Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shedding The Excess... and Now What?

This weekend was wildly successful in getting rid of "stuff". I started with a truck bed chock full of things to sell and came back with roughly 1/3 of it. The rest of it is going to be pared down by donation and there will be a few things that I will try once again to put on Craigslist or put on eBay.

I did a lot of people watching and saw a lot of consumer behavior at work during our rummage sale. It was so fascinating! There were a few people that literally could not walk away without buying something! They even expressed that sentiment out loud. Clearly there was nothing that they really wanted during the first go around, but they walked down the sidewalk again to check the tables in order to find something that they just "needed". One lady was so bothered by having fifty cents in leftover change that she stood at the table for a good five minutes to ponder what the best purchase at that table was for money.

On some level, watching people with this behavior was quite the painful reflection. I used to be like that. I never had that behavior at garage sales, but I would if there were loads of clearance racks at the department store. I would talk myself into buying stuff that I definitely didn't need but just wanted because "it was such a good deal". How many of us fell into that trap?

Over on the Get Rich Slowly blog, JD posted a blog today about impulse spending. I could really relate. The old me used to spend most of my paycheck at the retail establishment I worked at. Their clothes weren't of good quality and it was very seasonal trendy, not classic. I shudder to think how much money I spent durning my days of working retail. Those experiences did however make me who I am today. My only debt is a student loan. I shop with much restraint and don't buy anything that isn't on sale or a reduced price 95% of the time. This isn't a fad lifestyle for me because of the "bad economy". This is my life... for good and I love it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shedding The Excess

I have gotten to the point where my extra stuff just has to go. I am tired of looking at it even if it is in a separate room to itself! I have been shedding and purging to the point where I am looking in places high and low to find more stuff let go of. This time is more of a cathartic ritual for some reason. Maybe it was because of all the deaths in my family last year. Possibly the downturn in the economy and the subsequent shift of collective culture in living more simply spurned this. Who knows.

I'm always inspired by David Bruno's 100-Thing Challenge but wonder if I could ever truly get there myself. There is more than likely at least 100 things going out for sale tomorrow alone! These were things that I was never in love with. That is probably a good thing since I have been pondering the notion of attachment since I took an interest in learning about Buddhism.

I look forward to shedding this excess and in turn, slowing down. I know I will still keep sorting and processing, as I am a creature of ever evolving nature. I will keep growing and learning. The tools and possessions of the past will be let go of as needed.

Change is all around and I am glad to be caught up in it for once.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cashing in on Trash

A few weeks ago, I was driving home and pulling up to my house as I noticed that my neighbors had a Dyson vacuum cleaner sitting on the curb for trash day. I was somewhat struck with horror that someone would be throwing out a vacuum that costs over$300! After I went into my house for a few minutes, I decided to walk over and see what was up with the gem on the curb. My neighbor was throwing it out because it "lost suction". Oh, the irony. She had tried to fix it but gave up and just got another one for Christmas. She told me to take it if I wanted and have it serviced so it I could have a nice little vacuum. Hmm.

Well I didn't need another vacuum and didn't feel like going down the customer service/parts/repair route. I knew it had value though. So since I am an unemployed student at the moment, I put it on Craigslist for $25. That was probably the easiest $25 I have ever made but it still bothers me that people are such casual disposers of valuable items. I once found 6 all wooden chairs by a dumpster. I sold them on Craigslist for $15. Too easy.

Why is our American society so throwaway? Why do so many people feel no responsibility for what they junk? It is becoming increasingly difficult to sit back and not take some sort of action to take care of other people's problems.

Or maybe I just have too much time on my hands.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Finally Here!

Be careful what you ask for...

As you can tell from my previous posts, I really wanted out of my job! I kept putting that message out to the universe and, well, the universe answered back! Back in April it was announced that my company was taking my full-time salaried position and making it a part-time hourly position. 

At first I was shocked (it might of had something to do with me receiving this knowledge in an e-mail with my coworkers all copied on it). As a few days went by though I realized that this could be a great opportunity. Of course, I could stay. I could take the drastic pay cut. We are constantly bombarded with the message of how fortunate one is to have a job in this economy! I was fed up and didn't want it anymore though. Management was not even interested in expressing that it may have been a hard decision but that I would be helping them out by staying since I had all the knowledge and skills of the position. The message I got was that I was rather dispensable. I didn't want to feel or be labeled that for one more second. So I did what any self-respecting person in my position would do, I put in my two weeks notice!

There was so much more drama that was involved but I don't feel like hashing it all out again. I decided to take care of myself and finish up my last few classes that I need for my degree. I am in no rush to find another job. I built up some savings while working and got a decent payout for my vacation that I never got to take advantage of in TWO years! 

