Car Free: Carbon Footprints

Last night Katie actually thanked me for selling our van. I was shocked and asked her why.

Apparently one of her teachers had challenged the class to determine the carbon footprints of their families. Thanks to our car-free lifestyle, our footprint was not only the lowest in her class, she had to do a lot less work because we don’t own a car.

I’m not sure what to think about that.

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Snatches of time

All of my writing is now done in little snatches of time. I’ve overcome my need to have my nails perfectly done or to perform little writing rituals–if I want to get any writing done at all, I have to do it when I can.

I make myself wake up several hours before the beginning of every shift to check on my website, read my emails, and knock out a few words before I head to work. This allows me to feel satisfaction because I haven’t let money (or a public job) get between me and my writing goals.

I carry my little journal with me to work every single day. Some days all I do is jot down little things I want to write about later but that is better than nothing. I feel bad on the days when I’m so tired I sit and stare into space instead of write during my breaks. I even feel bad when I sit and chat with my coworkers instead of writing sometimes, but I content myself with the knowledge that I have already written some that morning and that I will write some more when I get home.

At night I allow myself a bit of relaxation time before tapping away again. I have to be careful with the night-time writing though–I tend to get distracted and morning comes entirely too soon.

Overall this job has reinforced what I really want to do with my life–help people with my writing. I feel more driven to create than I have in a while and frankly it feels good. I don’t want to do this forever though.

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The game plan

My General Manager saw me collecting my schedule the other day and commented on how many hours I was working. I explained that I was saving up for Katie’s laptop and that I would like to cut back to four days a week after I accomplished my goal.

She had no problem with that.

I have decided to work full-time for most (if not all) of this summer, then cut down to four days a week before winter. That will net me about $650 a month, which is more than enough to cover even my winter bills with money to spare.

Of course, I may get greedy and decide to continue as a full-time worker between now and then but I miss being able to sit at home and write. These little snatches of time are precious to me, and while I would like to build up a nice nest egg, I want more of my writing time back.

In essence, I’m torn, but I will worry about it later. Right now I’m happy and all is well.

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Bike Countdown

I am really looking forward to getting a bike. I’ve been eyeballing the selection at Walmart whenever the opportunity arises because I’m impatient and that walk is long.

Mr. Blister has finally moved on so I am now back to a normal gait. I can feel a difference with every single shift now as my body adjusts to the added workload.

Originally I intended to just save my book royalties but I’ve decided that if I need to dip into them to get a bike for next month then so be it. I will probably just grab one on sale at Walmart and be done with it. Hopefully I can find a 24-inch on sale but if not I will make due with a bigger bike. This girl is getting tired of spending over an hour a day walking when I can’t hitch a ride. I’ve even found the perfect little spot to park it.

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Minimalist Makeup Routine

Since my time is limited I have completely minimized my makeup routine. I followed the suggestion of Jeremy Renner, former makeup artist (now he’s a big star as Hawkeye in Marvel’s Avengers franchise). Here’s what he says on the subject:

I simply dust some face powder on, darken my brows a bit with some brown eyeshadow, put mascara on my lashes and dab on a bit of lip gloss. The whole procedure takes a couple of minutes. Here’s the result on me (click the image to see a larger version):

minimalist makeup

I’ve got bags under my eyes here but that’s from lack of sleep. I’ve been sacrificing sleep to get things done.

If you are interested in seeing the interview Jeremy’s tips are from, check out the video below. The particular spot occurs a bit into the video but it’s worth the watch. Enjoy!

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Thoughtful post on luxury

I stumbled upon a thoughtful post that I would like to share with you.

I make many of the choices the blogger discusses in this post. Instead of owning a television (and a cable bill), we use our computers and internet connection for entertainment. We also use that same internet connection for our phone service.

Instead of a car payment (or even a car) I walk everywhere. It isn’t always easy, but I won’t bore you with the details here. I am writing a book about the experience however.

Instead of buying stuff, we try to make do with what we have and we love to wear things out before we replace them.

Anyway, go read the post then come back here and share your opinions in the comments. I’ll wait.

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Minimalist Budget Update

I can’t remember the last time I gave you an update on my budget so today that seems like a good subject. As I have stated in the past, I prefer to keep my recurring expenses as low as possible in order to maximize the value of any income received.

