Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Being minimalistic does not mean....

That I never buy anything.
That my closet consists only of khakis and white t's
That i own 2 pairs of shoes (tennis and dressy)
That my walls are bare
That we don't have cable
That we only drink water and eat raw things
That we sing kum-ba-ya every day
That I don't have wedding rings
That we sleep in sleeping bags
That we camp a lot and cook our food by a real fire
That we never go anywhere
That I don't read Cosmo
That i don't know who the Kardashians are
That everything i eat is organic
That I drive a Prius
That my husband doesn't own a razor
That our furniture is tiny
That I wear clogs
That we take cold showers
That I have home remedies for EVERYTHING
That I don't see a doctor
That I don't wear makeup
That we eat raw food
That I am a hippie
That i only listen to indie music
That my child can only play with homemade toys
That i don't use a bank to store my money
That I never dream of being wealthy
That fashion is no longer my passion
That I use large words and talk way out of my league
That people meet me and KNOW I must be practicing minimalism
That I fast a lot for random reasons
That i drink LOADS of coffee (I Do that, but not b/c i'm minimalistic)
That my life is free from stress and hectic days
That I don't dream of a big vacation
That i don't often treat myself
That my bank account is bursting at the seams with $$$$$$$
That i plan to quit my job and go on a safari

This is MY list. MY list of the most common misconceptions with minimalism and things I have heard FIRSTHAND being said and questions I have actually been asked...

Being minimalistic DOES mean...

That I save money where i can
That i think very hard before I buy anything
That I like to donate items
That I enjoy buying things at second hand shops and yard sales
That my clothing budget is much smaller than the average 27 year old
That my daughter has learned to appreciate "gently used" items
That i do enjoy a cup of coffee at home, instead of going out and paying for it
That indie music is one of my favs simply b/c i LIKE it
That I try to do my best to save for an item I really want
That I have began investing in my retirement
That I DO actually save pennies
That sometimes we camp to get a vacation and not spend as much money
That we DO enjoy quiet nights at home by the fire place or the firepit
That my dreams of "wealth" now do not involve money
That my makeup is not some special name brand
That our furniture was carefully thought out to fit our room and not overwhelm
That the simpler(free and cheaper) things in life we partake in more
That I DO spend more time reading than watching tv (ill explain later)
That sometimes i feel guilty about having so many pairs of shoes
That I enjoy down sizing "stuff"

Favorite Blog of 2011

My favorite blog to read in 2011 was/is..... BECOMING MINIMALIST!!!!!

I love this blog. I read it every day, and re-read old posts when he doesn't have new ones available. PLEASE check out his blog.

My favorite post of the year is hard to pin point, BUT, I gained a lot of perspective and inspiration from the following post.

I hope since I love his blog so much he doesn't get mad at me for sharing it :)


My favorite quote is...

“Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter.”

Remember this quote as you are either on your journey towards a minimalistic lifestyle OR as you consider living one...

As the new year approaches...

Well folks, we have already begun talking about our new years resolutions... but it seems as though I am CONSTANTLY adding to this list :) I told you about my financial new years resolutions in THIS post, but I failed to talk about my minimalistic resolutions.

I walked around my house this weekend when I was taking down all of my Christmas decorations and looked around at my "stuff". No matter how much I get rid of, there is always more to gain. No matter how much i want to not HAVE all of this STUFF... I do. So that got me thinking about New Years Resolutions in a minimalistic way.

While these resolutions may not be as cut and dry as my financial goals, they are still very real to me.

In 2012 I would like to accomplish the following:

1. I want to buy less. I do better each year, but still not good enough. I pray that I can be content with what I have and that I can fight urges to splurge.

2. I want to get rid of more. I want to downsize my closet, my cupboards, my storage building... I want to be content living on LESS!

3. I want to teach my daughter the value of a dollar. Whether that is going to be through an allowance, through having her pick items to donate, or what ... i haven't decided. But before 2012 ends, she will understand more about money.

4. I want to blog more about living on less. It keeps me accountible.

5. I want to give more. I want to give more money and more time to those less fortunate and those charities that NEED me.

6. I want to appreciate nature more. Sounds so silly doesn't it?But it's true. I get SO caught up in going, and doing, and hanging out with friends that I forget to appreciate the little things that are around me that GOD created for me to enjoy.

7. I want to spend more time reading. Granted I do read a lot as it is, but I want to spend more time reading.

There ya go. 7 Minimalistic Matthew's Resolutions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Financial New Years Resolutions

It's that time of year... the time we sit down and think of "resolutions" for the upcoming year. It's always an exciting time... it's a fresh start and I HOPE that this coming year will be yet another fresh year in my financial future.

My financial goals are as follows:.....

1. Put $2500 in my IRA
2. Pay off my car by SEPTEMBER 1st (that would be exactly 18 months early)
3. Mantain my food budget of $100 a month
4. Donate more items to Goodwill, etc. (take write off's add up more than the cash in my pocket from a yard sale)
5. Teach my daughter about finances using allowance
6. Put $5000 in savings

Okay so 6 is a random number... but that's what I got :) What about you? have you given much thought to your financial goals for the year?

to read about my OTHER New Years Resolutions that will posted by the end of the week go to www.jereandcara.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When looking for something unique...

OBVIOUSLY I am very much ALL about the holiday season. It is my FAVORITE time of the year and I plan for it all year. I plan all year so that I can spread out my gift buying so that I don't feel hit all at once. That's such a sickening feeling.

Even though I spend all year blogging about how important it is to start shopping early, I still know people that are finishing up shopping on Christmas eve. :) It's ok, not everyone can think about Christmas all year so this blog is for YOU! :)

If you are needing baby items (seems like everyone i know had a baby this year) look for something unique and different. Check out babyblankets.com for some unique baby blankets. I'm talking some SUPER cool stuff!! For the cutest baby boy blanket you need to check out their site to see some of the coolest options! 