The plan is school but also to start my own business. I have been licensed as a massage therapist for several years now but fell under the spell of the so called "security" that corporate jobs provide. How laughable! My business model is to market to businesses because employees really need me! People are overworked, over stressed and under appreciated right now. I hope I can connect with those that can truly benefit from my talent since it clearly wasn't happening in the mental health field! 

For once, my future really feels like it is under my command. I made a conscious decision to not do what was easy or secure. I am the captain of my own ship, navigating by the stars. I was not meant to do or be anything less. Now that I am done trying to be a square peg in a round hole, the world awaits! 

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Questions, No Answers Yet

As you may already know, I am having very REAL fantasies of quitting my job. Something has taken over me and I just can't shake it. 

I really want to travel.

I don't care if it is camping, backpacking in a park or throughout the world! I feel like a caged animal from 8-5, Monday through Friday. The buzz of fluorescent light fixtures and computers is driving me insane. I long to be outside. I have never felt these urges as strong as I have lately. I hate feeling like I am trapped in the rat race. Slowly shedding possessions has helped but it almost seems like baby steps for the BIG EVENT! My brain obsesses all day about life in an Airstream, on the trail or in a foreign city. What would I bring? How would I survive? I am already in survival mode being at a job I don't like so it seems like second nature to think about survival in other situations. 

I recently went on backpacking trip to the Guadalupe mountains. I have never done anything like that yet I had dreamed about it for years to the point where I was giving up on that dream actually happening. It was a hard hike. I complained. I hurt. I was relieved when it was over. Now I wish I was there right this moment, maybe with a lighter pack this time! ;)

I need to get out. One of my strengths is planning. That is what I am going to keep doing... planning my escape from boredom into freedom. I trust that I will know exactly when the moment is right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Night

I find that the saddest day of the entire week is a Sunday. There is still that high of having weekend freedom but the harsh reality that it will end come morning. Then the weekday grind will set in! There never seems to be enough time to get anything accomplished outside of work between Monday and Friday! I have to plan my weeks more strategically now to be able to include my workouts. The company I work for changed the rules recently for us to be able to workout on company time. I no longer have enough time to complete my strength training classes like I was doing twice a week. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at the fact that I am complaining about that, but I work at a non-profit and therefore receive the salary of someone working at a non-profit. If I was making a healthy salary, I might not be complaining. 

I did spend a fair amount of time contemplating what my next step will be as far as the work situation goes. These are the options that I have come up with:

  1. Quit immediately. I will float on the vacation payout I would receive until I am able to find my next full time job. I could do one job or a couple of part time jobs.
  2. Find a part time job and just hold that one while I finish up my last 9 hours of school in the summer.
  3. Go from this full time job but only once I secure another full time job.

Option #3 is clearly the most "secure" thing to do but would also leave me miserable at my current position for even longer. 

Option #2 is manageable but I would definitely have to alter my current method of budgeting to make it work. Right now, I am saving roughly 1/2 of my income so I wouldn't be able to save as much. 

Option #1 is definitely enticing! I feel pretty confident that I would be able to be employed in a reasonable amount of time even though I have friends that have been unemployed for months. Maybe I am over-confident? 

In all seriousness, this may be a moot discussion. I just have this nagging feeling that I might get laid off soon. It is pretty sad when I conclude that it may be the best thing that ever happened to me! 

For now I can relish in the great weekend that I had and hold on to that until I fall asleep. Hopefully this coming week won't be as bad as the last and Friday will be here before I know it!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Safety Net of Corporate Slavery

This post is probably going to come across as more of a rant than anything else! I have been so frustrated lately with my job. I don't want the career that I have. I have worked far too many years in a field that I never had any desire to be in... mental health. I stumbled into this field by taking a really great part-time job that had FULL benefits. Then it got to where just working part-time wasn't really paying down the debt so I got a full-time job doing the same thing because it was EASY. I had contacts, called them up and so I just took a full-time gig they offered. Now I feel stuck nearly two years later. Morale at my company is terrible because the person in charge is paranoid that we are all trying to cheat the company in some way. There would be a lot of turnover right now if the job market were better. I want to quit so badly but don't know what I would like to do instead. 

This situation directly relates to why I want to downsize my life. I feel that the less I have to take care of (possessions, friendships, work obligations), the freer I become. I didn't need that Coach purse that was equivalent to a car payment after all. I don't need the friendships with people that don't bring positive energy to my life. I don't want the work obligations where I feel like I am constantly on someone else's watch. Fear is stopping me though. I need a job where I can have healthcare benefits to see the doctor or get my teeth cleaned. I would have to make much more per hour if I was shelling out for my own policy. It's scary out there. What if some drunk person crashes into me while driving? Fear is motivating me to stay where I am at for now. 

I need to do some serious number crunching to find out what it would take for me to independent from the corporate slavery. I need to get out of this fear mode I seem to be stuck in. I need some air to breathe...

