Here are some frequently asked questions I face from family, friends, and fellow readers!


What is minimalism?
Minimalism is exactly what you want it to be and what that means to you specifically. Some people own less than 100 items, while others strive to keep unnecessary items out of their house. I personally became interested as a way to pay off $17,000 in student debt and save up $16,000 for a house.

How has minimalism changed your life? 
I've really had a shift in my perspective as a result of bringing minimalism into my life. First I began with purging unecccessary items from our home, and then I began to explore why I had let my possessions take over in the first place. Getting to the root of your issues with material items can really reshape the way you look at shopping and consumption.

Why do you donate so many of your things? 
I once made $8.25 an hour working at a daycare in Austin, Texas. They required a strict dress code of khaki pants, solid color tee shirts, and a hideous vest. I wasn't going to spend what little money I had
($450 cleared every two weeks—yikes!) on high-dollar items from the mall, so I visited my local Goodwill to stock up on the items I'd be wearing while caring for infants (yep, they are likely to crap or throw up on you).

I've been there. I've lived below poverty level and I understand what life is like when you're barely getting by. This is why it's important to give things that you aren't using and don't need to a charity or Goodwill so that someone else can benefit from it!

How do your keep your possessions from cluttering your home? 
I use a one in, one out rule. If I get a new shirt from Goodwill (yes, even though I now make more money, I still shop exclusively at Goodwill), I have to donate one. The same goes for any new item that enters my home. If I receive a gift that is a duplicate, I will keep the nicer one and part with the older one. It's a win-win. I try to keep as little as possible in my environment, as it frees my mind and keeps me grounded.

What's part of your wardrobe and how do you save money? 
Before my pregnancy, I whittled down my clothing to only the essentials (see below for my FULL wardrobe!). I only own a few pair of pants including one pair of regular bootcut jeans, one pair of skinny jeans, a few pairs of khakis and slacks, and a pair of jean capris. Tops are limited to my absolute favorite tees and only flattering, classic styles.

I shop exclusively at Goodwill, so I never feel terrible about donating or buying a new item, as it is usually below $7 an item. It's a cost-effective way to keep your wardrobe fresh without the burden of a closet bursting at its seams. During the pregnancy, I have worn a few borrowed bottoms from a coworker, so my cost was minimal during this time and I used some prepregnancy tops to get by!

Interested in minimalism? Read some inspiring posts!
How Minimalism Made Moving Day Less Painful
Minimalism 101: We The Tiny House People
Skipping the Holidays: Minimalist Style
Cutting the Clutter: The 5 C's to More Happiness
5 Lessons I've Learned by Decluttering
Cutting the Clutter: Kitchen Revamp
Top 5 Reasons for Cutting the Clutter
Embracing a Minimalist Lifestyle


Which budgeting app do you recommend? 
I use Mint.com as my primary budgeting app and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who doesn't know where their money is being spent. And trust me, you really don't until you've seen the numbers in the app and realize your food budget is about $700 over! Going over budget is way easier than many think, and you may even be in denial with how much you really spend.

Check out my favorite posts about Mint below:
Finance 101: 7 Reasons Why I Love Mint.com
How to Create a Monthly Budget—and Stick With it!
How To Pay Off $17,000 of Student Loan Debt in Less Than 18 Months
How We Saved $16,000 in Less Than 7 Months to Purchase Our First Home

Do you have a budget and do you stick with it? 
Yes, I have several categories for budgets, including
  • Auto payment (two car loans... yuck!) 
  • EZTag tolls (I use the tollway for my daily commute) 
  • Gas & Fuel 
  • Internet 
  • Mobile Phone 
  • Netflix/Movies 
  • Roth IRA Contributions 
  • Convenience Store (I blog about this, but it's my husband's splurge budget) 
  • Food/Restaurants 
  • Groceries 
  • Rent 
  • Shopping (usually clothing) 
  • Transfer to Savings 
Do you actually stick to those budgets? 
Well, I hate to admit that we usually have more "red" budgets than "green", however, it's always smart to at least track your spending and know where your money is going. I strive to improve our spending each month, and priorities are constanly changing. Once you're in the habit of watching your money, then you can really start to hone in on the problem areas and start to tackle the budgets that need the most work.

Did you make a lot of money while paying off your student debt? 
Hell no! When I had my epiphany of wanting to pay off my husband's $17,000 worth of student debt, we were making $13 and $12 an hour each. And that wasn't even cleared per paycheck! Our take home pay was much less after taxes and insurance, so we had little to work with. However, we changed our priorities, shifted our budgets, and reworked the goals to find the extra money to pay more on the debt.

How often do you check your budgets? 
I check our budgets every one to two days and scroll through the recent transactions. This helps me identify problem areas sooner (we ate out HOW many times this week?!), and not have suprises at the end of the month. It's also important to have an open dialogue with your partner on the transactions so that there are no hidden purchases or budgets running amok.

Why did you pay off your student loans early? 
I was surprised to be met with criticism by some who felt stretching out payments over ten years or more is the way to go with student debt. We don't work in public services, so I knew that we wouldn't be able to have our debt forgiven after a period of time, and I honestly didn't want to have the burden of another bill hanging over my head each month. We decided to save in the interest, and pay them off in less than 18 months. We also had a huge party to celebrate after the last payment was sent to MyFedLoan.com!

Want to save money or pay off debt? Learn how!
How to Create a Monthly Budget—and Stick With it!
How We Saved $16,000 in Less Than 7 Months to Purchase Our First Home
How To Pay Off $17,000 of Student Loan Debt in Less Than 18 Months
Knocking Out Student Loans One at a Time
Finance 101: 7 Reasons Why I Love Mint.com
Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you love.
Reality Check: The Evolution of Your [Financial] Goals


How long have you been plant-based? 
My journey started after my mom was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and I stepped on a scale at the doctor's office in February 2012. Those two events prompted my lifestyle change and I've been extremely satisfied with the physical results, as well as my internal results. Although I caved in a few times to meat, and I struggled with a cheese addiction for a two-month span near the beginning of my switch, I've made it past the rough patch and have successfully moved to a plant-based diet.

How do you get your protein? 
I've found that this question is most often asked from people who are truly concerned about my health. I appreciate this concern and I've done plenty of reading on this subject. I was worried, too, at first that I would need to eat lots of tofu or beans to meet my protein needs. Luckily, protein is found in plenty of foods! I also covered the protein misconceptions in a blog post.

What can you eat? 
I focus on fruits, vegetables, whole gains, nuts and beans. I started by following the Engine 2 Diet, so if it has a mother or a face, I don't eat it. I'm still a work in progress and strive to stay on track, but yes, it is hard. On Mother's Day 2012, my family cooked fried chicken, dressing and twice-baked potatoes—all of which were made with animal products. I happily ate my vegan quiche that I brought and made from a Happy Herbivore recipe.

Why are you doing this? 
My mother was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in January 2012 (and my grandmother nearly a decade earlier), but it wasn't until mid-February 2012 that I started to take my health seriously. After weighing in at my yearly appointment, I was not amused by the number on the scale. I also knew that I had been neglecting my health for far too long. I didn't care to take charge of my health until that number popped up on the scale. I also knew my bloodwork from the previous year wasn't too amazing, and I aimed to improve it (which I have tremendously).

Have you seen any results? 
Within six months, my hard work had paid off, and by August 2012 I had lost 25 lbs., my total cholesterol dropped by 80 points, my LDL/bad cholesterol dropped by 60 points and my triglicerides dropped by 22 points. I also saw a tremendous increase in energy (even by the second week!) and after 12+ years of fighting acne, my skin cleared up dramatically once I cut dairy out of the equation. For more info on my results, click here!

Is this just a diet/temporary thing? 
People often assume that I have a strict list of things that I can and can't eat, much like a "diet" that people "go on". When most people refer to a "diet" they mean that they are altering their eating for a short period of time for an expected result (weight loss/smaller waist/flatter stomach). I don't intend to go back to the way I was eating (drive-thru lines and canned meals), so I don't refer to this as a "diet", but rather a lifestyle change. When people ask if I'm "still on a diet", I simply say, "No, I actually changed my diet!"

Do you have any advice for someone considering veganism?
Don't be too hard on yourself when you first make the transition. There will be challenges, temptations and even hostile responses from the people in your life. Don't let this discourage you and keep reading, studying and researching the information out there on plant-based diets. Check out my Vegan & Plant-Based Resources page! I felt angry at first that this knowledge was considered strange and even was offended when friends and family said my new lifestyle was drastic, radical and even dangerous. I've learned so much since going vegan and encourage everyone to learn more.

Looking to go vegan? Check out these helpful posts!
Start here --> Maxed Out on Veganism Info

Naysayers Gonna Naysay
Where to Begin
Kitchen Overhaul
5 Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet
Pinterest Plant-Strong Board
Top 5 Reactions to "I'm Vegan"
Protein in a Vegan Diet
5 Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Anywhere)
Veganism in a Nutshell (video)
5 Things I've Learned Through Veganism
Foods That Kill