Living on less, saving money, and budgeting are what my blogs are all about. BUT, you have heard me say before that when you DO have to buy something you need it to be unique, different, and special. Take the time to find that PERFECT gift instead of just running to the local Walmart and buying something off the shelf.

If you need help selecting the perfect baby gift, cehck out babyblankets.com and see all they have to offer. You will be glad you did. :)

The Car Story

Since I am one that is ALWAYS searching for the best deal, a buck I can save, or something to make my life less stressful, then its no surpise that I have considered selling my car. Obviously we can't live as a ONE vehicle family so my plan was to see if I could downsize. But here's the process AND problems of that....

1. My car is a 2006 Honda Accord Ex-L. nice car, runs great, has all the bells and whistles. I owe a lot less than it's worth which is a PLUS! That's how you WANT to be when it comes to a vehicle. So for that reason I felt like it was a good time to sell my car. i didn't want to TRADE it on anything. I've done my research and that wasn't the way for me to go. So in order for me to take the money I would make off my car I needed to have something in mind that I could go pay cash for.

2. Buying an older car may mean more problems. Just because I can pay cash for it and get out from under my car payment doesn't make me instantly rich. It may actually put me into a situation where I am pouring all sorts of money into an older, more junked up car.

3. I wanted to buy a vehicle from a family member. That actually worked out... my dad has a 2004 Explorer that is super nice that he was willing to sell me because he wanted something different. The milage was about the same as my Honda and it was 2 years older, BUT, at the end of the day I could pay him cash for it and eliminate my car payment. Problem??? Yep...

4. Gas mileage. My Honda averages in town 26.4 and on the highway I get around 31. Dad's explorer--12 miles to the gallon and possibly up to 14. It's a V8. I still wasn't convinced that this plan was bad.

5. Then I put a pencil to it. I get paid mileage where I work which is AWESOME. Every month I am able to at the VERY LEAST cover my gas expenses and some months I have extra money in my pocket. IF, I drove the same amount of miles in the Explorer I would be doubling what I spend on gas....

I decided not to do it. I decided to keep my Honda. Now, don't get me wrong--I love my Honda. i was just trying to eliminate a car payment. BUt, i have been doubling up on car payments and will have my car paid for next October which is 2 years and 1 month earlier than my loan says!! YAY! I mean don't get me wrong... I am so proud of the progress I have made on my Honda payoff plan, it's just thought of instantly having it paid off is more appealing. :) But--it's a process and I have to remember that.

At the end of the day... no matter if I kept the honda or bought the explorer I would have an aging vehicle that ran the risk of major problems. So I decided that I need to start thinking about that.
My plan--start saving now! I am going to put back $100 dollars a month over the next year while I am working to pay off this car. That means at the end of that year I will have $1200 so if any repairs are needed I can either pay for them with cash, OR at the very least have some money to put down on repairs.

I've never been like this. I have always traded vehicles about every 2 years. I did the math on that and realized how much money I have spend over the years and have nothing to show for it. I WILL own this Honda. I WILL drive it until it is not driveable. I WILL be glad that I have a vehicle and take pride in it and take better care of it. I will be content that this is the vehicle I chose to buy, so now I am keeping it and making it mine for as long as it will let me.

While saving money is important it's not always a cut and dry scenario. To me it sounded so simple. Sell my car, take that profit and buy something I can pay for with cash. But when I looked at the WHOLE picture it was not the best thing for me.

Living on less, saving money--all of this comes with wisdom and good decision making. remember to weigh every aspect before you decide.

And there. that is my car story. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Got my job

This guest post from Werner Rogers

When I got smallbusiness.xo business voipI didn’t really use it much – mostly because the phones weren’t ringing and I had no clients to speak of! But after the local Our State magazine did a big feature on my farm I had people calling in by the hundreds – you wouldn’t believe how many requests I was getting to talk and to produce products for people I’d never even heard of or met. This year I decided to host a festival to try and capitalize on some of that publicity and that was a great decision – the festival alone brought hundreds of people to the farm and I’ve got some big clients now that I don’t think would have taken me very seriously before. I just can’t imagine a better way to live your life than to do something I love which is what I get to wake up doing each and every day – it’s not a bad thing! My wife wants me to retire but I can’t imagine not doing this work day in and day out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The move

First of all, I sincerely apologize for neglecting my blog here lately. Life has been insane. I don't even know if I told you that I changed jobs! I didn't change jobs for way more money, but for MUCH better reasons.

1. Sales was stressing me out. I was so tired of being stressed about finances. Never knowing what was coming in was so hard to handle. I always managed to make it, but the stress between each paycheck was wearing me down.

2. I felt like i was stuck on a corporate ladder trying to climb up something that I didn't want to be on. I love to work, and I enjoy earning money and providing for my family, but I didn't want to do that forever so why was I working so hard?

3. I felt like I wasn't making a difference in anyones life. I know that sounds silly, but making a difference in the world is important to me and I didn't feel like I was doing that.

So I left that job. I am now the Director of Marketing for CrownTrace Villa in Hot Springs. It's a retirement community located in the heart of beautiful Hot Springs. I have fallen in love with these residents. They make such a difference in MY life, and i hope to get to provide some smiles in their life as well. The job has it's stresses for sure, but it's a breath of fresh air to do something that I love and to feel like I am making an impact in my community.

I also am on salary which means for the first time EVER I know what my paycheck is going to be. :) SUCH a relief! Doesn't mean that we don't all still have financial stresses, but a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

We also moved to a HOUSE. a real live house :) No more apartment living for us! HOORAY! Now that being said, it was sort of a hard decision.

