Why I stopped mindlessly shopping and own less things

Why I stopped mindlessly shopping and own less things

I used to love to shop, and I mean shop! I’m talking about the kind of shopping where there’s no intention, no list, no vision other than to mindlessly wander around a mall spending. It was about that instant gratification of having new stuff, things, this-and-that to fill my home and for a brief moment, comfort me.

A new cushion for the couch (already overdressed with an array of textures and colours), or that beige Zara top, a colour I had never worn well with a skin tone as pale as an uncooked chicken (thankfully aided by Bondi Sands when Summer rolls around).

What I was doing wasn’t healthy, not for myself, my partner, my bank account or my mental health. I was buying things without a thought, and in return, they were giving me nothing back, and neither was I.

This needed to stop.

It wasn’t overnight that my habits changed – like many things it took time, many conversations, sifting through my things, analysing my spending, looking at photographs of myself. Who was I? What did I value? Where did I want to go? All these ‘things’ were a result of me not knowing these answers.

I needed to define my ‘why’.

Seeking change and a challenge, my partner and I decided to do what many Kiwi’s do in their 20’s and move to the UK. Why? Because we wanted to become more resilient, more confident, and to experience new cultures, people, and challenges that Auckland at the time didn’t offer us.

The change.

To get there we made many changes, which forced us to be more intentional – no longer could I walk through a mall mindlessly spending. The cushions and beige top needed to go.

We moved into a tiny house (7×3 metres) to save on rent, which meant downsizing – It meant researching and discovering new processes and ways-of-living I had never heard about before, all to get us to our goals and to minimize what we had…

I discovered these movements:

  • The Tiny House Movement
  • Minimalism
  • Capsule Wardrobes
  • The Fire Community
  • House Sitting
  • WWOOF

These new learnings aided and pushed me forward. Yes, they helped us save to go to the UK, and they stopped me going into malls, buying without intention and owning things for owning-things-sake. But they also taught me the beauty of less, and to value more what we so often take for granted. My friends, family, education, and opportunities – these are the things that gave back to me and in return, I can give back to.

Owning less will give you so much more.

Owning less is not about depriving yourself, it’s about being more mindful with the things you have and the things you buy.

Next time you go shopping, go with a plan, think what do I need? What do I like? What brings me joy? Does this purchase align with my goals? And if you keep this in mind I promise you there will never be a mall visit without intention or a rogue beige top finding its way into your closet.

THE LADDER GIRL

Want to save more? 4 steps to define your ‘why’

Want to save more? 4 steps to define your ‘why’

Let me take you on a little trip to Dalston.

Last weekend I met up with some friends at a newly opened café in Dalston. It’s the kind of cafe you’d expect in Dalston – so underground it’s not even signposted, a gig-venue come café come art-gallery, with a menu hosting ‘<insert hipster café name> fruitcakes’, which really just means blueberry pancakes. All the complex frills required to claim its place in the Dalston Directory of Hipster Approved Cafés.  

Now to the setting. All accounted and seated we began our pre-coffee ramblings – And in typical Antipodean fashion there’s no time for niceties, we’re straight into the deep and meaningfuls, quick.

We discussed an array of things (some things my pre-coffee self just couldn’t compute) – I’m not one for Brexit in the morning, but one thing that did spark up my brain was the subject of savings (my geekish self rejoiced).  

By fruitcakes-time we all collectively agreed we needed to get better at savings, but when asked why? No one had a clear answer. “It’s something we should be doing” seemed to be the general consensus.

Within this response lied the problem, you see by not knowing our ‘why’, we’d already set ourselves up to fail.

Why the Why?

Savings in itself is pointless if you don’t know why you’re saving in the first place. It’s like driving along a highway without an end destination in mind. Do this and you’ll very quickly find yourself off-course, without gas, and allured by other the attractions along the way – such as <insert hipster café here>.

Savings is not the why, eventually you’ll need to spend your money and that’s a good thing! The why is what your money will give you in return, that aligns to your own goals and values.

So to solve this problem of the millennial fruitcake “should be’s”, let’s look at how you define this thing we call why.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Investigate yourself

  • Before you can begin to define your why you first need to investigate yourself. It might sound a little strange, but by doing this and asking yourself these questions you’ll create a clear picture of who you really are and what your ideal future looks like. Get a pen and paper and write down your answers…   
  1. What do I want my life to look like in the future?
  2. What do I enjoy, I mean really enjoy?
  3. When do I feel most myself and happiest?
  4. What kinds of people do I want to be around?
  5. What are my core values and how do I want to live according to these?
  6. What do I want my professional life to look like?
  7. What do I want to learn?

