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Tag Archive: Simple Living

Dealing With Toy Overload – Part 1

When you come to our home, you might notice one thing right off: it’s bare. We don’t have many knick-knacks, we don’t have piles, and we have white walls.

It might seem utilitarian to some and extremely bland to others, but it’s the way we prefer to live. It saves us time because we don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for misplaced items under heaps of clutter. It saves us energy because we don’t have a lot of extra things to pick up or dust. And it saves us money because we’re content with keeping it simple.

Even though we have three young children, you won’t see many toys at our house. This is not because they are all stuffed in some closet or strewn about in a toy room. It’s because we just plain don’t have very many toys.

You see, when we got married and had our first child, we were living in a tiny basement apartment. Space was scarce so we had no choice but to stick to the basics. If it wasn’t essential, we couldn’t keep it because there wasn’t any room.

We grew to love living the minimalistic life and found that it made things so much easier to keep picked up and clean that we opted to continue living like this–even when we moved to a larger home. We figured at some point, our children would want to have more toys but we’d cross that bridge when we came to it.

Well, so far, we’ve found that our girls really don’t need many toys. In fact, they are perfectly happy with a few quality, versatile toys. They’d much rather play with cardboard boxes or build tents with old sheets, folding chairs and couch pillows than have the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. The few bells-and-whistle toys we’ve had in the last couple of years served to entertain for a short while and then were abandoned for Legos, puzzles and creative play.

Tomorrow I’ll share some ways we’ve found to keep toys simple, organized and pared down at our house–including ideas for dealing with well-meaning relatives who are adding to the toy overload at your house.

Clear Out the Clutter Challenge: Who’s With Me?

I’m having my yearly garage sale next week so this week I’m hard at work clearing clutter out of our rooms, cupboards and closets in preparation. Since I love to encourage simple living on my blog and because I also believe you save a lot of time and money by being organized, I thought it would be fun to include you all in my Clear Out the Clutter Challenge.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be working through our homes room-by-room in an effort to ruthlessly rid our lives of unnecessary things. You’ll get to see real-time before and after pictures of my efforts (yes, I’m even going to show you inside my closets and cupboards–as humbling as that may be!).

I’ll also be sharing ideas for how to streamline your lives, keep things more organized and clutter-free, and how to make money and bless others with your extra stuff. In addition, I’ll be giving away some of my favorite organization resources and tools to some of you who participate in the Clear Out the Clutter Challenge.

Are you with me? Stay tuned for your first assignments tomorrow morning.

Reader Testimonial: “I want to live with less and simplify”

Emails like this are such an encouragement to me:

My name is Amanda and I just recently found your website through a recommendation from a friend. I just want to thank you. I am the mother of a very active 4-year-old and hope to have another child in the next few years. My husband is a teacher and I am a social worker, both jobs that are often more than full-time and don’t pay terribly well.

We recently had a scare when the school district we both work for decided to reduce both of our positions. It would have been a cut of $26,000 in our annual income. It was a horribly scary time—we both love our jobs and didn’t want to seek other full-time employment but weren’t sure how we would keep up with our financial obligations (mortgage, student loans, daycare, food, etc.).

It was right after this happened that my friend told me about your website. I visited and was hooked. I definitely appreciate the coupons, but what I appreciated more is the atmosphere of the site. Exploring your site, I felt so much support and positive energy from the topics you cover and the posts left by other women. With your help I started to believe that I really could make it work for my family—that we could live more simply on less and be fine.I got more and more excited about my plans for growing our own vegetables, shopping at Goodwill, finding cheap/free entertainment, etc.

After about 3 weeks, our district decided not to cut my husband’s position and to restore mine to 3/4 time. Now we are not nearly as worried about our finances and probably wouldn’t have to change much.

However, now I WANT to. I WANT to live with less and simplify. Much of that desire comes from the things I’ve found on your website. Since I will have one day a week off, I still fully intend to plant that garden, search for those deals, shop at Goodwill, and hopefully even put some extra money in savings in the process!

Most of all, I’m really excited to have a little more time to focus on being Mom and taking care of my family. I just wanted you to know how you and the other women who contribute to your site brought me hope during a really difficult time, and hopefully changed my family’s lives for the better as we implement some of the money-saving, “simplifying” tips found on your site. -Amanda

A big thank you to each and everyone of you who visit here and those of you who take time to leave comments, share money-saving tips, and contribute guest posts. You might never know just what a big impact you are having on others who are struggling!

photo credit: ddsnet

How Buying Less Can Set You Free (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Danelle Ice from Home Ever After

We all want to have an inviting home, comfortable environment, and nice things for our family.  As moms, we’re always looking for products to make our lives easier, to make chores go smoothly, and to make our homes beautiful.  The desire for “things” is normal in moderation.  The problem is when buying “things” takes you over, cluttering up your home, controlling your actions, and wreaking havoc on your family budget.

The desire for material things is encouraged by advertisers to get you to buy their products.  Commercials make us think our lives aren’t whole until our kids have the newest bicycles or our husband has a top-of-the-line barbecue grill.  What advertisers WON’T tell you is that not only do you have the power NOT to buy things, but that buying less can set you FREE!

More Things = Less Money + Less Time.

Things are a huge responsibility, and take their toll in many areas of our lives.  First, it takes money to buy things.  Then, we have to find space to store things, batteries and electricity to power the things, time to learn how to use things and teach our family how to use things.  We have to spend time or money to fix things when they break.  We spend time to clean and maintain things.  We pay for a larger house or storage to have room for all of our extra things.

The first step to simplifying our lives is to stop buying unnecessary items immediately. Just saying no to bringing more possessions into your home will immediately give you more time, more money, and less clutter.

What if you want to let go of things but don’t know how to make the change? Here are 5 tips that can help you get started:

1. Realize that  most “needs” aren’t truly needs.

Most “needs” we feel to buy things aren’t real needs, they’re wants.  Food for dinner? Yes. 5 new cookbooks? Probably not.

Worse, they’re never ending.  The desire for stuff doesn’t end when you get that latest gadget.  The empty spot is quickly replaced by another item you don’t have.  Read about the difference between needs and wants here .

2. Stop coveting.

Almost everyone has a friend or neighbor who seems to have everything.  Don’t get caught up in the desire to have everything others have.  Acquiring things to keep up with someone else will not bring you a feeling of contentment with your life or gratitude for what you have; it will only breed feelings of guilt that you can’t afford (or choose not to buy) all those items.

3.  Be grateful.

Be thankful for all the wonderful things you have, and the comfortable lifestyle and loving environment you’re able to provide for your family.  When you feel gratitude for what you have already, it is difficult to feel bad for not having more.

4.  Be content.

We are full, whole, loving people, with or without things.  Material possessions can never make you a kinder, nicer, or a better friend, parent, or spouse.  Desiring and acquiring more things won’t change who you are–at least, not for the better.

5.  Declutter for charity.

Make a family project of decluttering your home to donate unneeded items to those less fortunate.  This is a sure way to put things into perspective and realize that “things” only have value when they fulfill a real need.  Donate items to Goodwill, to less fortunate friends, or to families from church that can use a little help.

Set yourself free of the responsibilities of being a “consumer” and realize that you have the power to stop buying things!  Buying less does a multitude for your mind and soul, including getting you a little closer towards having gratitude for what you already have, not focusing on what you don’t.

This guest post is by problogger Danelle Barbi Ice from Home Ever After, an online Home & How-To magazine specializing in homemaking, decluttering, frugal living, and more.  If you like this article, please subscribe to Home Ever After for free!

photo credit: dawnzy58