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The Joy of Non-Ownership


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dance in the rain

My roof started leaking last night. I placed buckets under the drips, calmed Katie down (one was over her bed), brewed a cup of coffee and laughed at my good fortune.

You see, I simply rent this little house. This means that a leaky roof is not my problem – its my landlord’s.

So many people believe that owning things is the key to happiness but over these past few years I’ve discovered otherwise.

When you own something you are completely responsible for its care. You have to pay for it, care for it and fix it when it breaks. In the case of a leaky roof this can become quite expensive.

Unlike my home-owning friends, I am not responsible for repairs such as these so this morning, instead of frantically trying to figure out how to afford a contractor I woke up, brewed a cup of coffee, grabbed the phone and called the landlord before starting my day.

Have you ever experienced the joy of non-ownership? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Using Stuff Up


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I have a bad habit of stockpiling things. I’m not sure if this is because of how I was raised or because I spent so many years struggling after I had kids, but I detest letting anything go even if it just has a little dram in the bottom that I know I will never use.

It’s time to own that.

In the years since I have embraced simplicity I’ve never ran out of the things I’ve needed. To be honest, I generally have a surplus of everything.

I want to see if I can break the stockpiling habit. I want to discover whether this habit actually helps me to save money or if it costs more in time and effort to care for my stockpile than it is worth.

I’ve already managed to get us down to a single bottle each of shampoo and conditioner. I’m also down to a single bar of soap sitting in reserve under the bathroom sink. My chest freezer is only half-full now (usually it stays close to overflowing) and I can see open spaces in my pantry, even with emptying the cabinet above my washer.

As my supplies get used up I will experiment with purchasing smaller quantities. My only exceptions will be items that are bulky and difficult to haul like pet food.

I hope to learn more about what I need and how I purchase with this experiment. Perhaps I don’t need to stockpile near as much as I believe. Even better, I may not be saving as much money as I think I am when I buy in bulk, especially if I factor in the time to care for the overstock and the precious space these items take up in my tiny home.

I’m not sure how long it will take me. Already I am inspired by the extra space I have opened up, so hopefully it won’t take too long because I am especially curious as to whether or not I have been saving money by buying in bulk.

Have you ever deliberately used up all of your stockpiles? Have you examined whether buying in bulk would benefit you? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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How to Protect Your Electronics During Storms


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We have a lot of bad thunderstorms during the warm seasons here so many people suffer from damaged electronics as a result of power surges.

When I went to school for computer repair, one of the things I had to study was the various methods available to protect electronic devices. The covered surge protectors, UPS systems and all sorts of goodies.

The best advice I received (and the one that has kept me safe for many years) came from an old tech, who advised me not to trust my electronics to any of these devices during a bad storm.

He pointed out that if a surge is bad enough to fry out a surge protector, it could still damage your valuable devices. He also pointed out that many points of entry like phone lines and CATV wires are often overlooked by many consumers.

As a result of his advice, this is what I do personally to protect my valuable devices from storm surges.

Use a Surge Protector Every Day

I use simple surge protectors on all of my essential devices. This protects them from unexpected surges when I’m home and when I’m not. I even use it on my CATV cable to protect my modem and router from damage.

However, I don’t trust them to protect me from everything, which leads to my next step:

I disconnect everything during storms

While surge protectors are great for small surges, most people don’t invest in the really good ones and aren’t as safe as they would like to think. To be really certain that a surge can’t hurt your valuable devices, physically disconnect them from any and all outside connections, including DSL wires, phone lines, CATV cables and power outlets.

While this means that I can’t make use the Internet or make phone calls during stormy weather, it also means that my computers, router, cable modem and other electronics are safe. If the weather is really bad I unplug my microwave, toaster oven, refrigerator and chest freezer as well. My washer and other devices are always disconnected after use so I don’t have to worry about them.

Fortunately, most of my electronics are portable (and thus have batteries) so I can still work even through the worst of storms, provided that they don’t outlast the charge on my devices.

