No Spend Year Update

So as you may remember, I successfully completed a No Spend Year for 2019 with only purchasing sunglasses and nail polish off my banned items list. It was so effective in resetting my financial values, that I decided a second year would be an amazing idea.

So here we are, just about five months in, and I am wanted to give an update. Almost 18 months without buying any clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup or haircuts/dye has been life changing for me and really helped me better understand what I truly value. I’ve noticed something else lately though. Things are different today compared to my decision in January to sign up for another year of this. To be honest, I think this is one of the best things I’m seeing come out of this whole pandemic stuck in your house for the rest of time thing. It seems people I never would have imagined have stopped buying stuff and things. I’m seeing people not wearing makeup and also am starting to see the home haircuts and dye job pics showing up in my social media feeds. While I’ve been doing all of that for a while now, I get that my No Spend Challenge was a choice and others have had the choice made for them. With stores and hair salons being shut and stay at home orders put in place it’s forced people to not buy these items or services, but I’m thinking and hoping there may be some changed people after all of this is over.

So I think now would be a great time to declare a No Spend Challenge in your own life through the rest of 2020. Especially since there’s still so many uncertainties with how long all of this will last, may as well set a goal to see how long you can not spend money on certain items and what you can do with that money instead. You may also find that cutting your own hair isn’t so bad, maybe even rewarding, and I bet nobody has left your house and never returned over seeing you without makeup. Also, the clothes you have are getting a break right now, so they will be like brand new clothes once you get out of those pajamas when this is all over. Who all has changed their spending habits during the past month already?! Who’s ready to commit to doing it for the rest of the year?!

Fighting the urge to splurge in 2020 with another No Spend Year

Because I mean..what’s better than a full damn year of doing a No Spend?! I can’t think of anything except for doing it for a second year in a row!!

Yes you read that right..another No Spend Year for 2020!! If you’ve been busy shopping at the latest BOGO sale or living that AmazonPrime “what’s in this new box” lifestyle, then you may have missed my multiple posts about not buying certain things for all of 2019, along with my updates and all the ups and downs of the journey. I encourage you to look back at my previous No Spend posts to catch up, but I will also summarize here.

I banned buying any of the following items for all of 2019:

Clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup, haircuts/dye/waxing (undergarments and socks can be replaced as needed). I think I added household decor items to my banned list, but I hate throw pillows anyway, so I don’t really need to ban them..lol.

I DID fail and buy a pair of sunglasses, along with a new nail polish, so I wasn’t 100% successful, but I have come a LONG way from who I was before my No Spend Year. I will take the under $15 total for the year versus the $3,000-$4,000 total I was likely spending before per year. It’s also changing my lifetime expenses, which the average woman now spends around half a million dollars in their lifetime on vanity items. 😳 (more to come in a future post on this topic)

I have to say, I was certain I would die when I started this. Well, if you haven’t picked up on it from the fact I’m writing this..I actually did not die. I in fact LIVED..lived like I never have before..completely free of others opinions about my same old clothes, about my hair showing grey or being “slightly” uneven from cutting it myself, or showing my makeup free wrinkly face for a year straight. Damn that shit was freeing and turns out most people didn’t even care or notice the clothes or makeup free face, or at least they didn’t say anything. Now the hair, people had very strong opinions either supporting me and saying they do their own hair also, or telling me to leave it to the professionals. Overall, it wasn’t as drastic of a change for me to ban these items as I anticipated.

I really haven’t lost anything except for the weight of worrying what others might think..and turns out I really don’t give a shit, which honestly surprised me a little (keeping it real..after 35 years of caring to some extent about impressing others, it’s been a big change). What I gained was a LOT..more money in my account, more time since I am no longer shopping or putting makeup on every morning, and a lot of inner reflection on my values and getting comfortable in my own skin. I can truly say that I have never felt prettier or happier with who I am and what I look like, inside and out.

I encourage everyone to try a No Spend, even if it’s for one day or week or even a month. If you can commit for a year, I promise it will change you as a person. One of the joys of a No Spend is that you get to customize it to fit your life and determine your own banned items list. Also, I have a ton of quick tips that helped me and can help you also. First, stay out of the stores all together and keep emails about deals out of your inbox by hitting that unsubscribe button. Clean out your closet to donate unworn items and organize it so you can easily find the items you do love to wear. Take care of your appearance in other ways..drink more water, eat a healthier diet, exercise, and stop damaging your hair with heat and product and let it dry naturally and embrace whatever your natural appearance is. I fought my wavy brown hair for years trying to straighten it, curl it, make it blonder, etc. and turns out my natural hair is pretty awesome once I stopped damaging it. Find friends to swap clothes with for those times you get bored or have an event and nothing to wear. Find a friend or two to join you and help keep you accountable. Learn to fall in love with yourself and embrace your flaws as perfect imperfections rather than trying to cover them up. Finally, make a goal of what you will do with the money you save and put it towards making a big dream a reality and share your progress.