2. Define your core goals

  • Now that you’ve written down your answers, it’s time to identify the patterns within them to define your core goals
  • Examples are if you wrote you want to experience new places, learn a new language, and get enjoyment out of travel then your goal might be to go travelling in 1 years’ time
  • Or, if you wrote you want to be around family more often, value your freedom, and want more time for hobbies your goal might be to work more flexible or go part-time.

Identifying these patterns will give you your goals. 

3. Prioritise

  • It’s important at this point to put a reality check in place
  • We only have so much time on this earth and to have goals are great, but if you set too many goals you’re unlikely to make progress  
  • You need to prioritise what is most important to you
  • Analyse what you’ve written down and select your TOP 3 GOALS
  • These are the 3 ‘whys’ you’ll begin with, to plan to shape your future

4. Plan and save

  • Now that you’ve identified your top 3 goals (aka your whys), you can put a plan in place to reach them
  • Give yourself a realistic timeline for each goal and build in the pitstops (small saving milestones) to get you there along the way
  • Ask yourself “does this decision align with my long-term goal?”, by doing this regularly you’ll stay on the highway.

Remember no one else is going to drive to your goals for you. But it’s you that has the control of the wheel. You define your whys. No one else.

How to create a Capsule Wardrobe

How to create a Capsule Wardrobe

I remember the first time I heard about a Capsule Wardrobe, I was sifting through my clothing at my parent’s place deciding what to take with me to London and what to leave behind. The task seemed quite monumental, piles and piles of multicoloured, textured, and patterned fabrics splayed out across the bed – all needing a decision and destination to go.

To help me with my clothing conundrum I decided to hit up Dr Google, and that’s where I found it – It came in capsule form (quite fitting!), and once taken all items are then laid out before you into a beautifully curated wardrobe… I was sold.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is quite simply:

  • A wardrobe containing fewer items (commonly 35 or less)
  • A wardrobe filled with items you love and enjoy
  • A wardrobe with items that are versatile and interchangeable

The Rules – 35 items or less including:

  • Pants
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Tops
  • Jumpers
  • Jackets
  • Shoes
  • This does not include underwear, swimsuits, workout gear, or accessories (but that doesn’t mean you should have 35 pairs of swimsuits)
  • You shop for things you need at the beginning of each season 
  • New items you incorporate into your Capsule Wardrobe should be of high quality and be invested in, so they last you from season-to-season and more importantly feel good on you, are made from a fabric you like, and that you’ll love to wear!

Why should you try a Capsule Wardrobe?

A Capsule Wardrobe gives you a wardrobe that is well put together, shows off your own individual style, takes up less room, is more intentional, and provides you with a curated palate of items that all go well together – meaning less hassle and decision making in the morning when deciding what to wear.

How do you create one?

By following this 4-step process:

1. Pull everything out:

  • It’s time to get all Marie Kondo on it!
  • Put everything into one pile in a room
  • As you pull out each individual item determine whether it’s an item you love vs an item you don’t or are unsure about.

2. Write it down:

  • Write down what you love or don’t love about these items
  • Is it the material, the colour, the fit, or the pattern?
  • For items you don’t love or unsure about, write why – Why haven’t you worn it? How does it make you feel when you put it on?
  • Writing it down will give you a picture of your own personal style. For me, I noticed I loved stripes, white and black, and high neck collars. I also realised I didn’t like pastel colours as they made me look pale, so it made step 3 a whole lot easier.

3. Sort your clothing into 3 groups:

Keep: Items you love

Maybe: Items that you’re unsure about. Interrogate this category, truly delve into why you’re unsure about it and be intentional. Do you really need that studded denim jacket? Is it versatile? Will it go with items you love?

Donate or Sell:Items off to a new home for someone else to love. But a reminder at this point, if you do end up with more than 35 items in your wardrobe that’s ok, the number is not the point. The point is learning to be more intentional.

4. Identify what you need:

Before you hit the shops ask yourself these questions to help you identify what you need and to be more intentional with your clothing spending…

  • What do you spend your time doing? i.e. are you outdoors a lot, do you go to a lot of corporate events?  
  • What are some key design elements you love? Look back at your list, do you love cotton fabrics, stripes, or are you a neutrals girl?
  • What brands do you love?
  • Go shopping: remember your why, be thoughtful and invest.

