A Loan on Life: Helping someone out

How helping someone can go completely against good financial advice. And how it can change lives.

I had messed up. I hadn’t done my best. I hadn’t tried my hardest. Maybe I hadn’t taken it seriously from the get go. But there I was needing to take more classes and having just lost a big financial aid scholarship. $12,600 if I remember correctly. The scholarship was only good for the standard time to complete the degree. Me, I had just failed to do that.

Why did I even go to college?

You see my parents didn’t go to college right after high school in fact my dad never even graduated. My mom finish high school and was shipped off to American from her central American home. My dad dropped out of a high school in California.

But even with that, college always felt like something that I was supposed to do.

While we grew up my mom started taking classes for architecture and even as I got older my father too signed up for classes at the local community college.

We grew up attending community college classes sitting at the back of the room being quite. Or running around the hallways trying to entertain ourselves while my mom took her classes.

After we got a bit older we even wandered into empty rooms all 3 of us and played school. Taking turns teaching something. But usually my older sister teaching us something she was learning. ( It’s how I picked up a bit of french)

College was part of our lives and it was fun. Why wouldn’t we go?

So as I got into high school I new I was going. My first college search freshman year yielded interest in an art school in the Boston. But through out the rest of  high school I discovered engineering a happy marriage of my 2 strongest subject matters. Math and science.

Earlier I said maybe I just didn’t take it seriously from the get go. And looking back that definitely seems like the case. You see after the discovery I had the subject matter I wanted to study: Engineering. I also knew there was no way I was going to the local community college. Even near by universities were ruled out because of the simple fact that I didn’t want living at home to be an option. Far in another state would be ideal. To that effect I received lots of pamphlet and application information in the mail from all across the US for different universities I could attend.

And even though I read through most of them( and had never heard of most of them before). Even though I kept narrowing them down. You know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. I missed the application deadline. I mean how in the hell do you miss the application deadline if you’re serious about going to college.

Thinking back that shows that I wasn’t taking it seriously to begin with.

But you know what? I decided to not give up I rifled through some papers and found universities with rolling admissions or later deadlines.

I found some and applied.

Honestly even though university was expected, if I think back,  my real motivations weren’t the desire to get an amazing degree to secure an amazing job. It wasn’t to be better off then my parents. It wasn’t to be the trailblazer. The first of the family to receive a prestigious degree. (Well maybe it was a little bit of that! It comes with bragging rights!) It was because I wanted to get out of my house. The only way someone of my age and my economical disposition gets to leave home and be on their own is by going away to college. The farther the better. And that desire to flee was strongly coupled by a desire to travel. The only way someone like me could travel was by going off to college and then participating in the study abroad program. That is why I wanted to go to college. ( you know what? in the end I didn’t even get to study abroad, oh the irony)

Those don’t seem to be good enough reasons to attend university and it showed up in my work.

University for me was about the experience, and it showed up in my work.

I got A’s ,I got B’s, I got C’s ,Ds and went through class withdrawals.

I started needing to retake classes. Eventually resulting in pushing out my graduation date.

Then something happened. That could have derailed my graduation indefinitely.

I got pregnant.

You know, I always though of myself as the black sheep of the family. But really? This? How could I let this happen to me? At 20 I was only halfway through the degree program. And I wasn’t keeping up.

It was a wake up call.

I didn’t  want to become another statistic. I’m latina. And even though I was past being a teen mom. I didn’t want to be a drop out.

Ugh… how disgusting and shameful. How culturally common.  A drop out with a kid.

The thought of having debt I wouldn’t be able to pay off didn’t even cross my mind.

It was all about not becoming a drop out. Taking time off even just one semester for me would mean setting myself up for never returning.

As I thought of it more I realized that the only way I would survive this was to keep going to school. You see. I attended a school that required working a co-op. A paid working experience. Where I earned real money. $15/hr.

Nowhere could I make that kind of money with no degree. And now it wasn’t just about me.

So I didn’t take a break I went back to school and took back to back school terms while pregnant.

A funny thing happened. Those were my best semester through my college career. Somehow managing a full school load, I was able to balance everything with a work study , increasing doctors visits and the ever ever present need to frequently excuse myself from class to go pee. My time management skills flourished due to necessity.

It was good but not good enough.  I couldn’t pull in my graduation date.

Though I survived the rest of the time and classes after the birth. The day came when it was clear I would need to take more time to finish.

But how would I do that having lost my biggest scholarship.

I talk to people and knew of so many people having dropped out because of lack of funding. With 1 year left. They were so close. I was so close.

But I didn’t have the money. The money I made during my 6 month co-op was all going to living expenses for the whole year. I was already stretching.

So I did the only thing I could. I maxed all my loans out. But it still wasn’t enough.

I tried taking out a loan in my name, it was denied.

I tried having family cosign. No dice. My family couldn’t provide any financial support.

I had gotten far since the news of my pregnancy. But the thought of not dropping out jumped into my mind like I had made the resolution yesterday.

It was so close but farther then ever.

Then I decided I just needed to throw a wider net.

But I could only think of one person, a fellow student, who I felt comfortable asking for help.

I was asking him to help me. To give me a chance at finishing my degree. I was asking him to cosign a $10,000 loan at an absurdly horrible rate 10.75%. To go against all financial advise that says you should never, Never do that.

For some reason. He agreed. He agreed to expose himself financially and give me an amazing gift.

This friend I can only assume believed in me.

But we never really talked about it again. So I never knew why?

All I knew was that he didn’t want me talking about it. He was naturally concerned about how others might interpret the situation. He didn’t want other people expecting the same thing.

After graduation it was the 1st loan I focused on and the first loan I killed.

But I still wonder Why? Why Did he do such a thing? And I’ve wondered it on many occasions.

I want to understand because I want to give someone that gift too. A life changing gift. I want to know how he knew he wasn’t going to get  burned. Or why if he did it was worth the risk.

His help changed my life. It gave me the chance to finish.

I don’t know if it was Mr.1500’s post of pivotal life events. But this one post  just flowed out of me.

Jr Roamer current day. Likes to climb stuff. Life changing.
Jr Roamer current day.
Likes to climb stuff. Life changing.

Getting pregnant with Jr Roamer was one of those moments. And a few years later, so was this amazing friends life changing financial gift.

People say you can get where ever you want if you just work hard. But some of it does seem to be just good fortune. I was fortunate to have meet this person.  With out the luck of meeting him I wouldn’t have been able to ask for his help in the first place.

So the things I want you to think about is. Sometimes breaking sound financial advice can really help someone.*

I want you to think about moments in your life that helped you get where you are today.

But mostly I want you to realize that even though I made so many “mistakes”. I am in an amazing place right now. So you can overcome too.

And if you feel inclined share with me how this post made you feel? And whether there is some financial advice worth breaking.

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* That is not to say to start loaning and cosigning left and right. Like I said I still don’t understand his thought process.

Weekly Pain & Gain: Family and a Finger

Another weeks come and gone. Let’s see what happened over at the Roamer household.

Pain

This pain is brought to you by none other then my life oppressing job. I was suffering from pangs of anxiety for sure.

You see I had a meeting with a client towards the end of the week, and to say that I wasn’t fully prepared would be an understatement. Usually the team puts everything together by Monday but this was my 1st time and I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Not only that other departments hadn’t prepared early either but  I got focused and found the people to tap to get my answers . Could I have prepared sooner and avoided all the stress? Maybe. But that’s not the point!….

I just kept thinking can I quit now… This sucks… Pretty much complaining. But I survived. Phew.

This past week was actually rife with pains. Why? Well I also had headaches on Friday and Saturday. Which is not a common occurrence. The worst part was they were so bad I had to take ibuprofen. Which for me is a Big deal! Normally I am of the mindset mind over matter. I always try to manage pain by natural means like drinking more water but also a good dose of mind power (will power + breathing). But I guess mind power doesn’t work so great when its your head that is hurting.

In the end I had to use medicine. :(

IMG_20150727_154535

Finally last week at the beach Mr. Roamer hurt his finger but wasn’t too worried about it. Okay fine. Well its still swollen and I’m getting worried which in turn shook Mr Roamers resolve so he will be attending an urgent care today.

Gain

Even with all those pains this past week wasn’t all bad. We had lots of great gains to celebrate.

This past week we had the pleasure of having Mr. Roamers family visit us from Michigan. They helped watch the kids which gave me some time to work on some writing. But it also gave us a chance to go on a date. Mr. Roamer cooked dinner at home several nights but the in laws also treated us to some food. :) Suffice to say we missed a whole week of food shopping and decided to see if we could make it to the weekend using what we still had in the freezer and cupboard. And we did, though we felt strained for ingredients. This Sat we did go on our regular shopping trip. But I am being continually surprise by our grocery bill it seems to keep dropping. I’ll have to write up a post on that analysis.

Also remember last weeks Craigslist catastrophe?( catastrophe might be a slight exaggeration. :)  ) Did I sell my origami paper cranes?

Yes even though we had yet another round of miscommunication we finally met up. I sold 3 paper crane curtains and 243 loose cranes, that I had used to decorate for my wedding. Does that mean I should go back and reduce the cost for my wedding even further? Nah.

Weekend wanderings Traveling Wallet

I know I gave them for a great deal since I see some much more simple items retailing for so much more on etsy. But those are new and made to order. Mines where used and what was lying around. So I made $35. The funny thing is that I have had 2 people make order requests… I’m not sure what to do with that… Should I pursue it. It’s side hustle but I need to make sure the numbers make sense. Not to mention time commitment.

Capsule update

When I started this capsule challenge I also brainstormed some thoughts on capsule dressing. One of them was that successful capsules require the user to learn to mix and match.

So something I realized when you capsule is that you need to break out of any set mentality. As in sometimes when I wore a specific skirt I always wore the same shirt with it. It became a set. And I use to get stuck in this cycle. Sometimes ,this caused me to ignore certain articles of clothing because I didn’t want to wear the other item in the set.

Roamer capsule

Maybe I’m the only one this happens too.

However when you capsule it actively challenges you to find out how many different combination can you make with this one article of clothing. The more the better. The more the more versatile that one article of clothing. That can be a huge win in capsule dressing.

Now when I created my capsule I didn’t do a clear mathematical analysis of how many different combinations I could make with each item but I did do a quick check.

“Oh hey I can wear this shirt with that pair of pants, that skirt , those 2 shorts. Ok seems good.” And so on.

Roamer capsule

This has been really great because like I said I suffered from set mentality. I keep thinking I’m cured until I come across a shirt that I always wear with a specific  pair of pants and then I have to ask myself, “Ok, What else could I wear with this?”

