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Showing posts with label 31 Days towards Living with Less. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 31 Days towards Living with Less. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Less is more....check up

Lots of us began this year with a project:  31 Days towards Living with Less.  Remember the "purge the closet" idea?  Well, now's the time to check those hangers.  And get rid of the clothes we didn't wear.  Donate them - somebody else can make good use of them. 

I'd love to hear from you -- how much were you able to give away?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Less is More - GIVE

Wow.  What a journey we've taken!  Hopefully, you have cleared out some things you can do without, learned some new skills (laundry detergent, anyone?), and made some strides in taming the "gotta have" monster that visits us all.  My prayer is that you have experienced a new level of contentment and even excitement over not having to have more "stuff"!

So, what else do we do with this new approach to life?  Give.  By learning to live with less, you have freed up more that can now be given.  Your time.  Your talents.  And your treasure.  GIVE it away.

Someone once said "it is impossible to outgive God".  I can attest to that as a solid truth.  Luke 6:38 says "GIVE, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.  For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return."

I love what John Wesley, the great preacher of the 1700's, said - "When I have money, I give it away  quickly , lest it find a way into my heart. "

Spend less.  Save.  Give more. Then give some more.  Again.  You will always be glad for what you have given away.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Less is More...for good

We are almost at the end.  We have examined our hearts, learned some new tips, and rid ourselves of alot of excess.  Way to go!!! Take  a moment and celebrate, however you like to celebrate. Personally, I am going to have a cold one.  Tab, that is. 

Now the challenge is to maintain our progress.  Being likeminded with your spouse about living a life of frugality is optimal.  But it will still be hard.  I recommend you ask a friend to hold you accountable.  Someone you can swap frugal ideas with.  Someone like my friend Dianna who thinks this is as fun as I do!  An adventure!  A challenge!  Woohoo!!

Then explain to your kids that this is a new way of life.  You're still going to order water when you eat out.  (If you ever do....)  Gifts will still be kept to a minimum (remember you gotta talk to extended family in July ) You are committed to refrain from replacing the excess you just got rid off.  And to continue to "shed" things consistently.

To quote my friend Tracy "Living lean is living large!"

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Less is More - relax!

You have worked hard this month.  Mix up some homemade bath salts and take a loooong hot bath.  Ahhhh, this is therapy for me!

1 cup baking soda
½ cup citric acid or epsom salts
½ cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. oil (almond, sunflower, coconut, mineral, canola
or baby oil may be used)
2 tsp. water
1-2 tsp. essential or fragrance oil
food coloring (optional)

Mix baking soda, citric acid and cornstarch. Mix the wet ingredients and the borax and slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing constantly. Mix slowly or it will bubble too much. Pack into mold; let set for a few minutes and then remove from molds. Let dry another 24 hours. In humid climates you may need to dry longer. Use 1-3 per bath. Store in an airtight container. Wrap in cellophane bags for a nice gift.
* The mixture is very crumbly and dry. Mix as well as you can and then pack tightly into molds. If the bath bombs won’t hold their shapes, add one teaspoon oil.
If you want to make Bath Seeds instead don’t pack into molds. Just place in a pretty jar and label. Use 2-4 tablespoons per bath.

I found this recipe on a great site called   Check it out!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Less is More - Tackle the kids' rooms

You may need to schedule a playdate for your kiddos if they are home while you attempt this.  It might get ugly, otherwise.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Less is More - saving time and money

One of the greatest money AND time saver for me is meal preparation shortcuts. Today's post sort of flows from yesterday's!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Less is More - PLAN

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  At money management, that is.  We already established the need for a budget so I hope you are well on your way to success in that area. But there's more to planning that a budget.  Planning ahead for intended expenditures is a great way to make money go further. Here are just a few ideas:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Less is More - but still fun!

Cheap or free entertainment ideas:

1.  Local library - story time, books and movies AND - 4 free passes to the Atlanta Zoo if you watch a 22 minutes DVD at your local branch!!!
2.  Board games - sharpen minds and help the wallet - we love "apples to apples" and "catchphrase"
3.  Don't fall prey to the myth that you must entertain your children.  Interact with them but you should not entertain them.  Help them make a list of things they can do when they are bored and then refer them to it.  Or to the chore chart.  That works magic in my house when kids "don't have anything to do."
4.  Visit local thrift store and give each child $3 to spend however they want. Aren't I generous???
5.  Blanket forts
6.  Neighborhood bike rides
7.  Picnics at the park
8.  Visit a local nursing home and deliver cookies.
9.  In the summertime, fill a bucket with water, arm your kids with paintbrushes and let them "paint" the shed or the fence or the house!
10.  Write a thank you note to your area's policeman and deliver it in person.  With a plate of cookies.
11. Look online for DIY recipes for bubble solution or playdoh or fingerpaint.  And go for it!
12.  My personal motto for numerous situations is "On bad days, bake brownies."
13.  Look at the stars.  It is a fun activity for us to stretch out in our open field, volleyballs under our heads for cushion, and look at the stars. 
14.  Make ice cream in a baggie.  Check online for a recipe.  EASY doesn't even begin to describe it!
15.  A nap would be my personal favorite but I have YET to have a child agree with me.  Hmmm, I think my two oldest would now, though!!  College and Motherhood have a way of making naps sound like fun.
16,  Playing outside in the rain.  Gotta get money's worth out of those rain boots!
17.  Video scavenger hunt.  This is a blast with a large group of folks.  We did it for one of the kids' birthdays and still talk about how fun it was!

