set it aside for spending money next month.

Practicing These Month-end Actions Makes Progress

This isn’t about perfection. Implementing these month-end actions and using them consistently every month will help you get the traction you need to achieve your goals. It will take a couple of months to get into the rhythm of things, but it does get easier with time.

Chances are it will take a few months of consistency before you can start to see the bigger picture. Each month you should see improvement in your budgeting skills, strengthening of your new habits, and progress toward your goals! The momentum may build slowly at first, but keep moving toward those goals! Financial independence is not an overnight destination.

Don’t Give up!

The important thing to remember is not to give up! It can be discouraging when you first get started and don’t see how it’s possible. Feel free to email me if you need help! I want to see you succeed! I am available for encouragement, can help you get set up on a budget, or just cheer you on.

Be sure to subscribe to be kept up to date on posts, new recipes, and be on the lookout for free goodies and tips straight to your inbox on a monthly basis. I have plans for a newsletter coming soon! You won’t want to miss it!

Get Those Goals! 3 ?s to Ask Yourself Every Month

get those goals

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Each Month to Get Those Goals Accomplished!

If you’re like me you set goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly… fill in the blank basis. Sometimes I set a goal for what I can get done in the 30 minutes or hour I have before I leave the house or pick up a kid somewhere (please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it easier to get stuff done when they’re not home).

That’s all well and good, but what about our big goals? Our game-changing, earthmoving possibilities we entertain? What are we doing about those? Slowly but surely we are working on ours. Here are three questions to ask yourself every month to help ensure your monthly plan and budget are helping you achieve your goals.

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Three Questions

1. What is your goal?

What are you focusing on this month? Maybe you have two smaller goals you want to accomplish this coming month. Maybe you have short term goals as well as one big, longterm goal (financial security on anybody else’s list?).

It’s going to be pretty hard to get those goals accomplished you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Am I right? It may seem like a no brainer, but stop and think about how often you set a monthly budget or fill your calendar for the month with no obvious goal or overall plan. I am so guilty of this. Part of being more intentional (my word for the last four months of this year since I forgot the word I started the year with) is having a goal. Your plans should help you move toward that goal. So write down your goal or goals you hope to accomplish in the next month.

2. What action(s) do you need to take this coming month to move you closer to accomplishing this goal?

Figure out what actions you can take this next month to bring you closer to your goal and then if necessary, build this into your budget! If you set a goal of saving $1,000 by the end of the year but do not add savings to the monthly budget what will that do? Not much. If you don’t have a budget, you need to get one set up ASAP! I encourage you to email me if you need help.

We recently started a sinking fund for auto maintenance. You can read my article, How to Fund Auto Maintenance – Our New Sinking Fund for more on that or check out all posts on that category by clicking here. I’m clearly a fan.

Anyway, we wouldn’t be able to set up the account if we didn’t put in the budget. Furthermore, we won’t make the account grow if we aren’t intentional about budgeting money to deposit going forward. So you include your goals in your budget. No, it may not be comfortable, but it is necessary.

If your goals do not require money you need to budget time to accomplish them. One of my goals for September (which I actually started early, yeah me!) is to fit in some sort of physical activity every day. Even if I do not go to the gym I need to get off my butt and move to get those goals!

Yesterday I walked a few laps up and down our driveway. It is a long driveway, but it didn’t take much effort and I felt better.

3. How will you measure your progress with this goal? Bonus points if you ask for an accountability partner to help you get those goals.

If you’re going to set a goal and work toward it you have to have a way of measuring your progress. If your goal is financial you can set an overall goal to accomplish, divide by the number of months you think it will take, and put that number in your budget. Then every month you can look at what you managed to save, compare it to your goal, and adjust the next month so you stay on track.

If your goal is more related to how you will spend your time and not your money download a fun calendar online and check off the days you meet your goal. Visuals can be great motivators; start a goal journal to chronicle your successes.

A lot of people do these on social media for additional accountability and motivation. Add a daily or weekly update to your stories and cheer others on while you’re at it! There are even accounts that share goal setting visuals.

The #debtfreecommunity is a source of great encouragement and support. Check them out on Instagram! They’re also a funny bunch. No online community seems complete without the meme accounts. These people cover it all; they even have a fitness hashtag!

Now You’re Ready to Get Those Goals!

Yes, it really is that simple to get started! The key is being intentional in the day-to-day. But if you have a plan and you commit to that plan and you make yourself accountable I have no doubt you can reach your goals! You may even surpass them!

What are you waiting for? Go get those goals! And find a Life on a Dime on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to let me know how you’re doing. I would love to cheer you on!

Apps I Love and Use on the Daily

apps I love

The Apps I Love and Use Daily

Below are several of the apps I love and use on a daily basis. Apps make life just a little more organized.

I can’t talk about apps I love without mentioning Google search first! It is literally at the top of my home screen on my phone and I consult it several times a day. A whole world of knowledge is at my fingertips. All I have to do is say, “Ok Google,” and I find out what I need to know in seconds.

You might guess, I’m a big fan of Google! I love that I can default my phone pictures to save to Google Photos instead of the phone’s built-in gallery. This way all my photos are backed-up online and accessible anywhere, but when I change phones they are automatically accessible as soon as I log into Google.

And not just my photos, but my email and phone contacts as well!

Budgeting, Rebates, and Surveys

I love EveryDollar by Ramsey Solutions. I have used this almost as long as it’s been around. It’s free and it works so well! It is also really nice to always have my budget with me. I first started budgeting on an Excel spreadsheet and the Quicken at home. This is much more user-friendly. And free! Did I mention free? You can pay for the Premium version and have it linked to your bank account but I like the added layer of accountability I get with entering transactions manually.

I love a good survey or rebate app. I use quite a few. When I have a few spare minutes I scan my receipts or take a quick survey and it adds up to free money. Cash-out once you reach $20. It’s that simple. You can earn cashback in gift cards or cash depending on the app. If you want a signup link/referral code check out my Recommendations page. One-stop for several links and codes.

Visit the Library on Your Tablet!

apps I love

I use a Kindle Fire. It is a great e-reader and tablet, especially considering its budget-friendly price point and our Prime friendly life. However, it is not compatible with Libby by Overdrive. Enter Hoopla to save the day! I can check out ebooks from my local library on my tablet instead of checking them out on my phone and defaulting to read in the Kindle app. Anything to streamline the process! This is also free!

I love to read and have made a point to learn more this year. I read books on minimalism, finances, motherhood, and the list goes on! Be on the lookout for a Recommended Reading page on this site before too long! I’ve read some good stuff this year.

apps I love

I’ve probably mentioned before that we enjoy Prime at our house. Netflix and Hulu just don’t have free 2-day shipping. Since I do a lot on my phone I also research planned purchases using my Amazon shopping app. If there is something I know I want to buy I can check prices, compare reviews, ask verified customers questions, and do all my research prior to putting the item in my budget. It is so handy! Knowing what things cost beforehand makes it easier for me to stay in budget.

You know I’m frugal. You also probably know by now that I’m oily. I love using the Young Living share app! Want a sample of some of our most popular oils? I can send it through the app. If I need graphics to share or more information on how to use a particular oil that’s new to me it’s all there. There are plenty of DIY tips and recipes for frugal oilers like me as well!

apps I love

Last, but certainly not least I use the WordPress app a lot! I can check my site stats, approve comments, reply to a reader, and even edit posts while I’m out and about! It is great for when I get an idea I know I won’t remember the next time I sit down to work on the blog at home. Are you interested in blogging? Download this app, check out Dream Host for self-hosting, check your budget, and then GO FOR IT! Let me know when you do; I love connecting with other bloggers!

What are some apps you love?

This is just a sampling of apps I love. I have more, but these are most of the apps I use daily. There are a few more I can get into more depth on if I ever post about my experience as a blogger. Let me know what apps you use! I am always interested in free productivity apps! Just haven’t researched them in a while. I just set up lots of reminders on my Google Calendar. Happy app browsing my friends!

