Minimalist Money Challenge: $70 a week for Groceries in June

I’ll be honest, I was inspired to do this challenge by a blogger I admire and read pretty consistently: Crystle Paine from moneysavingmom.com. That said, I cannot claim credit for this idea AT ALL. If you want to check out her challenge, here is a link to her site.

This is also my version of the challenge. Unlike Crystal, I can’t spend even ten minutes a day scoping out sales or store hopping for the best deals. Because of my current car and baby situation, I can only really do one store a week, and then the rest has to be online delivery options, for the sake of my sanity and schedule. I also noticed that, while Crystal has more children than I do, her kids are older, and they can grab one “snacky” dinner a week pretty much by themselves. This isn’t the case for my family. We also only eat out about once per month for a date night.

So I’ll clue you in on how my version of this challenge may be a bit different than her’s.

My challenge also includes a no Starbucks rule. You guys. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on coffee. Coffee that I can easily make at home. Coffee that I don’t need. Coffee that is way too over-priced, yet enticing because, well, I’m a “gold card” member and so I can collect stars and do menu challenges and get bonus stars for future free drinks (which I also do not need). I’m telling you, Starbucks is probably the most ingenious marketing system out there. So while my challenge will not include our monthly date night, it will include other little excursions, so Starbucks has got to go.

Since I won’t be store-hopping or sales-hunting, my physical store purchases will be limited to Aldi. Anything else I can’t find there, I will get those delivered.

I currently am loving Amazon’s Subscribe and Save monthly options, and I manage to get my lactation vitamins, specialty cat food (because my cats are apparently high maintenance), and some household staples (plant-based laundry stain remover for cloth diapers, chia warrior bars, Spicy V8, Honest Company baby shampoo, organic flour, and Tiny Footprint coffee) delivered in a huge box to our doorstep. It’s such a great tribute to my minimalist shopping ritual, because it takes almost no time or effort now that it’s all set up!

But please note: my $70 a week spending goal does not include these items from Amazon’s Subscribe and Save.

However, if I can manage to grab the bulk of our food necessities at Aldi for under $300 a month, this is great progress from what we’ve been spending at the grocery store the past year.

Maybe once I complete this challenge for the month of June, I’ll be inspired to cut costs even more, or just differently. I do know I will be working on a process for buying our meat in bulk for the fall/winter, so stay tuned for that adventure sometime in August.

So here are the sales at Aldi for this week! I will be taking advantage of these sales, plus purchasing some other items to complete our meal plan for this week.

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I have made a semi-specific list of items to get tomorrow (the first day of June, and the first day of my version of this challenge), but I will show you all what I actually end up purchasing and how much the total was so you

can see how I did! It will hold me accountable and hopefully inspire you too.

I will also share with you my meal plans for the week and perhaps some recipes, especially if I make something really tasty (and cheap!).

If you want to join in on ANY version of this challenge, comment below! I could use the accountability, and we all could use encouragement to spend less, couldn’t we?

 

 

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One Word 2016

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“If you’re like most people, each January goes something like this: You choose a problematic behavior that has plagued you for years and vow to reverse it. In fact, you can probably think of two or three undesirable habits—make that four or five…”

These words can be found on the now wildly popular One Word Website.  And oh, how true they are. This time of year seems to be the time for a litany of imperfections to be perfected and a throng of promises to be made commonly titled as “New Year’s Resolutions.

At the gym I work at, we have an expectation that the Monday after January 1st will be crowded with people who have vowed to “get their life back together” by coming to cycle classes and pumping iron in the weight room. My boss tells us to be ready for the New Years crowd, but we all know that that crowd will disperse by mid-February.

And so it seems to be the case with other new years focus on problematic areas in need of correction.

Workout regimes fall to the wayside, diets are broken, cuss words are spoken, and those pictures we told ourselves we’d finally take or put into photo albums remain caught behind lenses or just not taken at all. It seems that the juggling act of trying to improve different parts of our already messy and chaotic lives is just too hard. How can we stay consistent with self-improvement when our focus is split into fractured pieces– our work life, our love life, our families, our personal fitness goals, our dreams, our desires for a better “me”?– it seems impossible to focus on all of it!

The idea behind Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen’s “One Word” philosophy is that we can do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. They encourage you to boil it down to just one single word, to move beyond the cycle of long lists of changes you want to make that never get tackled.

“This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future.-myoneword.org

I was first introduced to this idea by one of my best friends, who told me that God always gave her a word that He used to teach her through each year. I thought I felt God using specific words to teach me as well, but I never formally chose one single word to keep my thoughts tethered to during these lessons.

