Why I'm a Minimalist

July 29, 2015

i actually put this link up in my calendar so i wouldn't forget - why wednesday.  (a) i really wanted to do it because i like helping people reach their goals, and lizzy's goal was to host a link up and (b) the theme is simply 'why.'  that's it.  why anything - why you blog, why you like dogs more than cats, why being an only child is awesome, why you hate tacos (do you people exist?  what's wrong with you?)  i had so many ideas i think i could do a why wednesday post for months to come.  but i decided to start with a relatively easy one - why i'm a minimalist.  something i get asked a lot.  especially living in a big city, as if somehow city living = stuff and country living = simple.

but i am.  a minimalist that is.  i was originally going to say minimalist adjacent, because i don't have a tiny house or live off the land or have no cell phone.  but there's a lot of different ways you can be a minimalist.  i would say i started it at least 3 years ago.  maybe 4. the moment i gave up my entire dvd collection - sold them, gave them away, donated them.  there were a lot.  and i was tired of moving dvds i never used from apartment to apartment and finally just had a breakdown fit and let them all go at once.  it was freeing.  so i started doing it with everything else.  clothes.  makeup.  decor.  kitchenware.  it's been a process (i certainly didn't do it as fast as marie kondo recommends in the life changing magic of tidying up) but it's actually been fun.  and now, i'm definitely a minimalist.  why do i love it so much?  less mess, less stuff to move, more freedom, less stress, more time, there's so many reasons.  but here my main two:

being a minimalist means less to take care of.  which sounds lazy, and it is.  while there are some cleaning tasks, like laundry, that i find relaxing, and while i'll certainly do the other things like washing floors and mirrors, i don't enjoy cleaning.  it's a pain.  there's just a lot of things i want to do with my time, and dusting collections of dvds i never watch isn't one of them.  having less stuff means less cleaning, plan and simple.  less dusting, less moving things around, less washing and spraying and wiping and less finding a place for things once you've cleaned them.  beyond cleaning, it's just less to maintain in general.  less to pack and move, less to worry about someone breaking in and stealing, less to maintain (like a car - no oil changes or engine checks here!)  i don't worry about switching out decor by season, i can always find what i need, i don't need to have anything in storage, anywhere.  those little tasks related to owning stuff used to stress me out, and now they don't even exist.  and my house is always clean for people to come over, because keeping up with cleaning takes 5 minutes a day.

being a minimalist helps me stay debt free.  i hated owing money.  being in debt is awful.  now i admit, i've always been at least semi-responsible, in that i never had credit card debt.  only student loans and only from law school.  but debt is debt, even if it's so called 'good debt' like a school loan.  no debt is good debt.  (i love this article 'you have a debt problem' from money after graduation, you really should read it if you have debt!)  being a minimalist means, to me, not acquiring stuff just to acquire it.  i don't need to spend the money on things like clothes or furniture or decor because to me that's all just clutter and i don't want it around.  not after i decluttered my whole apartment and worked so hard to really get rid of everything i didn't want.  i can ignore things like lilly for target or amazon bigger than black friday sales because i know there's nothing else i want to bring into this house.  and if i do spend money on 'stuff', you know it was a long thought out decision and it actually has a place.  (doesn't help me spend less on experiences or food, but hey, baby steps!)

some people are proud non-minimalists.  my friend steph for example - she declutters and organizes and has a warm and inviting house.  she's a proud non-minimalist; she has throw pillows and picture frames but she has the right amount for her and loves to decorate for holidays.  that doesn't mean she's a hoarder!  she's so neat, even in her utility closet.  it just means she found the right balance for her.

i certainly don't think i'd ever turn into a hoarder if i went non-minimalist, but i just truly enjoy having less stuff.  my life feels simpler and less chaotic.  not everyone feels that way about their belongings, but i sure did.  switching out decor by season, cleaning off picture frames, organizing forever but getting nowhere because you can't organize clutter - it made me practically itchy with anxiety.  plus i move every year and i was moving stuff i didn't even use!  such a waste.  but now there's peace.

what about you?  minimalist, hoarder, somewhere in between?  why?  (or link up any 'why' post, i think i would really like to read these.)

