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Mindfully Spent is about managing finances, time, and more in pursuit of meaning. It chronicles my journey to use money and moments for things I truly love.

Save money. Pay off debt. Simplify. Do the unimaginable big things that you want with your life. Look back on your dollars and days and find they were Mindfully Spent.

Creating Cozy: Three free ways to add some hygge to your life.

Creating Cozy: Three free ways to add some hygge to your life.

Cozy is our house rule. My husband is Danish, so maybe it makes sense that the Dane’s idea of hygge (the art of cozy and comfortable time together) would appeal to us.  

Perhaps what I like best about hygge is that the warm feelings that come with it are described as intensifying during a storm. In addition to literal storms, I think this might be true in a metaphorical sense as well. When the world around us seems most chaotic, painful, and harsh, those of us with the means to do so can spend some restorative time enjoying small comforts with loved ones before wading back out into the hard stuff. 

Hygge can be healthy for the budget if you make it a focus on simple pleasures and not an excuse to run out and buy new candles, mugs, and throw blankets. Here are three easy ways you can add a hygge to your life without spending a dime. 

1. Take time to create cozy spaces: Use what you already have to create a space that suits your sense of style and feels meaningful to you.

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Taking some time to clean, organize, and decorate can create a home full of peace. The positive impact is intensifying when you put beloved things you already own, things that tell a story or remind you of loved ones.

My cleaned and organized nightstand absolutely creates a sense of peace as I wind down to bed. It features gifts from my mother-in-law, a rosary made by a friend who is active in the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and a “dewdrop” made of glass that reminds me of sitting on a sunny porch with my buddy Rita and listening to aspen tree leaves rustling on the wind. When organized and clean, these beloved items set a tone of warmth and calm on my side of the bed. (I would lament not saving a "before" pic of the nightstand, but rest assured that the image would not send a message of calm and cozy.)

If you could use a little motivation getting your things optimized for cozy, my friend Danielle has a blog that can help!

2. Start a daily ritual: Married life has taught me that sweet routines can create anticipation, even when they involve the mundane. When my husband and I get ready for bed, whoever gets ready first prepares a toothbrush and a cotton ball with witch hazel (our nightly face toner) for the other partner. This simple act imbues a daily routine with a deep sense of affection. When I enter the bathroom and see my toothbrush topped with toothpaste and all ready to go, the act of brushing my teeth becomes a reminder that I am loved.

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There are lots of ways to add a ritual to your day, and not all of them require a partner. I have a good friend who enjoys starting her days with “Morning pages” — a set amount of writing and reflection time done in solitude before she starts her day. (There is a lot of evidence that solitude like this can help us become our best and most productive selves.) Night time reading and tea drinking can be a cozy evening ritual. Or those with roommates might start the day with a good conversation over a cup of thoughtfully brewed coffee 

3. Slow food: Chef, writer, and television host Anthony Bourdain once said “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together,” and it’s true. Preparing or just sharing food over a home table with friends can be an ultimate source of cozy. And making this practice a part of your plans might even save you money when compared to dining out. There are few things that add as much cozy to life as a full belly and a great conversation after a homemade meal. This kind of occasion shouldn't be reserved for just holidays. For extra credit, play a fun game like Telestrations after the meal. 

The aftermath of a hilarious DIY game of Telestrations. My stomach ached from laughing.  

The aftermath of a hilarious DIY game of Telestrations. My stomach ached from laughing.  

Pacific Northwest spring can be alternately gorgeous and dreary and gray, but no matter the time of year (and no matter whether the storms are the literal kind or the general turmoils we encounter in everyday life) slowing down, being deliberate, and practicing a little cozy can help us build our resilience while more deeply enjoying life.

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Post cover photo cropped from a lovely image by Orlova Maria.

Spring Clean! An easy change that helped us cut waste and save money.

Spring Clean! An easy change that helped us cut waste and save money.