Minimalists + Gifts

We’ve reached the first week into the new year! By this time all gifts have been exchanged between families, friends, and coworkers. Decorations have been put away and you’re starting to get back into your work mode. I can assume that there are gifts still lying around that you haven’t put away quite yet. Perhaps it’s because you don’t necessarily need the gift. Being a minimalist can be tricky business when it comes to receiving gifts. You may like the item but not need it or you simply don’t like it. So what do you do with it? In previous years, if I received these kinds of gifts, I would stash them in a place where they’d “belong”. Received some lip gloss? It went in a random bathroom drawer. Article of clothing I didn’t like? Shoved it in some corner of my closet only to be seen again in a few years.

minimalists and gifts picture

So what are we supposed to do now? Get rid of the gift. 

Okay, that came off a little harsh but it’s true! You appreciate the gift but it unfortunately serves no purpose in your life or fits your lifestyle. So why keep it? Why let it go to waste and collect dust? There are plenty of options out there and all of them are okay! Let’s begin.

 

  1.  Return it. Did you receive a gift receipt? Awesome! This is the easiest way to take care of an unwanted gift. This gives you a chance to go to the store and either find something you like/need or gives you an opportunity for store credit that can be used in the future.
  2. Sell it. This one can make you feel a little guilty but I promise it’s okay! Let’s say you received a jacket that didn’t fit you. There was no gift receipt and the person who gave it to you no longer has a receipt for it. There are plenty of apps, websites, and stores you can go to to sell any unwanted items(not just presents!) You can either get something in return or get cash that can be used elsewhere! An added bonus? This item will eventually be purchased by someone else who will love and appreciate it! Win-win!
  3. Re-gift it. Make sure to use this one wisely. You may already feel guilty about not wanting to get rid of this gift so make sure you aren’t re-gifting it to the person who gave it to you. I am 100% a fan of re-gifting. Throughout my many moves I’ve found so many things that I never opened or used. I’ve sold or given away things but I’ve also re-gifted some items! It does help save you some time and money but it also lets you bring happiness to someone else. The item was not useful to you and just sat in storage for who knows how long!? Now it has a chance to be out in the world and appreciated by someone who really needs or wants it!
  4. Save it. For minimalists, this kind of goes against what we want to work towards but I cheat with this rule every now and then. If you know it’s something you’re going to need in the future and will use it, save it! I’ve stated in a previous post that I have some tupperware and other kitchen items saved in storage. Is it taking up some space? Absolutely. Am I going to need these for when I move out? DUH. I was reading a minimalist post once where they said to go ahead and get rid of them because it’s an item that can be purchased in the future when you actually need it. Look, I get it. It eliminates some space but some people are not financially able to do that. Why would I donate a perfect condition tupperware set just to buy another one in a few months to a year!? Madness. You know what else I have in storage? Plates. My brother and I went in on my mom’s Christmas present together this year and got her a new dining plate set. So what did she do with the old sets we had? She gave them to me and my brother. They definitely aren’t the kind of plates I aspire to have but they’re free and that’s one less thing to worry about when finding a new apartment! Into storage they went and it’s another thing I can cross off my list.

 

There you have it! I have used all 4 of these tips since becoming a minimalist and dealing with the birthday and holiday seasons. If you’re anything like me, I know you’ll have some guilt at first. You’ll just need to keep the positive thoughts in your head! The item was meant to be used and loved. If you’re not going to be that person then it deserves to find the perfect owner!

New Year’s Resolutions!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We have officially reached 2019. Another year has come and gone and now it’s time to start it all over again. Resolutions have always been hard for me. I try to go above and beyond and start out really well but then burn out a month or two in. The goals I try to do now are pretty simple and I try to have them benefit my mental health as much as possible. One year, I wrote down on a slip of paper everything that made me happy. All the slips would go in a jar. On New Year’s Eve, I opened the jar and read about all the happy moments I had in the year. There were a lot of emotions: some made me cry, some made me happy, and some made me mad. Overall I rather enjoyed it as it was a nice reminder of all the good things in life.

