a four-letter word starting with D

scales

My husband doesn’t know how much I weigh.

At least, he lets me think he doesn’t know how much I weigh. I’m pretty sure he knows that at 6 feet tall and a size 12/14 I don’t weigh a buck twenty. I’m shy about the number. I’ve always been a large person and it’s not something I like to discuss.

While I’ve got a problem with weight numbers, as you can see from the ticker on the right and all of these posts (not to mention this article in the Globe and Mail and our interview on Pinched), I don’t have a problem discussing our debt number. It wasn’t always like this.

The more I discuss my debt the more I notice how others navigate around theirs. One moment a friend is lamenting about a line of credit or student loans and the next they are boasting about the magnitude of their family’s household income. From casual conversations it’s difficult to tell if people are barely making rent or have a cool million socked away for retirement. I’d say this was my MO about financial discussions until we decided to get real with our debt and commit to paying it off. I didn’t want people to think we were having trouble paying our bills, because we weren’t, but my student loans looked like they would never be paid off and every time we paid off a credit card we seemed to run it back up within the year. *It felt so good to have my student loan statements arrive for tax season and have all of them listed as paid off. I almost posted them on the fridge so I could enjoy them for a bit.

A few of my friends have always been fairly transparent about their finances. Even if they had trust funds or were at some point in debt, while they didn’t wear t-shirts with their net worth on them, they’ve always been honest about how their finances were going. When I think about what these friends have in common it’s that they grew up with parents that were financially savvy and money was discussed openly.

Finances, and especially debt, are taboo subjects for most people. We attach a lot of self-worth to the dollar signs. Having a lot of money means we’re in control and “good” people. Being in debt or struggling with income means we’re “bad” or underachieving.

Why is it easier for me to discuss our debt now? I incorporated. Now that I’ve opened up on this blog about our finances, and subsequently to friends and family, I no longer feel like the number owns me. I don’t attach my self-worth to my debt, my investment account or the value of my home. It’s just a number. I’m not a number, I’m a person.

Obviously I need to take this personal growth in the area of finance and apply it to my weight. Baby steps.

Do you discuss your finances openly or shy away from the topic?

Photo Credit

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do books make the reader?

the six titles in my collection

The best summers of my youth, the ones before I started working full-time at the beach concession stand, were spent reading. I’d ride my bike or walk to our local library and fill my back-pack. With no school I was free to stay up as late as I liked to finish a book the same day. My favourite addition to lazing about reading all day was candy. Book + candy = nirvana for ten year-old me. It’s really quite baffling that I went on to become an internationally decorated athlete.

In the fall I pared down our book collection. Chris still has a few titles but my collection is limited to what you see above (plus two to be returned to my brother). When I really considered what had sentimental value to me, and what I would read again, these were the ones I wanted to keep.

  • One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant – gift from one of my best friends and a beautiful book to read, work through, and read again. Gotta get your thinking cap on and open your brain and soul for it.
  • Two copies of 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Chris gave me the first copy on our second date and he proposed with the second copy
  • No Cry Sleep Solution – great book but don’t ask me how my kid sleeps =)
  • The Rattlebag – anthology of poetry from my university days
  • Brewster’s Phase and Fable – family copy I got when my mom was cleaning house
  • *Not shown: The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield – just received this as a gift and will be keeping it for a while before passing on.
Henry's book collection

A piece I wrote for Babble on 20 things you can live without to reduce clutter was recently published (yeah paid writing!). I was disheartened to read some of the comments on getting rid of books. At first I felt attacked and insulted. The insinuation was that only an illiterate fool would get rid of most of their books.

If you keep a small library does that mean you don’t read? If you don’t hold onto every title you’ve ever read and display them prominently in your home, does that mean you don’t respect literature?

I’m well aware that I am immersed in the simple living culture. That my view point has changed and could be considered radical. That I have, and will continue to have, a different idea of what I really need, and what my home and children really need, than others.

But as I reread the negative comments and looked beyond the hostile tone I unearthed what was really being said. I am a reader. I love books. I value books. That was the point that was being made.

