Tomorrow is the second new moon of the year, and is found in the constellation Aquarius. According to my star sign this is in my 6th house, while going with my rising sign it is in my 4th house. The 6th house is your daily work and health zone, while the 4th house is your home and family zone. So sticking with how I did my new moon goals last month, I’ll be going with the 4th house in terms of making goals again for this upcoming new moon.
So with going with home and family zone, I’m going to try to focus on straightening up and de-cluttering various areas of my home and family zone. So some of the goals are going to include:
Submit the decluttr order (sell back quite a few DVDs) and start making a third decluttr order.
Set up an cleaning schedule for my bathroom (I have a terrible habit of letting the bathroom get really dirty before I go OCD in cleaning it) and try to stick with it.
Reorganize my closet and the overflowing pile of clothes.
Take some sick leave (hopefully) and spend at least one day working in the storage unit repacking and reorganizing things.
Continue trying to figure out the next job position.
According to Moonology by Yasmin Boland, there are several things one should do during each new moon (depending on the house). So with the fourth house (home and family zone), the things one should try to do include:
Having a “Garage sale”
Hugging your parents
Sorting out your photo albums/digital photo files
“Inviting Friends over”
Renovate or redecorate so you’re more comfortable at home
“Sell your home and/or change location, or even country”
“Ask your grandparents about your family’s history”
Things in “” are either things I can’t do (talk to my grandparents for one—they’re all dead), or things that aren’t possible at this moment (moving–well I’m going to be moving, it just isn’t going to be during this particular new moon cycle or having a garage sale [truthfully this is a giant pain in the rear to do anyway, so no–I do not foresee this for quite a while]).
So, this is both a review of Minimalist Money Makeover by Michelle Moore, and my plan on how to start spending less on certain areas of my life and start trying to save more money.
This was a informative book that gives more ideas on how to not only start setting up a budget, but also working at getting rid of debt, and in a way declutter your life.
One of the interesting things about the book were the chapters that explained the different types of spending problems—you may be a shopaholic, a hoarder, or just have a spending problem (either retail therapy or impulse buying). Some of these problems can be handled by the individual, and some may require the assistance of a professional—knowing which could be affecting you, allows for you to determine how much outside help you may need in terms of overcoming your spending problem.
After talking about the different types of spending problems, the author went on to describe different methods of setting up a budget, and ways of getting out of debt.
One of the chapters introduced “Dave Ramsey 7 Baby Step Technique”—which basically gives you seven steps (or things) that you should do to get out of debt (and depending on where you are in life, some of the steps may not apply to you).
One of the interesting things I found was the snowball method of paying off your debt. Basically you figure out how much you can pay on all the different debts that you owe, do that but also aim at paying off the highest interest rated ones first. Once that is paid off, that money is added to the second highest until it is paid off, and so forth until you have all the debts paid off.
The book also touches again on the concept of hygge or coziness of getting the joy out of the little things in life (also can be considered mindfulness as well).
So even before reading the book, I had an idea of what type of spender I was—I’m an impulse buyer. Knowing this, I decided I’d break down the areas where I end up spending a lot of money, explain why I spend so much money there, and ways that I’m going to try to curb the spending and start saving.
So knowing that I have a spending problem, these are those areas that I end up spending a lot of money:
So four of the areas that I spend quite a bit of money fall into the entertainment section (books, movies, games, and music), while the last portion are clothes. So lets go over why I spend so much money in each area, and how I’m going to start trying to dial back on the spending in those areas.
I will admit that I have bibliophilism—or love of books. I use to go to the bookstore (and even on-line) and buy several books almost weekly, and they’d be piled on my “to-be” read pile. By the time I was almost finished with college, I had two bookcases packed with books, shelves packed, and just stacks of books here and there. Now that I’ve switched to electronic books (for the most part), those books are just piling up on my kindle.
Reading is one of my guilty pleasures, and I know it is one of the areas that eat up a large amount of my paycheck (especially since I buy most of them via amazon.com). For the most part my enjoyment reading come from the romance genera (with the way the world is going, I love reading books that almost always have an happily ever after), though I do try to branch out to other genera such mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy.
So trying to branch out into other genera, usually ended up with me buying numerous books that I may or may not get around to reading them (so they’d just collect dust on a bookcase). So one of the things I’m trying to work on—for every book that I want to buy, I need to have read and reviewed at least two other books.
