12.08.2013

having a simple christmas and new year




Hello everyone.

As per usual, our Christmas will be simple.  I just can't have it any other way.  Here is what it will look like...

Christmas not to exceed $100

Simple and delicious food

Natural decorations

Little to no tv

Lots of music

Daily walks and yoga

Being calm

In addition to this I'm planning on big changes for the new year and beyond.  We have decided that we are going to do everything humanly possible to get our mortgage paid off asap.  We got off track back in 2009 (story here) and now want to rededicate ourselves.  This will require a great deal of discipline on my part but I feel the time is right.  I'm lucky enough to live in a small home I love and that really needs nothing.  I'm used to having a long list of things I want or think I need but currently I'm quite content. Hopefully, this feeling will become a way of life for me.

Our idea is to save as much as possible each month and apply that to our mortgage.
This means cutting back everywhere.  Because I took my Trip of a Lifetime earlier this year it will be back to camping. That's ok with me though because I still believe there isn't a hotel in the world that can compare to a star filled desert sky with someone you love.  I need no new or used clothing.  As I already mentioned, the house needs nothing.  There will be challenges I am sure and I hope to share them with you all right here.  I will be looking for the most economical and beautiful solutions to daily living.  The comment section of this blog is always full of great information and I'm looking forward to hearing about your tips, as I have much to learn.

So instead of waiting for January 1st to roll around, I'm starting now.  My Christmas gifts are all purchased.  They all came from yard sales and estate sales.  Friends and neighbors will get something fresh from my kitchen.  So really all that is left to do is to cultivate some stillness during this hectic time of year.  Love to hear from you.





95 comments:

  1. I would MUCH prefer to have something homemade from someone's kitchen than something from a store. And if it's something from a store, I would prefer to have something I can use. Nice soaps, a set of sheets, socks, etc. But I learned this Thanksgiving that the best gift is the gift of time shared with those you love and appreciate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loooove this post. I'm forever trying to simplify. I got a hybrid prius a few months ago and instead of hauling around in my big SUV like all of my friends, I'm so happy and feel so light.

    Do you ever fall off of the simplicity wagon? If so, how to you jump back on? I've been trying hard but around this time of year, I feel that the temptation with all of the great sales is very difficult (hence the 75% ugg clog boots that the UPS driver just delivered to me in 80 degree Miami). Do you have a mantra or something?

    BTW, I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog this week from a cute internet kids clothing spot. I'm trying to help the girl who owns the company as she does donate a portion of her sales to autism. If you know of anyone who'd like a cute kids' outfit, please enter. all you have to do is comment.
    www.japolina.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this Janet - we have really reduced the spending for the holidays as well and I don't mind a bit. The big present is a trip we will all take at the end of Florida with our children with the small last but of inheritance from my dad's estate. We continue to work on simplifying as well - could this also be our ages? Now that I work at home, I need much less and different clothing. I do not really need to do anything to my home now, except perhaps buy a new door (the old one is a real mess) and that is a product of having done it all I think... I am most interested now in experiences and connecting with people, in person or virtually and just being my true unvarnished self. There is a simplicity in that as well I think! I will need to be in a small trailer out there on desert with you - my back hates air mattresses now!

    Yay for you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Janet,
    I applaud your decision…and your choice of lifestyle. At 50, I got divorced after 25 years of marriage. I did not request any financial support, as I wanted to take charge of my life. This reduced my income by 75%. My ex did not want the house so I kept it knowing that I would sell it (big house & big yard). when I did, I took the equity (which I admit was substantial) and paid cash for a smaller house. It changed my life. That, and more aggressive retirement investing, allowed me to retire 13 years later at 63. My only regret was that I do sometimes wish I had downsized to a two bedroom house. However, I am in a fabulous neighborhood and love my little house. Since I have no debt, I have been asked by friends if I ever worry about my credit score. I laugh, because I have no intention of ever borrowing money again. In a way, happiness can be bought…..I bought mine. Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, our experiences sound very similar. I also divorced at the age of 50 after 28 years of marriage. The loss of income was not as great for me but I believe my simple lifestyle played a significant role in my increased happiness. I have found throughout the years that "things" do not provide the satisfaction that a little financial security does.

      Delete
  5. Dear Janet, I am completely with you on this. Our mortgage should be paid off within 3 years (hopefully sooner), we have put off cosmetic home improvements until the mortgage is gone - it just made sense to do it this way. Now that our daughter has only 3 yrs. until she enters college I am beginning to think we should postpone home improvements maybe even a little longer. Like you, I am decorating with nature for Christmas - both gorgeous and free! I have been reading your blog for years and am excited now to see your upcoming posts on saving money and killing your mortgage. I think it is a topic a lot of us could use. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, I love this post! It is so refreshing to read of someone who is living a simpler life. We are too. We left the west coast four years ago and moved to Minneapolis. (Our four children are grown.) We bought a foreclosed townhouse (about 950 sq. ft.) for $80,000 cash and are sprucing it up. (Just finished a modest but beautiful IKEA kitchen.) It is in a great area, more centrally located. I have slashed my wardrobe (I work about 3 days/week as an elementary substitute teacher here), cleared the clutter, eat simply and wholesomely, no cable, low utilities, and our vehicles are paid for (Hubby takes the bus downtown to work.) I mean it, we can live on very little now! We use Southwest Air at good rates to fly to see our out-of-state children and grandchildren. One of them lives in Newport, RI with her family, so it is a beautiful place to vacation! I find all I can second hand on craigslist or garage sales for ourselves and as gifts. Our young grandchildren have beautiful books I have found for pennies on the dollar. And I don't give a hoot about what anyone thinks anymore of our lifestyle.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good for you - Have you seen http://www.youneedabudget.com// I swear by it.We use it and we have taught our teen children to budget - Love Leanne

    ReplyDelete
  8. Holiday Greetings Janet! Last nite I made a batch of Red Onion Confiture (from The Parisienne Farmgirl blogsite) and plan on giving home made/elephant gifts this year as much as possible. We all have just too much stuff and I don't want to contribute to it any more. And all this Black Friday stuff has so put me off--I've actually become LESS of a shopper because of it. It's hard to LIVE IN THE MOMENT when you're thinking about Christmas in August. I look forward to hearing and seeing all your new ideas. Happy New Year! Allegra

    ReplyDelete
  9. I went back and read that post and it resonates with me. Simple living suits our small homes, I think the original owners would have been mindful of excess and generally lwould subscribe to a humble lifestyle.
    I love home made gifts. Plan to do some baking here too and have found some festive cookie tins to fill!
    Happy Holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  10. We are keeping it simple here also! The new year for me will be to enjoy all the things I have in my life and to not search for more and new things. Peace with the here and now! I am thankful for my blessings and know that "But for the grace of Gog, there go I." I am so blessed to love to be with my family, cook, run, walk, garden, be healthy and laugh at my dogs curious ways.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think we're all lucky to be able to make these choices, to choose careful abundance, generous minimalism, which ever way we want to go. There are many routes to happiness, and to virtue. You are very clear and consistent and yours, and that's wonderful. You are a source of support to many, and an example of grace to all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. love this comment. Choices and options are my favourite thing ever. x

      Delete
  12. I'm all about a simple Christmas too. The only thing that won't be simple will be the decorating. I'd like the decorating to be simple but that would involve me buying things and I must use what I have. Christmas is all about decorating and simple gifts. It's hard for me to be at the store and see all the money people waste on things. People racing around buying many unwanted gifts for everyone. I much prefer to focus on music, food, decorations and oh yeah....I have to say...I have to watch my favorite Christmas movies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This sounds like the polar opposite of my Christmas month!! Nothing is simple with kids and and pets and extended family and a house with a hundred needs, but I could definitely make some moves in the direction you describe. My plan is to start with more music and more games! Best of luck with your plans! I am looking forward to reading what you learn and do along the way!

    ReplyDelete
  14. We just paid off our mortgage and the sense of relief is staggering. It is worth it, if it can be done. We are simplifying by finally drawing names and setting a $ limit on gifts. I am avoiding stores, playing my Christmas CDs, and giving the neighbors tangerines from my garden. None of us needs anything. Children are getting magazine subscriptions and college money.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love this post! I was recently puzzling over all of the online cookie gifts available--so much better to make them and easy too!

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a wonderful vision for your life and your finances! I love it!! Contentment and financial peace are beautiful things. So is opting out of absurd things, like a Christmas consumed by commercialism.

    I look forward to reading about your upcoming year. It's fascinating to learn how others responsibly handle their finances and navigate lifestyles that are excellent alternatives to how most people live.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We have paid off our mortgage and have been mortgage free for about 3 years now. The only problem we have here in NJ is the high property taxes! If it weren't for them, we would have a lot more money every month. Not complaining though because it could be a lot worse than this. I love the simple Christmas plans you made and am trying my best to keep things simpler this year too. I avoided the black Friday awfulness which I never participate in. Have a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Good luck with the mortgage payoff - I'm sure you can do it xo

    ReplyDelete
  19. Janet, your words are like a calming exhale in the midst of this self- made hectic season. Thank you for them and all the best as you achieve your goal. Linda from B.C.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Dear J,

    Good for you, I know you will achieve this. I do not find Christmas stressful because it means a break from work (which I find uber stressful- so much to get through before I can go on leave). Bought and wrapped all my gifts too. Am just giving small simple things this year.

    I will be watching TONNES of tv to catch up on news and fab docos I haven't had time t watch and cooking and gardening my heart out as well as going to the beach. And cooking like a woman possessed which I cannot wait for.

    Wishing you a beautiful happy time and wasn't our trip FUN?? Love to you and L xxx

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear Janet,

    My husband is a retired teacher and I will be retiring soon after 33 years of teaching in Nebraska. We too have our house paid off. I will be anxious to follow your blog and learn any great money saving tips from you as we approach living on two teachers retirements. I know it can be done, and I am looking forward to the freedom I think I will feel as my days are no longer committed to education.

    Sincerely,

    An avid follower of yours.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love the post: Janet, it is great not having a mortgage payment each month!!! I am blessed not having to worry about that anymore: Now I wish the property taxes would cease increasing!!!SA

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Janet, Not everyone can live as simply as you, but everyone can follow your example by constantly questioning themselves. Do I need to go buy more food or do I have the ingredients for a good meal on hand? Do I need a new outfit or would one accessory to update an outfit be enough? Does my holiday meal really need two main dishes and six different desserts? If we keep asking ourselves we will find we have more time, more money and more joy. Happy Holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  24. It's so good to see a blog full of encouragement and inspiration in this direction! My husband and I became debt-free (besides our mortgage) this past summer. We are now building our nest egg of 3 to 6 months living expenses, and next is our mortgage. Yes, we graduated from Dave Ramsey's FPU and it has changed our lives!!! So, I too, will be living the good, frugal life and learning to better appreciate what we have. I look forward to your posts, Janet and it's so good to see you back :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My sister told me about Dave Ramsey a few years back (gave me his book) and today we both are debt-free (except for my ever-shrinking mortgage). It's the only way to live! Carol O.

      Delete
    2. I agree Carol! Once you get on this plan, you see the world and "stuff" differently, and all the stress that goes with it is gone. It's all about the peace.

      Delete
  25. "My Christmas gifts are all purchased".

    Even this statement can be challenged, ultimately. For the sake of sounding like a rather smug so and so, Christmas is a voluntary expenditure when you think about it. It takes a few years to break the habit, but you can, and amazingly after a while you wonder why you bothered with all the fuss at all. Like paying off the mortgage, rejecting the Christmas trap is very liberating to the soul and not simply the wallet.
    Think about the best free things..talk, walk and read (Library books) and you have an absolutely FREE festive season to enjoy.
    Esme

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only problem with this is that some gift recipients (ahem...in-laws) expect certain things and will be disappointed if they don't receive certain types of gifts ( meaning they do not appreciate more frugal gifts like baked, or thrifted presents). I am sort of stuck having to buy presents for certain types in the extended family. There is much too much family politics involved unfortunately. To make up for this, we keep a low budget for other gift giving - this is where the homemade gifts come in to the picture. Thank goodness we live simply in most other areas of our lives and carry no debt.

      Delete
    2. We told family that we have made a donation to a local cause in their name for a christmas gift. We like to give to the needy in our town. We often invite neighbors that do not have family in the area for holiday dinners. Homemade gifts are always the best.

      Delete
  26. Yes to Being Calm! Something I have struggled with but I'm getting so much better with it, the only thing that matters to me is spending time with the family, having a nice dinner together is the ultimate, followed by boardgames and just chatting.
    I'm also on the all-out path to mortgage freedom, 21 months to go. Keeping track of my budget is helping so much, I managed to do it this year with Christmas even though we buy presents for the Rascals, mostly clothes and books and a few small treats.
    I have to be very disciplined and I look forward to following your journey for inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read your blog and your husband seems to make a lot of money. You don't have to make many sacrifices to get the mortage paid off by the looks of things.

      Delete
  27. It is hard to keep the "I want" demons away. I cannot always do it but if I say to myself "Will this purchase make me happier?" Usually the answer is no. Sometimes it isn't. It is an achievable goal and very empowering.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yes….I also want for nothing….at my age I do need less and less….it will be interesting as you share your journey with us:)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Paying off my modest house on my own, 16 years after a divorce, is something that I am extremely proud of. It was a goal I worked on for many years. Next, retire by 56. I feel rich in my own way, not the ways defined by others. I also try to live with out "should" and "always", meaning that I allow myself some flexibility in spending so that I don't resent my self-imposed rules. Kind of like allowing yourself to splurge on an indulgent dessert once in a while! Good luck with your goal.

    ReplyDelete
  30. An old depression era saying was something like this : Make do or do without. Most of the time I am able to make do. Or just don't buy unless it is absolutley beautiful and useful. When we get to a certain age, I'm in my 50's you really do decide you can live with less. I became content with what I had and just quit wanting. We still have a big clunky box tv and I love it. I will not get rid of it just to get a flat screen like everyone else. Planning your meals and cooking saves so much money and if you cook nutrious foods it is better for you. Stay out of the rat race of wanting what everyone else has. They really don't pay any attention to what you wear as long as you don't dress like a slob. Think about how you will pay for something and how long you will have to work to pay for it b4 purchasing. I am enjoying reading everyones comments and especially your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  31. It just makes so much sense....and life is so much less complicated when living with less....which is not at all the same as living without. The best gifts from friends are always from the kitchen! I wonder what you'll make!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am completely on board with this! And as usual, your posts are informative and inspiring. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am so excited to read this post. I feel like clapping my hands! I'm also in my 50's, single and trying to pay off my mortgage. I look forward to your ideas and tips. I've read so many of the same tips over and over again. Things that I don't do anyway, so I can't cut them out. Stuff like getting rid of cable and not drink expensive drive-through coffees and eating out for dinner or buying books. I go to the library. I make coffee at home etc. But I still want to live my life with style and tips like cutting the pocket off of an old pair of jeans for a purse just drives me crazy! I look forward to the changes you will be making because I know they will be done beautifully and with class.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this comment! You echo my sentiments exactly. I aspire to live frugally as well and try to read as much as I can on personal finance and apply it to my life, but I also want to lead a simple and ELEGANT life with beauty materialistically speaking) - it can be done and actually is extremely easy. Just apply the "better quality but less" idea, and no more jean pocket purses! :) This blog exemplifies thrift while still living well. Thank you Janet.

      Delete
    2. Amen Cynthia! I agree with everything you said. We still want beauty in our life and this blog does help us learn how to achieve it without looking dumpy. I make my coffee at home too. I would rather put that money toward a pedicure every now and then!

      Delete
    3. I agree. I want beautiful things, but it doesn't have to be new, just new to me. My friends and I have started trading. We trade furniture, lamps, purses, etc. that we are tired of and are still in great condition. We trade skills, my friend taught me to make drapes and I taught her to paint furniture! We also garden and trade our produce in the summer. Last summer, I traded homes with a couple in France. It felt risky, but it worked out wonderfully. I feel like I have a lovely life and my mortgage will be paid off in May!

      Delete
    4. omgosh loving all these amazing comments. i promise there will be no jean pocket purses. LOL

      Delete
  35. I look forward to your inspiration. I've been trying to simplify our lives for awhile now, but have a long way to go. We will be having a small celebration this year. Few gifts, lots of love. Sending love to you and your family. I hope your son is doing well. xoJennifer

    ReplyDelete
  36. Oh, this sounds challenging.
    I have never been camping in my life, being a princess on the pea. I do envy you. I imagine it being like sailing - a very effective way to take a "time out" and reconnect with nature and yourself.

    "I still believe there isn't a hotel in the world that can compare to a star filled desert sky with someone you love."
    Beautifully said.

    Looking forward to read more how this journey continues.

    ReplyDelete
  37. So many people are simplifying the holidays and their lives. I think the excesses of the 90's and early 2000's were ended by necessity for some and by choice for many others. A family situation has curtailed quite a bit of the frantic activities of my usual holiday season, and I couldn't be more grateful. While the family problem is still with us, the holiday is now a beautiful and welcomed respite! I have decorated sparingly and naturally, attended the Nutcracker where my granddaughter danced and will meet with old friends for dinner this week. My shopping was done on-line and consisted of mostly gift cards. No more well-intentioned, but unnecessary items to clog up other people's homes. The boxes of decorations will remain in the attic, and I will choose one or two favorites to grace my windowsill. And I can breathe. Usually, during the holiday season, I find that I am holding my breath, a sure sign of stress. And Janet, my Advent activity includes a little yoga each evening to reflect and recalibrate. Here's to a truly peaceful season!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Janet, I loved this post and am looking forward to following you on this journey as it sounds like my own.
    :)
    I do believe we can have a good life (with beautiful things surrounding us and giving us pleasure) very inexpensively. There is Nothng quite as pleasing as good health and a good financial footing.
    I am in my 50's and am trying to pay off my mortgage as well.

    Good luck to you and all of the readers who are excited along with me while we take this journey with you.

    Debra

    ReplyDelete
  39. Would love to see what kinds of goodies you make for others this time of year :) I love giving hand-made gifts!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I am using less of my Christmas decor every year and I quite like it. What helps me at all times of the year is staying out of the stores and off the online catalogues!

    You know, there is no shortage of beautiful things in the world that we might possess. I realized that the other day while pinning. My heart rate goes up as I madly pin one picture after another. I scroll down faster and faster frantically gobbling up every scrumptious photo--never really taking the time to enjoy any single image. Beauty never used to be this way. One lovely picture/coffee table book could feed our need for beauty for weeks on end. In fact, one image could inspire and stay with us for a very long time. Now I have thousands of those images pinned on my boards and in my frenzy of collecting rarely do I look at the collected pictures to simple ENJOY.

    We live in a small town house and I am so grateful. As a decorator I see heaps of wonderful things all the time but I'm so glad the size of my home limits me!

    Happy Christmas Janet--enjoy the quiet and the calm and best wishes for a wonderful 2014!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Janet, I love that you are doing this and am a little bit in the same boat only for different reasons. (daughter's upcoming wedding in Sept. 2014) We did refi our mortgage earlier this year so now it's 15 yrs. at 2.25 interest, but know that we will pay it off before that. We would have done a 10 year but we need to put more money towards retirement. We both blew it when we were younger, didn't start saving sooner so now we are trying to play catch up. It's a drag but I know we will be in a good place in our retirement years.

    I will be looking forward to your future posts on this topic, sounds like a lot of your readers are as well! :o)

    Looks like you have taken the proper steps to have a serene and calm holiday season...enjoy!

    Linda
    xo


    ReplyDelete
  42. We haven't "done" Christmas in a good 12 years or more! I saw the stress it put on Dan trying to find the perfect gift and going shopping, so we talked about it and realized we didn't have to do this. Christmas now is simple greens, don't do a tree (would rather spend the money on a real on for the yard in the spring) and there is not a red bow in sight;) Just nature in all her glory, oh and lights- love the magic of white lights at Christmas! We don't exchange gifts. We used to get really depressed around xmas time, but now its just about enjoying winter and being grateful for all that we have. It really is a choice, isn't it?! Snowing here today and it is really easy to get in the spirit of the holidays... so pretty.
    Happy Holidays to you my friend... xxojoan

    ReplyDelete
  43. Janet, there is so much peace of mind that comes with paying off the mortgage. Just like you, I have experienced friends and neighbors losing their homes mostly due to the fact that they have lived a life of "keeping up with the Joneses." There is a very helpful blog I read called MrMoneyMustache that helps keep me grounded in living frugally. The blogger has an almost cult-like following and tends to cuss a bit and usually I am turned off by that, but in this instance it just adds to the passion he has to get the point across and is quite funny at times!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also read Mr. Money Mustache. I'd like to add an additional financial blog: http://jlcollinsnh.com It is a financial blog that has a very simple plan for investing, primarily in Vanguard. (I have used Vanguard for my retirement account (403b) for decades and have done well with them.)

      Delete
    2. thank you for the MrMoneyMustache suggestion. i poured over his blog last night and love his thinking.

      Delete
    3. and then we saved, by anna newell jones in another good blog for interesting ways to save.

      Delete
  44. Dear Janet,

    I have never commented on any blog, but I have followed you for a long time. I am about your age, and I just have to tell you that you are one of my role models. I am constantly telling my family about your blog and your lifestyle. I think they get a little tired of this, but I talk as if you are one of my friends. I hope that doesn't sound like I am a stalker.

    I am trying to simplify my life as well. I have been to Goodwill so many times this year that I cannot count them. I am remodeling my house in a very simple and timeless way with white paint, and surfaces that hopefully will be beautiful for years and years.

    My most important thing that is changing, is that my husband and I are going from full fledged carnivores to vegan. I have dogs that I love dearly, and we love all animals so much, but we are also doing this for our health. I would love to have as much energy as you and Larry seem to have.

    Thank you so much for everything that you write. If not for your blog, I feel like I would still be content to be a cluttered, scattered, beef eating person. You really have changed our lives in the way that we think and consider things.

    ReplyDelete
  45. The best gardens in the world share a common trait, they have elements of the poverty cycle.

    Choices made during times of financial hardship. Ironically, they are often the best choices.

    Bought my home 2 years ago after 30 year marriage ended, refinanced to lower rate & shorter time & am paying extra to the principle to pay it off earlier. Go me !

