Don’t Panic! -Spending Fast Week 4

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It’s hard to believe this is the 4th week of the spending fast. A whole month of spending money on needs only. I am utterly taken aback at how much saved money I have been able to put towards our debt: $4,943.47!

This month was absolutely amazing in that my husband worked a ton of overtime and my résumé writing business has had its best month ever.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • $537.12 – saved money from from our regular income
  • $735.64 – my husband picking up extra shifts at work
  • $982.09 – saved money from my résumé writing business
  • $14.90 – Discover contributing 5% of my minimum payment towards my debt as part of their Paydown Credit Program
  • $2,673.72 – one-off situations that will never happen again, such as my husband closing out his “secret” bank account and putting the money towards our debt

The best lesson I learned from the first month of the spending fast? Don’t panic! This is going to require some dramatic lifestyle changes, but it is doable. Even more important is that my family and I can still be happy while we do it!

The second most important thing I learned is that we will definitely need to continue to earn as much extra money as possible in order to pay off this debt in a reasonable period of time.

Spending Fast Wins

  • Packed up and sent out my thredUp Clean Out Kit, which contained an estimated $81 worth of clothing to consign.
  • Decided that I was losing more money in interest than I was gaining by having some of my money in savings. Took $1,766.48 out of savings and put it towards the credit card with the highest interest rate. (An important note here is that I did not touch my emergency fund! I still have 3 months of mortgage payments in savings).
  • Didn’t panic when my husband asked me to add his student loans to my plan to pay off our debt, in addition to the credit card that he asked me to add to the plan last week!
  • Took the advice of a member of the Spending Fasters Facebook group and used http://unbury.us/ to calculate how long it will take to pay off our debt. Panicked a little when I saw that if I put $1,500 a month towards the debt it would be paid off in 2036. Felt a little better when I saw that it if I just focus on our consumer debt, it will be paid off by 2019. Felt even better knowing that if I can come up with $2,000 a month to put towards our consumer debt, it will be paid off by 2018! Devised new plan to focus on consumer debt first, and then tackle student loans and the mortgage.

Spending fast losses

  • We’re going on vacation tomorrow. This trip was planned months before I began the spending fast and the tickets are non-refundable, so it doesn’t make sense not to go. We have a rafting trip scheduled, but it’s supposed to be 50° that day, so I needed to order wet suits for my husband and I. There’s a small chance that the river will be too low and the trip will be cancelled, so we’re leaving the tags on and returning them if we don’t use them.

 

This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Panic

aboutRobin Brodrick is a résumé writer, aspiring minimalist, Douglas Adams fan, and corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. If you’re looking for a new job, or know somebody who is, Robin can help you with that, too. Visit www.talentcounseling.com to learn more. You can also follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn

 

Together we have $50,000 of Consumer Debt – Spending Fast Week 3

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Something completely unexpected happened yesterday. My husband called his credit card company and discovered he has an interest rate of 16.24%. Then he asked me if I could add his debt to my spending fast plan and take control of our finances.

No pressure, right?

Little did I know the balance on his card is $8,066.33. That brings our joint total consumer debt to $49,164.36 and our total debt to $216,587.71.

Sh*t just got real.

Spending Fast Wins:

  • Returned another $285.00 of clothes that still had the tags on them.
  • Received my free thredUp Clean Out Kit and packed it up with clothes I don’t need. Will put the payout towards the credit card with the highest APR.
  • Extra income: My résumé writing business is having its best month ever and my husband has been picking up extra shifts at work. He also closed his secret bank account and handed over the funds to put towards our debt. Discover also lived up to their word and contributed 5% more than my minimum payment because I paid more than the minimum due. These 4 things combined are allowing us to pay another $2,854.54 to the credit card with the highest APR. That’s a total of $3,176.99 over the minimum payment this month!

Spending Fast Fails:

  • Didn’t stand up for myself when the only gluten free food vendor at Fenway Park said he wouldn’t accept my voucher, even though it clearly said it was good for any food or beverage at the park. I had $15 in vouchers and ended up paying $7.25 in cash for my gluten free hot dog.
  • Underestimated how hungry I get during the day and didn’t have enough food on Friday. Almost had to purchase a snack, but a colleague saved me with a banana at the last second.

