Saturday, January 5

Confessions of this Shopaholic (and a journey toward less)

Hello, my name is Georgia, and I might be a shopaholic.

I was reading a book last week that opened my eyes to what a shopaholic really is. It's not the lady in high heels carrying and armload of shopping bags. I mean, sure, she's probably a shopaholic too, but that's not who I'm talking about. Because shopaholism (probably a word. maybe.) doesn't always look like that. The shopaholic also looks like the tired mom-of-four who goes to the store for two things and leaves the store with five things. Every single time. They may be little, inexpensive things - a new mug, an extra fuzzy scarf, two rolls of ribbon (they were on sale!) - but they are still extra things, compulsively bought, and most likely not accounted for in the budget.

I decided our house was too cluttered. No more! We need to purge! Then I went shopping after Christmas and brought home all this. Because sales! It's so beautiful! The deals! This is where my story of shopaholism begins.

It seems like a harmless little habit - trust me here, because I'm speaking from experience - but all those little things both start to add up. Both in cost, and in clutter. And one day you look around and realize it:

This isn't what I want.

I don't want to whittle away money that could be saved for something spectacular. I don't want to be surrounded by all the clutter that felt so good to buy in the moment, but now sits crammed into drawers and cupboards that are begging for a little breathing room.

And for me, friends, that time is now. So in this first post of 2019, I'm going to lay out a new game plan for a  fresh start. And I would love for you guys to join us in working toward less, and working toward more. Yep, both of those in all the best ways. Less debt, less wasting, less clutter, less time cleaning up clutter (can I get an "amen"??). More money saved toward things that matter, more freedom for what is important, more time with family.

I started the year off with some really great reading that opened my eyes to where we are and gave me a solid plan going forward, and totally recommend you do the same. It will give you the tools you need to get started and the motivation to get it done. Here's the reading list:

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

This is easily one of the best home design books I have ever read. It's all about "more style with less stuff" and I can't recommend it enough. I am over-the-moon excited to quiet our home with less stuff, less clutter, less to clean up, and so much more style. Room for living life to the fullest with a house full of hooligans. After reading it I can confidently look around my house and see where I've become a "stuff manager" instead of the thoughtful home curator I want to be. This was my first step in realizing I wanted to have less and buy less.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Disclaimer: I'm linking this one because it is part of my journey, and it was the second step in finding my way to wanting to buy less. It opened my eyes to my shopaholic tendencies and what wasteful spending really looks like. But with that said, I skimmed through about 75% of the book and didn't find that huge portion to be helpful. So I don't feel like I really recommend it as a book to read through. It might be worth checking out at the library because I found useful information in the "shopping ban" rules at the beginning and in the epilogue, but the body of the book was largely heavy backstory of alcoholism, broken relationships, and general sadness. That's not what I'm interested in right now. I need actual, practical advice (like her list of shopping ban rules) toward my goal. Which is where the next book came in.

Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover

Last on my list, but one of the best, most helpful books I've read in a long time. As much as the first two books put beautiful visions of "less is more" in my head, this book is the one with the game plan to make it happen. It has helped us highlight our spending and, more importantly, our wasting. My husband and I both listened to this on audio book from the library and started making changes right away with our first monthly "budget meeting" to plan for January. Every dollar accounted for. No extra spending. We have a solid plan to start "building wealth" and are hopeful that we can pay off the debt from both of our vehicles by the end of 2019, and run into next year building our savings for things that really matter. Even things like the super-size rug I know I will need after reading Cozy Minimalist Home. I don't feel like I can recommend this book enough!

So what does all this mean for today? Basically - we're not buying anything. Except for the obvious necessities like food, toilet paper, etc. No electronics, no home decor (*cry*), no books, no movies, nothing. We're not going out to movies or dinner unless it's planned in the monthly budget. All the money from those "extras" goes toward paying debt and saving. I'm also de-cluttering the house like a fiend. Again. It's crazy how hard it is to get rid of some things even when I know they don't really get used. Over the last year I've decluttered two or three times and each time I've found more piles of things to get rid of.  This is my basic process, using my dresser as an example:

Declutter Round #1: This is too much stuff! Get rid of the things that literally do not fit in the dresser!
Declutter Round #2: This is less stuff, but my drawers are still  FULL and I don't know what's in the bottom. Get rid of most things that don't fit me and I haven't worn in years (but not the ones I still think I love).
Declutter Round #3: Everything fits with room to spare! But I now I can clearly see which things in the back are still never being worn. If they are not useful, they are useless. I get rid of them at last.

Now multiply that process throughout my whole house. I'm definitely not a the kind of girl who does one major purge toward minimalism. Using the CoMi definition of minimalism:

But processing through several rounds of purging has opened my eyes to what we really need and which items are just bogging us down. Because that's the real problem, isn't it? Not that stuff is bad. I mean, we have plenty of room for stuff, so it doesn't hurt to keep it all, right? But the emotional toll of being bogged down - always having more to clean, more toys to pick up, more laundry to put away. That's what I want to be free from. I want to spend time playing with my kids. Not picking up their toys. This year I'm hoping to come at it with fresh eyes to cut back even more of the extra. Because minimalism isn't a punishment:

I'm having an "on top of the world" feeling about all of this right now. Like we've already got it in the bag. We're going to simplify and save money and it's going to be amazing! It's so easy! And I fully expect it all to come crashing down the first time I meet a cute basket out in the wild. Once the honeymoon ends, I know it will be tough. But I also believe deeply that it will be so, so worth it. We can see the light at the end, and the hope of "building wealth" as Dave Ramsey likes to say.

What does this all mean for ol' More Like Home? I'm not really sure yet. We've talked about setting aside a small "blogging budget" (I'll tell you now it didn't happen for January, and if it's not in the budget, we won't spend money on it) but I don't expect to be buying much for the purpose of blogging. Which is a beautiful opportunity in itself - to work with what we have and find new ways to make this house into our home. And furniture plans are always free! So I'm confident we'll still be able to bring quality content over the next year, and I have a feeling it might be better than ever. Thanks for hanging with us!

That's our plan and all my resolutions for 2019 rolled up into one convenient, albeit slightly looming, post. Wish us luck! And stay tuned for any upcoming basket-induced meltdowns.

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