Categories
Decluttering Minimalism Organization Simplicity

If I Keep it, I Must Clean It

It’s taken a bit longer than anticipated to work on this living room. While I’ve been steadily tinkering on it, I’ve not been painting so much as decluttering.

One would think that, as a minimalist I wouldn’t own a lot of things. Compared to many others, I actually don’t. That said, I’m still uncovering items as I shift and reorganize that make me ask the important question:

Do I want to clean it?

Do I want to clean it? Do I want to shift it around and organize it? Do I want to drag it out to the car and rescue it during a flood? Do I want to move it when it’s time to leave this place?

That answer is not as cut-and-dried as it appears. One would think that if you loved something enough to acquire it that you would want to care for it, clean it, and take it with you when you move but in my case, I’m discovering otherwise.

I am discovering truths about myself that are a bit awkward, but that I must face.

I collect books not just to read them, but because my childhood was spent reading the same small stack of books over and over due to a lack of reading material. I don’t collect books because I necessarily enjoy them, but because I am secretly afraid of being without. I remember dying inside as I watched a relative toss a book I was reading into a fireplace. It was in the way while she was cleaning. She’d already read it, so she eliminated it by using it to add a bit of heat to her home.

While I do read physical books, my interests vary and patience is a factor in my purchases. When I discover a title of interest, I want to begin reading immediately. Because of that impatience, I typically download digital copies to devour. The physical books I acquire are always titles that I stumble upon secondhand and add to my collection because they seem interesting. The majority of physical books I collect are never read, yet I keep them out of that old childhood fear of running out of reading material.

In this modern age, that is no longer a problem. There are enough blogs and books to keep me entertained and informed for several lifetimes, many of which are free on websites like Gutenberg.

I have no need to hoard physical books any longer. While it is a wise decision to keep the ones I’ve already read and actually reference, the act of collecting and hoarding books out of fear needs to come to an end.

It is time I move on from that practice.

When I came to that realization about myself, I also discovered that books are not the only things I hoard out of fear. I hoard food, cleaning supplies, and a number of other items. While I see no logic in eliminating something that I know I will use eventually, bit by bit I am coming to terms with this.

I have no reason to fear any longer. If I run out of something, I no longer have a child that will feel deprived while I sort it.

I no longer have to keep or clean things “just in case.”

Some things it makes sense to keep. It would be foolish to eliminate my kerosene heater because the very nature of our planet means that there will be power outages. It would be foolish to eliminate clothes that I will actually wear just to get down to some artificially-chosen number, knowing that clothes have a very limited lifespan, just like it would be foolish to toss good food or cleaning supplies. Better to use those items up, replenishing only after I reached a certain level.

So as I go through my possessions I now remind myself that if I keep it, I must clean it. If I keep it I must care for it, store it, and I’ll eventually have to move it when I leave this place. If I decide I don’t want to care of it, then it is time the item moved on.

As I work through this process I’ve discovered that I prefer my homes to be open and somewhat spartan in appearance. The more I eliminate, the lighter and happier I become. While I can tell that I’ll never be able to fit my entire life into a single backpack, I suspect that in the end I will possess a bit less than the average person.

Have you ever realized that a primary facet of your personality was a negative one such as fear? How did you handle that? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Productivity Time management Writing

Is That A Computer in Your Pocket?

It is said that once we reach adulthood that our opinions and basic personality has formed and rarely changes. I never paid much attention to that theory until I realized that I’d picked up some interesting opinions and habits myself from what I suspect was a rather young age.

Since that discovery about myself, I have began to question everything.

Those who have followed me over the years have doubtless noticed my disdain for cell phones. I refused to own one for years because I considered them a luxury, only acquiring one because my kids felt that they were a necessity.

I’ve noticed this disdain in others as well. Browse the Internet very much, and you stumble upon memes mocking the youth for the cellphones they carry.

The other day, some coworkers and myself could not remember a setting to use on a piece of equipment. Rather than guess, I pulled out my cellphone, did a quick search, and located the information.

That search made me realize a truth I had denied since smartphones were invented: This isn’t just a phone; it’s a computer.

We literally carry miniaturized computers complete with Internet access in our pockets, yet when we want to do any serious work we reach for a bulky laptop each time. While a small number of us have transitioned to using tablets with keyboards attached for some work, the majority of us still insist upon using a standard computer for our tasks.

That includes me. When I think of writing, I think of sitting down at a computer to do my work, or at least curling up with pen and paper to complete the task. The thought of anything else never occurred to me.

I haven’t had any desire to sit down in front of a computer for months. I haven’t had any desire to seriously fiddle with a computer for over a year, despite my efforts to rekindle that passion.

While my computer use has waned, I have found myself using this phone more and more. It is my alarm clock, my calendar, my camera. It is the notebook I pull out when I need to remember something. It is my stereo both at home and while on the move, and it is the GPS that guides me when I travel to an unfamiliar place.

I use this phone for almost everything that I used to rely upon a computer for, yet I refused to consider using it for my writing and certain other tasks.

I felt a bit sheepish after having that revelation. I’ve always been the one who embraced new technology, yet it seems that I have become a bit set in my ways.

As a result of that revelation I am attempting an experiment. I am going to look at this device as the computer that it is. When I have a task to accomplish involving computers, I’m going to attempt the task on this phone first.

More importantly, I am going to make it a point to do a bit of writing on this device. I not only want to explore the functionality of using this phone to write with, I want to see if the added mobility inspires me to write again.

If you are seeing this post, then this experiment is at least a partial success. I downloaded the app that allows me to maintain my website, and have been tinkering on this post for several days. I write during my breaks at work and while I’m waiting for my car to warm up in the mornings.

While it feels odd to sit here and type out a blog post with my thumbs, it feels good to know that at least I’m writing. I was beginning to wonder if I ever would write again, since I lacked the time and the desire to sit down and actually write.

Maybe this is the solution I needed.

Have you ever realized that you’d been looking at something with a closed mind? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decorating Organization self-improvement

Discovery And Change

It has been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to refresh my environment. As a habit, I’ve always discounted things like wall colors, furniture styles and other decorative touches. I was raised in a world where only the vain and shallow concerned themselves with such things.

I didn’t understand until recently how deeply that was embedded within my soul, but as I painted on Katie’s room the programming surfaced:

What a waste of money, my inner voice complained. And for what, so you can have a pretty little house and be a snob? Who do you think you are?

I couldn’t determine if the deep-seated emotions surrounding the thought of fixing up my home were based upon a poor self-image or some sort of reversed snobbery, but I could tell that they were very strong, strong enough that I took a break for several weeks in an attempt to sort them.

Where did these emotions come from? What makes them so powerful? And just how much have these emotions influenced me over the years? Would my life be better if I eliminated them?

I decided to find out. As I worked on that room, I allowed my mind to drift, to think and remember as I worked.

