Why We Paid Off Our House Early

Why We Paid Off Our House Early

Why We Paid Off Our House Early

A paid off house sounds magical, right? For most of us, it just seems like a pipe dream or maybe not even a dream at all because the thought of a paid-off home seems unimaginable. Maybe you must be a unicorn or have some special powers to pay off your mortgage early.

Most people just wish to have a paid-off home before they retire so they are able to retire, but what would life look like if you could have a paid off house today? What would having a paid-off home give you the ability to do?

Could you go on that dream vacation to Greece? Would you be able to afford some things you’ve always wanted? Or maybe you wish you could be able to be more generous with your money and your time? Having a paid-off home gives flexibility and financial freedom.

Financial freedom looks different to each person. To some, that means being able to pay for whatever you want without caring how much it costs. For others, it means being able to work fewer hours, play more and be more present.

For me, financial freedom means that I don’t owe anyone anything and I’m not stressed by finances. Financial freedom would allow me to be generous when I see a need. It would give me the ability to live my life how I want to, without money being a roadblock.

 

I crave financial freedom, and I’m sure you do too. We all long for security, the ability to live our lives without the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. Finances impact every area of our lives, and sadly, most of us are held back by them.

The decisions we make about money profoundly changes our lives. This is why my husband and I have been on a journey of getting rid of every ounce of debt, including our mortgage.  And believe it or not, we’re debt-free! We didn’t get to this goal by accident or luck. We didn’t win the lotto or inherited money.  

Honestly, we’ve never had brag-worthy incomes that would make this goal an easy feat.  What we have had going for us is a stellar financial defence. What I mean by financial defence is that we are really good at saving money.  

Financial offense is the money you earn.  It doesn’t matter how good your financial offense is if your financial defense is not on par.  Financial defense wins the game. Here are a few of my articles that go more in depth on saving money: Live Like a College Student, The Phrase I Use to Curb Overspending, and How to Save 40% on Groceries Without Coupons.

My husband and I have had a clear goal and we are determined to change our financial destiny. We don’t have one big secret to help you be financially successful. Finances don’t work that way. Every little financial decision has an effect. That’s why I can’t pinpoint just one thing that has helped us more than anything to reach our financial goals.

A Good Financial Plan:

A good financial plan is a culmination of millions of everyday choices. The small choice of making coffee at home instead of purchasing it at a coffee shop can make a huge impact on your ability to save. Over time that consistent coffee shop purchase adds up. Our choices change our financial future and that’s why we need to start paying attention and being intentional with those decisions.

Now in the financial world, most people would’ve recommended that we should’ve invested into the stock market more instead of paying off our house early.  Their reasoning is that the interest rate you pay on your home is typically quite a bit less than you’ll make on your investments.  Yes, this is true.  But, we still invested and we’ll be able to invest quite a bit more when we have no monthly mortgage payment going out.

Or the other common reason people don’t pay off their home early is for the tax deduction.  When you actually do the math, keeping a mortgage for the tax benefit doesn’t add up. You’re only getting deducted from the interest you are already paying on your home.  It’s not a tax credit. But we took a different route.  

We didn’t want to just follow what the mainstream financial world recommended us to do.  We wanted to pay attention to what God says about money and He is very clear that debt isn’t good at all.  In fact, in Proverbs 22:7 it says, “The borrower is slave to the lender.”  That means that when I owe money to anyone or to the bank, I’m giving up my freedom and handing it over to someone else.  

Christ has set us free, but when we live in debt (being enslaved to the lender), we aren’t experiencing the full freedom given to us.  And that’s why we wanted to become debt free.  Now that we have no mortgage, we have more available finances to invest and use in other areas. 

If you want to here some of the tips that helped us pay off our home at 31 years old, check this out.  I’d love to hear about your financial goals.  What are you doing to make your financial future a brighter one?

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own

I’ve always been one of those girls that held onto my fancy and higher-end items and would never use it. I remember being given some Burt’s Bees lotion, but I thought it was too expensive and special to be used only on special occasions. It just became a decoration on my nightstand. Then after a long while (it might have been years later), I opened the bottle and poured out the lotion into my hand. It was brown and watery and smelled funny. That too-fancy lotion ended up going bad because it was never used. At that point, something dawned on me. How often do I hold onto items and never use them because they are too nice to use?

