Choosing-to-Live-Small_watermark

When we bought our modest 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath brick ranch, we were a family of 3.

We paid thousands less than the initial house budget we had set and tens of thousands less than the mortgage amount we qualified for. 1,300 square feet was more than enough space for our family and we loved the large fenced in back yard.

Around the same time we purchased this home, we also started living minimally. We purged our already simplified home of excess, changed our shopping habits and minimized our wardrobes. We started realizing the benefits of living in a smaller space and living with less.

Continue reading on Smallish Blog where I’m guest posting today!

Mortgage Payoff Goal

Writing down goals is powerful and sharing those goals creates accountability.

We’ve been pretty open about our finances because we want to encourage others that it is possible to live well on one income.

We recently set some new financial goals with our big one being to pay our mortgage off early.

In March of 2011, we purchased our home. We put 20% down and financed the rest with a 30 year mortgage. We started making extra principal payments soon after we moved in, with the hope of paying off the mortgage earlier than 30 years.

We refinanced in early 2013 to a 15 year loan with a 3.25% interest rate. The monthly mortgage payment only went up $80 by doing this.

We strategically started paying $300 extra towards our principal each month because we didn’t want to be saddled with a mortgage for 15 years.

In late 2013, we stopped making extra principal payments and started saving the money because we wanted to make some improvements in our kitchen and laundry area. Thankfully we had that money saved because in early 2014, we had to replace our septic field lines (the joys of home ownership, our kitchen and laundry still haven’t been updated!)

Then in April 2014, we put our home on the market and continued saving the money that was budgeted as extra principal money.

Once we decided selling our home wasn’t the best move for our family, we stopped making the extra principal payments – we saved most of it but we also started dipping into that money for other things.

We started to have the attitude that since we’re living in a very affordable home, we can live a little and spend our money a little more freely. We lost sight of the goal of paying off our mortgage early.

In May 2015, we attended a Financial Learning Experience at our church led by Joe Sangl of I Was Broke, Now I’m Not.  We left the event ‘fired up’ again about our personal finances!

We took some time and wrote down some personal and financial goals for our family at the end of that weekend.

The big goal that we set was to pay our mortgage off in 5 years.

This is a bit of a stretch goal but we’re excited about the challenge and focused on achieving our goal.

To be honest, our 5 year goal looks impossible on paper but we know with a little creativity, frugality and focus we can reach our goal.

In the coming months, I’ll be updating you on our progress for accountability, sharing details on how we’re planning on paying off our mortgage in 5 years and posting about different ways we’re saving money to help us reach this goal.

*We’re sharing our story and this goal in a hope to encourage you in your quest for debt free living! We all have different circumstances due to consumer debts, student loans, mortgage amounts and income levels but we all can take steps to improve our finances. Setting financial goals is a great way to motivate you to work towards paying off debts, living within your means and inspiring you to set big goals, like paying your mortgage off early. No matter the state of your personal finances, you can take steps to turn things around!

Enjoying Each Season of Motherhood

“My baby is growing up.”

These words weren’t uttered for the first time when he started crawling or on his first birthday. Instead, they were said on the way home from the hospital. He was just one day old!

I spent the first few months of his life sad.

I was sad he was growing, sad he wasn’t a newborn and sad he wasn’t going to stay a baby forever.

Once I realized mourning the past was keeping me from enjoying the present, I began fervently praying about the issue.

I prayed that God would allow me to be content with the season of life I was in, that He would take away the overwhelming sadness that my baby was growing too fast and that I would have joy throughout the years as my children grew.

My heart began to change.

I enjoyed my son in each and every stage instead of looking back on those early days with such longing.

I realized how blessed I am. How selfish it was of me to not want him to grow.

I thought about mamas who have never seen their child because of a miscarriage and mamas who held their stillborn baby only once. They would give anything to watch their babies grow.

I thought about the mamas who have a child diagnosed with cancer who just pray they can see their child grow up to graduate high school or get married.

I also thought of the women dealing with the grief of infertility, praying and hoping they’ll one day be blessed with a child they can watch grow.

How can I mourn my child growing when it is such a blessing that he is growing? Why should I allow the natural and beautiful process of a child growing to bring me sadness?

God really didn’t give us our children, he’s lending them to us for awhile as they grow. We are to raise them and train them to become independent men and women.

When my second and third babies were born, I cherished the moments, knowing the newborn days pass quickly. Those days passed but they were without sadness.

I am enjoying my children just as they are each and every day. 

We cannot slow time down but we can slow down.

We can decide to live in the moment, choose to be joyful about our children growing and enjoy each season of motherhood.

 

Minimal Summer Wardrobe
I’ve had a minimal wardrobe for a few years and enjoy the benefits that come with a simplified wardrobe.

I’m spending less time shopping for clothes, spending less money, my closet isn’t cluttered and getting dressed every day is simple.

I wanted you to see everything that makes up my minimal summer wardrobe.

Sources of My Clothing

I purchase many of my clothes at a local resale store. At the beginning of the spring and fall, I bring in our outgrown and unwanted gently used clothing, shoes and accessories and receive store credit. This store credit really helps stretch our clothing budget since we’re able to shop for the things we need without using cash.

I also shop other secondhand stores for clothes. I prefer consignment sales and stores to thrift shops because they tend to be much more organized. Plus, during this season of life, browsing through racks and racks of clothing with three young children in tow just isn’t my idea of fun!

My favorite sources for clothing are hand-me-downs and clothing swaps because the clothes are FREE! I have family and friends who occasionally pass clothes on to me and a local friend hosts a clothing swap each spring and fall where ladies bring clothes they no longer wear and we ‘shop’ what’s there.

