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Showing posts from August, 2020

Simple Money

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Contrary to what so many people think, minimalism doesn't mean lack and deprivation.   Minimalism is a tool  that helps us find happiness by steering us in the direction of what we truly desire. Physical clutter can be obvious: that unused treadmill, those stacked up boxes, or the pile of knickknacks, mail, and remotes on the coffee table.  But financial clutter , such as debt, overspending, and a fuzzy understanding of what we owe and where our money goes can be much less apparent.  When we let go of financial clutter, we create more resources to accomplish the things we really care about. Introducing my newest book!  It's called  Simple Money: Achieve Financial Peace and Abundance with Minimalism ,* and it's available now on Amazon in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.  (Amazon's Kindle editions can be read on any phone, tablet, or computer with their free app.) *  This blog is reader-supported. If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission. I'm not a f

30 Day Challenge: One Suitcase

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It's an eye-opening experience to physically carry everything you own. When I was in college, I spent two summers traveling all over the western part of the U.S. and Canada, singing with a choral group.  I took the ferry from Seattle to Victoria BC, saw snow falling on hot springs and geysers in Yellowstone Park on July 4, toured the amazing Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico, and hiked the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall in Yosemite, as well as singing concerts in nearly 150 venues.  I lived for ten weeks each time out of a single suitcase (and a garment bag for concert attire). The freedom of one suitcase I learned to love the minimal completeness of packing for travel.  You can be weighed down by multiple pieces of luggage that have to be checked, hauled around, unpacked and repacked, or you can enjoy the agility of a single rolling bag.  Of course, you have to consider carefully which clothes you'll need, which toiletries and accessories.  You might include a book or a jou

Break the Consume/Donate Cycle

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My first step to a better financial future was to start paying attention. I was living and making decisions on autopilot , but one day, as I decluttered my closet for the umpteenth time, my eyes were suddenly opened. How had I missed this connection? I spent a lot of time organizing my closets and drawers, and regularly donated bags of clothing to charity.  Since that was the case, I couldn't understand why my closet always felt too full.  It must have escaped my notice that I went shopping almost every weekend and on most lunch breaks, just for "entertainment."  I didn't always buy things, but of course the more you browse, the more you're tempted. My wardrobe was like a revolving door, yet I wondered why I could never save any money.  Yes, the connection should have been obvious, but I enjoyed all of my new goodies (at least for a while), so it was easy to ignore.   When I finally linked my shopping habit to my empty bank account, I stopped shopping almost overn

It's Worth Your Effort to Make a Place for Everything

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Do you find yourself picking up tools, clothes, and foot-stabbing toys all day, every day, and then stuffing them into a cupboard or drawer any which way, just to get them out of sight? There's a better way. When our two kids were young, we lived in a three-bedroom house of about 1100 square feet.  Compared to the modern American home that's small, but in spite of that my house was usually fairly tidy, even though we homeschooled. Yes, we had books and science projects and piles of math manipulatives.  The kids loved to play epic pretend games with dolls, stuffed animals, play dishes, dress-up clothes, Lego creations, and lots of homemade props.  But we could still make the house "company ready" in a fairly short time. Does that sound like an impossible dream? Here's the secret. Everything had a home.  Everything . I know you've heard this:  "A place for everything and everything in its place."  But what does that mean?  And why should you go to the

How Working Less Can Help You Accomplish Essential Tasks

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Human beings really are prone to extremes. It's not just the current harsh political divide in the U.S., either. In education, the pendulum swings all the way from rote or programmed learning on one side (boring, but easily facilitated by computers) to discovery-style, discussion-based, hands-on learning on the other (which leads to deeper thinking, but may leave students light on concrete facts).  As another example, we have hoarders on one side and location-independent, live-out-of-one-backpack advocates on the other. It takes patience and hard work to find a compromise which uses the best of two or more approaches, or a happy medium that meets the needs of the majority of people. So this isn't a surprise... When it comes to work, I think most of us fall into one of two extremes: We work way too hard, with little boundary between work life and everything else, and never feel that we've accomplished enough. We procrastinate and get distracted, and feel guilty about how lit

Why We Should Make Time for Low-Tech

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I just spent nine hours in front of my computer.  Again .   I took only three short breaks, and spent maybe ten minutes outside.  I even ate lunch at my desk. I know this isn't healthy, but still it happens much too often.  Maybe it does for you too.  And now we're getting our kids ready for distance learning, which will require them to spend hours a day in front of a computer. Before school starts and life gets busier, let's take some time to live with less technology. Technology has almost always been identified with progress, and is almost always considered positive – the revolution that will change the world.  And I certainly use technology.  I don't publish this blog on parchment, after all, and I'm not keeping cool in this August heat by means of a servant wielding a palm branch. But as we keep breaking boundaries and changing the way things work, sometimes we lose sight of the fact that some of the best (and healthiest) solutions are low tech. A pointed lesso

How to Get Ready for At-Home Learning

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I was a homeschooling parent. My older child turned 5 in 1994; my younger child was 16 (and ready to go to the local community college) in 2007.  During those 13 years , my kids did not go to school. They didn't have computers either, until we got our first desktop in 2001. We lived in three different houses during that time.  The largest was just over 1200 square feet, but for four years we lived in a two-bedroom, 800-square-foot apartment.  Both of my children have earned college degrees with honors. And yet  I never spent a ton of money  on school. You can do school at home too. If you have children beginning distance learning this fall, you've probably seen a lot of social media images of the ideal "home classroom" situation.  These usually involve a separate "school room," a desk, and organizational items such as a large white board and a lot of cute, matching storage containers. If you're starting to panic that you don't have a spare room for y

Why Unused Items Aren't Harmless, Plus 7 Easy Ways to Clear the Clutter

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Many of us live in homes that hold far too much. We find it hard to declutter unless something forces us to do so.  As long as we have the room to stockpile all of our extraneous belongings, we will.  Our drawers, counters, closets, basements, garages, spare rooms, and rented storage spaces become full. And then there are collections. We buy one item we like, and then another (because we're convinced that a single item looks too bare and lonely), and then someone gives us another.  Now we're officially a collector, whether of world globes, graniteware coffee pots, Marvel action figures, vintage cameras, old wooden cutting boards, or something else (I used to collect patchwork quilts).  It becomes a hobby, and we spend tons of time and money hunting for the perfect item to add to what we already have. It reminds me of a squirrel putting away nuts for the winter, though at least the squirrel will eventually eat the nuts.  Collectors just add to their stash, and try to figure out

Minimalism Lets You Embrace the Possibilities

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The style icon Coco Chanel famously advised, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off."  While removing a scarf or a bracelet won't leave you underdressed, it does make room for other accessories to shine. This sounds a little like the Japanese aesthetic of Ma .  It's a concept that celebrates emptiness or negative space.  Ma is found in Japanese architecture, interior d├ęcor, and garden design as well as music, flower arranging, and poetry. We have something in common with the Victorians. In a home where there are too many things, there's no place for the eye to rest, and nothing is highlighted.  Think of a 19th century Victorian interior suffocating in heavy furniture, tasseled drapes, marble busts, travel souvenirs, dark paintings, macabre hair art, doilies, ferns in every corner, and patterned everything. I get a headache just thinking about it. Unfortunately, some of us live with a decorating "style" that is rather Vict