Showing posts from April, 2024

Are We Going for Glitter, or For Gold?

We spend the best years of our lives chasing things that don't last. If we follow the script our culture writes for us, we spend our young adulthood acquiring an education – not for the sake of being wise and well-rounded, but to gain the credentials necessary to land a good-paying job.  It doesn't seem to matter how much debt we take on to do this, as long as the resulting job brings enough money and prestige. We spend the next few decades making as much money as possible, and spending even more.  If we're typical Americans, we have thousands and thousands of possessions stuffing a house three times the size of our grandparents'.  And no matter how much money we make, we have a huge home loan, one or two big auto loans, and thousands of dollars in credit card debt. It's not enough. We still have a long list of things we want to buy, places we want to go, and experiences we want to have.  No matter how much we shop or travel or do, we want more. At some point we ret

9 Best Shopping Hacks for Your Successful Minimalist Wardrobe

If you haven't already checked it out...  I was named an expert in an ApartmentGuide article. Check out the featured article : How to Declutter Your Home Fast: Tips From Our Experts | ApartmentGuide I used to spend most weekends and even some evenings after work shopping for clothes.  I often told myself I was "just looking," but the truth is, the more we "look," the more we buy.  I couldn't keep money in a savings account, and I always had credit card debt, but it took me many years to notice the connection between my shopping habits and my lack of funds.  (I know – dumb.) So I had a closet full of clothes, but "nothing" to wear – or so I told myself as I made yet another trip to the mall.  I'd buy clothes that I'd wear once or twice, at which point I'd realize I didn't like them as much as I thought, they didn't look as good on me as I had believed, or they had stretched, shrunk, faded, balled up, or otherwise been ruined in

The Challenge to Stop Saying "I Can't" About Minimalism

When I talk about simplifying to non-minimalists, their first reaction is usually positive.  Everyone would like a bit more peace and focus in their schedules.  Everyone would like simpler home care, with less frustration when it comes to the tasks we need to do every day, such as getting dressed, preparing meals, and corralling toys. As the conversation continues, however, they often become less enthusiastic.  Of course, minimalism is a challenge in our consumerist culture.  Yes, it requires a period of adaptation.  But plenty of people come to the conclusion they could never make such a lifestyle change. I thought less was impossible. When I mention giving up unnecessary shopping, people may agree.  But once we get to specifics of wearing fewer clothes and shoes, buying fewer restaurant meals, traveling less often and closer to home, perhaps considering a smaller house or fewer vehicles, those same people get uncomfortable.  The thought of buying fewer fancy coffee drinks, fewer sal

How Minimalism Has Made Me Rich

We only get to spend our money once.  So every time we buy something, we're making two statements: I don't have enough (which might be true when it comes to food, gas, toilet paper, or some other things). This thing is more valuable than anything else I could have done with my money (again, sometimes this is true). Every time we make a purchase, we have less money for something else.  Yes, we can make more money, but that takes our time and energy – and those things are finite. So our choices of how to spend are more momentous than we think. That's why my Starbucks habit is a problem, or maybe why your clothes-buying or music- and app-downloading habits might be problems.  Maybe we can technically "afford" those things (that is, we aren't using credit to buy them), but is that the best way for us to use our money? A true windfall I recently received a small bequest from my Uncle Clarence, who passed away early last year.  His wife Alice, who predeceased him, w

How to Stop Making the Same Money Mistakes This Year

When we come to the end of a calendar or fiscal year, or start gathering the paperwork we need to file tax returns, we may think back on our financial decisions of the past 12 months.  Or we may have this internal heart-to-heart as each bank statement or credit card bill arrives in the mail. For many of us, these thoughts bring regret.  Maybe we're unhappy about overspending, missed savings opportunities, or major expenditures that now seem unwise.  Maybe our level of debt causes anxiety or shame.  In spite of our intentions and resolutions, we may wonder how we let ourselves make these terrible choices yet again. Don't follow this trend. If you're in this situation, you're not alone.  The average American family added 14% more credit card debt in 2022 , and even more in 2023.  Auto and personal loan balances are up, and Experian reports that mortgage debt has seen record growth.  Millions of Americans spend more than they earn every month , the exact opposite of financ

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Ownership

There's a belief about ownership which goes something like this:  "If you own _______, you'll be _______."  It elevates ownership as the answer to all of our hopes and dreams. Some examples: If you own a pair of skinny jeans, you'll look skinnier. If you own the right skin care products, you'll look younger. If you own a designer handbag, you'll be stylish/happy/enviable. If you own the right equipment, you'll be more proficient. If you own the latest technology, you'll be smarter/cooler/safer. The truth The only truth about ownership is that if you own something, it's yours to pay for and take care of.  It doesn't solve your problems or change you into something you're not. Ownership begins with payment.  You sign a contract or a loan document, swipe a credit card, or hand over your hard-earned cash.  After a very short "I got it!  It's mine!" high, you get used to having whatever-it-is and it's no longer quite so ex