Fall Capsule Wardrobe (For Stay At Home Mamas)

About a week ago (the first day of September to be exact) I woke up to rain, cool temperatures and falling LEAVES.

While it’s not officially autumn according to the seasonal calendar, it’s official IN MY HEART. We still have a few warm days coming but FALL I AM READY FOR YOU.

The pieces in this post can still work even if you aren’t a stay at home mom. If you’re someone who doesn’t need to dress up for a job outside the home but can wear comfy, casual clothing-keep reading!

I’ve stepped up my game, using a clothing styling app called Urstyle. You can select from essentially millions of clothing, shoe and accessory items to create and style a clothing board. It takes a little skill to use the app efficiently but they provide youtube videos to help! You can use the website from your computer (which I prefer) or from the app on your phone.

If you don’t have a capsule wardrobe yet but are interested in putting one together, Urstyle is a fantastic tool to help you do that. Keep in mind (as with the pieces I’m posting) I don’t own these EXACT pieces in the sets I’m sharing. The app links you to buying that item directly. I choose items very similar to what I already own. *Check the bottom of the post for a direct link to the entire wardrobe I assembled for pieces and prices.

I buy almost everything second hand because 1)It’s affordable and 2) It’s sustainable.

Let’s chat FIT. I am 5’1” and around 150 pounds. I carry most of my weight in my belly. I wear leggings pulled up past my belly button and all my jeans have an element of stretch to them. I wear soft, slightly dense materials that hang nicely but don’t overwhelm my body. High waisted pants do not compliment my shape so I wear flowy shirts or sweaters over leggings. If I wear a more fitted top with jeans or leggings, I offset that top with a cropped jacket, something I’ll share an example of below. I can’t rock showing my belly with crop tops and all that, just not my thing.

Let’s jump in and start with BOTTOMS. I own more than what is shown. I own 4 pairs of stretchy black pants/leggings, 2 pairs of grey leggings, 2 pairs of jeans (one skinny fit, one straight leg) and 2 sets of overalls, one light wash and one dark wash. That’s still 10 pieces which I find to be more than enough for me to work with. George brand leggings from Walmart are my favourite leggings right now, not see through but not stifling. My overalls are from Bluenotes (Canada) and my jeans are from Gap.

Can I get a holla for thrifting?! I stick with BASIC colours. I don’t know the exact # of tops that I own currently but I rotate through about 10 of the same tops. If you’re building a capsule wardrobe aim for something similar to the picture. There are 9 tops shown here 7 of which are enough to get you through the week. Start there! For brands I own a lot of Gap, Old Navy and H&M. I find these brands to specifically offer soft materials, a comfy fit and neutral colours.

In Canada where the weather varies, especially during the season of Fall. I don’t like being cold, wet or overly hot so I make sure I have a variety of jackets! Jackets can also be a key item that changes up an outfit. Another reason I like having a few different but functional styles of jackets.

Shoes don’t have to be numerous or complicated. I avoid heels and impractical shoes, especially during the colder months. If you’re a mama, you understand the need for a good slip on tennis shoe. The 3 shoes I wear the most during fall at my Timberland knit sneakers, Naturalizer slip ons and of course, my Blundies! I typically don’t find shoes while thrifting and it’s the one item I don’t mind investing in.

So as a mama of two BABIES I don’t really find accessories practical for my lifestyle right now. I rarely carry a purse and typically carry backpack style diaper bags. Sunglasses, a ball cap, knit cap or scarf would be the other accessories I reach for during fall. I also like a good, giant tote bag! If you are a messy bun wearing type of girl and haven’t tried THIS hat….you should check it out.

Here are some outfits I put together for some ideas! I don’t get too fancy but cute and comfy works well for me!

If you click the picture below of the full capsule wardrobe it will take you to the website with links to all the clothing items.

So there you have it! Whew! A labour of love for you guys. I don’t think of myself as a fashionista or even trendy. I aim for being comfy, cozy and maybe cute sometimes. A capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be difficult to put together but it does take time. I started minimizing my clothing 5 years ago and finally feel like it’s becoming what I’ve wanted. When I realized that I was wearing the same items all the time, it made sense to minimize my clothing. Hopefully I’ve helped you gather some ideas to put together a cute but functional and comfortable fall wardrobe!

