Money Mommy

I’m slowing learning about money – which makes no sense since I am now 41 years old! You’d think I’d have this all figured out. I blogged about Money and Happiness before, but until the past couple years, I never took it seriously. Not seriously enough anyway.

Like so many others, money has caused problems in our marriage. But still – I never really thought about what it does to our family; what it does to me.

I’m not what you’d call “High Maintenance” – I don’t shop constantly, I don’t have a million pairs of shoes or makeup or all that stuff. We don’t drive fancy cars, we really don’t mind the vehicles we do drive. But…we never had a real budget until recently. We’ve “dabbled” a little, but not for any length of time. We’d just revert back to our old habits.

We have spent money on technology – a little more than the average person because we’re a house full of geeks. I’ve been known to spend too much money on stuff that I think my kids would like – tending to buy too many things that they would end up not even playing with. I’m not sure why I did it, I’d rarely spend it on myself. But I would go crazy on their birthdays and Christmas buying all this cool stuff. I’d spend money in between “just because”, thinking they’d enjoy this or that.

Over the past two years, I’ve been cutting back. I’ve been trying to declutter and buy less. And it is finally starting to show. In a good way. We spend more time together. I rarely go to the mall. When I do need something, I shop locally and have even started to buy second-hand because that makes so much more sense!

Now that Krystal and I are working hard on our Minimalist Challenge, this is in the forefront of my mind. I have read many minimalist blogs that inspire me to change. As I change, my family has been changing. The kids are saving their money. My husband comes home with less because he is now thinking about his purchases before he makes them. I don’t “splurge” getting stuff for the kids as much. It is a refreshing change that we no longer fight about money!

I have been following a few blogs about getting out of debt and finding financial freedom. We’ve been inspired to follow some of their techniques. I recently began using an amazing budgeting tool called “You Need A Budget” and it is eye-opening and easy to use. I really see this working for us as we strive to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start moving forward in what we owe.

I intend to share more with you as my family journeys towards financial freedom. For now, I’d like to share some resources with you that may help you get out of debt as well:

  • Engaged Marriage – My friend Dustin has been a huge inspiration in his blog posts, and put me on to the YNAB software. He’s got a lot of great ideas!
  • You Need a Budget – budgeting software that I’m currently using
  • Financially Poor – a blog I’ve been following for a while that has inspired me as well
  • Enemy of Debt – this is a really good blog about managing your finances
  • ManVs Debt – more good stuff!
Anyway, I wanted to share these with you in the hopes that you’d be inspired to live more with less and get away from money controlling you.
I talk more today on my Simple Life Celebrations post that I wrote about teaching my children (and myself) about money: Minimalist Money

Minimalist Musings

One of my Go-als! for this year is to continue moving forward with becoming more Minimalist. I’ve never really described what that means to me and where I hope to go with it. I thought I’d share that in this post.

I just finished reading a wonderful (and free!) e-book from Faith over at Minimalist at Home (formerly Minimalist Mom) that describes what Minimalism is in an easily understandable way – download and read it – it’s simple, short and sweet! Thanks Faith!

Anyway, I was inspired to write down what Minimalism means to me.

  1. Less stuff – buying fewer things has been the biggest change. Of course, we’ve also “purged” TONS of clothes, toys, kitchen things etc over the year. I used to think I’d just buy containers and “organize” the stuff and that would be better. Yeah, I just had more containers to trip over and reorganize because they’d be emptied. That wasn’t working!
  2. Less work – this has meant STOP bringing work home with me! This has meant less time ranting and raving, less stress and more time doing the work that I really love doing!
  3. Less emails – funny, I actually get A LOT of emails, but I do not let them pile up – my work email had ZERO emails in my inbox when I left for holidays! I kept that up pretty much all year. It means that I am more focused on the ones that matter and literally ignore the ones that don’t.
  4. Less “running errands” – I am shocked how much I DON”T run errands anymore now that I rarely drive anywhere. It has been inconvenient at times, but it certainly has set the priorities of what little “TO-DO’s” really have to get “done”. It has meant being creative in scheduling and birthday gifts and what we participate in.
  5. Less driving has meant more exercise for me. I’ve been a little lazy in the past month due to colder weather, but I did put a lot of miles on my bike and my feet before it got cold and will be hitting the streets again while it’s warmer!
  6. Less scheduling – we are not scheduled in very many things any more – we all “do” less and are not suffering, that’s for sure! There was a time that my daughter did more than 15 hours per week of dance for one example! It was crazy! We were all stressed from the running around. We’ve prioritized into what we REALLY want to do!
  7. Less TV, dishwasher, piles of laundry etc – watching less TV means I read and talk more (though I am on the computer/iPhone a lot still), using the dishwasher less means I’m talking to whoever is helping me, less clothes is less laundry and it’s done regularly so it never piles up anymore – weird! (but awesome!)
  8. Less yelling and freaking out! – it’s amazing how much having less stuff to trip over, less of a schedule to keep and less yelling and more asking nicely has created a much more relaxed house! I’ve noticed that the less I yell, the more they respond and pitch in and the better I feel even when they don’t.

