Preparing For A No Spend Month

This is the fifth January that I have done a No Spend Challenge. While some people live this way all the time, others think it’s impossible.

It is possible and with the right mindset, it’s actually relaxing and fun. There is a trick to get myself into the right mindset and it involves nothing more than pen, paper and a few minutes of brainstorming.

You see, I always sit down a few weeks before the challenge begins to make a list of all the things I can do in my free time that don’t involve spending money. My list includes tried and true things I enjoy like reading, going for walks, bubble baths and playing with my camera.

I also list small projects that need done like tidying up the kitchen cabinets, cleaning out the freezer and organizing my clothes and accessories. I tend to purge unwanted stuff during this time, aiming to send at least one or a few items a day either to the trash or the giveaway/yard sale pile.

When you have to face the excess stuff you own, the idea of shopping for more stuff is less appealing. Read that again. Every item you own is something you chose to bring into your home and probably really liked at one time. If you’re an impulse shopper, you probably own more stuff than you even know and much of the stuff you own is nothing more than clutter.

Cleaning out the cabinet where I store extra sheets and curtains was a staggering lesson in excess. I own about a dozen sheet sets for one bed because they’re different colors and fabrics. Some aren’t very nice anymore but I’m holding onto them anyway.

More importantly, a few weeks ago I purchased a set of curtains when the identical curtains were in my linen closet all along. Luckily I figured it out and was able to return them before hanging them.

Many Americans are blessed with more than they can use and more than they even realize they own. Why keep buying?

This reminder to be grateful for what I have and to stop buying what I don’t need is a powerful way to start the year and to save money. Want to try your own challenge? Today is a great day to start!

Back From Vacation

I was on vacation last week. It was unseasonably warm as I day tripped across the region looking at waterfalls and wind turbines, pumpkins and forest giants and all manner of things in between. I even saw an outdoor drama about Dracula as real life bats circled overhead.

I didn’t love the weather since it felt more like August than October but it was awfully nice wandering this earth and doing as I pleased for a few days. Since I work remotely most of the time, it felt especially nice leaving my house and seeing the outside world.

But I also spent some time at home doing a few chores and lounging with a book in my hand and a cat at my feet.

Fall finally found us on Saturday as temperatures dipped into the forties at night and about sixty during the day. The sky was blue and the clouds awe inspiring when I walked on the bike path at a local park. I should have been working up a sweat since I was there for exercise.

Instead, I chose a moderate clip that allowed me to appreciate my surroundings like the smell of campfire smoke and the feel of fallen leaves beneath my feet. I also liked the way a steady breeze carried a smattering of leaves as they drifted from the trees toward the ground to aid in creating Mother Nature’s patchwork quilt for the earth and creatures below.

I like my job and will be happy enough once I’ve caught up on the emails and stepped back into my routine. I do have many memories of this week to keep me warm and the knowledge that more adventures lie ahead!

This is what vacation is all about. Find the thing that makes you happy, the thing you wished you got paid to do and go do that. Just be sure to work in some rest and relaxation at some point so you’re capable of returning to work in a positive state of mind.

Happy Monday, y’all. Let’s make this one count.

Victory In Surrender

The final days before vacation can be painful. Sometimes it’s because we work to get ahead so our vacation doesn’t inconvenience coworkers or so our house is clean when we come home.

Sometimes it’s because we are so overdue for a break that the suspense of waiting for said break is almost too great to manage.

I’m officially on vacation now and can honestly say that it came not a moment too soon.

I was starting to feel put upon, irritated by people who rely on me to be the planner or the grown up when they could do things for themselves. I found myself complaining and feeling frustrated about things that shouldn’t bother me.

Our society tells us that being busy is important. Many Americans leave vacation time on the table because they feel weak for taking time off, because they feel judged by a supervisor or because they don’t want to leave coworkers short staffed.

Luckily, these aren’t issues for me. I just tend to horde time off for fear I might need it later, consequently waiting too long to take breaks.

Lying in bed one night, it occurred to me there is actually victory in surrender.

Read that again.

There is victory in surrender.

It is winning to know when it’s time to take a break. Trust your body and mind to tell you when you need to rest. You wouldn’t deny yourself a a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. Why would you deny yourself a few days of rest and relaxation outside the confines of your normal schedule?

I’m hoping to return to work better rested, more organized and less temperamental about life in general.

I know. It’s a vacation, not a magic trick… but a gal can hope!!!

Do you have vacation time in the table? I promise you will feel better after a few days of R&R.

Found Time

I wrapped up a project at work this week and rewarded myself with a four day weekend. Everyone needs a little mental health time.

Thursday was cleaning day (doesn’t my living room look nice when it’s clean?), Friday was for adventure and today is dedicated to prepping for the new week. But Saturday, Leap Day, was found time and I used it to do something I never do: nothing.

I read, watched a movie and even took a long nap. It was a beautiful sunny day which should have been spent out hiking or doing something productive but I have no regrets.

Everyone needs a day to decompress and to hit the reset button. Leap Day was perfect for that. Today is a new day and a new month, a perfect time to start fresh goals or to recommit to old ones.

Porch Respite

z lancaster blue house.jpg

This porch. I just want to sit down in one of those chairs with a lemonade and plate of cookies.  The blue is calming. The chairs are welcoming. The thought of a morning spent here with no place to be is priceless.