That lotion experience was quite an eye opener for me. Too often I don’t wear that nice dress because it’s just too nice. I don’t use my wedding serving utinsils because they are too special. My china is in a box in storage where it hasn’t seen the light of day in years. How often do we not enjoy the special and sentimental things that we own? Honestly, I’m getting a little better in this area but I still need some work.

So how do we start to enjoy what we own instead of letting our stuff collect dust?

ONE

Scarcity Mindset

The more I contemplate my own tendency to not use the good stuff, I realize two key points. First, it shows a scarcity mindset. If you don’t know what a scarcity mindset is, it’s when you think and believe that there isn’t enough to go around. For example, phrases like, ‘I’ll never have enough money,’ ‘when will I ever be able to get this again,’ etc. Now back to the lotion example, I didn’t use it because I knew I wouldn’t spend the money to buy it again. It was special, so it was for display only. What a travesty. That displayed lotion ended up in the trash- that’s not too special.

I remember in college, one of my friends only ate on china. Yes, you heard me right. Real porcelain china, the kind your grandma passed down. I was in shock when I went to her home. She enjoyed her china plates and actually used them. I remember sitting down for a meal at her home and it felt so fancy and upscale. We don’t even use China for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and there she is using china everyday. When I look back at that experience, I want to be like my friend who actually used and enjoyed the fancy plates instead of storing them in a box in the attic.

TWO

 Don’t Wait for a Special Occasion

The second reason I think I’ve struggled with using my stuff up is feeling like it needs to be a special day or occasion to use it. Deep down, it really shows that I don’t think I’m good enough to use it right now. I’ve got to get over this. I need to wear the earrings that I got from my grandmother after she passed. She would want me to enjoy her things, and not just store them away because they are so valuable.

My daughter has nailed this!  She would get fancy dresses from her grandma every Christmas and Easter. Instead of only wearing her beautiful dresses just for the holidays or for church, she wears these fancy dresses to school or the library.  Her dresses get a lot of love and wear- which they should!  For her, wearing those dresses make her feel beautiful and special, so she wears them.

 

I’m ready to start using what I have and enjoying it right now. If I don’t use those nice items, they just become clutter. I want to honor those memories and the people who have given me lavish things. We aren’t meant to hoard, but to enjoy what we own. And I’m ready to start living that out!

Do you struggle with not enjoying and using what you own? What are some things you never use or wear because they are too special or valuable? Please comment below…

The Phrase I use to Curb Overspending

The Phrase I use to Curb Overspending

The Phrase I use to Curb Overspending

Saving money is incredibly satisfying. Don’t we all love getting a great deal? I love when I’m able to get something I want or need for free or cheap, but often I run into those not-so-good deals. You know, when you’re going to the grocery store and the grapes are $2.98 lb or the recliner you’re eyeing is still full price. That’s when it’s tough. It’s hard to not give in and overspend.

Have you ever caught yourself saying or thinking: I deserve this? But I worked hard for this? Or I really want it? Most of us rationalize a pricey purchase with these types of phrases. The truth is, no amount of rationalizing will cover the fact of overspending. Dollars and cents add up. It’s simple math. If you overspend, there’s a literal price tag on that.

According to CNN, Americans aren’t living within their means.  More than half of U.S. citizens are living paycheck to paycheck or going into more and more debt each month.  Now this statistic probably isn’t a shocker to us.  It’s human nature to want more stuff, but it’s also our job to have some self-control.

If we don’t set up healthy limits and live within our means, overspending is inevitable. What I’ve found to be my own mantra to help me limit my spending and stay on track is this: ‘That’s not good enough.’ Yes, it’s super simple but incredibly effective.

So when I push my grocery cart with my kiddos in tote past the grapes that are $2.98 lb. and my kids are wanting them, I say, ‘that’s not good enough.’ I know that I won’t spend over $1.00 lb. for grapes, so I don’t purchase them. I know grapes are an inexpensive purchase in the grand scheme of things, but all the little purchases adds up quickly over time. So, don’t neglect the smaller and cheaper items.  

