Simple low waste kitchen hacks

I often hear people talk about a zero waste kitchen. For most of us (unless we grow a majority of the food we eat in our own backyard) this is something that’s quite difficult to achieve.

For quite a few years, I have actively looked at where I can waste less and be smarter with how I shop for groceries and store my food. In the current global pandemic (it’s July 2020 as I write this), I’ve found it’s much harder to access food markets and some of the places I used to buy bigger bulk items from, but I’m still doing my best to reduce the amount of plastic bags and packaging that comes into my home.

Here are my top 5 favourite tips of how to reduce waste and plastic in your kitchen!

  1. Bring your own shopping bags. Goes without saying that bringing our own bags to the shops (not just the grocery store!) is a great first step. I always have a few canvas bags in the car, but I also keep a small fold up bag in my handbag and another one in my gym bag. That way I always have a bag with me for groceries and other shopping so I can say ‘no thank you‘ to any unnecessary plastic.
  2. Reusable produce bags. I bought similar bags to these ones about 4 years ago and I use them every single week. If they get dirty, I just wash them in hot soapy water, they dry very quickly. If you don’t want to pay money to buy something similar, it’s super easy to make your own produce bags using old t-shirts, pillowcases or pretty much any type of fabric you have laying around your house.
  3. Bees wax wraps and reusable silicone bags. I have found that bees wax wraps are great for that half of an avocado, onion, tomato or other thing you need to wrap up and use later. I have bought most of my bees wax wraps at local markets over the years, but you can of course buy them online or even google how to make your own. I wash mine out in lukewarm or cold water and sometimes it’s good to use a sponge or gentle scrubber to get any stubborn food stains off. Instead of ziplock bags, I bought reusable silicone bags a few months ago and absolutely love them! They store things really well in both the fridge and the freezer and wash our really easily with warm soapy water. They have also worked really well as sandwich bags on a few hikes.
  4. Food storage containers and glass jars. As an avid meal-prepper, I have a bunch of different types and sizes of food storage containers on hand. Glass jars from your old pasta sauce or mustard can easily be washed out and used for storing salad dressings, soup and a bunch of other things.

    Over the past few years I have gradually started replacing my plastic food storage containers with glass tub versions. You can pick these up online or at your nearest well Kmart or similar. I do still use my old plastic containers for storing food in, I just make sure to not reheat the plastic tubs in the microwave, but rather put the leftovers on a plate for reheating. It makes me a bit sad when people throw all their perfectly good storage containers in the trash just because they happen to be made of plastic. Reducing your plastic waste is a great intention, but where do you think most of those plastic tubs you threw out actually end up? In landfill waste. So rather than throwing things out and creating more short term waste, use the items responsibly until they break and then replace them!
  5. Wash out and reuse ziplock type plastic bags. A very simple hack that saves both money and plastic waste. If I use ziplock bags (which is rare), I make sure to wash them out with hot soapy water, let them dry out and then use them again. If you buy frozen berries or fruit, they often come in sturdy resealable bags which you can easily wash out and use again. For any plastic bags that are torn and can’t be washed and reused, I make sure to recycle them.

I think zero waste is a great intention, but for most of us it’s very hard to achieve it. Rather than thinking we have to be perfect or not try at all, I welcome you to join me and do your best to reduce the waste that’s generated from your kitchen and household. I believe in progress over perfection and hopefully that’s something that can help you too!

Declutter Challenge Check In

I hope you’re doing as well as you can during this challenging time. I have definitely struggled with motivation when it feels like the days just blend into each other.

As we’re forced to stay home a lot more that we are used to, I know quite a few of you are using this time to sort through things and organise your space to work better for you. If you want a declutter checklist and template you can check out my last declutter blog post here.

