Christmas, Minimalism; decluttering, Spending

7 Ways to make this Christmas bright.


paper bags near wall
Photo by on

Ah Christmas.  The season of love and joy.

Or is it?

I’ll be honest.  I’m not a fan of the season.  I don’t like all the shopping, spending and decorating.   (Nor do I like the shorter days and cold weather.)  However, over the years, I’ve learned how to re-create the holiday for myself — making it truly a season of love and joy.  I thought I would share the ways I’ve changed it up for myself, and perhaps they may inspire you as well.

7 ways (I’m making) the Christmas truly a season of joy and love.

1.  STICK to a budget. I used to spend more money than I had on Christmas that debt was always inevitable in January, February & March.  My love for my kids was enormous, and so was my spending.  However, spending more money than you have is never a good plan, as the pain of the bills in the following year can attest.

2.  STAY out of storesOnline shopping and wish lists actually help me stick to a dollar amount.  I’m not swayed by all the goodies that line the aisles in stores this time of year.  And there are plenty.  I’m not like my husband who can just walk by them.  I see them, and suddenly I believe someone on my list needs them.  I’ve already done 90% of my shopping online, and I’m UNDER budget.  Woot!!

3. USE up what I already have.  This one should be a no brainer for me, but every year I buy more wrapping supplies. Why would I want to store so much Christmas wrapping paper when it only comes once a year? Wrapping paper can fade over the years, and then it is unusable.  Yesterday I pulled out everything I have and it appears I have enough to use for the next two years.  No purchasing of new wrapping supplies this year. 🙂

4. DECORATE simply. Clutter causes anxiety for me.  I like clean surfaces and non-cluttered spaces.  I used to decorate every nook and cranny of my house. I spent more money than I would like to admit on garlands, wreaths, lights.  By December 26th I was at my wits end, and needed to get it all down.  It was that stressful for me.  I used to think it was Christmas itself that caused the anxiety, but it was actually all the stuff.   I now decorate using the KonMarie method.  Does the decoration spark joy? If yes = Keep. If No = Get rid of.  My decorations consist of one artificial pencil tree with all of my special ornaments, one decorated mantle with Christmas Vacation houses and characters, three wreaths, a tall snowman and a Nativity display.  It’s the perfect amount for me.

5.  CREATE traditions. We have several traditions that we keep alive and well every Christmas season.  The one I love the most is Christmas Eve, where we all gather for a delicious meal, (pasta, shrimp and scallops, cannolis), and open one gift.  Of course, there have been others when my kids were young, such as baking cookies, driving through a Festival of Lights display, watching Christmas Vacation and hunting for the perfect Christmas tree.  Traditions, more so than gifts, are what makes Christmas so very special.

6. MANAGE expectations.   I created my kids’ expectations for LOTS of gifts on Christmas morning.  And honestly, they didn’t expect or ask for it.  It was all ME.   BUT the reality was that I couldn’t afford it.  Those were high expectations, and ones I couldn’t sustain.  Sometime in the middle of their childhood, when I was slowly changing the way I ‘did’ Christmas,  I changed it up to giving each kid just 5 gifts:  1.  Something you want, 2.  something you need, 3.  something wear and 4. something to read. PLUS, a Santa gift.  They LOVED it.  And for the first time, I stayed within my budget. Who knew it could be that easy?


“Turn your expectations into appreciation and your whole life will change.” – Tony Robbins

Which brings me to my last way, and perhaps the most important.

7. CULTIVATE daily gratitudeRemembering the reason for the season is very helpful in getting me through it with love and grace.  Being grateful for everything I already have, will leave room in my heart for a peaceful, joyful holiday.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Melody Beattie

If you are overwhelmed with the season, I hope these ideas helped you.  If you have any other ways you like to celebrate, please share!


Minimalism; decluttering, Paper

7 Tips to Minimalize Paper Clutter.

turned on silver imac
Photo by

Ah paper.  I love and hate it at the same time.  I love writing in paper planners and notebooks, but when it comes to other kinds of paper — bills, insurance policies, advertising flyers?  Not so much.  One area of my home that has been tough to keep de-cluttered is my home office.  Piles of paper would accumulate on my desk, and it always weighed heavy on me when I saw it.   Most of the time it would sit there for days until I had the resolve chance to deal with it.  However, I think I’ve finally come up with some tips and tricks to keep the paper that flows into my home to a minimum, and I hope you find them useful as well.

7 Tips to Minimize Paper Clutter

  1.  STOP the ‘unsolicited’ mail from invading your mailbox in the first place.  Most of the mail that gets delivered to my mail box is junk — i.e. advertising flyers, solicitations for insurance premiums, etc.  There are two websites that stop the nonsense. stops solicitation mail from consumer reporting agencies (which is usually insurance information).  To stop mail from direct marketers (the obnoxious stuff), go to  There is a $2 processing fee for a 10-year period.  If you are interested in doing the same, and want more information, you can find it at the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

    brown envelopes in mail box
    Photo by
  2. OPT OUT of paper copy bills.   I have always liked having the paper copy, but recently I have made the switch to paperless.  My budget and bills have become so streamlined with the help of my budgeting software, YNAB* that I find it unnecessary to have the physical paper.  However, if I should need a paper copy, I could just print it out from my computer.  If you have a computer and a handle on when your bills are do, opt out of the paper copies for your monthly bills.  However, if you never read your emails and have no clue when bills are due, this option may not work for you.

    person using smartphone while facing laptop computer
    Photo by
  3. Invest in a shredder.  Even if you opt out of paper bills, there will always be some sort of mail that arrives with sensitive information on it.  Social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, birth dates, medical information — whatever information that could be potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.  Keep a mini shredder by your desk, or where you keep your paperwork and shred as you go.  Identity theft has been a huge problem over the years, and this will help keep your information safe.

  4. Handle the paperwork as soon as you receive it.  I’ve created two folders that help me organize paper as it comes in:  (a)  Bills to be paid/or invitations to be calendared  (b) General info that I need to keep that needs to be filed.  Yep, that’s it.  Other paper can be shredded or recycled.  I have (6) categories for filing:  Health records, tax records, car maintenance records, insurance, travel and pay stubs (one year only).  I keep merchandise receipts in an envelope and shred after several months.  I have a scanner, however, and will eventually scan my paper files to my hard drive and get rid of all paper. 🙂

    depth of field photography of file arrangement
    Photo by Mike
  5. Don’t hold on to paper for more than a year  (See exceptions #6).  Store for 1 year: regular statements, pay stubs.  Then SHRED.  Keep for 1 month: utility bills, deposit and withdrawal records. Then SHRED.  Of course if you opted out of paper copies, you don’t have to worry about this. 😉
  6. Keep a fire safe for all of the documents you need to keep forever.   The following documents fall into this category:
    • Academic records: Diplomas, transcripts, and any portfolio work that may be used in the future when applying for a job.
    • Adoption papers
    • Baptismal certificates
    • Birth certificates
    • Death certificates: May be needed for tax purposes.
    • Copies of Driver’s licenses
    • Employment records: Any clauses, agreements, disciplinary files, and performance reviews.
    • Marriage certificates
    • Medical records
    • Military records
    • Passports
    • Retirement and pension records
    • Social Security cards
    • Wills

      person holding diploma
      Photo by Ekrulila
  7. Keep a memory box for the sentimental papers.  I have been blessed to receive lovely birthday cards, anniversary cards and letters over the years.  I love each and every one, but I couldn’t possibly keep them all.   I have recycled most of the cards, but have kept the cards or letters that had a handwritten sentiment or note that I knew I would want to re-read.  I have been storing them in a simple memory box I purchased from Michael’s .  It’s not full yet, but when the box does get full, I will decide which cards get recycled, take a quick picture of the sentiment and let the physical card go.  One memory box truly is enough. 🙂
white painted papers
Photo by Pixabay

These tips have kept my paper clutter at bay.  However, I will still need to tackle the multiple planners, notebooks and other paper I still have scattered in my office — but that will have to be for another post. 😉

How do you handle your paper clutter?


*YNAB is an affiliate link (and the only one in this post).   I will never offer an affiliate link for a product or service I don’t use or 100% endorse.

Minimalism; decluttering

Why this baby boomer is going minimal.

white flowers in bloom
Photo by Louis

What minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff- the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities that don’t bring value to your life. – Colin Wright

Over the past several years, I’ve been slowly getting rid of excess stuff and clearing off counters.  I’ve never been a fan of clutter, but this new found love of clear spaces has been life changing.

I did another de-clutter over the long weekend.  It’s been easier knowing I could actually sell some of the stuff.  There is always that guilt when you know you’ve spent good money on an item you are de-cluttering.  However, after playing the minimalism ‘game’ twice this year, it’s getting a bit harder to find things to get rid of and I’m finally getting to that place of enough.

However, as Colin Wright points out, minimalism is much more than just de-cluttering stuff.  It’s about keeping those things, experiences, and people in your life that add value.

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives

As a late baby boomer, I’ve experienced the height of consumerism both in 80’s and 90’s.  I spent more time and money on buying bigger and better everything. And I had the credit card debt and loans to prove it.  It had locked us in to the 9-5, leaving no choice to do anything else.

It’s taken me a couple of decades to figure out that having bigger and better doesn’t equate to happiness.  Besides stuff, I’ve been able to let go of toxic relationships, activities that do not bring joy and the fear of missing out. (FOMO, yes, it’s a thing).  What I’ve come to realize is that the time and experiences spent with the ones I love bring me the most joy.

And, as I say goodbye to my excess stuff, I realize that the only regret I have is that it has taken me this long to realize that less really is more.


Minimalism; decluttering

Playing the Minimalism Game.

green wooden chair on white surface
Photo by Paula Schmidt on

We live in a 5 bedroom two-story colonial with a finished basement.  It is a home that has served us well over the years, where we happily raised our four children.  As you can imagine, a lot of stuff can fit in a home this size.  And, with our two older daughters married with children, our son about to commission in the Navy and our youngest daughter finishing her Physical Therapy program in another year,  this home will suddenly be too much house for just two.  It is our desire to find a smaller home (preferably one level) to move into before we get too old to want to move.  (We are having this issue with our aging parents, and it’s not fun.)

But how does one downsize and get rid of all the stuff that fits into a larger home? One minimalism game at a time.

Have you ever played the minimalism game?  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (“The Minimalists”) created this game as a fun way to jumpstart a way to a more minimalistic lifestyle, or at least have less stuff.

To play the game, you simply declutter one item on the 1st of the month, two items on the 2nd of the month, three items on the 3rd of the month…etc. all the way up to the thirty-one items on the 31st.  If you add it all up, 496 items will leave your home in a month’s time.

I’ve played this game twice before, and I easily got rid of 496 items each time.  Not because I’m a hoarder, mind you, but because there really is more stuff hidden in nooks and crannies than you can imagine.

I’m smitten with the whole minimalistic lifestyle, so I’ve decided to play this game a third time (and probably a fourth and fifth time later on in the year).  I’ve already done my clothes, accessories, purses, shoes and my husband did his closet as well.  We have donated over 300 items, so finishing this game in January should be a breeze.

Besides donating items, I’ve also been able to sell a few things on Facebook Marketplace.  Extra cash is always a bonus, right?

Here is the first video I found that inspired me to play this game.  It just may inspire you too!

Have you decluttered your home?  If so, how did you do it?

Goal Setting, Minimalism; decluttering, No Spend Year, saving money

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again, when we contemplate how we want the new year to take hold.  It really is all about taking control and setting goals (and, of course, following through).  Here are my goals and focus areas for 2019.

19 Goals for 2019


  1. Lose 10 lbs.  To obtain my ‘best’ weight, I should lose 20.  But 10 will be considered a success.  I have a free app called LOSE IT, which will help me keep track, and I’ve joined a Diet Bet game for January.
  2. Train (again) for a 5K and sign up for 2 races.   Last year was the first time I ran a 5K.  I was injured, but I finished.  This year I want to train and run at least two more (hopefully without injury).
  3. Maintain 10,000+ steps a day. I have the Fitbit Versa, which I absolutely LOVE.  It will definitely help me keep this goal in check.
  4. Follow a Low Sugar Diet/No Dairy.  This was the best one I could find.  Honestly, I’m trying to figure out if a certain food group is causing havoc in my body, and I have a feeling it’s the absurd amount of sugar I’m inhaling.  But then again dairy makes me feel bloated as well.  We shall see.
  5. Try Yoga.  I know I need to stretch more, and this has been on my ‘to do’ list for several years.  Time to do something about it.
  6. Annual Drs. Visits. – Striving for well visits onlyFingers crossed. 


  1. Read 12 books.  One book a month – something that educates and/or nourishes the soul.  Suggestions welcome.
  2. Play the Minimalism Game.  3x.
  3. Create a space just for me. We have an extra bedroom that I want to make into a meditative, contemplative, hideaway  More to come on this one.
  4. Attend one spiritual retreat.  To be determined.  I’m not sure what direction I want to go with this, but I’m really ready to embrace spirituality.
  5. Journal/Gratitude Daily. This is self explanatory, right?
  6. Fix the kitchen appliances.  We have a cooktop that we have to ‘light’, and an oven that doesn’t hold the temperature.  They must be replaced this year.


  1. Start a new blog.  Done! Well, sort of.  There’s a lot of work I still need to do to make this blog what I hope it to be. 
  2. Create money making opportunities online.  I have some ideas on how I’d like to add to the household income.  I already have my eyes set on some affiliate promotions that will go great with my blog message.


  1. Live on our proposed retirement salary for the entire year. We will have our mortgage paid off by the time we retire, so I’m not including that amount.  I’m using a monthly figure of what I believe will be a realistic withdrawal from our retirement accounts.  The wildcard, of course, is healthcare since we won’t be eligible for Medicare at 62.  I’ll have to try and figure that one out.
  2. Have a NO SPEND year.  Yep.  You read that one right. A whole year. I will be addressing this in another blog post with my preset rules for the No Spend.  It will be very different than what you are usually seeing for a No Spend.  I’m excited.
  3. SAVE 40% of take home pay. With no college tuition payments, and a lower ‘proposed’ salary, this should be a slam dunk.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.
  4. SAVE for a Baltic Sea Cruise. We hope to do this trip for our 25th wedding anniversary in May, 2020.

My 19th goal for 2019 is to reconnect with all my blogging friends whom I have missed so much!  Please leave a comment so I can add you to my blogroll!

Here’s to a prosperous and healthy New Year!