We have always lived where a swimming pool was within a short walk if that. We have spent LOTS of summer days and nights laying by the pool which has been heavenly! But we also lived closer to shopping, gas stations, and restaurants so it was much easier to go spend money. Now, we live in the boondocks and there is no just running up the road for something quick. We have saved money for SURE! We live on 3.5 acres of land. Fun times :) LOTS of places to ride 4-wheelers. I am watching my daughter come alive in the beautiful nature that we live in. She is spending her afternoons running around the yard, chasing the cat, making piles of leaves to jump in, pulling her wagon---instead of running in to watch tv all afternoon.

Our rent went up $100 dollars. Which is SO against the rules. :) But we weighed it... and for us having nature right outside our door and having privacy was worth the extra $100 each month.

Lots of changes going on! Glad those are finally over with and we are settled into our new home and I am settling in to my new job.

With the move came lots of packing and lots of realiziations of how much STUFF we have. Stay tuned... i have big plans for all that "Stuff"

Thanks for reading.

It's me!!!!

Check it out! :)

I'm so pumped1


Never too early

It is NEVER too early to begin thinking about New Years Resolutions. And I am NOT referring to the fact that you (for the 5th year in a row) put lose 10 pounds on your list... again... and again... :)

I'm talking about huge financial changes. I'm talking about living on less. Getting rid of things. Set goals for yourself. If you don't set them, no one else will.

I've been thinking about mine but I don't have them all together YET. But I will shortly. And as soon as I do I will get right to posting them.

Be thinking of realistic goals that you would like to see yourself accomplish in the next year. Stay tuned for a follow up post which will include my 10 Minimalistic yet Monumental New years resolutions. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saving on the little things...

Is it bad that I typically dread halloween? You have to buy a costume, you have to buy candy for kids you don't know, and you feel the need to be super festive. Well, this year I had already decided that I was going to make this a fun, happy halloween without spending very much money. Of course that is ALWAYS my goal but i've never actually accomplished it when it comes to Halloween.

My daughter wanted to be a dinosaur. Of COURSE she did. :) I knew she'd be the cutest T-rex ever, but I kinda pushed for her to be a pirate princess again. I knew the outfit would still fit and last year I went out in a hurry and bought it paying FULL price. Of course that didn't fly with her so I was on the hunt for a dinosaur costume. NOT easy to find.

I began looking online... HOLY COW! $60 bucks here for one, $94 there... I mean seriously it was INSANE! I can't spend money like that. so i decided I would have to get creative.

I actually PRAYED about it. I knew that she wanted to be a dinosaur and I did NOT want to dissapoint. Wal-Mart actually had the "pieces" for the costume. (gloves, hat, tail) for several different things and ONE of those happened to be a dinosaur! She already had black pants so I bought her a black shirt (for $5.00 and she can TOTALLY wear it again), and i bought some fabric that was lime green to pin on her like it's the patches that dinosaurs have.

Needless to say I walked away spending $15.00 on her costume. The shirt ($5.00) can be worn multiple times again AND I still have a lot of that fabric left.... I feel like I actually succeeded this year.

Halloween comes around once a year and so it makes sense to go all out... but I chose to save on this little thing and i'm so glad that I did!

What about you? Any success stories to speak of?

Read ALL about our halloween. www.jereandcara.blogspot.com

Monday, October 10, 2011

Living HAPPILY on less... that's the key part!

I have to confess something... i'm not always happy about living on less. I live on less for a few reasons.

1. Out of necessity
2. The rush I get from BARGAINS :)
3. To help save the environment
4. To set a good example for my daughter
5. To teach me to be more grateful
6. To have money to retire on when i am 65
7. To have more money set aside to do fun things
8. To help others on their journey
9. To focus more on the important things in life
10. Because I feel like God has led me down this road.

That being said... I ain't always smiling about it!

I love the rush that I get from bargains. I love that i only buy used items. It helps the environment, the economy(well, that is debateable), and it makes me feel accomplished. I get such a RUSH from purchasing tons of groceries and household items AND clothes and leaving a store/s having spent next to nothing. That makes me feel so proud.

I love that Ava has learned that (for the most part) to get something new we need to give something away. Or, we can put that something in a box labeled "GARAGE SALE" and when she gets paid for selling that item then she can buy something. I'm not extreme about it. i mean goodness... i bought her a toy this weekend that she hasn't even played with yet, candy at the arts and crafts fair, and she got to do the petting zoo,bouncy houses and take the horse ride ALL of which cost money. So I am NOT extreme, but I do want her to understand that having a lot of stuff isn't good. It doesn't make us happy, it gives us more work to do when its cleaning day, and we don't get to appreciate the things we have.

So many good life lessons have been taught to myself, my daughter and even my husband on the journey towards living on less.

but there are days that I am green with envy. I see a friend get a new house, or a new car, or the cutest shoes ever and I instantly begin thinking about how I want a pair, or that particular item and knowing that I can't (or at least shouldn't) buy it makes me nuts.

I see my friends have their nails looking so cute and even though i've never been fan of the fake nails, I look down at mine after seeing theirs and feel sick because I want to have pretty nails.

For me when i begin feeling that way I literally have to close my eyes and take a deep breath. I do NOT want to get into debt again. I do not want my huge walk in closet to be filled with so much stuff that i don't even know what I have! I WANT to continue looking at my savings account and smiling so big because I did this! I didn't spend when i could have, and I worked hard to live on the necessities and not over clutter my life!!!!

But it's not always easy...being happy about it isn't always easy. There is a list of things that I want right now and I know I can't do it. Well, I can, but i'm not going to. This economy scares me. People losing their jobs left and right. Businesses barely making it. It is SCARY times. So if nothing more than feeling like I have a cushion to land on, i will continue to save my money, live frugally, and try my dangdest to be happy about it!

so what do you do... when you really REALLY want something but you know you shouldn't? How do you talk yourself down.

Oh the things we waste our money on

This weekend I was entertained by several things. I got caught up in people watching at the Arts and Crafts fair, and I laughed when i flipped through the Target ad. Let's go back for a bit....

