Low Impact Life

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January frugality

This post is part of my happiness project which you can read about here.

Happy New Year from the LIL family!

January has started which means that I’m revisiting and revising my frugality resolutions. On the 8th of January I start my new job and knowing that it takes a lot of energy to experience totally new things I am probably just going to come home after work and collapse on the sofa. This is good from a frugal point of view since I won’t have any energy to do stuff after work. There are unknowns of course and there are two things that I have given myself some time to figure out which will cost me some extra money:

Lunch time: if everyone eats out I have given myself a free card to eat out until I figure out how to eat my lunch box. I don’t want to start my job missing out on lunch time with my new colleagues (I am hoping that some of them eat lunch boxes so this won’t be an issue).

Biking to work: I am going to take public transport to work until I feel comfortable with biking there. I will test bike the way this week (after I fix my bikes gears that have broken) so I can figure out the route without being stressed about getting to work on time.

Other than those two points I will keep to my resolutions of not eating out, not buying anything new, borrowing books at the library or with my giftcard for Amazon that I recieved for Christmas, biking when I can and optimizing food shopping.

We started recording all our expenses and income in August so we’ve had a couple of months during 2017 to figure out how much we actually spend on average per month. From this I have put together a general budget to keep in mind (a more detailed post on this is coming). Now that 2018 has started me and Mr LIL are increasing our savings and working on keeping as close to the budget as we can. So January will be first month actually working towards a set budget and not just recording how the month turned out.

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.

The complete transformation of my bathroom cabinet

I think the bathroom cabinet is where I have come the furthest on my Low Impact/zero waste/minimalist journey and it was where I started. I think it is quite a transformation which I am so happy about! I now have full control of what goes on my skin and have reduced the environmental impact of my bathroom cabinet substantially! So what have I done?

My starting point wasn’t too bad but I had a lot of products that I “might use sometime” in another cabinet. I counted in my post here (Swedish) how many products I used frequently and the result of 20 different products suprised me since I thought I was quite minimalistic. Here they are:

Tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, dry shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, face wash, face cream, make up remover, hand lotion, soap, body lotion, lip balm, perfume, mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner, powder and rouge. 

If you also add less frequently used products such as sun screen, nail polish, nail polish remover, hair mask, bronzing powder, concealer, lipstick, night cream, face mask, hair oil and detangler spray I used a total of 31 products! Here are the steps that I have taken:

  1. I immediately threw out the product that had harmful ingredients (see list of chemicals to avoid in my post here).
  2. When researching potentially dangerous chemicals in beauty products I realized that 1. the industry controls itself when it comes to ingredients used and 2. that there are no regulations on labeling. I decided that the easiest way to take control and not having to stay updated on what chamicals to avoid was to make my own products or get as natural and organic products that I can find.
  3. I bought certified organic products like face cream, mascara, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and tooth paste without fluoride.
  4. I replace products with sustainable alternatives: I bought an alun stone for deodorant, natural sponge instead of tampons, a metal saftey razor, bamboo toothbrush, boar bristle wooden brush, glass nail file and reusable fabric cotton pads.
  5. Then along came coconut oil! I use it for washing my face, shaving my legs and as a hair mask together with almond oil.
  6. I also make my own face mask from bentonite clay and active charcoal and my own face cream. I use corn starch as dry schampoo.
  7. I’ve pretty much stopped using all make up except for mascara. Both because I want to let my skin breathe and that it is very hard to find organic make up that isn’t very expensive. So I’ve just gotten used to not wearing make up. I have also stopped using perfume.

So this is what my bathroom cabinet looks like now:

So the products I use now are:

tooth paste, schampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, mascara, coconut oil, corn starch, bentonite clay, active charcoal, almond oil, beeswax and aloe vera. 

Total: 13 products and quite a different list than the first one since most of them are edible. I still use make up occasionally as I mentioned above and still own nail polish though I haven’t used it in a very long time (and will probably throw them out soon). So what do I have left to do?

As soon as my body lotion is used up I will go over to using my DIY face cream for my body too. When I’ve used up my schampoo I’m going to try a schampoo bar so that I don’t have to buy plastic containers. I will try to find almond oil in a glass jar when my current one runs out. I still use my plastic razor since I wanted to use up the disposable heads (I’m on my last one now) so I will have to learn how to use the metal safety razor soon. But other than that I think that I have done everything that I set out to do. It feels very empowering to have taken control of chemical intake on at least one area. Since I’ve eliminated a lot of products and I’m making most of my other ones it is also in line with my frugality resolutions.

Taking control over my consumer impulses

Me and Mr LIL decided that because of environmental and minimalistic (and that we actually don’t need anything) reasons to skip physical presents this year  and instead asking for activity based presents. Although I have obviously gotten fewer and fewer presents over the years (last year my top present was a cast iron pot and frying pan) this year is the first year we have actively told people that we don’t want physical things. It feels really good to be alined with our values but I can still feel a twinge of my old self hanging around wanting to unwrap presents and feeling the excitement of getting new stuff.