 

This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Together

aboutRobin Brodrick is a résumé writer, aspiring minimalist, Douglas Adams fan, and corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. If you’re looking for a new job, or know somebody who is, Robin can help you with that, too. Visit www.talentcounseling.com to learn more. You can also follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn

Recharging – Spending Fast Week 2

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A strange thing happened this week: A little bit of extra time existed even though it was a crazy busy work week trying to fit 5 days worth of work into 4 days. Today my body feels well rested and recharged – probably because I wasn’t up late into the night browsing online and trying to figure out what I could justify purchasing.

It’s week 2 of the spending fast, and there is a bit of a learning curve, but it was mostly successful and I am pretty proud of the wins this week!

Spending Fast Wins:

  • Paid $307.55 more than the minimum to the credit card that has the highest APR. Also called this card to request a lower interest rate. They said no, but they will contribute an extra 5% to paying down my balance each month that I pay more than the minimum amount due
  • Returned $235.99 of clothes that still had the tags on them (thank goodness clothes from Athleta can be returned anytime, even if it has been months)
  • Brought dinner leftovers to work every day for lunch
  • Started unplugging things that are not in use (bye-bye vampire power!)
  • Created business cards for my résumé writing business on Vistaprint for a fraction of the price I paid when I was using Staples for them. Also downloaded the Chrome extension Honey, which found and applied a Vistaprint coupon code that saved me 50% on my order
  • Bartered my résumé writing and value branding services for the new headshot at the bottom of this post. Thanks AR Images!

Spending Fast Losses:

  • Realized I omitted a $4,000 personal loan when I calculated my debt (the original post has been updated to accurately reflect my debt)
  • Spent more than anticipated on groceries

Next week will pose some unique challenges, like a networking event at a Red Sox game, where we all meet at a bar before we go. It would be awkward to be the only person who doesn’t order anything at the bar. My company doesn’t normally reimburse for alcohol purchases, but perhaps I will see if they can make an exception in this situation. I also plan on trying to sell some items I’ve cleaned out of the attic and my closet and on having time to finish reading The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living.

This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Recharge 

 

aboutRobin Brodrick is a résumé writer, aspiring minimalist, Douglas Adams fan, and corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. If you’re looking for a new job, or know somebody who is, Robin can help you with that, too. Visit www.talentcounseling.com to learn more. You can also follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn

Trimming the Fat – Spending Fast Week 1

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It’s hard to stop spending on non-essentials if you don’t know what your problem areas are.

Following the suggestions in The Spender’s Guide to Debt Free Living, I sat down this week and analyzed my family’s last 6 months of spending. I was surprised to find that clothing, which – prior to my newfound fondness for minimalism – used to be my biggest problem area, now paled in comparison to some other categories. Here are some of the worst offenders:

  • Hardware stores + Ikea + Chilewich + Wayfair – $12,148 (not entirely unexpected since we just renovated an entire house, but renovations ended last month and we still spent $605 at hardware stores this month)
  • Amazon – $1,844 (yes, Amazon Prime day occurred within the last 3 months. The rest is probably because it is just so darn easy with Amazon Prime One Click – which I have just uninstalled, along with removing my saved credit card number)
  • Restaurants and LeanBox – $709 (***nom nom nom***)
  • Makeup – $188 (there is absolutely no excuse for that)
  • Blog post images – $20 (I use Canva because it’s  user-friendly for non-designers. Canva can be used for free, but I got sucked into their fancy $1 images)

In order to make life easier in the future, I’ve made a list of needs and wants to serve as a guide during those times when it is hard to remember that a true “need” can be hard to recognize. Sure, there will come a time when I make the mistake of being hungry while grocery shopping, but the hope is that this list will remind me that I don’t need cake, I just want it. And if I want a sweet, chocolatey baked good that badly, I can just make brownies when I get home, because we already own a plethora of brownie mix from that time it was on sale last year.

