A great inexpensive way to make furniture for your home is to use plywood. Plywood is a versatile and easy to use material that allows even woodworking beginners to make beautiful (and useful) furniture for their homes. So if you need to stretch your decorating budget or if you just want to try your hand at some DIY furniture design ideas, be sure to check out these 20 DIY Plywood Furniture Ideas!
Wondering what’s the difference between plywood and regular wood? The answer is hidden in the name. Plywood is made of “plies” (AKA layers) of wood that’s glued together. It’s sold as sheets of wood, and the more plies it has, the thicker the sheet. Because of how it’s constructed it’s pretty easy to work with in DIY projects. It’s also easy to cut/sand it into curves, making it a versatile and easy to work with choice for people who are new to doing wood-based DIY projects.
20 DIY Plywood Furniture Ideas
Some of these DIYs projects use boards of wood in addition to plywood. But don’t be afraid of non-plywood lumber. I used to think working with wood was downright scary, but after my first few messy tries, I realized it’s just like any other craft project material. You just have to learn how to work with it (and how to be safe with your tools), and soon enough you’ll be able to make pretty much anything you want from wood!
If you’ve never made anything from wood before, I’d recommend your first tries be in the presence of someone who knows what they’re doing, especially if you have to use a power tool like a table saw. While you can learn about power tools from tutorials on YouTube, there are so many safety concerns with things like saws and nail guns that’d it’d be best to start off learning in the presence of someone skilled. If you don’t know someone who’s power tool handy, home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s often have classes that can be great introductions to the tools you’d be using in your own DIY plywood furniture projects.
And remember, plywood furniture is best made from furniture grade plywood. That just means grade A plywood, which has very few knots and has a smooth veneer. But technically, other grades of plywood would work, too. The Home Depot website has a handy article that discusses the details of the different grades of plywood. Now let’s take a look at some awesome DIY plywood furniture ideas!
Isn’t it great how many different types of furniture you can make from plywood? With a bit of paint, your DIY plywood furniture will look like the professionally designed furniture you can get at the store!
People used to think that ramen was just for college students. It was labeled “cheap” and “unhealthy,” so home chefs ignored it, thinking it couldn’t be used to make a truly nutritious meal. Well, ramen is still one of the most inexpensive noodles out there, but it doesn’t have to be unhealthy, and it can be plenty filling! All you have to do is ditch the seasoning packet, add some mix-ins and a good sauce, and you have a delicious ramen dinner ready to go! Check out these 8 Ridiculously Delicious Ramen Recipes!
What I really love most about ramen is how quick it is! Of course, some of the following recipes will only be super quick if you have some already cooked chicken or beef on hand. I like to cook extra proteins when I have extra time, and I also freeze leftover meat. That way I always have some chicken and beef ready to throw into a recipe on a busy day.
I have a big bag of gluten free, organic ramen that I keep for busy nights when I want to make one of these quick ramen recipes. You could also stock up on the individual ramen packets when you catch them on sale!
As you can see, you can do a lot with a few packages of ramen noodles. And none of these recipes are “bare bones” or excessively unhealthy. They’re actually quite filling, and some look very nutritious! So if you haven’t had ramen since college, now’s the time to change your feelings about ramen and give these delicious ramen recipes a try!
My goal this summer is to add to my DIY cleaning products collection. I decided to start with a DIY laundry detergent. We do lots of laundry in my house, so I knew it could save us a lot of money. But rather than make a liquid detergent, I decided to make something even more convenient- DIY detergent tabs! Here is how to make your own Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs!
It’s super easy to make your own homemade laundry detergent tabs, and they’re so convenient to use! They also make it easier for your kids to do their own laundry, as they don’t have to bother with measuring detergent. They can just through their clothes in the machine, toss in a tab, and turn it on. That’s as easy as it gets!
1. Using a cheese grater, grate one bar of soap into a large bowl. Add washing powder and baking soda to bowl.
2. Add Epsom salts and laundry booster granules. Mix everything together thoroughly.
3. Add vinegar. It will fizz a bit, but that is just the vinegar reacting with the baking soda. Mix the ingredients until you can form a small ball when you squeeze it in your hand. If the mixture is too dry after adding the 1/2 cup of vinegar, add more, 1 tablespoon at a time.
4. Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, add the mixture to a mold or ice cube tray. Press firmly. Allow to dry completely. I usually let it sit overnight to make sure it’s completely dry. Then pop out and store your homemade laundry pods in an airtight container.
When you’re ready to do laundry, drop one tab in with the clothes. These are safe to use in HE washers and you can use these in both front and top load washing machines.
Have you ever used homemade laundry detergent before, as tabs, powder or liquid?
If you want to be a minimalist, you have to declutter! Mainly you’ll need to declutter your home, but minimalism also includes decluttering your life and relationships as well. But how exactly do you declutter your home, life, and relationships with minimalism in mind? Because you’ll need to approach it in a different way from how you would approach traditional decluttering. If you want to start practicing minimalism, but are stuck on How to Declutter for a Minimalist Life, then read these tips below!
How to Declutter for a Minimalist Life
Minimalism and the Home
If you want to declutter for a minimalist life, then you’ll need to successfully declutter your home first. Because while minimalism is about much more than just what stuff you have, having minimal possessions is a big part of minimalism!
That’s because it’s hard to have a simple, focused life if you’re surrounded by stuff. You actually don’t know how distracting everything you have is until you get rid of it. Something as simple as an unwrapped DVD case in your family room can complicate your life in its own little way. Maybe you only got the DVD because of a fear of being left out and not seeing the hot new thing. Or maybe you feel guilt every time you walk by it, thinking of the money you wasted on this thing you never truly intend to see.
But what if that DVD wasn’t in your home? What if you’d decluttered and kept only the things you truly liked and needed? What if you walked into your family room and only saw a small row of DVDs on your media console, and they were all your absolute favorites? You’d be able to walk into the room without any extraneous feelings and focus on what you really wanted to focus on.
Because if we’re all honest with ourselves, the problem isn’t usually that we don’t have enough time for what we want to do. It’s just that we put our time toward other things. Even productive things, like reorganizing the linen closet, take time away from our goals. If you were a minimalist and only had the few linens that you really needed, you wouldn’t have to constantly reorganize, and could instead put that time toward something that brought more value and richness to your life.
So if you want to be a minimalist, declutter! Keep only what you truly need and what you truly want. Donate/sell all those books and movies you plan to read/watch “one day.” Throw out the half finished DIY projects you started months ago. My list of 100 things to throw away today would be a good starting point. And get rid of the big stuff, too. Does your family have 3 cars, but you really only drive 2? Sell/donate the third one! Sell excess cell phones and laptops. Get rid of video game consoles you and the kids don’t use. Get rid of everything you’re holding on to because of fear of possibly needing it one day (if it’s not a first aid kit, it’s unlikely that not having it would cause any major problems). Simplify your life down to the minimal amount of stuff you need to live happily (which is probably a lot less stuff than you think).
You might have to do this in passes, because getting rid of so much stuff in one go is usually too big of a step for some people. So if you need to, every 2 weeks do another decluttering pass until you’re finally down to the minimal amount of items you think you need/want.
Minimalism and Your Life
When you set out to declutter for a minimalist life, don’t just stop with your home. You also need to declutter your life. This is made up of two parts: your activities and your digital life.
It’s important to declutter your life’s activities if you want to truly have the free, peaceful, and focused life that minimalism can provide. That’s because it doesn’t matter if your home hardly has anything in it, if you’re still stressed with all the stuff have plan to do each day! So you need to cut things out. If you’re the type of person who hates saying no to events, clubs, and activities, then putting “no” back in your vocabulary can help a lot very quickly. If you already feel like you’re pretty good at turning down invitations to do things, then you just need to take a second look at all the things in your schedule. If you’ve joined some groups, think about if they’re really critical to your happiness. Also take a second look at all the activities and classes you do voluntarily. Some people complicate their lives with too many hobbies or by trying to achieve too many goals at once
If you want to declutter for a minimalist life, you also need to include your digital life! That means taking a good long look at all the forums and social media sites you belong to. It may be hard to cut those out of your life, but think of how much time you’ll get back! You should especially make a point of leaving any site that doesn’t make you feel good (there are a lot of toxic communities out there). And don’t forget to delete some social media apps from your phone. All the time you spend checking your phone when it chimes is time you could be putting toward better things (plus, it ruins your focus on whatever you’re working on).