What suggestions do you have?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Less is More - just don't do it

This is the "anti-Nike" idea - just don't do it.  Some things you think you have to, that is.  I don't do Christmas cards every year.  And, the first "off"year was hard.  I wanted to send a letter to everyone on my list explaining that I wasn't doing cards that year!  But I managed to survive.  And not one person on my list went into prolonged and irretriveable depression.  Not one.

What else can you "just not do" and survive?  A gift for every person your child comes in contact with?  Redecorate your dining room every two years?  Cable TV?(I hear curses from many sources!) Preschool?  Private school???? Season tickets to something? Gym membership? Dance lessons for your two year old? A home in that "certain" neighborhood?  A car for your 16 year old?

I'd like to hear some of the things you have "anti-Nike'd".  Might inspire me to cut it out, too!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Less is More - money management for kids

Teaching wise money management to our kids.  We all want to do that.  So how do we explain so many UNwise folks when it comes to money?  Personal bankruptcies are unimaginably high (1 out of every 175 Americans will file for bankruptcy at some point in their lives).  Personal savings rate is 1/3 of what it was 30 years ago (4% of personal income as opposed to 12%).  Even though personal disposable has increased. 

How can we help our kids avoid financial stress, or quite possibly disaster?  I am sure we can't solve the nation's problem but maybe we can make a difference in the future of our own children.  Here are some suggestions:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Less is More - gifts

This is a tough one.  But it's less about being tough on the recipients and more about the giver.  Most of us love to give gifts to those we love!  That's a good thing, to be sure.  But maybe we place too much emphasis on it.  Maybe we are expecting gifts to bring happiness - to others and to ourselves.  Maybe we can find some ways to unplug the "gift machine"without turning into a 21st century Scrooge.

Here are ideas to consider for extended family Christmas gift-giving.  When you propose the idea, time it for July....not December.  Just sayin....

1.  draw names
2.  limit giving to children under 21
3. "goofy gift" - the one with the biggest markdown wins!
4.  yankee swap or white elephant
5.  family gift
6.  service project together  - which is a gift to others instead of one another
7.  the gift of time and labor - one year I gave my Dad "homemade cookies of the month" for a year!

Here are some ideas for your own family-
1.  Limit of 3 gifts (like the Wise Men brought to Jesus).  I really wish I had started this when mine were little.  If it's a tradition, it's a lot of fun.  I am the one that has a hard time limiting the amount of gifts  - the problem is NOT that my kids clamor for more!  So my suggestion is to restrain yourself from the beginning and then you won't have gift-giving withdrawal tremors.
2.  Celebrate like they do in Ethiopia. My friend Amy says that no gifts are given to celebrate Christmas here.  Just food and fellowship.  Oh, YES!
3.  My friend Kimberly tells her kids they get "Something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need"  Again, I wish I had started early with this one.  For me.

Ideas for bday gifts for friends -
1.  Have a "gift box" where you stockpile gift options that you find on sale.  When it's time for the party, let your child "shop" from your "store".  Prevents overspending at the last minute!
2.  Give gift cards to bookstores or for ice cream
3.  Learn how to make things such as decorative Tshirts or pillowcases or personalized towels
4.  Set the trend of "no gift" bday parties!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Less is More - re-gift...with a twist

The idea of "re-gifting" is sure to bring a chuckle.  Maybe even a snicker or two.  There are sure to be opinions on both sides of the issue...and certainly some stories!  Stories that are funny or not, depending which side you are on!

Well, this idea for "less is more" puts a twist on re-gifting.  So, if you turn up your nose at the idea, give me a sentence to explain...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Less is More - save on dinner

For those of us whose love language is food, it is a challenge to not see every meal as an expression of our affection for our family.  We gotta get over it. We really don't have to create an extravagantly expensive feast for dinner each night.  Rethink it as "love means not wasting the grocery money".

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Less is More -Put it off

Just wanted to check back in out your debt reduction plan.  If you have debt, you really need a plan to get out.  Seriously.  Let me know how you're doing.

