This is the story of how I got it, and how I got rid of it.
During the past summer, I attended golfing event. I had never been golfing before, and I found the experience very interesting.
I also quickly found out that not only does it cost an arm and a leg to get into a golfing facility, it equipment also costs a lot. Golf clubs and golf shoes are not cheap. For this event, I just wore my running shoes, and borrowed clubs from my friend.
At a 50/50 charity raffle, I won a set of golf cleaners!
Woopee! But I had already made the decision that golfing wasn’t for me (I think it’s a wasteful sport, but we’ll save that for another post). I knew that I had to get rid of them on the spot before they came home with me. I asked one of the guys if they wanted it since I had no use for it. He was super happy, and I got to leave with one less item to clutter my place!
How do you get rid of freebies that you may not need or want?
Recently, I haven’t been doing a very good job keeping tabs on my expenses, so in this post, I decided I would track my expenses for the month of October and report back to you. Accountability is great motivation!
Here’s a snapshot of my expenses, excluding rent:
Groceries: I’m not sure if I should put alcohol under here or entertainment. I usually don’t spend very much on alcohol, maybe a bottle or two of wine a month. This month was an exception as BF was hosting a Hallowe’en house party.
Transportation: I bought some filters for my cabin and engine since the mechanic flagged them last time. It costs $35 for them both, and would have cost me $100 had I gotten them done at the dealership!
Entertainment: Volleyball fee’s were due this month. We split the costs as a team, and it usually ends up around $10 per person per game if you average out the season. Unfortunately, this only left me with $10 of entertainment budget left for the month. A budget of $140 would have been more reasonable.
Medical: I had been neglecting to see my dermatologist, so I went in for an appointment and got my prescription filled.
Eating Out: This is a touchy topic for me. BF and I are big fans of eating out on the weekends. I’m pretty good with packing my lunches for the week, but when the weekends hit, we go out for food with friends on a Friday, grab brunch or Dim Sum on a Saturday or Sunday, and there you have at least $50/weekend. We do cook at least one meal on the weekend and have started cooking more, so I’m hoping to spend $150 next month!
Toiletries/Grooming: Was running out of shampoo, conditioner and my trusty MAC blotting powder. I could have bought this stuff next month, but it would have happened sooner or later.
Clothes: I returned the jacket and shoes I bought last month – I didn’t love them. I also got my winter jacket from last winter dry cleaned ($25) and my jeans altered ($15) and my boots fixed ($40). In addition to that I bought a pair of burgundy tights, a pair of knee high socks (for Hallowe’en costume and my trendy item this winter), a 6-pack of underwear, 2 shirts and a cardigan. Full disclosure, people 🙂
Misc: I spent this on the Minimalist E-Book sale. I don’t usually buy books, so I decided to file it under Misc, though I guess technically it can be under entertainment. I’ve gone through two of the e-books, and I find them to be pretty good reads.
I think I’m gonna start playing a game where I get a prize at the end of the month if I am within my budget. This calls for me to roll up my budgeting sleeves, while keeping in mind my overall savings goals, and being realistic. I like a challenge (and a prize!).
That’s all from me!
How about you? Do you enjoy tracking your expenses and budgeting? Do you reward yourself after you’ve reached a certain goal?
In my last post, I talked about how a comment left by reader Mason sparked in me the need to respond. I responded because he brought up good points, despite being a bit rude and accusing.
This brought about responses from the Everyday Minimalist, Hasina at Fabulissime, and Charlie over at Charlie’s Blog. It was great reading all these different responses and made me think even more on whether or not minimalism is a fad.
From reading the various discussions, and my own experience, minimalism is personal. Everyone’s minimalist journey is different – you don’t even need to call it a minimalist journey – call it the awareness journey, priority journey, whatever you like. You can have 50 items, you can have 100 items, you can have 500 items – it doesn’t matter. No one is counting. What’s important is that you make a conscious choice to keep the things in your life because they add value to your life.
