A lump sum – 14% worth

In Norway, as with a lot of countries, the interest rates are down. Now this is great news for mortgages (my mortgage interest rate is at an all time low), but is sucks for any money you might possible have in your bank accounts.

I’ve been mulling this over and I have made a decision to pay a lump sum on my mortgage rather than keep that money in the bank.

Now, I have to explain my mortgage conditions to you, so that you see that how this makes sense.

I have a very flexible type of mortgage that you can get if you stay within 70% of the value of your property.

The flexibility is as follows;

  • you decide yourself when, and if, you want to pay on the principal. You can pay nothing one month, and a bunch next month, you can pay monthly, quarterly, every second month, once a year.. whatever floats you boat
  • you do however pay interest monthly, on your outstanding balance
  • you can treat it almost like any other “bank account”, if you need some extra money for a project, you can withdraw funds from your mortgage account, without reapplying and without additional fees, as long as you are staying within your approved credit limit

Now there is one thing abut having this type of loan, one has to be pretty disciplined about it. It is such an easy thing to “use” from the approved credit line, that you need to have your finances under reasonable control, or you can suddenly find yourself “using” more than you planned! And you do have to pay down that mortgage at some time!

Now, me, I’m probably way more disciplined than my bank wishes me to be 😉 as I work really hard on paying down my mortgage much faster than I really need to.

And I just made another dent in it! As my savings don’t generate much interest, sitting in the bank, I just took a bit of a portion of them, and paid a lump sum into my mortgage account. It brings my mortgage down another 14% out of my original loaned amount.

Now I might feel a little more “broke” (well,no, not really, as I still have my emergency fund firmly intact), but it’s the right thing to do. I “lose” money (if you factor in inflation) keeping them in the bank. Putting them into the mortgage instead, saves me one hundred dollars in interest a month, and I’ll take that 😉

So here I am, down to one third of my original mortgage… and it’s only been 8 years. Not too bad if you ask me 😉

Thriftiness getting in the way of decluttering?

I’m having a hard time…

Being that I have decided to only buy necessities this year, I’m trying to use up stuff I already have in my house.

As an example, let talk about… say…. toiletries!

I have all sorts of creams, hair products, facial stuff, make-up and so on. And it makes perfect sense to use up the items I have before I buy new!

Now, anybody that knows me, knows that, I have the shortest hair ever (by choice). I’d be hard pressed to use up one bottle of shampoo a year. I don’t really use hair products much. And I think I have a bottle of hairspray I’d be lucky to use up within the next 10 years.

If I manage to slap on some moisturiser in the morning, I’ve been good. Never mind facial cleanser, night cream, eye cream and other stuff.

I never really use make-up. If you see me dolled up in make-up even once a year, that’s a stretch 😉

But, and that’s the kicker, being a girl and all 😉 I do like pretty make-up and cool bottles of creams that smell nice, and my hairdresser always manage to convince me I need some products 😉

I have gotten really good the last couple years, only buying the creams/shampoo I actually use. BUT I still have cabinets full of things given to me, and items bought and not used up (or ever used). I’m not kidding you, when I tell you, that I use so little of everything, that it’s going to take years to use it all up.

So what’s the problem you might ask!

Well the challenge is that, while it makes perfect sense to use up the stuff, I really, and I mean really want to declutter my place, I just want the “crap” out of here!

In a way I’m letting my “thriftiness” get in the way of my decluttering . There are times I just want to let a “tornado” (yes, that would be me) loose and get the stuff out of my house.

But then my sensible (or we could argue, not so sensible) mind takes over.
“I should use this up, it makes perfect sense, since I’m not really buying much this year”
“I should give this away or sell this stuff, rather than recycle/toss is”
“I need to put it away, so that my sister, mother, friend, neighbour…(please feel free to add any others..)  gets a look at it, before I give to charity/recycle/toss”

All these arguments makes perfect sense – but they are getting in my way of getting the stuff out of here, and achieving the uncluttered space I’m working hard to get to. And it’s starting to frustrate the heck out of me.

Well, why don’t you just “toss” it all?

I don’t know, it’s what I want to do, but is feels sacrilegious to just “toss” things that are worth something to other people, and that might even generate some money for me. But right now holding on to stuff, just so that I can give it away, to family or friends, or make half a dollar on it, are starting to become a hassle, that just seem to stop me cold in my progress.

