8 Tips for Appreciating What You Have

by J. Money - Published April 12, 2017

coffee plant

Hey guys!

I just finished reading a killer article on appreciating what you have over at ExperienceLife.com ( pretty cool site/magazine btw, never heard of before?) and littered throughout it were handfuls of great tips to help you become better at life.

If you read minimalism blogs you may have heard some of these before, but I thought we’d highlight a bunch of them here in case they spark some good brain power.

Let me know if you’ve tried any!

#1. “Pack all of one kind of clothing item in a box — sweaters, shoes, etc. — and for the next month, take out only what you need. After 30 days, consider donating what’s left over.”

Beautiful. I’ve never tried this one on purpose (only in between moves), but from my limited experience it definitely helps sort your “loves” from your “mehs” :) And how awesome would it be to actually love ALL the clothes you put on vs only a % of them?

#2. “Put a week’s worth of clothes in a suitcase, as if you’re going on a trip. Then wear only what you’ve packed for those seven days. See how it feels to work with a smaller wardrobe.”

YES!! And you also find that you don’t even wear all the items you’ve packed either, at least if you’re an overpacker like me :) I swear I never wear 30% of the stuff I bring, yet I continue to pack them up every dang time… Still, there’s always that “freeing” feeling that anything you need for the next X days is right there in your suitcase for you. Which also helps you get dressed faster too! Less options = more speed.

(On an un-related note, I’ve started combining different parts of my clothes into “themes” in my closet, which has made quite the difference every time I get dressed  now. Instead of separating out all my t-shirts and socks and boxers in their respective areas, I now clump them up into two different sections – the clothes I need for the morning, and the clothes I need at night.

For example, in the mornings I need socks, t-shirts, and jeans, so I put them all together in one spot making it easier to grab and match up. Then in the evenings, when I take a shower and need to get my pjs on, I head straight for the “night section” which now includes the other piles of shirts and pants and socks (different from those above), as well as the new home for all my boxers.

So basically any time I need to get dressed now, I just head straight to the respective section and avoid having to sort through double the clothes to find what I’m looking for. It’s not life-changing stuff, but I gotta say – it’s certainly making my mornings and evenings more pleasant! Who knew mashing things up would actually be better for efficiency? :))

#3. “Make nonspending into a game. How many days can you go without buying clothes, nonessential trinkets, or little “rewards” for yourself? When you do buy something, start over the next day and see if you can beat your record.”

Agree 100%!! This has been one of the BEST things I’ve done for my money by far since paying attention to it all (the other being tracking my net worth every month). I lasted 40 days in a row the first time I tried this, and it completely shifted my mindset going forward as well as my wallet. I’ve since cut out 90% of my mindless shopping, and probably save about $200 a month now. I’ve never tried to beat the 40 day record, but maybe that’s the next challenge? :)

#4. “After your next grocery trip, see how long you can go without buying food again. You’ll be surprised how creative you can be with leftovers. Plus, it trains you to use what you have and reduce food waste.”

This one’s the scariest of them all, haha… Perhaps I’m too picky or just a big ol’ wuss (or both?) but my lack of culinary skills and desire here would fail me pretty big. There would literally need to be a cash prize or trophy or something at the end to push me to want to try this as I’d probably end up eating the leftover baby food if put to the test, haha… Though I hear it’s pretty tasty?

#5. “Before you walk into a store, make a list, or stop and ask yourself exactly what you’re going to buy. Then make a beeline for those items and head to the cashier.”

If only!!! Target would go out of business! ;) But yes – hell of a good habit to get into if you can pull it off. (Maybe a better challenge is to just pick out *3* extra items anytime you ever go anywhere?). I will say this though – going shopping while hungry and going shopping while not are two compleeeeeeetely different experiences. Don’t dare set foot in a grocery store before you’ve eaten!

#6. “Look around one room in your home. If you were to suffer a natural disaster and lose everything you see, what would you miss? Would you feel relieved if certain items were lost?”

I TALK ABOUT THIS ALL THE TIME!! Such a great – and fast – way to put things in perspective. My wife and kids might say differently, but outside my coin collection I personally wouldn’t miss much (though it would be rather annoying having to replace all the stuff you do need!). We posted about this the other year and it was pretty interesting to see peoples’ responses… Let me see if I can find it real quick..

Ahh, here we go! “It’s Your Own Fault You Own Expensive Stuff” It’s actually a bit different now that I read it again, haha, but still along the same lines of seeing how you’d react in a situation where your stuff gets taken away…  Good mental exercise to go through for sure.

