Home sweet home is a familiar expression, but home can also be a place that you are trying to escape from depending on your circumstances.
At one stage home felt to me like a place where I cannot find rest and where there is no time for relaxing. Let alone getting some exercise or going away on vacation.
Cleaning, cooking and gardening is what was at the order of the day and everything just seemed to feel like a chore.
This was until I decided to make a mind shift and truly make my home a place of peace, harmony and joy.
Is it really that simple? Does the work around the home just disappear?
No, the work is still there and you still have to do it but you have to make those chores enjoyable and stress less because keeping calm increases your productivity immensely as well as when you enjoy doing what you are doing.
So how does one exactly go about getting this “joy” doing chores around the house?
It all starts with making a budget!
How To Love Your Home- Step One
Instead of money giving you worries and avoiding a budget because the situation looks dire; a budget should ultimately give you peace of mind.
Why A Budget Is Important
It is important to know what you can spend and what is going on in your finances.
The goal here is also to save you some time and time is the most valuable currency there is because you cannot really buy time. Once time is spent it is gone forever and you cannot buy it back.
So, what does time have to do with your budget?
It has got everything to do with it, but we’ll touch on this a little bit later.
It is important that you do not live above your means and in simple terms it means that you shouldn’t spend more than you earn.
This may be difficult for many, but you do not necessarily have to earn a lot to live comfortably.
The basics are important first and foremost and here they are:
- A roof over your head
- Food to eat
- Clothes to wear
Let us have a look at making a budget so we can love our home again! 😊
Making A Budget
Now this can be a topic on its own, but I will quickly highlight the key points that should be considered to get to the goal of guilt free spending.
Looking at your basic needs, set aside money for your bond or rent, your food bill for the week or month or however frequently you are getting paid, your transportation costs and if need be; money for clothes.
A roof over your head also includes the utility bills. Transportation also includes maintenance and gas if not making use of public transport, etc.
Following this, set money aside for school fees (if applicable) and any medical aid you belong to.
Next in line would be planning for the future in the form of your pension, insurance and savings.
If you made it that far and there is some money left, it is guilt free spending from that point on once all the other necessities are already taken care off. Unless you have other debt to take care of as well.
Whatever money is left you will then use to “purchase” more time for yourself and making chores around the house more enjoyable.
If you have debt, then a portion of your surplus money should go into that.
I am talking about paying off your car quicker or your house. Put extra money in that debt and get it paid off. This is after you have paid any other debt you made or owe. Always pay more than your monthly installment.
Scheduling frequent payments, like your bond or pension fund, can also save you time and provide peace of mind that it is already covered without you lifting a finger.
Here is the golden rule you should follow to achieve guilt free spending:
Apart from a vehicle or a house: With the money that’s left over after all your basics are covered, you cannot buy something that costs more than the money you have left over.
In simple terms: If you do not have the cash, you cannot buy the item.
Stay away from making debt. Do not buy clothes on 12-month terms or anything else for that matter.
Buying on credit is for the rich because it cost so much more (with interest) than simply buying the item straight out. If you cannot afford it now, then buying it on credit is really going to sink you into debt very quickly.
Save up for the item and then buy it.
What If My Salary Does Not Even Cover The Basic Needs?
Then you will have to look at your actual living costs and see what you can do without.
Ask yourself the question: “Do I need this?”
Do I need x number of cars?
Do I need a home this size?
Do I need a TV in each room?
Do I need to wear designer clothes?
Look at items in your home and just ask: “Do I need this?”
You should know that there is a difference between a ‘need’ and a ‘want’. A ‘need’ is something you cannot live without whereas a ‘want’ is something nice to have.
Sticking to your budget and being debt free will buy you the ‘wants’ later on without sinking yourself deeper into debt.
How To Love Your Home – Step Two
We all have dreams and we all are proud of our achievements and sometimes we want to express it in our living space.
You perhaps want an indoor gym or a pool or an entertainment area for your guests that will impress them.
You want the latest, the best and the shiniest objects you see in stores and advertised on TV.
All that is secondary to you that must live in your home (no matter how small) and really get joy out of it.
