Hey Friends! I’m back to give you an update on my progress in living the good life. In March, I decided to explore money because I made a connection between money and leprechauns. (see the original post HERE).
I do know this post is late, I usually give an update or a new post on Thursday and a prayer on Monday. I missed the Thursday post and today is Saturday. I have a good reason for this…we’re preparing to move! It’s so exciting and talking about money for us was in perfect timing. So far, it’s helping us make better decisions.
Recapping this year: In January I spent an entire month asking questions about what I think the Good Life might be. (See the summary post HERE). In February I began exploring and attempting to improve my relationships because it’s the month of love. (see the summary post HERE).
During March, I’ve learned that Jesus talks a lot about money. He talks about money with a relationship to our soul. The first thing I considered was: where is my heart and where is my treasure? The answer is that my heart is in heaven but I often get distracted by shiny things here on earth. New house…yep distraction. I like to decorate and purchase pillows and wall art. New electronic device…yep distraction. I like to download my apps and set it up so that it helps make my life easier.
Social media…yep distraction. I like to see what other people are up to and sometimes I fall into the comparison trap just like everyone else. These days, I’m falling into advertisement traps too. I’m going to date box websites, craft supplies websites, and booksellers websites and stalking all the things that would make my relationships and my life better. It doesn’t matter that I have lots of books and lots of craft supplies already. If I just had these things, my life would be perfect. Trap.
So, I’m just like everyone else. I’m still a work in progress. This month has really changed my perspective. We are halfway through financial peace university (by Dave Ramsey). We’re doing it at home by ourselves. It has put us on the same page financially. This is an amazing feeling. I didn’t realize how hard it was to be on a different page until we got on the same page.
March Progress: We’ve got our first baby step completed. We’ve got a plan to get to the next three baby steps completed. It’s going to take a couple of years to get where we need to be but we’ll get there. Then it’s saving for retirement.
We daydreamed and did some calculations and figured out what it would actually take for us to get to where we want to be. I’ve begun to put together a notebook for us to talk about and daydream. We want a tiny house (tiny for us) and five acres of land. We want to hang out, watch movies, read books, and hike trails. We want vacations and family time. We want peace of mind. By learning what to do now and making the right decisions now, we can live like we want to later.
I’ve also realized that I want a life that is a lot more simple than the life I live right now. When I journaled in response to the prompt: what do I spend money on and why? I realized that I spend money when I feel insecure or I spend money to feel secure. I also spend money to project an image to others. Well, I used to do that.
I used to go to a specific store that sells soaps and lotions and I’d spend $75 to $100 a couple of times a year. I’d purchase extra food items to keep the freezer stocked. I’d add extra hygiene items while they were on sale even though we already had enough for six months or more. I’m a hoarder on a small scale. This year, I decided not to go to that store to stock up until I used all my soaps and lotions. It took an entire year to go through my stash.
That’s just one example. I’ve decided to get through all my stashes before buying more. When I run out, I’ll just get another. I’ve realized that I put my comfort in the presence of this back stock rather than knowing that God will provide me the money and the things. I’ve learned to adjust my priorities here. If you’re like me, take stock of what is in your house. Decluttering can include just using your stockpile and not buying more things.
For me, trying to impress others included buying eight suits when I only really needed three. Ever hear the expression “dress for the job you want instead of the job you have.” I did that. I also had to have the decorations in my home to look like Fixer Upper came to play. It also was about having the right things to decorate for a season or a holiday. Finally, when I was dating, it also meant that I tried to keep up with the financial level of the people I was around while dating. These people made two-three times more money than I did. So I spent money I didn’t have to impress people I actually liked. In the end, they knew the person I created to hang out with them, not the person who I really was. Isn’t that sad?
This year, I’ve begun decluttering pretty much everything in my house. I’ve gotten rid of most of the paper clutter in my office. We’ve decluttered a couple of spaces where things were just being stored in boxes.
My husband and I also decluttered our closet. I have gained weight during the two years I’ve quit smoking and I had to remove all the suits mentioned above plus two additional bags of clothes. I have purchased some clothes that will fit better and when they arrive I will remove another bag of clothes. I bought cheap clothes last year and began an exercise routine because I couldn’t let go of my smaller waistline. I’ve finally decided it’s okay for my body to look this way because I’m healthy. I also want to be happy and accepting my body shape and working out to feel better keeps me happy. That means I get a few nicer clothes too.
In anticipation of moving, I’ve made a list of furniture that we will trash, sell, or donate. I have made it my mission to sort through things so that only things that I love will come along. My goal is to live with about half of the stuff we live with now. Last year I read Marie Kondo’s book and it has changed my perspective. In March, I opened a book that I’ve had for several years and never used called – Secrets of Simplicity learn to live better with less (Mary Carlomagno). I decided to use this book as an assistant to moving into the life that I actually want.
The life that I actually want is a life full of exploration, adventure, and excitement. It means fewer things to take care of. I realized this while I was journaling a response to “What does the simple life look like to me?” I realized “The simple life and minimalism appeal to me more and more. I know my environment affects me and too much clutter is hard. Too much stuff is too much. Simplicity means more space to breathe and move and save.” That’s what I really believe.
At the end of March: I think the good life looks like love, laughter, and cuddles; not looking for things; peace, calm, and cozy; comfort with sweatpants on Saturday and Sunday; having just enough; saving for the future; reading, crafting, and chick flicks; clean empty tables; and cabinets that don’t overflow on me when I open them. Having less stuff means less time to decluttering, organizing, and cleaning. It means more time taking a day-long road trip to somewhere new to experience something wonderful.
Where we spend our money says something about what we value right now. It says something about what we feel. It says something about who we are and the masks we wear for the world to see. It says something about the hole we have to fill. I tried to fill my hole with being a lawyer, looking like a lawyer so that other people would know that I was a lawyer. In March, I learned i’d like to just be me. I think I like being Shelee.
What’s next for the Good Life in April? I think I want to look at rest and renewal. This Sunday is Easter Sunday. It’s also the day that we break our fast (see the post here) and it’s the Sabbath. We’re also in Spring. When I think of Jesus rising from the dead, I think of hope and faith. When I think of Sabbath, I think of renewal in rest and returning to God. When I think of Spring, I think of coming alive again. All of those adjectives really apply to all the others.
In thinking of these things, I thought that surely the Good Life must contain these as well. A good life cannot always be striving for the next thing, growing, chasing, and becoming. If God rested after making the world, it must be a worthy pursuit. If God created the seasons to progress through a growing and rest cycle then surely he made me to do so as well. If Jesus experienced two nights in the tomb, perhaps it was to restore his body for what came next – sitting on the throne in heaven.
So in April, while rain showers are preparing the plants to blossom before coming into the warmth and heat of the summer, I will consider how we can be renewed as well.
Are you participating in the looking for the Good Life with me? Have you made progress? Are you looking forward to a month of renewal and restoration? If so, comment below. I’d love it for you to enter the conversation.
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