When you hear the word "minimalism", your mind probably formed an image of some privileged man with a dingy backpack wearing wrinkled khakis and flimsy flip flops. And if he has a place to live, you may imagine one plaid chair, one chipped plate, and one fork. We can even hear his voice tell those of us who value money, things, and experiences that we're too superficial. I'm also willing to bet that we're not about that lifestyle.
But what if I told you that minimalism isn't all tiny homes or hand-me-downs? What if I said we can still have nice things? Or that minimalism is just living in a way that gets rid of the meaningless stuff and curates a lifestyle filled with peace, purpose, and freedom? And let me not forget the best part of it all: You can ultimately build your bank account, too.
Christine Pratt understands the accumulation of things and the impact it has on our well-being as well as our coins. This Afrominimalist — as she's known on the 'gram — once had a closet full of accessories, shoes, and handbags within handbags within handbags as well as shelves full of knick-knacks. Yet, she reached a point where her life felt messy and oftentimes overwhelming. It wasn't until she cleared her apartment of anything that didn't serve a specific purpose that she was able to breathe. Christine makes a deeper connection between material, mindset and money in her first TED Talk titled "You Can Be a Minimalist, Yes You!" that she delivered this past November.
Fellow minimalists Roshanda Cummings (Roe) and Erin Johnson (E) are the individuals behind the Instagram community Brown Kids. Just a few years ago, an overworked Roe was ready to quit her underpaid job but worried about the rack of credit card debt that she created for her racks of clothing. But by adopting a minimalist lifestyle, she managed to pay off $11K in 11 months on a $19K annual salary.
11 whole thousand.
In less than a year.
On less than $20K per year.
How'd they do that?
"You have money," Roe says, "It's just in your stuff."
What kind of stuff, you ask? It's all those jeans we packed away in a tote because we're going to pull them back out when we lose those last 10 pounds. It's also the three types of edge control that we tucked way under the bathroom sink because they don't lay our baby hairs at all but we're keeping them, dammit, because we spent a lot of money on these jars! And some may say it's all the books I had neatly stacked and shelved but to that I'd reply, Mind yo' business. I'm reading all of them!
I suppose I can agree that it's all clutter and there are numerous studies linking physical clutter to internal clutter, but that's a whole other article. And the stuff that's out in the open for all to see? At some point we need to clean it, move it elsewhere, or dust it. Or even worse? Pack it up should we ever move! Embracing minimalism means that we either trash it, get paid for it, or pay it forward if we're not using it or getting some joy out of it. Minimalism also promises that we'll feel good for doing it.
Intrigued? Or still unsure? Read on for 4 points we can glean from Roe and Christine when it comes to adopting a minimalist lifestyle, especially when it comes to our bucks:
It empowers you to find “hidden” money.
E and Roe helped their Brown Kids community find $120K in forgotten money during a weeklong Instagram challenge. Roe stresses that regardless of our salaries, we always have extra money somewhere. She cashed in a stagnant 401(k) worth $4K from an old job but she also found $7K in unwanted stuff that she could sell and applied all of the proceeds directly to her credit card balance. And while we are aware of those sites where we can sell our infrequently or unworn clothing and shoes like Poshmark and Mercari, do we know about unexpected or forgotten refunds and utility deposits that we are due but we somehow overlooked? Did you know you can check with your state's unclaimed property department to see if any of those types of funds are waiting for you? Claim your coins, sis!
It encourages you to look at your finances differently.
Something about a strict budget is a turnoff. It seems to put an emphasis on the things we can't have because they were considered too minor to include in our monthly spending, like a caramel frappuccino. Although minimalism forces us to distinguish between wants and needs, it isn't designed to be as limiting as a traditional budget. Instead it makes us look inward to decide what's important to us and why.
Christine explains that our current spending habits are a reflection of how we were raised. As an attorney and author, she became the first person in her family to be able to acquire any and everything, which led to her overconsumption of purses and heels. Once we get to the root of our destructive spending habits, we'll automatically make different financial choices going forward, which means we'll think twice before making a frivolous purchase.
It helps to decrease unnecessary food waste.
In 2010, food waste was estimated to be about a third of the food supply, or a whopping $162B! We contribute to this figure when we buy and cook more than we can eat and then it spoils, causing us to throw it all out. But that doesn't mean we need to resort to canned or dried foods!
E and Roe are the brainchildren behind the Jar Method, which is their way of storing and extending the life of produce from three days up to three whole weeks. E and Roe saved $500 the very first month they kept their veggies in glass jars instead of in plastic bags and containers. And not only did they lower their monthly grocery bill, but they also made their refrigerator shelves look pretty, too.
It shows us that sales don’t automatically add up to savings.
One of the biggest myths about minimalism is that you can't shop, especially for items at full price. Lies. E and Roe snatched up a pristine secondhand outdoor furniture set a few months ago but they also looked to decorate their interior with West Elm or CB2.
"A minimal mind is not about cheapness or class," says Roe during an earlier interview with Impossible Podcast. She explains that it's about clarity. Will this item reflect you or the person you want to be? Will this item bring you joy?
Roe isn't against splurging on an item of clothing, either, but if it's expensive, she's mindful of its quality, sustainability, and usability. What is it made of? Will it last? How was it sourced? Will she wear it more than once?
"Sometimes you'll spend a lot and sometimes you spend less and sometimes you won't spend at all," Roe adds.
Christine often refers to Project 333, a challenge where you mix and match 33 favorite pieces (including accessories and shoes) to create new outfits for 3 months. This way, you essentially end up with a complete seasonal wardrobe that takes up less closet space.
Buying new quality pieces to fulfill the 33-item capsule wardrobe isn't forbidden and buying as much as you can for as little as possible isn't a requirement or even a recommendation. In fact, snatching up everything you see on clearance is frowned upon and defeats the purpose of minimalism.
Bargain-shopping for Christine was once an escape until it wasn't. She was stunned by all of her purchases with price tags still hanging on them. Sure, she walked out of the store with shopping bags full of merchandise at a deep discount but she didn't exactly gain anything when she wasn't even wearing, using, or really liking anything she bought. "Remember, it's not a deal if you don't need it," Christine says.
Minimalism isn't as extreme as we may think. The sole intent shouldn't be to make unreasonable or unrealistic sacrifices or forego everything of luxury or leisure to stretch our hard-earned dollars. It's not even about junking our most sentimental treasures, either.
Instead, minimalism is about sparking more joy with less stuff and living much better in the process. Sure, it may still be hard to give up some things because, let's face it, who's really a pro at purging their own belongings? But imagine that bit of excitement we'll get when we move those dollars from credit card balances to savings account balances with items we don't use, don't care about, and won't miss.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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