A mini home improvement project

BeFunky Collage.jpg

We are really tight on space right now as we are living with family, but since we will likely be here for another 6 months I wanted to try and make the room look a bit nicer. Initially we were going to decorate the whole room when we moved in as it was one of the last rooms left to decorate after my family bought the home from an older lady. However we initially decided not to because we had so much stuff in there and did not think we would be staying so long, but as always life likes to throw a few curve balls! So the decor is a mix of old lady meets young couple who had to move their flat into a bedroom! Today I decided to tackle this mini project – the top of our chest of draws.

My idea was to reduce the amount of clutter in the room and also the different colours to more neutral tones to make the room feel less ‘busy’. When I began the project and I stopped to think about this space I couldn’t understand what was going through my mind when I bought those bright blue baskets as I have never decorated any space that colour and think they are a huge eyesore! I guess this is what happens when you buy on impulse and don’t think about what will suit the space and style you already have.

The first thing we did was to declutter the basket – we got rid of about 2/3rds of the items and then I replaced the blue basket with a more simple white one for £2. I returned the library book and removed the multi-coloured journals which are to be decluttered later tomorrow. The basket will go to be donated as it is in perfect condition and I am sure there is someone else out there who will enjoy that brightly coloured, er… monstrosity.

What do you think of the before and after? Have you been working on a home project lately? Or is redecorating on your to-do list in 2018? Share with me in the comments below.

 

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My decluttering goals for 2018

As someone who has already been on the minimalism journey for 5 years now I am more in the maintenance phase of the journey, however I have noticed things starting to creep back into our space and so here are my decluttering goals for 2018.

My tower of jigsaw puzzles.

My overall goal is to focus on using up what I already have.

  • Puzzles – Quite typically for me, I went overboard buying puzzles during the period when this became my favourite hobby. Now I have around 12 or so left to complete. This stack is taking up 1/4 of the space under my bed so I’m keen to get them done and in future only buy 1 at a time.
  • Bath/body products – I was gifted a lot of bathroom products at Christmas but I hadn’t actually finished last years!
  • Notebooks – As a writer I have gathered a lot of notebooks over the years as I was in the habit of buying when I already had a stack. During the later end of 2017 I managed to finish several and plan to continue doing so in 2018 until I am down to only one notebook at a time.
  • Cross stitch – 7 years ago I used to love cross stitch. I spent hundreds of pounds buying threads and materials, patterns and so on. However for the last 18 months my interest has gone and now I am left with excessive materials which would take me years to use up, so my plan is to try sell what is left and recoup some of the money.
  • Camera – I bought a D-SLR camera almost 2 years ago but haven’t used it nearly as much as I thought I would so I’m also hoping to sell that this year.
  • Books – I have around 20 unread books at the present. After I have finished reading them I will donate so that someone else can enjoy them.
  • Colouring books – Once again I started a new hobby and went overboard buying far too much, unfortunately it turned out that colouring was not something I enjoyed as much as I thought I would and now I am left with several colouring books. Thankfully some are unused and can be sold or gifted on.

As you can see the vast majority of my plans are long-term so in essence my decluttering for 2018 will look like a walk rather than a run!

My notebook stash.

How about you? Do you have plans to declutter in the new year? Share with me in the comments below and thanks as always for dropping by.

Using it up: Going zero waste beyond packaging

I wanted to talk about something today regarding going zero waste. The focus of the zero waste movement so far has been about making no rubbish which has to go to landfill as well as producing fewer items for recycling. But recently I have been thinking about expanding the meaning of zero waste in my life.

The Chain of Waste

If I purchase a book, that book will have arrived at the bookstore in a large cardboard box along with either paper filler, bubble wrap, or plastic fillers to prevent damage; sometimes plastic wrap is also used. If I purchase an item of clothing in a store it will have arrived in store shrink wrapped in plastic which is removed before the item goes out on sale. If I purchase loose fruit and vegetables the trays used to transport that to a supermarket are still covered with large plastic liners. Whenever we purchase anything there is a whole trail of waste created right from the raw materials being mined, logged or manufactured all the way through to how that item reaches the store in order for us to purchase that item.

Therefore in order to further the zero waste lifestyle I feel that we must look at not only how much packaging we take home with us, but also consider how much waste was likely created for its production – after all, if we follow zero (home) waste, then we could purchase 100 items of clothing and recycle all 100 cardboard price tickets, and call this an ecological act.