I wanted to associate the process of making my corner of the world beautiful with happiness, so I insisted upon tinkering upon it only when in a pleasant mood. I would turn on music that I loved to accompany the task and stop the moment that it felt like drudgery.

To my surprise, I then completed the room in short order.

Another angle, another day.

I have learned something about myself as I completed this project. I didn’t avoid painting and decorating to save money, but because I internalized the impression that it was a bad thing to want to improve your living area.

I am going to rid myself of that notion. In order to do that, I’ve set myself the intention of painting this entire house and organizing it until I consider it beautiful.

Have you ever began a project only to discover that you’ve internalized negative emotions or thoughts about the process? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Writing

Burnout

When I first started blogging, writing was a joy. I couldn’t wait to sit down at my computer and empty my soul. I loved curling up with a good book, absorbing the knowledge, and distilling it into something that would benefit my readers.

Now I cringe at the thought of reading my email, much less writing anything.

I almost shut this website down, erased it. I thought that my lack of desire was due to the fact that this had ran its course.

Now I’ve realized that there’s nothing wrong with this website. I’m just burned out.

I began writing professionally back in the mid-aughts at some website whose name I’ve long forgotten. I told myself I would write as much as it took to achieve financial freedom so I could stay home with my baby girl, and I did.

For years I would wake up, terrified that we wouldn’t have enough to make ends meet. To ease that fear, I’d publish another article.

I did this for years until my books took off. Even after that I made myself sit down and knock out blog posts and work on books on an almost daily basis.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much of a toll that decision has taken. I didn’t even realize that this was the reason why I had no desire to read or write this past year.

Now that I know what’s going on, I’m going to step back and relax. I’m not going to force myself to read. I’m not going to force myself to write. I’ll keep this website, however. In time the burnout will fade and writing will be a joy once more.

I suspect this may be why so many bloggers quit after a time. When you force yourself to publish as often as the experts instruct you to publish, writing becomes a chore. Maybe if we wrote less, we’d be happier and our readers would have more time to spend living their own lives instead of reading about ours.

For now I’m going to kick back and relax. It is a beautiful winter’s day. Once I hit publish, I’ll kick back in front of the television and refuse to read so much as a text as a treat for writing this.

Balance is everything. When we allow ourselves to become off-balance, we should all step back and readjust.

What are you burned out about? Are you taking steps to recover? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Empty Nest Happiness Housing Law of Attraction Life

Keeping Busy

It’s been a chaotic week. I’ve been focused on gratitude, so it ended up being a magical week with some fascinating things taking place.

Just as Katie and I were finishing a cup of coffee before we began the process of transferring her car into her name, Katie received a panicked call from her husband. The shippers had decided to change the pickup date for her car to that day and wanted to pick it up immediately.

Katie told her husband to cancel the shipment. It would leave them several days without a car, and she wasn’t having it.

“I’ll have it shipped after we get moved,” she told her husband. “Mom can use it in the meantime.”

To say I was startled would be an understatement! I’d been walking and hitching rides to work since her husband had arrived. While I’d looked at a few cars locally (and discussed acquiring an unused car (translation: it’s been parked for a while) from a family member) nothing had clicked, so I had spent these past few weeks telling myself that the perfect vehicle would come to me in the perfect way. Could this be it? I wondered silently.

This was how I ended up taking my daughter and son-in-law to the airport a few nights later. I was to have full use of the car until she got things sorted on her end for a return trip to retrieve it.

She texted me her first full day in California:

<Hey, mom. Would you like to buy the Green Bean? I’ll sell it to you for what I have in it.>

She took the money I transferred to her and bought an SUV that very same day.

I honestly believe that I attracted the situation. I like the car; it’s the only station wagon like it in the area. An older classic, it suits me perfectly well, and I enjoy the process of fixing up older cars. Even better, we both benefited from the situation. She got what she put into the car back and I acquired the transportation I desired for my personal game plan.

While I was sad to see my beloved Katie go, I decided to focus upon the empty bedroom she left behind. When I would arrive home after work, instead of dwelling upon her absence I painted.

Here is a short video of the progress I’ve made thus far:

I have to work in the morning so after tidying my house and doing laundry I kicked back with a book to enjoy the rest of my day. I’ll tinker on the room some more tomorrow.

Since I am starting a new era in my life I am considering making a change to how I blog as well. Instead of just writing, I’m thinking about posting some videos as well. What do you think? Would you like to watch me ramble on occasion?

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decorating Empty Nest Happiness Housing

The End of an Era

Katie moved out yesterday.

I knew it was coming. We both did.

This is why I dropped offline for a few months. I wanted to spend every last moment with my baby. This was my last chance to make memories with her, memories of her being my baby girl instead of my married daughter.

I did just that.

We’ve been joined at the hip these past few months, my Katie and I. We did everything together. We even got a job together, on the exact same shift, so we could pick on each other as we passed the other’s station.

I have no regrets for taking these last few months and devoting them exclusively to my daughter. I have no regrets about dropping offline and focusing upon my life here in the world. I have had one goal these past years, and that goal was to be the best mother I could be.

I did everything in my power to make that goal a reality. And, if the last conversations I had with my daughter are any clue, I succeeded. I believe I even imparted the importance of being a loving parent, a parent who chooses family over the pursuit of money or other goals to my daughter, since she shared with me her personal thoughts and concerns about raising her children in the future.

But now that time is over. My Katie is grown. She moved out, and is on her way to starting her new life as a married woman.

Society doesn’t guide us when it comes to life after parenthood. It seems that we’re to grow up, get a job, find the spouse, raise the kids, then fade into the sunset, visited only on holidays or whatever the kids find convenient. We are to wait until we qualify to enter a nursing home, go there, and wait to die.

I say fuck that shit.

It’s time for me to start a new adventure.

I don’t know what I’ll end up doing, but if you think I’m going to allow myself to wallow in loss and self-pity you are wrong. The best cure for sadness is action, so I intend to keep busy until the shock wears off. Somewhere in the busyness I’ll figure out what to do next.

My very first step is reclaiming the bedroom. I’ve not had a bedroom in a decade now; while I hadn’t planned to stay in this tiny house for quite this long, I did, so now, for the first time in a long time, I’ve gotten an empty room in which I can dedicate to sleeping.

Katie’s empty bedroom
Katie’s empty bedroom, alternate angle

I didn’t allow myself to dwell upon the shock of seeing that empty room, of seeing the little things my baby decided to leave behind. Instead, I started cleaning. I gave that room a good scrubbing, called a friend, and asked for a ride to the store. Since fresh starts and new adventures don’t happen every day, I didn’t even look at the prices as I purchased the supplies to paint that little bedroom. I even treated myself to a new lava lamp in my favorite color (red) for when I’m ready to move in.

