Low Impact Life

have less, do more, be more

Category: Life (Page 1 of 51)

How I became a frugal weirdo

Reading a post on the Frugalwoods blog about being a frugal weirdo and loving it made me reflect on my own path and how I ended up where I am today: a frugal weirdo and proud! (spoiler: it’s very linked with being an environmentalist)

Let’s start off with the statement I’ve never been one of the “cool” girls in school. As a child I spent most my weekends on a boat in the archipelago exploring islands, playing games with my family, reading books and writing my own stories (still a dream of mine to actually finish one). I am pretty nerdy when it comes to books (don’t get me started on Harry Potter!) and have always had a strong passion for nature and animals. Being outside wether it was sailing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, skiing, skating or just playing outdoors was a natural part of my childhood. When I was little I first wanted to be a wildlife photographer and then a vet (until I realized that I have a problem dealing with blood and injured animals…). When the vet dream died I got into environmental science and the huge challenges that we as humans face today (read more here). I wrote my 9th grade project about the problem with too much nitrogen in the Baltic sea that is disturbing the ecological balance.

one cool sailor right there 😉

From there on my passion for the environment grew although I made few changes to my life at this stage (I was 16 and trying to fit in and going shopping after school was a common activity with friends). After high school I worked at a kindergarten for 6 months to save money to study one semester abroad in California. This period was marked by me being extremely frugal and having the mindset that “either I buy this now or I do something cool in California” which made me put down whatever I was going to buy. Worth mentioning is that although I have been quite a shopaholic I have always had the frugal bug. I think it has to do with me not having an extra job when studying until I was 22 which lead to me having to save and make my monthly allowance stretch very far (I must add that I had the privilege of help from my parents although I never took it for granted that I would get money from them).

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

When I was living in California I studied environmental science among other courses, all natural science focused, so my interest continued and I spent a lot of time hiking, skiing and being outdoors (the California climate makes that a bit easier than in Sweden). I watched the documentary Food, Inc and after that I became a vegetarian mostly beacuse of the horrendous situation of the industrialized production of meat.

Having to explain again and again why you don’t eat meat and bring your own food to dinners with people having to deal with depressing discussions with me about the future of the earth was definately the start to me inhabiting the weirdo box. Before this stage I had kept a lot to myself but getting more and more worried about the state of the earth I couldn’t just keep going on like it wasn’t happening.

I studied environmental science at Lund University and though my class all understood the no eating meat (I think half the class were vegetarians) and the environmental problems were old news to them everyone else I hung out with definately though that me and my friends from my class were slightly weird. I kept being frugal during my university years (most people are!) and worked with babysitting children and walking dogs for some extra money. I didn’t take out the full loan that is offered to Swedish students through the government but I have some debt to pay back. I am glad that I did take my loan so I didn’t have to work like crazy while studying (studying in Sweden is quite different compared to other countries – tuition is free, we get money every month from the government, the student loans have really low interest rates).

Graduation from Lund University

When I moved back to Stockholm at 24 I lived with my mum for a year first to write my thesis and then because I didn’t have a permanent contract at my job I couldn’t rent an apartment. This was also a frugal period since I didn’t know if I would have a job the month after and I lived at home. Although I didn’t actively track my money so a fair amount was still went to different purchases like food out, things, travel and so on.

When I started the blog about 1,5 years ago I started properly owning and loving being a weirdo. Before that I had kind of been trying to hide my weirdness (and failing) and trying to fit in somewhat. I wasn’t being true to myself and the knowledge that I was carrying about how we are treating the planet that we live on and especially how I was contributing to it. Because of that I was feeling quite a bit of despair, guilt and sorrow. Now that I am alined with my values of a Low Impact Life and a frugal lifestyle which have lead to a lot of changes in my life I feel lighter and more at peace with myself. What is even more awesome is that Mr LIL and I share the same values. He is also a frugal person that is worried about the planet. With the support of each other we are taking frugality/LIL to the next step in 2018.

Sisters in the mountains

Our trip to Norway was great! Skiing is really one of my and Mr LILs great passions. It is a special feeling of freedom to fly down the slopes and it is so wonderful to be outside all day.

