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Category: Living Simply

A Peek into My Life This Week (new feature!)

Welcome to a brand-new feature I’ll be running here every Sunday called a A Peek Into My Life This Week.

Starting today, the rest of the content on the blog throughout the week is now going to be focused on where to find great deals, money-saving tips, and content that has a frugal focus (look for my post tomorrow where I share all the details on the big changes that are coming for me as a blogger in 2017), this weekly post will be our place to just chat and for me to share things I’m loving right now and give you a little peek into our life from the past week.

So many of you have asked for me to share these things on a regular basis and I thought this would be a fun way for me to do this every week in one place. Plus, it will be fun for me to keep track of these types of things for myself, too. 🙂

What I’m Reading

This week, I finished reading Looking for Lovely. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering in it, but I enjoyed it and it inspired me in my Year of Yes.

This week, I’m reading books from my shelf from the four different categories I chose for 2017: Candles in the Dark (an old Christian reprint), A Portrait of Emily Price (a story-driven book), A Trip Around the Sun, and The Year of Yes (a book on life improvement).

I’m hoping to finish both The Year of Yes and A Portrait of Emily Price this week. I’ll let you know how that goes next week! {See my Reading Goals for 2017 if you missed them yesterday.}

What I’m Listening To

I love to listen to music while I’m working on the computer. But I’m picky about what music I listen to while working because I can get easily distracted by music and instead of it enhancing my productivity, I’m so into the music and the lyrics that I forget I’m supposed to be writing or answering emails or working altogether!

I found this playlist on YouTube this week and I’ve loved using it as background music while working. There are only a few songs on it that I don’t really like — which is saying a lot because I typically like about 15% of songs in playlists I find! 😉

Do you listen to music while working? Do you have any recommendations for me? I’d love to know because I’m always looking for new playlists to try out!

What I’m Watching

Jesse and I are slowly working through Season 2 of Poldark. While there are a few edge-y parts of the show, we overall really love it. It’s engaging, interesting, and we love the depth of the character development.

We also watched The Secret Life of Pets for family movie night this week. I’d give it a meh rating. Not great, not bad.

{Any family movie recommendations for us? We’re always looking for new ones. Or, any other shows you’ve loved that you think Jesse and I would love, too?}

What I’m Working On

I’ve not been a Planner Girl for a long time because I’ve fallen in love with Google Calendar. However, when I saw Beth Anne’s beautiful planner, I knew I wanted to support her Kickstarter and also try to experiment with becoming a Planner Girl again. I honestly think there’s a good chance I’m going to really, really love using a planner again. (See lots of pictures of the inside of my planner here.)

I can already see the benefits of sitting down and really mapping out the week. I’m still using Google Calendar for business stuff and my editorial calendar, etc. but I think having a place to plan goals for the week and write down successes and blessings and projects is going to be a really valuable exercise for my life overall.

Plus, I LOVE the feature to track habits!

What I’m Pondering

I posted the above picture on Instagram last night and said:

What are you filling your mind with? Are you letting it be filled with negativity, with worry, and/or with made up stories about situations based upon what something might “seem” instead of going to the source and finding out the truth?

Or, are you choosing to believe the best, focus on uplifting and positive things, and cultivate a grateful spirit?
You get to choose what you fill your mind with and what you let stay there. Choose wisely!

What you think about dictates how you live.

What are you reading, watching, listening to, working on, and/or pondering? I’d love to hear!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

500 Things Decluttering Challenge: Day 8

500 Things Decluttering Challenge

It’s Day #8 of the 500 Things Decluttering Challenge and today’s project was to go through kid’s stuff, sports equipment, and Hobby/Art supplies.

I went through our craft tubs and found quite a few items to get rid of. I was especially excited because I was able to consolidate down to one tub!

I’m thrilled that our house is really starting to look more and more decluttered! For the last few months, I’ve been meaning to get to certain problem areas and then just never made it a priority. But every time I would see those problem areas I would be reminded that I still needed to get to decluttering and organizing that area.

