“Minimalism is a tool to help you say ‘yes’ to that which is most important and meaningful.”—The Minimalists
Two years ago I was introduced to the concept of Minimalism more intimately after taking a road trip to Pittsburgh with a friend to meet The Minimalists. Following that adventure, I discovered so many ideas, concepts, and read so many books that inspired me to create a life with more meaning and less stuff. My life has greatly changed since I began the journey to discovering more when having less. Read my previous blog post here.
Letting Go of things
I’d never been superficial or wanted the “latest and greatest” of anything. Actually, a lot of my stuff is vintage or from thrift shops and bought off / traded with friends. But the idea that all of the stuff I do have could be the reason I have a hard time focusing, or why I feel more anxious, that was intriguing.
Getting rid of more than 1,000 items, paring down my wardrobe, reducing the amount of everything I have and giving what I didn’t need or use away either by donating it to the local thrift store or a lot of times giving to friends, has helped me find clarity and calm.
I felt lighter instantly as I let go of old books I’d never read or had read and no longer need, or scanning in old photos to catalog them into digital scrapbooks instead of big photo albums that I moved from one apartment to the next.
Finding Clarity, Committing to Change
My room has become a place of calm. A space to create and to write. As I was trying to figure out what I wanted, I realized I had gained so much clarity over the last two years. After spending time clearing my space and my head, I feel ready to create. So I’m committing to dig in and do the work. I decided to stay at my full-time job for one more year. Once I made that decision, I started getting ideas. Now I’m working on clarifying them as well as planning the next phase of my life, building a new business. I’ve decided to move back to Harrisburg, so I’ll be closer to my job. This will give me more time to write and build my business, as well as allow me to budget my money. I’m excited for a new space to make my own, and do the work to become location independent!
What I never expected, connections to a tribe
After I’d gotten clear on goals, and was working through them, one step I took was investing in educating myself with this idea of location independence when I bought the Paradise Pack last year. Flash to a year later, I’ve traveled twice, to meet this “tribe” of amazing and inspiring people, who are now some of my closest friends and best supporters.
Had I not went down the path of minimalism, to discover this life right in front of my eyes, I never would’ve listened to the Zero To Travel podcast, found Jason, and met him, and Travis from EPOP who helped me save money on my flights.
Recently I wrote out my first quarter goal standings and shared them on Facebook. I received tons of positive feedback about it. The truth is I’d been feeling like a fraud or failure. Here I was, heavier than I was in Septemeber, and still not quite debt free yet, still working my 9-5 job, and feeling stuck. I felt that I had such high ambitions for my first quarter of the year and that I hadn’t met them. So instead of complaining about it, I decided to update everyone where I was, and make it clear what I wanted to work on so that anyone reading the post could call me out on it a few months from now. That literally was my intention. I wanted accountability. What I got was people cheering me on and telling me that they are going to start setting their own goals for the next quarter. That’s pretty awesome. With that said, here’s what I want to accomplish for the second quarter of 2019. (Check out my goals blog post from January for more details.)
1. Debt Free – Countdown, May 15th I’ll make my final student loan payment.
2. Weight Goals – I just hired a coach to help me get stronger and be relentlessly on my own side. Goal to lose 15 lbs by the end of June.
3. Travel Goals – Booking a trip to Arizona by June (Flight and Lodging Booked)
4. Adventure Goals – I’ve already set a date to take a kayaking class May 18 & 19. I will also be planning a skydiving trip to Colorado in July.
5. Business Goals – Focus on learning, building my skills needed to create a new business that will be successful. I’m excited about travel writing and have books to read, and a website to build for showcasing my work, which I want to be done by the end of June, going into the third quarter.
6. Location Goals – I’m moving to get closer to my job, so I gain an hour and 20 minutes to focus on business development and personal growth. Also will allow me to create a new space for a new mindset. (Harrisburg, here I come!)
7. Connection Goals – Developing better relationships with key people who will support my choices towards health, wellness, and mindset. Setting a goal for deeper relationships with a few people. (You know who you are)
8. Self-Development – Focus on improving my mental focus and ability to keep myself accountable, morning routine and evening routine building for success and strategic growth.
9. Budget Goals – Keep and maintain a budget. This will be a primary focus going into the second quarter. I recognize where I need to work here to better manage finances for the best potential and investments in my future. (I’m giving myself three more months to get consistent with sticking to a budget.)
10. Fitness Goals – I’ve invested in a spin bike for my home and will no longer make excuses about my fitness. Making time to incorporate strength into each day. Even if that’s just 5 minutes, pushups in the bathroom, or yoga before I go to work.
Minimizing debts, Maximize Results
After almost three years of focus on reducing my spending, finding ways to make money, and increase my income, I’m debt free.
In 2016 I was $46K in debt. Between student loans of $20K, credit card debt of $15K, and a car payment of $11K. I was in pretty deep, considering my income at the time wasn’t going to eliminate all of it in one fail swoop.
I would need to start making changes in my life if I was going to emerge from the depths of the wallowing, self-pity, and dark depression I’d been living, and awaken to new ideas about how to live, without spending so much money.
Most people know and I’m sure that I don’t have to explain that I was spending more money than I was making, and I needed to be spending way less.
Here’ are five things I stopped doing:
- I stopped going out to bars, what a waste of money drinking is for society. I like to support local breweries and try a craft beer as much as the next gal, but I had been spending money on too much. It was evident in my bank account (or lack of funds) as well as my waistline. Not only was I carrying debts for drinking, but I was also carrying the beers on my tummy too. I limited myself to have a drink when I was out with friends once a month.
- I quit smoking. That was a huge waste of money and not to mention unhealthy. It was much easier when I didn’t go out drinking and hanging out with people who smoked. I don’t have any friends that I spend a lot of time with that smoke at this point. The tribe attracts the vibe, as they say.
- Gave up snacking. Eating healthier is cheaper when you cut out all the foods you don’t need. Snacks and extras were eliminated from my diet, and I recognized what it was to actually be hungry, and how that’s different than “craving” something. When I realized I could eat less, and eat healthier foods, I realized it’ is more affordable. I understand I’m only one person, and I was open to trying new things. Not everyone will agree with me here, and I know that things marked “organic” are more pricy than others, but my health is the only thing keeping me alive, so it’s important and making it a priority just makes sense. (And saves cents too)
- Stopped buying unnecessary items. One habit I let go of was just picking up things because I “wanted” it or thought I “could” use it. Extra sets of sheets (I love sets of sheets), or extra clothing at the thrift store because it was cheap. I started asking “Why” I was reaching for something.
- I quit the gym. To save money at first, then realized I loved working out alone, in my own space, without comparing myself to others, and without feeling “judged” and this past year I used work “wellness credits” towards my investments in an inverter (for lower back) and a spin bike. My work gives me money towards exercise equipment so might as well use it!