Do you work with a capsule wardrobe? What would you call your style? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Summer Capsule Wardrobe For Stay At Home Mamas. (And some thoughts on body image)

It’s the middle of August and dare I say that I’m kinda OVER summer?

I live in Ontario, Canada where our longest season is winter so it almost feels sacrilegious to say this. But deep down inside, I love fall the most of all.

See, I even get a little poetic about it. My heart actually beats a little faster when I think about the season of fall and all that it entails. ESPECIALLY this year as we just bought our first home and we’re moving in, just in time FOR FALL!

Ok, I digress.

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that in terms of clothing, I work with a capsule wardrobe. This means I have minimal pieces that I use in a variety of ways to maximize the clothing I already have. Every item (except my Birks) I share today is completely thrifted.

I already did a Spring Capsule Wardrobe where you can check out here. Spring and Fall are transitional seasons for me, in terms of what I wear. In the fall I’m getting ready for winter so I gradually transition to warmer pieces and in the Spring I’m coming out of heavy, thick and warm pieces as the warmer weather arrives. Summer gets to be all by herself because it’s a fairly distinctive season here.

In the past few years my body has changed, a lot. When I entered my 30’s I noticed that my skin elasticity said, “SEE YA LATER B!”. Currently, I comfortably wear a size 9/10 in bottoms and M/L in tops. I’m currently a stay at home mom full time. I also (TMI) have psoriasis in my thigh/groin area that flares up badly during the summer season, so COMFORT is key with what I wear. I don’t like to sweat more than I have to, have my thighs rub together (no booty shorts!) I don’t like wedgies from tight bottoms (who does?) and I don’t want to feel like my boobs are going to spill out at any given moment.

When I’m building up my wardrobe for the season, I keep things simple. I’m drawn towards neutral colours with maybe one to two prints thrown in. I stick with white, grey, black, browns and burgundy. I choose pieces that are not complicated, fit loosely and (hopefully) flatter my body shape. I rotate through the same 5-10 shirts a week. I have 3 different white tanks, two black tanks, one grey, two prints, and two coloured tanks. I have 4 pairs of shorts I also rotate through.

I like pieces that I’m able to use multiple times during the week because I don’t have a lot of time in the mornings to build an outfit. I’ve learned the art of things like tucking tops in with draw string shorts. Comfy and simple! If you don’t have a pair of Old Navy’s drawstring shorts, you should get yourself some ASAP. MOM uniform!

I keep my shoes simple and honestly, I wear my Birkenstocks 99% of the time. I have two other pairs of dressier summer shoes that I rarely wear because, I just don’t “dress up” that much. The shoes I have are neutral and can go with pretty much anything, which maximizes their usage. I don’t like having sweaty, sore feet so I aim for maximum comfort without looking like an 80 year old grandma wearing loafers. Although, I’ve seen some weird sequin loafers floating around. New fashion trend?

I’ve been challenging myself to branch out and put together outfits that I feel cute in, though still comfortable. My body has changed so much in the past two years that it has been HARD to accept who I see in the mirror sometimes.

Her thighs touch, rub and chafe. Her arms jiggle with cellulite. Her belly folds down in multiple rolls when she sits and sometimes spills over depending on the jeans she’s wearing. But this same body has lovingly carried and grown two babies in less than two years. She’s made milk and dried up milk and done it again. She bears stretch marks as sign of love and change. I’m learning to love her again, you know? She’s always loved me!

I’m learning to be kind to myself and give myself grace after all my body has been through in the recent years. I think our society mixes up “grace” with “excuses.” I have really pushed back against that mentality that motherhood is an excuse to not care about your body or that we use our children as an excuse not to achieve a certain level of fitness or appearance. That simply isn’t true, for me. I recognize that every person is motivated differently to do things with their bodies. Peak fitness might be a motivation for some and watching Netflix during nap time might be another mom’s choice. Whatever our choices, we aren’t lacking.

Do you what you have to (and want to) do, to accept the body that has always loved you, never left you and is still waiting for you.

I hope you enjoy this! I’m no fashionista or photographer. Just a stay at home mom sharing her everyday, normal coffee loving life.

When You Rent Your Living Space.

I sighed as I surveyed the path directly in front of our porch. There were SO many weeds.

As I began to pull the weeds that had grown between the spaces of cement blocks, I realized most of these weeds were not going to give up their residence so easily. While it was a cool summer evening, I soon found myself sweating.