I’ve also bought a lot of different personal and professional development books, which I’m reading along with the “pleasure” reading. I’m also trying to follow the same routine with the development books that I’m going to do for the “pleasure” books—for every one that I want to buy from now on, requires that I’ve finished at least two others and have written and posted reviews (short for amazon [or wherever I bought the book], and then expanded for the blog).
I will admit that as an introvert, I dislike going to movie theaters to see movies when they come out (especially the price of the movie ticket, and if I feel like having a snack, the price at the concession stand). So usually I would wait for the movie to come out on DVD and then buy the DVD. Now that isn’t that bad, people do it all the time—but I’ve realized over the last few months, when I get a movie in I’d watch the movie once or twice (sometimes more depending on the movie), but for the most part it would then end up on a pile of movies that I own, but hardly ever watch.
When it comes to watching movies, I usually go with adventure/action/sci-fi genera (also at times cartoons as well). So buying movies (which is basically in cost is double [more or less] of what it would cost to going to the theater), has also taken a big bite out of the budget/money.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that since I’m hoping to move within the year to a new city for a new job—I don’t want to be adding a large number of boxes to what I already have in my storage unit. So, I’m slowly trying to par down on the movie collection, keeping the movies that I’m slightly confident that I’d probably be watching once I’ve moved to a new city (and especially if I decide to not get cable—have to have something to watch at nights or on the weekends).
Right now I’ve only gotten one or two new movies, but got them digital—that way there isn’t a physical thing to pack. I know that there are digital platforms that I can look into for watching movies/shows (Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon). But now before I buy a movie I ask myself the following questions:
How often will I really watch this?
Why am I buying this? (Do I like the plot? Actor?)
Would it be on Netflix or Hulu at a later date when I want to watch it?
But so far I’ve managed to save money, by realistically noting that I don’t watch movies all that often, and when I do it’s usually something I’ve seen numerous times and therefore can zone out and possibly listen to a podcast as I get steps in or whatever else it is I’m trying to do as I have the movie on for background noise/movement.
Playing games on the computer has been one way of relaxing in the evenings (depending on what else I have going on). I enjoy doing the hidden object or the match three games, which require a little bit of thinking and strategy.
So I have a monthly membership with a online gaming company, that charges me a flat $6.99 fee, which allows for me then to get games “at a discounted” price compared to those who don’t have a membership.
One thing I like about the membership is that for every month (or maybe two) that you hold, at the end you get a free credit that can for a game. The ones I like to play are usually the collector’s edition (mainly because they have the strategy guide with them), and these cost more than the game does by itself.
I’ve realized that the other way that I spend money on computer games, is that I have several match three games on my kindle. These games are through amazon, and therefore if you need bonuses (say extra turns, or the charms) you have to spend the money to get them. I don’t even want to think how much money I’ve spent on the “gold coins” for either of the games that I play on the kindle (which are witchy world—the magical puzzle game and bubble witch 2 saga).
So now that I know where I’m spending money on the computer games, how can I start to save money?
Well there are several ways:
I can delete the apps (witchy world and bubble witch 2) off of my kindle. If they aren’t present, I can’t play them. If I can’t play them, I’m not tempted to buy the gold coins to help get through the various levels. Also since they’re free apps—I can go into my kindle account and delete them there (that way there is nothing to download from the cloud).
With the other computer games—I need to try to do just the normal version. I really don’t think that the strategy guide should be worth almost seven dollars.
Also I need to finish playing at least two games for everyone that I want to buy.
If I wait long enough, I should have enough free credits to potentially buy a collector’s edition for free.
Worse comes to worse, I can cancel my membership (after I re-download games that I may want to go back and try playing again).
I’m going to delete some of the apps off the kindle, and then keep track of the other costs. I’m sure that my amazon bill will be much lower, if there aren’t the game gold pieces being bought every other day.
Music is something else that I use to spend a lot of money on (I know that I have a lot of CDs in the storage unit that can be sold somewhere for money; though I know I will keep some of them that I don’t have on my iPod). So before iPods became really popular, I use to buy CDs quite frequently (though not at the frequency that I would be buying books), and my love of music is quite eclectic—I like everything from classical, to country, to rock, to pop, to rap, to alternative.