And that’s my favorite part. Anything that prompts you to ask questions and challenge the norm is a good thing.

You could even apply it to your finances 😉

How did your past week go? What pain or gain did you encounter? Did you make any side hustle money?

 

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Money Cycle: Spend, Worry, Earn

Spending money before its in your pocket. You know this is a frequent topic when it comes to money and often its used to illustrate poor financial habits.

Some guy buying a big screen TV in anticipation of a big bonus. Or some girl eyeing some strappy sandals and a nice paring  bag. Because she deserves it.

Honestly I’ve never suffered from wanting to buy stuff before even having the money in my hand. Actually I’m a really bad shopper period. Even when I see something I want and think about it I regularly convince myself out of the purchase.

And even to this day there are things I still want after years and years of thinking about it. (Like the signature little black dress, and a nice blazer). Have I bought them? nope. Because I don’t really need them.

Yet I realized that even though I don’t buy things. Specially physically things with out having the money. I actually do suffer from spending in advance.

How?

Well after college graduation I made the lofty goal to pay off my $46,000 debt in just 5 yrs. I knew I didn’t want that pain in the butt hanging around long term. I needed to kill it.

My plan to kill it came with me dedicating plenty of my paycheck to pay it off. But where my advanced spending is really highlighted is in the fact that I also earmarked my tax refunds years in advanced for debt repayment.

That’s right, before I ever got my tax refunds I had already spent them. I did some math and conservatively calculated that I could expect to get at least an extra $1000 in my tax refund. In turn I could use those funds towards my loans each of those 5 yrs.  Sure I spent them on debt repayment but I’d spent them nonetheless.

Up to 5 years in advance. Compared to those who spend just a paycheck in advance I have a serious problem.  :(

Wait? What?

Why exactly is this a problem?

 

Well let me break it down to you in this way. When you spend your money ahead of time. It means you need it. You’re depending on it. And when your banking on money it means your going to stress out about it. If it doesn’t come your going to be SOL. I think it’s a lot worse when you have a physical item in your hands you can’t pay for. But even if its just the idea of future spending you still end up stressing about it.

It’s good to know what the plan is and its motivational for sure. After all I did pay off all my student debt in just a little over 3 yrs. But you know what? the stress was there, and if the refund wasn’t what I was expecting, so was the disappointment.

It’s stressful because it limits your options. It ways you down. You feel stuck, after all you really need that next paycheck. You’ve spent it already.

And just like those paycheck to paycheck people I would have to scramble to figure out what my next move was. Not because I really needed to but because in my mind I had already spent it, so now I needed to find a way to make up the difference.

Well I’ve paid off my debt so what’s there to worry about now.

I should be relaxed. I shouldn’t be worried about money anymore. I mean at the start of the year our networth was over $85k and its been growing ever since.

We’ve cut our monthly costs drastically simply by paying off all our debts. Inversely increasing our cash flow.

We have a nice years worth of safety cushion in a saving account.

We could both loose our jobs and we’d survive just fine with plenty of time to find new ones.

So no stress for the Roamer. Not money related at least. Right?!

 

….right?….

 

I wish…..(sigh)

 

You see I’ve gone and done it again. Spent all my money before I even made it.

It’s important to note that I also realized that the bigger the amount your on the hook for the bigger the amount of stress.

That makes sense right? If you owed someone $5 you wouldn’t be nearly as worried as if you owed them $5,000.

So tell me Roamer with all that plush why are you still stressing about money?

You want the truth? You can’t handle the TRUTH!

 

It’s this stupid FI goal! Ha-ha seriously!

 

You see some people say when you save for retirement don’t think of it as savings. Your actually spending it on your future self.

I have made this thing so real that my money is already spent. And not just the money I’ve saved so far but all the money I’m yet to earn in the next 7-10 yrs.

I made this, its all my doing. I’ve promised myself this and in doing so I’ve put myself in debt and not just to my future self but to Mr. Roamer too. The more he talks about it the more real it is, the more that it becomes unacceptable to do anything less.

You see just like my student debt I’ve created this stress. In truth if I didn’t get my 1k I would have been fine. Realistically it would have pushed out my repayment by a couple of months and made me pay maybe.. maybe… a couple extra $100. The world wouldn’t have ended. But it stressed me out.

And now we aren’t talking about 1k we are talking about multiples and multiples of it.

I’ve put this thing over our heads and as I think about just quitting for a year because night shift suck for our family… It sucks so bad. I am stressed out, scrambling to see if I can make the numbers work. If I can calculate how we can still make it to FI in 7-10 yrs.

But do I really need to run these numbers?!  Is age 41 really worse? Or 45 for that matter.

I recognize it now, the dangers of spending before hand. Because you put yourself up against a wall. You give yourself that fight or flight feeling. You make yourself feel trapped.

Really, the runway is clear. Unlike a jet on an aircraft carrier I won’t plummet into the ocean if I take more time to sail into the FI sky.

With the habits we have we will get there for sure, maybe not in a specific amount of time but we are headed in that direction.

Now that I’ve recognized it how do I remove these shackles I’ve placed on myself?

To you FI dreamer I send a warning and advice. Stay flexible. Don’t shackle yourself, not even to a goal…

Do you have any advice for me? For all you FI-ers  how do you stay centered?

Lastly a Thanks to the minimalists who helped my thoughts flow after their great essay.