If you want to learn how to save 40% on groceries without clipping coupons, you’ll need to read my post here.  It’s even more important to have self-control on the bigger purchases. My husband and I had been eyeing a recliner for two years. Yep, two whole years.

 

We know the Costco system for marking down prices, and each time we went there we would check the price of a leather recliner. And that recliner stayed at $399.99 for two years. The truth is, we never saw the price change and we never ended up buying it. I don’t look back and wish we would’ve bit the bullet and just gave in on the purchase. We both felt like it wasn’t meant to be.  If you want to quit overspending at Costco, check out this post.

We have to not give into everything we want or desire. By practicing this kind of self-control we are not only saving money, but we become more content with what we have. Plus, as a parent, I want my children to see that I don’t get everything I want all of the time. I want my children to be content with what they have and not ask for a new toy every time we walk into a store. As a parent, I must demonstrate the behavior I want my children to have before I can expect them to have it.

Now, I don’t want you to take this too far and get to the point where you never buy anything full-price or feel guilty when you splurge. If you have the financial ability to do that, go right ahead. But, no matter what income level you’re at, practicing self-control is important. Create your own mantra or steal ‘that’s not good enough’ from me.

Start being ok with not buying something today. It’s ok to sleep on a decision before making a purchase, even a small one. Buyers remorse is real. You don’t want to get home and realize that you were emotionally-charged when you purchased and now you regret it.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Curb Overspending:

Here are a few questions beyond, ‘that’s not good enough’ that will help you see if you really need to purchase something and will help curb overspending. So the next time you’re in Target and you find a cute sundress that you’re eying ask yourself:

  • Do I want this or do I really need this?
  • Do I have something similar to this already?
  • How often will I actually use this?
  • Will this make my life easier or better?
  • What is one reason why I shouldn’t buy this?

After you answer all of those questions, you’ll have a better idea of whether you should buy it or not. If you start second-guessing the purchase, don’t buy it.  These questions will help you not have a closet full of clothing with the tags still on it or whatever your purchases may be.  

I’ve even heard of people who will shop, but won’t buy anything that day. If they wake up and still are thinking about what they wanted to buy, they’ll go back to the store and purchase it. Now that’s the opposite of an impulse purchase.

 So instead of just buying what you want, take a little bit of time to ask yourself some deeper questions. Practice some self-control. It will save you some serious cash and clutter. 

8 Steps to Create a Cozy Minimalist Home

8 Steps to Create a Cozy Minimalist Home

8 Steps to Create a Cozy Minimalist Home

I’m a huge proponent of minimalism, but decorating a home with less is tricky. If you look in magazines and through Pinterest, most of the homes are full of stuff. Bookshelves are filled with knick-knacks, books, and artwork. So how do you have a put-together home without adding more clutter?  How can you have a cozy minimalist home that is welcoming?

When most of us envision minimalism, we think of stark white walls, a single sofa, and maybe a lone painting. That may work well for a swanky bachelor pad, but come-on, what does a REAL minimalist home actually look like? Ya know, how about a minimalist family home? We don’t want guests to look at us like we are aliens who lost everything we own in a freak accident. Don’t we all want our homes to have a lived-in welcoming cozy feel?

To be honest, I’ve never felt like I’ve had this decorating sense dialed in. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to spend the excess money, go shopping, or whatever lame excuses I may have. Bottom line, my home works, but I don’t love every look in it. That’s why I read, “The Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff” by Myquillyn Smith. Let me tell you, Myquillyn walks you through her philosophy and how to discover your own style without taking a quiz. I actually took away quite a few new tools in my design toolbelt.

Here are a few of the insights I gleaned from this binge-worthy book… (I read it in an evening). Each step is meant to be followed in order, so you don’t have to over buy items that you don’t need. Myquillyn recommends focusing on one room at a time, so you create momentum. She equates this to Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball.

8 Steps to a Cozy Minimalist Home

ONE

Discover Your Style: 

Myquillyn believes that we all have a personal style, we just have a hard time knowing it and expressing it. She recommends that you create Pinterest boards for each room you want to redo i.e. living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. You should pin with purpose and passion. The more you pin, the better.  Check out the Pinterest boards I created to give you an idea about how to create your own dream boards: kitchen, bedroom, living room, dining room, kids playroom, and work space.

