15 Things I No Longer Purchase

If you are new around here, you may not know that I have been on a long, slow journey towards minimalism. I’m learning the balance of making my home cozy, but also not owning an abundance of stuff! I’ve been learning what areas in my home it makes sense to own less, and then there are other spaces where I’ll be honest I like to have a variety – like clothes and shoes! One thing that I have found helps with keeping a minimal home is not just what goes out through decluttering, but also what comes in. I wanted to share with you 15 things I no longer purchase now! Not purchasing these items has helped to keep the inflow of items down. With that said, some of these items are consumable as well. All of these items are things that I used to purchase.

{{ONE}} First is dryer sheets. I used to use dryer sheets, however now I use wool dryer balls. I purchased the dryer balls a couple years ago and I really love them! Not only are they more environmentally friendly than dryer sheets, I actually like them better for making my clothes smell better! I just use a few drops of essential oil on the balls prior to adding them to my laundry in the dryer. In addition, dryer sheets often have chemicals in them.

{{TWO}} Next is plastic straws. I have been drinking protein shakes for my breakfast for a very long time and I used to use throw away plastic straws. Several years ago I bought some reusable metal straws and I have never bought plastic straws since!

{{THREE}} The next item I no longer purchase is plastic water bottles. Well, I no longer consistently buy these! After the crazy winter storm here in Austin in 2021 I decided maybe we should have a package of bottled water on hand in case of an emergency! On a day to day basis our family uses a reusable water bottle. We have a reverse osmosis system in our home, so our water is purified and tastes great! I think it tastes better than bottled water.

{{FOUR}} I also no longer purchase cans of soda. It was quite a while ago that I began learning about the importance of eating whole foods and avoiding unnecessary processed sugar. This ages me, but I recall really starting to get into whole foods when I was pregnant with my second who is now 20 years old! I used to drink a soda every afternoon for the caffeine and I would often drink soda on the weekends with pizza or take out. I have stopped purchasing cans of soda to have on hand. We do purchase sparkling water, which is somewhat of a substitute for soda. We also occasionally have soda when we get fast food, but I no longer regularly purchase it.

{{FIVE}} The next item I no longer purchase is pre-cut food. Pre-cut food is so much more expensive than purchasing it not pre-cut. It was definitely something that was very convenient when my kids were younger and I was busier with their schedules. Now that they are older, I find I have more margin in my life to devote to cooking – something I love to do! Cutting up fruits and vegetables is very cathartic for me and something I actually enjoy.

{{SIX}} Next up is magazines. I used to love magazines many moons ago before Pinterest and Instagram were a thing. I used to love home and home decor magazines for inspiration and even had a 3 ring binder that I would keep all of my magazine clippings in for home decor inspiration. Now I am inspired by photos on Instagram and finding ideas and inspiration on Pinterest. My in-laws do purchase Consumer Reports for us as a Christmas gift, but recently my husband and father-in-law had a conversation about how all of this information is easily accessible online, so it is silly to receive paper copies of this magazine, so we will no longer receive those after this year.

{{SEVEN}} Another item I no longer purchase is special events or holiday dishware. I used to have different dishes that were for specific holidays, only getting used once a year. Now I have all white dishes and serveware and can use napkins and table decor to make any holiday or event feel special!

{{EIGHT}} Along those lines, I no longer purchase special event clothes. I have several dresses in my closet to choose from and I use what I have on hand to make work for any special event or holiday.

{{NINE}} Next up is sale items. I used to be a sucker for the sale section in any store – clothes, shoes, accessories, and home decor! I would definitely get drawn in by the price and the “great deal.” Oftentimes these items didn’t last long and I would soon have a pile of things to declutter. Now I have different shopping habits where I am more intentional with what I bring into my home. Since I am not bringing as much into my home, I can spend a little more on fewer items that are more meaningful to me or I absolutely love. Don’t get me wrong – I will purchase something that is on sale if it is something that I love and would make a good addition to my home, but I do not shop sales just because there is a sale now.

 {{TEN}} I also no longer purchase souvenirs. To be fair, I will if it is something that is really meaningful, but I don’t purchase them just for the sake of having an item to remember a trip. I always take a lot of photos to remember trips!

{{ELEVEN}} Next, I no longer consistently purchase nail, brow, or lash services. I actually never did get lash extensions, so maybe I should not have included that, but it is in that same category! I used to consistently get my eyebrows waxed, but when COVID happened and a lot of those places shut down for a while I learned I could live without that! I didn’t ever consistently get my nails done, but I would get them done a few times a year and I have stopped going to get my nails done as well ever since COVID.

{{TWELVE}} Another item I no longer purchase is purses. I used to have a variety of purses and in different sizes and colors, but a while back I noticed that I really don’t like to take the time to switch my purse over to a different one and decided to only keep one. I use that purse basically until it breaks and then buy a new one. I tend to purchase a high quality purse so that it will last longer. I do have a smaller purse that can be a fanny pack, cross body, or clutch that I will use when we go out, but on the daily I only use one purse.

{{THIRTEEN}} I also do not buy the newest version of phone! I actually have never been one to purchase the newest available phone or electronics. I use my phone until it dies!

{{FOURTEEN}} Something else I no longer purchase is seasonal decor. I do have some seasonal decor that I have had for many years – some pumpkins, Christmas decor, and Easter decor, but over the last few years I have looked for decor that could be used year round. For instance, I have some brass deer which are great for Christmas or winter time, but would really work year round. I also like purchasing items that are a great color scheme for different seasons, but you could still use them year round. In general, I do not purchase new decor each year for every season.

