a failing minimalist

The dreams of traveling to other places by water is exciting. In addition to that dream, the thought of maybe living on a sailboat and focusing on what’s important and reducing the stuff I own is exciting. I’ve gotten comfy with space over the past few years. I haven’t been as diligent as I used to be with reducing the stuff coming in and the stuff going out. This transition to a sailboat will ultimately make me own less stuff but what I’m finding out is that when you buy a sailboat, you soon may be drawn to all the cool gadgets.

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Buster (mini-dachshund) in his new life jacket. 

As I read the Lin and Larry Pardey’s book on “Cost Conscious Cruising,” they make a point to get  a feel for the sailboat before buying all the things. Be on it for awhile and take it out and then see what you might want. I’m definitely keeping that in mind although I have spent a lot of money on items for the sailboat in the first week of ownership but I feel like they are essential to the boat and my mission.

1st week of purchases:
(2) SRM-27 Interstate Deep Cycle Batteries for Starting the Boat
(2) 200 Watt Solar Panels for Charging Both Banks of Batteries
(1) 40a Solar Charge Controller (ePever)
(1) Super Cute Life Jacket for Buster
Hasp to Lock the Hatch
Wind Muffs to Block Wind Noise for Camera/Vlogging
New Marine Charger to Replace the Broken One

I’m getting a little bit of anxiety bringing on all these new items and spending all this money in a short amount of time. I could probably say that the above items are a necessity to the boat running well and my dog staying safe but you should also see what’s in my Amazon and eBay cart. A composting toilet, fishing reel, maybe new pots and pans (you can’t have ceramic in a sailboat, can you?),  and other miscellaneous stuff that my mind is tempting me to buy.

These are the times I need to catch myself. I need to be careful as to what I bring on. I really need to wait a few days or a week before making a purchase. I can convince myself things are really necessary when maybe they aren’t.

Minimalism is a privilege, people tend to think about practicing minimalism more when they have the ability to purchase or obtain a lot of stuff. Not everyone has that ability. With that said minimalism goes beyond physical stuff, it’s ridding yourself of the mental clutter too. Something I could practice more as of late. I digress, but isn’t that life jacket cute on Buster.

optimism, anxiety, and living on the road

IMG_0530 put it out to the universe and you shall receive. maybe not exactly the way you planned, but it will happen. it’s been a while since i last posted and things have changed quite a bit in my life. i’m no longer living in the camper shell, i have a new camper. i have a partner that i’m very excited about and i’m no longer being held down by a stationary job. i’ll be the first to say that happy people used to annoy me, i couldn’t understand how someone could be happy all the time (or it seemed like it). i set out to examine habits in my life and how they affected my happiness. i quit habits that were not life serving and gave more energy to the habits that were life serving. life serving for me, means that it provides happiness or contributes to happiness in some form (i.e. a job that provides the money for you to travel). as mentioned in my blog posts earlier such as ‘not buying anything for a month‘ and ‘reducing my possessions‘ were ways i could tackle some of the habits that weren’t life serving. i found out what gave me the most anxiety and tackled those problems, that was alcohol, weed, and tobacco. i examined my communication habits not only with others but also the self-talk. i incorporated non violent communication into my life and i can highly recommend marshall rosenberg’s non violent communication book. this may be something i cover in a later post because there is a lot to talk about. so, ever since this mentality shift, good things have happened. some right away and some have taken time. i’m still adjusting to my new lifestyle and i do have the occasional anxiety breakdown but i’m in a much better place to make decisions and tackle obstacles that arise.