Needs Wants
Mortgage & condo fees Alcohol
Daycare Books
Gas Office supplies
Food Adult clothes
Water Professional haircuts
Milk Manicures, pedicures
Juice Junk food
Diapers Eyeliner, eye shadow, blush
Hair dye (boxed) Andalou Naturals Face Serum
Allergy medicine Paid blog post images
Mirabella foundation, mascara, lipstick Paid social media campaigns
Car washes & routine maintenance
Toddler clothes & shoes
House keeper
www.talentcounseling.com domain & associated business expenses

Here’s to having an even more successful week 2!If you’re wondering how the first week of my spending fast went, the answer is: Pretty well! By eating a lot of the food that has been sitting around in the pantry, I successfully made it through a full work week without spending a dime (thanks to a great co-worker who happened to have some extra hard-boiled eggs in the office on a day that I forgot my breakfast!). The Labor Day weekend has been more challenging, as I am spending the holiday weekend with my in-laws. Luckily, they know about my spending fast and have been very supportive. Months ago my in-laws invited us to see the New York Air Show, which was already paid for, so there was no point in cancelling the trip! The day was really for my son, who loves airplanes right now. I only spent $20 this weekend, and it was on sunglasses for him. The logic was flawless. The day was for my son to watch the airplanes, and he couldn’t see the planes because of the sun. The sunglasses were $10 each, or 2 for $15. I admit to getting sucked into the 2 for $15 “deal” when I could have sufficed with 1 pair. I donated the $5 in change to a veteran’s group that is focused on teaching today’s youth about anti-bullying and about the history of the military. I have no qualms about this donation. While my “getting out of debt” cause is super important, there are more important things than that, and this was one of them.

P.S. I even used a free image for this blog post (thank you Gratisography)! What do you think of it?

This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Cake

 

Robin_BrodrickRobin Brodrick is a résumé writer, an aspiring minimalist, a Douglas Adams fan, and a corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for unique advice that will revitalize your job search. If you need to update your résumé, Robin has a few services and products that you will find helpful here.

Okay, Let’s Try This “Spending Fast” Thing

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Hi there! It’s great to see you again. Did you get a haircut? It looks fantastic.

It’s been several months since I’ve published a blog post, and in that time off I’ve been cheating on minimalism by spending, spending, and spending some more.

Due to circumstances beyond our control (lead poisoning), my family of 3 had to move out of our apartment, which had great rent. We were shocked when we found out the going rate for similar apartments, most of which were 2-3 times what we had been paying. So instead of moving into a new apartment, we purchased a home for only $46 a month more than we had been paying in rent. Of course, this also meant that it was a fixer-upper.

We knew that just fixing the necessities would still be expensive, because the necessities were appliances (the house didn’t come with any), new floors, and paint. I know paint isn’t normally a necessity, but it was in this house – trust me. Oh, and we also needed to purchase all new furniture, because it turns out that it is impossible to get lead dust out of upholstered furniture and throw rugs.

Fast Forward 3 months and we have spent a lot of money. We purchased all of the necessities, plus some non-necessities, because spending begets spending. Oh, and my car broke down and needed $1,200 in repairs.

The good news is that I absolutely love our house now. The bad news is that we are in a lot of debt because most of our purchases were made on credit cards. Since we hadn’t anticipated being in the housing market, we only had enough in savings for the downpayment, and not much else.

And so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to stop cheating on minimalism, reduce our spending, and dig us out of this debt. Now, I’ve dug out of $16,000 of debt before and out of $28,000 of debt before. But the debt we’re facing now is astronomical and I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of paying it off. And then I stumbled across The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time. It’s written by Anna Newell Jones, who paid off over $18,000 of debt on her $33,000 a year salary, in just a little over 1 year by going on a “spending fast” and only spending money on the necessities. I have been inspired. While we certainly can’t pay off our debt in one year, we can take a good chunk out of it. I estimate we will need to do a spending fast for at least 5 years to pay off our debt. I’m going to start with a year-long spending fast and re-evaluate at the end of the year to see if continuing it is right for us.