Stumbling Upon Lizzy

Separation Anxiety

July 24, 2015

well look at that.  i decide i don't feel like writing a blog post and suddenly it's been 2 weeks.  time flies.  not really; time has been taken up by working on the most awful work project (an appellate brief and corresponding indexes for my lawyer readers) and if i never have to look at it again it'll be too soon. but no, i don't have separation anxiety about leaving the blog on it's own for 2 weeks.  this post is about this munchkin:

hrh princess hawkeye has been having major separation anxiety issues.  she's not the worst case in the world, but she has all the signs - pouts when i leave, goes bonkers when i get home, doesn't eat her treats or food until i return, paces like crazy, barks like mad when someone else leaves.  so not all the signs (she doesn't escape or hurt herself) but a lot of them.

have you ever had a dog with separation anxiety?  how did you help them?

i've tried a lot of the things i found online (and i talked to my vet.  meds are an option but i don't want to go there yet.)  like:

- we go on at least 2 walks a day, sometimes 3 or a really long one at night.  she's ready to pass out when we get home, so i don't think it's lack of exercise or boredom.  we also learn tricks and play games.
- i give her things during the day, like kongs stuffed with treats or peanut butter, and other kinds of treats/food/toys, but she doesn't touch anything until i get home.
- i keep her in a smaller area (i know she does worse if she has the full apartment to wander around in.)
- i don't make a big deal out of leaving.  i also don't greet her when i get home until she calms down.
- i don't think a friend will help.  my roommate's cat is there, and she doesn't care.  she's also been left with my parents' dogs and with john's dog and she still has the same issues. 
- i have not tried leaving the tv on (i only have netflix and we all know that auto shuts off) or a radio.  i could try that next.

i know you have to work on it constantly, which i can do on the weekends.  like leave for short periods of time, work our way up.  but during the week, i do actually have to go to my job.  ya know, to pay her rent and keep her in tacos, so it's like we lose all the training we do over the weekends.  does she need to go to day care?

any thoughts?!

Shopping Ban Rules

July 8, 2015

i actually wasn't planning on posting the specifics of my shopping ban, since me knowing it would be enough.  but i got a few questions about what i plan on restricting and how i'll tackle holidays and things so i thought i'd gather all that info in one place.  so yes, i did officially decide to do a full out shopping ban.  i'll be looking over my finances this week/weekend and planning some things, so it will officially start monday, july 13.  and go as long as possible, but at least until april 30, 2016.  is there anything you're wondering about?  i'm not sure how often i'll talk about it, so ask away in the comments and i'll answer everything there.

here's my personal, self-imposed rules on what i will and will not be spending money on:

gifts.  this is probably the biggest one people were wondering about - how to handle christmas and birthdays.  but the truth is, i don't plan on restricting this in the shopping ban.  i like gift shopping/giving.  i don't have many people i buy gifts for anyway, since i have such a small family.  and i never go overboard.  but yes, i'll still be getting wedding gifts and birthday gifts and whatever else comes up.  i do have some plans for people that i know value my time over gifts, which is good for the bottom line.

groceries. see the last item on the 'not allowed list' - i'm limiting take out so that will increase my grocery budget.  nothing outrageous, i'm still limiting grocery spending to what it should be - $100 per person, per month.  i'm not crazy, that's the national average.  and that number includes toiletries, makeup, cleaning supplies, pet stuff.  except for me; hawkeye has her own budget. which brings me to

pet supplies.  hawkeye knows no budget.  vet, groomings, expensive greenie treats and $25 4lb bags of dog food, all fair game.

netflix.  i don't have television guys - not regular channels, not cable.  just me and my apple tv.  netflix is my joy and i realize i could do many other things with my time but tv shows marathons are my jam.  and my hawkeye cuddle time.  so $8 a month is a small price to pay.

a haircut.  notice the a.  singular.  i get my hair done twice a year.  just did it in may, so i'll do it again in the winter months.  my twice yearly mani/pedis are also allowed.  it's not that i don't like these things, it's that i don't have the patience to sit through them.  do you know how long it takes to highlight my freaking hair?  2 hours.  at least.

household supplies.  it's not like i overuse paper towels, toilet paper, or cleaning supplies.  i think these are necessary, i usually count them in my grocery budget as they don't eat up too much cost.

cta costs.  that's the public transit here in chicago.  i don't have a car.