Finally, I was encouraged by another friend to actually pick my “one word” last year, and, although I don’t think I lived it out perfectly, it was helpful to have one theme to keep coming back to  throughout 2015.

My one word last year was “Slow”, which came, unknowingly at the time, during a year that would prove to be chaotic, shifting and a complete whirl-wind.

Having to keep coming back to the word “Slow” kept me grounded during times of change, patient during times of waiting, and calm during times when I normally would have lost my head.

This one word reminded me to breathe when I wanted to just walk out of my classroom full of students and never go back. It kept me patient when our heater wasn’t working in subzero weather and when water leaked all over the floor, pulling up the tile and making it impossible to walk anywhere without slipping or getting a shoe-full of dirty water.

This one word kept me from making hasty decisions when we were house-hunting, and kept me silent when I normally would have exploded with frustration at husband’s and my disagreements.

It kept me patient and plodding along as I trained for my second marathon, restless to race through a long trek that was going to take more out of me than I expected.

This one word kept me from jumping to conclusions when misunderstandings with family and friends arose. It kept me patient and prayerful when I got the letter in the mail that I was no longer employed by CPS, and it kept me hopeful and trusting when I still didn’t have a position number or a paycheck as 109 students met me in my classroom on the first day of school.

“Slow” kept me restful when I was sick and itching to get out of bed and get back to work.

It kept me patient with myself and determined when I was so depressed that I dreaded getting out of bed in the morning to go to a job that I hated.

“Slow” kept me patient with myself during the ongoing transition into working with my husband at a job I had no idea how to do. It kept me calm during times when I felt frustrated with my lack of progress, reminding me that this might be a slow process, and that it was more than okay.

“Slow” also showed me areas in my faith walk that I had skipped over, impatient to grow in places where God had not yet given in the increase for lack of my quiet and calm attention. He scaled me back with “Slow” so I could be nursed in areas I needed to mature in, a slow process that I couldn’t rush through no matter how determined or strong-willed I was.

I’m not saying I did it perfectly– there were plenty of times I flew off the handle and was completely out of control when I should have been slow and calm, as my husband, friends, and students will be quick to tell you– but this word “Slow” helped me keep it together more than I normally would during a year when I needed to rest, have patience, refrain from rushing into decisions, be extremely calm, and have painstaking endurance.

“Slow” permeated into all areas of my life– my personal life, my relationships, my work, the forming– or rather, the unraveling– of my identity, my faith walk, and even my health.

And so this year I trust that the word God is giving me will be perfectly designed to get me through 2016, even if I do not live it out perfectly.

As this new year was approaching I began to ask God what word He wanted me to focus on. Over and over again I kept hearing one word repeated to me, but I didn’t want to listen. You see, it was sort of a scary word for me, and I was hoping that it might be something else. 

But as I scanned my journals, BSF lecture notes, written prayers, and even the songs I had been listening and dancing in worship to, I knew that this was the word He was giving me.

 My one word for this year is “Surrender”.

Is there a more important word in the life of a Christ follower? But even more personally, is there a more important word in the life of a control-freak, type-A, worrier like myself?

I think not.

And so, as I look towards the year ahead, there are definitely some big decisions, plans, and changes coming along down the road. And I’m going to need to surrender all of them to God. 

This doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything about anything or have no part to play in what happens. It just means that I will take every thought, decision, action, and plan captive to Christ Jesus, and be obedient to Him and Him alone. It means letting go of expectation and preference so that I am I indifferent to any choice that is not Jesus-approved. Surrendering my plans, my dreams, my body, my mind, my desires, and my plan to Him and allowing God to really take control of where I end up.

Hm. Sounds a lot like what it means to follow Jesus doesn’t it? I should probably have been doing this already…

But to have a whole year to focus on simply surrendering… is a little scary because it requires complete trust in what I cannot plainly see. (That’s what faith is isn’t it?)

I remember when I first became a Christian about 6 years ago, laying in bed imagining what my life would be like, and God clearly spoke to me saying, “Claire, your life is not going to be anything like what you can dream up right now.”

I still believe that is true today, and that no matter how many times I envision the future, my life is not going to be like anything I can imagine.

And so far, that has proved to be true.

The thing that makes it less scary is that I wouldn’t change it for the world. So I guess I can trust Him, can’t I?

I know I have little hope of living out a long list of resolutions that I might want to make– get up every morning at 5:30am, workout everyday, get certified in 6 different fitness formats, master html and photoshop, open up an online store….. I could go on.

But I can do my very best, with God’s help, at living out one word to the best of my ability, and to allow it to permeate all areas of my life.

And with a word like “Surrender”, I guess I have no choice but to let it control everything I’ve got.

