Tag Archives: clothes

Ronnica’s 101 Tips for Living on Less and Loving it

The idea for this blog is taken directly from Your Money or Your Life. In the updated version, Vicki Robin removed the tips section she had previously and advised writing your own…so I am.

Here are my tips for living on less and loving it:

Attitude
1. Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t know how much debt they had to go into to buy that house/car/wardrobe/vacation.
2. Focus on being thankful for what you have instead of what you do not have.
3. Open your eyes to those in other situations than you are (at home and abroad). Much of what we think of as “needs” is culturally influenced.
4. Be more concerned about what you think about yourself than what others think about you.
5. Make friends who are like-minded and can inspire and encourage you.
6. Seek advice from those who are better than you in the areas you want to improve.
7. Avoid ads whenever possible.
8. Avoid visiting places where you will be tempted to shop without forethought.
9. When you’re tempted to splurge, remind yourself of your long-term goals.
10. Unfollow Facebook friends whom you are tempted to be envious of.

Groceries/food 
11. Buy fruit when in season and on sale and freeze or can it for later for use throughout the year.
12. Freeze unused yogurt before it goes bad and stick it in smoothies.
13. Freeze unused milk before it goes back and use it for baking.
14. Make your own dressing…better for you, and you make it for your own tastes.
15. Make your own spice mixes (ranch packet, Italian seasoning, chili powder, etc.).
16. Make sweets from scratch. Cheaper, and you’ll eat them less often.
17. Make your own ice, saving in Ziploc bags if you need to take it with you.
18. Make your own pizza crust and freeze it in appropriate-sized dough balls (wrapped in saran wrap placed in a Ziploc bag).
19. Eat more like a vegetarian.
20. Replace ground beef with black beans in your favorite casseroles.
21. Bake a week’s worth of goods in one day.
22. Know where to buy what to get the most value.
23. Freeze any unused bread before it goes bad, then use it to make your own croutons.
24. Save eating out for special occasions…
25. But be sure to tip generously when you do.

Health/beauty
26. Find beauty products that you can use for more than one purpose.
27. Wear less makeup.
28. Wear makeup less.
29. Cut your own hair.
30. Spend less time on your outward beauty and more time on your inward beauty.

Utilities
31. Turn off your electronics when you leave your house. I have my TV, DVD player and modem on a power strip that I can easily flip off when I leave the house.
32. Use a window fan to cool your bedroom instead of A/C.
33. Research the cheapest cell plan that meets your needs (StraightTalk has been great for me).
34. Pay for your cell phone by the year to save money (I pay for 11 months and get the 12th free).
35. Buy a highly-rated phone and keep it for several years.
36. Save waste water (like from unfinished cups or pasta water) and use to water your garden.

Housekeeping
37. Make your own laundry detergent.
38. …and your own dishwasher detergent.
39. Hang up your clothes to dry after washing, even if you have to hang a line inside.
40. Clean your kitchen with vinegar and water.
41. Clean your toilet with vinegar and baking soda.
42. Use handkerchiefs instead of tissues.

Clothes
43. Buy clothes that you are comfortable and you look good in. For me, that’s skirts.
44. Hang up clothes at the end of the day where they can breathe. If they don’t have visible dirt or stink by morning, hang them back in your closet.
45. Simplify your wardrobe so that everything matches just 1 or 2 pairs of shoes.
46. Pare down your underwear down to a week’s worth, and wash by hand between machine washes if needed.
47. When buying new tops, try getting 3/4 length sleeves, as they’re wearable almost year-round.

Garden
drying oregano48. Take advantage of any sunny area to plant a container garden.
49. Starting with easy veggies that are your favorites.
50. Grow your own herbs. Much cheaper and tastier than what you can get at the store.
51. Make friends with people who grow different things in their garden than you do and trade.
52. Companion plant in a way to attract the right kinds of bugs (ex: nasturtium with tomatoes).
53. Invest a little more in non-hybrid seeds, and save the seeds the plants produce for the next year.
54. Add cleaned egg shells to your tomato soil to fight blossom end rot.
55. Fight powdery mildew with watered-down milk.

