No Spend January | Week 4 round up.

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Yeah! We’re almost there!

At this point, I’m resigned to the fact that I can’t buy anything on the whole. I honestly couldn’t be more content with my wardrobe, I don’t want any more clothes. And as for stuff, I’m making better distinctions between what I need and want. There are a handful of things I’ve had on a list for weeks, which I’m probably gonna buy in the first few days of Feb, but I’m feeling confident that I’m not going to go on a crazy freedom spree.

Isn’t it mad that I’m unemployed (and therefore have soo little money) and yet it was still so hard to stop spending! Anyway, this challenge was well-timed in that sense: good for my long-term well-being and wallet 😛

Going forward, I still want to operate a low-spend lifestyle when it comes to possessions, focusing more on experiences. Thanks for coming on this journey with me, let me know your thoughts and experiences with spending less!

 

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No Spend January | Things to do.

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I’m getting so into this photography lark. So proud of this picture 🙂

So, I think we can all agree I’ve now become an expert in not spending money and I’m perfect… I wish!

But I have been thinking- as much for my own sanity as for this blog post- about things you can do with no money. Even when this challenge is over, I don’t think it would hurt me financially or emotionally to spend more time doing things that don’t cost money!

So here’s a list I compiled of things I could think of. It is a bit London specific in places, because that’s where I live, but it might prompt ideas of places near you too (if you’re not London based).

  1. Visit a museum – all the museums and a great deal of galleries in London are free to enter, it’s pretty cool actually. I just finished a Christmas temp job at the Natural History Museum which was the first time I’d been to a museum in years (boo!). It reminded me how great they are, and I realised I’ve been missing out! I paid a visit to the Science Museum this week too, that’s always a fun one.
  2. Go for a walk – I know, anyone could’ve thought of this one! But you know, it’s an easily forgotten activity (at least for me). Some days I do plenty of walking from a to b, but it’s a completely different feeling walking just for the sake of it. Some of my happiest and most mindful times have been walking in the rain, kitted out in my raincoat and wellies, sometimes with an audiobook in my ears, or just listening to the sounds around me. And you don’t even have to be in nice surroundings for it to have a significant effect on your wellbeing. Trust me, I’ve been through some grotty, concrete covered places on walks! Or you could go to a park if concrete’s not your thing 😉
  3. Take pictures – Whether it be a flower in the park, your wellies next to the door, or your friends laughing on a day out. Whipping out your phone or camera is a really nice pastime. I had no idea I would get so into it, but I now spend hours every week taking + editing my pictures for this blog, as well as for personal enjoyment. I can thank my sister for teaching me to appreciate the process- thanks Naomi!
  4. Make something – Be it sewing, drawing, colouring in, crafting is really good for getting you really immersed in what you’re doing. It’s a personal goal of mine to have at least one craft always on the go, it’s so good for my mental health. If you get creative with things you have around the house, you won’t have to spend a dime!
  5. See the sights – It’s easy to live and work in London and become desensitised to the view. It’s not all pretty, like I said, but when you pause for a second you can find beauty. I often like to walk along the Southbank next to the river Thames. There’s such a variety of magnificent buildings. You can go the 10th floor of the Tate Modern and look out over the whole city, or cross over the river to St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. My favourite is standing on Waterloo or London Bridge at night, looking over the river with all the lights shining 🙂
  6. Write a letter – I suppose this doesn’t count as strictly free, if you consider stamps. But paper and pens can definitely be scavenged from around the house. I wanna make more time to write letters and make my own birthday cards, I think people appreciate the effort.
  7. Declutter – If you haven’t tried it, I swear once you get into it it’s the most therapeutic, addictive thing! Taking an afternoon/day to get a room in order can make a huge difference to how you feel, plus you’ll be one step closer to a simpler, more eco-friendly life.
  8. Exercise – Go for a run! Do some press-ups! Follow a Youtube workout! Yoga! I have a very love/hate relationship with the gym, I’m about to cancel my membership for the second time in 6 months. There’s something about being in a stuffy building with other people working out that makes me hate it in the end! Then I get all guilty that I’m paying money and not using it.. I much prefer being out in the open, or at home. But whatever your thing is, do it.
  9. Journal – When you challenge yourself not to spend money, you find you’re freeing up a whole load of time. If you’ve ever wanted to start or keep up a diary, spending less money is a good way to do it! Sometimes these days, I find myself with so many thoughts and feelings in my head that I can’t not write in my diary- it’s the dream! I really want to start a bullet journal too. Just need to find the right notebook (Google it, they’re super cool!)
  10. Cook – Cooking seems to be one of the first things to suffer when we get busier. But if you’re not spending money on much else other than food, why not learn to enjoy it? Look up some new, exciting recipes on the internet, and try them out! There is nothing more satisfying than making an awesome meal from scratch (especially when you present it really nicely too).