It struck me. These weeds had made themselves a home in the most unlikely of places. They had embedded themselves in the cracks in the asphalt, between the spaces in the cement blocks and even out the sides of the steps on our porch. I was amazed at how I couldn’t even get to the root system of these plants, they were entangled so deeply.

My husband and I have been renters our entire 5 years of marriage. We’ve lived in basement apartments for the majority of our marriage and then finally on the main floor of a bungalow with renters below us.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. A physical house (apartment, condo, townhouse or room) does not make a home. Things do not equate to happiness. Money does not bring contentment. There is a lot of societal pressure to own a home. I’ve been told that it’s a waste to pay rent rather than put that money towards a mortgage. When I was pregnant with my first son, I was asked a few times if my husband and I were going to buy a home and I had to laugh at the thought of such a expensive baby shower gift!

Whatever the situation or reason for renting or buying, there can often be the struggle with being content with the season of life you are in. I want to share 4 things that have helped me make my house more than just a building I rent, when I’ve struggled with contentment.

  • Decorate. Something as simple as paint or hanging pictures on the wall can go a long way in making you feel “at home.” I keep our home decor simple but I aim to put things around me that I find aesthetically pleasing and calming. We’ve invested in furniture that is comfortable and functional. Cut the grass, trim the hedge and plant some flowers! Do things that make your space feel “homey.” I anticipate fall every year, because it is my most favourite time of year to pull out my fall decor, bake apple crumble and put pumpkins on the front steps. Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive as there are so many second hand things you can repurpose. 99% of my home decor is repurposed or handmade!
  • Minimize the clutter and clean things up! We are always in the process of minimizing our possessions. Having less to clean up and organize makes our home feel fresh. It also gives us more time to spend together as a family.
  • Practice Hospitality. I am not great at hospitality. I don’t clap my hands at the thought of entertaining and I’ll admit, I don’t do it often in this season of having babies. BUT it’s something I’m growing and being stretched in. I think something happens when you invite people into the space you live and take the time to make them feel welcome. You begin to take pride in your surroundings and become intentional in sharing your home.
  • Adjust your perspective. This takes time-trust me, I know. I’ve gone through seasons of hating places we’ve lived in. I made myself miserable and no one was to blame except ME. It’s a process but set little goals for yourself to do things that will bring about a more positive mindset. Prayer for a grateful heart has gone a long way in helping change my perspective.

As I was pulling those weeds the other night, I had the realization that I have a choice. I can choose to take no pride in where I live. I could cringe when I’m asked if we own our home. I could apologize for my modest, small brick rental when friends come to visit.

Or I could choose be like those weeds. Practically speaking, weeds aren’t great. Metaphorically I want to be like a weed, right where I’m at. I can choose to set my roots deeply and firmly in this season. I can choose to make a home exactly where I’m at. I can choose to take be a good steward of what I have, right now.

For every time I sweep my front porch, shovel snow off the path, clean my tiny bathroom or hear the old hardwood floors creak obnoxiously in my bedroom-I can welcome the warmth of gratitude.

I have gratitude for this house being the place where I brought BOTH my babies home. Gratitude for this home being the place where we became a family of 3 and then 4. Gratitude for my sweet friend who lives nearby and can walk to my home with her little boy for visits. Gratitude for living close to relatives. Gratitude that my husband doesn’t have to commute long distances to work. Gratitude for the view out my front window of the beautiful trees that change colour every fall.

Where we live and what we have (or do not have) does not have to determine our measure of joy in this life. I reckon if I can not learn to find joy where I’m at now, then I never will. Its a process, my friends!

At the end of the day, who is beside me matters so much more than where I’m living. My family has made this house a home. If you find yourself struggling with your living situation, I hope this encourages you to embrace and make the most of what you’ve been entrusted with. You won’t regret it!

Do you rent? What are some things you’ve done to make your place feel more like home?

5 Reasons Why We Need To Stop Playing The Comparison Game In Parenthood.

“Wow, he didn’t walk until 16 months? That is SO LATE!”

“My child had 20 words before they were 2. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to have?”

“Oh he isn’t crawling yet? Aren’t you concerned?”

“She’s still not talking in two word sentences. But your child is, I don’t understand why!”

If you’re a mom of young children or just a mom in general, chances are you’ve been a part of these conversations. You’ve probably had similar things said to you as you stand around at the park watching your child play with other kids.

