A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Finances

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

“When you simplify your financial picture, you are loving and serving your family well.” -Emily Ley, A Simplified Life

Well, when you put it that way……….

Money is so tricky.  It’s at the root of so much what goes on in our daily lives.  And we’re not born knowing how to handle it.  Many of us (me!) were never taught how to handle money and had to learn some lessons the hard way.

No matter what your history is with finances, you can start making healthy financial decisions today.  Decisions that serve you and your family well.

5 Steps to Simplifying Finances

1 – Become a Numbers Person

This isn’t an area of life where not being “good” at something is an excuse not to do it.  Adult up.  Learn the ins and outs of managing your finances.

Start with the glossary of terms she lays out on pages 83-84, then talk to a professional who is good at this stuff.  We’ll talk more about that in number 3.

2 – Implement a Family System That Works

Find a system that works for you.  What have you done in the past?  What worked?  What didn’t work?  Built off of that to figure what you need.

Dave Ramsey has some great resources to get you started and Every Dollar is a great budget management tool.

Through our seven years of marriage, we’ve had a few different forms of a budget.

In our early days it entailed a whiteboard in our kitchen.  We were both paid monthly, so we’d pay all of our bills, then whatever amount was left was written at the top of the board.  As we spent, that amount got subtracted and when it got to zero, we knew there was no more spending until the next paycheck.  How quaint is that?  Now we use a spreadsheet with columns, equations and color codes.

Whatever system you choose, who does what has to be clearly defined and well-communicated.  One of the many financial lessons I’ve learned the hard way…..

Now, my husband is paid weekly – every Friday.  So, on Thursday night, we sit down in front of that beautifully color-coded spreadsheet and talk through that week’s payroll.  What bills are due that week, extra expenses that have come up, where to designate giving and what to do with the extra (I wish this was a conversation had more often than it is…..).  Neither of us look forward to it.  Or enjoy it.  But it is necessary.  And it has been a game-changer in our house for understanding our financial state.

3 – Find a Trusted Advisor

Shortly after getting married, my husband and I bought a small life insurance policy.  We felt so responsible.  A mere three years later, upon reflecting on that policy, we realized that it was not even close to what we needed.  In those three years, we had purchased a different home, had two children and I was no longer working full-time.

We met with an advisor that my husband has known most of his life.  We had to have the humility to say “I don’t know anything about any of this.  Teach me.”  It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it was one of the best decisions we made.

4 – Decrease Debt

I like thinking about debt like clutter – that it is junking up our lives.  Debt is exhausting and emotionally and mentally draining.  And yet, so many of us have it.  A lot of it.

Choosing to be debt free – and making the lifestyle choices that get you there – is incredibly hard.  We are in the midst of it now, and it is a daily battle.

DAILY.

I want all the things.  And with the click of a couple buttons, I can have them on my doorstep in a matter of days.  Temptation is lurking everywhere.

But there is a better way to live.  The sacrifices and the hard choices are worth it.

5 – Use One Method for Expenses

We think we’re better at multi-tasking our spending than we are.  Whatever method you choose for paying expenses (we have found that cash is best), find one and stick with the same one.  Simplification is the goal here, and this is the epitome of simplifying.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

 

Honestly, this is an area where I feel completely inadequate to give any kind of advice.  This is a real struggle for our family.  But we desire to do this well and we’re working through it.  It ain’t pretty, but we’re getting there.  One small choice at a time.

“No matter how much money you make or how much have in the bank, finances are stressful.” – Emily Ley, A Simplified Life

Read some of Emily Ley’s money saving tips here.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Schedule

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

“I realized that my problem wasn’t my lack of an amazing quick-fix planner.  I was over committed and couldn’t manage it all.” – Emily Ley, A Simplified Life

This chapter right here is what drew me to this book.  This is where I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water.  In an attempt to “maximize my days”, I’ve found that I have packed every single minute of the day with some form of productivity and it is just too much.

Our time is is our most precious resource and we get to decide how to spend it.  This was made clear to me when I worked full-time for the first year of my daughter’s life.  I never had any intention of being a stay-at-home mom.  I loved working and I loved my job.  But after her first birthday, it became clear to me that I would never get that time back.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Simplifying our schedules begins with learning how to focus on what we’re doing and that can only be done with we’ve created margin in our life.