Sit down with a few friends who have homes with a style you admire and ask them to look through your pins to see anything in common. By having other people look at what you like, can give you a better understanding of yourself and your own style.

TWO

Let Your Room Speak:

Work one room at a time and remove everything- curtains and all. Pay attention to the space and what you have to work with. Determine what are the highlights of the room. Do you have a fireplace, a window with a great view, interesting architecture?

Myquillyn talks about the overall feel of your home. If your home feels rustic, add the opposite. By adding some industrial modern pieces into a rustic home, you create balance. Most of us don’t want our home to look like a movie set, so don’t put rustic headboards in a rustic home unless you want your home to look country.

THREE

Start Slowly Adding in Furniture:

Start with the most important pieces, like the couch. She talks about primary and secondary seating. Don’t look back to where you have put furniture in the past, allow the room to speak and determine where it should go.

Myquillyn recommends leaving space behind a sofa instead of putting it directly against a wall. Then slowly add in secondary seating i.e. loveseat, recliner, chair, etc.

FOUR

Add Rugs, Drapes, and Lighting:

In “The Cozy Minimalist Home,” Myquillyn tells us that rugs, curtains and lighting can add the most style without taking up massive amounts of space. Most of us are buying too small of rugs and and too short of drapes. Small rugs make a room look small, so don’t choose the typical 5’ x 8’ rug. The bigger the rug the better. If you don’t have small children, a jute rug is an inexpensive rug and can come in very large sizes and adds texture.

When it comes to curtains, most people hang curtains right above a window. She recommends hanging them as high as possible to give the illusion of larger windows, hence you need longer drapes.

Myquillyn is a huge proponent of secondary lighting because overhead lighting is harsh and hurts our eyes. Most rooms should have three different lamps, sconces, or some other secondary lighting. Choose the larger lamp to give a stronger visual impact without adding clutter.

FIVE

Paint the Walls:

You would think that you’d want to paint the walls when your room is completely empty, but she doesn’t recommend it. Once you have the drapes, rug, and furniture put together. It is much easier to choose a paint color to match with existing decor than to try to match an existing paint color.

SIX

Put up Artwork:

For a minimalist style, you want the most impact with the fewest amounts of items. So, go big here. Put the oversized painting up, choose the larger mirror or architectural find.

Myquillyn talks about the ⅔ rule. Artwork, a t.v., really anything should be ⅔ of the size of what it below it. If you want to put artwork above your sofa, the piece should be roughly ⅔ of the size of the couch. Most people put something smaller there and then end up having to add more to it because it just doesn’t look right.

SEVEN

Add Accessories:

Instead of filling your home with loads of knick-knacks, choose larger statement pieces. Focus on texture, scale, shape, and mass to create a put-together look.

Add in large plants for added impact. You can even add branches, evergreens, and flowers from your yard. Myquillyn discusses how to decorate your home seasonally without all of the extra items that need to be rotated throughout the year.

EIGHT

Get Rid of the Rest:

Instead of purging to see what is left, this method focuses on what you love and what works. Everything else you can get rid of. Hence, what didn’t make the cut, donate, give, or sell. This is reverse decluttering.

I wanted to use the new techniques I learned from “The Cozy Minimalist Home” with this shelving area above our murphy bed.  The first picture had a set of drums there, I’m not sure why, so forget that was there. I used items I already had in my house to decorate this area. It’s clear to see that my after is much better than my cluttered before photo.  The texture of the bead board on the back of the shelves is so much more prominent once I used the Cozy Minimalist Method. I was surprised with how much more impact these items had when I displayed less.

I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a better philosophy on how to decorate with a minimalist style that is still cozy and welcoming.  

The biggest unanswered question I am left with was how do you decorate like this if you rearrange often? My husband and I love to rearrange our living room at least every other month. The way Myquillyn Smith talks about decorating is that this is going to be a permanently arrangement- at least for a few years. I would love to hear her take on being flexible with rearranging.

But overall, this book is inspirational and thorough. If you’re wanting a decorating book just so you can peruse pictures, this isn’t the book for you. If you want to be taught core concepts, and a step-by-step approach, “The Cozy Minimalist Home” is a winner.

