Live With Less Challenge 2017!

I can do it!

It’s time for our first declutter challenge of 2017 and it’s going to be a good one.  It’s also the time when I have to stretch myself and push myself out of my comfort zone.  You see, as a blogger it’s easy for me to share recipes (such as my favorite egg nog milkshake recipe), or kid’s crafts (such as these really cool borax snowflakes), or a list of my favorite kid’s toys (coming soon!), but admitting (to THOUSANDS of people!!) that I have a problem is hard.  A BIG problem really.  I have a problem with stuff.  I love stuff.  Shiny stuff, new stuff, stuff that promises in a million ways to make me happy.  Ooh, the bondage of stuff.  Although this is a problem that hundreds of thousands of people face it’s still difficult to admit.  I want to keep purging and purging until we’re living pretty minimal….and I’m a long way from that goal so we’ll press on.

Challenge Overview:  This challenge, or game if you like to think of it that way, will last for the full month of January and one participant will walk away with $100 cash!!  Each day you’ll be given an item(s) to get rid of or something to do.  If you don’t have one of those things to get rid of simply choose another item.  This detailed list is just to get your mind stirring and help jump start your purging.

Challenge Prize: In case you skipped the overview above, the prize is $100 cash to the challenge winner!!

Challenge Rules:  We’re all winners by getting rid of our unwanted belongings but I’ll randomly choose a winner from those who reach the end of the challenge and follow the rules.

How to enter:

  • – Each day take a photo of your discarded items.
  • – Create an album in our Live With Less Facebook group and every day add your photos to it.  If you need help with this ask on the Facebook wall and someone will help you.  If you try and can’t succeed with an album you can always make a post on the main wall and each day comment as a reply with the next day’s photo.  (If you have a picture or two that you’d rather keep private but keep going in the challenge you may email them to me at MrsAshleyWalkup@gmail.com with the subject Live With Less.)
  • – Make sure you number each photo with the day’s # on it so that I can easily check when the month is over.
  • *ADDED TWIST* This game is much more fun with friends so please invite your friends to the group to join the challenge.  If the winner has added a person to the group they’ll get an extra $50.
  • *SECOND ADDED TWIST* The person who invites the most people who complete the challenge will get $50!  For example if Mary invites 10 and only 2 finish she won’t win the money if the 3 people Sarah invited completed the challenge.  Does that make sense?

Q&A:

  • – If you skip a day are you disqualified? No, but you may only skip two days at a time.  Three consecutive skips will disqualify you from winning but you’re welcome to continue playing.  Even though you skip a day or two you still have to go back and make up the days you missed.
  • – When will this challenge start, I just heard about it?  The last day to join will be January 7th when you need to have all your days 1-7 posted…or technically 1-5 since you’re allowed to be two days behind at any point.
  • – If I share pictures of my junk in the Live With Less Facebook group will all of my friends see it?  No, not unless they are in the group.  It’s a closed group.
  • – Will you be sharing the items you’re getting rid of?  Yes!  I’ll be posting in our Live With Less Facebook group daily.  Forgive the bad quality pics, this is going to be a quick thing every day.
  • – What if more than one person makes it to the 31st?  This will be wonderful and I will choose a winner at random.
  • – What if no one makes it to the 31st?  Then I’m keeping the money for myself and buy something pretty for myself….and then get rid of something to make room for it. 😉

READ READ READ:

Since I’ve posted about living with less a few years ago I’ve received numerous emails telling me what a horrible person I am for throwing away so much.  If they only knew the internal struggle I have about letting go of a bent paper clip!  Please know that I’m not advocating throwing away everything, do try and recycle, gift, and donate all that you can before trashing things.

