1. Selling or giving away everything we don't use daily.
Sure, I didn't give away all my shoes simply because I can't wear them all at once. This practice mostly applies to our household goods and supplies. We no longer of "company" dishes... we are the only company that matters and I use my favorite dishes every day. I have sold almost every single kitchen appliance or gadget that I used only once in a while. Even some of my baking pans. I didn't use the ice cream maker. Now, when I get the urge to make some ice cream I simply load up the kids and take them to the ice cream shop. All that space and energy I save moving and cleaning an ice cream maker (never mind the money for the salts and ingredients!) I spend on a special hour. It's a win, in my book! That philosophy has been applied to furniture, electronics, outdoor accessories (we got rid of a patio table and chairs that we had kept only for the once a year party. Now, I pull out my wool blankets and do it old-style on the grass. It's charming as heck!), and all sorts of "stuff".
From a 2400 square foot house to a 900 square foot house you find alot of stuff that was kept for those single moments in time that it was needed. Funny enough, that single moment sure can cost alot of money! That patio set that we got to seat extra people for barbecues was $400 dollars. I'm sure my friends wouldn't have wanted me to feel that I needed to spend that kind of money simply to have them over for drinking and eating. I wouldn't want them to feel they needed to do that for me!
2. Get rid of things we don't love.
This one has been a bit harder to talk myself into. I've always been that person making things work. I can turn a dresser into a mini bar, a tv stand, a kitchen island, or a printer stand. Rarely do I go shopping for a specific item, I find something that works.
Yet, when it is time to consolidate the items from 2400 square feet into 900 square feet I realized there simply wasn't room for anything I didn't love. No matter how practical, useful, or multipurpose it might be. There was no room for me to hang on to a shelving unit simple because it "might be useful". If I didn't love it and want to find a place for it...it went.
This has brought about a bit of an expense. Our couch and loveseat set I really, really don't love. We haven't kept the couch because it is much too large. Only the loveseat. And only because it's the only one we have. But on the day of the garage sale it is heading out to be sold and some of the money made from the sale will be buying me a new, compact, PERFECT little couch that I love.
I have no room in my life for things that I am suffering through. I can do without, or do better. Frankly, even if there wasn't another couch coming from the sale, I would be getting rid of the loveseat. I want to make room for things I love. That means taking out what I don't.
Small ways I have put this into practice:
- gave away my traditional pots and pans for my vintage set.
- have beautiful bedding for all our beds... but only one set. (we wash and dry and make)
- knick knacks? heck no. I kept a couple trinkets I adore but everything else...gone. I was just keeping them to fit the decorating rules.
- even pens, pencils, and notebooks we buy our favorite.
3. Streamline our wardrobes.
I have begun using a Capsule Wardrobe (watch for posts about this...you all seem very interested!). I have 38 pieces of clothing, bags, & shoes that all work together to create multiple looks. Choosing to get rid of most of my clothing has been one of the most oddly freeing experiences. Funny enough, I've never looked better!
My kids and husband haven't gone to this extreme but because of the limited closet space they are much more thoughtful of the place each item has in their spaces. There are more things heading out the door then coming in. They are more often telling me when we are shopping that they don't like the way something looks or fits rather than letting me buy it and just knock it around in their closet.
I must mention... we spend more money on each item we buy, more thought goes into them. I try to only shop at thrift stores, vintage stores, or fair-trade ethically produced brands. I also make sure they love the material, fit, and color. If I have to pay a bit more to get something that will get twice as much use, I do. This can be expensive and tricky. But, we only have a small amount of clothing which makes it well within our budget.
4. Streamline our cleaning products.
Oh my goodness, you guys! I had a problem with cleaning products. I bought a different item for every single material in our home. Toilet cleaner, counter cleaner, wood cleaner, tile cleaner, grout cleaner, glass cleaner, even stainless steel cleaner. Ridiculous! I have dramatically cut out all of those specialized cleaners and stuck with an all-purpose cleaner from my favorite...Mrs. Meyers (I even use this with my mop. Spray the floor, wipe). I also pull out a Mr. Clean magic eraser when necessary (I know, not organice or good for the earth!). But most often I rely on traditional lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda combinations to get the job done. One little basket holds all that we need for the house. True, a smaller house means a smaller amount of different materials to clean. But still.
5. Cut out the stock-piling of food.
When we were the country house we were at least 25 minutes from a grocery store. For good reasons I stocked up on food. The "just in case" theory was necessary and absolutely used. Truthfully, it was used far more then necessary. We had our big kitchen cupboards full of food and then the pantry down stairs. And an extra freezer.