By following these principles you’ll develop skills to become more intentional with your clothing and to build your own unique and beautiful Capsule Wardrobe. That being said a Capsule Wardrobe is not a magic pill, it takes time and commitment – I still make the odd purchase I’m later regretting and posting on eBay, but what I do have now is a more intentional approach to clothing, a wardrobe that I’ve invested in, is minimal, goes well together, and that feels me – and that’s something that’s worth committing to.

THE LADDER GIRL

5 Podcasts for when you need a little life boost

5 Podcasts for when you need a little life boost

I have to admit I’m a bit slow onto the Podcast scene. Friends had been raving about their powers for a long time – to lift them up, get them through the daily grind, out of a slippery slope, and inspire change. But I just didn’t listen.

Being a purest (Aka a little stubborn at times) my listening portal of choice, Spotify, was used for music and music only. But after hearing my friends’ stories of how Podcasts have helped inspire and motivate them, I decided it was time to extend my Spotify horizons into more than just Tracy Chapman and Springsteen on repeat.

The first Podcast I was recommended to listen to was ‘The Minimalists’, by Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus. It’s about two men who left their high-paying corporate jobs to discover more meaningful lives – Their ethos ‘living more with less’ is the centre-point where a broad range of topics derive from, from how to let go, live more intentionally, and really value the relationships in your life.

With every episode of The Minimalists, I found that these little life-nuggets were planted into my brain – I was hooked on this new world, a world I couldn’t imagine I was once too closed-minded to open.

Over the past year, I’ve developed a library of favourite Podcast pals to sit alongside Ryan and Josh- they’re like little life coaches and kick-starters to help you with whatever life may throw at you.

Here are my top 5 podcasts…For when you need a little life boost.

1. UNFUCK YOUR BRAIN – By Kara Loewetheil

When your brain needs a little de-hazing, life-coaching, feminist confidence and kick-ass motivation.

2. THE MINIMALISTS – By Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus

You’ll realise minimalism isn’t just about throwing your stuff out when you listen to these guys. They’re also the masters of the Documentary ‘Minimalism a Documentary about the Important Things’, which thanks to Amazon you can watch free with this 30-day-free trial.

3. HAPPY PLACE – By Fearne Cotton

Fearne gets up close and personal with some big celebrity names. Gripping, sad, happy and refreshing, it makes you realise we’re all human, we all make mistakes… we all feel feelings.

4. THE GROUND UP SHOW – By Matt D’avella

Listen to Matt when you need some straight up direction, a slap in the face, perseverance, and advice on how to turn your passions into a career.

5. BIGGER POCKETS MONEY PODCAST – By Mindy Jensen & Scott Trench

Mindy and Scott tap into the world of personal finance in a human and relatable way. Their interviews with financial experts and stories from people of all walks of life are refreshing and informative. I’ve learnt a tonne from these guys – a good finance booster to keep you on track.

How to track your budget in a new country (and currency)

How to track your budget in a new country (and currency)

When I first decided I was moving to London from New Zealand, I thought oh shit! How on earth am I going to be able to budget for living life over there?… let alone understand what the Pound looks like against the NZD.

I had a budget template I was using back in NZ and decided to convert this into Pounds, job done. Well not quite… to understand this whole Pound-to-NZD thing I had a play with the sheet to see if I could use it as a tool to have an overview of both currencies – and it worked!

This spreadsheet has been my go-to budgeting tool whilst living in the UK, and although I’m earning and spending in Pounds it’s still nice to have a view of how this converts into NZD, particularly if you plan on sending money home from time-to-time, you’ll know exactly when is the right time to do so.

Below is a link to this very template:

DOWNLOAD HERE

How do you use it?

1. Fill it in:

Each month fill in your budget spreadsheet with the relevant category amounts (i.e. rent, power, groceries). The handy thing is once you’ve done this, you’ll notice on the left-hand side of your month’s Pound column it’ll show the live Pound-NZD exchange rate.

2. Lock in the rate:

Once you’ve done this step you then need to ‘lock’ in the NZD rate within the month you’re in – this will stop it constantly changing. To do this we’ll go old-school, you re-enter the NZD rate in each row (if someone else has found a simpler way of locking this I’m all ears!).

