10 Ways to Start Living With Less

Many of us would love to minimize the amount of stuff we have in our lives, but don’t really know where to start. The culling process can, for some, be scary and for others, downright unimaginable. For people that fall into this category, we’ve compiled our favorite suggestions for minimizing your stuff.

1) 365 Items in 365 Days: If getting rid of a lot of stuff all at once gives you anxiety, commit to ridding your life of one item per day for a year. The item can be anything you wish it to be, but it must be donated, trashed, recycled, or gifted that day.

2) Expired Items: It’s very likely that you have medicine, beauty products, and food items in your home that are past their expiration dates. Throwing these items out is usually easy for most people, so it’s a great way to get into the spirit of culling.

3) One Item In, One Item Out: Although it won’t lessen your current possessions, committing to the goal of one item out for every item that comes into your home is a great way to maintain the current collection size.

4) Buy Multi-Purpose Products: Instead of buying many single-use products, choose products that have multiple functions. For example, you can save 3 products by buying a makeup with moisturizer, SPF, and anti-aging ingredients built in.

5) Clothing: According to statistics, we wear 20% of our clothing, 80% of the time. This says to us that you can donate a good portion of your clothing and not really notice the loss. Use the flip hanger technique once per season and cull the items that we’re not turned once.

6) Meal Planning: Americans often over-buy at the grocery store. Keep from committing this sin by planning your meals and grocery list before heading to the store. Do not buy anything off the list while there and you’ll notice less expired and wasted food in your kitchen over-time.) Unnecessary Buying: Have you ever gone to Target for toothpaste and come out with $200 worth of stuff? Keep the Target syndrome from happening to you, by taking into the store only the amount of cash you need to purchase the items on your list. By leaving the credit cards in the car, you’ll find you only leave with the items you absolutely needed.8) No Paper Rule: Almost all paper items in your life can be found in digital version. Bills, magazines, newspapers, coupon mailers, etc. can all be accessed online if necessary. Stop these things from entering your home by: signing up for a junk mail stop list, opting for paperless billing, reading magazines and news online, and committing to not printing unless absolutely necessary.9) Eliminate Duplicates: If you have multiples of certain items, donate, trash, or recycle them as an easy way to minimize the amount of stuff in your life. An common example of this is kitchen utensils. Often people have 3-4 of the same type of utensil, but typically only use their favorite. Get rid of the extras and you won’t even notice their gone.10) Examine the Excesses: Once per year, examine the things you have and decide what is really necessary. For example, if you pay for a gym membership, but have been once in the past few months, it’s not the best use of your finances. If your children have moved out and there are now just two people living in a 5 bedroom house, it could be time to downsize. If you pay for the premium movie channels in your cable package, but rarely watch them, shut them off and pocket the difference each month.

We hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for how you can live with less while not sacrificing in terms of lifestyle and happiness.

TWOW

GUEST POST: How To Plan a Party — Fast!

Recently, I was faced with quite the party planning conundrum. The date of my housewarming party in Brooklyn was one week away, and my significant other had just broken his arm. I knew I was on my own, on a budget and on the way to the nut house with anxiety. How on earth was I going to pull off a dinner party for 20 people that started at 8pm when I couldn’t be home until 6:30pm the day of??? By channeling my inner Well-Organized Woman, of course! Many of you will likely find yourself in similar stressful situations during this holiday season. Fear not! Read on for how I did it and how you can, too.

The most important thing you can do is to plan ahead and make lists — for EVERY aspect of the party. This includes menus, grocery shopping trips and the order of operations in the kitchen on the day of your party. By giving this thought ahead of time, you will be able to rely on the schedules you create to get things done throughout the week, rather than trying to remember your to-do lists in your scattered and stressed out head the night before.