Yes, there are people who take minimalism to the extreme and live with 50 items, or 100 items, and they write an e-book or book about it. As Everyday Minimalist put it, they live with their backpack and headful of ideas. Good for them. If they create a quality product where there is a demand and need for it, it’s smart marketing. If it can sustain their lifestyle from selling their products, then all the power to them. They deserve it. But they are not the only minimalists out there, and not all minimalists need to follow that path.
Sure, we read about minimalists who have quit their day jobs and are living the carefree lifestyle, jet setting or living out of their backpack. Not everyone can do that. Not everyone wants to do that. This way of a minimalist lifestyle that is most feasible for young, single people. What about the couple who work a little above minimum wage, and are barely making ends meet to feed their family of 5? Do you think them quitting their day job is going to give them freedom? Probably not.
There are plenty of people who work 9 – 5 jobs, own a house, own a car, live with more than 100 things, watch tv, sleep on a bed, and they can also be minimalists. Being a minimalist is having your priorities straight and living in line with your purpose in life. You spend money and time on things that will bring you value, and cut out the rest. It can and should be fun 🙂
For me, living a more minimalist lifestyle has following positive impacts:
- Spend with a purpose – I really do my research before buying something (i.e.,
noless impulse shopping)
- Spend less
- Save more
- Be more aware of other aspects of my life, such as the chemicals I use (i.e, shampoo, cleansers, etc.)
- Be more aware of the food I eat and eat better (i.e., how processed it is, is it local/organic)
- Give more to charity
- Reflect and re-evaluate life more
- Use the library or swap books more
- Keep my place cleaner and less clutter
- Help my parents plan for early retirement by understanding how they can downsize their lifestyle and achieve financial freedom
I loved that Everyday Minimalist shared how she is a normal individual with a twist. That really resonates with how I see myself, as well!
I’m a just a normal woman who is happy with less stuff, and having more meaning in the stuff I keep. I’m not doing this because I am in debt, or because I need to cut back on spending. I am doing this because it makes me feel lighter, happier, and it gives me financial stability That’s all 🙂
A few things about me:
- I have a 9-5 job as a young professional
- I drive a car (my parents)
- I live in a city
- I wear make up
- I like fashion and nice clothes
- I love my bed (it’s got box spring and mattress, and bed frame)
- I have a tv and basic cable (a Sharp 1995-ish – good quality 😉 )
- I use shampoo on a daily basis, but have tried several times to ween off of it to no avail
- I eat meat, though I aim to eat less red meat and rarely make it at home
- I eat out at restaurants and I enjoy it
- I have watched the following shows religiously at one point or another: The West Wing, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Modern Family, The Wire, Sailormoon, Arthur, 30-Minute Meals, Everyday Italian
- I love to travel and will happily spend money and my precious 10 days of annual vacation exploring another city, country or continent
Your life is how you make it, and your style of minimalism is how you make it. Maybe you’ll try it and find it’s not the thing for you, that’s OK. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and as Everyday Minimalist, Charlie and Hasina pointed out, it will probably be a fad for many. But for those of us who are true minimalists, our values are not altered by the state of economy, and therefore, it’s not a fad. It’s a way that we chose to live.
Thanks for all who have shared their thoughts, and thanks to Mason for bringing this discussion to light.
There has been a movement in the world of minimalism, lately. And I thought that I would address the question, “Is living with less really more?”
Recently I received a comment from a reader, and they wrote the following:
This is just an attempt to make money by selling a lifestyle.
This is the new real estate scam: selling psychological ‘guilt-free’ living.
10 years from now all these ‘minimalists’ will be bcak to their old ways, just like the Boomers got square during the Reagan years. Right now, these yuppies are converting their reduced income into a ‘smugness’ account so that they can continue to feel superior to the ‘unenlightened’ down the block.
He/she has a few valid points and some points that I do not agree with. Let’s discuss, shall we?