Now I just need to know..who is ready to join me this year?!

Intro time

Intro time! I want to learn more about all of you, so please share as little or as much as you want. I will get it started. 👋

My personal residence in the Kansas City area is what I call “the zoo”. Always lots of dogs and kids running in and out and if the garage is open, then let yourself in. 😉

I have two awesome kids..one who is learning to read and the other is reading lines in her latest city theater play. I have a very patient and supportive husband, with a beard, who breaks gender stereotypes by cooking, doing dishes, AND the laundry. 🧺

A few hobbies include meditating, yoga, running, reading, writing, eating but not cooking, and volunteering on the board for Habitat for Humanity and as a big for big brothers and big sisters. I work for an insuretech company and my degree is in sociology with a minor in psychology and I LOVE people watching. 👀

When I look back on what we’ve done this year since I started mysemibasiclife, it’s been a journey of finding our values, embracing minimalism, doing a No Spend Year, paying off $165,000 in debt, buying two rental properties, and continuing to build wealth through diversification. 💰

My goal is to help you take control of your mindset and financial future, so you can design a life and a legacy to leave your mark on this world. 🌎

I’m an open book, so ask me any questions and tell me about yourself. 👯‍♀️

Photo credit: my yelling and my IPhone timer

7 ways to increase your net worth

I posted back in May with our first 6 month check in on our net worth, and I cant believe another 6 months has passed since that first post I made on this topic. Here we are though, so you know I had to do some reflecting on our progress. I knew that we had made a lot of money moves, but I was like damn girl..go on with your bad self. 💃🏻 I was very happy with seeing a 58% increase since this time last year, and wanted to help others with ideas on how you can do the same!

So, how did we do it?!

1. Goal Crushing-Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve a goal JUST BY WRITING IT DOWN?? This is one of the easiest ways to increase your net worth, or really a way to change anything in your life, even outside of finances. You’ve heard me talk about always having 2-3 goals and then a few “micro goals” to help you break it down and make a plan to get to those bigger goals. Go ahead..go get your paper and pen..I will wait. 📝

2. Becoming Debt Free-It’s always nice to increase those assets, but make sure you are decreasing those liabilities first. See number 1 if you aren’t sure how to become debt free and also do some research on debt snowball vs debt avalanche. While we are on this topic, please promise yourself that you will stop adding new liabilities. 🙅‍♀️

3. Investing in myself-Two years ago, I only read two books the whole year, and I used social media as a rabbit hole of memes and scrolling through pictures of people that I didn’t even talk to in high school, binge watching Netflix, drinking several nights a week and I listened to a ton of murder podcasts and rap music. This past year, I have read almost 40 books, created a community of sharing and encouraging others changing their lives through financial literacy, stopped drinking, started exercising more consistently, and I still listen to murder podcasts and rap music, but sprinkle in podcasts about financial independence and real estate investing also. 📚😎

4. Buying real estate-Did you know that 90% of self made millionaires grew their wealth through real estate? Refer to numbers 1,2, and 3 above or refer to my previous posts on real estate if you’re not sure where to start.

5. Investing in our 401k’s and other tax advantaged accounts-If there is a match and/or tax advantages, that’s a good indicator you should be maxing these out. If maxing all of your options out seems like a lofty goal that makes you want to stop reading anything I ever write again, then please start with the employer match, then next open a Roth, then contribute to your HSA. You can choose your contribution amount, sometimes as little as $50, and even pause contributions if needed. Always remember that something is better than nothing.

6. Lifestyle Design-Read my previous post on lifestyle design vs lifestyle creep. Inflating your expenses to match your income is a silent wealth deflater. It’s easy to let your WANTS slip into your NEEDS category. Trust me..I know because I was guilty at one point myself. 🙋‍♀️ Once I got real real honest with myself, we were able to cut out unnecessary expenses that weren’t in line with our values, got back to basics and are now sitting at a 66% savings rate. 🙌🏼

7. Increasing self worth-Not only should you focus on increasing net worth, you should focus on increasing self worth. I promise you the two go hand in hand. Leave behind those limiting beliefs that are holding you back already-bye Felicia. 👋 You ARE amazing and you CAN blaze your own damn trail and you CAN become whatever you want to be..yes you!

