Advice for the next generation

Phew! I’ve just got back from a whistle-stop visit to the other end of the country for my gorgeous little niece’s Christening. The travelling was exhausting, but it was fantastic to have a big family get-together.

While we all tucked into lunch, my sister put up a wooden ‘wishing tree’ and invited the guests to write a wish or piece of advice for the new baby to read when she was older.

Ever the money nerd (and literature nerd), I put down a quote from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

If only I’d stuck by Mr Micawber’s recipe for happiness myself…

I’m slightly terrified by the realisation that back in 2015 I pledged I would be debt-free by June 2017 … and it’s June in a few days.

I currently have £850 outstanding. That’s going to be a big ask.

But in a way, I’m glad this is proving tough, if for no other reason than it SERVES ME RIGHT. I failed to do a really simple thing for years – live within my means – and yup, I’m reaping the misery Dickens was warning people about back in Eighteen…whenever. (Okay, so I’m not that much of a Dickens geek).

What advice would you give the next generation, given the mistakes you’ve made in the past? Let me know in the comments.

 


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Ice, ice baby

 

borage

If I’m going to get all wholesome in the garden, I like there to be a drink at the end of it.

I’ve already written about how I created a fruit liqueur using cherries from our tree. Now I’ve found a way to brighten up cheap cocktails.

We received some borage seeds as a gift and I’d sort of forgotten we’d planted them until I saw these fantastic bright blue flowers emerging last month.

Young borage leaves are said to taste like cucumber. I can confirm that this is true, but you know what else tastes like cucumber? Cucumber. Plus, cucumber isn’t tough and a wee bit hairy.

But after a bit of online research, I also found out that you can sprinkle the edible flowers on top of cakes or salads or even freeze them to make fancy ice cubes.

So here’s how my latest wholesome kitchen experiment went:

borage plant

borage ice tray

borage ice cubes

borage ice cubes in drink


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A non-grubby way to use affiliate links on Want Less

blossom

I think I’ve come up with a win-win-win.

Bear with me, but I reckon it’s a way that:

  • I can give personal recommendations for any tools I’m using to simplify my life and improve my finances;
  • You can get the unbiased lowdown and decide whether they might work for you;
  • And, as an added bonus, we might even raise some money for a good cause.

I’ve always been strongly of the opinion that this site should not contain advertising. So that’s why you see no banner ads promising ‘one weird trick’ to remove belly fat and no paid guest posts by companies or brands bigging up their wares. I understand why some people do that, but speaking as someone who writes about cutting back, saving money and living with less, well, it didn’t seem right.

This means, effectively, that I’ve been leaving some money on the table.

But what if we can harness some of that money for good?

Now, don’t panic, I’m not going to start plastering the site with click-bait ads. But what I am talking about is starting to use the occasional affiliate link.

Affiliate links work like any other link – they take you through to another website when you click on it. But they’re set up so the referring site can sometimes get a reward of a few pennies, perhaps per click or perhaps when the reader signs up with an account.

Honestly, I’ve been really torn about whether to start using these or not. On the one hand, I love discovering things that make my life simpler or cheaper and sharing my discoveries here. But I would never want my readers to think I was taking advantage of them or didn’t have their best interests at heart. YOU ARE MY PEOPLE!

I would absolutely hate it if people thought I was pushing some product down their throat in order to make a few pence for myself. I mean, ugh.

Affiliate links also don’t make a huge amount of money, so the idea of ‘selling out’ for a couple of quid seemed stupid.

But I’ve been thinking long and hard and … I reckon I’ve devised a non-grubby way of occasionally using affiliate links on the site. Here goes.

My pledges are:

  • All my writing will remain completely unbiased, objective and free from commerical interests;
  • I will continue to give my REAL recommendations for great services I use and get value from, which I think could save you either money, time or stress. Sometimes I may use an affiliate link, sometimes not, but it’ll never influence my writing;
  • Posts with affiliate links will be few and far between and I won’t shy away from raising any potential downsides of the products or services linked to;
  • Affiliate links will always be clearly marked as such;
  • ALL money I make through affiliate links, I will donate to the debt charity StepChange.

Yup, that’s right. Any and all money the site makes in this way will go straight to charity.

I’m finally emerging from a really long and painful battle with debt, but I know so many people have it so much worse than me. I haven’t faced long periods of joblessness, been chased by bailiffs or had my home repossessed. I haven’t had to support children or had to choose between paying off debts or buying essentials like food. Problem debt wrecks homes and families, and StepChange does great work helping those in crisis.

I think this could be a good way to tell you about services I get value from – which I would do anyway – while contributing to a great cause.

For example, I might recommend a book about minimalism, a survey site I’ve been using to make some spare cash or a meditation app.

But I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Seriously, if everyone thinks it’s a dreadful idea, it won’t happen. Simple as that.

Do you think it’s a good plan? Or would it make you trust the site less? Please feel free to leave an honest message below and let’s see where we go.


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Taking on the original capsule wardrobe challenge

What is it about completing a challenge that feels so damn good?

Is it the illusory sense that an uncaring universe is giving you a pat on the head?

Is it the feeling that you’ve somehow got one over on your usually lazy, fickle or easily distracted nature by dazzling it with arbitrary goals?

I’m not sure. All I know is, I seem to love gauntlets being thrown down on me so much, that I’ve taken to chucking them on myself.

The MinsGame challenge? Mastered.
Eat my five-a-day for a straight month? Gobbled.
Go to a meditation class once a month for a straight year? Tackled.

But this month, I realised there was one canonical simplicity challenge I’d overlooked. Goddamn.

Project 333 is so mainstream now, you find it getting a mention in all sorts of places, from documentaries to magazines.

If you don’t know, it’s a challenge invented by Courtney Carver of Be More with Less, which involves wearing just 33 items of clothing for three months.

This includes shoes, accessories and jewellery, but excludes a wedding ring, undercrackers, nightwear and exercise clothing. And no, you’re not allowed to cheat and just wear pyjamas or gym clothes around the house, sadly, which means I will seriously have to rethink my weekend wardrobe.

Perhaps I hadn’t ever bothered with Project 333 before, because I had a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. I don’t have a huge wardrobe and tend to wear the same outfits over and over again already.

At least that’s what I thought. I got out all my clothes and counted up the items I’d have to whittle down to 33. I got to nearly 80 items before I even started on my jewellery collection.

All my clothes
All my clothes…
All my shoes
…and all my shoes. Now for some difficult choices. Heels or wellies?

Then came the tougher-than-expected job of selecting my capsule wardrobe. I had to plan ahead for what I’d need to wear in the next three months.

This will include a foreign holiday somewhere very hot, requiring shorts and sandals I’d be unlikely to wear much at home.

It will also cover a family celebration involving not one but two fairly dressy parties on back-to-back nights. Two dresses, two pairs of fancy shoes, two sets of jewellery…my allocation was going to get eaten up pretty fast at this rate. And I definitely can’t wear pyjamas to work, you say?

In the end, I selected 30 items, and left three slots empty, which I’m calling my ‘wildcard’ slots. It means if my initial choices turn out to be terribly misjudged, I can choose another three items I might find I desperately need as the months go by.

The shoes I opted to include
The shoes I opted to include
The rest of the clothes I chose
The rest of the clothes I chose. As an aside, can you guess which side of the bed the minimalist sleeps on?

That was ten days ago and I seem to have been doing okay (although I’m regretting not including a scruffy pair of shoes to walk the dog in). I’ve also told a couple of non-minimalist friends and family members about the challenge I’d taken on, and they all replied with the same baffled question.

‘Why?’

I guess the honest answer is, I like arbitrary challenges and completing them gives me a sense of control over my life in what appears to be an increasingly chaotic and dangerous world. I can’t intervene in international diplomacy, so instead I can wear the same clothes for quarter of a year and pretend it’s an achievement.

But I thought that answer might be a bit too heavy for a brunch.

‘Just to see if I can,’ I replied.

The rest of my clothes packed away until July
The rest of my clothes packed away until July

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Numbers and the lies we tell ourselves


This is a guest post by LM Radja.


I’ve been drifting along this minimalism path for quite some time now.

I’ve seen, read and listened to some extremists, some middle-of-the-road folks and some folks who just struggle with the process.

As I watch the movement become more mainstream, I wonder where it will take the basic notion of minimalism. Heck, even the advertisers are jumping on the band wagon – whether it’s that bank that wants to help you enjoy your experiences and not just more ‘stuff’ or the retailer closing for the holidays because they know how important personal relationships are.

To me, the underlying message is simple: don’t have more than you need or find real value in.

I think Buddha sums it up best.

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

We are at a fork in the road – minimalism can become an all-inclusive concept that celebrates those who have very little to those who have what, to them, is enough or it can become just another marketing tool and means of comparison to show how much better we are than others.

I have concerns about which path we will go down. Here’s why.

I, like some, can be a minimalist ‘junkie’ reading every post, listening to podcasts, reading books, watching videos and just generally absorbing as much as I can.

My personal journey started slowly back in 2009 when I began reading a book by Elaine St. James, called Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down.

It was serendipitous that I came across it; a friend had given me a bag of books to donate to a nursing home and I looked through them to check for anything I might want to read first.

From there I discovered some of the pioneers of the movement – from Jay Shafer to Courtney Carver to Rowdy Kittens to to Miss Minimalist to The Minimalists.

Soon I was scouring YouTube and the internet for other sources on minimalism. When I began, the concept was still not anywhere near mainstream and information was hard to find. I knew it had hit the general population when multiple hits came up for my searches.

With all the increase in attention came diversity but also came competition.

Who has the least number of things? And how do we count those things? Is the family living off-grid in a tiny house more minimalist than, say, a millennial who is living with less by using the gym’s shower and ‘storing’ clothes at a dry cleaners’? Who’s to say?

There are really no rules. That’s a good AND bad thing. The good is there is no one way to be a minimalist. The bad thing is that the landscape is constantly changing and our human desire to be ‘in’ can have us fruitlessly pursuing whatever is the current minimalist trend.

Here’s what I think: minimalism is a fluid concept and there are thousands of different combinations and angles through which we can reach our personal ‘minimalist’.

If you can live with only 35 actual pieces of clothing but want to equip your kitchen like an Iron Chef because you love to cook, then that is your definition.

I think the real catalyst behind minimalism is knowing when to let go. When whatever it is that is your passion currently no longer inspires you, be willing to move on figuratively AND literally.

Donate, sell, throw it out. Just be sure you are listening to your inner voice and not some YouTuber or advertiser who is telling you what your minimalism should look like.


LM Radja started looking at life differently when she hit 50. She describes the biggest benefit of minimalism as gaining ‘the capacity to stop and appreciate the small joys’. She can be found at Facebook.com/Minimleeblog.

Low-maintenance versus high-maintenance beauty regimes: round two results

Round two productsBeauty products: are they magic potions or huge great cons? My intrepid experiment to find out continues.

As a bit of a recap, I’m a low-maintenance person who prefers a night out in the pub to a day in a spa. But in an effort to declutter my bedside cabinet of all its abandoned products, I’m running a bit of a test.

Each month, I’ll take four products, all meant to be used on different areas of the body, and give them a trial on one side of my body only.

I’ll them monitor the effects, and, crucially, get my other half Ruth to try to guess which side has been getting the treatment.

Any lotions that magically make me a stunningly attractive individual get to stay, while any that do nothing get the boot.

I’ve now finished round two and the results are in.

Clinique cleanserProduct: Clinique Rinse-off Foaming Cleanser
First impressions: All I usually use on my face is water (more through laziness than anything) so this made me feel like I was a more sophisticated person than I actually am. Each day, I cleaned my face with a sort of smug sense that I had my shit together.
Results: Straight afterwards, my skin felt a little tight. I also started noticing dry patches on my face for the first time in a while. To be honest, I couldn’t see any real difference in cleanliness.
Did Ruth guess right?: Yes. She pointed to the right side of my face and said, ‘That one. Because you had a spot on the other side.’ How lovely.
The winner: A draw. It’s a small bottle so I’ll soon use it up and while I might not buy a direct replacement, I might consider another cleanser. Or I could go back to being a mildly self-loathing slob.

Veet creamProduct: Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream
First impressions: Do you like the smell of burnt hair? Do you enjoy reading faintly alarming WARNINGS about side-effects in random CAPITAL LETTERS on your products? Are you a man, woman or non-binary person who needs to get rid of a lot of hair very fast, for some reason? Are you unable to use sharp objects because you’re, say, in prison? Then this may be for you!
Results: It was pretty quick and fairly effective, but had the down-sides you’d also experience with shaving: stubble, dry skin, and so on. It says I can’t use it on moles, which is, like, half my skin.
Did Ruth guess right?: Well, yes. She said, ‘Is it the leg which looks really red and irritated?’ Although, to be fair, you have to exfoliate the cream off after you use it, so the exfoliation might have contributed to the ‘red and angry’ look (a much sought-after skin shade, I’m sure you’ll agree).
The winner: A draw. I’ll likely stick with shaving and waxing most of the time.

Frizz-EaseProduct: Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Crème
First impressions: So, for background, my hair can be a little frizzy sometimes. I’ve had this bottle for a while after trying it briefly and giving up on it. It’s a runny, white substance you rub on your hair while it’s still damp, and says it protects against the heat of straighteners, which I fry my hair with religiously. It’s easy to use and you don’t need much of it.
Results: I found it made my hair feel less flyaway than usual, but also less soft. It needed washing sooner.
Did Ruth guess right?: Just as I did last month, I drew the line at using a hair product on one side only. Sorry, science!
The winner: Low-maintenance. I can see it could come in handy sometimes, but I won’t be using it often.

Clarins eye gelProduct: Clarins Eye Contour Gel
First impressions: This was a very refreshing gel to use round my eyes, especially when I woke up hungover or tired (i.e. pretty much all the time). It absorbed quickly and didn’t sting. The bottle was teeny tiny.
Results: Although it felt nice to use, I could see no real difference to my eye area at all.
Did Ruth guess right?: She said both eyes looked identical.
The winner: Low-maintenance. In fact, the bottle was so small, I promptly lost it. Decluttering result!

Overall winner: By a whisker, Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream (although I’m still not overly keen)

I do still have enough lotions and potions to do a few more rounds of this experiment, but I’ve decided to give it a rest for a bit, mainly because this isn’t the bloomin’ Avon blog, and I want this to be more than a product review site. I could always revisit the testing later in the year.

I’d also like to stress that while I may remain a low-maintenance person, I’m not saying this is a superior way to live.

Everyone will be different. If beauty products are your thing, then go crazy with them. Who am I to judge if a face-pack helps you unwind after a long day?

But it might be worth checking you’re using them because you get something out of the process, and they’re not just another chore you’ve taken on because of other people’s beauty standards or gender expectations.

If money is an issue, you might want to question whether expensive cosmetics are really giving you results, or whether you could you experiment with a cheaper alternative.

And if you’re worried about your impact on the planet, could you research greener alternatives or use up the products you already own before going out and buying new ones?


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Card-tastrophe

credit cards“Oh, for f***’s sake,” I snapped to myself at the cashpoint.

In the process of getting money out, I had somehow tipped up my purse and let all my bank cards scatter over the city-centre street.

When I bent to pick them up, more cards fell out. Then the umbrella handle I was precariously balancing under one arm came tumbling down, dumping some fresh rainwater over the problem.

Luckily, the two people next in line, an older lady and a younger woman in a headscarf, seemed amused by my potty-mouthed predicament and helped me scoop all my cards off the floor.

I thanked them and crept away in a state of vague embarrassment at not quite having this ‘being an adult’ thing down-pat yet at 34.

But I also had to wonder, why on earth did I have so many cards?

All in all, there were 20 bits of plastic in my wallet: four debit cards (including one for a recently-closed account), four credit cards, a few membership cards and a whole host of store loyalty cards.

Call myself a minimalist?

I can see how I got here. In my quest to battle my long-standing debts and get my money in order, I’ve tried just about every scheme going. I’ve opened balance-transfer credit card after balance-transfer credit card – moving my debts along like Sonic the Hedgehog jumping across collapsing platforms – all to avoid high interest payments.

I’ve opted into just about every store loyalty scheme going, even ones where I barely go into the shops concerned and will probably never amass enough points for a reward, in the hope it might just save me some cash, somehow.

And thanks to my habit of chasing new-customer bonuses, I’ve also found myself with far more bank accounts than is sensible or healthy. (I recently got a letter from a bank telling me they’re closing my account due to inactivity. I’d forgotten about the account completely).

But I’m thankfully moving into a different stage of my life. I’m finally going to be the person who has their shit together when it comes to money, and I’ve decided I need a wallet to match.

So I’ve embarked on the great financial declutter. When I got home, I tackled my cards straight away, cutting up some, closing down the accounts on others, relegating still more to a drawer so I don’t have to carry them every day.

I’m not there yet, but here are the six cards I would have in my fantasy, pared-down purse:

One credit card
Two debit cards – one personal and one joint account
Driver’s licence and breakdown card
Professional accreditation card

How many cards do you carry on a daily basis? Are there any unusual ones you couldn’t live without?


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Low-maintenance versus high-maintenance beauty regimes: Round one results

Are beauty products worth the time, money and space they consume?

That’s the puzzle I’ve been trying to work out over the past month, while also doing a spot of decluttering.