Transportation
56. Be generous in the space you give between you and the driver in front of you. Saves stress as well as gas/brakes.
57. Turn off your car’s A/C if you are driving under 45 MPH.
58. Use public transportation when traveling to high travel areas (like downtown). Cheaper than parking and less stressful.
59. Instead of buying a car with payments, save each month what you would spend on a car payment and buy your next car with cash.
60. When shopping for a car, shop according to your needs, not what others will think or how the car makes you feel.
61. Buy transit passes through work, which allows you to buy them with pre-tax money.

Shopping
62. Before buying anything, find out if someone has something that you can borrow to meet that need, or if you can repurpose something else.
63. Buy to last: it’s okay to spend a little more in the short term to get something that will last your lifetime.
64. Don’t browse catalogs or websites.
65. Research electronics so you get exactly what meets your needs.
66. Focus on buying items that can meet more than one need.
67. Comparison shop online before hitting up the store.
68. Avoid the mall, unless you have a specific purpose for being there.
69. Use reusable bags. (Store in the car so you don’t forget.)
70. Save your splurging for the library.

Travel
71. Pack your own snacks and entertainment. You’ll spend half as much at a drug store than at the airport for the same items.
72. Bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up at a water fountain on the other side.
73. Download ebooks from your library to your phone, tablet or e-reader.
74. If traveling over holidays, research flights on the holidays themselves, as they are usually significantly cheaper.
75. Save regularly for your travel goals, and don’t let less significant trips get in the way of budgeting for the ones you’ve always wanted to take.
76. Pack as few pants/skirts and shoes as is reasonable.

Moving 

77. Before deciding to move, come up with a budget and save up so that you’re not moving a credit card bill, too.
78. Find someone who recently moved and ask them for their boxes when they are finished.
79. Price the various moving options and determine what is the best value for you, money and time-wise.
80. Don’t forget to budget for all the little things you always seem to need when you move to a new place: trashcan, rugs, curtains, etc…
81. But also think through what you can reasonably do without.
82. If moving long distance, consider which possessions it may be reasonable to get rid of and replace when you get to your new home.
83. After you move, don’t visit any local fast food places, so you never get into that habit.

Hobby/Entertainment
colorado trail fall colors84. Find hobbies that costs no money. Mine are reading and hiking.
85. Use the library liberally to get as many as your entertainment selections as bbpossible.
86. Instead of going to the movies, make note of movies you want to see, to watch them on Netflix or borrow from the library later.
87. Exercise for free: outdoors or using frugally-acquired equipment at home.
88. Be a tourist in your own city, seeing (free or cheap!) sights you’ve never seen.
89. Cancel your Netflix or Hulu subscriptions regularly, saving up what you want to see for single 30-day windows, paying just for one month.
90. Use Pandora or Spotify instead of buying your own music.
91. When meeting up with friends, do activities that are free. Eat in together (even if it’s leftovers!) instead of out.

Holidays/Giving
92. Don’t give obligation gifts. Give according to your heart.
93. Buy a pack of blank cards, instead of holiday-specific cards. Write your own message.
94. Be intentional in your giving to charities, researching the organizations that you are giving to.
95. Pare down your holiday decorations to your absolute favorites.
96. Wrap gifts in usable or reusable wrappings (such as a reusable grocery bag in a fun color).

Time Management
97. Order your to-do list from most important to least, then work from the top.
98. Review your life plan regularly so that your to-do list aligns with it.
99. Make shopping lists on your phone (I use Evernote), saving paper and making it harder to leave behind.
100. Run your errands in one day, mapping your route to save gas and time.
101. If something has been on your to-do list for a few weeks, either do it or mark it off undone.

Kicking the Heels off (and Other Lessons from Purging)

homemade jewelry holder
My homemade jewelry holder is looking a little bare. Maybe I’ll downsize to a smaller one at some point.

I’ve been very slowly continuing through the zones I’ve identified using Marie Kondo’s decluttering method. Most recently, I used my Memorial Day holiday to attack 4 areas:

– Toiletries
– Makeup
– Accessories/shoes
– Jewelry

I was surprised at how purging these items affected me emotionally. While I’m definitely a below average American woman in the amount of time and money I put in these categories, there were times that some of these things meant to me more than they do now.

