Money Update #3: Reaching My Financial Goals

The awesome website pmexplore.com was kind enough to share an article that I wrote about minimalism and food. Head over to pmexplore.com to check it out as well as dig into the other great stuff offered. 


This week I want to share with you where I am in terms of reaching the goals I set out for myself this month and more of what I’ve been learning.

I’m going to share with you each goal I set for myself and where I am in reaching that goal and my next steps.

1. How to streamline and minimize monthly expenses:

To streamline expenses, one of my goals for this week will be to set up automatic transfers to pay certain bills online.

To minimize expenses I will look into car insurance rates and reducing amount of money budgeted to categories like clothes and home decor. I hope to find what I need or want at second hand shops for less money as well.

I also will use the cash envelope system for food, gas, pet supplies, and fun stuff.

2. How to still have fun while saving money:

I am allowing myself some spending money each month for dining out or entertainment type stuff. I will use the cash envelope system and choose activities wisely.

It's helpful to remember that being conservative now will help me save up a full emergency fund which will then allow me to start saving for retirement and investing, which will set me up for a more comfortable future and retirement.

3. What I need to have a savings account for emergencies, for fun, and for retirement:

Emergency fund: I opened up another checking account through my bank which I can        withdraw from if need be, but it is not as easy to get this money out as it would be if it were in my standard checking account. I am and will continue to contribute to this fund on a weekly basis although the amount might vary month to month depending on what else is going on that month.

Fun: I mentioned last week that I opened a savings account to save money for a trip. After reading more of Dave Ramsey’s book, I think I should really save up a full emergency fund before contributing any precious savings money to a trip fund. So that’s what I’ll do. I just did my budget for October and I’m still giving myself some money to spend on fun stuff like restaurants and clothing.

Retirement: Dave also says to build the full emergency fund before starting to save for retirement. When it is time to start a retirement fund, I will do more research on the types of plans and accounts that are best for this. Dave gives us a lot of information in his book, “Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money” but it will mean much more when I’m actually ready to take the advice.

4. How, what, and why to invest.

As I just mentioned, I’m not quite at this point yet in my financial journey and when I have my full emergency fund I will take a closer look at this. 

 

To summarize, what I’m working on is spending less and saving more. In addition to spending less money, in order expedite the process of saving up the full emergency fund, I am considering picking up some extra work and have a couple things I’d like to sell. 

I’d love to hear about your financial goals and if you have any other strategies for expediting the emergency fund saving!

Megan

Minimal & Safe Cleaning Supplies

Having a minimal and safe arsenal of cleaning supplies and routines is key to keeping the house manageable, enjoyable, clean, and healthy.

Here is my basket of cleaning supplies - I love it so much it is so beautiful 

Here is my basket of cleaning supplies - I love it so much it is so beautiful 

Store-bought cleaning products are costly, full of chemicals, and bad for our health. 

Alisa Vitti writes in "Woman Code," “The products you use to clean your bathroom and household are potential stressors on your health. New scientific research shows that many of the chemicals found in everyday house-cleaning products are bio-accumulative and very toxic, which means that once in your system, they stay in your system and allow for increased free radical damage, which makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and cancers.” 

She says, “Find your bleach products, Comet, Ajax, Windex, Lysol, air fresheners, Glade Plug-ins, cute toilet bowl cleaners, and talc-based baby powder. Throw them in a garbage bag and toss them out.” 

They’re not just bad for women. They’re bad for men, children, and pets as well. 

Robynne Chutkan writes in “The Microbiome Solution,” that store-bought antibacterial household cleaners are harmful to our microbiome, washing away essential skin bacteria

The major cleaning product companies will also have you believe that you need twenty different products to effectively clean your home. This is marketing at its best. 

There are a million and one easy and safe cleaning product recipes out there, but to keep a healthy, clean, and minimal home you really only need one or two.

I’m going to share with you the two recipes I have experience using, and then give you some resources to check out others.


Recipe 1: All-purpose cleaner made with half water + half white vinegar + optional essential oil

Fill a bottle (preferably glass, like the glass vinegar bottle I show in my video) halfway with distilled white vinegar.

Fill the rest of the bottle with water (filtered if you have it).

Add 5-10 drops of an essential oil of your choice if you desire. This can mask the vinegar smell a bit. 

Add a sprayer to the glass bottle. I used one from an old bottle of cleaning solution I had purchased at the store. It fit the glass vinegar bottle perfectly.

Just spray on any surface and wipe clean with a rag. I would just do some Googling to make sure you can use this on wood surfaces and floors. The recipe might need to be adjusted for that. 


Recipe 2: For scrubbing gunk made with baking soda + vinegar 

Take a box of baking soda.

Sprinkle some baking soda on the gunky area. (sinks, tubs, grimy refrigerators, etc.)

Pour some distilled white vinegar over the baking soda.

Watch the magic happen and get to work scrubbing with a rag or a scrub brush.

Repeat as necessary!