Minimalism and Your Relationships
To fully declutter for a minimalist life, you may also need to declutter your relationships. This sounds harsher than it is. Really all this means is cutting out the toxic people in your life (those that just cause trouble and upset), and reducing how obligated you feel to distant relatives and acquaintances. Some people won’t have to do anything regarding this aspect of their life. But for very social extroverts, this may be tricky. Just remember, you don’t have to make a big deal out of it. You don’t need to make some sort of formal statement, or even unfriend the people on Facebook. Just start slowly becoming more distant. Don’t start as many conversations, and be busy more often when asked to meet up. The whole point of this is to simplify your relationships so you can put more energy toward the relationships that really matter- your relationships with close friends and family.
This all may seem like a lot of work, but it’s only for a short while. If you plan to declutter for a minimalist life, you just need to be ready to spend this time and effort up front for a little bit, and in return you’ll have a simpler, freer life full of only the things that really matter!
Have you ever tried to declutter the non-home-based aspects of your life? Was it difficult or easy?
Make an easy “homemade” dinner for your family by using one of these recipes that uses a rotisserie chicken for its base. Rotisserie chickens are such a good deal at the grocery store (the Costco & Sams Club chickens are huge). I don’t know why, but they are often less expensive than the uncooked chicken in the meat department! A store-bought rotisserie chicken will also save you time! Since these recipes use already cooked chicken, you’ll be able to easily whip up dinner in no time! So stop at the store and grab a rotisserie chicken. Then choose any of these Easy Meals You Can Make With Rotisserie Chicken to make a quick dinner!
Rotisserie chicken is definitely a busy mom’s secret weapon. You can make so many different types of meals with pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store!
8 Easy Meals You Can Make With Rotisserie Chicken
You might luck into a marked down rotisserie chicken if you time your grocery shopping just right. For example, Walmart has a policy where if the cooked chicken (rotisserie and fried) is not sold within 4 hours of being cooked, it has to be thrown away (I imagine for food safety reasons). But obviously stores don’t want to throw away food they spent money and time to prepare, so at about 3 hours after being cooked, the chicken goes on sale (usually 50% off). So if you can learn your store’s cooking schedule (when each batch is cooked) and get there when the chickens are 3 hours old, you can get them on sale! If you don’t see the chicken marked down, but you’re there 3 hours after the cook time on the chicken’s container, just take it to the deli counter and ask for it to be marked down since it’s 3 hours old.
If you do manage to find rotisserie chickens on sale, buy at least 2 and stock your freezer. You can eat one for dinner with an easy side like bagged salad right away. Then take the meat off the second one and freeze in 2 cup portions for trying one of these easy meals later on. Don’t forget to keep the bones to make chicken stock! There are so many frugal recipes you can make with rotisserie chicken!
And of course, all of the chicken recipes below can be made with chicken other than rotisserie chicken. Have leftover wings or chicken tenders? These easy dinner recipes are a great way to use up leftover chicken of any type!
It should come as no surprise that minimalism is such a hot topic these days. After all, our lives, while filled with more conveniences then ever, are also more hectic than ever. Despite all that humanity has accomplished thus far, we still find ourselves more stressed and with less free time than ever before. Luckily, there’s an easy fix that can fit into any one’s life. And that’s practicing minimalism! But what exactly can you gain from minimalism? Here are the Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle!
If you’re not 100% sure you know what exactly minimalism is and what the lifestyle entails, I wrote a whole post answering the question What is Minimalism?
What are the Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle?
Before I cover the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, I just wanted to give a quick refresher on what a minimalist lifestyle entails. It does not require throwing everything out and living in an empty space. And it does not mean you have to quit your job and move to a farm. Minimalism is just about reducing the elements of your life down to what’s important. So yes, it does mean doing a lot of decluttering. It also includes cutting out activities that don’t really add to your life. And it includes changing your mindset regarding needs and wants. Overall, it’s about creating simplicity, and by creating simplicity, gaining the benefits below!
