Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

How To Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle

Living in a more minimalist way can create more free time, more money in your savings account, and a more purpose filled life. I started my minimalist journey about two years ago, and since then I’ve quit my job, saved a lot of money, and traveled to over 20 countries. Living minimally has led to so many opportunities for me, and it can do the same for you. To get started with a more minimalist lifestyle, you’ll just need to take a few steps.

1. The decluttering process

To live a simple lifestyle, you’ll need a simple living space. Take some time to declutter your living area. Focus on keeping things that you value deeply, and toss things that you don’t need any longer. I took about six months to fully declutter my space. Giving yourself time will ensure that you are intentional about what you keep and what you discard.

I like to complete the decluttering process in sweeps; the first sweep, get rid of anything that you know you no longer use. Take a few months to live without those things, and notice if the things you’ve kept are serving you. I did three sweeps in total, after noticing that I had held on to things following the first two sweeps that I still didn’t need. After the third and final sweep, I was shocked to see how few possessions I actually used in my daily life.

2. Stay mindful

Minimalists live intentionally. If there is something in your life that you don’t love, change it! When I started my minimalist journey, I was in a job and a relationship that didn’t serve me. Within six months, I was out of both of those, and happier than I’d ever been. I like to think about what my ideal life looks like, and then work toward that. Cutting out the things that aren’t serving you are the first step to creating the life that you want. An exercise that really helps me is to write down what an ideal day would look like for you in five years time. Then work toward that goal.

3. Minimize your relationships

Going minimalist to me meant that I was spending time with only the people I wanted to spend time with. Though I have a lot of friends, only a few of them are people who motivate and inspire me to grow and learn. These few people ignite my creativity and spending time with them is incredibly valuable to me. To me, becoming minimalist meant focusing my social time on people who lifted me up. This way, I was maximizing my social time, and also maximizing the amount of  time that I had to focus on things that I wanted to work on.

4. Be intentional with your time

Instead of RSVP’ing “yes” to everything you’re invited to, take some time to think about whether it’s something that you are excited about attending. Be intentional with how you spend your time. When I started my minimalist journey, I decided to cut out 99% of my social events, and just do whatever I felt like doing. This included a lot of hiking, learning about photography, and spending a lot of time with my family. I felt so much more fulfilled and happy when I scheduled my time according to what I wanted.

5. Create a savings account

A huge part of minimalism is creating financial freedom. Creating a savings account and contributing to it regularly will help you build a little nest egg to quit your day job, build a tiny house, or start traveling. Try setting up an automatic transfer, so that you can save without even trying. Think about cutting out unnecessary expenses and subscriptions that you don’t use to save even more.

When I took the journey to minimalism, I set up an automatic transfer for $100 per week to be sent to my savings account on the day I got paid. This helped me save my first $1000 pretty quickly. Once I got more into minimalism, that amount grew, until I was transferring about 60-70% of my paycheck into my savings. Simple living really pays off!

Minimalism has affected my life in ways that I never thought possible. I found passions that I didn’t know I had, I saved a lot of money and attained financial freedom, and I deepened my relationships with family and friends. What could minimalism do for you?

For more articles on minimalism, see:

  • How To Become A Minimalist
  • How To Build  A Capsule Wardrobe
  • What Defines A Minimalist

Your Turn!

  • How would simple living affect your daily life?
  • Would you be willing to give minimalism a try?

Choose the Right Vegetables for Your Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Whether you are a beginner or advanced gardener this step by step guide will help you grow a well-rounded vegetable garden. Your family will love the variety and you can feel confident that you picked the best vegetables for your garden.

As I write this there is about two feet of snow on the ground and we are hibernating by the fire. We have had night time temps below zero and day time temps below freezing. It would seem that gardening would be the farthest thing from my mind. In reality, it is the best time to start planning the garden and getting prepared for growing season.

Gather ideas

I start by making a dream list of all of the yummy things I want to grow. Don’t get ahead of yourself and be logical at this point, just jot down all of your ideas. It is very easy to get bogged down in the details of timing, spacing, and companions and not get things planned. Don’t worry, the list will narrow down as we continue to plan.

Prioritize

Now, mark the items on your list that are non-negotiable. These are foods that your family loves to eat. You don’t want to get swept away by all of the colors and rare foods in the seed catalogs and end up with a harvest your family doesn’t enjoy.

