Minimalism Isn’t About Deprivation

desert

You may be wondering if minimalism is right for you. Or you may have already dismissed it as something you’d never want to get close to.

But if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet that a part of you is wondering about it. Wondering if it’s possible to pare things down and not feel somehow… deprived.

Remember this always:

Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of anything.

Minimalism doesn’t equal poverty.

Minimalism is not about giving everything away and going to live in a monastery.

Instead, you should look at minimalism as a tool to help you. To prevent and cure overwhelm in all areas of life: work, home, leisure (leisure? what leisure? I hear you cry).

Having less has so many benefits

  • Less stuff to tidy up
  • Easier to clean
  • More space
  • Easier to find things
  • A calmer environment
  • Greater focus
  • Greater clarity
  • Less distraction
  • Easier to prioritise
  • Easier to be spontaneous

I have found that it also spills over into other areas, giving you better control of your money, more relaxation time and even better sleep.

The best thing about it is that you don’t actually have to get rid of anything that you don’t want to. YOU define what your needs are and what you want to keep in your life and your home.

And there is nothing to say that you can’t chose single items of luxury instead of multiple cheaper versions. Have one beautiful watch that goes with everything instead of several cheaper ones. Buy less clothes, but make them better quality.

Minimalism doesn’t have a direct relationship with money, so don’t build a bridge where there isn’t one.

It provides guidelines for a journey that can take you out of stagnation and forward onto achieving goals that you didn’t know you could attain.

In fact, as far as deprivation goes, minimalism can give you the opposite: abundance (hows that for a hippy word?). Clearing the decks not only allows you to appreciate what you do have, but it clears the way for new things (not necessarily physical) to come into your life.

And who would argue with that?

Action points

  • Think about the things that you do not need anymore. What is genuinely never going to be used again – these are the things to start letting go.
  • Think about who you really are. When you define yourself and your values, it becomes easier to know what you do and don’t need in your life.

Well Hello There Wednesday

I’ve popped in for a 10 minute catch up. I’ve read a handful of posts, will scribble this down and then head off again.

Like Mummy Flying Solo I think bullet points are the way forward!

  • Valerie’s Health and Fitness challenge has been awesome. I’ve not touched gluten at all (and never will again, given I found out I was coeliac just before starting). My eczema has completely gone. My heart palpitations have gone. My rosacea around my nose has gone. I even need less sleep. It is incredible. Life-changing in fact.
  • Long time readers will know that I blog completely anonymously – no one knows or follows these posts that I know in real life. Well, I’ve just started a new blog, which is me FOR REAL. One that I am not super-paranoid about others finding out about. I am planning on running my new blog to start generating an income at some point. And I’m also working on an autobiography (delusions of grandeur, ha ha!), that I’m going to promote through that blog. I have finally realised that me is me. I will pop back and share this with you soon.
  • I’ve broken up with some friends. They made me feel bad about myself such a lot and in the end, I realised I was done with seeing them. We all met up once a week as a mums group and I decided my time was up. I texted and explained in a diplomatic but honest way and just like that I was out. And I feel so good about it.
  • I have an appointment next week to check up on my 6cm cyst. I finally stopped bleeding 67 days after my miscarriage, and since then all has been quiet. I am hoping that the cyst has resolved as I am very reluctant to opt for surgery. We will see next Wednesday.
  • That’s about it. Life is good. And I feel good about life.

I miss you all, but will be blogging less frequently here, I think. At least for the moment.

I have been away before and returned in force, so never say never ūüėČ

Much love, Rx

Keeping Receipts ‚Äď A Simple System

receipts

Keep your receipt.

How many times have you been told that?

Receipts are a pain – they come in all different shapes and sizes, they get screwed up at the bottom of carrier bags, and you can never find them when you need to take something back.

A good habit to get into is to save receipts for important items in one location.

