Gratitude

I can’t believe it’s November 1st already! I am not ready for the hustle and bustle of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  I’m hoping everyone will agree that for Christmas we should not do presents this year, except for the kids.  It’s just too expensive, and we honestly don’t need any more clutter.

That brings me to my next topic:  gratitude.  For the past few weeks I have felt suffocated by all of the invitations we have received: multiple birthday parties, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners to attend.  As an introvert, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of these social obligations.  I need time to recharge my batteries, and when we have events scheduled back to back, it makes me feel unbalanced.  However, I am taking this opportunity to count my blessings.  Even though we have so much to do, the reason is because we have so many people that care about us.  They care enough to invite us into their homes, feed us, and spend time with us.  So when it all gets to be too much, I’m going to try to remember that 🙂

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I Just Want to be Happy

I just want to be happy.  That’s my life goal.  The problem is, I don’t know how.  I have people in my life that love me.  I have a roof over my head.  I have a job.  I don’t understand why I’m not happy.  I’m just…not.

In retrospect, have I ever been happy?  I was an anxious child who had trouble making friends.  As a teenager I was incredibly depressed and isolated myself from others.  I suppose now as an adult not much has changed.

I just feel like things should be better, somehow.  Not in a materialistic way or anything.  I mean, I should feel better.  Does everyone feel like this?

 

My Life, Condensed

A while back I posted that I was interested in minimalism and simplifying my life overall.  I have made lots of donations over the past few months, and I am proud to say that I have fit all of my sentimental items into one plastic bin.  This includes yearbooks, my favorite stuffed animals, and handwritten letters from people I love.  Worthless to anyone but me, I suppose.  But they matter to me, and that’s what counts.

We have also been thinking of selling our house and moving back to AL, where our dollar would stretch a bit more.  This would allow us to pay off more student loans.  Also, I would love a one story home.  After living in a two story home all these years, I am starting to see the appeal of having everything I need all one on level.  Plus, its more kid-friendly 😉

With the possibility of moving looming overhead, I have had even more motivation to simplify lately.  I was able to get all of my Christmas decorations (minus the tree) into three bins.  At one time I think I had at least 6 bins and two Christmas trees, so I got rid of a lot!  Actually, I have a bin in the garage right now waiting to be photographed and posted for sale online.  If they don’t sell, then I will just donate them.  The only things I haven’t gone through are my husband’s things.  I’ll let him do those in his own time, but I think he’s seeing how positive simplifying has been for me.  Hopefully that will encourage him to get rid of some things he doesn’t use as well.  If not, I think I will just tell him he can move his own boxes whenever we move 🙂

Minimalism, for me, is minimizing my own anxiety.  Holding on to old dresses that didn’t fit me anymore just made me feel bad that I hadn’t lost the weight yet.  Seeing all those extra holiday decorations made me stressed out about having to get everything perfectly decorated in time for the holidays.

Truth be told, I used to decorate for every major holiday (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc).  For my own sanity, I decided to just decorate for Christmas from now on, only because it’s my favorite 🙂  I just don’t need that constant feeling of “I need to do this and this and this” in my life anymore.  I never questioned why I decorated for every holiday, it just seemed normal since that’s what my mom always did.  But as the years go on, I see how stressed out she makes herself by overcommitting to this idea that everything has to be perfect all the time.  I don’t want to feel like that.  It’s exhausting.  

So there you have it, my tiny minimalist journey.  I’m still a work in progress, but aren’t we all?

Until next time… cheers 😉

 

 

Boring Adult Stuff: Budgeting

Over the past few months we have been working on saving money.  My husband and I both work full time jobs, but we never really set up a true budget.  We would write down our expenses, but we didn’t really track how much we were spending in each category (Dining out, entertainment, etc.).  A few months ago I started a real budget, and it really opened my eyes to see where our money was going and where we could improve.

Why We Started Budgeting.
I was lucky enough to get out of college with a small amount of student loans, but my husband has a graduate degree, so we are still chipping away at his student loans every month.  If anyone has ever been to grad school, then you know how INCREDIBLY expensive everything is.  In fact, his student loan payment is our largest bill each month. Yep, even larger than our mortgage.

Categorize All of the Things!
The first thing I did was create a (free) spreadsheet using Google Sheets.  I separated everything we typically spend money on (Housing, Auto, Groceries, Etc) into its own column.  From there, I added ALL of our purchases from the month, divided by its respective category.  Categorizing all of our expenses really helped to pinpoint where we could improve our spending.

After all of our expenses were divided into their own category, I also added in a separate column for our income.  We both get paid bi-monthly, so each time we receive a paycheck, I fill it in on our spreadsheet.  Seeing our take-home pay minus our monthly expenses really helps to keep things in perspective.

