Category Archives: Finances

How We Stopped Using Paper Towels (Mostly): Minimalism, Environmentalism, and Marie Kondo

Several months ago, I did what a lot of other people were doing and watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  I was excited for this.  I’ve found great inspiration from cleaning shows before (like the ladies on How Clean is Your House?), and I was eager for some fantastic tips to keep my home pristine.

While I wish there had been more specific tips than the basic mantra of getting rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” it definitely inspired a wave of decluttering and organizing in my home.  Unlike the people on the show, I didn’t do it all in one week!  I’m still working on it, little by little.  It’s more of a lifestyle change than a one-time spring cleaning.  I attack a drawer or a shelf as I have the time, and I’m loving the results.  The areas I’ve Kondo’d are much easier to keep clean, and I never thought I’d be so happy to open my sock drawer every morning.

A month or two later, I happened to watch a documentary simply entitled Minimalism (check out the book that goes along with it here).  I might never have watched it except that I was on a documentary kick at the time.  It only strengthened my urge to get rid of all the extra stuff.  Why keep socks I don’t wear?  Why buy another knickknack to gather dust?  If I buy this thing I think I want, where am I going to put it?  The documentary really spoke to my need for less clutter (both physically and mentally) and more time for the important things in life.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going too crazy with this stuff.  You won’t find me living in a “tiny house” or traveling across the U.S. with nothing but a toothbrush.

What really hit me while watching Minimalism was the idea (from one of the numerous people interviewed) that often the cheapest way to live is also the best for the environment.  I believe he was referring to having a smaller living space that’s cheaper on climate control and building materials (and therefore more environmentally friendly), but this really struck a chord with me.  I’m all about saving money and saving the planet, and it’s even better to do both at the same time!

I couldn’t say why, exactly, but the first thing I attacked was our paper towel usage.  With a family of five, we go through quite a few of them.  Just for the paper towels we use for napkins with meals, at $0.0139 per sheet, times five people, times three meals a day, times 365 days a year, we’re saving over $75 a year.  And that doesn’t even include paper towels used for cleaning!  Sure, we still buy paper towels for those times when they’re just the perfect solution for a problem, but our output is greatly reduced.  If the 315.41 million Americans who use paper towels (as of 2017) were to stop using them just for napkins at meals, it would save them over 4.8 BILLION dollars.  That’s a lot of cash, people.

For the environmental concerns, I’ll let you read this amazing article with all the details.

Okay, that was a long story to let you know we use cloth napkins and cleaning rags now, but it might not’ve happened otherwise.  Paper towels are just an everyday thing we don’t think about.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am that we’re creating less waste and saving money, and these napkins truly do spark joy in me every time I grab one.  This idea has led to several other small changes in our lives, which I’ll outline for you soon.

What are your feelings on minimalism, purging, and saving the planet?  I’d love to know, so feel free to comment!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.



Filed under Environment, Finances

My Own Ruler for Measuring Success

If you do a bit of googling (which you’re probably doing anyway), I’m sure you will find plenty of articles about success. It might be tips for how to succeed, stories of how someone else already did, or inspiring tidbits for those who aren’t feeling motivated.

This isn’t really any of those.

I had a conversation recently about how success is measured. I made this absolutely crazy statement about how I don’t equate money with success, and I got some major side-eye followed by an outright rejection of my theory. No, they said, they definitely wanted to get paid and get paid well in order to consider themselves successful.

I get that. I mean, money shouldn’t be everything, but it kind of is. If you want a new car or a nice house, you must have some way of paying for it, right? And nothing is cheap these days. So in this sense, yes, money is how you know you’re successful.

But what a terrible cage that puts you in. If you make good money but you hate your job, then you’re successful? If you make good money but you never have time for your family, then you’re successful? If you make good money but it’s killing you in the process, then you’re successful?

Don’t get me wrong, I like making money. I’m not interested in working for free, because I have bills to pay, children to feed, and Doctor Who merchandise to buy. But I don’t think it’s okay to be a slave to the almighty dollar while sacrificing everything else that’s important in life.

I’ve never had a lot of money. (I mean, seriously. If you know me, you know that I have never had money.) As a freelance writer, I’m sure not raking it in. But I do feel successful. How is my success measured?


I get paid to do what I love.

I get to work from home, which means I am always here for my family.

My clients come back to me for repeat business, which is a huge compliment.

My husband has done nothing but support and encourage me in this endeavor.

My stress levels are pretty low.

My schedule is flexible.

I’m happy.


For me, all of this adds up to something that is worth so much more than a six-figure job. Would I turn down a multi-million dollar book deal? Heck, no. But I don’t need one to know that I’m successful.


Measure success


Filed under Family, Finances, On Writing, Work, Work-at-Home Mom

Jumping off the Cliff

I consider myself a writer first and foremost, but I do have a day job.  A pays-the-bills(ish) job.  A well-crap-the-kids-gotta-have-health-insurance job.  And while in some ways that takes the pressure off of my writing (I’m not going to live in a cardboard box if my latest book doesn’t sell well), there are other pressures that it adds.

For instance, when I’m at work I can’t be blogging.  Torture!  There are so many good blog ideas that go floating through my head when I’m there, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  Okay, okay, so I’m not completely helpless since I can jot them down in my note app on my phone.  But sometimes the gibberish I put in there doesn’t make sense three days later, or even three hours later, and I’m left with the agony of a good idea that’s died.

I’ve considered jumping off the cliff of workdom and seeing if I can fly.  Quitting my job is scary, but trying to build up a side business while working full time, going to school, and raising three kids is freaking insane.  I was thinking about all of this earlier today (at work), and it made me question myself:

Why didn’t I save a nice little chunk of money so I could freelance full time?  Well that one’s easy to answer:  I have kids, therefore I have no money.

What was I thinking buying a brand new car and burying myself under payments?  That one took me a minute, but I realized the car purchase came about six months before I remembered I had dreams once, and that it was time to live them (or at least start to).

Why haven’t I been blogging longer?  I didn’t think I had anything to say.  And right at first, coming up with blog post ideas seemed impossible.  Now that I’ve become more comfortable with it, the floodgates have opened!

Where am I going with all this?  Well, stay tuned.  I can tell you that I’m close enough to the edge of the cliff that my toes are dangling.


Did you like this post?  Find more of my work here.

Photo courtesy of papaija2008 on


Filed under Finances, On Writing

The Lunch Break

This stolen snippet of time


for anything worth pondering

other than worries


a dwindling checkbook

and a few bad poems.


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Filed under Finances, Food, Poetry

The Tax Questions I Want

During this tax season, I’ve seen commercials telling us how easy it is to file your taxes, simply by answering questions.  Well, those questions might be simple enough, but they could be better.  Such as:

-Did your cat population triple in 2013 because you’re a sucker for strays?

-Do you often wonder just where the hell your whole paycheck went?

-Did you spend more than $200 in Girl Scout cookies and useless crap from your kids’ fundraisers in 2013?

-Did you purchase a new computer, only to wish you didn’t have Windows 8?

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Filed under Finances, Uncategorized