cleaning service.  my roommate and i book handy every 6 weeks to 2 months.  it costs us $10-$12 a piece and it's worth every penny.

a new hair dryer.  my current one sucks, it's a cheap little thing from a drug store.  i don't dry my hair often enough to justify a crazy expensive one, but if a nice one goes on sale around christmas time, i'm getting it.

and of course all the regular monthly bills - rent, electric, gas, health insurance, internet, and anything medical related or professional related like my license renewal.

not allowed:
clothes.  absolutely no clothes shopping unless it's to replace a worn out item i wear regularly.  i haven't determined yet if this will be easy, i'll really have to see in a few months.  for the most part, i do not buy clothes.  it happens so rarely.  i do wear everything in my closet, regularly, so when my beloved black sweater gets that hole that was threatening itself all last winter, i'll have to get a new one.  but other than replacements, i don't find myself shopping often.  i window shop online but rarely commit without a gift card.  (speaking of gift cards, i am allowing myself to use them if i get them!  i have vs, amc theaters, and bb&b waiting already.)  i do buy a new shirt here and there, and i'm not really conscious of when/why i do it, since it's not a need.  i'll have to really commit and keep an eye on this category.  which also includes shoes and jewelry, both of which i loathe shopping for and, let's be honest, wearing at all, so that won't be an issue.

makeup.  again, only to replace what runs out.  also not going to be difficult because i have my one perfect product i like in each category and i never stray.  i did recently get diagnosed with rosacea in my oh so always pink cheeks (but hey, i never have to wear/pay for blush) and i need a milder foundation soon.  which, no, i have not replaced yet because i'm a cheapskate at heart, skin issues be damned.

toiletries.  i. have. so. much.  if, by some miracle, i actually make it through all the shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and q-tips i own, i'll go ahead and buy those things.  but i would be shocked if i ran out of anything before the end of next april.  shocked, i tell you.  i don't even know where they all came from, but i have a stockpile.

expensive entertainment.  matinee movie, sure.  reserved seat tickets in the 21 and over section complete with drinks and dinner at the fancy movie theater, no.  street fest, yes.  $200 concert tickets, no.  i'm also putting e-books and online courses in this category.  while they're never expensive, individually, they are unnecessary entertainment that really add up.

planners.  say it ain't so!  but yes, no planners.  my planner goes through next summer.  (nothing that goes in that 'supplies' category either - paper, pens, post its, etc.)

convenience store nonsense.  i don't know, i always grab random crap while i'm at walgreens or cvs.  i go in for something legit and leave with gum, a bag of chips, a bottle of iced tea.  it's ridiculous.  i need to just order what i need on amazon and stay out of the corner store, apparently.

candles.  i love candles, need them.  but i won't be buying them.  they'll certainly be my answer when anyone asks 'what do you want for your birthday/christmas?' but i'm going to resist spending the money on them.

things i already don't buy.  in case anyone was wondering - cds, dvds, books, magazines, electronics, kitchenware, laundry soap, travel.

and the two biggest hurdles i'll be tackling:

taxis.  i take way too many taxis.  it's all about the convenience but it's such a waste of money.  taxis are officially for emergencies only.  and by emergencies i mean it's 3 am and not safe to take the train home alone.  or when i need to get hawkeye somewhere and someone with a car isn't around.

take out food and drinks.  coffee isn't a big one for me anymore - i use my kuerig on the weekends and the coffee at work is free.  i drink it black anyway so to pay more than 50 cents a cup for that makes my frugal blood boil.  however, this mindset has never extended to food and i have no idea why.  i certainly know how to shop and get the cheap but healthy ingredients.  do i do that?  no.  generally when i'm on my own i do, but when it's me and john, or when the weekend hits, it's take out, take out, take out.  chicago has so many great eats to offer!  never mind the fact that i order nothing but nachos any and everywhere.  

so i'm establishing a hardline rule of no breakfasts or lunches out, at all.  i think i'll leave leeway on dinner time, sort of ease into making as many meals at home as possible.  my current plan is to make all weekday dinners at home (sunday-thursday) and then doing take out with john on friday or saturday.  we generally don't do both, but it has happened in the past.  right now, i'll leave both friday and saturday night open for getting take out or going out to dinner, and then tighten it up to only once a week in a few months.  and we're definitely picking cheaper places to eat!  as far as drinks, like booze, that's simply not getting cut out.  i don't drink during the week, so i'll just put myself on a budget during the weekends.  i know all the cheap places to drink anyway - my pbr drafts are only $1.75 at my local bar.

and that ends this crazy long post.  did i leave anything out?

p.s. john is mostly doing this as well, so no, it's not 'let john pay for all the dinners and movies and vacations.'