Declutter

The List:

Day 1- 1 Sentimental thing
Day 2- 2 Red things
Day 3- 3 Unwanted gifts
Day 4- 4 Magazines/catalogs
Day 5- Old coupons
Day 6- Things you can give to someone
Day 7- Glass items (old mugs, dishes with chips, unloved vases, etc)
Day 8- Stationary items (broken pens, extra anything you won’t use)
Day 9- Unfinished project pieces (finish the project this week or consider throwing it out)
Day 10- Old cotton (old t-shirts, cleaning rags, socks, anything cotton you no longer have a use for)
Day 11- Christmas cards
Day 12- Disposable plates, cups, or cutlery (use them up!)
Day 13- 13 items of clothes or shoes (a pair of shoes counts as 1)
Day 14- Duplicates (anything you have two of that you don’t need, two bottles of red nail polish, tweezers, nail clippers, hammers, etc.)
Day 15- Unused old bottles (any empty jars or bottles that you don’t have a use for)
Day 16- Tech (Movies, CDs, video games, random telephone cords, cords you don’t know what they go to but have had 5+ years, etc.)
Day 17- Let go of 1 thing & write a letter/email to someone you’ve lost touch with (no need to provide a picture of the correspondence)
Day 18- Out grown/unloved items (nearly full old perfume bottles, toys, jewelry, etc.)
Day 19- Use something you’ve been saving (decorative soap, fancy dishes for a special occasion, a bottle of sparkling apple cider, whatever you may have that you’re waiting to use “some day” Let today be that day!)
Day 20- 5 Things you can fit in your hand
Day 21- Organize an area that you dread to organize and toss items as you go (before and after pictures are always fun but the items you’re letting go of is okay too if you forget to snap a before pic)
Day 22- Write a list of 22 things that you’re thankful for that money can’t buy
Day 23- Let go of 2 things and make a recipe from an unused cook book (if you can’t bring yourself to do it, let go of the cookbook too)
Day 24- Mend, fix, or glue 3 broken items or toss them (maybe you don’t keep broken things but we always have a few broken things at our house)
Day 25- 5 things from 5 different rooms
Day 26- Move/toss/do 6 things that make you feel guilty (maybe it’s a book that sits on your nightstand and has been laying there unread for months making you feel guilty when you look at it, maybe it’s the dirty windows that irritate you, etc.)
Day 27- Do something you’ve been procrastinating (returning unloved purchases and going through old moving boxes are at the top of my list)
Day 28- Take your donations to a charity 🙂
Day 29- Repurpose/display a sentimental item you’ve decided to keep
Day 30- Find a “home” for lost items that are around your house….as many as you have time for
Day 31- Let go of 12 pieces of paper

If you have any questions or if I missed something please let me know.

Who’s ready to play?  I hope you’ll join me!

Oh, I almost forgot to say something – Happy New Year!!!

Here are two other helpful posts you may like:

200+ Things to Throw Away Now

– How to Get Your Spouse to Declutter Without Nagging

Car Maintenance Checklist

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Mazda of Arlington.com.

Used Car Tips

How well do you know your car? Perhaps you need reacquainted and to spend some one-on-one time with each other. Setting some “dates” with your car could continue the relationship a bit longer!

Every month you should check your:

  • – Oil level – Add oil if it’s low, and take it in if it’s very low as there may be a leak.
  • – Hoses – Replace them if they’re brittle.
  • – Belts – Replace them if they’re worn or frayed.
  • – Tire pressure – Check the pressure and add air if it’s too low.
  • – Coolant/antifreeze – Add more if it’s low.
  • – Air filter – Replace if it’s dirty.
  • – Tires – Looks for damage or uneven wear.

Every 3 months you should check your:

  • – Oil and oil filter – Change every 3,000 miles or as is recommended by manufacturer.
  • – Windshield washer fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Power steering fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Transmission fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Battery terminals and cables – Clean if corroded.
  • – Lights – Check to make sure all lights and turn signals work. Easy one!

Every 6 months you should check your:

  • – Wiper blades – Replace them if they’re worn out and brittle.
  • – Horn – Beep, beep!
  • – Brakes – Have them inspected for unusual the wear and tear.
  • – Spare tire – Make sure it’s fully inflated and accessible.
  • – Exhaust system – Inspect for damage or loose parts.Shocks – Inspect for wear.