    Supporting myself designing gardens heavily influenced by the poverty cycles of history. Yes, you can pay your bills doing what you love. Yes, you can divorce an alcoholic and be more than fine. The fear kept me trapped for too long.

    Amazing what has happened since I stopped being afraid. Even if fear enters I know to ask myself, What would I do tomorrow if I were not afraid?

    Am in the process now of getting rid of things, wanting to have a smaller house in my future.

    Garden & Be Well,, XO Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just wanted to say you are very inspiring. Life is messy isn't it? Congratulations on moving forward in your life and with such independence and strength.

      Delete
  46. There must be something in the air! My husband and I decided to simplify our lives next year. Our only debt is our home and we're determined to save all the money we can and pay down our mortgage.
    With 6 grandchildren it's hard to only spend $100 on Christmas gifts but they are the only ones we buy for. I give our sons and neighbors cookies I bake. We all have too much, need nothing and I won't be a part of the consumerism madness.
    I'm vegan except for the occasional egg but end up cooking meat for my husband and for holidays. Next year I'll not contribute to the cruelty of animals any more. No meat in my house!!
    I love your blog, you are an inspiration to us all and I look forward to every new post.
    Merry Christmas!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Very much looking forward to your future postings. You have great style and lead such a simplistic but fulfilling life appreciating what really matters. I try to emulate you. Love your vegan recipes as well! Have a wonderful holiday and keep posting such meaningful and helpful ideas. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  48. You just made my day. Your blog is a treat. I'm so looking forward to your posts next year...and am just thrilled that you've decided to continue. You are a blessing. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  49. You're lucky you have a chance to pay off your mortgage. We are in the process of downsizing but will never pay off the mortgage in our lifetime; however, the shabbier neighborhood and plain house (which I will eventually brighten up) allows us to have a monthly payment lower than most rents, even senior rent and, since it was my parents' home for 60 years, unfortunately hocked to the hilt to pay for her medical care at home til her passing, I inherit the lowest property tax rate in SoCal. I gave up a beautiful vintage French/English-style cottage to do this but, life is full of hard choices sometimes and there comes a time to cut your losses and be smarter. I know of several blogs where the blog owner's huge goal is to pay off a mortgage, so you are not alone; would if I could! It has to be at the forefront of your thinking/planning; track every dollar. Wish I'd made more intelligent choices earlier in my life and hadn't been so self-indulgent. Life takes long-range planning, and that was never me. We reap what we sow. I am so interested to know how you'll budget and get along; your blog will have a lot of significance for a lot of us in 2014. I am having to relearn a lot of 'philosophies' I grew up with (Depression-era parents...THEY grew up with absolutely nothing, when food on the table or paying the electric bill was a nailbiter...but anything, truly, to save the house...never, ever lose the house...). And I think of others, living in cars or under tents in this miserable, windy, frosty-cold weather we're having here in SoCal, and I cannot/should not gripe about a monthly house payment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vickie, are you saying you inherit the same property tax rate your parents had? My Mom has been in the same house for 60 years in So CA and her property taxes are about $600 a year. When we take over ownership
      through her trust, we expect the taxes to rise to around $3000. Am I missing something? TY, Kathleen

      Delete
    2. Direct parent-to-child ownership - I'm an only child and I'm inheriting and inhabiting the home (and refinancing the loan against it). Look it up on your county's website; there's a form you fill out. We are in probate (will, not a trust) and I was actually contacted by the county before I ever even asked for the form; I assume it came from probate lawyer/judge as the case progresses. It can't be any other relationship to my knowledge, i.e. if you were inheriting your aunt's home, no dice. I was surprised to learn all of this, too. You want your county assessor's office and ask for someone who works with "transfers." I found them very helpful.

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much for this information. Not only good tips from Janet, but her friends as well.
      Merry Christmas, k

      Delete
  50. I went for a smoothie yesterday...I get them occasionally as a treat...and the young courtesy/wait person was so glum. I said, "Rosie, you're sad." She shrugged. I said, "Christmas blues?" She said, "I hate Christmas." I said, "Issues, huh?" She said, "I have hardly any family and the relatives I do have are screwed-up people." I said, "Yeah, it happens to a lot of us; getting together can usually mean ending up in a big family fight; it's a shame isn't it." Rose said, "I'd volunteer to work that day but we close on Xmas; everybody does." I said, "You know what you can do, if your own family is messed up...start your own tradition. You're young enough to create your own kind of Christmas. Just start doing it. Go get a little artificial tree at the dollar store for under $20 or go to the tree lot and see what they can offer you...one year, they gave me free boughs and I put them in a big jug; it looked like a tree once I had the light string on it. Make the cookies. Put on some music. Plan a simple dinner. Invite your friends. Maybe at your apartment house (I'd known she had an apartment), there are other singles or couples...sometimes elderly people who have been widowed...or anybody who is feeling just like you, so get together, come together, everybody bring a dish to share and make your own kind of holiday. It can be what you want it to be. It might turn out to be your best Christmas ever, Rose!" (I should take my own advice.) She said, "I'll think it. It would be nice to have something to look forward to. I know I should donate my time or money and go outside of myself to help someone else but I just haven't been able to get myself up out of the stress." I said, "Well, if not this year, maybe next. In the meantime, there's people out there who would love your company and conversation, and it doesn't have to be a parent, sibling or your own kid. Maybe it's that guy right over there tossing greens at the salad bar. He doesn't want to be a fifth wheel at somebody else's family celebration...feel like an object of pity or something...but he might love to come to your table for who he is and have a relaxing couple of hours. You just never know, Rose."

    I didn't want to cheer her up falsely, but I'm trying for myself to think of all the possibilities and seriously trying to get to the right meaning of it all. There's the religious side to the holiday, and then there's gratitude as we end one year and begin anew.

    I'm going to check in with her in a few days and see how she's doing. I'm surrounded by moving boxes and no furniture, but even if we sit at a portable table with folding chairs, I think I'm going to invite her over if I sense she's still morose. She's too young for regret or longing or jadedness. Some of the most positive people can't get easily thru the holidays.

    Anyway, that's kinda how things are going here...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely bit of advice you've shared.We can all learn from your open-heartedness with Rose. Your sentiment embodies what this season is meant to be about. Thank you.

      Delete
    2. I came back to read the rest of the comments because I ran out of time yesterday; so many comments! Thanks for the replies above; you made me feel good. I don't have kids of my own but have sometimes a strong desire to grab hold of a young'un and say, "Don't make some of the dumb mistakes I did at your age; grab onto life and have the TIME of your life...it goes by so fast, don't waste it, be happy." But, you know, when I was that age, I probably wouldn't have listened. Everything was always so drama-drama, especially when it came to boys. Instead, I've found that gentle suggestions don't seem like needling or finger-wagging. I actually love to talk to young people in their late teens and 20s; they're so open and often really want a little guidance. I probably would have loved being a grandma. I feel there's great hope with each new generation; I just want some of my young cousins to do something else than texting ad nauseum!

      Delete
  51. Years ago I spent Christmas with a friend's family. They had a large home in Hawaii with numerous children and grandchildren. Yet Christmas was simple. They made simple toys for the children, the adults got cookies or socks. They had a family photograph taken. They sang songs and celebrated being together. So different than my family who indulged children and an orgy of gifts that were abandoned in a few hours. Then the adults one upped each other on who got the most expensive gifts. I changed the way I celebrated Christmas that year. I can't say that everyone was happy, but I am.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Gosh I love your blog... I am also making all my Christmas gifts myself... Sewing scarves for the men with nice fabric I've had for a long time and making jewelry for the gals with beads from my stash and recycled items from jewelry I no longer wear. I really crave the simple uncluttered life now and I also look forward to your tips. I'm making my own tooth paste with coconut oil, baking soda, tea tree oil and pure peppermint oil. It whitens my teeth nicely. Some of my gifts will be baked goodies also- and the tooth paste ;). More ideas please from all of you!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Just LOVE you Janet! Merry Christmas and enjoy the season.

    ReplyDelete
  54. One thing to consider as you ponder gift giving is whether the recipient actually wants to receive any gifts. Being respectful of their desire not to accumulate "stuff" is also a gift.

    The gift of your time, your help, an experience is something that might be much more appreciated than the things you buy or the crafty things you may enjoy making. Unless you know the recipient would like something you are about to gift, think twice. Handcrafted gifts are really hard to declutter and raise a lot of emotions in giver and getter. I do not put consumables in that category--they are generally appreciated or can be shared and in any event they do not hang around forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are so right. pretty much my favorite gift is anything that can be consumed. :)

      Delete
  55. Good point, Anonymous. I'm finding increasingly that people just don't want things - not for birthdays, Xmas, or any time of the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love it if someone would come over and take an armload of my stuff away! now that is a gift....

      Delete
  56. I love this post and your blog Janet! You are such an inspiration. I am simplifying our Christmas this year and so happy about it! I wish we could be mortgage-free but it may be a little while before we get there. I am so happy for you though and I will be following your journey. Thank you for being so real. Your blog is so refreshing! Enjoy the holidays! :)

    ReplyDelete
  57. Also entering this season with Advent music, quiet evenings, walks, candlelight, books. I am in the stages of planning my Advent baking and freeze most to serve over the Christmas Season. We do not exchange gifts in our family...but take a trip and make memories over the Christmas Season.

    ReplyDelete
  58. "They" are getting increasingly desperate in their search for new marketing ploys - how to keep us buying. Guess what, this Autumn in England they've introduced us to the concept of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" - nobody here had ever even heard of these before but people did respond and went crazy shopping.
    I've noticed more and more that the whole idea of Thanksgiving is being pushed on us now through the media - there was even an article in one of our national newspapers on "How to survive Thanksgiving." What??? I wonder if they're going to foist it on a new generation of consumers. It's really despicable what they'll do to keep people buying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well they managed to do it with proms and all that junk that never used to exist in England - not even at my international school and look at it now… :(

      Whether you celebrate Christmas or just a holiday time, it shouldn't have anything to do with marketing! Sigh.

      Delete
  59. Christmas for us this year will be lots of unpacked boxes and dinner out because hubby and I are moving to San Diego!
    We leave the 20th...so we are packing now.
    People have commented that packing is so hard/awful/etc and I have to explain that living with no clutter really pays off when you move. We will rent for a year while we search for a fixer-upper, and our goal is to have it paid off before we retire ( we have about 15 years).
    I enjoy the holidays but not the frantic crazy stuff that people do. I left that nonsense years ago...and let me recommend "Mindful" at http://www.mindful.org/. Hubs and I have a daily meditation practice ( he loves AM time, I am a PM girl) and I know that makes a difference in how we approach life.
    Wishing you and yours a peaceful and calm holiday!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Janet,

    We paid off our mortgage about five years ago, and any sacrifice you are making now will be so worth it! You will feel so free! Congratulations on your thoughtful decisions. Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for your encouragement...that is so good to know. x

      Delete
  61. Janet, have you checked out this wonderful blog yet? It is called assortmentblog.com

    This family of five lives in style in a paid for very small home in Wyoming. In fact, I believe their home is just about to be featured in a national magazine. Beautiful, simple lifestyle and wonderfully written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip about this blog, Anonymous! The style of their home reminds me very much of Trina's previous home at A Country Farmhouse (acountryfarmhouse.blogspot.com), but is small and compact (my dream). Thanks again!

      Delete
    2. it does have trina's vibe doesn't it. as a mother who raised 3 boys all similar in ages as hers all i can say is wow, wow, wow. i don't think i could have done it in such a small beautiful space. major kudos to her!!!

      Delete
  62. You know I have enjoyed these posts and admire people who want a simple Christmas and life so maybe some here will understand my story.

    I was 13 years old ( Now 23 ) until that point I had it good. Had everything a boy could want. Then my parents health took a turn for the worse both were unable to work. That Christmas was spent with no heat and no food what so ever( first time I ate after that I got very sick and weighed about 20 lbs less). To make matters worse my dad was very abusive towards my mom and myself. Well over the years times went up and down and this year is no different.

    I am unemploye , mother is disabled and dad is on SSI. There will probably be little to no food this year and I just wish I was working to atleast help with that this year. I feel most of the time that I failed myself and failed for my parents. Alot of times I stare at my little Christmas tree I put up since I was 14 and try to remember the good times. One never knows how simple life can be until you are forced to live it or what Christmas truly means.

    These would be nice if they were under the tree so to say this year.

    1. My Dada to stop being abusive towards my mom.

    2. All my moms 15 prescriptions to be refilled.

    3. A nice meal.


    4. For me to get back to work so I can try to better my life and my mothers.

    Just to let you all know it was very hard for a 23 year old man to share this with anyone.... who knows maybe a miracle will happen this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for sharing your story mike. i do see the difference between voluntary simplicity and forced simplicity. i'm hoping there is a church or community services that you can contact to help you and your family. i will pray for your family.

      Delete
    2. Dear Mike K,
      I am so sorry you are going through this. It will get better - believe that. Your story is similar to my childhood: An alcoholic father who after abusing the entire family in every way then abandoned us (him leaving was actually a good thing). I remember eating margarine because it was the only food in the house. My immigrant mother raised all 4 of us by working several menial jobs and salvaging food from dumpsters behind grocery stores when necessary. I tried hanging out at my friends houses because sometimes they would offer me a snack. I could go on but I won't. Just hang in there, okay?

      Delete
  63. We are doing the same here! I love how much more I've enjoyed the past few weeks since I took the "Christmas Hectic Crazy" out of it :) Can't wait to see how your year goes :)

    ReplyDelete

kindness is never out of style.