A couple years ago we planted blue potatoes – a whole row of blue potatoes. We didn’t try eating them first; we just planted. They grew really well but we struggled to eat them and ended up wasting a bunch. We have blue volunteer potato plants that come back every year, all on their own. It is the gift that keeps giving.

Homegrown potatoes

Now that you have marked your favorites, go back through your list and mark the foods that you could save a lot of money on, by growing yourself. Cucumbers are a great example. They often cost $2 for a single organic cucumber. A typical cucumber plant will produce approximately 5 pounds of cucumbers.

Narrow down the list

It is time to pull out the seed catalogs. We will look up each item that you have marked. Maybe tomatoes are something you eat a lot of and you want to can some as well. Start by looking at the days to maturation – how long it takes for the plant to grow, fruit and the fruit to ripen.

Our growing season is typically 90 days but that can include a freeze or two near the beginning or the end of the season. I try to only grow 55-75 day vegetables. That gives me enough time to harvest more than just the first fruit.

Our short growing season makes tomatoes very hard to grow, especially if I want something substantial enough to can. So I will weigh that information against the space I have in my garden. Is the space that tomatoes would occupy worth the risk of having a non-productive crop?

green beans, yellow wax beans

Green beans, on the other hand, thrive here and will produce enough for us to enjoy through the summer and freeze for eating in the winter. Until I have a greenhouse they will get higher priority than tomatoes.

But not too narrow

If you are new to gardening don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. It is so easy to get dreamy when you are planning your garden. You start thinking about canning and dehydrating and all of the money you will save. Your priority for the first couple years should be to keep your plants alive and enjoy some fresh veggies during the summer. Which is easier than you think when you set yourself up for success. As you become a more seasoned gardener you can expand your garden and plan for a big enough crop to preserve.

Our garden two years ago overflowed with cucumbers. We literally carried in bucket after bucket. However, last year we grew about three. It was a very cool summer and we just couldn’t get the plants to come up. It is so important to have enough diversity that you are not banking on one crop. Not to mention that it is easier to keep disease and pests at bay with lots of diversity.

cucumbers

Fill in the missing pieces

Use your list to choose at least one variety for each type of vegetable (as garden space permits). Don’t be limited by my suggestions. Choose what your family will enjoy eating!

sage herb

  • Leafy greens – Spinach and butter lettuce are favorites at our house.
  • Root veggies – We love how potatoes and carrots are so versatile and delicious.
  • Salad veggies – Cucumbers and sweet peas are so refreshing in the heat of summer. It is easy to find us munching these down while in the garden.
  • Stir fry veggies – Green beans, summer squash, and broccoli are the staples of our summer menu and can be frozen for winter meals as well.
  • Winter storage – Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are filling, add a lot of variety, and store long into the winter.
  • Herbs – Basil and sage are very prolific and add a punch to your meals.
  • Now choose one experimental, just-for-the-fun-of-it plant. Every garden needs a wild card!

By methodically working through your list, you will have a great variety of vegetables that will ripen during your growing season.

Your Turn!

  • What is your favorite vegetable to eat straight out of the garden?
  • Have you grown a vegetable your family didn’t want to eat?

Why I Have 7 Savings Accounts

In an effort to not overwhelm my budget every month, I have set up seven (yes, seven) savings accounts. I lovingly refer to these accounts as my sinking funds, and they quickly became my pride and joy (aside from my children of course).

A Sinking fund is where you set money aside for expenses that you know will be coming up, those expenses that would feel like an emergency if you didn’t have anything set aside. Sinking funds allow you to save in smaller, monthly installments so that when the time comes you are prepared with money in the bank (think Christmas or those pesky car repairs).

What should you be setting aside money for?

Think about those larger expenses or special occasions that come up once a year that you wouldn’t likely be able to pay for in one individual month without going into debt. Your sinking funds can also include expenses that you know, eventually will happen.

Our sinking funds include:

  • Car Maintenance
  • Home Maintenance
  • Christmas/Holiday
  • Taxes (my husband is self-employed)
  • Medical Expenses
  • Car Replacement
  • Other yearly fees

How much should you set aside each month?

Luckily this does not involve math that is too complicated. No fancy formulas required. All you simply have to do is consider how much you would like to spend and divide that by the number of months you are going to save up for.

My husband and I decided that we would like our total budget for Christmas to be $1200. That means that since January, I have been setting aside $100 into my Christmas sinking fund.

For something like Car Maintenance, take a look at what you spent on oil changes and repairs last year, divide that number by 12, and that will tell you what you should consider setting aside each month.

If your car is nearing the end of it’s life expectancy, setting aside money into a separate account will give you the ability to pay for that next car with cash. First consider how much you would like to spend on your next vehicle and divide that number by the number of months that you will be saving for. Instead of paying the bank or loan company car payments, plan ahead and pay yourself a car payment. Not only will you be avoiding debt when you have the money in hand, but you’ll be earning interest while you save rather than paying interest if you finance.

There are many ways that you can track the amount you are saving. One method would be to set the money into one savings account and then use a spreadsheet to track how much in that is set aside for each fund. The other option you have is to look into No Fee Online savings accounts where you can easily name and keep track of your sinking funds.

When looking for your savings accounts, you want to be sure that they are no fee. Be sure to avoid those banks that charge you a fee for withdrawing your money from your savings account. The other thing to be on the lookout for are the interest rates that your money will earn while it is in savings. Although the interest will not make you rich from these accounts, you want to look for the most competitive interest rate you can find.

How ever you decide to set aside your savings, you’ll feel great knowing that you’ll be prepared with money in the bank. The holiday season is so much more enjoyable when you know that it’s been paid for with cash.

Your Turn!

  • What are some big-ticket and not-so-big-ticket stuff that you are setting some money aside for?

 

True Life Confessions – I have a junk drawer!

Oh the shame!  I live in a tiny house and I have a junk drawer!

I shot this video confessing my use of a junk drawer, but you might have something to learn as I tell you how I apply a little philosophy of use for my drawer.  Check it out below:

tiny house no clutter

Your Turn!

  • How do you prevent clutter in your home?

Five Reasons People Never Achieve Minimalism

Minimalism can have a tremendously positive impact on anyone’s life; it’s easy to see that living with less can create financial freedom, less stress, and more free time. But it’s not common to simply jump right in to minimalism. In fact, some people never even try. So why do some people never achieve minimalism?

1. They don’t know where to start

The most common reason I hear for not giving minimalism a try is that people just don’t know where to start. It can be daunting to look at a house full of stuff and wonder how you can get from point A (house full of clutter) to point B (organized, minimalist home). If you need help getting started, check out the post I did on how to start minimalist living today [insert link].

2. It’s too much work

Looking at that full storage unit, the overflowing closets, and the cluttered bedrooms may just be too overwhelming. It’s no secret that the decluttering process is time consuming, but taking it day by day can make the process less stressful and more productive. I started by decluttering one small area per day, and if I missed a day I just continued my list the following day. Giving yourself a generous time frame can definitely be helpful.

3. Their family doesn’t want to be minimalist

Living with a family is a great way to introduce the benefits of minimalism in from a first hand perspective. By showing your family how beneficial it is to live minimally, perhaps they will jump on the bandwagon sooner than you think. Even if they don’t come around to it, it is still possible to keep your space as minimal as you’d like, and reap the benefits of minimalism yourself.

4. They just like buying things

This was my personal excuse for a while. I loved taking trips to Target, picking up new clothes, accessories, and stationery, when all I really needed was laundry detergent. I didn’t need any of the other stuff I bought, and I usually didn’t keep it around for long, but I just liked going shopping and getting new things.

I later realized that I was buying things because I was lacking fun in my life. Buying things will make you temporarily feel good, but after a while that feeling goes away. Try having more fun in other ways instead! Spending more time outside helped me tremendously, and once going minimalist, I became an avid hiker.

 

5. They worry they’ll regret getting rid of something

When decluttering, you will have to make choices about what to keep and what to get rid of. I have gotten rid of things that I later regretted – but those were spur of the moment, sporadic decisions. 99.99% of the things I’ve thrown out, I could not be happier to have let go.

I like to think of letting go of things as giving them to someone who will love and cherish them more – and that makes me happy.

Minimalism has made such a positive impact on my life – in fact, it helped me go from living in debt in a packed one bedroom house, to traveling the world out of a backpack. I think that everyone can benefit from living with less.

Your Turn!

  • What is stopping you from trying minimalism?

 

 

 

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