This may seem like a lot of work but it is the one sure-fire way to guarantee that your valuable electronics and appliances are kept safe in even the worst of storms.

How do you keep your electronics safe during storms? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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How to Leak-Proof Your Water Dispenser Spigot


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Water Dispenser

There are a lot of heavy metals in the tap water here. It wreaks havoc on traditional water filters so I have found it cheaper to buy filtered water instead from the dispensers found in a local store. I reuse my containers to save even more money over purchasing regular bottled water.

One of my containers is a three gallon water dispenser with a spigot. This allows us to leave the container on the counter to refill our glasses at will. When we first purchased it, however, the spigot leaked.

This is an easy fix if you know what you’re doing.

  1. Empty the water container.
  2. Remove the spigot by reaching inside the container and unscrewing the retaining nut. There was a rubber washer on mine as well.
  3. Completely dry the spigot hole on the dispenser, spigot, nut, washers and threads.
  4. Coat the threads, nut and washers with food-safe lubricant. I used plain old vegetable oil for this.
  5. Remove any extra lubricant from the parts. You don’t want it to drip!
  6. Reassemble the spigot on the dispenser and tighten the nut thoroughly.
  7. Add water to the dispenser to test the seal.
  8. Enjoy your leak-proof water dispenser!

While you may be able to get a leak-proof seal without using any lubricant, I personally find that the light coat of food-grade oil is quicker and easier than fiddling with the thing to get the seal just right.

Do you use water dispensers or are you able to drink your water directly from the tap? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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The Line Between Simple and Stupid


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There is a fine line between simple and stupid. It lurks in the paths we follow as we search for new ways to save money. Many times, if we aren’t careful, we cross that line without ever realizing it was there, turning our experience of simplicity from one of pleasure to one of work and misery.

Many times this mistake can convince us that we are just not cut out for the simple life.

One of the reasons we fail to see this line is because of our ancestors. They did things in their everyday lives that seemed so simplistic but were so much work! These things can take time and money away from us that we could better spend enjoying ourselves – wasting them in what we were raised to believe was the proper way to live with less.

A long, long time ago I fell into this trap. I wanted to save money by canning my own food. I bought the jars, the cooker, the little pieces of equipment and attempted to can the bounty from a pear tree that grew in our backyard.

Several canning books, an emergency room visit and six stitches later I looked at my work. I was exhausted and injured and all I had to show for it was a tidy row of jars stuffed full of pears.

We were broke by that point (canning jars are NOT cheap) and to my dismay about 15% of those popped their seal.

I figured it up and realized I had spent enough money to buy us a tidy stockpile of canned food.

I spent enough time that, even at minimum wage, I could have earned enough to fill our damned pantry a couple of times over.

When I realized that I could have bought a few storage bags, tossed it all in the freezer and not lost any of it to spoilage the truth finally hit me:


What people believe to be simple often isn’t.


Fast forward to the present day. I was seated at my kitchen table, sweating like a pig. It was half past one in the morning but not even stepping outside granted relief to the heat and humidity.

I faced a choice. I could remain uncomfortable, taking several baths a day to ease my misery and reduce the stink from my sweat. I could spend $30 on a fan and drag it to whatever room I wanted to be in…

…Or I could just install the air conditioner.

If I went by how I was raised I would have sucked it up and accepted the sweat and the stink. When it became worse I would have spent the $30 on a fan, added an extension cord and altered my budget accordingly.

However, I know from experience that my little air conditioner barely makes a blip in my electric bill so I did the absolute opposite of what simplicity dictated.

I stuck that sucker in a window and cranked it up.

Within minutes I could tell a difference. The temperature hadn’t lowered yet but the humidity had obviously changed. I was no longer sweating like a whore in church and it felt really, really good in my tiny home again.

So I’ll have to pay a few dollars more on my electric bill. I would have had to spend the money to power a fan anyway. Not only did I save the money I would have spent on a fan, I saved time and money on both laundry and bathing because I won’t have to work so hard to avoid stinking.

