#5TF: Spending & Saving

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 5 – July 22 – July 28, 2017

Over the weekend we found ourselves making several minor purchases that added up to a significant little chunk of change. For minimalists who hate shopping anyway, coming home with several bags and one giant box, was enough to create a panic, even though every item was purchased with intent (well, except for the travel spork, and I just wanted that).

We’ve walked/hiked 328.4 miles so far this year (not counting general walking about the house, yard, stores, etc.) and our shoes were clearly beginning to show the effects of that travel. The inside of my left shoe was so bad that it was starting to wear holes in my socks…my wool summer socks! And those things are supposed to be nearly indestructible. So first up on our list of purchases was new walking/hiking shoes.

The next purchase was new camping gear – specifically a small tent and tent light. We sold our large 8-person tent on OfferUp a few months back and have been debating on getting another ever since. With a rafting trip planned for next month, we thought it might be a good time to look for something compact and easy to set up. Believe it or not, we bought a kid’s tent. It was actually 12 inches longer and 6 inches wider than the smallest 2 person adult tent and a full $20 cheaper.

And finally, a larger freezer. Our biggest downsizing regret ever was selling our chest freezer when we left Florida. We’ve missed it terribly. The little one we bought on Craigslist last summer has been great but it is too small for any real attempt at storing food for winter. For now, we have two freezers, though I think the little one may be re-homed soon. My mom seems particularly interested in adopting it.

Big enough for food, yet small enough to fit in the Peanut…it’s our new freezer.

Spending money for stuff (even necessary stuff) is often very difficult for us. We usually talk ourselves out of most things or debate about them for so long that we forget why we thought we needed them in the first place. But there are times when you have to spend money to save money later on. This was one of those times…and I think all in all, we did alright.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was (definitely not shopping!). Instead, the highlight of my week was Wednesday…the whole day was about as close to perfect as it could possibly get. We had breakfast in the park, picked blackberries, took a walk at Bicentennial Mall State Park, picnicked outside the Nashville Farmer’s Market, and went to our first Nashville Sounds baseball game (on free hat night!). We even managed to make running errands fun that day…and we picked up a great CSA basket full of peaches, cantaloupe, and corn. I don’t think I could have asked for a better day.

Enjoying the “cheap seats” at the Nashville Sounds game…in our new shoes.

I am grateful for whatever it was that sparked my mom’s sudden interest in her own health this week. She didn’t say why or how she plans to do it, but she has finally decided to quit smoking. Though I have never smoked, I know how hard it is to quit and I know not every day is going to be a good one but I’m here to help in whatever way I can. Just making the decision seemed to lift a great weight off of her and she was much more active this week. She played outside with the little one on Tuesday and even helped us in the yard yesterday.

I need to let go of my obsession with minimizing our shoe collection. As much as we’d love to wear flip-flops or go barefoot every day, that’s not always appropriate (or allowed), so shoes are a must have item. The average woman in America owns 27 pair of shoes, the average man, just 12. We each have 7 pair (including our new ones, flip-flops, water shoes, bowling shoes and winter boots) and I still think that’s too many. As I put the new shoes in the closet on Sunday, I stood there staring at the rest of them, questioning their necessity until I nearly had a headache. That’s not minimalism. It’s just silly. There are no arbitrary limits to what one can own as a minimalist. The point of minimalism is that everything you own has a purpose. Every single shoe in our closet does so I give myself permission to leave them alone…for now.

We made progress on saving money…despite our little shopping spree. We managed to stay in budget on groceries and household goods, spending less than $150 total for the month, and we added $425 to our savings and investment accounts. Our CSA basket and garden are really helping on that front. Speaking of which, we put away 4 quarts of blackberries, another 1/2 dozen ears of corn, and 2 gallons of snack peppers. Angie also canned 2 more jars of pickled jalapenos and I made 2 more quarts of spaghetti sauce (though we ate most of it already). And we continued our technology time-out, leaving the phones behind for several enjoyable hours of hiking and picnicking this week.

