Monthly Archives

June 2017

Minimalism

How to Build A Capsule Wardrobe: A Guide For Beginners

Building a capsule wardrobe can be a great way to limit stress in your life. By picking a well-curated selection of 30 items of clothing in your capsule that you love, you can ensure you look stylish, and feel great each day with minimal effort!

A few years back at the beginning of my Minimalism discovery I came across the term Capsule Wardrobe. I’ve never been what you would consider a fashionista. My wardrobe normally consisted of jeans and a hoodie and band shirt. My friend and I used to laugh with our thrifty-ness of making old clothes last beyond their years through any means possible. If there was a way to be fashionable, and coordinate an outfit without much thought going into it, this was going to be a game changer for me.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, okay… a lot of Pinning more specifically. Whenever I talk wardrobes with people and mention the concept of a capsule wardrobe I’m often surprised to hear that most people have never heard of the idea. Which is a something I am hoping to change. Read on for how to create your own capsule wardrobe!

THE BENEFITS OF A CAPSULE WARDROBE

Before we start our capsule wardrobe we must understand the benefits. Here are the benefits I have personally found:

  1. Having  a capsule wardrobe means it is less stressful to get ready. It is one less time consuming decision to make during your day so you can focus on more important or enjoyable things like spending time having your morning coffee.
  2. Having all your clothes in one area makes it easier to mix and match your outfits. A well curated capsule wardrobe means that your outfits easily work together and items that suit your lifestyle which in turn leaves your feeling more confident.
  3. It saves you time on your laundry. If you have a capsule of 30 items, you will probably only have one load of washing per person per week. This avoids the dreaded mountain of unwashed clothing that comes with your average wardrobe!
  4. You can feel comfort knowing that everything in your capsule has been hand picked by you and are items that you love. No more walking out the door only to realise the pants you grabbed don’t fit anymore or are uncomfortable.
  5. It will save you money. When you have 30 or so items that you love you feel less of a need to continually hit the shops trying to find the perfect outfit when you have a perfectly amazing wardrobe at home!
  6. It is better for the environment. Fast fashion has created 6000kg of clothing and textile waste every ten minutes in Australia. By choosing to adopt a capsule wardrobe you are helping to reduce the clothing ending up in landfill by only buying quality, loved clothing pieces and being more mindful of what you buy.
  7. Despite what you may think having a capsule wardrobe is less boring and more creative as each day you get to create a new outfit mix, rather than picking the same old items in your overflowing wardrobe.

Now that we understand the amazing benefits of adopting a capsule wardrobe we can get started!

WHERE DO I START?

Before you make a start on your capsule wardrobe you are going to need to identify what you want in it. This involves going through your current wardrobe and decluttering and only keeping what you love or in Kon Mari’s words what “sparks joy”. These steps will help you get your decluttering started:

  1. Prepare your working area. Make the bed as a clothing work space, grab a few boxes, containers – whatever you have and label them with the following 4 signs; Keep, Toss, Donate, Mend.
  2. Take all your clothing, all of it, and lay them out on the bed. Grab anything in your washing baskets so you can ensure you haven’t missed anything. If you are someone that only has small pockets of time to declutter you can do this by category such as shoes, shirts, dresses and so on until you have gone through each category. This will make the process slower but is better than not doing it at all.
  3. Next pick out the items that you love and wear on a regular basis from your pile. Put the “love” items into the container marked keep. It is often easier to choose what we love than what we don’t so is helpful to start with the ones you know you wear and love first.
  4. Go through your pile and put anything you don’t like, or don’t wear anymore in to two separate piles. One to be donated, any items that are still wearable. One to Toss, for anything else that is not in good condition. If you have the time and energy, you can also put some of the more pricey donate items into a pile to be sold to add some extra cash into your budget.
  5. If there is anything that you love, but that needs repairing put this into a separate ‘mend pile’ and action these in the next week or so. If they need a new button sew it on, if you need to take it to the professionals put them in your car to take to your alteration store.
  6. Continue to work through your pile until you have sorted all items.

If you are left with anything you are unsure about, I call these the “Maybe”pile you can do the following:

  1. If you are not yet ready to part with items in this pile you can place the items in a container to be stored out of your closet for a short period of time. I recommend no more than three months.
  2. Set a reminder on your phone to review the container once the time limit is up. If you find you do want to use something you’ve stored away, you can go and ‘save’ it.
  3. After three months donate the items in the container. Generally after three months you will realise that you don’t miss the items you stored anymore and don’t need them and be willing to let it go.

>> Check out  9 Decluttering Methods For Your Home for extra tips on methods you can use to declutter your wardrobe and home.

After this process you will now be ready to curate a capsule wardrobe from your newly minimised wardrobe.

 

Mix and match your favourite colours in your capsule wardrobe. Picking 3-4 colours can make styling different outfits much easier.
Photo: Priscilla Du Preez

 

CLOTHING TO SUIT YOUR LIFESTYLE

It is important to be honest with yourself and what you wear day to day. Are you really going to wear that old bridesmaid dress again? Do you own 5 pairs of short shorts but never wear them? Do you have clothing that needs ironing which you haven’t ironed in six months? This wardrobe is designed for your lifestyle now.

Pick what you love to wear now, what you feel comfortable in and what suits your lifestyle. If you work in an office that might mean more button up blouses, if you are a yoga instructor you might only own one button up blouse and 10 gym outfits. Curate the capsule wardrobe for your present needs.