According to Jones, being held publicly accountable will help, so I will be blogging monthly (maybe more!) about my spending fast successes and failures. In an effort to be fully transparent for anyone else out there who might be inspired by this, and as a record of my starting point, here are my current debts:

Name of Debt  Total Amount of Debt APR  Monthly minimum payment  Date
Credit Card #1  $16,365.73 19.24%  $   298.00 8/28/2016
Personal Loan #1  $5,233.12 12.82%  $   275.04 8/28/2016
Student Loans  $62,996.44 6.80%  $          – 8/28/2016
Mortgage  $104,603.12 3.50%  $   646.00 8/28/2016
Credit Card #2  $8,945.62 2.99%  $     42.00 8/28/2016
Life Insurance Loan  $ 1,302.20 Unknown  $       6.00 8/28/2016
Personal Loan #2  $4,000.00 0.00%  $          – 8/28/2016
Credit Card #3  $6,460.94 0.00%  $     66.00 8/28/2016
Total Consumer Debt  $38,307.61     8/28/2016
Total Debt  $209,907.17     8/28/2016

And there you have it. I’ve laid it out for the word to see, and I’m not ashamed of it because I’m doing something to fix it. I plan on paying down the highest APRs first and working my way down the list. Some of the APRs will change in the future because they are promotional APRs.

I’m a little nervous, but I’m also super excited about stripping my life down to the bare essentials, even though I suspect some of my friends and family might be a bit perturbed that I will be declining their invitations more frequently now.

I hope you will join me on this journey, be it by reading my blog posts or by going on a spending fast yourself!

This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Cheat

Robin_BrodrickRobin Brodrick is a résumé writer, an aspiring minimalist, a Douglas Adams fan, and a corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for unique advice that will revitalize your job search. If you need to update your résumé, Robin has a few services and products that you will find helpful here.

Simplify Your Closet, Simplify Your Life

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“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” -Tony Robbins

365 days. 52 weeks. 4 seasons. 26 items of clothing.

Really. I’m not kidding. 26 items of clothings gets me through the entire year.

The Why

This capsule wardrobe was created out of sheer frustration and exhaustion. My entire life had been spent trying to stuff clothes into drawers, shove them into vacuum seal bags, and cram them into storage bins. Even when I didn’t have a place to live, I still had two giant suitcases full of clothing.

A decade later, I had an apartment, a spouse, a child, and even more clothing. Weeknights and many weekends seemed to barely contain enough hours to keep up with laundry, much less have any fun.

The How

One day I had finally had enough. Out went all the clothes that I was holding on to in case I gained weight again. And out went all the clothes that I was holding on to in case I lost weight again. I was trying to save money, not spend it, so anything labeled ‘dry clean only’ also found its way into the donation bag. Next, I bagged up anything that was worn out, made me feel frumpy, or was clearly no longer age appropriate. The last thing to make its way into the donation pile was my wedding dress.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I still had a lot of clothes left, even after getting rid of what ended up to be a full car load full of clothing. There was still more work to do. The last step was to get rid of any unflattering colors. I have an incredibly pasty skin tone, so anything black, red, orange, or yellow makes me look completely washed out. Bam! Into the donation bag.

I now have 5 colors in my wardrobe: cream, gray, green, blue, and purple. With only 5 colors to mix and match, deciding what to wear in the morning is easy! And since I got rid of all the clothes that were too big or too small, everything fits comfortably. Every item can go in the wash, and most of them can go in the dryer, so laundry day is quick, easy, and usually completed in one load (if you don’t take sheets and towels into consideration).

The Results

I often get asked what is in my capsule wardrobe. Here’s how my 26 items break down:

  • 5 long sleeve blouses
  • 5 tank tops
  • 5 cardigans
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 woven blazers
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 1 pull-over sweater
  • 1 pair of slacks
  • 1 pair of jeans

Sure, I have some outerwear not pictured here. I live in New England, where the weather changes every 5 minutes. Outerwear is a necessity! I have a winter jacket, a ski jacket (and, yes, I do ski), a leather jacket, and a trench coat. I also have a pair of exercise pants, and some socks and undergarments that are not included in this count.

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The Simplified Life

It might sound like an exaggeration, but a small wardrobe will create big changes in your life. You will be less likely to suffer from decision fatigue, you will always look put together and have more confidence, and you will suddenly find that you have extra time in your mornings. You can fill this free time by sleeping in, exercising, reading, writing, thinking, or even eating a healthy breakfast instead of grabbing a bagel on your way to work.

