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?

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

Spring has sprung

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Once you start to make positive strides and head in a definite direction,! it truly does feel like someone is on your side.

Since watching the minimalists on Netflix, listening to all their podcasts (some too many times), reading Dave Ramsey: total money make over, numerous blogs on a minimalist lifestyle, frugal living and listening to past Dave Ramsey shows; there is a spring in my step.

My wife said last night: “this minimalist lifestyle combined with frugal living is a lethal pair”. Practicing what is documented first on the minimalist documentary has without a doubt transformed our outlook – on everything. We are better people for it.

Our house is not empty of stuff, but we’ve stemmed the consumption. In applying this very simplistic methodology, savings are rapidly increasing. Well for us anyway. Debt is vanishing. New debt – non-existent. In fact, employing the principles behind us living a minimalist lifestyle wipes debt from our mindsets and lives. Now we consum less with real passion, meaning and purpose. Why? It’s making us have a happier, more fulfilling and stressless life. We are enjoying more (free) experiences.

Even in our jobs, our careers have become at the same time, worthless and worthwhile. Say: “no”. It offers up clarity. I strive for family time not a massive salary and huge stress. Less consumption, less (no) need, less (no) debt, less (no) negative stress; all thanks to an insanely powerful, worthwhile combination that is minimalism and frugality.  It means there is no need for high salaries or high stress. In living minimally we’re increasing our time, improving health, reducing debt and increasing wealth.

This spring has most certainly sprung.

My Frugal Month: Traction

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It has been a very fulling journey over the last 28 days. Knowing the direction I needed to go in, knowing what I wanted to achieve from My Frugal Month and I feel without doubt, I have picked up awesome traction. 

Along the journey I have failed and succeeded. The failure comes in the form of temptation, losing focus and giving paper to a shop assistant. Essentially handing over our cash. Not forgetting, that cash, that £100 split over four weeks was our one salary “spending” money. There was at no point a dilberate necessity to spend it or save it. It was purely about using the money with intention and purpose. Making the decision of giving that cash away worthwhile, not worthless. Give purpose to every “thing” that was to come into our home. This too is part of our minimalist journey.

We’ve spent the last 5+ months removing worhtless stuff from our home. Minimising our possessions that add nothing but clutter. We’re looking towards our life with clarity. Living a more simplistic lifestyle. Living a worthwhile existance. Giving back purpose and meaning to experiences. In making these gradual changes – no one likes change – we’ve been able to succeed with (give a couple of days) a frugal month. We’ve lived off one salary for the month.

With May just around the corner, with all the beginning of the month outgoings set to leave the accounts; this month has been a single salary triumph. We’ve essentially been able to go the distance, learn from our actions, mistakes and decisions.

The aim has been all about one salary living in preparation for having a second child – no news. We’ve gained valuable traction in our combined frugalist minimalist lifestyle.

This was my frugal month… 

Be prepared

No matter what day of the week or what time it is my mind can very quickly take me back to the prison of debt. It’s valuable to me personally and helps with the reality of my minimalist debt (mortgage) free journey:

Woke up in a complete panic that even though I had just recieved my letter confirming employment I was in fact losing my job. Dismissed. No questions asked. Just dreaming rubbish as the alarm went off. Horrible dream but one that would create mayhem. 

That was quite a pleasant feeling indeed. So yesterday I withdrew £250. My POA to give the other half £50 and then spend the rest on my train fair. 

Handing over £180 cash felt good. My cash. My earnings. My means of commuting. 

Plus my “no debit card plan” can commence. Even got given change back £11.80

Essentially I now have £31.80 cash that needs to see me until next Thursday (fingers crossed until payday).

I have a budget on Google Drive that I can now utilise anywhere so hoping this shall work. It will work. 

It’s strange because reading back over my debt diaries that I kept, makes me realise I was 110% persuading myself everything was improving. Even when it was not. It really wasn’t.

The only time things really improved, really improved – was when every single piece of plastic credit card got chopped up. It’s funny though because each time I was making progress on savings. Each time I thought I was winning, small wins, I’d get flattened in microseconds. Yet another “emergency” not a take-a-way, but like faults on the car or the garage roof repair.

Without that initial emergency fund complete, there was no hope. The moment the protection was there, I seem to be left alone for longer periods of time. That only gave me more chance to save! The comfort of having paper over plastic for protection was great. 

It honestly feels like you don’t get picked on when you’re prepared. Just like the scouts taught me years ago as boy: Be prepared.

It’s just stuff

Stood beside three pasting tables, a clothing rail, a rug on the floor and countless boxes of our stuff. Just endless stuff.

I had a moment that I was not expecting. I found myself just saying on repeat: “It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff.” Over and over in my head. It was not me saying it to force getting rid of it, it was that moment of completely letting go. It’s crazy, I was like: I don’t care now,  just get rid of it. It had sat in the garage for a minimum of four months so it does not mean anything to me. It was physically and mentally cluttering my life. Freedom! 

People surprised me lots. They weren’t buying the stuff I’d once given huge value to. They were buying worthless stuff.  My worthwhile stuff was not even being looked at. Maybe moved to one side, but never considered. Out of the 49 DVDs, 3 sold.

We did not clear it all, but maybe 80-100 items cleared. There were probably 500-700 items (estimate) in total. These have have now either been dumped recycled, donated  (to three different charities) or given to our local Scouts. I have found the occasion triumphant to fueling my minimalist journey. I think this is it. This is my turning point. This is my true start.

This is the end to My Frugal Month: Day 10 too. Still have the cash. Still have not spent beyond everything that’s budgeted.

Car boot is full

With day 9 of my frugal month reaching a close so to are our boots. Yes that’s boots as in TWO car boots full of stuff. This is the biggest step in our journey to a minimalist lifestyle yet. I had not realised how much space it had all been taking up. Car boot sale here we come!

Tomorrow’s adventure is now one sleep away.