Owning fewer things makes me feel more free inside. I get joy from carting useless or underused stuff out of my house to the local Goodwill donation center. Having clean sight lines in the home is a pleasure, and I can see and better appreciate the things I choose to keep when there are fewer of them.
So, today’s lifestyle tip is really a work in progress: if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
No doubt about it: technology is a boon for leaving a lighter footprint and spending less time and energy on the administrivia of life. You can carry your entire book collection in the palm of your hand, or visit your credit card provider’s website from any device anywhere in the world instead of stuffing a file cabinet with paper statements.
But as I discussed in last week’s post about email, the online world can also function like a closet. You can stuff things in there with no rhyme or reason, making the entire endeavor useless and frustrating until you hide it behind a door (or an off switch). It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve developed a stable of digital tricks that help keep me productive and organized, and help keep my family charging forward through life. None of them costs any money, by the way.
I’m trying something new today, or at least new for the blog. I’ve been emailing friends, colleagues and family members links to interesting news items ever since I’ve had email. Even before that, we had a tradition in my family of snail-mailing around clippings from newspapers. And some of my favorite blogs do a weekly news roundup.
So here goes. Something to fill the time between blog posts, and hopefully, a few things to brighten your day.
Pete Souza: Photographing the Real Barack Obama – The Guardian
Just the latest in a series of “I’m going to miss that guy” stories I’ve been reading lately. Nice discussion about the role of imagery and the symbolism of the presidency.
Lindy and I have been working our way through Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’re not nearly to the point of saying everything we own sparks joy, and I don’t know if our socks are feeling their life force because of the way they’re folded and stored. But I’ve written much and plan to write plenty more in this space about minimalism: not owning more than you need, enjoying what you have and focusing on what’s most important in life.
As an early pioneer of online technologies, I realized pretty quickly that digital clutter is a pervasive threat to a minimalist lifestyle. It’s just like stuffing everything behind a closet door: you can’t always see it, but it’s still there.
Here’s the first thing I do to keep my online life tidy: Inbox Zero.
I’d like to introduce you to Roxanne. She’s our new second car, or our tiny house on wheels. She is a Flame Red 2015 Winnebago Travato 59G, built on the Ram ProMaster platform. We’ve just returned from a brief road trip to North Carolina, where we picked her up before stopping for the night at a campground outside Richmond, Virginia.
In theory, I’m a fiscally responsible grown-up. Or at least I think enough of my financial skills to write about them on my blog. I read about a dozen frugality and early retirement blogs regularly, own and have given away copies of “Your Money or Your Life.” I employ the services of a fee-only financial planner, and have never bounced a check or had a bill go into collection. I’m the chief financial officer of our household.
Lindy and I were customers of discount mobile carrier Ting for two months. We’ve switched back to T-Mobile.
I so wanted to like Ting. The concept was right up my alley: a frugal way to do cell phone service. To me, frugality means not paying for things you don’t need and not paying too much for the things you do. That’s exactly how Ting markets itself.
We’ve covered uniforms, gear bags and meal plans. This week’s edition of how I keep my head on straight: I rely heavily on the service known as Amazon Prime.
Is this blog becoming a place for paid shilling? No, Amazon didn’t pay me to write this. And yes, it’s true that if any of the tens of readers of this blog sign up for a Prime trial or use my affiliate links, I’ll make a buck or two. But I’m not such an easy endorser. Amazon Prime has made my hectic life much easier in so many ways, any one of which could be worth the $99 annual price.
Much earlier today, Lindy and XY enjoyed a hotel breakfast while I took to the trail. On a perfect 50-degree morning in suburban Hartford, I pounded out nearly seven solitary, fast and enjoyable miles. I had Cory Booker in my ears, and only the occasional baby squirrel or passing cyclist for company.