It’s all too familiar isn’t it?

What am I talking about that makes me want to walk away from these conversations with other moms?

Comparison.

I talked about this very thing a few weeks ago in my instagram stories because it’s something that is as common as your toddler’s 10 AM poop every morning. We’ve all done it and we’ve all had it done to us. I’m not talking about having a chat with a close friend and discussing concerns you might have about your own child. That’s entirely different. I’m talking about feeling the need to constantly compare your child to other children in terms of what they are (or aren’t doing) to reassure yourself.

If you didn’t catch my insta stories, then I’ll tell you now how I really feel about it.

I think it’s a huge waste of time and it’s NOT important.

Today I’m going to share in more detail WHY.

  • Comparison can create unnecessary competition. This is inevitable . When parents stand around and start talking about what their kids are doing or developing in, it will without a doubt stir up feelings of competition. When did parenthood become about whose child does “X Y Z” the soonest, fastest or most efficiently? All of sudden we’re worried about our child performing in a certain way because little Bobby had 40 words before the age of two. This sense of competition can strain relationships with friends, family AND our own children. None of which is healthy from a relational standpoint.
  • Comparison can create unhealthy expectations. THIS is really important. If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please consider this point. When we get caught up in this comparison trap we can place heavy, unrealistic expectations on our own kids. This is not fair to them. As a former ECE, someone who studied early childhood development in college and then spent many subsequent years working with young children, I’m here to tell you that children develop uniquely based on a variety of factors. Is there a standard of development for babies, toddlers and children? Yes. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t take your child to a doctor/specialist if you suspect developmental delays. What I am saying is it can be damaging to our children to continually compare them to others. Ask a therapist. Ask them what they counsel many adults about. It’s often the damage that person felt as child being constantly compared to others, never feeling good enough. That is serious. Consider the weight of your words and expectations with your children. What is most important to you as a parent? Don’t make your affection and love something that your child has to earn based on how they perform or what they do.
  • Our child’s development actually has little to do with our abilities as parents. We NEED to hear this as parents! We think that because we did (or do) X Y Z our children are little geniuses. OR it’s the reason WHY they aren’t doing this or that. Whether your child was walking at 9 months or 18 months does NOT make you a GOOD or BAD parent. It doesn’t mean anything. Children are intrinsically motivated to develop certain skills and abilities based on their OWN unique personalities. If you have one child right now, it might be difficult to see this. But if you have more down the road, you will see the differences in your children and learn that personality has so much to do with what children are motivated to learn.
  • Comparison can reveal our DEEP insecurities. This point is interesting. When I’ve had these conversations with other parents, I often start to see what exactly they are insecure about. I’m not a therapist or counsellor but it isn’t difficult to feel the weight of someone’s insecurities in the conversations you have with them. If you personally find yourself caught up in comparison, worrying about what your child is (or isn’t) doing and always talking about it, I would encourage you to seek counsel. Again, I’m NOT a professional but I think it can only do good to talk through our own insecurities as parents, if they are consuming us and negatively impacting our parenting. This is also why, when you have these conversations with other parents and start to feel overwhelmed you can say, ” Your insecurities are NOT my insecurities.” Maybe don’t say it out loud, but you can have some understanding as to WHY so many people struggle with comparison. It’s often deeply rooted in insecurity that can stem from a variety of causes.
  • Comparison is a waste of precious time, at the end of the day. Moms and dads, I’m here to tell you-it’s just not as important as you might think it is. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care how your child is developing. But remember, much of how children develop in their early years has little bearing on their lives in the long term.

What if you feel like you’re really stuck in this vicious cycle of comparison with your child? I have a few ideas that you could try to shut it down and start changing the way you think.

  • Look at your child’s qualities, abilities and skills as unique to them. Appreciate what they ARE doing, focus on those things and work with them.

  • Talk with someone about your own insecurities. I’ve been professionally counselled before and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I know two different (wonderful) local Psychotherapists who work with parents, children, and offer maternal mental health support, specifically. Contact me if you want their information!
  • Start purposing today to just love your child without expectations. Embrace who God made them to be. Let go of who you think they should be and what they should be doing. Imagine how freeing this can be for you and your family!