What it feels like to no longer worry about money

Also check out these other 2 relevant articles. They are great reads.

Accomplishments without Goals 

And Dividend Mantra’s Live more then one life

Don’t forget to leave me your advice below. Or just let me know how or what makes you worry about money?

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Weekly Pain & Gain: Money and the Capsule

Weekly columns are a nice quick way to give you all some updates on whats happening here at the Traveling Wallet HQ. This is specially useful if I can’t seem to get a full post out on specific idea topic. I have seen lots of bloggers take part  in a weekly update sort of post so I am going to give it a shot myself. I actually have been wanting to do one since tax season where I was going to talk about the awesome refund and whine about an unexpected charge but that one never made out into the public.

I want to end on the happy note so I will discuss our pains and then our gains. Also since I am currently in the midst of a 3 month capsule wardrobe challenge I will hit on that as well.

So lets talk about last week. Most of the fun for our family happens on the weekends so I figured Monday would be the best day for the Traveling wallet weekly updates.

This weeks..

Pain

As part of my effort to remove the excess I posted some stuff up on Craigslist and I was pleasantly surprised to have multiple inquiries. However the meet up fell through. After several messages back and forth during the week I was pretty surprise at not being able to get a hold of the buyer over the weekend. So I was pretty frustrated that I had taken time to get it all nice and ready to go. I didn’t make my $35 plus I am just disappointing that I have to hold on to them for another week. Its pretty amazing how freeing it is to take out excess stuff from your home and life.

I was not happy to miss out on that rush I get.

But it seems they are still interested so we will try again next weekend. I already fixed what Mr. Roamer said was my biggest mistake. Not getting a phone number. So I requested it right away and got it. Hopefully next Monday I will report back $35 richer. :)

Gain

This past week included my bimonthly pay check and that is the star of this weeks celebratory gain! For 2 separate reasons. Why?because my company finally, FINALLY got around to processing my shift differential pay increase.  That’s right I mentioned it in my quarterly goal review back in MAY!!! Happily they also didn’t gyp me and also retro payed me for the 2 months they missed. That means my regular paycheck had a nice 10% increase and I got a “bonus” check. Oh and the second reason is that we are all done front loading our 401Ks so we dropped the percentage substantially so our paychecks also appear much bigger thanks to that. Pretty much this month we are rolling in the dough!!

But it wont last long as I already plan to  adjust all our automatic withdrawals so that we shift that money where its suppose to go. ( I think I will write more on that)

Also I am happy to finally be done reading one of my books. (High Fives)

Capsule Wardrobe Update

So this weekend was my 7th week on the capsule wardrobe and so far I am enjoying it. Its really refreshing to have so much more space in my closet.

This weekend was very weather-arific and we had glorious rain in our oh so dry California. But that happened toward the end of the day on Saturday and Sunday and so we still made it to the beach first. Here is what I wore this weekend.

2015 summer capsule wardrobe
Saturday Tennis shoes and dress for a day of hanging around

 

Summer 2015 Capsule wardrobe
Changed into boots and put on sweater for a rainy date night.
2015 summer Capsule wardrobe
Sunday Off to the beach.

Side note: Why can’t I stack these pictures next to each other instead of on top of each other. Guess I still have more to learn about this wordpress site. 

There should actually be another 2 outfit picture for Sunday because after the beach we all showered and put on the most refreshing clothes we could find!!! it was so hot and sticky. But then it started raining so I had to change again! So that was a lot of changes but really I wear my capsule so little because I spend most of the week in my work clothes.

So have you ever been stood up by a buyer? If so do you give them a second chance? Any thought on capsule dressing?

 

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capsule wardrobe challenge

Challenges really seem to put a smile on my face and I’m excited to try something new, taking a 3 month capsule wardrobe challenge but blending multiple ideas and inspirations. In case you don’t know a capsule wardrobe is a limited number of items that you mix and match to make multiple outfits.

How to Start the Process for a Capsule Wardrobe

So clearly we are going to need to pick our items, but it isn’t as simple as picking some items out of our closets. Most of us have items in multiple places and maybe even in storage(bins). Well at least I did. So I used some of my knowledge of 5S principles to get me started.

The first step is…

Take all the clothes out of everywhere you store it. That means empty out your closet and any bins with stored items. This is a lot of work, but it is one of those moments where front loading the work will save you a lot of hassle later.

Take inventory. This is a great chance to really figure out how many of each item we own? Then ask  ourselves, How many do we really need? It gives us a chance to eliminate any unnecessary multiples by seeing them side by side. I’m a bit meticulous in that I want to know what I have in each color. In my case that means figuring out how many green skirts, blue, or pink shirts. You get the idea.

 Eliminate the Uglies. While you inventory you are going to touch each article of clothing you own. Take this time to start making the get rid of pile, with the never wear and doesn’t fit items. This won’t be hard if you are truly open an honest with yourself about which clothes you haven’t worn in over six month or more. I like hard numbers, so I counted how many items ended up in that box. I removed 24 right off the bat.

My piles of color coded clothing. :-)
My piles of color coded clothing. :-)

I wasn’t super lean in my process because I ended up separating my clothes in different ways several times. First I separated clothes by color. I wrote down numbers as I transitioned those color piles into stacks of particular items, for example, pants, t-shirts, and blouses. But you don’t need to spend time on this.