There are three main reasons to keep receipts safe:

  1. Warranty and repairs. Almost everything comes with some form of warranty. Don’t be afraid to get things replaced or fixed when they break, rather than just accepting the loss – any electrical item falls into this category.
  2. Insurance. If the absolute worst happens, you’ll want an estimated value of all your large items, from furniture and carpets to TVs and bikes.
  3. Ordering spare parts. This is especially important for items that don’t have model or serial numbers printed on them. As a example, we managed to track down replacement toilet seat brackets for our 7 year old, no-longer-manufactured toilet because we had kept the receipt with the original model number on it.

Keep them all together, and don’t worry about filing them in any kind of order. You shouldn’t be storing a great big mountain of receipts – for our house of four people, our collection (pictured above!) easily slides into an A4 plastic folder.¬†We keep the folder¬†in a fireproof filing cabinet, along with all our other important papers.

Don’t add in instruction manuals or software CDs or anything else. Your receipt folder should just contain receipts. Manuals especially are best kept separately (as they tend to be bulky).

Have a mental cut off monetary value – we don’t keep anything much under ¬£30.

As far as maintenance goes, all you need to do is scan through the contents once every few years and remove any items that you no longer own.

What to save:

  • Large expensive items (electronics, cutlery sets, furniture, carpets, curtains, bathroom furniture, etc)
  • All electrical items, from TVs to stick blenders – pretty much everything has at least a 1 year warranty.
  • Special items of clothing and jewellery
  • Bikes and high value exercise/leisure equipment

What not to save

  • DVDs, CDs and books (you are unlikely to ever refer to these again)
  • General clothing
  • Food (obviously)
  • Board games and non-electronic entertainment
  • Pretty much all low-value items

Personal fact

The oldest receipt in my folder is for my swiss army knife, dated 10 June 1994.

Action points

  • Get a folder and label it
  • Gather up and sort through all your important receipts, and then file them away
  • Chuck the rest!

What To Do If You Have So Much Stuff You Can’t Even See Your Floors

cluttered room

Clutter is a state of mind.

If you are living in a house where you can’t even see¬†the floor, let alone actually find anything important, then the origin of the problem is not physical.

This level of extreme clutter (or hoarding) tends to occur during or following traumatic life events like divorce and death, but it can also be a cumulative representation of a life that you just aren’t happy with.

Our surroundings reflect what is going on inside.

If your house is seemingly beyond help, what can you do?

It can be very hard to even know what the initial problem is when you are living this way. When you live and breathe in an environment like this every day, it becomes normal to you, and it is hard to relate to what might be going on emotionally.

I know, because I have lived this way.

You have a few options when faced with total clutter devastation.

But whichever you choose, you must first admit to yourself that extreme clutter is more of an emotional issue than a physical one. Many, many people successfully work through their own issues, but many others need help. There is no shame in that at all. It is extremely brave to stand up and admit that you need assistance.

But it is also extremely brave (and potentially harder work), to do the job yourself. You know you better than anyone else in the world. The actual process of clearing clutter and keeping it clear can be incredibly beneficial and really help you to move forward mentally. It can also reveal uncomfortable feelings, prompt a sensation of insecurity, and break down walls of protection that have been in place for a long time.

Be gentle with yourself and know that there IS a better way. I found a way out, and so can you.

Here are my suggestions for getting started when things are really bad:

Head-on, all-out, attack.

Enlist one or more helpers if you can. Spend a day or a weekend getting the worst offenders out of the way. Don’t seek perfection (you can’t clear this much in one day unless you really are prepared to throw most of it in a skip). Instead aim to deal with BIG items. Don’t start unpacking everything – instead tackle furniture, junk, rubbish, magazines, and easy items. The plan should be to scale back the chaos to something more manageable that you can then tackle piecemeal.

Start with one room.

Close off the rest of the house and start with your bedroom. You also need a functional kitchen, and an accessible bathroom. Carve these spaces out and put everything that doesn’t belong in them into the other rooms. This option is good if you have reached a point where you are committed to change. It will give you breathing space to start work, and provide a sense of relief in the areas that you use the most. It is NOT a good idea if you aren’t really sure if you can get rid of anything. You may just end up filling up the newly created space with more stuff and doubling the problem. Know yourself.

Call in the experts

Finally, as a last resort, you may need professional help. Only you can know if you have reached this point. Search deep down and ask yourself if you think you can get out of this on your own. We all have inner strength and commitment beyond our initial expectations. Is yours in there? Can you do it? If the answer is no, a professional organiser, or possibly a series of sessions with a counsellor might be the best approach to get you unstuck.

The first steps are the hardest. Once you have started your journey, you can find a wealth of information here to keep you going in the right direction.

I wish you peace and happiness on your quest!

Super Simple Minimal Money Management

money

Today I want to share a simple system with you that I’ve used for managing my financial accounts for a very long time (over a decade!).

What I love about this is that it tells you exactly how much disposable income you have each month Рit makes it really easy to make spending decisions and you never have to worry about paying the bills.

This system works whether you are an individual, or part of a couple sharing your money.

So here it is, in a nutshell:

You have two current accounts, one of which runs on autopilot, and the other from which you make your general purchases (food, coffee, designer clothes, gifts, whatever you feel you need).

Before you start you need the following:

1) Two current accounts that support direct debit payments.
2) A list of all your direct debits – every single bill that you pay monthly.

And this is what you do:

1) Your salary presumably already gets paid into your main current account.
2) From this account you set up a standing order to pay a fixed chunk of your salary, a few days after payday, into your secondary current account.
3) The money left in your main current account is for you to do whatever you want with, and that’s how much you have until next payday.
4) Transfer ALL your direct debits to your secondary account, to come out a couple of weeks after the payment from your main account.

That’s it.

Direct debit everything you can and make sure you know what you are paying for everything. Setting it up takes a little time to arrange, but once it’s done you’ll barely have to look at your bills, saving you time and worry.

Caveat

Remember that you will have other non-monthly, large expenses to meet each year, e.g. car insurance, car tax, holidays etc. I suggest you siphon off additional money from your pay packet to a savings account to cover these.

FAQs

What if my direct debits vary in amount?
Good question. If you have historic data, you can do one of two things: either take the highest figure you’ve ever paid, and use that when working out the total to transfer for bills, OR¬†if that isn’t practical, use a prudent figure and be sure to eyeball the amount of the bill each month to see if your estimate covers it.

What if my direct debit only runs for 9 months or 6 months of the year instead of 12?
We pay in the amount for every month of the year regardless, and let it accumulate. Every year we move any excess to savings.

Isn’t it excessive to have two current accounts? That’s not very minimalist!
Minimalism isn’t just about always having less, less, less. It’s also about finding ways to automate necessary jobs and to spend less time doing mundane things that (without sounding too hippy-ish) consume your creative energy. If two current accounts help you avoid loans, overdrafts, overspending and financial chaos, then it is a minimal and elegant solution.

What if I get paid weekly?
Divide your direct debit expenses by 4. At the end of each week transfer that figure from your salary. Set all the direct debits to come out at the end of the month. At the end of the year (52 weeks) you will have a surplus that you can move to savings.

What if I’m self employed and my income stream is erratic?
Presumably you already pay yourself a salary of some sort and you  know that you have a certain amount of expenditure each month, even if your income is high for two weeks and then low for two months. In this situation I would reverse the flow so that a) all income goes into one pot b) that pot pays for the bills FIRST and then you can take a salary from that pot as and when you can or need to.

How can you do this with a partner?
Set up a joint current account that pays bills only. Agree how much each of you will pay in to meet those bills. Then from each of your main accounts pay a chunk of your salary into the joint account at the same time each month to cover the direct debits.

Basically, no matter what the situation, you can find a way to make this system work – and once it’s in place, it is SO easy.

Super simple banking!

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