The most difficult thing to part with was my nail polish. Up until a year ago, I painted my fingernails weekly. Since then, I’ve only done it once. I’m not ready to say that I’ve given it up for good, but I also know that I won’t get back to that weekly habit. I had spent a lot of money on that nail polish and it has given me a lot of joy…but it’s not currently giving me joy. I decided to keep 8 colors that I can most likely see myself still using, and gave the rest to a family that would use them.

IMG_2777
Most of my shoes fit in the closet, but these are the ones I wear more regularly.

I felt similar emotions cleaning out my jewelry. I simply don’t wear it anymore, apart from a special occasion. Some of the pairs of earrings that I got rid of had been some of my favorites to wear…in the past. I did keep a few pieces that I still really like and can see myself wearing.

One area where I really enjoyed cleaning out was my high heel collection. Why did I still own them? I always opt for a pair of flats when flip flops (or going barefoot!) is not appropriate. I had been holding on to them “just in case”, but all they have been doing since I moved them 2 years ago is gather dust. I now own 17 pairs of shoes…which still sounds like way too many (flip flops add up). I’ll continue to pare that down as most that wear out will not be replaced.

What things have been unexpectedly hard for you to get rid of?

Culling Clothes

This is the pile of tops that I had before I purged 21 of them.
This is the pile of tops that I had before I purged 21 of them a few weeks ago.

Before I get into today’s post topic, I want to tell you a story from my college days.

I spent an entire year (either freshman or sophomore) keeping track of what I wore each day. As a challenge to myself, I decided not to re-wear a top for as long as I could. Turned out, I had enough seasonal clothes to not re-wear the same thing for 60 days.

A couple of months ago I talked about the minimum amount of clothes I thought I needed. Obviously, my ideas about clothes and the challenges I give myself have changed. Since then, it is something that has come to mind a lot. I took a MOOC on sustainability that brought up how our clothes are designed to be laundered easily, not for long-term use. I also had a conversation with a few other ladies in our church about how in other cultures, it’s not looked down upon to wear the same thing over and over.

Why can’t we just assume that we can each decide for ourselves when an article of clothing actually needs washing?

While I’d love to have no qualms with wearing the same thing two days in a row around the same people, I just don’t think I can do that in the workplace as I don’t want my personal appearance to distract from the work that I do.

So how am I practically applying my evolving clothes philosophy?

My pile of tops, post-purge.
My pile of tops, post-purge.

1. I pulled everything out and went through them Marie Kondo style. I was able to get rid of 57 pieces by doing so. I’m not done minimizing clothes, but I think this is a great place to start. (I’m also going to be cleaning up other areas as well…more on that later).

2. I hang my clothes up to air after I take them off. (My indoor clothesline definitely comes in handy.) In the morning, I smell and examine each item and either hang it back up in the closet or throw it in the laundry basket depending on what the evidence supports.

3. At the end of two weeks, I do one load of laundry. Yes: I’ve minimized my laundry load (from clothes at least) to one load every 2 weeks, half of what I used to do. This is better on my clothes and saves me time.

I’m sure these habits will keep changing as I learn and grow, but this is where I am now.

Minimum Clothes Count

I’ve seen a lot lately about how to create more outfits with fewer items of clothing. I love the idea of minimizing any area of “stuff,” but I’m concerned that this is shaping minimalism to look more like the rest of our culture. Why not proudly wear the same outfit over and over again?

I will readily admit that I have more clothes than I need. I don’t mind getting rid of what I don’t like, doesn’t fit or is unusable. But I struggle with getting rid of extras of things that are perfectly good.

[Sidenote: When I actually took the time to count my clothes, I do think I could get rid of some things. I will be working on that soon.]

Of course, it’d be better not to have accumulated extras in the first place.

I finally wore this skirt out after an estimated 600 wears.
I finally wore this skirt out after an estimated 600 wears.

So instead of getting rid of usable clothes (or worse, buying more duplicate items), I’ve decided to come up with a list of the minimum amount of clothing items I can make do with.