That is HARD.

It requires being honest with yourself (or, finding a friend or spouse who can be honest with you and to whom you can hear their assessments) and making tough decisions.  It requires stopping glorifying the over-busy life and constantly chasing the next achievement.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

The perspective changer for me as I read these pages was this:

Don’t think of saying no as a missed opportunity, think of it as saying “Yes!” to margin.

Start by asking yourself what success looks like to you and then thinking through the changes that need to be made – and the no’s that need to be said – to get there.

  1. Don’t ditch the serious, non-negotiable responsibilities (again, this requires being honest with yourself and maybe inciting the help of someone close to you to decipher what those are)
  2. Find standing appointments that can be removed
  3. Learn how to say yes to the things that matter (that’s probably not as much as you think it is!) and no to the things that are driving you in the wrong direction
  4. Seek out breathing room in your schedule

I love her examples of the routines she’s set up in her family.  None of them work for us, but the purpose behind them is our goal.

Her reminder that simplified schedules and routines have to be wrapped in grace should be plastered on the walls of our house.  All too often, I become a slave to our “routines”.  A goal of having them actually work half the time is one I need to remember.

Ideally, breakfast is eaten and kids are dressed by 8AM.  From 8-9, the kids do their “jobs” (brush their teeth & hair, make their bed, put their shoes on and read) while I do my daily chore(s).  That gives us a framework and a goal.  And on the mornings when the kids are still in their pajamas at 8:30 and there have been a cumulative 7 time-outs between the two children, the routine gets thrown out the window and the new goal becomes love, grace and patience.  In that order.  For me and them.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Read more on Emily Ley’s Blog about Simplifying Schedules here and here.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.comSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Meals

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

As a mom of two young children, I have often thought that I wish that we didn’t need to eat; that we could just get our nutrition in a way that didn’t require so much WORK.

But, alas, God chose to create us the way that He did, so let’s make the best of it.  Let’s enjoy our food.  That’s actually not hard.  There’s sooo much good food out there.  But enjoying the process of getting the food to the enjoyable state?  Ugh, that’s just more work.

“Dinnertime is often rushed and chaotic – a rowdy capstone on a busy day rather than a sacred respite from busyness.” (Pg. 45)

Reading that sentence was convicting.

Simplifying Meals starts in the space where those meals come to fruition – The Kitchen.

1 – Declutter

Start in food spaces (i.e. fridge & pantry) and then move on to storage spaces (where cooking tools and equipments are stored).  Paring these spaces down to only what you need and use shaves precious minutes off of meal prep time, which means more minutes to enjoy the good stuff.

2 – Create Zones

When putting items back after decluttering, group them into zones.  Think about how and where you use items and place them accordingly.  This isn’t going to be able to be done perfectly, even in the most customized kitchen, but start with that as your goal in mind and get as close as you can to the end result.

3 – Beware of over-organizing

Don’t be swayed by pretty matching containers and labels with perfect hand-writing.  While those tools can be helpful, they can also complicate a process unnecessarily.  If maintaining an “organizational process” is complicated and taking too much time, then it’s not worth it.  The goal of organization should be simplifying and making things easier and quicker to do.

Pretty bins may make things easier to find.  That’s great.  But they may also add another step to your grocery process that doesn’t end up saving you time in the long-run.  That’s not great.

4 – Make Mealtime Special

Create patterns or traditions that focus on the relationships with the people with whom you share your meals.  Emily Ley suggests saying a blessing together, using the meal time to talk about the day and creating an atmosphere that makes the time together set apart (she suggests doing this by using your best dishes and tableware).  The food on the plates doesn’t determine this atmosphere – your heart and mind do.

Meal Planning is an integral part in simplifying meals.

3 Tricks to Successful Meal Planning

  1. Start with your family’s schedule and plan meals accordingly
  2. Be realistic about what you are willing to cook and the time you have to do it
  3. Create a list of tried and true recipes that your family enjoys and that you know how to make well

Planning meals saves time during the week and makes dinner prep simpler.  Who doesn’t want that?

HOW you meal plan (i.e. weekly, monthly, choosing meals without assigning them to specific days) matters less than creating the habit and making sure you do it.  Don’t overcomplicate this process and don’t try to reinvent the wheel with each meal.