7 Minimalism Lifestyle Benefits

7 Minimalism Lifestyle Benefits

7 Minimalism Lifestyle Benefits

What we own impacts our wallets, time, energy, and our stress level. Don’t we all want to have the freedom to do more of what makes us feel alive? But most of us aren’t living in that freedom. We shop for more, spend more, clean more, and get stressed out more. Our accumulation of possessions don’t satisfy. That little retail therapy high only last the afternoon. So what’s the cure?

Minimalism. There are so many Minimalism lifestyle benefits that will change your life.

Joshua Becker describes Minimalism as, “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.” I just want to follow up with a whopping big Amen!  Minimalism gives us clarity of what’s important to us and what isn’t. It isn’t just about having less; Minimalism gives you the ability to focus on what matters.

Decluttering is a large component of Minimalism and it takes time. Most of us are so overwhelmed by our stuff that we feel paralyzed and don’t want to start. When you look at what you own and determine if it ‘sparks joy,’ like Marie Kondo says, it will take time.

Personally, I’ve been on the journey of pursuing a life of less for the past few years.  My life has drastically changed for the better through practicing Minimalism. Before I started practicing Minimalism, I was stressed and exhausted. I felt like I was failing in motherhood because I spent more time doing housework than with my kids.

The way I was using my time was not lining up with my priorities. Something needed to change. That’s where Minimalism came in. Minimalism reduces my stress and frees up my time. I cannot sing enough praise over the power of Minimalism.

 

7 Minimalism Lifestyle Benefits:

ONE

Reduce Stress:

Did you know that a study through UCLA discovered that for women, the more stuff they own, the more stressed out they become. I don’t need a scientific study to confirm this, I believe it hands down. The more we own, the bigger the mess and the more we have to clean, rearrange and organize. Most of us want a peaceful home, but clutter gets in the way.

Once I started purging my home of the excess, the hand-me-downs, and all the things that weren’t serving our family, I felt a wave of relief. It was like I reclaimed my motherhood.

My mood is directly linked to the level of mess of my home. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. By having a decluttered house, my home is so much easier to manage and stays neater even with two little ones.

TWO

More Time:

Minimalism and time management go hand-in-hand.  Envision time management like creating a spending plan or a budget. If you just spend however you please, your money is going to disappear out of thin air. But once we get intentional with how our money is spent, we have the ability to save more. It’s like getting a pay raise, without the raise.

When we start looking at how we spend our time and get intentional with it, you become more productive and have more time to work with. Minimalism gives you the opportunity to take charge of your time and your possessions, since you are focusing on what is important in life.

It takes quite a bit of intentional time investment to purge and declutter your home. But once that first wave of decluttering occurs, your time investment pays dividends. There would be no way that I would be able to create my own website, consistent content, learn all the new skills required, and still be present with my kids without Minimalism. I now have the time to pursue my own passions, and I’m enjoying motherhood so much more.

THREE

More Freedom:

Decluttering gives you a high, I’m not gonna lie! I couldn’t believe how freeing it is to give and let go of what isn’t serving our family. Instead of feeling stuck and needing to clean my home 24/7, I now have the freedom to take my kids to the park on a whim. Minimalism gave me freedom to do what I want to do.

The women I have helped declutter their homes have all said that it’s like an invisible weight has lifted. They didn’t realize that they were drowning in a sea of their stuff. Once their homes were lighter (literally), they were able to focus on other areas of their lives they were neglecting and didn’t feel capable of tackling like exercise, nutrition, and more family time.

FOUR

Save More Money:

Do you ever go to a store and buy a cute shirt on sale and then it sits in the closet and barely gets worn? I used to buy amazing deals on clothes and what not because they were a great deal and I didn’t want to miss out. 

Once I started practicing Minimalism, I saw what I owned with a more critical lense. I started asking more question about what I owned. It became harder for me to be ok with bringing new items in unless they were necessary and I loved them. I don’t want to undo all my hard decluttering work.  This is one of many financial benefits of Minimalism.

I look at purchases differently than I used to. When I wanted new curtains for my living room, instead of looking only at the clearance racks, I started to think about what I really wanted. What drapes would I love to see everyday in my home? The clearance curtains would be a band-aid solution (if I didn’t love them). I would end up being unhappy in the long run causing me to spend more and shop more.