The Arts and Crafts fair is one of my favorite things that takes place in Hot Springs. I don't like roosters, and tacky wreaths, and knick nacks, but I always enjoy walking around the Arts and Crafts fair. I do lots of Christmas shopping (well some at least), and that is always the perfect place to buy Ava's hairbows. I wanted to get a Christmas sign for our front door. Something that was personalized and different. I have been looking online for one and found some adoreable ones but they were like $45 dollars! Are you kiddin' me? So I held onto my hard earned money and saved it for this past weekend. I found 2 signs for our house and spent $30 and because my daughter is so cute they threw in an $8 dollar value sign for free. :) I think I scored! Now back to my entertainment.... I love people watching. People are some funny creatures. A lot of folks enjoy going to the zoo and watching animals in their habitat but i'd rather be sitting at the mall observing the most interesting creature of all---HUMANS! I watched as people threw their money away left and right on the most RANDOM items. I'm not judging what others buy, i'm just simply saying I find some of these things very odd. Magnetic bracelets that were $45 dollars, gaudy jewelry that was overpriced, crocheted oven mits(is that even safe?), and of course there was all the snacks. Okay so I need you to hear me say that I am not judging what people spend their money on. Not in the least. We ALL have different interests and different things that make us happy (hence the reason I say we are the most interesting creatures of all). But it's the looks I saw on their faces. I saw mom's saying yes to things for their kids and then pausing to look in their wallet because they knew they shouldn't spend the money. i heard people ask if they'd take a credit card over the phone. (Really... it's an outdoor fair). I saw looks of panic on these womens faces as they knew they had bought too much.

But it's so EASY to do that. I found the cutest little booth that had adoreable handmade kids clothes. I'm talking the CUTEST outfits you have ever seen. And they were different. Not overpriced. One little Christmas dress was $18 dollars. And one little Razorback outfit was $24. Honestly, when i walked up I expected to see upper $50's on most items so I was so pleasantly suprised. Here I am, this bargain hunting mommy that is striving to live life to the fullest on LESS, and I have all of these items in my hand thinking they are bargains. I looked at my husband and said "What am i doing?" I put them down, walked away and I felt shameful. NOT THAT I THINK PEOPLE THAT BUY CUTE THINGS LIKE THAT SHOULD FEEL SHAMEFUL. PLEASE DONT HEAR ME SAY THAT BECAUSE THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEAN. I just meant for ME, it was wrong, and I knew it. But i got caught up.

So I thought alot on Saturday about what crazy things we waste our money on. I could have bought that adoreable little Christmas dress for $18 dollars, taken a few pics in it and she would have worn it once or twice. It may have fit next year too, and at some point I could have put leggings under neath it. I know I would have gotten my moneys worth. But is that something that I NEEDED to do? No. Do I kinda wish I had of bought it? YES! But that's how it is folks. We get so caught up in things that we don't need but wish we had. We want our kids and ourselves to be dressed adorablely all the time and then our kids paint on their clothes and we wash a bleach rag with jeans... it is just stuff. And I am trying so hard to over come "stuff-itis."

then on Sunday in the newspaper there was the Target ad. We don't even have a target but i love looking through their ad. i love their clothes. I don't even buy new clothes, but I still enjoy looking. But there were all of these random items in there. All of these options for things to purchase. And it got me thinking about all of the random stuff we waste our money on.

I could walk about 2 seconds into my house and see items that were not necessities. I can see items that i don't even use. I have 3 cabinets in my kitchen full of things I never use or rarely use.

1. blender
2. mixer
3. griddle
4. extra pots and pans
5. 72 plastic cups (really--i'm pretty sure I threw out 30 cups last month)

I have so much stuff in my house. i have books that I put on a shelf, I have dvd's and cds that just sit there and collect dust. At some point in time those were important enough to me to buy and now I look at them with disgust. If there is one thing this journey has taught me it's to really stop and think about what i spend my money on.

I think i'm rambling so I will stop now. But think about it... what do you waste money on? What do you have in your house that you do NOT need? Is there anything you could sell, give away, donate?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The paper trail

Paper trails make me nuts. We get so much mail every day. We get newspapers weekly for coupons...yet SOMEHOW there is always papers EVERYWHERE!

Try this....

Get the Sunday paper for the coupons. Throw everything else AWAY...RIGHT THEN. Or better yet, recycle. That's better.

Your mailbox is outside. Check the mail outside. Throw it away outside. Use your big ol' garbage can to throw everything that you do NOT want away.

Have One place inside that you keep all of your paper mail that you MUST keep.

Use online for EVERYTHING that you possibly can. Obviously you will STILL get junk mail, but get the bulk of it online. Pay your bills online. Get your statements online. SO much easier!

GET rid of the paper trail!!!

What to do if your life is chaotic?

One of the reasons for living a minimalistic lifestyle is to avoid chaos. Obviously getting rid of things won't take out the day to day chaos of running kids here and there, buying groceries, cooking supper, cleaning house, organizing parties, attending events, working 9-5.... but it CAN help.

If you are finding yourself in a complete world of chaos I suggest doing the following:

1. Look around your house. What makes you nuts? Is it the mail on the counter and it ALWAYS there? Is it stakes of paper that pile up for weeks on end? Is it toys everywhere? Evaluate what makes you feel nuts.

2. Is it your calendar? The fact that you ALWAYS have somewhere to be? Look at what you can eliminate. Take time for yourself. Not just for your family, spouse, and friends...but for YOU!

3. Is it the constant runs to the grocery store? Look at going only ONCE a month. Purchase a deep freeze and stock up so that you only have to dread the trip ONCE a month instead of 14 times.

4. Maybe its people in your life that make you crazy. (this does not apply to family. Nothing you can do about that.) Maybe there are friends in your life that hurt you, stop over un-announced, always have drama...maybe its time to take a time out from those people.