One of our family’s favorite traditions is “Snacky Supper”.  Every other Sunday night, we have Bible Study where we have potluck suppers.  On the Sunday nights when we don’t have Bible Study, we cut up meat and cheese and put them on a tray with crackers.  We put fruits and veggies on another tray and bring it all to our TV room where we enjoy “Snacky Supper” while watching a show or playing a game.  Our children literally shriek with excitement when it’s “Snacky Supper Night!!!”.  It’s the most pathetic excuse for a meal, but at 3 and 5, each of our kids already have fun memories of a special family time.

The thing about meal planning is that we all have to eat and we have to make the decision what to eat and we have to buy the stuff to eat.  Making those unavoidable decisions earlier rather than later saves time and puts us in a frame of mind to be able to enjoy the process together when we’re not ‘under the gun’ to get food on the table.

Read more on Emily Ley’s Blog about Simplified Meal Time.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.comSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

My Non-Capsule Wardrobe Capsule Wardrobe

My Non-Capsule Wardrobe Capsule Wardrobe :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I have done seasonal capsule wardrobes (Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring) for the past twelve months and loved it.  Here’s why:

  1. Creating seasonal capsules helped me evaluate what I need and what I like to wear
  2. Fewer choices made decision making faster and easier
  3. I purchased less clothes because I knew that I didn’t need it and when I did buy clothes, I was more strategic about what I bought
  4. Taught me a new level of contentment
  5. I finally honed in what my style actually is

I now have a year’s worth of clothes that FIT, that I LOVE, that fit my STYLE and that don’t overwhelm me.

However, when the time came to choose my summer capsule wardrobe a month ago, I was frustrated by the process.

After choosing my shorts (I don’t wear skirts), tees and tank tops, I was stuck.  I wear a combination of those items 75% of the time in the summer.  Of the six pair of jeans that I own (and need for a Minnesota winter), I couldn’t decide which one or two to decide to wear and which four I wouldn’t wear over the course of the next three months.  The same went for sweatshirts and long-sleeve shirts.

Ruling out items that I love, get worn and have for other seasons seemed silly to me.

I don’t need two sweatshirts in a summer capsule wardrobe, but the one of the two that wouldn’t get included in my summer capsule will just sit in a drawer waiting for Fall to come.  Why not wear it if it’s chilly and that’s what I want to wear?

So, I resolved to curate a Summer Capsule Wardrobe made up of only summer pieces and when weather or occasion dictates something else be worn, I choose something from my options from another season.

Why This Works:

  • The last year of creating capsule wardrobes has prepared me for this.  I no longer have a surplus of clothes from which to choose.  I only own my best, favorite and necessary items.  And an entire year’s worth of them.  When I need a sweatshirt, I’m not digging through ten of them to find the one I want that day.  I have two choices.  And because I only have two choices, I don’t need a capsule wardrobe to make the decision-making easier.  It’s already easy.
  • I only have my summer capsule items (shorts, tees and tank tops) in my closet and drawers, so I don’t get overwhelmed by choices.
  • I adhere to the same rule as I did before for buying clothes.  I buy what I need at the beginning of the season and establish that season’s wardrobe.  Then, no more buying clothes.  Because I don’t need anything.

My summer wardrobe consists of 5 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of (linen!) pants, 10 tank tops, 7 tees and 2 dresses.  25 items that cloth me for most of the next three months.

If I need a layering piece or something warm, I refer to my spring, winter or fall capsules and choose an item from that.

My Non-Capsule Wardrobe Capsule Wardrobe :: maximizingdaysblog.com

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Style

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

If I had to pick one word to describe my style, it would be Boring.  I don’t really consider myself to be someone that has a lot of style.  And I’m totally okay with that.  Maybe it’s my stage of life (mostly stay-at-home Mom to an almost five and three year-olds), but my style is all about function.  Sure, it would be nice to not look like a hot mess while I’m wrangling children, but if I do, that’s just the reality of my life right now.

Chapter 2, A Simplified Style, made me think about this a little differently.

When I think about the word ‘style, it’s synonym is ‘trendy’.  Which isn’t correct at all.  The way Emily Ley describes it in this chapter is that Style is defined by what you love to wear and make you feel good.