I find that going through decluttering always triggers a few things for most people, such as:

  1. I don’t have time to finish a whole area in one go“. For some people this can cause them to beat themselves up for “not being organised enough”. This is not particularly helpful, so if this is how you feel right now, remember that getting started with something and taking your time to complete it fully (in steps if you need to) is not failure, but progress!
  2. I need to change the order of the declutter areas“. No sweat my friend, that’s why you have the checklist. Swap the order around however you like, but make sure you track your progress and tick things off that list!
  3. How much of my stuff should I declutter in the first round?” It’s totally up to you. I always recommend to start with what seems reasonable for you and then come back and declutter again in 3-6 months time. In this weeks video I share some of my most recent wardrobe declutter (just before Covid19 shutdown). It’s amazing to me that I still get rid of things every few months after actively decluttering regularly for a few years.
  4. How to dispose responsibly of things during Covid19 times? As I write this in early May 2020, it’s a bit difficult as charity shops are closed and selling/swapping/donating things to others is not encouraged. Of course there are still a lot of things you can get rid of that is either recycling or trash. For anything else, simply just box/bag it (make sure to label it!) and come back to sell/donate it once the current situation passes. It’s good to have a spot in your storage/garage or similar to gather these things so you know exactly where they are when you can get rid of them.

I know it’s not easy to spend this much time at home, but I’m choosing to see it as a valuable pause and chance to continue to make my home more welcoming and nurturing. Having space and harmony in your home is probably more valuable now than ever.

Minimalism in lockdown

How are you tracking with the changing world around us right now? It’s a strange time where lots of people struggle emotionally and financially. I’ve certainly had days where I feel super low, and I think it’s important to remember what it’s ok to feel sad, stressed, angry or any other feeling that comes up when so many things are out of our control.

If you or someone you know need extra support and you don’t know where to start, I’ve listed a few amazing resources in the bottom of this blog post for completely free and confidential support. If you’re not in Australia, just google what support services are available where you live. There is so much free and confidential support available!

On a lighter note, I actually have a positive life update from my end to share. After being in between jobs since October 2019, I finally found a full time job in marketing for an organisation that is so aligned with my values. I interviewed with them just before Covid19 closed down my part of Australia, and have been working from home since I started the role 2 weeks ago. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity at a time when the global economy is all ver the place and many companies are not recruiting.

So then, how are we coping with 2 people (both working full time from home) and 2 pets in a small 2 bedroom apartment?

  • It’s been a bit tight on space to create 2 work stations that work for us! For now we’re splitting our time between the living room (improvised stand up desk at the kitchen island) and the dedicated home office. I will do a full apartment tour at a later time, but if you want to see some snippets from our home you can check out my decluttering video.
  • We’ve found it more important than ever to have clear surfaces and putting things away. We’re usually pretty organised, but we’ve had to make sure that everything has a home. When we finish the work day we move all our work related items (extra screen, keyboard, laptop) go into the study and the living room is clear to hang out and relax.
  • I have not missed a single thing I’ve gotten rid of. As I’ve decluttered over the past few years, I used to ask myself “What if I miss this item later?“. Turns out I should not have worried, because even in the current lockdown situation I can’t think of a single thing (clothes, books, tech, kitchen items) I wish I had kept. When I asked Paul, he admitted to missing a few warmer jumpers he decluttered (we’re heading towards winter in Melbourne now). To me it just goes to show that a clear space helps my well being so much more than having lots of things.
  • Overall, we’re loving our small space and especially the balcony. We’re finding ways of being creative and repurposing furniture pieces and storage. Don’t get me wrong, I wish we could go out and enjoy things we used to have access to, but we’re choosing to make the most of what the current situation means.

Helpful resources if you need emotional support (some of these have both apps and chat functions as well as a free number you can call):

  • Lifeline (Australia): call 13 11 14 in Australia or chat/text with them via their website.
  • Beyond Blue (Australia): call 1300 22 4636 or chat with them via their website.
  • Insight Timer: my personal favourite free meditation app that holds a range of music and meditations to calm your mind.

Looking after our mental health and speaking to someone who can listen and support is key, it’s actually a true strength to admit we need help (in a big or small way). I’m not sponsored by any of these resources/organisations, but wanted to share them for anyone needing extra support at this time.

I hope you look after yourself and work through this time focusing on the things you are able to influence, like your home space, time, food and exercise.

Meal planning basics

I can’t believe it took me so long to start embracing meal planning! It helps us manage our budget, save time and eat healthy (depending on the types of food we choose of course).

My partner and I have been meal planning on and off since we met 2 years ago, but started to really do it on a weekly basis since the start of 2020. It’s been a game changer! I think it was hard to be consistent with it in our earlier attempts, simply because you need to plan your meals upfront AND do an organised grocery shop.

In more normal circumstances (outside of Covid19 lockdown) our meal plan actually works very similarly to what I share in this week’s video. The only thing that has changed is that we eat all our meals at home.

My top tips:

  1. Keep it simple. I just use a marker and a blank piece of paper to draw up a 7 day meal plan. You can make it pretty if you want to of course, for us it’s just important that it says what we’re having and who is responsible for cooking.
  2. Divide responsibility. My partner and I split the cooking and each prepare dinner every few days, since neither of us love to cook. I typically do most of the salads, soups and new recipe experiments. Paul is the king of pasta bolognese, roast and homemade pizza.
  3. Batch cooking means you have to cook less often. We are usually happy to have the same dish 2-3 days in a row, but if we’ve made a bigger batch than that, we just freeze anything extra and have it the next week.
  4. Be flexible. Right now (#physicaldistancingandcrazytoiletpaperhoarding) some things are harder to find at the supermarket, so it’s best to make a realistic meal plan, but be open to changing up the ingredients if needed.
  5. Follow the meal plan 90% of the time. Even with a great basic meal plan, we sometimes swap the order of the meals, order the occasional takeaway or go out for dinner. The plan is not set in stone, it’s just there to help you simplify your week and stay healthy and on budget more often than you don’t.

Below is an example meal plan for the other week. You’ll notice we only plan lunch and dinner, as we often do intermittent fasting in the morning and skip breakfast. I’m happy to share more about this in a future blog and video if you’d like to fund out more. Just let me know in a comment here and I’ll add it to the filming schedule!

A minimalist stockpile?

Can a minimalist have a stockpile of food or things? If so, how big is it allowed to be?

It’s late March 2020 as I write this and Covid-19 is impacting us globally. Needless to say it’s a disruptive and difficult time for many people, and I wanted to share how simplicity and minimalism has helped my partner and I stay focused before all this unfolded and manage the situation so far. And in case anyone is wondering, we still had a few spare rolls of toilet paper in the house when the crazy hoarding behaviours hit the supermarkets a few weeks ago… 🙂

We’re only 2 people and 2 fur kids in our house, so I appreciate our situation is different to many others who might have big families, but I wanted to share my approach on how I’ve always thought (way before global virus situation) about staple foods, shopping and budgeting.

In this video I cover 2 of the key themes I use to plan and live as simply as possible (I’ll go into them in a bit more detail below:

  1. Plan and buy the things you use often.
  2. Learn to improvise! (multi purpose tools/items, food and recipes – you name it!)

I would consider myself a minimalist to some extent, but I don’t believe this means that you can’t buy relevant things in bulk to save money, time and energy. Not to mention lower environmental impact with less packaging and fewer trips to the shops.

  1. Meal plan and know the things you often buy. Like most people we try and eat healthy, and therefore our weekly shopping list tends to include mostly the same things. Fresh or frozen veggies (as a side note, I would struggle to live without avocado!), eggs, salad, a few canned goods, almond milk, meat and/or tofu. Knowing your basic ingredients/recipes well also means you can vary them as necessary if it’s hard to get hold of certain items during a specific time/season.
  2. Make sure you never run out of all items in one category at the same time. For example, we always buy ahead to ensure we never run out of sweet potato, rice and pasta at the same time. If we’re low on one, we’ll substitute with something else from the same category. Same goes for protein and veggies.
  3. Buy one extra or a bigger pack of things you use all the time. This makes good budget and eco sense (big pack means less packaging in the long run), and I do this for canned goods, pasta/rice, hygiene items (yes, including toilet paper) and frozen foods. In our case, we try hard to only grocery shop once a week (I’ll talk more about this in my upcoming meal planning video) and we only have one large drawer for our pantry and a fairly small apartment size fridge/freezer, so it’s a bit of a Tetris game on shopping day! Freezing soup/sauces/meat/chicken and other things flat in portion size (reusable) bags also helps reduce packaging and fit more in the freezer.
  4. If your favourite brand/food is on sale, buy one extra (not 10!). Somewhat related to the above point, but I only do this for things I know I will use, and I never buy more than one or a big family pack if it’s a product/food/drink I’ve never tried before. It’s often a waste of money and because you bought it, you’ll either feel the need to use/eat it even if you don’t like it OR shove it in the back of the cupboards and end up having to throw it out later (when it’s expired).
  5. I’m always so grateful for what I have. Not a planning tool, but it’s really helped me over the past few weeks. There was a time in my life when money was extremely tight, but I still managed and I have since then always been grateful to have food on the table, be healthy and have beautiful and supportive friends and family in my life. Nurturing a mindset of ‘I have enough/more than I need‘ helps both our mental health and our ability to stick through tough times without giving in to fear and panic.
  6. Learn to improvise! As a student I learned to make up random food dishes with whatever I had in the fridge and pantry. I’m by no means a chef, but I like the challenge of improvising new meals from the basic foods I most often have on hand. Also remember that a well stocked spice cabinet can really improve the blandest of things. If you need help improvising food from a small pantry, YouTube or Google is your friend.

