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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    and they re already gone Maybe I will buy more this week We finally bought gas and I think that will be the only time this month Cooking dinner at home and washing dishes together can be pretty nice Purposeful and Deliberate I ve been receiving a few emails from people who want to try a No Spend Month but think they will miss the goal because of an unavoidable expense So let s clarify the goal isn t to avoid spending any money because that s impossible Money is a tool and its main purpose is to spend it If you didn t spend any money there would be no use for it at all And there s nothing grand about being miserly or cheap The true goal for No Spend Month is to practice making expenditures planned and purposeful rather than impulsive and temporarily satisfying Because it s not about the 250 or whatever the budget may be it s about good habits and a clear perspective As Nancy said it s a good feeling to plan for expenses and then come in under budget Here are more good ideas Denise is getting resourceful with meals and selling stuff like crazy on craigslist Tisha made a creative envelope for a cash based budget a plain white envelope would just not do Laura takes short term steps for her long term goal to pay off her mortgage and move to Portugal 13 Comments Sneak Peak at August I ve been thinking lately about the importance of preparation Not just making plans or lengthening my future project list but taking action to be organized and ready for what comes next Preparation is key for me to stay organized It s like how my morning routine is easier and my whole

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/175/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    was spending time cleaning and picking up It took time to make donations and keep records for tax purposes and sort through closets I didn t feel like there was an end to it I started having doubts about this whole process of simplifying If the idea of simplifying is to make your life simpler and free up some time then why does it take so much time And you re never done Would it be easier I wondered simpler even to just ignore my stuff Was the process of trying to break free from consumerism and all my stuff actually causing me to think about my stuff more I was spending a lot of time trying to make careful decisions about what I bought I was going through closets and photos What if I just put everything in a closet and pretended it wasn t there At first our simplifying was about clutter removal but gradually it became about clutter prevention For example I didn t want to buy more clothes after I had just cleaned out my closet and donated several I opted out of receiving catalogs phone books and junk mail so I would have fewer papers to sort and I started getting all of my bills and statements via digital download I bought fewer clothes for the kids because I noticed I was organizing so many outgrown clothes that were not worn enough I didn t see it at the time but the process of simplifying was helping me It was like an investment for the future and it let me do a lot of things last year that would have been more difficult otherwise such as putting our stuff into a storage unit and going to Europe for three months convincing my husband to take a year long work sabbatical after working for twenty five years and making it through a home search and renovation Plus day to day life with kids Also We re about to launch a business I ll have to tell you more about that later Simplifying and organizing go together When you simplify your stuff you don t need to spend so much time organizing it I skipped filing papers for a year while I worked on other things and nothing bad happened Becoming more organized is not the goal In fact simplifying is not the goal either Both are tools to help you reach better goals that involve people plans and dreams I used to have a nice coworker and we got along well because we both liked order He lined up his french fries in a row before he ate them one by one He loved his wife and even though his wife didn t place as much importance on order as he did he didn t say anything about that to her because he wanted a happy home more than he cared about having the plastic wrap and the foil nicely lined up in the kitchen drawer

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/28/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    I really like to look on Craigslist for one of a kind furniture I remember finding a cabinet and telling Doug It s VINTAGE It s made with real wood And they re practically GIVING it away It didn t matter that we had no place to put it I enjoyed finding it even if I didn t buy it Looking around my home I started thinking about the improvements I could make I should find good things for my family and make our home nice because it was my responsibility And how much better that I was finding good things for my family in a responsible budget conscious way The walls seemed a little empty and needed some sprucing up Perhaps we could replace the night table with something with storage And didn t we need to improve the kitchen I gradually noticed that I was spending more and more time thinking about things to buy I wasn t spending a lot of money but the idea of adding more started to consume my thoughts We weren t lacking anything but I could always think of one more thing that would be nice to have I was using shopping as easy entertainment Let me say that there is nothing wrong with having nice things I appreciate what my family has But sometimes we need draw the line and say enough And that s how No Spend Month began Resisting the desire to acquire requires strategy and awareness 1 Don t tempt yourself We rarely think to buy something that we haven t seen first That s the strategy of catalogs and weekly ad inserts mailed to your home I have a friend who decided to call and request that catalogs not be mailed to her because she realized the photos were making her less content It takes just a few minutes to opt out of catalogs and junk mail It doesn t hurt to watch less tv and avoid the commercials too 2 Picture something in its used form rather than the pristine store display Have you ever noticed how clothes on store mannequins are often cinched and pinned in the back to make the fit more flattering Be realistic and picture that new shirt with the tags cut off sitting in a rumpled heap at the bottom of the closet or the laundry pile Suddenly it s just another shirt and it didn t make you better smarter or more likable 3 Know your weaknesses I can rarely pass up a tote bag without feeling an impulse to buy it They re so appealing and useful I also like vintage cake stands So when I see one I like I just remind myself that even though I feel like buying it that doesn t mean I need to I can appreciate it without actually owning it 4 Find something else to do Do something fun and productive Go outside and enjoy nature Use your time to help someone

