Living Simply, Surviving College

Go.

Think back to the last time you explored a place for the first time. It could have been in the country, across the world, or in your own backyard. Remember the feeling and wonder you experienced as you turned every street corner, passed every stranger on the sidewalk, rode every train and walked every mile? That feeling that you only get when you’re away from your typical, mundane, everyday routine. That feeling that travel and exploration gives away for free.

As twenty-something’s, we often look for experiences that are of little to no cost to us. Money is tight and we’re on a budget, but we don’t want that to stop us from enjoying life. And it shouldn’t stop us from enjoying life. Now, we can get all philosophical and say “what is the meaning of life if it is left un-enjoyed?” and your answer could be whatever suits you. But travel, travel is one way to find yourself and lose yourself all at the same time. Travel may possibly be the greatest way to enjoy this life if you allow it. This enjoyment and wonder can happen in your own city for free if you want it to. You can stay local and allow yourself to get comfortable where you are.
There is nothing inherently wrong with localizing yourself and staying stationary if it means it is cost efficient for you. But travel, when it costs something, is never a waste of money.

And while it can easily be seen as a selfish ambition, never underestimate the people you have the chance to impact along the way. The stories that you will have the chance to share along your journey have the power to change someone’s life.

As young, impressionable human beings, we should always seek to travel. Traveling does what nothing else has the power to do to us.

Travel evokes the sense of self-awareness inside of us that contrasts who we are inside this giant world. It opens our eyes to other cultures and shows us that life does not revolve around us and that it is okay to be different.

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Drinking chai on the streets of Kolkata, India summer of 2015.

Travel, as far as it can take us, somehow gives us a feeling of closeness as a human race. We as humans are given this beautiful ability to all be so different, yet we grow up on a planet filled with billions of other humans who feel the same emotions, have their own differing opinions and deal with their own stuff just like we do. Get out there and meet those people. Explore their world.

 

Never regret buying that plane ticket or saving up for that adventure. Experience is far more valuable than anything else you could ever save up for. Having a lifetime of stories to share is so much greater than having a bunch of things to show.

So go. Don’t let excuses get in your way of getting out into the world and feeling it, seeing it, touching it and loving it. You have today and today only, so don’t waste it. It is not irresponsible to take the time to see the world, it is your calling. Soak it up, breathe it in and keep going. There is so much more out there than we could ever experience on our own inside our own little world. Don’t deny yourself the chance to live the life you imagined.
So here’s what you do today:

Write down the qualities you want to see grow in yo

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Us, exploring NYC for the first time together.

u. Write down what it would feel like to loosen your grip on your own reality and see the world through someone else’s eyes. Research places that spark something inside you. Ask yourself: “what is my mission and goal?” Where can you go and what can you do to make this world a better place by being in it, and what can you do to make the best new versio of yourself outside of your box?

 

Get rid the things that are holding you back. Save up. Pack your bag. Buy that ticket. Bring friends. Go. Just whatever you do, go. Don’t ever let fear stop you from experiencing this great big world. Don’t allow routine to stop you from becoming rich in experience. It’s all up to you.

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

– Pico Iyer

 

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Friday Favs, Living Simply

Friday Favs

Becoming Minimalist is easily one of my favorite inspirational minimalist blogs I have come across in my minimalist journey.

Joshua Becker is a husband, father, and author who shares his story about how his family found minimalism and the impact it has had on their lives. His story proves that minimalism is for everyone, not just single, rich white guys.

On Becoming Minimalist, you will find blog posts on everything from decluttering to Christmas shopping for minimalists.

Every blog post is filled with useful, thought-provoking content on a variety of subjects that many perspective-minimalists and pro-minimalists alike will enjoy reading.

I hope you check his site out!

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Living Simply, Uncategorized

A Merry Minimalist Christmas

In my humble opinion, the best gifts are ones shared with loved ones and getting to experience something memorable together.

If you are trying to figure out what you should get your friends, family and significant others for Christmas, but don’t want to add more unnecessary clutter to their lives, I’ve got a few ideas for you!

Minimalism and Christmas actually can go hand-in-hand. After all, the man himself, Dr. Suess said it best,

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
What makes a gift good isn’t the store from where it was purchased, the price tag or anything like that. What really makes a good gift is the memories that can be shared this holiday season.
So, if you are looking to go the more minimalistic route this Christmas, give an experience instead of a thing. Here are a few ideas!
  • A surprise picnic.

Take inventory of your loved one’s favorite drinks and snacks and make a run to the grocery store! Pack up a basket with a blanket, food to share, a Christmas-y playlist, a fun game or two, and enjoy each other’s company!

