Monday, September 5, 2011

Simple Girl, Simple Life, Simple September

Early September Morning Sunrise - Townsend, TN
September 5, 2010

September is one of my favorite months.  It is no secret that I really dislike summer and am never sorry to see it end.  September brings such promise.  Promise of cooler evenings and gradually cooler days.  Teachers, children and college students have returned to school.  In my town, that makes a huge difference in the amount of traffic, people in stores and the level of quiet that can be found in the parks and on the greenways.  September brings the promise of October and if you are familiar at all with East Tennessee, I don't need to say another word.  There are some stunning places in this country we call home, but none can beat the sheer beauty of East Tennessee in autumn.  September brings football, the start of prime hiking season, mums and APPLES!!  

For me, September signals a return to a simpler life.  I was an advocate of the simple living lifestyle long before it was COOL and I've worked very hard to make our life less complicated.  When I started this post, I kept thinking something seemed familiar.  Sure enough, last September 16, I wrote a post titled, Simple Girl....Simple Life.  It spoke of my frustration level at how complicated life seemed to be at that particular time.  I will have to say I'm pleased that some of those changes about which I spoke are still working for me a year later.  I grocery shop weekly and 4-6 p.m. is still my time for BlogWorld although I confess to sneaking peaks at my favorites early in the morning.  4-6 p.m. is still the time during which I most struggle with eating. Reading/writing blogs during that time was a brilliant idea that has worked.

But here we are in September of 2011 and since this is my New Year, I thought it time to revisit whether this simple girl can find even more ways to achieve a simpler life.  And I thought Simple September would be a great time to ask you to join me.  Being busy and being productive do NOT always go hand in hand.  Some of the most productive people I've ever known would appear to be the LEAST busy. That doesn't just happen. Those people have worked very hard to simplify their lives in ways which accomplish the important things, consolidate the things that can be merged and eliminate the time-wasters.  

When I retired and Mr. B decided he wanted to continue working for awhile longer, I took on the responsibility for all things related to our household and maintenance, finances, shopping, future planning, travel planning, caring for our parents, etc.  With the exception of travel planning and finances, none of those things was I particularly excited about!  So my first order of business was to make everything as simple as it could possibly be.  Since that time, here are a few of the things that have been accomplished.  I share them with you in the hopes that it might inspire you to search for ways to make your own life less complicated allowing a greater sense of freedom even though your days may be full.

Also, PLEASE bear in mind that I fully understand many of you have children at home and/or full-time jobs which I do not.  But neither do I believe that can be used as an excuse for a overly complicated life.  Everyone, I believe, can find ways to simplify if they'll only make the effort to try.

1)  We clean house once weekly usually on Sunday evenings.  Upon mutual agreement, this is a joint effort.  We each do things during the week that make the weekly cleaning quick and easy.  

2)  I do laundry ONCE a week and I do not consider the job finished until everything is washed, dried and put away.  

3)  I grocery shop once a week.  I shop from a list posted on our fridge.  If it's not on the list, it doesn't get bought.  Because I do not enjoy cooking, our meals are incredibly simple and can usually be made from ingredients on hand or in the freezer.  Those items are stocked as I find things on sale or in bulk.

4)  I dislike any kind of shopping, so that is something I try to do during the weekly grocery run.  Anything we need goes on the fridge list and I pick it up while I'm out.  

1)  We have one checking account, one savings account and one credit card.  We operate primarily with the credit card and its balance is paid in full each month.  I cannot remember the last time I wrote a check and I make one visit to the bank/ATM each month for what little cash we use.

2)  Mr. B is paid through automatic deposit and all of our bills are paid through automatic debit.  That was a huge step for me when I was able to get that accomplished. 

3)  Speaking of bills, we have very few.  Within the past year, I was able to consolidate our Cable TV, Internet and Phone with one carrier meaning one bill.  One bill for all utilities as the same company provides our electric, gas, water and sewer service.   Both of those plus our mortgage, tithe to our church and monthly credit card payment are all accomplished via automatic debit.  I no longer subscribe to the newspaper and we are debt free otherwise, so other than a miscellaneous annual expense (i.e. AAA, car insurance, etc.) that about covers it. 

4)  I've done everything possible to eliminate excess mail and am thankful to say I'm reaping the benefits.  We live on a very busy street so changing all business documents/bills to be delivered electronically was not only a convenience measure, but a safety one as well.  Despite all my efforts, the vast majority of mail we receive is JUNK and I hate that.

Simplifying things in this way did not happen overnight.  It took a long time to get everything streamlined.  But I can tell you without a doubt, that it is worth every moment I spent setting things up to work this way.   I am reaping those rewards every day.   And I had to start somewhere.  One simple step at a time.

One word of extreme caution especially to all you younger singles, those with young families and newlyweds I know are reading.  Just because all of these things work automatically does NOT mean I don't monitor them very closely.  I spend an hour or so each month quickly checking statements, matching credit card receipts against the bill and making sure everything adds up.  Just last month, I challenged a charge on our credit card statement that resulted in a credit.  A few months ago, I challenged an incorrect charge from a restaurant.  The restaurant tried to dispute my argument until I was able to provide tangible proof because I still had the receipt.  It was plain that some altering had been done because the actual charge did not match the signed receipt and I suspect, a server found himself in deep trouble.  Getting someone in trouble was not my intent - I actually had no idea the tip was at issue, but between those two instances, I caught $45 in erroneous charges in a span of two months.  Simple does not mean oblivious or careless!

Simple girl, simple life, SIMPLE SEPTEMBER!  What steps have you taken recently to make your life less complicated?  Will you join me in making this September a simple one by making one change?  What will it be?


  1. I'm impressed! Funny that I am such an organized person but have no schedule like this for the stuff around the house. I do laundry when the basket(s) is full or when I need something. Same with groceries. I have found myself really struggling with those afternoon hours too and it is a good time for me to run errands.

    I have done some blog stuff that makes life less complicated. Like posting less often. And telling myself I don't have to comment on every blog every post. And using a reader - love that one! But now you are making me think about my life and what else I can streamline. Hmmm.

  2. I have done a lot of those things. Being debt free is such a huge thing--recommend it to everyone!

    That said, with this surgery, I have realized that I am a multi-tasker and am uncomfortable when I cannot do that. And i don't think that is a good thing. So I am planning to purposefully practice doing one thing at a time sometimes, even when I can get back to multi-tasking.

  3. I appreciate this post, Sharon. One thing I was hesitant to do was the automatic debit payments, and having stuff delivered electronically. You know, the old having my info hacked thing. Just last month we had to change our credit card yet again, due to someone trying to hack into it, and the bank froze the account until we could change it.

    But you seem to have it worked out... so, maybe I will work on doing that, too. And doing the careful supervision, too. :-)

    It helped a lot to see how it works out in real life... thank you for sharing this info, it was super helpful!

  4. We run our household in a very similar manner with regard to shopping & finances. Maybe I can get 65MD on with the Sunday PM cleaning, or any other day of the week for that matter!

  5. Oh the KISS method, keep it super simple! I love it and have tried to do a much of that as possible around here.

    Like Karen cutting back on the amount of time spent blogging/posting has helped with time management.

    Since my hubby has a crazy work schedule I do most of the running of the house, finances, laundry, cleaning and so forth. Since our adult children live at home while attending college they help with the cleaning, do their own laundry and such.

    When hubby retires we will once again have to shift and change how things are done but right now things are going pretty well.

  6. Bril­liant! Great talk that was extremely insightful and very enter­taining. It’s given me loads to think about.