Before you make your capsule you need to decided if you can swing having your capsule wardrobe cover your work and play. For me this just didn’t suit, so I also created a work uniform and removed all my other work clothes. Essentially creating a mini work capsule wardrobe.

So now that you know what you’re capsule is covering you can just follow the guidelines set by The project 333 site. Which is picking out all your “I love” items. For me that seemed difficult so I used this other go by, pictured below. Which is just 3 of every item.

Capsule wardrobe suggestions

After you pick your items put everything else away. Not back in the closet but away away.. I used bins. This is a great way to ensure you follow through. If you simply place stuff back into the closet( even if its the far side) then it will be easier for you to grab other items and slowly but surely increase your capsule until your closet is full again. Take a page from my 5S guide and increase your chances of success by making it sustainable. Put the no items for this round in boxes or bins. Then tape them closed. The extra effort will keep you focused on what you have available to wear.

This whole process took me 2 days. I didn’t take any short cuts and I wanted to make sure I addressed every item. Realize though that the more stuff you have the longer it can take to go through this process. Also don’t waste time thinking you need a helpful printable as you can see I just used pen and paper for this process.

What prompted me?

I first became aware that I didn’t need much clothing during a long trip to visit family. After Minnie Roamer’s birth I planned my FMLA/PFL so that we could take a long 3 week vacation in MI during Christmas . We needed to keep suitcases to a minimum since we already needed to be able to maneuver around the airport with 2 kids, 2 car seats, a stroller, diaper bag and of course the suitcases. Everything also need to be able to fit into our ride once we arrived. So packing 4 peoples clothes in one suitcase and 2 back packs that needed to include big winter coats meant few but versatile clothing options for everyone.

Capsule Wardrobe, My first encounter, and inspiration.
Capsule Wardrobe, My first encounter, and inspiration.

That lead me to do some research and I came across this picture. It blew my mind and since then 2 years ago its been kicking around in my head. However, in June coming off another minimalist challenge I decided to do more research and try it full force.

My Capsule Wardrobe

After taking the steps above I ended up with this as my capsule wardrobe.

For my summer Capsule wardrobe I chose white and green and then added other colors as I saw fit.
For my summer Capsule wardrobe I chose white and green and then added other colors as I saw fit.

If you read the 333 article you’ll notice I didn’t follow all the rules but I did start off by using their suggestions. In the end to me its more about reducing the amount of items in my closet to the point where I am forced/encouraged to use the items I really like. Instead of defaulting into just wearing the same stuff everyday. So it’s not really about a specific number but I do suggest you start there. Summer Capsule shoes

I did want to be as transparent as possible so I am showing you my lounge/ work out clothes too. Which is a big gray area in the rules. So now you know how much clothes I have period. Note: I am not divulging or counting intimate garments, socks, accessories: belts, necklaces, hats, scarves. So accessories will be my gray area. Though in my wrap up I will let you know if that became a big thing. Normally I don’t accessorizes.

Capsule wardrobe
My itemized list of clothing. I have 3 main groups in my capsule wardrobe experiment.

So now you know what I have, and I just want to explain a little bit about why. I’m not a runway model and this isn’t about fashion for me. Though I think I have my moments where I look like a million bucks for the most part I’m a Tomboy and I have the men’s pants and men’s shorts to prove it. ( why do I need to prove it?) My #1 is comfort and functionality. I need to be able to run after kids. I need free range of motion.  But I am pushing the limits to try and wear some of my nicer items.

Like I said earlier I don’t want to mix work with fun.( Because work is a dusty and dirty place). But my capsule still needs to allow me to ride a bike, hit the beach, attend a wedding and most importantly run after kids. (Did I already say that?) Full disclosure, my capsule would be 4 items lighter if I wasn’t attending a wedding this season.

Benefits

Awareness. I discovered that I owned 269 articles of clothing. A lot of which I really don’t even wear anymore. This awareness is a benefit that right away helps you be intentional with your wardrobe It helped me eliminate those 24 pieces right away.

I think its crazy to think that I own so much clothes, but whats crazier is that it probably pales in comparison to the average woman.
I think its crazy that I own so much clothes, but what’s crazier is that it probably pales in comparison to the average woman.

Save in costs. Don’t fall pray to being average. The average family spends about $2,000 dollars a year on clothes. BE EXCEPTIONAL. Going through the cataloging of your clothing is a great way to know what you have. You’ll be wearing items you love and that should leave you with no desire to buy any clothes during the challenge. Even if you do feel the urge, make it a goal to resist for just 3 months.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

Personally for me its Good practice for a life of travel. Learn to live on less is the perfect challenge. Seriously this Traveling Wallet blog will one day be written from a different local every month for at least 1 year. The better I understand my style and can be creative with clothing the more I can parse down on the quantity. The more I practice, the better prepared I’ll be for living out of a suitcase. :) And that is benefit enough for me.

Need some more inspiration ?

Check out these other post.

Theeverygirl.com How to create a capsule wardrobe

Unfancy Capsule wardrobe 101

A work uniform post

So there you have it. I hope you checked out those articles and are excited to start a capsule wardrobe. Don’t forget to click the notify me of new posts, so that you can read my review and wrap up in September. To Find out how I did and what I think I’m sure there are more benefits to be discovered through the challenge. Don’t miss out.

Will you join me in this simple and intentional living challenge? Have you ever done a capsule wardrobe?

