Simplifying yet again and a winner!

July 7, 2020

I've been thinking about what this pandemic has taught me.

I know these past months have been so hard for many people. We know people who have died from Covid-19. We know people who have been out of work and who have lost their jobs. I don't want to minimize that at all. I was very privileged in that I simply had to stay home. 

And one thing I've learned during this enforced quiet time, and it's not new, just a confirmation, is how satisfying a simple life can be. 

Even though I've decluttered a lot over the past five years or so -- tons of stuff, filling my foyer up multiple times with donations, and throwing out bags and bags of stuff -- I still have a ways to go.

This time around, during the pandemic, I've thought of decluttering my life in other ways. Not just the physical possessions. Other things that are cluttering up our lives, complicating things, and adding up on our credit card bill.

These are the things I've cancelled since the shelter-in-place orders began:

  1. Sirius radio -- I don't drive very much, and for short distances. Even though I always talked them down to a lower monthly fee, it just isn't worth it. I can listen to the local radio stations for the short amount of time I drive, or just enjoy the silence. Savings = about $7 per month.
  2. Netflix -- yes, we will miss some of the programming. But there's a lot on Netflix I don't care to support. I'm happier reading a good book. Savings = about $15 per month.
  3. Amazon Prime -- When I saw a $126 something charge on my credit card bill for Prime, I started thinking. I realized that I only have to spend $25 to get free shipping without Prime, and that I can wait a couple more days to get my shipment. I'm also going to try and shop less on Amazon. Yes, it is wildly convenient. But I'm more and more aware of how much power a few companies  -- Google, Amazon, Facebook -- have, and am trying to withdraw support. To the extent that I can. And as far as Prime Video goes -- we just don't watch it often enough. The few movies I've watched this year on Prime have been ones I've had to pay for.
  4. Thrive Market membership. This is an online grocery store where I've found no-sugar ketchup and mayonnaise and no-sugar crackers, etc. But I've discovered several of my local grocery stores carry these items, so I can save the $60 annual fee.
  5. Auto-ship Keurig cups from Amazon. We are using the refillable Keurig cups. Cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
  6. Auto-ship mascara. I love the tubing mascara that just washes off with no black smudges left under the eyes. I loved a tubing mascara from Thrive (different company than the grocery store Thrive). But the drugstore L'Oreal Double Extend mascara is just as nice for less than half the price ($27 versus about $11). 
  7. Facebook. I've been thinking about this for some time. It is hard to let go of since it is the only place where I see photos of extended family living far away, and hear news of engagements and births, etc., from friends I don't see often. But the divisiveness and anger really gets me down and stresses me out. I'm sure it will continue to get worse as the election nears. It is also an incredible time-waster, as I find myself mindlessly scrolling and discover a half hour or forty-five minutes have passed. I haven't deleted my account, just deactivated it. For a few days I felt a little lost and out of it, but I've adjusted and feel much better.
  8. Instagram (sort of) -- Instagram is a lot happier place than Facebook, but it can also be a huge time suck. I removed the IG app from my phone, so no more endless scrolling throughout the day. It's still on my laptop but I rarely find myself checking it anymore.
  9. Instacart -- this was the best thing ever when I started using it last fall. I loved placing an order and then having everything delivered to my doorstep two hours later. It was like a miracle! Especially since I so dislike grocery shopping. It is great for new moms and the elderly and so many who are too busy to shop. But I decided that the monthly fee ($9.99) and tips added up to too much. The final straw was when things were so crazy during the lockdown that my Instacart order was going to take 10 days to be delivered! And nobody had time to text me about replacement items so I was only getting about half my order. I know things are better now, but I've decided I can do this myself.
  10. Google search engine. I was using Firefox for a while, but it seemed every time I rebooted I'd have to install it again. Google just kept trying to take over. Now I'm using Duck Duck Go for my search engine. I'm not too savvy about all this, but I'm trying to maintain a little bit of privacy, if possible.
Not only are we saving money, but I feel lighter.

Pizza dough set to rise. Look at that air bubble! Sometimes yeast does its own thing.

I have been further encouraged in simplifying my life by reading Cheryl Smith's book Biblical Minimalism. You can read my review of her book in my previous post. Cheryl has generously offered a copy of her book to one of my readers. Donna Nance is the winner! Congratulations to her. I know this book will be a blessing and an encouragement.

