Simplification is one of the most important things for Jessica & me to work out in preparation for our RTW trip because we are very simple people with very little in general. We do know, however, that is not the case for most people. Some people who have attachments to their material things are completely unaware that it is actually more of a strain on them than it is a benefit. The hard part is deciding what to let go, and if you want to let certain things go. We’ll take you through our apartment, let you know of some of the stuff we’ve decided to keep and say goodbye to for now, and give you some simplification tips as well.
Step 1: Think of all of the bare essentials that you need when you get home.
What will you truly miss? Is it really worth keeping it? Does it cost money to keep it? Does it cost space to keep it? Is it replaceable? These are all real questions you need to ask, and all of your items should be represented in the overall argument when you decide “keep it or not.” If you are like us, you will realize quickly how much garbage you really have and how much cash you can potentially have laying around the house.
Step 2: Eliminate your attic, garage and extra storage.
Believe it or not, this is probably the hardest part for most couples. What do we do with our Christmas stuff? Thanksgiving stuff? Thankfully Jess & I are still young and haven’t had a large enough home to fill with a bunch of junk yet, so we can fit those non-disposable items into a few plastic containers that we will have in storage. Jess is the Christmas geek. She has all of those bulky, pokey, awkward-sized items that take up a lot of room. I would rather save on the electric bill at Christmastime and let the in-laws decorate their house. We’ll be at their house celebrating anyways. Either way, decisions will have to be made as to what to keep and what to pitch.
Step 3: Decide if you are purging everything or getting a storage unit.
This was a difficult discussion for us. There are just some items that we are not willing to get rid of. Most of it consists of furniture. We have a very new, nice mattress, solid wood bedroom furniture, a good couch and chair, beautiful office shelves and a wicker chest that Jess always wanted and finally got for our wedding. We suggested to ourselves that to purchase the same quality of furniture that we currently have, we would need about $6,000 when we return home to “get back to normal.” After doing the math, we would spend about $100 a month on a storage unit the size that we need amounting to around $1200 for the year. It’s not ideal to have to pay $100 a month out of our spending money, but it’s better than having to save about $500 a month of our spending money. It also gives us the peace of mind that we’ll have the stuff we love when we get back.
Step 4: Read “Seven” by Jen Hatmaker.
This is a great book that discusses purging and simplifying everything from your diet to your clothing to your life choices. This book will help you conquer the purging process and develop some quick cash for you to be able to put toward your trip or past debts. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. The key is to take baby steps, one at a time. Once you realize the amazing feeling that comes with simplifying your lifestyle, you will be hooked.
Step 5: Record the items you will keep and secure any priceless items.
Not just for insurance purposes is this important, but for your personal knowledge. Keep a log of everything that you will store and what the suggested price you think it is all worth (item by item). You may be surprised about the net worth of the items you have! After you have done this, we recommend making a priceless purchase: an external hard drive.
Once the external hard drive is purchased, you are going to have your work cut out for you. If you do not have a 3-in-1 printer/scanner/fax machine, borrow one or find one on craigslist that you know the scanner works. Scan in everything. When we mean everything, we mean everything. Scan all of your aging photos. Scan your birth certificate. Scan your passports. Scan 1 statement for each recurring bill you have. Scan tax documents and old returns up to 3 tax years old (shred the rest). Scan business documents. Scan diplomas. Scan anything and everything that you can possibly imagine and put it on that hard drive. You can also set up your *.pdf files to be password protected upon opening so none of your files are read, stolen or corrupted. If any papers were to be lost physically while you are gone, you have the external hard drive. If you have the money, we recommend having a backup external hard drive in a separate location.
Many people like the idea of being on the cloud, which is certainly a secondary option. An external hard drive that does not update when you add or delete files can be frustrating because you have to keep up with what you have not transferred to it. The cloud, however, is expensive comparably, and if you are looking for a cheaper solution, the hard drive is the way to go.