 

I’m sure you guys have some much better ideas- if so, share them in the comments, I’d love to hear them 🙂

No Spend January | Week 2 round up.

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So this week 2 has been a considerably more pleasant experience! I mean it can only go up from forgetting that you’re actually doing a no spend challenge! Anyway, I’m letting go (if I say it that makes it true, right?!)

Saying that, it was my birthday on Wednesday (23, would you believe!) Obviously that meant a few presents. I got such practical but still fun gifts, thanks family! Sewing supplies from my siblings, a couple of basic tops from White T-shirt Co. from my parents, to replace the bobbly, rubbish ones from H&M I’ve had for years 🙂

Other than that, I’ve noticed myself feeling the urge to shop when feeling down. I’ll add that to the list of situations which seem to trigger my spending, like boredom, and being paid haha! Also, I think a social media + email purge is in order. Even just a few emails or Instagram adverts about January sales are enough to make me feel like I’m missing out on some mysterious bargain!

In more positive news, I’m feeling super satisfied with my wardrobe. I’ve pared it down to the perfect size and I love all my items. It’s taken me a good couple of years since I started this journey and without the temptation to buy anymore clothes, I’m getting the chance to really appreciate them! Nothing can seep into my consciousness if I can’t even see it 😉

Just a short post this week, but I’m feeling optimistic about the remainder of  January 🙂 Stay tuned for another post in the week!

No Spend January | Most treasured items.

I read this article from the Guardian that articulated something I hadn’t really thought about before. Materialism and Consumerism are so often used interchangeably but they are quite different. These days our society is dubbed more materialistic than ever, when actually the bigger issue is the excessive consumerism.

Materialism= preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations (link)

Consumerism= the fact or practice of an increasing consumption of goods (link)

Like the article says (better than me by the way) is that they are both linked and both relevant to the Western lifestyle, however consumerism has gotten to such a level that for most people the owning of an item almost means nothing after the novelty of the purchasing it has worn off. The fact that you can buy another [insert product here] means that the one you have always pales in comparison to the shiny advertised one.

Richard Denniss argues that we could do with a bit more materialism to be honest! (Or at least value of our belongings) That way we would seek to repair, maintain and use our things until the end of their lives before replacing them.

In light of this reading, I got to thinking about how my mindset is slowly shifting (although that damned consumerism still eats at my brain far too often). I wanted to share a handful of items with you all that I treasure dearly and intend to keep for as long as I can…

DSC01971.jpg1. Wool cardi– I bought this hand-knitted wool cardigan from one of my favourite vintage shops little over a year ago, and to be honest, I didn’t really realise how much I was going to love it. When I tried it on I loved how classic it looked and thought it would go with my wardrobe (all true) but the reasons I love it now, go so much beyond… It doesn’t have a label in it, so I’m inclined to think that someone hand-knitted it, which is a lovely thought. It is hands down THE WARMEST THING EVER and puts every other cardi I’ve ever owned to shame *AND* the buttons are made of wood which is both adorable and means that the whole thing is biodegradable. Need I go on?! (I’ll spare you)

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2. Fountain pen– I’d known of the brand, and whilst I’m not immune to branding, I had no real desire to own a Parker pen. I chanced upon a market stall one day selling new and used fountain pens, and explained to the man that I wanted one you could refill with ink from a bottle. He showed me a range, from about £20 to the one I eventually bought for £140. I sooo wasn’t planning on spending that kind of money on a pen (I have since had many a horrified look from friends and family upon hearing this) but I’m glad I invested in a good quality, good-looking and not plastic pen. I look forward to writing now and take more care when I do it, which for me has been a unforeseen bonus!

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3. Duffel bag– travel has been a regular and important occurrence for me for the last five years, and knowing your bag will stand the test of time makes me grateful. Mine is waterproof, worn like a backpack, the largest size you can take as your carry on with every airline and is made of sturdy stuff. It serves me well on any trip of any length for any purpose meaning it’s the only travel bag I need and there’s nothing I love more than simplicity 🙂

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4. Bike– as I type this, it’s been just over a week since I got hit by a car, meaning my bike has prematurely reached the end of its life.. I’m very sad, because my plan was to repair and replace parts as needed and not have to buy another one for a long time. This was my first adult bike, and I’ve ridden it practically every day for about 3 years. It represented my freedom and I loved it. It was secondhand when I bought it, so I expect it’s had a good run at least. Looks like I will have to replace it, but the point still stands that a bicycle is something I can’t see myself being able to live without, so it definitely deserves a special mention on this list.

No Spend January | Week 1 round up.

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So it’s been a week of not spending money on stuff + clothes. These diary entries kind of sum up what it’s been like so far…

03/01/2018, 11:00

So far it hasn’t been too hard. I’ve been busy with work all day, and I have also had some bits arriving in the post from purchases I made in late December (all sensible purchases, but exciting nonetheless).

I have felt the urge to browse internet shops a few times when bored in the evening- that’s my weak time- so I am going to try and introduce more activities into my evening so I have other ideas to turn to.

03/01/2018, 18:13

Damn it, I just failed and I didn’t even realise! A raincoat (I don’t really need it, just prefer it to the one I have) that I was watching on Ebay was ending today, and I got an email saying that bidding was over in a few minutes. The price was good and no one had bid yet, so I immediately went on and won it. It took me a further ten minutes to remember that I am not supposed to be buying stuff this month. Forget what I wrote this morning about it being easy, I obviously have a problem.

 

…So, yeah. It would seem that buying things and browsing shops online mindlessly is something that I do. This is gonna take some real effort to stop. In December when I decided to do this challenge I did not realise how far gone I was! I don’t think it sunk in until that second diary entry that things have regressed for me. Hopefully that slip up will be enough to make me remember that I’m actually doing this challenge! *facepalms*

I was that close to saying, ‘maybe January isn’t a good time to be doing this’. My birthday is coming up (which’ll mean more things) plus I’ve messed up already. But you know, if it was easy I wouldn’t need to do it. Even with my birthday and my accidental ebay purchase, I’m I’ll still find it hard enough!

Basically, I’m hanging in there. Stay tuned for updates 🙂

No spend month – take 2

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I’m so smug about this photo!

So in October 2016 I challenged myself to spend no money on clothes or items (see here for details of the rules, and here for my reflection on how it went at the end). Just over a year later and I’m back again with another one! Generally I think I’m in a better situation in terms of resisting consumerism and owning less, however I have to recognise that this is something I have struggled with and continue to struggle with. A regular check and yearly challenge can only do me good!