By making a decision that ran counter to the definition of simplicity I was raised on I increased my comfort level significantly. I also stopped wasting the time that I was spending in a mental debate about buying that fan.

We’re not even going to talk about the stinky laundry and smelly me. Yuck!

The moral of the story

The moral of this story is that simplicity is not always what we think it is. Sometimes the stuff we were raised to believe is simple often isn’t, which is why I don’t make my own clothing or cook my own soap.

I don’t even make my own laundry detergent any more since I discovered that a three-dollar bottle of the store bought stuff lasts me for almost a year.

When you are looking around for ways to simplify your life take care not to cross the line between simple and stupid. If a traditionally “simple” solution costs you more in time and money than you save it isn’t the one you need.

Have you ever crossed this line? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Microfiber Update


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One of the main things I use to clean with is microfiber cloths. As I explained in my book The Minimalist Cleaning Method, Expanded Edition, microfiber doesn’t require expensive chemicals to work (just water) and it removes germs as well.

I use my small collection of microfiber cloths every single day and I’ve used the ones I bought in 2011 so much that they are starting to wear out and their cleaning power has been affected.

Rather than start using cleaning products with them I walked to my local Family Dollar and grabbed another pack from the automotive section. Ten cloths of random sizes cost $5. I came back home, tossed my old ones and got back to work.

My new microfiber cleaning cloths.

My new microfiber cleaning cloths.

Do you replace your cleaning supplies regularly? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Future Plans


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I’ve been thinking about what I would like to do when the kid is grown. I’ve no real desire to remain in this town and a powerful desire to travel.

I’ve considered backpacking my way around, using Greyhound buses to go places. I’ve even thought of getting a motorcycle and motoring across the country but none of these ideas really fit.

However, there is one idea that would suit my needs and desires: van dwelling.

Something like this would be fun and easy to drive!

I am researching a variety of options, from acquiring a class B RV to a small pull-behind camper trailer. The trailer idea would be a good start, because I wouldn’t need to own a vehicle while I got it set up and learned about it – I could acquire one, park it in the back yard and learn from it until I was ready to acquire a tow vehicle and start my next adventure.

A 19′ travel trailer would be fun to live in!

Of course, I haven’t decided yet. I’ve just started a notebook that I’m stuffing full of research while I consider my options. Something like this would allow me to take my home with me when I travel, which would be a bit more comfortable since I do enjoy sleeping in my own bed at night.

Not only am I researching campers and RVs, I am also researching their operation, solar panels, generators and all of the other things one needs to know about these things.

While I may not actually do this, it feels fun to consider my next adventure. It shows me that my life will not be over when my youngest is grown but will instead open a completely new, fun chapter in my life.

Do you have any plans for adventure in your future? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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How Would You Live Today if You Could See Yourself in 20 Years?


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Tyler Tervooren wrote an interesting post about living for the future. He discusses how college students changed their actions depending upon whether they kept their minds in the present or focused on the future.

I don’t want to spoil it, but the results are interesting. It demonstrates that by pretending to be your future self (the person you want to be) you will make completely different decisions in your now.

I found this article so inspiring that I have printed it out and saved it in my journal. I hope you will do the same.

Peace,
Annie

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I am So Lucky


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I just want to take a moment to think about how lucky I truly am. The act of counting your blessings not only shows you how good your life is, it helps pave the way for more good things to follow because it helps you to see them when they arrive.

Most of us don’t take enough time to be grateful for the things we already have; we stay so focused on what we don’t have that it is easy to forget what we do. I’m as guilty of that as the next person so it is time for a reminder.