I don’t buy things willy-nilly anymore. Nate Berkus says, “be a ruthless editor of your home.” What a wonderful concept that I’m learning to live out. I shop less and buy less than ever before, which gives me more money to save and spend on what’s important to me and my family.

FIVE

Stop Looking for Missing Items:

Can you believe that Americans spend 2.5 days a year looking for lost/misplaced items according to a recent study? These lost items cost American families $2.7 billion annually to replace! Holy smokes!! That’s insane!

How often do we keep something because we think we may need it someday, and then we end up unable to find it or completely forgot that we even owned it. That happens way too often. If we assess what we own and each item has a home, we save ourselves time and money.

This used to be me to a T. I knew I had a set of wire cutters for the shoffice (my husband’s shed office) we were building, but they could be anywhere in the garage. It would be easier to drive to the store and buy a new pair than to go through every nook and cranny hoping to find it and that’s what we ended up doing.

You could say my house used to be pretty disorganized, until one day I realized that everything in my home needed to have a home. I know that that’s common sense, but that thought seriously never occured to me. Maybe it was divine revelation that brought me this notion.

Here’s another example, I used to get so frustrated when my kids wouldn’t clean up well (I still do, but not nearly as often). After I talked to them about it, my oldest told me they didn’t know where everything went. My kids were overwhelmed and so was I. It was like a lightbulb went off and I realized that I wasn’t training my kids where I wanted them to put their toys. I had tons of unlabeled totes for them to fill with their toys, it’s no wonder they were confused and overwhelmed. So I made labels with pictures for each tote. That alone made a world of difference.

SEVEN

The Ripple Effect:

Once I saw how my life changed through Minimalism, I wanted to share it with others, especially moms. Most of us moms feel like our home is our territory, we’re typically running our homes. If our home is a disaster, we feel like our house is reflecting our character, so we’re a disaster. When our homes have less, we have time for more of the important things in life. I sure don’t want my kids to remember me by constantly cleaning and maintain our home. I want them to remember me as the mom that’s interactive, engaged, and plays with them.

Once I had my home simplified, I chatted with a neighbor friend about it. I helped her declutter her whole home, garage and all. She started sharing about the freedom she’s experienced from having less with her friends and relatives.  Many of them were inspired by her success, and decluttered their homes. Decluttering, if played right, can be a positive chain reaction. When you discover something this good, it’s hard not to share it.

SIX

Become More Generous:

I used to keep my mini-hoard just in case I may need it someday. It was all about the someday. I may need to have fifty washcloths, just in case a school bus drops off 50 kids that all need to wash their faces at the same time. Really?! The likelihood of that happening is slim to none. And don’t be like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber and think that you’re telling me I have a chance.

Instead of keeping every little thing that might be remotely useful someday, I started to ask questions like when was the last time I used all these washcloths? Do I really need two drawers that are designated to washcloths? The answer was no. So I got rid of more than half of them. I chose my favorites and donated the rest.

By purging what I owned, I was able to help multiple new mom’s with baby items. I gave toys away to a few families I knew who were in need. Minimalism sparked generosity in me and my kids in a new way. Instead of keeping my stuff just in case, I started to think about who would enjoy what I don’t use. Seeing that my clutter was making a positive difference by giving it away is contagious. I realized that for years, I was keeping things just in case that could’ve been blessing people.

I prefer giving what I own directly to people who could use it instead of Goodwill or other thrift stores. You can contact local shelters and churches too.  If I can’t find a good home quickly for it, I’ll donate it. But seeing my clutter help others, gives me more of a desire to keep just what I need so we can bless the socks off of others with our stuff.

I never would have imagined that I would call myself a Minimalist, but I sure do enjoy the lifestyle benefits of Minimalism. I’ve always wanted a peaceful home, but I didn’t realize how much I was self-sabotaging myself by buying more and more. Minimalism has reduced my stress, freed up my time, given me freedom, and has saved me money.  I’m not looking for lost items like I used to, I’m more generous, and I love how Minimalism continues to create a positive impact on my family and others.  I never expected to experience so many positive effects from pursuing a life with less, but I’m so glad I did.

My hope for you is for you to take a look at what you own and ask yourself a few questions.