To make your capsule flow day to day, try and pick a colour theme. Basing your wardrobe around three to four colours is ideal. For example, if your wardrobe is made up of black, white, grey and blue you can mix and match these colours effortlessly. Of course feel free to pick whatever colours you love, it’s your capsule 🙂

CAPSULE WARDROBE RESOURCES

Check out Fashion Youtubers such as Lindsay Albanese for tips on How to Flatter Your Body Issues With Clothes to help you pick the right clothing choices for your capsule or watch Jennifer L. Scott’s Ten Item Wardrobe TEDx Talk for tips on where to start with picking the core items for your capsule wardrobe.

My favourite Capsule Wardrobe blogger Courtney Carver’s Project 333 is a great starting point for your capsule wardrobe. Courtney started blogging about her wardrobe of 33 pieces including accessories and shoes in 2010, in which she picks a capsule wardrobe of 33 items including clothes, shoes and accessories for 3 months and changes them out each new season.

 

Take the Minimise With Me 21+9 Capsule Wardrobe Challenge!

 

MWM 21+9 CAPSULE WARDROBE CHALLENGE

After researching into different capsule wardrobe options, I decided to come up with my own capsule wardrobe challenge. After considering my wardrobe needs I came up with the following:

Two capsule wardrobes that can blend together to fit different areas of your life:

– a 21 item wardrobe for your non-work, everyday life and

– a 9 item wardrobe for work

I don’t wear my work pants or all of my work tops on the weekends, but I do mix and match things like my scarf, some of my tops and coats/jackets so I came up with having a capsule for work and non-work occasions that is still inter-changeable so I can wear pieces for both work and outings but not have my main wardrobe taken up by pieces I only wear to work.

What is excluded: In my capsule wardrobe I exclude pajamas, gym clothes, lounge-wear, swimmers, underwear, singlets or thermals, and accessories.

I feel that buy the time you add in a couple of necklaces, a belt, sunnies, a scarf, a watch and bracelet to your capsule, a lot of your capsule wardrobe limit is taken up so I wanted to be free to mix and match accessories and not focus too much on those limitations within my capsule. By all means don’t go crazy buying 10 belts and 15 pairs of earrings for yours but allows some variety!

The goal is to limit your decision making and stress! My necklace collection is probably larger than others, but as I do wear what I have, I wanted to ensure my capsule didn’t restrict the freedom for me to do that.

What is included: Include all other clothes – pants, tops, dresses, shorts, skirts and so on as well as your shoes.

BUILDING YOUR CAPSULE WARDROBE

Grab a pen and paper and create a list for your capsule wardrobe. Start with the numbers 1-21 on a piece of paper for your every day wear and 1-9 for your work wardrobe. Create a blend of items from your new wardrobe of ‘loved’ pieces. Pick ones that are suitable for the season you are going to be in for the next three months. An example of my current winter capsule wardrobe is:

Everyday Capsule (21 items)

Shirts – 10
Coat/Jacket/Jumpers – 4
Pants – 3
Skirts/Shorts – 1
Shoes – 2
Scarf – 1

Work Capsule (9 items)

Work pants/skirts – 2
Work shirts – 5
Long cardi – 1
Shoes – 1

Once you have your 30 items hang them up in your wardrobe and box up the remaining items to be reviewed next season. Don’t go and fill your wardrobe with new clothes now that you have more space unless you are missing key pieces or want to swap out items in your capsule.

WHAT IF 30 ITEMS IS JUST TOO LIMITED FOR MY LIFESTYLE

If you find 30 items too difficult to get to, aim for close to that. Go up to 35 or 40 items and see if that can work for you. You might find you don’t need the extra items after all or even if you do, you’ve at least come a long way from where you were previously with a bulging wardrobe.

REVIEWING YOUR CAPSULE WARDROBE

In order to check what you have and haven’t worn without much thought, use the Backwards Hanger Method. Turn all your coat hangers backwards when you start your capsule wardrobe and put worn items back the regular way when they are washed. At the end of the month you will easily be able to see what you did and did not wear. This will help you to make decisions on what to keep in your capsule for the next season and what to donate.

At the end of the three months, check what you did and didn’t wear and alter your wardrobe accordingly.

KEEPING YOUR WARDROBE MINIMISED

A good rule of thumb to avoid getting carried away and refilling your newly minimised wardrobe is to implement a one, one out rule. This rule requires you to donate one item for every item of clothing you bring into your home. It will help you resist the urge to buy something unnecessary when you have to think about what  you are willing to get rid of in place of it.

For more ideas on building your capsule wardrobe check out my Minimise With Me Building a Capsule Wardrobe board on Pinterest for some inspiration. 🙂

Do you have a capsule wardrobe? Let me know how many items you find works for you in the comments 🙂

 

Budgeting

A Quick Guide to Reviewing Your Superannuation Fund

Reviewing your superannuation fund can be one of the most efficient ways to save for your retirement. Fees can add significant costs and eat away at your retirement nest egg if they are left unchecked. The sooner you conduct a check in of your superannuation fund the sooner you can ensure your money is being invested in the best way for you.

I’ve recently been on a personal finance binge and was recommended Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor book from many people. I bought it two weeks ago and have just finished it. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to take control of your finances and achieve financial freedom. This should be everyone! In particular, I loved the advice on Australian Super funds which can see like a minefield of confusion.

I’d always thought I was on top of my super. I’d consolidated all my superannuation accounts into one. I chose one considered to be low fee, updated my information and checked my bi-monthly statements each time I received them. Each month I’d make sure my superannuation was paid within my payslip and if I moved, I’d update my address.

After reading the Barefoot Investor, I realised that there was more I could do and set out to learn as much as I could from his book and my own research. Scott Pape points out that we work 15 hours a month to earn our 9.5% super so we should be dedicating a small amount of effort into making sure we’re in the right super fund and I couldn’t agree more!

