year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally: Week Three

I’ve been decluttering for several months now, but I feel like the past week or two have been my spring cleaning time. It will definitely continue to the next two weeks as well, because I have a lot to do and want to get it mostly done before summer is in full swing.

  • I went through old papers that were kept in the “Important Papers” folder. Some related to old jobs, some just were out of date. At my son’s first preschool, a half-page progress report was sent home every day. I saved these – for quite awhile, it seemed! I guess I was so nervous and proud of him starting full-time school at 2 years old that I wanted to keep them? I’m not sure of the reasoning. But they were only printed on one side, so I kept those, and other one-sided papers that didn’t have any personal info on them and cut them up into scrap paper. I put a small stack near the computer to jot down notes, and pinned others to the fridge to use for grocery lists. Papers with personal info will be shredded and recycled.

paperslips

  • Instead of buying a new room spray, I added water and a few drops of lavender oil to the empty spray bottle. This should seem like a given, but I was seriously about to add a new bottle to my Amazon cart before I realized – DUH! I can make my own. Embarrassingly simple to have overlooked like that.
  • My mom sent me a link to a nice top that “looked like me”. It was on clearance and I was very tempted to buy it! I even looked around the site some more and added another item or two to my cart. They were all on clearance, but I clicked the window closed. I don’t need new clothes. I already have too many clothes I don’t wear, and I don’t need to be spending money on more, even on clearance prices.
  • On a similar note – I am unsubscribing from emails that ask me to buy something. Sites I’ve bought from before continually email me with coupon codes, special deals, new merch, etc. I don’t need any of it! If I see it, I might want it. Even if I click out without buying anything, it’s still a waste of time and mental energy to stop myself, so why not cut out the temptation completely?
  • I cut several things out of my Amazon Subscribe and Save list. Things I don’t need, or don’t need as often, or can just buy at the grocery store with digital coupons. I still to evaluate the actual worth of Subscribe and Save, but I’ll get to that later.
  • The week was rainy off and on, so it was cooler out. We turned the thermostat to be warmer and even then the ceiling fans kept us really cool!
  • I organized a LOT in the 2 small closets in the back room (and cleaned up that room overall) and the hall closet. I threw out old stuff in the bathroom and rearranged the bins we use to store things (the bathroom is basically ALL open shelving). Next up: the 2 bedroom closets.

On to the not-so-great:

  • I did two loads of laundry this week, one was the usual load and one was smaller because it included my son’s stuffed animal. I put both in the dryer – the stuffed animal because I wasn’t sure if it would thoroughly dry on the line and get soft, and the regular load because it was raining off and on all week, usually coming on suddenly, and I didn’t want to hang out clothes and risk them getting rained on and having to re-wash.
  • My son and I ate fast food lunch this week. Not great because I am trying to be healthier, and I feel like having fast food can sometimes be “breaking the seal” for me. I haven’t had it in so long and I’ll be fine, but once I had it, I remember how delightfully junky it truly is, and how easy to pick up and eat with no prep and little clean up! But it was after we had a nice, special morning together, and I’m not craving it a couple of days later, so maybe it’s ok this time. It was more than we usually spend on meals made at home, though, which is another great reason to cut it out.
  • Another day we had Chinese for dinner. Again, I love Chinese but the longer I go without it, the longer I can last without it. I was craving it one night and my son said he wanted it too, so I ordered it. What we order isn’t too expensive, and the leftovers last so long, that it turns out to only be a few dollars more per meal than things we would make ourselves. So it’s not really a bad thing (we get at least 3 meals apiece from our order) but it’s not great we did it the same week as having fast food.
year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally: Week Two

This past week was a good week. I felt really on top of my game in pretty much every aspect of my life, which was a nice change from the last several months!

  • I only did one load of laundry. It’s so nice to be able to do my clothes, my son’s clothes, towels, washcloths, and napkins in one load of laundry. It conserves water, power, and time.
  • My utility bill was about $30 less than normal! This doesn’t take into account using fans over A/C (I’ll have a post on that later), just not needing anything for a few glorious days.
  • I have been spending a lot less, period. I’ll explore this in more detail when I do my monthly spending breakdown, but it’s so exciting to keep track of bank accounts and… not have much to keep track of! (In a good way – I just realized that could also sound like nothing is in there – ha! Just that not much is coming out, so I don’t have to keep track.)
  • I got a lot of books from the library. This doesn’t really sound like anything new, but for a few months at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, if my library didn’t have a book, I just bought it from Amazon. Usually I have only kept books by my favorite authors and kids’ books. But for awhile I was in the “treat yoself” mindset and bought any book I wanted to read. Now I just add them to my impossibly long “Want To Read” Goodreads shelf, and/or add them to my PaperbackSwap wish list.
  • I went grocery shopping last Sunday (not yesterday) and spent $105. This is really good because I’ve spent closer to $140-160 the last couple of visits, even with me watching my spending. We needed less this time, and still have some food left from previous visits, but it felt nice to have a lower bill and see how long it will last. I did not go to the grocery yesterday, thank goodness, because I hate grocery shopping, but also because we have plenty of food left – even produce that is still good.
  • I did the dishes every other day. This is more housekeeping than being minimal or conserving… but sometimes I let dishes stack up and it makes me feel gross just looking at them. They’re not dirty – I rinse them thoroughly after use so there’s no bug problem, but I just see it as a pile of something to do. I started doing them every other morning while my coffee was brewing, and it made me feel productive and made the house look better.
  • I finally dyed the clothes I bought back in January. Again, this is not necessarily minimalism, but it’s something I enjoy doing, and I’ve been looking forward to it for months! I wanted to wait until we had sunny days so I could let the clothes bask in the sun. I think they turned out really great – I’ll share once they’re completely done.