Buying music now is usually as simple as logging into iTunes, adding a couple of CDs to my cart and hitting purchase. Though looking back over the last couple of months, I realize that I haven’t bought that many CDs lately. The reason—you can only have iTunes registered to five different computers. I realized that besides my numerous laptops, I’d registered at least one of my parents’ computers with my iTunes account. We’ve gotten rid of those computers, and therefore I can’t deregister my iTunes account on those computers. Once I move into my new apartment, I think I can locate my first laptop and deregister that one, so that I can register on my new laptop and hopefully make use that.
One way of trying to save money on music is to look into seeing how it costs to have a Pandora or Spotify account for music (since I know you have a free account on Pandora, but you get the commercials), and see if that in the long run could be potentially cheaper than downloading music off of iTunes.
So on to the final category where I spend quite a bit of money: Clothes.
Truth be told, I’m not a real big clothes horse—I don’t have to have the latest trends or fashions, but when I look at my closet (knowing that is only a fraction of my total wardrobe, I’m seeing way to many clothes.
I have this habit of buying a lot of different tops (t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and I also try to have a small collection of business professional tops for interviews).
I also have the habit of buying a lot of nice tops from greatergood.com (which takes a part of the money and puts its to a good cause—feeding animals in shelters, protecting the rainforest, things like that). So I know that I spend quite a bit of money on that site.
But now I’m thinking—do I really need the forty plus different t-shirts? The dozen or so different long sleeve shirts, the numerous sweaters and sweatshirts? I know why I have them—when I was in Boston, it was pricy to do laundry (we’re talking a minimum of four dollars a load (two dollars to wash, and two to dry)—so yeah, I’d order some shirts here and there so I wouldn’t have to do laundry as often.
Moving home, I bought the shirts, because as winter turned into spring and summer, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be moving and instead of going to my storage unit to unpack some spring and summer shirts—I just bought some new ones.
I’d recently donated a lot of the clothes to a local donation drive (each house was given a big red garbage bag to fill up and then place at the curb)—I filled our up, and it was only a fraction of the clothes in my closet.
One of the topics covered in the book was the 333-challenge. This challenge is a way of trying to declutter your wardrobe. Basically what you do, is that you decide on a three-month period (say you want to try this in summer so June through August), and then you go through your summer wardrobe and pick out the 33 pieces of clothes that you will wear for those three months. Basically, it is a challenge to show you that you mix and match different things to keep your wardrobe cycling.
I’m actually going to be giving this a try in the near future (I’m not sure if it will be done before or after moving for a new job), and will be aiming to try to do it seasonally, and therefore should end up with no more than 132 articles of clothing (not counting undergarments or clothes for job interviews and things like that).
Overall, I learned quite a bit from the book—mainly being able to say that yes I’m an impulse buyer. Knowing that I’m an impulse buyer, is actually helping me now slowly quit buying things on a whim (also it helps to know that I’m going to be moving and I don’t want to deal with a mountain of boxes again—if I can help it).
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious to know about combining minimalism with a budget and getting out of debt.
Follow along as I slowly start to implement some of these suggestions (and others) to get out of debt, and to realize that at times having less is actually having more.
So here is my review of More with Less: How to declutter your home without sacrificing comfort and coziness—a unique minimalist makeover approach by Michelle Moore. This is more expanded and slightly different from the shorter one that I posted on amazon.
Rating: 5 stars
I’ve decided that this is the “year (or possibly years—because lets face it I’m sure I’ll procrastinate a little at some point)” that I start having an active participation in my own life. This ranges from making sure I’m in a job that I at least enjoy going to daily, to making new friends (and getting together when possible with old friends), and that the house/apartment/bedroom (wherever I’m living) isn’t totally jam packed with stuff. This book is focused on that third area: making sure that I’m not just living surrounded by stuff.
I’ve read several different books on the minimalism over the past couple of months (and probably will still be reading some more just to get ideas on what to do), and this one ranks right up there in the top five.
The book covers several different things related to minimalism: hygge, and the Swedish death cleaning method; and then the author takes you through basically room by room on how to slowly start decluttering your own life/home.
One of the main themes behind this book (besides minimalism) is hygge, or the cultural practice of Scandinavians meaning “well-being” or coziness. Since hygge is a “practice” it can be considered both mental and physical—do things that make you feel cozy or increases your well-being. Read More
Well today is a little of a two for one—the photos are both for the challenge and also for almost completing an task off my 101+ Goal List.
