Monday, September 22, 2014

Simple Living: Take Time Away


One of the best pieces of advice that I was given when my husband and I got married is to take time away. And in our case, with each other. Taking time away has been one of the best decisions we have made for our life and marriage.

When you think about simple living, you may think that spending money and getting away, is NOT a simple way of life. Stay-cations are becoming a hot topic and are becoming a popular way to spend a week's vacation. There is no doubt that you may be able to save money by not staying in a hotel, renting a car, flying, etc. But at the end of the week, was it everything you imagined and more?

Don't get me wrong. I am not against stay-cations. In fact, I love my "at-home" long weekends where we have nothing going on, except house projects, getting caught up on things at home, and having an occasional meal out. But I have learned that to truly relax and take a mental break from our normal routine in life, we need to leave.

We choose to spend our money on vacations. We do not take extravagant vacations, by all means. We spend a LOT of time looking at flights, waiting patiently, looking for the most reasonable place to stay, and have learned ways to save money, even on vacations. And for us, part of the fun IS the planning part.

We have become fans of vrbo.com and homeaway.com. Being from the frigid north (Minnesota to be exact), thoughts of beaches, sun, and driving with the windows down, is usually what lures us to the south for vacation. Our past 3 vacations have been at places we have found through vrbo.com. Trust me, I was extremely hesitant to reserve a place through one of these websites, but let me tell you, reviews are a life-saver. We choose places that have 4-5 star reviews. We have only but amazing experiences staying at places through websites like these. What we like is that we can save money by eating our meals AT the condo we are staying at, typically have our own balcony, with a breath-taking view. Yes, a hotel room may be comparable in price per night, but remember you have to eat EVERY meal out, if there is no continental breakfast. Because we typically choose to stay in places we can explore, we always pack a sack lunch, and eat supper back at the condo. Even though we are typically gone during the day, all we need is a bathroom, small kitchen, and bed to sleep in.

Our faith also plays a big part into why we take time away. There are numerous references in the Bible about taking time to rest. To just BE. To just BE STILL. God has given us a world to explore and enjoy. He didn't create it by accident and didn't create it for nothing. He created it for us to enjoy. Yes, God also wants us to be good stewards of our money. There are places in this world that I would absolutely love to go, but our financial situation doesn't necessarily allow for vacations to these places (such as a tropical island in the middle of the ocean). But that is why we compromise and go to the Florida Keys (yes, you can do a vacation there for QUITE cheap!) We feel that God has given us the gift of His beautiful creation and taking time away to see what He has given us, only increases our awe of who God is, His majesty, as we gaze upon the different terrains of His world.

For us to simply live, relax and refresh, we need to take time away. Coming back is always difficult, but it's because the vacation was just that relaxing and amazing. And that is why we continue to listen to the advice when we first got married - take time away.

Where do you take time away to? Are you a stay-cation or vacation (vacate) family?


Saturday, September 20, 2014

How I Earn FREE Gift Cards With Swagbucks


Awhile ago, I posted about how I use, appreciate, and earn FREE gift cards and prizes, You may have heard of Swagbucks, but if you are anything like me, when I first heard about it, I ignored it and thought it was a waste of my time. Swagbucks is basically a search engine, just like Google or Bing, where you can earn merchandise and gift cards, JUST by searching.

First things first, it is FREE to sign up!

I would not sit here, spend the time writing another post about Swagbucks, if I did not think that this was a great idea.

So what's so special about SWAGBUCKS?
Swagbucks are "digital dollars" as their website calls them. You can earn merchandise and gift cards via rewards through obtaining points. The more points you get, the more rewards. 

How Do I Earn Free Giftcards and Merchandise?
1. Sign up - remember, it's COMPLETELY FREE
2. Install the Swagbucks toolbar. Why? It is the simplest way to earn points.
3. Start searching the internet, by searching in the Swagbucks toolbar
4. The more you search, the more points you earn. You do not earn points every time you search, but it is more often than you think!
5. You can also earn Swagbucks by participating in daily polls, surveys, and shopping. For example, I purchased a mattress from Wal-Mart online, and I earned 2 Swagbucks per dollar spent! I would purchase the mattress anyways, so why not gain even MORE perks, by earning a free giftcard in the process!

That is just ONE way you can use your Swagbucks. To get an idea of what it takes to get an Amazon gift card for example, you can use 450 points to get a $5.00 gift card. This is probably the most common item bought in my opinion. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but when you just have to use the toolbar and have an account with Swagbucks, the points add up quickly. Buying items online, that participate with Swagbucks (you'd be shocked at how many companys do...just go to their website), makes it so worth your while!

JOIN NOW and again, it's FREE to sign up!

Start earning free gift cards today!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Simple Living: Watch What You Buy



You are a spend-a-holic?

Before you quickly stand up and say "no way"... let me explain.