Yes, there is a recession or slow down in the economy, I think that we have established that much. As people, we find ways to cope, and for many of us, we have really stopped and examined our lifestyles and our spending to better prepare for and deal with the economic situation.
I’m sure that many people were spending too much money and racking up credit card debt, and if they were out of a job – they were left with little options. Maybe they started by selling things that they didn’t need on E-bay for money, maybe they just stop buying things on credit, or maybe they decided to really analyze their spending habits and made a change for the better.
Whatever the reason, the important thing was that people started to realize that a life on credit, is not a sustainable life. Usually whatever we are putting on credit is stuff – a mortgage, car payments, clothes, restaurants, booze, etc.
What I disagree most with the above comment is that once this recession was over, people will go back to their “old ways” just like how “boomers got square in the Reagan years”. I’m not exactly sure what the second statement meant, but I assume that he/she meant spending like crazy.
Readers, since when is spending like crazy “normal”? I don’t think it’s normal or the “old ways” at all. In fact, I think the “old ways” was to save for things and then pay for them in full. The old ways was living with what you can afford, and if you couldn’t afford it, you’d do without. If anything, credit cards are the “new way”. The “new way” that makes spending so much easier and within reach of more people.
Want that fancy car today? Can’t afford to buy it? No problemo, finance it. Drive it now, pay for it later. That is the message that we are bombarded with as consumers, today. Do they tell you that you can end up paying for one and a half times the price of the car after all the interests payments are accounted for? Of course not.
Despite being bombarded with advertisements and promises of dream products, we as consumers are also not helpless. Aside from doing the proper research of total costs of purchases, we also have the freedom to decide for ourselves whether something will make our lives happier or not. Instead of letting an ad or sexy picture tell us how we can be happier stress-free versions of ourselves, we should be making the decision of what makes us happy.
When we stop and take a minute to really evaluate our individual situations, and focus on what we have instead of what the media tells us we are lacking, we might come to the conclusion that we have shelter, we have clean water, we have food, we have government stability, we have access to education, we have family and friends who love us. That is more than most of the world has.
If you want more, you will never have enough. And if you are satisfied with what you have, there is nothing to want.
To me, minimalism is not about saying “no” to everything, it’s about consciously making a decision to include something in your life, because you see value in it. There is no “smug” account, we are all here to help and support one another on our individual paths to our different dreams and goals.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that the recession has accelerated the minimalist movement and do you think that this a fancy way of dubbing a “poor man/women’s” lifestyle? I’d love to hear your input!
First of, I’d like to thank everyone for still stopping by my site and leaving words of encouragement, even though my posting as been sporadic, at best. You guys keep me motivated and your kind words are much appreciated.
Even though I have been purging my apartment of physical things, I have not taken as many steps to unclutter my busy schedule. Just this summer, I was overwhelmed with commitments to work, school, volleyball, volunteering, blogging, seeing BF, friends, family, etc. It seemed that I was always heading to something, and it felt like I was always running late. It was exhausting. No to mention that I wasn’t keeping tabs on my spending, and eating out because I was always in a rush.
I am slowly learning that I cannot do everything, and I certainly cannot do it all at once. There are only so many hours in a day, only so many days in a week, and a limited supply of energy. I needed to learn to prioritize my time.
Fast forward a few months, and I just scored a bunch of e-books on the minimalism from a bunch of great writers. I just finished reading Leo Babuta’s Minimalist Guide, and his chapter on “Simplifying What you Do” really struck a cord with me. Leo says, ” Once you’ve got rid of non-essential commitments, you are free to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.”
These are some changes that I have made:
- After I finished taking my Course (which was mainly for work), I didn’t take on another part time course
- After my “Little Sister” whom I volunteered with moved away, I decided not to volunteer with another little girl since it was too hard to juggle while working 50+ hours a week
- I go home every other weekend to see my family, and spend every other weekend in the City with BF
- I cook enough lunches for most of the week, and store a few meals in the fridge at work
- I write blog entries when I feel inspired to do so
- I write little notes or short e-mails to myself to remind myself so I don’t have to remember everything in my head
- I keep a normal sleeping schedule – at least 8 hours a night
- I’ve learned to say “no” to projects that I don’t think I would have the time for or enjoy
I’m still working to unclutter my schedule and make time for myself but things are looking up.
How are you doing? How do you keep you priorities straight and your schedule unclutters?
I admit that I have fallen off the bandwagon.
It’s one of the reasons, I haven’t been writing.
I’ve been feeling guilty.
Guilty for not tracking my expenses.
Guilty for going out to buy a jacket and 2 pairs of shoes in the past month.
Guilty for eating out too much and cooking too little.
Guilty for not having time to volunteer.
Guilty for seeing my family less.
I spent many hours this weekend and tonight trying to work backwards on my budget, and figure out where my money has been going. It was long, tedious, and very depressing. I was on a roll last year, for getting my expenses under control – and I thought that I could wing it. I automatically deducted my retirement and savings – almost half of each paycheck – and I thought I was sure to stay on track.
Having an idea of what my goals are (in my head) is very different than writing them down (in this case, in a form of a budget), and keeping track of progress (in this case, tracking my expenses).
Long story short – even in my feeble attempt to back track my spending, it’s quite clear that I’ve pretty overspent in almost every category. The worst being Eating Out. I thought that I had groceries under control, but, boy was I ever wrong. I’ve also been paying bank fee’s, since my balance is below the $2000 that waives the fee. Transportation looks bad, but I do get reimbursed for mileage – which I found too difficult to account for in my budget.
On the bright side of things, my percentage of spending has only increased slightly in Eating Out. I’ve given more to charity, and I saved more than I spent every month this year. Having said that, my salary has also increased this year, so the amounts in each category is more.
So, I am proposing to start a clean slate this October.
This is my proposed budget not including rent.
Entertainment: $100 (Updated to include $85 volleyball league fee’s)
Eating Out: $100
TOTAL: $525 (Updated)
In my budgets, I try not to deprive myself of the things that I enjoy – such as, eating out. But rather, make it a conscientious decision (ie., dinner with a friend) as opposed to just being not prepared (ie., getting take out). Will have a spending report for you at the end of the month.
My minimalist goal this month, is to also go through my closet and get rid of any items that I don’t absolutely love. This is going to be a big task, so I may break it up and tackle my spring/summer wardrobe first, then do fall/winter in November.
How are you coming along with your goals?
I recently picked up Tim Gunn’s book at a second hand book shop, and I am finding it very interesting.
In fact, I am already stuck because there are action items in this book. Chapter Three: Diagnosing the Common Closet – Page 62. He asks his readers to go through their closets and sort the items into four piles.
The Soul Stirring Pile – for clothes that are fantastic and make you feel fantastic.
The Repair Pile – for clothes that you love but need attention (he gives you 5 days only to get the job done!)
The Give-Away Pile and Throw Out Pile – are hairier situations, and he gives out some pointers/guidance
Tim brought up a very good point – don’t keep anything that doesn’t make you feel fabulous in. This could be that dress that you bought for way-too-much-but-doesn’t-fit-quite-right-but-it’s-so-expensive-i-am-going-to-keep-it, it could be the pants a size or two too tight but-one-day-might-fit, or it could be the awful gifts that you get and feel obligated to keep. The point is, it doesn’t matter – if it doesn’t make you feel fabulous, then these are “closet-based sources of unhappiness” that need to be rid of. On the other hand, even if it is a simple cotton t-shirt that you feel fabulous in – then you should keep it!
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have gone through my closet many times over the last year. But, I haven’t gone through it with this new mentality, before, and I am not sure I am ready to be so ruthless with my clothes. I guess I still have this fear of “what if…”
I have a new challenge on my hands.
How do you define what stays and what goes in your closet purges/re-org?