This time, I figured it was necessary as I’ve felt the Christmas shopping madness seep into my consciousness and I’ve been indulging myself in the thrill of buying new things for myself a lot more than usual. I recently watched this video by Minimalist Ninja about relapsing from minimalism, and it’s inspired me not to beat myself up too much and to get back on the horse! (is that a phrase? I use it all the time, so I hope so…)

So for the entirety of January I’m going to do the challenge! My rules are quite simple:

SPEND: food, drink, experiences, absolutely necessary toiletries

NO SPEND: clothes, items

Unlike last time, I’m going to document my progress a lot better in January, posting updates and excerpts from a diary I’ll be keeping specifically for when I’m struggling with the challenge (which will be often I assure you!)

Hopefully I’ll get more out of it and I can move forward with this thing. Hopefully someone will find my observations helpful. Alright, that’s enough for today 🙂

Sticking it to the man.

Hi there! I’ve been doing some thinking recently (help us all!) and it occurred to me that through this new way of life I’ve been living the last few years, I’ve been able to participate in my own acts of resistance against things I wasn’t even aware of before. Here are a few ways I’ve been sticking it to the man…

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ooh, so edgy. Bare faced b+w shot

cosmetics- don’t use shampoo, and only use 3 makeup items

I am resisting the advertisement industry that lies and profits from women’s insecurity, telling us that we need an eye cream, foot cream, nail cream, and a different soap depending on whether you are male or female. My hair and skin haven’t been softer since I ditched the products which whilst doing a job, make your body reliant on them for something it can do naturally.

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taken from zerowaste_munster

clothes- buy only a few items of clothing as needed, from ethical brands and charity shops

Spanish brand ZARA for example churns out a crazy 52 (micro) seasons a year, averaging 12000 styles (the retail average is 3000). It’s just irresponsible to think you can produce so much and encourage people to buy more and more with the situation already in dire straights. I am resisting the over over over-consumption and prices so low that people pay for your clothes with their lives on the other side of the planet.

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Ribs sans animal products from 100% vegan restaurant Cafe Van Gogh

veganism- I choose not to eat animal products

I’ve had people personally offended that I don’t eat meat. I’ve even had people ask me how I can call myself Jamaican. I am aware that in some cultures meat is very embedded into the every day, but there is no reason why someone should have to condone an act they consider wrong to be a part of a culture. I’ve also been told that I am being rude or fussy when refusing food that someone of another culture has made for me because it has meat in it. I understand that for a lot of people, they don’t see or think about the process and simply see meat and animals as food. My intention is not to reject your generosity but rather to live by a principle that I think matters.

Also, something I haven’t had to experience as a woman, but that I have witnessed happen around me: the association of manliness with meat-eating. Who knows where it stems from; cavemen ideology, the preoccupation with protein and muscle-building, I can’t really comment. But as weak as the argument seems from someone liberated from the need to fit in with gender stereotypes, I have seen that in many people the need to perform their gender and what they consider to be essential components of their gender is a really strong pull.

I am resisting the association of meat-eating with culture or by being a mixed-race British person of Caribbean heritage who does not eat animal products. And as a woman I do not perpetuate the myth that to be strong, healthy, happy or fit in, it is necessary for any gender to do so either.

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Yeah, so we got a little bit political today, but that’s okay! It’s important to remember that often things that are worthwhile and right, are not easy. Being aware of underlying influences in society is crucial to breaking their power and realising that they do not need to control you. Thanks for reading 🙂

Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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My underwear all neatly organised- HOW SATISFYING!

I know what you’re thinking, of all the interesting books out there I chose to read about tidying, but hear me out! The first time I heard mention of this book, I thought this is not for me. I, like the next person, want to be tidy but I’ve tried following rules and systems and yet I still find myself surrounded by mountains of stuff on a regular basis. But over time I heard snippets of Marie Kondo’s approach and I became so intrigued that I looked into it- and the rest is history! I read this book in less than 5 days. I am a slow reader, so that’s really saying something.

There is so much helpful detail in this book that I couldn’t possibly try and summarise it (some people have though, so give it a Google search if you want a better idea of what the method involves) but I thought I would just pick out the points that really spoke to me.

The simplified premise of the KonMari method is this: if it sparks joy, keep it. What I love about this is that it focuses on the keeping rather than the discarding side of decluttering. I found the process to be a lot more successful and less stressful than my previous decluttering attempts because I had the goal in mind of looking back over my possessions at the end and knowing I only have what I love. What sparks joy. I also think it’s great that Marie Kondo set the bar so high. She didn’t say keep it if you think it might come in handy, or because someone gave it to you and you feel guilty chucking it, or even because you like it. When you judge things on whether or not they bring joy, you are forced to be more ruthless and confront the reasons you might be holding onto things that you don’t want. The interesting thing is that having only what sparks joy might mean a large library or make-up collection for some, and the bare minimum of just about everything for others; it means different things for different people which is why it works.

When I started the book, it struck me that Marie would talk about possessions almost as if they were people. As a (sometimes) sceptical person, my initial reaction was to think she’d gone too far (part of me still thinks she is a bit too airy fairy and a few of her theories I couldn’t get on board with) but the sentiment behind it is what I love. For instance, she makes a point of thanking her clothes at the end of each day and encourages people to thank the possessions that they no longer want before discarding them. This is a really nice way of being more conscious and weaving gratitude into the every day. Also, thanking items for serving their purpose- be it for helping you realise that impulse buys are a terrible idea, or for serving you every day for years- means that you can let them go without the guilt. Kondo devotes a part of the book to folding clothes. Again, I thought how tedious when I first heard about it, but it all ties in to the gratitude thing. The practice of treating your possessions with respect and care will make them last longer and you will value them more.

Marie Kondo recommends decluttering and sorting your home all at once (or as quickly as possible). Turning your space from what it was, to the ideal environment in less than a month means that you get a more dramatic sense of how much better the end result is. This means you’re more likely to keep it that way (plus you won’t get bored or disheartened part-way through the process and give up).

The book encourages you to think about what kind of life you want before starting the decluttering. For instance, if it’s important to you to have enough space to have people stay with you, or to have as few possessions as possible because you like to travel, these goals are really good to have as a motivation when you do get round to it. One of my goals was to have a small collection of clothes and toiletries for travelling and simplicity. It makes me happy to look at what I have and know that it fits with the life I want to lead.

I really enjoyed the book, and can’t wait to go and sort through my room at home, just like I did at uni. I would highly recommend The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up as I believe it to be a very well-tested and practical method that can be adapted to suit anyone.

Minimalist bathroom + make-up tips.

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the superstars.

I’m still working out what an ideal amount of toiletries is for me, so by no means consider this the final edit. However, there are a few things I’ve learned when narrowing down my collection which you might find useful. The following tips are things that I do to keep my bathroom products to a minimum…

Water for face + hair washing:

Yep, you heard me- no shampoo or face wash! Apart from my skin and hair completely thriving on water alone (after a transition period. I will be writing separate posts on these soon!) the best thing about it is that I don’t have to pack anything up to go away. Water is everywhere! More bag space and less expense and complication, WOO!

 

2-in-1 eyeliner:

If you have an eyeliner pencil, you can use it normally for a soft line, or to make your lashes look thicker,  hold a lighter bout 3cm from the tip for a few seconds, it softens the consistency and it makes more of a gel or liquid liner. The black gets bolder too. If you’re an eyeliner fan, trust me, this will blow ya mind 🙂 Now you only need one!

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My organic muslin face cloth for wiping off make-up. Bought here

Oil:

Be it coconut oil, olive oil or argan oil, (to name but a few) they all make great make-up removers. Just rub a few drops over the area then wipe away with a cloth. Now that my skin is natural, it tends to regulate itself in terms of moisture, but occasionally it gets dry. This is where the oil comes into its own again. Rubbing a teeny bit of oil (sometimes diluted with water for a lighter effect) is all I need to revive a dry patch. Having one product that serves many purposes is the best way of saving space and simplifying.