1. Less Stress
Stress is the number one cause of discontent in most people, so less stress is one of the best benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, in my opinion. A traditional consumerist lifestyle is stressful, what with all the things you’re constantly thinking you need to buy and do. But a minimalist lifestyle only focuses on the most important things. If your current cell phone is still working fine, you don’t have to care that another version just came out. And being in your home is a stress-free experience, as you’re not constantly trying to reorganize excess items, or see items that remind you of things you’re supposed to be wanting/doing.
2. More Money
Being a minimalist saves you money, simply because you realize you don’t actually need to buy that much. Minimalists don’t worry about keeping up with the trends in fashion or home decor. Minimalists also tend to have more energy because their days are less taxing, so you’ll see them spending less money eating out. And it’s rare for them to make stress related impulse purchases.
3. Less Attachments
The more things you have, the more attachments you have, the more stress you have. It’s as simple as that. If you have a boat in your driveway, you may worry that someone is going to steal your boat. If you’re bringing your brand new expensive tablet to the coffee shop with you, you may worry about losing it. And of course, a person with a traditional lifestyle has way more to be concerned about losing if they get an alert that their security system has been set off! While you’ll always worry a bit about the things you have, one of the benefits of minimalism is that you can worry a lot less because you have a lot less stuff!
4. More Rest
Another one of the many benefits of a minimalist lifestyle is more rest. That’s because minimalism includes getting rid of activities and tasks that aren’t really adding anything to your life. It’s rare to find a minimalist spending an hour sorting mail that’s been piling up, and you won’t see a minimalist sitting down for a movie marathon that they’ve decided had to happen because their stack of “to watch” DVDs was piling up. Minimalists fill their lives with only the things they need to do and want to do, but not that they feel they have to do (but really don’t have to). When you cut out the “have to dos” you’ll find you have more time than before, opening up the opportunity for reading, napping, or just going to bed on time.
5. Improved Relationships
When you’re not spending all your time trying to keep up with the Joneses or interacting with all your things, you have more time for family and friends. You can be one of those families that has board game night! And you’ll finally have time to call that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. So one of the major benefits of minimalism is having a more active and fulfilling social life!
6. Improved Health
Less stress, stronger relationships, more rest, etc. all equals a healthier life! The free time you gain from minimalism alone could be a major factor in improving your health. It can allow you to make more healthy home cooked meals, spend time exercising, spend time outside getting vitamin D, and more. It’s not rare to find people who say they’re feeling better and more energetic after just a month of minimalist living.
7. More Happiness
Not surprisingly, one of the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle is feeling happier. And how couldn’t you be happier with a richer, freer, healthier life? On top of that, minimalists may experience less fear and more confidence. The lack of fear comes from having less to lose if things go south (you could invest more time in a start-up idea if you don’t have tons of expenses), and the increase in confidence comes from learning to be fine with who you are and how your life is (and not constantly comparing yourself to others).
So overall, a minimalist lifestyle gives you a freer, happier life where you can focus more on what you really, truly want to do with your time. It may be a little difficult to get started changing your lifestyle to a minimalist one, but with all these benefits, it’s worth the trouble!
We will be moving into a kitchen that’s smaller than the one we currently have if we go with the house I showed you (which I’m 99% sure about). I’m not quite sure how I’m going to set things up and where I’ll put everything but I thought I’d share some great ideas for organizing a small kitchen that I found!
Moving is such a great opportunity to not only get rid of stuff but to start out more organized! I’m really looking forward to that! And kitchen organization usually isn’t too difficult, even when the kitchen already has food, plates, etc. in the cupboards. All you need are some clever organization solutions, like the ideas below!
10 Ideas for Organizing a Small Kitchen
1. Pull Out Rolling Rack
People get really creative when it comes to organizing a small kitchen! Make a narrow rolling rack for that wasted space next to the fridge, like this one by DIY Passion.
Find ways to give yourself more workable surfaces like this project. Here’s how to build burner covers that extend your counter top space like in this great example from The Kitchnn.
4. Backsplash Baskets
Using your backsplash area is a great way to keep your counters free, like in this organized kitchen from No. 29 Design (It looks like this post has since moved. If you know where the new link is, let us know and we’ll update the link).
5. Cabinet Pegboard Organizer
This is a great way to organize a small kitchen that doesn’t have many drawers. Check out the very organized cupboard from Food Network.