{{FIFTEEN}} Lastly, I do not purchase things I cannot afford. Again, this is something we have always done as a couple and as a family. We have chosen to live debt free with the exception of our mortgage. Everything else we want to purchase we save up for. We don’t have any credit card debt.

Well, I hope this inspired you to think about items you could potentially quit purchasing, or at least made you think about why you purchase what you purchase. I would love to hear what things you no longer purchase. Do you have some of the same items on your list? Or do you have different items?

This is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you would like to check that out!

Reducing Visual Clutter

Does your external environment cause you anxiety? Do you struggle to focus because of external clutter? Today I wanted to talk about visual clutter, the impact it has on us, and how to reduce it.

For many people, visual clutter is distracting. The reason is because our brain is constantly processing our environment. Visual clutter can have an impact on our mental and emotional health, resulting in us not being as efficient and productive as we could otherwise be.  Clutter has been linked to cortisol production, the stress hormone. Research from a 2009 study out of UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) has shown that women who perceive their homes to be cluttered tend to have unhealthy patterns of cortisol levels. Interestingly, men did not have the same cortisol response with regard to clutter. This could potentially be because women tend to take on more of the household chores even if they are also working full time. Clutter is also linked to lack of self control, resulting in unhealthy eating habits. According to a Cornell University study from 2016, stress triggered by clutter may also trigger coping and avoidance strategies, like eating junk food, oversleeping or binge-watching Netflix.

So what can we do to reduce visual clutter? I wanted to share some ideas for you to reduce visual clutter in your home today.

First, the obvious one: declutter your possessions. When you have less, it is easier to clean, store, and organize your items. This can be easier said than done, so I suggest doing this slowly over time. If we try to declutter all of our items at once, we can get overwhelmed and experience decision fatigue. Slowly but surely as you declutter your possessions, you will have less visual clutter.

The next one goes along with the first. Be intentional with what you keep and what you bring into your home. When you are intentional with what comes into your home, you have an idea of where the item will go and how you will use the item or what purpose the item will fulfill to you. Sometimes people get into the habit of purchasing anything they find beautiful without intentionally thinking about its purpose. This is when it gets difficult to find a place for everything we bring into our homes. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate items visually at the store, acknowledging that you like it and it is beautiful,  without having to take the item home with me.

Next, group like items together in bins or baskets. When smaller items are stored away in bins or baskets, there is less visual clutter.

Choose uniformity when organizing and storing items. Get uniform food storage containers, cleaning bottles, and storage bins. When you have uniform jars, bins, and bottles you eliminate bright colored packaging, making your space feel more calm.

Have a place for everything. If you have a home for each of the items you own, they are less likely to get left lying around your home. When things are put in their proper place, your home feels less chaotic and less cluttered.

Another principle you can implement to reduce visual clutter in your home is maybe one (or a few) is better than an abundance. Throw pillows are a good example here (although admittedly I likely own too many of these!!) Maybe having 2 on your sofa is better than having the entire sofa lined with pillows. Or perhaps it’s home decor. Maybe having a small vignette of 3 items grouped together is better than the entire piece of furniture being covered in home decor.

Lastly, storing items away in a cabinet or drawer instead of leaving it out can reduce visual clutter. For me, I like to have a spot in my cabinet to store things like our toaster, the blender, and other large appliances. In the bathroom, you can have space for your items such as make up, a hair brush, toothbrush, and facial products in your bathroom drawers or cabinets instead of housing them on top of the counter. This will immediately reduce visual clutter in these spaces.

I hope this gave you some practical ideas on how you can reduce visual clutter in your home today!

The YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

Six Decluttering Tips To Give You Momentum

Decluttering can be difficult and daunting. Sometimes it’s just getting started that is the hardest part! I wanted to share with you six tips to help you with the decluttering process. At the end of this blog post I will share with you a PDF printable document with a list of spaces in your home that you can declutter!

The first tip is to get rid of old things you are replacing immediately. If you are replacing an item, whether it’s a broken toaster, or a worn out set of dishes, immediately put the old items in the donation bin. You don’t even have to think about if you should or shouldn’t since you are replacing it with a new item. If you don’t get rid of it immediately, you may end up forgetting and having duplicates of the same type of item in your home.

The second tip is don’t second guess yourself – once it’s in the donation box, it stays there. It can be tempting to revisit the donation bin and second guess if you made the right decision. I would suggest if you have items that you are on the fence about to have a separate bin where you can store these items for a fixed amount of time (usually 6 months is a good amount of time), then move them to the donation bin once you realize that you didn’t miss the items. Usually there is a reason you initially put an item in the donation bin, so don’t second guess that gut instinct.

The third tip is don’t declutter other people’s stuff – you’re not responsible for it! Allow other people – whether that’s a spouse, children, or other family members living with you – to declutter their own items. It’s very important to allow people to make decisions about their own possessions. If you declutter someone else’s things, you risk having tension in the relationship and there is a good chance that they will bring more things into the space when you declutter their items without permission.

The fourth tip is to start with easy/non-sentimental items. It can be very time-consuming and therefore discouraging to start with decluttering sentimental items. When decluttering items that you don’t have a sentimental attachment to, or they are easier to replace, it makes the decluttering process go more quickly. Oftentimes with decluttering, you just need momentum to continue the process. Starting with something like decluttering kitchen items will make it easy and quick to make decisions giving you confidence moving forward.

The fifth tip is to set a timer. This makes it feel easier, like you’re not going to spend the entire day decluttering. Setting a timer allows your brain to know that you will only be working on this project for a finite amount of time. Sometimes decluttering projects can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to declutter everything in one space all at once. Decluttering a few items is better than none.