As a side note, before crazy virus times, we also started keeping some basic backup food items and a fresh water jug in the house, just in case we’d get sick, have a power outage or something else unexpected happened. I’m not talking about surviving for 6 months without going out, but rather an extra weeks’ worth of food for us and the pets if we were ever in a pinch. Much like the financial emergency fund I talked about in a previous post, this is a very simple thing for peace of mind and resilience in unexpected and difficult times.

Simplicity and minimalism has helped me realise that it’s not about having as few things as possible. It’s not a competition! It’s about making space for the items and routines that help make our lives easier and remove the things and people that cause clutter and noise.

I hope you stay safe during these strange times and physically stay away from other people whenever possible. Thank goodness we live in a time where people are only a phone call or video chat away!

The 7 step declutter challenge

Know all about how to sustainably declutter from my previous post? Awesome, now let’s go! This challenge is great regardless how messy your space is, it’s really up to you how far you want to go with your decluttering right now. Remember: any progress you make is better than it was before!

This decluttering method is one that I have used many times and it can be done over 7 days straight (one are per day) depending on the size of your space and clutter. 🙂 It can also be divided up over a few weeks/weekends if you prefer. The key thing is to tackle one area at a time to sort through and remove the things you don’t want to keep, before you start with the next area. Yes, of course it’s OK to still be selling/donating some things from the first area as you start with the second one, but a key part of the momentum with this challenge is to work in sections.

What I’ve found works best for me is to to start with a fairly ‘easy’ room/area (like the bathroom) to gain some positive momentum. I would then recommend to move onto a bigger area where you can really see the difference (like the kitchen) even if there are a fair few areas to cover within the kitchen itself (cabinets, fridge, freezer and pantry).

You can see the full 7 step challenge below! This method and the room/areas it covers reflects how my home is organised, but if you want to change some of the categories to better suit your home, feel free to change it up.

Access your free printable declutter checklist via this link. You can also email me with any declutter questions via

  • Day 1: Bathroom. Hair dryers/straighteners/curlers/shavers, makeup, towels, bathroom products, haircare products, any cleaning supplies you keep here, brushes/combs, skincare.
  • Day 2: Kitchen. Pantry, kitchenware, bulk food storage (even if you keep this elsewhere in the house) appliances, fridge, freezer (including fridges/freezers kept outside of the kitchen), junk/stuff drawer, cutlery, utensils, cleaning supplies.
  • Day 3: Wardrobe. All your clothes including shoes, jackets, accessories, belts, bags, seasonal clothing.
  • Day 4: Bedroom(s). Bedside table(s), book shelves, junk/stuff drawer, photos/art on wall, candles, plants, under bed storage, dressers that don’t hold clothes.
  • Day 5: Study/desk area. Important papers, sentimental items/papers/cards, pens, notepads, receipts, cables, electronics, batteries, decor.
  • Day 6: Living room. Books, furniture, dvd’s, games, candles, records, tech gadgets, magazines, photos/art on wall, decor, cushions and blankets.
  • Day 7: Storage or garage. Camping gear, tools, sporting equipment, extra blankets and pillows, linen closet/storage, broom closet/laundry/cleaning supplies, paint, seasonal decor.
  • Optional Day 8: Kids room/playroom. Clothes, toys, art & craft supplies, games, furniture.