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/174/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    spent about 30 on groceries and gas yesterday so now I have 3 4 of a tank of gas in my car and I don t need to make a desperate trip to the grocery store tomorrow Doug will probably stop to get some chips and maybe he ll get a haircut too because his hair is looking tall It seems like we should have a list of things we ve been waiting to buy but we really don t I ll call this No Spend Month a success Interested in doing your own No Spend Month Start here No Spend Month What s it About What s Next I still intend to make good choices for our money but my plan for August will be to spend a few minutes each day taking simple steps to be more prepared and organized I m excited for what s coming up and also for the plans that many of you have written about Looking forward to it 30 Comments Breaking Free from Financial Fear I used to worry about not having enough money And it didn t matter how much money I had I worried that it would never be enough or I would lose it I wish this could be a post with 5 short steps to financial peace but it s not that easy I can tell you how it happened for me I grew up with a desire to save money I always had money in my savings account because to me that was better than spending it on something short lived I based a lot of security in having money in the bank I was also a bit stingy I wish I could think of a nicer word but there it is When I was in college

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/173/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    Good First Impression Organize Your Front Entry I have a lot of drop in surprise visitors at my house and I mean a lot One time last month we had people unexpectedly stop by our house four different times in one day It was like a sit com And honestly I love it when people stop by My kitchen table can look messy when people stop by We use it and it shows I always give myself a mental high five if the breakfast dishes are washed and the counters are clear I cringe a little if part of my home is really trashed but I use it as motivation to clean things up more before the next guest comes The most important rule when someone comes to your house whether the visit is a surprise or not is that you never apologize for your mess Apologizing sends the message I m embarrassed and I wish you hadn t come A little bit of a mess will help people feel more comfortable when you don t let it bother you Besides you don t know how their house looks and you wouldn t want to make them feel bad All this brings me to the point that most guests will not see your whole house If anything they will notice the front entry so it helps me to feel more confident when the front of our house looks orderly My favorite way to add order and style to a front entry is to place hooks on the wall This little detail works no matter where I live I prefer the hooks to be about 3 5 feet up from the floor about kid height You want to leave a few hooks open for guests Don t hang all of your

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/29/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    a mistake to assume you should always fill up the detergent cup Check the manual and your detergent On mine filling it to the first line about a third is enough Too much detergent can leave residue and etch your glasses 4 Check your water temperature If it takes a long time for the hot water to reach your kitchen sink that means the dishwasher isn t getting enough hot water at the beginning either and that makes it harder to wash away the food particles and grease If you need to turn on the dishwasher after you ve used hot water at the kitchen sink 5 Clean the inside of your dishwasher Grease detergent residue and calcium deposits build up inside your dishwasher You can use vinegar to wash them away On a regular basis every few months or so run a wash cycle while your dishwasher is empty Don t use detergent but turn on the dishwasher and let it run for a few minutes until water starts to fill up the bottom Then add one or two cups of white vinegar to the water and let it finish the cycle Sometimes using a dishwasher is an experiment in finding the right combination for hard or soft water the detergent and a rinse aid How is your dishwasher working Assuming you have one I ve lived in several apartments that didn t 96 Comments Ditch the Negative Self Talk For a long time I ve listened to a refrain in my head that goes I m failing Failing Why can t I do better Those words persist but I would never say those words to someone else That s what I m unloading this week and I m willing to share about it so that someone else won t feel so alone 52 Comments Clear Your Kitchen Counter It s a Work Space Not a Storage Space My kitchen is in progress right now but a few months ago when we bought our house it looked like this Untouched from 1970 Very dark with lots of harvest gold During our first week of home ownership we pulled down the upper cabinets that divided the food prep area from the eat in area My heart raced as I anxiously watched those heavy oak cabinets be pried off the ceiling and come crashing down It was for the best as it opened up the space We considered removing the lower cabinets and counter that divide the room as well but I m glad we didn t We noticed during that first week how often we piled our tools on the counter and it was so useful It is the main landing spot in the house The kitchen counter is our dumping ground for everything that we bring into the house groceries bags and school papers It s the place where we temporarily set glasses tools and toys as we come in from other rooms It s where I wrap gifts