Here is the breakdown:

Item Monthly Amount
Rent $250
Electric $45 in Summer, up to $200 in winter
Internet $23
Water/Sewage/Trash $38
MagicJack $3 ($35 annually)
Netflix $8
Total $368 in summer but up to $523 in winter

The winter is when my bills are the most because of the added heating expense. However, I’ve managed to shave $100 off of my monthly heating expenses in the winter now so I’m quite pleased with the numbers, even if they are slightly above my preferred $500 a month limit in the winter.

While I could pare down my expenses a bit more I see no point in eliminating the luxury of our Netflix subscription. Katie and I both use it quite regularly to unwind and we love the fact that it is commercial free. I may be a minimalist but I refuse to eliminate something we enjoy and use if we can afford it.

Since my take-home pay (not including book royalties) will hover around $800 a month, this means that once we pass our splurging phase I will be able to rebuild our savings quite easily.

What is your current budget?

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Minimalism: Focusing on Priorities

One of the things I absolutely love about minimalism is that you identify what is important in your life and then let the unimportant slide.

I’ve done that now for many years. My focus has been not only raising my daughter but helping others through my writing. Everything else takes a backseat to these two things right now.

In the past few months this has been put to the test. A small number of nice gentlemen have been pursuing me in hopes of cultivating a romantic relationship. While there is nothing wrong with these men (they are all quite nice), I have no real desire to take time from my two passions to hang out, go on dates, etc.

This isn’t to say that I’m a hermit. As you know, I occasionally visit local bars with my local bestie (who also happens to be my hairdresser) to sing karaoke. We hang out with our circle of friends (both male and female), have fun, and sing our hearts out when time and money allows. This is a treat I really cherish but sometimes my male friends want to spend more time with me than my priorities allow. I refuse with no regrets.

The other evening one of my friends insisted that I was putting my life on hold because I don’t make time for romance. I tried to explain to her that I’ve done nothing of the sort, I’m just focusing on what’s important to me in order to achieve my dreams.

I don’t think she understood.

Minimalism and Life

When you apply minimalism to your life you limit or eliminate the nonessential. If a relationship was a priority to me I would devote time to pursuing potential romantic partners. It is not. I’ve been on my own since Katie was a baby (she’s almost 16 now) and I’ve done just fine. To take time from her and my writing would run counter to my personal minimalist philosophy and possibly derail all of the hard work I’ve done so far.

When you know what your priorities are it helps make decisions like this easier. You can look at a purchase, a person, or a situation and ask yourself “Is this a priority to me?” If it is, great but if not, you know to move on.

Of course, we all change as we go through our lives. Our priorities shift with age, experience, and a number of other factors. When this happens all you have to do is re-evaluate your priorities and shift your focus. For me, this means that in time I may decide to make romance a priority–but not for now.

In what ways have you applied minimalism to your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Ahead of Schedule

Being the cheapskate that I am I normally try to delay installing my window air conditioner until we absolutely cannot stand the heat.

This year we decided to do something different. We installed the air conditioner early. The weather here went from chilly (needing a heater at night) to uncomfortably hot during the day in less than a month. I do believe Mother Nature completely skipped spring! Rather than sweat and suffer we just went ahead and bit the bullet.

It doesn’t really raise the electric bill that much anyway.

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Life with one uniform

As I finish my second week at a public job I face the challenge of keeping a clean uniform. For now I’ve been furnished a single shirt (I provide my own pants), with more promised in the future.

Since I only visit the laundromat once a week this single outfit gets washed every other day by hand and hung up to dry on my porch. It isn’t perfect but it gets the job done. Once a week it gets tossed in the wash with the rest of my stuff for a good scrubbing at the laundromat.

Many employers don’t consider the fact that their workers may not have access to a washer and dryer on a daily basis. Others (like myself) simply cannot afford to spend the money on a single load of clothes every single day. As a result, some wear the same dirty uniform every single day until they go do laundry.

While I haven’t actually seen that happening at this restaurant it was a regular occurrence at many others I have worked at in the past. Some of those outfits would get quite grungy!

If you wear a uniform, how many were you provided? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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