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…
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…
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…
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.
I’m not sure why we waited so long, but Kirk and I finally refinanced our mortgage to secure a lower interest rate. We have been trying to figure out how to pay off our mortgage sooner, but we didn’t want to lower our retirement contributions to get there.
Refinancing our mortgage allowed us to reduce our interest rate by 1.375%. We went with a 30-year fixed rate loan again, however, we’ll be paying the same amount we were paying before refinancing – even though our new mortgage payment is lower. Read more…
Round and round and back again. It’s been a long time coming, but I finally feel that I’m in a place where I can choose work based on my interests rather than the income. I always dreamed of this place and thought it to be a distant fantasy rather than a reality for me.
Simplifying my life and finances has opened up the opportunity to do any kind of work I want. It’s been both liberating and overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easier to do something because you have to. Read more…
I love Christmas. I love the family gatherings, the cookies, the lights and most of all — I love the magic glimmer in children’s eyes as they anticipate the excitement of the holiday season.
When I think back to my favorite Christmas memories from years past, a few things stick out. Like the years my dad would get off from work early on Christmas Eve to take me to feed the animals at a live manger scene. Or listening to my older brother shake jingle bells while screaming, “Ho, ho, ho!” after I’d gone to bed on Christmas Eve night.
I was the youngest of four, so the entire family tried to keep the magic of Santa alive for me as long as possible. For their sake, I pretended to still believe years after I knew the truth.
It’s hard for me to remember many of the gifts that I received. In fact, only two really stick out. The first was the red bed tent my brother gave me for Christmas when I was seven. I was always afraid to sleep at night and that bed tent made me feel so protected. Read more…
I have a dirty little secret. There is a room in our home that escaped the rampage of purging and downsizing undertaken over the past two years. It’s a room with sentimental clutter, outdated files and memories of a past I wasn’t ready to let go.
The home office.
We’ve decided to turn the space into a media room for our two sons since we no longer use the room. Deciding to repurpose the space has meant that everything now occupying the space needs cleared out. Everything. Wow. Read more…
In the city where I live, there are practically limitless opportunities for children to participate in enrichment activities. There are opportunities to partake in sports of every kind, music lessons, scouting, writing workshops, martial arts training, art classes, science classes, dance lessons, math enrichment and even manners training.
Allowing our children to try all of the things that interest them can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
Have you experienced activity overload? It can get exhausting (and expensive!) taking our son to soccer practices, Taekwondo training and Cub Scout meetings and events. Now he’s begging to take classes on LEGO robotics and computer programming. Read more…
I’ve never been a fan of white clothes. Not only do they lose their brilliance after several washes in our hard water, but wearing a crisp white shirt always makes me uneasy. White is unforgiving. Unrelenting even.
Like my clothes, I prefer a life enveloped in more forgiving shades of grey as well. It’s better to allow for some lenience as we blaze through our life journey.
Circumstances and people disappoint me far less often when I lower my expectations, practice unconditional acceptance and remain tolerant of differing perspectives and opinions. Expecting perfection will always lead to an illusion of lack. Read more…