Maybe a few days off of work would be a good thing for now...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Slowly Getting Things Done

I am off to a really slow start but I have managed to get rid of quite a few things! In the past week I have sold the juicer, clothing and shoes. Last night I donated many of the clothing items that Plato's closet didn't buy and that an upscale consignment shop wouldn't take. It is shocking to think about how much all of that stuff cost when it was purchased off the rack. There were a few things that truly got worn enough to justify the purchase but there were many things that weren't! It is time to think about why I bought these things. I will also do a better job when it comes time to standing at the checkout line and deciding if I really need something or I just want something. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Current Economic State

I have been keeping my eye on the news and how many people have been laid off in the past few weeks. It is staggering. It also doesn't appear to be getting any better. 

This tough economy is bringing about much change. I read about people trying hard to pay down their debt and slough off possessions they no longer need. That is exactly what I am doing but I am not alone! We had a very prosperous economy for some time because people spent excessively and got themselves into debt. I now have many more questions than answers. How are we going to have a prosperous economy again if people keep saving more and spending less? Can America withstand this trend? Was keeping up with the Joneses what made us so economically viable in the first place? 

It will be interesting to see what happens in the near and more far off future. As a nation, we are really about to see what we are made of. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Random Thought of The Day

I formally renounce my idea that being bullied back in middle school was a bad thing.

I was part of the cool girl clique for the first month or so when I was in 6th grade. Then I made the mistake of buying something similar to the queen bee of the clique. Next thing you know I am accused of copying her. I am then threatened by her and her worker bees that they are going to "kick my ass". I am subsequently banished and left to eat lunch in the library or with my homeroom teacher. It really sucked. 

My mother and I decided it would be best for me to transfer schools since it was causing me so much stress and was a huge distraction. I had been in a gifted & talented program and was attempting honors at that point but was failing. I hated those girls and I hated that I had to transfer. It wasn't an easy walk in the park at the new school either at first but eventually I found a niche. 

Fast forward to the point of the story: I am going out to dinner with a friend that I met at the new school I transferred to. We had been out of contact since we graduated from middle school (we went to different high schools) and I moved to another state towards the end of high school. I found her again on MySpace and was absolutely shocked to find out she was living in the same area that I am in now! Now I have someone nearby who was an old buddy of mine! If I had not been bullied and had to transfer, I would have never of met my friend. Funny how I could easily have remembered only the negative things about being bullied but I appreciate what I went through tonight since it made me who I am and gave me the friends that it did. 

So here is to you Miss Former Queen Bee K.T.: Thank you for being so awful to me because it brought around many great friendships that I still have! Oh and just try to say you would kick my ass now, I took martial arts as an adult! ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Closer to Freedom From Debt

This last Friday was payday for me. I paid off the last $580 on my credit card. No more credit card debt! I have put my credit cards away and now only carry my bank card in my wallet. I also readjusted my automatic savings plan to put that usual monthly amount of money that I was paying towards credit card debt to now go to my online savings account. It feels amazingly wonderful! I paid off my car towards the beginning of last year as well. The giant beasts that I have to tackle now are saving as much as possible and paying down my student loans

Last year was FULL of unexpected expenses. I was free of credit card debt for a short time before several emergencies came up. I traveled out of state on three different occasions due to a family member's terminal illness. When it comes to something like that, frugality mostly goes out the window. I also had to have a root canal and crown done. Not exactly something you skimp on. 

I am now saving roughly one third of my monthly income to a high yield savings account and my Roth. I haven't really thought about what my savings goals are other than replenishing the nest egg and retirement. 

I cannot believe how much my attitudes have changed about finances in the past few years. When I had a retail job at a clothing store, I would blow almost all my paycheck on the "great deals" that I got with my employee discount on the clearance stuff. I have nothing to show for it either because all the clothes are gone. I grew out of that style and went for a look that was more mature. 

There will probably be some people that won't like me for saying this: this economic downturn has taught me so much that I think it has been beneficial. I am really getting reinforcement that it isn't money or possessions that bring my happiness but it is the relationships with people and gaining inner wisdom that feeds my soul. I have weathered so much and become a stronger person now. It is merely the beginning. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Purge Time, Part 2

I have an entire room that for the time being is entirely devoted to storing the stuff that I am trying to get rid of. I am excited about the prospect of clearing it out and using it as a home office, studio and guest bedroom! Often purging items is the most difficult task at hand if one doesn't decide to just donate everything in one fell swoop to a local charity. I have been trying to make a little cash from my de-cluttering so Craigslist has been very handy. Here is a list of things to go, why and where they are going:

  • Juicer - I have had this juicer for at least 5 years and only used it a handful of times. The first time I juiced carrots, the juice sent me into a moderate asthma attack. Should of paid attention to that omen! Getting fresh juice at Whole Foods is more convenient (although more expensive) since I don't drink juices all that often. (Craigslist)
  • High School Graduation Cap & Gown - I hate storing clothing items! These have been sitting around in a box for years and what in the world am I going to do with them? It isn't like you wear them again for reunions! I called my alma mater and asked if they keep some on hand for kids with financial hardship and indeed they do! Perfect. (Donating)
  • Prom Dress - Once again, where am I going to wear this? I'm pretty confident it would still fit but I have not been to one special occasion since prom! Fortunately it is a pretty classic and simple dress so I can resell it. If there are no takers, there are some charities that helps girls if they cannot afford a dress that I will donate it to. (Craigslist or donation)
  • Original Nintendo - I got my Nintendo and my sister's old Sega Genesis about 5 years ago. It was fun to revisit the games I loved as a kid. But times have changed and I have J-O-B along with many other goals that don't include wasting valuable time in front of the television. I hear that the classic games are available for the Wii if I ever decide that I must conquer Zelda again. I can live with that. Best of all, there would be no pink screen of doom! I am going to watch the going prices on eBay to see if it is worth listing and get a quote from Gazelle.(eBay or Gazelle)
  • CD Player Alarm Clock - I love this alarm clock! It has some really awesome features such as dual alarms, weekend sleeper, adjustable display brightness and gradual alarm that progressively gets louder. Two problems though: it takes up a lot of nightstand real estate and I have no CDs so it seems weird having that kind of alarm clock. I looked extensively for a smaller replacement with all the same features but I had no luck. I realized that it would be much more simple to use the alarm clock feature on my cell phone. Done. I just have to make sure to not give my number to people who 'drunk dial' in the middle of the night! =) I will try it first on Craigslist and if it doesn't sell, eBay. (Craigslist or eBay)
What would you do with these items? I know I am trying to get rid of a few items that some would find too sentimental to part with. Some of my family still holds on to those gowns and prom dresses. I am not going to inform them of my decisions because then they will try and rescue the items to save at their house. Yes, I come from a long line of clutter bugs! 

I can't wait to reclaim the space!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Purge Time

Today at work, my mind kept drifting to something I knew I needed to do: purge my closet of unused things. When I say that I love doing that, I mean it! There is something magical to me about clearing up more space so that the arrangement is more visually appealing. I get a high off from the sense that I can let go of "old" in order to let "new" in. The problem lies within the reasoning that occurs after a purge. It is time to shift the focus.

Fighting the Urge to Bargain Shop
I am finding that many of my items that I am purging were the result of shopping at a department store clearance center. It is practically irresistible to get 75% of the suggested retail price and often more during special events. The problem is that I find stuff that I rarely need. So I wear the items once or twice and figure out what a poor decision I made because for 75% off, I could find a way to make it work! Even worse is the fact that all items are non-returnable. Mental note to self, my clothes shopping needs to be more like food shopping (sticking to a list of well thought out essentials)!

Fighting the Urge to Hold On
I have been hiding this little messenger bag that I bought almost 10 years ago at the bottom of a drawer so it would stay out of my sight! I purchased it in Germany while on a graduation trip. In all these years, I have probably used it once! I tell myself that I bought it while in Germany so it is like a souvenir. It is a pretty impractical one though. It is too small to carry my laptop yet not cute enough to carry as a purse. It has no purpose for me. I don't consider myself very sentimental (I get rid of stuff from old boyfriends and recycle greeting cards) but this one item has been held on to for so long. It is time for it to go finally. I don't know why this time is right but it just is. I have fond memories of Europe in the form of pictures and that is enough for me.

A List of What Had to Go:
  • 3 pairs of high heels (two pairs very worn, one pair nearly new condition)
  • 1 pair of boots (worn once, they were a gift)
  • 2 pairs of running shoes (one pair out of miles, one pair like new but don't fit well and never got returned)
  • 1 business casual blazer (new with tags... and I hope that is the only NWT item that was in my closet)
  • 3 bags
  • 3 workout shirts (nearly 100% polyester and I absolutely hated them for that)
  • 3 pairs of pajama type bottoms
  • 2 t-shirts
More to come later...

Getting Started

It is five days into 2009 and I am finally ready to commit to my goal of blogging! 

What will this blog be about?
My blog is going to give you a peek inside my brain as I deliver commentary on the issues that are important to me in my journey of figuring out what my impact (or lack of impact) will be in life. Topics I will write about will be the things I am interested in:
  • organizing
  • consumerism
  • recycling
  • traveling
  • living simple
  • frugality
  • outdoors
  • local life in Dallas/Fort Worth
  • living and thinking "outside the box"
This is probably a short list of things to come. Come back often!