Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our spare bedroom: before and after

Part of growing up as the child of a hoarder is that often you're not allowed to decorate your own space -- assuming you're allowed to have your own space at all. My mother wasn't completely controlling and I did have my own space. But she controlled the curtains, the color of the walls (white), the closet doors (white), the trim (white) and the flooring (white linoleum). When I went to college she told me that my matrix poster was too frightening and I needed something cheerful. Down came the matrix poster, up went the white Winnie-the-Pooh poster.

Because we own our place we're allowed to paint. I finally have the chance to really redecorate a room! Our spare bedroom has long been a thorn in our side and a room for junk, as you can see here.

Then I read Brian Grey's post about his new minimal bedroom. Brian's blog is called "Free Your Mind Today," which always reminds me of the matrix.

"You have to let it all go. Fear, doubt, disbelief. I'm trying to free your mind, Neo."  What am I afraid of? White walls? Clutter? Yes. It was time for EVERYTHING to go.

As Agent Smith says, "it is purpose that drives us." Our room suddenly had a purpose. We wanted a minimalist bedroom that we just use for relaxing, watching movies and occasionally working on a small project. I also wanted a place to display our collection of artwork from the Matrix movies. Having a purpose made it so much easier to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Behold, our decluttered, redecorated Matrix-themed room.

The Chief Engineer really wanted to keep the spare bed.
We bought a $25 backrest pillow to turn the bed into a couch for movie-watching without having to give up the guest bed. 

Our Neo and Trinity posters were prints from England where I saw Reloaded for the first time. This next print was commissioned for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, our favorite arthouse/restaurant movie theater where we used to live. 

The fold-up table is still big enough for my sewing machine or the Chief Engineer's origami. 
We moved our only TV from the living room into this room. 

The subway poster was rescued from the trash on the Chicago EL after the movie closed.

You don't get much further from a white bedroom with white linoleum floors than a room with black walls!  Yes, I had my teenage rebellion at 30.

Most of the clutter has either been donated, trashed, sold, returned to the place where it belongs, or unfortunately stuffed into that very large closet. We minimized the number of surfaces to keep clutter from building up. Decluttering the closet is next. But for now it's time to enjoy the new room by watching the Chief Engineer's 31st birthday present:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

On the second day of ebaying, my clutter gave to me...

a way to grow pot at home without getting caught. Just kidding. But not quite.

I love to garden and last year I bought an aerogarden for my office. This gimmicky contraption looks like this:

I kept it at my office and loved it for a while. I bought large quantities of aerogarden-related equipment thinking that I could continue to grow lots and lots of plants! This was how I figured out that apparently the aerogarden is how a number of people grow marijuana at home. The number of websites to buy this stuff that also give advice on growing pot....definitely not good to look at while at the office! Anyways, I loved it, until I discovered that the thing is practically impossible to clean. I also hate having a light on all the time and a pump running, and the electric waste is just sad. 

Anywho, the aerogarden itself had to get trashed, but the liquid food I put and sold on ebay. I bought it for $25 and sold it for $23, after shipping I took home $17 -- a loss of $7. $23 more towards the student loans though. 

The aerogarden itself was $55. Fun while it lasted though. Items 205 and 206 are gone, and $62 is down the drain. $2512 wasted on stuff I never should've bought.

What gimmicky products have you fallen for?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On the first day of ebaying, my clutter gave to me...

In an attempt to generate some money to pay off our loans I'm taking the agonizing step of selling more stuff on ebay. I wonder if I have enough stuff for 12 days of ebaying? Hm.

Anywho, on the first day of ebaying my clutter gave to me...

A very expensive Kate Spade planner. Cost $100 when I bought it well over a year ago. I now use a spreadsheet to stay organized at work and that suits me much better. This item sold already and with shipping nets me $35. So I lost $65 on this item. Decluttered item 204, my old Kate Spade planner. 

Total money wasted on stuff I never should've bought: $2449

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Less stuff, fewer loans

After writing yesterday's post I went to update the "adding it up" section that I keep on the right-hand side of this blog. Since I started this blog, I've written about discarding 203 items. I've surely declutterd more but haven't had time to write about every single little one. I'm thrilled that so many of you have been interested in watching me throw out 203 things!

I also added up the amount of money I wasted on those things. Right now the total stands at $2384. I'm sure this number is higher because of all of the items that I've tossed but never gotten around to blogging about. 

