A year ago I was laid off. One day I was employed and the next day I was home in my house pants dreaming of cafeterias and cardkeys.
It was a humbling (and scary) experience.
However, getting laid off helped me tighten down my spending hatches. Not spending money became a game. How many days can I go without spending one thin dime (stop shopping, it’s easier than you think)?
A year later I’m working again, spending dimes and saving quarters. Recently, I spent a pile of quarters on an investment. An investment that I hope will generate passive income - a rental house. Nothing fancy, but once the house is paid off, the rent will be a nice source of income.
How did I buy this? My paychecks are not huge, but I’ve minimized my spending and maximized my savings. My savings started as an emergency fund and grew into a rental house.
I truly believe that frugality helps you get what you want and keep what you’ve got.
How about you? Why are you frugal?
Is this pile of stuffed animals:
b) Too much
c) Cute and too much
d) A waste of fluff
For me the answer is C; cute and too much.
Stuffed animals are cute, but when you have so many is it possible to appreciate each one? Does my daughter play with each one? Why have so many?
Time for a conversation.
I asked my daughter if she played with all of these animals. Honestly. I asked her if there were some animals that she could pass on to another child.
After some consideration, my daughter decided to let go of some stuffed animals. They were all special and wonderful once, but the reality is that she doesn’t play with all of them now.
Paring down her collection simplifies things, and gives her a chance to play with and appreciate each stuffed animal.
Why hold on to things you don’t use?
If you have kids, here’s an excellent article on keeping things simple: 21 Tips on Keeping a Simple Home with Kids at Zen Habits
My 8 year old daughter picked out a book at her school’s Scholastic book fair: “How to Steal a Dog” by Barbara O’Connor. Excited that she’d picked a book instead of the various Scholastic craptastic toys, I happily bought her the book.
My daughter picked this book because of the cute dog on its cover. However in this case, you definitely cannot judge a book by its cover, because this book is about homelessness. The book opens with:
”The day I decided to steal a dog is the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car.”
What a great first line! The story begins with a mother and her two children living in a car. They’ve been evicted from their apartment, the father has left, and the mother is working two jobs. As the story unfolds, a moral dilemma emerges. Is it OK to do something wrong if your intentions are good? In the story, homelessness motivates a young girl to steal “borrow” a dog, with the hope that the owners will offer reward money, which she can then use towards an apartment. She knows it’s wrong to take the dog, and yet she hates living in a car. She desperately wants a real place to live. And so… well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
What my daughter and I got from ‘How to Steal a Dog’ is the importance of having a home. And that not having a home can drive a person to do something they might normally not do. As I read the book to my daughter there were a million opportunities for us to count our blessings. We read about the family’s plight and then felt grateful for such things as:
- We’re not embarrassed about where we live and can invite friends over to our home.
- Where we live stays the same. Our home doesn’t move between back alleys and parking lots.
- We have beds to sleep on, instead of sleeping curled up in a car.
- The temperature of our home is regulated by a thermostat, so it always feels just right.
- We have running water and a shower. We don’t have to wash our hair in a restaurant’s bathroom.
- We have a refrigerator and only use ice coolers for trips.
The list goes on and on… We have so much to be thankful for!
What are you thankful for? Please leave a Comment.
Filed under Books, Parenting
I love this idea from Non Consumer Girl - “Every Monday, I get together things that my family and I no longer need or want. I call this Declutter Mondays.” Since the beginning of the year, Non Consumer Girl (great name!) has been decluttering and selling things on eBay. In two months time she’s sold $1,400 of stuff. I feel inspired.
So here I go. Time to wander through my home looking for items that can go. Things that are not beautiful or useful (as in actively being used) are fair game. Here’s what I came up with in 10 minutes.
Not bad. Media and books are an easy target. Clothing is easy to purge. If you can’t remember the last time you wore something, move it along to someone else. In 10 minutes time I have a small bundle of things. Could I do this everyday? Sure. Or one day a week. It’s quick, easy and helps me reach my goal of having a peaceful, clutter-free home.
Give it a try! Decluttering doesn’t have to be a huge all day project. Instead, break your grand decluttering plans in to 10 or 15 minute chunks. Do a little bit at a time and you’ll make a difference in the amount of stuff floating around your home.
Enlist your children in this project. Ask them to bring you three things they no longer want or use. Bit by bit you can create a clutter-free home, one step at a time.
15 Great decluttering tips from Zen habits
More Zen decluttering tips
Prevent clutter: Don’t buy it