What are you waiting for?? Go get you some worth. 😉

No more tampons..period

Let me tell you something that’s going to blow your mind. I used tampons for a good 20 years of my life, and much like all the other topics I write about, I did it because everyone else was and I literally didn’t know there was another way. Sure there are pads if you want to throwback to your diaper days and feel disgusting for a week out of every month..ummm..hard pass. I still remember in great detail my struggles as a teen learning how to install my first tampon with the super unhelpful directions and diagrams that come with the box. Even after twenty years of practice, it still never felt like it was installed right. 🤷‍♀️

Imagine my surprise about four years back when another woman casually mentioned to me her menstrual cup. Ummm..excuse me..are you getting a drink for your vagina or something?? WTF is a menstrual cup?? Better yet, why has nobody told me, your fellow woman, in all these many menstrating years, that there were other options?? I felt like y’all have been holding out on me, and I don’t want anyone else to go even one more cycle without the period knowledge I’m about to flow upon you. Because the menstrual cup is a GAME CHANGER. 💃🏻

How a menstrual cup will change you:

1. Comfort-Seriously..nothing like the feeling of inserting a tampon on a light flow day and having the experience of pulling that bad boy out at the end of the day..ouch. Also, the leaking..the freaking leaking..why do I even bother with wearing it if it’s still going to ruin my underwear? Don’t worry..these are concerns that I have never had with my menstrual cup!!

2. Better Periods-Because if you’re going to have one every month for 40ish years, might as well make it your best version right? I swear that my periods have been shorter and lighter since I stopped using tampons. Also, the cramps are almost gone and bloating has decreased a lot. I really think a lot of period symptoms are due to all the tampons laced with chemicals. ☠️

3. TSS-See my above mention of the chemical and dye soup that is just begging to attract bacteria into your body from tampons. Also, I used to get UTI’s and yeast infections and haven’t had not a single damn one since I stopped wearing tampons four or so years ago. Coincidence? I think not. 💁‍♀️

4. Convenience-I used to change tampons every 2-4 hours, and first I had to find another tampon, go buy one if I’m out, and sometimes the only option is the gas station sandpaper ones, and then next was go install it and find a trash bin for the applicator and wrapper. Now I simply just have to bring myself and my cup, and only empty it out every twelve hours. So I do it when I wake up and when I get home..that’s it. I’ve never had it leak during a run or downward dog, and no it doesn’t look like a murder scene when I empty it like the menstrual cup memes make you think. I’ve had one incident where I spilled, and I cleaned that shit up like a good murderer and went about my day. No evidence. No big deal. I would however advise you to leave your four year old son out of the public bathroom with you if you need to empty, because well, they have questions, and loud voices, and they tell EVERYTHING to EVERYONE.

5. Mother Earth-Did you know that each of us menstrating women generates 1,000 lbs of waste in our lifetime from tampons, and the applicators take 500 years to break down?! Ditch the tampons for the turtles!

6. Money-If you go through the average 12,000 tampons in your lifetime, then you will also spend around $4,000 in total. Go get you a $30 menstrual cup that will last you ten years, and invest the rest. Throw that money into a Roth IRA instead of a landfill. 💰

Alright..I know you have questions and I’m not shy..so ask away. 😉

And if you’re sold like I was..link below to change your menstrual life today!

https://amzn.to/2ITT9VZ

No Spend Year Update

Brief recap of the one decision that I made back in January that has literally changed my life. It has created a snowball effect and has really helped me reset, basically like a “financial cleanse”. I made the decision to not buy certain things for the entire year of 2019, including clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup and also gave up hair dye, products and haircuts.

I was doing REALLY REALLY good with it and staying strong and not missing anything and in fact finding myself in the process. (mainly by avoiding stores and unsubscribing to all the emails) Lately though, I have definitely been struggling to stay motivated and the consumeritis can sometimes feel contagious. 😷

I know I justified and bought sunglasses a few months back when mine broke, and if we’re being real honest, I could have worn one of the random cheapo pairs lying about my house, like the ones I got at a conference with built in bottle openers on the sides..lol. I also caught myself borderline begging my husband to tell me it’s ok to buy some used earbuds from a neighbors garage sale. 😂 Then there was this past weekend at Target where I was getting a few toiletries and a new nail polish jumped into my cart. 💅🏻

See below..they are both cute and will last me for years to come. 🤷‍♀️

It’s not about the $14 collective dollars that I’ve spent this year that if you want to get all technical..are totally on my banned items list. It’s more about me losing my way and my why in the process.

Life has been throwing a bit of a difficult season my way, and it’s easy to fall back into old ways and “things” to make me feel better. But I still ultimately know it’s only a temporary feeling and it’s a VERY slippery slope. The long term mindset shift is more important to me than the temporary gratification followed quickly by buyers remorse. So I’m committed to getting back on track, especially knowing that we are entering into the biggest spending season. Since it’s my first one on my new path, wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get through it without buying all the things. 🤔

Carnival Season

It’s carnival season around here..one of my favorites for watching my kids just be kids and enjoy some screen free fun time, it’s also my favorite for people watching, and don’t forget the funnel cake.😋 🎡

The one thing I don’t like is how much it all adds up in price..parking, vendors, a ride here, a ride there, games and then of course the drinks and food. 🍕🍦🍿🥤

This year..we just picked one of the three carnivals we usually go to. I also avoided the $10 parking by finding a spot on the street for free. We ate before we left the house and brought our own water.