2014 is going to be a big year for us. This will hopefully be our final year without children. Because of that I want to be as financially ready as possible (though most of my friends say that hardly anyone will ever be or feel financially ready enough for kids.) I realized that I'm less than $8000 away from having my final student loan paid off. Had I not wasted money on so much junk I could be quite closer to being done with that loan. 

We have two outstanding non-home loans: my student loan (2.65%) and the loan we took out for the kitchen (1.99%). With rates this low most people would say, "pay the minimum and instead invest!" So I would pay the loans' minimums and save the money for 'investing.' Which usually meant keeping it in my bank account and buying stupid things with it.

But I want to stop having so many bills to pay each month before I start having to pay for visits to the pediatrician. We also don't have an emergency fund. We have substantial savings but all of it is locked up in retirement accounts. I used to consider that our "emergency fund," but no longer. It's time to start paying back at least some of those loans. It's time our money went to the proper places.

This year as part of blogging I plan to start putting any money I make from decluttering or other side-hustle activities towards the student loan and kitchen loan and towards a $20,000 emergency fund. At some point I also want to try an experiment -- what if I went a week or a month buying only things I absolutely needed and then totaled up my 'wants' and put that money towards a loan? Can I stop putting my money towards stuff and start putting it towards "us"?

Here's where we stand.

Emergency fund
goal: end of year
Kitchen Loan (1.99%)
due in Oct 2014 
Student Loan (2.65%)
goal: end of year
As of 1/7/14: $0
Starting balance: $0

**$0 saved so far**

0% filled
$0 $20,000

Starting balance: $10,000.00
Balance on 1/7/2014: $8461.80 

**1538.20 paid so far**

15.4% paid off
$0 $10,000

Starting balance: $8,127.00
Balance on 1/7/2014: $7983.83

**$143.17 paid so far**

1.7% paid off
$0 $8,127
Get a progress bar at DollarTimes.com

Because of that I've started a new page that you can see in the menu: Less Stuff, Fewer Loans. My goal is to pay off the $10,000 kitchen loan, the $8,000 student loan, and fill up a $20,000 emergency fund by the end of the year. I'll definitely have to cut down on buying useless junk, but that's the name of this game, isn't it? If our money is going to those things before anything else how can it go to junk?

So my question for you folks, is what order do we do it in? Do we go for the loan which is due first? Do we start with the emergency fund? Do we work on all three? Your thoughts are much appreciated. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My eating disorder made me waste money on….(part I)

It’s January. Half the US is now on a diet. Or something like that. Americans spend millions (or is it billions?) each year trying to be thin. What if we’d spent that money on something that would actually do good for our society?

I’ve lost an incredible amount of money by trying to control my life by severely controlling my weight. Some of these things aren’t physical objects that I can declutter but I think it’s important to remove them from my life all the same.
Here’s the most recent one. I gained 20 pounds because of my latest anti depressant and this triggered some dieting behavior again. In November I spent $16 on this case of diet drinks. I tried one and then realized they were revolting. And that I wanted real food, not water with whey protein and fake vanilla flavor added.
Someone I know who is healthy and doesn't have an eating disorder apparently finds these helpful for staying full at breakfast, so I’m gifting her the box.

Money spent on my eating disorder so far: $16.  This is now decluttered object #203. So far I’ve wasted a total of $2384 on stuff I never should’ve bought.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Get healthy and get disorganized!

A few weeks ago I stopped my antidepressant because it was making me gain weight. I've had little luck with the four antidepressants I've tried and my psych doc thought it was best to give me a few weeks off of any drugs to see where I stand after four solid years of treatment.

The result has been pretty obvious: I need to be medicated for my own safety. In the last few weeks I've been sky-high and then gone crashing to rock-bottom, suicidal lows.  Oddly enough my body image is better than ever. I finally caved and bought pants that fit. My weight has stabilized and started to turn back around. I'm bingeing far less than I did on the last med even though it was supposed to help me. It does mean though that I'm faced with a closet that looks like this.

I now own every size pant from a two to a fourteen. Each morning it's like:

Me: okay, time to get dressed! Let's head over to the nice, organized closet....

Body: hm, being nice and taught yesterday was okay, but being super bloated today will be fun! 

Me: okay...wait, what? My size 10 jeans don't fit today? They did yesterday!  (digs around in closet)

Body: Hehe, I just wanted you to get some extra exercise. Now you'll have to unpack three boxes of clothing to find the size 12 skinny jeans that you put away yesterday. Lifting heavy boxes of clothes from way up on high shelves is like weightlifting, right? Squats and weights all at once. It's the hot new exercise trend all the girls are trying!

