Archives For Simple Living

First Week of KonMari

With the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in hand, we started KonMari-ing our home last week.

We’re following along with the method so we worked on clothes and books during this week. Even though we already live simply, I was surprised with how much we were able to let go!

Clothes

This was my clothes and accessories pile, including my spring/summer clothes. This is not a shocking amount, I don’t own a lot of clothing but I picked up each item and asked if it sparked joy or not.

Decluttered Clothes

In the end, I was able to let this stack of clothes go. It’s not a huge pile but I really was surprised I was able to find this many items I really didn’t care for.

One of the things I let go was a purple pajama set. I purchased it to wear after Cecilia was born as a comfortable sleepwear/loungewear option. It is very comfortable but I never have loved it. I’ve been wearing it but feeling frumpy each time I wore it.  It felt great to let it go!

Folded Clothes

Here’s a glimpse into my casual, everyday clothes drawer. I love the way my shirts looked folded using the KonMari method of folding.

Spark Joy

During the middle of last week, I received a surprise package from my mother-in-law containing Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy. I was excited to receive this and have it accompany me through the rest of this journey. My favorite part of this book so far is the illustrated pictures showing how to fold various clothing items.

John David clothes

We spent last Friday working on my husband’s clothes. We were able to let this stack go.

I also went through all of our kids clothes. I went through all of the clothes in their drawers and closets as well as the clothes in their bins they have to grow in. I ended up with a decent pile of things that were outgrown, worn out, didn’t spark joy and we had too many of (I think Weston had about 20 t-shirts that should fit this spring in his bin…where does it come from!?) I’m handing down some of the items to friends with kids younger than mine and donating the rest.

Donations

This was the declutter pile hanging out in my room for a few days. I was glad to see it leave the house!

Declutter Stuff

And, here’s what we loaded up to drop off at Salvation Army last week. Not all of this was a result of this week’s KonMari-ing of our clothes and books. Most of it was clutter that I had boxed up that I was holding on to because I viewed it as ‘valuable’, thinking I might try to sell it or at least put it in a yard sale sometime.

Just looking at those boxes that were taking up space in my home was mentally draining. I decided the space they would free up in our home and in my mind was worth just donating them. And, I was right. It felt great to drop off this load and our home seems so much more open with all of this stuff out of our home.

All in all, week one was a success! I doubt the following weeks will see this large of an amount of stuff leaving but who knows.

If you KonMari-ed your home, did you think going through clothing and books was the easiest part? 

Beginning Our KonMari Journey

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about our progress as I’m reading through ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and sharing some of the things I’m learning along the way.

Here’s our story about our path towards a life of simplicity and minimalism so you have an understanding of where we are at the beginning of our KonMari journey.

We’ve been simplifying for what seems like our entire marriage. Our first home was a tiny 572 square foot apartment and the possessions we each owned coupled with wedding presents more than filled up that space. (And there were still items left in our parents homes.)

After 2 moves, only 7 months apart in 2008, I realized how much I really wanted to simplify. Packing up all of your possessions and putting them into a moving truck makes you realize just how much stuff you own.

I started really decluttering in 2009, trying to weed out as many items as I could that weren’t useful. In August 2009, I found out I was pregnant! I was determined to keep things simple for our baby. In fact, we only purchased one item, an outfit the day we found out we were expecting a boy. Everything else, from our crib to our changing table, to bedding, books and toys was either handed down or given to us as gifts for baby. We were so blessed by generous people but also a bit overwhelmed with how much stuff our 8.5 pound baby brought into our home by the time he arrived in April 2010.

In September 2010, my husband accepted a new position in Georgia and we were once again loading up a moving truck. Again, I was astounded and even a bit embarrassed with the amount of stuff we owned. We moved our little family into a 3 bedroom condo with a single car garage and we filled it up. The closet in the extra bedroom was full of stuff and so was the garage. In the 6 months that we lived there, we never were able to park our vehicle in the garage.

When we purchased our home in March 2011, we actually downsized (our first home and condo both were around 1,500 square feet). Our new home was 1,300 square feet. While it didn’t have an attached garage or basement, it did have a detached garage so there was ample space to store stuff.

In the almost 5 years that we’ve lived in this home, we’ve added 2 more children to our family. In that time, we really have simplified our home, changed our consumption habits and live quite minimally.

My husband has adopted a simple ‘uniform’ consisting mainly of jeans, black button ups and t-shirts. I don’t own many clothes or shoes, neither do our children. Our kitchen is small, therefore we keep our dishes and kitchen gadgets very simple. And, our children really don’t have an overabundance of toysBut, there’s still a lot of stuff in our home and some of it is never used, played with, worn or read. 

Trying to live without a lot of clutter can be quite challenging for 5 people in 1,300 square feet . We’re choosing to live in our ‘small’ home because it makes the most sense for our family financially but we don’t want to feel cramped in our home. Living with less stuff makes our home feel like there’s more than enough space for the 5 of us. 

After Christmas, (and the influx of stuff that comes with this holiday), our home was in need of major decluttering.

Instead of decluttering how I typically do, I decided that we’re going to try following the KonMari Method. I read ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ last year, nodding my head in agreement with most of her decluttering and tidying philosophy and even adopted the KonMari way of folding. However, I didn’t actually follow the method in terms of going through our belongings category by category and only keeping those items that ‘spark joy’ or those that are necessary.

We’re beginning our KonMari journey now and hope to simplify our home and only surround ourselves with the things we love or absolutely need.

I’ll be posting about things I’m learning and what’s leaving my home in the weeks ahead!

Have you read ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’? Have you followed the KonMari Method? 

*I do not agree with all of her writing and philosophy. However, there’s a lot of good content in the book and I just take what’s helpful and ignore the religious parts I disagree with.

Teaching Kids About Money

One of our desires for our children is for them to become financially wise. We hope by being honest about our finances and teaching them about how we manage our money that they will have a desire to stay out of debt and use their money wisely.

At 4 and 5, our boys know that we follow a budget and that our budget helps direct our spending.

We started talking about money and giving them small amounts of money at very young ages. We also try to point out how we save money by buying things used over buying them new.

Both boys were given some money for Christmas this year. We put some of it in savings but they both ended up with about $12 in their wallets. Money in their wallets is their spending money that they can spend, pretty much however they choose.

Our 5 year old, Paxton, is a spender and our 4 year old, Weston, is a saver. When Paxton has money, he starts thinking of ways he can use it. Weston prefers socking his money away in his piggy bank and lately has been telling us that he’s saving his money so he can buy a tractor when he grows up. (The saver in me LOVES this!)

On New Years Eve, while we were out eating Chinese food, our 5 year old discovered the wall of vending machines full of candy, toys and stickers. He saw that one of these machines contained NFL stickers (he loves football) and he had to have one. We explained that we thought spending $.50 for one sticker when you didn’t even know which team you were going to get seemed like a waste of money to us. Then we told him that it was his money and he could buy a sticker if he wanted to.

He chose to buy the sticker and was satisfied with the team he got.

Then, he tried to talk his brother into buying a sticker too! Weston stood firm in his resolve not to spend anything.

With money still left in his wallet, Paxton was itching to spend more so he started asking to go shopping. He finally asked, ‘can we go thrifting for jerseys?’ (I love that he appreciates thrifting!)

One afternoon this week, we went to Salvation Army and started looking for jerseys in the kids section. We found a red Georgia Nike jersey in size 6 that fit him and he liked it pretty well. We browsed around the store and came back to the kids section to double check and then Paxton spotted a black Georgia Nike jersey in size 7. He got really excited about this black jersey and we were starting to hang the red one back up when Weston asked if he could buy the red one.

We stood in line and they both purchased their jerseys, pulling their $3.20 out of their wallets, excitedly handing the money over and then proudly walking out with their jerseys that they purchased with their own money.

I was tickled that we had such good thrifting luck and they both found something they wanted.

Once we got home, I showed them that similar jerseys were selling for $40+ each online and that they could not have purchased those jerseys brand new with the amount of spending money they have.

We hope that talking with them through their spending and making wise purchases as children helps them become financially independent adults.

Georgia Jerseys

Paxton was beyond thrilled that his jersey has a Capital One Bowl game patch sewn on it!

And, it should be noted that John David and I are Tennessee fans. Paxton likes Tennessee and Georgia college football, he says ‘I was born in Tennessee and live in Georgia so I can like both.’ And, we’re not sure where Weston’s allegiance lies just yet. (Now, we’ve got to thrift a couple UT jerseys to even things up!)

Big Goals

When it comes to setting goals, it’s easy to simply dream about things you would like to do or achieve.

If you don’t make the goals realistic or manageable, they just stay dreams.

I’ve always set SMART goals to turn dreams into reality.

SMART goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time Bound

In May of this year, we set a big goal to pay off our mortgage in 5 years (by May 2020).

This goal fit with the SMART goals formula:

Specific – We want to pay off our mortgage in 5 years.

Measurable – Pay off the balance of the mortgage.

Attainable – We knew discipline, frugality and a bit of creativity, this was a realistic goal for our family.

Relevant – We feel like this is a very relevant goal since our mortgage is our only debt and we want to be completely debt free.

Time Bound – We want to do this by May 2020.

We started out very excited and felt like we were working towards an achievable goal. However, since it was such a big goal (knocking out thousands and thousands of dollars in debt), it felt like we weren’t making any progress.

So, we broke the goal down further. In July (2 months into the process),  I divided the amount we owed on our home by 58 months (the time remaining until May 2020). This gave us a monthly goal to work towards.

Having the monthly goal makes our big goal very doable. Each month, we have a specific amount we’re working towards paying off. Reaching this amount each month is still a bit of a stretch but we hit the monthly goal in July, August, September and October!

Working towards the monthly goal keeps the momentum going. Each month that we reach (and sometimes exceed) our goal, we are excited which encourages us to keep going. While it’s fun to see the big number go down, it still seems to move slowly so it’s more fun focusing on the monthly goal than on the total principal that we still owe.  

Do you have financial goals you want to achieve?

Maybe you want to pay off debt, save an emergency fund or start a college fund for your kids. Or maybe you need to finally sit down, create your budget and set financial goals.