Holy cow…I’m 9 months into this blog and I haven’t quit!

I’m happy to say that I am in a much better place than I was at the six month mark.  June SUCKED – I tried to come up with a nicer adjective for it, but couldn’t.  It just sucky-suck-sucked.  But a lot has changed in three months, and I’m hoping the worst is behind me for this particular year.

One thing that has been making a impact on my lagom mission lately was reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay (which I got for free, thanks to leftover money on a gift card and the reselling of some books).  Ms. Jay is a true minimalist – to see a picture of her “office”, click here.  I feel pretty confident in saying I will never be that pared down.  But she is also very clear in her book that minimalism looks different for everyone, and she comes across very nonjudgmental about the whole thing.  I think I said early on in this blog that I felt I would never be a minimalist – that’s why I was so focused on finding my “lagom”, as opposed to my “inner minimalist”.  But the more I read up on minimalism, the more I’m learning that lagom and minimalism are much closer than I realized, since being a minimalist is about only keeping what you use and love, which essentially translates to having “just enough”.  For so long I pictured all minimalists as having nearly empty austere white rooms, but I’ve learned now that minimalism can be cozy and colorful and comfortable and have a decent amount of stuff, provided all of it is in service of your life.

Her advice on clearing out different spaces in your home is quite inspiring, and has been driving me to take on projects with new energy.  A couple weeks ago Ron and I went through our entire pantry and several of the shelves in our kitchen and cleared out any food we weren’t eating and several kitchen items we weren’t using as well.  We consolidated a bunch of like items together and reorganized our cupboards so the stuff we use the most is now easily accessible, and we even moved a few items that weren’t getting a lot of use but were things we wished we used more so they are now easier to access as well.  If time passes and those things still go unused, we probably won’t keep them.

I’m still working on getting my wardrobe under control – as fall is now definitely upon us, I took all my summer clothes out of the closet and replaced it with my warmer clothes – or, more accurately, I tried to.  I had more winter clothes packed away than I have available hangers and space in the closet, even with my summer things gone.  I also took the dry cleaning in (which had been sitting in a bag in the basement for maybe six MONTHS), and when it came back, I realized I had no room for those items either.  I am determined not to buy more hangers and cram stuff in to make it work – instead, I’m continuing to question everything I’ve kept, and if I try something on and reject it for something else, I seriously consider whether that item deserves to stay.

We are still out of debt on both our personal cards – well, kind of.   Ron is still out of debt, mine went up a little.  I had to buy new tires for my car and that was about $500 – ye-OUCH.  I knew that expense was coming, and I will be able to pay it off in a couple months, but it does reduce the amount I can contribute to our joint credit card debt for the next couple months.  The good news is I feel very in control of that amount, and I had planned for it – although the dealership did try a bit of a bait and switch on me, which resulted in me bursting into tears until a kinder, more experienced salesman interved to get the price back under control and calm me down.

It seems like at least one item leaves our space every day, and it’s not very often that new ones come in to fill the void, and if they do, it is a very carefully planned, discussed, and thought out purchase.  In fact, yesterday I stopped by the bank on my way home to deposit a check, and noticed that my debit card was missing.  I searched my purse, my car, and all over the house and couldn’t find it anywhere.  I went online to see if maybe it had been stolen and to see if there were any weird charges, and saw that the last time I had used it was on Thursday when I had lunch with my friend Julie.  I called the restaurant to see if they had it, but they didn’t, and then I remembered what I had worn that day and checked the pocket of my jacket and finally found it.  I was relieved to have my card back, but seriously impressed that from Thursday to Monday, I had not spent any money, and hadn’t even noticed or felt deprived!  This is huge growth for someone who in the past never went a day without bringing a shopping bag of some kind into the house.

There isn’t much else new to report – I have a lot of the same cravings for little luxuries, like manicure/pedicures, going out to eat whenever we feel like it, or being able to afford fancy versions of basic things, but other than that, I think we’ve finally settled in to this new way of looking at our stuff and our finances and we’re okay with it.  Ron and I do spend a lot of time fantasizing about what we’ll do when we are out of debt and have disposable income again, but other than that, my want monster is sullen and quiet and resigned to not being fed several times a week.  I do find that now when I think about buying something – especially from my typical category of clothing/shoes/jewelry, instead of just wanting it and imagining how much I’d love owning it, I am now thinking “where on earth will I PUT that?” since I know my closet is already too full.  Or if it’s expensive, I wonder how much I’d actually use it, and if I didn’t use it, I think about what a pain it will be to list that item on Ebay or take it to resale.  It’s keeping me in check.

And even I can admit that is a very good change.