Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Everyday Habits for Sustained Simplicity

Living a simple lifestyle is something that takes work daily. The benefits of this lifestyle are endless, and there are a few everyday habits that can help make this way of living even easier. These are five everyday habits for sustained simplicity.

Make It Easy to Put Things Away

I used to have a dresser filled to the brim with clothes. I would often opt to throw my clothes on the ground after a long day instead of putting them in the overflowing laundry basket or back in my dresser. Once I decluttered my wardrobe, it was so much easier to fold my clothes and put them away or chuck them into the laundry basket – which wasn’t overflowing anymore.

Sustainable Minimalism

 

Declutter Before Organizing

I used to be a big fan of organizing. I would watch YouTube videos of people’s perfectly organized homes, with different compartments for every item you could imagine. Once I found minimalism, I decided to declutter instead of organize. Decluttering first meant that I would have less to organize, and I wasn’t organizing things that I wasn’t even using (or didn’t need in the first place).

One In, One Out Rule

Every time I buy something new, I get rid of something. This helps a lot, especially because I used to buy multiples of something that I only needed one of. I used to stock up at Bath and Body Works during their sales and I’d buy more cheap jewelry than I’d ever need. Now, I have a rule that I can’t buy a new lotion/soap/piece of jewelry unless I get rid of one that I already have. This means that I don’t buy anything perishable until I run out of the one I have, and I hardly ever buy jewelry or clothes. This rule works only after you’ve decluttered, of course.

Sustainable Minimalism Tips

Don’t Be Afraid to Repeat

I am known for wearing the same sort of clothes all the time. Creating a uniform is one of the easiest ways to streamline your life. Planning and repeating the same meals helps me save a ton of money on groceries but still ensure I’m eating what I love. These are only two practices that I’ve adopted that have helped me save tons of time and money – and has made my life so much simpler and easier.

Simplify Your Finances

Have a simple budgeting system that ensures everything gets paid on time (including yourself). I used automatic payments and have my banking and credit card system set up so that I have a very small amount of input. I am very conscious of my spending and only spend on things that will have a positive and fulfilling impact on my life or my day. This way I am spending less than I make, saving some, and not worrying about creating debt.

These are just five tips for making your everyday life easier. These everyday habits for sustained simplicity have changed my daily life for the better.

Your Turn!

  • What habits do you have to make everyday life easier?

Why you need an emergency budget

Money experts have long recommended emergency funds, a money buffer to allow for the unexpected to happen, as one of the most important keys to a healthy money life. This money practice is important, but you also need an emergency budget, a plan to go along with your savings to be best prepared when a crisis strikes.

What happens to your hard-earned savings when an emergency arises and you need to dip into those funds? How do you know how long your money will last? What should you spend it on and what should you stop spending on?

In the middle of a crisis, no one is the best at managing their money. We spend emotionally. We panic. We don’t have the stability and guidelines that our budgets normally provide us.

The Emergency Budget

– your new favorite tool for peace of mind –

Building one is simple and does something that can’t be bought.  It lets you know exactly how much money you need to live off in an emergency situation.

Our regular monthly budgets account for a lot of things: paying bills, putting money in savings, debt repayment (for some), sinking funds, eating out, etc. In an emergency, many of those things won’t have a place in your budget anymore.

By creating an emergency budget NOW, you’ll know the amount of money you really need to survive the month with a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly.

saving money for emergency

Creating An Emergency Budget

1. Make a copy of your regular monthly budget.

Go through it line by line and cut anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to survival. Rent, electricity, food, car payments, insurance and gas all get to stay. Savings, restaurants, entertainment and “fun” money should all go. Be ruthless.  Read how to make a budget.

2. Add in lines for emergency expenses

Include things that could come up in an emergency situation. If your job covers your family’s medical insurance, COBRA could be a necessary added expense in the case of a job loss. If the potential emergency issue is medical, an increased child care budget may be a need.

3. Total your budget

Fully total your budget out and save it as “My emergency budget.” Put it somewhere safe and update it annually or as your financial situation changes.


You should now have an approximate number of how much money you need for one month. This “bare bones” budget can be used to see how much money you want to save for your fully funded emergency fund or to see how many months your current savings will last.

That number will also give you an idea of how little you need to be bringing in to survive. It is likely much less than your current income and will give you some peace of mind knowing that number when facing a potentially long-term emergency situation.

Doing this now allows hard decisions to be made with a clear head, versus later when you’re in crisis mode.  Armed with an emergency fund and an emergency budget, you will be much better equipped to weather any financial storm.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have an emergency budget in place?
  • Have you ever had an emergency impact your budget?

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Winter is coming: How to winterize your tiny house

The one trick to tiny houses in the winter is keeping your water connection from freezing.  In past years I have been too lazy to actually get my pipes ready for winter, but this year I decided I’d take the time to do it up right.

I should start out by saying that I live in NC, where it doesn’t get crazy cold and we get very little snow.  On average I think we’ll have around fifty nights that drop to 32 degrees or below in a given year.  In many cases it just hits 32 degrees for a few hours in the early morning, which isn’t long enough for my water lines to freeze at all.

This year I decided to do a little more winter prep than normal and insulate my lines.  I haven’t taken the step of putting heat tape along the water line yet because I’m running on solar and a heating element such as that would drain my batteries in a heart beat.  IF I was on the grid, I’d be hooking that heat tape up too.

hook up water to tiny house

My tiny house is connect to city water which I ran to my house.  Since I had to run all the underground lines before the house ever was on the property I opted to use a traditional RV setup.  A frost proof hydrant connects to my tiny house via a drinking safe hose (really important to have a potable water hose!).  The inlet is a RV water inlet that installed on the side of my house.

insulate water lines tiny home

I thought about making something more elaborate, requiring wood working, etc. But when I started to price things out I realized that I was looking at spending $100-$200 which was more than I wanted to spend and honestly it would have taken a good bit of time.  I’ve not done this in the past because I was being lazy, so I knew I needed something that was quick and dirty.

That lead me to this method. I got a single roll of insulation for $13 and already had the trash bags and duct tape. This way I wouldn’t have to pull out any power tools and the entire job took about 20 minutes.

Price: Check.  Lazy factor: Check.

I wrapped the batts like this so that I could get the insulation to snug up against the ground nicely while keeping the backing outward for a bit of durability.  Some duct tape to hold it all together and I was done.

no freeze pipe

Next I wrapped the water hose in rubberized foam which was the highest r-value I could find.  I added some duct tape on the outside to make sure it held together nicely and then bagged the whole thing.

So it isn’t a perfect solution, but the black bag is nice way to keep the water out and the outside looking somewhat presentable.  We’ll see how it goes this winter!

 

Your Turn!

  • What seasonal preparations do you need to consider?

Why I Became A Minimalist

Learning about minimalism and adopting this lifestyle has brought me more peace, more meaning, and more happiness. This is my story of why I became a minimalist.

The Beginning

A few years ago, I had my dream job. I was working 9-5 and had my own office, I was on salary, I had a company laptop and double monitors. I was important, respected, and well-liked in my office. I worked in the wine industry and got plenty of opportunities to further my wine education. We had fancy company holiday parties and I was making more money than I’d ever made before. I thought I should be happy; I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t.

Why I Became a Minimalist

What Was I Doing?

During this time, I was living quite the lavish lifestyle. I had relatively low overhead costs. I was renting a one-bedroom with my boyfriend, and I had previously bought my used car in cash. I had a low car insurance payment, I got health benefits through work, and my only monthly bills were rent and my cell phone bill. I used most of my income on shopping sprees at Target over the weekend (to spruce up my home furnishings, pick up some new work clothes, or try some new makeup), happy hours after work, or dinners at nice restaurants. If I wasn’t shopping on the weekend, I was wine tasting – though I got free tastings for being in the industry, I’d still spend hundreds of dollars stocking up on fancy wines.

The Ted Talk

One day after work, I stumbled upon a Ted talk by The Minimalists. It was called A Rich Life With Less Stuff. I watched it three times in a row, and then forwarded it to everyone I knew. I made a plan to declutter my spaces and live a more minimalist lifestyle. I started with my living room, donating tons of books. I moved to my bathroom and decluttered heaps of lotions, creams, shower gels and old makeup. I cleaned out my closet and donated clothes that still had tags, bags of shoes, and a massive pile of accessories that I never wore.

Going Minimalist

I did a total of three rounds of decluttering. I had a few discussions with my boyfriend, who wasn’t interested in minimalism or getting rid of any of his stuff. Once I finished my last round of decluttering, I started to pay attention to the lifestyles of the minimalists I admired. I started to question my own lifestyle and the ways I was spending my resources – my time, my money and my energy. I decided to make some big changes.

Why Minimalism?

Intentional Living

One of the biggest changes that I made with minimalism was becoming more intentional with how I spent my time, money and energy. I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend, and I started saving like I’d never saved before (it’s amazing what happens when you stop shopping and going out). For the first time in my life, I had a plan to do something just for me. I saved for five months, got my first passport, asked for a 44L backpack for my birthday, and left the US for a life of world travel.

The Happy Ending

Two years later, I’m still traveling full time. I’ve been to twenty-four countries, I’ve lived abroad in two, and I have lots of travel planned for my future. I spend my days how I want to spend them. Because I spend so little money, I don’t need to work full time to support myself. I am rich with time, my passport is filling up rapidly, and I’ve lived more in the past two years than the last twenty-seven.

As you can see, minimalism has been so beneficial to my life. I will be forever grateful to the minimalist movement and the people who introduced me to it. Thanks to them, I can now say that I live a Rich Life With Less Stuff.

Your Turn!

  • Have you tried minimalism?
  • If so, why did you become a minimalist?

 

8 things you should never do to save money

I’ve tried a lot of weird things to save money. A journalist and finance vlogger by day, I’ve gone dumpster diving, emptied fast food ketchup packets into a bottle, tried DIY beauty treatments involving food items (and more hours of clean up than I’ll ever admit on the internet), and even shared library cards with friends in different states to expand our e-book selection.

Some of those activities could be considered a little strange, a couple might be frowned upon in some circles, and only a few worked at all.

But despite my willingness to try “extreme” money-saving tips, there are some things that I would never do… primarily things that aren’t ethical, hygienic or legal. These would absolutely save you money, but at a very different cost, one that I think crosses a line between being penny-wise and being a tightwad.

1. Stealing

Stealing takes more forms than hiding an item under your shirt and walking out of a store or lifting someone’s wallet.

Filling a bag with more than your share of complimentary items at a restaurant, smuggling home office supplies or toilet paper or even getting a water cup and filling it with soda are all stealing. No crime is victim-less and these are not viable ways to save money.

2. Using services meant for the needy

There is nothing wrong with taking help when you need it. Services like food stamps, soup kitchens, food libraries and the like are meant to be used. But taking those services when you don’t need them in an effort to save a little money robs someone else of that resource.

Consider volunteering instead, charity event organizers nearly always plan to feed volunteers as a thank you for their time. I helped out at a church-run food pantry a couple of times a month where the church provided dinner for volunteers.

It was a free meal for me, provided by people who wanted to help who couldn’t spare the time. It both helped my food budget a little and I was able to help people in the community who were truly in need. It was a win-win.

3. Lying

I’ve heard countless times about people “pulling one over” on big corporations by taking unfair advantage of “Love it or your money back” guarantees. If you honestly didn’t like the product or service, absolutely take the business up on their offer, but using 90% of something and returning it just because you can is dishonest and shameful.

The same goes for people who argue legitimate charges on their accounts or claim their food is bad at the end of the meal after they’ve eaten most of it.

I don’t care how big the business or corporation is, lying like that is stealing.

4. Not washing my clothes or body

I’ve read tips more than once saying to step into the shower in your day’s clothing and wash them with you. I’ve read about people only spraying their clothing with air freshener or never washing their clothing at all. I’ll wear clothing items that don’t get dirty (office work wear and the like) multiple times but clothing that gets sweaty, smelly or dirty always goes straight into the wash.

Cleanliness is one of the markers of a polite society. No one wants to work with or spend time with people who are stinky by choice. This will eventually affect how people treat you and your future opportunities.

Wash your clothes, wash your body. Take some pride in your appearance. It costs very little, but has a huge return on your investment.

5. Getting rid of pets

A pet is a big responsibility and should be treated as such. Dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters and moose (not judging), etc. all cost money for food, medicine, and care throughout their lives.

I’m always saddened and a little shocked to see tip lists that recommend getting rid of the family animal to offset costs. Unless you own a very expensive animal, and are jeopardizing your own ability to survive by providing for it, I would never say to kick your pets to the curb.

Instead consider shopping for the most affordable pet food and medications (generic heart worm and flea pills can be found at websites like www.petshed.com for much less money than at the vet’s office), learn to groom your own animals, and write a line into your budget to pay for monthly and annual pet costs to always have the money there to feed Fido.

6. Stopping tipping

If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out.

As a former waitress myself, I know all too well how many people choose not to tip and the percentage is completely unacceptable. Whether or not you agree with the custom, we all know that wait staff are often paid well below minimum wage and their tips are expected to raise their salary to a reasonable level (aka more than $2 per hour which will nearly all go to taxes anyway.) When you don’t tip, the service worker isn’t getting paid for their services. It’s an unfair system, but until it’s changed, don’t punish the person serving you.

If you don’t want to tip, feel free to take your food to go, park your own car, do your own beauty services and make your own drink.

7. Mooching

“Forget your wallet” at a group lunch often enough, and you won’t get invited to them anymore.

Friends and family should be joyous parts of your life, not vehicles to save a buck.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with letting your relatives buy dinner when you’re visiting for the weekend, but consider returning the favor the next time they visit you. Relationships shouldn’t be about who owes who and is soured when people take advantage of people.

If you’re often invited to expensive dinners or events by more affluent friends, consider suggesting more frugal outings where everyone can have fun and not jeopardize their individual money goals. Also don’t forget that everyone loves a welcoming invitation over for a home-cooked meal. Friendship doesn’t have to be expensive.

8. Miss out on life

The easiest and most effective way to save money is to not spend it. Saving money is important to me. It’s a key strategy in my long-term money goals. But I won’t decline every invite to do something fun with friends in order to save every possible cent.

Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. There are tons of free and frugal things to do and it’s also okay to spend a little more on occasion to have life-enriching experiences.

Your Turn!

  • What “frugal actions” are too far for you?
  • What will you do to save money?

Save

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