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When Life happens TO You

You know when life happens to you…. When you wake up one morning and you can’t believe you are in a certain situation…

How did this happen?… How is it that I am still stuck in this dead end job. Or what happen to my dream of roughing it abroad…

Life happens when you let go of the wheel …. When you stop being intentional and just go with the flow..

Going with the flow can be fine if that’s truly who you are . but if you wake up one day and you don’t know how you got to that point, then it means you flowed to much off track…

I keep hearing this term thrown around and with out any follow up research I can say I’m probably very type A.*

Yet sometimes even I (type A person) still have moments when I ask myself… What am I doing with this one life.

Its a big deal to me because I don’t believe in an after life… This is it! There is no gold pot at the end of the rainbow.

Not a dress rehearsal as they say.

So I and maybe you need to ask ourselves. What do we want out of life? In the core of our being what do we value? Are we living that life?

What can we do to get there? I’m nearing my 30s and I don’t want to wake up 10 yrs from now wondering how I got to that point.

Be intentional. . that doesn’t mean just making decisions. You can make decisions based on laziness or routine. Make decisions that are pulled back to your core values. Then you’ll be steering in the direction you want to go.

A midlife crisis I now understand can happen at any moment. That moment, is when you realize somehow you let go of the wheel.

We all probably try to exert some control over our lives and  the problem could be we are focusing on inconsequential things like matching shoes and shirts for an outfit. These small things make us feel like we are in control but then we let the important stuff just pass us by.

Those small little instances of control hide the fact that we aren’t taking control of the big picture. This is a constant struggle for me.

That is why I make life plans, even though they change as time goes on I want to keep it in my mind that this is something important. That I need to take time and think about it.

Exercise

So take some time today and visualize the future. Imagine yourself 10 years older. What do you want to have accomplished. Where do you want to be standing. Are those congruent with your inner most values? Then take it a step further into the future maybe on your deathbed. What would you want your life to have been?

Maybe even do this exercise.

Think deeply with no distractions and write your top 5 values.

Think deeply again. what preoccupies your time, thoughts and actions most of the days? Write the top 5.

Then compare both lists. Are the thing you think about, and act on tied to what you value?

Here’s one of mine. I value building stronger relationships with my family. Yet most of my thoughts and days revolve around work products.  If you aren’t specific enough you might say family and then say work. Yes, work helps me support my family so it makes sense. Yes, work does help me support my family, but in the vein of building stronger relationships with them, work actually conflicts with what I value most. Its takes time away from them.

So you have to be careful and you have to be specific. Or you might convince yourself that something makes sense, when in actuality it is contradicting your values not supporting them.

– The Roamer 

Do you ever feel like you are really adamant about making small decisions but feel overwhelmed when faced with a life changing one? Did you do the exercise. Did your lists match or where there conflicts?

* ok I had to do some research before posting. Type A. High stress, push themselves with deadlines. take on too much. Sound to me like people who like to be in control.

5S : Continuously Improving your living space

Maybe you’re new here. Maybe I just haven’t talked much about work. ( why would I? after all I am here to try and escape it) yet with my avid distaste for corporate schedules and time restrictions even I have to admit I’ve learned quite a bit. Welcome to Lean.

My trade for most of my working career was in Lean Manufacturing, also known as Industrial Engineering, or Continuous Improvement. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. In a nutshell my job was to analyze processes and remove waste. Removing waste is very important in a business. Its what keeps you profitable. Yet what really amazed me as I learned more was how these philosophies and their application were so widely applicable. Even at home.

I’ve read finance blogs and I’ve heard that J.D. Roth said you should run your finances like a business. And I completely agree. But you can apply so much more then just how businesses balance their books. Lean is one of those things. When I learned different tools in lean I couldn’t stop them from permeating into my home life.

If I sound a little starstruck its because I am. The ideals and job title had so much potential. It was the lack of commitment from the company to the tools that was dragging me down. But I digress.

5S A foundational tool in lean

So today I want to introduce you to 5S one of lean’s foundational tools.

The purpose of 5S is multiple fold.  Strip away waste, asses the area. Improve. Implement controls, and plan for sustainability.

How will this help you at home? Well minimalism is picking up steam and this is a great technique to use. But even if you have no desire to be a minimalist lots of us still suffer from random stuff accumulation.

There is a whole thriving industry dedicated to our feeling of being overwhelmed with stuff. But instead of removing it from our lives we just remove it from our homes. Keeping everything and paying a premium for the privilege. Ahh how the mighty have fallen and how the storage unit reigns supreme.

Now in a community of financially minded people most of us would rather drown in our stuff then pay someone else to keep it. We know we have too much, we know its clutter. We know its a nuisance. But going through it is extremely overwhelming. So we pick stuff out here and there and really don’t feel like we are making much progress. Sporadic, unorganized, unplanned events though great in an adventure situation rarely yield amazing results in the home improvement front.

So here they are the 5S’s

  • Sort
  • Straighten
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

There you see 5S.

Now let’s dig in a little deeper

Sort

Sort is the first step and here you are taking inventory of everything in the area. If you pick your closet like I just did, then what you want to do is pull everything out. I mean everything.

Its too confusing to try and organize stuff around other stuff. Unless your putting go, no go sticker on everything you touch there is high chance that you are going to miss something. Only when your closet is bare-boned will you know that you are addressing every item that is going back in.

Here you identify if something is needed and kept, or not needed and thrown out (donated?). Well that’s easier said then done right?

