Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Than Money

My grandmother died last night. I was very close with her, and I see so much of me and my mother in her. For both better and worse.  Especially when it comes to money.

My family has the opposite problem of what I think is the normal issue with money (overspending): we have issues spending money.  Especially on ourselves.  My grandmother lived through the Depression. She worked in factories and then she was a homemaker.  She worked hard all of her life. She and my grandfather saved and saved.  When she died, she received social security and a small pension. She still had more than 500K in the bank (from what I understand) and she was in her mid-nineties. Of course if she had lived for 5-6 more years in a nursing home, she would have spent all of that money. But she didn't.  The problem is (in my mind anyway) that she scrimped so much she didn't let herself enjoy life when she was alive.  She wore rags for underwear and wouldn't let us buy her new ones.  When I would buy her nice  things like new towels, she would simply fold them up and put them in the closet, saving them for god knows what and continue on using her rag towels.

I understand why my grandmother was the way she was and I admire her strong work ethic, thrift, determination and self-discipline that got her through the Depression and all the way to her mid-90s.  That said, I wish that she'd been able to appreciate herself and feel a little more secure and been able to enjoy her time here more.

I was happy today because I was actually wearing a bra that I bought last month (immediately after I posted that I hadn't bought any clothes on this blog, ha). I fretted over buying it for months. I didn't need it, but it was beautiful. Finally it went on sale for $45 (it was normally closer to $100) so I swooped in and got it. I hope that I can live like that -- still finding the joy in little treats and 'pampering' myself, but being practical and honoring my grandmother's memory and never wasting anything.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Q4 baby, woohoo! The fun starts this month. In September of this year I fully satisfied my social security tax requirement. That means I get a nice chunk of change extra in all of my Q4 paychecks.
That alone makes Q4 awesome.  I also have been wrestling with my health insurance company to get refunded money that they owe me (dating back since May) and I'm hopeful that comes in this month, because then I can finally submit whatever is left from those claims to my FSA account where I will have almost $1,000 that I can pay out to myself. Plus, I'm going to make a big donation to Goodwill, locking in a nice tax deduction for the second most magical time of the year, tax refund time. October -- April is definitely the time of the year when I get paid the most, between social security tax max out, bonus (praise be to the Gods) and then tax refund. And this year I have no big expenses. No house down payment to save for, no student loan to pay off, no crazy transfer taxes around a new mortgage. All mine to save! Woohoo!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More on Minimalism

Even though I'm on a plane for almost six hours, I'm still minimizing. Or plotting what I'll do when I get home anyway. I made a list for each room of things I would like to eliminate.  As I mentioned in my last post, a lot of the things that I don't want/need I received as gifts, or handme downs. So they have sentimental value.  For example, I have a collection of mugs that I got from traveling, or at different points in my life, like grad school, even one from when I was a child.  I also have an entire tea setting (little saucer and plates) that came with my dish set. Although those are beautiful, I have not used them once in four years. Also, my mugs are smaller than I like, so although I drink tea at home frequently, I don't use the mugs. I use a ceramic travel mug. I seriously think I can eliminate both the tea set and most of the mugs. I found a beautiful black ceramic Mikasa mug on eBay and ordered two of them. I can replace the entire tea set and mismatched mug collection with 2 mugs. So although this cost me more money ($30) versus the old mugs and tea set which were free, the mugs are exactly what I want/need. I think in the long run it is worth it! 

I have become a minimalist

Ok, so not completely, but I'm so excited I feel like I've found religion or something.

I've always been really into organizing and de-cluttering. When I go visit my mom, I choose one space to de-clutter at a time. I've done most of her house at this point.

Yesterday I drank coffee which I literally never do (blame the pumpkin spice).  I went crazy organizing and de-cluttering my apt. Now, my apt. is generally very neat, if not a bit dusty with hairballs.  But since I moved in a year or so ago, I never really organized my closets. I have more space now than I ever have, so I didn't have to make the most of it like in my old place. It bums me out on the regular when I look at my closets and they are just kind of messy. I like neatness and organization.

So yesterday I became inspired and bought two e-books on minimalism and read them both. In between, I spent probably 10 hours sorting through my stuff. For the first time, I really looked at everything and evaluated whether it was worth keeping or not. I have always thought of myself as having a pretty lean wardrobe, but I still added another 2 bags to the 1.5 I have sitting around to go to Salvation Army. I couldn't believe it! Then I threw out the packing materials I had saved from my move. Because while I am overall neat and organized and don't have a ton of "stuff" I am a hoarder with packaging. I don't know why. But I have a lot of bags and boxes stored away. It was hard, but I felt really free getting rid of some of them.

I'm traveling today and left pretty early for the airport, but I couldn't help but go through my nightstand drawer before I left (I literally have not opened it since I moved in last spring). 

I feel like my eyes have been opened. Most of the stuff that I'm storing in my closets I barely ever use!

I also realized that a lot of the extra stuff I don't use was given to me as a gift, or I got as a hand-me-down from friends.  My mother is very sweet and always brings me back a souvenir from every trip, but it's built up over the years. I'm thinking of putting all but 1-2 things in a box and packing them away.

The books I read yesterday, both of which were useful, are:

How to embrace minimalist wardrobe