It’s the same twinge that rears it’s head when walking by shops telling me that “I just want to see if I find something” or wanting to buy things as soon as I think of a need. Since I am on my year of not buying anything new I have taken time to actually register and stop my impluses concerning wanting and buying stuff. It is really hard at times, just last night was a great example. I have been checking second hand sites for a pair of ski poles lately but haven’t found any yet. The feeling of wanting to get them NOW overpowered me so I started looking at online stores and found some nice and cheap ski poles. I even got to the order button before my logical brain kicked in and closed down the web page. It is crazy how strong the feeling of wanting to buy new stuff is and it is for precise this reason that this year of not buying anything is so valuable. I need to learn how to be in more control of what I buy and not just following my desires in the heat of the moment. Going back again to Navy SEAL Jocko Willinck’s quote:

By buying things I don’t really need I’m taking myself away from my long term goals which are so much more important to me than for example new ski poles. This year I will have to exercise my willpower and discipline but I hope that by the end of the year I will be stronger for it. That’s why getting no physical presents is also an excercise of discipline, registering that the want of new things is there but then learning to redirect my focus to my values instead and feeling content with what I have. Like going off sugar, it really sucks in the beginning and takes a lot of mental willpower and hard work but then you get used to the new normal and don’t think about it anymore. That’s where I want to be, having new mental pathways programmed so that my first instinct isn’t to buy something.

DIY face cream

Since I want to make more of my own natural beauty products I tried making my own face cream. I found a recipe on Pinterest that I wanted to try out, although I didn’t have enough aloe vera and used almond oil instead of jojoba oil so I didn’t follow it completely. You can check out the real recipe and amounts on The Prairie Homestead. Mine turned out sightly oiliy (which could be that I didn’t use the right amount of aleo vera) but it still sunk in to my skin after a bit and made it really soft so I consider it a success! If you keep it in the fridge it will last for around 4 months. Before I was buying organic face cream that was quite expensive so making my own will both save me money and give me the satisfaction of knowing exactly what I put on my skin.

The ingredients I used: coconut oil, almond oil, bees wax and aloe vera

the finished product!

Minimalist living

I read a book on minimalism I borrowed from the library called Prylbanta. It is written by a couple who’s blog I follow (Swedish): Minimalisterna. It was good but more written to people that want to start their journey towards minimalism. There wasn’t really any new content for me personally since I’ve already done a deep dive into minimalism earlier but it served as a reminder and revival of my minimalist thoughts.

What resonated most for me from the book was the part where they describe the fact that we have so many things to have our other things in. That it is quite crazy to go out and buy more stuff so that you can organize your existing stuff instead of evaluating if you really need all the things to start with. A lot of your living space is dedicated to things that hold other things, i.e. closets, dressers, sideboards, kitchen cabinets and drawers, bathroom cabinets, tv benches, cleaning cupboards, books shelves, hallway shelves, display cabinets, cellars, attics an so much more. The purpose of most furniture sold is to hold other things. How much of your living space is actually a passive storage space for your stuff? How much do you pay for this passive use of space? You can calculate this by roughly adding the space that your larger storage systems take together and then either looking at how much you pay per month for that space if you are renting or how much you payed for that space when you bought it. It gives the perspective that the cost for our stuff isn’t just tied to the purchasing price but also the space to store them. By minimizing our stuff we reduce the need for storage systems, which in turn reduces the need of living space, which in the end reduces one of the most costly expenses that we have in our lives: our living space.

Update leisure time

Since I was sick the first week into my five weeks of freedom (still coughing a bit) at the same time as LIL wolf has not been well the leisure category has been off to a slow start. Not feeling well and having a dog that we need to stay home for is not the recipe for success when it comes to social interaction. Therefore the focus has been on LIL wolf, my own interests and the blog so far. I have read two books and lots of blog posts, taken many long walks, started my latest puzzle and my newest project: growing herbs and lettuce indoors (more on that in a seperate post). I have also been writing blog posts and worked on my pages (check out About and Frugality to see what I’ve been up to).

The seedlings are coming along really well 🙂

On a frugal/minimalist side note me and Mr LIL have gone through our things and given away three bags of clothes and things to a second hand store and two bags to the textile recycling. I have also put up a pair of hiking pants that are too big, a sideboard and my old pair of skiis on Blocket (a Swedish second hand website) and I hope I willl be able to sell them this weekend.

Three year anniversary

The plan was to go to a pool and spa and relax for our three year anniversary but the LIL wolf wasn’t feeling her best (no need to go into details here…) so there was a change of plan. Instead we stayed home and decorated our very first Christmas tree while snacking on bacon wrapped dates, gluten free ginger bread and brie and mulled wine. And since we never have pizza usually we made gluten free pop pizza for dinner and topped off the evening with rewatching the first Lord of the Rings movie. So our anniversary turned out really nice anyways (although we’re still planning on going to the pool when it works out).

The time with Mr LIL feels both really long and really short at the same time. We’ve done so much and developed ourselves a lot since we’ve been together so it feels weird that it’s only been three years. What I love most about our relationship is not the cool holidays and perfect date nights but that every single normal day I feel happy and blessed to share my life with him. It really is the small things like walking the LIL wolf together, sitting on the couch doing different things but now and then connecting, cooking together, falling asleep together, looking over at the other person in social settings and thinking that you’re mine, getting a text during the day of silly clips or something that reminded the other person of you, making plans for our future, greeting each other when we come home and so much more. It all adds up to become the beautiful thing that is our relationship. Don’t get me wrong the holidays are great too it’s just that we’re not zoned out waiting for them but enjoying every single day.

This ties in so nicely with our goal of frugality and working towards financial independence because the things I mentioned don’t cost money and what we want most is just to have time together. We only live once so having to spend the next 40 years coming home tired and stressed from work with no energy for each other and only having limited vacation days together is not what we want. Instead we think it’s worth giving up dinners out, expensive and frequent holidays abroad, fancy cars, unnecessary stuff and a large home to be able to have more time for us and what we want to do and not having to worry about money. I’m looking forward to what the next three years will bring 🙂

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