blog post_ NY Resolutions

  • Start and finish school
    • School has never been my first choice. I tried a few classes here and there after high school but was more focused on my career. A few months ago I made the decision to go back. I didn’t want to take any time off work so I looked into online programs. I am now enrolled at University of Phoenix with a certificate program. This allows me to be done in about 6 months. I start my first class middle of January and while I’m looking forward to it, I’m also terrified!
  • Create a daily routine for myself and stick with it
    • There’s so much going on in my life that it’s hard to keep myself disciplined with certain things. Now that I’m adding school to my hectic schedule, I created 2 daily routines for myself: one for when I do work and one for when I don’t. I’ve created a basic outline for both of what I imagine will work best but I plan to make adjustments once I actually start school.
  • Continue therapy
    • It’s hard asking for help. It’s taken me a long time to ask for help, even with my own friends. I constantly feel like such a burden to everyone in my life and I don’t want to think that way anymore. I’m tired of letting my mental health take over so many areas of my life. I’ve started taking medication again as I know I truly need it. With therapy, I hope to overcome some issues and to learn how to live with my anxiety in a more positive way rather than negative.
  • Create a budget
    • I budget my bills pretty well. I always pay on time and make sure I have enough for everything. This year I’m making a new goal for myself with my budget. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I still live with my mom. Living in California is expensive enough with roommates and can be near impossible by yourself. With this budget I want to go into as much detail as possible in every aspect of my life so I can see where I can save more and spend less.
  • Learn to be more assertive
    • I am not an assertive person. I feel like there are times that I am but generally I’m a pushover. It’s hard for me to say no to people(especially authoritative figures) and if I feel like I’ve been wronged or my feelings are hurt, I won’t address them with the person. I continue to let myself be “used and abused” over and over again until I start to break. This year I want to push myself to be more assertive. I don’t want to continue putting myself in uncomfortable situations just because I feel like I should. If something bothers me with a friend or relative, I want to be up front about it so they understand their actions and how it affects me.

 

This year I want to focus on me. I never put myself first in any situation and now is the time to. It’s time for me to break out of my comfort zone and explore endless possibilities for myself!

 

Tell me about your resolutions in the comments!

 

How I Shop Differently as a Minimalist

*This post contains recommendations purely made by myself. I have not been paid or given incentives.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and holiday shopping continues. I have about half of my Christmas gifts purchased and plan on finishing the rest this week.

In one of my posts about my trip to LA, I had mentioned the items I had bought. As I continue minimalism, I’ve noticed so much of a change in my shopping habits.

The other day I was hanging out with my boyfriend and he mentioned some items that he wanted in the future. Every item he rattled off was expensive, hi-tech, and name-branded. With each mention of these items, I found that I had zero connection to the same wants. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become minimalist and have a new way for my life or perhaps it’s because I used to be that person that wanted the expensive, name-brand items.

My first job in California was at a thrift store. We bought and sold clothes that other people brought in. In order for me to become a good buyer for the store I needed to know the brands and the trends. I wanted to be really good at my job so I did my research. I found what people really liked and what these big brands were. It was really different for me especially coming from a small town in Minnesota. I truly believe that this job started my downfall in fashion. Don’t get me wrong – I love fashion. I love posting my outfits and I love helping my friends and family with their styles. But because I was brand obsessed, that became my main focus. I wanted only Michael Kors bags. I wanted True Religion jeans. I wanted cute Brandy Melville clothing. I ended up leaving the thrift store after a few years and started at a new retail store. There was a different policy here – no bags allowed. This is the case for many companies as it helps reduce employee theft. I had a beautiful beige Michael Kors crossbody at the time. It went with everything and it really did give me so much joy. However with this new policy, I soon got tired of having to transfer things from my purse to a clear plastic backpack just so I could go to work. Soon I stopped using my crossbody entirely. This was the start to my end of brand name items. It wasn’t until I left retail that I started to realize I didn’t actually need any of these things. I began my career again in veterinary care where my uniform was scrubs. I had no reason to keep up with fashion trends or worry about putting together different outfits everyday. And because I was wearing scrubs every day, I started to value the outfits I was putting together when I was going out with friends or just running errands.