Yesterday I went to an event that a company called Systrar i Bergen “sisters in the mountains” arranged in the ski slope in Stockholm. The company arranges ski trips and other outdoor activities for girls/women. I signed up in December as a part of my free time resolution of finding new people/connections. It was really fun and a really nice atmosphere. They had ski instructors that gave me some tips and things to think about for our upcoming ski trip in the Alps in March.

Pretty cool to have the city lights in the background

Skiing in Norway

First day of skiing done!! So much snow! We had amazing runs this morning in the black slopes! We brought packed lunch that we ate in a cabin for breaks and getting warm. A very frugal option since the cost of food in a ski resort in expensive Norway is very high! The afternoon was quite cold, windy and white out so at three we felt done for the day.

The flu

I’ve been lying in bed for the past couple of days with the flu. Came out of nowhere on Wednesday afternoon and then an hour later I had 39 degrees fever. Not very fun. I am thankfully feeling a bit better today. Mr LIL and the LIL wolf are out at the summerplace so I can recouperate by myself and hopefully not get Mr LIL sick too.

My love for the outdoors

Today the weather was amazing so we got up, had breakfast and then took a long walk in the snow with the LIL wolf. She was so happy and bouncing around in the deep snow and since she is a Swedish breed she’s adapted to the snow so it doesn’t stick to her coat.

Me and Mr LIL talked about that both of us had been outside a lot as children, Mr LIL at his summer place in the archipelago and me on our sailing boat. Plus all of the time playing outside during and after school. When we got older and started to decide over our free time (instead of our parents doing it) time outdoors decreased drastically. Obviously getting older meant not going outside to play at break time and instead being indoors all day at school and then coming home and doing homework/studying for tests, watching TV or doing something on the computer.  Even spending time with friends was almost always indoors at peoples homes, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, gyms or sports facilities, bars or night clubs. The only time that you spend any time outdoors with friends is when it is really nice weather during the summer (which in Sweden isn’t that many days a year…). So for a long time the absolute majority of our time was spent indoors. I almost forgot what a huge role being outdoors plays in my life.

Thankfully I have started to find my way back. Mr LIL has played a role in this since we both love the outdoors and can amplify this passion in eachother. But the most dramatic shift has happened since the LIL wolf entered the stage. She is a true blessing and has helped me to rediscover and understand that my whole being CRAVES being outside by “forcing” us to go outside in all weather whether we want to or not. I have also gotten back into the mode of not minding “bad weather” as long as I am dressed for it (therefore I own rain boots, warm gloves, proper rain and winter jackets, rain and ski pants, base layers, fleeces and so on). Being brought up on a sailing boat helps to make you used to the fact that “there isn’t any bad weather just bad clothes” (a Swedish saying that my dad is very fond of).

All of this really sunk in during our walk today. How being outside made me feel. The fresh air in my lungs, the slight warmth of the sun on my face, the calmness and beauty of the white landscape, the joy of watching the LIL wolf running in the snow and also getting to share the moment with Mr LIL. I was utterly content with life. I am so grateful and looking forward to taking hundreds of more walks with Mr LIL and the LIL wolf in the future.

New chapter 2018-2020

It was really exciting to start my new job yesterday! It really feels like a new chapter and the start of the coming three years, 2018-2020.

Me and Mr LIL have decided to plan our life in three year periods (I love planning!!). It is a more managable period to picture than 5 years but also long enough to have some long term goals and the time to achieve them. Since we met three years ago this turn of the year is the end of our first three year period together (read more what we’ve been up to during 2017 in my end of year post here).

So now comes our next three years which will be a quite different period than the one that we’ve had now. The previous period 2015-2017 we worked on setting up the infrastructure for our life these coming three years. It has been full with big decisions ( i.e. buying an apartment and a dog), sorting things out (for me a lot of emotional baggage that was dealt with successfully) and figuring out our goals for our life. The next period will instead be a more stable period where our focus will be on working hard, saving all the money that we can and working out how to spend our free time in a frugal and enjoyable way (long walks with the LIL wolf is definately at the top of that list). Since I am a creature of habit I am looking forward to this period of stability but also knowing that we have large goals ahead planning for them at the same time.