I think when we consider the amount of waste created in order for a product to reach us, then we owe it to our wallets and to the environment to make sure that we use the items we purchase. After all if we buy 100 items but only use 2 then the resources and money required for those other items are being wasted.

A Culture of Hauls and Stashes

Being in many groups on Facebook for various hobbies over the years I have seen the rise in doing hauls, stashes and excessive buying grow in increasing popularity. There’s nothing wrong with a haul now and then but often I saw people buying far more of one particular type of item than what I could see them feasibly using in a lifetime – and that’s if they even decide to keep doing that same hobby for the next fifty or more years!
I used to be jealous, but now I reflected and I wonder how can you be jealous of people who buy things they will never use? If we don’t use something, what is the point in owning it? I don’t believe there is any joy to be gained in items that just sit and gather dust year after year, if anything the need to clean those items, maintain them, arrange them and so on just makes me long for the simple life! I’ve also seen a really ungrateful attitude with some people doing hauls – in one I watched as the poster opened box after box throwing the contents carelessly to one side!

My challenge to you

If you’re reading this blog I’m guessing it’s because you have either an interest in zero waste or minimalism, so here is my challenge to you for the following year – please let me know how you get on, I would love to hear your stories!

How many of us have books, DVD’s, clothes, various hobby paraphernalia lying around at home which never sees the light of day? I think everyone does to some degree so I’m challenging you to look around your home and ask yourself what you can prevent be wasted in your home. What books haven’t you read? What movies have you bought and never watched? Could you finish an old project you began? If you no longer have the same enthusiasm for a hobby anymore, could you pass on the related items on while they are still in good condition to prevent them being wasted? If you still enjoy your hobby what would it be like to have only one project at a time and stick with it until completion? Here’s a couple of key questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have items in your home being wasted through lack of use?
  • Could you make a commitment to using those items up before purchasing new ones?
  • If you no longer wish to use the item, can you donate it to a charity or friend who will use it?

My commitment

Of course I am not going to challenge you to something I am not prepared to do myself so here’s a couple of plans I have for 2018 with regards to not wasting items.

  • For a while now I have seen my interest in sewing decline with no renewal so I am planning to keep only the threads I need to finish my 2 current projects and selling the rest to someone who will use them.
  • I also have a pile of maybe 15 books which are currently unread so in 2018 I will be working my way through the pile and donating the books afterwards.
  • For several months I have been working my way through my stack of notebooks and paper and am pleased to say I’ve finish several since I stopped buying. I’m hoping to get down to owning only 1 notebook in 2018 instead of 20 half-finished ones! (As a small side note I recycle all the paper I use.)

Let me know how you get on in the comments below!

Why I wouldn’t want to be (super) rich

Recently the EuroMillions Lottery jackpot reached a colossal £119 million which would have made the winner one of the top 1000 richest people in the UK. Since I don’t have the disposable income to play year-round at every game, I usually only play when the jackpot is unusually big for a bit of entertainment (and the desire to quit minimum-wage work but, I digress). I began playing about 2 weeks ago when the jackpot was around £80 million or so until it was won last night by a player in Switzerland.

For the couple of weeks I played it gave me a lot of time to read about what actually happens when you win the lottery, and think about what would really happen if I did win. It gave me a lot to reflect upon so here’s my list of why I wouldn’t want to win such a large amount of money.

  1. Being set for life is a myth – In the USA it’s reported that around 70% of big lottery winners either spend or lose all their winnings within 5 years and many even go bankrupt. Like many others I believed that a lottery win would set you up for life and that only the odd person mismanaged their winnings and ended up worse off – so I was surprised to see that this isn’t the case for the majority of winners.
  2. You would need a whole team of advisors – When you win really big it’s advisable to get a team of people around you who can help you such as a financial adviser, accountant and so on. I don’t know about you but I enjoy managing my own money and budget, and the thought of suddenly having to find others to help me manage my wealth would be stressful! How would I know who was worth their salt and who to trust?
  3. You might be at an increased risk of burglary – As part of my research I spent a lot of time looking at how large the homes of the rich are – and it’s difficult to see how you could be aware of such a large space. When you live in a relatively small-medium house it’s easier to hear unusual noises, the breaking of glass and so on that would indicate if someone entered your home without your knowledge. Sure, you can hire security but that hasn’t stopped many high-profile celebrities from being broken in to and burgled including Simon Cowell, Kanye West, Rihanna and Mariah Carey – all people I would expect to have security you can’t get past.
  4. You will be at increased risk of kidnapping and murder – I read online (Sorry I can’t find the source again) that those who win large sums of money are statistically 2-3 times more likely to be murdered. Other lottery winners have reported seeing strangers in their gardens watching their children for unknown purposes.
  5. The fear of losing it all – The higher we fly the higher we have to fall, and especially if we go from one extreme to another the challenges of adjustment would be very difficult, whether that’s poor to rich or rich to poor, or even poor to rich to poor again. Even if you win a large sum of money you might still spent time worrying – about what you would do if you became one of those 70% of people who lose all their money.
  6. You might be hated by a lot of people – As income inequality rises and more and more people are using food banks in the UK, criticism of the super rich has grown. Some super rich people now fear revolution or an uprising due to the increasing gap and dissatisfaction felt by those who go hungry while others have gold toilet seats.
  7. You will be expected to buy and do particular things because you are rich – It’s kind of considered a given that if any of us were to win a significant amount of money that we would buy ourselves a designer wardrobe, luxury cars and so on. But for those of us who have never dreamed of having a designer wardrobe the expectation that we should want those things might be difficult to reconcile. Although I’ve occasionally seen a designer item which has caught my eye, by and large I don’t lust after that all-designer wardrobe with $20,000 handbags. If I could afford to shop at NEXT I would be a very happy! As for spending a quarter of a million dollars on a car? No chance, I’m not sure what car I would buy since they are of little interest to me, but I most likely wouldn’t want to spend beyond £10-20,000 if I won the lottery – as long as it had four doors, heating and was a reasonable colour I’d be happy! Those who opt not to purchase luxury goods are sometimes criticised as wasting their opportunity to do so and told they should give that money to someone else who will go buy those designer items since ‘you don’t know how to spend it’.
  8. The need to have a continuous stable income in order to support your new lifestyle – Once you start living an expensive lifestyle there is pressure to continue finding the income to do so, and whilst a big lottery win can give you a lavish lifestyle even lottery winnings have their limits, particularly when they are only spent and never used to generate future income whether via education or investment. Take for example the standard desire of wanting a mansion – even if that alone only took up a small amount of your winnings, the costs of running that mansion could soon eat up the rest of your winnings – some of the huge houses I looked at were costing their owners $74,000 a month just to run them and maintain them. That’s three quarters of a million a year just on housing costs, before you’ve even factored in the rest of your lifestyle costs. Similarly for those who work their way up, people can feel pressured to continue maintaining a particular lifestyle or keep up with peers even if it doesn’t make them happy.
  9. People will want money from you – Lottery winners who go public have reported receiving thousands of letters begging for money and no longer been able to visit local places they used to love because of people hounding them for money. Of course you could try to only tell a few close friends but the more people you tell the greater the risk of someone letting the cat out of the bag, which is what happened to one man who planned to stay anonymous – until his girlfriend let it slip. People wanting money from lottery winners has been the cause of many a relationship, whether friends, family or romantic to come to an end.
  10. You might lose sight of who you are – Although I try hard to be a good person and generally think I wouldn’t become a raging jerk if I succeeded financially or won the lottery, there’s no telling until you get there. What if one day I found myself uttering ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ or what if I became a control freak like the woman who dropped her blueberries over a balcony and made a team of hotel staff spend hours searching for them? Until we get that kind of money there’s really no telling.
  11. You might lose your ability to connect and sympathise with others – Sure rich people still have problems but if they are careful with their money there is a whole host of things that they never have to worry about that the rest of us do – how will they stay warm, eat, bathe or live in general from day to day. When something goes wrong you have the bank balance to fall back on and what could be a major problem for someone with very little income like their car breaking down would be a mere inconvenience for the rich. This can lead to people being totally out of touch with the lives of those less fortunate and then hateful towards those people, but the good news is this isn’t always the case and there are rich people out there who manage to maintain an understanding and sympathy towards those less fortunate.
  12. Privacy – In many states in the USA you have no choice but to go public with your winnings. And in the UK if you go public or someone else lets that secret out for you then you might find yourself and your choices in the national papers as many other lottery winners have done in the past. Your past might also be scrutinised a lot more carefully than if you hadn’t won, so if you plan to play this is something to take into consideration.
  13. You might feel like your life is meaningless – I’ve seen some people whose businesses and careers took off only to see them endlessly talking about what they bought, what products they liked, what they are decluttering and it strikes me that their whole life and purpose seems to revolve around… shopping. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with shopping, almost all of us enjoy it, but when your whole life revolves around buying new stuff I imagine it must be difficult to feel any long-term deep satisfaction with your life and connection with your life’s purpose. There’s more to life than just… stuff.
    This does in part depend upon the kind of person you are – if you focus on buying items with your money and winnings you are probably more likely to feel dissatisfied than if you focused on what money can do for you in terms of experiences, education, adventures and enterprises. Many lottery winners, high-earners and celebrities have fallen into a depression over their feelings of life being meaningless for them. The good news is that your wealth can give you the opportunity to explore what a meaningful life would look like to you – and chase it.
  14. It probably won’t make you happy – Statistically it’s been shown that an income of around £70,000 a year is the peak point for happiness and well-being in terms of wealth and that after that people don’t get any happier. As a society where money is concerned we tend to think that we can’t have enough of it and the more money we have, the happier we will be. Clearly this isn’t the case – perhaps we should all be dreaming of 70k a year jobs instead of lottery numbers?

