The Minimalism Game – My challenge and result!

So in October I set myself the challenge of completing the Minimalism game. Read more about it here. So how did I do?

I initially found that doing an item a day etc was something I easily forgot and wasn’t going to work for me which is fine as we all have our own styles so I began to group the days together which worked better for me. See my progress in photos below!

I ended the challenge with doing a major bedroom clear out which gave me my grand total and way over!

I ended the challenge donating 8 black bags to charity, shredding a black bag worth of paper for recycling and getting rid of old sentimental things which were gathering dust. I also got rid of shoes which were nearly new but not ever used. Competing the challenge felt good and just look at the change in my space!

No more randomly stuffed clothes/ bags and instead I have organised jewellery for the first time in ages! I went down from a drawer full, a hanging rail and a 5 tier jewellery box to this.

My dressing table had also become a hoarding ground and it’s now clear.

All in all, I’m really happy with the outcome of the challenge. I think the day thing didn’t work for me but I made the game work and got a great outcome! I’d really recommend giving it a go if you’re new to Minimalism too. It really helped me just begin to get rid of all of the maybes I’d been holding on to and I’m so so glad my space is now accessible and clean!

Think that was a success ūüėä

Have you completed the mins game yet?

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October’s Healthfully Happy Challenge – The 30 day Minimalism Game – Are you in?

So what is it? 

A 30 day challenge which helps you to begin to physically declutter. Get rid of 1 item on day 1, 2 items on day 2 all the way to day 30 where you have to get rid of 30 items in one day. You can read more about the game on the Minimalists website here.  

It’s even better as a group so you can all be held accountable to each other, share your progress and play a “game” of who can last the longest. 

A fun way to begin to declutter physically and one I thought would be a great way to begin to think about the physical side of living happier in a non-threatening way. The thought of clearing out my whole house is too much to handle right now so this game sounds like a good way in!

When?

I thought setting monthly challenges like this would be motivating for me and so this is the Healthfully Happy October challenge! 

Can I join? 

Of course! It would be great to have you on board! I asked my household and everyone said no. Disheartening and shouldn’t stop me but I always find group effort and support helpful. 

I have set this challenge on the Minimalist Life Facebook page and will be posting a photo a day of my items to get rid of on there. You can join the group by signing up here. This is not my group but has been so helpful to me. Lots of people have already signed up so join us! I will also be doing a blog post a day for it so why not join in and share your items on here? 

Keep accountable and join in! 
Let the games begin!

Budget Planning Рthe road to no debt 

Why budget? 

I don’t know when my budgeting got so out of hand. I didn’t want to “miss out” ever really and I ignored the fact that maybe others could afford these things without being in debt whenever I said “yes”. As a result, over the last two years I’ve gone through four balance transfer credit cards. Moving debt from one pot to another. Each month slowly building up my credit card out of overspending and having another ¬£1000 to add to my transfers each year easily. 

Now buying things can be nice and living the “high life” but the feeling of knowing you’re always in the minus? Not so good. I’m 27. I feel like I shouldn’t be in this much debt but somehow here I am and the thoughts of it are consuming me. So finally I decided to sit down and work out my monthly spend and budget plan! It’s something I want to get a hold on.

Now I know some minimalists may say student loan debt is bad, but right now for me it’s not. Here in the UK, for the years I studied anyway, student debt gets cleared off after 25 years and comes straight out of my pay. I don’t miss it at all and will unlikely ever pay it off but that’s one debt I’m okay with. My feelings on it might change but right now no….

My budget spreadsheet 

So to budget, I created my own spreadsheet. I included:

  • My income 
  • My necessary outgoings (house/ bills, mobile, current debt payments, food)
  • My car expenses (car payments – I know!!! But it has 7 months left ?!, petrol)
  • My dog (food, insurance, grooming) 

The sad thing was what I had left when I subtracted it from my salary.

¬£190. When I saw that my heart sunk but it also made me realise that this is why I keep going into more and more debt. I’m living on way more than ¬£190 and way out of my means and this is with me NOT saving! It shocked me but it was definitely what I needed!

What next? 

So I looked at all of my outgoings and considered how realistic or inflated each one was, potentially hoping I could find places to save. 

The following areas were ones I thought would be the easiest to change: Food, household bills and potentially dog grooming. I share a house so bills aren’t just my responsibility so it can be difficult when I thought I can get rid of Sky (cable) as it will need to be agreed but food could be re-thought of definitely!

I also wondered whether ¬£25 a week could be enough for socialising? I mean I’d accounted for my basics – shelter, food, petrol for the car – so wasn’t the rest additional rather than necessary? I then thought the extra ¬£90 could be my savings, small but something.

I also get expenses from work and I thought they could go directly into savings to start creating my emergency fund. I definitely need one as I recently had to have repairs done on my car and the ¬£250 knocked my balance even further down! 

