Monday, October 3, 2011

simplifying my life

{Photo of the Monument in Grand Junction, CO taken by Sue Cass (my mom!)}

I started this post on April 14th of this year . . . and then forgot about it until today. That should already tell you what my life has been like this year, and reading over it (below the asterisks below), so much has changed already. I'm not wanting things the way that I used to, and I'm not even buying things (even when I need them -- I'm down to one pair of jeans (tmi?)), and feeling happy with what I have (and even just wanting to get rid of more of it!). It's a good feeling, and I'm staring to understand what is important to me, which isn't all of my personal belongings (which isn't to say that most of them aren't important). I want to be to the point where if there was a fire at my house (which I hope that there never is), I wouldn't feel the need to run in for anything except for my husband and the cats. How can I get to that place? Everything is still so important to me, especially the things that came from my parents and grandparents (and their parents and grandparents!). I guess it's a slow process. At the end of this post though, are the things that I'm doing to free up space in my mind -- again, written in April, but adjusted today. The rest is what I was feeling and doing at the time, and wow, it's weird to look back at those feelings.


Thanks to the amazing, I know exactly what I spend money on every month. I actually know how much I've spent on what as far back as June 2009, so that really puts things in perspective when I compare the numbers for the different months, and to see how I'm improving, or even if I'm improving on my quest to be debt free and frugal. Pretty much, I've felt like I've done a poor job since reinstating the Spending Hiatus. Really, I forget about it every time I'm making a purchase, but remember every single day how I'm broke and shouldn't be spending money. It's funny how that happens? I can talk myself out of things, and convince myself the next minute that I should probably get whatever it is that I don't have, or that I have my eye on. I've been pretty convinced this month alone that I need an Eames rocker (I don't), a new dining room table (along the lines of what my Grandma had, which my parents now have), and basically just all-new furniture and things. Really? I've been spending too much time on my new favorite website, which makes me feel totally and completely internet-organized, Pinterest, obsessing over the most beautifully decorated houses, and wishing that I had things. Just things that I don't have. Different things than I do have. And I'm conflicted between the vintage/retro things that I love and wanting everything to be Southwestern. I know that there's a middle ground there somewhere, but all distractions aside, I want to CONSUME. Much like my eating habits, there is 26 years of only-child, get-what-I-want bad habits that I'm trying to change to new and healthier habits, and it doesn't happen over night. Debt won't go away over night (unless I win the lottery, but I'm too cheap to gamble!), so I should probably start somewhere. Not looking at those pretty blogs that make me want things? That's probably a good place. Not walking into a Goodwill? That's a better one. I'm pretty good at not buying expensive things, but plant me into a thrift store, and it's game on. Everything I find is cheap, cute, or useful. And do I really need anything? No. I've got three sets of dishes, loads of clothes, and tons of supplies to be productive and make things.

So, what have I spent my money on since the last update? Well, we did move, and used part of our emergency fund to pay for the deposit, dropping it down significantly. And we made our first very adult purchase together and bought a used washer and dryer. After visiting the thrift stores almost every day for the past month (what was I thinking?), I found a used elliptical machine and took it home this past Friday (at 40% off, but still). We spent some hefty money on rain boots, waterproof clothing, and camping supplies for Joel, justified as a school expense for his Marine Biology class to trudge around in tide pools for a week while camping on the ocean, and we ate out as much as we always do, though we have been pretty good about making more meals and stretching them, ultimately stretching our groceries out longer.

And with all of that happening, I feel brain dead and overwhelmed with my life. I feel stressed out about all of the things on the internet that I have to check, overwhelmed with all of the stuff taking up space in my closets, in my cupboards, and just sitting out. And I'm doing what I can to get rid of those feelings. I'm embracing minimalism in my own way -- with my possessions, digitally, and in my mind -- I don't need all of this stuff and these thoughts in my head! Here are the things that I'm doing . . .
  • unsubscribing from spam emails (urban outfitters, groupon, living social, old navy, oprah, etc.).
  • deleting all facebook updates/comments - and then deleting facebook.
  • deleting myspace, livejournals, and google+.
  • unfollowing all tumblr friends. maybe deleting tumblr?
  • unfollowing all flickr groups (except two!).
  • decluttering my house (giving away anything i don't love/want/need to someone who can use it). currently putting things together for a friend who actually did lose everything he owns in a fire.
  • organizing and backing up all of my computer files (flickr backs up ftp, double back-ups for all other files on hard drives). deleting all duplicates on the same hard drive.
  • reorganizing our kitchen cabinets, closets, and furniture for easy access, so that we know where things are, and so that everything is obvious (and not overflowing).
  • finishing setting all monthly payments up on auto-pay. i don't want to worry about missing a payment!
  • clearing my inboxes - deleting unneeded email/labeling and organizing.
  • unsubscribing from a tons of blogs on google reader. too much time and energy to keep up with, and the majority make me want some cute thing that i don't need.
  • limiting my television intake. i watch so much tv, it's not even funny. s o. m u c h.
  • canceling netflix - this goes hand-in-hand with limiting television intake.
  • canceling two credit cards (one i had never used, and the other i didn't even open -- wtf?).
  • starting an etsy to get rid of my fabric (i have an entire closet devoted to my fabric!). i sold one thing(!), but haven't listed anything else. i should, though!
  • downgrading next month to a normal cell phone -- goodbye iphone!
  • deleting our internet. i think we decided for sure last night. WOAH.
  • do you have any other ideas??
As you can see, it's a slow process, and I'm honestly struggling with every little decision (delete twitter, or save it in case I want it later?). It's a lot of little things taking up space in my head, but why should I let it? It takes a lot of willpower and strength for me to actually do something, but I do feel good that I'm making progress (even slowly), and understanding that none of this will happen overnight. Luckily, it doesn't have to.

Do you have any ideas or tips? What are you doing to make your life simpler?

So overwhelmed, but working on it,

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