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about the camper and how it fell into my hands…

the camper is a cabover that sits on top of my 2004 dodge dakota. i called on memorial day about a camper that was for sale on craigslist. after speaking with the gentlemen for a few minutes, he be became upset with how many questions i was asking and started to use foul language. i explained that i was driving a long way and wanted to make sure it would be a good fit (there was a lack of pictures, only one of the outside). i said thank you for your time and hung up the phone. i received a text shortly after from his wife stating that her husband loses patience and he’s not out to make a profit. i responded by saying ‘i understand, i’ll be living in it and wanted to make sure it would be the right fit, good luck with selling the trailer”. a couple minutes later i received another text saying he would let me have it for free. so, i jumped in my truck and traveled three plus hours to the central valley in 100 degree heat to pick it up. the guy ended up being friendly and helped me maneuver the camper into the back of my truck. it all worked out and i’m very grateful for his kindness!

 

IMG_0327let the work begin….

my mom and i spent two days refinishing and sprucing it up before i had to spend my first night in it. cleaning was a big chore, it required a lot of elbow grease, goof off, and soft scrub (which cleaned the grease, smoke stained wall paper to new). i also had to set up my solar system, replace levers, refinish wood, remove a lot of rust from the stove, replace screws on the inside and outside, and i’m continuing to complete work like replacing lights, painting, and installing a new bed. to me, having a nice sleeping area is key to having success on the road. so, i splurged and bought a custom mattress that’s being shipped as i write this post.

IMG_0457living, finding parking spots, ramblings..
i’ve been living part time out of the camper for a couple weeks now.  i’ve camped out at a few places such as friend’s houses, schools i’ve attended, and the occasional state/regional park. one thing that i’ve realized and has upset me is the outlawing of sleeping in your car, to me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. isn’t it better than sleeping under a bridge? does the government expect people to all live in a house and pay ridiculous bills? i’m hoping to create a community where we can share car sleeping friendly cities, parking lots, and camp sites. i see a lot of people living on the road but no overarching community that helps each other thrive on the road.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetspace issues…what’s next?
i’m being very cautious with the extra space. just because i have the space doesn’t mean i need to fill it. i also have to keep in mind that my partner will be joining me at some point. i want to keep it to basic essentials. i think naturally, most people living on the road are minimalists out of necessity. otherwise, you won’t find anything, everything will be constantly cluttered and you will become frustrated. with that said, i’m constantly making lists of what will improve my living arrangements. i find this very helpful because at times, i think i will remember my thought but i usually forget in a few hours. stay tuned, i will be continuing to post on my travels. tell me what you would like to see more of! pictures? recipes? instructions? products? tips?

letting go of a possession everyday for 30 days

Along with my 30 day challenge of not buying anything new, I will attempt to donate one item a day for the next month. Over the past couple years I’ve read books such as “the Joy of Less”, “Clutterbust”, and “How I Bought Happiness and it’s Cheap”. All great books that I highly recommend. They’ve taught me how clutter can remove people from being in the present moment. From my own experience, I feel weighed down by my belongings, like they hold me back from sometimes doing what I want (i.e. travel, pursue hobbies, think clearly, etc.). At this point, I already feel I’ve given away a lot of my belongings that felt like clutter but this time around, I’m going to be extra hard on myself.

Each day I will include: A quote or tip about rethinking the clutter in your life and the item I’m donating that day. Start small, think big.

Day 1, February 6th, 2014
Tip: Take a look at that box of stuff you haven’t opened in a year under the house or in your closet. Do you really need what’s in there?
You haven’t used it in a year so it must not be that important to your daily life.

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Although, I work a lot with plants, I don’t need three pairs of pruners. Today I’ll be donating a pair of pruners.

Day 2, February 7th, 2014
“the things which we choose to surround ourselves tell our story.”
Francine Jay-author of the Joy of Less

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Ever since a kid, I loved different knives. It’s what every boy enjoys, I think? Dreaming of one day fighting through jungle and foraging your own meal. All, with your trusty pocket knife. Well, I think quality is better over quantity and half the time I can’t even find my knife. So, I’m donating one of my two pocket knives today.

Day 3 February 8th, 2014
Sell some of your things on Amazon, Craigslist, or Ebay. Sometimes it makes it easier getting rid of stuff when your getting money for it. But, don’t let money make your decisions for you. You may have spent a good amount of money on something but never use it, and you’ll never get that money back. So, instead of letting that item own you, let it go, it feels good. I know from experience.

soil blocker 2"
This is a soil blocker. A very useful tool that can make blocks of soil eliminating the need for plastic pots. I love the concept and I may own one again but I just haven’t used it as much as I liked. So, I put it on Amazon and it sold today. I know it’s not donating but it goes with the theme!

Day 4 February 9th, 2014.
I love books and that’s not a good thing when trying to limit possessions and clear space. I went through all my books and made a decision whether to keep it or not by determining when the last time I opened it was. I kept some of the books that meant something to me even though I hadn’t opened them in over a year. One helpful tip I found was to download the book if available digitally, then I could sell or donate the book without hesitation. My collection of books is now 1/8th what it used to be.

cacti book cactus succulents

Day 5-6, February 10th and 11th, 2014
I donated a cordless saw because I recently upgraded. I’m finding it’s important to have good quality tools. High quality, time-saving tools is what makes me money in the long run. I also donated a rubber hammer and a shaker (musical instrument).

Day 7-9, February 12th-14th, 2014.
I’m donating a coffee mug, a house plant with pot, and a pair of pants. I think it’s time to reexamine my dresser. I would like to think I don’t have a lot of clothes but I still find that I only wear maybe half my clothes. I’ve done this before, each time I find myself getting harder and harder on myself with deciding which clothes go and which clothes stay. This time around I will be even tougher. I found out about a project online called Project 333. “Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.” So, here goes nothing!

Day 10-12, February 15th-17th.
Moving forward with this Project 333 challenge, I’ve donated over the past few days two more pairs of pants, four t shirts, a pair of gym shorts, and a sweater. This is fun and it’s nice not having to smash my clothes to get the drawers to close on my dresser.

Day 13-Day 17, February 18th-22nd.
Day 13- Glass containers that weren’t being utilized. -Donated
Day 14- Sweater that was nice but I never wore. -Donated
Day 15- Tea Kettle I didn’t use anymore (now use electric). -Sold on Ebay
Day 16-Gold dental crown I had sitting around (I know, weird.). -Sent it to gold refiner.
Day 17-Went through food, I do not use. -Gave to my friend.
Tip:Simply your food choices, find out what you really like and use often. Store in large airtight glass containers. Donate or find a friend to give unused food too.

Day 18-19, February 23rd-24th.
Day 18-Sold, hose end timer for watering plants on EBAY. It was not getting used.
Day 19, Sold, my second hose end timer on EBAY. Also, was not getting used.
Both of these were items I held onto because I thought I was going to use them sometime in the future. What I’ve found out is that it maybe easier to let go of these items and free up space. If you end up needing to buy it again in the distant future, that’s ok, it’s not the end of the world. I run into a lot of people who hold onto a lot of stuff because they see some use for it in the future. It may start as one item but then it has a snowball effect, which in turn causes the person to use it as an excuse to hold onto way too many things. I’m guilty of it myself. Let go! It’s self rewarding and will help you in the immediate future and in the long run. Tip: Don’t let your items own you.

Day 20-27, February 25th-March 3rd.
Day 20-old pair of birkenstocks (actually, i drove off and left these at the beach, that counts right?
Day 21-converse shoes, haven’t worn in a year
Day 22-overalls that are awesome but I can never find a time to wear them (selling on ebay)
Day 23-big glass storage jar that holding day number 24’s donation
Day 24-all my seeds, that I never have planted. I work at a nursery so my need for seeds isn’t huge. I get a lot of starts for free. I do think there is something special about growing from seed that is missed when buying starts. I just haven’t had a place to really put them to use as I’ve been moving around place to place. So, I will brought them into work for coworkers.
Day 25-a rusted cast iron, haven’t needed to use it int he past two years. one, because the place i’m at has them or two, because the place I live has an electric stove.
Day 26-extra canning jars and lids that i’m not using
Day 27-pairs of socks that are my oldest and ones that are torn.

