Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Top 5 little luxuries

3 December 2013

Regular readers of this blog (both of you!) may be aware that I’ve been oscillating between living in Melbourne and Sydney. This oscillation (I do like that word!) will be continuing: I’m moving back to Sydney in about a fortnight (that’s two weeks for the North Americans among us), then returning to Melbourne at the beginning of March, in time to commence my doctorate. So my nomadic lifestyle shows no sign of abating, at least for the next few months.

As a result, most of my stuff is in storage at various places, which leads to the burning question: how much stuff do I really need? As it turns out, my peripatetic existence (oooh, there’s another nice word, peripatetic. I’m on a roll today!) — ahem, my peripatetic existence has been marvellous for my minimalism. How much crap do I really need? Even less than I thought.

Not everything that’s in storage will be purged. I have several coats, scarves and gloves that are staying — it’s just that there’s absolutely no point in taking them with me to Sydney. Especially in the heat of summer. (Winter was on a Tuesday there this year.) And I have a funky retro vase from the 70s, all white and terracotta swirls that is staying, but I’m not moving it until absolutely necessary.

The surprising turns are that things that I Absolutely. Cannot. Do. Without. They seem like luxuries, but here are a few items that help me maintain some vague semblance of sanity:

  • Singing bowl. Meditation has been linked to health benefits: try here, here and here for links. And there are more flavours of meditation than there are of ice cream: if you don’t like raspberry ripple, go for chocolate chip. My personal favourite is using a singing bowl, and I have a small one that’s portable enough to travel with me in a cabin bag.
  • Essential bath oil. Especially while I’m travelling or living a (wait for it…) peripatetic lifestyle, it’s just a little luxury. I’m fond of blends with a bit of vetiver or patchouli, and never, ever anything artificial. I don’t want my bath smelling like cheap air freshener, oh no no no. I’m on a budget; I can only afford the best. 🙂
  • Tea. Good tea. Seriously good tea. Brewed from leaves, so yes, a small teapot is an essential item. I currently have a high quality one with laser-cut strainer, which works because I brew rooibos which is really fine, but I’m looking for something a bit more lightweight.
  • Chocolate. Again, the good stuff. Thankfully good chocolate is becoming more readily available in Australia, although the hot and humid climate in most of the country still makes transporting it a challenge.
  • Cuff links. Small, portable, adds a dash of colour and fun. I’m planning to get about five pairs, without any qualms of guilt, because I’ll use them all. Cuff links always add something.

Those are my top 5 little luxuries — what are yours?

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5 Quick Wins

7 May 2013

Hi everyone,

Today is a little how-to, as we get a little into the nitty gritty of how to be a minimalist. I’ve talked about the benefits of being free from clutter and I’ve shared some of my experiences on this joyous journey: now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get cracking! Here they are: 5 quick wins!

  1. Surfaces. Get them clean! Get them clear! No, you don’t have to pack everything exactly right away in the right spot all at once: take it gradually. Be easy on yourself. Allow (at first!) a messy cupboard or two (or however many your current mess takes up!). Then whittle it down to one cupboard, one box, etc. In the meantime, have your dining table, benchtops, any surface you can think of, clean and clear. It’s a simple fix (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes) and you’ll feel so much better for it.
  2. Budget. Here’s some simple maths: $ incomings > $ outgoings. If your outgoings are bigger than your incomings, you need to pare back and/or get a way of making more money. I now have a rule: all money must be budgeted before it can be handled. I use an easy way here: I budget in multiples of $10. For starters, my arithmetic is very ordinary, so it makes sense for me to round up or down (mostly up) for my expenses. Secondly, ATM machines in Australia only issue cash in multiples of $10, so I can easily allocate what money is going where at the ATM. (Money dedicated for a particular purpose is folded in half in my wallet, and must never be touched for anything else.)
  3. Wardrobe audit. Time to love yourself a little here. Anything frayed, tatty, stained, ripped, or generally at the end of a long and happy life has to go. Clothes in unflattering colours should go too (battleship grey? What the hell was I thinking? I’m not a battleship!). Get a few basic pieces (a “capsule wardrobe”) in basic neutrals and build from there. Don’t have a wardrobe full of clashing, unflattering, daggy clothes.
  4. Month of focus. This is a brand new idea and I’m starting to warm to it. You declare every calendar month a new focus. Thus, the month of May is going to be the month I (finally!) focus on swimming. I’ll keep you posted. June is looking like vegetable month.
  5. Meditate. Make the effort to “turn off” for about 15 minutes or so (is there something magic about 15 minutes?) and relax. There are all sorts of techniques that I like to use; one of my favourites is a little singing bowl. I have a massive quartz one (14″ no less), but I use my much smaller portable metal one much more. Focusing on my breathing, imagining a point of light — all these are good too!

So there you have it: five quick wins on the minimalist path. Enjoy!