If you remember with the goal list (and even level 10 life), you can set anything to be a goal as long as you try to complete it within next 1001 days (or for the level 10 life, whenever you’re going to be doing another reassessment of the levels and whether or not that goal is on that particular list).
One of the things that has been on my nerves lately has been my desk (see the above picture left corner). It is a catch all for just about everything in my life right now (due in part to not having a dresser and it taking the place of said dresser). There were a lot of things on the desk that needed to either find a new home (I boxed up the big notebooks that were taking up quite a bit of the space), or just get organized (nothing like using one of the many coffee cups that I seemed to have collected as a pencil/pen holder).
There is some free space now in the middle, to where if I want to place a chair near it I probably could put my computer on the desk and actually feel like somewhat of an adult for using the desk for its main purpose.
One of the books that I’m reading (and ones that I’ve finished) state that the bedroom should be kept to just sleeping and getting dressed, and therefore shouldn’t have everything else from the house found in there–I agree, with the exception that for the most part it is the rest of the house (minus the bathroom and kitchen) for me (especially if I want to get away from everyone else–having the TV is nice that I can watch what I want without worrying about what others might be wanting to watch).
There are still a few other things that probably can be moved off the desk and will over the next few weeks, but at least I’ve started to clean off the catch-all that my desk had become. Not bad for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Okay, I’m a day or two behind on sitting down and evaluating the month. So November is over, and there are now less than thirty days left in the year. One big bright spot, is that I managed to get the DNA sequencing position at the DNA core facility at my alma mater. This is now letting me both expand my technical and transferrable skills to help me try to find that optimal job within industry.
Had to get a new fitbit this month, and therefore I’m not sure what my actual step total was (since there were a few days that I was relying on my iPhone for step tracking (and I may or may not have forgotten to put it in my back pocket once or twice). But I’m pretty sure I at least reached a little over 200,000 steps for the month. So I don’t think that I’ll be hitting 4+ million steps for the year. So I know that this is something that I need to work on next year—I do so well, and then I hit a low point and I allow the step goal to fall by the way side for a good portion of the year. I did manage to read a few more personal development books in November, these focused a little more on trying to manage money and getting out of debt. Read More
Another good book from Zoe McKey on budgeting, with a decent background on the ongoing debt epidemic; and tips on everything from setting up a budget, to savings, to spending less. The book starts out with background on both the myths of money, and the epidemic of the debt crisis that the world is currently in. Then it went into explaining how to set up a budget, advice for spending less money and saving money. I like a fact that there was another chapter on financial tips, and a chapter for advice for women—on the fact that as a woman, I need to start having more interest and insight into my own financial standings. There are simple tips, and the simple fact that you need to make sure that your debt is either paid off or extremely low, before trying to build a savings account (and this is something I’m working on). I also liked that there is more emphasis also on trying to have a side job (or side hustle) that you enjoy, and can do that will add a little bit of money to your account (either savings or going towards paying off your debt).
Is there any way to turn back the clock a week or two? How about a couple of months? It feels like all the progress I’ve made in August and September have been lost over the past two months. I enjoyed my time in London and stepping out of my comfort zone a little on that trip (going to the Nature Job expo to network), but since getting back it seems like I’ve been sliding backwards.
Tomorrow will start week three of T25–I should have restarted it last week, but was feeling slightly under the weather, so I’m going to start week 3 again tomorrow (even if I feel like I should be totally starting over–I won’t). I’m hoping that it will give me the jolt that I need to try to get back into the routine I was slowly getting into before I went over seas.
Nutrition has totally sucked the past two weeks, and I’d been doing so good for about a week and half before everything went downhill. It sucks when you realize that you only have probably a year or less left with a pet that you’ve had for over fifteen years (canine cancer sucks). We found out that she has cancer (probably thyroid) and its spread. I’d made the decision that she gets to live out the rest of her life being spoiled (she is now getting turmeric gravy every night before bed), until she shows signs of pain, and then it will be time for her to run free at the rainbow bridge.
So if there are sporadic posts at times–that is why I’m spending time spoiling my precious pup (yes, I know she isn’t technically a puppy-but to me she will always be my puppy).
