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Tiny House Force Multipliers: Taking Life To The Next Level

I’ve been doing some thinking about tiny houses and my path to them.  A little bit ago I realized that there were some key things I did that I realized may have actually taken the good of my tiny house and brought it to the next level: They acted as a force multiplier.  What is a force multiplier?Untitled-1It’s crazy to think that things could get even better while living in a tiny house! But when we look at tiny house force multipliers we can really take tiny houses to the next level with some tweaks.  Here are five things I’ve come to realize will take your living in a tiny house – or even just those who are living tiny, but not yet in a tiny house – to the next level and change the trajectory of your life so profoundly it will amaze you.

1.  Become Totally Debt Free

This seems obvious and its easier said than done, but living debt free does a lot to for you in terms of financial freedom, reducing stress, and opening up opportunities for yourself.  What is more, when you’re not paying off debt, not only do you not have that money sink, but you can then leverage those funds in better ways.  The opportunity cost here is huge, check out this post.

I also feel the need to clarify that when I say debt free, I mean totally debt free; too often I hear people say “we’re debt free” only to later her about a car payment or student loan. No!  That’s not debt free!  All forms of debt are essentially shackles placed upon you and thus inhibit your ability to live life on your own terms.  For those of you who do have debt, of any kind, make a plan and get rid of it; the only thing that’s worse than debt is being convinced that there is “good debt” or doing nothing about it.

2. Shift To A Location Independent Career

Having a location independent career is essentially having a way to earn a living without having to be physically in one spot all the time.  Basically you can earn a living working remotely, not having to be cooped up in a cubical 9-5 five days a week.  This has been something that from day one I have always wanted to incorporate into my tiny life and since starting this journey have only recently (early 2013) been able to achieve.

Untitled-1I knew that not having to be in an office would make a huge difference, but now that I have been living this life (see this post), I am beginning to think that it actually has had a larger impact than even moving into a tiny house.

Earning a living in this manner has done two main things for me: 1) I can work from interesting places that best for me  2) Since I don’t have to be in an office, my income is not tied to time spent in a chair, but to how productive I am.  This means that I can travel and work from wherever and when I do work, I work as long as it takes to get my tasks done.  This often means that I can buckle down, be efficient, then be done and since I can work from awesome places I can then get up and go explore the places I travel to for the rest of the time.

3.  Built In Resiliency

Resiliency is the ability to respond to changes and shocks to your life and bounce back quickly.  Today in America we are very reliant upon external systems to handle a lot of what we need to do; Things like our food system, our power grid, how most people weather tough times via credit cards, etc.  I will try not to go too deep into this because how large of a topic it is, but read this post to learn more about it.  Suffice to say, I feel like its important for us to plan to stand on our own two feet and to be able to weather the ups and downs in life.  If we plan for those rainy days we extricate ourselves from putting out fires or living crisis to crisis and enter into a place of stability where we can be our best selves.

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There is a good part of the world that lives crisis to crisis and for those who are well off, they typically live big purchase to big purchase. It is no wonder that things are like this because 75% of Americans live pay check to pay check.  Try to understand what that must do on your health, your relationships, your quality of life, your well being when most people barley can come up for air.

Some examples of this for me have been having money set aside for a rainy day.  Opting to have solar panels and a generator.  Having a garden and extra seeds.  Living in a tiny house that I can move to different locations easily.

4. Diversified Income

This is the next major step I’m trying to incorporate into my life.   It’s one that I think will help me boost my resiliency and bring a lot of positives into my life.  Basically my goal is to develop a way to earn a living in addition to the one I already make.  I want this income to be in a different sector, a different way of making money, and have its strong points be the weak points of my other income.  The idea here is if I can earn an additional income unique from my first, they are less likely to both fail or slump at the same time.  Basically when it comes to earning a living, I don’t want all my eggs in one basket.  I have some ideas on how I’m going to do this and am looking forward to pulling the trigger soon.

5. Building A Rainy Day Plan

Here’s the truth, in life, there are going to be bad days and even a few horrible days.  Some will be annoying, but a good night sleep will fix it, others will be catastrophic: illness, job loss, death of loved one, divorce, etc.  In either case you really only need two things: the support of loved ones and time to work through it.  So we know these things are going to happen, so why don’t we plan for it?

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For me a rainy day plan means: have money in the bank so I can live without working for at least a year, have food tucked away for 3 months, have health insurance and I am moving quickly to being debt free.  What this means is if something really bad happens I can just take the time to work through it, do what is best for me at that moment.  I don’t have to worry about work, how I’m going to put food on the table, or pay my bills; I can just deal with that situation, with that grief, with that problem.  In these times you’re best hope is to minimize what you have to worry about and maintain or boost what is most comforting to you.

 

Your Turn!

  • How can you take the good in your life and take it up a notch?
  • What do you do to weather the bad times and not worry in the good times?

My Apartment In Split

So I’ve officially landed in Split, Croatia and will be here for the next month, then I figure I’ll make my way north to Zagrab, maybe even take a day to go to Hungry.   So far my trip has been a interesting in some good ways and in some not so good ways.  First thing I did when I walked off the plane was land in my apartment, take a shower, and sleep.  I shot a video of my new place below.  It’s a small efficiency apartment in the old town of Split, which is an area that dated back to about 300 AD.  So even being in the nicest part of the town, my rent is only $800 for a furnished apartment on a month to month via airbnb.  You can check it out and get a free $25 credit when you sign up for AirBNB by using this link, then searching “Split, Croatia” and then “Apartment Toni in center of Split ”

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In many ways this is much like a tiny house.  It is about 350 square feet, it has a small kitchenette, a bathroom and separate bedroom.  There is a minisplit heater/AC unit like I have in my tiny house and I only have a mini fridge.  The bathroom is a bit interesting, there isn’t a shower, just a stall with and hand shower sprayer and its about 3 feet off the ground, but it works fine for me.  I have this interesting stone wall in the background of the video you can see, its a neat feature.  The couch is actually a futon, so it can open up to have someone sleep there if need be.

I’ve been trying my best to learn Croatia, but its a little hard, because it has some word sounds we don’t use in English.  For example, to say thank you, you say “hvala”  that “hv” noise is hard for me to pick up.  I’m going to try finding a class to learn a bit more.

To make things more interesting, as I was flying over here I had a major allergic reaction to some poison ivy I got while installing my water line to my tiny house the other day.  Mid flight my hands and feet swelled up so bad they felt like they were really badly sunburned because of how stretched the skin became.   I knew it wasn’t anything life threatening, but uncomfortable indeed.  So the first day here I woke up and found a hospital.

I got passed around some and finally was seen by the right person that knew some English to boot, which was nice.  Long story short, some antibiotics, some corticosteroid shots later I was good to go.  The nice part is health care here is pretty modern and very cheap, for my two visits to the ER, 2 shots, antibiotics and 4 cab rides in all cost me a whooping…. wait for it…. $100 USD!  At that price I didn’t even worry about my insurance to file a claim.   As I write this to you my limbs have now returned back to a normal state.

Some photos so far:

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Keepin’ It Tiny

I just can’t hide from tiny houses. They seem to just fall in to my life in random ways. For example, I came home from work the other night and found this lovely house sitting by the entrance to the drive-way. It belongs to a local artist who lived with my friends up the road from my current location.

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A few weeks ago this awesome house rolled in to the parking lot of a contra dance I attended in Southern Vermont. Just another amazing tiny house from North Carolina!

The best tiny house coincidence occurred when I was looking for a placeto live this past spring. I was led to my current tiny life experience through friends and while my ideal was to once again find a tiny space to habitat I wasn’t banking on it. Lo and behold this adorable space was offered to me by lovely people who I am now privileged to call friends as well as neighbors.

photo 5Thus, I now live in a revamped chicken coop! The Coop, as it is adorably referred to, is a 6′ x 8′ space on one of the most beautiful properties I have ever lived on. My friend and neighbor who runs Carpenter Brook Artisans replaced the siding, ripped out the old carpet and re-painted the plaster walls. It is a beautiful space. I have the joy of a shared garden space, I get to enjoy the clucking of their adorable chickens and just a short walk away is an amazing private beach on a gorgeous river. Could it get any better? Believe it or not the answer is yes.

When I lived the tiny life previously in La Casita it was hard to find photo 2community to live in. Just when I thought it was within reach, one thing or another would keep that dream from coming true. Now, without having planned for it, I live by people who enjoy a similar lifestyle and wish to create community in the ways that matter most, such as growing food together, sharing meals, splitting chores and hosting communal gatherings. I am so grateful to have found this tiny home in Vermont and feel so lucky to be living with people who are caring and supportive. It’s an incredible opportunity and for it to have fallen in to my lap the way it did is pretty remarkable. I suppose it just goes to show that I am destined to live a tiny life.

 

Your Turn!

  • How has the tiny life style found you?

Enough With Excuses

I just got reading an inspiring post fromScreen_Shot_2013-05-23_at_4.33.02_PM Laura LaVoie of Life in 120 Square Feet (you should read it to get an idea about this post).  I thought I’d respond to it in a way and maybe expand upon it from my viewpoint.  It basically sums up so much of what I believe when it comes to tiny houses, a career and life.  It is easy to make excuses for not doing something, to follow the path of least resistance, to settle into complacency, but to our own detriment.  Even today I do this, but I am now more cognizant of it and call myself out on it.

The point is when it comes to making drastic changes, whether building a tiny house, making a career change or some other life altering decision, IT IS HARD.  More acculturate, it is REALLY FREAKING HARD and by hard I mean lots of sleepless nights, tons of work, years of making your way to the goal; The saying  “blood, sweat, and tears” only begins to cover a rough approximation of it.

Right before I started building my tiny house I realized that the only thing that was stopping me from building my tiny house was myself.  I had no idea where I’d live in it, I had no idea how to build, I didn’t know how it would all go down, but I went for it.  When I started, I didn’t know about how the building codes and zoning would work, how I’d get utilities, where I was going to park it, but I decided that I needed to move to action now, because otherwise me saying “someday” would turn into never.

recite-3412-388918378-1iym69What I realized about the changes in my life, career and my housing options was that no matter how scary it would be to change these things, the price of doing nothing was too high.  Living in house loaded with debt, working in a job I hate and in a life left uninspired was not worth it.  To make the changes I have made – and am still making – was the only rational option.

The truth is when I started this journey I was unemployed, loaded with debt, didn’t have any money in the bank or any assets.  Since doubling down on me and my life, I own my tiny house, I should be able to clear all my debt in the next year, I have a job I love done on my terms and I have money in the bank.  What I did was nothing special, the concepts and ideas are already out there for free, you just have to stop making excuses and say “I am the priority and worthy of an epic life”.

So today resolve to make you and your life the priority, to make your life epic.  Realize it is a ton of work, it’s scary, it will take years and after laying all the excuses to rest, you will have a life others only dream of.

Your Turn!

  • What did you do today to achieve your dreams?
  • What excuse have you left behind?

Ways You Can Live The Tiny Life Now

Many of you have been following me in my journey to The Tiny Life for a while now.  While I tend to focus on the building and design of tiny houses, what I have come to realize is that even though its fun to talk about the houses and how to build them, it really isn’t about the houses, it’s about the life you lead in them.  In an odd way, its not the house that is so great, its the life that is amazing.

Recently I was thinking about this fact as I was re-reading my book that just released (find it here) and I realized that in many ways you can still live tiny, without a tiny house at all.  So here are some ways you can live The Tiny Life right now.

Learn To Say No

ba7688b4e4a544d65380ef9bc19087a9In this world saying no is almost unheard of.  We often either get pulled into things we really don’t want to do or we say non-committal things like “Let me get back to you” when you hope they never follow up.  One thing I’ve learned is important is when there is something that I am not interested in participating in or doing, I just clearly decline and make no apologies for it.  Be willing to say no, you don’t have to be rude, but be clear, “Honestly, I’m just not interested in it” or “I don’t have the time to do a good job with this, so I’ll have to pass, thanks.”

Proactively Remove Negative Influences And Sources Of Stress

I have had two people that really shaped this rule for me in my life:  I once worked with a person who always had some sort of drama in their life, no matter how good things were, there was always some catastrophe happening.  The second one was when I found myself in a situation where I had to regularly interact with someone who frankly was just a really terrible human being; they were manipulative, easily moved to violence, and had a lot of self destructive behaviors that they inflicted on others.

It taught me a valuable lesson, there are people or situations that you must actively work to remove yourself from.  If they cause stress, unhappiness, or cause drama in your life, you need to get them out of your life.  This goes for friends too.  I will only put in effort into relationships that I feel the other person equally values me.  There have been times where I have had friends who were flaky, always late, or didn’t ever develop into a deeper platonic relationship that I just let go and let them peter out.

Thin Your Email In Box

inbox_zeroOne thing I have learned with running this website is how to handle a lot of email effectively.  I have developed a few rules that I abide by to make it easier.  I realized that I don’t want to be efficient with email, but instead I have worked hard to reduce the email volume, which I must be efficient in handling.  Spending an hour to help setup a system where people can find their answer on their own, has come back 100 fold.  Think of how you could do the same in your life or situation, just adapt it.

  1. Realize your email inbox is a convenient way for other people to organize their agenda.
  2. Always think about how you can reduce the volume of emails you get.
  3. Always to clearly define the next needed action, otherwise close the loop on that email.
  4. If they don’t ask a question, it isn’t actionable or are not clear in message, don’t respond.
  5. Set up email filters for things that you get often or as a way to segment different areas of your life.
  6. If its a newsletter that I find myself not reading regularly, I unsubscribe right away. I can always add myself back.
  7. If they ask for something I often follow up with a request to do a small task (want to talk? I ask for an agenda) this weeds out people

Define You Career By The Life You Want To Lead, Not The Other Way Around

Your job/career should support and accommodate the life you want to lead, not the other way around.  To do this you must first know what life you want.  It is easy to fall in the trap of letting your career dictate the life you lead (work schedules, vacations, soul crushing activities),

I’ve been there myself and there are times where you just need a job to pay the bills.  So if you are in a tight spot, get a income source, but once you have gained that stabilizing income, you must then quickly move to a more proactive place where you either morph your job to be what you need or start looking for / building your perfect job that accommodates your life.

I once took a job that I knew I would hate, but I realized that it would buy me just enough time (3-6 months) of income to allow me to find the job that I really wanted.  It meant that I could walk away from offers that weren’t great and hold out for a better one, at that point I really didn’t have anything to lose.

The Pareto Principle

This is more commonly known as the 80/20 rule which states that 80% of the outcome or effect comes from 20% of the cause.  For example, 80% of the happiness comes from 20% of the people in your life, because they are the most important people to you.  On the flip side, 20% of your time spent at work actually yields 80% of your income.

The trick with this rule is to identify that 20% that causes the 80% and if its good, focus on it; if it is bad, eliminate it.   So in the instance of something good, say relationships, spend 80% of your time on the top 20% of your relationships.  Conversely, if 80% of customers complaints at work come from 20% of your customers, break it off with them.

Learn To Slow Down, But Be Intentional

excuseI’ve learned over the past two years that I can be far more productive if I am intentional.  I have had so many people in my professional life say to me that I always seem laid back, but get a ton done.  The truth is I do a lot less work then them, but when I do work, it is calculated.  I actively work to minimize what is on my plate instead of working longer hours to get an overloaded to do list done.  I think about what I can do that is most effective and then how I can achieve it most efficiently.  Finally anything I do more than a few times, I look for ways to automate.

So when it comes time for me to do something, I have the time to do it correctly, I have worked out the best way to do it, and then in many cases I have automated it so I don’t have to worry about it at all.

 

So these are just some of the ways you can start living The Tiny Life now, even if you don’t live in a tiny house just yet.

 

Your Turn!

  • What things have you done or do to live The Tiny Life?

 

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