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The funniest thing that happened this week happened at the Sounds game. Angie has such a small head that the free baseball cap didn’t fit her, even on the smallest setting. She looked kind of forlorn sitting there in our grass seats with that giant cap on her head, so she set it aside. Though I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it happen, I promised to fix the hat when we got home. (I would literally have sewn a brand new hat if I’d had to, just to keep her from making that sad “my head is too small” face.) As it turned out though, in the 3rd inning, a random guy stopped by our blanket with a wad of money in his hand and said these magic words, “I’ll give you $10 for your hat.” Sold! I guess it pays to have a small head after all.



#5TF: Good Friends

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 3 – July 8 – July 14, 2017

We spent much of this week in Florida visiting with our friend, Suzanne. It was a quick trip (and a long drive) but totally worth it! It was good to get away for a few days and unwind on the beach, in the company of someone who shares our minimalist beliefs and values. We had such a wonderful trip that it’s hard to narrow it down to just five thoughts, but here goes…

One thing I really enjoyed this week was paddling Stump Pass. Angie pulled her paddleboard out from under the bed before we left and brought it along for the trip. Thankfully, it’s an inflatable board, otherwise I have no idea where we would have put it in our tiny little car. Suzanne and I rented kayaks from Hooked on SUP (the outfitter where we originally took SUP lessons 4 years ago). They now have a rental kiosk at Stump Pass State Park, one of the few places in the area that we have never paddled. The wind was blowing 8-10 MPH but somehow we managed to paddle into it and make our way to the cove where we had a picnic lunch and watched a manatee swim by.

I am grateful for good friends. Suzanne lives less than a mile from the beach and graciously allowed us to stay in her guest room during our trip. She bought us dinner (delicious fish tacos at Sharky’s On The Pier) and invited us to her dad’s birthday party. We were very happy to see her parents again and enjoyed having lunch with them. Over the 2 1/2 days that we were there, we talked, we laughed, we ate, we swam, we paddled, we dreamed, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. We are both very grateful for the hospitality and for the privilege of having such a wonderful friend.

I need to let go of my homesickness. Every time we come back from a trip to Florida, I feel sad. I miss our life there…our friends…our trips to the beach…the slow pace of everyday living. I never want to let go of the dream of someday going back home but in order not to miss out on our life today, I have to let go of the angst I have about not being there now.

We made progress on our 2017 Happiness Project Bucket List by taking a paddle trip and finding another letterbox. We also stayed true to our goal not to buy anything new (unless absolutely necessary). Before leaving for the trip, we had searched online for a life vest for Angie. It’s a requirement in FL that you have a life vest on your paddleboard at all times. We didn’t want to buy a new one just to use a few times this year, yet we knew we needed one, so we opted to wait until we got to FL and check local stores there. As luck would have it, Suzanne had just purchased a life vest for $5 at Goodwill the very day we arrived and we were able to borrow it for the paddle trip. She also helped us out by giving us her old printer. Our printer was on it’s last leg and we were undecided on whether to buy one or use the temperamental one in our apartment’s office. Again we got lucky that Suzanne had just replaced her printer and was going to give the old one to Goodwill.

The funniest thing that happened this week (besides Suzanne trying to paddleboard, Angie and I getting lost looking for tacos in Chattanooga, and Caesar falling in love with a cat named Sue at the boarding kennel) happened while we were waiting for our kayaks at the rental kiosk. The couple that had rented ahead of us had two young boys (probably around 9-10 years old). They had just pulled away from the launch point when we heard one of the boys screaming at the top of his lungs, “Alligator! Alligator! ALLIGATOR! Shark!” The man at the kayak stand ran down to the shoreline to see what was going on. (There are no alligators in the ocean, by the way.) He returned a few minutes later laughing. A manatee had popped its nose up out of the water beside the boy’s kayak. Having never seen a manatee, he freaked out. When we got back from our paddle trip, the rental guy asked if we’d seen any wildlife. I told him that we saw a manatee in the cove. He smiled and said, “You mean an alligator.”

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