Here’s my question: do you really need all the books to tell us you are an avid reader and a lover of words?

  • Maybe if you borrowed instead of buying books, you’d have more time to read.
  • Maybe if you let the library dust the books, instead of keeping your overstuffed shelves, you’d have more time to read.

Courtney from NomadBaby, a teacher now taking time away from career to travel in an RV for a year with her husband and young daughter, weighed in in the comments section. I was delighted to read her balanced and knowledgeable take on books and children: A home library is nothing if you don’t engage the reader.

Owning things does not equate to doing things.

Does owning a treadmill make you a runner?

I want to raise a reader. It doesn’t matter how many books I have on my book shelf, Henry won’t develop into an avid reader unless I read to him. If we read to him, and if he sees us reading books for entertainment, knowledge and pleasure, we increase the odds that he will read for entertainment, knowledge and pleasure.

Last week, while Katy was watching Henry, he was flinging books off the shelf and then paused on one book. Katy said he looked the book over for a moment, walked over to her (she was sitting in the rocking chair – where we read most of our books), handed Katy the book and then put his arms up to be picked up.

He gets it.

It’s not the books on the shelf that make a reader, it’s the act of reading.

our library

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screen time, debt & diets and more minimalist moms

Your time is up

My weekend plans involve crossing the border and while I’m excited to catch up with friends, I’m also excited to get some time away from my laptop and iPhone. Sure, I’ll have the phone with me but for something urgent. I’ll be too busy catching up with people to get online and, important for my budgeting, the roaming charges in the states are insane.

Being “connected” sometimes feels like the golden handcuffs of modern times. I like what technology does for me, that my budget app is keeping me motivated and on track, that the GPS + map application on my iPhone give great directions (I am terrible with reading maps or remembering directions) and that while Chris was overseas this week we could see and talk to each other via Skype. Like most things in life, being “connected” is best in moderation.

Leaving Facebook has helped, but I’m still struggling with limiting my screen time and trying to check email less frequently. Gotta soldier on with it and keep myself accountable.

*******************************************************************************************************

Faith from Minimalist at Home has turned Minimalist Moms into an auto-update of minimalist mom blogs – sweet! Go have a browse if you are looking for more life simplifying ideas from the with kids perspective.

Adam from ManvsDebt put me onto this post about Losing Weight and Losing Debt. Couldn’t agree more. I have successfully lost weight by tracking what I eat and now I’m paying off debt by tracking what I spend.

Courtney had a lovely post about 5 ways to bust a funk that I needed to read. Too much chocolate and not enough fun this week. I tried her “push your problems out of your toes” technique on my run – I love the idea but need to work on my skills.

Have a great weekend!

Photo Credit: Ben Frederickson *Really interesting photos – check him out!

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook(I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.

Debt Busting: Week Three

debtbustwk3

We’re getting serious about casual spending this month. For more details about our debt busting plan check here.

Week 3 by the Numbers

Groceries:

  • Week 3: $ 80.60
  • Total for March: $312.97

The goal for the week was $80. Seemed very attainable. Chris would be gone and we had a few things already on hand. I did a $75 shop early last week and had all my meals planned out. I thought I would make it but ran out of Henry’s milk and while picking that up I had a serious craving for chocolate. Lindt Mint bar it was.

The original budget for the month was $500. It might look like I will coast through the end of the month but we’re going away this weekend and will be using grocery budget for eating out.

Casual Spending:

  • Rachel – Week 3: $20.31
  • Rachel – Total for March: $44.84

BOOM.

I knew I spent more when Chris was out of town but I didn’t know just how bad it was until this week. I literally itched to go out and have a meal at a cafe. For all my indiscretions this week there were at least a handful of times that I wanted to eat out amd didn’t. And I didn’t because I looked at my spending app and saw my dollars for the rest of the month dwindling at an alarming pace. Thank you spending app for keeping me honest.