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Left to right, top to bottom: ‘lust’ solid perfume, LUSH; pina colada flavour lip balm, gift; homemade mascara, recipe here; lighter; argan oil, ClementsClements; eyebrow brush, Ecotools; Kohl eyeliner pencil, Boots

Refine:

Remove items from collection and store somewhere else. If you don’t miss them after a few months, get rid (donate, give to friend, chuck). It’s easy to keep products that you think you might need for an occasion, but it’s very eye-opening to discover that you only actually tend to use a fraction of the things you have.

No duplicates, this is not the apocalypse:

You don’t need to stock up. There isn’t going to suddenly be a shortage. Also, if you decide you no longer want to use a certain brand/product, you can easily change because you don’t have 10 duplicates in your drawer waiting to be used up. Replace when you are really close to running out/have already run out. Vow that you’re not going to buy another shampoo until you’ve used up what you have, or if you do fancy starting fresh immediately, donate the unused stock.

Review: Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (2016)

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(Source)

Minimalism has slowly been creeping into my consciousness for a while now, but I just thought I’d warn you that I’m well and truly hooked and that you’re about to see a whole lot more from me on this subject!

Without further ado, I watched this documentary on Netflix and it really has inspired me. It starts off with this quote:

‘At a time when people in the West are experiencing the best standard of living in history, why is it that at the same time there is such a longing for more?’ Rick Hanson

And it’s true. I don’t think it’s just my friends and family that are sharing my enthusiasm for making a difference, it’s sweeping across the country and the world. In the aftermath of the crazy consumerism that’s exploded over the last 50 odd years, people have come to realise that it is lacking as a means of making you feel good in the long run.

In the fashion industry it’s gone from having 4 or maybe even 2 seasons a year (Autumn-Winter/Spring-Summer) to 52! That’s every week! You’re supposed to feel like you’re not ‘on trend’ so that you buy more. The abuse of garment workers means that the value of clothing is through the floor; you no longer need to wait for clothing to be unusable; it simply has to be unfashionable to deserve throwing away. And who even cares when it only cost £3, right?

Advertising has polluted every area of our lives. Bathrooms, films, taxis, doctor’s surgery… Advertising for children’s products has changed; it used to target mothers, but now it goes around the parents and straight to the kids. A large number of children have access to technology from as young as under a year old.

HOWEVER! People are beginning to realise that they might be being tricked, and that they have more options than they are lead to believe. And that’s where minimalism steps in. This documentary features The Minimalists, No Impact Man, and news reporter Dan Harris, among others, who share their personal stories of coming to the decision to live with less. I love how varied their stories are, how different their problems were, and yet they found an alternative way to live and now their motivation is essentially the same: to simplify the stuff that doesn’t matter and live more intentionally. It looks different for all of them, but it works.

I don’t want to go into a load of detail and ruin it for you! I would highly recommend seeing this documentary, even if you aren’t already thinking of being minimalist. It is a great insight into how some people live and encourages you to be more intentional in life in general. I did write down some quotes that I liked from the film though… Enjoy! Also let me know what you thought of it if you do give it a watch 🙂

‘As human beings we have strong attachment -initially in our lives- to people who are caring for us; sometimes it feels like those attachments spill over to objects, as if they were as important as people’ Gail Steketee

‘You can never get enough of what you don’t want’ Rick Hanson

‘I wish everyone could become rich and famous so they could realise it’s not the answer’ Jim Carey

‘Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle’ Non-hairy minimalists

‘We are not going to reach the environmental goals we are seeking whilst maintaining our current lifestyles. We’re going to have to give up a lot’ Unknown

‘The beauty of not being prepared for everything is that you are forced to call on others and they on you for favours/borrowing etc. You end up in community.’ Unknown

‘Because you can do anything you want you can potentially do everything you want, but to do everything you want you have to sacrifice things that really are important’ Unknown

‘You can’t force people around you to be as minimalist as you, or at all. You have to respect their choice.’ Unknown