Day 28-30, March 4th-March 6th
Day 28-
Two metal dog bowls.
Day 29-
Clipboard
Day 30-
Two more shirts

Final sum up-

As the month went on, it got harder and harder to let go of stuff. But I still feel I can let go of more. For me, this is something I have to think about everyday. I have to reexamine certain items and ask myself multiple questions. When was the last time it was used? Will I use it again in the next six months? Can I borrow it when I need it? Can I buy it again in the future if I really need it? Sometimes my answers to these questions are different when I revisit an item a week or month later. So, it’s important to revisit items and not let them sit in the back of the closet collecting dust. Rotate your items, this helps me make more room in my space.

30 days of not buying anything

I’m 26 and have been working full time for the past few years after college. I have no savings account and basically live paycheck to paycheck. This is not uncommon in the United States where people strive for the American dream but fall short and get consumed with increasing debt over time. For me, every time I have money starting to add up in my savings account, I get the urge to spend!! Something I didn’t think about before, I must have now.

I spend a good amount of time on Amazon and had the “Prime” membership for the past year.It wasn’t a bad deal, I mean most of the stuff I would buy at the store (in an area dominated by Whole Foods and overpriced hardwares stores) I could get close to half off on Amazon. So, each week, I would buy something new, something I thought I must have.

On top of me not being able to build a savings account, there is the fact that our landfills are becoming exponentially larger. There’s more plastic in our oceans then ever before and new products require energy and packaging to make it to that shelf for sale.

We’re constantly reminded to keep buying, we’re not important if we don’t own the newest greatest stuff. We’re overloaded and bombarded with advertisements everywhere we go, not only on tv but on billboards, scoreboards, radio, and online. I fall for this consumerist trap , sometimes consciously and at other times unconsciously.

Now, here I am, still wanting more but in a constant battle to free myself of clutter and put money in my savings account. I’ve decided to make myself a thirty day challenge of not buying anything except allowing myself a hundred dollars worth of groceries (no eating out). This way, I can examine what’s really important and at the same time, go through some of the food that’s been sitting in the back of my cupboard.

I will update the post with what I spend money on (groceries wise) and the thoughts that come up for me through this challenge. Hopefully, this will help you examine your spending habits.

Day 1 February 6th, 2014.
a short film worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.
the Story of Stuff

Day 2 February 7th, 2014.
Throughout the day I thought of stuff that I wanted to buy. For example, one of those white ceramic mugs with bpa free lids that look like paper cups because my tea or coffee always gets to cold in a minute or so (I like it hot!). I thought about buying screws to build a vermicompost (worm compost) bin but then thought about maybe grabbing some from work or finding some lying around in the shed. I really want a juicer to go along with my blender so I can make fresh juice for green smoothies. It will be hard to hold off on these purchases. Some purchases that I come up with in my head, I don’t remember in an hour so. It makes me think it must not be that important.  I think this is great to do alongside my donating an item a day challenge. This is a challenge so far!

Day 3 February 8th, 2014.
With this day an age, Ebay, Amazon, and other sites make it easy to purchase items with one click. This challenge so far has made me pause from purchasing an item instantly. I think one thing I will carry from this challenge is to maybe wait a week before buying something, if I still want it after a week, then maybe proceed with the purchase.