I wanted to not only learn how to make my super work better for me, but to compile information for others to help arm you with more knowledge about your superannuation so you can make the right decisions for  your future.

GIVE YOUR SUPERANNUATION FUND A QUICK TUNE UP

Here is a list of five things you can do right now to give your superannuation fund a quick tune up.

1. Set up an online account for your super.

If you don’t already have one, set up an online account for your superannuation. Save your password and log in details somewhere safe so you can access your account at any time. Request emailed statements and keep these in your email inbox (I try to go paper free as much as possible, if that isn’t your thing feel free to print them out). Label them as Superannuation in your gmail for easy access or if you print them, file them in your superannuation folder for easy access.

2. Download your Super fund’s mobile app.

This will allow you to easily login to check how your investments are performing and what your superannuation balance is.

3. Consolidate your super accounts.

Did you change employers and join your new employers preferred super fund? If you haven’t consolidated your old superannuation accounts you could be paying fess of $400 or more annually on each account and losing out on growth in your retirement savings. Don’t let dormant super accounts steal your retirement nest egg. You can find your lost super through MyGov, or you can contact your current superannuation fund and request they consolidate your super on your behalf. Alternatively find more options for finding lost super through Superguide.

4. Check your insurance cover.

When choosing a super fund you should opt in to the Death and Total & Permanent Disablement insurance. These will protect you and your loved ones by paying out a lump sum in the event of death or disablement. There is also an option to get Income Protection Insurance which will pay you a percentage of your wage (up to 75%), usually after a waiting period of 90 days in the event that you can’t work due to sickness or injury. The fees for this will come out of your super fund so you don’t have to pay them from your own after tax wages.

5. Update your beneficiaries.

If something happens to you who do you want your super going to? Best to make this decision well before it becomes an issue. You should update this with life changes such as a marriage,
relationship breakdown, after having children and so on.

NB: If you are considering changing your superannuation fund, hold off on these steps until you have decided whether to stay with your current fund or change to a new one to save you redoing them!

REVIEW YOUR SUPERANNUATION FEES

Check your super fees by downloading your super funds Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). This should be found with a quick online search of “Your super fund PDS”.

These are a summary of the types of fees you are likely to be charged on your superannuation account:

Administration fee: This is a weekly admin fee covering the general running of your superannuation account. This can cost around $5 per month, approximately $60 or more a year.

Asset-based Administration Fee: The asset based administration fee is a fee in addition to the admin fee that will be charged as a % of your total superannuation balance. These differ depending on the fund that you are in. The higher the balance in your super fund the higher your fee. An asset fee of 0.15% on a $50000 investment amounts to $75 a year.

Investment Fee: This is the fee for your investment allocation and is also charged as a percentage of your superannuation balance. These fees can range quite significantly. On a $50000 superannuation balance a fee of 0.02% would cost $10 a year versus a fee of 0.64% at $320 per year. This is where the bulk of your superannuation fees come from so is the most important one to review and compare.

Switching Fees: Some superannuation funds charge this fee when switching your investment choice this can be around $25 per change. Others don’t charge a fee for switching investment choices which is ideal so you are fee to change your investment choice, fee free as it suits you.

Exit fees: Some superannuation funds charge and exit fee to leave them such as a $36 fee.

Compare your superannuation funds fees to others and see how they compare. High fees can eat up a significant portion of your investment over a period of decades.

Check out the Super Guide’s Top 10 Cheapest Australian Super Funds from Feb 2017 for some comparison on Superannuation costs across some of the cheaper Australian Funds.

Once you have reviewed and compared your superannuation fees make a decision on whether to stay with your current fund or change.

 CHANGING YOUR SUPERANNUATION FUND

Changing your superannuation is a fairly simple process. The easiest way to go about it is to sign up for your new fund online, fill out the online form with your details and tick the box that allows your new fund to consolidate you old super account balance into your new one. You will also need to mail off a signed copy of your form.

When filling in your application form you can opt in to the new superannuation funds insurance cover and select income protection insurance cover is you want that additional insurance cover. You will also need to choose beneficiaries and select an investment option from your super funds available options. For more information on these see the Investment Options listed below.

When you receive your new superannuation membership number give this to your work’s Payroll Officer as soon as possible so they can ensure all future superannuation payments are paid to your new account.

>> If you want to learn more about achieving financial freedom check out How the Debt Snowball Can Get You Debt Free Faster

THE TRUE IMPACT OF SUPERANNUATION FEES

Canstar Australia’s biggest financial comparison site did an analysis on two different people’s superannuation funds to consider the future superannuation balance of two 25 year olds if they paid fees of 0.75% and 1.75% a year. The assessment was based on incomes of $45000 a year and $70000, increasing 4% annually. With 10% of their salary being contributed to superannuation annually until the age of 65. An investment return of 8% annually was used.

The findings were the someone earning $45000 per year, with the above conditions, could potentially accumulate nearly $330000 more in super if they had lower fees (0.75% versus 1.75%), whilst the person earning $70000 per year could have over $450,000 more in super with the lower 0.75% fee compared to the 1.75%. The results can be found in the table below.

Earning $45,000 per year Earning $70,000 per year
Beginning Salary $45,000 $45,000 $70,000 $70,000
Salary increase annually 4% 4% 4% 4%
SG rate (annual contributions) 10% 10% 10% 10%
Investment return in super each year 8% 8% 8% 8%
Annual fees (%) 0.75% 1.50% 0.75% 1.50%
Beginning super balance $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000
Super balance in 40 years, at age 65 $1,880,074 $1,551,237 $2,696,232 $2,240,590
Difference in super balance $328,837 $455,642

This example demonstrates how important it is to consider the superannuation fee when determining your chosen super fund and monitoring them closely. Choosing the wrong one could cost you tens of thousands in lost super over your investment period.