#7. “Whatever object you see first when you glance away from reading this, keep looking at it for 30 seconds. Try to view it as if you’ve never seen it before. Notice the detail, the color, the shape. This meditation technique trains your brain to focus on one thing at a time — and appreciate what you’re seeing.”

*Goes to stare as his coffee cup*

*Sees how pretty all the leaves are on it and the neat little mermaid logo staring back at me*

*Now getting thirstier and thirstier and just want to dump it all down my throat!!*

*10 more seconds to go in this experiment, ack…..*

*Ahhh, that’s the good stuff…. *gulp gulp gulp* … Thanks for keeping my cocaine caffeine warm coffee cup!*

#8. “Track the moments of your day in a journal: what you eat, read, work on, drink, even daydream about. Just jot down a couple of short sentences about each. Then read them a few days later. You might be surprised to find how many moments you don’t recall because you were operating on autopilot.”

Totally. I used to do this every morning during the first year of the Benjamin Franklin Experiment and loved flipping back through the pages to remember what transpired just a few days before. It really is amazing how many of the details you forget. Probably good for the bad parts, but not so much for the joys in life! Haha…

It can also do wonders for your finances too, btw – if you swap out “moments” with “expenses”. Check out our friend Cait’s Mindful Budgeting Planner which is great for this type of tracking!

mindful budgeting 2017 daily sheets

There you have it… More experiments to try whenever you’re in the spirit :)

Check out the full article on these tips here: “The Art of Enough“. It really is a great read, especially if you’re new to the more minimal lifestyle idea.

And let us know if you end up trying any of these, or have already! You never know what’ll turn into a habit over the years, so always good to test things out and see what happens.

See ya back on Friday.

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole April 12, 2017 at 6:38 am

I am definitely going to try #7 and #8. Everyday I find myself just trying to get things done that I wonder what am I missing out on and not appreciating. Thanks for the good read!

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2 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 7:00 am

I think they’ll both help :)

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3 Elle April 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

I might try the suitcase one. I think it’s time for another round of simplifying.

When we moved into this house last year I only unpacked a small portion of our clothes and toys for the kids. If someone noticed and really needed something we’d get it from the basement. We ended up with several boxes that we didn’t need and use so we donated them.

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4 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 7:02 am

Awesome! It’s amazing at how much stuff we accumulate over the years… I swear I go through my (very tiny) wardrobe every few months and still find things to get rid of. Either I’m getting pickier over the years, or bored faster haha… Either way, I very much like having less over more :)

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5 Dave @ Run The Money April 12, 2017 at 7:04 am

My wife would love to hold me to #1 and #2. She’s always complaining about my college and running t-shirts. I have to watch her like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t throw stuff away. But, maybe I need to consider this. After all, my drawers are filled with shirts that I don’t even consider wearing, but are “memory” items. Maybe I need to man up and throw them out or donate them (if in good condition).

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6 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:27 am

Make sure to display them in front of your wife too so she sees you getting rid of them all ;) Maybe she’ll give you less of a hard time for the few you end up keeping too?

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7 BrokeAsB April 12, 2017 at 7:08 am

#2 is a great tip! I try and operate with a small wardrobe which can be difficult because I work in corporate America. I find that having key basics in neutral colors makes it really easy to rotate pieces together and you can get away with much less. Great post!

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8 Jacq April 12, 2017 at 7:15 am

There was a fire in my apartment building in 2013, and I had water damage, so I’ve been through the disaster scenario. When they first let us in the things I took were a painting my sister made for me, a craft my mom and I did together, and for practical reasons clothes.
A lot of items made it out ok, and you’d be amazed at what is replaceable.
That experience plus helping mom sort through stuff to downsize when she moved, started me on the oath of minimal spending. Most of my purchases are items I have thought about for a while. When my dad visited last summer we mentioned something he could get me for Christmas and then I forgot. I must not have wanted it that badly. A necklace my sister gave me had an uncomfortable chain. Considering I wear it at least once a week, thinking of getting a new chain for a month, I think it was a worth while purchase.
Instead of a box, I put shirts in a closet in a different room. I have gone in for a few of them so far. Some I don’t miss and will be donating. :)
Thanks for the tips!

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9 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:29 am

Oh man, glad you made it out okay w/ the fire/water stuff! Both physically and better mentally it looks like :)

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10 Band of Savers April 12, 2017 at 7:25 am

Have to brag about my wife here cause she is awesome at #4 on this list. We try to go to the store no more than once a week and only spend about $45 per week for our family of 4. Often this means that by the end of the week the fridge and pantry is getting pretty low. I can look for something to eat and swear that there’s nothing to make a meal out of then she goes into the kitchen and comes out with a full meal that makes it look like we had access to everything she needed. It’s taken me a while but I’ve come to realize that knowing what ingredients can substitute for other ingredients is one of her keys.

