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Stop Consuming, Start Creating

Posted by Marko on July 7, 2019 in Off Topic |

There is a happiness and contentment that sets in when you stop trying to fill the discontent in your soul by consumption — and instead focus your energy on creation.

Consumption : the utilization of economic goods in the satisfaction of wants or in the process of production resulting chiefly in their destruction, deterioration, or transformation.

~As defined by Merriam Webster

Consuming as a past time doesn’t contain the sustenance necessary to keep us satisfied for long. We never quite get our fill when our main objective in life is to consume by upgrading our possessions. We upgrade our car, our house, our job, our clothes, our TVs, etc., etc., etc.

As soon as we obtain the latest object of our desire, our sights are set on the next *thing* to upgrade. Of course this means our energy, time and resources will be allocated to our next upgrade as well. We never quite make it though, do we? We upgrade, decide what our next upgrade will be…and round and round we go. Read more…

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Do You Have an Escape Plan for Your Life?

Posted by Marko on June 19, 2019 in Off Topic |

When I was younger I used to keep a backpack in the toy box by my bedroom door. Inside were all of the things I felt I would need in order to survive if for some reason I was forced out of my home. In it I kept some extra underwear and a couple pair of socks, a change of clothes, shampoo and soap, and a little metal Band-Aid box with all of the cash I owned at the time, $40.00.

I looked through the backpack fairly often, taking stock of what was there, and updating the contents as my needs changed. Sorting through the filling oftentimes led me to daydream about the fantastic adventures I would have if only school and parents weren’t keeping me in check. I dreamed of living in the woods near my home, and would even take my backpack there to pretend I was doing just that. Read more…

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Lost Friends, New Connections, Fog and Projects

Posted by Marko on May 23, 2019 in Off Topic |

Hello! I’m going to go with a little bit different kind of post today than I usually do on Fridays. I hope that’s OK with you.

To be honest, it’s been kind of an unusual week here in markoaten land. Lots of my blogging friends have dropped out of the blogging scene (even if only temporarily), and I’m feeling a little lost without them. I’m looking forward to making new connections, but I’m sad about those that have left.

Plus, I’m running on three hours less sleep than usual from the storms that kept me up last night. That might be creating some of the fog I’m feeling today. Read more…

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What’s on Your Bucket List?

Posted by Marko on May 4, 2019 in Off Topic |

I’ve been talking a lot about paying off debts, saving money and getting rid of the excess in my life. I’ve mentioned that I would like to make more time and space in my life, but I haven’t specified what I plan to do with this extra flexibility. Some of the things I’ll be focusing on with the freedom I’m working towards can be found on my bucket list!

Do you have a bucket list?

For those of you that aren’t sure what a bucket list is, it’s a list a things you would like to experience before you die. When you create a bucket list, you should pour out every desirable experience you can think of — without regard to time or money. Read more…

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Cheap Minimalist Birthday Party for Kids

Posted by Marko on April 19, 2019 in Off Topic |

Many of you seemed interested in the low cost minimalist birthday party we threw for our son’s seventh birthday this past weekend. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful feedback and ideas! It was so comforting to have all of your creative suggestions to fall back on if at anytime the party started to drag.

Birthday Cupcakes
These are the cupcakes my son had me make for his party. Lemon cake with a meringue-type frosting. Simple and delicious!

This year my son invited four friends from school to our home to celebrate his birthday. We were worried that the boys might get bored since the norm in our area is to have a party at a super-mega-birthday place like SkyZone, Pump It Up or Super Games. Read more…

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Memories that Appreciate & Tiny Beach Vacation Rentals

Posted by Marko on April 13, 2019 in Off Topic |

I mentioned last week that we weren’t sure if we were taking a beach vacation this summer. Thanks to all of your comments and feedback, we’ve decided to plan a low budget (for us) beach vacation.

The memory of a summer trip to the coast is more important to us than the money we would save by skipping a year.