This brings me to my next point:
With all the ‘wants’ that supersede our needs we often end up with a house full of stuff that simply gathers dust.
We moved into a smaller place and there was really no space for all this stuff we had. Most of our stuff were shoved into a room and the boxes were stacked to the ceiling and you could hardly move inside that room.
Yes, there are items of sentimental value. Perhaps something you got from your grandmother or some relative that you love dearly. But you will have to make the decision if it is something worth keeping.
My wife received a refrigerator from her dad on her birthday at a time when we were newlyweds. So, we’re talking 18 years plus ago.
Sadly, he is no longer with us and she had a hard time letting go of the refrigerator. But we had to move with the times; getting a low energy consumption refrigerator that could be hooked up onto our solar system.
Sometimes our loving family supplies us with needed things at that moment in time when it is needed most, and we will always be thankful for giving us some much-needed items at the time when we couldn’t afford anything.
But items do outlive their usefulness and, apart from small exceptions, it is a good thing to get rid of something you no longer use.
But back to the boxes:
One weekend we went through all the boxes and decided what to keep and what should go.
We converted that room into a study and built some cupboards and shelves in there for much needed space and making it practical and useful.
I went as far as saying that if I haven’t used an item in two years’ time it is not worth keeping. This may be a stretch and not applicable to everything.
Our camping tent is an example as we haven’t gone camping in the last two years.
But shoes, toys, clothes and other useful items that is not needed you should get rid of and that brings me to the next point:
Give Or Sell
Now with all the items that is still in good condition and which you do not need any longer; why not have a garage sale and add that little bit of extra money to your cash flow?
Depending on your needs you may opt to give those items to someone that can make good use of it.
You may have heard the phrase: It is better to give than to receive. It really warms your heart to see the appreciation of people in need that receive a bit of help from someone like yourself. This in turn brings more joy to yourself.
How to love your home – Step 3
The table is set, and you are finally able to better your own situation at home.
You have decluttered your home, managed your finances and now it is time to put that extra money to good use.
‘Buy’ Some Time And Joy
There are lots to consider still: Like utilizing the space in your home efficiently or planning a stunning garden or work on some storage solutions to optimize the space for all your stuff.
Perhaps learning a skill, like cooking, can be a great benefit as well.
But here is how you can ‘buy’ some time:
We are living in exciting times when it comes to technology and you should use that to your advantage. I know a lot of us are stuck in our ways, but would you seriously still use a corded telephone instead of a mobile phone?
Would you rather drive a car or a horse to your workplace? Would you rather chop wood to make a coal fire for the stove or would you rather use gas or electricity? When last did you send a letter or a post card?
Times change and it sometimes changes for the better.
If you do cook, invest in a good knife set. More expensive knives do not always mean better. A sharp knife when needed makes all the difference to frustration levels.
Invest in kitchen gadgets and appliances that makes a time-consuming job quick and easy.
One great example is the Pineapple cutter. I love Pineapple but never used to chop one up myself because I felt it is too much effort.
Gone are the days of huge analog scales. Why not go with a small digital scale?
Perhaps you like fried foods that are quick and easy to prepare? Have a look at an Air fryer. Get compact appliances that work well for you and the things you cook.
I have a small kitchen and we always washed and dried dishes by hand as I do not have space for a dishwasher. But then I came across some tabletop dishwashers, watched some reviews and got one.
I honestly adore my little dishwasher and even though I cannot fit big pots and pans in there, I am just so happy for all the cups, plates, knives and forks it happily does for me perfectly each time with less water than hand washing and washing cleaner than I can by hand.
Find some good, healthy recipes you love and plan your meals you will be cooking for the week. Trust me – you set it up (say 4 weeks of different meals on a spreadsheet) and it is done. No more: ‘What is for dinner?’
You already know what is for dinner and you already bought all the ingredients for this week. Just do it a week at a time.
I hated cooking. It is always a mess and lots to clean. But some silly little things made me love cooking – I guess it also comes from when you are happy and have a more positive attitude.
Silly things like: First get all the ingredients together and already in the correct measurements for my recipe before starting to cook.
