If your life feels like it is spinning out of control and you are being buried under stuff with an unmanageable schedule that has you running from dawn until midnight, author Barbara Elaine Singer offers some simple solutions with a big impact that you can make today.
She has completely downsized her life and has been living mobile with 2 suitcases and a computer for 4 years and all over the world. Barbara currently has just 3 monthly bills (health insurance, cell phone and small storage unit). She works 4 months a year and lives abroad for 8 months and has adopted the European lifestyle of quality vs. quantity. She shares simple yet powerful ways to downsize your stuff and schedule, while creating a lifestyle that gives you time and freedom to choose how to spend your precious days. Are acting or reacting to life’s events? Don’t be the pinball in an arcade game anymore!
Disconnect! Stop doing everything that doesn’t bring you joy. Busyness is a false sense of importance and robs you of time. Become acutely aware of how you spend your time and money and what influences you are allowing into your mind. Turn off the TV, turn on some music, spend time outside in nature daily by walking in your neighborhood or park or riding bike without headphones or telephone. Learn to enjoy time in the beautiful home you have created. Practice by spending a full day or long periods at home without TV and check email and your cell phone once every 4 hours. You control them, not the other way around. Give yourself unhurried time to remember your passions and things you wanted to accomplish that got pushed aside by daily life. Eat your meals sitting down in a lovely setting and enjoy every undistracted bite. Live with purpose, not circumstances. Choose how you spend your precious days. Look for the good things in your life, right them down and say thank you.
Buy Nothing. Use up household stuff you have on hand. Stay out of the stores. No one’s willpower is stronger than the power of American marketing. Don’t get sucked into consumerism. If you don’t know it existed, you won’t want to buy it. Shop with a list and only as needed, not just for 1 or 2 items. Do not shop for entertainment. Use up all the items in your pantry, freezer, garage, bathroom, bar and wine cellar. Buy only perishables in small quantities. Make it a game to find new recipes to use up whatever you have on hand until every can and dry good is used. Try www.Kraft.com. Spend $10 a week on bread and fruit rather than $100 for everything and save $360 a month.
Clean out all closets, garage, attic, and basement and sell your unwanted stuff. Have a multi-family yard sale with some friends at another location if your community doesn’t allow them. It will be more fun and you can share placing the ad, getting tables and putting out signage. Consign designer clothes or expensive jewelry. Sell values and collections on Ebay. Donate to charity. Remember, we are collecting experiences, not stuff. One woman downsized just her master walk-in closet and made $1000 selling clothes, purses and shoes and found an old uncashed check for over $500 and she was able to recover the funds. Use the “new cash” to pay directly toward the principal of a debt you are paying off. Don’t blend it with other household money.
Sell gold jewelry, even broken pieces can be worth several hundred dollars. It is at a high right now. Cash-in cans of coins but use it to pay directly to the principle of a debit. $300-$500.
Practice the Gift of Exchange. The next thing you need to buy, figure out how to get it without spending money. Get the book from the library, trade babysitting services with another parent friend or offer computer help for a hair cut. Barter for everything. Do a party dress exchange. Everyone bring a fabulous party dress they have already worn and trade it with someone else. You could do the same with shoes, bags or other gently or never used items too. Everyone wins.
Go to the dry cleaners every 2 or 3 months rather than 2 or 3 times a month. Wait until you have worn just about everything then go through what is left and decide if you really want to keep it. Sort the pieces you are taking to the cleaners and decide if you really love them and want to keep them before you pay to clean them. Then find a bargain cleaner even if they are not just around the corner. Ask the owner for a volume discount. Same with laundry, do it every 2 or 4 weeks. That will force you to wear everything in your drawers and will free you from constantly doing laundry.
Stop all reoccurring monthly charges. Do as much of the physical labor yourself as possible like mowing your own grass and cleaning your own house, pool and car. Work out at home using DVDs so you can cut your gym membership and one more drive in the car at the same time. Reduce your cable TV to just basic and save $50 a month.
Change your “current housing situation” by selling it or renting it to someone else, then you rent a spare bedroom in someone else’s home for $500 a month or less or you rent your spare bedrooms for $500 a month each. You could move into a smaller bedroom and get more money for renting the master bedroom. You pick them, so choose someone whose habits are like your own. It doesn’t have to be forever. Try it for 6 months or a year. You may even find a new life long friend. Rent your garage for $100 a month to a friend or neighbor who has a classic car or motorcycle. Park your own car in the drive way. If you live in a condo or apartment, rent your assigned, close up parking space to another tenant and you park in guest parking. The extra walking is good for you. New found income: 1 bedroom $500 a month, 2nd room $500, garage $100 = TOTAL $1100 a month. Now that is reducing DEBT FAST !!
Pick up a side job doing something you love, like pet sitting, tutoring a child, help someone with computer skills or closet organizing. Tell all your friends what you are offering and put out flyers where your potential customers spend time.
Go Green. Get all your bills and statements on line. Get no paper mail. Saves time, stamps, and paper.
If you have children or a partner, spend direct eye contact time with them by playing board games, puzzles or cooking together rather than vegging in front of the TV. Don’t take a call or text while talking to your kids or partner. You are telling them they are less important than whoever is on the phone. Incorporate your family into household chores and make them a game. Write chores on little pieces of paper and have each person randomly “pick” a chore to do for that day. Set the kitchen timer and play speed clean up for 10 minutes and everyone runs around finding stuff to put away. If your child is taking piano lessons, why not take them yourself too. You are driving and sitting right there. What a great way to bond!
Be ACUTLEY aware of what media you allow into your world. Remove TV’s from bedrooms and read or enjoy peaceful time before sleep. Don’t read the newspaper. If the there is a big news story, you will find out about it. Choose what you read and hear, don’t be bombarded with junk. Be acutely aware of what you let into your mind. Replace useless information with something you want to learn about. Fill your brain with happy thoughts, not murder, gloom and doom.
The Fastest and Easiest way to feel better about life is to help someone else. You certainly don’t have to look very far. Offer doing something you love for someone in need right in your own community. You will feel needed, loved and appreciated. There is always someone to help and you will reap the reward of the ripple in the water effect 10 times over. What a wonderful example you will be to your children, friends and family. Start the wave!
In her new memoir, Living Without Reservations, Author, Barbara Elaine Singer (www.LivingWithoutReservations.com), shares how the life altering events of divorce, empty nest and death of her fiancé changed the course of her life and lead her on a path to freedom, adventure and travel. At 44 years old, she quit her life in corporate sales, liquidated her home and took a road trip with her dad from PA to Alaska, then jumped aboard a sailboat and went island hopping in the Caribbean, on to Italy for a summer and is still going.
Thank you to Barbara for guest posting today on Champagne Living.