  • Invitations: Save trees and create an e-vite. Everyone’s doing it! We also decided we would be happy to feed our friends, but we asked them to bring their favorite drink in the invitation. If however, you’ll be taking care of food and drinks, see below for how to buy alcohol smartly!
  • Budget: Set a reasonable budget and track your expenses. Ours was $300. Try your best to stick to this plan!
  • Supplies: ask yourself how you’ll serve the food and drinks. Plastic cups, plates and silverware make clean-up a breeze. Paper napkins with a holiday theme are fun, and you can usually get a good deal during the season on them. And don’t forget cookware! Make sure you have the right pots and pans — you don’t want to be stuck without a roasting pan an hour before your guests arrive!
  • Menus: ask yourself what you’ll serve and think about the friends who are coming to your gathering as you answer this question and make your list. For my gathering, we went casual with our food choices but did split our menu into 3 tiers: welcome snacks, appetizers and dinner.
    • Chips, pretzels and pita with salsa, white bean dip, and spinach/artichoke dip, as well as cheese, sausage, olives, almonds and dried fruit made up our welcome snacks – they were on the table as our guests arrived.
    • Appetizers included caprese salad, shrimp cocktail and italian meatballs with toasted baguette – they went out after everyone had arrived.
    • Dinner was our favorite at-home meal, rotisserie chicken with seasoned rice and a unique salad that included roasted cauliflower – this went out after everyone had a cocktail or two and some snacks.
    • For dessert, a homemade apple pie. We turned this into more of a fun group activity – some of our guests helped cut up the apples with us!
  • Grocery Shopping by Days of the Week: Split your shopping and tasks up by days of the week and create a to-do list foreach day. Work backwards in order of freshness. For the ingredients that need to be at made the same day they are eaten (rotisserie chicken, shrimp cocktail, and baguettes, for example), buy those the day of your party. Ingredients such as produce, sausages, cheeses, fresh olives and sauces can be purchased the day before the party. They will keep overnight. Dry goods (rice and pasta, chips, nuts and dried fruit) and supplies (see above) should be picked up well ahead of time. You’ll feel like you have a head start on your shopping, and these things will keep with no worry to you.
  • Alcohol: Though we asked our friends to bring their favorite drinks, we did buy some alcohol — but we were smart about it. Trader Joe’s makes wonderful wines for $3-5 per bottle! You can’t beat that. Or try a store like Costco for great deals in bulk.
  • HELP: recruit a friend to help you that evening. She can pour chips in bowls and cut up ingredients while you are cooking.
  • Party Outfit: Decide what this will be and lay it out the night before, right down to the hosiery, shoes, jewelry and makeup you’ll need.
  • Day Of: To declutter your mind, make a list of every step you need to take from the moment you walk in the door to the moment you put out the food, including getting dressed for the party. Put the responsibility down on paper! Once it’s on the list, it can be out of your mind. Here’s an example of my list to get you thinking in an organized and ordered manner..
    • Pull any frozen meats out of freezer to defrost that morning (example: ground meat for meatballs).
    • When you come home, put on your party dress and touch up your makeup FIRST, otherwise, you will not have time to do it. Trust me. Since you laid it all out the night before, this should be quick and easy.
    • I knew I had two items that needed to be prepped and baked. They had the same baking time and similar temperatures, so I took care of preparing the dishes (artichoke dip and roasted cauliflower) and put them into the oven. The rice was also set to take the same amount of time to cook, so I put that to boil at the same time the dishes went into the oven. As they baked, I chopped veggies and blended my other dip in the food processor, while my friend opened our supplies and put things in bowls on the table.
    • Once our guests arrived, I put the rotisserie chickens (store bought) into the oven to warm them up while guests munched on snacks, ate appetizers and sipped cocktails.
    • Dinner was then served followed by pie baking. Don’t forget to eat!

    And finally, once the guests are gone, do a quick clean up by placing bottles and cans on the counter, dishes in the sink and trash by the door. You can do all the major cleaning the next day but you’ll be happy you pre-organized your efforts. –Elise, Social Media Director and Contributing Blogger

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