I’m on this journey, with you. I understand the trap that comparison can be. I understand the pride, insecurities and frustration that comes with parenting. We ALL want the best for our children! We want them to succeed in life. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with this, I’ve been there! A tell tale sign that you struggle with it could be that you feel the need to constantly prove to other’s that your child is developing normally. Hey, it’s ok. Just take a deep breath!

It’s a one day at a time process and we’ll all get there. You’re doing a great job!

If these thoughts resonate with you, I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments.

10 Ways To Reduce Your Waste And Save Money. (#3 Might Gross You Out)

If you talk to your grandparents (or great grandparents if they’re living) you would probably find that the practice of things like cloth diapers, composting and reusable grocery bags were a normal part of their everyday lives.

Everyone is talking about Zero Waste living right now like it’s some innovative concept but it’s not. I love intentionally choosing ways to cut down on waste. I think it’s important to be conscious of excess but I have to be honest in that I’ll never be a Zero Waster. I believe that waste is unavoidable.

The answer is more complex than this though because things like monetary status, economics, and personal beliefs are going to individually impact the way we all view a zero waste lifestyle. What I’m learning is to do what I can with what I have.

So on my journey to cut down on our waste as a family, I’ve found Low Waste Living to be a much more practical approach. It’s not so extreme as much as it’s a thoughtful and intentional approach to reducing waste.

Here are 10 ways we are currently working on low waste living, in our home:

  • Cloth Diapers. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you know I cloth diaper about 90% of the time. The boys are in cloth diapers excluding nighttime and weekends. This has significantly reduced our garbage while saving us money! Something that really helps is that the city actually limits how much garbage each household can have. We’re allowed 2 large garage bags per family twice a month. We don’t have garbage pickup every week so that has really motivated us to use less disposable diapers. I don’t really enjoy having garbage bags full of stinky diapers sitting around for 2 weeks. Yuck! You can read more about my use of cloth diapers here.

  • Cloth Wipes. Along with cloth diapers, I try to use cloth wipes as much as possible for a few reasons. Our garbage is less when we use cloth wipes. I also find that they work 20x better than disposable wipes when it comes to cleaning baby bums. I use these baby wash cloths as cloth wipes. Check back here for an easy, non toxic baby bum wash that I’ll be sharing!

  • Family Cloth (reusable toilet paper). This is the most recent change we’ve made in our home. When I asked my husband if he wanted to switch to reusable toilet paper he surprised me by saying YES! Without going into great detail, I’ll just say that reusable toilet paper is 100x better at keeping things clean than disposable. Once we’ve spent a little more time using it, I’ll write a solid review! I’m no stranger to trying weird things.
  • Reusable Hygiene Products: I use cloth pads and a diva cup. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and can’t imagine going back! You can read more about that here.
  • No Plastic Shopping Bags: Using my own shopping bags (and produce bags) has become second nature. I just started taking my own containers to our local bulk bin store for things like honey, oats, pasta and more! It’s amazing how easy the switch can be with an adjusted mindset. My mother in law made me some reusable produce bags from repurposed sheer curtains, similar to these! I’m hoping to eventually sew my own snack bags, like these. If you’re handy with a sewing machine put your skills to use!

  • Unpaper Towels and Cloth Napkins. We now use microfibre cloths in place of paper towels. My initial reason for switching wasn’t actually motivated by wanting to reduce our waste. It was because I found these microfibre cloths to be much better at cleaning up messes. Since this pack comes with 3 different colours, it’s easy to assign a specific colour to a job. I use these for everything from wiping down household surfaces to wiping down babies faces. I also like these cloth napkins. I’m still figuring out to wash them and keep them nice but they get the job done, regardless.
  • Eating Leftovers, Smaller Portion Sizes and Composting. THIS is a tough one because it’s easy to justify throwing out moldy food. What I’m working on is cooking smaller portion sizes and having us eat leftovers a few times a week. When that isn’t possible, we compost. Invest in some reusable freezer storage bags to cut down on plastic bag waste.
  • Clothesline and rack drying: My husband strung up a simple clothesline for me between two trees in our backyard. I also have something similar to this drying rack.
  • Buying Second Hand: As much as possible we try to thrift items in our home. We also work on purging once a month and donating what we don’t use back to local second hand stores. Our garage is a work in progress. It’s easy to keep junk when you don’t see it! Check out my post here for tips on buying second hand clothing.
  • Refillable Water Cooler: So, I’m kinda weird about how my water tastes. A few years ago we asked for a water cool for Christmas from our family and it’s been one of my favourite gifts we’ve ever received. It’s similar to this one. About every week or so my husband goes to our local water refill station and for about $8 he fills 3 huge (reusable) jugs (I don’t know how big they are honestly) and brings them home. Our water from the refill station is free from nasty things like fluoride, so that’s a bonus too.