I created my capsule wardrobe 7 months ago. Initially, my concern was that people would comment on the fact that I was basically wearing the same thing every week. Instead, I was surprised to receive a lot of compliments about my “new style”. I found this funny, since I had all of these items in my wardrobe already, but had never put them together in this particular way before. Over the last couple of months, my friends and colleagues have mentioned that they see a big difference in the way that I carry myself. I have also received a promotion and my spouse and I argue less frequently. Is this all because of a simplistic wardrobe? Probably not. But if you consider the trickle down effect, then perhaps it is. An increase in my self confidence gave me the courage to ask for the promotion and then meet the goals my boss felt I needed to achieve in order to qualify for it. The extra time I had in the morning gave me time to think, which led me to have a few frank conversations with my significant other, and have resulted in each of us appreciating the other more. While cause and effect cannot be proven, there certainly seems to be a correlation between a simplified wardrobe and a better life!

What could a capsule wardrobe change about your life? Will you be giving it a try?

 

Robin_BrodrickRobin Brodrick is an aspiring minimalist, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Veristat. Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for a unique mix of minimalism, job search, and recruiting advice! (To learn more about Veristat and its open positions, click here).

 

Daily Prompt: Closet

The Absurdity of Feeling Incomplete

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“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.” -Anthony de Mello

Do you feel incomplete?

This is a recurring theme in the lives of many and you are not alone.

According to Psychology Today, we feel incomplete when our true inner self knows that the things that will bring us happiness are out of synch with our outer lives. Your outer life is often a presentation of your false self, but you continue to identify with it because it has been so rewarding to your ego.

One way to stop feeling incomplete is to find your purpose in life. Many people think that the best way to find your purpose is to focus on yourself, to define your needs and create some clear goals. I think the opposite is true.

It’s counterintuitive, but when you stop focusing on yourself and start focusing on others, you will stumble upon your purpose. Helping others will open the door for you to become familiar with values and desires that you have been suppressing. You may think I’m crazy, but John Kay, former Director of Oxford’s Business School agrees in his book Obliquity where he says that “those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness.”

As Rachel Grayczyk puts it, the moment you share your light with others, the world becomes a better place.

Another way to feel complete is to learn to be happy with what you have and with what you are. We live in a society that is inundated with  messages telling us that we need more things, we need newer things, and that all of these things will make us feel complete…eventually…if we get enough of them. This is a falsehood. We are also told that we need to constantly be developing ourselves in order to be good enough. This is certainly not an absolute truth. You have enough. You do enough. You are enough.

I wish you fulfillment and inner peace, my friends.

 

robin-brodrick-flirting-with-minimaRobin Brodrick is an aspiring minimalist, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Veristat. Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for a unique mix of minimalism, job search, and recruiting advice! (To learn more about Veristat and its open positions, click here).

 

Daily Prompt: Incomplete

How to Build a Better Life by Curating Your Connections

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“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” -Oscar Wilde

Do you actively oversee the flow of friends who come into your life, or do you let people surge in uncontrollably without stopping to consider if they are adding value?

This blog has frequently addressed the importance of making sure that the things in your life add value, but making sure that the people in your life add value is just as important.

Perhaps it is time to take stock of your friends and determine who is adding value. Identifying a detrimental relationship can be incredibly challenging because you have likely months or years of time invested in it and because the relationship could have added a lot of value to your life at one point in time.

Or maybe the emotions aren’t nearly that strong. Perhaps you have gone through an event that has changed your lifestyle (like having a baby, quitting your job to pursue your dreams, or deciding to live within your means). When a lifestyle change happens, you often find out who your fake friends are.

Fake friends are the ones who talk about you behind your back, project their fear onto you, or tell you that your new lifestyle is impossible to maintain instead of helping you find ways to thrive in it. Your true friends may not understand the decisions you have made, but they will support you regardless and do their best to help you adjust and succeed in the life you have chosen for yourself.

Making new friends is just as important as letting go of those friendships that are one-sided. When making new friends, consider if it is just a friendship of convenience, chemistry, or proximity. If so, that friendship will likely fail. Make friends with people who add value, who contribute to your life and ask you to contribute to theirs, who help you grow, and who support you in your endeavors.