I stayed up incredibly late patching the damage that only a kid can do as I laughed. I’d not realized one child could create so much work, but she has lived in that room for a decade now. To my surprise, I found spots on the walls from before we moved in. I hadn’t paid attention when I rented the place. That room was to be my Katie’s room so I’d barely glanced at it, and I’ve barely stepped foot in there until now.

It’s faded, but a previous tenant logged the date on the wall back in 2009!

Today I intend to sand the spots and start painting. I picked white, plain white for the walls and ceiling in order to give myself a blank slate with which to work. I don’t know who I will become on this next adventure so that seemed the safest choice. I did select a different color to paint the floor, a dark barn red that will cover the paint splatters and abuse that poor floor has suffered from well before I ever thought of living here. I had to choose between white, gray, or the red; red seems to suit my mood the best at the moment.

We each of us live through different eras as we journey through our lives. We’re a child, a student, a youth, a spouse (sometimes), a parent, and then…

…and then the door is wide open to create a new era, and era that can be anything we choose it to be.

Once I finish this post I intend to eat breakfast and get back to work. This is my day off, so I want to get as much done as I can today.

I’ll write more later.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decorating Happiness Organization self-improvement

The Amazing Power of Tiny Changes

“If you want the things in your life to change, you’ve got to change the things in your life.”

Kevin Trudeau

The above quote resonated with me when I stumbled upon it several years ago. I’d always told myself that I’d make the big changes to my home and my life after I’d achieved financial freedom but after hearing those words I realized that there were some things that I could change while I waited.

So I did.

I’ve written on this website about some of the changes, about how I’d decided to experiment with the Diderot Effect, to see what it would accomplish. One of the things I allowed myself to do was to spend more money than old me would even consider to acquire the items that I really wanted instead of things that would just get me by.

I’d forgotten about that decision until recently. The changes I’d made were so subtle that they weren’t noticeable. Investing in a higher quality pen instead of using a cheap freebie, buying a large computer monitor when I found one on sale instead of making do with the small one I had, treating myself to a video game that I loved instead of doing without. Even the act of allowing myself to embrace the small television that my daughter had gifted me instead of insisting that I didn’t need it was an action inspired by that quote.

This was why, once the shock of achieving financial freedom wore off, I faced a quandary: what did I want to claim as my reward that I didn’t already have?

If you want the things in your life to change, you’ve got to change the things in your life. If you want a simpler, cleaner home, instead of telling yourself that you’ll do something with the next move or when you can afford the fancy storage system, start cleaning up your house now.

If you have a choice between buying an item now that’s cheap and saving up to buy the one that you really want, save up the money. The act of delaying the purchase not only makes the acquisition more delightful, you get what you want instead of just making do.

This is a big thing, much bigger than I’d realized. Just a series of tiny changes can completely change your life in time and you won’t even notice.

Since I made my initial decision to upgrade the things in my life so many little things have changed that I find it hard to recognize the person I was back when I started. I suspect the same will happen to you if you allow yourself to start making tiny changes as well.

As for the reward I’d promised myself, instead of focusing on acquiring things, I’ve decided to focus upon how I want the home to feel instead. I want a wave of tranquility flow over anyone who enters this home so I am in search of the right paint color and physical arrangement to make it happen.

Even this early in the process, I can already tell a difference.

I’ll share photos once this project looks a bit more finished but to my surprise, we don’t have near as much to do or acquire as I expected thanks to the tiny changes I’ve allowed myself over the years. Never did I dream that such small changes could make such a large difference.

Have you ever looked back on your life and realized that the tiniest changes made the biggest difference? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality Minimalism Simplicity

The Art of Thoughtful Spending

An interesting thing happens when you realize that you have achieved your financial goals. You look around and want everything. This commonly happens to lottery winners. It’s the primary reason that they quickly spend themselves broke.

This is why I decided to purge before I allowed myself to spend. The reminder of how easy it is to accumulate too much serves as a counterpoint to the desire.

Even so, it became more and more difficult to resist the urge. My daughter has watched me pass up the things I’ve wanted so many times that she is actively encouraging me to cut loose.

But I do not want to be that person.

I didn’t achieve financial freedom by following the path of others. I didn’t achieve financial freedom by following their advice to spend and spend. I achieved financial freedom by focusing on my mind and my business. I refuse to step backwards.

That said, I could feel the urge rising as the kid persuaded me to window shop and browse online. I would catch myself ready to place something in the cart and realize that it was only a passing whim.

That was why, instead of buying like mad, I invested in a small notebook instead.

Every time I see or think of something I want, I write it down. I don’t worry about how outlandish the desire; anything that pops into my head is dutifully noted. At night before bed I pull it out, review the list, and make a point of adding to it. Then I close my eyes and visualize how my life would change if I added this thing to my possessions.

An amazing thing happens when you allow yourself to mentally spend money. Your mind begins to visualize the clutter. I could see myself wondering where I would stick things. I could even see myself using an item for a time before throwing it away.

I do not want to be that person.

That was when I began making my gratitude list. I started making entries about all of the things I already had that I was immensely grateful for.

On the top of that list was my freedom.

Everything I have added to that giant wish list pales in comparison to my freedom.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the urge to buy things. That said, in most cases we feel the urge to buy not because we truly want something, but because we have been programmed to believe that these things will somehow make our lives even better.

But what can be better than freedom?

The next time you feel the urge to buy-buy-buy, go out and invest in a little notebook instead. Pick one that makes you feel wealthy. Add a nice pen to that, and go home.

Start making a list by asking yourself:

What do I want?

At the very top of your list, write:

I want my FREEDOM.

Every time you feel the urge to spend, pull out your luxurious little notebook and jot it down. Then ask yourself: Will this thing take me closer to my freedom?

The answer will change your life.

As for me I’ve yet to spend much. Aside from honoring my promise to buy the phone, I am still purging. I do treat us to meals out on occasion, since one of the things I wanted to achieve with my freedom was the ability to do just that. I lack the skills or the desire to cook much, so this provides us with some healthy variety. Even better, it allows me to do something to help my local businesses survive the pandemic.

As for the rest, I am still thinking.

How do you deal with the urge to spend? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Financial Freedom

Claiming My Reward

It was raining. The drips hitting the buckets matched the tears that flowed from my eyes, matching the constant drips from my bank account that threatened our very existence. I’d barely enough money for food, much less to patch that leaky roof.

I had kids to feed back then and a never-ending dread: what would happen next to decimate my bank account? Would I ever be able to survive in such a hostile world? Maybe I was dumb and hopeless; maybe I should just do the world a favor and eat a bullet.

It would make it easier.

I didn’t eat that bullet; I decided to make a promise instead.

I would do whatever it took to become financially secure. I would not only do whatever it took to become financially secure, I would make sure that I was free as well. Never again would I have to worry about kissing the asses of some greedy corporate giant just to survive.