CHECK YOUR INVESTMENT ALLOCATION OPTIONS

This is the type of investments you have in your super fund and can include Australian and International Shares, Property, Infrastructure, Bonds and Cash Investments. Your super fund will have a range of investment options that may sound complicated but to help you decipher them, here is a summary of the four main investment options:

Growth options are ideal for people in their 20s or 30s. These investment options are made up of 85% shares and property investments or a high growth option will hold 100% in these investments types depending on the risk you are prepared to take on. Growth investment have the most risk. Expected rate of return is 6.2% before fees, taxes and other costs with a High volatility rating.

Balance investments are a make up of approximately 70% in shares or property and the remaining 30% in fixed interest and cash. This is a good mid-point for people that are not nearing retirement and want growth, but want to avoid the high level of risk that come with a 85-100% asset allocation in the growth options. Expected returns before fees, taxes and other costs are around 5.7% with a medium volatility rating.

Conservative investments are a blend of about 30% in shares and 70% fixed interest and cash. This holds the least risk and is a better investment option for people approaching retirement. The expected return for this asset allocation is around 4.2% before fees, taxes and other costs and have a low volatility rating.

Cash investments options invest your money in Australian deposit taking institutions aiming to reduce the losses in investments. The expected return of these investments are under 3% before fees, taxes and other costs and have a very low volatility rating so are better for people who want to keep their money safe and to keep up with inflation but are not looking for growth.

For more information on super investment options and asset allocation check out Money Smart’s Super Investment Options.

REVIEWING YOUR SUPERANNUATION’S PERFORMANCE

This can be found by typing in” your super fund investments performance”. Take into consideration the 5 and 10 year investment performance of your chosen investment option.

You ideally want to cover your annual fees of say 1% and inflation at 4%, a required return of 5% to keep ahead of fees and inflation and more than that in order to grow your investment. Review your superannuation funds performance regularly to consider whether your superannuation fund is giving you a sufficient return on your investment.

For more help in comparing your superannuation funds performance check out Canstar’s Compare Super Funds. Simply select your age and investment balance and it will populate a list of superannuation funds including the past 3 years performance of the fund.

 

CONSIDER SALARY SACRIFICING TO YOUR SUPERANNUATION

Consider salary sacrificing some of your before tax wages and take advantage of the tax concessions on offer. If you earn over $450 a month, your employer must pay 9.5% of your salary to your super fund this is called the Superannuation Guarantee. If you earn over $37000 a year you are paying a marginal tax rate of 32.5% plus 2% for the medicare levy for every dollar earned above this.

Superannuation contributions are taxed at 15% for individuals with income under $300,000 up to a maximum contribution of $25000 per year. By salary sacrificing some of your before tax wages to superannuation you will be giving yourself a tax discount of 19.5% per dollar.

In The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape recommends that  if you are in a position to do so – meaning you are debt free and have bought your first home and have saved up your three months of expenses – you should then consider topping up your 9.5% employer contribution to a full 15% – an additional 5.5% of your after tax wages.

On a salary of $70000 before tax with a marginal tax rate of 32.5% + 2% medicare levy, if you were to contribute an extra 5.5% to your super, a total of $3850 a year, you will reduce your tax bill by $750 a year ($3850 x 0.15 vs $3850 x 0.345).

GOING FORWARD

If you have taken all the above steps you can pat yourself on the back. Many other Australians have yet to do this and a rolling on auto-pilot and may not wake up until they are fast approaching retirement age.

Don’t forget to review your investment option over time. Consider your age and the type of investment option you should adopt, growth is you are in your 20s-30s, Moving to less risky balanced investment options as you approach your 40s and moving to larger cash asset allocation investments as you approach retirement.

From here please don’t return to auto-pilot mode. Set yourself a regular reminder to review your super. Quarterly should be frequent enough or you can do this monthly if you prefer. Grab your phone and set a digital reminder in your calendar for the first day of each quarter to check your investments. Now you won’t have to think about it until your reminder goes off and you can do a quick review and go back to whatever you had planned for your day.

Have your read the Barefoot Investor? What was the most valuable part in the book for you? Comment below with how it has helped you on your financial freedom journey!

Minimalism

The True Cost of Our Stuff

Often when we shop our main decision basis is one of price. We review the price tags as well as asking ourselves questions like; is it on special? Does it come with something free? Can I get two for one or buy one get one half price? We assume that we are frugal or budget savvy by considering these price points before purchasing. The issue is that this often means that the true cost of a purchase is not considered.

When we only consider these price points in the decision making process for new purchases we forget the most important costs. One of the prime and irreplaceable costs being – our time. One of my favourite quotes is from Minimalist blogger Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist. He says “We don’t buy things with money. We buy them with hours from our lives.” A thought I try to be conscious of this each day.

Before we head out to the shops, or to buy something online – or anywhere, we need to consider a few things. Not just the money spent to make that purchase, but the investment of time involved in owning something. This assessment allows us to truly make wiser purchasing decisions and to consider the true cost of our stuff.

There is much more that needs to be considered than just price alone. Here are 7 other things you should consider when making purchasing decisions to assess the true cost:

  1. Lack of mobility

When you consume excessively your rob yourself of future opportunities. What if a new position came up interstate that would be perfect for you but because you have a huge home filled with stuff you can’t move. What if you find the perfect rental property and you need to be out in a week but miss out because you can’t physically pack up all of your stuff that quickly. What if you need to sell your house whilst the market is booming but you take three months to declutter and pack your stuff and during that period the market drops suddenly and you lose thousands in the lost market price? Having too much stuff can hold you back from decisions that make you happy and add to your life and stop you from being mobile when you need to be.