If I am using the oven, switch it on for so long while you are preparing your meal. By the time my preparation is done, my oven is ready, so I pop that in and pack the dirty utensils in the dishwasher and done.
After a while, you simply know the recipe off by heart and perhaps spruce it up with your own ideas.
It can actually be really exciting – for me anyway. No-one likes to struggle or clean up a mess. It is when you do not struggle, do not get stressed out and do not have a mess to cleanup afterwards that makes life so good.
I used to get home by 18h00 and then I still needed to cook (I do the cooking and my wife does the cleaning). The food is done by 20h00 and then we still need to eat, and my wife still needed to clean.
It is enough to make anyone depressed.
No more. Just because I am prepared and have the tools I need; I rarely spend more than 30min making the food and the dishwasher takes care of most of the dishes.
Making a leg of lamb? No problem. I sometimes make a dish that we eat on for 2 days and on my day ‘off’, I will debone and spice the leg and put it in my electric pressure cooker when I go to bed. The next morning it is done. Now only to do some veggies with that. What a pleasure.
Sometimes I freeze some dinners we did not get to, like pea soup or some beef pies, etc. Apart from cooking a stew or similar dish that will keep us for 2 dinners, I now have perhaps a pie or a soup if I want for the next day.
Now I am every second day off from cooking and sometimes more with the bonus that we really eat well and healthy.
I am busy going off the rails about cooking and baking, but just to mention: There is nothing so satisfying than learning an excellent bread recipe and baking it yourself. It really becomes no sweat at all if you have the right tools. Just let the mixer mix and kneed everything together, wait for the dough to rise, deflate and let it rise, put in the oven or electric pressure cooker and wait.
All you really did was deflate the dough. Pretty hard, hey?
The technology is there, it is affordable, and some solutions are just plain dirt cheap. So why not take the plunge?
You do not even have to be tech savvy to do it yourself.
I love my Google Home Mini Smart Speaker because it helps me a lot:
When cooking I will ask it to play my favorite radio station, turn the volume low so it plays in the background and as I cook and realize there is an ingredient I may need soon, I just ask Google to add it to my shopping list.
Then I ask Google to set the timer (when the food is in the oven, etc.) for the food and it will send me a message on my phone when it is done. That means I can be anywhere and do anything around the house while waiting for the food.
We also invested in a robot vacuum cleaner. I am so impressed, and it is much more silent than my normal vacuum cleaner. It cleans well and picks up pet hairs.
Now we watch a movie while Blessing vacuums and mops our floors and carpets and because you have decluttered your home, you can put her on all kinds of schedules.
Perhaps you want the robot to start cleaning when you leave for work or simply do a room at a certain time.
The big bonus for us is that it saves a ton of electricity as it works on a rechargeable battery that is easy to charge from our solar setup.
So every now and then, we get the normal vacuum out to vacuum the nooks and crannies the robot cannot get to.
In essence, you love your home when there is joy, it works for you, is comfortable and a pleasure to be in.
Grow Your Food And Herbs
Plant a garden; however small or grow the fruits, herbs and vegetables you love.
Sounds like a chore?
Get a sprinkler system that you automate, get a water tank with a solar pump to water your garden automatically or look at Hydroponics.
There are many ways to make the chore much less stressful, save you some money and have the joy of fresh food and vegetables.
I have planted some herbs I like, tomatoes, onions, corn, lettuce, bell peppers, carrots and I have a small lemon tree. (Keeping your lemon tree in a pot prevents it from getting huge)
It takes time, but it is awesome making a salad or use some fresh herbs from your own garden.
It is the little things that make you love your home and life. Keeping busy with positive work is very fulfilling and rather than getting this sad feeling that your weekend was so short and wasted, it gives you a sense of a longer, more joyful day and ultimately an awesome weekend that you have spent.
Work smarter, be happier, find peace and joy, don’t sweat the small stuff, stay healthy.
It starts with a positive attitude and a budget along with a dream.
Start small, be thankful, do not live beyond your means, give to others.
With less worries and staying calm in troubled times, will open the doors to relaxing and enjoying life.