In order to fulfill that promise I resolved to take my expenses as low as they could go and keep them there for as long as it took to achieve my goal.

But once I reached the end of it, I would have a reward. I would do something for me that I’d never in my life been able to do.

I would give myself the pretty home, nice wardrobe, and all of the things I’d wanted but I’d never been allowed to have. It would be my personal “fuck you” to the society that had told me that I was unworthy.

Like water, I would wear away the rocks that held me in the chains of poverty. And like water, I would be patient. I would wait.

In hindsight I could have achieved my goal much faster than I did. That said, I do not regret my roundabout path. The lessons learned and the experience gained are worth far more than the time I sacrificed to earn them.

But now it’s come. It’s time to claim my reward.

My vision of an ideal life has changed immensely from the night I made that promise to myself. My reward will reflect those changes. I see no point in buying the things that no longer suit the person I have become, so I have taken this time since we last talked to search my innermost soul.

I sat Katie down and gave her the news. Like you, I swore her to silence. For some reason, I feel the need to keep this success private in the real world. Perhaps it is the result of spending decades being criticized. I’ve been called crazy far too many times over the years to share my achievement with them.

Once Katie digested the information she reminded me of a promise I’d made several years back. Both of my daughters have been pressuring me to acquire a cell phone; they worry for my safety. I promised them that I would grant their request the moment I could afford the exact cell phone I wanted. Since I could easily afford the purchase now, she told me it was time to pay up.

I did.

After that purchase we began to purge. It isn’t a new life if I cling to the detrius from my old one. While I’d initially planned to relocate to a new place for this phase, the Coronavirus situation has changed my plans. I will start right here, where I am, and move if and when I feel it is both safe and logical to do so.

As we purge, we are debating upon color schemes, whether we want to invest in wallpaper, paint, or some other combination, and the furniture that will convert our haven from the home of someone who has carefully hoarded her pennies to the sanctum of a woman who will spend the remainder of her days in comfort.

Katie is so impressed with my achievement that she has decided to launch her own path to financial freedom. She took some classes and started an aromatherapy business locally. Her business has been so successful that she’s decided to take it online. While she is nervous about opening an official website just yet, she made the leap to the online world by opening an Etsy account. You can visit her page here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/WholesomePotions

I feel an immense satisfaction in knowing that I can help guide my daughter on her own path to financial freedom. While she isn’t as driven as I was (she is determined to become a doctor), she has seen the logic in establishing an income that isn’t reliant upon a single corporate source. Given our current economic climate, she may need that freedom as she completes college.

The beauty of my plan to achieve financial freedom is that you can start anywhere. Lower your bills as far as you can, use your skills to create new sources of income, and invest your excess for passive income. Diversify to cover yourself in the event of economic adversity. This not only allows you a backup income source, it enables you to continue growing your passive income over time.

And, like me, once you achieve financial freedom, you can keep or discard your frugal ways as you see fit. While I doubt that I will ever become a spendthrift, I am definitely allowing myself the things that give me pleasure now that I can easily afford them.

The need for financial freedom is stronger than ever now as more and more people are losing the jobs they counted on to pay their bills. Having lived through this before, I can state with certainty that now is the perfect time to launch your path to freedom. I hope that you will join me.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Financial Freedom Goals Law of Attraction

Mission Accomplished

When we walk away from something, we can gain the distance needed to see. When we walk away from something, we change our perspective in a way that reveals aspects that we’d previously been blinded to.

I’ve been aware of the theory for ages. I’ve rarely seen it work, however, so it’s just been a random bit of knowledge that I’d tucked away in a dark corner of my brain.

And this has been a stressful year. I reached the point where I had to step back, to walk away from almost everything just to maintain my sanity.

That decision allowed me to gain distance from a goal I’ve been tinkering on for close to 30 years…

…a goal that I’ve just discovered that I’ve accomplished.

I don’t know whether to shit or go blind. OMG…I did it. I really, truly did it.

I developed a self-sustaining, perpetually growing passive income. Not only have I managed to develop the Mother Lode of income sourcing, I’ve actually managed to accomplish something that I’d privately given up on.

I did it, folks. I’m free. I’m really, truly financially free.

We’ve shared this journey together for over a decade now. You have followed me through every single one of my zany adventures. You’ve stuck with me through the blood and the sweat and the tears and the countless mess ups I’ve made.

So I feel that I owe it to you to tell you that I finally made it.

I don’t have to worry about needing to acquire a public job during the Covid crisis. Given that 97% of Covid deaths here in Kentucky are people that are my age and older, I’ve been terrified at the thought that I may have to expose myself to that danger just to earn enough money to survive.

I’m free. OMG I’m free.

Do me a favor. Keep this to yourself. I’m telling you this out of obligation because you’ve been there with me for all of these years, but I don’t know if I’m ready for this to get out yet. I need to process this. I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life pursuing this dream, and to finally realize that I’ve accomplished it is a bit much for me to handle at the moment.

I need to think.

Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

How to Acquire a Cheap Car

Shortly after the near-miss flood, Katie announced that she’d become tired of walking to work in the rain and wanted to buy a car.

I watched her scroll through posts and eye the selections at local lots before I made a suggestion: “why don’t you ask around at your job? Surely someone knows of a car that you can pick up cheap.”

It took three days. A gentleman at her work had an older one. He’d parked it, intending to fix it up but the task was proving to be more time-consuming than he could manage. If she would reimburse him for the new set of tires he’d just purchased, the car would be hers.

“It needs a lot of work,” he warned.

Years ago, a mechanic told me that any car that would start and run was worth at least $500. This car would not only start and run, it had a brand-new set of tires.

I encouraged her to go for it.

True to his word, the car did need some TLC. But the tires and battery were both brand new so she practically got the car for free. We drove it home and went to work.

One day was spent sorting the fuses. It took several hours and an entire package of the things but I managed to get the windows, door locks, and a range of other things to function once more. Katie spent that day scrubbing the interior.

I am far from a mechanic so I recommended that we have the car inspected. We used his advice to create a list of repairs, sorted by urgency and skill set and got to work.

You can do an amazing amount of auto repairs if you are willing to learn from videos posted online. While I lacked the equipment for some of the jobs, I saved her a small fortune on the things I’ve fixed so far.

Even better: Katie no longer has to walk in the dark for her early morning shifts. She has a car that will take her wherever she desires now, and will soon have it in good enough condition to weather the cross-country move she’s planning in the future.

She doesn’t have a car payment. The car is even old enough that the insurance cost is negligible, so her bills haven’t went up that much.

At first some of her friends called her crazy for following her mother’s advice. They told her she wasted her money on a clunker. But then she pointed out that their expensive cars, complete with car payments, were costing them far more in repairs than her vehicle was.

The critics fell silent when they realized she was right.

