Save Your Energy

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It’s a snowy Saturday here in Boston! Although it’s been bitter cold for a couple of weeks, yesterday was the first real “snow day,” and I had the unreliable MBTA system to prove it.

After waiting for the 77 Harvard bus for 45 minutes yesterday morning, my toes felt like they were going to fall off and my nose was frozen. Shivering on Massachusetts Avenue, I empathetically looked around at all of the other commuters. “This sucks terribly, but we’re all in the same boat,” I thought.

In the past I may have wasted my energy on getting upset, anxious or even snapping at the bus driver when they finally arrived- but I didn’t. I was bundled, had my music, and emailed my boss to let him know I was running behind.

Yes, it was that easy.

It’s natural to default to that irritated, selfish state when things aren’t going your way- we all do it. Over the past few months I’ve been conscious of honing my energy on what matters; my work, being mindful of my current activity, listening more when having a conversation, and taking in each moment to pay attention to what is happening around me.

I started to do everything one step at a time. One minute, one hour, one day.

Even if you’re terribly late, standing in the freezing cold or your path seems to have gone off course, just remember to take in the moment and enjoy it- for you won’t get that moment back.

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Making the most of this New England winter, one bundled day at a time.

Home, again

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Last weekend I moved into my third apartment since flying into Boston on December 1st- yes, I am finally settling!

I honestly couldn’t have gotten any luckier with how seamlessly this move has been- from logistics right down to finding a job. When I decided to come to Boston I opted to rent Airbnbs instead of committing to a neighborhood or lease before really knowing the area. After all, I had only been to Boston once and it primarily consisted of sitting at the top of the Prudential Tower and hanging out in Cambridge. For whatever reason though (I thank the Universe), signs continually pointed me to the Northeast- so here I am.

Now I’m settling in a beautiful, cozy home, lovingly referred to as “The Nest.” On top of the overall positive, homey vibe, we have two four legged roommates, Simon the turtle and Clarissa the cat.

Although my first month in Boston could be viewed as a little hectic, my minimal move made it so much less stressful. Packing light made all the difference in the world- with three pieces of luggage and a few odds and ends, packing and unpacking took very little time, was manageable and made me feel in control of my life. I knew exactly what I owned, where to find everything and didn’t have any clutter. Everything I brought with me was quality, had purpose, and didn’t take up unneccessary space.

I can’t even tell you how amazing it feels to be free of “things.” Every now and then I think about everything I have in storage back in Michigan, but I let those thoughts go; I’ll take care of it when it is time. When I am ready to find my own (and even more permanent!) home I will figure out how to get everything to Boston- just not today.

Right now I have a pretty bare room with touches of my jewelry, clothes and candles. To be honest though, the less I own, the less stress I have.

Amazing, isn’t it?

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Living on a Minimalist’s Budget

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Every January I tell myself, “this is the year I will stick to a budget.” While my intentions are good, my track record has been less than superb.

To illustrate, I looked at my calendar and realized that 2017 marks ten years since I graduated college. Ten years. Boy, do I wish someone would have taught me then what I know now.

In an effort to live as minimally and stress free as possible, I have begun focusing on quality over quantity, purging what I don’t need and only buying things when I need them, yet I still have failed sticking to a budget.

My Expenses

Since I have minimal bills, there is little to no reason I should go over my budget every month. First, I listed all of the expenses I know I will have and came up with a rough estimate.

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Cell phone
  • CharlieCard (train / bus)
  • Student loan

That’s right- no car payment, no credit cards, no mortgage or gas costs. Yes, this is called city life for a single woman who has little to no attachment to things. Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like today had I settled in one place, lived minimally and invested in things like a home, but the good news is that I still have time. Although I may have spent my money a bit carelessly, I’m beginning to make an effort to spend less, save more and avoid excess clutter in my life.

Need vs. Want

I could definitely use a new Henri Bendel bag for my laptop. However, this purchase can wait considering I don’t even carry my laptop to work. In fact, it barely leaves the house these days. My point is, there are many things I can trick myself into “needing,” but then I ask myself:

1) Could I get this for less?

2) Do I need this immediately?

3) Do I need this at all?

Usually my purchase can wait (also giving me time to think it over), or I can find an alternative if there’s something I can’t wait to buy- for example, buying a drugstore brand instead of splurging at Sephora. I also trick myself into thinking I have more money than I do, so a $20 lipstick doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time- but it adds up quick.

Trading Things for Freedom

I like to think of my purchases this way: “would I rather have this item or the freedom to do what I want?” Time is money, and it takes time to work for a paycheck, so I’ve been much more conscious of each dollar I spend. Sure, marketers do an amazing job fooling me into thinking my life will ultimately be better with their products, but on those days I’m waiting for my paycheck I think, “I wish I wouldn’t have gotten takeout so many times last week.” Living paycheck to paycheck is never fun, so it’s rewarding to finally have the freedom to be able to do what you want when you’re more mindful of your budget.

More Experiences

Instead of relying on money to have fun, I’ve gotten creative. One of my favorite things to do is explore the city… I love to look at architecture, go out in nature, find free days at museums, take photos and window shop. Practicing mindfulness, enjoying each moment and taking in your surroundings is far more gratifying than having a bunch of “stuff” to sort through.

I’m a firm believer that everyone needs to live in moderation; it’s important to keep a balance and not to go too extreme with your saving or spending- after all, no matter how tight the budget, I’ll never give up my coffee.

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