I forecasted my debt returns and could have them all paid by 2019. At first I thought 2019 is so far ahead but actually I’d feel so happy if I could clear them in 2 years! But it’s going to require commitment and willpower. A change from having whatever I want to considering my situation at every turn. 

But here goes! 

I will put up my end of month outcome in October! 

What are your budget planning tips? 

 

My Current Healthfully Happy Goals

So this journey isn’t just going to be about these points as I imagine new goals and wants will come out of starting this process but these are some of the things I want to change on this journey right now and no doubt will be my focus for awhile.

My diet: 

I can keep fooling myself but my diet isn’t helping me. Not getting enough fruit and veg, not even actively trying to be honest, eating way too many biscuits and even getting to the stage where I’m not even taking lunch to work so cafes (and more junk) are the only option. After going gluten free a few years ago for 6 months, I noticed a difference. Quite a big difference really. I had more energy, I would wake up feeling refreshed rather than tired and I didn’t bloat after meals. Yet I still went back to eating gluten, fully knowing its effects on my body (why do we do this to ourselves?!). Diet can also impact on my skin and after watching ‘what the health’ I have become interested in the plant based way. I always say ‘I’ll eat better’ but let’s be honest, I don’t! I hold negative feelings about not changing my diet though – I feel guilty, I think ‘I should’ and these thoughts are weighing me down. What better way to begin my healthfully happy journey than to just try it and see what happens! This will involve me searching for the way and documenting my progress.

My debt

Having listened to the Minimalists podcast on budgeting, I realised that I am in so much debt that I’m just in denial about it now. I spend too much and am constantly spending more than my salary. Its led me to two balance transfer credit cards I am paying off, racking up the bill on a third (which no doubt will become another transferred balance!) and I owe family money for furnishing when I moved home. In total I have debts of over 5000 and I have tried to pretend it will all be okay. That’s not even included my student debts and I don’t even earn a mega salary (I work for the NHS!)….The reason I want to change my debt situation is because it niggles at me constantly. I feel so stressed and worried when I think about it and ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away. Though I have tried….! I need to act and just hearing Ryan and Joshua talk about how liberating it is to spend money you have rather than are in debt of just sounds amazing! I have already begun this step and worked out my monthly expenses. It was dire and made my heart sink literally when I realised how little actual ‘spend’ I have left after necessities and paying debts, but its the hard truth I needed. I’m in debt because I have spent way more than what I have left over each month. My budget is tiny (no more Starbucks or Costas on impulse!) but in reality, it is manageable if getting out of debt is important to me. The thought of being out of debt is incredible. My budget spreadsheet will be my next post.

My Physical health:

I’m naturally slim – 5ft 7, size 8/10 – and have generally never worried about my weight. I am one of those types who can eat what she wants and stay slim (sorry!) so I’ve never thought about keeping fit (this probably influenced my diet too!). Ever since moving house (2015), I have become a comfortable size 10. Now being a size 10 isn’t the problem and I’m okay with my size but I know I’m not toned and I definitely need cardio in my life! I have done yoga in the past but I cannot remember the last time I truly committed to exercise!

In 2016, I actually began Couch25k in an attempt to get active. However after week 5 I gave up. This is what happens to me, I start, I stop. I get a new goal – I start, I stop. This year I actually re started it and have begun to run for 20 minutes straight which for me is fantastic! I haven’t reached the 5k mark on straight jogging yet and so this time I don’t want to start and stop, I want to reach my goal and continue! I want to also tone and just keep my body physically fit.

My time:

Too much of my time at home is spent watching TV. One week away from home with only a Portuguese TV and I haven’t missed the TV once. It’s incredible how much time we can waste on meaningless activities when given the chance. I’m not saying I don’t like watching TV – there are quite a few TV shows I like – but it does take up far too much of my time and I allow it to out of convenience and routine. What’s wrong with watching too much TV? For me, what’s wrong is it takes time away from me reading, doing yoga, meditating, blogging even and spending time on the things I keep saying I want to do. These are things I said I didn’t have time for but the reality is my time is badly spent and needs to be reshuffled! I’ve began to priorities my jogging so now it’s time to priorities doing things I value. That way I can stop feeling guilty about not doing them and feel good about doing them.

 

So these are just a start to my goals. I want to feel less stressed but I feel the way to get there is by living well which I hope these starter goals will help me work towards. They will take time but planning is all part of the journey.

So questions for you:

  • What are your goals?
  • Have you made changes? What made them stick?

 

First blog post – Where my healthfully happy journey began

When I think back to when it all began, I have to go back to when I was 16 (I’m now 27). I had a really bad flare up of atopic eczema. Now it might seem insignificant but this dramatically changed me. Without this I think I probably would have continued to live on the “surface”. It wasn’t the only negative experience I experienced as many of those occurred throughout my childhood but it’s the one I felt led me to this road Im on now.

It covered my face, my neck and crept over my body. It was sudden and unexpected. Before then, I ¬†happily lived on the surface. My main worries used to focus around how ‘pretty’ I looked and making new friends. Trying to fit in. When the eczema hit, it changed things. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel or look pretty. I had a red face and emotionally it was pretty horrific.¬†At first, I coped with following medical advice. Steroids and lots of creams. This led me down a cycle of eczema > use steroid creams > feel I have my life back, feel confident > eczema flare > feel bad about myself > use steroids creams > feel about about myself and it goes on. ¬†Gosh it was lonely and emotionally so draining. I couldn’t relate to anyone and I was so focused on how ugly I felt. I just kept trying to be ‘normal’. There I was at 16/17/18 and I couldn’t focus on anything because I was focused on my eczema. University came in 2008 and somehow I made it through, but not without seeing some of the worst eczema of my life.

I gave up steroids in 2009 I think. At first I just lived with it. Endured it should I say. It was hard, I felt horrible and so alone. I had friends don’t get me wrong but I felt so alone in this. I felt angry that this had happened to me. The comments, oh the comments they did not help one bit – ‘what happened to your face?’, ‘why do you look so dark’ (a comment that comes when you have Indian heritage and there is an obsession about being light and white!). It all just frustrated me. Did it look like I cared how dark I looked when all I cared about was a flare free face?! For two years, I feel I sat back and let the eczema ‘happen’. I tried homeopathy but I don’t feel I was really taking any responsibility at the time. I had swapped steroids for tablets, but was still living on processed foods and alcohol (the uni way!).

In April 2011, enough was enough and I began my eczema blog and committed to healing my skin naturally. It was the start of me really making changes to better my life. I do think without this eczema journey, I wouldn’t be here today trying to be healthfully happy. The journey made me look past the superficial nature of life, past what others think and put my focus in what was of value to me – healing my skin naturally for good.

Over the years since then, my eczema has changed greatly. From 2014 to early 2017 I had no flares at all and how great that felt knowing it was because of changes I had made. No-one else but me.

In 2015, I got accepted onto a Clinical Psychology Doctorate here in the UK and began my journey towards becoming fully qualified. It was a goal I had ever since I went through the emotional pain of eczema and was close to my heart so it was amazing! Life was looking good (or so I thought).

I had a bad flare earlier this year and it felt quite out of control. My usual techniques didn’t work and it made me think about all the ways that my life is chaotic beyond my eczema. I had done what I needed for my skin and stopped there, but it didn’t feel like enough. I didn’t feel content at all. I knew that I had tried to play my life stress down as though it wasn’t there and pretend things were fine if my skin was fine and that I was happy with how I was living, but I couldn’t pretend anymore. Naturally my journey became a more emotional journey about healing and living.

I began to pay more attention to myself and my inner mind. I was stressed all of the time. It got to a stage when I actually carried anxiety in my chest constantly. I could feel it more than I ever have yet I just plodded on. I noticed that I have this negative voice in my head constantly and it was draining. Juggling assignments, research and placements was one thing, add a new puppy in the mix, relationship difficulties, guilt over not doing better with life and it all just felt too much. I was putting that negative energy into my relationships, lasting out with angry outbursts and just avoiding the problem head on (probably my default after growing up with parents who never spoke about emotions and buried their own). My thoughts were so heavy and I just tried to muster on and ignore them. I was feeling guilty about eating poorly (but continued to eat poorly), I was spending too much time watching TV (but carried on), I was getting annoyed I was taking a year to read one book (but still I didn’t pick it up), I was frustrated that I didn’t have a morning routine (but didn’t try and make it work), I was feeling stressed with work and too much energy was put into it which left me feeling frustrated that I had no free time! It was all just mayhem! I had already begun to read into minimalism (the minimalists of course!), reading zen habits articles and generally reading at ways I could improve my life but reading wasn’t getting me anywhere. Instead it was making me think more and more ‘what do i want out of life?’. I need to change.

After finishing my second year in early September, I took a week’s break to Portugal with my parents. Nothing big, I booked to come because I knew it would be a laid-back holiday with no demands. Having no demands. It was bliss. Just having the time to think, be and re-focus on what’s important couldn’t have been better.

I’m now sat in the lounge after packing my bag to return home in the morning, a dull anxiety in my chest (that’s pretty good for me!) and a fresh look into what I want (and don’t want). I’m feeling committed to change but will it be half hearted like my eczema journey? Will I stop when I feel ‘okay’ rather than happy?

And that’s where my journey begins. A place of wanting change, knowing some ways I want to change (see next post) and having the motivation to start the journey.¬†This blog is my place of accountability. A place to reflect on happiness, changes and whether life has become a better experience. I realise that I place high expectations on myself to achieve which can cause more stress, and so for this journey I am accepting that it will take time.¬†Just like reading this post ! But good things can happen when we try.

If you read it all, well done and thank you for giving me the last 10 minutes of your life! I felt I needed to add perspective so you know where I am starting from. I wonder what brought you to my page and whether you have wanted to make changes recently? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments!