journeytominimalism

Tossing the clutter to have a more meaningful life!

It’s not about NOT having NICE things!

“I like having nice things” and “Why would ANYONE want to live like THAT?”

That is the response I received from my family regarding living with less.  The problem is what it always has been – different ways of life or beliefs are considered strange and somewhat stupid to my family.  They are going to have a difficult time comprehending and trying to understand the path I’m on towards living with less. 

It’s not about NOT having NICE things though – that’s not what it’s about AT ALL!  It’s about wanting to live with nice things, but with ENOUGH nice things.  When I look at my house compared to my family’s house, I can see a big difference.  The amount of items…there are many bare corners and areas in my house.  Not so in my family’s house.  You will find at least one item in every corner – not a bare space to found.  Don’t misunderstand – they are not hoarders – far from it.  They just enjoy having many nice things to occupy each spot in their home.  There is nothing wrong with this – I’m very glad they are able to have these things because it is what makes them happy.  And that’s all we are all after in life, right?  Happiness.  Only – the same things that make them happy do not necessarily make me happy.  Therefore, I’m going to always be different in their eyes and this is ok with me.  I just would like to avoid the condescending looks and the tone of voice that says “you’re crazy”. 

Then again – I guess I am a little crazy.  Jimmy Buffett does say that “If we weren’t all crazy, we would go insane”.  Better to be a little crazy than insane I suppose!  Jimmy knows best!

On another note, this weekend I spent time with my mother for Mother’s Day.  I ended up spending a little more in the budget than planned, but it was worth it because I think she really had a good time.  I took her to the movie theater last night and we watched The Great Gatsby.  The movie was actually pretty good and I now want to read the book again.  My mom seemed to enjoy the movie too. 

Today, I gave Mom a plant (trailing petunias and some other mixed flowers in the plant) as well as a gift card to purchase a couple of books on her Kindle.  Then I took Mom and Dad out to eat lunch at one of their favorite restaurants before I headed back home with Lucky Dog.  All in all, the Mother’s Day weekend ended well, minus this horrible child who wants to live with less…imagine that!

Tomorrow starts off another week…I hope you all have a great one!  Thanks so much for visiting!

–          Julia (the crazy person who wants to live with LESS)

 

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Crazy weather and struggles with the minimalist journey

Wow – what a busy week! I attended a career fair for my company at Fort Drum in NY, close to the Canadian border. Believe it or not – it was warmer near the Canadian border than it is in NC. What’s the deal with the weather? Seems more like global cooling than global warming.

 
The Florida Keys are sounding better as each cold minute passes by. 
 
Would you believe that it’s pretty difficult scheduling a sailing course / sailing charter a month in advance? I’ve tried every company I can find online in the Keys over the past few weeks and same answer – they are all booked.  
 
As many of you know, my goal is to eventually be on a sailboat somewhere in the islands, much like my blogging pal, Captain Fritter at ManateeFritters.com.  I was hoping to be able to schedule ASA lessons for my vacation next month, but so far it looks like that may be a long shot. Well – maybe next time around.
 
Until then, I still stay on target for the goal.  
 
As my friend Tammy at peanutonthetable.com says, good grief Charlie Brown! 
 
This minimalism thing is starting to get tough now – I’m starting to get to things that are tough to part with. The past couple of weeks I have not donated as many things as I had hoped. I guess everyone goes through this at some point and when it gets to this point, I think my best bet is to take my time and do what feels right. I am not giving up, just taking it a littler slower.
 
To all the others out there who started a minimalist lifestyle, what was the most difficult part of the journey for you?
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Short Post – update on the debt monster…

This will be a short post today, but the debt monster continues to be punched in the face by yours truly. I have managed to get it all below $120k right now, just a little over $119k (keep in mind, this includes the mortgage). The total amount between the college loan and car loan sits at around $17k.

The budget continues to be a struggle. Even though I splurged on eating out a couple of times this month, it appears that I will fall below what I spent last month. This is something I’m very excited about and look forward to doing even better in May.

On a separate note, Mother Nature decided to play a cruel joke on us this weekend. After teasing us with temps in the low 80’s last week, we’ve had 2 days with highs in the low to mid 60’s. It’s not really bad – but definitely a change after seeing 80’s.

Lastly, I want to reach out to anyone who had friends or family affected by the Boston Marathon bombing or the fertilizer plant explosion outside of Waco TX. My heart goes out to you and your families.

Again – thanks for the support from everyone and I wish you all a calm week full of all things good and joyful

Julia

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Great start to April – small victories count!

Throughout this initial piece of the journey, one of my goals has been to eliminate certain credit cards. While I have never been one to have many credit cards, I have held 2 different ones the past 4-5 years now. One is the visa credit card I have with my current bank and the other is a MasterCard.

At one point, after leaving the ex and moving out on my own, I ended up maxing out my visa credit card with my bank just to make ends meet. As I started paying that down, I realized that if I had an emergency expense, I had no way to cover it. That initiated the application for the MasterCard. The past 1-2 years, I have done a really good job immediately paying off anything that I charge to either card, and I have been planning to close out the MasterCard. However, I always had that fear of closing it out due to the fact that the Visa has a low max rate on it in addition to a pretty hefty rate in general. Not to say that the rate on the MasterCard is any better…

Could I request a higher limit on the Visa? Absolutely! However, the interest is atrocious and I haven’t been too happy with my bank for a while….therefore, I’ve been keeping my options open.

A few weeks ago, I moved some of my savings into another bank, to see how I liked it. So far, I’m really impressed. By using this bank, I can ditch my excel spreadsheet I have been using to track all of my expenses – this bank has a program that does all of that for me (HUGE TIMESAVER)! This bank also has a really good credit card with cash rewards, and low interest rate – much better than either of the 2 credit cards I have had.

So, I am going to begin the process of moving all savings and checking to the new bank of choice, closing out my current bank account once all pending payments have been processed.

Now…to get to the point – otherwise, it sounds like I just have 3 credit cards and 2 different banks right now. NOT THE CASE!
I just closed out the MasterCard, SHREDDING the card and doing a happy dance!

Next step – pay off the $10.79 balance on the old Visa credit card and close that out as well, limiting myself to 1 credit card for emergencies only.

I know I know….my fellow minimalist buddies out there will gasp in horror at my joy over having a credit card at all. For now, since I own a house and a car, it’s a safety net for me in case any unforeseen emergencies come up that I can’t handle alone from my savings.

The overall plan is to have no credit cards, but for now, this is a small victory for me. And hey…if I’m not racking up scores of charges on the card and I am paying it off quickly, what’s the harm? I’m still contributing to that great credit score that I have, which by the way is better than 79% of consumers in the good ol’ USA. 🙂

Thanks for hanging in there with me through this journey and for all of the support and encouraging words. I am still making progress paying down the college loan, car loan, and de-cluttering. Next week – a new update!

I hope you all have a great week!

-Julia

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A brief break from cold weather…

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!

Glad to see some warmer weather for a couple of days. This has been the coldest March I can remember and it was so nice to have temps in the 60’s yesterday and today.
Hopefully, April will bring nicer weather better opportunities for me to continue cleaning out the clutter and paying off the debt. Each day is a struggle, but I’m focused and determined to keep plugging away.

I realized after looking at my spending for the month of March that I am spending entirely too much on groceries, as this was my largest expense for the month (minus the mortgage and the double / triple payments towards the college and car loans). My goal for April is to focus on bringing the grocery expenses down.

I think one of the things that is hurting me is frequent / unplanned / unthought-of trips to Costco. While it is worthwhile to purchase a few items there, I tend to get drawn in and bewitched by the needless items I stumble across there. Also, due to poor planning on my part, I’ve had to make 2 – 3 trips there this month after forgetting certain items on the list.

My focus regarding spending in April is to limit myself to only 1 trip to Costco this month, only purchasing items on the list and not deviating from that. The rest of the grocery shopping will be done at the local grocery store, where I typically do well with sticking to the list and buying only the “needs” versus the “wants”.
Limiting myself to Costco only once a month will also help reduce the amount I’m spending on gas. Trips to the big city to shop around aimlessly in Costco are a gas guzzler and pointless.

After all – all of that money could be going towards debt payoff!

If you are at all interested in saving some cash or working to pay off debt, I definitely recommend that you list everything that you are spending each month – even the little things like buying a pack of gum at the gas station or purchasing a sub for lunch. It all adds up and it has truly been an eye-opener for me.

As always, thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

– Julia

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Setting Goals to Reaching your Dreams

If you’re a dreamer like I am, it’s important that you continue to reach for your dreams, but also set realistic goals that will help you get to where you want to be. One of my dreams is to be rid of all of the debt and unnecessary items I have acquired during my life journey so far.

One of my favorite bloggers wrote an e-book on how he achieved his dream of living in the Florida Keys. In this book, he outlines the goals that he set for himself prior to making the ultimate move, as well as the key things to keep in mind when dreaming and planning to move to Key West.  Many of these things should be thought of when thinking about making any sort of big move / change – not only to Key West, but other idealistic locations.

I am currently reading the book now and so far, have found it to be very insightful and helpful regarding my own minimalist goals, and my ultimate dream of living aboard a boat in the islands.

Check out his book online and read along with me!

http://manateefritters.com/moving-to-the-florida-keys/

Until next time – keep on dreamin!

Julia

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Grocery Store Rant

Paper or plastic?  NEITHER, thank you very much!

I feel the need to take a moment and express the frustration I felt when I went to the grocery store today.

This year began with several resolutions to do a better job of taking care of the environment.  One of those resolutions was to use eco-friendly canvas bags each trip to the grocery store, in order to eliminate the use of the wasteful plastic bags.

