Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Ten Ways to Start Minimalist Living Today

A minimalist lifestyle is an enviable one; it can give you more time, energy, and money in the bank. Living minimally can give you time to focus on your hobbies, relationships, and health, while cutting back on most of those dreaded household chores like excessive laundry or cleaning.

When I first went minimalist, I was shocked at how much free time I was able to reclaim. I had so much more time on weekends; I was able to really explore the area that I live in, try new hiking trails, learn to cook, and even plan a trip around the world. Minimalist living can truly open your eyes to what you care about and give you time to focus on your passions. Minimalist Home Office

If you are interested in trying out a more minimalist lifestyle, consider implementing some of these tips:

1. Get rid of the junk. 

Get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you happiness.  Decluttering is the first step in obtaining a truly minimalist lifestyle. Decluttering is a process and can take time; just try to do a little bit each day. Clothes that don’t fit, anything broken, anything you have multiples of – chuck them to the side for donating. When I started decluttering, I was shocked at how many clothes I had kept that just didn’t fit right. It felt so good to donate them to someone who could actually use them.

2. Ask yourself if you really need it. 

Impulse shopping used to be my weakness. I’d go to Target for laundry detergent and walk out $100 later with new clothes, lotions, and stationary. When I chose to take a more minimalist approach, I would go in and tell myself that I am only buying laundry detergent. If I left Target with only the things I needed, I’d give myself a little pat on the back.

Minimalist desk notebook

3. Become a handyman (or woman). 

One perk of minimalist living is learning to reuse things. Learning to repair or fix things will not only help you live more minimally, it will also help keep your bank account high and lessen your carbon footprint. Also, you’ll feel like a boss after repairing something for the first time.

4. Know you don’t have to get rid of everything. 

Often, minimalism is misconstrued as meaning that you can’t have things that you love. Quite the opposite! The point of minimalism is to focus on things that you love and get rid of the other stuff. If you are an avid reader and book collector, keep those books! But if you have tons of clothes that you never wear cluttering your closet, maybe look into donating those. Minimalism can enhance your life so much for the better, just keep in mind that you don’t have to get rid of all of your stuff. A minimalist home can mean something different to everyone.

5. Take a look at your calendar. 

How do you spend your time? minimalist houseIs your calendar full of things that you don’t want to do? A minimalist lifestyle includes being conscious of the way you spend your time. Think about what kinds of activities you get the most value from, and get rid of the ones that don’t bring you joy. I like making sure to have one day a week that is purely mine – to go for long hikes, spend time coloring or taking pictures, or even just binging on Netflix.

 

6. Invest in high quality when you do buy something. 

Buying a really nice t-shirt that is made out of the best fabric, fits you perfectly, and will hold its shape and color for years will bring you so much more happiness than buying a cheap t-shirt made from low quality material that may not fit you well. One of the best parts about minimalism is that now that you have less, you can get the best.

7. Simplify your meals. 

Learn to cook at home. Make a few simple meals that you love. Cooking at home and having a few recipes on standby will drastically reduce your grocery bill and make meal times so much simpler. I’ve started cooking simple curries that are not only delicious, but they are super cheap to make and hold really well for leftovers.

8. Open a savings account (if you don’t already have one). 

Now that you’re living like a minimalist, you’ll be able to contribute regularly to your savings, because you’ll be saving so much money. Create a goal for an emergency fund to work toward. When I started my minimalist journey, I would create small and large financial goals. The first $1000 warranted a celebration, but the first $10k gave me the most incredible feeling.

9. Look at your relationship with stuff. 

Are you putting emotional value into things? Do you keep old shirts because of memories associated with them, even if you never actually wear the shirt? You can keep those memories without keeping the physical item. For some, taking a picture of the item before releasing it can help. Instead of keeping that ratty t-shirt from a concert you went to five years ago (that you never wear), consider creating an online photo album of pictures from that day to keep the memory alive.