Do you ever get urges to go shopping? To buy something new? To buy SOMETHING? Maybe that urge is there every few weeks, months, or maybe even every day.

How do you feel when you buy something? Do you feel almost a sense of pride? A sense of accomplishment? Or do you tend to walk away questioning whether that was the best way to spend your money? Maybe leaving with a little bit of guilt?

I personally think it is so easy to get caught up in the consumerism mentality of our culture. You hear about a friend buying something new and to them, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, if that must be the case, then you obviously have to do the same and feel the same way, right? What we often fail to see, is that what one person sees as a need, may not be your classification of "needed items". So why buy into the idea? Why buy into the idea that if you have "this" certain item, you will be happy?

I look around our home and think "it would be nice to have a brand new _____ " I look at our dressers and they are literally falling apart. But they still hold our clothes. We are choosing to not spend our money on new ones, when we could. Our car has many miles on it and doesn't always sound the healthiest, but we do not owe any money on it and it gets us from A to B. We are choosing to not buy a new one (though cars are a tad more expensive than dressers...)

It is all about choices. What one person thinks as important, may not be important to you. But watch yourself. Don't be lured into thinking how others think. Watch what you buy. Watch yourself in the checkout lane. Why do you think they cram the shelves with items (random at that!) of things that are cheap, but in reality, are a complete scam? You can buy a pack of gum, almost for the same price as a sleeve of gum. Magazines - if you see one that interests you, just make a trip to your local library!

Be careful. Think about WHY you buy something. Everything that goes into a bag to take home, make sure it has a purpose and a meaningful purpose. Not a "just because" purchase. Not a "just because" you feel like spending money. Not a "just because" you are trying to relieve stress.

Watch what you buy.

What do you struggle saying no to?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting Rid of the BIG Items



Clutter. 

We all have it. 

Some of us have a lot, some of us have very little. But we all have clutter in some form or another. Some clutter masks itself in corners, closets, and crannies. Other clutter is hidden in the drawers of file cabinets and dressers.
Those big items.
Have you ever thought about how the big items in your home, actually cause more clutter? You may think that because you have a "big" item to store clutter and items in, it actually takes up more space than it needs to and causes more clutter and weight than your house needs?
Have you ever considered getting rid of the "big" items in your home? Such as dressers, file cabinets, or storage units?

This seems like an opposing solution to clutter, but in living a simple life, it's about being able to live with the simple and less of anything.
Personally, I used to think that to be organized, I needed a file cabinet. What I soon realized, was that I was using a quarter of the space in that cabinet, as I only kept papers, just so that each folder didn't look so empty. Ridiculous, right? But I used to think that empty space as a bad thing, where in reality, I learned that empty space can equal simplicity. That is when I went back to my filing system of old - I went back to my little black box that I got in high school, to file all of my papers. And what am I still using today and will probably never get rid of? This black box. It is maybe a 12x12 filing system, but holds all of the papers I would ever need to keep. If it is getting hard to put a piece of paper in it, I declutter and go through each file, purging what I no longer need.
I look at end tables and dressers too. Yes, we have them, but do you have some that are just there to take up space? Would your room seem bigger if you did not have as many of them? Could you get by with fewer? 

Big items take up so much space. Do they really serve the purpose that you want them to serve? If they do not, I suggest downsizing some of the biggest items in your home.

In the end, you will feel the room is more simple and believe it or not, possibly even less cluttered.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Simply Read What You Enjoy


Books. Blogs. Magazines, Twitter accounts. Facebook Newsfeeds. Emails. Mail. Junk mail.

If we all had the time, it would be a full-time job to read all of the things that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Just think of all of the things you could sit down and read. 

Think about every single one.

For me, it's books, magazines (sometimes), blogs, emails and facebook, that I allow to fill up my time. If I have an ounce of free time, it's sometimes hard not to jump to one of these forms of "media". I remember at one point a few years ago, sitting down and reading three magazines one right after another because I was so behind. I was trying to decipher if I really enjoyed looking through or reading this magazine, or if I was just going through it because I felt I "needed" to. I had received some of the subscriptions for free, so I couldn't pass up something free, right? That is where I was wrong. It wasn't free anymore when it took away precious time that I could be spending doing something else. Something I enjoyed even more.

Free isn't always good, when it steals time away from something you would rather be doing.

The same can be said for facebook, emails, blogs, etc.

This may be an odd subject to talk about, as a blogger myself. Before I started my organizing blog, I was reading so many blogs on a daily basis. Checking up on each one, and I found myself overwhelmed. Granted my husband and I were going through a transitional time in life, so time was a little more available. After a recent move, I decided that instead of reading all of these blogs, to start one myself - about the passions I love.

