Category Archives: Organization

Minimalism is a Privilege

I’m usually a big cheerleader of minimalism. But what if it’s the only realistic option?

Brandon and I have been paring down, spending less, and trying to minimize every part of our lives over the last few years. Although I still believe I can always get rid of more Stuff, I’ve hit the point where I have to stop. For now, anyway. Even though I have completed my student loan payments(more on that later in this post!), because I’m making very little income, it’s hard to truly appreciate the moment. I’ve started to wonder if I need to start selling things to continue experiencing my current lifestyle. Let me tell you, that lifestyle consists of having an apartment and occasionally buying bus tickets for temp work – I’m not extravagant, even when I can afford it. I’m understandably a bit concerned about my future, but mostly worried about when the hell I can get my hair cut again. Serves me right for getting an asymmetrical cut that I need to get trimmed once a month(I love it, but probably should have waited until my income was more stable).

Think about all the minimalism tips out there. Think about all the ways to “save” money. Go thrifting instead of buying new – yes, but you’re still shopping and spending money. I generally hit up the Goodwill once every season, but only if I need something specific. The Latte Factor only works if you are already spending $5 a day. That would be a luxury for me right now, and I find it wasteful even when I do have that extra cash(it’s…been a while since I’ve had extra cash). Clothing swaps are the best and, in my opinion, the most fun way to find clothes – but it’s a gamble if your friends aren’t all the same size(which isn’t realistic to most friend groups anyway).

While my current minimalism may be somewhat “enforced”, it’s not the end of the world. Even if I feel like I’m struggling, I know I’m not alone. Brandon and I are going through some tough times right now, but we’re going to make it to the other side together. Things will even out, mainly because I believe they have to, after all the drama we’ve been put through. (Seriously 2016, why are you so awful for everyone?)

My financial goals are small. I’d like to be making enough income to start saving again. Literally any amount would be acceptable – even $5 a month. I’d like to have a bit of money socked away by October, so Brandon and I can take 2 or 3 days off for our anniversary. A vacation isn’t realistic until next year(fingers crossed we have the time and money for a whole week off), so I’m keeping my expectations low. I’ll say I’m going to pay off my credit card by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting more money on it lately, so I will simply see how close to $0 I can get. Next year, I’d like to be able to pay it off every month. But we’ll get see what the next 6 months bring us, yeah?

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Now for some good news! I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOAN!!!


I want to thank everyone who left comments here, on Twitter, and Facebook. Writing about this kept me motivated, and I kept it a priority because of you. While I am not left with a lot of money now, it’s been a huge relief to get that debt off my proverbial plate.
Here’s hoping July and the last half of 2016 is better for all of us – financially and emotionally.

My Shopping Ban: Making Sacrifices

Why does feeling good never last?

As much as I’d like to continue celebrating my student loan getting smaller and smaller, my income is also getting smaller and smaller. I’m going to have to make some tough choices very, very soon, and I’m extremely stressed out by that (and everything else). Yes, once the debt is gone, I will have more freedom with my money, but I’m not making a lot right now and most days, it doesn’t feel like it will be enough to get by.

I’ve signed up with four different temp agencies, but am also starting to think I should be seeking a permanent position as well. The store is where I want to be, but it can’t offer me stable income and health benefits like a lot of other places. On top of that, Alberta’s unemployment rate is higher, so I feel as if I’m stealing a job from someone who needs it more because I, technically, already have a job. I hate everything about this situation, and even though I’ve sent out a bunch of resumes, I feel powerless.

Brandon and I are trying to figure out what we can cut from our expenses. Since we don’t go out much anyway, it will have to be things that we usually consider “necessities”. I’m going to look into downgrading our cell phone plan, and cutting even further back with groceries. Selling some of our things will probably be next. I will keep looking for a job. He is too, but I feel his focus should be the store. It’s his dream, and as far as I’m concerned, his store. He is the reason it exists. I hope I can get a job and support our family, so he can focus on making the store as wonderful as I know it can be.

Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

My Shopping Ban – Under $1000!

So February was a great month for paying off debt. Not a great month for earning money, but I managed.

I’m officially signed up with two temp agencies, so hopefully I will pick up a contract every so often and be able to save some money after I’ve paid off my student loan. At the end of last month, my loan is down to $885.65 owing. With my current monthly payments of $200, I can have that paid off by July. With my shopping ban, and depending on whether I find any admin work, I’d like to pay that off as quickly as I can. Say, by the end of my shopping ban? Paying that off in only two months may be a lofty goal, but I always like to aim a bit higher than I truly think I can manage.

February knocked $300 off my loan, and I’m very happy about that. March will likely only be $200 – again, more money is dependent on if I am earning some side income from the store.

Don’t have much to report elsewhere regarding the ban. Haven’t been anywhere besides the grocery store and work, so no temptations. I’ve been invited out to some things that I won’t be going to, but usually the invite is a frugal event anyway. Mainly the cost of healthy snacks, and I don’t count food as a frill.

Save well, friends!

My Shopping Ban: Side Income

I’ve signed up with a couple temp agencies again.

This is not a decision I dreaded, and while it is for the main goal of making money, I’m happy to have some different experiences in the future(and use my substantial background in office administration again). I’m hoping to pick up something quickly, and can focus on putting aside some of my paycheques towards my debt.

In case anyone is worried I will be leaving the store – when working under a contract, I still plan to work at Variant Wednesday evenings and weekends, and any events that Brandon and I would usually be hosting.

This side income will help in the short-term(paying off debt, having money for rent and bills), and long-term(hopefully going away for a few days for our second anniversary). This will also help the store, as what would be my paycheque can be re-invested in merchandise or advertising.