  1. Environmental Cost of Excessive Consumption

When we consume in excess we increase our impact on the environment. Everything you buy comes with packaging – boxes, plastic, tape, tissue paper, foam and other stuff that will quite possibly end up in landfill. Not to mention the cost on our natural resources. Clothing manufacturing uses vast amounts of water and chemicals. The more we buy, the more our valuable resources are depleted and the more waste we create.

This impact is often not seen by the consumers but born by the wildlife and locals who live in the areas of manufacturing. Check out True Cost on Netflix for a great documentary on the environmental and human cost of our fast fashion industry. 

  1. Opportunity Cost

This is the cost of what you could have done with that money had you not spent it on a new outfit or tech gadget. Instead of buying more stuff you could have invested that cash in yourself such as; by starting your own business, signing up for an educational course, contributing to your retirement, going on a holiday, paying off your mortgage or other debt. All these things have the potential to greatly improve your circumstances.

When people reach the end of their lives the common regret is not wishing they bought more things over there life times, but wishing they would have spent more time with family and friends and traveled more. There would be more time to do in our younger years if we stopped working more and more to buy things we don’t need. Rather than spending our hard earned cash on more stuff, we should consider the true cost – the opportunity costs of spending that money on stuff which could have been redirected to save for our future and retire earlier and have more time to spend with the people we love, doing things we truly enjoy!

  1. Less time for your important relationships.

Whilst you are spending all Saturday morning cleaning your large home you’ve missed out on brunch with a friend, going out with the kids on a road trip, a morning walk with your wife.

The more stuff we have the more time we invest in cleaning it, maintaining, repairing not to mention the other stuff we don’t think of – the time we spend unpacking and setting it up, the time we spend reconciling our accounts each month, filing our receipts, finding a place for the item, washing it, moving it to dust or vacuum. The list goes on.

When buying something new ask yourself what is the true cost of this item? Are you prepared to spend the extra time to look after this item, dust it regularly, iron it weekly, pay for maintenance costs, take it for repairs when necessary and so on.

This goes for buying a house. A house is one of the biggest drains on your time. Consider whether you really need a two story mansion for you family of three or if you would rather spend the time you would have spent cleaning each weekend with your family not to mention the extra work hours needed to cover the larger mortgage.

 

If you like this article you may also be interested in reading “10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life“.

 

  1. The Cost to Our Health.

The more we spend, the more money we need to bring in to stay ahead and on top of our debt. Maybe you are working 80 hours a week to bring in the big bucks to keep up with your spending. As a result of overworking you get home too tired to spend time with your family or do anything for yourself like exercise or read a book. You begin to live for the weekend with Monday to Friday just being a blur of alarm clocks and falling asleep on the couch.

Not only is your health suffering from lack of time to exercise, cook a nutritional meal and relax after work but you will be carrying around a lot more stress if you are living pay-cheque to pay-cheque. This can soon escalate if you are constantly worrying how you will meet your bills and debt repayments each month. Many people are reaching retirement age saddled with large consumer and mortgage debts without considering the consequences if they suddenly have to retire due to health concerns.

  1. Anxiety and Stress Caused by Excess Clutter

Having lots of stuff adds stress and anxiety into our lives even if we are not aware of it. Clutter makes it difficult to relax physically and mentally and can make it an embarrassing time if unexpected guests rock up. Not to mention the added stress of not being able to find things, having to step over things constantly, pick up things endlessly to tidy up, or seeing cluttered spaces every time you open your drawers or wardrobe. The clutter is always there to remind us. This stress can be reduced by minimising your possessions and limiting what new items you bring into your home. Having space in your home, a sanctuary that you love can do wonders to alleviate stress and anxiety.

  1. Missing Out On Valuable Experiences

When we become so obsessed with buying more and more stuff we often miss out on the important things in life like experiences. How many people do you know that have never been on a holiday but easily spend money on other things without much thought – their nails, a daily coffee, an expensive car, new jewellery or outfit for a party. They constantly say I can’t afford to travel and yet don’t realise that if they were just a bit more intentional with their spending that they too could go on an occasional holiday. Whether it be a local one, interstate or overseas.

It doesn’t even have to be a holiday. Maybe they want to go to a fancy restaurant for their anniversary but can’t afford it. Sometimes we place more value in things that we can see and hold and keep and hold onto for years and years and we forget the importance of creating memories with loved ones. If you just saved $20 a week – just 2.5% of a $50000 annual after tax salary, you would have over $1000 saved with interest to invest in an experience that is important to you. It could be a weekend away, spa day and nice dinner and only takes a very small sacrifice each week.

Have you identified the true cost of stuff in your life? What changes have you made since to your purchasing choices? Share you comments below 🙂

Check out How I Discovered Financial Freedom Through Minimalism for more benefits on focusing less on our stuff and more on what is truly important to us.

Minimalism

How I discovered Financial Stability Through Minimalism

What if I told you there was a whole new way to financial stability that you may have not yet heard or considered? You might say something in reply like ‘Well, I’ve tried everything and there is no way I can get ahead’ Or ‘I don’t earn enough to save or have any financial stability’. But don’t fret!

