Striving For Simplicity

Simple living really appeals to me.

I like watching shows about people living in tiny homes. They have rid of most of their possessions and are choosing to dwell in a small space, now physically and financially free to pursue their dreams.

My favorite Instagram feeds feature beautiful spaces: uncluttered marble cabinets highlighting a vase of fresh flowers, steaming cups of coffee on a clear workspace, perfectly made beds with perfect children playing with their perfectly neat toys on the perfect rug below.

Yum! Courtesy of

I used to just assume anyone taking such photos would be carefully shoving their “piles of crap,” as my daughter likes to call my messes, out of the frame. And perhaps they are. But I’m sick of our own, um, crap piles.

In the past year in particular, beginning upon the birth of my third child, I’ve realized how deeply I’m tethered to my stuff and just how much of it I really have.

More specifically, I’ve realized how much my ownership has stopped me from enjoying life.

I follow a popular blogger called Momma’s Gone City, and last week she shared a photo of her infant – her youngest of her five children – napping alongside the family pup. Her caption simply read, “The best things in life aren’t complicated.”

It resonated with me. Unfortunately, I tend to complicate things just by being who I am. I’m a hoarder of photos, papers, digital files, baby clothes, anything that I think could hold some meaningful memory. And I’m missing some of the better parts of life because of it.

Instead of spending chunks of my days shuffling through stuff – washing clothes I don’t like, sorting papers I don’t need, organizing toys we don’t use, looking for that thing I lost among the piles – I want to enjoy more time with my family doing memorable things.

I want to:

  • Play Barbies with my daughters
  • Blow bubbles
  • Learn how to make macarons
  • Go for meaningless drives
  • Run through sprinklers
  • Make a shade garden
  • Plant rose bushes
  • Read a book
  • Write more often
  • Create memory books for my kids

These goals aren’t exactly lofty, but they do require elimination of what I’m currently using to fill my time. I began purging some of our belongings earlier in the year, and I already can breathe a little easier in my bid to take back the life stuff has been stealing from me. So far, I’ve:

  • Sold all the baby gear I no longer can use.
  • Sold most of the clothes my kids have outgrown (and am still working on selling and donating more).
  • Hosted a garage sale and joined in two more with friends and family. We rid ourselves of a lot of knick-knacks and larger household items we no longer needed (example: the multiple sets of dishes we had for nearly 14 years of marriage, all of which I hated, finally had to go).
  • Sorted through the stacks of magazines and catalogs I’ve hoarded (why do I even do that?). I used to only subscribe to one magazine, but I kept every issue. I now have zero subscriptions and have sent several bags to the recycling center.
  • Printed photos, framed them, and have started to organize the rest on my computer for online albums and storage.
  • Filed away papers I actually need, tossing the rest. (I used to keep every single drawing my kids made).

I can’t pretend I’m Marie Kondo over here – I can probably still pick up any item in my closet, tell you it doesn’t actually spark joy, yet decide I have to wear something, joy or not. I’ll keep working on that one.

But my spaces are becoming clearer, my laundry loads lighter, and my thoughts less filled with what to do with my possessions.

I’ll keep updating as I make my way through the mess. But for now, I have a Lego playdate with my girls.

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Dat Side Hustle, Tho

Ahh, the side hustle.

As much as I hate that term, I’m well acquainted with the art of the side gig, the extra work, whatever you’re doing for pay when you’re not at your 9-5. I come from a line of people working a variety of jobs at one time. My great uncle and grandfather each had full-time jobs and large families and simultaneously were market gardeners. My Dad has done the same. My grandmother grew flowers and operated as a florist and peddled her wares alongside my grandfather – and at age 87, she’s still at it, taking veggies and flowers to market and fulfilling orders for her long-time customers.

When I worked full-time, I also sold scrapbooking supplies through a company and hosted events for my customers to work on their albums. Additionally, I took sports photos for a local newspaper.

So when I see posts popping up from popular money-saving sites about the side hustle, I often click on them for inspiration. I’ve been left deflated most of the time. Suggestions range from opening a new bank account for a bonus – a one-time action – to opening my home on airbnb, something I don’t think any traveler would be interested in at the moment. Therefore, I’ll share with you some of the ways I’ve made extra money that are doable.

This is a stock photo. I don’t have man-hands.

First of all, I suggest you learn about shipping to maximize your earning potential. It isn’t difficult, just something I never really knew anything about until I bothered to learn. I bought a cheap scale on Amazon (scroll to the bottom for a link to the one I have – I’m a big fan) and found a chart that tells me how much it will cost to mail per ounce. I also familiarized myself with flat-rate boxes. It took a bit of trial and error, but now I think it is simple. Of course, you can also package your item and head to the post office for a quote, but I find it easier (and cheaper) to print my own labels at home. I usually hit the post office at the same time as a local elderly etsy seller, so I’m confident you can figure it out with a little googling.

