Sunday, November 29, 2015

Buy Less: Reduce Your Stuffprint

I was inspired by a simple Venn diagram that beautifully showed "Stuff" in relation to "Stuff We Care About".  This is my re-interpretation of that:

I came up with the word 'stuffprint', representing the footprint of space our stuff takes up, and I think the word conjures up how stuff can take on a shape and size that becomes overwhelming. I believe the quote about stuff I see thrown around the internet also sums up the sentiment of my poster:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris
So, before you lament on how tired you are of looking for x,y, or z for the umpteenth time, consider reducing your stuffprint and taking back your time, space, and sanity.  There are many ways to reduce your stuffprint, but the process is pretty much the same for all of it and has 3 stages that aren't completed so much as repeated.

1.  One needs to get rid of stuff that isn't useful or loved.  
How much, how fast, and what you do with the stuff is all up to you.  Taking the commitment to moving the stuff out of your life that isn't useful or beautiful, though, is what you need to do to start.
2.  One needs to prevent more stuff from entering their now less-occupied space. 
Our current culture tries to push stuff on us to inspire us to acquire more!  Free samples, brochures, catalogs, swag, and more from companies trying to entice you.  Even if you avoid shopping and internet sales sites, though, then there are the well-meaning friends who give you things - gifts, stuff they are trying to clear out, things that no longer work for them they think you can use..  It is hard to say no to something free you could, in fact, use, but to keep your stuffprint small, this is a skill you will need to acquire.
3.  One must constantly cull and cultivate the stuff they have to keep it useful and loved.  
Be it from things wearing out, tastes changing, or needs coming up that didn't exist before, you will eventually need different stuff than what you have.  To keep the stuffprint small, you will need to give up stuff before gaining more.  Otherwise, with every new pet, new baby, new job, or life change you will end up right where you started with too much stuff you don't actually have love or need of.

And then after you cull and cultivate, you will keep needing to get rid of stuff that finds it way to you, despite the best efforts to prevent it from entering.  You will redouble your efforts of prevention, and then have things change and need to modify your stuffprint.  It's a cycle, really.  But totally worth applying to your life if you are feeling overwhelmed by material things.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Buy Less: The "Will-By" Defense

Another mental trick that will keep your spending in check without you feeling deprived! I call this one the "Will-By" Defense. Here's how it works:

If you can't clearly state when you WILL use an item BY - an actual, MM/DD/YY date - you are likely not ready to buy it at any price.

No matter how great the price, buying something costs you money over time.  Just like a store has a cost associated with things sitting on the shelf, items incur a 'cost' sitting in your house unused.  Space and storage costs money.  Time is spent on keeping things clean and undamaged.  Investing money into an item removes that money from other uses that could have made you money.  Therefore, if you can't USE an item in a certain amount of time, it will never be worth the 'good price'.

Consider the following:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recycled Pick Up Sticks

So, I have a slight obsession with sushi.  Big D and I go about once every other week to a conveyor belt sushi joint down the road from us.  We LOVE it, and for sushi in a restaurant, it's not too badly priced.  However, I feel guilty everytime I snap apart my chopsticks, thinking about what a waste of wood they are.  I keep meaning to bring my own one day, but I usually forget in my excitement to get to the filleted fishies.  In an attempt to remind myself, I started bringing home every pair of chopsticks our table used every time we went there.

Within a month, I had quite a collection growing in my Pringles can.  Needing to do SOMETHING with them, give them some second life, I planned a few different projects, with one in particular that I I jumped on: Pick Up Sticks!

Bath Time For Lizard

When you have a bearded dragon, certain things that aren't normal just sorta become normal through repetition.  That is why I don't think twice when it comes time to give a lizard a bath in the house.

Wawel, our year old beardie, loves the water but doesn't appreciate the time we spend getting his bath ready.  That is why we have made bathtime as quick and efficient as possible.  If you have a beardie and are looking to maximize bath time and cut down on clean up and fuss, here is how we manage.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Twisted Fingers Game - Mini-Twister Game

So, I was running around finishing my set of home-made pick-up sticks, and I thought about what other games I might create my own version of.  Twister came to mind, as I thought about the spray painted grass twister board seen on many a Pinterest board.  I figured a smaller finger version existed, and yes, the internet is full of variations on this theme.  I looked through some, and each was neat, but I decided to design my own.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dish Scraper - Best Use of a Credit Card

So, you got a credit card application in the mail.  One of the fancy ones with the little plastic card to show you how cool the card would look in your hand.  Congratulations!  Now, shred the application and put the card by the sink!

Christmas Cacti Card

Having moved into the desert, I decided to start making some Christmas cards that reflect my current location.  Bring on the cacti!

Buy Less: 3 Use Arguement

Giving Yourself Purchase Jitters:

I am guilty of spending money and feeling that momentary excitement from making a purchase - don't know why, but I'm as easily bit by the shopping bug as anyone else.  However, before I actually make a purchase, I have a slightly-mental conversation with myself.  Imagine a devil and an angel on either shoulder, or more accurate, a skin-flint and a spend-thrift.
Skinflint - You don't NEED that.
Spendthrift - But I WANT it.
Skinflint - Well, what's it gonna do for you that don't have already?
Spendthrift - Well, it will _______.
Skinflint - That's it?
Spendthrift - No, there's.... more....
And this conversation continues until I get 3 USES for the item in question.  I call this my "3 Use Argument".  Usually, I get tired of thinking about it and put the item back before I talk myself into 3 ways it will improve my life, so 9 out of 10 times this prevents me from buying it.  The best part of this odd little mental-check?  I feel GOOD when I DON'T buy it!

The trick doesn't take more than 30 seconds to be effective, and here are some details to help you make it happen in your own head:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Fishy Happy Birthday Card

So, when faced with a family member's birthday, I rampaged through my craft zone to look for something to create a card.  My creative process, in general, runs something like this:

1.  Find a card base - usually in kraft paper brown or ivory, sometimes in white.  Often, it is which ever is on top within the 'card base' drawer.

2.  Find a stamp that says what I need - a phrase stamp (in this case, "Happy Birthday").

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

DIY Doorknob Hamper

For those of us who have small bathrooms, floor space is at a premium.  Often, after the prescribed garbage can, plunger, and toilet brush scrubber (which said together sounds like a nursery rhyme!) there is little more than a path from door to shower.  I discovered this pathway littered with each day's clothes, shed on the way to the shower.  I attempted a 'skinny' hamper from IKEA, but it still felt too in the way.  So, a quest began.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Eyeglass Upkeep

Now, the first rule for the frugal and less-visually blessed is to buy METAL eyeglass frames with ALL METAL connections in a NEUTRAL COLOR.  This way, you can use the frames for years, as you can repair them and have new lenses cut to fit if your vision changes.  However, the downside to having frames for years is they, well, get old.  And a bit dirty.  I recently took off my glasses to wipe off the lenses and for some reason, I looked at them - really looked at them.