Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

How Minimalism Made Me Happier

When I tell people that I’m a minimalist, I get one response most often – “that must be really hard.” I tell them that actually, minimalism has made me a happier person. The decluttering process can be tedious, but once you’re in the clear, it’s a simple process of maintaining a minimalist lifestyle. These are the ways that minimalism has made me a happier person:

How Minimalism Made Me Happier

1. I Have Freedom

Before minimalism, I didn’t realize how much my belonging were actually weighing me down. I’d spend my weekends doing massive amounts of laundry, cleaning and organizing all of my clutter, and spending time and money on things I did not want to be spending time and money on. Post-decluttering, I’ve made time and saved money by living a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism has helped me to be more intentional with where my time and money goes.

2. I Finally Followed My Dreams

Pre-minimalism, I was working a 9-5 and bingeing on travel blogs in my spare time. I was obsessed with the beautiful photos, the adventurous lifestyles, and the diversity of food in these people’s lives. Living a life of travel and learning something new every day was so appealing to me, but I could not see a future like that for myself – until I found minimalism. When I went minimalist, I accidentally saved a ton of money, and I had so much more free time. I realized my dream of living a travel based lifestyle was a possibility, and I made it happen. I’ve now been travelling full time for almost two years.

3. I Let Go Of Things That Were Weighing Me DownHow Minimalism Made Me Happier

An unexpected benefit of minimalism for me was the ability to choose how I spent my time. Pre-minimalism, my schedule was based on guilt – I had to go to these social events, becauses I knew people would be upset if I didn’t go. Everything that I got invited to, I went to, no matter how badly I did not want to go. Nowadays, I get to be picky about what I do and don’t go to. To be honest, I don’t make it to many events anymore, because I’d rather be spending my time working on something I am passionate about.

4. I Choose Happiness

Once I curated my schedule, I realized that I could curate anything in my life. I now choose to spend time only with people who lift me up and make me happy. It’s easy to see which relationships are beneficial – I would just think about how I felt after hanging out with someone. Did I feel drained or lifted up after spending time with this person? I quit spending time with anyone who left me feeling drained, and now I’m surrounded by so many uplifting people that inspire me on the daily.

How Minimalism Made Me Happier

5. I Have Time To Learn and Grow

I love reading. I love learning new things. Pre-minimalism, so much of my time was spent going to others social events and keeping up with my laundry, that I didn’t even have time to do what I wanted in my life. Now, my time is free to do whatever I want that day – read a new book, take an online course, meet a friend for coffee, or just spend time writing. The freedom that comes with minimalism is something that I wish everyone can experience in their life.

These are just five ways that minimalism has made me a happier person. Minimalism has changed my life in so many positive ways, I think that everyone can benefit from implementing a bit of minimalism in their life.

Your Turn!

  • What draws you to minimalism?

Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’re new to budgeting or have been budgeting for a while, there always seems to be expenses that get forgotten or overlooked. I know I’m guilty of overlooking all of the five most commonly forgotten expenses at one point or another. Unfortunately I don’t realize it until the expense comes up and I feel the pinch on our monthly cash flow.

In order to avoid the pinch, it’s a good idea to check your budget and make sure that you haven’t overlooked the most common budget expenses that get forgotten. You don’t want these sneaky budget busters ruining your month.

Special Occasion Gifts:

When looking at next month’s budget you do not want to forget any special occasions (think Halloween) or gifts that you might need to budget for. Open up your social calendar and see if you have any birthdays coming up or anniversaries that are being celebrated. Don’t make the same mistake I seem to do in October, and forget to budget a dinner out for our anniversary, and then have to make cuts elsewhere in the budget to accommodate for the “unexpected” expense.

Car Maintenance:

This is one of those categories that my husband and I overlooked early on in the budgeting process, but one that is important, especially when it’s time for any regular car maintenance. Even if you just set aside a small amount every month in an envelope or sinking fund and let it build, when you have to do an oil change or you have to replace your tires, you’ll have the money ready to go.

House Maintenance:

You also want to make sure that you’re setting aside a little bit of money each month for home maintenance. Even though you may not need this money each month, home maintenance is ongoing. There are always items around your home that will need to eventually be replaced or upgraded. Setting aside some money each month ensures that any foreseeable home repairs don’t require you to dip into your emergency savings or go into debt to cover the costs.

Quarterly or Annual Bills:

You also don’t want to forget those bills that don’t come in every month. For us, our electric bill comes in every other month and we pay our water bill quarterly. You want to familiarize yourself with the bill schedule so that you know which months you need to budget for them. Other quarterly or annual expenses might also include your insurance, licence plate renewal, or any yearly membership renewal fees.

Setting Aside Money for Taxes:

For those that are self employed or generating a side income where income tax is not deducted, you want to make sure that you’re setting aside a certain percentage of that money to keep the IRS happy come tax time. In order to know how much to set aside, you’ll need to determine your marginal tax bracket rate. By setting this money aside and being prepared, you’ll avoid the scramble with the tax bill comes in.

Your Turn!

  • What are some expenses that have busted your budget in the past?

Fall Video Intern

This fall I’m taking on an intern to help us with a video project I have going on.  This isn’t one of those “internships” where you get coffee and make copies, so get ready to roll up your sleeves.  We are a small team here at The Tiny Life, which means you’ll have the chance to actually do interesting work.

The main focus of this internship is video editing, creation of YouTube thumbnails and social media marketing.  You’ll need to be in the Charlotte, NC area and be able to come into Tiny Life HQ for around 10-20 hours a week.  This internship is unpaid.