Back to School on a Dime

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*

Send the kids back to school – can it be done in a frugal and sustainable fashion?

What I’ve been wondering is how to send them back to school inexpensively but also sustainably; I do not want to spend a fortune but I also do not want to buy cheap items that aren’t sustainable. I’ve been researching stainless steel lunch container options and they are sustainable and adorable.

They don’t feel frugal considering the price compared to plastic, but this is one of those times spending a little more money upfront and only spending it once as opposed to every single year is probably more responsible. I just HATE spending a lot of money on stuff.

Last year I threw my daughter’s backpack away. It wasn’t in good shape and it looked disgusting. Yes, it probably could’ve been salvaged, and yes I feel a little guilty about being so wasteful. I donated her lunch bag and plastic sandwich boxes. We are tired of plastic and she’d outgrown Paw Patrol phase. I feel good about donating things we don’t use. I don’t feel so good about throwing something away, but it looked a little too nasty for goodwill.

First Grade – Frugal and Sustainable

This year my daughter goes to first grade. We are fortunate to live in a district that only requires a $35 supply fee and they provide everything in the classroom. All we have to buy is a backpack and lunch gear (if they aren’t eating cafeteria food). I’m thinking this is a great opportunity to be a little more sustainable in our choices. We are already making the switch to stainless steel at home, so why not continue? I’m still cheap!

We chose to steer her toward more quality options and use them longer. We got also got a little more creative this year with her lunch bag. Our first stop was Academy since they have great prices on kids footwear and last year we got an inexpensive backpack that fit a kindergartener more than the options we found at Target. Since this is the tax-free weekend in Arkansas and we waited for Daddy to get off work before shopping this afternoon the selection was pretty limited.

What We Bought

We quickly settled on quality over price since the price point I was after was gone anyway. We got her this Jansport half pint backpack with a lifetime warranty for $29.99 (if you click the link you’ll see it is $5 less online) and a pair of BCG Prestige running shoes. Total spent was $54.98. I will launder the backpack when needed and she can use it again next year.

frugal and sustainable

Our next stop was Duluth Trading, which is not a kids store, but they were participating in the tax-free weekend and my husband gets a 40% discount. Our daughter had her heart set on a pencil bag and we wanted a better quality bag for lunches.

The Kavu lunch totes are excellent quality but were a little large for her. She also had her heart set on purple, so we found this canvas zip-top bag just the right size for a sandwich box, snack item, and kid’s water bottle. She also wanted a pencil bag so daddy directed her to this zippered pouch called a parts bag.

The purple bag will be perfect for when school is out for her to carry a tablet and headphones, note pad, pencils, or other items. Our total price with employee discount was $23.78.

frugal and sustainable

Since the bag is on the smaller side I settled on these stainless steel sandwich boxes on Amazon for $11.99 each. I found less expensive ones, but the reviews were not great.

Our total amount spent was $102.74 and everything we bought will be used past this school year. I don’t think we did too bad on the frugal or sustainable fronts. It also fits my budget quite nicely. Tell me how your back to school shopping is going. I’d love to hear your frugal and sustainable shopping hacks!

How to Get Organized on a Dime in 3 Easy Steps

get organized

You may be wondering about the title of this post – I just preached to get rid of all your clutter to free up space, so what could I possibly have left to organize and store? Quite a bit actually.

We still live in our house. We still have kids. I couldn’t donate them even if they are the biggest source of clutter in my house. So we organize. On a dime.

I posted in my Instagram stories during Clutter Week about a few purchases. Yes, I bought things while I was decluttering. They were planned purchases and I spent a minimal amount of money. Less than $10 came out of the budget. This may sound petty, but we had our DVDs stored in bins. The bins were chosen for our first place, a duplex, where we had a modern color scheme of red, black, and beige. Now that we are settled into our farmhouse I am decorating mostly in blues. The red and brown bins in my blue and gray living room irked me every time I looked at them. 

