Sunday, October 9, 2016

Minimalism is HARD!

After years of being physically unable to do the type of things I used to, I felt my house was beginning to look like something from Hoarders.

After the move from Connecticut, I felt suffocated by the stuff around me.  I was so fed up of bumping into this tote or that I finally snapped.  I told everyone around me, "Don't be surprised when this place starts  looking like some Japanese house with nothing in it."

But trying to go minimalist is HARD.  There are some serious choices you have to make about what goes  and what stays.  In addition, you have to rope your children into it too.  They are not always willing to part with their things no matter how much reason or bribery exists.

I told myself I needed this.  I needed to simplify my life as much as I could. Dealing with a chronic illness is hard.  Dealing with a chronic illness, teens, tweens, and too much stuff is harder.  I want to live smarter not harder for longer.

The first thing I had to tell myself was to go slow.  It took me 20+ years to accumulate this stuff so i needed to be patient and give myself time to go through it all.  I decided to do one room at  time.  Go through every single item in that room and make a split second decision on everything.  Then go through again and fine tune.  I made myself open every single thing.  Drawers, totes, trunks, bins, bags, boxes - EVERYTHING. 

I came up with the following criteria for getting rid of things.
1-Is it broken or torn?
2-Is it outdated or unfashionable?
3-Does it fit right now or has it fit in the last year?
4-Have I used it in 6mos to a year?
5-Do I really like it?

I managed to donate  six large totes to the Veteran's Thrift store by using this method.  I never realized how much useless and outdated things we had.  I still have a ways to go but the end is in sight.  Thanks to some useful information I gathered from other Pinterest pinners  and the links below, it won't be long until the makeover is complete!

Have you gone or are you thinking about going minimalist?  What are your tips or tricks?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Money Tips

One thing that happens when your income is slashed is that you become money savvy real quick.  You start looking at alternative ways to get done what needs to get done.  That certainly was the case for us. 

Now, I consider myself pretty frugal.  I've been called Scrooge by family members because I'm not the type to spend unwisely.  Every major purchase is well thought out and considered over a long time span.  In fact, I resisted buying a flat screen tv for YEARS until it was fried during an electrical storm.

I had to make some major cuts in every arena of my life.  I will do separate posts with tips on each section.  This posting will just be about food.

The first thing I did was look back at my expenses over a two month period.  I looked at what we purchased and where we purchased it from.  Then I did some comparison shopping to see 1-if we could get the same item at a different store for less 2-if we could get a generic brand of equal quality.  The answer to both was yes.  Instead of shopping at the big name stores, I hit up the neighborhood 'discount' grocery stores.  I saved almost $200-300 doing this.  When you have active kids with big appetites this is HUGE!  I also discovered that the neighborhood shops sometimes had ethnic spices and sauces that you couldn't get at the big name stores.  The stores that became my favorite were Aldi, PriceRite, and Sav-A-Lot.

Another thing I did was make a monthly menu with a weekly theme.  This helped in several ways.  1-I only had to buy ingredients necessary to make a certain type of cuisine.  2-I knew what I needed at the beginning of the month and could do all my shopping all at once.  3-It cut down on the amount of time spent figuring out what was for dinner.  It was all laid out.  4-It made meals less boring because we weren't eating the same things over and over and over....

Alot of people have food in their cabinets just sitting there.  I was no exception.  Now I go on Pinterest and try to find recipes for the ingredients I have on hand.  There is an app that helps with this too.  The name escapes me as of this writing.   I've started letting the cabinets get nearly bare before going shopping.  This has helped us cut down on food waste AND made us more creative with our meals.

Something else that has helped is to divide and conquer.  When we go groceries, each person gets part of the list and goes off.  They have to evaluate the cost of their choices and see if it is the better value for their money.  I don't recommend this for kids under age 10.  But for my 11 and 15 year old it works well.  They are learning several real world math skills all in one trip as well as life skills they'll need later on.  It takes some strain off me especially when I'm having a flare up.  They also have a day they have to cook a full meal for the family so they learn how to menu plan as well.  Win-win. 

So to recap:
1-Look at spending habits
2-Kompare shop
3-Look for generic/cheaper alternatives
4-Make a monthly menu
5-Try a theme week
6-Let the cabinets get nearly bare
7-Get kids in on it
8-I didn't mention it because I don't do it, but coupons are always good too!

What other tips and tricks have you tried to reduce your grocery bill?