5. Is it your job? Maybe its time to look for less stress.

What is making you chaotic? FIX IT!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are we entitled?

I've read lots of blogs lately about the Generation Y which happens to be the category that I fall into. We seem to be the generation of lazy, entitled, instant gratification people. Follow me on this. Don't get offended.

Our generation is LAZY because we make more money the generation before us yet work less hard. Think about it. The generation before us worked from sun up til sun down and made less money than WE make. Therefore we come across as lazy, but I think it's quite the opposite. We just have more opportunities than those before us. There are more jobs to chose from then there were before us. And yes, we are lucky in that we do not have to do as much manual labor as the generation before us, but we are NOT lazy. We are just fortunate to not have to work AS hard and make MORE money. That does not make us lazy.

Entitled. Now that part got me to thinking... we DO feel the need to shop more, buy houses younger, and spend more money. To say we are entitled seems to me to be an over statement but I can see some truth in there.

Instant gratitification describes our generation perfectly! WE ARE LIKE THAT! We want something, we buy it. We don't wait years and years to buy a house...we buy one as soon as we get married! My parents never owned a home until they were in their 40's. Now, thats a very rare thing. We want it NOW!

Part of these qualities make us the generation of "Go-getters" which is very admirable! We don't take it laying down. We fight for what we want in life and we are goal oriented. GO US! But... we do have to chill for a moment. I've been guilty of it to so i'm not casting judgment. BUT I will say that this is the reason our generation is in so much DEBT! We feel like we earned the money to spend so let's spend it. And we spend more than we have.

It's very important to ask yourself questions like:

do I need this?
how will this benefit my life?
can I afford it?
What bills are coming due?
What will happen if I DONT buy it now?

These questions pertain to buying shoes, a $2 dollar shirt or a house. We can't just GO GET IT! Even if we have the money to do so, it's so crucial to STOP and think about it.

I don't think i'm lazy or entitled and i'm working on the instant gratification thing. The journey through minimalism and living on less isn't over night, and it's not an "idea"...it's a LIFESTYLE. Are you ready to commit?

Friday, August 12, 2011

I save the biggest on...


I've mentioned being prepared, having your list, and KNOWING what is in your closet. That is so important. You aren't saving money if you do NOT need the item. That's why it's so crucial to know EXACTLY what you have.

How many times have you bought something, gotten home and realized that you already had something similar but you had forgotten about it? Yep-it happens to all of us. If you keep a running list of things you have then that won't happen. That allows you to NOT overflow your closets with un-necessary things and allows you to save that money for other things.

Just today I stopped by my favorite consignment shop. I found a rack of items for .25 cents! I got my husband 2 shirts, me 1. I spent .75 on items we need. WOW!

Then inside they were having a huge 50% off sale on certain color tags. I got my daughter 3 pairs of jeans for school, me a pair of never before worn black heels PLUS I got my daughter a pair of tennis shoes that are a half size too big, BUT, she will need them before the school year is out. They looked BRAND spankin' new!

This is how you do it folks...this is how you save BIG and allow your money to be spent elsewhere.

This whole money saving-living on less-minimalistic lifestyle is challenging. But challenges can be fun. You HAVE to make it fun.

I will post more about keeping it fun in the VERY near future!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stretching it all

One thing that gets all of us often is those little things that you constantly have to purchase. The things that you don't necesarily budget for, but it hits you one day that you needed a new one!


cleaning supplies. We forget to budget for these because we always think we have enough.

toothbrushes. Those are supposed to be replaced every few months and that sneaks up on us.

cleaning brushes. You know the handy thing that sits in your sink that you use to pre-wash things that go in the dishwasher? Those get so gross and have to be replaced.

I have a few tips to help with these...

1. Cleaning supplies. You really only need 3 things. Windex, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol will get stains out of ANYTHING! Carpet, clothes, rugs, etc. And its CHEAP. super cheap!!! Vinegar kills germs but won't harm you to breathe it in. you may not like the smell, but its healthy to breathe in and you can use it to clean ANYTHING! Just pour it in a spray bottle and add water.

2. Brushes. Whether for your teeth or your toilet...boil it. Boil them every other week and they will last longer. Promise. I have done this for YEARS!

Another thing I want to challenge you to do is to install a clothes line. That will save on energy, keep your house cooler in these terribly hot summer days, AND your clothes will last longer and smell fresh! I have my supplies laying here on the counter just waiting for the hubs to get home. :) Drying sheets, towels, comforters, clothing... it's going to save energy, keep our house cool and I am so pumped!! I am going to monitor my electricity bill and let you know for sure how much money it saves. I do not plan on hanging up small items (my childs clothes, underwear, hand towels, wash cloths) but the rest will be hanging up to dry (quickly) in this summer sun.

To live on less means to take what you have--and stretch it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Why do we over consume?

There are lots of different blogs out there about the consumption of America and the impact of the media on our lives. One of my favorite blogs ever, Becoming Minimalist, had a post just today about ways to escape, and WHY to escape consumerism. He says and I quote, "After all, to live is to consume." Please check out his blog and when you comment tell him who sent you!

***Random thought I need to share.... I quote a LOT of bloggers and I always give them credit. I've never had one have a problem with it, but I like to let them know that I used them in my own posts. So IF you read a blog that I suggest please let that blogger know that I sent you. I don't EVER want a blogger to think I am using them without permission or without the appropriate links to their page.***

The big question here is WHY do we over consume? Sure I could list all of the common reasons:

1. the effects of media, print, tv, commercials, etc.
2. the desire to want more thats within us all
3. "keeping up with the Jones' " 

But I think it goes MUCH deeper than that. Sure, all of those things I listed are very real. If everyone is buying the newest IPOD, it's hard for us not to buy one too. We want to be cool. We want to have what others have. I think thats normal. It's natural to want things. I believe that God made us that way. But WE have to learn how to control it. 