How do I know what to get rid of? Here are some simple reminders that always helps me:

  • Some decluttering techniques will talk about things like “Does this item spark joy?” or “Do I love this item?“. Those questions sometimes works for me (especially with clothes), but more often I ask myself “Is this useful/practical?“. I don’t know about you, but my sandwich toaster/rain coat/ fruit bowl does not spark joy for me. They are pretty useful on a regular basis in my life though.
  • When was the last time I used this? A key question to ask, and generally speaking I get rid of anything I have not used for more than 12 months. That way I’ve gone through a whole year and all seasons before I decide to get rid of something.
  • Am I holding onto this because it was expensive? We all make shopping mistakes in our past, or get gifted expensive items that we feel the need to hold onto because they were expensive. Sell it or donate it and let it go. It’s not worth holding onto things that you don’t enjoy or find useful.
  • What about sentimental items? I’ll cover this in a future video, but for the purpose of getting on with your decluttering challenge I would recommend you to group all your sentimental items together and go through them separately outside of this challenge. If you want to get started in this round, you may be able to scan/take photos of some of the items and then let them go.

Decluttering is a powerful life tool in so many ways. It reminds you of what you have and what you might need to upgrade. It confronts you with your past and current shopping habits. It helps you pass things onto someone else that needs it more than you. The physical transformation when you declutter will give you lots of mental health benefits as well. When things have a ‘home’ you don’t waste time finding things. You’ll also find that you argue with/nag your loved ones less when there is little mess to deal with.

Also remember that decluttering is not at all about perfection or ‘getting it right’. It’s about welcoming simplicity on your life and making space for more engaging things than wading through the clutter to find things. It’s a gradual process and I tend to come back to each area/room every 3-6 months and go through it again. Because no matter how hard we try, things will find their way into our home and we need to learn to consciously decide what we want to keep and not.

The best beginner budgeting template

In a previous blog post I shared my thoughts on budgeting and the 5 types of bank accounts I used to get my finances organised. In today’s post I’m going to share the actual budget system/template I used to get organised and track my money. This is probably one of the biggest steps I’ve taken in the past few years to declutter and organise my life and it has been so valuable for both my physical, financial and emotional health.

So many people I’ve met seem to struggle with the concept of budgeting because:

  • It’s boring/hard to track our finances. It’s way easier to not care, have lots of fun and then wonder half way through the month where the heck our money actually went. If you’re able to turn this around and see budgeting as your way to freedom, you’d be surprised at the options that open up for you, regardless of your income level.
  • It’s scary to be that honest with yourself and see what you are/have been spending most of your money on. Somewhat connected to the above point, but I have done that avoidance strategy soooo many times in my life. It’s way easier to avoid looking at it and procrastinate for another month.
  • Many people have very limiting beliefs around money. Telling yourself things like “I could never have wealth” or “I’ll never get out of debt” or “I earn to little to be able to make a difference with my budget” or any theme similar to that is common, but not helpful. Most of us learn these money beliefs from people in our family, and the great news is that all these things we tell ourselves can be changed to help us!

It’s not that complicated really, but it can be hard to get started. So just check out this weeks’ video where I’ll show you how to use my template and then just promise yourself to get started now!

Access the budgeting template for free:

Not having a good relationship with your money (regardless how much you earn) is a huge point of stress, and I can’t believe it took me so long to realise that it would actually make me so much happier to track and keep on top of my finances. Before that I used to stress about money daily or weekly and sleep a lot worse.

Knowing what you have to work with in terms of money, having some basic financial goals (big or small) and taking small steps to action this every week will help you declutter and organise your life now and for the future. Let’s get started!

* 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.

How to declutter sustainably

It’s February 2020 as I write this, and I keep noticing that people are still working on kicking off the year well. Let’s face it, January is a bit of a ‘soft start’ month, but February is when the rubber really hits the road, right! A big part of that kick off and positive energy is decluttering your space/home and getting rid of things that no longer serve you. If you’re keen to declutter your life, I’d welcome you to join my simple 7 step declutter challenge, which I’ll share in the next blog post.

I’m a BIG fan of decluttering, but I have noticed in a range of videos and posts online where many people seem to throw most of the stuff they don’t want straight in the trash. I’m sure a lot of people do the right thing and sell, donate and recycle things behind the scenes. But if most of the declutter goes straight in the trash, this breaks my heart a little, because it’s both wasteful and irresponsible.

I know that in the past I have definitely thrown things in the trash that should probably not have gone there, and over the past few years I’ve promised myself to do my bit in reducing my footprint on this planet. My philosophy is that we are just as responsible for HOW and WHERE we get rid of things as we are for bringing those things into our life and home in the first place.