Automate Your Savings.
In addition to adding up all of our expenses, we also decided to start keeping track of our savings.  We have always automated our checking account to deposit money into our savings account every month.  Now that we have our budget in place, I also make sure to add in how much we are devoting to savings.  This helps to ensure that we aren’t overspending in other categories that may prevent us from having a nice nest egg in the future.  Even if its not a lot, it will add up over time! 🙂

Adjust Accordingly.  
Now that we know exactly where our money is going, we can adjust our spending.  We know our long term goal is to have all of the student loans paid off.   I used NerdWallet’s (free) student loan calculator to see how much we would have to pay to get the student loans paid off entirely.  Seeing the number we need to pay each month toward the student loans helps us to budget everything else around that number.

Develop a Minimalist Mindset.
Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of being able to just throw a huge amount of money at the student loans every month, so we are changing our lifestyle quite a bit.  We recently got rid of our cable and downgraded our internet speed to get our bill down considerably.  We stream shows and movies through Netflix for under $10 a month.  We don’t have a landline, and our cell phones are both paid for, but we are thinking of switching to Ting or Republic Wireless since they offer very low rates for monthly cell service.  We also bundled our auto and home insurance to save about $40 a month.

In addition to cutting back our monthly bills, we are also cutting way back on our dining, entertainment, and lifestyle expenses.  We very rarely eat out, and I recently discovered freezer meals, so that has really helped cut our food budget way down.  I have also cut back on buying clothing and other miscellaneous items (that cute lipgloss at Target, anyone?).  This has forced us to get creative and use what we have.  Someone recently gave me some body wash in a scent I don’t love, but you better believe I am going to use it up anyway 🙂

So there are just a few things we have tried and seem to be working for us.  Until next time…cheers 😉

 

Day #30

My 30 Day Challenge is complete!  Well, it was complete on Saturday, but I don’t blog on the weekends 🙂

Saturday was nice, actually.  My MIL came over for dinner and then we went to my sister’s house for a bonfire & some wine.  I showered, did my makeup, and got dressed in something other than my PJs.  Go me!

Now that my 30 days is over, I’m feeling like I can do lots more on top of what I’ve been doing.  My job is incredibly stressful right now, so I feel like I need to put my energy to good use instead of just worrying about work all the time.  This past month I have decluttered virtually every space in our home.  I donated boxes and bags to charity & the the animal shelter, and trashed the rest.  It is incredibly liberating.  I also found a company called Thread Up that will pay you for your unwanted brand name clothes, so I am planning on sending them some items that I can’t wear anymore.  Not expecting mega bucks or anything, but it would be nice to get something back for things I bought and then never wore.

I also have been making an Amazon wishlist of things I want (nice towels to replace the old ones I donated to the animal shelter, for example).  Since my birthday is in December, I’m hoping to get enough gift cards to get some things we actually do need.  I am also making an effort to put non-tangible or consumable items on my wishlist this year.  A gift certificate for a massage.  A nice bottle of red wine.  I’m all about gifts that aren’t going to collect dust 🙂

Another goal of mine is to stick to our monthly budget.  I recently started tracking our expenses and boy could they use some improvement.  We spend so much money on food and non-essentials!  I didn’t even realize.  It’s so important to write down where your money is going.  Once I had an idea of roughly how much our bills were each month, I budgeted certain amounts for other important categories, like health expenses and auto maintenance.  I also made sure to track how much we both were making each month so ensure I accounted for every single dollar.  Seeing where everything is going now, its easy for me to see that we were overspending.  Tomorrow I am going to attempt to call Comcast to get them to lower our bill.  Wish me luck!

Until next time…cheers 😉

Day #29

It’s day #29!  Almost finished with my 30 Day Challenge.  Today was much better than yesterday, although I worked my 10 hour shift with a headache all day.  I finished all of the laundry, washed and put away the dishes, and even made the bed.  I know it seems silly, but doing these tiny tasks really helps me build myself up when I feel like I don’t have much else.  I’m hoping I can convince my husband to watch some Halloween movies tonight since it is Friday the 13th 🙂  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and I have really been wanting to watch some classics.  Some of my favorites are Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and Hocus Pocus.  My husband is a huge dork, so his favorite is Earnest Scared Stupid.  I guess we could just have a movie marathon and watch them all 🙂

Until next time…cheers 😉

Day #28

Today was a terrible day at work.  I can’t wait to just sink in bed and sleep it all away.  Some days I wish I could just pack up and go somewhere new and leave everything behind.  I guess that’s not very realistic.