I have been doing very good meeting this resolution so far and I must say, I have found many advantages to using my canvas bags versus the plastic bags.  For one thing, it’s easier to carry – no worries of the bag breaking / busting while walking to the car or into the house.  Also, I can fit more items into my canvas bag.  What typically uses 4-5 flimsy plastic bags (not including if double bagging is required) takes only 1-2 of my canvas bags.  I love these benefits and it makes me feel even better to know that I’m doing something good for the environment.

Today, I walked up to the register and placed my canvas bag on the conveyor belt first and my groceries next.  The young girl working the register looked at my canvas bag, rolled her eyes, snatched the bag up, and began throwing my groceries in it – totally careless with the produce.  I asked her to please be careful with the produce and she started doing a little better.

Now – why on earth was it so difficult for her to place my groceries in that canvas bag?  It actually looked easier than for her to have to deal with 5 different plastic bags, which never want to separate and open up easily.  Also – not only am I contributing to saving the environment, but I’m also saving the grocery store a little bit of money each time I use my own bags when I shop – they don’t have to invest money in the flimsy plastic bags for me!

Oh well, I still feel good about keeping my resolution and living a little more “green”.  I just wish there were more people who understood and appreciated this fact.

What about you – do you prefer paper, plastic, or your own bags when you grocery shop?

– Julia

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Walled in by Possessions

One of my favorite blogs! If you are a minimalist or in your way towards minimalism, this is a great one to follow!

Walled in by Possession

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Minor setback…

This morning, I took my car to get the oil changed and tires looked at.  I had a feeling that they would tell me I needed new tires, since I noticed excessive wear on the tires and it’s just that time.  Of course, my feeling was correct.  However, I did not realize how bad the tires really are.  Apparently, they are pretty worn down and there is a chip in one of the tires and you can see steel.  My trusted auto mechanic advised me not to travel outside of the local area this weekend, especially with the rainy weather we are having.  He ordered new tires which will come in Monday, so I will get that taken care of and out of the way.

Until then, I’m hanging out at home with my Lucky dog and taking care of things around the house that I’ve been putting off for a while.

The sad thing is that with the cost of the tires, it puts a small setback with being able to double up on the car loan and college loans this month.  But that’s ok – I’m not too worried about it.  I’m not in dire straits or anything and next month I should be back on track and knocking those loans down in record speed time again!

Next weekend’s post – a product review on the Ninja Master Prep Professional Blender!  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Julia

 

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Is that a ray of light I see?

First off, I want to start with apologizing to my readers (if I even still have readers at this point) for neglecting the blog for so long! However, I think my fellow minimalists and health gurus will appreciate and forgive my excuses.

Since my last post, I have been diligently weeding through possessions I accumulated over the years and deciding what is needed and what must go. So far, I have made a huge dent, with many trips to Goodwill and donations to others.

In addition to weeding through the material items, I have also been working very hard on paying off the debt. If you remember, about 8 months or so back, I was looking at a total debt of $132k and some change (note that this includes EVERYTHING – mortgage too).  Since then, I have knocked that down by about $10k and I’m hovering around $122k and some change right now (still including the mortgage).

I’m feeling pretty good about this progress!  Without the mortgage, I’m at around $20k and that’s with a few hundred on a credit card which I will pay off next week, plus the college loan and car loan.

I fared well over the holidays – I did invest in gift giving, adding to the credit card balance for a month or so, but so far I have been able to pay most, if not all of the credit charges right at due date.  This has allowed me to keep the card balance down.

With all of this said, I feel like doing a happy dance right about now! 🙂

Now, I made mention earlier of my health guru followers and my guess at their coolness with my absenteeism.  Let me just say, that over the summer and fall – I was a bicycling fool!  Every weekend I was at the new bike trail (pictures in a previous post) cycling about 15 – 20 miles overall.  Then….the holidays hit….the weather turned cooler….things were busy with work and holiday hubbub…..the exercise regime gradually faded away.  After Christmas, I was determined to get back on the health wagon and started going to the gym.  I have been going to the gym anywhere from 3 – 5 times a week for 45 minutes to an hour each time.  The “dreadmill”, elliptical, and stationary bike have all become my new friends while the weather has been cooler and darkness sets in earlier.

Not only have I been exercising religiously, but I have also changed my eating habits.  Gone are the bachelorette days of frozen pizza, cans of ravioli, and take out.  This bachelorette has actually been COOKING believe it or not!  Tuna cakes, salmon cakes, crab cakes, baked sun dried tomato chicken, baked Italian chicken, turkey tacos, turkey spaghetti, wild rice, veggies – the list goes on!

Also, I have just invested in a Ninja Master Prep Pro Blender this weekend and made my first (somewhat) green smoothie last night.  My replacement breakfast meal this morning was a fruit / protein / flaxseed smoothie and it was awesome and filling, which was surprising to me.

I will let you know how the Ninja continues to hold up, but so far it appears to be a GREAT buy and ranks high on Consumer Reports ratings.

Now, I hope you can all forgive me for crawling under a rock the past 8 months…I promise I will do better and keep you updated on my journey to minimalism as well as my quest for healthy living!

Thanks for reading and keep on peddlin’!

Julia

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