While I’m sharing my list below, I think everyone’s will look different. Because I like to have a full load before I use the washer, I used 2 loads of laundry (one light, one dark) every 2 weeks as my baseline. While I can get by between laundry days on my current level of unmentionables, I will start washing them by hand once a week when I get my pile whittled down closer than my goal minimum.

As my clothing preferences and circumstances change, I’ll revisit this list. For example, when I buy a home, I’m considering buying an electric-free washer which in addition to other benefits, will also allow me to get buy with fewer items as the loads are smaller.

For now, here’s my list:

Item (current) – goal minimum
Sweaters (14) – 4
Sweatshirts (3) – 1
Long-sleeved shirts (9) – 4
3/4-sleeved shirts (10) – 8
Short-sleeved shirts (15) – 10
No-sleeved shirts (3) – 0
T-shirts (14) – 6
Dresses (5) – 2
Skirts (5) – 3
Pants (4) – 2
Jeans (1) – 1
Exercise pants (6) – 2
Exercise shorts (4) – 2
Undershirts (black) (2) – 2
Undershirts (white) (12) – 2
Undershirts (other colors) (2) – 0
Tights (10) – 5
Hose (1) – 0
Bras (8) – 3
Exercise bras (7) – 3
Underwear (23) – 8
Socks (18) – 4
Exercise socks  (9) – 5
Slipper socks  (2) – 0
Sleep shirts (14) – 4
Summer sleep pants (8) – 4
Winter sleep pants (8) – 4
House jacket (1) – 1
Cardigans (2) – 1
Jackets (2)- 1
Coat (2) – 1
Gloves (5) – 1
Scarf (1) – 1
Swimsuits (2) – 2

What’s the minimum that you can get by with?

How it Works: Indoor Clothesline

I have saved hundreds of dollars by rarely drying my clothes. However, I live in an apartment that’s nice enough to have a ban on hanging clothes outside.

Sidenote: when did it become “cool” not to allow residents to dry clothes outside?This has been the rule in each apartment complex I’ve lived in.  It seems classist. 

While I do wish I could hang clothes outside (there are so many beautiful sunny days here in Denver!), I still wanted to take advantage of the cost savings of line-drying clothes by hanging an indoor clothesline.

I’ve now done this in 2 different apartments…it’s easy to take down and rehang! Also, the carabiners allow you to take the line down when you’re not using it, making it nearly invisible.

indoor clothesline

How to Hang an Indoor (Removable) Clothesline

What you’ll need:

2 carabiners (I used 3″ ones like these)
2 eye hooks (like these)
clothesline rope
drill (or someone who loves you who has one, in my case)

1. Find a good location to hang your line. I would recommend an area that you can shut off if company comes by, but is well ventilated. I put mine in my bedroom (but if you do so, do not hang over the bed!).

2. Drill holes in the wall for the eye hooks. Be sure to drill into a stud: the line will get heavy with wet clothes on it. I recommend picking a spot about a foot  below the ceiling. You want to be sure it’s a place you can reach (even if you’re short like me and have to climb up on something).

3. Screw in your eyehooks until they’re tight. I prefer mine to be perpendicular to the ground, but it doesn’t really matter.

clothesline attached indoors4. Tie your clothesline to the carabiners. You can show off your scouting skills, but any knot that will hold up under the weight works.

Tie one end and attach the carabiner to one eye hook then pull the excess line towards the other eye hook to see how long to make it. Pull the rope tight, taking out the slack. The clothes will pull the line down, but you don’t want the middle clothes dragging on the ground.

How long does it take to dry clothes indoors?

Machine-washed clothes dry in 12-24 hours here in Denver (a dry climate). When I was in North Carolina (a humid climate) they would take 18-36 hours.

Fans are very helpful. I use the window fan in my bedroom on warmer days to push the clothes-moistened air into the rest of my apartment while at the same time blowing drier air on the clothes.

Does drying clothes indoor make them crunchy?

Sometimes, yes. Adding a cup of vinegar to your wash (along with your normal detergent) goes a long way to cut out the crunch.

Crunchy clothes don’t bother me. Once I’ve put them on, I’ve manipulated them enough that they’re no longer crunchy.

That said, I would recommend machine-drying sheets and towels, unless you have an outdoor line to hang them on.