  • Do I love this?
  • When was the last time I used this?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Would this be able to bless someone else?
  • If my house was on fire, what would I really want to keep?

Too many of us are owned by our stuff. We feel suffocated by the sheer amount of it. Don’t wait until someday to go through it. Do yourself and your family a favor by having less.  Once you start, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.  

What is one of the hardest areas or items to declutter? Please leave a comment below…

How I Gained Time & Energy Back as a Busy Mom

How I Gained Time & Energy Back as a Busy Mom

How I Gained Time & Energy Back as a Busy Mom

Have you ever been at a place in life where you looked around and wondered how did I ever get to this point?  I had that realization while I was nursing my son a little over two years ago.  My life seemed like a blur, an endless parade of duties.  It was like I was juggling eighteen balls in the air and if I got sidetracked everything would come tumbling down.  I had as much energy as a battery-operated toy that starts to sound funny right before the batteries die. Days flew by and my time seemed to disappear with nothing to show for it.

I put so much pressure on myself to be an amazing mom, prepare healthy meals, keep a clean and tidy house, volunteer at church, and the list goes on.  But I knew I wasn’t measuring up.  Dirty dishes lived in my sink and loads of laundry were always needing to be folded and put away.  Walking across the living room floor was like walking through a mine field of toys, shoes, and who knows what.  

All my time seemed to be spent on cleaning and it seemed like a new mess would magically reappear right before my eyes. Was I wasting my time?  I longed to play with my kids and do more than just the mundane tasks.

I started to play a mental rewind of my life.  Why was I spending more time keeping my home clean than being present and interacting with my children?  Am I doing something wrong?  Does everyone struggle with this or am I alone?  What I owned was taking up all my time and energy.  I wanted my time and energy to be focused on my family and what I truly care about.  How did my priorities get so twisted? 

Looking Back:

When I looked back at my life, I started to pay attention to how much stuff I actually have and my ability to maintain it.  I realized that I’ve never been tidy.  I never made my bed, and I couldn’t even keep my house clean before having kids.  Rewinding even further back, my roommates in college put all of my water glasses that I left around the house in my bed once.  They were so tired of finding cups everywhere.  I was so oblivious to my mess that I had no idea that I was frustrating my friends.  Needless to say, I can’t put all the blame on my kids for our messy house, I’m a large part of the equation.  

Fast forward to married life, the first home my husband and I bought in 2010 was a giant undertaking. Inviting guests over was the only motivation for me to have a clean home.  Once our friends left, the house turned quickly back into a mess and the sink filled with dirty dishes in a blink of an eye.  The five bedrooms for the two of us seemed empty when we moved in, and so it became our job to fill them. The accumulation of more and more was happening at lightning speed without us even noticing. My home wouldn’t be featured on “Hoarders,” but what I owned was weighing me down. And when we found out I was pregnant, we had to ‘make room’ for our daughter. Instead of decluttering, we just rearranged our stuff from one room to the other. 

 

Through a big move into a smaller home in a new city, we were forced to let go of quite a bit of what we owned. Downsizing was AMAZING for us! I can’t recommend it enough. To read all about that transition and the benefits of downsizing, read “3 Benefits of Downsizing Your Home Even if You Have a Family.”  But even a smaller house didn’t keep me from keeping more than I should’ve.

I still struggled keeping my smaller home clean and tidy, but it was so much more manageable than our larger first home because it was almost half the size.  But after having my second child, I dealt with pretty bad postpartum depression. I never experienced it with my daughter, so I was completely taken aback.   

I was so frustrated with myself. My house was in utter chaos and I had absolutely no motivation to do anything about it.  I felt like I was absolutely failing as a mom and a wife. So many women out there have way more kids than me and a put together house, what was wrong with me? Maybe those fictitious super women are only on television, but I just didn’t understand how no one warned me about this.

Going from zero to one child was a smooth transition for us, but from one to two was harder for me than I ever imagined. To read the whole story, check out my article, “Motherhood’s Dirty Little Secret: Postpartum Depression.”

This was my breaking point.  You could call it my point of self discovery all while nursing my son.  This is when I asked the question how did I ever get to this point?  And that led to a transformation I would’ve never expected. 