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11 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:29 am

I want one of her!!! :)

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12 dave April 12, 2017 at 7:40 am

Great list. I always have fun with #3. Trying to make not spending is fun when you make a game out of it.

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13 PaulM April 12, 2017 at 7:48 am

I can relate to #5. Can’t tell you how many times I go to a store, grocery or a Target, and say to myself I don’t need a cart because I’m just picking up a few essentials. Of course, when I get to the cashier my arms are full and items are dropping to the floor. I like the idea of limiting myself to 2 or 3 impulse items and will try that next time.

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14 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:30 am

Yeah, much easier doing it in baby steps :) Maybe start with three and then over time go down to two and then one and then none!

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15 My Sons Father April 12, 2017 at 7:52 am

I like your take on #2, keeping your clothes in “themes” just makes more sense. I’m going to give that a shot!

I started doing “appreciation time” with my kids each morning before school. We all sit down and say something we’re appreciative of that day. It’s been a great exercise. I’d highly recommend it to any parents (or anyone for that matter)!

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16 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:31 am

That’s cute :) how old are you kids?

(And let me know how the themes go! It sounds a bit strange but it’s been a refreshing tweak!)

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17 FullTimeFinance April 12, 2017 at 8:12 am

We’re quickly approaching the stage where we need another clothes purge. I may have to appropriate items 1 and 2. It’s amazing how quickly you can go from minimalized to too much if you take your eyes off the ball, for example with clothes like me. I had to buy new stuff due to some clothes wearing out. But did I purge old stuff? No I repurposed some and the rest sits. To Goodwill we go.

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18 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

Haha yup!

I like the “one in, one out” rule too a lot of the minimalist bloggers write about. It’s had to remember, but if you can get into a good habit of it there’s no way to keep getting more because you’re constantly shedding as you bring things home!

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19 Brian April 12, 2017 at 8:31 am

I think #8 would be super valuable. I’m always looking to eliminated non-important things and also remember and appreciate those little things during the day that we often forget.

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20 Primal Prosperity April 12, 2017 at 9:14 am

Ahhhhh…. music to my ears…. I LOVE minimalism. That is the ultimate freedom to me. I did all the little minimalism games for a few years, but I fell into major minimalism from a trip I took the year I turned 40. I took a three week solo backpack trip to Australia (staying in hostels, not campgrounds) and all I had was a small backpack, the size of a college book bag. Most of the other backpackers around me had the big framed backpacks and even additional bags, so I was pretty minimal compared to them. It took me a couple of weeks before the trip to decide exactly how to pack it, layer myself, multi-purpose, prepare for varied weather, what clothes can be washed in sinks and dry easily, etc….. It taught me sooooo much about living and packing intentionally. I also felt better on that trip, physically and mentally, than I think I ever had in my life…. with SO little stuff. That is when I realized that I don’t need a lot of things to keep me happy. Just the basics to stay warm, clean and safe. In fact, I realized that ‘stuff’ makes me less happy, and that I thrive on experiences. So, we did an out of state move a couple of months after that trip and I purged BIG time. Feels great!

I recently read a book called “No Baggage”, which is a true story of a couple that traveled and couchsurfed around eastern Europe with literally no baggage. Fascinating story. The guy actually lived in a dumpster for a year as an experiment on minimalism…. just google “Professor Dumpster”. You might even be able to get a cool guest post from one of them. :) So, for my next trip, I’m going to pare down what I take substantially and see how small of a bag I can get down to. :)

I also have to say that clutter is not just physical stuff, but the non-tangibles. Another great bi-product of solo travel is that you have time to clear your head. You are fully immersed in the experience without the need to talk all the time. You don’t have to have an itinerary and figure out how to plan so that everyone is accommodated… you just go and be and wander and explore and think. It is wonderful and I highly recommend that everyone give it a try. If you like being social, you will also meet a ton of people as a solo traveler. :)

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21 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:38 am

Ahhhh that feel soooo SOOOO good!!! Not sure about the dumpster guy, haha, but man – impressive on that long of travel with just a backpack like that – well done! I take a suitcase with me just for a weekend home at my parents’! :) I know it’s a cop out, but once my kids get older I’m hoping we can go back to traveling more and carrying less with us. I just don’t know how people do it with little kids in tow – requires such patience and energy! But man do I love that freeing feeling traveling around… Exactly why I worked at the airlines for a year – so I can travel anywhere in the world for pennies. Was awesome :) (I once flew to London for the weekend, and then to the Mall of America one day just to go shopping and came back a few hours later haha…. so many good perks working there!)