The sixth and final tip is to have fun! Don’t overcomplicate it! Can decluttering be fun?? A couple of months ago, I played the Minimalism Game to declutter my home. If you’re not familiar with this game, you spend one month focusing on decluttering. On day one you declutter one item, on day two two items, on day three three items, and so on and so forth through the whole month. You end up decluttering over 400 items! This was a fun way to get things decluttered from my home. You could also enlist your family members’ help for items that belong to the whole family – like movies or games. Maybe take a vote on each one, and the majority wins! Or perhaps you could have a contest with other family members to see who can fill a box or bag of items to declutter the fastest! There are many creative ways to declutter that are fun and make it not as stressful as it could otherwise be!

I hope these tips gave you some inspiration on how you can declutter in your home today! Use this free printable to give you ideas on different spaces in your home that may need to be decluttered.

Why I’m FINALLY Okay With Not Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

I discovered minimalism over 5 years ago, and ever since have read books and blog posts, watched YouTube videos, and listened to podcasts related to this topic. I am interested in the idea of living with only the things I find useful or love, but I don’t think I want to label myself a minimalist. I think there are too many people out there who have a specific definition of minimalism – a certain number of items in your home from clothes to dishes.

One of the things I have struggled with over the years contemplating how to carry out minimalism in my life is the fact that I do own quite a lot of clothes, shoes, and accessories. I have tossed around the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe, and it has been an appealing concept to me. Just recently I did yet another closet declutter, and during that process I decided that I am okay with abundance in this area of my life. I enjoy clothes, putting together creative and fun outfits, and asserting my personality through my style. I understand the value in it, and appreciate the decision of others who have capsule wardrobes, but it is just not for me! Today, I wanted to share 5 reasons why I’m FINALLY okay with not committing to a capsule wardrobe.

{{ONE}} I like choices. When it comes to my clothes, shoes, and accessories I like to have choices. I get bored easily with wearing the same thing over and over. If I have a variety of choices, I am less likely to get bored with the pieces included in my wardrobe. I know variety can lead to extra time in the closet, staring at your clothes feeling like you have nothing to wear. But, I truly love and feel amazing in all the clothes that I own. I just don’t overthink it, because I know I will love anything I grab! Also, I wear somewhat of a uniform everyday. That cuts down on the decision making process as well, because I know the basic pieces I am choosing each day.

{{TWO}} I love fashion! Clothes are a creative and artistic expression in my life. I love making things beautiful, whether that’s in my home with cozy decor, in my job organizing a space, or in the outfits I choose to put together. Finding pieces that go together in a creative and unique way is fun for me – almost like a hobby. Adding accessories is the finishing touch!

{{THREE}} It doesn’t make financial sense to me. One of the main things holding me back from pulling the trigger on creating a capsule wardrobe is having regret about getting rid of items and then needing to replace them. I have gotten rid of a lot of clothes over the years, and sold a good bit on Poshmark. I have very rarely regretted the things I let go, however this would be a different situation getting rid of so much! In addition to that, I think if I pared my wardrobe down, it would make it more tempting for me to go shopping. I would get easily bored with the few pieces that I kept, and be longing to mix things up.

{{FOUR}} My closet is big enough. On a practical level, I do have a good sized closet which easily houses the number of clothes I currently own. I do have a fixed number of hangers, and so for that reason I will need to continue to do what I call the “one in, one out rule” in which if I bring something new into my closet I have to get rid of something so all of my items have a hanger or space.

{{FIVE}} Ultimately I am choosing freedom over oppressing myself with some “set of minimalism rules.” Minimalism should not be something that is oppressive. It is something that should actually BRING freedom to your life! I know for a lot of people, they don’t care about clothes. They have other outlets for artistic expression. So, creating a capsule wardrobe for them absolutely makes sense. They don’t like daily putting together outfits, so the capsule wardrobe gives them freedom. For me, there are other ways that I have implemented minimalism into my life, and that has brought freedom into those areas.

Let me know if you have a capsule or minimalist wardrobe, and if so if these reasons make sense to you even if you don’t adopt the same choices. 

7 Reasons We Keep Clothes + Ideas To Declutter Clothes

Today I wanted to share with you common reasons we tend to hold onto clothes, and some ideas for letting go. It can be overwhelming to downsize our wardrobe, especially if we are not in the habit of purging items from our closet and the job has gotten out of control. The best advice I have if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a decluttering project is to take it in bite size pieces. Choose one drawer a week to go through, or set a timer for an allotted amount of time. Oftentimes getting started is the most difficult part. Once we start, we have momentum to continue forward.

{{ONE}} We feel guilty about the amount of money we spent on the items. This is probably the number one reason we find it hard to declutter clothes – and really any items from our home. It can be difficult to just give away items that we have spent money on. If the items are in relatively good condition, an alternative is to sell these clothes. You could choose a consignment platform like Poshmark (my go-to), or Mercari. You could send it to Thread Up if you don’t want the clothes just sitting in your home as you wait for them to sell, or you could bring them to a local consignment shop to get some of your money back. You won’t make as much money with Thread Up or a consignment shop, but then the clothes are out of your house. If you have enough items in general that you are wanting to get rid of, another option is to have a good old fashioned garage sale. I have found it much easier to let go of items that I am on the fence about when I can make some money back. Lastly, if you have taken a basic economics course, then you learned about “sunk cost.” Basically, sometimes we make poor financial decisions, but keeping the item doesn’t get us the money back. If anything, every time we see that item we think – either consciously or subconsciously – that we spent money on that, but no longer love it/want it. It might be better to just get it out of our field of vision!

