Browsed by
Author: MsRusticWalks

Decluttering is the Best Thing We Did This Year

Decluttering is the Best Thing We Did This Year

This weekend the Rustic Walks household settled into our new apartment. We moved from our home of three years to a new place just down the street. It was a whirlwind of packing and schlepping, but we made it across the finish line. There’s one thing we can say with absolute certainty: decluttering was the best thing we did for ourselves this year.

We went into 2016 knowing we would be moving, so we took every opportunity to get rid of as much clutter as possible. We cleaned out our closet, threw packing parties just for fun, and thought hard about what we truly needed for our new home.

Read More Read More

Change Your Community, Change the World

Change Your Community, Change the World

The 2016 Election has certainly been a doozy for anyone that has followed it. With division and dissent at what feels like an all-time high, it’s easy to become jaded with the entire political process. Most Americans believe that Washington doesn’t care about them and their needs. It’s all corporations, special interests, and lobbyists running the show. No one considers the struggles of the average American and their community.

Read More Read More

Emergency Fund: Only You Can Bail Yourself Out

Emergency Fund: Only You Can Bail Yourself Out

Emergency funds are a necessity. There’s no negotiation on this one. The personal finance community knows this, and I hope everyone knows this. Having even just $1,000 on hand can save you from years of debt. I’ve had an emergency fund without any idea of when I should use it. That cash cushion was always meant for some vague future where I’d be out of a job, injured, or otherwise thrown for a loop. It’s never been money that I intend to spend. There’s no guarantee that I will ever use it, but I still want to have it just in case. The thought of needing to spend it genuinely stresses me out.

Until I had to.

Read More Read More

The Millennial Exodus: Choosing a Simple Life

The Millennial Exodus: Choosing a Simple Life

We’ve all seen the headlines crediting the revitalization of cities to millennials. Yes, those pourover-sipping, blanket-scarf-wearing, bicycle-riding young people want easy access to jobs, culture, and community. They want walkable neighborhoods, fancy coffee shops, and boutique stores selling artisan crafts. Where’s the easiest place to find all these things? Surprisingly, it’s not where you would expect.

Read More Read More

Fixed Costs Matter More Than Everyday Spending

Fixed Costs Matter More Than Everyday Spending

2016 has been the year of slashing budgets in the Rustic Walks household. Our Frugal August Challenge showed us what a difference small changes can make, so we’ve whittled down our spending to focus on the essentials. But we realized that we only cut back on everyday expenses. The easy choices like packing lunch over eating out, buying less expensive coffee beans, or resisting the urge to buy every wool sweater in sight (this can’t be just us, right?). Things like our rent, utilities, and transportation have yet to be put on the chopping block. In fact, they are staying the same even though we’re moving to a new apartment.

That’s the thing about small changes. They’re easy, but they also make us feel like we’re making a difference. Of course saving $200 each year by cutting back on everyday spending is a step in the right direction. But what difference does an extra $200 make if other expenses are higher than they should be? How much money could we save if we reduced our fixed costs? Certainly more than $200.

Read More Read More

Minimalism vs Frugality: Two Philosophies, One Goal

Minimalism vs Frugality: Two Philosophies, One Goal

Nine months ago we discovered The Minimalists and fell headfirst into intentional living. The philosophy appealed to our habit of binge cleaning our apartment every few weeks. Clutter stresses us out, especially when it takes over our tiny apartment. We knew decluttering would help us confront our weak spots (like the black hole that is our closet), as well as get rid of useless junk that doesn’t bring value to our life. What we didn’t expect was the impact minimalism would have in another area: our finances.

Read More Read More

Tech Disconnect: Our Beef with Social Media

Tech Disconnect: Our Beef with Social Media

Lately we’ve noticed something strange. At least it seems strange to us. A lot of folks seem to be staring down at their phones. Like all the time. It’s increasingly common to see people watching YouTube videos on the subway rather than reading a book or newspaper.  People walk into oncoming traffic because they’re busy checking their email. Selfies and tweets get round-the-clock coverage on cable news networks.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these occurrences. Social media is an important source of communication for millions of people. But the fact that the average American spends 40 minutes per day on Facebook is rather alarming, especially since there’s hundreds of social media apps out there. Are we the only ones that think this is weird? Have we gone full-throttle minimalist?!

Read More Read More

5 Things We Learned On Our Camping Trip

5 Things We Learned On Our Camping Trip

We did our first camping trip of the fall! Sadly, it rained for two whole days. As in we only saw the sun for maybe an hour. We knew what we were getting into when the weather predicted downpours all week, but we signed up for our campsite and committed to our romp with the outdoors. If we’re going to camp, it might as well be muddy and nasty!

We learned some important lessons during our trip. It turns out that camping is hard. Especially in bad weather. We hope these tips will help other aspiring campers that are intimidated by the wet stuff. If we can survive in the rain, so can you!

Read More Read More

Tracking Spending: Falling Too Far Down the Rabbit Hole

Tracking Spending: Falling Too Far Down the Rabbit Hole

When I first started diving deep into the personal finance community, the first tenant of Personal Finance 101 that stuck with me was the importance of a budget. There’s no way to know where your money goes without keeping track of it. It’s the same as monitoring your data usage. When you get an alert that you’re about to go over your data for the month, you start hunting down all the Wi-Fi hotspots within a three mile radius so you can stay under the limit. Budgets mean nothing if you don’t keep track of your spending.

Unfortunately, my idea of budgeting was to spend whatever I wanted and hope that it stayed within my budget. Most months this strategy was a complete fail. I logged into Mint every day to check up on my progress, but as the month continued and my budgets teetered on going over I ignored the spending alerts in my inbox and carried on my merry way. Then I’d go over my budget by $100-$200 and wonder what went wrong. Mint told me that I’d gone over on groceries, shopping, and the illusive “Everything Else”, but it offered no advice on how to change my habits. Even worse, I told myself I would do better next month to make up for it, but I didn’t identify where I’d slipped up and what adjustments I should make.

Read More Read More

Camping Essentials: That Time We Went Hard at REI

Camping Essentials: That Time We Went Hard at REI

Okay, time to fess up. During our Frugal August Challenge, we brainstormed ways to travel and spend time outdoors that didn’t cost too much money. We agreed that the best way to get our nature fix is to go camping. What better way to see the country and hike our favorite trails? This would unlock so many doors to adventure, and it was frugal to boot!

Read More Read More