It can be frustrating, because most of us prefer things to happen instantly (once we have decided to declutter something, we want it done and out of our house ASAP). That’s why it can be so helpful to approach decluttering with a bit of a method to tackle one area or room at a time. This way we have time and space to do it properly and sell, donate and throw away anything that we no longer use. You may want to use a specific method (Konmari is a popular one), or you might be like me and prefer to tackle one physical area at a time, rather than going by category. In my next video and blog post I’ll share the 7 step declutter method I tend to use and welcome you to join me on the challenge if you’d like to!

First I wanted to cover a few very important ground rules before you get started on your sustainable decluttering:

  1. Have a ‘declutter zone’ for the things you’ll be clearing out
    With a dedicated space before you start, the declutter is a lot easier to manage. I can assure you that you’ll get a bit overwhelmed otherwise! A garage, storage room, corner of a spare room or similar is ideal if you have a lot to go through. I would recommend you don’t keep things (except the things you’re selling) for more than a week, otherwise you’ve just moved the clutter from one room to another. My partner and I have decluttered a lot over the past few years, so nowadays we normally just have a small bag or box in our closet where things go for donations and one shelf for things to sell.

  2. Think repurpose!
    Often when I have decluttered one area I find great use for a storage bin, container or lamp in another room. This is why you have your dedicated space to put the things in, sometimes it helps to take the item out of its first space to see how useful or pretty it could be somewhere else.

    Now a word of warning here if you like the idea of DIY projects and repurposing an object (like painting a picture frame or something). Only keep these things/projects if you know for 100% sure you’ll get around to doing them in the near future. Otherwise you’re just holding onto clutter and wishful thinking. Be honest with yourself and be OK with getting rid of things that you know you’ll never get to repurposing.

  3. Sell things that are in good condition!
    Selling things might take time, but you’d be surprised how much you can get for an item that you no longer use. I’ve had great success with Facebook marketplace, eBay, (or similar pages if you’re not in Australia) where people have collected the item same day and I’ve got some of the money back that I originally paid for the item (#winwin).
    This also goes for things you list for free collection (we did this with our old printer/scanner) to get someone to come and take something for free that you can’t sell.

    I’d recommend if you’ve got a lot of things to sell, only list 2-3 things at a time so you don’t overwhelm yourself dealing with people asking questions about the item. Local buy/swap/sell Facebook groups or noticeboards can also be a good thing to check out to get rid of things that still have value.

  4. Give to friends and family.
    If you have clothes, makeup, shoes, toys, books, bedding, towels, movies, kitchenware or anything else you no longer need, it’s worth asking friends and family if there is anything they need. Often when I’ve moved countries, I have donated most of my old kitchen stuff, bedding etc to a friend setting up their place.

    If you have people in your life with hoarding tendencies, I would recommend to not give them anything, unless it’s to replace an item that is broken or no longer working. It’s not your responsibility to manage other people’s choices, but hoarding is a difficult pattern to break, and you can help a little by not bringing more stuff into their home.

    Please don’t just bring your stuff over and force people to take your old stuff if they have not asked for it, make sure to ask them first and don’t just dump your clutter onto someone else!

  5. Donate responsibly
    Once you’ve checked with people in your life, feel free to donate most of the remaining things. Remember to only donate clothes, furniture and other items to charity that are in good condition to be worn or used. Otherwise you’re creating unnecessary work for the charity shop to go through your old stained t-shirts and chipped kitchenware. You can always call your local charity before you head down there and double check what sort of donations they accept.

    Old socks can be recycled via organisations like this instead of going to landfill. Shops like H&M and Zara in Australia accept clothes in any condition to be recycled through them, instead of going to landfill. Old towels and blankets can often be donated to a local vet clinic or animal shelter. Some non expired food items (especially canned things) and hygiene products can be donated to local charities who support disadvantaged people in the community. Google is your friend here, so just look up what you can donate in your local area.

  6. Always recycle what you can
    Every city and country is different, but there are some things that should NEVER go in your garbage bin! Electronics, paint, old mattresses and batteries are things you can normally drop for free or a small cost at your local recycling centre. Your normal recycling like metal, paper/cardboard, glass and plastic can naturally be recycled in most places (just check the plastic packaging to see if it has a recycling symbol on it). Soft plastic/plastic bags usually need to be taken to designated spots for collection.