The Transformation:

ONE

Desperate for Change

To be frank, I had had enough. I was sick of being miserable. I longed to fully enjoy those early months of my son’s life, but I was so exhausted that they became a blur. A drastic change was necessary. I needed to tackle what was driving me crazy, and one of my biggest stressors was the state of my house. I couldn’t be present with my kids, because I was working so hard picking up after them, doing laundry and the dishes. Looking back, I wish I would have slowed down and listened to my body and followed what I longed for: those sweet newborn snuggles.

After finally getting more sleep and a whole slew of other things, the postpartum depression started to lift. The depression was a mental battle of unmet expectations and unrealistic assumptions of what I should be doing. I wish I would have been brave and spoke up to my friends, family, and church that I so desperately needed help. Normally I’m the one who helps others, not the other way around. I was too proud to admit that I needed a village to help me out.

TWO

The Breakthrough

Thus my research adventure began. I had read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Art of Decluttering” in 2014 when it came out. I knew about Minimalism and dabbled in it. Deep down, I knew that I need to do a serious purge of what I owned. My husband flew out of town for work, giving me more time in the evenings to tackle our stuff. So, this time I listened to the audio version of Marie Kondo’s book while I decluttered my home. If you want to read all about what “Marie Kondo Taught Me” click here. Then I listened to more books on decluttering through the free Hoopla App from my library while I purged.

 

The extra motivation I got from listening to the books was insane. I truly believe that decluttering is addicting. Seriously. You get a taste of freedom and you want more of it. Until I started to really assess what I owned, I never realized how much my possessions were impacting me. Once I did my first purge of my home, I felt lighter and freer. If I could rewind time, I would have decluttered like crazy ten years ago.

 

Even though the decluttering took some time, that time spent paid dividens.  I had so much more energy because I wasn’t spending all my time cleaning my stuff.  When you have less stuff to clean and maintain, you have more time.

 

THREE

Creating New Habits and Routines

I had less to clean and maintain, but I was missing a crucial element. I needed to create habits and routines to manage what I own. My bad habits were making me work more than I needed all while keeping me frustrated.

The little researcher in me turned to books, blogs, and podcasts for the secret remedy to my ailing home. At the time, I would have never in a million years thought I would ever write the articles: “5 Steps to a Tidy Kitchen” or “4 Tweaks to a Clutter-Free Home.” But ya know what, I did and I’m pretty proud of myself for taking some needed drastic changes. Just by adding simple new routines into my life like making my bed, I felt more accomplished and my home looked better. By adding some good routines in, I spend less time cleaning giving me more time to focus on what I want to do.

FOUR

The Big Aha Moment

One of the biggest takeaways from all my research was that clutter attracts clutter. I wish I could remember where I heard this from, but man, this phrase changed my life. Once I cleared the clutter from my bathroom sinks, they rarely get cluttered. But when I have an area with clutter, it breeds more clutter. This was my big aha moment. It gave me more motivation to not have clutter anywhere.

FIVE

The Result

My home isn’t perfect, but perfection isn’t what I’m going for. Amazingly, my house is more tidy and put together with less work, ah- that’s the power of Minimalism and some good routines.

I don’t believe any home is completely purged in one fell-swoop. Decluttering is a process. It goes in waves. My ability to let more go increases every time I purge my home. I’m currently in a challenge to declutter everyday for a month. And I can still find enough to declutter. I’m learning that less is more. Less stuff equals more time, less cleaning, and more money in my wallet. And I’m down for that!!

So if you’re struggling with keeping up your house, there’s hope. That’s the truth. If I can break my bad habits and live with less, so can you. If you’re thinking, oh you just don’t understand, I’m in a different boat than you. Let me tell you a quick story.  Someone came over to my house and told me that they were putting off having kids for a while because they saw what it did to my house, and they weren’t ready for that. If that’s not a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is. Ouch! But, that isn’t my story anymore. I hope my house isn’t so messy that it alters someone elses future plans!

I’d just want to encourage you that if you feel overwhelmed by your stuff, do something about it. Take drastic measures, so you can experience drastic results. Coral a support team to keep you accountable, learn what you need to, and don’t get caught up in perfectionism. You can do this!

Pin It on Pinterest