  1. Amazon Selling. This is much easier than you might think. I recently took a magazine I had no use for, an architectural digest I perused while planning to build a home. I took a photo of the cover, listed the details on the website, and when it sold, Amazon sent me an email letting me know it was time to ship. Because it was a magazine, I shipped inexpensively via media mail and netted a decent profit for something I would have otherwise recycled.
  2. Ebay Selling. This may be something you’ve considered and wrote it off as too difficult. The app has been my favorite thing. Every Sunday, I locate something in my home I no longer want, snap a few pictures, and list on ebay. I might start with a search in the app for similar products and shipping prices. I might weigh my object on my scale to get an idea of what it will cost to ship. But the entire process takes minimal time, and by the next Sunday, if my item sells, I prepare it to ship the next day. Easy peasy.
  3. Instagram Selling. My sister and I both have resale “stores” on Instagram where we list our outgrown children’s clothes and adult clothing. We simply name our price for what we list and if someone wants it, they contact us. By networking with other shops doing the same thing, I’ve made several sales so far. I’ve also worked to build myself a good reputation by shipping quickly and by making sure the items are as described (much like on ebay). We invoice them through paypal (go to “send and request” and “create invoice” and enter your details there). When they pay, we ship, which is also handled through paypal. Because I’m cheap, I save my old packaging materials in a box and use them to ship, so I’m only out the cost of my packing tape.
  4. Garage Sales. As rudimentary as this sounds, if you have a lot of stuff to rid of, it can be worth the time it takes to commandeer one of these. My friend hosted a garage sale last month, and I joined. My sister is in the process of moving, so we hosted a garage sale together last weekend. Those sales not only netted me a bit of extra cash, but rid of items I had deemed no longer useful. Additionally, I had several large baby items, which my local charity shops won’t accept, and instead I was able to help out fellow moms looking for a good deal. If you have a sale with friends, it can be fun, too!
  5. Lionbridge or Leapforce. These companies are real and legit. I worked for Lionbridge until I was no longer able to meet the requirements thanks to a difficult pregnancy. They pay well and the work is somewhat entertaining, and all from home. All it takes is studying the requirements and testing into the program, and you work a minimum of hours per week. You can also earn bonuses for the quality of your work. Openings are listed on their respective websites. I remember reading that someone made “only” $800 per month through Lionbridge, and I thought of all the things I could buy here in rural USA with that amount. It was worth it for me.
  6. Ibotta. I downloaded ibotta onto my phone a year or two ago, but never really did anything with it. But a few months ago, I hit Target pretty hard and opened the app. I simply chose the items I was interested in buying, then took a photo of my receipt when I was finished and submitted it. I got a message back saying it was received, and there was money in my account. Even though I primarily shop at Aldi, I have earned over $100 this year with almost zero effort. You get $10 just to sign up! Here is my link:
  7. Ebates. This app (or website) is even easier than Ibotta. Let’s say I want to buy something at Old Navy. I just open Ebates and click on the Old Navy icon and shop as usual. When I’ve placed my order, I’ll receive cash back in my account. I especially like to do this with Kohl’s when they already have 30% off and free shipping. I often forget I have this link, and I don’t do a ton of online shopping anymore. However, I’ve still made $30 this year from items I would have purchased anyway. Sign up through my link:
  8. The part-time gig. I’ve worked as a sports photographer for about 12 years now in a part-time, freelance capacity. I currently work for a television station, and the position also allows me to stay home with my babies. But this spring, I asked a local restaurant if they ever hired someone for a night or two per week. I had never worked as a server before, but I was interested in netting a bit of extra cash to send my husband back to finish his grad degree, as he only lacks a class or two. Anyway, they said yes, and asked me to start the next day. I’m only filling in there every now and then at this point, but it was a rewarding (although tough!) way to make an extra buck.

Those are the top eight ways I’ve added some extra cash to my family’s budget while I’m a stay-at-home mom of three. My middle daughter heads to school this fall and I have a few more ideas in the works, so stay tuned!

What have you done to add to your income?

Here’s the scale I own and love:

Prime Day

For the past several months, my husband and I have done our best to refrain from spending money. Instead, we’ve been doing our best to rid of unnecessary belongings and we’ve picked up some side work (but more on that later).

Enter Prime Day.

We are Amazon Prime subscribers. We have watched a few series through Amazon video streaming (Justified!) and enjoy Kindle services, and of course the two-day shipping. I have a long Amazon wish list, as do my children and my husband. But since I’m trying to save and not spend, I’ll stick to browsing for items I use regularly or that I’ve been waiting for a good deal to buy.

Here’s what I’m pondering:

Seagate External Hard Drives, because I have a Mac and a PC and only one hard drive, and that’s no bueno:

Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens, because these are my jam and my kids won’t stop stealing mine: 

Prime Pantry Items. My introversion and love for a deal at my doorstep could really be satisfied if I take advantage of the $10 off a $60 pantry purchase. I love this Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day soap (although this link isn’t for Prime Pantry soap – it won’t let me share that for some reason – you should check out Prime Pantry if you haven’t).

Baby Cage, because my baby fell and bloodied his lip right next to me while I tried to write this. 

I think that’s all I’ll consider for today, although I would really like this item from my wish list, even though it’s not a prime deal today:

What have you bought or what will you buy on Prime Day?

*Update: I actually bought a desktop fan with USB port for my husband for work, a book for my nephew, and an American Girl mini Addy doll and book for my daughter for her birthday. Now I’ll try to abstain from Amazon purchasing for a while.