We have been programmed to believe that newer is better. We will bypass the older, “uglier” car in favor of the new and shiny as a general rule. Yet if one is willing to do the work (or hire it done as money allows) you can save a fortune by purchasing one of these unwanted vehicles. Provided that the frame is sound, everything else can be fixed.

The thing that most don’t understand about used vehicles is that, unless you can afford to buy one that’s still under warranty, you will inevitably spend at least a thousand dollars that first year as you work out the kinks, so why not spend that on an older vehicle that costs less in taxes and insurance, skip the payment, and enjoy the cost savings?

I learned that lesson the hard way after I financed my first vehicle. Trying to repair one when you’ve got a payment and full-coverage insurance can be almost impossible if you’re in college or work a low wage job. After that first mistake, I made it a rule to buy old, fix them up, and drive them until the frame died.

This one lesson has saved me a fortune.

While I do believe that it is better to avoid owning a car if you can, that can be a challenge in many parts of this nation. I see no point in giving money to finance companies if it can be avoided; older vehicles solve this problem nicely.

If you already own a car that is paid for don’t trade it off for a newer one. Fix it up and you will have something that will last for many years.

Categories
Finances Financial Freedom Frugality

The Freedom of Frugality

Over six months have passed since Covid-19 reached the shores of the United States.

Thanks to frugality, I haven’t had to worry about it much.

I spend my days at home. I’ve no need to chase money at a public job; my savings combined with my royalties and investments have provided more than enough to live comfortably.

This would not be the case if I had allowed my expenses to keep pace with my income; by keeping my expenses as low as possible during the rich times I was easily able to save enough to live on even now.

The economy will become even worse as time moves on. While I no longer bother to keep a close eye on it, that much is obvious.

If you have not adjusted your expenditures downward, if you have not began to reduce your spending, I urge you to do so. Once the spiral starts, everyone will be affected.

I warn you now through the looking glass of experience: I have lived through challenging economic times in the past. Those who try to continue living as if money will always be plentiful tend to be the hardest hit when their incomes dry up.

I won’t bore you with a step by step tutorial; I’ve written several books on the subject should you realize the truth of my words.

As for me, I am taking this time to focus upon something other than the death and misery and terror around me. I’ve ceased using social media and rarely bother to even check the news.

My friends know to tell me if something important happens.

Have you began to reduce your expenses? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Happiness Personal Simplicity

How to Know That You Are Loved

I stayed up until sometime after 1am to watch the water. Even with the crest prediction being lowered, I wanted to be cautious. I gave my auntie one last call to let her know that we were okay and headed to bed.

BoomBoomBoomBoomBOOM!

My whole house shook from the banging. I rolled off the bed, landed on the dog, and knocked off my lamp as I staggered to the door.

GET IN THE TRUCK!” Katie’s uncle roared when I finally managed to open it.

“Wha?”

“Damn crazy fool, your house is gonna flood! It’s getting up to 26 feet, now get in the damned truck! Where’s my niece?”

He had apparently stressed his entire shift over the earlier crest predictions and raced to our house the moment his shift was over. It took thirty minutes and a phone call to the police to reassure him that the river was cresting and that we were going to be okay.

It was a hairy thirty minutes. For a time there we thought he was going to forcefully carry us out of the house!

It’s nice to be so loved.

I’ve had friends, neighbors, and relatives calling and visiting since this hit the news. I’ve received messages from near and far. The outpouring of concern and support even in the midst of this pandemic has been amazing.

I find it beautiful, and I am immensely grateful.

Today I am sharing a photograph that was taken as I stood at my front gate this morning. It looks scary but we are one of the lucky ones. Just up the street, cars are partially under water, streets are closed, and houses are surrounded.

So life is good in my tiny Kentucky town. It may still be a bit crazy, but life is still good.

I’m still a bit tired after staying up late, getting awakened, then climbing back out of bed again early this morning to monitor the water, so today will be a day of rest.

Even more importantly, today is a day of gratitude.

No matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for. Those are the blessings that give us the hope that will carry us through.

What are you grateful for today? Please share your stories in the comments below. We will all be thankful together.

Categories
Uncategorized

Pandemic, Hornets, and Floods, Oh, My!

The field across the street from my house.

I’ve spent the day today watching the water rise in the field across the street from my house. They’ve already called and told us to evacuate, so we’ve made plans to do just that.

Hopefully it won’t get that bad, but the forecast calls for it to get in my house about three foot or so. I lived through the Flood of 1997; our current pattern is worryingly similar so I am watchful. Katie’s boss sent her home early and they’ve already started closing store on this end of town.

I just may have to bug out, folks. I’ve set things up so I should still be able to blog through this so all is well.

Just wanted to let you know so you won’t worry.

Categories
Frugality Recycling Simplicity

The Importance of Ingenuity

As I repaired my mother’s quilt, it became obvious that I would have to re-quilt it. The thread she had used to quilt it initially had disintegrated in places; to skip that step would defeat the entire purpose of repairing it.

I had a problem with completing that task. In order to quickly quilt it, I needed to use the machine but I didn’t have a quilting guide that would allow me to get the stitching somewhat straight. I headed online, determined to purchase one…

…but then I caught myself. Was there a way to make something that would work? I asked myself. My goal is to limit, and eventually eliminate my reliance on corporations. Thrift shops are closed, so the hope of finding a used quilting guide was slim to none, but could I make something instead?

A paperclip and some creative bending later, I crafted a device that allowed me to do what I needed. I crafted a quilting guide using an item I already had.

I came extremely close to buying one, not because I didn’t have the skills to make something that would work, but out of sheer habit. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need to buy the solutions to our problems. I’ve been conditioned to that as well. I can remember during my childhood how those around me secretly made fun of people who solved problems and created items using the stuff they already possessed. That experience affected me more than I realized, and I suspect that it’s affected you as well.

I remember my grandfather getting secretly teased for using old leather belts to make hinges and clasps for doors and gates. I remember my aunties getting teased for knitting and crocheting scarves and hats for Christmas.

“Too cheap to buy something so they’ve got to pass out that nasty handmade crap,” I remember overhearing one person say.

I remember wondering why store-bought clothing seemed to be made funny until I got older and realized that they’d altered the construction process to accommodate their equipment. I remember the commercials and movies that defined those who made things by hand as being extremely poor or eccentric.

And now I realize just how deep that programming, the programming of generations, runs within us all.

A paperclip. That’s all I needed to devise something that met my needs. In time, I could fashion a piece of wire clothes hanger to make a larger one if I wanted to quilt in wider gaps, and I don’t need to buy anything to make it; I’ve got everything I need to make one right here.

I want you to think about that the next time you stumble upon a problem and immediately think to head online or to a store. I want you to think about how you have been programmed to buy the solutions to your needs.

I want you to think about that, because the marketers are being paid to program us to buy stuff instead of making it ourselves. They want us to buy because that is what makes them rich. That is what allows them to hole up in the Hamptons while they order us to work in contaminated factories despite the risk to ourselves and our family members.

They don’t care if we catch Covid and die. They don’t care if the processes they use harm us or the earth around us.

We have literally became sacrifices upon the altar of their Money God, and only we have the power to stop them.

All we have to do is stop buying their stuff.

I’m not going to say that it’s easy. We have a lifetime of programming to overcome, and even this eccentric old woman is struggling. But if we just stop and think about things, perhaps we can devise solutions that don’t involve giving them our money, and every time we do that we win.

A paperclip became a quilting guide. A plastic milk jug or butter bowl can become flower pots. A bit of string can turn a recycled jug into a hanging planter. An unwanted lid can catch the water from those pots even.

An unraveled sweater in our closet can be used to create socks, hats, mittens, scarves, bed coverings, or a number of other items. A sheet can be turned into a dress, a curtain, a quilt backing, or any number of things. Belts can be used for lightweight hinges or converted into pet collars. Even old computers can be brought back to life and used to surf the Internet.

There are so many things we can do with the items we already have, but they don’t want us to know that. They want us to buy everything we need and toss that old stuff instead.

It’s reached the point where I honestly wonder if the Minimalism movement has been hijacked by the corporations. Think about it: if we reduce our possessions to the bare minimum by discarding or donating our excess, what will we have to do when the items we keep wear out?

We have to buy new, that’s what we have to do.

I am proud of myself for devising a solution to my quilting dilemma. I solved my problem by using something I already had, and I didn’t give the corporations an extra penny, since I already owned the paperclip in question. Now I am looking around my home with fresh eyes as I ask myself what else I own that I can repair or create using the items I already have.

Have you ever considered the value of making things yourself? Have you ever solved a problem by creating something instead of buying a solution? Do you have any tips to share that will make it easier? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decorating Frugality Recycling Simplicity

The 40 Year Old Quilt

I didn’t even know my mother was working on a quilt back then, but one day I arrived home from school to discover it upon my bed.

It was her very first quilt, and she’d made it for me.

I’ve cherished that quilt over the years. Even as it became tattered, I kept it. Eventually the holes from where I’d cut it during my childhood (and my children had repeated my childish mistakes) became unsightly, especially when combined with the decaying threads of her stitching, so I placed it in a box and stored it away.

Mama’s quilt before

People told me to throw the quilt away. One person offered to buy me a new bedspread if I would toss that old quilt, but I refused. It was a piece of my Mama, and my Mama died when I was 22. I don’t have much left that belonged to her, and this particular quilt was priceless to me.

I remember cutting that hole when I was just a child. I was terrified and hid the damage from Mom until the day she died.

“Hey. Mom, look what I found!” Katie held the quilt up in her arms when she stumbled upon it’s hiding place. “It’s getting in sad shape,” she noted as she inspected the damage.

I’m a different person now from the woman who stored it away. Old me would have never even considered it, but as I held that ancient quilt in my hands I decided to repair it. I would openly display the repairs, just to show the world that I loved my mother enough to fight to keep a piece of her in my life.

So that’s what I did.

I selected bright, colorful pieces of fabric from my stash and went to work. I worked on it during the evenings when I was too tired to think of sewing masks. Some nights I hand-stitched the patches in place using Sashiko-inspired stitching, other nights I patched it with the sewing machine.

As I worked, I grew more in awe of the love my mother put into making that quilt, her very first quilt. She must have had trouble assembling it, because some of the machine stitching had been whip-stitched back together by hand. She’d apparently tried to hand-quilt it, gave up, attempted to machine quilt it, and repeated the process until she finally finished.

And on top of all of that she’d embroidered the flowers of the months upon the blocks, placed the flower representing my birth month in the center, and added my name and birth date to it.

Most of that stitching is gone now, but I can still see it in my memories.

I ended up re-quilting it because the thread she’d used to quilt it had disintegrated. I deliberately used black thread to contrast with her white so that I could see where hers ended and mine began.

The back side of one of my patches.

I finished it tonight. As an added touch, I appliqued the G.I. Joe doll pants to the month of January, the month when he was born.

Grandson’s first pair of hand-sewn pants, appliqued in place.
The January block.

I am quite pleased with how it turned out. In time, I will learn a bit of embroidery so that I can add the names and birth dates of my parents, my children, and grandchildren to the relevant blocks. This will allow the quilt to become a family keepsake for when I leave this earth.

We’ve become so conditioned that we don’t think about repairing old things anymore. We use them up, toss them away, forgetting the memories associated with them. “If it’s old, it’s no good,” so many believe.

I disagree. I believe that age makes things worth more than the modern, heartless, disposable alternatives our society has embraced. And when something is created by hand, it comes from the heart, and this alone makes it priceless.

Have you ever considered repairing a piece of your history? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Simplicity Wardrobe

Old Pants, New Tailor

“Grandma, can I spend the night?”

It has been ages since I’ve heard those words from my beloved grandson. Risk or no, I could not have refused to save my soul. I reasoned that since we’d both been at home (and not exposed to potential nastiness), that we should be okay.

He was fascinated as he watched me sewing masks. Question after question was asked while I worked until he finally discovered my bag of sewing scraps.

“Grandma, can I sew on this fabric?” Grandson asked.

Once I gave permission, he announced that he wanted to make pants for his G.I. Joe doll. A few minutes later, he reappeared at my side with the creation in the top photo.

Those pants would barely fit upon his fingers.

I praised his attempt and reassured him that his next attempt would get better. The next morning, I discovered his first attempt at making a pattern:

Grandson’s second attempt

It was time to find the kid a pattern. He was obviously determined. After a quick online search, I found a basic pattern to work from. I printed it out and we went to work.

Grandson cutting out the pattern.

Since I didn’t have the doll available to check the pattern, I sacrificed a pair of my old sweat pants to the cause. I’ve widened a bit over these past few months so they’d gotten a bit tight and they won’t be missed. The stretch in the fabric would compensate if the pattern happened to be a bit small, I reasoned. We cut out the pieces and then started sewing.

Grandson sewing his first pair of pants from a pattern.

While he worked, I told him stories about how men who sew are called tailors, and how tailors used to be much in demand for sewing men’s clothing. I made an effort to discuss male fashion designers as well because I know in this area many consider sewing to be the exclusive realm of women. I wanted to mentally prepare him to know that it’s okay for guys to sew.

He was so proud of his creation!

Grandson’s finished pair of doll pants.

I am so proud of him! He did really well on those pants. I told him to let me know if we needed to alter the pattern, so the very next evening after he left Middle Daughter messaged me. She’d had to buy him a sewing kit and he was happily creating an entire wardrobe for his G.I. Joe. I gather she’s trying to locate a small sewing machine for him because she asked if I would teach both of them how to use it if she found one.

I readily agreed.