In my opinion, the reason we over consume has to do with the list above, but more than anything I think it's this...


I know that probably sounds so extreme to you but stay with me. I feel strongly that when I am restless on the inside for whatever reason, I tend to over consume. I think the desire to want to go buy something comes from something not being right on the inside. Have you ever had that feeling inside of you that you wanted to go buy something SO bad? You didn't have anything particular in mind but the thought of spending money and walking through the mall made your stomach get in knots? That comes from restlessness. 

When our hearts and heads have priorities straight we don't feel the need to over consume. When we don't get overly stressed out about things then we don't feel the need to get a "high" from shopping. If we can condition ourselves to understand that stress happens, bad days will occur, things DO happen that convince you that you need to shop, your friends WILL have cooler stuff then you.... if we can let ourselves KnOW these things than we can begin the process of curing our restlessness other ways.

I hope I haven't lost you. :) And I hope that this makes sense, and if it doesn't I hope that you will at least CONSIDER listening to what I am saying.

Since I was a youngster I have always had that tid bit of restlessness in me. I always wanted more. Which in SOME areas is a good thing. I always knew I was better than some of the losers i dated, I knew that I deserved better friends, and I knew that I had what it took to "go places." I mean none of that in a self centered way, but it was true. I allowed myself to feel down a lot but somehow I always shook it off and rose above. Dead end jobs would satisfy me for a bit and then i'd feel that urge to FLEE and go onto something better. Some of that is good. It's called being driven... but it ALSO effected me in my shopping habits and financial aspects. I work VERY hard to keep that under wraps. There are days I want to delete all of my blogs and start over with writing about fashion, and the arts, and I want to spend money like its water, shop every day, travel the world and totally (excuse my language) screw this minimalistic-saving money-living on less-thing i've been working on for so long. But I FIGHT that.

When I feel restless and feel that urge to shop, I sit down with my checkbook and budget sheets. I go over what I have spent, how much I have saved, what bills are coming up soon, what things are coming up that I need to save for, and that gives me that same "high" as I call it without me spending a dime. We need reminders of where have been and where we are headed. And that is

To sum it all up... i think we over consume because we are restless on the inside and always want more. i think we as a society, or those few of us that WANT to live with less, have to wake ourselves up and quit sugar coating it. It's not that we needed those shoes, its that we wanted them and couldn't think of anything else. We have to learn to be real with ourselves or we can NEVER get to the root of the problem.

Did any of this make sense? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to know your thoughts.

I love comments--please give me some love, and share this blog with a friend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Letting go of some favs.

As sad as it may sound... one of the steps you have to take if you truly want to live with less is to let go of some of your favs.

Those fancy meals you like to make...the ones that require all the extra ingredients and it ends up being an excellent, but costly meal...you have to let those go.

The salon shampoo and conditioner may have to go.

The manicures and pedicures may be a thing of the past.

The cell phone that does it ALL may say bye-bye.

I know I sound like "Debbie downer" right now and i'm not trying to. But to truly live on less money, and live with less things you simply have to get back to the basics.

I plan my meals now by whats on sale at the store and what I can stock up on. In my recent post on The Bargain Hunting Mommy I wrote about finding an awesome deal on hamburger meat. I stocked up. The past few weeks we haven't had much hamburger meat at all because it wasn't on sale. Now we had chicken. :) But no hamburger. I can't buy something that's not on sale to make a meal. But I CAN buy items that ARE on sale and make a great meal out of those.

I've had to let some things go...shopping has been a favorite of mine since I was but a wee little thing. I never spent much on clothes, but it DOES add up.

This blog, The Minimalistic Matthews, is not meant to go hand in hand with my blog on being a bargain hunting mom, but a LOT of these things do go together. My plan for this blog is to write about HOW to live on less. Less money-yes, but more than that how to just simply enjoy LIFE on less. Without all the fuss. Does that make sense?

Basically it comes down to a MAJOR question. What can you live without?

You have to have a roof over your head, food, beds, a place to sit in your home, a car, clothes...but what about all of the OTHER stuff? What about the junk drawers that literally have nothing but CRAP in there. Can you get rid of that stuff? And the swimsuit drawer(totally guilty here)... I have 11 swimsuits. INSANE.

Minimalism, to me, is about living with less to enjoy life to the fullest. It means getting rid of things in my life that cause me to stress and to NOT enjoy life. It means if the stack of magazines sitting on the shelf make me crazy, then I should chunk them. If I get mad because I can't fit all the towels in the cabinet, I should probably donate a few. If my closet is so full and I only wear HALF the items in there, I should probably have a yard sale.

That's what minimalism is to me. And unfortunately, that DOES require getting rid of some favs...

Classy Christmas

Thanks for the post from Noble Schultz
Just when I started to think that "The Office" had already "jumped the shark" and I missed it, they come out with an episode like "Classy Christmas" that keeps me on board to watch this show via satellite TV that I got after seeing this special offer from satellite 911. The episode revolves around branch manager Michael Scott's self-proclaimed soul mate, Holly, returning to the Scranton branch, but what makes this episode is the subplot involving a snowball fight between Dwight and Jim. I expected Jim to get the better of it in the end, but to my delight that never happens. After watching years of Jim torturing Dwight via pranks, it was nice to see the underdog giving Jim a taste of his own medicine. I know it won't last, but it was a much needed change considering how stale Jim's character has become since the moment he and Pam finally got married. I enjoyed all the inventive ways they had Dwight surprise Jim with a barrage of snowballs: exploding out of snowmen, dressing up as other employees and a fake gift supposedly given to him by his wife. The other funny part is how Erin, the receptionist, doesn't see what is so great about Holly and treats her like the wicked stepmother. I really enjoy the father-daughter dynamic the those two have and it should be a good resource for material in future episodes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Make extra money

I know, I know. That is EVERYONES solution to helping get out of debt and gain wealth. But, well, it's kinda true.

I understand that not everyone can work 60 hours a week, 2 jobs, raise 3 kids, and have some normalcy in their lives... i'm not saying that. I'm just simply saying do some little EXTRA things.

For example... i write sponsored posts. A lot of bloggers have ads on their blogs, write reviews on items, etc. No-it won't make you wealthy. BUT... on average I make about 200 dollars a month. That money can go towards...
* paying down debt
 *saving for a rainy day
 *allowing for a fun filled weekend with the family where you won't have to worry about spending money because the money you are spending was "extra"
*use it to start a stock pile. Get started on stocking up!
*buy birthday presents and cards for your friends for the whole year.

OR... you can do what I'm doing. :)

i am using this months "Extra" money to buy Christmas. True that I have already gotten started, but I can EASILY finish up with this months "Extra" money. I have a few things left to buy and I plan to wrap it up (not literally wrap yet...you know what I mean) and be done with it!

Then next month I can use that money to buy a years worth of contacts.

Then next month I can have a crazy grocery store run and really fill my cabinets since the other weeks I only buy necessities.

Then next month I can.... who knows?

See my point... doing little extra things may not seem like much but it allows you to have EXTRA money to do different things with.

What can you do to make extra money? Have you ever thought about it?


we are having a huge one in September. That money is all going to go towards next years vacation spending money. Whatever we make--50 bucks, or 300 is all going towards vacation!!!

It's the little things that you can do that allow you to have some extra dough!!

Give it some thought. Prayerfully think of things that you can do to make extra money!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Buy it used!

We buy nearly EVERYTHING used.

Just this past week I went into our local Goodwill store and bought my husband 4 shirts! All were in great condition. The brands were PING (he loves that brand), POLO, and the other was a brand I had never heard of... Peter Miller? I thought that was the name of a weird attorney here in Arkansas. Anyway--then I got me brown pants for work, an adoreable shirt, and I bought my daughter 2 adoreable shirts for fall.

TOTAL BILL: $22.00.

We decided this year for Chrismas we were going to buy everything used. It's easy to do that for my 5 year old. We have nice local consignment shops, Rhea Lana and Duck Duck Goose travel through twice a year and i can ALWAYS rack up on awesome toys. But I had never given the thought about me and my husband doing that.

I wish I could say more but I have an amazingly supportive husband and he always reads my blog. :) Let's just say I went to a certain store and bought my husband an AWESOME Christmas already! Consisting of items that still had TAGS on them. I spent $22.00 (wow-I just realized I spend that amount a lot-weird.) and we had set our goal for $50 for each other. So I still have $28 bucks to spend and already he has more presents (and nicer ones) than I could give him LAST year and I spent well over $150 on him last Christmas. INSANE.

I understand the used thing is weird for a lot of people. And maybe it's not your thing. These are the tips that I can offer for how we have managed to spend a FRACTION of the cost on clothing, toys, and even some household things.

I must confess... I can't do used shoes. I know its weird, but I don't even want my friends to try my shoes on. :) Okay I guess there are a FEW people i'd let do that, but it goes no further than a FEW!

i have managed to always have the cutest clothes for my daughter and myself even when buying used.

So that's our thing... we buy things used. We save so much money and the other part is it makes it a CHALLENGE! It's a challenge to find new, fun things that are USED. It keeps us excited about our journey.

I hope that's a good tip that you at least give a try!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Changing your mind and changing your world

Our journey through minimalism and what that means all started because of a conviction that i felt in my head and heart. I began feeling a "change" in me. Something that was urging me to change.

Living on less, couponing, saving money, spending less, getting rid of the excess--it ALL comes from changing your mind which in turn creats a whole change in your world! Chosing to live this way is not just a mind-set, it's a LIFESTYLE change.

Minimalism is not something that you change in one area. This is a lifestyle, change how you have lived, change your way of thinking, change what you do and say kinda decision.

There are no defined rules of what minimalism is. I have written about that several times before on another blog. Check out those posts HERE and HERE to kinda see where I got started and what I think. :) Okay so as I was saying, there are no "Defined" rules of living a minimalistic lifestyle, but I feel very strongly that it can't be half ass. It has to be all or nothing. It has to be a lifestyle change that benefits you and your family and allows freedom in finances and less stress in your home.

In the end, Step 3 is all about change.

Changing your way of thinking.
you don't HAVE to have those shoes

Changing habits
no more browsing the mall. You foolin' with that word "browsing" anyway?

Changing your hearts
priorities shouldn't begin with tangible things. They should begin with love, our families, our friends, our Savior.

Changing the world one step at a time.
I have a plan to change the world. No seriously... i do. I'll post that later. Don't laugh--I really think I have this one figured out. If you can't change the "World" this year, change your family's world. That would be super.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Planning ahead

I learned the hard way. I didn't want to take the time to prepare a list for anything. I REFUSED lists! And I was proud... then I later realized how silly I had been.



Before you go to the grocery store you MUST be prepared. Have your list ready, the store paper, and your coupons lined up and ready to go.

Before you clothes shopping you MUST have a list of your "inventory". How many khakis do you own? Yep-that's what I thought. PUT THOSE DOWN! :) You HAVE to know what you have. It's all about being prepared.

Christmas is a huge one to be prepared for. You must plan ahead! Christmas cards, gifts, budget, meal planning, decoration list, etc... you MUST be prepared.

Unfortunately I am not cool enough to create these "list" sheets on my own. But I have some blogger friends whom I adore that did that for us!

Check out http://www.orgjunkie.com/! You can print out budget sheets, babysitter lists, anything you can think of!! AMAZING site. Please follow them... this site rocks!!!

Click HERE to be magicially transmitted to Christmas lovers heaven!!! This site has printables for EVERYTHING Christmas!! This is a terrific way to stay on top of the game. PLAN AHEAD!

That's what its ALL about!