I currently only own a handful of items that were purchased new but I’ll occasionally browse Bargain Hunt (a local discount store) and retail store clearance racks when I’m needing specific items that I can’t find secondhand.

I’ve noted the source of each of the items in my wardrobe so you can get an idea of where my clothes come from.

My Nice Clothes

The clothes hanging in my closet are my ‘nice’ clothes. These are the items that I wear to church, running errands and anytime I need to look a little bit more put together (date night, weddings, etc).

Tanks

These tanks go with just about every bottom I have so they’re working hard for me this summer!

Tanks

    • Cream Ruffled (hand-me-down)
    • Grey/White Stripe (resale store)
    • Turquoise Embellished (resale store)
    • Black Sequin (hand-me-down)

Tops

My short sleeve shirts aren’t too exciting but these three black shirts go with every bottom I own so they’re quite versatile. Pairing them with a colorful necklace gives them a new look.

Tops

  • Pink/White Stripe (resale store)
  • Black V-neck (resale store)
  • Black Crewneck (clearance at WalMart)
  • Black Scoopneck (clothing swap)

Bottoms

My bottoms are pretty simple but they’re perfect for mixing and matching with my tops.

Bottoms

  • Khaki Crops (clothing swap)
  • Denim Crops (thrifted)
  • Denim Skinnies (resale store)
  • Ankle Jeans (resale store)
  • Black/Cream Pants (resale store)

Shorts

And, here’s a glimpse of my ‘mom shorts’! I actually love my mom shorts and think they’re fabulous. I purchased the patterned turquoise shorts because they are different than anything I own, I love the color and look great with a black top. They’re a little bit shorter than the mom shorts I’m used to but not too short!

Shorts

  • Turquoise Patterned (resale store)
  • White (resale store)
  • Grey (hand-me-down)
  • Denim (hand-me-down)

Dresses

We attend a very casual church and are simple family so I don’t have a need for really nice dresses. Both of these cotton dresses are cute and comfy and can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on where I need to wear them.

Dresses

    • Navy/White (clothing swap)
    • Black (Bargain Hunt)

My Casual Clothes

I store my casual clothes in my drawers. These are the clothes I wear on the days I stay home all day. They’re comfortable and perfect for playing in the floor, wiping bottoms, working in the garden, cooking and all the other potentially messy things I do each day.

I do not wear frumpy clothes around my home, I get up and get dressed everyday. It’s important to feel both comfortable and cute for days at home!

Casual Tops

I’ve not been much of a tank top wearer in years past because I’ve been self conscious about my arms. As I’m getting older, I’m learning to fully embrace myself, so even though my arms aren’t perfectly sculpted, I can still wear tank tops! They’re perfect for hot Georgia summer days.
Casual Tops

  • Pink Tank (clothing swap)
  • Teal Tank (resale store)
  • Green Tank (resale store)
  • Black Embellished Tank (resale store)
  • Black Tank (clothing swap)
  • Black/White Stripe (clothing swap)
  • Black Tee (resale store)

Casual Bottoms

These casual bottoms mix and match with my casual tops. All of my tops go with all of the bottoms except the pink skirt. These denim shorts are quite short but they’re comfortable! I only wear them at home (who really wants to see a mama of 3 in short shorts?!) but I’ll probably take them along when we go camping this summer.
Casual Bottoms

  • Denim Shorts (clothing swap)
  • Yoga Capris (thrifted)
  • Dark Pink Skirt (thrifted)
  • Grey Skirt (clothing swap)
  • Black Skirt (clothing swap)

Shoes

I keep my shoes simple too! The flip flops are worn for water activities and for gardening, the black sandals are my daily wear shoes (they are the most comfortable sandals I’ve ever owned) and the tennis shoes are worn on rainy days and for yard work, hiking, camping and such.
Shoes

Accessories

My collection of necklaces helps keep all of my solid black shirts and tanks from being too boring. Pairing a fun, chunky necklace with my solid black tees gives them a completely new look. I don’t wear cheap, mass produced costume jewelry, I prefer handmade, meaningful pieces.

Necklaces

  • Africa Necklace (The Adopt Shoppe)
  • Black,Coral, Turquoise Paper Bead Necklace made in Honduras (gift from my friend Marillyn of Just Making Noise)
  • Multi-Colored Paper Bead Necklace (made in Uganda, purchased via Etsy)
  • Red Beads (Gift from my husband’s 2014 trip to Ethiopia)
  • Red/Teal Necklace (Gift from my husband’s 2014 trip to Ethiopia)
  • Teal Beads (Gift from my husband’s 2011 trip to Ethiopia)
  • Black Beads (Purchased when I went to Ethiopia in 2013)

*And, I should note there are a few items not pictured. I also have a casual sleeveless black cotton dress, a pair of pajama shorts and capris, a bathing suit and swim shorts. Also, all of these clothing items were not purchased this year, I’ve had the majority of the items for 1-2 years and purchased around 12 ‘new to me’ items this spring and a few pieces (like the pink skirt and flip flops) are 5+ years old!

My minimal summer wardrobe consists of 46 items.

To some, that may be too many items and I’m sure I could pare down a little but there’s no need since I like everything in my wardrobe and have adequate space in my closet and drawer.

For others, it may seem like I have far too few clothes and that’s just fine, a minimal wardrobe is what I prefer.

If you’re wanting to declutter your closet and simplify your wardrobe, start by pulling every item out of your closet and drawers and only putting back the items you love and feel great in. Owning a minimal amount of clothing that you love is better than having a closet crammed full of clothing you don’t feel great in.

What are your thoughts on minimal wardrobes? 

For further wardrobe simplifying inspiration:

Minimal Summer Wardrobe

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