What are your thoughts re Amazon, Facebook, and Google? Do you find yourself subscribing to everything like I have in the past, or have you opted out? I'd love to hear.

xo Deborah


  1. Dearest Deborah,
    Oh, we have started doing this simplifying thing years ago. Due to our rising health costs, we started to live 'leaner' in every way we could. It makes you FREE.
    What I hate is that each time you order something on line, they force you to fill in your email address and also phone number and there the spamming starts...
    I've started the Duck Duck Go some years ago and like it. Just when I needed for our manuscript to find some specific scientific name, or verifying the Latin names we knew, for their validity at present, I had to sometimes go to Google.
    It is a power game, wherever you turn! No, we have been asked numerous times at Whole Foods Market if we have an Amazon Prime card but I've so far refused. Costco we used to have the card with the 1% cash back (or was it more?) but they charge you more to begin with. You have to really think and calculate!
    We never have been watching movies; no time ever! Still got several videos that we've not yet watched. Hope this winter we find the time for doing so.
    Our Spectrum was charging several years ago quite a high amount for TV and Internet and when I called to cancel our TV, they offered a far lower Senior package. Very basic but that's all we wanted!
    You can go on and on...
    Wonder sometimes how elderly with some memory problems get scammed out of their money in an ongoing way!
    Yesterday I approved the page numbering and selected the color for the cover and had her make a little change so by the end of the week she will send me the complete book + cover for uploading. Applying first for the copyright for all three versions and then uploading onto IngramSpark. What a feeling it will be for finally holding the fruits of my typing/editing labor. So proud for having preserved Pieter's knowledge in this way. It was very complex all the scientific jargon and only the segments where Pieter explains in easy understandable language what to do and above all what not to do, that went fast as typing speedy.
    But I'm happy, I sleep tight and am no longer sorting through all my tables and managing the complex settings within my template. Grateful for a fantastic graphic designer in England, German born... We became a nice team but at times I wanted her to move faster and did not like to wait for several days... That too is part of it.
    We've managed to clean the home and Pieter did pressure wash the front porch today while I've slimmed down a lot of my labels on my blog to make it more searchable.
    Sending you hugs and stay healthy and above all; positive.

  2. Well done on your digital decluttering!

    I think I'm one of the few people who still has cable instead of subscriptions to TV streaming platforms. I share my parents' Netflix account, but we only activate it when we have a gift card.

    I still have FB and IG, but I'm not an active poster.

  3. Two of my daughters are paying for Amazon Prime and Netflix but I agree. The stuff on Netflix stinks. We have Prime because we get a discount due to my daughter being a student. I dont due Facebook. There is too much drama! I did however get IG during lockdown and the awesome thing is I've connected with some of my old homeschool friends from Santa Barbara which is nice. I'm still learning how it works. My oldest daughter in CA had to explain how everything works. Lol

  4. Being deliberate about spending and simplifying is great. I like the way you think about it all. I really dislike subscriptions for things - those monthly costs add up. We have cable tv (minimal plan), and Netflix, and that's it. I use Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends from our overseas days. IG is so-so. Not very personal. I much prefer blogging, but some of my blogging acquaintances have gone to IG and I enjoy keeping in touch with them.

  5. I agree with you about social media. It's not only about saving money, but why support a business that hates our President. Thanks for walking the walk.

  6. Digital decluttering...yes, I have weaned myself from Pinterest and Instagram and have not done FB. Blogging is my final social media. Not true! I forgot one, but that's my secret.

    I love Duck Duck Go. I imagine that we're on the same page there. I do not seem to be getting any benefit from Amazon Prime so I won't be paying for that again. Packages take weeks to get here these days.

    Very practical discoveries you have made. I have made discoveries and someday I must follow your fine example and blog about them.

  7. I say a hearty "amen" to every single one of your downsizes! Of your list, we have never had any of them except Google and Sirius, which we do still use. I always do the same as you and talk Sirius down to about $25, plus tax, for five or six months. There may come a time that we even let that go, too, if the Lord leads us to. We, too, have scaled way down in all areas - our son and I were talking the night before last as we worked on budgeting, and it made me feel so good to see the very few expenses we have. Our lives are so minimized, yet so maximized with blessings, the peace of zero debt, and a level of simplicity that is completely counter-cultural. We can do this, sweet friend! We can live the lives Jesus wills us to live, right here in 2020, in defiance of all the world demands. Jesus' followers always have chosen to swim upstream and do the polar opposite of the world around them. We are a peculiar people, but the happiest people on earth. SO thankful to be set FREE from this world and more in love with Jesus than ever before. It is all about HIM. Thank you for all you have done to promote our book and for your precious encouragement. Much love and gratitude being sent to you today!

  8. Living on a very limited budget, I'm not subscribed to anything. I watch different things FREE on you-tube. I do love books though and since the pandemic I've ordered lots of spiritually uplifting ones, been very good reading, drawing me closer to Jesus during this time. I've seen duck duck go, but get nervous about trying anything new. How do you like it? I'm also working on decluttering and letting go of things. Thanks for this post and have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  9. It is good to read about your downsizing and from your readers also. We dropped Netflix when they produced a "movie" about Yehshua Messiah being homosexual as their "Christmas" film. I suspended the Shipt and Instacart accounts for the time being but may need one of them again when winter comes if the covid virus really kicks up and older folks are urged to stay home. Facebook got really nasty with folks sniping at each other and being downright rude. Dropped it ages ago. I enjoy Instagram but occasionally someone has to be snarky or political. Just share your family pictures and pretty homes and gardens, ladies.