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/30/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    Then I realized that even though I was nodding my head in agreement I had not done those things to prepare It s time to do it We take water for granted because it s easy to turn on the tap I expect the water to flow out without even thinking about it It s incredible that we don t have to think more about something we can t live without Since it s essential to survival we need to store bottled water in our homes How much water should you store At least 1 gallon per person per day This covers essential drinking water but you need more for preparing food and cleaning It s recommended to have 3 gallons per person per day for 3 7 days It s easy and cheap to buy bottled water at the store or you can fill your own containers If you use plastic soda bottles or glass jugs make sure they have a very tight seal Plastic milk jugs are not recommended for reuse Soda bottles can be stored in the freezer if you have room and that helps keep food frozen if the power goes out You can even buy large barrels for storing water My store bought bottled water has an expiration date of 2 years but if you fill up water yourself you need to change it more often Water around the house If you have a few minutes advance notice before an emergency fill up your bathtub with water Look around your house and see what else could be used to hold water buckets jars trash cans even heavy duty plastic bags I m pretty sure Doug will be running with a big bucket out to the apartment swimming pool if we are suddenly without water In an emergency you need to turn off the main water supply to your house to protect the water already in your pipes You can use water stored in your water heater tank which could be 40 to 50 gallons Purify water to make it safe photo by strelitzia Carbon filters like a Brita pitcher are good for removing chlorine from municipal water but they aren t effective if you need to kill bacteria Boiling water is one of the best ways to purify water if you have access to a heat source You can aerate boiled water by pouring it from one container to another for taste Special filters and equipment can be found at sporting goods stores Water purification tablets might be a good thing to have Household chlorine bleach 5 25 can chemically disinfect water from some but not all microorganisms Add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water stir and let stand for at least 30 minutes Iodine tincture from the first aid kit can also be used Chlorine and iodine are harmful in higher doses the toxicity is what kills the bacteria in the water I don t relish the thought of drinking chlorine or

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/172/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    gives you the momentum to do more 6 Be willing to not do everything the right way You know how when you move the first boxes you pack are always carefully and properly done but by the end you just start throwing things on the truck That s ok Sometimes the end result is more important than how you got there 7 Set mini goals If you have 4 weeks to prepare what do you want to accomplish each week 8 Define priorities Do you need to spend more money to save time Or is it more important to keep the budget low Decide how best to use your resources so you can make the right decisions 9 Ask for help Most people are willing to help but they might not know how Think of ways for other people to help you and don t be afraid to ask 10 Take a moment Most big changes no matter how hoped for are still bittersweet Memorize a moment or take a photo to commemorate what you re leaving behind I know many of you are preparing for a big life change right now How is it going 17 Comments Batch Cooking A Collection of Tips photo by jacki dee I love batch cooking because it lets me reach into the freezer on busy nights and have a home cooked dinner ready in minutes Batch cooking is preparing several meals at once You might spend one Saturday a month making several meals to freeze or perhaps you cook a double batch each night to build up a freezer full of meals gradually Maybe you cook dinner one night and plan to use the leftovers in a different recipe the next night Whichever style works for you batch cooking saves time effort and money Food you make yourself is healthier too By preparing several meals at once you can Take advantage of featured sales at the grocery store Make double or triple batches without spending extra time shopping or cooking Clean up once Prepare for busy nights when you don t have time to cook or life changes such as a new baby or a new job Avoid eating fast food or frozen dinners with preservatives and crazy ingredients How to freeze food When you make several meals at once give careful thought to how you will freeze them Use good quality containers or bags and be sure to label your food including the date Try to minimize the amount of air in the container to prevent freezer burn Some foods such as berries or muffins should be frozen on baking sheets before they are sealed together in bags so they won t stick together Frozen soups and casseroles generally keep for 2 3 months A good technique for freezing soup or chili is to ladle it into ziploc style freezer bags One quart size bag will hold two generous adult servings Write the name and date on them with a permanent marker

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/171/ (2016-02-10)
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