{{TWO}} We think we might lose – or even gain – weight. Sometimes we hang onto clothing items that used to fit us, but no longer fit because we have gained weight. We hold onto them as though it was an incentive to lose the weight to get back into that size. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem where you went through a weight loss journey and you’re concerned you will gain the weight back. Either way, I personally don’t keep items that are too big or too small. It can be discouraging to have that pair of jeans two sizes too small sitting in the back of your closet. Instead, perhaps you could use the incentive of purchasing new items when/if you do lose the weight. And if you went through a weight loss journey, it could be cathartic to get rid of all of those large clothes believing you WILL maintain the weight you are at currently. Certainly there are exceptions. If you are expecting a baby, you will likely need different sizes in your wardrobe to account for different stages of pregnancy and postpartum.

{{THREE}} We have sentimental attachment. This is a tough one. It may take time to be ready to let go of some of these items. When beginning the process of decluttering, I agree with Marie Kondo, it is wise to leave sentimental items until the end. This gives you momentum, and you also begin to “learn how to declutter.” You begin to feel more confident in your choices to part with things. If you have things like school or sports team t-shirts that you don’t want to let go of, consider having a quilt/blanket made out of the t-shirts/jerseys so you can still appreciate and enjoy them without having a box of them stuffed in the back of your closet. Other items that have sentimental value could be displayed in your home so you are able to appreciate them. Get a shadow box for that special jersey, or the outfit you brought your child home from the hospital in. Find a way to display/enjoy it, instead of continuing to allow these items to sit in a box in a closet or attic space. Perhaps you could pick your favorite few – maybe you don’t need to keep an entire tote of baby clothes from when your children were babies. Choose a couple of memorable outfits. Or perhaps you can keep a couple of school t-shirts instead of 13 from every year of school from kindergarten through 12th grade!

{{FOUR}} We don’t have time/don’t want to spend our time this way. I understand this. Honestly, in the end, it comes down to what is important to you. If you are okay with and not bothered by overflowing closets and drawers, then you do you. But, I would imagine if you’re reading this post, you are interested in paring down your wardrobe. As I mentioned, you don’t have to do the Konmari method and pile all your clothes from every drawer and hanger into the middle of your room. You could focus on a little at a time – choosing one drawer, or one section of your closet. Another idea is to purge clothing items by category. Sometimes you don’t realize how many of one category you own – so taking inventory of all of your shorts, or all of your sweaters at once may give you a better idea of what to get rid of. Think realistically about how many items in each category you might need. Think about the climate you live in and how often you do laundry. Another idea would be to set a timer. If you don’t have hours to spend decluttering. Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, then grab a bag or box and start filling it with the items you know you no longer wear. Another trick I use is to turn your hangers backwards, then turn them back forwards as you wear/wash each item. After 6 months to a year (depending on how temperate your climate is) you will get an idea of which clothes you are wearing. If turning your hangers around seems like a lot of work, push all your clothes to one end of your closet, then hang them back up at the other end as you wear/wash them.

{{FIVE}} It was a gift. I think it is a universal feeling to feel guilt getting rid of something someone gave to you. Even if you are someone who doesn’t attach sentimental value to things readily, it is difficult. I’m sure it’s even more difficult for those who do attach sentimental value to items. The truth is, when someone gives you a gift, that item now belongs to you which means you can do with it what you please. You can appreciate their gesture and experience the joy of the act of giving in that moment, but if this item is not useful to you or does not bring you joy then it is silly to hold onto it just because it was given to you. If the person who gave you the item would be upset because you didn’t use it or you gave it away – that is a boundary issue they have, not you. Usually, your friends and relatives would not want an item they gave you to cause stress or clutter in your home. I think most people would rather the item that they spent money on be given to someone else who would use itl than for it sit in a drawer or closet in your home.

{{SIX}} We have space in our closet.  I relate well to this one. I used to not purge things that were difficult to purge because I had the space for it, so why not just leave it. The truth is, physical clutter can cause mental clutter. If every time you open your closet or drawers and they are filled to the top, your brain has to process everything that is in there. With less stuff, it’s less the brain has to process. I am beginning to enjoy having empty spaces in my home! For me personally, I realize that one day we will likely downsize and live in a smaller home. I like the idea of being able to slowly over time purge my items rather than being forced into it when we do choose to downsize. Even further down the road (or not since we never know!) when we leave this earth we will leave our things behind, and our family will have to make choices about what to do with those things. I don’t want my stuff to become a burden to my children or family members.

{{SEVEN}} We think we want lots of options. This may be true for some people. I have thought about trying to transition to a capsule wardrobe, but even I like to have a variety of choices when it comes to clothes. One thing I have found helpful for myself is to have a “uniform” then having options within that uniform. I pretty much assemble the same look every day, just with different items. But, some people want all different kinds of styles and options within those styles. I think having too many options can be overwhelming and contribute to decision fatigue. This may be the main reason people want to declutter their closets in the first place. They might not be able to put their finger on why, but ultimately it’s that there are too many choices in our closets. By using some of the techniques and tips mentioned earlier, you can pare down your wardrobe so it’s easy to get dressed each day and you love what you are wearing EVERYDAY! Can you say that now??

I hope this gave you some motivation or inspiration to reassess how many clothing items you own! It can be tough to declutter clothes, but if you do a little at a time it can be less overwhelming!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

Minimal and Cozy

When I first started pursuing the idea of becoming more minimal I thought “I could never be a minimalist” because I really enjoy decorating our home to make it more cozy and inviting. Five years later, I’m realizing that “minimalism” is not a one size fits all. There is no true definition of minimalism, or a box you can put it in. To me, it just means living with the things I use and love. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you the ways I make my home cozy and inviting while still striving towards minimalism.

I know there are several books written on Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), which is a Danish word meaning creating a mood of coziness or comfort. I haven’t read these books, but “The Little Book of Hygge” is on my reading list! I wanted to share with you what little I’ve learned from what I know of Hygge, and just how I have organically practiced it in my home. Coziness and an inviting space doesn’t have to equate to a lot of material things.

First, I like to use throw pillows, blankets, and rugs to warm up a space. I choose pillows, blankets, and rugs of different textiles to give depth and provide interest. I like to use different colors and textiles for the seasons. I try to purchase pillow covers instead of full pillows so that they are easier to store.

Next, I like to use plants throughout my home to give a feeling of aliveness to my spaces. I admit that many of my plants are fake plants as I struggle to keep live ones living. I do have several live plants throughout my home as well. Not only does it bring that feeling of life to a room, but it also brings that texture, organic color, and dimension. 

Third, lighting choice really does change the mood of a room. Using warmer tone bulbs, especially in the evening, creates a calming atmosphere. Using lamps as opposed to overhead lights, or even displaying twinkle lights in a fireplace or around a tree in your home can create this mood. In addition to that, lighting candles can create that soft light and cozy mood in your home.

Fourth, is scent. With scented candles, you can get the coziness of the light of the candle burning and the scent. You could also use an oil difuser to create that good smelling scent throughout your home. Another way you could get the coziness of scent is through baking or cooking. The smell of freshly baked cookies or bread in the oven, or perhaps a pot roast fills your home and creates that feeling of coziness and warmth. Lastly, you can create those good scents through cleaning products, which leads into my next point…

Fifth is order. Most humans thrive in a space that has order. Chaos in our physical space can breed chaos in our minds, which does not lend to a feeling of coziness or peace. I have different practices which help keep my home tidy, which I have a blog post about and you can read that post here. When things are put away, and clean this lends to a feeling of coziness. 

Lastly, surrounding yourself with things you find beautiful – whether that’s family photos, books, or intentional home decor. In spite of what some people think, “minimalism” doesn’t have a number of certain things. It’s whatever makes YOU feel comfortable, and whatever brings YOU joy!

I hope this post inspired you to find new and creative ways to create a feeling of cozy throughout your home.

Here is the YouTube video I made with this information.

Things I Wish I Could Quit Buying, and Why I Don’t

I often will see creative content from minimalists who share a list of all the things they no longer purchase now that they are minimalist. Sometimes this type of content makes me feel bad, because I think I should not purchase some of these items, but when I think about it, I know  it’s just not practical for me and my family. I thought I would share the 15 things I wish I could quit buying and why I don’t.

Paper Towels and Paper Napkins. I do try to use cleaning cloths as much as possible, however there are times when jobs are so messy or unsanitary that I prefer to use something disposable instead of something I will need to wash. Also, we use paper towels to cover our food when we are cooking it in the microwave so it doesn’t splatter in there. As for napkins, I actually used to have cloth napkins and we used them every night at dinner. But, probably some time around the time our third child was born I gave up on keeping up with that extra laundry. To be honest, now that my kids are older, we don’t use napkins all the time. We only use them if it is a messy meal.

Disposable Plates, Cups, and Silverware. Truthfully, we RARELY use these, but I do keep them on hand for emergencies or if my kids have friends over. If we have a large gathering at our home, we will use disposable plates, cups, and silverware as well.

Plastic Bags (Ziplocks), Plastic Wrap, Tin Foil, and Parchment Paper. Again, I don’t use these items frequently. I have reusable plastic bags, and beeswax paper to replace plastic wrap. But, there are occasions when I use these items. I don’t like to use any reusable plastic bags  with raw meat. Also, I don’t have a large collection of reusable plastic bags, so if all of the reusable ones are used then we will use a disposable one. I use foil on our grill to cook our food on, and to line a baking sheet with some of the items that I cook. I use parchment paper when I bake cookies, and for some other recipes. I think there might be reusable parchment paper? I’ve never looked into that though.

Individually Wrapped Snacks. I recognize that it’s a lot of extra wrapping to purchase these types of snacks, however it is nice to have some snacks that are already portioned out. I’m not talking about chips or crackers. I’m talking about protein bars, oatmeal packets, and easy one person meals to name a few. Some things like the individual easy meals are great for teens to make on their own, and it doesn’t create leftovers.

Home Decor. I would like to be a minimalist, but there are just some areas where I enjoy having beautiful things. I don’t have an excessive amount of home decor, but I do like having it as I feel like it makes our home feel cozy and inviting. Along these same lines, is seasonal decor. I don’t keep a lot  of seasonal decor, but I do have decor for Easter, spring/summer, fall, and Christmas. I have tried to curate an intentional collection of seasonal decor.

Decorative Pillows. I have to say, it has been a while since I last purchased decorative pillows. For those of you who don’t know, in 2019 I did a “No Spend Year” with regards to clothes and home decor. I did not purchase any pillows during that year, and now we are in May of 2020 and I still have not purchased any new ones! But, I do like using throw pillows as a way to make spaces more warm and cozy. When I can, I use pillow covers to change out my pillows making it easier to store.

Fake Plants. I would REALLY like to be able to have all real plants in my home, but the reality is I’m barely keeping the four real plants that I have in my home alive! I have killed so many real plants – including cacti and succulents {{how do you do that??}} I love the look of plants, so I have included fake plants and succulents throughout my home.