Me: (zipping into the 12s) Wait. These are loose. (digs around for the size 10 relaxed-cut jeans that I just dumped in a random box that I've now misplaced in the pile of other boxes.) ....and now I'm late for work. ARGHH!

Body: oh, forgot to tell you, you're thirsty. Go have a drink, get a little bloated, and we can do it all again. Booyeah! Are we having fun or what?!

So the closet is a lovely mess. And so is the bedroom. Yes, those are k'nex in our bedroom.

The bedroom is a mess because we're working on the matrix room so some of the matrix room stuff was moved into there. At least there's some progress on the matrix room:

But pretty much the condo has been getting messier and messier the longer I'm off my meds. I'll be working on tidying up something and then suddenly one of the dozens of thoughts running through my head at any given minute will pop up and I'll suddenly stop and go work on something else. A few minutes later I won't remember how I got there.

These little memory lapses are making it harder to keep track of where I left things. For example, my engagement ring. This morning, after days of not wearing any of my rings at all I decided to put my wedding band and engagement ring back on. And couldn't find the ring.

We tore the place apart for an entire hour before I looked in the medicine cabinet and found the ring in a jar of soapy water that I use for cleaning jewelry. I had zero memory of having placed it there but I know I must have at some point. Thank heavens we found it!

I really hate misplacing things. This kind of thing happens all the time now and it did before I went on the meds. I miss my memory on the meds. I miss how I was able to follow through on the entire process of putting something away. I could pick up an object that was out of place, walk to the place it needed to go and replace the object without another thought interrupting the process. I would remember where I put things. Good thing I'm probably going to try another new med when I see my psych doc on Wednesday.

If you've had psychiatric meds help you, did you find that they helped your memory?

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Priorities -- Totally Irrational List

New Year’s Resolutions, blah blah blah. These things are triggering for my eating disorder because I can be a perfectionist. If I don’t accomplish a goal I feel like I’ve failed. Then I turn to food (or away from it) to compensate for not being good enough. Silly, no?

Obviously I don’t need help understanding what my goals are. I can make those easily. What I need is something to help me throughout the year when I face choices that can take me farther away from those goals or closer to them. Priorities seem the right thing to set up here.  Or, let me just write down everything and let's see how crazy I am.

1. Finish the kitchen and deliver all payments
2. Contribute to retirement accounts in full
3. Contribute to emergency fund
4. Contribute to investments
5. Contribute to student loan with regular payments, extra $ from gifts, windfalls, and side-hustle proceeds
6. Spend money on truly beneficial self-care activities
7. Continue to reduce the number of bank accounts I have.
8. Find a medication that doesn’t make me gain weight or make my disorder worse
9. Attend appointments
10. Reduce eating disorder symptom use
11. Continue blogging
12. Reduce benzoates/aspartame in diet
13. Make a binder of all of the songs I want to learn
14. Learn those songs
15. Try practicing for real!
16. Finish painting and setting up our Matrix room
17. Continue to declutter and blog
18. Be interactive with my readers (respond to comments, dammit!)
19. Finish quilt for J
20. Finish Gram’s sampler
21. Read one fiction and one n-f book at a time! (ideas below)
a. Taking Care of Parents Who Didn’t Take Care of You
b. The End of Growth
c. The Upside of Down
d. Sinsajo
e. El Juego de Ender
f. Moonrise
g. Pastwatch
22. Finish quilt for M
23. Exercise in some form daily, being respectful of my muscles’ need for rest
24. Hair and makeup for work
25. Learn to do a professional manicure
26. Use my graduated water bottles
27. Try meditation
28. Read some Spanish books for practice
29. Take a class for practice
30. Watch some Spanish TV
31. Study abroad this summer
32. Regularly watch The Simpsons
33. Continue to volunteer
34. Do nothing and be okay with it

Or maybe I'll just do this:
Instead, how 'bout I just: 
  • Try to spend less than last year
  • Read a few books in Spanish
  • Actually go to my therapy appointments this year
  • Write down the songs I want to learn on guitar ('cause then I'll sit and learn 'em)
  • Finish a quilt
  • Throw my side-hustle money at my student loan
  • Move daily 
  • Let it go
That's better. Thank you for helping me with my therapy. Happy 2014!