What’s your “one word” for 2016? I’d love to read about what word you’re going to live out this year!

The 10 Hanger Project

10 Hanger Project

This November my goal is to simplify in the area of my wardrobe.

Some of you know that I have been known to be a little bit of a fashion addict… or maybe you have no idea. Well confession time: clothes have become an idol for me.

I’m not proud of it and it’s quite embarrassing to share this with the public– I was even embarrassed to share it with my husband (as if he didn’t notice already), and he knows just about everything about me.

Some of you know me well, or perhaps just follow me on Instagram. Either way, you may have noticed my somewhat obvious obsession with clothes and brand names which appeared seemingly out of nowhere (just look at my #OOTD posts and you’ll get an idea).

I want to get into why this happened to me, but I think I’ll save it for another blog post.

For now I’ll just say that the accumulation of more clothing wasn’t doing for me what I wanted it to; it wasn’t making me happy, it wasn’t making me feel better about myself, and it wasn’t making me feel fulfilled. In fact, I found it was the opposite: I was spending too much money on clothes, which stressed me out after I’d see the cumulated amount, and then I’d feel guilty, selfish, and empty inside, wondering why I couldn’t just be content with what I have and stop looking for my worth in material things.

After a long talk with God in the bubble bath (we talk there; it’s cool), it was decided that something must be done.

But how do I curve an addiction that surrounds me everywhere you go? I mean, I don’t live in a nudist colony, so people do wear clothes. How do I kill the idol of clothes wile having a closet full of beautiful ones? Sure I could work on self-control and stop buying more, but buying more was only part of the problem; the accumulation that had already occurred was an equally important role in this addictive stronghold.

We decided to go drastic. I pulled aside 10 hangers from my full closet, then chose 10 items to hang on them.

Hanger 1: thick black and white Aztec printed cardigan sweater

Hanger 2: beige boyfriend blazer

Hanger 3: gray scoop-neck tank top with breast pocket

Hanger 4: black skinny jeans

Hanger 5: navy and white striped oversized tee shirt

Hanger 6: dark wash denim skirt with pockets

Hanger 7: black flowy long sleeve shirt

Hanger 8: chambray button up shirt

Hanger 9: multicolored basic flannel

Hanger 10: gray and black v-neck dress

I took the rest of my clothes to another closet in our house which I rarely go to and boxed up the contents of my entire dresser save for my sock drawer, underwear drawer, and a few workout items (I’m a fitness instructor, so workout clothes are a must even if I wasn’t also in love with exercise).

The workout items included:

1 white tank top with shelf bra

2 tee shirts: the world vision 6k race one and the insanity max 30 one

1 pair of leggings

2 paris of jogging pants: one dance studio pair to wear to dance rehearsal and over the leggings, and one pair to use for running outside

So really I guess this should be called “10-Hanger-plus-7-workout-items-and-all-my-underwear-and-shoes-Project” instead, but I was mostly focused on the majority of my wardrobe to be inaccessible  to me so that would have to be satisfied with less.

Remember, I’m the “Wannabe” Minimalist; this is not easy for me to do.

For the entire month of November, these clothes will be the only clothes I wear. Yes, it will be challenging. Yes, I will wash them.

Here are the rules:

  1. Any combo of the clothes on the hangers may be worn.
  2. I can repeat outfits, but my goal is to be creative…. still I think it might be virtually impossible to wear a different combo each day of the month and not look like a crazy person.
  3. The limited clothes do not include accessories like scarves, jewelry or belts, and do not include underwear or shoes either.
  4. Workout clothes are for only working out or teaching fitness classes in. Except the leggings; I can wear them under the skirt or the dress. But not as pants because that’s tacky.
  5. No cheating; stay strong!

I will be updating you on my outfits, my progress, and what I am learning during this whole process, because I can’t even express to you how crazy this is for me or even all of what I’m hoping God will do with me during this time.

But I hope I’ll come out on the other side of November more content with my life, more free, more selfless, and more confident in who I am.

I hope to learn to appreciate even more what truly matters in life, and I hope I am able to forget about myself and my appearance in ways I never could before.

I hope I can break free from the stronghold of greediness and vanity so that I can focus more on loving God and loving people well. 

I hope that come December, when I pull out those boxes of clothes again, that I’ll be able to cut my former wardrobe by at least half so that I can continue to carry what I learn through this month with me onto the new year. 

But who knows what I’ll learn this November?!

I’ll be sure to keep you posted with lessons, thoughts, and pictures that document my walk through this #10HangerProject. That way, we can learn together and hopefully come out less of a wannabe and more of a minimalist on the other side of this 30 days.