This week we paid off the remainder of my car loan! I am still in shock that I will no longer have to go pay it at the end of the month. We had already paid off two credit cards so far this year too. We just have to keep this momentum going! A big part of our dedicating a year to living project was getting out of debt. I honestly didn’t think we could make such a huge impact so fast. We know that it will be easier to work on our long-term goals and dreams without the debt monkey on our backs. Our long-term goals involve travel and a move to a warmer climate, possibly Florida or Texas. This has been a dream of mine for a few years. Our oldest does not want to move until after she graduates so we are looking at 3 more years. If we continue at this rate we will be in great financial standing by then.
One of our other goals for the year was to spend more time together. We have been spending more time at home lately. That also helped with our goal of paying off debts because we have been spending less. We spent a weekend evening having a taco and game night that turned out to be a ton of fun! We played one of the board games our middle daughter received as a gift so we only spent money on taco supplies. We have had a couple of movie nights this year. They were redbox rentals. We had popcorn and M&Ms for snacks. The whole night cost us less than $10 each time. We had a day outing on one of the girls off days and went to a book store. Each girl picked out one book. This came in under $20 and it encourages reading. The big girls spent the evening reading their books. We have spent some evenings doing crafts with supplies we already had, coloring, cooking together, and playing. We have had a lot of fun spending so much time together. We basically have been doing all those things that we had picked up supplies for and never had the time to do. This year has been all about spending time doing all the things we had been putting off.
I’ll update again soon on where this crazy project leads us next.
We are a month into our project, “Dedicating one year to life.” I am shocked by the difference a month has made. The family has made huge progress toward our goals. The kids are adapting to the changes. We have been trying to make the changes at a slow pace to give us all time to adapt but sometimes I feel like we are on a freight train barreling down the tracks to a completely different life and there is simply no stopping now. Maybe this is a good thing.
I have high-functioning anxiety. I have for as long as I can remember. It got much worse after becoming a parent. It is something I hide and never speak of. I even tried to hide this in the middle of a paragraph with a disclaimer at the beginning when I wrote this. I have gotten very good at avoiding things that make me uncomfortable. I have big dreams and I am honestly afraid to live them. Just admitting this to myself was an issue. Writing this is giving me palpitations. I am trying to be brave. I keep telling myself that I don’t have to hit publish. I could just delete this and nobody will ever know. I know I need to confront my fears. I know that many of them are irrational. I am afraid that if we continue to do this project that I am going to be confronted by some big things. I am more afraid that if I stop now that I am going to be a bitter old lady that let fear ruin her dreams. I have overcome some of my fears over time and it has always been for the best. I have a list of excuses about why I can’t live my dreams that I have been hiding behind. This project is breaking down those hurdles.
I have grown as a person as I spend more time thinking about what I truly want in life and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t. I always read these articles or hear these stories where the people “gave it all up” to travel the world. I will admit that I am down right envious of those folks. I often feel like I “gave it all up” to live the American dream. You know the one. A nice house in the suburbs full of crap that you don’t need. The two cars, two fulltime jobs, kids in a good school kind of life that you didn’t know came with fun add-ons such as debt, stagnation of dreams, an ever-expanding waistline, and boredom.
I have spent a lot of time getting to know what I really want. I have always known that I have some very big dreams. I also always knew that there was no way that I was ever going to do any of them. It was just one of those unspoken things between my husband and I…or so I thought. Because of this project I found out that when my husband said that he would do any of those things with me and he thought that we could do them, he was being…SERIOUS! I had no idea. This information has been a bit of a shock. I took the time to go over all the crazy things I have tucked away for someday. I am planning, truly planning, my five-year plan based on things that I actually want. Our list of things stopping us from living our dreams gets shorter everyday.
I’m still scared but I’m ready.
As part of my project of “Dedicating One Year to Life” I want to spend more time with my children and lower my stress level. I have been working as a night shift nurse for a local hospital for almost a year and a half. I accepted a new position on the same unit as a day shift nurse. It is a different work flow and was a significant pay cut but I needed this. Actually, my whole family needed this. I was working 12 hour shifts and I am now working 8 hour shifts. I now work 4 days a week instead of 3 also. We are trying to pay off all of our debt so the pay cut and addition of daycare stinks but the stress of working night shift with three kids was hard on all of us. I am now home to make dinner, help with homework, and do the nightly/bedtime routine daily.
While I am very excited for the change, I grossly underestimated what switching shifts would do to Octavia (7 months old) and my body. I am currently sick and so is the baby. She started daycare this week which was hard emotionally. The complete flip of schedule took both of us by storm. I am not surprised that we ended up sick with all of this going on. Hopefully it doesn’t last long.
My husband and I started setting priorities for paying off our debt. We have decided that my car payment is a logical first choice because the payment is almost $300 a month and it is close to being paid off. We will be using that extra money to pay off our credit cards next. We are simply paying them off in the order for least to most owed. Paying off all of our debts is a big step toward the life that we want. We have a desire for less stress, more simplicity in our day-to-day lives, and the ability to travel more. Our long-term goal is to do a RTW and move somewhere warmer near the beach.