I continued to shop as I normally would have (minus big brands) and had so many clothes piled up in my closet. It’s still a work in progress, as I constantly change my style, but I am very proud of where I am at today and the new shopping habits I’ve picked up. Here are some things that I’ve learned along the way:

Minimalist Post (1)

  • Understanding Brands
    • I told you that I used to be brand obsessed. I felt like it gave me a certain status and anything below these brands were unacceptable. There are only two items out of my whole wardrobe that I have splurged on. That would be my Dooney & Burke small crossbody and wallet. I bought these about a year ago and it was because I decided to treat myself. The purse I had before I used for quite some time and picked it up for $5 at a thrift store. A lot of the times, people think that because it’s a huge name brand and that it’s expensive means it’s great quality. Sometimes that’s not always the case. There’s also the fact to keep in mind that you can get the same item at the same quality for a much cheaper price. I mentioned that I loved True Religion jeans. They were super cute, fit my body type at the time, and also lasted for a really long time. Over time I realized I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on jeans and the fit wasn’t working for my body anymore. Now I get my jeans from American Eagle. They are reasonably priced and they LAST. My oldest pair right now is about 5 years old and you would never know it! The latest pair I bought is already 3 years old and in perfect shape.
  • Needs or Wants
    • This may sound weird but I think I was destined to be a minimalist. Looking back, I had the same fundamentals and values but never knew how to completely discipline myself. It was always when I had my items and stood in the long line for the cash register that I would start contemplating my purchase. The longer I stood there the more I looked at my item(s) and realized that it wasn’t worth waiting any longer for. I’d get out of line, place the piece back, and leave the store. I’ve done that several times throughout my adult life and have never regretted that choice. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve put so much thought into every purchase I continue to make. Understanding the needs and wants for yourself are extremely crucial. For example, when fall and winter rolls around, I love seeing all the sweaters on display. I already have several sweaters but seeing new ones in different styles and colors is tempting. I’ve reached a place with myself now where I can appreciate the article of clothing and continue my trip without purchasing it.
  • Understanding Sales
    • Sales are a dark hole that should be avoided when necessary. Stores put the sales there so you buy more than you need because, hey!, it’s on sale and cheap. Some sales however can be extremely beneficial if it’s for something you need. When I go shopping, I generally stay away from the clearance sections. Everything ends up there at some point but you’ll find a lot of outdated items. You’ll also find things, like a shirt, that aren’t your style but because it’s so cheap you’ll buy it anyway. You’ll wear the item once and then it ends up in a corner never to be seen or worn again. The key is to stick with your favorite brands and know when their sales are. In a lot of blog posts about saving money, you’ll find that they’ll tell you to unsubscribe from store’s mailing lists. While I fully support this idea, it’s also not a bad thing to stay on mailing lists for stores you really enjoy. It’s a great way to get coupons and find out about sales going on in store or online. There are a few stores that I still subscribe to and just because I’ve subscribed to them doesn’t mean I’m using every coupon or sale they send to me.
  • Buying in Bulk
    • A majority of my shopping is done online. I hate going to the mall and being in large shopping crowds. If I do have to go to the mall I have to mentally prepare myself days in advance. My main website is Amazon and I do pay for Amazon Prime so I can get my items faster. But let’s say I needed to get a pair of jeans. I usually check the store’s website to see how much I would need to spend for free shipping. After knowing that, I wait to purchase until I need multiple things so I can take advantage of the free shipping and other deals they may have. This saves me money by waiting for things I actually need instead of trying to find something to bump myself up for free shipping. It also eliminates the need for me to place multiple orders.

 

Living in California has been a new challenge for me. I never cared about brands or fashion until I moved here and realized that that is a major part of the culture here. I easily and quickly got swooped into the belief that to be successful and to show your status it was essential to have all these things. Trying to get the new and shiny electronics or the newest fashion trend didn’t make me happy. It made me anxious and depressed because I felt like I was behind or not good enough if I didn’t have them. I live my life so comfortably now and okay with knowing that I don’t need all these things. My iPhone is most certainly not a newer model and my laptop is a Google Chromebook I purchased 5 years ago. Both run smoothly and I have no desire to spend money for a new model when these work perfectly well.