You’re right, deciding on stuff can be very difficult when we don’t know what we are measuring for. Here ( and in most things actually) we are measuring usage. So ask yourself these questions.

  • Why am I keeping this here?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • How often do I use it?
  • Is it working? Functional right now?

Lots of times we have things were they don’t belong. Then we have things we never use. Then we have things mixed between stuff we use everyday and stuff we use once a year. Finally we keep things that are broken, or just not functional in some other way. Like a deck of cards with just one card missing… Wanna play solitaire… Good luck with that deck.

Now you’ll have stuff in piles. To make sure you don’t get side tracked make sure you have an empty box handy to place all the items that don’t belong. Don’t take walks to return stuff to their proper place as you find them. Just place them in the box, and return after you finish the sort phase.

Straighten

A place for everything and everything in its place. The focus here is the actual organization process. This is when you decide where you are going to keep what you decided is needed.

You really want to address the frequency question up above as it will guide you in your straightening effort. You see you want to organize by usage. With the most used items easiest to access and your least use items organized a little further away. In other words the prime real estate in any area is for the highest used items. For example in our kitchen the easiest cabinets to access should contain our dishes. We use those everyday. But our cake pan is stored somewhere more out of reach because we use it less frequently. Doesn’t it make you smile to realize you do practice 5S already :)… The thing is we don’t practice that in all parts of our home. So that is what we are going to do.  Apply it everywhere we can.

At this point I’d like to point out that these are not just 5 steps. They are 5 consecutive steps. Where you must do the previous one to really benefit and move on tho the next.

This is where most of us go wrong. We feel our home is a mess. So what do we do. We fix it. Pick up, fold, rearrange. And if we are tight on space we buy organizational kits. Bins, shelving, and cute little boxes.

In 5S you never, and I mean NEVER organize ( straighten) before you sort. Never….

Can any of you tell me why?

Shine

Shine this is where we make everything look and work as good as new.

You see we naturally respond to our surroundings. It causes us to behave differently. Have you ever gone into a bathroom that is a disaster.  You shoot your paper towel to the trash can and miss. What do you do if there is a pile of paper towels on the floor already. Sometimes you might go pick it up but your also likely to just walk away, and sometimes I do too. But if I’m at the Hilton with cloth towels and I happen to miss the basket well… that towel is screaming in my face. Its clearly out of place and has broken the harmony of the space, the wrongness prompts me into action.

That is exactly what you want to create. We become desensitized to things we see everyday. If there is always one article on clothing on the floor all day everyday you are less likely to notice when there are 2 or 3. It won’t be until its ground zero of some laundry explosion that you act. If we really do get accustomed to our surroundings get accustomed to pristine. Then you’ll be catapulted into action when something breaks the harmony of the space.

In shine you want to deep clean the area, get it to the ideal state.

Standardize

Here you need to be honest with yourself. Why? because its on the 4th and 5th S where you make it or break it. Doing these next steps correctly will help you maintain your improvement or see it slip back into the chasm of chaos.  I’ve seen it all too often at work. Its not pretty, and its frustrating as hell.

Round 2 , this checklist keeps me accountable and gives me hard data for how to improve
Round 2 , this checklist keeps me accountable and gives me hard data for how to improve

In standardize you are trying to create a system to control the area. We are trying to cut out perceptions and deal with facts. For example I just finished round 2 on the minimalist games.  I like checklists they help me know what is going on.  If I was a naturally optimistic person and had no checklist I would have assumed I got rid of close to 800 items.  If I was a pessimist I would think I only got rid of 100… Maybe. We see things as we are, not as they are. So standardize is here to help you know what is going on, so you can control the outcome better.

The reason we make change is because we want something that is different then what normally happens. But we have to acknowledge that just because we clean off the counter doesn’t mean that we now have the habit to maintain it that way.

Standardize is to help you build the habit, checklists are usually a great way to do so.

Make a check sheet that has you audit the area every day. You need to do it frequently at first. Then as you start to get use to the new norm you can do it less often until it becomes a habit. The honesty part I was talking about was admitting that our improvements wont last unless we are proactive about maintaining them.

Sustain

Sustain is at the end but really its something you should be considering through out.

When I think about sustain I am thinking. “How can I make doing it the right way easier then doing it the wrong way.”

We all suffer from laziness when we are talking about something our world doesn’t revolve around. Unless you are a clean freak you aren’t thinking about the state of your home 24/7. Unless you are in love with saving you aren’t always thinking about ways to save. The creation of automatic withdrawals is a practice in sustainability. It might be a pain to set it up but then it just happens and you have to put more effort to stop the savings then to just let them happen.

That is a perfect example of making the right thing easier then the wrong thing.

I’ll be honest I can’t prescribe anything specific but what you are trying to do is give yourself a chance for it to become natural, habitual. We are trying to remove barriers to maintain improvement.

So let’s say you have a junk drawer. But all you want to do is keep the scissors in that drawer, that’s it. Well to make it easy to sustain you could put in a space filler block. Something that will block all the excess space. Now the drawer wont be able to get full with junk.

Get started on a 5S event

Now before you jump in, there is a little pre-work that needs to be done. Like a project at work you need to set parameters. What area are you going to focus on? Pick one area and make it manageable. Pick how much time you’ll dedicate. You need to decide what your goal is. Your broad goal is to keep only what is needed in that specific area. 