A couple of not-so-great things:

  • I drove more this week. I had a meeting at a school about 20 minutes away. I drove my son to gymnastics (about 20 minutes again), and then had dinner at a friend’s house waaaay far out. All of these outings were fun and worth it, but it was more driving than I’ve done in awhile.
  • I made food for my friend’s dinner from stuff I already had at home, but also stopped by a store to pick up drinks and dessert, so I spent more than I should have – just bringing the dish was enough, bringing the other stuff was just because I was craving it. Whoops!
  • Also, we got home late and the leftover dish stayed in the car while I put my son to bed, and it was forgotten until the next morning. That means the food was wasted, which made me feel horrible. There wasn’t much left, but still – it was food, and it was an avoidable mistake. UGH.
year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally: Week One

Progress at this point is mostly mental. I am plotting and planning for the year, thinking about actions I can take and goals I’d like to hit.

  • I have already decided to get strict with my spending. No unnecessary purchases. Making notes about how long a tank of gas lasts and how many meals my grocery shopping can make. I want to be practical and purposeful with my spending while still enjoying life – I don’t want my focus to be money. But I don’t want to throw it away.
  • Grocery spending will also influence my meal planning, which I’m excited about. I love cooking (sometimes) and trying my own recipes, but I also plan to try some paleo recipes I’ve found to make changes with my health, along with the rest of my life.
  • I have been selling things online to try and generate some money while getting rid of things. I only sell things that will be worth it – how much I get in return for my time photographing and listing the item. I’ve donated a lot of things I could have sold, just because I wanted to get rid of the items NOW. I don’t regret that at all – I was happier to have the items gone than I would have been to have $10 or $20 bucks for it a week later. But I have stockpiled some things that are worth selling, and I have been working on that.
  • Laundry. I used to do laundry on Saturdays and Sundays for the whole family – 2 loads of clothes, a load of towels, and a load of sheets (alternating the queen bed sheets and the bunk bed sheets). Now I have maybe 2 loads a week – clothes and towels. But I need to think about when I do laundry. If it’s a nice day and there is laundry to be done, I should wash it and hang it out. Too often I forget about laundry until the last minute and have to do it in the dryer due to rain or it being late at night.
  • Utility bills are the worst part of trying to be frugal. I am all about kicking the thermostat up or down a notch or two to save money, and we adapt to it. With ceiling fans in every room now, I feel like we will be able to last much longer before turning on the A/C. At least one window in every room will open for fresh air, and the fans will keep us cool. The goal is to last until June 1st without A/C.
  • Watering the garden. Talk about utility bills… But my son bathes every other night… Can I save his bathwater? I’m trying to figure out a way besides scooping it up in buckets. I need to research this. Does anyone have a good way? I definitely want to use this water for the garden instead of letting it go to waste.

I know this year will take a lot of action, but I feel like it is based in thought. Thoughtfulness with spending, with chores, with cooking, with leftovers, with using all you have to the best of your abilities. Thinking about things before doing them makes me feel more certain about what I do, and it simplifies my life by eliminating a lot of stress and worry, so I feel like I’m on the right track.

home life, money, natural living, shopping, year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally

The A to Z Challenge brought me into contact with a lot of amazing people and interesting blogs. One of my favorites is Martha Reynolds Writes. I love reading about people changing their lives, and I loved interacting with her about different ideas relating to going green and minimalizing your life.

I was inspired by her project “The Year of Living Minimally” – so much that I’m doing it, too.

I’ve described my history in a nutshell, and have been documenting my actions of the past several months. I have been getting rid of a lot of unnecessary belongings. I have been trying to save money however I can. I have been trying to be more green with my purchases and my actions. I am changing my home life and my view of consumerism.

This project won’t go for just a year, especially considering it’s already started and I plan to live this way for the rest of my life. I just want to hold myself accountable and actually document the changes I’ve made. I only wish I had pictures of how cluttered my house used to be… But this is still a great starting point.

I’ll check in every Monday summarizing what happened the week before!