Winter Auto Maintenance

Winter Auto Maintenance

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Mazda of Hurst

With winter fast approaching, your first thought might be to go out and buy a new coat and hat. Dig out your gloves and double check the pipes are wrapped on your house. While these are all important, don’t forget your winter auto maintenance.

Cold weather is hard on your car and winter driving can take a toll on your auto. Some basic preventive maintenance will ensure that you have a stress free driving experience and make it safely home each trip rather than frantically checking if you have enough gas to keep the heat on until the tow truck arrives.

1. Get Your Oil Changed
Never underestimate the value of this one simple maintenance task. Don’t procrastinate it and wait for the check engine light to come on. Keeping your engine lubricated with clean oil will help ensure that it fires up every time you jump in. Most professional oil changes come with complimentary fluid checks.

2. Check and Replace Windshield Wipers
Driving in tumultuous weather on dark cold days is challenging enough without trying to see through a 6 inch smear on your windshield. Check and replace your wipers early to allow for the extra precipitation that falls during the cold winter months. If you need new wipers, refer to your owner’s manual as to correct size to ensure a clear driving experience.

3. Check Tires
Have your tires checked to ensure that you have sufficient tread left to grip slippery roads. Replace them as needed. If they are still in good shape, inquire if they are due to be rotated and balanced for optimum performance.

4. Get a Break Check
While they are checking your tires, have them do a break check. Most tire dealerships will check automatically with a rotation and balance, but if not ensure that your breaks are checked and any needed replacements are completed before the weather turns icy.

5. Stock a Blanket and Water in the Trunk
Even if you don’t live in northern parts of the U.S. a break down can often lead to a lengthy cold delay until the tow truck arrives. Ensure that you and your family don’t suffer if you are left waiting for a period. Small children especially are susceptible to the cold.

With a little pre-planning, you can ensure that you and your family arrive safely to all of your winter travel destinations.

How to Winterize Your Vehicle

This post is brought to you by Earnhardt Chrysler Jeep Dodge

Winterize a Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the cold winter months is essential. You don’t want to risk breaking down in the snow or ice. You also want to make sure your car is safe for winter driving. Read on to find out how you can winterize your vehicle to avoid any problems!

1. Check the battery and cables.

Make sure there is a good connection between all of battery cables. Look for any cracks or breaks in the cables as well. Remove the cap of the refill hole to check the fluid level of your battery. If needed, refill with distilled water.

2. Get the right tires put on your vehicle.

If you live in an area where there is lots of snow, make the switch to stronger tires in the winter. Make sure you change all four. It’s not a good idea to drive with two winter tires and two summer tires. If you live in a very rural area, you may want to look in snow tires with studs so you can make it to work safely every day during the winter.

3. Replace washer fluid and wipers.

Driving in the ice and snow can make it difficult to see where you are going. This is especially true if you get behind a vehicle that is slinging the mushy ice and dirt your way. Replace your wipers so you have fresh, strong ones to take on the winter. Refill the washer fluid basin with an antifreeze solution, to keep your windshield clean at all times.

4. Create an emergency kit.

If your car were to break down in the cold of winter, there are a few things you need to have on hand. Water, non-perishable food, blankets, boots, and a change of clothes are all things you need to include in your winter car kit. Keep these items in your trunk all winter, just in case.

5. Don’t forget the ice scraper!

You don’t want to sit in your cold car for several minutes, waiting on the ice to thaw. Especially when you need to get to work or home! Place an ice scraper in your glove compartment or door pocket, so it’s easy to grab every morning when you need to use it.

6. Switch the oil.

Make sure you get an oil change when it is recommended for your car. In the winter, your vehicle needs thinner oil. So, for example, if you usually use 10W-30 oil in the warmer months, switch to 5W-30 oil during the winter.

Car Accessories for Girls

This post is brought to you by Beck Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Car accessories are an easy and fun way to express yourself.  These are some adorable accessories that girls may like…and guys too, of course.