Here's today's tip for you - procastinate.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Less is more - Eating healthy

I just might dedicate this post to my sweet friend Caroline, the healthiest person I know!  You are rubbing off on me, sweet Caroline -   I am not ready to give up Tab but sometimes I do eat healthy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Less is More - Saving $ on the babies

According to the USDA, the average cost to raise a child to age 18 is a staggering $250,000.  (Do the math-- I have a million dollars to my name!! WOW!)  I cannot personally substantiate that figure but I can personally tell you that we don't have to spend alot of what we think we do.  Here are some ideas for saving on the babies....

1.  Borrow.  Babies need stuff in stages so maybe while you need the crib, your friend needs the potty chair.  Borrow among your friends.
2.  Buy used.  Except for car seats, you can find everything you need at substantially reduced prices at yard sales or consignment stores.  Trust me, your child will not be emotionally damaged if they use a high chair that once belonged to someone else.  (But if you insist on overpaying for things, you all might suffer some emotional distress!!)
3. Cloth diapers.  Seriously.  The ones available now are light years beyond the ones I used 16 years ago.  You can save about a bazillion bucks doing this.
4. Clothes.  Resist the urge to meet your own self-esteem issues by dressing your child in expensive outfits that they outgrow in 3 weeks.  They just need a few "public" items in their wardrobe and the rest can be simple and inexpensive.  Yard sales and hand-me-downs are your BFF.  Repeat after me...
5.  Swings, etc.  Not worth the expense.  They will outgrow it too soon to make it worth it.  But if you can't help yourself, at least buy used or borrow.
6.  Baby food - Grind up cooked veggies, fruits, oatmeal, etc.  Spoon into ice cube trays to freeze and then pop one out to heat up in microwave when it's time to eat.
7.  Ask grandparents to give practical things for gifts.  (You have to specify.  We really do want to help but often we don't know what you want/need and we want to please you.  I promise)
8. Limit the amount of toys.  I repeat, limit the amount of toys.  A dozen stuffed animals is overkill.  So is a 10 gallon bucket of things that need batteries.

These are just a few suggestions.  Children need far less than we think.  The real issue is in the heart of the parent.

I think I probably offended 60% of readers today......

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Less is More - eat in

Now, mind you, I like to eat out as much as anybody.  Or I used to.  Then I figured out how much we could save by eating in.  A whopping amount.

Some of the items in our budgets are set (mortgage, tithe, to some degree- utilities).  But the "food line" is one place we can make some changes that add up in a big way.  One of the things that can have the greatest impact if to use up what we have instead of discarding leftovers or little bits of whatever and making something completely new.

Instead of eating out for breakfast or instead of prepackaged sweet rolls, try this suggestion by Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette.  Don't be intimidated by the long descriptions - it is way less complicated than it looks.  Especially once you try it and get the hang of it. And if you consider that these muffins cost less than a dime apiece (as opposed to the $4 box of cereal or $6 box of donuts), you won't look at the last 1/2 cup of oatmeal in the same way again!!


This process uses whatever pantry ingredients, or leftovers, that you already have on hand.  Brilliant!  Combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the wet ingredients.  Then spoon into greased muffin tin and bake for approx 20 minutes at 375 or 400.  Just long enough to take a shower and get dressed before feeding the masses!

Here are the ingredients you need:
Grains - use 2-2 1/2 cups grain (white flour, whole wheat flour, leftover oatmeal or rice or the dregs of the cereal box).  If using cooked grains, decrease liquid to 1/2 cup
Milk - 1 cup.  Buttermilk or sour milk or use the last swig of fruit juice as part of this 1 cup
Fat - 1/4 cup oil or 4 tbs butter.  Even substitute applesauce or peanut butter for part of this - whatever jar you need to polish off before tossing
Egg - 1 egg
Sweetener - anywhere between 2 tbs and 3/4 cup sugar.  If using honey or molasses instead, use up to 1/2 cup and decrease milk to 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 2 tsp  (If using buttermilk or sour milk, decrease to 1 tsp and add 1/2 tsp baking soda)
Salt - 1/2 tsp optional
Dry additions - nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, etc.
Wet additions - blueberries, chopped apples, mashed banana, cooked pumpkin or sweet potato puree, cooked carrots, even a spoonful or two of jam! - whatever you need to get rid of
Spices - optional - things that complement the additions

Here is the summary:
2- 2 1/2 cups grains
1 cup milk
up to 1/4 cup fat
1 egg
up to 3/4 cup sweetener
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
up to 1 1/2 cups additions

Mix it up and bake it for about 20 minutes. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Less is More - books and websites

There are at least a gazillion resources available to help us live MORE with LESS.  When I first began my own quest, the internet was embryonic.  So I relied on books and friends.  My favorite source was a set of books by Amy Dacyczyn.  She authored a monthly newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette and these books are the compilation of several years of those.  They are fabulous!! She has a facebook page and a blog but I think the books are the best resource.