When it comes to our wardrobes (or anything, really) “Fewer Choices lead to simpler decisions, which lead to a greater likelihood of being thrilled with your selections.” (Pg. 28)

And that’s when Style becomes more about simplifying and decluttering than it does about trying to look like you just walked out of a magazine.

Steps to Simplifying Your Wardrobe: (Pg. 31)

1 – Empty Everything

You’ve heard me say it a million times.  And Emily Ley too.  You get a comprehensive idea of what you have if you touch each piece and pull EVERYTHING out of the caverns of your closet/dresser.  Just do it.

2 – Review Each Piece

In order to keep the piece, it must:

  1. Fit
  2. Be of good quality (no stains, holes, pilling, etc.)
  3. Be your favorite

Any piece that doesn’t meet all three of those requirements gets thrown away (if it’s not #2) or donated.  If it fits all three criteria, but isn’t in season, store out of sight so as not to create visual clutter in your closet and dresser.

3 – Define Your Style

Examine what you have left.  What’s a common theme?  This is your style.

Now that you’ve cleaned out your current wardrobe, remember these tips for the next time you go shopping: (Pg. 31)

  1. You don’t need one in every color
  2. You don’t need the latest or trendiest
  3. You don’t need to own pieces just because they are on sale
  4. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Basically, just chant to yourself Emily Ley’s mantra while you clothes shop:

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

For the last year, I have done seasonal capsule wardrobes (Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring), which has been a game-changer for me.  Far and away, my biggest piece of advice for curating a Capsule Wardrobe is not get caught up in the “Capsule Wardrobe Rules”.  What I mean by that is don’t be governed by the number of pieces or the duration that the wardrobe should last.  Rather, think about it the way that Emily Ley  defines a Capsule Wardrobe: To serve as everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

Find your best, favorite and necessary wardrobe pieces and only keep those.  Nothing else.  Ta-da.  You just created your Capsule Wardrobe.

BEAUTY

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Every woman needs a simple and consistent (KEY!) day to day beauty routine.  What that means or looks like is up to each person, but having a routine that fits your style goes a long way toward simplifying mornings.

First things first, go through all of your cosmetics and pitch anything that’s expired OR that sabotages a simplified routine.

5 Steps to a Simplified Beauty Routine (Pg. 40-41)

1 – Create a Minimal Make Up Bag

This should consist of items you wear every day (or at least most days).  Get rid of anything that you have “in case you want to wear it one day”.  You won’t.  And if you do, it will most likely be expired by then.

2 – Master Techniques

This is tricky for me because I am so not good at make up stuff.  But, at the ripe old age of 37, I finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this.  I’m still not great at it, but I’ve watched enough tutorials on The Small Things Blog that I have figured out how to make my make up look the way I want it to.

3 – Choose High Quality Products That Match Your Skin

This doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank.  There are a lot of good drug store options, but finding the right one requires doing a little research and taking the time (and not just picking the cheapest foundation BECAUSE it’s the cheapest) to find what works best for you.

4 – Keep Your Day to Day Look the Same

Decide what makes the biggest impact with the least amount of time and effort and make that your daily routine.  Add a little to spice it up for an event, but generally speaking, stick with what you know and what you know works.

6 out of 7 days a week, I use these five products in less than five minutes.

5 – Find an Updo That Really Works for your Hair

Again, what this is doesn’t matter as much as choosing it and mastering the technique.  I’ve been working on the messy bun for the last two years and I’m thisclose to perfecting it.  It is the perfect Day 3 hair style for when I’ll be spending all of my time running after kids and don’t want my hair in my face.  Bonus:  I can pull a couple pieces down around my face to “dress it up” a little if I need to.

Even if I’m wearing running shorts, a workout tank top, sneakers and have my hair pulled back, if my clothes fit well and my hair doesn’t look like I just rolled out of bed, I feel more prepared for the day.  I don’t know what it is about it, but there’s something.  Add that to the fact that getting dressed and ready are morning tasks, and the way the morning goes sets the pace for the rest of the day, and simplifying these areas of my life make a huge difference in how a day goes.

Read more on Emily Ley’s Blog about Investing in Your Wardrobe, Wardrobe Essentials and Go-To Beauty Products.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave