A modest life is a life to be proud of

Everyone has different ideas of what a modest life entails, but for me it’s not being dragged into the whole consumerism, materialistic way of life to a point that it has you living outside your means or being extravagant.

It means you don’t go into debt for a big-screen TV or a luxury car, you don’t spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery and shoes each year. You don’t buy designer clothes, or borrow money for extravagant holidays.

It means you live within your means, disregarding what this does to the way people see you.

So many people complain about not having enough money, yet they drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have Foxtel and a big-screen TV and drive a brand new car that they have borrowed money for, and spend a fortune on takeaway and junk food.  They sell their house and upgrade to a bigger home with a bigger mortgage so they can fit all their stuff in that they found one sale somewhere sometime but never use. They put their immediate comfort and their ‘facade’ in front of long-term benefits such as being debt-free.

People have forgotten what a real need is. They have forgotten that in the 1960s a family of five quite happily fit into a house with 3 bedrooms and one living area. They forget that a car that is over 10 years old can still drive them from A to B.  They forget that they live a quite privileged life compared to many and that they are so much luckier than they think they are.

They still look around them and want what everyone else has whether or not they can afford it, need it, or have room for it.

I get really frustrated when I hear how “tough” people are doing it, when I know very well many of these people are in debt because they lived beyond their means.  They did it because they couldn’t tell the difference between a need and a want. They didn’t ‘save for a rainy day’ and instead told themselves “I deserve this”.

People who lead modest lives are happier than those that don’t. They are more financially stable. They are self-sufficient and live within their means. They are leaders, not followers. They accept their life as it is and don’t strive for excess. They give freely of themselves. They aren’t overly concerned with what others think of them, and are therefore more uninhibited and self-assured.

How does one live a modest life?

  • Don’t buy things just because everyone else has one, unless you can afford to buy 3 of them without debt (and then still only buy 1!)
  • Recognise that at the end of your life, you will not be remembered for your designer shoes
  • Understand that you are still a valuable person without all the ‘stuff’
  • Learn to be content with what you have, and enjoy what you have instead of wanting more all the time
  • Don’t go into debt for anything other than the necessities (food and shelter, essentially – and that doesn’t count luxury resorts!)
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s, and be proud of not buying into the hype
  • Remember to look long-term and not just for the short-term ‘hit’ that buying something new gives you

There is nothing to be ashamed of in living a modest life, but so very much to be proud of.


On a personal note:

I am not infallible nor am I a monk – sometimes I don’t live a modest life, despite generally trying to. When I bought myself an iPad (I tried to tell myself I ‘needed’ it for work but to be honest, I mostly play and read on it), I was being more extravagant than I normally would, even though I could afford it and did pay cash, because I didn’t really need it.  Sometimes I yearn for a bigger wardrobe, more shoes or a guest room in my house(or a bigger house), or a flash new sofa because I’m tired of the old one. And I was very keen to upgrade our car earlier this year – to the point of nagging!

But  most of all, I live within my means and without extravagance, as does the rest of my family. We’re not overly frugal but we’re not careless either.

Our family is debt-free (and we worked hard to get that way – it wasn’t handed to us on a platter) and we save as much as we can, whilst still enjoying our life.  Our home is not large or fancy, but it’s nice and we all fit just fine and we resist the urge to spend our savings on upgrading. When we last bought a new car (we had had our other one for almost 12 years) we spent around 10% of what we could actually afford to spend in cash and it was still a nice, shiny new (less than one year old) car and I still love it to pieces. The rest of the money is earning interest for us while the small investment is driving me around!

How to Shop from Your Own Wardrobe

Photo courtesy of Lookbook.nu

This is a guest post by Natalie Tucker. I needed help with my Fashion Embargo (it’s really tough!) so I have called in the expert!

We have enough clothes in our wardrobe right now to last us the next 3 years, but we see a model wearing something fabulous and of course she looks amazing (why wouldn’t she, this is what she is paid for) so we go out and buy that exact same item or even the entire outfit.

Okay, so do you now look amazing? Or rather, you feel completely depleted because somehow it just does not look the same on you?

STOP! Let’s not do it anymore!…it’s time to make a stand!

Why don’t we try only wearing what suits us by using clothes that are currently hanging in our wardrobe, you can do it…so come on.

First of all, take some time to make a date with yourself and your wardrobe, spend 3 hrs on a Sunday afternoon trying absolutely everything on. Below is a guide of items that will have you looking up to the moment, interesting and most of all effortlessly stylish, yes, EFFORTLESSLY STYLISH! Because we all know that really, this does actually take a great deal of effort.

  • Pull out all of your interesting tops, printed, unique design, unusual collars, fabulous fabrics, button down shirts and lay them on the bed. These are your foundation pieces because they are worn closest to your portrait area (your face). Everyone looks here and often, you never get a second chance to make that first impression!
  • Grab a blazer…now this could even be just a denim jacket, we all have at least one of those. Try and find one in a colour that makes your top STAND OUT…this means that it will not be black on black or grey on grey. Harsh, I know, but colour is what keeps life interesting.
  • Next step, put out all of your pants, skirts or jeans. As long as they are in a different colour from both your interesting top and your blazer/denim jacket,you will look fabulous. You now have a great ensemble…but wait, there is more…
  • NOW TO FINISH! A shoe or boot that is related to your top. It can be the same colour, have a print relationship or just simply be the same depth intensity (dark top, dark shoe…light top, light shoe). If your shoes do not meet this criteria, just find one in your hair colour, you will be book ending your outfit with pizzazz. If you are blonde, in Winter, tan will do the same trick. If you have dark hair, mahogany adds that spice of life.

If you would like to receive some more visual inspiration, just head on over to my Defined Image facebook page. I will give you a daily pic of what I am wearing and maybe, just maybe, you may have some of these items already hanging in your very own closet. I hope to see you there.

Product feature – “narrow spaces” trolley

3-tier trolley

I’ve decided to add product features to my blog, and I hope it helps you in your quest to get more organised. Many of my clients buy an organising product without thinking about its intended purpose so I thought if I help you do the thinking first, you won’t have to buy anything unnecessary!

The first product is rather exciting – I couldn’t wait to try it out!

The narrow trolley (pictured is the 3-tier version – it also comes in 4-tier) is a clever way to gain storage in an otherwise unusable spot. It’s on wheels, so it can be moved in and out of spaces easily – this means you can even put heavier items in it without having to strain to pull them out.

Some possible uses for it:

  • Keep pet food and accessories in it (this is what we use it for) either in the kitchen or laundry.
  • Put all your cleaning products in it and wheel it around with you when you clean (and then hide it away in a narrow space when you’re done!).
  • Take off the wheels and put it in the under-sink cupboard for some extra shelf storage that doesn’t get in the way of the pipes (note, it could be too tall for some cupboards).
  • Use it as a portable nappy-change station. Slide it behind a piece of furniture in the room you do most nappy changes in so you have everything on hand when you need it.
  • Keep tall bottles that won’t fit in the pantry in it alongside the fridge.
  • It’s great for storing craft materials like paints, cups of pencils and paintbrushes and tubs of glitter, sequins, pins, eyes, pipe-cleaners….the list goes on!
  • My husband wanted to grow seedlings in it. I talked him out of it (not that it’s not a good idea, but I’m sure there is a cheaper way to grow seedlings!)
  • Keep your washing items in it between the washer and dryer (powders, softeners, bleach etc) – great if you have no room for over-head storage or want to keep the top of the dryer free for folding.
  • Spare soft-drink, water or juice bottles that you aren’t refrigerating yet.

What I wouldn’t use it for (feel free to try anything though!)

  • Toys (it’s not stable enough and most toys aren’t the right shape)
  • Paperwork
  • Small stationery (you’d waste the vertical space)
  • CDs and DVDs (same as above – they’re too short and although they’ll fit, they’d waste space)

Other stuff to know about it:

  • It has nice tall shelves, so even the tallest bottles and jars will fit in it easily.
  • Note that it’s specifically designed for small spaces – if you leave it out in the open it could tip over if you have heavier items in it (or small children who tend to look one way and walk another) because it’s tall and narrow with a high centre of gravity.
  • Note also that the wheels are quite small, so they work best on hard surfaces. They don’t get along overly well with carpet.
  • They also don’t turn, so if you have a spot that you can’t put it all the way out straight in a line, you might want to re-think the space (although it will happily slide sideways if you force it to).
  • It washes easily, and is easy to put together and pull apart if necessary.
  • It’s strong and solid, not flimsy.

You can get this particular one online at Lifespace – no need to even leave your comfy chair!

Here is ours in use:

Hidden away in the laundry ...

... and voila! There's all our stuff when we need it.

 

My Fashion Embargo Experiment for 2012

I recently thought I might try something new this year. Something that I haven’t done before, and that many people couldn’t do if their life depended on it (and that others regularly do it rather easily).

I decided I wasn’t going to buy any new clothes in 2012. For the whole year.

I’m the kind of person that gets bored easily – I like to update my wardrobe through the year, and always have a bit of a spree at the start of winter and summer.  I have been long exploring the idea that you can be happier if you can accept what you have rather than always wanting more. I have been practising it a lot, and wondered if I could take it this one step further.

So, I’m going to have a new clothes embargo in 2012. No new clothes or accessories for a WHOLE YEAR. These are the rules I have made:

  1. Replacement of essential items that have been damaged are allowed. By essential I mean that there is only one of them in my wardrobe, and it’s needed for work or something important (like underwear!)
  2. Gift cards can be redeemed (I have none, but if anyone wants to join me they can do this)
  3. Clothes-swapping and borrowing from friends is perfectly acceptable
  4. Clothes received as gifts are also acceptable (I have to wait until December for my birthday so this will be of no use to me!)
  5. Accessories are included – no new shoes, jewellery or handbags either (unless conditions satisfy rule #1)

Why am I doing this? A few reasons:

  1. I bought more clothes and jewellery this year than I ever have (BEFORE I decided on the embargo!) and I think I have everything I need to get by
  2. It will teach me to be patient
  3. It will teach me how to be more creative with my wardrobe instead of just buying something when I get bored
  4. It will save me money (this is a minor reason; I’ve never really spent a load on clothes or shoes)
  5. I just want to see if I can do it!
  6. It will show me that I don’t need new things to be happy
  7. I won’t have to go shopping (I don’t like it!)
  8. It’s something fun to blog about and share with others
  9. My wardrobe is full.

Would you like to join me?  It will be good for you, I promise! You can attend the Facebook event, and follow @rebeccamezzino and use the hashtag #fashem2012  to join in the discussion on Twitter.

Tell me what you think – could YOU do it?

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