Minimalism

One thing I find that gives me encouragement and inspiration to live a simple life is reading how others have achieved the goal of downsizing their lives.

Whilst searching for this information on the Internet I have come across quite a few blogs and websites about minimalism. I’d never really considered applying a minimalistic approach to my life, but after reading more and more about it it’s an approach to life that really appeals to me.

Whilst I don’t ever think I could truly be classed as a minimalist (living with only 100 things, what with my family? You have to be joking! ) much of what I’ve read coincides with the steps we have taken to simplify our lives.

Minimalism and simple living are closely related as both advocate the reduction of the unnecessary in order to concentrate on what matters most. I see simple living as the charming country cousin to the slick pared back minimalism.

For those of you interested in finding out more about minimalism then these websites have a wealth of information.

www.theminimalists.com

www.becomingminimalist.com

www.mnmlist.com

Update on the vegetable garden

Due to last month being the wettest June in the UK on record and July following in the same footsteps it’s no surprise that not much in the way of progress has been made in the vegetable garden.

Thankfully, this weekend offered us some fine weather and a chance to carry on with our plans.

There have been a few alterations to our original plan – the main one being that we no longer need two sheds due to our garage declutter.

After looking around at the ready-made sheds that were available locally Mr S decided that he would have a go at making the potting shed himself.

He managed to complete the frame and base which will make up the potting shed and covered seating area, hopefully it won’t be too long now untill our garden tools have somewhere to call home!

Elsewhere in this part in the garden the soggy vegetable beds are starting to dry up a little. We have already had success with our potatoes, harvesting them as we need them to ensure that they are fresh and the quantity of strawberries has surpassed previous years.

We are currently picking a pudding basin full every other day, however due to the high rainfall they aren’t lasting very well once picked and so we seem to be having an awful lot of strawberry smoothies at the moment.

The other vegetables are slowly coming on but what they really need now is some sunshine to give them a boost – they’re not the only ones 🙂

Simplifying Finances

photo credit: Dplanet

The work to make our life simpler is no quick fix solution, we are in this for the long-term and recognise that whilst we have not exactly been completely committed to the end result over the last few years we have made great strides towards it by what we have done so far, the main thing so far being…

Simplifying Our Finances.

We have been quite lucky in that the both of us have a natural aversion to debt and have never run up huge credit card bills – if we want something we save for it and pay in cash.

The one exception to this though has been the necessity to purchase our house with the aid of a mortgage. We reduced this debt heavily by downsizing to the house where we now live. It has been hard at times, both with the amount of work and the conditions we have had to live in, however the pay off is that we have since managed to eliminate this debt completely through making overpayments and now own our home outright.

In paying the mortgage off it now gives us the knowledge that whatever happens to us employment and income wise we potentially have a roof over our heads and one less bill to pay at the end of the month.

Our other outgoings have room for improvement though! Utility bills, food and fuel can all be reduced and we plan to do so over the coming months by looking at what we use and what we can do to reduce the cost.

One of the biggest ways that we hope do this is by growing a large proportion of what we eat. We have been steadily increasing our productivity in the garden over the last few years and our aim is to improve on this from now on.

Tips to simplify your finances

Imagine how much simpler your financial life would be with no stress about debt. Becoming debt free is one of the most stress-relieving, life-simplifying things you can do. I know that everyone’s situation is different but here are a few ideas that we have found useful in simplifying our finances.

Plan For Upcoming Expenses – Plan and budget for large expenses such as Christmas and holidays. We find that putting away a set amount each month for upcoming purchases elevates the need for using credit cards to make major purchases.

 Buy A Smaller House – When you are looking to buy, consider buying smaller. One of the problems when buying a home is the temptation to buy more than you need. Just remember, the bigger the house, the higher the mortgage payments, insurance premiums, maintenance costs, utility bills, etc… Plus you’ll spend a ton of money buying more junk to fill the house.

Keep A Spending Diary – Each day, record everything you spend into a notebook. We have done this in the past and it has been really useful to pinpoint exactly where all of your cash goes. It also helps to keep you more mindful of what you are spending.

Get Organized – Keep things simple. Consolidate your bank accounts as it makes tracking your finances easier, set up direct debits for paying regular bills so you don’t miss deadlines and keep a note on a calendar when the ones that can’t be automated need to be paid.

Build An Emergency Fund – Few things give you peace of mind like having a stash of cash set aside for emergencies and unexpected expenses. Ours has saved us several times.

Simplifying Life – The Next Steps

At the moment I feel that our plans are in limbo. I know that it’s to do with the time of year as we take ourselves off at every opportunity to make the most of the Summer. It shouldn’t be a surprise really as this happens every year and we try not to plan any large projects throughout the Summer months but it does mean that we lose some of our momentum.

So this post will hopefully act as a reminder of all that I feel that we have achieved so far in simplifying our lives and hopefully inspire us to continue on our journey.

Things we have done so far….

  • Moved house and paid off our mortgage.
  • Made energy-saving measures and lowered our fuel bills.
  • Set up my own home based business.
  • Begun to grow and brew our own.
  • Decluttered our possessions.

Things that need work on……..

  • Lower our fuel bills even more to save money and the enviroment.
  • Declutter more and learn to live with less.
  • Grow more of our own fruit and vegetables.
  • Look at other streams of income which are not reliant on employment by others.
  • Streamline our finances to enable us to save for our future plans.

I’m sure that there are many more things that will be added to the to do list over time, how about you – what have you already done towards achieving a simpler life?

A Weekend In Wensleydale

School was closed for the day on Friday so this meant one thing – a long weekend away in the caravan. We try to keep the journeys short on weekends away so that we can set off  as soon as the boy returns home from school and hopefully arrive at our destination in time for tea.

With this in mind we decided to stay within our home county of Yorkshire and visit one of our favourite areas  – Wensleydale.

Wensleydale

This is such a lovely part of Yorkshire, most people will have heard of it because of the  famous cheese that is produced here but there is so much more to this area. The scenery is typically English, rolling hills and dry-stone walls, picture perfect market towns and centuries old farms.

Our reason for visiting this weekend was that we had booked tickets for an intriguing attraction called “The Forbidden Corner“, billed as the strangest place in the world  – who could resist!

The place can only be described as part eccentric folly, part labyrinth. You enter through the gaping mouth of a stone giant and are plunged into an Alice in Wonderland world of puzzles and riddles. Around every corner you are faced with a surprise, it just gets curiouser and curiouser……..

The entrance to the underworld…..

If you go down to the woods today…….

…..be sure of a nice surprise!

I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil any surprises for future explorers however in our opinion this has to be the best attraction we have visited in the UK. We all agreed that without a doubt it most definitely lived up to its claim of being the strangest place in the world!