Get Organized in 3 Easy Steps

Step One – Declutter

The first step you’ve (hopefully) already done! Declutter your stuff! Get rid of what you don’t use so you can make room for what you do! If you haven’t already done this go back and read the Clutter Week posts to get an idea of how to get started.

Step 2 – Decant Some Categories

This is a fancy way of saying to take bulky stuff out of its packaging when possible. With food, it may mean storing snacks in clear containers that make it easier to look in the cabinet and see what you need. Then you can recycle the original packaging.

With CDs (if you still have or buy those) it will look like taking all the discs and the cover art/tracklist out of the case. Hopefully, you live near a place that recycles them.

Step 3 – Group Items by Use

Group items by use after decluttering/decanting. In the kitchen, it makes sense to put all the decanted snacks together, dry foods together, spices, etc. All CDs and even DVDs can be stored in an organizing binder by category. I actually got rid of most of my CDs. They were already organized, but after spending a year in storage I didn’t miss any of them. I am good streaming.

get organized

I keep our movies organized in simple galvanized tubs that actually drink dispenser stands. They were exactly the right size and on clearance. Double win! All trilogies and sets are in one tin organized by set. Video games and Wii controllers are in the tin below.

get organized

I even got my oily items organized this past week when my handy hubby built me an oily shelf for the master bathroom. Now my oils and lotions aren’t taking up counter space or rolling around in a drawer. The best part was this little project was less than $10 to complete! One specialty router bit to make a groove for the large bottles to nestle in was all that was needed! This was accomplished with a coupon!

get organized

After our son’s accident, we decided not to take any more chances. My husband made a wall shelf out of leftover plywood from other projects to store detergent and other items that need to be kept out of little hands. You don’t have to spend a lot (or sometimes any) money to get organized. Paint supplies are kept on top so I don’t have unexpected art on the walls but don’t need to ask my husband to get in the attic if I feel the urge to get crafty.

Shop Your House First to Save Money

Sometimes I also shop around my house to see if there are storage items that can be used in a different way. We use bins in drawers and closets. Sometimes I borrow between rooms if I’ve decluttered one area and no longer need a bin or box but may need something in another room. For example, I kept eggs in a wire basket that proved too deep and resulted in a few cracked eggs. It made a perfect basket for K-cups in the cabinet.

Let’s Talk Mental & Emotional Clutter

Let’s Talk About Mental and Emotional Clutter

Mental and emotional clutter; the type of clutter that doesn’t take up any tangible space. It can be a nuisance. It can also be paralyzing. I know. I’ve experienced both ends of the gamut.

Guilt and regret are two of the most common times of emotional clutter. Feelings from the past can limit your future if you let them. If you experience these feelings it can contribute to physical clutter; holding onto items out of guilt because of who they were from is not healthy.

Chances are if your home is cluttered your thoughts are too; your environment contributes to your emotional state. If your house is cluttered and disorganized it may stress you out and give you feelings of anxiety about going home. I’ve been there. I used to feel so claustrophobic at home and at my parents’ house. I couldn’t change the situation I was in, but I could change my surroundings to bring more calm instead of chaos.

Consult an Expert to Deal with Mental and Emotional Clutter

According to Peter Walsh in Enough Already, “While the clutter you see around you might seem bad, even overwhelming and paralyzing, the physical clutter that fills our homes is nothing to the invisible clutter that fills our heads.” You have to deal with the emotional issues behind the clutter or you will simply accumulate more clutter again and again. I definitely play to read this book in-depth!

There are lots of methods to deal with mental and emotional clutter; you can meditate, diffuse a soothing oil or burn your favorite candle if you prefer (just make sure it’s non-toxic!), talk it out with friends, or see a counselor. There is no shame in the counseling game! I’ve done it before and I will do it again when and if needed.

Take the time to take care of yourself when you declutter and organize your home! Make room in the budget for things that help you feel relaxed and organized; that may look like money for a copay or always having some lavender on hand. Just be sure you deal with the root of your problems or you’ll never truly be free from clutter.