As I explained in an earlier introductory post, I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to products, preferring my trusty bar soap and fresh water over face peels, body butters and hairsprays. In our household, any white goop in bottles gets the derisory nickname ‘elbow salad’* and often remains untouched.

But have I been missing out all along?

I’ve taken four random products from a stash of abandoned bottles and tubs in my bedside cabinet and put them to the test.

For the past four weeks, I’ve been applying them to only one side of my body to see whether there are any noticeable effects.

I’ve also asked my other half, Ruth, to guess which side has been getting treatment, and the results are in!

Rituals body creamProduct: Rituals Magic Touch Body Cream (Organic Rice Milk and Cherry Blossom)
First impressions: This smelled nice – kind of floral and creamy, which I guess makes sense given its title. It wasn’t watery or greasy when used.
Results: Applying this each day took a fair bit of time, but I could see absolutely no discernible results, to be frank.
Did Ruth guess right?: She had no clue which side of my body had been moisturised and which hadn’t.
The winner: Low-maintenance. The bottle is used up and in the recycling (hooray!) and I won’t be rushing out for a replacement.

no 7 protect and perfect advance serumProduct: No. 7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Serum
First impressions: This was the serum getting middle-aged women in a hot mess a couple of years back when the stuff was actually proven to work on wrinkles, unlike pretty much all other anti-ageing products. There were queues at the shops and all sorts of silliness like that, so I had high expectations.
Results: This was fairly easy to apply, although I quickly learnt not to use it too near my eyes (the stinging!!) I read an online review which compared the consistency to semen, which is gross but fairly accurate. After less than a week, the fine lines on one half of my face were actually less pronounced. F*** me!
Did Ruth guess right?: Yup, she did, after what I’m sure was a stunningly attractive display from me as I wrinkled up my forehead repeatedly so she could judge.
The winner: High-maintenance. About half of the bottle remains, and I’m honestly thinking about replacing it once that runs out. I’m using the one for under-35s, but they also have another version for over 35’s, as I keep telling Ruth with glee (she’s just turned 35 and is pretty sore about it, hee hee).

Seacret cuticle oilProduct: Seacret Cuticle Oil
First impressions: Ugh, I mean, how important are cuticles really? I struggle to get excited about a product like this. It’s made of lots of seed oils (almond, grape, jojoba, sesame) which sounds kinda nice, and is fairly quick and easy to use.
Results: To my slight disappointment, this did make my fingernail area look a bit better. Less dry and cracked skin. It also had an effect on my bedside table, leaving delightful little oil rings behind where I had set down the bottle.
Did Ruth guess right: Uh-huh. Damn.
The winner: A draw. I think I’ll keep this bottle but wouldn’t buy it again (I’m still struggling to get excited)

Philip Kingsley elasticizerProduct: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer
First impressions: Hair elasticizer? This sounds very silly indeed. I imagine my hair starting to behave like Stretch Armstrong’s arms. So, let’s give it a go. Massage into wet hair before shampooing…wait for 20 minutes…OK, that’s four minutes….da da da da da…oh, that bit of the bathroom needs cleaning….six minutes….bored now…seven minutes….oh my good god, 20 minutes is a lifetime.
Results: Absolutely f*** all. Fabulous.
Did Ruth guess right?: So, full disclosure, I didn’t just treat one side of my hair, fearing I would look like a madwoman if it did anything dramatic. There was no ‘Ruth test’.
The winner: Low-maintenance. Bottle empty and binned.

Overall winner: No. 7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Serum

Round two:

Undergoing the test next will be four more products from the deep, dark bedside cabinet.

Round two productsFor the face: Clinique Rinse-off Foaming Cleanser

For the body: Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream

For the hair: Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Crème

For the eyes: Clarins Eye Contour Gel

*I think this is a term stolen from Eddie Izzard in a nod to the fact that you can pair a part of the body with a foodstuff to come up with a beauty product (face cream, body butter, cuticle oil…) Feel free to come up with your own and post them in the comments section, the more surreal the better.


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Not all pounds are equal: my net worth update

Hello, dear friends. It’s my favourite time of year. Yes, snowdrop time (they’re so pretty!) …but also net worth calculation day, hurrah!

Wait…don’t click away just yet! I promise not to bore you.

But if you really hate numbers, you have my permission to skip this post and instead check out a guest post on decluttering I wrote for the lovely Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist recently. There is only one fraction mentioned in the whole thing. Bonus points for finding it.

Anyway, onwards.

First a quick recap: I am flat broke, and my struggles with debt led me off down this odd path of a) trying to buy less and b) trying to get my head around personal finance (gah).

For most of my adult life, I owed more than I owned, meaning I had a negative net worth. I was worth less than nothing. (Financially, anyhow.)

That all changed in February 2015, when I recorded my first ever positive net worth: £5,600*. Small, maybe, but huge to me.

Twelve months later, it had more than doubled, which was pretty awesome. Last February, I wrote about this, also noticing how I had gone from a net worth of -£12,139 in 2010 to +£12,139 in 2016. I know, same number but positive. Weird huh?!

Now it’s February again, and time for another update.

If you’ve never worked out your net worth before, it’s dead easy.

Here’s how I do mine:

Assets

Equity in home: £16,790
Car: £1,000
Pension pots: £20,997
Savings: £0 (yeah…I know)

Liabilities

Credit card debt: £2,300
Student loan: £6,628

Add up the assets, subtract the liabilities and bingo, I’ve got my net worth.

So, time for the big reveal:

Last year’s net worth: £12,139
This year’s net worth…drumroll…: £29,859
Net worth chart
Showing off my curve

My first thought was: Wait, WHAT? I’ve doubled my net worth again? If I carry on at this rate I will soon be a gazillionaire and I can buy an island and drink mojitos all day and all night for ever and ever and ever…

…hang on. This is just because my net worth was so cack in the first place. It’s easier to turn £2 into £4 than £2m into £4m…isn’t it? I mean, I don’t know…maybe?

So what has been driving this big jump in my net worth? And will it happen every year, meaning I will in fact very soon be a gazillionaire?

Long story short, no. It seems my house was worth more than I’d thought and a revaluation has boosted my number this year by a pretty decent amount.

My current fixed-rate mortgage deal ends in a couple of months, and about a month ago, I called my mortgage provider to see if I could arrange a new deal.

As we were having a chat, he asked me if I wanted to get my home revalued.

“You haven’t had your home valued since you bought it seven years ago,” he said.

Mr Mortgage Man said there were two options: call a valuer out to the house, for a fee, or a free option which seemingly involved asking a computer program to come up with a random number.

“The free one, please!” I replied, and he tapped away for a bit before Bertha the Lovely Machine spat out a figure.

The number was 20 per cent higher than we bought our house for – HOLY MOLY!

Now, let’s just say I was a little sceptical about this figure, so I also got a second and third opinion from two sites – Property Price Advice and Zoopla – which offer free online valuations.

I’ve averaged out all three to come up with my current number, which is a little lower but still pretty good.

Of course, it’s still a massive assumption. The valuation really doesn’t mean anything at all – it’s the price it sells for that would ever really matter.

But in the end, I’ve had to get over myself, call it a good enough guess for now and throw it into the pot. Although I can see why people leave their house out of the equation when they tot up their assets.

And here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt: not all pounds are equal.

Sounds wrong, I know, but bear with me.

A quid locked in the value of my home is not the same as a quid in my bank account. I can’t go and spend it on gin. In my case, all of my net worth is either locked away for my retirement, or locked away in my house or car.

So while the number may look healthy, my finances are anything but. I’m still in consumer debt and my emergency fund is at zero. ZERO.

I have a long way to go.

* By the way, non-UK readers, if you’re wondering how much a British pound is worth, the answer is f*** all. Thanks, Brexit.


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Embrace the elements of simplicity that work for you

A jetty on a lake

Once you start to see the benefits of minimalism, you may start to wonder how many aspects of your life you can simplify.

It doesn’t have to just be about your physical possessions, after all. A lot of people find value in being intentional about countless other aspects of their lives.

You might decide to clean up your diet, simplify your finances, cut your screen time or even ditch draining relationships.

This self-improvement stuff can be goddamn addictive, I’m telling you. Who knows where it might all lead you?!

But in all seriousness, as a word of caution, don’t worry too much if one route or another doesn’t feel like a good fit for you.

So you’ve downsized your home but still love your big social circle? Great, keep your schedule packed with parties!

You’ve cut down on exhausting trips abroad but get a real kick out of Instagram? Fine, don’t ditch your smart phone!

You’ll know in your heart what fires you up and what weighs you down.

Minimalism isn’t a ‘collect them all’ set of achievements. Make it work for you, or it’ll just seem like more work for you.

There are many routes to simplicity and there will be one out there which is just right for you. If you don’t know which route to take, just try to picture what you want to make room in your life for, and that should help to guide you.


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to check out Claire’s other site, Simplicity Voices.