Clothes. As I mentioned, in 2019 I did not purchase any clothes (with some exceptions! You can read my blog post about my reflections from my No Spend Year.) During that year, I did learn about fast fashion and how some brands do not ethically source their clothing items. I am now purchasing clothes either second hand, from small boutiques/business, or from brands that have ethical practices. I love beautiful things! I love putting together outfits, so yes I do still purchase clothes. I have been doing the one in, one out rule – if I purchase an item I remove one of a similar type of item from my wardrobe. This helps me to be more intentional with what I purchase.

Disposable Feminine Products. Okay, skip on to the next one if this is TMI for you! I did try two different brands of the period cups, both of them were $20-30, and neither one worked for me. I decided I’m probably close enough to menopause that it’s not worth it to try yet another brand!

Q-tips and Cotton Pads. I have thought about purchasing reusable Q-tips and cotton pads, but as of now I am using the disposable kind. For those of you who have reusable Q-tips and/or cotton pads, are they difficult to clean? Do you wash them in the washer? Or just in the sink?

Cleaning Products. I have to admit, lately I’ve been really pondering if I should make my own cleaning products with simple items I already have on hand (vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils), but as of now I do purchase pre-made cleaning products. I use the Grove Collaborative website to order what I need. It is a subscription based service that will send cleaning products to your door once a month! They have a lot of essential oil based {{more}} all-natural products. I do recognize that these products aren’t as natural as just making your own.

Candles and Essential Oils. There is conflicting data on the health hazards of both candles and essential oils. The data on the candles being hazardous is probably more legit, as even scented soy candles have chemicals in them to create the scent. I more often diffuse essential oils than to light candles, but either way, I do love my home to smell good! I used to use those Glade or Yankee Candle plug-ins, but I stopped using those several years ago. I may eventually give up lighting scented candles, but I would have to find some all-natural, unscented ones because I love the cozy ambiance candles create.

Books. If there is a book I would like to read, I typically buy or borrow the physical book. There is just something about holding a physical book and turning the pages. Especially now that we are quarantined, I have thought about trying out the library service where you can rent audio books, or ebooks.

Coffee at a Coffee Shop. Most of the time I make my coffee at home, but every once in a while this mama needs a treat!

Hair Dye. I’m 45 years old and that is old enough to have gray hair, but I feel like it’s young enough to cover it up to continue looking young. I know one day I will give this up, and I recognize that many people may find this vain, but that is not how I currently feel about it. I think it’s okay to take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise, and do things to make you look and feel younger!

Well, I hope this may help you to feel better about the things you continue to purchase, if you’re like me and are striving for minimalism but am not quite there yet. Let me know if you purchase these items too, or if you don’t why you don’t!

My Intentional Spending Year Reflections, Part 1

For those of you new to my blog, last year in 2019 I did a no spend year. You can read my reflections from each month by clicking on the “No Spend Year” link under categories on the right side of the home page. After that experience, I didn’t want to go back to my old spending habits. The reason I decided to do the no spend year was to reset some of my negative spending habits. Moving into 2020, I decided to do an “Intentional Spending Year,” focusing on being more intentional with what I brought into my home. I wanted to give an update on how that has been going now that we are well into the third month of the year.

At the beginning of the year, I was struggling to buy anything. Since I took a year long spending fast, it almost felt like “cheating” because my brain became so accustomed to not spending. So far, I feel like I have been very intentional about certain purchases, while other purchases I don’t feel like I am being as intentional as I had planned on being.

My biggest struggle so far this year has been with Poshmark. This is a clothing resale app in which you can buy and sell clothing to other users. There were several clothing items which I had “liked” even when I wasn’t purchasing clothing. For those of you not familiar with the app, it is set up similar to social media where you can follow certain people (their closets) and you can “like” certain clothing items. I did purchase several items from my “likes” over the first couple of months of 2020.

The other struggle I had was having items “stored up” from the year that I had my eye on or needed to replace, and really still wanted. Where I would only purchase 1-2 items like this per month in the past, I had several items I wanted. I needed a new black leather jacket (as my old had an obvious worn spot). I also had my eye on a specific pair of shoes that I had first seen probably 6 months ago. In addition to that, I had some workout clothes that were no longer fitting me right, and needed replacing (whoever designed high waisted workout pants are a genius! No more slipping! I replaced a couple pairs of tights that were not high waisted.) I needed to replace one of my white t-shirts that had a stain. And the list could go on!

Leather jacket and basic white t-shirt which I replaced.

Another struggle, which I mentioned in several of my no spend year reflections – was this idea of the slippery slope. I think I purchased some items just because it was “okay to buy things.” I realize now that my biggest struggle is with SHOES! I definitely make excuses as to why I “NEED” a pair of shoes.

Just one of my three shoe racks! I also have some shoe storage boxes on the top shelf of my closet to store out of season shoes!

I do feel like I’m slowing down on the purchases now that I’m through those first couple of months. Part of it is now I’ve purchased those things that I’ve had my eye on, or needed replaced. Another part of it is just being disappointed in myself – wanting to do a better job at being intentional with what comes into my home.

Pair of shoes I had my eye on for over 6 months!

If you read my past reflections from last year, you will know that clothing items were much more difficult for me to not purchase versus the home decor. I feel like I have been much more intentional with home decor purchases. In addition to that, I feel like I’m getting to a place where I can appreciate something in a store without having to purchase it. I probably am erring on the side of NOT purchasing when it comes to things other than clothing.

I purchased these brass birds from my friend’s vintage Etsy shop.

Even with clothing items, I did have a couple of “wins.” Unfortunately, in February, I had to travel back to my home town for my Grandma’s funeral. Ordinarily, I would want to purchase a dress for this occasion. I remembered back to my experience with wanting to purchase a dress for my son’s graduation, and realized I have plenty of dresses to choose from (even though they were all sleeveless or short sleeved and I was traveling to Indiana in the middle of winter! But I added a blazer and it worked!) I also went on a trip at the end of February. I often will purchase clothes specific for trips, but I chose to wear what I had – and I made it work!

Me with my four sisters at the lunch after my Grandma’s funeral.
My son and me at Magic Kingdom!

One other thing I wanted to share, which is difficult to open up about, is one of the reasons why I may have been spending more (other than I was “allowed to.”) I learned while on my no spend year that when I was tempted to shop, I replaced it with other habits – like watching Netflix for instance. As I reflect, I realize that oftentimes I am tempted to shop when I am stressed out or going through something difficult in life. It was my way of numbing out life. I have gone through several difficult personal things over the last few months – making me more susceptible to seeking out ways to find comfort. I’m thankful for the no spend year, and how it has contributed to my ability to see more clearly reasons behind my habits. Moving forward, I will find more healthy ways to deal with the stressors of life. I used to journal a lot, but have not been consistent for several years now. I want to use journaling as a way to brain dump my thoughts and feelings. I also want to turn to meditation and prayer when I recognize that I’m going down that path of self medication.

Moving forward this year, I would like to be more intentional than I have been thus far. Practically I am going to do this by doing a few things. First, I want to come up with more concise “rules” for my year. For my no spend year, I had specific rules that helped me stay on course. I didn’t really come up with specific rules for my intentional spending year. I think this will help keep me grounded. I plan on cutting way back on looking through the Poshmark app. I also plan on just not going into stores. This will be easy now that we are staying at home more with the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, I plan to shift my focus. I found during my no spend year that I had so much extra time, and this was because my focus was shifted away from things! I will also, as I mentioned find healthier ways to deal with difficult circumstances in life.

My No Spend Year 2019

Wow. I can’t believe it’s the beginning of 2020, and I completed my no spend year! It was definitely an insightful year, and I have plans for different shopping habits moving forward. I have learned so much, and I want to implement changes based on what I’ve learned.

One of the most insightful things, and something that kept coming up in each month’s reflections, was how much more time I had. I didn’t realize how much time I spent shopping. At first it was difficult to figure out what to do with that extra time, and I basically replaced shopping with other indulgent things –  watching more Netflix and YouTube, and eating more treats than usual for me. Once I figured that out, I was able to shift that time/energy into more productive things. I worked on some house projects, and later in the year focused on marketing my organizing business through transitioning my website to WordPress, and consistently writing blog posts. In addition to this, I started more consistently posting on my business social media accounts. In the beginning of November I even started a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business, sharing organizing tips and tricks. These avenues of expressing my creativity has been so fulfilling!

This year did not come without bumps and failures. I noticed I struggled when I would bend the rules a bit that I had set in place. If anyone is interested in doing some sort of spending fast, I would suggest being very explicit and detailed with your rules. One rule I had was that I could purchase things for special occasions, unless I had something that would work. While I did have some “wins” choosing to use what I had instead of purchasing something new, I learned that when I did choose to buy things for special occasions it was a slippery slope. The thing I struggled with the most was using the Poshmark app. I was able to sell many pieces of clothing that I wanted purge from my closet, however while in the app managing my items, I would see things that I liked. If you’re not familiar with PM, it’s similar to social media where you can “like” items. When you like an item, often times the seller will send you a discounted deal to entice you to buy their items. This is a technique that I myself use to sell items. I did mostly use the money from my own sales to buy the items that were a deal too good to pass up, however, again it was a slippery slope and I started justifying that I was only off by a little and would “make up for it” with future sales.

An outfit I purchased with my Poshamark credits.

In the beginning of the year, I struggled with that feeling of being drawn to things or really wanting them, but that feeling began to taper off with time. When I would fall into one of those time periods of the slippery slope, that feeling would come back again. One thing I noticed right away is how influenced I was by “influencers.” I would want something I saw someone else had, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t purchase those items because it would have been an impulse purchase and not something that I was being intentional and thoughtful about. I want to stay aware that this is why they are called “influencers” and to not be pulled into that sort of marketing. In general, I want to notice when I want to impulse buy things. I also became a little disenchanted with YouTube hauls. I’m not opposed to influencer marketing, but I want my purchases to be well thought through and not an impulse buy. If I see something an influencer is sharing, I will make a thoughtful, educated decision about if I need the product.

There were a few other things I learned through this journey. Stepping away from the consumerist mindset that I had been entrenched in, I could see more clearly. It’s hard to explain, but when I would be out shopping and saw someone dumping things in their cart, I was almost saddened – like I wanted to “enlighten” them. I’ve also learned about the effects consumerism has on our environment, particularly the fast fashion industry. In addition to this, not bringing new pieces of clothing in my wardrobe over the past year – other than select pieces which I purchased for our trip to Hawaii and the pieces I purchased using my Poshmark credits – it was easier for me to pinpoint my style. I’m beginning to look at my closet completely differently and I foresee another purge coming! Lastly, I was confronted by this idea of decision fatigue. One day while shopping for something specific at Target, I realized how easy the decision seemed. I found it odd, because in the past a decision like this would have been difficult for me. I always felt like I was making the wrong decision. I realized that what I used to do prior to the no spend year, was browse through all my favorite sections in Target. I would find things I liked and wanted and had to make decisions about – on the spot! – if I was going to purchase those items. But this time, I didn’t have to make any of those decisions. That’s when it clicked! I suffered from decision fatigue in Target! By the time I actually got to the items on my list, I was already tired of making decisions.

I had some deeper thoughts about spending, shopping, and my habits in particular. I realized that shopping was a way for me to fill my time – one way to find purpose and meaning in my life. I still love to make our home cozy and beautiful, but I see now that I can do that in a more intentional way rather than just throwing items into a cart at Target. There is also certainly nothing wrong with putting together creative outfits, but moving forward I want to be more thoughtful about what pieces I bring into my wardrobe. As the year progressed, I realized that my attention and energy on making our home beautiful and putting together beautiful outfits was just covering up moving forward in other areas of life – my business and my blog in particular. I was focusing on an area where I felt confident, and wouldn’t fail. I was unaware of how much fear had changed the path in my life. I feared failure and I feared rejection. Now I feel confident that even if I fail, or get rejected THAT’S OKAY. Failure is not bad. Failure teaches us. We learn, and make different choices moving forward. I also came to terms with the idea that I’m not going to please everyone, and not everyone will like me. AND THAT’S OKAY

I did want to address December, and how I fared. I noticed halfway through the month I had some credit in my Poshmark app and decided to use the rest of it since it was the end of the year. Again, I spent a little more than I had available {{darn that slippery slope!}} however just this week I sold two more items! I’m clearly STILL struggling with wanting new clothes AND it’s the end of my no spend year! That is why moving forward I have a plan in place.

Items I purchased with my Poshmark credits in December.

So, what are my plans moving forward?? To sum it up, next year will be my Intentional Spending Year. I’m glad I spent this year retraining my spending habits. Here are the specifics:

No more impulse spending. I will not immediately click links from influencers or purchase items I see in a store which is not on my list until I’ve given it at least 24 hours to think about it.

I will first go to thrift stores or small businesses to purchase clothing and home decor. For clothing, I am going to be using the Poshmark app so I can find intentional pieces to add to my wardrobe. I want my decor to be more intentional and curated as well. I would like to purchase vintage as much as possible.

I will no longer buy clothing items or home decor from places like Target, Wal-mart, or Home Goods unless there is something specific that I can’t find thrifted or through small businesses.

➤When going to Target, I will not browse through clothes or home decor. I will stick to my list.

➤I will ACTUALLY stick to the “one in, one out” rule. I have tried doing this in the past, but have not succeeded. I will only purchase new clothes if I have a hanger or space for those items in my dresser or closet.

Thank you to anyone who followed me on this journey! I hope to inspire you to try a spending fast – maybe you feel intimidated doing a whole year… you could start with just one or two months first. I want to inspire you to evaluate your spending habits, and think about where you could make some changes.

Here is Part 1 of the YouTube video I made with this information!
Here is Part 2 of the YouTube video I made with this information!

Non Material Gift Ideas

The holiday season can be overwhelming for so many reasons, but one of them might be because we are trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. We also may be anticipating receiving gifts that will have to find a home for once Christmas is over. I wanted to share some non material gift ideas that you could give this holiday season.

First is AN EXPERIENCE. There are all sorts of experiences you can gift to someone. It can be an experience that you plan for them that you could do together, or it could be something that they can do on their own or with others. 

➤A vacation or plane tickets 

➤Movie tickets

➤Theme park tickets

➤A  tour – wine or factory tour or helicopter or small plane tour

➤Concert tickets

➤A spa day package

➤Nail salon gift card

➤Coffee shop gift card

➤A cooking, painting, or some other sort of class

➤Museum pass

➤Silent Disco tickets

I recently attended a silent disco, and it was SO fun!

Season passes or a gift card to a local venue they like to frequent:

➤The zoo

➤Children’s museum

➤Arcade

➤Indoor trampoline park/bounce house park

➤Roller skating rink

The next idea is to offer YOUR SERVICES. We all have gifts and talents to share with others. The gift of your time is a really great idea if you are on a tight budget. 

➤Maybe you like to cook or bake – you could offer to provide meals or baked goods. 

➤If you enjoy spending time with children, you could offer babysitting services. 

➤You could offer to clean, organize, do laundry – any number of household responsibilities. 

➤Maybe you have a craft – like woodworking or some other hobby where you could offer to make something for someone that they have been wanting.

Another idea is SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES/MEMBERSHIPS. There are so many online, streaming subscription services that many of us appreciate. 

➤Netflix

➤Hulu

➤HBO Go

➤Disney +

➤Spotify

➤Audible 

➤Gym membership

➤Yoga/spin studio membership

GIVE TO A CHARITY in their honor. There are many charities that appreciate end of the year giving. Think about what charity might be meaningful to the person you are purchasing this gift for. One year for Christmas, my husband purchased several livestock animals for “me” through an organization we trust, to help support an impoverished community in another part of the world. It was SO meaningful to me. I loved that I wasn’t bringing more stuff into my house, and we were able to bless someone else at the same time.

Lastly, is not exactly non material, but to give CONSUMABLES. Many people enjoy receiving special treats that they would not purchase for themselves. Eventually these items will be used up, so won’t need a permanent home.

Bath products

➤Bath bombs 

➤Bubble bath

➤Lotion 

I love getting these items at Lush, they have high quality items.

Food/Snacks

➤Candy

➤Salty snacks

➤Soda

➤Wine/beer (age appropriately of course!)

➤Funny treats (like an extra large gummy bear) VAT19 has great ideas for this!

You could come up with a creative way to display these items. One year for my son’s birthday I used a variety of candy to write out a fun message using the words from the candy to form the message. Or you could make a candy arrangement, like a candy bar bouquet or candy/snacks arranged in a tiered way to make it look like a cake.

I hope these ideas gave you some inspiration to find some non material gifts to give this holiday season!

Here is a video I made on my YouTube channel with this information!