Day 4, February 9th, 2014.
I bought some organic dino kale today that costed 2.69 for the bunch. My budget for groceries is down to 97.31 for the rest of the month. I’ve been burning through kale lately with my making of green smoothies daily. I could have not spent this money if I grew the kale myself. My kale plants right now are too small too harvest. I recommend growing your own produce when you can. I think it’s much better tasting, more nutrient rich, you know how it’s grown, and you become more self reliant. I love the way dino (lacinato) kale looks like with all it’s wrinkle and dark green foliage so, here’s a picture.

lacinato kale dino dinosaur organic green dark

Day 5, February 10th, 2014.
Spent 14.10 at the farm stand and 14.70 at Safeway stocking up on veggies, nut milks, and organic bread. Have you ever tried Dave’s Killer Bread, so good and he uses juice instead of sugar. 97.31 minus 28.80 makes 68.51 to spend on groceries with a lot of time left in the challenge. This is going to be tough.

Day 6, February 11th, 2014.
Bought another bunch of organic kale, 2.17. 68.51-2.17=66.34. I’m trying to limit myself on money spent on groceries but I’m making a conscious effort not to eat unhealthy during this month.

Day 7-8, February 12-13th, 2014
Another 11 dollars spent on soy milk, carrots, and berries today. I was graciously given a huge bag of broccoli, chard, rutabaga, lemons, and limes from my farmer friend Phyllis. There’s nothing like fresh fruit and veggies you harvest yourself! It looks like we might be teaming up to do some farming this year which will be a fun and challenging experience and on top of that, help keep my food budget low. I’m very excited about this opportunity! Down to 55.34 for groceries for the rest of the month. I don’t know if I’ll make it but I will keep trucking along. I still haven’t bought anything but I really need a 3/4″ deep socket to install my hitch on my truck. Tomorrow, I will see if I can borrow one from work. Tip: Why buy something when you might only use it once in a blue moon? Well, I’m going to try borrowing first. If I happen to be needing that tool more frequently, then I might consider purchasing one for myself.

Day 9-10, February 14th-15th
Spent 3.68 on some organic bananas.  55.34 minus 3.68=51.66 left to spend on groceries for the month.

Day 11-12, February 16th-17th
I bought my dog some treats to clean his teeth. I don’t know if I can count this as groceries but I’m going to. If you smelled his breath, you would too! So, that was 8.50. 51.66-8.50=43.16

Day 13, February 18th
By not sacrificing health, I may end up going over the limit as I spent another 22 dollars today on groceries. I’m sticking with buying mostly organic produce. If this challenge was done in the summer when my garden is producing (which I might try) I think my grocery bill would be substantially lower. 43.16-22= 21.16. I’m still going strong with not buying anything other than groceries and gas. I’ve saved a substantial amount of money and decided that I would put the money into a CD so I can’t touch it for six months.

Day 14, February 19th
I’m very tempted to break this not buying anything challenge. I’ve wanted a Vitamix for the longest time and I don’t know if I can hold out for another week and a half. I’m moving towards a vegan/raw food diet and I think it will be a valuable tool. This is how I’m justifying it to myself. How do I know when if it’s really a justified purchase and not something I don’t necessarily need?

I guess in life there’s not many things you need, other than water, food, and shelter. But, I believe there are things that can make your life more enjoyable, healthier, and work as a tool to pursue your passions. For example, if surfing is a passion or hobby, maybe having a board would make it ten times easier for you to get out in the water. But maybe, renting or borrowing a board is all you really need because you don’t go out that much. Overall, I think it’s healthy to explore these opportunities, buy that kayak or get that Bowflex but when we realize we’re not utilizing these “tools”, it’s time to let go. Sell it, donate it, don’t keep it around or you will end up with all these items that don’t get the attention they deserve. They end up being distractions from getting anything done. You began to be spread to thin and then you’re not pursuing any of your passions.

Day 15-16, February 20th-22nd
Well, I’ve held off from buying the vitamix althought I think it will help me save on food in the long run. I have a dependable beehive blender that do the job for now. Unfortunately, my last grocery trip brought me over the hundred dollar limit. I had 21.16 left to spend. I spent 46 dollars. 24 dollars was dog food along with more fresh fruit and peanut butter. So, right now, that brings me to -25.00. I still haven’t spent money on eating out. Tip: I think it’s key to make your meals the night before you work. Also, pack more than enough food for the day. If you’re like me, I never seem to pack enough. I think it’s because I’m not that hungry in the morning. By midmorning, I need food!! So packing enough snacks like fresh fruit and nuts and a big lunch. I’m known to dip into my lunch before it’s time. Having enough food will save you money because you won’t be heading to the nearest fast food or Mexican restaurant when your stomach feels empty.

