So there is living by the seat of your pants where you wake up and just spend your entire day reacting to things, then there is the alternative…planning for what you can and doing your best to not be worried about what you can’t.
I’ve done it both ways.
From personal experience it is nice to have everything in it’s place, a place for everything and knowing that although you can’t prepare for every unexpected thing, you have the peace in knowing that you’ve created enough buffers in your life systems for emergencies. It’s invaluable peace of mind and it’s accessible to everyone.
It’s amazing how when you keep with a routine even a really bad week won’t put you behind in the details like laundry, cleaning, groceries. It is really nice having solace in the fact that if you need to take a week “off”, your bills are paid, the laundry is done, there is food in the fridge so you won’t have to worry about your worries plus all of that on top of it. Enter the “neat and tidy life”.
I call it this because that’s what it is. It may be boring to some, but I don’t lack for adventure or fun and relaxing is truly that because I’m pretty on my game…even when I’m not. The neat and tidy life is a foundation to build upon and it’s a strong one because it has integrity and self love mixed into it’s concrete. Anything built too fast or too unrestrained by discipline is bound to wobble and topple at some point. The neat and tidy life won’t ever let that happen. Without further ado…
Have an emergency fund
I think that Dave Ramsey is wrong. I like some of his advice such as pay cash and don’t carry debt etc…but he advocates for a $1,000 emergency fund and then throwing all available funds at debt as fast as possible. The average emergency is well over $1,000 so I advocate for paying minimum debt payments for a year or two and throw all funds outside of your monthly needed minimum to save a $5,000 to $10,000 emergency fund. Only then should you begin to pay debt by adding what you were putting into savings to your minimum payments and then do his “snowball” routine. You will incur more cost with interest, but that’s part of the [expensive] life lesson now isn’t it.
(I will have a detailed post on the above shortly. Subscribe so that you don’t miss it.)
Screw Verizon and Comcast. They pay no federal taxes only to enrich their shareholders and executives. To top it off, there is nothing ever on. Ever. On top of that, you’re subject to insatiable commercials that prove mainstream marketing isn’t even trying anymore because they know that we’ll gladly buy their plastic crap that we don’t need. Netflix, Hulu and YouTube are entertainment at it’s finest for under $20.00. Your city is bound to have parks and museums that you can join. Some of the $50 membership per household entitles your family to some really great live entertainment and events.
Pack your lunch and brew your own coffee
Sounds boring right? Well the average cup of coffee is about $3.00 and it costs 14 cents to make. That difference is $2.86 and if you multiply that by 3x per week at minimum that is $8.58 per week. Right now there are 3 Marijuana penny stocks that are trading at .91 to 1.39 a share with biotech companies that are producing incredible life saving products. I’d rather buy stocks with that money. Save the trips to the coffee shop for when it’s an experience such as catching up with a good friend or meeting a potential business colleague.
Have a routine
Even if it isn’t strictly adhered to, have a daily and weekly plan. Laundry is Wednesdays and Saturdays. Grocery is Sunday. The gym is 2-3 times per week and the days vary. Meal planning and fridge cleaning is done on Thursdays and the bathrooms get scrubbed on Wednesdays and Sundays. These are just ideas, whatever works for you is what you should do.
Invest 1 hour per day at 10-20 minutes at a time (hell, even 3-5 minutes at a time will do)
Invest in your personal development, your relaxation, your spirituality, your creativity, your career development, your personal relationships, your home, your office, your car, your kids, your spouse…all of these things are way more important than anything else you can do with your time. Take a few minutes and ask “what can I make better right now?”
Walk away from whatever no longer suits you. Relationship, job, hobby, etc. If you are no longer getting joy, skill, or any benefit out of it at all then you have learned all that you are supposed to from it and it’s time to wrap it up. Thank the experience and then start to develop a new path.
Get to know your neighbors
You should know the people who are just as invested in your community as you are. There is power in numbers and if everyone knows one another they can build something beautiful. The more people know about one another and come together, the stronger the community and the nicer and more restorative your home becomes.
Keep your finances and your vital documents organized
Lose the kid’s field trip permission slip, but don’t lose the birth certificate. One is a simple reprint and the other is friggin’ nightmare. I keep all of our vital documents in this binder. I also keep all monthly finances in a binder as well. Each month has a tab and I keep one years worth in it at a time so that I can refer back to see how the budget has changed and progressed when I need encouragement for foregoing all of those take out coffees (see above).
Understand that politics is not sports
Cheering and jeering at others based on their political agendas in the way that most Americans do in the stands during a football game is unhealthy. Having politics fall to such a low standard should be concerning to everyone.
It’s OK to have one or no children
You have nothing that you have to explain to anyone. Having multiple young children ranging from newborn to toddler at one time is very hard work and will likely be your only work for at least a decade. If this isn’t something that you want to do, then don’t do it. Having very young children in 2018 takes not only the typical pressures of parenting, but the extreme vigilance of living in the current state of affairs. Everything is coming up for review and repair; our healthcare, our educational system, our actual Government and change is difficult under the best of circumstances. In a few years we are going to have a whole new world, you may feel different then so placing parenthood on the back burner is also OK.
Don’t read the news in the morning (or at all)
I know that we all reach for our phones first thing, but if the world had ended overnight you would know about it. Upon waking I look at the weather (because…horses), and then I hit up a TEDtalk. Find something, anything, inspirational and educational to introduce your brain to first thing in the morning.
Unsubscribe to drama and “high conflict personalities”
You can’t change these people, and drama after a while isn’t entertaining to watch. It’s stupid. If you have any of these people in your life that you absolutely cannot cut completely, then keep them at arms length and don’t get involved in their chaos.
Don’t do drugs and don’t cheat
Seriously…I have no idea why anyone even tries either. We all know what happens when you do these things so just don’t do them. You won’t be the one person who gets away without a drug addiction or getting caught, you’ll just buy your personal ticket into living hell.
Pay your bills on time
You would think that this is a given, but sometimes we can talk ourselves into siphoning money from one area to fund another and then pay the first thing later before the end of the month. Please don’t do this. I have found personally that you actually have more money than you think when you budget and stick to that budget faithfully while planning for bigger purchases.
It is much easier than we think to lead fruitful lives, we just have to cut out the bullshit. Quit things that are no longer good for us etc. It helps to remember what is our responsibility and within our control, and what is not. The serenity that one has from this lifestyle is priceless. Here’s to keeping it tidy.