I have always had a small problem with money—in that I always had something to spend it on. In college it was paying tuition, as soon as I got a paycheck, I turned around and paid off part of my semester bill. This worked well until I graduated from graduate school, got a job and had to move. There I quickly spiraled into debt, even though I had a budget set up. Moving home after the job was loss, helped me get the debt down, but not totally eliminated.
Well this week Beachbody is doing something different with their on-demand workout platform. They are giving a week long streaming sneak peak of the new workout program that is coming in January, that is called 80 Day Obsession. This is Autumn Calabrese’s latest workout program for Beachbody. Now I have a love/hate relationship with Autumn’s 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme workout programs–I love them, but at the same time I hate them.
This is one of my more favorite memes when it comes to her workouts–during both 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme–the workouts were one minute–but it is one long minute.
So her newest program is of a similar fashion–but its 80 DAYS, instead of 21. The sneak peak today was a core focused workout–and I only managed about half of it (and that was even more modified than what the modifier was doing). I think this is going to be a really cool program, but since I’ve neglected my fitness regime for the past year or so–I know that I need to work up to doing this program. Currently I’m doing a second round of T25 with Shawn T, and will be restarting week 3 tomorrow (last week wasn’t a good week). After I get through all three rounds of T25, I’m going to move on probably a hybrid program that will mix cardio with weight training (something that I miss doing), and hopefully by the summer be able to give Autumn’s new workout program the attention that it deserves.
So the other thing that I’m going to be trying to plan this week is a minimization challenge. I’ve realized that depending on how the job hunt goes (I do have a slightly informal job offer, and an Skype interview next week), I could be moving within the next two months. Now I have a lot of stuff in my storage unit that needs to get repacked, due to the fact that the boxes have been sitting in that storage unit for almost 5 years now, and the boxes are starting to fall in on themselves and the tape is starting to come off. The thing is I don’t want to be adding another 15-20 boxes into that jumble, and I’m not sure right now how many boxes it would take to pack up everything that I’ve acquired since moving in with my parents.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on lessening the amount of things I have to pack, though right now majority of it is clothes (which may be a little harder for me to part with), but we shall see what I’m able to do (or at least how I’m able to do creative packing). 🙂 Nothing is ever a quick fix, fast route, or easy solution. Trying to figure out where we should be, our dream job(s), and what our life should look like takes time, and the roads at time can curve back around and it will seem that we’ve ended up back at square one.
It isn’t square one in the same sense–you’ve been there before, and now can chose a different door (or window). Remember we are all in charge of our own futures (even if it doesn’t always seem that way).
So far this month I’ve been able to finish Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and start another book. I’ve decided that the next few books that I’m going to read are going to revolve around minimalism.
Now I’m not going to all of a sudden just have the extreme bare necessities in my future home–it will be cozy, but I have come to the realization that I can be a pack rat at times with certain things. I think trying to take suggestions from Zoe McKey’s book and some of the other books I’ve read I can design an scheme that works for me–it may not work for other people, but it can bring some sense of balance to my own life.
I’ve been thinking about reducing the amount of “stuff” I own for quite awhile. One reason is that when I move I don’t want to be adding a massive number of boxes to what I already have in storage (that I’d be sorting through once I got to my new place). Other reasons is that with things going more and more digital—do I really need all the CDs or DVDs (answer—I’m going to keep some—but not all).
I agree with the author that the western hemisphere has the mentality of more, more, and more, which does drive capitalism, but doesn’t really buy us happiness. I’ve also realized that having too many things, which I never get around to dusting, is causing both my allergies and my anxiety to flare at times.
Zoe introduces two theories of minimalism from Japan and two from Nordic countries. She also emphasizes that you can pick and choose the parts of the theory that resounds best with you to work with. Personally—I’ll probably be going more with Nordic ways of lagom and hygge than the KonMari or Wabi-sabi methods (but in a year to two, I may incorporate a little of those as well).
As Zoe said in her book “You don’t have to be so hard on yourself. Know your goals and act, declutter, and minimize accordingly”. For me that is to ensure that if I ever have to use a storage unit again for long term—it will only be half filled.
Moving is a pain in the rear, if I can condense down my belongings to half (or even a third) by the time I have to do a second move (after the next one)–that can save quite a bit of money in the long run.
So one goal is to try to go through the clothes I’ve acquired over the past four years and see how many can be donated or re-purposed to something else.