So it feels so nice to finally be tackling and conquering those areas — one day at a time!

Today’s total: 45 items decluttered

Total for the entire challenge: 328 items so far!

I’m keeping a running total of all my items decluttered during this challenge as I thought it would be fun to not only do Daily Totals but also Overall Totals.

How many items did YOU declutter today?? Leave a comment and let us know. 

P.S. You can read more about the Decluttering Course I’m going through here. If you’d like to join me in going through it in January and get the videos, information, and printables every day, you can go here to purchase and get it for just $5.99 right now!

500 Things Decluttering Challenge: Day 1 (64 items decluttered!)

500 Things Challenge: I decluttered 64 items today!

It’s Day 1 of the 500 Things Decluttering Challenge!

Today’s project was to declutter at least 100 pieces of paper. This could be any kind of paper in any part of your house — paper scraps, magazines, newspapers, junk mail, etc.

I’m pretty much a fanatic about staying on top of paper piles (see my system for staying on top of paper clutter here), so I wasn’t sure if I’d come up with 100 pieces of paper to toss/recycle. Then, I remembered the junk drawer in my kids’ bedroom… There was more than paper in there to declutter — I found candy wrappers, jar lids, and even an empty medicine bottle.

Today’s total: 64 items decluttered (yes, I counted candy wrappers and all! Because I get to make the rules on what counts!! ;))

I’m going to keep a running total of all my items decluttered during this challenge as I thought it would be fun to not only do Daily Totals but also Overall Totals.

How many paper (or other!) items did YOU declutter today?? Leave a comment and let us know. 

P.S. You can read more about the Decluttering Course I’m going through here. If you’d like to join me in going through it in January and get the videos, information, and printables every day, you can go here to purchase to get it for just $5.99 right now!

How to Give At Christmas When You Don’t Have Enough Money

How to give at Christmas -- even when you don't have enough money and you're on a tight budget!

Guest post from Keelie of Love Hope Adventure

Over the years, we have struggled to afford gifts for our friends and family at Christmas. However, even though our gift budget has been next to nothing, I’ve always found ways to give for free!

What I learned is that people truly appreciate you thinking of them, no matter how much you spend. The best thing to do in lean budget years, is to find creative ways to use the resources you have.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking…

1. Pass Down Something That Belongs To You

Children are especially excited when they receive something that belongs to you. Of course, this does need to be age appropriate, but you might have a few items you wouldn’t mind handing over.

Consider giving:

  • Old or worn out clothes and shoes for a dress up box
  • A ball cap or hat you rarely wear
  • Jewelry that has sat in your box for a while
  • An out-of-date device that can be used for games or music

Also, you can encourage your kids to go through their own possessions and consider passing down toys or items to younger siblings.

I realize this is not a socially acceptable practice when giving outside of your immediate family, but I think it can be a great learning opportunity for your kids.

We all need to look at what we have as resources and come up with creative ways to bless others.

2. Round Up Items You Own For a Date Night

With the amount of stuff that comes into your house at Christmas, giving clutter-free gift items is a great idea. I love to do experience-based gifts with my family, as well as for others I know.

If you do not have the funds to purchase new items for a date night with your family or spouse, then use what you already own. It is ok to look around your house for things you can do together as a family or couple.

Consider putting together these type of date night boxes:

  • Snuggle night = blankets, pillows, movie, snacks, comfy pj’s
  • Game night = board games, cards, video games, etc.
  • Cooking night = recipe, ingredients, cookware
  • Music and dancing night = put together a fun playlist, gather instruments, pull up music videos

These are just a few of the experiences you can give your kids or spouse. I give my husband an at-home date night every year. It means a lot to him.

3. Write Personal Messages For Those You Love

I know that hand written notes are a dying art, but I love them! I’m a huge fan of letter writing. If you are not that person, it doesn’t mean you can’t give the people in your life words of encouragement.

One of the best things I did this year was to put together an “I’m Thankful When…” notebook. I did this for my friends and they loved it so much that I plan to do if for my children’s stockings this year.