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22 Apathy Ends April 12, 2017 at 9:17 am

I am with ya on #2 J, getting my clothes organized before the work week starts on Sundays has been a game changer for my mornings. Trying to find socks at 5:50 AM is a battle I no longer fight.

#4 is something we need to work on, throwing food out is depressing

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23 Felicia April 12, 2017 at 9:41 am

Great article!  I use the ‘odd days off’ rule myself (no spending on odd days of the month) and it has made a big difference, not just on my budget, but on the way I view money.  I was surprised at how often I *needed* to run to the store for something, when I was really just bored. I will have to see how many days I can go in a row now!

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24 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

Ooooh that’s good!!!! And I bet on the days that you’re REALLY wanting something too but can’t buy, the desire goes down a bit while you’re waiting for the next day to hit? If you even *remember* what it was that you wanted earlier?

Really really good idea – I’m saving it for a future roundup of tips, thanks :)

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25 Mr Crazy Kicks April 12, 2017 at 9:47 am

I did go the last year without buying anything but 1 t-shirt and 2 pairs of underwear. It’s crazy the amount of “backup” clothes I used to buy and still had to go through.

We’ve been working on our travel packing. Went from always checking a bag to managing with just carry on. Still trying to whittle it down a bit. At least we are getting in a lot of practice these days :)

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26 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:17 am

I’m glad the underwear ranked high up there ;)

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27 Chris April 12, 2017 at 9:54 am

Awesome! I have a picture right above my computer of our family of four with the three San Francisco Giants World Series trophies, taken in Spring 2015. The picture is literally two inches above my monitor, yet I never really “see” it. Thanks for helping me to appreciate this picture once again (and all the other “cool” things I’ve hung in my office)!

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28 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:17 am

HEY!! VERY COOL!!

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29 Mrs. Picky Pincher April 12, 2017 at 10:49 am

These are great ideas! My parents did something similar when I was a kid. They’d pack up some of my toys in the attic and swap them out every month or so. It always felt like I had “new” toys when I was actually just appreciating things I already have.

Nowadays it’s a lot easier to appreciate what I have since that means buying less crap. ;)

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30 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:27 pm

SMART!!!

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31 Deanna April 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I’m in the military, and since it’s just myself and my husband, when we found out we were moving to Hawai’i and how high the cost of living was, we started adopting a lot of these ideas since we knew we 1) were going to squeeze ourself into a shoebox instead of live in base housing because 2) we wanted money leftover to island-hop or afford trips back to the mainland to visit family.

I actually tried wardrobe ideas #1 and #2 when we first arrived, but I found that I needed a little more variety than that! Still, I rarely buy clothes, so my husband doesn’t mind if I spend a little extra when I do, because once I get something, I wear it for years until it’s falling apart. And my other rule is that if I buy something, it’s because something else needs to go. I also ALWAYS do #5 – more because I’ll probably forget something – but it gets me in and out of Target superfast. As for the others, I’ll be interested to try them!

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32 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Very cool! My dad was stationed in Kaneohe years ago and I lived there for two years as a kid. So much fun!! My mother would take us to the beach almost every day after school :)

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33 caren April 12, 2017 at 1:18 pm

I am going through a massive purge right now, and clothes are HUGE on my list of things that will get paired down, but I’d probably be too lazy to do the suitcase experiment.

Funny, the thing that I’m struggling with the most right now is cosmetics and hair products. OMG, I think I own 46 bottles of dry shampoo. I honestly have no idea how that happened.

Outta control.

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34 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm

I used to have the same but with almost-empty hairspray bottles :) Never know when you’re gonna need one in an emergency! haha…. (PS: You rarely have one and thus, all 40+ bottles I finally just used up and then ditched)

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35 Paul April 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

I’m less minimalist and more pragmatist. Which admittedly appears to have some crossover. Reducing for the sake of reduction can also have an adverse effect, much like over-consumption. I think the real test is determining if something will actually make your life better in a meaningful way. I also recognize that determining what is meaningful is highly subjective, i.e. up to the individual.

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36 Tawcan April 12, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Love this list. Try packing 16 days worth of clothes on a carry-on bag. I had did that for a recent trip to Asia and totally made me more appreciative of what I have.