So what is a girl to do?

When I sat down to write today, I wasn’t really planing on writing this. I suppose this post took a turn of its own;-) It seems my frustration is bigger that I realised.  But, while writing this, I’ve come to realise what I need to do, to get a little closer, to achieving my goal of a somewhat more decluttered space.

I will keep stuff that I know I will manage to use up within a year.
Just take the toiletries mentioned above, I will keep hair products that I actually will use, but that darn hairspray is going. I’ll keep items I use, but (even if its a gift) I will get rid of things that I don’t see I will ever really get around to using or even start using within a year.

I will, when I declutter, ask friends and family if they want it (when it makes sense to ask) but, I won’t hold on to it longer than a few days, before they go out-the-door.

I will try to sell stuff that has enough value to make sense to sell (furniture or expensive items), everything else I won’t stress with. I understand that I might be able to make a buck or two, and total by the time this is all said and done I might have lost out on a 100-200 dollars or so, but that’s OK! I’d rather not having all the frustration and stress. And I think my bank account will survive 😉

But I will no longer, let the “rules” above get in my way. I’d rather just; not ask, not sell, not give away, if that makes my declutter process less frustrating and easier.

There is such a thing as, peace of mind, and right now, I think a decluttered space takes precedence over trying to be so darn “sensible”!

What about you?
How do you handle the balance between being sensible and “thrifty” and the need for a less cluttered space?  I would love any advice you might have, on finding a good balance.

Hotel candy!

For some reason, every time a stay at a “fancy” hotel, I always end up with some of their shampoo/shower gel/body cream bottles in my luggage. It’s a curse! But they look pretty and I can’t seem to contain myself 😉 They are just sooooooo cute.

I don’t have a lot of them, but I’ve been saving the pretty ones for my guests. And I always lay out a nice towel and some “hotel” shampoo/shower gel for them to use, when I have people staying over.

So why haven’t they gotten used up long time ago? Well it turns out, my guest tends to bring their own stuff! And not only do they bring their own stuff, they even leave some stuff at my place if it’s almost used up. So what happens? Well, I get an even more excess of shampoos and shower gels.

Enough is enough! I’m sick of all these small bottles/tubes “hanging around” taking up space. So this year, I decided to use them all up myself 😉

So here they are – all used up 🙂
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NB! A little note for the thrifty out there 😉 Since the hotels tend to toss what’s left of the soaps, shampoos when you leave the hotel, you might as well bring it with you, and use it up at home. It’s what I do!

The wallet maker.

My every day wallet is dying. It’s a tiny, credit card only, pink leather “wallet”. That holds about 6-8 credit cards and a folded money bill or two. I don’t think I have ever had a big fat wallet, I just can’t stand having to carry a purse just to hold my wallet. I’m a wallet in my back pocket, kind a girl 😉

Sadly the pink one is getting worn out, and yesterday I decided to hunt for a new one. I remember having read something about some really thin, strong wallets made out of Tyvek on Kickstarter, so I decided to see if I could find them again. And I did 😉 My favourites are the the Card Holder at Paperwallet , the Micro Slimfold wallet, from Slimfold and the Mini Mighty Wallet from Dynomighty.

While surfing the net looking for these, I came across a website called Instructables , where I found a whole lot off instructions, on how to make wallets, and among them some cool, duct tape wallets, origami wallets out of paper or Tyvek, the original Tyvek wallet and more.

So I decided to give it a try. Since I don’t have any Tyvek envelopes in the house, I grabbed a mail pouch that I had laying around, and I decided to make a origami wallet out of it, since it don’t need anything other than a piece of paper to make it.

It actually didn’t turn out to bad, and I’ll be taking it for a test run over the next few days, just for fun 🙂 You can see it below. If it works out, I can let my old wallet go…

After I did that one, I came across a link on how to make the original Tyvek wallet, and I’ll be giving that a try next. I just need to get my hands on some Tyvek made envelopes first 😉

This was fun – definitely not the last wallet I make – might be the last wallet I buy though 😉 I’ll let you know how it goes when I get my hands on some material to use, there are several different ones I would love to try, within duck tape, Tyvek, and plastic.

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Buying in bulk – when is it a good idea!

Happy Valentines everyone. I hope you are having a wonderful day 🙂

Remember I mentioned in “Buying necessities – how am I doing”, that I had bought some extras of items that was on sale. It made me think about, buying in bulk. And when does it make sense.

I think buying in bulk can be a good idea for certain items. It also can save some money during a year, if one goes about it right.

I believe there are a few rules one need to follow for this to make sense.

Free storage space
You need to have room for the item you are stocking up on. And I’m not talking about cramming stuff into the house, but a dedicated space, so that it don’t clutter up you space. We are on a declutter journey remember 🙂  I have a smallish house, so I have a specific place set aside.

Buy what you use
You should only buy items you actually use and need. None of this; well it’s cheap, I might need it sometime or I used to use this and I might start using it again. You should only buy items you use on a regular basis.

Pick your number
Don’t buy more than you can use within a certain time frame – pick your number of items or months for when it’s should be eaten up. As an example, I love Heinz baked beans, and they are really expensive in Norway, but sometimes they will sell for 1/3 of the regular price, and I jump on it. But I’ll never buy more than about 8-10 off them. The reason for this is that I don’t have a lot of space to store them, and I know if I buy to many I might not get them eaten before they expire.

Should save you money
Buying the items should save you some money. Either because they are on sale, or they are cheaper in bigger packs. If it cost the same as any other day, there is no reason to use precious space in your house, when you can buy it any time.

Long shelf time
It should be items that have a long shelf time so they will keep. Always check the dates on the items, don’t assume they have a long shelf life. Some items might not last as long as you think, an example of this is brown rice, certain spices, creams and make-up.

Now that we have got some “rules” out of the way.

What kind of items could this work for?

Dry goods  – bags of soups, sauces, flour, sugar, beans, rice…
Canned goods – tomatoes, peas, purée, tuna, corn, ham…
Goods in glass/plastic containers – jams, honey, oils…
Boxed goods – cereals, pastas..
Spices – NB! check dates, some spices have a surprisingly short shelf life
Sodas – check dates though, not all sodas will keep forever
Alcohol – for those of us that enjoys a glass of wine now and then 😉
Toiletries – toothpaste, shampoos, soaps, creams, make-up (NB! some beauty products have shorter shelf life, check!)
Toothbrush – huh? Did you know you should swap every 3 month? Most people wait until it falls apart…
“Tissues”  – toilet paper, paper towels, diaper, feminine items, Kleenex…
Vitamins – check dates, not all last as long as you would think
Detergents – for dishwasher/laundry, and other cleaning products
Office/school supplies – paper, pens, tape, glue, wrapping paper…

Fresh goods for freezing – In addition to long shelf life items, I would add fresh goods if you can freeze them. Make sure you don’t get more than you will eat in a short time, to avoid having to toss food, because it got to old.

Personally I stock up a few items in pretty much all the categories mentioned above. And I only stock up when they are on sale, mostly because I don’t have the space to buy the bigger “bulk” versions they have in the stores here (I just don’t have storage space for 98 toilet rolls 😉 and stuff)

I’m sure there are several more items and groups of items that you can think off, this was just a short list from me.

What do you stock up on? Please share you good ideas in comments below.

Buying necessities – how am I doing?

Earlier this year I wrote this post “I want, I want – I want it now” about moving away from consumerism. In it I told you that this year I would make an effort at only buying necessities. We are now half way into February, and I thought it only fair to let you know how I’m doing 😉

I have done all right, so far. I’ve been decent at using stuff I already have in the house. Better to use up, before buying.

So, what have I spent my money on:
General items – only food and medicines.
Replacement items – one so far, ref. my post One in – two out – and a happier patio
Flowers and plants – a couple cheap orchids, only 8,5 dollars for the two – remember this is part of my allowance 😉
Books – none, absolutely none, then again the year is still young!
Eating out – remember I told you the goal was to cut it down to at least half? Well I’m proud to say that I’m still on track.

A note on the eating out topic. I have a friend that I normally go out and eat Saturday and Sunday dinners with, every weekend. We have changed this up a little, and we now make at least one of the weekend dinner, in house. We switch up who makes what, and so far we are definitely saving a bit of money on this.

We are also using this as an opportunity to empty our freezers, of all sorts of stuff that have been hanging around in it 😉 We are all guilty of putting food into the freezer and forgetting about it, until it’s to old to use any more, and then we have to throw it away. That is such a waste of resources and money. Throwing a little “pot-luck” dinner now and then, to empty the freezer before food gets to old, is a great thing. Why not throw one, were you gather friends and everyone bring a little something to the table, wouldn’t that be fun?

With the exception of a pretty hefty unexpected medical bill in January (that blew my budget out the window). Being aware and in a state of only buying necessities, I have definitely used less money, on stuff, than I normally would have by now.

I’ve even noticed I have spent less money in the grocery store. I haven’t bought more than I absolutely have had to, with a few exception. There have been some items, like toilet paper, certain foods (dry good or freeze stuff), detergent etc, that have been on sales, up to 40%, and these I have bought extras off. These are items I use all the time, and stocking up a little, will save me some money down the line. As long as I have the space, and I don’t go overboard and buy more than I can use within a few months, I think this is a thrifty thing to do.

As I move along this path, I’m writing down everything I spend, in a little notebook. It’s going to be interesting to keep track of what I actually spend my money on. And what I end up with, having spent, at the end of the year.

Such a doormat…

I’ve got this post I’m planning, and I’m hoping to get to work on it some this weekend (I just need to get my ducks in a row). But in the spirit of de-cluttering I figured it was time to post another item out the door 🙂

IKEA have this wonderful policy (at least here in Norway.. I noticed the Ikea policy wasn’t quite as “easy breezy” when I lived in Houston). In Norway they will let you return items as long as you have the original receipt and give you the money back. If you don’t have the receipt they will give you a gift certificate for the amount, and there are no limits on how many times you can return without a receipte.

What on earth does this have to do with my out the door item? Well about three months ago I bought a couple of doormats and I’ve been driving around with the one I decided not to use in my car, forever.. but it was time.

Doormat to Ikea, money back to me 🙂

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I want, I want – I want it now!!!!

I think it’s time to move out of this consumerism mindset. First of all it’s expensive, and second it tends to generate stuff… and since my goal for this year is to reduce stuff…out the door the shopping sprees goes 😉

Today I’m taking a stab at decluttering my life in 2014 with a promise – to make an effort to buy only necessities. You know, needs rather than wants.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to live on oats, walk around with my toe sticking out my socks, only shower once a week, never use the car, use next to no electricity and so on…. you get the picture 😉

Nope, I have every intention of still living good. In my world, I believe necessities are what you need to survive, and live a happy life.

This definition, might include items in addition to the basics of food, clothing, and shelters. But the key is; what do you really need? And even more so, do you need it all the time? or can it be an occasional treat?

Since we are all have different life’s and interests, needs will differ from person to person. Have you ever thought about what your absolute needs are?

I know, this might not be for everybody, but if you have been thinking about the same lately. You know: buying less, saving money, less impact on the environment and so forth. And if you like me, just starting out, why don’t you make a list of your own, like I’m doing below 🙂

My overall general rules

Only buy necessities. Replace an item that is broken/ used up only if I really, really need to.
I will use up the stuff I have before I consider replacing.
I will try to find creative ways to meet my needs, and make do with the things I already have before I consider buying more.

Some of my allowances

Yes, allowances, I gotta live a little 😉

Books – I can buy up to 10 books/magazines for the whole year – you might say this is not a necessity, but I love books, and house/garden magazine and believe me a total of 10 books or magazine is quite a limit for me. And I will preferable get them as e-books since I don’t want to add to my already overflowing bookshelves.

Eating out – I eat out a lot, and the goal for 2014 is to cut down to at least half the amount of times I eat out. Yes I know, eating out is not an necessity either, but it’s an enjoyment I’m not quite willing to let go of yet.

Flowers and plants – I love my garden, I might even be a little bit obsessive about it – just ask anybody that know me 🙂 And I love having plants and flowers in my house, so I will allow myself to get some summer plant for the garden and the occasional orchid or cut flowers for indoors. But I do promises to not go totally overboard like I have a tendency to do. The goal for 2014 it to cut down to procuring less than half of what I normally would.

None negational items

I have several projects inside and outside the house, that have been in the making for quite some time and are planned for this year. These I will have to spend a little money on. And even thought doing the projects might not be strictly necessities (well, some of them are starting to be), I am still sticking to my my original plan 🙂 So what are these projects you may ask? Well… I’ll let you know as I move along with them…

That is it, so far!

If I think of something else for the list I can always add it later.

But if I can do this, I’ll say it’s a good start on living with less.