I took a very small notepad and wrote something that I feel thankful for that they do. I put one sentence on a page and filled it up about halfway through with things they do that makes me feel thankful. For example, I might say, “I’m thankful when you text me randomly”.

If you aren’t the type of person that enjoys hand writing notes, consider putting together a short email or Facebook message. You can even send out a few text messages on Christmas day to someone you care for.

4. Scroll Through Digital Pictures

We have a camera at the tip of our fingers these days, but how often do you go through the photos as a family? A simple thing you can do on Christmas morning is scroll through the highlights from the previous year.

You can also take the time to personalize the pictures and make them more meaningful. I love to use the free version of Picmonkey or Canva to edit photos. Consider putting fun phrases on the pictures or encouraging words.

5. Create Spaces In The Home For Activities

There have been years where I put together activity spaces in my home for the kids. You can find a corner in the house where you set up a reading nook, or a place to put a small table that they can play on.

Consider giving them the permission to re-arrange their room with the existing things they own. If you can, give them unused decorations or furniture for their space.

6. Re-Purpose What You Own

If you are craft savvy, you should look for instructions on upcycling what you have lying around. Even if you are not super crafty, there are simple things you can do to re-purpose what you own.

For example, if you have an excess of coffee mugs, fill one with leftover Halloween candy. Maybe you have a house plant that you can take a cutting off of and root. These are just a few ideas that come to my mind.

7. Use Your Existing Budget For Some Items

Take your existing budget and purchase some of the items out of the appropriate categories. This will serve a dual purpose, you won’t go over budget and your kids will receive things they need.

Grocery budget = put together a snack basket for their lunches
Toiletry budget = buy toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, etc. for their stockings
Clothing budget = pick up one or two clothing items they need
Eating out budget = buy a gift card for your next night out as a family

If you already have certain items budgeted, then you can use those existing funds to make up for a lack of a present budget.

One thing I have had to do in my life is understand that money is not the only thing that can be used as a resource; everything in my possession, including time and creativity are resources.

Keelie is married to her highschool sweetheart and is the mom of three awesome boys. She is a creator and loves sharing with the world around her. One of her biggest passions is to help married couples fall deeper in love with one another. You can read her marriage tips at Love Hope Adventure

photo source

Our Almost $0 Baby Budget For Our 1st Baby (How & Why We Did It)

Our $0 Baby Budget

Ten and a half years ago, we welcomed our first child into the world — a beautiful baby girl, Kathrynne. Jesse was in law school at the time, I was trying to piece together enough income from various online pursuits to keep us afloat, and needless to say, we were poor as poor can be.

We were so poor, in fact, that we spent right around $0 out of pocket on baby things. Not because we didn’t want to spend anything, but because we literally had no extra money to spare.

As best as I can recall, the only thing we spent money on was a baby blanket. For real.

{I was overdue and we realized that we were going to be having this baby sooner rather than later and it was January, so we probably needed more than the one blanket we’d been given by a friend!

We scrounged together a few dollars, went to Walmart and bought a blanket, and that was the last we spent until Kathrynne was close to one year old and we went and bought her a cute new outfit to get her pictures taken for Christmas gifts.}

Our $0 Baby Budget

How did we spend almost zero out of pocket on baby things? Well, here’s how:

1. We Used What We Were Given

We were blessed with very generous friends. So blessed, in fact, that we ended up having three different showers thrown for us! One was by Jesse’s co-workers, one was by our little church, and one was by our church back home.

When people asked what we needed or wanted, we suggested practical things — like diapers, wipes, onesies, sleepers, and blankets. We ended up being gifted enough clothes to make it through almost the entire first year of Kathrynne’s life without buying her any new clothes.

A few people went in together and bought us some of the larger items — like a stroller, playpen, and carseat.

Our $0 Baby Budget

2. We Willingly Accepted Hand-Me-Downs

Some friends kindly offered to let us borrow their baby items or passed along baby clothes to us. We willingly accepted all of these offers and they were a huge blessing!