6. Sink Cutting Board
Organizing a small kitchen requires making use of all available space. Get a cutting board that goes over part of your sink for more counter space, like in this kitchen from Sweet Verbena. I know Ikea sells one but I’ve seen some at TJMaxx as well.
7. Shower Caddy Produce Rack
Use the space at the end of a cabinet like this idea from Domestic Diva. She hung a shower caddy up and used it to store some vegetables.
There are so many clever kitchen storage ideas out there! Utilize the side of your refrigerator with narrow plastic storage baskets like in this example from Instructables. I’ve seen these little baskets at dollar stores.
A delicious cup of herbal tea can be used to soothe all sorts of everyday ailments like sleeplessness, nausea and digestive issues. Herbal tea also makes a good alternative to regular tea and coffee, especially if you want to reduce your caffeine intake. While buying premade tea mixes or even dried herbs can be pricey, growing your own herbal tea garden is a more budget friendly (and natural) solution! Plus herbs are easy to grow and look beautiful in the garden! Take a look below at how to grow your own herbal tea garden, and see how simple it can be to grow the ingredients you need right in your own backyard!
It’s not hard to grow your own herbal tea garden! First, let’s look at tea garden plants that are ideal for tea making. Here is a list of herbs perfect for using in your homemade tea recipes, plus a little bit of information on how to grow the specific herbs. At the end are few herbal tea recipes for you to try!
How To Grow Your Own Herbal Tea Garden
Two important things I need to point out.
Do not use chemical pesticides on your herbal tea plants! Whatever you spray them with will wind up in your tea.
Before adding any herbal remedy to your diet, it’s best to speak with your doctor or do some research to find any possible interactions or risks. You’d be surprised, but some tea ingredients can really interact with some common medications. For example, there are over a dozen medications that can have interactions with black tea.
Herbs to Grow in your Herbal Tea Garden:
Chamomile is one of the easiest and most popular tea making herbs to grow in your herbal tea garden. You can use the blooms in your tea making, which gives it a sweet taste and can help with sleeplessness and anxiety.
To grow chamomile, buy a ready-to-go seedling from your local gardening center so you can start enjoying blooms sooner. Chamomile prefers well drained soil, moderate sun, and will do well if planted with other herbs such as rosemary.
Used to help with headaches, anxiety, and sleeplessness, lavender is an easy to grow perennial that will come back in full force each year. It is also one of the more popular and widely used tea making herbs, making it one that I highly recommend you plant when you grow your own herbal tea garden.
To grow lavender, you can plant from seedlings or seeds but seedlings are preferred so you can enjoy a quick harvest. Plant in nutrient rich, well drained soil, spacing seedlings 6 inches apart. You can harvest once you see the small blooms start to open.
Who doesn’t love mint tea? If you have an upset stomach or digestive issues, mint can help. There are sooo many varieties of mint that you can grow! All which will give you similar benefits but have slightly different flavors. Mint is widely used in tea making, and the fact that it spreads so quickly makes it a budget friendly plant that gives you bloom for your buck.
To grow mint, plant from seeds or seedlings. It is advised you plant mint in containers since it can become invasive if planted in beds or gardens. It will do well in shade to moderate sun, and enjoys well drained soil and a good two inches of water per week. Check out this post on reasons you should grow mint . It’s a great herb to have in your garden for lots of reasons!
Many people think of ginger as a root but it is classified as a spice or herb. Ginger has been relied on for hundreds of years for its medicinal benefits. If you wish to grow ginger, you will find that it can help with muscle aches, cold and flu symptoms, and can even be stored for the winter months (via drying) when these conditions run rampant.
You can grow ginger from an organic rhizome (root) from the grocery store or purchase plants from garden centers. Ginger can be grown in containers or in the ground. Space plants a good 6 inches from each other and make sure they enjoy moist soil that drains well. Ginger will do best in full sun, but can survive in moderate sun as well.
You may have heard about stevia and how many people are using it in place of sugar. It is naturally sweet and so it can be used to naturally sweeten your tea mixtures. While stevia doesn’t have medicinal properties that we know of, it can help you eliminate sugar from your tea.