  7. Learn from what you have to throw away
    Some things that are broken, stained or expired products will need to be thrown out in the trash and that’s ok. If you’ve gone through the above steps, there should be far less trash than it could have been otherwise.

    Depending how much trash and recycling you accumulate through this challenge you might need to divide it up over a few weeks to fit in your bin. After a declutter it can be difficult to look at all the waste you find in your home, but use this as a learning for the future and don’t beat yourself up about it! By being honest with ourselves we can do better in the future.

Keen to get started? Keep an eye out for my 7 step declutter coming out soon!

How to start budgeting

One of the best ways to simplify your life AND look after your mental well-being is to have a budget that works for you. Knowing where your money goes helps free up your mind, helps prepare you for any ‘rainy day’ scenario and helps you save up for travels or other fun things you’d like to do. It basically gives you freedom and choices! In the bottom of this blog post, you’ll find the 5 type of bank accounts* I use and would strongly recommend you explore for yourself.

Now listen to me. There is no shame in starting from scratch, that’s exactly what I did. It does not matter how old you are or what you ‘should have’ been doing up until now. Taking charge of your financial situation is something only you can do, and with the right support it’s not as hard as you might feel that it is!

I will admit that I did not used to have a budget at all, I just used to just save like crazy leading up to any big trip I had planned. My dad always nagged me to have a savings account for emergencies too, and thanks to him I did have enough money put away for some of those hard days when I got hit with an unexpected expense. I kind of got by with no real plan. And I’ll willingly admit that I had no financial goals at all, except being able to afford to travel internationally about once a year.

It wasn’t until I had a massive financial scare about 4 years ago (I was single at the time and potentially loosing my job), I had one of those hard awakenings. I had just come back from a big trip to visit family back to Sweden, I had no savings in the bank and if I lost my job then, I would have been in big trouble. I will never forget how I felt that day. The shame and the self blame. How could I have put myself in this situation?

Luckily I did not loose my job, but from that day forward, I promised myself that regardless how much or little I earned, I would find a way to always look after myself financially.

My first step was to educate myself more about budgeting and finance. I have watched countless YouTube videos over the past few years to look at different budgeting systems and tried a bunch of them to see what worked for me. One way of budget thinking that really worked for me was Barefoot Investor. My friend bought me his book a few years ago (I’m in no way sponsored by his brand), and I immediately resonated with his thinking around finance. His book and blog is super useful for you to get started, regardless of your income level or potential debt. My financial approach that I share below is a combination of his advise and other tips and tools I have learned via a range of YouTube budgeting channels.

The 2 things I started doing that made a huge difference for me:

  1. I tracked my spending for 3+ months. Not the most fun I’ve ever had, but very important! I did this to find out what I was really spending my money on and see if my draft budget was realistic. Most people (I am no exception!) vastly underestimate how much they spend on groceries, eating out, entertainment, transport and a bunch of other things. After tracking it for a few months, I pretty quickly worked out what was realistic and set some personal savings goals.
  2. I set up a structure of bank accounts to earmark a certain % of my income to different things. Specifically, I set up (and still have) 5 different bank accounts with very different purposes. This might sound like it’s more than what you need, but most people who are good at managing their money have dedicated ‘pools’ for their money to go into.

Remember, you don’t have to have a high income to set this up for yourself. Most banks will allow you to do this in just a few minutes online.

The 5 types of accounts I have:

  1. Everyday account for salary and bills. This is where my salary comes in and all money for bills, groceries, and rent come out from.
  2. Everyday spending account. This is what I use for eating out, hairdresser, transport (uber, taxi, public transport), gym related things, coffees, gifts and pretty much everything else I spend money on that is not just for ‘survival’. I know some of you would argue coffee is sometimes survival, on most days I would agree with you… 🙂
  3. Smile savings account. In Barefoot investor, he talks about having a savings account where you save up for fun things that make you smile. I love this way of thinking and how much more fun do you have knowing that you can enjoy that experience 100% guilt free when you save up for it first! This is a high interest savings account where I save up for travels, more expensive experiences (like my skydive), a new fancy bicycle and other bigger purchases. Normally about 10-15% of my income goes here.
  4. Future fund savings account. High interest savings account to use for bigger future investments, for me this is a house deposit. I normally put about 20-25% of my income here.
  5. Emergency fund. This is a bank account that I never touch! It’s the one I saved up for first, I’ve got AUD$2,000 in there and it’s only for absolute emergencies or unexpected bills only. I’m happy to say that I’ve never had to use it, but it gives me great peace of mind to have it should I ever need it. Some might argue that an emergency fund should have more than $2,000 in it, so just choose whatever number you need to be comfortable.