My best move was convincing my kids the games weren’t as much fun as the rides. Since they only care about the prizes anyway, I told them we would go to Dollar Tree after, and they could pick out any item in the store. They didn’t even ask to play any games, and we even saw another kid asking his parents to play and Caleb told him that “the games were a rip off because they were just trying to take his money to get rich” 😂

We did splurge on the $20 all you can ride wristbands for each kid, and a $5 funnel cake to share, so with my Dollar Tree promise, I was all in for $47. I was proud of this, because we usually spend at least double, if not triple this during carnival season, and we end up with meltdowns about “one more game”, and end up with a bunch of crap toys or stuffed animals we don’t need also. 🧸

To be honest, the spending less part was great, but we had more fun this year with one carnival and without all the extras. Getting used to a more simple minimalist lifestyle gives us a chance to really enjoy the best things in life that have always been free..the memories. 💕

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

Where’s me lucky charms 🍀

Another of my go to food prep containers and I have a few more to bring your way in the next few weeks. This is another amazingly easy container for making breakfast for breakfast or breakfast for lunch. I know I know..cereal has sugar..and also I don’t care. Look Karen..If you don’t like what we’re eating over here, then don’t sit by us at the lunch table. 🤷‍♀️

I’m not telling anyone to eat cereal every day for a meal..so lighten up a little and think of it as a treat once in a while. This container would also be great for oatmeal/granola or yogurt/berries, or rice/beans, or soup/crackers..the possibilities are endless honestly. It even has built in ice pack and is microwave safe. Basically great for anything you want to be separated at one point in time, but then mixed together at a later time to form a delicious meal. 🥣

If you want to be like me and not be like Karen..then follow the link below..and go get you some cereal and milk in bulk at Costco. 😉

Garage Sale Season

With end of summer upon us, I start thinking about all of the garages full of stuff that is no longer used, too small or has been upgraded. I have memories of being a kid and getting up early every weekend to go to garage sales. (bribed with donuts and the hopes of a new toy of course) 🍩 🧸

Nobody asked me about my opinion on garage sales, but I’ve decided to tell you anyway. I can say that I had one several years back and made around $800 when I was on maternity leave. I also did one for a work fundraiser and made around $500 for our Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling team. For mine, I sold a bunch of maternity stuff and baby stuff we weren’t using and all of Kylie’s clothes we had saved from NB-4T, after picking out the gender neutral stuff for Caleb of course. 😉

Looking back..I definitely think people with babies up to 4 years have the best luck. Also, people in a high traffic area or neighborhood having a lot of sales the same day can also be successful. But I also think we can avoid the need for a garage sale by sticking to the bare minimums and borrowing stuff that we will only need for a short period of time. Babies seem to be a reason to buy everything, and baby registry’s make it easy to add a bazillion things you will likely be too exhausted to figure out how to use once parenting shows you it’s true colors. Then it will end up in your pile for the sale, likely priced at half what it costs, just to have someone ask you if you’d take five dollars for it. (I know because I’m a garage sale hardcore negotiator) 😂

If your sale includes clothes, shoes, and household items, and you still have a closet full after outing for the sale, then it might be time to just stop and reflect on your stuff strategy. Not only did that clutter used to be money, but that money used to be your time.

I will say if I’ve finally persuaded you to join my minimalist lifestyle and you are simplifying your life and need a fresh start, one big sale may be a good idea. But only if it ends there, and you don’t just go out and accumulate more stuff to replace what you sold. Also, think about the time and energy that goes into one. If setting up, pricing, getting nasty warm lemonade for the kids to sell and dealing with them badgering your customers for 5 hours on your Saturday morning with extreme temperature variations like smoldering heat or pouring rain and going back and forth with hardcore negotiators like me sounds like a good time to you..well start borrowing those tables my friends. 🤷‍♀️

If that sounds comparable to a root canal, then selling things in “lots” on Facebook Marketplace is a great alternative. Or let’s be honest, we all know that person that’s selling clothes that are so loved they should be donated. Just saying..don’t be that friend..also don’t be the friend that sells hand me downs you got from a friend. (Totally did that on accident and still getting shit for it two years later) 😂

When it comes to shopping at garage sales, this can be a double edged sword. I remember finding a rocking chair with foot rest at a garage sale for $15 that I used with both kids. I negotiated it from the $30 it was marked at and was so proud. But I’ve also lost all common sense and self control at a sale and just bought the whole damn table of baby clothes I didn’t need. So be careful when you shop..they can be sneaky and fill your trunk up before you realize you only needed a few things. 🤷‍♀️

Now you know my thoughts..what are yours and please share your garage sale fails and success stories. 😊