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37 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I bet!

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38 Colin @ rebelwithaplan April 12, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I’ve been doing #8 for awhile now. It’s so interesting to go back and read! I used to be very lengthy about writing things out but now I do only a few sentences. It’s still very effective at increasing awareness.

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39 Miss Mazuma April 13, 2017 at 7:09 am

Love this!!

With my job, living out of a suitcase is the norm but after about 10 year I realized I didn’t use half of what I always brought with me. In the past 5 years, when flying, I have taken to living out of a back pack. The other girls are amazed that I can fit all I need for a 3 day trip in my small IKEA backpack…to the point they make me unpack it like a circus act! I just realized that I thrive with less. I have carried that over to my non work life and rotate a few tops and 2 pairs of black skinny jeans…lovingly referred to as my “uniform”. This year I donated a bunch of clothes and the rest sits waiting to be rotated in when one of the other pieces is destroyed. And to keep my uniform looking fresh, this weekend I will be redying my black (grey now) jeans black! Fingers crossed it works!!

As for the food, I started a no waste policy a few years ago when I started tracking my spending. What a game changer!! I used to throw away so much food when I came home from trips because it would be old or rotted by the time I got around to using it. Now I buy only for the days I am home and make sure all perishables are used before I leave. I have saved a ton of money but also a ton of food. I feel so much better without all the extra waste and I shop more mindfully. Win win! :)

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40 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Were you able to pull off the dying okay?? :)

You’ll like this article on the “uniform” idea you just mentioned:

https://www.washingtonian.com/2017/03/30/what-its-really-like-to-wear-a-style-uniform-every-day-renata-briggman/

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41 The Tepid Tamale April 13, 2017 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the post! There is definitely a rush to opening/getting something new. Shiny things are so attractive, I must have them! The problem is, they bring a spike of good feelings but no long term joy. That euphoria we fell is a strong natural pull! So thanks for this post. I think it’s time for me to challenge myself with #3.

– The Tepid Tamale

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42 Peter April 13, 2017 at 11:25 am

You know. It’s true. A lot of times I take for granted what I have, though lately I’m trying to be much more appreciative of everything. I’d say some of these tips are more about reducing the stuff that you have and the money you spend, rather than tips or exercises on how to be more appreciative. Regardless, I’d say the end result is the same. Making sure you understand the value of what you have. Great article!

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43 David Chen April 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Great post! Being able to appreciate the things you have is a trait that not many people have. I do my best at trying to follow a few of your points, but I will definitely try out using a journal to track my days. Hopefully others will begin to appreciate what they have a bit more after reading this.

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44 Michelle Schroeder-Gardner April 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Great article!

I really like this one: #6. “Look around one room in your home. If you were to suffer a natural disaster and lose everything you see, what would you miss? Would you feel relieved if certain items were lost?”

There are not many things I would miss. Thankfully we live in an RV so I pretty much know every single item that I have! :)

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45 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm

I know!! You’re so good at this in your life right now – I admire you for that :)

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46 Brittany @ Tiny Ambitions April 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm

What an awesome post! #1 in particular is interesting to me. I’m sure if I did it, I would end up with a huge pile to donate – which would be great! Now to muster the courage to actually do it!

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47 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm

I will give you $5.00 if you do it :)

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48 Master Duke April 15, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Love #8. I’ve been doing the five minute journal for a few months now and really enjoy the small moments it gives me to reflect each day.

Our blog designer has a great write up on how save 20 dollars by using OneNote instead: https://kalebmckelvey.xyz/journey_to_achieve/five-minute-journal/

Check it out for a frugal way to appreciate the little things in your life. I find that those interested in personal finance really love the mindset, because we all want the freedom of time to do it more as obtain our goals!

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49 J. Money April 17, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Cool – thanks for sharing!

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50 Adriana @MoneyJourney April 18, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I can most definitely pack a suitcase with clothes for a few days only (I do it each time I travel. And I travel a lot!).
I can also manage to combine them and create lovely outfits I could wear all the time. However…when it comes to donating my other clothes, it’s like parting ways with an old friend forever!

But the big but here is, I can also go months without buying clothes. In fact, I usually do. So, there’s numbers 1, 2 and 3 right there :)

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51 J. Money April 23, 2017 at 2:57 pm

:)

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52 Young and Finance May 3, 2017 at 4:40 pm

#4 is definitely the best way to save money. Eating out can add up. Just do an analysis on all of your credit cards and debit cards and most people would be surprised as to how much went to the category “Restaurants”

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