Stevia does well when planted as a seedling. It thrives in full sun but will survive in moderate sun as long as the soil drains well and it gets a good 3 inches of direct watering per week. Mulch can help keep its roots cool and encourage growth.
Rosemary is often thought of as a savory herb, but it does work well in your tea mixtures and should be added to your tea garden. It can help with adding antioxidants to your diet, keeping your immune system strong, and keeping your body feeling young!
Rosemary can be planted from seed or seedlings and can start to be harvested in small batches as soon as you have foliage. It prefers part and full sun, with plants spaced at least 6 inches apart. Plant in a flower bed so you can enjoy your rosemary for years to come.
Lemongrass can be used to make tea as well as used in various other recipes (especially Asian cuisines). Instead of using leaves like for most herbal teas, you use the stalks of the lemongrass plant to make tea.
Plant lemongrass as a seedling in full sun. Lemongrass forms a tall, grassy clump 3 to 5 feet tall almost like a ornamental grass (so be sure to give it plenty of space). It also does well in containers.
8. Lemon Verbena
If you suffer from stiff joints and overall body aches and pains, lemon verbena can help. It can be a nice addition to your herbal tea garden, and will offer the area lots of sweet smells as well. Easy to grow, it pairs well with other herbs for the perfect tea mix.
To grow lemon verbena, you may have to plant from seed since the seedlings can be hard to find at most gardening centers. It does well when planted in containers or beds, likes well drained soil, and prefers moderate to full sun.
Echinacea (purple coneflower) is a beautiful addition to your flower garden but it is also classified as a herb. The buds of echinacea can be used to help fight off colds and flu and can also be used to help boost the immune system. So it’s an attractive herb that doesn’t just add beauty to your tea garden, but Echincea tea can offer health support as well. Echinacea should not be used by pregnant women, nursing mothers, or young children.
You can find echinacea seedlings for sale in most areas, but if not, try planting from seed. You can harvest as soon as you see the blooms. It does prefer full sun, protected roots (mulch can help), as well as a boost of liquid plant food every 6 weeks.
10. Rose hips.
A rose hip is the fruit of the rose plant and can be used in tea making. They offer a nice addition of vitamin C to your mixtures which helps reduce inflammation in the body. You can choose from all sorts of roses, giving you lots of choices with colors and shapes in your tea garden.
You can harvest rose hips as soon as they are evident on the plant. Caring for roses can be a bit tricky, as they are particular about soil types and do enjoy full sun only. Each plant will differ in care, so it is always smart to consult the individual planting directions. Just be sure you’re using hips from a plant that has not been sprayed with pesticide. Here are some organic rose hips in case you don’t grow roses.
If you’d like to read more about growing your own herbal tea garden, you’ll love this book I found for you on Amazon. It explains “how to grow a large variety of plants in your own garden, on a balcony or even on a windowsill could become your tea cupboard. It shows you how to grow your tea from seeds, cuttings, or small plants, as well as which parts of the plant are used to make tea.” Plus it has lovely illustrations.
Now that you have an idea of what plants and herbs do well in an herbal tea garden, let’s talk about how to prepare a basic herbal tea mixture. Here is a simple recipe for chamomile tea, which is perfect for trying the next time you need help relaxing!
For most of your tea recipes, you will use your herbs in dried and crushed form. Learning how to properly store your crushed herbs is important to keeping them fresh. Be sure you use an airtight jar or container for best results.
1. Heat your 1 cup of water to a boil. You can do this in the microwave if you wish.
2. Place the strainer over a cup or mug.
3. Place the crushed herbs in the strainer.
4. Pour the hot water over the strainer.
5. It is smart to place a saucer over the strainer to keep the steam.
6. Let the mixture steep for 20-30 minutes. The longer you let it steep, the stronger it will be.
7. Remove the saucer and strain as needed.
You can then sweeten the tea if you wish, adding natural honey or even some sugar and cream. Remember that stevia is also a natural way to sweeten your tea!
Now, just allow the tea to cool to a comfortable temperature and enjoy!
