Categories
Simplicity

Keep It Simple

This world has gotten so complicated that it is hard to keep track of things. We have to own and maintain vehicles, remember when to pay our taxes, determine which of the endless list of tasks need to be done, all on top of figuring out ways to pay our bills. Hell, go into a store these days just to buy a roll of bathroom tissue and you will discover an entire shelf of selections to choose from!

We’re faced with these choices every day. What do we want? Where are we going to get it? How are we going to pay? Which particular brand of this particular product should we buy?

The choices grow even more complicated when you realize that the decisions you make about what to buy, where to buy, and even what to use can contribute to building the fortunes of companies who are not acting in your best interest. When you realize that you are filling the coffers of companies who are using that money to control the government, it is easy to become overwhelmed.

I’m getting low on dog food right now but I’m torn about where to buy it. There are no local businesses in the area that I can turn to because they all died when WalMart moved in. I typically order my pet food from WalMart or Amazon but WalMart is spearheading the replacement of low-wage workers with machines and Amazon pays no taxes and has grown so big that I don’t really trust them any longer.

Until I can come up with something better, I have resolved to keep this process of decision as simple as I can. In the case of the pet food, I have personally seen the damage that WalMart has caused. I watched an old man cry because WalMart deliberately opened a store beside his little grocery when they couldn’t run him out of business from their previous location. I watched the businesses in this town and others I’ve lived in wither and die after they opened their stores. I’ve seen the fear in the factories that produce their stuff. I’ve heard the laughter from the managers as they bragged about their bonuses while the workers in the front cried because their hours were cut, knowing that their hours had been slashed by the laughing monsters in the back. As one explained to me, they only receive their bonuses if they keep their costs below a certain level–and slashing hours is an easy way to do that.

I may not like Amazon’s business practices but between the two, my issue with WalMart is much more personal. While I won’t stop searching for an alternative even to Amazon, at this point I would rather help them than WalMart.

I have resolved to keep things simple in other aspects of my life as well. Instead of worrying about options and choices and price points, I have resolved to go back to the basics where I can. I’ll write more about those individual items as time allows.

For now I am going to order a bag of dog food and move on with my day. I’ve got a book to finish, after all.

How do you keep your choices simple? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

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
self-improvement Success

The Art of Standing Firm

There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to stand firm in our decisions, when we have to straighten our shoulders and move forward despite opposition from others–and even ourselves.

These decisions can encompass anything. The details don’t matter; what matters is that you maintain your resolution.

The people around you may not understand what you are doing. They may attempt to tease or bully you into changing your mind.

Sometimes the enemy is yourself. You look at the process with dread or simply balk at the thought of focusing upon your goal. You can question the wisdom of your decision or even doubt your ability to follow through, delaying your start as you wait for the stars to align and the perfect moment to arrive.

We are all guilty of this.

I’ve done it personally more times than I can count.

While we cannot change our actions from the past, we can control our actions as we move forward. We can learn from those mistakes, grow stronger, and resolve not to make them again.

Like the oak tree, we too can stand firm. Each time we do, we grow stronger.

What is one decision in your life that you need to stand firm on? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Personal

It is Time to Press Pause

I’ve suffered from a bit of an existential crisis these past few days. My beloved daughter informed me that she plans to officially marry in November.

By some time in December she should be gone.

It’s all hitting me. This stage of my life is officially over.

I started blogging as a form of cheap therapy. I needed to get my thoughts out of my head so that I could focus on my goal of being the best single mother I could be.

In hindsight, I believe that I focused on minimalism and frugality because, in a life that seemed so out of control, money and possessions were the two things that I could control. As one of my friends pointed out so many years ago, I tend to slip into “survival mode” when facing emotional issues.

In other words, when faced with something I cannot control, I shift my focus to shaving as much off of my budget as I can instead of dealing with what is truly bugging me.

And I’ve become quite good at that. As I announced in an earlier post, I doubt that there is anyone blogging online who lives quite as cheaply as I do.

That said, I’ve reached a critical juncture in my life. My youngest daughter, my sole reason for fighting the fight for almost 20 years, is leaving.

If I am not very, very careful, instead of dealing with this head-on I will bury my pain deep inside and obsessively focus upon my finances.

I can already see the signs. When I start seriously conserving money by washing my clothes in a bathtub despite the fact that I can afford a laundromat and debating the financial implications of a purchase, I know that I’ve slipped into survival mode. I can preach different reasons all I want but I know myself, and I have finally realized exactly what I am doing and why.

I am trying desperately to avoid the pain of loss that is eating me up inside.

It is high time I stopped doing that. While saving money is a good thing, my continuing obsession with money is unhealthy.

While I still want to achieve financial freedom, I have decided that I need to shift my focus inward for a time. I need to face the fact of my changing circumstances. For once in my life I need to face my pain instead of burying it deep.

I need to press pause, step back, and seriously evaluate my life.

I have not made this decision lightly. Behind the scenes of this website I have been madly writing about my finances. I even penned some painful posts about things that have happened in the past, posts that really need to stay buried, at least while some of the people involved still live.

I’ve written so much these past few days that despite increasing my posting schedule to a daily format I had things scheduled into next year as I’ve tried to come to grips with what is happening to me. Upon a critical review of my words late last night I saw myself for what I am: a woman in the midst of a major life change.

Some of the ravings didn’t even make sense as I flip-flopped between obsessively focusing on my finances and ranting against the cold, hard reality of what I am facing.

This stops now.

I pulled every single one of those posts. In fact, I’ve pulled every single post that I had scheduled from this day forward as an added precaution. I intend to review them over the next few weeks. I want to sift the good and helpful from the drivel and craft them into something that may benefit you before I give them to the world.

It is time for me to sit back, take a deep breath, and figure out exactly what I want to do next. I know I need to grow up. I know I need to own the fact that I am changing. I need to accept the reality of what I have become, decide who I want to be, and start making positive steps in that direction.

I will return in a few days, I promise. I simply need to work out a basic idea of where I want to go next without advertising the worst of my internal crisis to the world at large. You don’t need to witness that.

That said, my focus on extreme frugality is over. I have traveled as far as I can safely go down this path.

I’ll write more later.

 

 

Categories
Happiness Simplicity

The Magic of Decision

I’ve lived in this little house for close to seven years. In that time I’ve never gotten around to making the little touches that turn a house into a home. I didn’t see the point since I didn’t know how long I was going to live here. Was I going to upgrade to another house, move into an RV, or thin down to almost nothing and travel once the kid was gone?

I honestly didn’t know. Something deep inside of me was restless so rather than waste time, money, and effort getting comfortable here I just made do in several areas. I would probably relocate after the kid left for college anyway, I reasoned.

I spent the first few days in shock after the kid turned 18. The knowledge that I was legally free of the responsibilities of parenthood and could do what I wanted did not compute. What would I do? While I still had a year before she left for college, I needed to get cracking!

But then I realized something: I am happy here. I like the house, I like the area, I even like the simple job that allows me to pay my bills while pursuing my simple passions.

I didn’t have to move. I didn’t have to travel. I didn’t have to go out in search of answers or happiness or even adventure.

I had enough right here, right now. I could settle down and stay right here.

As a result of finally making a decision I’ve finally started to settle in. I purchased a set of curtains to begin the adventure of making this little house a home. Once I accomplish the goal of getting my window treatments sorted I’ll move on to another.

Many people fail to realize how liberating it can be to make a decision. It frees you from considering other possibilities and allows you to focus on a single path instead of worrying about all of the other paths you could or should be taking.

For me personally, making the decision to remain here even after the kid moves out eliminated a stress that I didn’t even know I was carrying. It allowed me to admit that I didn’t need to travel. I didn’t need to move, change my circumstances, chase some dream or fulfil some magical bucket list.

I am happy right where I’m at.

What decisions have you held off making? Please share your stories in the comments below.