Gold Cell Phone Charger

  • –  Cell Phone Charger – First up on the list is the one car accessory everyone needs, a mobile cell phone charger!  This gold beauty is from Amazon for $6.99.

Rear View Mirror Cell Phone Holder

  • –  Rearview Mirror Cell Phone Holder – If you’ve given up your GPS for your phone’s Maps app then you’ll want this genius cell phone holder that mounts easily to your rearview mirror.  This is only $11.99 on Amazon.

Seat Gap Filler

  • Seat Gap Filler – This accessory is a practical one.  It keeps things from falling between your seats.  What a fabulous and simple little invention!  This set is only $19.99 on Amazon.

DIY Car Fabric Interior

  • –  DIY Car Interior Fabric – There is a fun tutorial on Builders for Eternity on how to redo the fabric interior of your car.  Who would have thought?  I love the idea and the writer said they held up well!  Price of fabric varies but this should be a pretty inexpensive project.

Sassy Southern Gals Car Mats

What car accessories do you just love to have?

5 Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Chevy.

Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

So you picked out that perfect used car. It’s the one that ran well, had less miles, and you hate to admit it, but the biggest reason you chose it over the one at the other dealer is because it was prettier. Follow these five tips for keeping your used car looking new, so your car keeps being as pretty as the day you picked it out.

1. Wash the car often throughout winter, and even more often if you live near salt water. This helps prevent rust caused by salt on the roads and in the air. Be sure to get an undercarriage wash in winter, since most of the damaging salt will be under your vehicle.

2. Wax your car to give it a nice clean shine. The wax will also prevent dirt buildup, and even protect from salt damage. I suggest going even further and applying a window treatment like Rain X as well. The windows will be less likely to fog or ice up, and rain and snow will slide right off.

3. Clean your headlights. There are numerous tips and tricks online for clearing up your headlight lenses, but a store bought kit is best. A kit will contain not only what you need to clean and clear the lenses, but also treatments to preserve and protect them from weather and UV damage so they don’t cloud up again in a month.

4. Keep plastic bags in the car. Their uses are endless – keep your trash tidy, collect your things when heading in the house, put wet clothes from the beach or gym in them – all help keep your car sparkling clean. With all the work we do outside and around the house, bags get the most use as shoe covers when dirty or muddy feet have to ride in a clean car.

5. It would be a shame if you did all that hard work, only for the elements to wear down your car’s appearance anyway. To protect your car’s looks, park in a covered or shady area as often as possible. Don’t park under trees for long periods of time or you’ll have wet leaves and tree sap sitting on the paint. Parking in the shade of a building or in a garage will even protect your interior materials from the sun. If you don’t have access to a garage, tint your windows within the legal limits of your state and use a sun visor for the windshield. This will keep the fabric, leather, and plastic inside the car from breaking down, cracking, or fading.

These simple protective measures will keep any used car looking like new for years to come. Do you have any easy tricks for keeping your car sparkling and fresh?

6 Ways to Prepare Your Used Car for Winter

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Subaru.  

6 Ways To Prep Your Used Car for Winter

It’s that time of year now, where just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the next month is hotter yet.  With all this heat, followed closely by back to school excitement, sports and extracurricular activities, and countless holidays, it’s easy to forget the cold season ahead.  Make sure you’re prepared for the first cold bursts ahead of time with these 6 ways to get your used car ready for winter.

– Keep a cold weather kit in the car.  Hand warmers, a scarf, warm hat and gloves will all be needed if you have to change a tire in winter.  Blankets will help the whole family if you’re stuck on the roadside a while.  Sand or ice melt will help you get out of a slippery situation, and make sure there are jumper cables in there in case your battery gives out from the cold.

– Speaking of the battery, have the battery and oil checked and replaced if necessary.  A battery on the brink of death will not last through winter, and a freezing day is not the time to be stranded in a parking lot with no power.  Old and dirty oil can thicken and prove harmful when it’s cold,

– Windshield washing fluid is a necessity at all times of the year.  In the winter months, you’ll need a fluid that will not freeze.  While you’re at it, get a fluid that acts as a de-icer to help clear your windshield in the morning.