Silver lining: I now recognize that I need to a) keep myself quite busy and b) have more interesting food at home. I ate two meals in a row to use up items and I was not happy with my lame salad topped with pulled pork from the freezer and a bit of cheese. The lame meals were a result of my “still working on it” grocery measurement skills. While I am getting much better at the meal planning, I am still buying too much or too little of some items. Resulting in some odds and ends that I have to create something from. I did well making a slaw of grated carrots and finely diced celery, with an avocado mixed with spices dressing, one day. But my sad salad for lunch and dinner the other day made me crave eating out.

Shout out to my younger sister for treating me to a beer while we were out on a long walk.

And eek, $5.16 left for the month.

Transportation:

  • Week 3: $0
  • Total for March: $55

Car for this weekend is already booked and I will be ZipCar-ing a bit this week. Expecting the number to end up in the $120+ range for the month. Which is still great considering our insurance alone used to be $145.

Miscellaneous:

  • Week 3: $5.99
  • Total for March: $72.28

Watched The Social Network on iTunes ($5.99). I really enjoyed this movie in the theatre when it first came out and was excited to watch it again. Second time around it wasn’t nearly as gripping. My date for the evening (sister Margo) was watching it for the first time and she couldn’t get into it. Anyone else seen it? What did you think?

Income:

  • Week 3: $0
  • Total for March: $349.88

Nothing sold this week but after my swap meet success last week, I am looking at getting a swap meet table in April.

Goals for Week 4: Stay focused this weekend when we go away. I’m sticking to the original plan of using grocery budget to dine out while out of town. As soon as we cross the border I plan to hit the grocery store for fruit and snacks.

Anyone have travel or dine out tips for me for this weekend?

2011 Challenges: great hair and fast eating

Back in January I wrote about wanting to change a few things in my life. Writing, friendships, slowing down and better hair were on the list. I know it’s March and most of us have either given up or forgotten about our hoped and planned for new habits. But I’m not going to let myself off that easy. I set a reminder to revisit these challenges in March so here is the good and bad of how I’m doing.

Personal Grooming Challenge: A

as I type this...

Strategically starting my review with my best performing area. With the exception of one week, I’ve had pretty good (for me) hair in 2011. Sure, some days it’s been a bit fuzzy or wavy from a run or Crossfit class. And I make liberal use of a hair clip to keep it tucked away. But I’ve been good about carving out the time to blow dry and straighten my hair twice a week. Occasionally the blow dry and the straighten have been a day apart.

Make-up and clothing have been weaker areas. Something to work on.

Friendships: B

Essentially I wanted to cut some friends loose and stop feeling guilty that we never got together. Leaving Facebook made that a done deal. I’ve also been pretty good about keeping up email correspondence with friends and getting on Skype more. The circles of friends that are on Facebook have kept me in the loop for events and such. I could be making more effort Monday-Wednesday on meeting up with people outside of the activities I go to with Henry.

A lesson from this: good friendships don’t feel that hard to maintain.

Slowing Down: C+

Can I give myself points for awareness? Chris and I eat breakfast togther most mornings. The other day I ate my eggs before he had one bite. I’m noticing when I eat fast but I’m struggling with doing something about it. More conversation? A timer? The thing that slows me down the most is helping Henry eat. But I think I need a better slowing down tool than a food throwing, mess making toddler.

Writing: C

Fail. I had great momentum with pitching articles in January and then it fizzled out in February. March has been particularly unproductive (pretty big reason why that I will disclose in a few weeks).

Need a fresh start. I’m going to revisit my list of articles that I have pitched, polish them and start pitching again.

Anyone else make some goals or resolutions for 2011? Wins and losses? Have you revamped your goals or met them already?

***Family-Sized Minimalism + Red Cross Donation***

Many thanks to those of you that purchased Family-Sized Minimalism last week. Hope you are enjoying the book and all the extras that Faith put into it (worksheets and videos). Five books were purchased and I just donated $25 to the Red Cross from sale proceeds – thanks again! *Sorry for the fuzzy screen shot. Still working on my technical skills!

 

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook(I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.

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