If you have credit card debt or other debt, the above might look a bit different for you. There is a wealth of knowledge and tips across the internet on how to pay off debt quickly, so just start researching and start working on it.

The main thing I have learned when it comes to budgeting and money, is that it really does not matter all that much how much you earn every month. Yes, more money can help you reach some goals faster, but what matters the most is what you do with the money you have and the everyday decisions you make to improve your financial situation!

* 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.

An introduction

It’s always tricky to simplify and tell a story in a short and concise way. In some ways, I don’t believe people’s life story is something that should ever be short. Every person we meet have a unique story about how they got where they are today.

It’s essentially all about the journey and the many milestones, some of them very sad and difficult ones, that shapes a person. Some of the best stories I’ve heard about people (and what made them who they are now) have been told around campfires, over the phone, on long drives and every single one of those stories deserves space and time.

Getting to know someone means relating to part of their story, so in this week’s blog post and the below video I wanted to share a bit about me and my background.

My brief timeline:

  • 1982: I was born in the south of Sweden and grew up on a small family farm. In 1984 and 1988 I also became a very proud older sister to my 2 awesome brothers.
  • 1998: My first overseas trip without my parents. Went to England with a friend for a summer class to learn English. That same year mum and I moved from our tiny village to the nearest big city for me to start high school.
  • 2001: One of those truly life changing milestones. I graduated from high school and left Sweden for the U.S. where I spent a year outside San Francisco working as an au pair. Awesome experience overall and some of the best road trips I’ve ever had. Confronting in many ways to be so far away from home, especially when 9/11 happened. Finished the year with an epic month long bus trip down the west coast, across all the southern states and up the east coast to fly home from New York.
  • 2003: Started university to study political science on the Swedish west coast. Loved student life and most of the things we learned. Statistics never made it to my list of favourite topics though.
  • 2005: Awesome summer backpacking trip for 2 months with 3 of my best friends through big parts of Asia. We basically travelled from Helsinki to Singapore by train and bus (via Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia). Some hard moments for sure, but an amazing adventure. And yes, we flew home from Singapore!
  • 2007: Graduated university with a Master’s Degree in political science and communication. That same year I moved to England (Manchester) for both love and work.
  • 2010: Left the rain in England for sunny Australia. Started out briefly in Western Australia and then working in Sydney for a few months, before making Melbourne my home in December that year. Had a few fantastic months of traveling too!
  • 2013: Studied coaching and started my part time coaching business whilst working full time in corporate. Learned a lot about human behaviour and running a business. Difficult, but incredibly rewarding experience. I also ran a full marathon that year. A very full on year looking back at it now!
  • 2018: Met my partner Paul in May. So incredibly grateful that our paths crossed.
  • 2019: Paul and I made a big decision to take a career break together and spent 3,5 months traveling around Europe. Beautiful moments reconnecting and spending time with many of my friends and family as well as seeing a bunch of new places together.
  • 2020: Let’s see what happens, shall we?!

Looking at that list you can probably tell that I’ve moved, explored and in some ways simplified life consistently over the past 20 years. And a few things have remained very consistent. I tend to value experiences and relationships much higher than physical things. I have never borrowed money to go on a trip or adventure, I have always had a budget and saved up the money first. I try to always consider the environmental impact of my decisions, which is not always a straight forward thing. having lived overseas for a long time, I have still gone back home to Sweden for a holiday most years, given my family and many of my friends still live there.

More than anything, I feel like my urge to travel have taught me a lot about people, languages and culture. It’s easy to see how there is always a connection between places and the simpler we live, the less clutter and noise we have to cut through to see those connections. To live simply is never about taking the ‘easy way’. When we focus on the simple things by making hard decisions, life opens up with lots more opportunities than we were able to see in the first place.