As I started to create Organizing Life With Less, my main goal was to help others declutter, simplify, and find time to do the things that you really enjoy. That is when I started to downsize my life. Even my "media" life. So I decided to

ONLY READ WHAT I REALLY ENJOY.

What does that look like? For each person that is different. I would love to sit here and give you a laundry list of things of what you should read, but only you can define what you enjoy.

For me, this is what "simply reading what I really enjoy" looks like:

  • Checking my email a few times a day, but clearing out my inbox if I can
  • Reading a few of my favorite blogs, but this is about once every week
  • Picking up the book because I WANT to, not because I have to (I'm a non-fiction reader)
  • Looking through the few magazines I get in the mail - Country Living, Midwest Living, and HGTV
  • Checking my Facebook newsfeed maybe once a day. I never go on Twitter, except to post.
  • And I enjoy every minute of the things listed above!
What do YOU enjoy reading? Are you only reading what you just simple enjoy reading? Do you look forward to sitting down and reading whatever media you choose - or do you feel obligated? To live simply, do what you only enjoy, to simply live.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Simple Living: Buy Less, Want Less


Have you ever heard someone say "buy less, want less"?

When I first heard that saying, I wasn't so sure I believed it. In fact, it seems to contradict itself. If you are wanting something, it seems that the only way to satisfy the desire to want less, is to buy it, so that you get rid of the desire to want it.

But does that desire to want, ever go away?

That is when I started to realize that this saying is actually true.

When I decided to try and start to live a more simple life, to take into consideration what really makes me happy, to try and live the life I WANT to live, not the life that advertisers say I should live, I realized that the less I buy, the more content I am. The less I really want.

It was not a process that happened over night. In fact, it has taken me years to even consider that the saying "buy less, want less" could prove itself true. But after careful consideration and observation of my own life, it is in fact, true. How?

1. I find myself wanting things that do not necessarily have a monetary value, such as deeper relationships, time spent in those relationships, like with my husband. Buying things to "improve" our relationship, only end up getting in the way of it. Okay, yes, we do "splurge" if you want to call it that, on vacations together. We feel that with my husband's job, the only way to get a break is to get away. So that is something we "buy" but do it for a much deeper purpose - to grow our relationship with each other.

2. In order to live the life I feel called to live, I feel that simplicity only makes sense. Buying things to fill up the home God has given us, only gets in the way of the life I really want to live. I want to live a life with less stuff - I desire a life where I am not tied to the things of this world. We are living in hopeful trust that in March, we will be blessed to welcome a new member to our family, our first child. I want to have as much time with that child as I can - not time wasted cleaning things that just take up space, picking up things that I could really care less about. What I care about is being the best steward of this child, best mother I can be, and best wife I can to my husband.

3. I try not to shop, for the sake of shopping. Only a handful of times will I step into a store to just browse. It is just who I am. Shopping is NOT bad in and of itself. Don't get me wrong! For some it is a stress reliever. I watch sports as a stress reliever. It's what you do while shopping, that matters, I think. If you are constantly buying, just to relieve that pressure to buy or pressure of stress, or to satisfy someone, you should consider other options. I realized that some of my clothes are starting to not fit because of my growing belly, so to Goodwill I went. Didn't find a lot, but I went online and hit the jackpot at Old Navy with a sale they had. A few things bought, but saved oodles of time not buying what I didn't need, by not shopping in a mall. Again, don't get me wrong - malls are awesome. But for me personally, I cannot go into them often because I will only BUY MORE AND WANT MORE. I know my limitations.

How about you? Do you find yourself buying something just for the sake of buying? Do you find that you end up wanting MORE in the end? It is a slippery slope and I encourage you to take a deep look into why you buy every single item you do.

Try buying less for a week and see if you want less. If you don't, try it one MORE week. Do you feel more content? Do you feel you can live WITH less?

I would love to know your thoughts on this concept; do you find this statement to be true?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Laundry Organization Ideas on Hometalk

Have you ever heard of Hometalk?

When I joined the blogger world, I wanted to find different avenues to share ideas, but also network with others who had the same passions. That is when I found Hometalk. 

Hometalk is actually "the largest home and garden social network on the web". So what sets Hometalk aside from all the other "pinning" websites out there? You can ask questions, seek advice, and get quality and knowledgeable information from others in the Hometalk network. You can also "clip" your favorites, but not only do you just see a picture, but you can see the how-tos and instructions on how to complete a certain project. 

Have you ever wondered how to do a project? You can even search and learn from other professionals on how to accomplish those weekend inspirations.

If you have ideas you want to share with fellow Hometalk members, such as blog posts and videos, you can post your fantastic ideas to Hometalk as well! 

Really, Hometalk is a lot like Pinterest, but has so many more perks and is focused on home and garden.

Are YOU a follower of Organizing Life With Less on Hometalk? In fact, I have just created a Laundry Organization board that you can check out!

Click the link below and join the Hometalk community today!