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In other news, decluttering is still going well. I’m keeping a few things in our storage room for the swap at the store in April, so that’s in a bit of a holding pattern. I know it’s going, so it doesn’t bug me so much. At least there is less in the living room.

Brandon and I are holding to our goal of only owning books that fit in our white shelving unit, even with the new books we traded for a few weeks ago. There will be a more books going this year as they’re borrowed, and we will continue to declutter books and movies as we experience them and make the decision whether to keep or not. Some things honestly only need to be experienced once, and that’s okay.

My Shopping Ban: Galentine’s Day

After my lapse into spending immediately after starting my ban, I’ve been pretty good.

Brandon and I have been making more attempts to view the movies we own, and we’ve turned a shelf into its own little “To Read” pile, so we know where to focus our efforts. We even took three boxes of books to trade at Wee Book Inn on Saturday. I’m still pushing him to go through his clothes, but that may take some time. As for my own closet, I have two cloth bags on the floor in there and am slowly filling them up. I’m planning to host another clothing swap at the store in April, so am using the time to really figure out what I don’t wear anymore.

Saturday was a fun day filled with friends and great conversation. I was working, but happy to see everyone come to the store. My friend Leah came by near the end of my shift and I invited her over for tea. She was game to go with Brandon and I to Wee Book Inn, and then back to our place where we watched old Sex and the City episodes(a Galentine’s Day fave!). Wee Book was a success – Brandon and I both acquired 3 new books, some store credit, and also a movie and television series. And now I have one less box of books in the apartment! Progress!

Books books books

I’ve been cleaning and tidying often, trying to get things out or at least pick things to go in the swap. Two months isn’t so far away, so after April, the apartment will feel more open and spacious.

As for my student loan? I’ve put $100 from the side income I made last week in and my normal withdrawal of $200 will go out at the end of the this month. That will put the amount owed under $1000!!!

January Cure Update

Didn’t realize over two weeks had gone by without having an update, but here we are now. I’m okay with this, because I was usually working on the Cure projects instead of writing about them. Also, I’m not a huge fan of writing, so it’s very easy for me to procrastinate on that type of work. Let’s see what I’ve been up to since I last posted.

Kitchen

Haven’t done a ton in the kitchen, other than clean parts of it when the assignments called for it. Hung some damn art, but the other wall is still bare. It’s not terrible, and I think it will be a while before I get to shopping for some type of bar cart. I do want to get somewhere with washi tape, but have been busy and broke maybe? *shrug*

  • Decorate with washi tape to brighten the cabinets
  • Change over the tin foil in the oven
  • Replace dining nook light bulb
  • Hang some damn art
  • Figure out a better bar situation

Pantry

The pantry needs a deep clean. This will be a job I devote an entire evening to, as I will have to empty it out, sweep and mop the floor, scrub the shelves, then decide what goes back in and if it’s in a workable place for me to efficiently use.

  • Remove most items
  • Reassess how they are used and if they’re on the correct shelf for their function

Living Room

I’ve done most of the work here. The space is redesigned(not on the list, but inspiration struck one night), I have the beginnings of an office, and the boxes will be dealt with over time. Some art is up, and my To Go box is full, with another to be created for more things. Brandon and I are planning to do another round of decluttering our media(movies, music, comics, books) in February. Now that we have some additional floor space to spread out, it should be easier to filter everything.

  • Go through, declutter, recycle papers in all random boxes
  • Hang more art
  • Set up office space
  • Declutter movies and music (pushed to February)

Bathroom

This is the final large weekend project for the January Cure, so admittedly I’ve been holding off because I know I’ll get to it. Along with decluttering, all surfaces will get a deep clean.

  • Declutter under sink and medicine cabinet

Bedroom

I have filled a bag with clothing and have requested Brandon go through his things to fill another. My bureau is cleaned off and my nail polish is on display in hopes I use it more often. Debating recycling the broken laundry basket because I can still use it to take down sheets and towels when the other one is full of dirty clothing. It’s a small thing to concern myself with, but I’m going to hold off until the end of the month on this one.

  • Declutter clothing
  • Clean and organize top of bureau
  • Recycle broken laundry basket

My 2016 January Cure

It’s my second year doing Apartment Therapy’s “January Cure“, and I wanted to share the process with you. If for nothing else then to keep myself accountable, I will try to give updates throughout the month about how it’s going.

There is a small project every day, except for the weekends, where the project is bigger and can be spread out over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Since we opened the year with a weekend, the apartment floor was swept as much as it could be with all the boxes laying about. (The boxes are on my list to deal with this month.) I won’t be buying flowers every weekend, as Max tries to eat any plant life I bring home, and they would just end up on top of the fridge.

My latest assignment was to make a list of tasks I’d like to get accomplished this month.

Kitchen

  • Decorate with washi tape to brighten the cabinets
  • Change over the tin foil in the oven
  • Replace dining nook light bulb
  • Hang some damn art
  • Figure out a better bar situation

Pantry

  • Remove most items
  • Reassess how they are used and if they’re on the correct shelf for their function

Living Room

  • Go through, declutter, recycle papers in all random boxes
  • Hang more art
  • Set up office space
  • Declutter movies and music

Bathroom

  • Declutter under sink and medicine cabinet

Bedroom

  • Declutter clothing
  • Clean and organize top of bureau
  • Recycle broken laundry basket

Tonight’s task is to clean the pantry. While I don’t have a traditional pantry, I will be emptying out the cabinet beside the stove, cleaning off the shelves, and making a list of what I have in there to make future dinners simpler.