Day 17-19, February 23rd-25th
Over the past few days, I’ve spent more at the grocery store. I still have yet to eat out, that part hasn’t been really challenging. Keeping the budget for groceries under a 100 on the other hand, has been very challenging. I think it would be more feasible for me to shoot for two hundred dollars for groceries a month. Especially, if I want to eat healthy, mostly organic, and no processed foods. I spent 45 dollars on my last trip to the grocery store. That puts the total at 170 for groceries so far.

Tip: Oh, do I love my online shopping sites. Those sites that give you huge discounts like Sierra Trading Post. Once, I began to click on these sites,I start to find items that I didn’t think I needed before. So, my advice would be to stay clear of shopping websites and unsubscribe to many coupon email lists as well.

Day 20-23, February 26th-28th
I purchased another 26 on groceries and bought a five dollar juice when visiting family. That puts the total at 201 spent on groceries.I still have yet to buy anything besides food and gas. I find it almost exhilarating saving money. I like the fact that I don’t make a whole lot of money yet I’m able to set money aside if I make a conscious effort. When I stop spending money on frivolous items and take a moment to really think about a purchase, I end up with more money in my pocket at the end of the month and less stuff cluttering my space. By, cutting back on eating out, I spend more and more time in the kitchen cooking my meals. Which, are almost always healthier than eating out. A win win!

Day 24-27, March 1st-4th
I’m glad this month is coming to an end but that doesn’t mean I have enjoyed taking a close look at my spending habits. Everything from big ticket items to three dollar coffees when I’m on the run have been stopped for the time being. This has allowed me to save money this month, start a CD which I never have been able to do in the past. I am grateful for that. I realize what it would cost me to eat healthy for a typical month. For me, this is around 200-250 dollars. I stepped back from the consumerism culture and began to realize just how strong it is. I notice that depending on what sites you visit online, advertising can be just as strong online compared to television. NPR even sneaks in advertisements or sponsors for their programs whle my local sports station has constantly bombarded me with ads to buy chocolate strawberries for my valentine (if i had one) or buy a new mattress because my current one sucks. For the most part, I have not falling trap but that doesn’t mean I’ve been tempted to buy, especially, with the ads now that are tailored to your interests on practically every website you view.Three more days….

Spent 9 on groceries these past three days….for a total of $210 on groceries (110 over the amount I allowed myself).

Day 28-30, March 5-7
I finished up not buying anything else.

But…
Day 31-32, March 8th-9th
I did buy some backpacking gear and found myself quickly in buying mode again. Oh man, it’s so easy to get back into the habit. Everything I learned over the month, I threw out after I bought a few items. Although, these items were used that doesn’t take away from money being spent. I thought, wow, this is a heck of a deal,I have to take advantage of it. What I bought will be used on the John Muir Trail in August, it will see good use and I can resell it if I need to. If I find these items aren’t being used,I need to make sure I sell them and not let them sit around. As I move forward, it’s important for me to put money into savings accounts I can’t touch, whether that be short term bonds or CDs. It’s a safety net for me. If I have several CDs going, I can withdraw from the in emergency situations and it stops me from spending extra money I have.

76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Let’s free ourselves from this vicious cycle by taking a deeper look at our spending habits and cutting back on those unnecessary purchases. Keep things new, try different recipes instead of eating out. Light candles in the kitchen and make that meal special. Explore regional parks and free recreation fun in your area. Limit yourself from going onto websites that encourage purchasing. I hope this article has inspired you to examine your budget and maybe encourage you to try the challenge.