It’s become well known that with passing time, memories or experiences appreciate, while stuff we buy oftentimes depreciates. And even if our stuff doesn’t depreciate in actual value, our happiness with it usually does.

For example, if you take a hard look at the new refrigerator you bought five years ago, it probably doesn’t make you boil over with excitement. You wouldn’t likely glow with enthusiasm when telling the tale of the first time you swept the coils and then pull up your digital photos to relive the experience. Read more…

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Step back. Reflect. Repeat.

Posted by Marko on March 21, 2019 in Off Topic |

The past few months have been a time of retreat and introspection for me. Periodically, I like to step back from my life and process my current circumstances. Occasionally these periods of reflection lead to great changes. This time, however, I’m quite happy with the way things are.

Since eliminating our consumer debt in August of 2018, Kirk and I have more flexibility in our working lives. I’m able to choose projects I want to work on and Kirk can choose work that’s a good fit for him. We don’t have to force ourselves into unsavory work or projects to pay creditors.

It’s a freeing feeling.

I now have the opportunity to spend more quality time with my kids and have even been reading quite a few books for pleasure. Getting a homemade dinner on the table is rarely a problem and we’ve been enjoying more downtime together as a family. Read more…

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Kiss Your Debt Goodbye: Three Steps to Debt Freedom

Posted by Marko on March 10, 2019 in Off Topic |

Make this the year you tackle those lingering debts. Shedding the restriction and stress that debt evokes is well worth the effort. It may seem overwhelming, but you can break it down into manageable pieces.

1. Write down how much you owe.
Get a paper and pencil or spreadsheet together that simply lists out exactly how much you owe to each creditor and what your monthly payments are. This may take an entire month if you rely on bills showing up in your mailbox to tell you where to send your money, but it will be the most important step you’ll take. Knowing where you’re starting from gives you the leverage you’ll need to lunge forward.

2. Write down your monthly income.
This is a critical step to discovering if you have enough to stay afloat each month. If you discover that you’re sinking further in debt by paying out more than you bring in each month, don’t dispare. You can start shaving unnecessary expenses and generating extra income to try and close the gap. Read more…

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Valentine’s Day — Can’t Buy Me Love

Posted by Marko on February 14, 2019 in Off Topic |

I have mixed emotions about Valentine’s Day. On the one hand, I love doing a little something special for my husband and children on February 14th. On the other hand, I’m repulsed by the over-commercialization and pressure to overspend on a holiday that should have nothing to do with buying expensive jewelry.

My friend Robert from Untitled Minimalism absolutely nailed it in his post The Secret to Experience Gifts, Valentine’s Edition.

In his post, Robert explains the goal of all gift giving perfectly. As Robert suggests, we all want to present a gift that will create a memory for the recipient. I laughed out loud reading about Robert’s comparison to giving a teddy bear as a gift versus dressing up as a teddy bear and singing “Teddy Bear” by Elvis. Read more…

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What are your simplification and money goals for 2019

Posted by Marko on January 13, 2019 in Off Topic |

I’ve heard many people talking about how they don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Personally, I like to use the beginning of each new year to set a few goals. Doing this helps me to work toward aspirations that might otherwise feel overwhelming. Goals help me break down larger dreams into bitable chunks I can tackle with confidence.

This year I plan to work towards the following goals:

  • Remain consumer debt free.
  • Continue to simplify by selling or donating excess possessions.
  • Continue to contribute to our car savings until we have enough saved for Kirk to purchase his next car outright. Currently have $4,892 saved. Our goal is $20,000.
  • Raise the additional principal we pay on our mortgage each month. Currently only paying $20 additional per month. Our goal is to pay an additional $1,000 monthly.
  • Increase the amount we contribute to the kids’ college savings. Currently contributing $50 monthly. Our goal is $300 monthly.
  • Be more intentional and consistent with the message I hope to share at Ex-Consumer.
  • Explore the possibility of going back to work full-time.

Read more…

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