Think about all the household cleaning products you buy on a regular basis. If I looked under your kitchen sink right now what would I find? Oven cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, laundry detergent, furniture polish, dish soap, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, etc. etc. At $4–6 a bottle, a collection of household cleaners can really add up. What if you could replace ALL of those cleaners using just five simple, all natural ingredients, make them in less than five minutes, for less than $0.50 a bottle?
Health Insurance is a hot topic these days. Almost everyone is following what’s going on with current policy and administration changes, but hardly anyone really understands how their insurance works and how they can save money by taking charge of their own policy. If you’ve been operating under the pretense that your doctor understands your insurance and makes choices tailored to your policy, it’s time to change your perspective. If you’ve never bothered to figure out your insurance because it’s “too complicated”, prepare to become informed.
[Today we have a special guest post! I’ve teamed up with John from Practical Civilization to bring you a special 2-part series this week: check out my guest post Minimizing Your Non-Possessions on his blog, and his guest post here at The Growing Green.]
First, I want to give a big shout out to Miss Growing Green for having me on here! This is an awesome thought-provoking blog and I’m happy to have the opportunity to guest post on it.
As Miss Growing Green highlighted here, it’s wise to evaluate the “non-things” you pay for such as cell phone service, cable T.V., etc. Keeping with the spirit of that trend, I’ve taken the past couple of weeks and evaluated all the tangible “things” that I own. The purpose of this exercise was to purge my belongings down to 300 things or less.
The other day, Mr. GG and I were discussing our inevitable move at the end of next summer (when his job term is over). While the location is yet to be determined, it will definitely be out of state, so the in-town style of moving where you make multiple small trips is not going to be an option. We decided in an effort to save money and embrace minimalism, that we would make the move with only whatever we can fit in our small car. Considering the two front seats will be taken by us, and at least half the back seat by a 60-lb Zoe dog, this will be no small feat.
I’ve been preaching about how owning multiple cars is silly and expensive, and even owning one, older car can be pricy. I’ve explained that you should assess the cost of your vehicle(s) and “down-grade” where possible, and I’ve suggested you rent your car out to cover the vehicle costs you do incur. Once you’ve embraced a life that involves less driving, you still need to get around. You’re left with walking, biking, and public transportation. My personal favorite is biking– it’s faster than walking, is great exercise, and has zero emissions. Biking doesn’t come without costs though– there’s the bike itself, accessories like helmets and lights, and regular maintenance. Think of it as a much simpler, harder-to-screw-up car. Educating yourself on basic bike repair and maintenance is a great way to be self-sufficient and save significant dollars. Continue reading →
Last week was a very successful week for me. I sold a single item on Ebay for over $500 (paid $275 for it and invested 30 minutes of time), earned $400 in credit card incentives with 30 minutes of effort, and rented our car out for $140 using Relay Rides.
Our car is a 2004 Toyota Corolla, and it costs us $150 / month in operating expenses. By operating expenses, I mean things like gas, insurance, registration, oil changes, and the cost of replacing tires averaged out over the lifetime of the car. I’m not including depreciation in that number, or any kind of car payment (which we don’t have), which would drive the monthly cost up even further. Considering the cost to own a depreciating hunk of metal makes me wonder if it’s truly worth it to have a car. In the end, the convenience of having a car for road trips and weekend camping wins out, but the desire to reduce that monthly expense remains.
If after assessing how much your car is really costing you, you decide you must live with one (or a number of) vehicles, your next step should be minimizing your car’s impact on your pocketbook.
As promised in Update #1: Where I Am, Where I’m Going, a timeline that highlights the key actions and events that have shaped my path to financial freedom and the person I am today. I hope you can use it as inspiration to shape your own path. (Mouse over the left and right sides of pictures below to see the previous and following events, respectively)
This Thursday marks exactly one month since my last day of working for someone else. After 19 years of school and 5-ish years of work I achieved financial independence and the ability to choose how I spend the majority of time.
My first day of freedom was September 13, 2013. That day I sat down and wrote out a list of all the new things I wanted to accomplish: finish remodeling our house, expand the Ebay business, start volunteering at least one day a week, etc. However, every day I woke up and managed to fill my time doing other things. I wasn’t lazy; I woke up every morning around 7:15, got up, made Mr. GG’s lunch, and started my day. I did things like get caught up on all the house cleaning, even the really detailed stuff you never think about like cleaning the baseboards and windows. I worked on our landscaping, doing weeding and pruning that had been neglected while I was working full time. I organized everything in the house and sold/donated a huge number of items deemed unnecessary. I cleaned and vacuumed the car from head to toe; I tuned up our bikes and did some minor repairs. I sorted that unsightly pile of mail/bills/paperwork that everyone has sitting somewhere in their house.
Earlier this year, Mr GG and I sold our second vehicle, a 2004 Chevy Colorado truck. That single action will allow us to walk away with $45,000 in our pockets after 5 years. If we had kept the truck, after 5 years we would walk away with an old truck and $15,000 debt in the form of depreciation and maintenance costs. If there’s one thing that Americans pay for blindly, it’s convenience. We even throw out statements about it jovially:
“That’s just the cost of doing business!” … “Time is money!“
While those statements can be applicable in certain circumstances, it’s important that we really understand the cost of convenience. Before you throw up your hands and say “I could never live without my second (or third) vehicle, it’s so nice to be able to do XYZ.” Ask yourself if that convenience is really worth $60,000 over 5 years ($45,000 in savings versus $0 saved and $15,000 in fees). For us, the added convenience was not worth the steep price.
Inspired by The Many Benefits of Becoming a Minimalist, I was re-invigorated and decided to scour the house to look for areas I could pare down and simplify. For the most part, we don’t really have superfluous things in the house, but I realized there was one area that could stand to be thinned out– the closet. Mr. Growing Green and I share a modest (by American standards) 4′ closet and 8 drawers. Barring socks and underwear, I haven’t bought new clothes in years, but I have still managed to accumulate an excess of clothing from hand-me-downs, “free” boxes on the side of the road, and local thrift shops. So, we decided to do an experiment: we cleared out the entire closet, and re-stocked it with 6 simple outfits each. We’re going to wear these clothes, and only these clothes, for the next 6 months.