– Wax and wash your car before the ice begins to form on roadways.  This will help protect against the elements as well as the salt that will cover the roadways.  Wash your car regularly after snow storms or periods of ice, and be sure to get an undercarriage wash.  Keeping the salt off will prevent rust and extend the life of your car.

– A preowned car means someone else cared for it before you.  Have moving parts, such as bearings and joints, inspected before winter.  A good starting point would be to check the parts that should have been serviced by the current mileage per the manufacturer’s suggestions in the book.  Moving parts need lubrication to prevent wear, and cold weather is hard on these parts.

– Changes in temperature cause condensation.  Condensation in gas lines is a bad thing.  Make sure to keep your car half full or more at all times.  A low gas tank can allow condensation in the lines, and introduce water in the engine.  A low gas tank will also leave you without heat if you happen to be stuck on the side of the road in the cold.

6 Things to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Car

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Jaguar.

Things to Watch Out For When Buying a Used Car

When shopping for a pre owned vehicle, it’s easy to get swept up in that “new car fever” and forget to ask the important questions. But someone else has driven that car, and you don’t know where it’s been or what it’s been through. Don’t let that dissuade you, though! Six simple tips will get you through the process with a car you can trust, whether you’re buying certified pre-owned or from the classifieds.

1. A car listing that exclaims things like “brand new radiator” and “just had a front end alignment,” or a laundry list of recent improvements, should be a red flag. It’s possible the owners were simply upgrading their car, and then decided on an alternative. It’s also possible the car was in a collision that required replacement and repair of parts. Don’t run away just yet, but ask about the car’s history or order a history report online.

2. Postings that “need love” or “with a little TLC it could be a great vehicle” mean something needs fixing. Be diligent to find out as much as possible about what needs repaired, and make sure that when the repairs are added to the purchase price, the vehicle still falls within your acceptable budget.

3. Trust your instincts. If the car doesn’t feel right, seems a bit rough, makes a strange sound when turning, or anything you are unsure of, ask questions. When you ask a question, make sure to get an answer. A seller who only replies with “that’s normal” or “oh all of the models from that year do it,” but won’t explain the reason why, is hiding something from you. A trustworthy salesman will do his best to explain and fully answer any of your questions.

4. Take the care for a test drive even if you’re in a hurry, on a budget, and this car is the only one available now that you can afford. Don’t trust the vehicle to be running great just because a stranger said so over the phone. Don’t let yourself be surprised after your purchase. Make sure you drive the vehicle on a fast road, a slow road, around some turns. Pull in and out of parking spots to test slow, sharp turns, and test the brakes in an empty parking lot if possible.

5. While you’re in the parking lot, do a leak test. Park the car and let it run for a few minutes, with the air conditioner off if possible. Then move the car and check the ground where you’d parked for any fluids that may have leaked.

6. Don’t fall for a seller’s claims that they have other offers on the table if you don’t accept their terms right away. If they had an offer they wanted to take, the car wouldn’t be available to look at. Don’t take an offer you aren’t happy with just because they rushed you. And remember, it works both ways! You have the power to simply walk away from a sale if you aren’t happy or comfortable with the transaction.

5 Inexpensive Upgrades For Used Cars

This post is sponsored by Reedman Toll

Inexpensive Upgrades for Used Cars

Most of us have a dream car that we’d love to own one day. Maybe it’s out of our price range now, or perhaps it’s just not practical for your family. Whatever the case, we go with a reliable used car that we grow attached to. Maybe you’re so fond of your car that you’ve given it a name. But there’s still something you wish it had. Something it doesn’t do as well as you’d hope. Not to fear, there are some small upgrades you can make to make your used car even more enjoyable than you already find it.

– Replace the wiper blades. A quality wiper blade will keep your windshield clean and will keep the rain, snow, and dirt out of the way so you can drive. It seems like a small thing, but it’s important.

