My Simplified Why: Follow the Money

FROM THE ARCHIVES ➤➤➤ I originally wrote this post in January 2020 - before the whole world came to a screeching halt, and life as we knew it, stopped. However, as I've been attempting to blog a little more consistently this year, I decided to pull up some of the posts I had started and saved as drafts, and this is one of them. While similar to the post I shared last week, as I read through it, I was reminded of where we were a year ago, and I realized that I had, in fact, made some good financial changes over the past 12 months. For example, this year our savings accounts are much healthier than they were a year ago, and that's a good thing! But I also realized that some of my points made in this post were still valid, and good reminders of other ways I could cut corners and save, so I decided to post it anyway. Maybe you, like me, will find a little nugget to take away and dwell on and then do something with this year. May we all continue to grow and improve in 2021! 

In 2012, we paid off our house. In actual fact, we paid off the remaining 54% of our mortgage in just 7 months of 2012. It came down to focusing in on a big goal, saying "no" to a lot of other things, and a whole bunch of self discipline. And it felt great when we were all done.

Which is why when, earlier this month, I found myself stressing over looming bills and shrinking bank accounts, I was pulled up short when I realized I was right back to where I was in 2011. How did that happen? Well, I'll tell you: old habits and new kids.

Old habits like, "I don't really feel like cooking tonight," (which, even as I was typing that, reminded me that I needed to start the Crock-Pot for dinner) crept back in. Only this time there were seven of us, so Japanese takeout now costs $70, rather than $20. 🙅 The occasional stop for ice cream after a school event takes $30 when you're dishing up six bowls instead of two, and now that some of them are getting older, a stop at Starbucks is often a $15 splurge, rather than a $5 treat. It all adds up.

Although most of the time I'm pretty good about telling myself I don't need the new pair of pants or that cute sweater, it's harder when I'm out and see clothes on sale that would fit my kids. I mean, I'm saving money, right? They're so hard on clothes, and it's nice not to have to pay full-price for something when I have a stash downstairs that I got on clearance. But you know what's NOT a bargain? Hitting up so many sales that I forget what I have and when I finally dig it out...they've outgrown it. True story, I'm embarrassed to admit.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

In 2018, I was becoming totally overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in our house. When it was just the two of us, I kept it fairly tidy, though we still had way too much, but once the kids came, I felt like I was swimming against the tide. Despite keeping Christmas to a minimum and refusing to throw extravagant birthday parties where all of their friends were invited and we were flooded with gifts, it was like a never ending stuff parade coming through the doors of our house. Even though I instigated regular purge sessions, piles continued to creep up on my desks, kitchen counters, and even on top of bedroom dressers.

Feeling thus overwhelmed, I signed up to take part in the Uncluttered course (nope, that's not an affiliate link) that minimalist Joshua Becker hosts several times a year. All participants receive a lifetime membership to participate in the course, and also maintain access to the private Facebook group. I can't say that the course itself was particularly life changing for me...but the private group has been a great source of ongoing encouragement. Seeing what others are doing, purging, changing, has been a reminder that I shouldn't give up

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that people were beginning to share their "why" for continuing the clean out. One woman said that her why was becoming debt free, and as soon as I read it, I knew that I needed to get back on the bandwagon. While we're not in debt - outside of a mortgage (yes, we paid it off but, long story short, we once again have a small mortgage on our home) - we're also not exactly rolling in savings. Another woman shared that whenever she thought about buying something, she transferred that same amount into her savings account, which triggered a memory of a time when I was doing the same thing (see: paid off house in 2012). It's just one of many good habits that need to be pulled from the mothballs.

This year, my WHY for minimalizing and simplifying really comes down to the money. It's not just about making multiple trips to donate excess goods, but about stemming the tide coming in as well - not just because it's stuff, but because it represents resources that could be much better spent elsewhere. As I look ahead at current and upcoming expenses, I realize that the not-so-little $40 and $70 expenditures, even if it's "saving" me money, have really added up. It's time to remember that every time I'm saying "yes" to something with my money, I'm saying "no" to something else...something that's probably way more important.

My why for #minimalismsimplified in 2020 is about financial freedom. Or, as Becker put in on a post he shared last week, "Just because it's on sale, doesn't mean I need it." 😏  

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