3. Forecast and repeat:

Don’t just set and forget. Every few days open up your spreadsheet and see how you’re tracking against your budget for the month – Ask yourself are you within your limits? Are there any new expenses coming up? What are some things you could save for now to make life easier in the future? (and not have to dip into debt). By keeping track, you’ll have complete visibility of where you are, plus the ability to navigate steps to get you to reach your goals!

By doing these steps you won’t have that “Pocket draining as soon as you walk out into London air” feeling, you’ll be in control, and ready to conquer the big smoke!

Stop pouring your money down the liquid brew

Stop pouring your money down the liquid brew

Coffee is one of those things that if you’re like me you couldn’t go without – although hopefully, you don’t end up as cranky as I do without a liquid fix in the morning…there’s nothing worse than an uncaffeinated Holly.

Despite my dependence and borderline addiction to the stuff there’s so much to love about coffee and the culture surrounding it – walking into a cafe in the morning and smelling the morning buzz, exchanging banter with your favourite barista, watching the creamy liquid being poured into a perfect fern shape, hearing the sizzle of the steam nozzle – it’s electric and it’s addictive.

With the start of the new year I wanted to get an overview of just how much I was investing into this little liquid love affair, so I did a tally of coffee spend in 2018, and it added up – £1,006 to be exact (yes I geek sheeted this out). My daily morning routine stopover at F Mondays for an Oat Flat White the largest proportion of this amount (at a £2.90 per cup) – quite a staggering amount considering that could have paid for a trip home and back.

Coffee is something I enjoy and adds value to my life, but I knew this amount was going overboard – the thing is if you enjoy something and it’s not doing you much harm you don’t have to give it up (and I certainly wasn’t going to put up with an uncaffeinated self anytime soon), but you can be more intentional with how you allocate your money towards what you value.

I’ve seen people carrying their reusable cups in the morning, imagining some kind of dishwasher liquid swimming around under the rim, but if I wanted to reduce my spend and do good for the environment I needed to suck it up, stop being a snob, and give it a go!

Cam had a nice Frank Green reusable cup, so I gave it wash, purchased some supermarket ground beans, a bottle of Oatly, and pulled out the flatmate’s French Press – to my suprise I enjoyed the taste too.

Going to a cafe everyday isn’t essential, and not necessary to enjoy coffee. Being more intentional means cutting back and ultimately valuing more. I’ve pulled back on my weekly coffee spend and still enjoy a cafe brew on the weekends, but now when I do go out I value that liquid fix so much more.

The year I got my shit together by creating a budget

The year I got my shit together by creating a budget

Turn the clock back to 2016. When Ed Sheeran was serenading our speakers, cauliflower steaks were all the rage, legends were lost  – Bowie, Prince & Glenn Frey to name a few, and we got Trumped. It was a year of great gains and great losses.

It was a year of uncertainty, of instability and a reflection of my feelings in my own life. I decided to not let these feelings carry through into 2017, but to take control of what I could, starting with money.

I’d never been one to care much about where my money went, or what I did with it. I got my paycheck and very quickly converted it into superfluous purchases – Bento Boxes, Free People clothing, debt payments, plane tickets, weekend trips away, and lots and lots of coffee. Not surprisingly at the end of the month, I had nothing left.

My problem – I had no visibility of where my money was going, and I quite simply didn’t care.

If I wanted to take control I needed a goal, and I needed a plan to get there.

The goal, move to the other side of the world (I’ll do a post about that later)

The plan… I still needed one.

I Googled, I YouTubed, I Podcasted, I asked, searching for that hidden gem of an answer – but time and time again one simple thing popped up that we’ve all heard about before, The Budget.

It’s a very simple task – you write down your income, you deduct your expenses and then you see what you have left to play with.. this is either your Bento Box money, or it’s your savings money (more posts on this later).

It’s something so simple, but so many of us don’t do it. I used this very basic Excel template to build my budget, and still do to this day.

What the budget gave me was a plan to meet my goal, 2019 and 3 years later I’m in London. Granted there are days when I don’t always feel in control, but by having a budget I can plan and build a pathway to financial freedom.

It’s this very simple tool that got me going and that’s opened my eyes to a world where you can take control, you can have choices, and you don’t need much to get there!

What’s my new goal? To spread the word, and help others build their own pathway to financial freedom.

THE LADDER GIRL