Now, I keep enough planned food for about 3 days. There's always a bit extra of whatever happened to be on sale that week. But fresh produce and meat is usually bought with a 3 day plan. The freezer is rarely full and it is small. No second freezer anymore. Canned foods are only kept as needed. I'll have an extra can of beans or tomatoes because they are always handy. But only one. Sometimes.
This approach saves me space, for sure. You know what, though, we SAVE money and eat BETTER than ever before. We have greatly reduced food waste. The amount of fresh produce we eat has increased like crazy. Now I shop my local co-op for what is on sale and fill out the rest of what is needed for meals for a couple days. The end. No stockpiling or just in case. There is very little food waste and we are eating food from our local co-op. Local farmers, fresh veggies, and all organic. Having only what is planned in the cupboard also has stopped the kids from grazing on processed crap. Because, there isn't any crap...only fresh veggies and fruit :).
Who knew having less food would mean better and cheaper meals? True, in case of a world-wide catastrophe, we are going to starve.
6. Cancel memberships and subscriptions:
I'm still working on this one because, gosh darn, 17 years collects alot of membership and subscriptions! I've been watching my credit card for those memberships and subscriptions I don't need and cancelling them. Some have been ones I enjoyed and thought I "needed". I've cancelled my Audible account and get audiobooks at the library. I've cancelled my cards on Amazon forcing myself to re-enter them anytime I want to buy something. I've cancelled all my magazine subscriptions and simply buy one if I see one that I am dying to read. Or, wait and get it at the library. We have kept Netflix (the only one we have kept) because we love it so.
Why have I cancelled them?
Because of the clutter they have brought. As time goes on we will most likely put a few things back in our lives. If I find myself buying a magazine again and again, I'll subscribe. Or if I am repeatedly disappointed by my libraries choice in audio books I may get Audible again (I adore listening to books while I edit photos!). However, so many of these things we just looked at as secondary, extra things. White noise. Hello! There was a heck of alot of white noise. And that money we save... a family vacation is looking mighty nice!
What are we still working on?
Shew, what aren't we? Doesn't it seem that as soon as you learn how to work one thing out another pops up in its place? We know that will be the case with learning to live a lean and clean lifestyle. That's okay. I'm not afraid of learning. Up next in my learning library...
- Learn to plan a lean menu. I know I can get our menu and groceries leaner by alot. That is on my wish list.
I might try a menu planning tool like gatheredtable.com. I used to use one years back and loved how it helped make my week easier and my eating better. Anyone use one that they recommend?
- Simplify my daily beauty routine. I have never been one to take time on my hair and makeup. I've been pretty quick my entire life. But, I do struggle with products to use to make my day faster. I also want to be able to take a bit more time for my routine, if I want. So, giving up products and part of my routine that might not matter and adding some fun to parts. I cut my hair into a pixie (adore it!) to eliminate hair product, styling tools, and all of that. And then purchased a couple nail-polishes hoping to add nail care into my routine (you know whom hasn't had a pedicure in her life? this girl!)
- Financial accounts and bills. We may not be able to eliminate all the bills but I can sure as heck try to get them as inexpensive and streamlined as possible. I will be bundling products and moving banks to get them all in one spot. I'll be trying to reduce the number of envelopes and emails that show up on a daily basis. Sure, I might spend a bit more here or there. But the money I save in late fees from missing payments will make up for it! And our credit will be all the better.
- Day to day schedule. You Guys!! This is the bane of my existence. And yours too, I'm sure! I have worked from home in some capacity for all of my married life. I've been available for my kids, husband, and anyone that needs me...all the time. It's become a problem and a bad habit I need to break. I will be working very hard to establish a routine that respects certain hours in the day as my work hours. I will also be trying like a mad woman to combine trips, plan kid drop offs around other thing, and get groceries when I'm ALREADY out (seriously! I needed sugar and didn't remember to get it when I was running all over town. Pull in the driveway and out I go again. Gah!). Those trips and errands seriously cut into my working hours.
I'm terribly excited about this new lifestyle we are embarking on. I'm excited to share it with you and hopefully, hopefully encourage you to make those small changes you have been talking about to get you on the path to a cleaner, simpler, more minimal lifestyle.
It's alot of work y'all but we can do this! For me, it isn't a want... I feel that it's a need. I need to do this. I need to create a smaller, simpler, cleaner lifestyle for me and my family.
I want to hear from those of you that have already made significant lifestyle changes. What worked, what lessons did you learn, pass off your wisdom!
Those of you that want to start.. ask all the questions. Let's talk. My life is a giant open book (until I slam it shut :)).