3 Easy Habits for Simple Minimalist Living

Getting started with minimalism can often be a bit overwhelming. If you’re not in a great space for a massive declutter right now, these 3 simple habits or tips will likely be more helpful for you.

I’ve been doing these 3 basic things pretty much every day for years, and it’s really helped me feel better and stay organised in my life.

  1. Make your bed every morning. Not only does it make your space look neat and tidy, studies also shows that completing a task (even a simple one like making your bed) first thing in the day can have positive side effects and help you with better flow for the rest of your day. I find this one is especially important if you spend a lot of time working or studying in your space. Clutter in our outside world / home space can sometimes cause un-necessary stress as well.
  2. Re-set and tidy up your living space before you go to bed. It only takes a few minutes, but it’s well worth it. I love waking up to a clean slate and not have to start the day cleaning up from the day before. If you are feeling sleepy and not very motivated, just set a 2-5 min timer in the evening and tidy up as much as you can in that short window. Your future you will thank you! 🙂
  3. Tidy up the kitchen. For the same reason as above really. I personally am not a fan of doing dishes in the morning, so I’d rather quickly do them at night and have them out of the way. I know my morning routine is better spent moving my body or setting intentions for the day, rather than having to clean and do dishes.

What are some of your favourite habits that have helped you with flow and energy in your life?

We bought a van!

Dreams do come true. For years I have dreamed of having a campervan to go exploring in and we randomly found just the right one for us! A slow moving 1988 Nissan Urvan in great condition and with a pop top roof (so Paul can actually stand up in it).

Sometimes we have to be flexible and change the order we do things in life (#global pandemic) so we modified our original travel plans for the coming years from international to local. Check out the video for a bit more details on why we bought the van and what helped us make the decision.

More updates to come of course, plus make sure to follow along and see how our cat Freyja likes it in the van.

5 frugal tips: sustainable and minimalist life

I sometimes get the question what my top frugal tips are to save money and be kind to the environment. In this short video I share my 5 key tips around how I live a simple and financially aligned life that works well for me.

  1. Buy quality over quantity. Most often I’ll save up for a better quality piece of clothing, technology or whatever else I need, rather than buying something cheap that won’t last. I do still buy items in second hand shops or via marketplaces, but I look for quality brands/products that will likely last longer.
  2. Ride a bike. I commute daily to work on a bike (and have done for years when I’ve worked 10-20 km from where I live), and even if it’s not very far to my current work I really enjoy it. Even if it costs a little bit of money to buy a bike, it will last a long time if you look after it well. And it will save you lots of money on travel costs too!
  3. Do free online workout classes at home. There are loads of free apps and videos (check out one of my favourite YouTube channels here) which will save you money, time and travel costs. Make sure to stay accountable with a friend or perhaps your partner/housemate.
  4. Get quality food containers, wraps and bags. This will keep your food and meal prepping fresh and tasty for much longer. My favourite products are linked in the description box here!
  5. Use a menstrual cup. Many women are scared to try this, but I have been using this instead of pads and tampons for almost 4 years and it’s easy to use and very comfortable once you get used to it!

Meal planning and grocery haul

I am a huge fan of meal planning! It saves you money, time and most importantly it greatly reduces food waste. In our home we have been meal planning on a weekly basis for the past year and a bit and it has made a huge difference in making our week simple and stress free.

Key benefits we have noticed:

  • We only have to cook 3-4 times a week (I’m happy to eat the same thing 2 days in a row).
  • More importantly we share the cooking, as neither of us love cooking (but we both enjoy healthy and tasty food). We typically cook 2 times each during the week, which suits us just fine.
  • We only go to the grocery store once a week and get everything we need in one go. No need to run and ‘top up’ shop every second day!
  • It keeps our grocery budget down. When you have a meal plan in place and ingredients in the fridge it is way harder to justify takeaway for dinner. That said, we still make exceptions every now and then on days when we really don’t want to cook… 🙂

How to meal plan

  1. Start with weekly meal planning. Planning in longer time periods can be harder for some when you first get started.
  2. Pick a few of your standard dishes that you know how to make and that suit your current budget. If you need some inspiration for new recipes I love this website for meal prep ideas, otherwise Google or YouTube is full of simple and healthy meal ideas that are very affordable to make.
  3. Grab a piece of paper or a small whiteboard and write the plan down.
  4. You don’t have to love cooking to meal plan! I have never loved cooking, but I really enjoy to eat healthy on a budget, so that means that I sometimes have to cook.
  5. Allow things to move around within the week if plans change, but don’t waste food. We sometimes move around the day we’ll be eating/cooking a certain dish, but we always use the ingredients (especially fresh produce) in the week we planned to. So much food in this world is thrown in the trash every year which makes me so sad.
  6. You can set challenges for yourself as you progress. If you are looking to save money, eat less meat or whatever your goal is, you can set a challenge for yourself during a week/month to focus a bit extra on that. It’s really cool to see what you can achieve when you set your intention and stick to it!