And with all that said, I wouldn’t mind my current situation to improve a bit but I think having £100+ million would potentially be more stress than it’s worth! What do you think? Is there an amount of money where you would be happy and comfortable and any more just wouldn’t have any effect or would actually have the opposite effect? Share with me in the comments below!

Sources

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2016/01/why_do_70_percent_of_lottery_w.html

https://www.ft.com/content/208627f2-d1d0-11e6-9341-7393bb2e1b51

https://www.thedailybeast.com/lotto-death-curse

How to become a minimalist: Decluttering techniques

So you’ve decided you want to become a minimalist, but now what? How should you go about it? There are many different strategies for decluttering and I’m going to share them here, and tell you what my favourites are as well.

Fast methods

• The Weekend – This involves setting aside a couple of days to work on your life and completely reinvent it. Make sure you stock up on bags and boxes beforehand and scope out places where you can donate or recycle what you no longer need or want.
• One touch – This method was popularised by Marie Kondo in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the basic premise is that you go through all of your possessions and ask yourself if they spark joy for you, and only allow yourself to answer once.
• Packing party – Okay so this method actually takes a few weeks, depending on how long you want to wait, but you can have instant results – essentially you pack up everything you don’t think you need or want, then put it out of the way for a month or so. At the end of the month whatever you didn’t retrieve gets donated.

Slow methods

If fast methods aren’t for you – then there are a number of different strategies you can utilise to keep the ball rolling at a much more leisurely pace that doesn’t need to totally disrupt your life.

• 1 item per day – Created by Colleen of 365LessThings.com, the idea is to donate, recycle or use up one item per day. At the end of the year you’ll have 365 less things in your home to take care of. This works particularly well for those who feel anxious about decluttering and can be couple with other techniques such as ‘Use it up’.
• 1 area at a time – This method involves dividing up your home into areas, how small or big you want those areas to be is up to you, you could go as small as individual draws or a room, and then tackle one per week.
• Layers – This involves repeated sessions of decluttering coupled with reduced spending over a period of time to peel back the clutter like layers.
• Games – Choose a number or a colour and then declutter accordingly, this can be fun and is good for those who like a challenge but don’t want to spend an entire weekend Decluttering.
• Use it up – If you’re of a more frugal mentality then you might want to consider trying to reduce your spending and instead ‘shop’ from inside your home: this can include books you have never read, films you never watched, foods you need to eat up, bathroom products that need using up – essentially anything you have in excess make a goal of not buying and instead try to use what you own.

General advice

• Aim for good enough, not perfection. In the age of Instagram this is even more important to remember – your version of minimalism does not have to be perfect.
• This is good advice for sorting areas which have been cluttered with mixed items rather than items of a particular type – as you declutter an area take each item immediately to where it belongs – if you are donating some items after, leave yourself plenty of time to take them there. This was a great concept I learnt from Nony at ASlobComesClean.com, her theory being if you create piles of items which need to be somewhere else, let’s say the laundry basket, papers for filing and some items to return to your child’s bedroom – if you get interrupted there is a high chance that your new, smaller piles will end up merging back together into one big mess again. However if you immediately take that sock to the laundry basket, file those papers but don’t get around to fixing the rest, you have still made good progress.
• If you take don’t feel able to declutter everything in one go, don’t beat yourself up about it but instead acknowledge your progress. Sometimes change takes time, especially letting go.
• Ask yourself why you are keeping something – and be honest with yourself about it. How does the item make you feel? Does it bring back good memories but you resent having to clean it,

What method did you use on your journey towards becoming a Minimalist? Share with me in the comments below.