Minimalism is a term that’s been popping up all over the Internet in the last year or so, usually connected with articles about how it benefits you. But not as many articles actually explain what minimalism is! That’s probably because minimalism is a simple idea that can get complex fast if you think about it too much. But at its core, minimalism isn’t anything complicated. It’s just a certain way of thinking and living. To help you figure what minimalism is (and how to start living a minimalist lifestyle), here is my answer to What is Minimalism?
I love minimalism because I see it as the perfect blend of frugal living and organization!
What is Minimalism?
The shortest answer to “What is minimalism?” is this: minimalism is simplicity.
Now let’s expand on that, because that’s pretty vague.
Minimalism is intentional simplicity. It’s purposefully working against the ideas ingrained in you by a consumerist society so that you can live a simple, uncluttered life that allows you to focus on what’s most important to you (career goals, family, and/or hobbies, etc.). And minimalism doesn’t just refer to your home, though you’ll see a lot of references to minimalist decluttering. Minimalism also includes the things you do (only committing to activities you really care about), and even the people you spend time with (cutting “toxic” people out of your life is good regardless of whether you want to be a minimalist or not). Minimalism is about reducing your life down to the most essential aspects, and ignoring temptations toward anything else.
What minimalism is not is some anti-possessions, monk-style, extreme lifestyle. You don’t need to sell your home with everything in it and move to a farmhouse or shack in the woods (though many minimalists love the ideas in Thoreau’s Walden). You can keep living where you’re living, and you can still buy things. You just have to change the way you think about some things.
How Minimalists Think
Learning how minimalists think is critical to answering the “What is minimalism?” question. In general, all people think based around a common belief system. This belief system is core to how they see the world, and it’s a combo of what they’ve experienced and what they’ve been taught.
Minimalists also have a belief system that informs their every thought, and thus their actions. In general, their belief system is the following: that the world is too hectic because we’re all trying to do and buy too much. They also believe that happiness is found in simplicity, and that you can have both a modern life and a happy simple life, if you’re careful what you put in that life. Lastly, many minimalists believe that society has become too consumerist, that there’s too much focus on acquiring and not enough focus on experiencing.
Let’s take a real life example of how minimalists think vs. how consumerists think. Let’s say that in a store, there’s a display for the newest smartphone. A heavily consumerist person may rush to go buy it, since they know it’s the new hot thing and they don’t want to be left out.
A more moderate consumerist may look at the new phone, consider the price, then decide not to purchase it. But instead, they’ll spend a good chunk of time wishing they did have the money for the phone, and feeling bad that they don’t.
In contrast, a minimalist may glance at the phone, then glance at the perfectly fine phone they have, shrug, and keep on walking. They don’t need another phone, and getting another phone isn’t critical to any of their major goals at the moment.
And it’s not all about money, though obviously the minimalist is the most frugal person in the example above. It’s really about quality of life. Even if the minimalist had tons of money in the bank, they still wouldn’t buy the phone because they know that the phone would only add the complication of another possession to their life. It would only take away, not add to the richness of their life.
How to Start Thinking Like a Minimalist
So now that you’ve found the answer to “What is minimalism?” you may be wondering how to start becoming a minimalist. It can be difficult to change from a consumerist mindset to a minimalist mindset, because they’re essentially polar opposites of each other. In the United States, society starts kids on consumerist thinking early (think of all the ads on kids’ TV channels and all the tie-in merchandise related to kids’ favorite characters). So by the time you’re an adult with an income and credit cards, you’re tempted to buy 50% of everything that comes your way. Being frugal reduces these consumerist urges, but not as much as minimalism does. Because while frugality teaches you to save money to be able to buy things you really want, minimalism asks you to consider why you want the thing in the first place.
The best way to start changing your mindset toward a minimalist one is to take some time and really think. Think about what you truly want out of life, and why you want it. Do you want it because society tells you that you should want it, or makes that life seem perfect and easy? Or do you want it because of some more personal reason?
Also think about who you want to be in terms of how you want to act. Some people start acting a certain way so that they can succeed at their job (for example, a young lawyer acting hard-hearted), only to find out that faking that way of being turns into truly being that person. And they may not like the person they become, even if it helps them achieve their goals and get a lot of money.
And lastly, think about how you truly want to spend your time. Because when you ask people how they ideally would spend their time, very few say they want to spend ages working at the office so they can have a lot of money. They just want the freedom and relaxation that they believe a lot of money can bring. Here’s a secret- you can have that free, relaxing life a lot easier with minimalism!