And don’t let all this talk about toxic relationships sour your perception of mankind! Great friendships are still possible. Here are a few examples from my own life: True friends will let you crash on their couch for two months while you find a job and a place to live after a relationship ends unexpectedly. True friends will go house hunting with you when your spouse can’t because you work opposite schedules. True friends will take the whole day off from work to stay with you in the hospital while you get surgery, even though you only asked them to drop you off and pick you up. True friends will tell you to your face that they think you’re crazy for changing your life, but then they’ll help you do it anyway. They’ll be happy for you if the change turns out to be awesome and proves them wrong. And they won’t rub your face in it if the change doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.

By curating the connections and the things in your life, you can build an existence that is more fulfilling than you can imagine.

 

robin-brodrick-flirting-with-minimaRobin Brodrick is an aspiring minimalist, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Veristat. (To learn more about Veristat and its open positions, click here). Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for a unique mix of minimalism, job search, and recruiting advice!

 

Daily Prompt: Connection

How Does Neuromarketing Powerfully Influence Your Grocery Shopping?

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If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.” -Epicurus

Are you baffled by the total when you check out at the grocery store?

Did you go there for bananas, milk, and soda and come home with $27 of extra stuff?

It happens to the best of us, and it turns out that it’s (mostly) not your fault. Retailers have studied the conscious and subconscious actions and thoughts of consumers and have designed stores in ways that are almost sure to get you to purchase more than what you came in for.

For example, produce is near the entrance not because it is the best for you, but because putting healthy things in your cart at the beginning of your shopping trip has been shown to make you feel less guilty about putting unhealthy things in your cart later in your shopping trip.

And then there is the recent phenomenon of neuromarketing. In 2003, Clinton Kilts conducted an MRI experiment that revealed that when people see an image of a brand that they like, blood rushes to the medial prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain involved when we identify with something. And so, Kilts drew the conclusion that when consumers are attracted to a product or brand, it is because they identify with it.

This also explains the Pepsi Paradox. When consumers were asked to do a blind taste test of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, almost all of them prefered Pepsi. In the blind taste test Pepsi also set off activity in the reward center in our brains knows as the putamen. In the next test, people were asked to taste the two colas while being able to see their labels. Shockingly, they now all preferred Coca-Cola. Correspondingly, their blood rushed to the prefrontal cortex instead of to the putamen. This was what got marketers thinking that “branding is mind over matter.”

There is hope, though. This study from 2007 found that when consumers’ prefrontal cortex is damaged, they lose their brand loyalty entirely.

But what if we didn’t have to rely on brain damage to break our illogical brand preferences? What if there was a grocery store designed to care more about its customers than about its profit margins? A store that put nutrition labels on the front of items, instead of brand names? A store that took emotion, or even decision, out of the equation for you?

Imagine, you go into the grocery store with your list:

  • Bananas
  • Milk
  • Coca-Cola

All of the food in the store is of excellent quality: organic, GMO free, grass fed, and so on and so forth.

When you go to get bananas, you just pick a bunch and put it in your cart. You don’t have to spend 30 seconds deciding if you want to pay the extra 10 cents per pound for organic bananas, because you don’t have a choice. Organic bananas are your only option.

You meander to the milk section. You still have your choices between whole milk, 2%, and 1%, but you don’t waste time deciding between the cheaper store brand, Hood, or the brand you have never heard of that has a picture of a grass-grazing cow on the front. There is only one, brandless, type of milk – with no imaging on the container designed to trick you. Since the milk on your list is for a baby, you put a bottle of whole milk in your cart and move on your merry way.

This is your first time in this store and you realize that it is also the first time you have enjoyed a grocery shopping trip in a long time. Now you just need to grab the last thing on your list and you can go home. You walk up and down the aisles, but can’t find the Coca-Cola. You easily find a friendly store clerk and ask him where you can find the last item on your list. The clerk politely explains that the store does not sell any type of Cola because it does not contain enough nutritional value. He suggests that if you are looking for a  delicious source of caffeine, you try their green tea. It is naturally high in antioxidants and can be enjoyed hot or iced. If you really wanted something carbonated, you could add a bit of soda water to it. You are shocked, but follow the clerk’s advice and put the green tea and soda water in your cart.

At the cash register you notice that there are no candy bars, lollipops, or random packages of floss for you to throw in the cart at the last minute.

You get home, put away your groceries, give your child his milk, enjoy a nice cup of green tea, and go about your day feeling relaxed and making great choices because you aren’t suffering from decision fatigue.