We only did a little work on our home this week because we were so busy. I bought new pajamas and socks for the baby because she was outgrowing hers. I got rid of the ones she had outgrown and also boxed up some of her clothing that she grew out of. Instead of replacing all of these items we decided to minimize the amount of clothing she has. I was surprised that she had so much when I took the time to think about it instead of just buying things because baby clothes are super cute and tiny. She only needs enough to get her through a week. Any less than that is a hindrance because I would have to do laundry more often. She uses special soap so I cannot throw her stuff in with everything else.
Our goal for this coming week is to use the food we currently have in our kitchen instead of shopping or going out to eat. This will help us to use up some of the almost forgotten items we found when cleaning out our kitchen in week one. We can also use the money we typically would on groceries to further pay off our debt. Our grocery budget is normally $150 a week. My goal is to spend less than $50 this week on basics like bread, milk, eggs, and we have to buy dog food.
I will update you on our journey again soon
It is amazing to see the amount of stuff that accumulates in the kitchen. The kitchen really is the center of many homes. The kitchen was a huge undertaking during my personal journey toward simplifying my home. If you are on a similar journey or just want to take a few small steps towards less clutter, these 5 things are a good place to start.
- Tame the Tupperware Beast – We have all heard it a million times but it’s time to finally do something about it. The loads of mismatched lids and containers need your attention. This surprisingly did not take as long as I thought it would. Start by removing your favorite ones. The ones you use weekly that are in good shape with fitting lids can go immediately to the keep pile. Next start matching up lids and containers. Throw away anything without a match. Now trash anything that is discolored, cracked, or has an ill-fitting lid. The last step is the hardest, decide how many you actually need out of the containers left. This number varies based on the family. Consider how often you eat leftovers, what sizes work best for your family, and what logically fits in the space provided. Do you only use them once or twice a year? Could you use a freezer bag for those times instead? If you had to buy new ones tomorrow, would you purchase these items again? Wash the ones that you have decided to keep and organize into a larger container that fits in your cabinet. This keeps them from going everywhere inside your cabinets.
- Some of These Things are not like the Others – It is amazing how much stuff ends up in crazy places. This happens even more often when you have children. This can be time-consuming to handle but the extra work space in your kitchen is worth it. The weirdest thing we found was a decorative ink pen from Disney World inside a punch bowl. We relocated the ink pen to the desk and got rid of the punch bowl. We obviously hadn’t been using it, lol.
- Food, Food, and more Food – Take a day to pull everything from your pantry, cabinets, or anywhere else you keep non-refrigerated food. Check expiration dates and throw out everything expired to start. Go through everything else with honesty. Have anything in there that you will not eat? We got rid of a bag of candy our girls were never going to eat. They still had tons of Halloween candy hanging around in the pantry. To make getting rid of those things easier either give them to somebody who you know will eat them or donate them. Next go through your refrigerator and freezer doing the same thing. Now make a meal plan including all of your food. Depending on the amount of stuff that was harboring in your kitchen you may save a ton of money on groceries in the next couple weeks.
- Weird appliances – We all have them. I received the majority of mine as gifts but my husband is also responsible for bringing some of the odd items in. I made sure that my whole family was gathered around the table as we went through things. I set the small appliances on the table one by one asking if anybody truly used this product. The answers were shocking to all of us. There were some things that we all thought somebody else wanted and they didn’t use it at all.
- Bags – Do you have a huge pile of bags in your kitchen…maybe under your kitchen sink? Only keep the amount of grocery bags that you will actually use and recycle the rest. Do you use reusable grocery bags? Shouldn’t they be in your car instead of your kitchen?
When you are done, take the time to organize what is left. There are many options available to keep the things that you use orderly.
During the first week of 2017 we started working toward our goal for a happier and more relaxed home. We went through our kitchen. We moved some things to new places that make more sense with the way we use the item or the space it is in. We also got rid of a lot of things. I was surprised to find that we had such an odd assortment of items crammed into those cabinets. The kitchen is tidy and much easier to use. Since making more dinners at home was part of our goals for a simpler and more functional family life.
I also finished my last night shift. We set up daycare for our youngest so I can start my new day shift job. I set up a daily family schedule to help us to keep the basics done. All of this is going to be a major change. We will evaluate each change and the impact that it is making on our family as a whole after each change. Some changes will take more time to assess the impact of than others.
I also have decided that I want to make more time for things that I enjoy. I would like to start writing more often. My long-term goal would be to write daily but I do not think I am in a good position to achieve that goal. I am going to set a realistic goal to write three times a week. I also want to spend more time taking photographs and reading.
We have also started to get together a list of our debts and started working on a budget. Paying off all of our debts is something that my husband and I both agree would make a huge difference in our lives. We have our mortgage, two care loans, credit cards, student loans, and doctor/hospital bills. We are still in the very early stages of this. I will update all of you on this as time goes on.