What if I could show you that there was a way to get your finances in order without having to save every cent. Without living miserably whilst trying to keep your head afloat financially. Hoping that one day you would land a better paying job or win the lotto and your financial problems would be solved. A lifestyle where you could buy that expensive insert quality material possession you’ve wanted guilt free with a bit of forethought.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the term Minimalism by accident. It was during my lunch time Pinterest scroll where a few Pins came across my feed. I’d never really heard of ‘Minimalism’ before and wanted to learn more. I started to read the first post I came across. Then another and another. I became infatuated with the idea of living a more intentional life, reducing the excess to focus on the essential. Not long after I was reading and watching everything I could about the Minimalist lifestyle. What I didn’t realise at the time was how much this would have a positive effect on my financial stability.

Fast forward a couple of years to the present as I am typing this article. Minimalism has allowed me to change my whole relationship with money. I’ve always considered myself a frugal person that budgeted and saved and was keen to stay out of debt as much as possible. Those are all great financial habits and helpful to get to a point of financial stability, but I now see the missing piece of the puzzle. Through Minimalism, I have developed a more intentional approach to my finances and even more foresight for my financial future than ever before.

In the past most of my financial decisions were based on a price basis. I’d ask myself questions like – Was what I was buying a good price? Was is it on sale? Good questions by all means but they weren’t getting to the heart of the spending issue. Minimalism has opened my thought process up to a whole new dimension of financial decision making.

Instead of being focused just on price, I now consider other aspects of the purchase. These include asking myself questions before spending my money such as; is this the best use of my money? Could something I already have do the same job? Could I borrow this from a friend or family member if I only need to use it for a short amount of time? Is this something that will last me and be a quality product? Could my money be better utilised elsewhere?

The Minimalists define Minimalism as a tool that allows you to make decisions more consciously, more deliberately. To live a minimalist life to me, means living within your means and living more intentionally, getting off auto-pilot and reassessing your daily interactions and decisions. This I believe, is the key to financial stability. It doesn’t matter if you are earning a six figure salary and are spending more than six figures or only on a small wage. Minimalism can be used to help people on any income at any point on their financial journey.

I have found Minimalism a great tool in many areas of my life and one that can greatly add to your financial health. Here is How I discovered Financial Stability Through Minimalism.

  1. I trust myself to plan for the future.

I know that I will, through everyday actions, be thinking of ‘future me’ and how I can ensure ‘future me’ is not left behind at the expense of ‘today me’. This gives me confidence to know that my financial future will be one of stability as I have plans in place in order to prepare for any financial emergencies that may present themselves unexpectedly.

  1. I consider the bigger picture in decision making.

Minimalism has taught me to consider each purchase and take pause. Every purchase is well thought out and intentional. If I’m in kmart it’s because I’ve already made a list of what I need or want, where I am buying it and asked why I am buying it, and where it’ll be stored in my home. The temptation to impulse buy is reduced when you have to stop and think about your purchase decisions more thoroughly. The less I am buying on impulse, the less I will have to deal with buyers remorse and the shopping hangover that comes after a shopping binge.

  1. I no longer feel the need to impress or keep up with others.

Minimalism has taught me to appreciate what I do have and shown me that I don’t need to make decisions to impress others. Being more aware of what truly makes me happy gives me financial stability and the financial freedom to make decisions for the right reasons, not to impress others.

Not everyone has the same financial circumstances and bank account balance as you. No one knows what everyone’s personal financials are and we shouldn’t be blindly trying to keep up at the expense of our own financial stability. If you want something and can afford it, that’s great, but don’t do it because of some need to impress others.

  1. You’re more aware of your needs vs wants.

We bought our first home in our mid 20s, assuming at some point in the future we’d need to upsize when our one garage home with small rooms and one bathroom started feeling claustrophobic. Since discovering minimalism, instead of upsizing to a larger home, we donated, sold and cleared over half our our possessions.

Rather than getting a bigger home (and mortgage to go with it) we’ve stuck with our humble abode that is the perfect size for us. Sure, it might be nice to have some extra space and a more modern home, who doesn’t want that?! But we would rather have a smaller mortgage we can comfortably afford to pay.  And even better, being able to afford additional payments means we can be debt free earlier and that is more important to us.

  1. Seeing the importance of planning for unexpected financial disasters.

Before I discovered minimalism I maintained a small emergency fund and always made sure that if the car broke down or the hot water system blew we wouldn’t be stuck. There was some foresight to tackle any small potential disasters. But it was through discovering minimalism that I discovered a whole new level of financial stability.

I learnt how important it was to forgo temporary joy in the present for my future financial stability. This includes saving up three to six months of expenses to prepare for even bigger hiccups such as the possibility of a job loss. Having a goal to get an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses is no easy feat, but certainly adds a level of financial security.

If you were to lose your job tomorrow with a few months of pay stashed away, it would still be an unexpected development but one that you were prepared for. This emergency fund could give you the time to find a new job without worrying how you will pay your bills or put food on the table.

  1. I value my time and money more

Minimalism has taught me to value my time and money more and that means finding ways to spend my hard earned cash more efficiently. Like looking for new ways to decrease my expenditure and therefore hours required to earn that money, without necessarily decreasing my spending. Spending time to find discounts on bills such as insurance, registration, utilities, and phone bills which can add up quickly in your budget and often only require a quick call or online quote.

I save time by automating my saving transfers and ensure my money is transferred to a separate savings account before I am even tempted to spend it.

Each small investment of my time to reduce expenses not only decreases the time I need to spend working to earn that money, but also better manage my money so it can be better utilised and contributing to my financial stability.

  1. Minimalism frees up time which can in turn increase your savings.

In addition to the above point, one of the biggest benefits of minimalism is finding more free time and using it more efficiently. When you spend less time organising, cleaning, maintaining stuff and less time shopping for things you don’t need, you open up time to dedicate to more value adding activities.