When I write these posts I don’t urge for you to become minimalists. I urge that you rethink the importance of things in your lives. Are you truly happy and if not what can you do to change that? Our lives are short, fast and should be lived happily – not stressed over new things or what our hard earned money can buy.

 

I challenge you the next time you go shopping to hold each item in your hand for five minutes. Imagine it in your life, walk around with it, connect with it. Do you need it? Does it spark joy?

Leave comments below and discuss!

6 Christmas Tricks and Gifts on A Low Budget

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up in Minnesota, I loved being out in the snow and seeing frost on the trees. One of my favorite traditions was going out to a tree farm to get our beautiful Christmas tree.

Even with the beautiful weather, amazing traditions, and fun events, Christmas is one of the most expensive holidays. Depending on your family size, friends, or your co-workers, gifts you want to give start to multiply quickly! In order to help prep you for the holiday, here are some tricks and gift ideas that I’ve used!

Christmas Budget

 

Trick #1 – Ebates. I swear by this website. I had seen commercials about it all the time but never really thought much of it. Then last year around Thanksgiving, a coworker of mine was telling us how she uses Ebates and loves getting money back for her purchases. After I signed up I became hooked. I do a majority of my shopping online anyway and they even offer in-store cash back as well! It’s easy and free to use! Newest additions: Get cashback for Lyft rides and Doordash orders!

Use my code here to get a free $10 to you!

 

Trick #2 – Buy early. It doesn’t seem like much of a trick but trust me it will help you in the long run! I’m not a fan of large crowds, especially at the mall. I dislike being at the mall and avoid it as much as I can. When holiday season rolls around the crowds only get worse. I start my Christmas shopping about mid-November. I start planning who I want to get gifts for and budgeting. I also scope out any deals I can. This includes preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a no-brainer that this is a great time to buy your Christmas presents. Almost everything is on sale and for amazing and unbeatable prices. Want to hear something even better? Pair these sales with Ebates and you’re bound to save the most money and get money back while doing it! Not to mention you’ll have your Christmas shopping done ASAP and take away some holiday stress off your plate. Win-win-win.

Trick #3 – Take online surveys. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again because it’s a great way to earn some fast money! There are many survey website out there and each offer different rewards. Most rewards are gift cards to major retailers(ie Macy’s, Amazon, Target) but other rewards can include airline points, spa gift receipts, and physical possessions. This comes in handy to either give to other people or use to get the gifts.

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Christmas gift #1 – Putting together a holiday bundle from the dollar store. There’s no shame in it! You can find so many great gifts especially around the holiday season. One year for Secret Santa at work, I went to the dollar store and created a cute little Christmas bundle. I took a Christmas mug, some chocolates, a Christmas themed pen, and a small amount gift card to Starbucks and put it in a fun bag. It’s extremely easy, has that wonderful Christmas feeling, and inexpensive!

Christmas gift #2 – Homemade sweets. Food is the best way to someone’s heart! Last holiday season I made so many sweets at home that were good for my low sodium diet. I brought many to work with me and they were gone in a day! I had coworkers requesting I make them again for them. You can get very creative with it too! One recipe I had was for spiced nuts. It took less than an hour to make and they can go in a fun, decorative tin and be given as a gift. Christmas cookies are always a big hit and there are so many different kinds out there. Baking is inexpensive and the fact that they’re homemade brings a warm and special touch to the gift.

Christmas gift #3 – Re-gifting. There are a lot of opinions on whether or not it’s okay to re-gift. I personally don’t see a problem with it as long as you don’t re-gift to the person that originally gave it to you! With all the moves I’ve had in the past several years and now being minimalist, I’ve found plenty of unused or unopened items that had been sitting around doing nothing for months. I knew I was never going to use any of them and there were some items that I knew would make perfect gifts for some people. With this method, not only are you saving money, but you’re also getting rid of clutter from your home. Those gifts deserve to go to a person that will love and cherish them instead of sitting in some corner of your home collecting dust.

 

Hopefully these tricks and tips will help ease some of your holiday stress this season! Keep the conversation going in the comments below!