Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone.
I decided to take a look back to see what all we have been up to here on the homestead.

At the end of 2012, Todd and I decided to attempt to pay off half of our mortgage balance in 2013.  As of October, we succeeded!  After reading through this post of what our game plan was for the year, I am happy to report that we were able to live on half of our income without really cutting back our lifestyle.  We still completed a home-improvement project (updating the kitchen counters for $125) and we have another one in process as I type (new floor in the living room).

In February, I made my own laundry detergent and to this day, we are still using the product!  We have another 2 1/2 gallons to go until it will be time to make another 5 gallon batch of concentrated detergent.  This recipe is a keeper, and we have all of the supplies needed to whip up another batch in the next few months.

In March, I started to feel like we have way too much "stuff" and that our house is much more than what we need/want.  

The first week of April, we had a family trip to Aruba with my mom and her husband to celebrate their 10 year wedding anniversary.  I could use a trip like this every year.

May is always a special month for us because it is the month we married.  This year, for our 6th year of marriage, we took a short 3-day trip to Columbus, OH and had a blast.

Every year around June, I wonder if I want to keep the blog going or to just let it sit.  This month, there was only one post about my internal battle to decide whether we should hire a housekeeper or if I should just do the housekeeping myself!

July of this year was a busy one!  A yellow lab adopted us, my car turned 7 years old, and we started talking about downsizing our home.

I gave up on gardening in August.  I realized that as much as I love to plan the garden every year and plant the seeds, my priority is not to see the garden through and make it all it could be.

I documented some of the fun things Todd and I did over the summer for very little (or no) money at all.

A new member of the family came to join us in October and I started a new cleaning routine that has been easy for me to keep up with!

The only post in November included pictures of a covered bridge tour we did throughout October.

In December, I now notice that we have come full circle realizing that we are not happy with the big house, all the possessions and all of the consumerism that takes place around us.  In December, we let out a big secret that Todd and I want to purchase an RV and travel the US.  Since deciding to do this back in early October, our plans have been evolving.  It went from selling it all and living on the road full-time to downsizing our home and possibly making it a duplex so that we can be with our families and have a home-base for a few months a year.  I am sure there will be a few posts on this in 2014.

So, there you have the entire year on Sparing-Change.  It has been a fun yet challenging year this year, as every year seems to be.  This year, we are learning that it doesn't take a lot of money (or any at all!) to have fun.  We have enjoyed going on many hikes with the puppies, and we really enjoy being out in nature.

We look forward to taking on whatever 2014 has to offer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Only Constant Thing in Life is Change

My aunt once told me that the only constant thing in life is change.  How true that statement is!  Though I try to avoid change as much as possible, Todd and I have been talking a lot lately about what is important to us.  We feel weighed down by our home and possessions and we have come to realize that home ownership is not that important to us. 

While we were traveling one weekend talking about our dreams and what we enjoy doing together, I thought that everything I need in life is in the vehicle with me: my husband and our two dogs.  We were traveling all over northeast Ohio to view the 18 covered bridges that are scattered throughout Ashtabula County.  We were doing what we loved: traveling and exploring with our fur-babies.  I mentioned to Todd how great it would be to do this more often: enjoying great views of landscapes around us as well as great conversation with one another.  It dawned on me: we could do this all the time if we weren’t tied to our home and jobs! 

I told Todd that we should purchase an RV and travel the United States.  Go to one location and see all there is to see in that location for several months until we get sick of it and decide to move on, boondock, use solar panels for electricity, and camp out wherever we choose.  Mind you, I have crazy ideas all the time, and Todd thought this was just another passing crazy idea.  As the day went on and we kept discussing it (Todd was discussing it just to pacify me) he said, “You now have me wanting to do this!”  As soon as we got home, we started looking at our options for RV’s

This may all seem far-fetched, and I will admit, it is!  We decided a few years back that we want to live life now instead of wait until the typical retirement age to explore our surroundings.  These plans to travel will not happen overnight.  It may actually take 12-18 months to accomplish, but this is what we are working toward right now.  

The Game-Plan:
  • Pay off the mortgage by October 2014
    • Fix up the house to prepare to sell spring 2015
  • Save up money to purchase a used Class A (a motor home that looks like a big bus)
  • Sell all of our belongings
  • Start our journey

If all else fails, we will have a paid off house that we can live in and continue to do what we have been doing for the past 7 years (working and trying to keep up). 

What is a far-fetched “dream” you would like to make reality?
Are you taking any steps to make your dream a reality?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thrift Store Finds

We purchase the majority of our clothing from a thrift store in Akron, OH.  This place is enormous and it’s {nearly} impossible to walk out empty-handed.  We like the quality, assortment and prices offered on their clothing.  They also have shoes, household items, seasonal items and even some new clothing available; however, we focus on the gently used clothing.  I try to make the trek twice a year to update my wardrobe (or to replace the items that are worn out or have stains on them because I cant seem to eat without getting food on me!) and it just so happens that we were able to get there this past Sunday before our 3rd (and final) Thanksgiving celebration with family.

What we walked out with:  6 shirts for me, 2 light jackets (one is a London Fog that looks brand new) and a camo shirt for Todd.  The total cost: $17.88.  Less than $20 and I have new shirts for work and play!

In years past, I had to try on clothing in the corner of the store to ensure they fit.  It is hard to tell how a piece of clothing will fit when having to try it on over another piece of clothing which led to purchasing a couple of items on each trip that really did not fit well and therefore went straight into the donate pile of clothing.  Now, the thrift store has dressing rooms!  Out of the 14 items I tried on, only 6 pieces fit properly. 

This is what I got:



Before washing and putting away my new clothing, I decided to go through my closet and purge the items that I don’t like, don’t fit and I don’t wear. 

I decided to get rid of all of my t-shirts except for 3 of them which I will use as pajamas, to work around the house and to exercise in.  It really kills me to get rid of clothing that I’ve never worn: I’m not sure why I decided to purchase the shirts as souvenirs in the first place because I have always looked horrible in them.  Now, someone else can enjoy them.  I was able to purge 15 items before adding my new thrift store finds to the rotation.  The clothing I purchased is {mainly} short sleeved.  I have a grey sweater, two black sweaters and a tan sweater I can wear over them to stay warm through the winter months.  I would like to invest in a couple of halftees (beige and black) so that I can wear my clothing spring, winter and fall.  

I wear the same clothing week in and week out.  It has been a constant struggle  process to try to downsize my wardrobe.  Even though I still have more than I need this is something I am consciously working on.

Do you shop at the thrift store?

What has been your experience?
Are you able use the one-in, one-out rule?