In 2011, I plan on continuing with this process:

  1. More Master Bedroom “Room” – One of the ideas that Faith had before Christmas was completely EMPTYING the bedroom and re-evaluating what got put back. Bruce and I are really excited about that! We’re thinking about getting down to one closet and one dresser for the two of us to share. This means that the second can hold seasonal items and extra blankets. I have tried so many times to turn our bedroom into more of a sanctuary and “retreat”, but so often it ends up being the “dumping ground” – that is my main goal for 2011!
  2. More Time with Hubby – we started official “Date Nights” after our trip to Vegas – we’re continuing with those. This means less time with kids and friends on those nights, but I think we deserve at least two special one-on-one alone times per month! Hopefully, once per week!
  3. More Time with Kids & Family & Friends – I will say “No” to many “commitments” – I will set priorities and do only those things that are priority. This will free up quality time that I will be able to spend with the ones I care about. Sure, there are things that I normally volunteer for, but, it’s time for someone else to step up and take my place. I will let them.
  4. More Exercise Time for Me – I will spend less time at work during my lunch hours and get my butt back to the gym! I fell back into my habit of missing my noon hour workouts to “catch-up” at my desk. No longer!
  5. More Real, Productive Time – when I sit down to work, it will be focused on ONE thing at a time. No more “multi-tasking” at work! Email will only be answered at certain times of the day. I will not be interrupted unless there is an emergency. I will schedule my time and some may not like it, but my workflow has GOT to change! When I sit down to work on a quilt or my business or my writing; I will NOT be tweeting, facebooking, texting, getting distracted in general! FOCUS girl!
  6. More Priority – everything that I buy, do, eat or read, I will be in the moment and THINK first. Do I really need this item? What will I be getting rid of or miss out on if I do that? If I eat this, how will I feel after? Do I need to read one more blog post or book? Everything will be evaluated for it’s TRUE priority in my life.

Those are some of the specifics in my Minimalist Go-als! for the year. I would love to hear what you think of the idea of “Minimalism”!

What do you think? Are there areas in your life that you’re trying to do “more” with “less”? How do you “cut-back”? How does your family feel about this idea? What did you think of Faith’s e-book? (Be sure to let her know!) 🙂 Share in the comments!

Seeking Significance

I just read another fine post from Becoming Minimalist: Stop Chasing Success. Seek Significance Joshua Becker talks about the limitations of success: how it is affected by the economy, how it ends the day you die, and how it never seems to be enough. In turn, he also talks about the benefits of significance: it lasts past your time, it carries on to the next and the next person, and it satisfies your very soul.

This is a big part of my Happiness Project. I desire less “stuff” and I’ve been trying to BE more. I talk a lot of this here in my blog. My Happiness Project is 6 months old, so I thought I’d revisit how Seeking Significance has affected my Happiness. I’ll break it down following Joshua’s practical steps from his post:

  1. Realize that Life Won’t Last Forever – this has been a big thing for me. I’ve noticed that I take more time to just be there in the moment when the moment happens. I’ve tried hard to “stop and smell the flowers”. I’ve begun to notice the little things. I’ve done silly things like take off to Montana on a whim with my family.
  2. Live a Life Worth Copying – this is one of the reasons that I write this blog. It is one of the reasons that I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer. It is why I try so hard to be a good friend and help strangers. It is why I share about my belief in God on this blog and on Facebook. I want to be an example; I want to inspire others to search for significance in their own lives. Even if I inspire just one person to say a kind word to another, then my life is worth living.
  3. Focus on People, not Dollars – this is extremely important to me. I am tired of working for a living. I want to work for a life. I want to be somewhere where the business focuses on the people, not the bottom line. That’s what I believe in. I don’t worry about my job anymore, I spend the time with those I care about instead. My job no longer controls me.
  4. Start with One Solitary Person – I have often helped strangers in the past; that’s how I was raised. However, I am taking more time to smile at complete strangers and ask them how they are and listen for the answer. I give up my place in line at the grocery store. I hold the door for someone. I bring a coffee or flowers to a friend. I say thank you to my kids and my husband. Little things that add up.
  5. Find a Career Outside Your Job – my new business adventure – Simple Life Celebrations – is all about helping people. Really helping people, and I get to do it with my best friend! I can’t tell you how wonderful it makes me feel. How much it inspires me and makes me crave so much more. Not for money, but for being able to do what I really love to do.
  6. Realize that Significance is not Dependent on Success – I’ve stopped saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if...” or “Once we have more money….” and “When the kids are older, we’ll….” – I’m so tired of waiting for that day. I make things happen now. Not tomorrow, not next week, now. Today, I can make a difference.
  7. Reduce Your Expenses – We’re eating out less, we’re going down to one car, we’re planning ahead, we’re finding cheaper ways to enjoy time together. We’re realizing it isn’t about the “stuff” we have, it’s about the quality time and being together.
  8. Read Biographies of People Who Sought Significance Rather Than Success – I read so many inspiring blogs and books from so many great writers that inspire me to be more than I am. My blogroll on the right side of this post is such a small example of the blogs that I follow. There are literally so many more. I don’t watch the news because of the doom and gloom. I read the stories about the great things that we human beings have accomplished. There are a lot of great things happening, each day. I truly believe that each of us can make a difference, one day at a time.

I certainly have a long way to go in seeking significance. But, each day, I am closer. How has Seeking Significance changed your life? Share in the comments.

As always, a song to share:

“I want to be remembered for the love I spread around” – my favorite line in this song.