Some cleaning tools that might be helpful in addition to the cleaning recipes include:

  • rags
  • rag deposit for dirty rags
  • scrub brush
  • glass spray bottle 
  • basket or something to keep everything organized
  • broom or good vacuum for hard floor
  • something for tile floors - Swiffer type thing or just rags will do

Cool Resources

If you are looking for more recipes for safe homemade cleaning products, check out these:

1. “Make Your Place - Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills” by Raleigh Briggs

2. YouTube's Alli Cherry also has a great video about natural cleaners.  

 

What are your favorite cleaning products & resources? 

6 Tips for a Healthy and Minimal Kitchen (Decluttering Progress: Part III)

The kitchen can be a sanctuary. The kitchen can be a grimy hell hole. Sometimes it's a little bit of both.

I think that to maintain an organized, tidy, healthy, and clean kitchen there are a few things to remember.

You can see how these tips have changed my kitchen for the better, as I show what my kitchen used to look like in my KonMari video here.

1. Clean with non-toxic and safe cleaning products.

The whole point of cleaning is to make it a healthier place to be, right? Why poison yourself with harsh chemicals? I make my own multi-purpose cleaner with a few natural and safe ingredients. I am going to post a video about the recipes I use next week. Stay tuned!

2. Clean often.

This is something that we're working on. Eventually, after decluttering more, I think it will be easier to actually clean surfaces on a more regular basis. 

Matt and I have been really good about doing our dishes at the end of the night each night. We do have to get better at cleaning the refrigerator and floors at least once a week.

3. Use glass containers for food storage.

We are trying to figure out the best way to buy bulk items in an attempt to reduce the waste we produce. We have some jars for these items but might need to head over to the thrift store to find some more.

We also like storing our leftovers in glass containers rather than plastic. Plastics leach into our food when the temperature changes. Glass containers also last longer and I think they look nicer.

4. Get rid of items you don't use.

Keeping the amount of things in the kitchen to a minimum is important to me. Our kitchen is pretty small to begin with. We cook a lot so we need all the chopping space we can get.

We have a few items sitting on the dining room table in purgatory, waiting to learn their fate. Will they be sold or donated? 

I also wrote a blog post about keeping the kitchen manageable, in terms of dishes and silverware. The idea I discuss has been a game-changer for me.

In my last video about our decluttering progress, you can also see the before and after of the under the sink situation. It’s MUCH better now.

5. Have a designated place for each item.

Giving each item a home in the kitchen makes it that much easier to put it away after using it. It keeps things looking tidy and you always know where everything is! 

6. Incorporate plants into the kitchen.

Plants just add some freshness, color, and a sense of calm. The trick is to not go overboard and get so many plants that you can't keep them looking nice. I learned this the hard way.


If you have any kitchen tips to share, I’d love to hear about them! 

Decluttering Progress: Part II

Here is a quick video about my continuing decluttering progress.

In this video I show what it looked like before I tackled my bathroom cabinets, hallway shelf, and under the sink kitchen cabinets, as well as what it looks like now. 

Tip: Baskets are cheap and nice ways to organize items. I got 5 of them at Goodwill for $7. :)

What are your tidying/decluttering tips?

Megan

Decluttering Progress: Part I

Last week my boyfriend and I had a conversation about our ideal home situations and what we needed to do to make them more of a reality. 

If you’re interested in that conversation, you can check it out below:

We both want a clean, simple, organized, and personal home that is as functional as it is cozy

We both found some photos that represented our ideal homes. 

Matt’s photos:

My photos:

I think we’re lucky to agree on so many aspects of a home.

So the next step was to make a plan.

We decided to start by decluttering the basement and the bedroom. 

In the basement we have/had a lot of junk. Some of the junk was there when we moved in like paintings, fishing rods, a weird mattress thing, a desk, a clothes rack, buckets of some junk, another desk, and an air conditioner. 

We also have some clothes we forgot about, DVDs, CDs, books books books, and a guinea pig cage no one should use because it’s weird and too small.

On the other hand, we have stuff down there that we actually use. A cat carrier, laundry supplies, tools, extra dishes for when we have company, Matt’s band stuff, and painting supplies. 

The main issue with the bedroom was that Matt had a lot of clothes he didn’t wear that he needed to sort through so that he’d have more room to store the clothes he does wear.

The first step in decluttering the basement was to organize the items into piles: trash, donate, sell, keep, not sure yet. 

The subsequent steps are to throw away the trash, haul the donate stuff to Goodwill, sell the sell stuff, and find a home for the items we want to keep and decide what to do with the ‘I don’t knows’.

We are in this phase now.

The bedroom however, is in pretty good shape. Matt took the clothes he didn’t want anymore to Goodwill and has organized the clothes he wants to keep. We might need a better solution for his shoes. 

Decluttering a home can be a little stressful. It’s sometimes hard to get rid of your own things for sure, but I think it can even tougher to talk about it with your partner and get to a place where both people feel good about the plan. Matt and I are pretty lucky to be on mostly the same page.

