How many clothes have you got…

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I keep reading about how debt is a huge problem. How people don’t earn enough to get out of debt. Wages are too low. Families, couples and single people can’t save – perhaps due to debt, outgoings, just don’t earn enough etc. Living on or below minimum wage doesn’t help either. Sadly there are millions of people in this boat. Then reading that if you don’t have enough savings to get a credit card for an emergency?! Without going into the detail or pulling in loads of stats; this whole piece is wrong in my opinion.

Just stop. Stop. Think about it. Everything that is raised in the news (about this topic area) is about savings, debt, minimum wage, the breadline etc.

Let’s just stop and forget all of that for 5 minutes (to a lifetime).

For 5 minutes think about consumption. We as consumers, consume too much. I’m talking everything from food, new smart phones, new cars, plastic toys to clothing (and many many more). But why? Think about the behaviour behind it all. The mindset. The reasoning. Why consume so much? Surely it isn’t rocket science? Maybe for 5 minutes if we stopped consuming, or better still, in our lifestyle consumed with 110% purpose and need we’d be better off.

With less consumption comes less spending. Less spending means less consumer debt. Less need for loans, credit cards and financial prison. This would then mean more money at the end of each month, rather than too much month remaining and not enough money.

I am no financial expert. I am not offering financial advise. I have no money qualifications. I did have – at its peak – £40,291.54 of debt: credit cards, personal loan and student loan. This did not include the mortgage. As of today, I have one debt, the mortgage – I see this as a good as repayments are thankfully low. And almost 3 years later I have stayed out of my overdraft. This does make me a real life debt expert, as I faced personal financial chaos. It was my fault. Essentially from what I have learnt, I do have some knowledge of what not to do. The best way to learn in life is via your mistakes. However, don’t let the mistake become too big. It will become a life sucker. I know. I’ve been there. I’m still reminded of it. Oh, and I have not had a single credit card or personal loan in almost 3 years too – I had 4. Never again. I digress.

Why mention it though? Well since watching the minimalists documentary, my behaviour, mindset and most importantly consumption have completely altered. Thanks to my consumption altering, my savings are growing and I have become increasingly happier day-by-day. My worry, anxiety and stress diminished. I sleep far better. I read more. I have more time. I have more space.

In conclusion, I think, we should stop focusing on the debt, wages, savings etc. We should focus more on our consumption, living on less than you take home (earn) and stop trying to be like them. They’re probably up to their eye balls in debt, work all hours and never have time. With less consumption the debt, wages and savings will from my experience adjustment for the better.

Did you need to buy the new smart phone; really need to buy it? How many clothes have you got now, with tags still on?

Less (really) is more

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Without a doubt less (really) is more.

Since our frugal month and combining our “new” minimalist lifestyle, we are gaining more from less. I have found that with more “free” time on my hands, I do things with real purpose and meaning. I have – shock to the system – started to read more. I have dyslexicia, which (for me) meant I struggled and not did not enjoy. Now though, with more time available, I am enjoying and searching out articles to read. Things I like. Things I love. I am interested.

I am consumsing less (physical stuff), far less than I ever thought I would, when I started on this journey. I am seeing things on TV about living mortgage free, with less and becoming excited by the challenge of it all. I am being even more selective with what I watch on television. Giving more time to the family, saving money, gardening, grow your own, cycling and saying “no” to invites.

Saying “no” is a hidden benefit that we should all do more often. Just try it and see – it works! It means you shall probably be less committed at the weekends (and work), but more focused on the few things you said “yes” to.

Consuming my anxiety

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I’ve stopped worthless consumption and my anxiety has near enough gone.

I knew the car was due to go in for the MOT. The last time this happened – it does every year – I was anxious about stuff being needed or it failing. Sure enough, those expected additional tasks were needed. That feeling was the same every time the MOT came round and had been for years. With those needed fixes, come costs. Costs that I could; not; afford. Back into debt I went.

This time, the feeling was different though. I went in with the emergency fund funded. I went in with the actual money needed to pay. I walked out content. Nothing further needed. The difference, when I walked in this time, I had a buffer. I had the reassurance of having cash to resolve most problems if they came up. But nothing was wrong. No need for additional money. Money, which can now be used elsewhere if needed.

How did I have this buffer? I put this down to my meaningful consumption of less. Thanks to consuming less, I’m saving more. In saving more, I can give myself more financial support with required worthwhile things like MOTs and servicing. There was a time when it was a heightened anxious sensation, with fear of yet more un-affordable issues. This is life. It is happening right now. Welcome to life. It happens everyday, but yet living beyond my wage created a debt prison.

Now though, living far below my wage. Reducing the amount of stuff that is consumed, I am saving more. In having more financial stability; worry, stress and anxiety is reduced in most cases, if not, than non-existent. All thanks to the minimalist lifestyle.

The chat about working more hours, living on less than you earn and hitting debt hard is one thing. However, just approaching it entirely by a simplistic outlook, for us, wins. Before you know it, the minimalistic lifestyle will deal with everything. Once you’re behaviour, your mind-set and a habit is formed: you will win.

A new feeling

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Ever had that feeling of contentment? Where you’re essentially happy? Or getting happier? Where you’re no longer worried or stressed by what the unexpected shall bring you?

This week is pretty much exactly that for us. It’s another turning point in our minimalist journey. Instead of pushing to get that worthless “thing” or want what they’ve got. We’re now more content with what we do have. What we do need. Most likely what they’ve got, they don’t need or actually can’t afford or are still paying for; emotionally and financially. Are we not jealous? I, personally, don’t think we are.

Through the slight readjustment in mind set, as to how we consum, our lifestyle is improving. We are happier. Content happier.

Is this down to our more minimalist approach on life? Is it due to moving away from debt prison? Saving more. Spending less. Bringing less material possessions into our home. It all adds up and adds up to less. 

Less stuff, less clutter, less debt, less worry, less stress, less panic, less worthlessness; the list is endless. Thanks to all this reduction, we’re getting happier and more content.

Control

The minimalist lifestyle has simply given me utter control over my life. It’s given me a more defined direction. A real purpose towards what I value. Most importantly though, from my stand point, I have almost 100% control over my money, my debt, my health, my relationship, my life. The added value to gaining control since starting on my minimalist journey is time. I have more time. 

via Daily Prompt: Control

Gone shopping

What an experience that was! Since watching, reading, living a more meaningful, purposeful and worthwhile minimalist lifestyle I have not been “shopping” at all in 2017. Today, I went “shopping”. However this wasn’t for me, it was for the boy as he needed, needed new shoes as his old ones had holes; where there shouldn’t be holes. We successfully found him some new shoes. He walked out of the shop after we paid, with a big smile on his face. So did I. 

In fact I walked around the entire trip with a growing smile. I realised that I was in no way tempted. Not one bit. If anything it became a comforting reality that my mind set had altered. I’m not saying I’m never buying anything ever again, purely that I won’t be giving in to needless consumption. I had not noticed this about my mindset this year. After all my “normal” shopping experience is the weekly food shop. Shopping never was a past time and certainly will never become one.

This change, coupled with removing temptation like unsubscribing and not watching as much commercial TV is helping massively. It leads back to the ultimate combo: minimalism and frugality. It’s changing my future self and changed my past (debt prison).

How we lived off one salary for one month

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Starting a few days before pay day, we did the household budget. That is every penny accounted for. Ensure that the budget gives you a zero balance, before you have received your pay. It is vital every penny is spent. Start with entering the household income. That’s definite income, not “oh I’ll be getting birthday money this month” or “I’m awaiting a tax rebate”. Purely focus on the definite income. We can spend any additional, unplanned income last.

Once you’ve totaled this, start “spending”. The aim of this is to have spent all income before the pay hits your account at the end of the month. In my opinion; focus on a roof over your head i.e. rent or mortgage and food on the table (weekly food shop). Then cater for your water, gas and electricity. Then the more minor things like; council tax, home (contents and building) insurance, life insurance, (if you have one (or two)) car insurance*, car tax*, petrol/diesel*, landline, internet*, mobile*, debt and lastly, but most importantly: savings.

Have you got too much month remaining and not enough salary? If yes, then go back to the budget and start to scrutinize! Every penny must be spent, but spend it wisely. Not forgetting the aim here, is to live off one salary for one month. This is not about clearing your debt, saving an emergency fund or settling your mortgage. One salary. One month. This is not a how to get out of debt piece.

By working with a pyramid method of spending, you should be able to reach the top of the pyramid with actual  “spending” money or miscellaneous. This is what we were fortunate enough to end up with i.e. “spending” money. We tightened up on everything. Here are some categories to help:

000          Salary
000          Mortgage
000          Groceries
000          Water
000          Gas
000          Electricity
000          Buildings & Contents Insurance
000          Life Insurance
000          Council Tax
000          Car Insurance*
000          Fuel*
000          Saving
000          Mobile*
000          TV Licence*
000          Internet & Phone*
000          Debt
000          Spending (miscellaneous)
000          Balance

Lastly, if you are fortunate enough land some additional cash, then either save it or repay debt. Based on our situation we save it.

*from a minimalist lifestyle these items may not be needed, add value or be worthwhile.

In addition to the tight budget, remove temptation by unsubscribing, watching less TV i.e. less advertising, removing things like Facebook or Twitter. The aim is to take yourself away from the relentless advertising, even the internet. Adverts about that TV you looked at once, will follow you all over the internet. Essentially, watch A documentary about the important things it explains all and is the reason why we’re on this minimalist, frugal, saving, debt free lifestyle – about.