Denali Northern Expenditure

Tag: stuff

Why I Don't Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

Why I Don’t Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

I hate shopping. Especially for clothes. Part of me wishes I was that person that could walk into a store and want ALL THE THINGS! Before moving to Alaska, thrift stores were my jam. Everything I owned was from a thrift store. It was my style, it was cheap, and if it got destroyed, I wasn’t that worried about it. Also, I could walk into the thrift store and look at my size on the rack. When the rack ended, I was done.

Now that I live in Alaska (where the thrift stores are both expensive and terrible), I’ve been forced into buying clothes from stores like regular people. It’s awful.

Clothes are Expensive!

I hear the argument that you should just buy really well made clothes and they’ll last forever. It’s a sane argument. But what if you have 3 crazy kids, you spend most of your year walking through snow, your shirts always manage to get holes in the front, and you are incapable of eating chocolate without having pieces melt into your shirt?* Well, then your argument is crazy. Then I put on said shirt and feel like I can’t live my life. I can’t accidentally rub up against my car (with its inch-thick dirt in the winter and spring). I can’t touch my children. I can’t go outside.

Northern Expressions

Northern Expression: Most people leave no traces.

Today’s Northern Expression comes from Ivan Illich in his H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness. Illich was a fascinating Croatian/Austrian philosopher that had very interesting perspectives on many everyday things. In today’s quote, he talks about how we leave no traces in our fast-paced lives:
Most people do not dwell in the place where they spend their days and leave no traces in the place where they spend their nights.

“Most people do not dwell in the place where they spend their days and leave no traces in the place where they spend their nights. They spend their days next to a telephone in an office and their nights garaged next to their cars.” – Ivan Illich

He’s onto something, right? If you work full-time, where do you actually spend most of your time? And how do you interact with your “stuff”? It’s something we don’t think enough about.

I like the idea of where you leave your traces. As a work-at-home mom, I definitely leave my traces on my home, but they’re not always the best traces.

Where do you leave your traces? Are they the traces you want to leave?

Happy Friday and last day of March! See you next month!

Love, Maggie

A Simpler Life

A Simpler Life

Since the beginning of the year, Mr. T and I have been focusing on simplifying. 2015 was a year of crazy home improvements as we checked off all the items on the Alaska Energy Rebate Program. Every free evening was spent in the crawlspace or garage painting, insulating, piping, etc. (I should emphasize that I was somewhat involved after the kids were in bed, but most of this was done by Mr. T.) We were spending lots of money (most of which we got back as a rebate), plotting our next move, and under a strict deadline to finish all the things on the list. When we finally finished it all last December, we were tired. We didn’t want to plan anything specific for 2016 because we just wanted to calm down.

gazingus pin

The Gazingus Pin: Your Spending Weakness

It’s no secret that one of my all-time favorite books is Your Money or Your Life. The book constantly talks about the Gazingus Pin. The Gazingus Pin is the ridiculous thing you continue to spend your money on. The book couldn’t say “clothes” or “movies” because specific items would be too close to home for many readers. As I read that book, I kept thinking “I don’t go to the mall. I’ve stopped going to Target and Target clearance was my Gazingus Pin. I’ve already solved my problem!” Maybe you’re thinking that, too. You’ve stopped getting coffee on the way to work. Congratulations! Unfortunately, the problem with the Gazingus Pin is that it’s not usually the thing that’s easy to cut out. It’s that thing you need that you never realized you buy in quantities too large to be useful.

how much we spend

How Much We Spend

This week, we’re doing an in-depth look at numbers and we’re kicking it off by taking a good, hard look at how much we spend. Annual expenditures are really the magical number needed to retire. We’re getting real (with charts!) and taking a look at 2013, 2014, and 2015. First up, 2013:

2013 Expenses

Lessons from Decluttering Everything

We did it! We have successfully touched every single thing in our house. I have taken 6 loads to the thrift store. Everything left in our home has a place to go. We spent this weekend double checking all the rooms, dusting, vacuuming, changing sheets, and mopping. I can tell you that my house is really and truly cleaned and organized for the first time ever and it feels amazing. I’ve written updates on organizing clothes, books, and the bathrooms and kitchen. Tackling decluttering for real was life-changing. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

Kitchen and Bathroom Organization

In our effort to touch every single item in our house (see our success with our clothing and our books!), we tackled the bathrooms and kitchen this past week. We anticipated these projects being quite simple since we open up all the cabinets in both the kitchen and bathrooms daily. But these projects were beasts! Every hidden corner had hairbands and bag clips! It would have been so easy to just open all the cabinets, say “yup, we’re good” and close them up again. I’m not backing down on my goal to touch every single thing, so I pulled everything out of every cabinet and wiped everything down! (It feels great to know my clean silverware is no longer sitting in a layer of year-old crumbs.) Mr. T and I actually touched and discussed every dish.

The Steps to Take to Purge and Organize Your Books

The second category we tackled was Books. We are book lovers and the books filled all our bookshelves, some storage cubes, and all the shelves in our nightstands. It was overwhelming. And it was too many to pile all together at one time. So, we broke up the process of decluttering the books in the following ways:

Step 1) Go on a Scavenger Hunt for Money Books!

I pulled up on my phone and started a scavenger hunt for books worth money. BookScouter checks all the textbook buyback websites and tells you which one would give you the most money for your book after you enter the ISBN number. This was a fun and motivating way to get started on a category so overwhelming. I entered hundreds of ISBN numbers. In general, I learned that fiction is worth nothing, but I was often surprised that textbooks over ten years old were still worth a couple dollars. I stacked them into piles for,, and Amazon based on which one BookScouter said would give me the most money. Be sure to check out the book condition requirements of each company. One of my books was worth about $25 but because it had a rip in the cover, no one would accept it. Each company lets you print off a free shipping label and just drop the box off at a shipper and then they reimburse you (remember that if you choose PayPal, you’ll get your money faster, but you’ll also have to pay fees). I tried to get up to $50 from each service, but failed. Here’s how it ended up breaking down:

‘Enough’ is a Feast

In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving. It is a day we traditionally gather with family and eat turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, rolls, stuffing, and just as many pies! It is a day in which we are supposed to give thanks, celebrate the harvest, and rejoice in the cornucopia of abundance we have. Unfortunately, today in the United States is also a holiday of sorts where people go out at unreasonable times to wait in long lines to buy more stuff. Over the years, stores have opened earlier and earlier on Black Friday (as it is called) with several stores now starting sales on Thanksgiving evening… giving us just enough time to stuff our faces and run out the door to buy more stuff. No time for the giving of thanks.

EARTHQUAKE! Life can change so quickly.

We live in Alaska where there are a lot of earthquakes. According to the Alaska Earthquake Center, we’ve had 404 in the past three days! And we’re due for “The Big One” as they’ve been saying for years. The 9.2-magnitude quake that hit Alaska in 1964 was highly destructive and the local fear is a repeat of those events.

On Tuesday, we had a 6.4 earthquake. Again, we’re used to earthquakes around here. We feel them frequently. But this one started small and rolling so we were deceived into thinking it wasn’t a big deal. Florin stood there and said “this isn’t a REAL earthquake!” Then it got bigger. She immediately stood paralyzed, screaming, and we had to coax her under the table. Penny was calm and collected and popped right under the table and covered her neck. Lui just sat there and laughed.

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