This could include freeing up time you might have spend at the mall that you can now dedicate to reviewing your budget and analysing your expenditure to check in with your finance goals and to be more in control of your finances.

It can also free up time that might otherwise have been wasted. This could allow you to take up a side hustle to bring in extra income to further contribute to your financial stability.

  1. My debt appetite has been re-routed.

Minimalism has helped me to become more aware of how intrinsic debt is in our society. People will pay out their car loan and not long after they are going out to buy another car with another hefty loan. They are so accustomed to having a debt repayment they haven’t even considered what else they could be doing with their money if they were just willing to hold onto a slightly older vehicle. I am now even more unwilling to go into debt than ever before and focused on reducing my current debt as quickly as possible.

Having less credit card debt, or any other kind frees up your cash to invest in your savings account and allows you more financial freedom to plan for the future. If we don’t have cash for something we don’t buy it. Our emergency fund also helps ensure we never have to rely on a credit card for unexpected costs.  

  1. Minimalism encourages living within your means.

If you are not living within your means, your income is less than your expenses and you are going to end up going into debt to fund your lifestyle. Minimalism has shown me that it is possible to save and have financial stability despite the level of income, if I choose to live within my means.

Just because you earn six figures doesn’t give you the ability to be financially naïve and ignore your incomings and outgoings. Nor does it mean someone on $40000 can’t have a savings balance. By working out your income and expenses for the pay period and planning your budget, you can ensure that you aren’t spending more than you earn.

  1. Always asking is this the best use of my money?

Minimalism has taught me the importance of re-evaluating where my money is spent and asking whether that is the best use of my savings and income. It has shown me the importance of acting in the best interest of my goals.

Maybe you want to go on a trip to Europe next year but your friends want to go on regular shopping days. Or your friends asked you to go out for an expensive night of bar hopping that is going to blow your entire weeks spending budget. Minimalism reinforces how important it is to make intentional decisions each day to reach your goals.

Being more intentional about how I spend my money has helped me reach financial stability. Don’t be afraid to say no to an event or suggest alternate budget-friendly plans if something is going to put you in a financial pickle. Being open honest with friends and family can make this easier. If they understand your goals and why you are savings I’m sure they will be happy to make more budget friendly plans that can involve you.

Have you discovered financial stability through Minimalism? Please comment below and share your experiences!

If you loved this you may also enjoy reading 10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Lifestyle.

Minimalism

How to Reduce Your Waste Footprint

This week I finally caught up with watching the ABC’s #WarOnWaste program hosted by Craig Reucassel and was completely shocked at the level of waste in Australia. And not just the unwanted stuff, but the perfectly good food that is going to waste.

I do try and be mindful of our waste and try to be conscious of waste in my home. Whether that be by only buying what is on our list, trying to use up as much of our fresh produce as we can and by recycling everything that we can. I wasn’t aware of the true situation of Australia’s waste and couldn’t be more grateful to this show for helping me realise that. If you are yet to see it please do. You will not regret it and living in ignorance is a big part of the problem. Let’s be educated! You can watch all three episodes of War on Waste on ABC’s iView.

I’m hoping to share some information I got from the show as well as tips you can try at home to reduce your waste and impact on the environment.

SOME QUICK WAR ON WASTE FACTS

  • Every year the waste we generate in Australia is growing twice the rate of our population.
  • As a nation we use over 2 million shopping bags a day.
  • In Australian households 20% of food is binned.
  • The average family throws out $3500 worth of food each year.
  • 40% of bananas along with other fruits and vegies are binned due to strict cosmetic standards. Often these are just because a banana is too long or short or curved, or a potato has an irregular shape – the freshness of the item is not taken into account.
  • Australian’s throw out a tram-full of coffee cups every half hour.
  • the greenhouse gases produced by food waste in Australian landfill each year is equivalent to the emissions of Australia’s steel and iron ore industries combined

TIPS ON REDUCING YOUR HOUSEHOLD WASTE

  1. Meal plan and shop from a list to avoid buying excess food. You can always buy more but you often can’t take the excess back. Only buy what you need. If you only plan to use two tomatoes don’t buy a pack just because they are cheaper. When you bin four of them they won’t be. See here for more tips on how you can save on groceries and reduce the food waste in your home.
  2. Buy a reusable coffee cup. I got one from Keep Cup and have seen many others in Kmart, Typo and other stores.
  3. Bring your reusable bags. Shopping bags are the worst thing that an end up in landfill and are very hard to recycle. Bring your own reusable bags instead and help reduce the number of bags ending up in landfill.
  4. Bring in any spare bags to your supermarkets bag recycling bin.
  5. Extend the life of your herbs by putting them in a glass of water as soon as you bring them home.
  6. Test eggs by dropping them into a glass of water. If they sink they are okay to eat.
  7. Avoid taking bags for fresh produce. Put them in your trolley, basket or reusable bag.
  8. Check your fridge regularly to see what leftovers you need to eat or groceries to use up.
  9. Rotate your new food to the back, and older food move to the front so you can use up the food items that will expire sooner.
  10. Put your food in a container as soon as you open it can help minimise waste and keep it fresher for longer.