Step 6: Go Crazy
If you haven’t gathered by now from our other posts, we are very anti-television. Both of our families are absorbed with their movies, shows and videos that suck up every ounce of their lives, and we are determined to be a family focused on developing the mind and human experience in our children. With that said, we do have our shows that we watch, but we do it all online. By only having our necessary internet bill, we pocket $50 a month. We challenge you to get rid of your cable today and put that extra money away. In 6 months, you’ll save $300! On top of that, why don’t you just go ahead and sell your TV all together and make an extra $200 bucks. Now you have $500 to pay for 5 months of the storage unit you decided to rent out. There are so many perks to not having television. The only thing you’ll miss out on are the conversations where people talk about the life they wasted the night before watching other people experience life.
Something not so crazy for us is to rip all of our DVDs and get it onto our hard drives. If you’re like us, you’ll probably never purchase a movie off of iTunes. Since we barely watch television in the first place, an Apple TV is not on our purchase list anytime soon. With that said, even if we had one, we still have a nice selection of DVDs we don’t plan on repurchasing for the sake of having a digital copy. So we purchased a program called Snow Fox. Snow Fox has slowly allowed us for a 1-time $35 fee to rip all of our DVDs into the iPad format allowing us to play our movies from our hard drives on our laptops and iPad. Now when we go overseas, we can have the same DVD collection that we have here at home. It takes quite a while to rip a DVD onto your computer, so every night before we go to bed, I’ll stick a DVD in my laptop rip and check a box telling the program to shut off my computer when finished. The next morning, it’s right there, all finished up. Move it to the external hard drive for storage and then put it on iCloud enabling to watch it from all of your devices. Although such a long process, it is way cheaper than repurchasing all of our movies, and at 1 a day, we’ll be ready just in time to leave. Either way, I’d start with the movies you care about most, and work your way to the others.
We will discuss this in another post, but one of the things we did was go down to one car. Since we were a two car payment house hold, we were very thankful for this boost of income. We had a lease end, and to be honest, we walked away and never looked back. It was a 2010 Toyota Prius, and we went on some great road trips for super cheap. Thankfully we worked together, so we lived a 1-car lifestyle enabling us to “park” the car and accrue mileage, therefore staying below our mileage limit. Tip: Never lease a Prius. You buy the car to save on gas so you can drive more and then you limit yourself with the mileage. I don’t know what I was thinking. At the end of the day, a few sacrifices on each other’s parts can really make a difference in your overall cash flow. What if you could go down to 0 car payments if you only have 1 car payment now? Now that’s a great sound! We have a plan for our current car that we will (again) discuss in another post.
Step 7: Do a trial run of your new life.
What is your life really going to be like when you’re out in the field? Jessica and I plan on practicing what we call a “staycation.” This is where you vacation in your own town instead of going to another place. Here in Sarasota, Florida, we have so many options around us. Disney World is about 1:45 away. Tampa is a 50 minute drive, and there is so much to do there. Many people travel to Daytona Beach in the morning to watch the sunrise and then travel to the west cost to see the sun set. To be honest, it is so easy to go other places, but Sarasota has the #1 beach in America (Siesta Key Beach) and a ton of beautiful history and museums. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy it!
With that said, we are going to do our best to enjoy our city as if we’ve never been there. At the same rate, we are going to limit our diet. This is the hard part. Since we plan on being in places where we are a bit picky (or Jessica is), we may have to cook quite a bit. Since we plan on renting apartments in most places, we should have at least a basic stove allowing us to cook beans & rice. We are going to fast our normal diets and keep it super simple. The goal of doing this is to a) have fun trying it, b) get really comfortable cooking these items, and c) find out any cravings we may have once we get overseas. Cravings are a big thing as they can actually ruin your day if you’re thinking about them nonstop. We always want what we can’t have! My craving would probably be a nice cold glass of Florida orange juice, but since I can’t take that, either peanut butter, Oreos, or Reeses cups. Jessica’s are Cheez-Its or Doritos. I think those are nice too!
Here’s our favorite pita bread recipe that should be easy to make out in the field, and it’ll compliment your fruit, beans and rice beautifully!
The KISS Method
The KISS Method is an acronym for “keep it simple stupid.” Too many people try to complicate their lives when if they step back and look at the larger picture, a lot of things don’t matter, aren’t a big deal in the end, will be forgotten, or can be simplified down to easier processes. Almost every aspect of our lives can be simplified, and it is important that the simplicity of your life is addressed before our RTW trip. Simplification is many times the very individual problem keeping us from making the decision to take the plunge into this new lifestyle.