I am so grateful for:

  • My wonderful family. Over the years since I divorced my husband I have mended the bridges that were placed between some of the people I loved the most as I withdrew from everyone during my marriage. It feels so good to have a family who is there for me and who loves me no matter what!
  • My career. I love being able to do what I love instead of doing whatever task I can get employed at to pay the bills. It is so liberating to make my own hours and do my own thing knowing that the sky is the limit.
  • My awesome little home. I adore my little home in the hood. It is the perfect size for me and Katie and allows me the freedom to live the life of my dreams. I love how inexpensive it is but even more than that I adore my neighbors – especially Mr. A.
  • My front porch. I am so very grateful that I can sit out on this front porch and use it like another room in my tiny house during the pretty seasons of the year. It is like getting an extra room as a bonus for the rent that I pay. I so cherish being able to look out on my world, breathe in the fresh air and be kissed by the sun when it touches my face while I write.
  • Time. I love knowing that today is not forever, that I have so many new adventures to look forward to. This allows me to cherish being a single stay at home mother right now because I know that this will not last forever. Instead, Katie will grow up and I will move on because nothing stays the same. I don’t have to remain here forever – I can travel, I can explore, I can learn new things and change and grow even more than I have. This is one of the biggest blessings that life has to offer – the knowledge that this is not all there is to my existence but I have the time to savor my now nevertheless.
  • The Secret. The Law of Attraction changed my life. It not only helped me to find the joy in joyless situations, it has allowed me to reach for the stars. My life is completely different from what it was before I discovered the Law of Attraction and I am infinitely richer for the knowing.
  • My writing tools. This is the first year I’ve seriously been able to invest in my writing business, mainly because I have finally accepted that this life is who I am. I don’t need to go to college to be more or better – I simply had to accept who I was as a person and build on that. Some of the things I use are not minimalist (like writing in paper journals, using copious post it notes and index cards then printing out my drafts to edit them the old fashioned way) but I no longer care. I am who I am and I accept that I don’t have to be a minimalist in everything if it does not make me happy. My writing makes me happy so I am free to indulge in whatever makes it easier and more pleasant.
  • Accepting myself. This past year has helped me to accept myself. I no longer care if I’m the perfect weight or if other people accept me for who I am. I accept myself so I am free to embrace who I am, warts and all regardless of public opinion.
  • My messes. I am glad that I love my work so much that I get distracted and don’t keep my house perfectly clean. I am thankful for the dirty clothes because they show me that we have more than enough to wear. My dirty dishes remind me that we have plenty of food and the little piles that my Katie leaves around remind me that I have a wonderful home for us to mess up.
  • You. I cherish every email, every comment, every review I receive on my books – even the negative ones. I look forward to our conversations and I feel the love like it is a physical thing. Without you I would be but a shell of myself and I am so very thankful that you take time out of your day to spend with me. Thank you.

I have a lot more to be grateful for than the few things on this list. I love the sunshine, the flowers, the sidewalk beneath my feet as I walk places – even the ability to walk is an enormous blessing, because not so many years ago the Army told me that I would probably never achieve the mobility I have now so I am very lucky indeed.

I have a request to make of you today. Will you list the things that you are grateful for in the comments?

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Pickle Juice for Dairy Intolerance


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Growing up in a home that loved dairy, it broke my heart when I discovered that my system no longer tolerated the cheeses, ice creams and milk that I craved. My doctor said I had two choices: I could avoid all things dairy or I could simply live with the unpleasant results of my indulgence.

I have discovered another solution.

It was a coincidence the first time I drank pickle juice with dairy products. We were having cheeseburgers for dinner and had used up the last pickles in the jar. I drank the dregs of the juice before tossing the container and to my surprise I didn’t have to visit the restroom immediately after dinner!

Since then I have started eating pickles and drinking the juice whenever I partake of dairy products. As a result, I no longer have any stomach issues from my indulgence. I eat a lot of pickles these days but who cares if it works?

I have only tried this with dill pickles so I have no clue if it will work for other pickle varieties. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that dill pickles and their juice have made a remarkable difference in my level of dairy tolerance, so hopefully it will work for you as well.

This does nothing for any sinus issues caused by dairy – I have to use an over the counter allergy med for that – but the stomach problems were by far the worst of my two symptoms so I am definitely not complaining.

Have you ever tried drinking pickle juice for your stomach ailments? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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