The final and never-ending step would be limiting what comes into the home. It’s easy to fall into the habit of buying for reasons that aren’t really good enough if a decluttered home is the goal. 

Good enough reasons for me to buy something:

  1. it’s a necessity
  2. it’s going to last a really, really long time
  3. it will bring me joy for a really, really long time

Bad reasons for me to buy something:

  1. it will give me a rush for the rest of the day or week
  2. boredom
  3. to be cool

I will continue to share as we continue to make progress on our home and work toward our goals. 

What is your ideal home situation? What can you do today to start making that a reality? What are you waiting for? 

What I Loved in April


1. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. He focused his work on logotherapy, which is based on the idea that finding meaning in ones life is the most powerful and motivating force for a human. 

He tells us about his time spent in concentration camps and how he was able to survive. He also shares with us the three ways we can find meaning in our lives. He says that, “The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.” 

A quote that really resonated with me from this book is, “It is we ourselves who must answer the questions that life asks of us, and to these questions we can respond only by being responsible for our existence.” 

After reading this book, it was clearer to me how my mental health and happiness are my complete responsibility and not that of anyone else.

My copy of this book is completely full of notes, dog-eared pages, and underlined passages. If you could only read one book, this might be the one.

2. “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins

 

I have read only about a fourth of this book so far and I already know so much more about saving for retirement and the best ways to maximize your investments. 

For example, I learned the difference between index funds and mutual funds and why one is better than the other. 

If you’re like me and never cared to learn about financial matters but are realizing that it’s actually pretty important and can hugely affect your life, this book is awesome. 

Who better to learn from than Tony Robbins and the 50 “brilliant financial minds” he has interviewed for this book? 

3. Aloe Vera Juice for Oily Hair

 

I heard that aloe vera gel can take care of excess scalp oil. Of course I wanted to try it. I had some aloe vera juice in the refrigerator that was still good so I poured some into an old rose water spray bottle and sprayed away on a greasy day. It seemed to work without leaving my hair as dry as my homemade dry shampoo leaves it.

I also think aloe vera is better for the scalp and hair itself than the dry shampoo mixture I keep on hand, as it has nutrients for the hair and doesn’t clog hair follicles. 

Do your own research, try it out if you want. Let me know if it works for you!

4. Yoga in the Morning: 

You know that feeling when you get a good stretch in as soon as you sit up to get out of bed? Doing yoga after I wake up is like 20 minutes of that. It’s so nice. And it’s exercise!

5. Going for a Run in the Evening:

Two to three times a week I’ll go for a run after work, before dinner. This has been a great way to release any pent up energy from the day and get some exercise in! 

6. Vanilla Mint Tea (Rishi): 

Photo: rishi-tea.com

Photo: rishi-tea.com

This stuff is so good. It’s a refreshing vanilla tea that is great instead of coffee. The caffeine is milder and the flavor is earthy. Love it in the morning! 

7. KeepCup:

         Photo: keepcup.com

         Photo: keepcup.com

I’ve been trying to reduce the waste I produce as a human being. I tend to get a decaf coffee on the weekend, so having a reusable cup I enjoy is the key to “remembering” to take it with me to the cafe. This Keepcup is beautiful and I love that it’s more like a mug than other reusable cups. Feels good, looks good. Thumbs up!

What have you been loving lately?

A Slight Step Back

Hey!

So I have some updates to share. If you want the short version, watch the video below. If you want to read the details, check out the post below that. 

I've been feeling a bit down lately. A bit unmotivated and lazy. I've done a whole lot of work to create more happiness, so it's frustrating when I start to feel blue. And thinking about how frustrating it is only makes it worse, of course.

Last summer I started working on a project. It's something I didn't know a whole lot about how to do, but something I really thought would help me, and therefore other people. It's a daily mindfulness tool and it's almost finished. 

It's something I was working on before work, after work, and on my days off. In addition I was working on YouTube and filming videos every week. I love having YouTube as a medium in which I can connect with people who are also interested in minimalism, health, happiness, compassion, and mindfulness. However, I realized that maybe I just need to take my own advice and do what I want to do, rather than what I think I should.

So, of course I want to create helpful videos, but not at the risk of becoming stressed out or putting up junk content for the sake of putting something up. Your subscription feeds deserve better!

My solution is now to film the things I'm excited about, and if that happens less often than once a week, I'm ok with that. 

I can spend more time trying to finish my mindfulness project and more time gaining more experiences to share on YouTube. 

In the mean time, do you have any questions for me or suggestions for what you'd like to see on the Like Minimal YouTube channel or on this blog? I'd really appreciate any feedback you could give. :) I'm ok with constructive criticism as well! 

I'll still be posting on all of my social media outlets, which can be found below. 

Thanks for reading, you're the best!

I'd love to hear about if you've ever felt like you needed to take a step back from something good for one reason or another!