It sounds blissful to me. The biggest challenge would be deciding what products to carry. Where does one draw the line when deciding which products have enough nutritional value to be sold in a store like this? Would Kind Bars make the cut? This store probably wouldn’t carry ice cream, but what about sorbet?

What do you think? Would you shop at a store like that? What about at a grocery store that generates zero waste by asking you to bring in your own containers to fill? That’s what this store in Germany did!

 

robin-brodrick-flirting-with-minimaRobin Brodrick is an aspiring minimalist, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Veristat. (To learn more about Veristat and its open positions, click here). Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for a unique mix of minimalism, job search, and recruiting advice!

4 Surprising Side Effects of Owning Less

side-effects-of-minimalism

“Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.” -Dr. Robert Anthony

Do you wish that you could come home from a day at the office and feel peace and contentment when you walk in the door?

I used to have that same wish. I thought that the reason it never happened was because I didn’t have the right things in my house to make it happen. And so I kept buying more and more things because, like a good little lamb, I believed what the advertisements told me. And then one day, about 6 months ago, I watched a TedX talk that got me thinking.

Maybe I had been going about this all wrong. Perhaps I wasn’t happy not because I didn’t have the right things, but because I had too many things. Is it conceivable that the same could be true for you?

And so I decided to see what happened if I owned fewer things. 6 months later, I have discovered some surprising side effects.

  • Elevated sex drive
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased levels of intellectual curiosity
  • A surprising urge to get rid of even more stuff

Let’s examine these side effects more in depth.

Elevated sex drive

Having too much stuff (tangible or intangible) can be like a sedative for your libido. Minimalism is like a Red Bull for sexual desire. Once you shed some belongings and commitments, your mind stops racing because you aren’t distracted by all the stuff you have to do to maintain all of your…stuff. Who ever would have thought to calculate sex in when figuring out the opportunity cost of a belonging or commitment? Not me!

Improved sleep

Both the duration and quality of your sleep can improve with minimalism. Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Is it because you can’t turn your brain off? Like many others, you are likely thinking about all of the things you have to do tomorrow, instead of letting your brain relax and drift off to dreamland. And once you fall asleep, do you toss and turn or wake up during the night? This is likely due to mental stress. A great way to reduce stress is to get rid of some of the things that are stressing you out. Does it stress you out to spend 4 hours every weekend cleaning the house? Minimalism can help you cut that time in half (or more!). Do all of your commitments stress you out? Commitment minimalism can help you reduce those, which will give you some time to relax or do something fun. All of this will reduce your stress levels and help you sleep better.

Increased levels of intellectual curiosity

You tried minimalism, which was new, and it improved your quality of life. What else could improve your quality of life? What else could improve the quality of life for others? You’ll not only have the time and energy to wonder these things, but to do something about it. You may read new perspectives on ideas you never questioned before. Perhaps you’ll do some volunteering. Or maybe your imagination (which you also probably recently rediscovered) will come up with something even better! Whether you want to or not, you will find that you start questioning the things around you…and looking for answers.

A surprising urge to get rid of even more stuff

I really thought that I would just donate a bag or two of clothing and that would be the end of it for me. Boy was I mistaken. So far I have donated or sold at least 5 car loads of stuff, including: 2 car loads of clothing, a dresser (I now have a capsule wardrobe that consists of 26 items of clothing), a sewing machine, a chill machine, all of my 2 year old’s toys (in the interest of full disclosure you should know that I did a clean sweep the night before Christmas, so this was replenished fairly quickly), almost all of my purses and jewelry, a lime green side table, a mannequin bust, and a few other equally poor choices of décor. And I still want to get rid of more! Every time I get rid of something that does not add value to my life I feel a small amount of stress disappear. I’m sure I will eventually get to that point where everything around me adds value to my life and I won’t get rid of anything else – but that point is a long way off.

capsule-wardrobe-flirting-with-minimalism
Robin’s capsule wardrobe – 26 items of clothing, including the jeans and shirt I am wearing right now.

 

robin-brodrick-flirting-with-minimaRobin Brodrick is an aspiring minimalist, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Veristat. (To learn more about Veristat and its open positions, click here). Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for a unique mix of minimalism, job search, and recruiting advice!