There are so many great ways to practically reduce your family’s waste output. These are just some of the things we are currently practicing. You can save money and simplify your things by implementing a low waste lifestyle. What are some ways you reduce your waste? I’d love to hear from you!

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7 Tips For A Tidy Home

The other day I caught my toddler walking around the house with a mouthful of chewed up cat kibble.

A few days after that, my cat decided to projectile vomit all over the dining room floor. When I was a little girl I didn’t imagine cleaning piles of cat puke and wrestling my toddler for kibble as my future. Nonetheless that is my life these days though not ALL the time.

I literally do not want to spend more than a half hour a day cleaning up. But I want a clean home. I also have two children under the age of two! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

I’m here to tell you it is and share a few simple tips that can help you streamline a daily cleaning routine.

  • Have LESS Things. The less stuff you own, the less you have to clean up! It’s really that simple. I recently replaced our dishes with this simple, clean set from Correlle. I have more space in my cupboards and less things to clean. Win win!
  • Have One Main Cleaning Task Each Day. I put together a weekly cleaning list and every day I have one “big” task that I try to complete. For example, Mondays I clean the bathroom, Thursdays I mop the floors etc. By doing this, I don’t feel the pressure to clean my entire house from top to bottom. I stick to one main task per day and the upkeep of that makes everyday cleaning easier.
  • Have ONGOING Daily Cleaning Tasks. Keep things simple like wiping down the kitchen and a quick sweep after meals so that grime doesn’t pile up. Decide how often you will pick up toys so that you don’t spend your entire day picking up toys. I tidy up toys and clutter about three times a day usually after mealtimes.
  • Simplify Your Cleaning Products. I love Norwex because their products make cleaning super simple and quick! They’re also non-toxic and good for the environment. I make a few of my own cleaning solutions which I share about here. We invested in a Dyson Animal stick vacuum. It’s perfect for a quick cleanup! I also love these microfibre cloths from Amazon. I use them for everything except the toilet. I don’t use any reusable cloths on the toilet, EVER. GROSS! I save paper towels for that and then compost the paper towels. If you have products that are messy and difficult to use, chances are you probably won’t use them. Make it easier on yourself and cut your cleaning time in half with products you actually want to use.
  • Live In A Smaller House. We just returned from a family vacation where we stayed in a massive 5 bedroom beach “cottage.” While it was beautiful and spacious the charm wore off pretty quickly. The bigger a house, the more you have to clean! You know how long it takes me to do a good clean of the house we rent? MAYBE an hour. We live in about 800/900 square feet on the main floor of a bungalow. Prior to that we lived in the basement of this bungalow which was about 600 square feet and even easier to clean! Seriously consider downsizing if it means less stress. It might also mean a smaller mortgage which is even better!
  • Involve Your Children In The Process. When my oldest was about a year old I started involving him in the clean up process. Now that he’s almost two he can put his toys away with supervision. If you have older children and you’re still cleaning up after them……why? Get those kids involved! 
  • Have A Solid Laundry Routine. Make a routine and stick to it. I know when and how a person does their laundry varies from person to person. But keep it simple. I personally don’t want to be doing laundry every day, all day. And I have cloth diapers to wash but I still only wash those twice week. Tip: if you build a capsule wardrobe you will have LESS clothing to wash! I use Nellie’s because one tin will get you through 100 loads. It’s also non toxic and environmentally friendly!

My home is NOT sparkling clean all the time. It’s moderately tidy and somewhat clean most of the time. I don’t want to spend all day cleaning because I can think of a billion other things I’d like to be doing. I hope my tips save you some time and a bit of your sanity.

Cheers and happy cleaning! If you have any tips and tricks, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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11 Frugal Ways To Cut Back On Living Costs

I have a problem.

It’s called Amazon Prime.

I mean, who doesn’t want 2 day shipping, guaranteed? Well sometimes it’s not guaranteed because we have this thing called WINTER in Canada.