A couple of months after we met in early 2015

 

Thoughts on money

I came across the Prairie Homestead blog not so long ago and read a post about money principles. I thought it was a really good post that touched on simple but core principles of how to think about money. I borrowed her principles and modified them slightly to fit my view on money:

1. AVOID UNNECESSARY DEBT LIKE THE PLAGUE

A part from a mortgage (possibly student debt in Sweden where the interest is really low) do not borrow any other money! Car loans and consumer debt should be avoided at all cost! Concering mortgages: just because you are eligable for a high loan doen’t mean you should buy a home at that price. Instead think of what is the smallest area that you can live comfortably in and not just getting a larger home just because you can get a loan for it.

2. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND

The emergency fund is money that you have readily available in a savings account for when things go sideways (which they do from time to time because life happens). The amount should be approximately 3-6 months expenses. This should be done before paying off your mortgage or investing in your money making machine (although if you have other debt that should be dealt with first becase that is an emergency!).

3. SQUASH THE COMPARISONS

Stop comparing your life to everything around you (Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, advertising, peers and so on…). Figuring out what you want is the most important thing not comparing yourself to others. We don’t see the whole story though social media and buying more things to keep up with the Jonses will only make you broke and not happy.

4. EMBRACE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

You don’t have to have it all at once. Instead build your dream one piece at a time and live within your means.

5. BE MINDFUL OF MONEY

Figure out what actually adds value to your life. Living frugally isn’t about deprivation, quite the opposite. It is about spending your money on the things that you value.

You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want

6. ADOPT AN ABUNDANCE MINDSET

This is a very important principle. Most people have a scarcity mindset where what they have is “never enough”. This leads to dissatisfaction and a lack of gratitude for what you have which in turn impacts everything around you. I have been working hard to incorporate more gratitue and an abundance attitude into my life for the past year which makes for a much more enjoyable life.

 

Review of the year 2017

Today is the last day of 2017 and looking back on 2017 it is very clear that this was a year of major things happening. It has been an intensive but great year where we’ve laid the foundations for our life the coming couple of years.

We started things off with buying our apartment on the 25th of January!!

We then went skiing in the French alps for a week in the beginning of March.

During April we both moved out of the apartment we were renting and then after two weeks into our new apartment on the 14th of April.

We also decided during April that we were going to get a dog, settled on the breed and gotten in touch with a breeder so that by the 30th of April we had visited the puppies.

LIL wolf turned out to be the grumpy one on the left

On the 14th of May the blog turned one year old! Quite the mile stone since I didn’t know if I was going to it.

We brought the 8 week old LIL wolf home on 24th of May. We then had two weeks off and very little sleep since we had to get up every two-three hours every night to take her out…

Summer was spent mostly at Mr LILs familys summer place in the archipelago where we got to move into the newly built little house and call it ours. Midsummer and Mr LILs birthday was celebrated there.

On the 16th of August we bought a car?!? (read more in my post here)

The 19th of August I achieved one of my life goals: run 10km! Which I did during a race in inner city Stockholm. Considering I hadn’t been running for months it was pretty cool that I made it!

During September I found the amazing comcept of frugality which is a huge step on the road towards being able to acheive our long-term goals. The 12th of September was the start to my buy nothing new year. So far still going strong (not counting the material for growing salad)!

The 1st of October marks the start of my happiness project, read more here.

The 25th of October I got a new job!!

We spent a long weekend in London with my family in the begining of November.

I worked my last day at my old work place on the 30th of November.

During December I have had four weeks of freedom and one more to go before I start my new job on the 8th of January. Our three year anniversary was on the 12th of December and I turned 27th on the 27th of December.

It’s been quite the year! Next year I am looking forward to settling into our life that we have created! Frugality is going to be a major part of this coming year and also figuring out how to live happily and comfortably on less. Since neither of us are interested in being mainstream or really care that much what people think I think that it will be a fun challenge for us. Since I’m doing my happiness project I have resolutions for every month I don’t have any special ones for the new year. In any case I usually review the year and set resolutions in August/September. I find that I have more energy for resolutions in summer (inspiration doesn’t usually strike me in the middle of the cold and dark Swedish winter…). Happy new year everyone!!