Time

Let’s talk more about that. In lean there is a general understanding that if something is important you need to make it a priority. Which means you need to set aside the time to make it successful. 15 min here 15 min there just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll lose steam because you’ll be going too slow to see results. And  the lack of results will shake your already weak commitment ( 15 min is a weak commitment). At work we schedule 3-5 days, attempt to pull everyone off their day job ( this is were I got frustrated at my companies lack of commitment)  and focus solely on the task at hand.

3 to 5 days might be a bit much depending on the space but remember you need to go through all the 5S steps. So the bigger the space the more time you’ll need. You should be planning in hours or days not minutes.

I love lean, I really do. I love it so much I think it should be taught to high schoolers right along side of personal finance.

Don’t forget. Tell me why you never straighten before you sort?

 

2nd Go at the mins game

At the beginning of May Mr. Roamer and I decided to give the #minsgame another try.  I am more and more drawn to minimalism and the idea of simplified living.

Round 2 of the Minsgame
Round 2 of the Minsgame

We didn’t make it to the end like last time. Actually comparatively  we did a lot worse (as you can see in the picture). However, I am still happy with the results as the changes still yield compound benefits. In the sense of now I have less to clean up and I’m never going to have to organize that item(s) ever again.

When I’m purging sometimes its very difficult. I can easily convince myself to keep stuff. I think someday I’ll use it. But I have a secret weapon….

When I get mad

On the good times when I get really upset I get cleaning whether its dishes or finally scrubbing the toilet when I see something and I’m really mad this pretty much runs through my head ” what the hell, why is this still, ruined, messy, dirty,( insert blank), FINE! I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF!  ROAR!!”

This happened twice this month and the result was a big purge!

You see in the dinning area we have a desk that houses crayons, markers, pens, pencils as well as recycled paper the kids can use for doodling. But it has no drawers so all these items sit in stacks on top of the desk more or less as organized as possible.

But we had so many crayons!

So many pens! pencils and dried out markets! I knew there was more then one still there.

Container emptied out. On the right the crayons we kept.
Container emptied out. On the right the crayons we kept. Retrospectively I should have kept double of what fit in that little crayon holder.

As you can see in the picture that clear  bin was full of crayons. not just one compartment. ALL of them. Easily more then 100 crayons.

oh and did I tell you my kids like to accidentally as well as  purposefully break the crayons and peel their skin off. Which pretty much means the crayon quantity just keeps multiplying. :). ( well at least the count was)

This might still seem messy to some but its much better then before
This might still seem messy to some but its much better then before

Anyways one angry day I said I’ve had it and I started recycling papers, testing pens and markers and separating crayons. Trimming stuff down. Seriously they never used all the colors anyways.

In all honesty I probably got rid of enough crayons to satisfy the quantity for the whole challenge but we just counted it for a few days around when the mad purge happened.

Mad #2

In this instance I attacked the clothes in my closet. And the anger fueled me to say stuff like”why are you keeping this? you never wear it. Or when was the last time you wore this. Or sure this is your high school band sweater but you never wear it!!!!” or “this is such a cute blouse I wish it fit me better… but it doesn’t! so why am I keeping it” The underling message I was giving myself was wake up! stop lying to yourself! are these items really worth the extra work if you aren’t going to use them?

The answer was of course ….no.

My closet purge.
My closet purge.

There were really some things that I separated that were nice or new and I really liked them aesthetically. but they just didn’t fall on me right. Now I’m not scare of a bit of sewing but I was lying to myself saying that I was going to go and fix all these items. I wish, but it just didn’t make sense to make that a priority with all my other goals.

Clothes

Now I’m not telling you to go on a mad purge or anything but hey its got to be better then yelling at your spouse and loosing your temper at the children and going around breaking stuff instead ( I know people who have done the latter).

Everything else that got cut.

Mr. Roamer doesn’t take pictures but here are some pictures of the other items I purged through this month’s journey.

Stuff included

  • receipts
  • event stubs
  • knickknacks
  • my 2013 pay stubs
  • Clothes
  • Baby stuff
  • Papers ( lots and lots of papers)
Mostly baby stuff
Mostly baby stuff

The Math

Doing the math 31 days on track equal 496 items purged and with 2 people that is 992 items. Seriously almost 1 thousand items.  An amazing feat when you can reach it.

With all the days we missed we got rid of 402 items. Sure crayons are small but I’m still counting. After all its all the little stuff that goes unnoticed and start to accumulate filling empty spaces in drawers and getting in between couch cushions.

We still have some items hanging around because I think they are in nice enough shape that I’d like to sell them on craigslist. How long do you hold on to items in the sell pile? Let me know in the comments.

Confession

Now we were clued into this 2nd hand store that gives you store credit when you make a donation. So we dropped stuff off and planned to get Jr. Roamer a sweater. We had a list of other items we thought we might need, but were thinking of postponing. However, we ended up going on a day with a 50% sale so we picked up everything else.

Items for the kids. 5 for Jr. Roamer and 3 for Minnie Roamer.
Items for the kids. 5 for Jr. Roamer and 3 for Minnie Roamer.

We are not cheap, we are just frugal so making sure the kids have what they need even if we end up bringing more stuff into the house is ok with us.

So I am super motivated to continue stripping out the excess. I have some clothes bins I am going to clean out and I am just going to work in the practice more routinely instead of just the intense bursts for a month.

Have you played the minsgame? Have you regretted getting rid of anything?