Depending on how you’ve been living so far, becoming a minimalist may be a little tricky, or rather difficult. But it’s something anyone can do, and trust me, you’ll feel great once you start!
What do you think about minimalism? Do you think it’s a hard lifestyle to start?
One of the reasons we are so looking forward to moving is that we plan on renting a much smaller, less expensive house so that we can throw more money at some debt we accumulated over the past four years (mostly a loan for private college tuition and a credit card we used to pay for more tuition). Are you also trying to pay off debt but you’re not getting anywhere? Consider using the debt snowball system to get rid of your debt for good. That’s what we’ve been doing and its working to help us become debt free!
I think the problem with trying to become debt free, is that a lot of people don’t really know how to get out of debt, aside from the basics (live within your means, put excess money toward debt, etc.). But the basics are really most helpful if you only have a single source of debt. What if you have several sources of debt for different amounts and at different interest rates? That’s where the debt snowball system comes in!
The Debt Snowball System
The first time I heard of the Debt Snowball Method was after reading Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (on my Top 10 Frugal Living Books to read). It’s Baby Step 2 of the 7 steps recommended by Dave Ramsey (Baby Step 1 is saving $1000 for your emergency fund). Basically the strategy is that you pay down your smallest debt first while paying the minimum due on your other debt. Then when that debt is gone you roll that payment into the next debt on your list. Like how a snowball rolling down a hill picks up snow and becomes a huge, fast-moving snowball, so will your payments increase in size and pay off your debt faster. This way you’ll stay motivated as you see balances going down and debts getting paid off!
Some people prefer to start with the highest interest rate debt instead (which some call the Snow Avalanche Method) and I think it just depends on what you find motivating. Some people are more into actual number crunching and some people are more into getting a psychological boost from seeing debts go away. A lot of getting out of debt is often behavior related. Whichever way you choose to go about it, I think you’ll find that the debt snowball method is a great way to get out of debt fast. Whether you pay off the debt with the smallest total or the highest interest rate first, you’re still paying off debt, and that motivating feeling is going to get the debt snowball rolling.
Here’s a quick run down of how the debt snowball system works. At the end of this post is a list of debt snowball calculators.
How to Get Out of Debt with the Debt Snowball Method
1. Make a List of Your Debts
To start paying off debt via the snowball system, you need to list your debts from smallest to largest. Keep in mind that you’re not worried about any amount of interest at this point (interest-based payoff is the debt avalanche method). You’ll want to focus on the actual amounts of the debt. I have a sheet in my budget binder that I use for this. Here’s my post on how to make a budget binder. I also have a free printable version of my debt snowball worksheet available. You’ll start by focusing all your attention on the first debt on your list. Which should be the smallest one. Throw everything at this debt! Once you have that paid off, take the payment from debt #1 and add it to the payment of debt #2 until that is paid off and so on. Keep going until you are debt free! Imagine how fast you’ll be able to pay off the last source of debt on your list!
2. Put All Extra Money Towards One Debt
You’ll want to put all of your extra money towards one debt. For example: let’s say you have $20 extra at the end of each week’s pay period or you get a bonus. You will want to put that money to good use by adding it to the debt your focused on paying off first. Preferably the smallest debt you have at the moment. Many people that are really serious and committed to paying off their debt get a second or even third job. A side hustle will help you pay off debt fast, without all the trouble of getting an “official” second job! Here are some side hustle ideas for you to consider.
3. All Money Goes Somewhere
You can’t have a debt snowball system if you are not telling your money where to go. This is where the zero-based cash budget comes in. Sit down each week/month and plan out where each dollar is going to go. At the end, income minus expenses/saving/debt payoff contributions should equal zero. Start with a simple budget if a zero-based one is too much for you right now.
4. Don’t Get Any New Debt
You’re trying to pay off your debt. So no adding any new debt!
The victory in paying off debt this way is you get excited to see one debt gone, one after another, even if they are small debts. Paying down debt isn’t easy, but it’s something that needs to be done if you want true financial freedom. If you feel defeated in the debt paying process, try to celebrate the small victories in this process to keep you motivated!