Budget check in and New Year goals

As we kick off a new year, many of us set goals and intentions for the year to come. I’ve talked about how I start my year in this video, and how I choose a top line theme to guide my focus every year. For a few years my theme was actually personal finance, because I really needed to get my money organised and build up some savings.

Regardless of culture, many people seem to find it hard to talk about money, wealth and income. Here in Australia I know quite a few people who at times lived on their credit cards and basically spent money they did not have to pay for their basic needs. Sometimes we end up in those tough times in life where bad things happen and we get behind.

The good news is that by educating yourself about budgeting and personal finance (I still can’t believe it’s not taught in most schools and education systems!) you can change your situation!

If you don’t know how to get started with budgeting, just check out my previous blog and video with the beginner budgeting template I used to get my finances organised a few years ago. It’s a longer video, but it shares exactly how I moved from $0 in savings to feeling in charge of my finances. Budgeting is a clear and helpful way for anyone at any income level to make the most of the money they have and build the future they want. It takes time and dedication, but it’s very possible!

How to start?

I’ve got a really simple way for you to get started:

  • Track all your income (money earned, any $ gifts, bonuses etc) and spending for the month of January and February.
  • Use my super basic budget tracker spreadsheet (or just a piece of paper) for each category and track every dollar you spend.
  • When I first started doing this I sat down every day and wrote down what I had spent that day. It only takes 2 minutes if you do it daily, it’s much harder to do if you only do it once a week, because you tend to forget little things (especially if you pay cash) that you bought.

To track your money this closely helps you see where things are at and what you’re actually doing. It can be an eye opener and many people are not comfortable doing this because they feel ashamed of how bad they are with their money or that they feel that “it’s just a few takeaway meals, it’s not a big deal“.

If this is the case for you, please allow yourself to put any judgement aside and use these 2 months to ‘date your money’. Just getting to know what is happening in your financial life will help you see where you can improve and start connecting you finances to a goal like:

  • going on a big trip
  • paying off your student loan
  • buying a house
  • upgrading your car
  • being debt free

In my world a simple life is one with as little waste as possible. By following a budget, I have more freedom and peace of mind. I also experience less waste in terms of money, time and energy.

* Please note: I’m not a financial advisor, so all the advise shared here in the blog and in my videos is just what I’ve tried and learned myself and what is working for me right now. Naturally you need to experiment and see what works in your unique situation! Always seek professional financial, legal or other advice before you make any big financial decisions in your life.

A theme for the new year

After the big, crazy year that 2020 was, I know I’m not the only one who wants 2021 to be a bit different. The first few weeks of a new year is when many of us set personal and professional goals, and sadly it’s also the time we tend to forget that willpower can only run for so long. Without support structures we will eventually lose focus and usually by March or so, the big goals have often been replaced with “I’ll get to it later” type of thinking.

A few years ago, I thought I’d start my year slightly differently and set a theme for the year. This could then connect to specific goals and it would at the same time be easy to remember and re-focus on.

When I studied coaching back in 2012, we’d often talk about the fact that “where your focus goes, energy flows“. The human mind simply can’t focus on too many things at once, so it’s pretty obvious. This way of focussing on themes instead of only specific goals has really helped me move the dial on many things in my life. I hope you’re keen to try and see what happens for you!

The simple process:

  1. Set a main theme you’re passionate and/or truly care about.
    In 2018 and 2019 my theme was personal finance, in 2020 it was creativity and in 2021 it is self love. These themes are not ones I consciously decided upon, but themes/topics that keps coming up and I felt a strong internal need to nurture and build that part of my life. Your theme can’t be a ‘should’, you have to land in a ‘want’. For example, when my personal finances were not working for me I did not feel like ‘I really should get on top of that…’, but rather ‘I never want to be in this difficult position again. I want to be in charge of my money and my life.

