Sunday, July 31, 2011

let's do this

This morning, I was inspired. It doesn't take a ton for me, I'm liable to get inspired by nearly anything. But today, I was pleasantly surprised to be inspired to LIVE. It's a lesson I think a lot of people struggle with: learning to thrive versus SURVIVE.

Living Simply isn't about denying yourself happiness. It is about living more simply so that happiness is easier to come by. But if your choice of lifestyle makes you unhappy, YOU have to DO something about it. In a lot of ways, that's why I started the blog. I'm no expert. I don't know how to budget my money well, or how to cook so that you are eating healthier, or where the best, cheapest, freshest food is to be bought.

The blog is an ideal. Something I have fashioned for myself as I try to LEARN how to live the life I want to have- a life of simple happiness, filled with friends and loved ones, and not so cluttered!

This is how I am saying, very quietly, but with growing confidence: Let's Do This. Let's live better. Better for me, better for my loved ones, better for the planet. Let's manage our money, and our waistline. Let's live freed by less possessions. Let's have dreams and fulfill them. Let's find a way to live the life we were destined for without fear. Let's refuse to settle into a day job. Let's find a niche that feels EXACTLY right. Let's live in a place where we are surrounded by people who nurture and encourage us, who believe in our abilities, and are supportive when we stumble. Let's find a way to push through the disappointment, the sorrow, and the mourning, into a day full of sunlight and love, a life that we were intended to live out.

I don't want to hunker down. I don't want to die in my sleep, safe, cocooned away from the world. I want to live the mess out of life. When I die, I hope I have wrung every drop of sweat, every tear, every smile and peal of laughter out of me. Nothing left to give to the world. I don't want to live safely.

But balance is the keeper of all things. My life motto is this:

All things in moderation, except Love.

And I really believe that's how we should live. The most simple precept there is. All things, be it possessions, worries, money, food, you name it, in moderation. Enjoy tastes of all things, but not to excess. Don't hurt yourself over it. You don't need 400 pairs of shoes, or a quart of ice cream every night. Except love. That's the one thing you never have to much of. And, as a much more famous person than I once wrote, really... "All you need is Love"

Friday, July 29, 2011

simple money

When it comes to money, absolutely nothing is simple. unless you're fortunate enough to be one of the favored few who never checks the price of things when you buy them, money just isn't simple. It's really, really difficult.

I don't know how to manage money as an adult yet. On Monday, I'm going to sign my first lease, and pay my first two months of rent. And then, I'll be broke again until the next pay day.

However, money is one of those things I'm actively working on learning to manage. I go through spurts of it. I haven't done as well this Summer as I had hoped to, although I do have some money coming to me in the next week or so. I hope.

I'm really scared about being an adult and paying real bills all of a sudden. What happens if I can't pay my rent for some reason? What do I do if something happens to my car? What on earth am I going to do?

In reality, I know I can afford this apartment. It is cheaper than the one I lived in before. I'll manage. I'll take out the loans I need, I'll do the work I have to do. I'm working nearly full time all the time, and that's fine by me.

It's just that, with Graduation looming in my future, I am finding myself more and more scared about being out from the safety net of School. My entire life has been about my education. Five days a week, 30 weeks a year, for 15 years, I've been in school. All of a sudden, I can feel myself wobbling on the edge of the precipice, and it seems as though not being poor would be a huge help.

If I didn't have student loans to pay, or if I made $10 an hour instead of $8, I wouldn't be so worried. But, I don't.

Like I said, I know we'll get through it, and everything will come 'round right. I'll get my dreams, be they built on gold mines or paperclips.

But if anyone has a donation to make to the cause... ;) 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

my body, the temple

The kind of temple that collapses while Brendan Fraser is still inside it, causing dramatic music, and many exciting moments.

Wait. That metaphor came out wrong. Hm.

Basically, there are times where, no matter what we do, our bodies choose to backstab us. Especially us ladies. Sorry guys, but yeah, this is gonna be one of those posts.

So girls, let's talk. What are some ways to keep the PMS from completely wiping you out- ways that don't involve gaining 5 pounds, spending money, or filling yourself up with loads of nasty chemicals?

Here's what I've found:
1. Drink more water. Water keeps you from cramping, keeps your muscles loose, and is, in general, great for you. Up your water intake, and that'll help.

2. Don't eat complex meals. There's a reason you crave simple carbs during "that time of the month". Your body is doing enough work, and if you're like me, your stomach is upset. So don't stress your system out by eating tons of complex carbs. Eat things that are easy to digest, but healthy- I know I don't need any more reason to feel bloated and gross!

3. Baby yourself. Let yourself feel a little nasty- but unless you absolutely can't go through your normal routine, go through it. The routine is good for you, and teaches your body to deal with inconvenience. But go to bed early, if you can, and don't do extra workouts this week.

4. Be prepared. This is a whole 'nother post someday soon, but I keep a bag in the backseat of my car, full of everything I might need if I don't come home for some reason. I have an extra toothbrush, an extra t-shirt, extra flipflops, a hairbrush... you get the idea. Even if I come home every night, I feel better about it, knowing I'm not gonna be in a crunch! I apply the same theory to woman troubles.

5. When all else fails, eat chocolate. Sometimes, that's the simplest fix of all.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

being a big kid isn't always simple

I'm 21 years old. A senior in college. Single. And trying to live, if not a minimalist life, a simple and healthy one.

Here's the catch.

Sometimes, being a big kid (read: adult) isn't simple. It's just not. And as hard as you try to make it simple, it just refuses to fit into the box you've put it in, no matter how organized. Or rather, all of it is simple, it is just a lot to take care of.

The key is to prioritize, I think. I'm not very good at it. Sleep is often misplaced at the top of my priority list. However, I think that's the key for me. Or perhaps, a better word is to habitualize.

-Pause: Charis-ism, habitualize. Verb. To form a habit. Unpause-

Sometimes I make up words. No big deal.

Anyway, habitualize. One of the things I'm trying to do  is do the same things at the same time every week, or every month. Even if I have to write it in on my calendar. This week, I'm scheduling a dentist appointment, and trying to find a new doctor.  I'm also trying to deal with the last bit of the paperwork on my new apartment, and getting ready to move.  None of this is simple. It won't fit neatly in my box. But it is part of being an adult, for better or worse.  And so, in the morning, I will make a list. Pay some bills, look at my bursar account, and make doctor's appointments. Is it idyllically simple? No. But being healthy and as close to debt free as possible IS. And so, phone calls, bills, and doctor's appointments. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

make that The Battle of being a Pack Rat...

Well, I made it through two bags of stuff yesterday morning. The first is full of books. It's one of those sturdy, reusable shopping bags- a big one. And it was full, nearly to the brim, with books. I didn't even look at it. Books are one of those things- I'm not ready to get rid of most of them. I love books. I'd rather have books than clothes. I've been known to put off the grocery so that I can buy a book or two.

The second bag, also a large reusable shopping bag, had my desk drawers in it. All three of them. And I did do some sorting here, and I have a couple of textbooks to list online, and a small pile of paper trash from old folders and spiral bounds.

Maybe I'll do better as I move IN to the apartment. Which is next week. The nice thing about moving in so early is that I'll have a month or so before I actually OCCUPY the apartment full time. Meaning I can really take my time unpacking, and not be in a hurry to unpack and start work and school. I've taken the week off work next week, Monday to move in, Tuesday to spend the day with EJ, my best friend and semi-husband, at King's Island. For the record, my brother works there, and gets free tickets, so I didn't even have to pay for it.  Wednesday, I plan on spending some time at school- I'll probably have to take some more boxes up there then. So, slowly but surely, I'll get moved in, and I'll sort stuff out.  And I WILL. I'm not fighting for room in my room any more- I can't handle it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

the art of being a pack rat

Confession time: I am a pack rat. I keep everything. I might need it! I might want it for something! I KNOW I can make SOMETHING out of it. I have lived out of two or three houses for almost my entire life, and I have filled three bedrooms easily.

That ends tomorrow.

Next week, I move into my new apartment, and I start, once again, populating a new place for a year. This time, it is different. This time, I will have enough room for me in my room, and not just my stuff.

If, like me, you need to clean out your stuff and slim down your possessions,  here's how I'm going to do it:

I'm gonna start by going through drawers and getting rid of clothes that I don't wear. Once those are out of the way, I'll start on some boxes, the stuff I haven't unpacked in 8 weeks. Now, it's my stuff, I'm not getting rid of it all- truth be told, it'll be tough to get rid of a lot of it. But I'm going to do it. My goal is to get down a "one box" rule. So I'll have ONE box of desk contents, ONE box of room decor, ONE box of bathroom stuff, et cetera. The trick will be to have appropriate sized boxes.

And what about crossover items? Like, do I get one box of bathroom linens, one of bedroom linens and one of living room linens?

I vote yes.
Or is that the pack rat in me getting the upper hand?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

the difference between "cheap" and "frugal"

I'm a college student. I know what its like to consider living on ramen noodles and bad coffee for weeks at a time in order to afford the rent. I'm constantly in a struggle with the amount of money I can afford to spend on everything from toothpaste to fruit to clothes to music. But I refuse to be "cheap". There are things that I will spend my hard earned, much scrimped money on. For instance, I own a macbook pro, which I adore. The computer cost me three weeks pay. But it is beyond worth having because of the ease of doing just about everything.

The TRICK is to figure out how to afford items that would otherwise be out of your price range, while still managing to live, and pay your bills. Here are a couple of tips that I am developing and thinking about today:

1. Keep track of your spending! If you just spend through your paycheck without even checking it, you'll never figure out where your money is going. Most banks offer online statements now- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT! At the end of the day, get online and look at your balance, and note where you're spending more than you should.

2. Make a list of things worth spending on. For me, that list includes electronics, fabric, and eating out/coffee, as well as more entertainment venues, including theatre tickets, movie passes, et cetera.

3. Once you've made your list, stick to it! These are your "big ticket items"- things that will be worth the investment in the end. Everything else, you find another way to supply.

4. Shop around. Never, EVER walk into a store for the first time and buy the item you think you want. Do some online research first. See where comparable items are cheaper. Only go to buy the item once you are sure that that is the best option.

5. Don't buy things you don't like. This seems like common sense, but you'd be surprised how often I hear people say "well, its not exactly what I was looking for, but it'll do." This leads, eventually, to buying something else in most cases, which is counter-productive to say the least.

6. Use the resources at your disposal.  The internet is a great resource for frugalistas (did I just coin that term? Possible!). Use it! It's like shopping, but you can stay in your favorite chair, in your pj's! You'd be amazed what a good google search can do for you.

7. Make a shopping list. Throughout the week, write down all those things that you think of that you need to go get. Out of toothpaste? Write it down. Need a new pair of jeans? Add it to the list. Then, when it's shopping day, take your list, and don't let yourself buy anything that didn't make the list. This has helped me reduce impulse buys a LOT. It looks so cute in the store... but that bank statement does NOT go well with it!

8. Use cash. I know it sounds weird, but when I'm going to do a major shopping day, I set myself a limit. If I need clothes, shoes, that kind of stuff, then I say, ok, I can afford $40 for a pair of new jeans and a new bra. Then I go and get $40 out of the ATM, and I leave my credit card at home. (or in the car) If I don't have it, I can't spend it, and so when I'm out of money, I'm out. The key here is to give yourself a tight enough limit that it isn't extravagant, but a loose enough one that you really can get what you need.

9. Don't take off the tags. Once you get your purchase home, leave the tags on it. Set it out somewhere where you can watch it for a while, and see what you think in the morning.  If, in a day or two, your fingers are getting itchy about wanting to use whatever it is you just bought, you can safely bet you'll use is, remove the tags, and enjoy yourself. If at the end of the week, oyu're still not missing that new item, chances are you won't need it, and you can return it. I also safety pin receipts to items (or tape) so that I can find them for easy returns.

10. Don't allow yourself to overspend. When you're going to get one of those items that is more expensive, be it a new bag or a new computer, don't let yourself get swindled into spending more than you can afford. If you've budgeted $40, you spend $40 or less. Don't get talked into getting the deluxe package if you can't afford it.

Do you have other tips for frugalistas? Share in the comments! Happy shopping! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

the beginning of something new

I've wanted to open a blog for several months now, but as no one in their right mind, except possibly my mother (hi Mom!) would read a blog about my day to day life, I couldn't think what the solution was. Plus, my mother already gets the day to day update via phone. No need to type it out.

Then, the other day, I got home from a particularly disgusting day at work, feeling the pool water saturating my blonde hair, and grabbed my laptop in order to find a quick chlorine rinse. 

And then it hit me.

There are a million blogs about Moms out there trying to teach their kids to eat healthy, or trying to live Green or frugally. There are a million hippies out there who are dishing out recipes a dime a dozen of all sorts of great home remedies, or ways to make what you use. But I have yet to find a good blog written by someone trying to do those things as a single person.

I don't have a family to feed, and I don't have kids. But I do want to live as simply as I can.

The Live Simply Project is a term that Cornerstone Church in West Chester, Ohio, uses for an enormous outreach mission they do at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve, Cornerstone collects an offering, but every cent of that offering is given away. in a given year, they collect about $50,000, all of which is sent to Haiti, Guatemala, and a poor neighborhood in Cincinnati. The catchline of the Project is "Living more simply, so that others might simply live", and the idea is, in a word, simple: plan to give to the church the same amount that you spend on your family and friends for Christmas.

Well, it is time for me to learn to live more simply, and not just at Christmas.

From here, I start the slow, probably slightly tedious, sure to be difficult process of simplifying my life: my possessions, my money, my time, how I eat, sleep, play, work… in short, all that I am, simpler.

The goal of this blog is twofold: 1. To help other lost souls like myself, who are responsible for their own person only, learn to live as practically as possible: healthy, frugal, Green, and happy. 2. To learn about the new habits I am making as I go along, and to keep myself accountable to them.

So welcome, Reader, to Adventures in Simplicity. Let's set sail together, and see what new worlds await!