You don’t have to be a wizard with Adobe Premiere or iMovie, but should have the basics.  Part of this will be training you to do new skills and techniques in video editing, social media and online publishing.

Please apply below!

Minimalism and Gifts: How To Give Minimally

Every year on my birthday, my friends and family want to buy me stuff. They know that I’m a minimalist, so they are often lost about what to buy me. This is a guide on how to buy gifts for a minimalist (or what to tell your friends and family if you’re a minimalist).

1. I’ve Made A List of Things that I Was Planning to Buy

Giving MinimallyThis is a win-win situation. Around my birthday, I always end up needing something. I don’t keep a physical list (because that way I might write something down that I’d otherwise forget about), but I keep a mental list of things that I know I’m looking for. I’ll find the exact item I want, down to the color, size, material, everything.

I will make a very detailed list (I even include links to websites to buy the product from) and give that to my family. This way, they can get me something they know I want and will use, and I’m happy with what I get. This tactic usually works best for close family (or good friends, depending how your relationship is).

2. Ask for Dates

One of my favorite gifts to give and receive is a quality friend/family/sister date. This is something that you plan to do together. It can be as simple as going for a walk together or having a cup of coffee, or it can be a whole day of experiences in which you are connecting with each other. This can be fun for everyone involved, as you get to plan it however you’d like!

3. Donate to a Charity that You are Passionate About

If you don’t need anything and can’t spend quality time with someone (or you just don’t want to), ask for a donation to a charity that you’re passionate about. This way, the person feels like they are giving, and you get to feel the benefit of giving.

Minimalist Gifts

4. Ask For or Give Consumable Items

Consumable items are a great gift, because you get to give a physical item and enjoy the process of giving and receiving, but it won’t contribute to clutter. My favorite consumable items include a bottle of wine, a high-quality package of whole bean coffee, loose leaf tea, or homemade treats.

5. Ask For or Give Something That Will Help The Environment

The only exception I make to the list above is buying something that will help save the world. I like to give the gift of high quality reusable bags (to those who don’t currently use them), high quality to-go coffee cups, or even a batch of cute reusable produce bags.

These are my favorite tips for gift giving and receiving as a minimalist. These tips have held steady for me for the last few years. Once your friends and family understand why you don’t participate in traditional gift giving, life as a minimalist is so much easier – so make sure to have that conversation early on.

Your Turn!

  • How do you give minimally?
  • Which of the above tips are your favorite?

What You Should Know About Prepping and Homesteading

Scenes of ramshackle cabins in the secluded woods flash on your screen featuring characters that remind you of Grizzly Adams. He hunts and forages all of his food and cooks it over the campfire while muttering about living off of the land.

Next on your watch list is Survivor Bob. He has preps stashed in the forest, a carefully curated survival kit on his back and lives in a missile silo. He can lock his doors and not resurface for two years if an asteroid hits Washington and the government collapses.

off-grid living

Both prepping and homesteading have been popular on television lately and have gained a lot of attention from the media; but what is prepping? What is homesteading? What are the pros and cons of each?

Homesteading starts as a mindset that says “I can produce that!” rather than feeding the machine of consumerism. It is a movement of self-reliance. It includes everyone from the apartment dweller who cans produce purchased from the farmer’s market to the off-grid, self-sustaining farmer.

Prepping is also based on self-reliance. But rather than the lifestyle of a producer, their focus is one that prepares for one or more catastrophic events that propel them into a survival scenario.

survival

There are positives to each way of thinking, and the line between them is often blurred.

Many homesteaders are motivated by perceived changes and threats in the world and want to be prepared to live without the commercial supply line. More and more, peppers are realizing that stockpiling two years of MREs is not sustainable and have begun learning traditional homestead skills.

What can we learn from homesteaders?

Fall gardening

  • How to grow your own food
  • Self-reliance rather than an entitlement mentality
  • How to be frugal and make the most of our resources
  • A can-do-attitude and a desire to gather and learn new skills
  • Simple living

What can we learn from preppers?

  • Being well equipped for an emergency.
  • How to stock up on first aid supplies.
  • Have a plan if you are forced to leave home in a survival situation.
  • Survival is often a mental game. Peppers have played out scenarios in their mind so that they can quickly and accurately react.
  • You can prep no matter where you live.

 

There are pros and cons to every decision we make in life. Carefully weighing them out is vital. The debate about whether prepping or homesteading is superior is foolish and divisive and needs to end!

Learning lessons from each other is essential to life; no two people are alike. Think of this as a spectrum rather than two separate lifestyles. Find where you fit and make the most of it!

I fall more in the category of a homesteader than a prepper but find myself inspired to keep more emergency supplies on hand when I talk to my prepping friends. We face the possibility of significant winter storms that could have us holed up in the house for a couple of weeks at a time. If we aren’t prepared for that, it could be a dangerous scenario.

 

What are the pitfalls of homesteading?

  • Very labor intensive.
  • Not sustainable in poor health.
  • What if an emergency forced you to leave your homestead?

How does prepping fall short?

  • Can become too focused on prepping to enjoy the simple pleasures of daily living.
  • What happens when the preps run out?
  • Eating MREs for two years is less than satisfying.

Are you Grizzly Adams, living off-grid, or are you Survivor Bob, ready for a major catastrophe? Be inspired by both. Stop and smell the fresh herbs on your window sill and then take a hard look at what you can learn from your prepping or homesteading friends.

Your Turn!

  • Are you a prepper or a homesteader?
  • What skills or preps do you want to add to your current lifestyle?
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