Back in the day before corporations trained us to buy their mass-manufactured garbage we used to make the clothes that we wore and the clothes we placed on our children’s toys. We made our own curtains, sheets, quilts, and anything else we wanted. We even knitted our own socks! My grandmother was so skilled at it that she didn’t even need a pattern; she could just look at an item and “know” how to re-create it at home.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as I sew on those masks. We would sew what we needed, wear it out, re-purpose the fabric into quilts and other items, and then make more, so we didn’t have a lot of excess clothing. Even better, we appreciated the clothing we had, but due to the mental programming we’ve received we now look at clothes as disposable. We buy it, wear it once or twice, and then pass it on to someone else, donate it to a thrift shop, or toss it in the trash where it ends up in a landfill.

What if we changed that? What if, instead of giving money to the corporations who have programmed us to buy and buy, we started making things for ourselves to wear instead? It would cost a bit more to buy the fabric but each individual piece would have a part of ourselves in them, and they could be tailored to fit us properly. We could even select fabrics that reduce the harm to our environment by avoiding synthetics. If we wore those pieces out, re-purposing them into quilts or other items, we could reduce the burdens on our landfills even more.

I believe that I am going to do that. As I wear out the clothing I have already, instead of replacing them with commercially sewn options, I believe I may make some instead. When I mentioned that to my daughters, they were delighted. Middle Daughter wants me to teach her how to sew and Katie has already placed a few orders with the shop of Mom. As I become more comfortable with that, I do believe I may be able to take it a step further by re-working hand-me-downs and thrift store finds, which would reduce the environmental impact even further.

Time will tell how far I take it but I like the thought of reducing my reliance upon mass market goods even further. I like the thought of preventing the greedy corporations from receiving financial encouragement to treat workers as disposable objects so this is a thought I am definitely pursuing.

Have you given any thought about reducing your reliance on mass-produced goods? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

A Mother’s Work is Never Done

My Katie managed to score a day off from work yesterday, so we had the rare treat of sipping coffee together as we started the day. The conversation turned to brainstorming, since a relative had called to request some masks for herself and her son; she wants to pay and I don’t feel that it’s proper to accept money from her.

As we worked out a solution that would make everyone satisfied, Katie turned somber. “I know you’ve got a lot of masks to make, but if you get time would you mind patching one of my shirts? I love it but I can’t wear it now because of the holes.”

“Let me see it,” I grumbled good-naturedly.

At some point my daughter had acquired a camouflage button down Army Surplus shirt. While it was well-made, the years had made themselves known in the form of two holes that had appeared in the fabric. Katie wanted to patch the holes but she didn’t want the repairs to be too obvious. Fortunately, she had recently picked up some mask fabric in similar colors, so I offered to use that to make patches. She readily agreed.

I spent the remainder of the morning stitching those patches upon her shirt. She was so delighted that she made plans to wear it today:

Close up of Patch #1
Close up of Patch #2

While the images above make the patches seem noticeable, when she dons the shirt you can’t even see them unless you know where to look. I was quite pleased at the fact that I was able to repair that shirt using bits of fabric that I already had on hand.

Once that task was completed, I settled down at the sewing machine and worked on the masks. After a while I decided to take a break. I felt grubby so a bath was in order. Just as I began to relax in the soothing warm water I received a phone call from Middle Daughter. She had picked up some more fabric and was on her way to my home.

I didn’t even get to soap up. I climbed out of the tub and quickly toweled off, barely managing to pull up my pants before she arrived. She displayed her fabric finds, looked through my fabric stash, gushed over her excitement at being able to have Mommy make her some more masks (“I want to wear a new one every day!”), and asked how soon I could have them done.

“Let me finish my current batch, okay?”

“But Mommy! I want to wear a new mask! I like showing off your masks! No one else has masks as pretty as the ones you make!”

I ended up compromising. I would cut out the material for a single mask and whip it up along with the current batch, but she’d have to wait a day or so on the others. At 2 am this morning I’d just finished up, so, knowing that she was excited, I snapped some quick photos and sent them to her:

One side of Middle Daughter’s Mask
The opposite side of Middle Daughter’s mask

So my butt is tired today. Once I publish this blog post, I’ve got to finish up this current batch, arrange to ship the ones to my elderly relative, and start the batch of masks for Middle Daughter. At some point, however, this old woman is going to attempt to take another bath. I didn’t even get to soap up during yesterday’s attempt.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

The Shoe Patch

A few years ago the kid bought this cute pair of “boat shoes.” I liked the shoes so I watched her enjoy them because I knew that, in time, she would get bored of them and pass them to me.

One night I noticed she had tossed those shoes in the trash can, so I fished them out.

“Why are you throwing away your shoes?” I asked.

“They’ve got a hole in the toe,” she responded. “I wore them out so I knew you wouldn’t want them.”

I examined the shoes carefully. One little hole had formed upon a single shoe, right where the big toe rests. Deciding that they would still work for running around the house, I added them to my collection.

That was a year or so ago. The other day while I was wearing them to mow the yard I noticed that the other shoe was developing a matching hole. Since the original hole was growing larger, I realized that it was time to make a decision. I checked the soles to discover that they were still well-secured and in good shape and then headed for my sewing kit.

Two tiny scraps of denim later and I’d repaired those holes. It was a challenge to sew on the scraps with a straight needle, but I’m happy with how they turned out. Not only did I use what I already had to repair them, I used up stuff that most people would have thrown away to save something else that most people would have thrown away. Even the thread was something that most would discard – it’s so old that the spool is made out of wood!

I’m rather proud of the fact that I repaired those shoes. I saved them from going into a landfill far before their time despite the fact that they were engineered to be used during some trend and then discarded.

To my surprise, I am enjoying the fact that I am able to do things like this. With every stitch, the joy I felt at doing my part to defeat the consumerist programming we have all received was immense.

Think about it. What do we all think when we find a cute pair of shoes that we like? We go out and buy a pair for ourselves. What do we do when those shoes fall apart if we really like them? We toss them in the trash and purchase replacements.

I did neither. I fished those shoes out of the trash. I wore the heck out of them, and then I repaired them so that they will last even longer. I’ll wear the soles off of those things for sheer spite, because fuck the corporations who have programmed us to buy-buy-buy. Fuck the corporations who are now spreading fear over our food supply because they got caught allowing sickness to spread in their factories for the sake of their millions. Do you think they care that the Coronavirus could possibly contaminate our food supply? You can bet your bottom dollar that they don’t.

I spent my entire childhood believing the lie that we’re supposed to buy solutions to our problems. I spent my entire childhood watching my father complain when he had to repair things due to lack of money. To him, it was a shameful thing to wear patches on his clothes because he considered it a sign of poverty.

Well guess what, Sunshine? We’re all going to be struggling for money before this is over. Well, the average person will. I’m not so sure about the millionaires. If we continue to listen to their lies, we’ll continue to buy their stuff and they’ll continue to weather this in the Hamptons. Oh, they’ll complain because they can’t afford to hire their private jets as often but I really don’t consider that to be struggling, especially since so many of us are having to rely on food banks just to eat these days.

Every penny that we can avoid giving the corporations, every penny that we can keep for ourselves will not only help us weather this storm, it will slowly add up until it begins to hit their pocketbooks. All of those bailouts that the US government is giving to the major industries won’t do a bit of good if no one buys their stuff once this is over. It will only delay their inevitable collapse.

I am now looking at this as a challenge. I now look around and ask myself: what can I do to prevent making the rich even richer? What can I do to show people that we’re throwing too much perfectly usable stuff away? What can I do to counter the programming?

And it’s apparently working. My youngest daughter hauled in a pattern and some fabric so that I could make her two pairs of pants yesterday. She’s remembered that, while initially more expensive to make, that the clothes I make at home not only can use the fabrics and patterns that she prefers, that they last a lot longer than almost anything she’s been buying at the store. Her friends are admiring the purse I made her a while back and realizing that they can make their own purses out of the fabrics they choose while building in features that make them more durable than one can find in a store. Even business owners are contemplating the financial impact of paying over $1 each for cheap disposable masks over having a seamstress construct masks that will last for the long-term.

I know. As they’ve seen how well the kid’s masks are holding up, they are starting to come to me for quotes.

I don’t know how this is going to pan out, folks. All I know for certain is that our current state of affairs is not sustainable. We’ve reached a choice between buying their disposable crap or conserving our funds just to eat. I see no point in letting the rich get richer while we go hungry.

I’ll start on the garden when this rain stops. I’ve already planted a few items in salvaged containers that I’ve repurposed to get a head start, and Dolly Freed’s logic of raising rabbits for meat has become oddly appealing. I don’t know if I’ll go that far, at least not here, but I’m going to keep my options open as I monitor the situation.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Food Frugality Organization

The Difference Between Stockpiling and Hoarding

“I’ve got coupons for the crackers!” Katie dug through her coupon holder as we entered the cracker aisle. “How much should we get?”

I checked the expiration date upon the boxes, holding one up to show my daughter. “How many boxes do you think we’ll go through by this date?”

Katie frowned. “Not a lot,” she muttered.

There is a difference between stockpiling and hoarding. It’s easy to forget that in the middle of a pandemic while facing an erratic supply chain. When we see something we use in stock, we instinctively want to buy it all because we honestly don’t know when it will be available again.

I struggle with this personally.

My life could be described as a financial feast or famine situation. I’ve had times of plenty and times of having not near enough. When I figured that out, I began to balance things a bit. During times of plenty I would stock up on bargains in order to survive the times of want.

For instance, a few years back I came across a back-to-school sale that had composition notebooks for an incredibly low price. Katie thought I was crazy as I hauled whole cases of notebooks home. I worried that I’d overdone things as storage and privacy concerns found me shifting my journaling habit to the computer instead of using notebooks but since those notebooks cost nothing for me to store I kept them.

And it paid off. My grandkids have used quite a few of them for school and play. I’ve used a bunch of them to make lists and take notes. My Katie is now working on the last batch, using them in college. Because they have been used, that purchase can be considered a stockpile.

Several years previous I faced an entirely different situation. I worked at a food plant for a while. They primarily made cereal and crackers. They kept a bin of the discards (imperfect boxes, wrong weight, etc.) that the workers were free to take home. I knew I would not have that job forever (I was a temporary worker) so I stocked up. I filled my pantry with those items.

A lot of it went bad before we could finish it. I felt like a fool for hoarding the stuff.

But how can you tell the difference? How can one know if they are simply stockpiling or if they are hoarding? Here are three general rules that I follow.

Can I Afford It?

This might sound silly at first but it is easy to blow your budget when you find a good deal on something you want to stock up on. I have done this more times than I can count over the years. I would see a stockpile of fabric in a thrift shop, arrange to buy the entire lot for cheap, only to realize that, while it was an excellent bargain that I spent all of my excess cash on the acquisition. While the fabric was used over time, I still remember my mistakes. I have adjusted my purchasing habits accordingly after that experience and others.

Sometimes it is better to pass up a deal, no matter how good due to budget constraints. While you can always save up a bit of money to have on hand with which to take advantage of good deals, depending upon when you stumble upon a bargain, your money stash might be a bit low to comfortably make the purchase. Bills and food must always come first. Remember that.

Will I Use It Before It Expires?

Many items like food and medicine have expiration dates. While the dates are just an estimate of how long the item will remain safely usable, those dates can be used as a guideline. When stocking up, check those dates. Estimate how much of the item you will use before the date on the container. Remind yourself that if the item isn’t used up by that date that you may not feel safe trusting it and limit the amount you purchase accordingly.

When it comes to items that expire, less is better in the stockpiling arena. It is better to use it up and purchase more than it is to invest in a stockpile that will go bad before you finish it.

BONUS TIP: Rotate your stock! The restaurant industry has a term for this: FIFO. It means “first in, first out.” Always use your old items first. This will ensure that nothing goes bad before you use it.

Do I Have Enough Room to Store It?

The catch to having a stockpile is that external storage is NOT cheap. Even worse, if you store your stockpile off site, you might forget that you have it and purchase even more. Look around the space in your home before you decide to stock up. If you can reserve a space that will allow you to access the items with little difficulty you are in good shape. If you find that area beginning to overflow, know that you need to stop for a bit and use up what you already have.

I recently had to do that with my book collection. It had outgrown the shelf I had assigned to it by at least a factor of two. Instead of being able to keep the books neatly organized I had them stacked in layers upon that shelf, to the point where it would take several minutes of hunting to retrieve a single book. In fact, when I thinned down my collection I discovered that I’d inadvertently collected duplicates of some titles. I’d collected so many that I’d forgotten what I had.

I will have a similar situation with clothing in the near future. Both of my daughters happen to adore clothes; whenever they thin down they bring their discards to me. Since the local clothing pantry is shut down due to the pandemic I will have to devise a solution. Since I now have a sewing machine, I will probably cut up the ones I can’t wear to either store in my fabric bin or recycle them into cleaning and family cloths. That will keep the storage space to a minimum and allow me to recycle them naturally. I may end up making a lot of patchwork items until the clothing pantry reopens but that’s okay – at least the items will be put to use.

Remember: if you find yourself beginning to trip over your stockpile, you’ve reached a danger point. While it is okay to stock up, it is painfully easy to start hoarding. If you cannot organize and keep track, you’ll find yourself with a problem.

~

While there are a range of other questions you can ask yourself, those are the three primary ones that I personally use. Do you have any questions that you ask yourself that I missed? Maybe you can teach me how to stock up more efficiently. Thank you!

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!