This is a crucial part of our lifestyle these days...


Hopefully you are already saying no to drugs... now its time to say no to SPENDING MONEY!


Think of a HUGE NO SIGN! The one that means DON'T do something? Think of that everytime you want to shop. NO!

Think about how you have NO money to spend! You can't have extra money to spend if you are saving it! If you are watching every penny then there is NOT anything left over. REMIND YOURSELF OF THAT!

If that doesn't work... think of this...

Think of the whole world banding together to spell out the word NO everytime you consider swiping that card!

Maybe i'm a tad extreme, it wouldn't be the first time I have been told that, but it's effective.

Still on the whole FIRST THINGS FIRST idea... you have to not only cut back what you spend at the store (I say that because that is where a HUGE chunk of people spend their checks. They overspend at Walmart, K-Mart, what have you), you have to STOP shopping. You have to say NO! You have to say NO to spending money. You can't truly save money and learn to live on less unless you are saying NO!

Repeat after me...

NO, No, NO. NO!

Unfortunately, step #1 (spending less at the store) is a lot more fun than this step. *SIGH*

First things first...

We began this journey knowing we had to start moving, but we haven't actually defined where we want to end up. That's not right, huh? But, for now it's where we are.


We are on a journey through something trying to get somewhere. I'm already exhausted. :)

First things first...

We have to cut back. We have to cut back on what we spend. That means groceries, movies, eating out, toys, clothes, trips, EVERYTHING! That's our first step.

I mentioned in the WELCOME post that I began couponing a few months back. That's still going strong. We have a nice little stock pile (That I have VERY little invested in) that will get us by for a while. I am so proud of that little room. It makes me happy everytime I go in there. (FA-REAK...i know) Couponing has allowed us to cut our grocery bill from $400 a month to around $120 at the most.

FROM $400 to $120!! Did you read that? How awesome is that? I know, I know--i'm a freak. I'm just soooo stinkin' proud!

So I started there... still working on it. I'd like to spend less than that, but for now that's where I am.

First things first when you want to live minimally... cut back on what you spend!

Welcome to our world.

Welcome to our world.

We are the Matthews family. We are a diverse family to say the least. Here's some background on US...

I am 27. My husband is 49. My daughter is 5. His kids are 19 and 21. We live in the south. Faith-family-friends-food. That's what we live by.

I work in marketing, my husband owns his own business and my daughter is getting ready to start to kindergarten. (tear)

We had some changes to make in our life and we knew it. About 6 months ago I began couponing. Not EXTREME couponing, but I began any way. I learned how to save us money with each shopping trip. It was very exciting for me! I began following other bloggers that wrote about couponing, saving money, etc and even started a blog of my own.

Let me go back to the first F in our life which is FAITH. I believe that God is in the center of everything we do. All of the choices we have to make in regards to ourselves, jobs, children, spouses, etc ALL need to go through him. I'm not wise on my own. I NEED the help of God to guide me through decisions. I began praying over my finances. I began praying that God would open my eyes to the mistakes I was making and help me see how to fix them. I began feeling very guilty about my spending. I prayed that God would show me how to work through all of this.

A little background---I have ALWAYS loved shopping. It was my cardio as Carrie says on SATC. :) But I have ALWAYS been a bargain shopper. My mother taught me at a very young age that you can get so much more if you wait til it goes on sale. :) And I LIVED by that. Everything i've ever bought (with the exception of VERY few things) has been purchased while it was on sale. That's helped a lot, but it didn't exactly fix any problem. It just allowed me to spend the SAME amount of money as those that shopped regular price, I just had a lot more stuff. STUFF. STUFF--stuff-itis.

I read a book called "THE 100 THING CHALLENGE" and if you haven't read it and are considering living on less or even if you are NOT, read it. It's very good. The first chapter, as I recall, gives a scenario of him walking in his house, tripping over a toy, spilling something on his fancy polo shirt, dropping and cracking an IPAD or IPOD (something fancy like that), knocking over a $1,000 vase, etc. (I made a lot of that up. It's something like that. Very dramatic and talked about expensive stuff.) Anyway, he finally gets in his room goes to pick up a pen and realizes that pen cost like $150 bucks... he looked around the room and felt sick. He was consumed, stressed out and overwhelmed by stuff. So he decided to live on 100 things for a year. That got me thinking about MY stuff. (NO, I do NOT want to only have 100 things. But he did make me realize that a lot of times my "stuff" consumes, overwhelmes and stresses me out.)

My closets are filled to a brim. 2 storage rooms, tons of shoes, toys, hunting gear, golfing stuff, home decor, etc crams my storage buildings!

My hubs---well, he has lots of hobbies. And I don't mean reading books. I mean golfing. Hunting. Things that require LOTS of STUFF. Don't get me wrong-I don't begrudge him for his hobbies or for his stuff. We just don't need more. I am a hunter myself so I know that "gear" is important.

My daughter--has one of EVERYTHING. And two of most things. It's insane. She has so much stuff she doesn't even know WHAT she has. And it's funny... out of all the things she has she will come find me and say "Where's that toy--ya know the one from Chick fil a?" And inside I think yep--the innocence of a child speaks volumes. It IS the little things like the happy meal toy, not the fancy V-tech, X-Box looking thing in her room. It's crazy.

We have more stuff than we know what to do with.

I began feeling convicted, yes, that's where I was in my story before I went off on another tangent. (I do that a lot, get ready and bear with me). I began feeling guilty that I had so much yet felt like I needed more. So what does a person do that feels that way? Give everything away? Sell it? I can't do that... or can I.

So that's where this journey begins. You have a family (in the house) of 3. 3 people that have it all.

This is our journey through sifting through the "STUFF" and learning to find peace on less.

I hope that you will follow along this journey. I plan to laugh, cry, get mad, pout, sulk, and be an emotional roller coaster. I think I do that best.