Being able to shop for groceries online and have them delivered to your house sounds pretty amazing, right? I’ve never tried it but I was tempted to when my second baby was born, 7 months ago. When you haven’t showered in 5 days and you’re too tired to even put regular clothing on, having groceries delivered sounds like a dream come true.

Convenience is what motivates many of us to make the purchases that we do. But you know what isn’t convenient?

Debt.

I think the majority of people my age, that I personally know have some form of debt whether that be student loans, a mortgage or credit card debt. I have mixed feelings about debt. I think it’s inevitable at some point in your life that you will have some form of debt.

I’m all about finding ways to cut down our our expenses as we have financial goals set for our family. Amazon Prime doesn’t align with my goals of being frugal and owning a home one day. Curse you Amazon Prime!

But I want to share ways we cut back on our spending.

  • Limit or eliminate Eating At Restaurants or Takeout : Why does food always taste better when someone else prepares and cooks it? Seriously. It could be a hotdog someone else microwaved and I’m all over it. Buying lunch usually costs $10 plus a $3 coffee a day (or more if you’re fancy) which adds up to $65 a week alone. If you factor in eating dinner out, a few times a week that’s easily another $50 or so. You could be saving $300 (or more) by limiting take out and packing your own meals.
  • Cook More and Buy Less Packaged (and processed) Foods: Sometimes I enjoy cooking but most of the time I only enjoy it if my husband and I are cooking together. One thing I’ve noticed with our grocery bills is the difference in what we spend when we buy less packaged, processed foods. Packaged is easier, no doubt about it! But it’s also more expensive because it’s convenient. I try to set myself up for success with very simple meals because it’s a generally chaotic time of the day. The more you cook, the healthier meals tend to be, as well. We do NOT eat organic, Keto or paleo. We have no allergies. I Have thoughts on the whole organic thing but that is a post for another day! If eating organic is extremely important to you but you have a tight budget then you will have to adjust your spending and other areas so that you can have a more flexible grocery budget
  • Have A Grocery Budget (and stick to it). When Dave and I first married, we spent about $50 in groceries a week, sometimes less. Since then we’ve fluctuated in what we spend on groceries. Recently I’ve reset our weekly budget because it was OUT OF CONTROL and I’m amazed at how little we can spend if we try. I challenge myself to do a few meatless meals a week, cook with all the meat I already have (in the freezer) and get creative with leftovers. Our budget isn’t $50 a week anymore, partly because we have a baby who drinks formula. But with some tweaking here and there we can typically eat within a budget of $65 to $80 right now, including formula.
  • Buy In Bulk. Speaking of Costco! It might be worth it to consider a Sam’s Club or Costco membership. In Canada a Costco (gold) membership costs $60 per year or $5 a month. You could easily split that cost in half and share with someone else in your family or even a friend. It’s easy to overspend at Costco if you don’t plan ahead. We typically purchase diapers, wipes, toilet paper and paper towels at Costco, once a month.
  • Shop Secondhand (especially for kids): I switched over to purchasing second clothing around the time I was getting married. I watched a documentary about the negative impact fast fashion is having on our world, today. It changed the way I went about purchasing most things. 90% of the clothing we wear as a family is second hand. I’m not a name brand person to begin with but surprisingly you can find some great brands when shopping second hand. So my 7 month old is a few pounds behind his 21 month old brother. Buying new clothing for him would be like lighting my money on fire. I have this mentality with all baby gear and things in our home as well. If I can find it second hand and repurpose it (if it needs it) then I’m going to do it. You can read more about my tips on buying second hand here.
cloth diapers
  • Invest in Reusable, Low or Zero Waste Products: We spend less than $60 a month on diapers. That is because we mostly cloth diaper. It’s fortunate for us that currently, the boys wear the same size diaper. My 7 month old and 21 month old wear the same size diaper! One box of Kirkland’s and one box of Huggies overnights gets us through the month, with 2 weeks worth of Kirkland’s leftover. Cloth diapers has saved us SO MUCH! And if you think we spend a ton on hydro/water from washing them all the time, read THIS. I also use reusable sanitary products which you can read more about here. We bring our reusable grocery and produce bags to the store.
  • Cut Down On Your Utilities. While utilities is included in the cost of our rent, we try to practice being smart with how/when we use our water and electricity because one day we will pay for these things. Where I live in Canada, they have on and off peak times of hydro/water usage. This means that you are charged more on your usage depending on what time of day/day of the week it is. As much as possible, We try to do laundry, shower and run the dishwasher during off peak times. Even with having cloth diapers to wash, I’m only washing them twice a week. Since my husband is in HVAC, he makes sure that the AC/Furnace are running efficiently. He changes out the filter and we close windows when we are running the air or heat. You could open windows for air circulation during the day, turn off lights when not in use and unplug appliances. Reuse dishwater for watering plants etc.