Two days left of my 30 Day Challenge.  I was able to accomplish a few things today, at least.  I made a big batch of waffles to freeze for easy breakfasts, did two loads of laundry, and put the donations outside for the charity to pick up in the morning.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Until next time…cheers 😉

 

Day #22-27

I have a lot to catch up on!  I was out of town for a few days for my Father-in-Law’s wedding, but I didn’t forget about my 30 Day Challenge 🙂

Day 22 – I worked my normal 10 hour shift and did some last minute packing for our trip.  I also showered and did laundry.

Day 23 – Saturday we left for FL.  It was a lengthy 9.5 hour drive that I am so glad is over! We arrived at about 7:30 PM and spent time with my husband’s family before we collapsed in our hotel.  I showered, did my hair & makeup (which melted right off in the FL humidity!)

Day 24 – We had brunch with the bride and groom to be, along with lots of family members.  Afterwards we went exploring in downtown St. Augustine, which was fun.  Again, the humidity was brutal!!!! I took two showers and did my makeup and hair TWICE.  Thanks a lot, Florida.

Day 25 – We packed up and headed back home 🙂  The drive back wasn’t nearly as bad, but we were so glad to be back home.  I had a terrible headache so napped on and off for the remainder of the day.

Day 26 – I took the day off, just because I know myself well enough to know I would need a day to recharge my batteries.  I started laundry, unpacked my suitcase, and worked more on de-cluttering our home.

Day 27 – Back to work.  SO MANY EMAILS.  I am finally caught up, but it took nearly all day to get all of my emails read, replied to, and filed away.  Before work I got up and went through our attic (I know, I’m crazy) to see if there was anything I could toss in our donate pile.  There were a few things, but I mostly just re-organized everything and labeled our plastic bins so things are easier to find when we need them.  I condensed everything into 2 keepsake bins each for myself and my husband, which I think is pretty good!  Certainly better than where we started 🙂 I also walked on the treadmill for about 20 minutes, cleaned the litter box, and took out the trash.  Yeah!!!

Only 3 more days left of the 30 Day Challenge 🙂  I am thinking about making my next 30 days all about exercise since I have really slipped up lately.  I need motivation, and blogging keeps me accountable 🙂

Until next time…cheers 😉

Day #21

Its day 21 of my 30 Day Challenge!  I was able to complete a few things around the house today: I took out the trash, ran the dishwasher, washed the dishes in the sink, and put some of the items I’m needing to donate in the garage.  I also set up a time for the donation center to come to my house and pick up our unwanted items.  I didn’t realize I could do that, but it seems extremely handy!  I didn’t get to the laundry today, but it’s on my list for tomorrow.  In the morning I have my make-up hair appointment and it is much needed.  Normally I’m fine to let it go to save some money, but since we have the wedding on Sunday, I felt like I needed to just go ahead and do it.  I’m going to be touching up my color and trimming my layers back up.

Since I have to get up early tomorrow, hopefully my sleep schedule will get back on track.  I have been so exhausted lately.  I work until 11 pm and usually fall asleep at 2 am.  Then I get up at 9 am to start my day, but most days I feel like I need to take a nap just to get through the day.  Today I tried really hard not to, but I ended up napping for an hour before work instead of doing the laundry.  Better luck tomorrow, I suppose.

Until next time…cheers 😉

Day #17- 20

Day 17 – Saturday was super fun!  I was at my friend’s house for the weekend, and we went to an art exhibit, a brewery, and out to eat.  I met several new people too 🙂  I could tell my anxiety is better than it has been since I didn’t obsess over the social aspect of the trip.  I may have even met some new friends, which is a plus!

Day 18 – Sunday was a lazy day.  I was hungover from the night before, so I didn’t shower or do much of anything.  My friend drove us around and gave us a little tour of the city.  He grilled some delicious steaks for dinner, along with some asparagus.  I got home around 11:30 PM, so I just crashed when I finally got to lay down in my bed.

Day 19 – Monday was my day off, and I had planned on getting my hair done (finally).  Unfortunately my hair lady was sick, so I had to reschedule.  I also took the cat to the vet for her routine checkup and everything came back fine.  I went on a bit of a decluttering spiral since I didn’t have anything else to do.  Then I prepped my meals for the week and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Day 20 – Only 10 days left of my 30 Day Challenge!  I think it has gone very well.  Today it was back to work, and it was a pretty busy day overall.  I was able to take care of myself by showering and brushing my teeth.  I also cleaned out the guest room closet and put some of the things I am donating in bags and in the car.  Next step is to actually donate everything!  I think I’m going to donate the old towels and blankets to the animal shelter, along with some old food bowls our kitties don’t use anymore.  Old housewares & clothes will probably go to the local women’s shelter, if they are accepting donations.  I need to get our laundry done tomorrow.  We are leaving for the beach on Saturday for a wedding 🙂

Anyway, until next time…cheers 😉