– Shampoo your interior. If you want that new car smell, shampooing the upholstery is how you’ll get it. Use a foaming fabric cleaner and gently scrub according to the instructions. Spot treat any stains or trouble areas. You’ll have a clean car, the new car smell, and your seats will be more comfortable without worn areas with years of embedded dirt and oils. Be sure to clean the car again after storms or dirty work so the mud from your shoes doesn’t make your car its home.

– Clean your headlights with a headlight restoration kit. Be sure to get a kit that includes a protector to apply after the cleaning. The wear from weather and the UV rays from the sun will make the headlights cloudy again if you don’t protect them. Clean headlights not only look good, they let more light through, keeping you safe when driving at night.

– So your car doesn’t have heated seats, and you want to be cozy. A heated seat pad is an inexpensive upgrade that will give you just what you want. Fit the pad to your seat, plug it in to the DC power adapter, and get as toasty as can be. You can even get a seat that massages your back from you drive!

– Pay attention to the annoying parts of your commute. Find the one thing that most commonly annoys you, and fix it! Get that one item you’ve been missing out on. It could be an auto trash can so you have a tidy place for your wrappers. Maybe you find yourself fumbling with your phone too often, and need a phone mount. If you get a lot of calls, maybe it’s a bluetooth speakerphone you need so you can talk hands free without trying to find your headset while driving. Whatever the annoyance, a quick and cheap fix can be found to make your car absolutely perfect.

5 Reasons To Make Your First Car a Used Car

This post is brought to you from Caitlin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Pram.
First Car a Used Car

Your first car is a beautiful thing. It’s your freedom, the ability to drive places without your parents and see friends without waiting for someone to give you a ride. It will get you to school, work, and play. Most people fantasize about which car they would love to have for their first, even if it isn’t a realistic dream (you know, like a sixteen year old high school kid with a top of the line performance sports car). Here are 5 ways the dreams you have for your first car, from freedom to convenient features, can be provided best by a used vehicle.

1. Value
“A new car loses half it’s value the moment you drive it off the lot.” That’s a common saying, and while the value may not drop by half, it’s a saying for a reason. When you buy a used car, you aren’t paying the added cost just for being the first to own it. And with the availability of extended warranties and certified preowned vehicles, buying a used car is just as safe and reliable as a brand new one.

2. Reliability
Speaking of safe and reliable, a used car in good condition is a car that’s shown itself to be reliable. It’s run well, been maintained, and hasn’t spent its entire life sitting in a lot. Being from a previous model year, you’ll have access to countless reviews and opinions from other drivers, a wide array of test results for safety, and possibly the added safety of an extended warranty to protect against any possible defects.

3. Features
Sometimes there are features you want that don’t come stock on your favorite car. Heated seats, upgraded stereo, sun roof… whatever features you want, you’ll pay much less for them in a used vehicle. In a new car, you’re paying for the customization options. The used car already has the options you want, and you’ll be able to get far more features for your money.

4. Peace of Mind
Ok, this one might be a bit more for the parents than for the new car owner, and is a bit of an intangible benefit. While you should always take care of your vehicle the best you can (you’re trusting it to keep you safe and alive at very high speeds, after all), there’s something innate in us about the perception of cost. While a new and used car may be in the same condition, you’re more likely to be worried about a brand new car than a used one. Why is this a good thing? Because if you’re in a situation where you have to decide between the car getting hurt or you getting hurt, your parents will always prefer you to be safe. The lower price tag of a used car will make you less likely to make a dangerous move just to try keeping the car from getting scratched, which just might save you from a big accident one day.

5. Comfort
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can a used car be more comfortable than a new one? But I’m not talking about comfortable upholstery or squishy seats. Your first car will give you a feel for what you really enjoy. After getting comfortable with your vehicle, you might realize you need a little more space. Maybe you have a big vehicle and you feel you want to downsize. Maybe a four cylinder isn’t enough to get you to speed on the interstate, or perhaps that V8 puts you a bit over the speed limit too often. As your comfort with driving and your needs rises, you’ll be able to separate the car of your dreams from the car you’ll really be comfortable in.