Everything and Nothing

July 6, 2015

do you ever feel like you're doing everything and nothing, all at the same time?  is that just the definition of summer?  i feel like i've done a lot, but when i try to really remember what it all was, i'm drawing a blank.  i'm certainly not sitting at home, other than that entire week of being sick and watching criminal minds on netflix for hours upon hours, but i can't quite recall where i've been.  no vacations or road trips or crazy parties.  but seemingly lots and lots of little things.

so what has been happening?

- we're still looking at more houses, haven't found one we're ready to buy yet.  i think we've seen 'only' 14, but i have had more than enough of this hunting business.  over it.  i did extend my lease with my roommate until the end of april.  that gives john and i more time to look and puts her and her boyfriend on the same lease schedule so they can find a new place together in may. 

- hawkeye tried swimming for the first time.  oh, she mad.  but i'm glad she can swim, because john wants a house with a pool.

- i've watched every episode of dance moms.  i cannot quit that show.  i've quit essentially everything else that's not on netflix, since i don't have any tv channels, but i seek out those episodes online.

- i've read books that come in on my library e-book list.  hooray free!  i'm in the middle of bossypants right now.

- i went with megan to the blackhawks rally after they won the cup.  it was pretty fantastic.  we had a ton of fun and drank too much (out drank the boys, we have high tolerances...) and ate a lot of pizza.  which prompted us to start a healthy challenge the day after.  i definitely wavered on the 4th (too much good party food.  and beer.), but otherwise i've been eating better and walking hawkeye more often.  we started a healthy pinterest board, feel free to ask for an invite if you want to pin to it.  we need all the help we can get to meet our self imposed arbitrary goals by our september goal date.  also, megan keeps talking about starting a blog, and i think she should just do it already.  she can't pick a name though.  how did you come up with yours?

- we've seen movies, played mini golf, went to a wedding, pet sat my parents dogs, and taken hawkeye to corner bar.

-  i've had 12 million doctor's appointments.  for being sick, for getting my teeth cleaned, for getting fitted for those invisalign things to straighten my top tooth that moved after i stopped wearing my retainer (bye bye $1800, good thing i didn't spend you on lasik), and most annoyingly for my hair shedding more than an alaskan husky in summer.  i love my hair, so i hate that it's falling out.  it's not my thyroid, it's not my iron levels.  basically there's just no answer, although now they're testing me for lupus so that's fun.  really though, i'd just like an answer.  thank goodness i had a horse's mane of hair to begin with, so no one else besides me and my doctor can actually tell that it's thinning.

- we celebrated the 4th and john's birthday (the 5th.)
the best family photo we could get.

- got my nails done with ida; decided her stripper name.  midnight destiny.  (mine is crystal knox, by the way - first pet + street you grew up on.  ida just made hers up though after a few glasses of wine.)

- i read cait's post today, the last day of her year long shopping ban.  i'd love to make it to a full year, but i've at least drawn up rules and make it until the end of next april, to be posted later this week.

- i did not read a lot of other posts, according to that '248 unread' number looming on my feedly.  that's my goal for today/tomorrow.

- i planned a lot of things - started coming up with ideas for my next 101 in 1001 list, planned for tara to come visit for her birthday, helped betsy plan her next 101 list (and her new upcoming blog design), planned going to visit my college bff.  i really like planning things.

- i finally ordered new sheets, after the pets ripped a whole in my favorite set.  i don't love the back up ones i've been using, so i ordered the ones recommended by steph.  they're great and only like $30 on amazon.  i already forgot what they are so ask her if you need new sheets or comb her monthly recommendations posts, it was on one of those.

- i've hit every day so far on helene's #31photosinbetween instagram challenge.  yes, that's only 6.  but it's an improvement for me!

and now i'm a little shocked it's already july, because saturday was the first warm day of the year.  better get on that summer bucket list.

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