Check them out or search for some other websites that help you with ideas.  And then share 2 or 3 with me, please.  I am always looking for new ways to do more with less!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Less is More - saving in little ways

You may feel that you are at the edge of your own personal fiscal cliff.  And, probably, you can't do alot to immediately and significantly increase your income.  So the focus needs to turn to how we can control the "outgo".There are lots of little things we can do that, individually, don't amount to much.  But collectively, they can make a big difference. We just have to convince ourselves that all these things will matter! If we do 5 things that save us $10/month each, that's $600 per year.  It's so tempting to think, oh that's just $10.  Think of it as compounding savings instead. Here are some household tips to spending less:

1.  Wash in cold water.  Your clothes will still come out clean and your power bill will be cut significantly.
2.  Make your own laundry detergent.  Pinterest is full of recipes to make your own laundry detergent.  And dryer sheets.  And cleaners. This month, I have done all three and am so excited.  I made a year's worth of laundry detergent for less than $15.  Dryer sheets for less than $3. TRY ONE this week and let me know about it!
3.  Wear sweaters.  Turn your thermostat down (try 2 degrees less than you are currently used to) and wear an extra sweater! At night, turn that thermostat waaaaaaay down.  Then snuggle really close to your hubby....
4.  Switch to online billpay and save a stamp!
5.  Use 1/2 a paper towel and dryer sheet instead of a whole one.
6.  Cut out cable.  (I realize that can cause marital distress in some households so I do advise conferring with your spouse before doing this one!)
7.  Change filters in HAC units to keep them running efficiently.
8.Take shorter showers!
9.  Only run the dishwasher when it's full.
10.  Don't pay someone else to do what you can do (maid service, oil changes, etc.)
11. If you MUST eat out, order water instead of a soft drink and have your kids do the same. And not just when you eat out, drink water at home, too!!
12.  See how long you can stretch out that bottle of shampoo.  Mark the date you open it on the bottle with a sharpie.  Then add the date you finish and see if you can beat it next time!
13.  Put off replacing things as long as possible.  (OK, don't be unsafe -- if your cardiologist tells you to get a new pacemaker, do it now!)  But otherwise, see if you can make do a bit longer with those boots.  Or that coffeemaker.  Or that sofa....
14.  Train your kids to turn lights off when they leave a room.  And not to waste things. 
15.  Use cloth napkins instead of paper.  Seriously.
16.  Swap services with a friend.  Maybe she can cut your hair and you can babysit her kids for free.  Whatever.
17.  Repurpose and reuse. Paul just built a new deck with the boards from the old one!
18.  Discover new ways to do things cheaper -- I wanted a way to hang my scarves.  Decided, of course, against the pricey options for sale at the boutique and found a frugal idea online.  I bought shower curtain rings and slipped them on a wood hanger.  Presto!  20  scarves neatly hanging in my closet!  easy to access and even looks pretty, too!
19.  Cook at home.  And use your freezer to store those great deals you stock up on.  AND THEN, use what's in your freezer!!! Also, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you have to prepare expensive gourmet dishes.  There are plenty of healthy, low cost, tasty recipes out there.  Oh, and when you have friends over, know the difference between "entertaining" and "showing hospitality".  Entertaining is bound to be more expensive....because the focus is on receiving praise.  Showing hospitality focuses on ministering to others and meeting their needs.  Much less pricey!
20.  Hang out with homeschool Moms.  That's where most of my tips come from.  This group seems to always know how to do things for less!!!

What are some things you do at your house to cut costs?

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Don't buy, borrow.  And share .  It's a mindset.  You don't have to purchase everything you need.

Here are some things that are great for borrowing and sharing among friends:

1.  Maternity clothes
2.  Lots of baby items that are only used for a season
3.  Tools that you don't need frequently such as a pressure washer or a chain saw
4.  Special occasion dresses
5.  Serving pieces such as a punch bowl or silver service
6.  XL suitcases or luggage carriers
7.  Vacation homes!!

And, always, always, always, return items in better condition than you received them!

Gotta close with this thought from my friend Christine.  She said that the mentality of the world is to accumulate more and more and more in order to achieve happiness.  She is training her children in the opposite view - the way to happiness is to give and give and give.  Her idea is to "shed something" every day.  Some days it will be something tangible, material.  Other days, it might be a wrong attitude, a grudge, an emotion or a mindset that is weighing you down.  I think that is fabulous.
We can "shed" the stuff that needs to go and "share" something our friends need...especially smiles and encouraging words. 
I think I have the greatest group of friends in the universe. They make the most wonderful contributions to my life!

Your mission today -- "shed" something and "share" something.