RECYCLING TIPS

  • Remove the lids from your plastic bottles and make sure they are empty before you place them in your recycling bin. In the sorting areas of recycling plant paper and plastics are separated. If bottles still contain liquid it will stop them being blown up into the plastics sorting area in the chain line so be sure to empty them out before you put them in your recycling bin.
  • Any recycling items left in plastic bags are not recycled. This slows down the sorting process so those bagged items do not go on to be recycled. Keep all your recyclables bag free.
  • If you have broken glass or ceramics like ovenproof dishes, drinking glasses or mugs, creatively reuse or place in your rubbish bin, because just 15g of ovenproof glass can contaminate one tonne of normal glass, making it useless for recycling.
  • Consider composting your food scraps to reduce the wood waste in land fill and the emissions that creates.
  • When recycling containers give them a quick rinse, they do not have to be spotless. Remove stuck on food from paper and cardboard before recycling.
  • Recycle your Printer Cartridges via the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark‘ recycling boxes in participating Australia Post, Officeworks, Harvey Norman, and Dick Smith Electronics stores.
  • Mobile Phones can be recycled through MobileMuster.
  • Batteries, CDs and light globes can be taken to your nearest library. Check with them in advance to make sure they accept these things.
For more tips on recycling check out the Planet Ark website.

REUSING ITEMS AROUND YOUR HOME

  1. Another way to reduce what your household sends to landfill is to find creative ways to reuse what you do have. This is a great way to get crafty, save some money and help the environment. Try these handy tips:
  2. Reuse old candle and condiment jars. They can holds spare buttons, screws in your garage, 100s and 1000s, tea bags etc.
  3. Wash out takeaway containers and re-use as much as possible before they break. Smaller ones for gravy can be used to bring small snacks in such as lollies or nuts.
  4. Wash old shampoo and conditioner and other bottles to use when travelling. I also use these to store our current soap in a smaller container that doesn’t take up as much space as the bulk 1kg containers.
  5. Use an old baby formula tin to make a home-made wet wipe dispenser
  6. Cut up old towels into cleaning rags instead of using sponges or paper towel.
  7. Re-purpose gift containers or things that come with boxes such as perfume or a watch to organise junk drawer items.
  8. Give an old pot plant some new paint to give it a new lease of life.
  9. Up-cycle old cereal boxes or cardboard boxes into storage boxes for your drawers. Cut the bottoms off and wrap with your favourite coloured wrapping paper.
  10. Repair old clothes if possible rather than binning them. Sew on a new button, or take it to the alterer for repair if it is something out of your skill level.
  11. Use toilet rolls to wrap and identify your spare cables. They can also be used for arts and crafts projects with the kids.
  12. Use old sauce jars for decorative pieces. We put musical craft paper in ours with a candle and some yarn as a wedding ornament.
  13. If you have excess frames get a picture or make an artwork for a gift for a family or friend.
  14. Use an old t-shirt to make a bag. I cut up old t-shirts of my husbands that were perfectly good, but that he didn’t wear and made two laundry bags for travelling.
  15. Decorate old tin cans and use for planting herbs or storing stationery.
  16. Use old CDs to create a shiny mosaic artwork or mirror.
  17. Donate an old bed sheets and some pegs and a torch for your kids own fort kit.
  18. Drilling into an old dinosaur toy can make a cool toothbrush holder for your kids.

>>If you want more information on how you can reduce your excess consumption check out
10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life

LET’S GET CREATIVE

Other creative ways to help reduce your household waste:

TOY LIBRARIES

Old toys are donated here and can be borrowed, just like library books for kids to use and return in a few weeks. This is a great way to reduce unwanted toys ending up in landfill, having excess permanent clutter in your home and to save money. Kids can outgrow toys fast so this sounds like an amazing solution. Click here for more information from War on Waste and here to locate your closest toy library.

CLOTHES SWAPS

Thanks to fast fashion clothing is ending up in landfill in larger numbers than ever before. With the current price of clothing and often lack of quality materials, it’s no wonder we are binning more clothes than ever. In order to combat this clothes swap meets are a great option. You  can bring some unwanted clothes to swap for someone else’s unwanted items and go home with something new that you love all the while avoiding adding to landfill. For more info on Clothes swaps click here. The Clothes Exchange holds occasional clothes swap meets that are free of charge when you register.  Or you can hold your own clothes swap parties with friends or family. Ask everyone to bring in a few pieces they would like to swap and a plate of food and get swapping!

REUSING YOUR OLD MOBILE PHONES

If you have a spare (or multiple) old phones lying around consider these options to reuse them:

1. Make a kid friendly phone for your kids (no more dropping your phone ;))
2. Use your phone as a dedicated MP3 player and save all your memory on your current phone.
3. Use your phone as a digital radio.
4. Turn your old phone into a hand-held gamin device
5. Use it as a security monitor for your home.
6. Use your old phone without a sim for storing encrypted data.

Click here for more information on how you can reuse your old phones from War on Waste. Alternatively take your phone to be recycled at your nearest Mobile Muster recycling box.

Share the Dignity

Share the dignity is an Aussie charity that aims to provide assistance to homeless women. Each year they do a collection called “It’s In The Bag” in the weeks leading up to Christmas where they ask you to donate a handbag in good condition to someone less fortunate and fill it up with useful things such as sanitary items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a book you no longer need, pajamas, tissues, lotions -anything to make a women facing hard times feel special. I did this last year and look forward to doing it again this November. If you have any jewellery you no longer want, or can spare some extra cash with your weekly shop add a few things to your trolley that you can put into your handbag for the next collection. This is a great way to dispose of some unwanted items thoughtfully and make someone in needs day 🙂

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO

If you want to do more, War On Waste have provided some more information and the contact details for each State that is yet to Ban The Bag. If we all Ban(d) together and take action by emailing our State’s Premier we might have a chance of making a much needed change!

Do you have any tips to reduce food and other waste in your home? Have you found creative ways to up-cycle items around your home to help limit things ending up in landfill? Share your tips below 🙂