10. Practice gratitude. 

travel to pragueTell yourself that you are enough, that you have enough. You have everything you need. Share what you don’t need with those who do. It may sound a bit corny, but I would tell myself on my way to Target to buy soap; “I have everything I need, I don’t need anything other than soap.” It’s a bit funny to look back on, but when you shop with a simple and straightforward mindset, you are so much less likely to purchase things on impulse.

 

I hope you enjoyed my ten tips to start minimalist living. I can’t wait to hear which ones you want to try first! 

 

Your Turn!

  • Which tip are you going to try first?
  • Which tip do you think will be the hardest?

 

How to Set Up a Garden You Can Actually Keep Up.

Gardening feeds more than my body it feeds my soul and connects me to my food and the earth. I love being in my yard and feeling of the cool soil between my fingers. But something you don’t know about me is that I have a chronic pain condition that makes hard labor difficult. How do I keep up with a 1200 square foot garden?

Better to start small than too big

green bean seedlings

Learning to garden is a process that most gardeners will tell you never ends. There is no rush to grow everything now. Start small and add to your successes each year. I have heard countless stories of people who started with half an acre and burned out before they reached the harvest.

 

Don’t fight if you don’t have to

Raised beds can be helpful when you are battling invasive grasses and weeds or if bending down to work on a traditional row garden is painful. A couple of years ago the soil in my garden needed some amendments but I didn’t have it in the budget to bring in compost for the full 1200 square feet. We chose instead, to amend just the rows. Be creative, don’t fight if you don’t have to.

Weed Control

deep mulch garden

Traditionally, the growing season was spent hoeing and raking between the rows in the garden to keep the weeds at bay. Over the last 40 years, there has been a shift in our thinking as we have come to realize weeds are the Earth’s method of protecting the living micro-organisms in the soil. Those little “bugs” feed the soil and ultimately your plants.

Bare earth is not necessary for a thriving garden. Mulch, cover crops, and companion planting are all strategies you can employ to guard those healthy micro-organisms and hold the weeds at bay. I have a deep mulch garden and spend very little time weeding.

Irrigation

watering gardenWatering cans make for pretty pictures and flower pots but are entirely ineffective at keeping a backyard garden watered. Growing a successful garden relies on consistent water. The first few weeks with my current garden I was trying to water with a hose. It took nearly two hours a day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep that up, especially when the heat of summer kicked in.

We set up drip hoses that could all be turned on at once. I attribute much of my success in the garden to our drip system. There are lots of ways to successfully water your garden. Make sure that whatever you choose is easy to keep up with so that your hard work is not lost on a busy, hot summer day.

Preemptive pest control

Some plants are more susceptible to pests than others. Cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower are some of the worst. They seem to send out signals calling the cabbage moths and aphids to come feast. Placing row covers over these plants when you plant them into the garden prevents pests from laying eggs on them. Fighting pests can be a full-time job, save yourself a headache and keep them out from the beginning.

The easiest way to keep up with your garden is to set yourself up for success before anything is planted. Be creative, don’t fight if you don’t have to, keep it small and then build on your successes. Gardening doesn’t have to be a full-time job.

Your Turn!

  • What makes your garden easy to care for?
  • What intimidates you most when you think about gardening?

Your Debt

If your financial goal this year is to get out of debt, you’ll first need to figure out what your debt is. We knew we were ready to face the music when we felt the weight of our debt. We knew it was probably going to be a lot, but soon found out that it was a lot plus another $10,000.

If you’re ready to rid the burden and weight that is debt, follow these simple steps to help you identify your debt and then we can start looking at ways to attack it.

calculate debt

 

How to Determine How Much you Owe 

Make a List of Everyone You Owe: Gather up your statements and print off a copy of your credit report. Listed on your credit report will be all companies that you have credit with and how much you owe as of the last time it was reported (this may not be updated every month, so it’s always good to check the latest balance on the statements or online).

It is a good idea to check it on an annual basis anyway to make sure that the information is up to date and there aren’t any errors or possible fraud. You can obtain a free credit report here .

credit report credit score

Find out Everything You Can About Your Debts: You’ll want to find out the following about each of your debts:

  • The total amount owed
  • The minimum payment for each of your debts
  • The interest rate
  • When each payment due (monthly, quarterly, annually)
  • If it is an installment loan, the date when that debt is scheduled to be paid off.

 

Assess Your Situation:  Although this may seem scary, remember that this is just the starting point and it’s only going to get better from here.

  • First, add up the total amount of debt you owe. This may number may seem scary and overwhelming, but remember it won’t be that number for long because we were going to be knocking it down.

buried under a pile of debt

  • Next, take the amount of all of your minimum payments and add them up. This the minimum amount of money that you owe on your debt every month. Again, this can be overwhelming depending on the amount of debt that you have, but those payments will seem more manageable once you start eliminating those bills.

 

The other thing I realized about myself when I added up all of the debt was the amount of money spent to keep up with the Jones’. None of our debt was the result of a medical or financial crisis. It was all just stuff, items purchased to impress. After reading this blog post though, I was happy to know I wasn’t alone.

Now that we have faced the music, let’s look at some different plans of attack and figure out which one will work for you. 

Your Turn! 

  • What would having no more debt payments mean to you?

How Minimalism Can Improve Your Life

Before I discovered minimalism, my life was a mess. I was in debt, my house was full and cluttered, and I was the most unhappy I’d ever been. I had a dead-end job and I was in a relationship that was going nowhere. I could not believe this was my life at the ripe age of 26. Now, as a minimalist, I am traveling the world and living with less stuff than I’ve ever owned. I am living my life on my own terms, largely because I found minimalism.

Minimalism has improved so many areas of my life, and can benefit you as well. Let’s look at the areas of my life that have improved since finding minimalism:

1. Work/Money

Pre-minimalism, I was working at a dead end job that paid me well, but was not satisfying. I was making more than enough money to get by, but I wasn’t saving anything. The weird thing was that I didn’t even know what I was spending money on. When I ran the numbers, I was shocked at how much was going out each month on things like clothes (even though I never had anything to wear), coffees out, snacks, drinks, etc. I wasn’t living extravagantly, but I wasn’t living frugally either.

Post-minimalism, I was debt-free and saving a very large portion of my take-home pay. I was saving sort of on accident, but I soon realized that with this money I could take some time and decide what kind of job I wanted to do. I became financially free, and it was an amazing feeling.

How to start: start keeping track of where your money is going – write it all down. At the end of the week, review your list to see what was necessary and what wasn’t. Cut out those non-necessities!

2. Home

Pre-minimalism, I was living in a very cluttered home with another person. I just dealt with the clutter, or tried to organize it a bit. I constantly had piles of laundry to do on the weekends, and I spent at least one full day every weekend doing chores like cleaning the house, washing the car, and trying to get through some of that laundry.

Post-minimalism, I am traveling the world and living out of a backpack. I have visited over 20 countries and have never felt more free.

How to start: declutter! Tackle a small area each day, and soon you won’t have any non-necessities left.

3. Time

Pre-minimalism, my calendar was always packed full. When I wasn’t cleaning on the weekends, I was attending someone’s birthday party, bridal shower, etc. Some of the events I went to were for people I never even spoke with; they were just friends of family. Post-minimalism, I have reclaimed my time. I now only go to events that I want to go to. I manage my calendar based on how I want it to look, not what I got invited to.

How To Start: decline invitations to events that you don’t want to go to.

 

4. Relationships

Pre-minimalism, I used to go out with friends and be on my phone, waiting for a text from someone or a message to come through. I was always preoccupied and never  truly there.

Post-minimalism, I’ve become a much better listener and friend, and I’ve learned to appreciate the time I spend with others and truly be in the moment. Life is so much better when you aren’t stressed about getting to your next meeting.

How to start: give yourself time between meetings. This way, you can put your phone away when you’re spending quality time with others and enjoy the moment.

These are just four of the many ways that minimalism can impact someone’s life. Minimalism has had such a positive impact on my life and I can’t wait to hear how it’s affected yours!

Your Turn!

  • How has minimalism changed your life?
  • Have you noticed any unexpected changes since going minimalist?

 

Guide to Raising Chicks and How to Set Up a Brooder

You can’t stop looking at pictures of chickens, the sound of their cluck melts your heart, and you catch yourself daydreaming about cooking breakfast with freshly-gathered, blue and brown eggs. It is time for you to get some chickens! How do you get started? Do they sell chickens at the pet store?

I suggest starting with chicks. They grow up quickly and are such a joy to raise. You need to start by setting up a chick nursery called a brooder. My favorite brooder set up is a big, clear-plastic storage bin. The sides are nice and tall and it is easy to clean out.

chick brooder set-up

Setting up a Brooder

  • Storage Bin: Start with a clear plastic storage bin. Make sure the sides are tall. If you are getting several chicks then get the biggest one you can find. You will be surprised by how fast they grow.
  • Bedding: It is very important that chicks are kept dry and warm. I like to lay down several layers of newspaper with a good thick layer of wood chips on top of that. You can use shredded paper or sand as well. Just make sure that whatever you lay down stays dry.
  • Heat source: Chicks are very easily raised on their own, but without a mother hen to keep them warm they need a heat source. You can hang a heat lamp above the bin or buy an electric chick warmer to place down in the brooder.
  • Feed: Chicks grow very fast so they need a good, high-protein chick starter feed. Adding in some dry sand is also important. Chickens don’t chew their food. They need some grit or sand in their gizzard to help “chew” their food.
  • Water: Chicks love to scratch and peck right from day one but can be so messy. Placing a few small bricks (not taller than a couple inches) under the water will help keep their water clean. Make sure to watch them all get up and get water before you walk away. If they can’t get up on the bricks then place on the floor of your brooder until they are a few days old.

chick waterer raised

Now you need chicks

Chicks can be purchased locally at the feed store or ordered from a hatchery and come to you by mail. I prefer to buy locally because the feed store will only have breeds that do well in your climate. If you have a specific breed in mind then ordering from a hatchery is a great way to go.

Keep them warm

When chicks are comfortable they have a sweet little peep that is soft and pleasant. If they are noisy then something is not right. Usually they are cold or their bedding is wet. Keeping a thermometer in the brooder is an easy way to help regulate the temperature. You are aiming for 85-90 degrees under the lamp.

Another way to “read” the temperature is to watch their behavior. If they are all huddled under the lamp and not scratching and pecking then it is too cold. Lowering the heat lamp usually is all it takes to solve that problem. If they are all on the opposite side of the brooder and no one is under the heat lamp then the temperature is too warm. Raise the heat lamp a little. What you are looking to accomplish is the chicks milling around happily, some under the light and some not.

chick brooder set-up

Keep them clean

Aside from keeping chicks warm and dry with plenty of good food and clean water there is not much else a chick needs. In the first couple days you do need to watch out for pasty butt. That is where their poop is runny and sticks to their feathers instead of well formed droppings. If left uncared for it can build up and block their vent which can make them ill.

The good news is that it is super easy to take care of. Just make sure they are kept clean. Use a nice, soft cloth to clean the poop from their feathers. Be very careful to not pull the poop off. Pasty butt is only a problem in the first couple days and can be almost completely eliminated by making sure that they have grit available.

chicks outside

Move them to their coop

As the chicks grow you can slowly raise the lamp. Just watch their behavior and don’t let them get cold. When the chicks can handle 70 degree temps without being cold or crying then they are ready to be moved to their coop. Use common sense at this point. If it is February and 30 degrees outside then it is too cold outside for the chicks.

Eggs!farm fresh eggs

Now just love on those chicks and in five months you will be gifted beautiful, fresh, home grown eggs. When your hens are five months old that is when you will switch their feed from starter/grower feed to layer feed. Starter/grower feed has high protein to support growth and the layer feed has the calcium they need when they have started to lay eggs.

Chickens are one of the easiest farm animals to raise. Keep them warm, fed and watered and they will reward you with constant entertainment and fresh eggs. If I was allowed only one animal I would pick chickens every day of the week.

Your Turn!

  • What most excites you about backyard chickens?
  • Which baby animals have you raised?
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