  2. Pick 2-3 activities/areas that will contribute to your theme. It’s important to keep these simple, yet helpful. If the activities or areas you pick here are not easy to reflect on or notice a difference in, you many need to get more specific. The 3 key areas I picked to support my theme of self love are:

    a) Learning: this includes things like reading, listening to podcasts, doing online courses or chatting to friends about practises they have experienced as helpful tools in building their self love muscle.

    b) Body and mind: this area is about exercise, food and well being for me. Reflecting on a regular basis on my exercise routine, rest, meditation, sleep and nutrition helps me stay on track 80% of the time. I still drink too much wine some days, or have chips for dinner, but this helps me look after myself.

    c) Relationships: for me personally self love is not just what I do in my own little bubble, but how I interact with friends, family, colleagues or strangers. To look at my relationships and interactions whilst reflecting on healthy boundaries (we all need to learn to say no to some things!), ability to be vulnerable and a range of other things are very helpful as I look at the big picture of self love.

  3. Review weekly (or even daily). If you write a gratitude journal or have a moment of silent reflection every day (I often do it before bed), it can be useful to just reflect on your 2-3 areas and what you did/what happened in each of them that day. Every day won’t be super productive, but they key here is to just notice where your time, energy and effort is spent every day/week and have the ability without judging yourself for ‘getting it wrong‘.

A simple life for me is one of awareness and gradual improvement. Everything new that we do is a skill that we need to train. Self-love is one that many ignore (I have too!), which is why I wanted to get curious to ‘train that muscle’ and notice where it takes me.

Affordable and enjoyable holidays

In many ways 2020 has been one of the most difficult and unusual years many of us have ever experienced. The thing to remember is that just like good times, the challenging times never last forever. I personally love to travel, and being an expat with most of my family on the other side of the globe, it’s been really difficult to accept that international travel is parked for a good while.

The silver lining is that I’ve started focussing on the travel we’re able to do instead, and more specifically camping. I know it’s not for everyone, but luckily both my fiancé and I love being out in nature and we don’t mind the bugs, mud and camp fire smoke that come with it. Last weekend we went camping with friends and those 2 nights away (only a 2 h drive from our house) did me a world of good.

There are many things about camping that light up my minimalist heart:

  1. It helps me breathe, connect with nature and enjoy the simple things. Cooking on a simple camp stove, having to get creative when you don’t have access to a fridge, drinking coffee down by a creek listening to bird song and enjoy some card games or an evening around the camp fire.
  2. It is very affordable. There are some great camping apps that helps you find both free and low cost camp sites with a range of facilities. With regards to gear, you can start simple (borrow or buy a basic tent, air mattress and small gas cooker), bring blankets, pots and utensils from your house and then upgrade over time if you find that you really enjoy camping. Often you can find loads of camping gear at discount stores, second hand shops or apps like Facebook marketplace for very little. Back when I did not have my own car, I did find it harder to plan a camping trip away, but if you just coordinate with friends and split the petrol cost or rent a car together, it’s certainly still possible!
  3. It allows me to explore my own backyard. Many of us love travelling to far away exotic places, and I certainly do too. Having been forced by the events of 2020 to focus on my home state has actually been a blessing in disguise. Instead of planning big holidays and long flights, we are starting to plan more frequent getaways in our home state to ensure we still get time away from time to time over the coming months.
  4. It brings you together with people who enjoy the same things. I fully understand and accept that many of my friends don’t love camping and that’s all OK with me. We have so many other fun things we do together instead. But for the people in my life who enjoy camping as much as I do, it’s a great bonding experience with them (and their kids/partners) where we can share new memories together.

Over the holiday season I’m hoping to get away for another night or two of camping (as we’re in the middle of summer here in Australia and restrictions are less strict now than earlier in the year). Wherever in the world you are I wish you safe and relaxing holidays with the people you love and a very happy new year. If you can’t see them all in person, just get creative and do video dinner / lunch / boardgames / cocktails to make the most of the restrictions of this strange year. I want to thank and acknowledge 2020 for all the challenges, learnings and gratitude for the small things that it taught me. I am also very excited to see what 2021 has in store for us all.

Sustainable and minimalist gift ideas

Finding the perfect gift for someone can be really tricky, especially if they are a minimalist. If you are mindful of sustainability and the environmental impact of different types of gifts, it can be even harder.

I thought I would share my 3 favourite categories to receive as a gift or gift to someone else, hopefully it helps you too!

  1. Making something. This does not mean you have to spend a ton of money on craft materials or be a really good cook/painter/baker etc. Making something can be as simple as putting together a DIY gift hamper with some snacks, coffee, a bottle of wine or whatever that person likes. You could bake some muffins and wrap them nicely, you could put your favourite photos of you 2 together in a scrap book or online photo album. To create a gift for someone does not mean you have to build or create it from scratch.
  2. Buy second hand! Regardless if you go to a physical second hand store or a web app like Facebook Marketplace, there are some amazing quality items out there that someone else no longer has use for. I’ve purchased both kitchen items and toys still as good as new in the original box for only a few $ in second hand shops. Wine glasses, vases, decor, picture frames, books, toys, coffee mugs and all sorts of other things can be great gift ideas for both holidays and birthdays. What I love is that it’s also reusing something that has already been manufactured, so we’re not wasting new environmental resources to create new presents. Extra bonus is that you can also find some great looking baskets or hamper things for very little money to help you with point 1 if you head to a second hand store.
  3. Gift an experience. This is probably my favourite one! If you’re low on cash, maybe gift your friend a picnic in the park or a movie night or dinner at your place. A weekend trip, theatre show, day at the zoo, wine tasting, cooking class or spa day can also be great fun. One of my favourite gifts that someone gave me was a horseback riding tour. Google is your friend here and there are loads of different options available for all types of budgets.

What are some of the best gifts you have received? What made them special for you?

Small pantry organisation

So we’ve moved to a new place, a lovely 2 bedroom apartment and I’m loving most things about this house, except for the pantry. It might sound like a very small thing, but because we meal prep, work 100% from home and are in and out of that pantry quite often, it’s not really working for us. It’s narrow and deep which does not make for easy access, or clearly seeing what’s hiding in the back.

After looking around on amazon.com and finding that every long and narrow bin that would fit in this annoying space was either quite expensive or taking 4+ weeks to arrive (I’m sorry, I’m way too impatient to wait for that…) I settled for these basic tubs from Kmart. I normally prefer to use natural materials wherever possible, but in a pantry it’s good to have things that are durable and that you can easily wash with dish soap and water if needed.

I also dug through my other cupboards and found some bags and other small containers that came in handy. The whole makeover cost only $20 (AUD) and both Paul and I are happy with the result. Check out the video below for the before and after!

Moving house? 5 minimalist tips for a stress free move

I’ve moved house well over 20 times in my life and a handful of those moves were international ones. Most of us don’t love moving house, because even if it can be exciting to get ready to start your life in a new place, it can certainly be a lot of work.

As I’m about to move house (well apartments really), I thought I’d take you along and share my 5 top tips for a stress free move.

  1. Put together a list. Yep, it’s time to get all those things out of your head and onto paper or some form of digital list. Trying to remember things is a recipe for stress and poor sleep… I prefer to use a digital list, but if you’re a paper list person that’s cool too! It just saves a lot of stress to have a clear list with some timelines and best of all – the ability to tick things off that list!
  2. Delegate tasks and share responsibilities. It’s hard to ask for help sometimes, and if you are single and moving by yourself, it’s unavoidable you’ll have to do most of it. That said, it’s important to delegate and/or ask for help. I have lost count of the times I’ve helped friends unpack and carry boxes. I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have had that support when I asked for it. This time I’m lucky to have a partner in crime so we decided to divide the tasks pretty evenly. Doing it all yourself just to get it your way or prove that you can (to all the perfectionists out there, you know what I mean…) is simply not the most helpful way to go about it. Let other people help you and remember that kids are very capable of helping out too!
  3. Start decluttering. It makes no sense to move things with you that you don’t like, want or use. There are lots of different ways of decluttering, I personally prefer to do it by room/zone. Feel free to check out my previous decluttering video if you want some tips on how I do it. My best advise would be to start early and do a little bit at a time. You’d be amazed how much stuff you can get rid of! Remember how silly it is that you might even have paid someone or carried those extra boxes of stuff you might now have even known you had.

    I also recommend that you try and donate, sell or recycle anything you can to make sure you declutter in a sustainable way. Check out my video here for some tips around this.
  4. Divide tasks into smaller chunks. I usually do this by packing/clearing out one area at a time, especially those areas that are easy to put off because they can be so overwhelming (garage, storage unit, messy broom closet). I’ve found that if I do little mini projects over the course of a few weeks, it feels a lot more manageable than getting everything done in 2 days. Especially this time around, I’ve found that my energy has been lower than usual due to the pandemic and heavy lockdown where we live in the lead up to this move.
  5. Try to clean and set up the new place before you move all the furniture in. Sometimes we don’t have this luxury, but this time we got the keys 4 days before the moving truck was booked. It was so nice to go over to the new house, bring a few smaller things we did not want to put in the truck and clean the place out. Unpacking is so much easier when you have clean spaces to put things away in. And yes, those movers will bring in dirt on their shoes, but that’s easily cleaned off at the end of the day. 🙂

What are your favourite moving tips? And what was the worst move you ever did?