Yes, Kathrynne may not have been outfitted in name brand, brand-new clothes most of the time, but she survived just fine! Plus, I discovered that I didn’t have to worry if something got stained or ripped because it was already used and worn. 🙂

3. We Focused on Needs Versus Wants

It’s nice to have some of the non-necessities, but I’m here to tell you that your baby will be just fine without them.

Kathrynne didn’t have very many outfits per size. In fact, in most sizes, she only had 6 outfits, plus PJs. Yes, this meant I had to keep up on laundry more, but she survived.

We also had very few toys or baby gadgets. Some of the gadgets are nice and helpful, but very few could be considered actual necessities. {I wrote a post here with a list of what I consider to be the only items you really need to buy for your baby.}

This might not work for you. You might not have friends who bless you with multiple showers or offer you hand-me-downs. But I hope that this post encourages you to think outside the box and to realize that babies can get by without all the bells and whistles.

What are your best tips for saving money on baby things? I’d love to hear!

Overcoming My Shopping Addiction

shopping addiction

Guest post Elizabeth of Witty ‘N’ Pretty

The world we live in values beauty above all else. The more beautiful a person is, the more value they have. It’s no wonder people, women in particular, lack confidence. We try to make up for our shortcomings in many ways.

For me, I tried to make up for mine by shopping because in my mind, the more expensive things I owned, the more value I had.

Every time I bought something, I experienced two things.

First, was happiness, because I felt prettier and more valuable.

Then I felt guilt, because I knew I couldn’t afford what I was buying.

When I bought something I couldn’t afford, it counteracted the happiness because my value was decreasing. The lifestyle I wanted was unattainable for a girl still in college.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t come to terms with that. I didn’t accept it until I maxed out a credit card and ended up using student loans to fund my shopping trips.

I knew I had to change, so I did.

Since I’m confessing my struggles to you, I may as well say that the temptations to shop and spend money never completely go away. However, I learned to ignore the little voice inside my head telling me to spend, spend, spend.

Eventually, you’ll learn how to do this too… here’s how I’m just doing that:

1. Cut up the credit card.

Yes, the most precious piece of plastic you own will be in little pieces after the scissors gets through with it.

Having a credit card in your wallet tells you that even if you can’t afford something at that moment, your line of credit will let you buy it anyway.

Chop up those cards!

2. Write it down… with an actual pen.

Write down anything and everything you buy and exactly how much it cost. This allows you to see where your money goes and any trends in your spending.

I noticed two things about myself: I liked to drink overpriced coffee and I liked to look good doing it. Knowing this helped me take the next step toward addiction recovery.

3. Stop doing the things that cause you to spend money.

For one month, I didn’t allow myself to buy anything but food and gas. It didn’t matter what was on sale or how great of a deal it was (I love getting a bargain), I wasn’t going to buy it.

At first, this is like giving up the last life ring on a sinking ship. You feel like you’re going to drown. Just like anything else though, it becomes routine.

4. Retrain your brain.

For the longest time, I honestly believed that my worth and my attractiveness was based on how many Kate Spade bags I had and the car I drove.

During my month long shopping break, I focused on building my confidence up. I tried to find beauty in the talents I had and the personality I was born with. I talked with mentors and people I trusted to help me find my self-worth.

Truthfully, I’m still finding my worth. I believe it’s a journey though. It can’t be done in a month or even a year. I still appreciate pretty things, but I don’t place my worth in them.

Do I struggle with wanting these things? Of course, but I can say “no” to myself now. I understand and respect my financial limits and still see value in who I am.

Some may scoff and wonder what’s wrong with me, I can only tell them that everyone struggles with something and being addicted to shopping was my “something”.

Liz is a young, 20-something with a passion for living a beautiful, debt-free life. After graduating college, she realized how important it is for her to get her finances together and start sharing how you can have a great lifestyle for a lot less. She blogs at Witty ‘N’ Pretty.

photo source