Summary December leisure time

My December didn’t quite work out as I had thought. I was sick first and since then I’ve had a really bad cough. This equals low quality sleep and no exercise. When I got back on my feet LIL wolfs stomach got really bad so we were at the vets and have switched her food twice. We’ve also been worried of course and gotten woken up at nights when she needs to go out. So all in all not very relaxing.

So my first 4 weeks of freedom haven’t been exactly as planned. I am proud of myself however that I have accepted it for what it was and am glad that I didn’t have to go to work at the same time as everything else was going on. Despite all of this I have managed to work on my resolutions (some more than others):

Mr LIL

Me and Mr LIL have been spending quite a lot of time together at home (being sick and having a sick dog will do that). We have been together for three years now and during December we have talked about what we want for our future. We have started planning the broad brush strokes that are our dream life with a bit more detail which is really exciting.

LIL wolf

I have been home alot with the LIL wolf during December and we’ve taken wonderful long walks and chilling at home. Because she’s been sick a lot of time has gone towards trying to make her better. We haven’t been doing as much training as I planned because of lack of energy from the both of us.

Family

It being Christmas I have spent a lot of time with family without really having to do that much extra planning. It has been really nice and good since I wouldn’t have had the energy to plan lots of things. I also got many experience/activity based presents which means that I have lots of things to look forward to doing with family (both mine and Mr LILs) this spring that are already booked.

Friends

I had hoped that I would be able to meet lots of friends during December since I was off but because of the circumstances I have barely been able to meet any friends. That is okay though and what I have done is invited everyone to a party brunch at mine on the 6th of January to celebrate my birthday. I have said that I don’t want any presents just that everyone brings a bottle of bubbly that we can put in the pot. It’s going to be so much fun! Since I am starting a new job and a lot of energy is going to be directed to that I know that I probably wont be able to meet that many friends at first. So I’m giving myself permission to not focus that much of my energy on meeting friends until March when this theme is back again. Although I will try to get better at keeping in contact through texts and phone calls.

New connections

My plan was to find new contacts through the facebook communities that I am a part of (finding new girl friends, dog groups and hiking groups) and also to become more active in different blogging communities. I didn’t work on this resolution as much as I had hoped. Other than getting in contact with and going on a playdate with a couple that had a cavalier king charles spaniel puppy I haven’t really done anything else this month. Because of the same reason as above this area will also be on hold until March (except for new connections at work).

Blog

I have been working on the blog quite a bit, both with my pages and writing posts. I think that the first week of January (my last week before starting my new job) will be dedicated to setting up a blog strategy for this year and writing more posts that I can space out during the coming month.

My own interest

This is where most my my time in December has gone to. I have been reading books, laying puzzles, watching series, started to grow our own salad and herbs, decluttered our apartment some more, researching different areas of interest and reading lots of blogs. It has been so good to be able to take this time and both relax and spend some uninterrupted time researching and planning for our future.

This is a start to the theme and hopefully I am able to delve into these resolutions more in March.

Frugality update: It has been a very frugal month since I haven’t been doing much and we’ve eaten quite many dinners away (connected to Christmas and my birthday). The LIL wolfs vet bill was not very cheap although it came from our emergency fund that we have for precise this reason so hasn’t affected our normal monthly budget. It has also been very frugal to recieve gifts in the form of experiences since I will now get to do lots of fun things and not have to pay for them myself.

Successful Christmas

I must say that it was a really successful Christmas regarding getting no physical presents! I mostly got experiences which was what I wanted so now I’m looking forward to doing lots of fun things this spring. Among them are two spa visits, Escape room, a secret one and a symphony orchestra playing game of thrones music. Other than that I got a gift card for Amazon so I can buy some new books to my kindle, a shoe horn that my dad made and some wine.

Me and Mr LIL gave each other the start up material that we need for our new interest of growing salad and herbs indoors. This is my exception to the buy nothing new goal since I knew it was coming up and it would be hard to get the materials needed second hand. We thought that it would be a good gift to promote a more self sufficient lifestyle.

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