    I am so excited about receiving Cheryl's book, Biblical Minimalism! Thank you both!

  10. I loved this post. I got rid of Sirius about a year ago. The bill popped up one day and I thought about how little I was in my truck and said goodbye to it. I missed it all of two days. I never even think about it anymore. I also went to duck duck go several years ago. Like it also much better. In the process of working on Hubby about cable. With sports gone, he has hardly watched much anyway. My son had been streaming sports anyway and he was fine, so I think the cable cord is being cut soon here. Let's see...I also dropped Thrive when it was time to renew it last year because much of the items could be found locally now that I had ordered from there. Now, I haven't dropped Prime but you have me thinking. I really really have already begun to ponder ordering from other places anyway. I hate they have so much power. They are shipping later anyway. I got spoiled to that two day stuff and have learned waiting a few extra days hasn't killed me at all. I enjoyed your other posts about getting rid of stuff. I have downsized quite a bit of categories...clothes for one. I try hard not to even look because I just don't need it. My biggest problem is books. I am trying to do the library more though....well, that was before the big virus:) I have plenty to read before I get to ordering new ones though.
    Great posts.

  11. You e find a great job of eliminating many distractions from your life, Deborah. I am on FB, by don’t do IG. I’ve never subscribed to Sirius, nor Instacart. I still go grocery shopping, but it’s not pleasant wearing a mask! Congratulations to the winner of Cheryl’s wonderful book!

  12. What a great post and while I seem to be constantly "cleaning out" but it's all house related and not other things that you listed and I probably need to clean out those as well. I LOVE Amazon a little too much and it can be so addicting. Thanks for bringing these things to mind. Have a great weekend!

  13. Deborah, congratulations to the winner of the book. I have been thinking seriously about deactivating my FB account also. I have certain family members who are alone who I can tell use it as their social interaction, and I hate not being able to be in touch with them for the little things they share on FB. Having said that, I am so, so disheartened when I see my own family members being divisive in their comments to each other on their posts. Why so many feel the need to be combative is beyond me, whether it's words on FB, or actions. Your list of things you've done to simplify is commendable. Some of those I don't participate in anyway, but I can see where they'd be draining on the psyche. Best wishes for the journey toward inner peace.

  14. I'm with you about being deliberate about spending and simplifying. We never had subscriptions for extra movies until just a few months ago. We've enjoyed having access during the lockdown/isolation days (Prime, Netflix, Acorn). We've already discontinued Netflix and one day we'll run out of things that we enjoy on Prime and Acorn and will close those too. Our lives are very simple and quiet right now and my being on my blog and FB and Twitter helps me to stay in touch with many beautiful people out there who are sharing the love and beauty. As I don't follow folks who stir trouble, my feeds are generally happy places.

    Wishing you a pleasant weekend, Deborah. It's always nice to catch a glimpse of what you are up to these days. Congratulations to Donna on winning the book.

    Brenda xox

  15. Deborah, I commend you! Mostly about FaceBook and Instagram, because I know how "hard" it is to break free. Thank you for your good example of using this small tribulation for good. I'm trying for just a couple of weeks to fast from FaceBook. Maybe that will loose the chains a bit.

  16. We have no Facebook.

    Our Netflix is "from" a family member.

    We do have Prime, because we need to get a lot of items, this way. At our later time of life.

    But I fully understand the issue, of what these things are "backing." And we are not "backing" these things.

    I applaud all your choices.

    🍑 🍑 🍑

  17. Hi, Deborah, it's me Patti Gardner, back to blogging again after a lengthy time away. You and I are very much on the same page. I want to limit my use of Google, Amazon, and Facebook too. Changed to Firefox Browser and Duck Duck Go for my search engine. I deactivated Instagram and FB many months ago---too much hatred and ugliness over there, not to mention the manipulated algorithms. I had even stopped blogging for awhile (Blogger is a Google product), but I can never fully go away. I started a new blog yesterday, called Empty Nest Homemaker, as my journey to the empty nest was hard, and I often felt like no one understood that. I can't imagine that we will get rid of Prime, but we HAVE cancelled Prime music and Kindle Unlimited.

    Patti Gardner

  18. Deborah, what an excellent post! We try to keep life as simple as possible, so your list of simplifications sounds really sensible to me. I have my blog, Twitter, and Pinterest; have never been on Facebook, Instagram, or anything else. Never had Sirius or cable TV, Prime or Instacart. But I'm still finding things to simplify! We'll see what else the pandemic can teach us.


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