Now, during this time of year, this idea is for those who live in warm climates. If you live where it snows, use this idea, but bring it inside! Make a pillow fort and hang some Christmas lights and you’re golden!
  • A show.
I love this type of gift! You can get dressed up and feel all classy while you indulge in the arts. Check your local theaters to see what performances or plays are coming up and snag a couple tickets for you and your friend! They could even be in the nose-bleed section, but still, nothing beats getting to experience a magical musical show or concert with a loved one during the holidays!
  • Explore a new city
This idea can be really fun if you get creative! If you know of a town or city close by that you have yet to explore (or maybe the city you’re in has a really cool vibe!) create a list of 10 questions that lead your person to different places to do different things. For example, Atlanta has super sweet places like the Georgia Aquarium and SkyView. Make cute riddles and have something special waiting for them at each stop–whether it is a photo op or an activity!
Gift-giving doesn’t have to break the bank, and it doesn’t even have to be about the bank. Make this holiday season one for the books by truly celebrating it with loved ones and sharing in the Christmas season magic together.
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Living Simply

Being Financially Free in 2017

As twenty-something’s, there are many things we never realized the significance of until they’re gone.

Among other things, I have realized that I can never get my laundry to smell the way my mom can. Food always tastes better when dad buys it. Clothes are cuter when they come from my sisters closet. These are things we take for granted when we live with our families under one roof.

If you had this similar type of upbringing, you can attest to the fact that moving out for the first time was quite the game changer when it came to the grip you held on to your wallet (or lack thereof). It was a gradual process. It was a few breakdowns and a couple therapeutic trips to Target later that I realized adulthood was real life. Bills are mine to pay now. Student loans after graduating are a thing. Spending $10 on every meal I ate out was adding up more than my minimum wage job was keeping up.

Saving has never been an issue for me. I love to save. It was the process in how much I chose to save and how much I chose to spend on each paycheck that was leaving me confused and feeling like managing my finances were simply out of my control.

If you are anything like I was, I wouldn’t look at my bank account for weeks on end, afraid of the minuscule number I may see once I logged in.

One day, frustrated as heck, I decided that the best way to rid myself of the anxiety and stress money was giving me, I would halt my spending and make do with the things I own and save every penny I made at work. (Read here about how I found and applied the Contentment Challenge to my life!)

Here are my quick tips for being financially free in 2017. A new year’s resolution you can actually keep!

  • Own your stuff.

Literally and metaphorically. Look around you. You have so many things. Things that serve a purpose and some things that don’t. Get rid of the things that don’t do anything for you. Sell them, gift them, donate them, but whatever you do, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself: “am I purchasing things because of necessity or want?” and your spending habit will form a healthier mindset. Also, own up to your stuff. The person you were and the things you accumulated happened because of poor decision-making. Be aware of that. Change the way you see things. If you have the basics, you have everything you need. Everything else is just fluff.

  • Chart it.

Take inventory of your income and outgoing spending. What are some things you can cut in order to pay off outstanding bills? Any kind of debt is bad debt, you don’t want extra payments looming over you. If you find that you can cut some expenses and re-route that money toward paying off debt, do it! It’ll speed up the process of eliminating that underlying stress you don’t need in your life!

  • Live free.

You own your stuff, not the other way around. You can live in financial freedom today by knowing you’re working towards something great. You may not be free from debt, but you can be free from the stress and anxiety of not knowing what your financial plan is long-term. Take responsibility for your spending life and you’ll gain the confidence you need for making every financial decision with intentionality.

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Living Simply, Surviving College

Dorm Decor Ideas + a DIY

Your room is your sanctuary. Especially at college. It is where homework is done without interruption, naps are taken often and alone time is always had…in a perfect world, right?

Over my college years, I’ve shared rooms with girls who became my closest friends, and I’ve also lived in tight quarters with people who I haven’t gotten along with 100% of the time. All my experiences have led me to today. It is my senior year of college and I have been given the (absolutely wonderful) chance to live in an alternative dorm on campus that gives me the opportunity to have my own room.

Despite whether I have had to live closely in tight spaces with a best friend, a complete stranger, or on my own, I have found that when my room is clean, cozy and cute, I am the most relaxed and productive. I have also found that the way my space is decorated and organized affects my mood. There is power in owning your space–and it is not as hard as you may think!

Here are some of my best tips on making your space yours, for even the smallest of college student budgets!

1. Keep it simple.

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Neutral colors are calming and don’t overload your senses. When there is a lot going on, your brain is trying to focus on everything and then some. I recommend white bedding because of its ability to feel cool and clean. Plus, if you’re looking for a pop of color, white bedding goes with any kind of throw blanket pattern or throw pillow color.

Check out Target‘s collection of bedding for an affordable option!

 

2. Keep it affordable.

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If you are in college, you are most likely paying a whole lot for your degree, but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp out on transforming your tiny room. It’s the smallest things that make your space the coziest.

Christmas lights aren’t just for the season, they’re for making your space sparkly and magical. Get a box for under $5 and string them along your window or wall for a pretty glow that will soften up your room for the semester.

Go for the vintage-inspired globe style lighting, or for the classic Christmas light look. Both are sure to bring the perfect amount of warmth to your space without breaking the bank.

 

3. Keep it “you!”

Even though university dorms are limiting with the rules against hanging things with nails or creating holes in the walls, there are alternative ways to make your home away from home more “you!”
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Tapestries are very very trendy at the moment, but they serve a very beautiful purpose. They have the ability to add personality to a bland dorm wall with little effort (you can use thumbtacks which are approved by most university residence hall protocol. Simple tacks will do the job at keeping them in place all year long!)

And, you can almost find them anywhere!

  • $ – you can find all kinds of affordable tapestry patterns in all different colors on Amazon.com!
  • $$ – if you are willing to splurge a little,  Society6 offers a variety of unique and bold designs for a little extra cash
  • $$-$$$ – I think we can all agree that Urban Outfitters knows what they’re doing when it comes to home decor. Their tapestries do not disappoint! And, some options are pretty budget-friendly!

A Decor DIY!

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These dream-catcher-esque wall hangings add the sweetest whimsical touch to my room! Not only are they super adorable, they were insanely easy and cheap to make!

Here’s what you need to make your own:

  • Twigs
  • Twine
  • String
  • Fabric
  • Hot glue gun

First, gather three twigs around the same length (I got mine from my backyard!) then, begin connecting them together by tying a knot around both ends

Next, begin connecting them together by tying a knot around both ends and wrapping the twine around multiple times while dabbing hot glue to adhere the twigs to the twine.

After you have your twig triangle, tie string at the top of the shape and wrap loosely around the twigs.

Lastly, cut up fabric in about 2″ wide, 3′ long strips, fold in half longways and pull through loop.

Ta-da! An easy, simple, and earthy addition to your abode.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Having a cozy space doesn’t mean it has to be costly. You can easily find cute decor items at shops like TJ Maxx, Target, or Marshalls, or even go the Amazon route to achieve a dreamy dorm.

Just refer back to these tips for the sweetest space you’ll never want to leave!

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Living Simply, Surviving College

Tricks for Treats – a foodie’s guide to discounts on Halloween!

“If it’s free, it’s for me.”

You may have heard this phrase before, or may even say it yourself.

It’s true. If there is one thing that joins twentysomething’s together, it’s food–not just any kind of food–free food, or discounted food. Any type of food that we don’t have to pay full price for a full tummy.

And although we are a bit too old to go trick or treating around our neighborhoods and stash away candy for the next 6 months, there are restaurants out there that want to treat the kid in us on this holiday.

Here are some of my favorite restaurants with scary-good deals!

Chipotle: from 3pm to close, customers dressed up in their Halloween costumes will get to enjoy a $3 “boorito.” This discount applies to burritos, burrito bowls, and tacos.

Krispy Kreme: Trick-or-treaters get a free donut! No purchase necessary.

Baskin-Robins: pick one of their 31 specialty flavors for $1.31 one-scoop cones!

I hope you take advantage of these dinner and dessert options–goes to show we’ll never be too old to enjoy the benefits of this holiday.

No tricks–just treats!

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Living Simply

Minimalism + Marriage

When Jordan and I got engaged (story here), we started the journey of joining our lives together.

When we decided to join our lives together as one, we were agreeing to take care of one another as we would want to be taken care of, we agreed to a life-long promise of listening and loving and making our relationship work through the good and the bad.

We agreed to support each other’s dreams and goals.

We decided that no matter what, we had enough in our relationship with God and in our marriage.

We adopted a minimalist mindset for our marriage, and it has benefitted us more than we thought possible. Here’s how:

Minimalism + Money

For over the past year, Jordan and I have been stewarding our finances in preparation for our marriage.

We have the necessities in mind: rent, groceries, car payments, etc.

But we have dreams to travel. We have joined our mindsets together and realized that minimalism will make way for us to be disciplined with our money and create the life that we both want to live.

Minimalism + Mind/Body/Health

Like I stated earlier, minimalism creates a mindset that says “I have enough,” but it also makes space for us to use our money in different ways–ways that better us. Less mindless spending means more intentional purchases

Less mindless spending means more intentional purchases that better our health, such as food. Being picky and ruthless in your diet will make a huge overall difference in your health. Being alert and energized has a lot to do with what you put in your body. Skipping the purchasing of loads of cheap food and refining your grocery list to a smaller, more tailored and intentional list of healthy options will show you how you can eat well and spend wisely.

Minimalism will also help redefine what you spend the bulk of your time doing. It causes you to take a step back and evaluate the influence of your daily decisions. You will begin to weed out the activities that don’t inspire you or keep your body in good health and replace them with activities that do.

Minimalism + Making Decisions

Now when invitations pop up, or if we are just trying to decide what to cook for dinner, we are able to make better decisions together because our mindset and focus are going in the same direction.

We ask ourselves: what makes more sense in regards to our time and finances? Where are we putting our effort and energy into right now, and does this decision reflect that?

I encourage every couple to explore more into the idea of minimalism in their marriages, or their dating relationships.

When minimalism is adopted into a couple’s life:

The arguments over spending minimize.

The money lost over pointless spending diminish.

The time used doing mindless activities decrease.

And the quality of life is restored.

 

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