  • Do It Yourself: I am a HUGE fan of DIY. Most people probably think arts and crafts when it comes to DIY. But DIY can apply to so many things in life. It’s kinda scary how dependant we’ve become on others, to do things for us as a society. I’m wary of paying others to do everything for me. It’s good to have some SKILLS, am I right? I’m not very good with power tools but I’m letting my husband teach me. We’ve made all the decor in our home. I’m taking sewing classes this fall and we grow a garden every year. We learned how to can from my husband’s grandfather and we started experimenting with dehydrating different foods a few summers ago. My husband and I both grew up with fathers who were handy so naturally, it’s simple logic for us to learn to do certain things for ourselves. My husband is also in the trades so he’s extremely skilled with tools. We initially took our oldest son to a hairdresser for his first haircut but going forward, I’ll just cut it with my husband’s clippers. I know someone who does hair out of her apartment so I get my hair done (cut and highlights) at half the cost of what I used to pay in a salon. I LOVE a good shellac pedicure but I have a bag full of nail polish that I can use to paint my toenails for FREE.
  • Take Care Of What You Already Have: You might be wondering how this saves you money? I think it’s pretty simple but if you take good care of what you already own, the chances of it breaking and needing to be replaced are less likely. Inevitably there are things in life that will need replacing. But how much money do we waste because we are careless? My husband is in a field of work that places him inside people’s homes. He has seen everything you can imagine. He said what frustrates him is to see how people do not maintain their homes. A home is easily the largest investment of a person’s life. Why wouldn’t you take care of it? We don’t own a home yet but you can imagine that we’ve learned a lot about what not to do from the things my husband has seen. I think it’s important to note here that not everything can be done yourself. Sometimes you need to hire an expert so you don’t try to fix something way beyond your skill set.
  • Have One Car, Walk or Take Public Transit: Apart from a few months when we first married and then 1.5 years when my husband had a job with a work truck, we’ve only ever had one car. Right now he works really close to home and I am able to walk where I need to. Driving places with two babies kinda gives me anxiety right now so one car works well for us but it’s also a mindset. Do I HAVE to go somewhere every day? I usually spend money if I do. Having one car means you are paying less in terms of gas, insurance and car payment (or even LESS if you owe nothing on your car). It’s not always easy during the winter time to have one car but in the past I have driven my husband to work if I needed the car that day. During the summer I walk everywhere with the boys. We are fortunate to live in an area where parks, community centres and grocery stores are within walking distance. My dad takes public transit EVERY day into the city of San Diego. He enjoys his commute for the most part and it’s saving him a fortune in gas!
  • Live In A Place You Can Afford. This is unique to each family based on location, income and financial responsibilities. We currently rent because it’s what fits our budget at this time while we have other financial obligations to resolve before we can take on the cost of a mortgage. The cost of living is quite high, where we live. It could change at some point but we’ve lived the majority of our marriage in basement apartments and always in a shared dwelling place. This means that to some degree where we’ve lived, we’ve had to share the building with another person or family. Do I always LOVE it? Nope. Is it what works for us? Yes! When I really struggle with my perspective in this area, I try to remember that I get to be home with my babies every day for the next few years or longer. I’m so grateful and I wouldn’t trade that for the world even if it means that owning our own home is awhile away for us.

We are a single income family and we’ve been a single income family the majority of our marriage. I’m sure someone could say, “Just get a job, Sarah.” Thanks but I already have one. I’m raising my kids! And that’s not to say that a mom who works another job outside the home isn’t raising her kids. But where we live the cost of childcare would make going back to work completely pointless, for what I would earn. One income is what we’ve learned to live on. It takes discipline and perspective to live this way and we aren’t perfect at it. I think it’s taught us a lot about what we need versus what we want. It’s also fast tracking us to resolving financial obligations and having more freedom with our hard earned money!

What are ways that you cut down on the cost of living and save in your home? I’d love to hear from you!