Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Tiny House Stolen!

It’s a nightmare that you’d never want to have happen, but as tiny houses grow, so will the number of them that are stolen.  Watch this video below:

 

Luckily she was able to find the house, but I thought I’d share a few tips to keep your house safe.  There are a few steps to keeping things safe.  Obscurity, Security and Insurance.

Obscurity

Most of the people who have had their tiny houses stolen have one thing in common, they were in plain sight of a road.  Most criminals are crimes of opportunity. This isn’t some Ocean’s 11 heist; they see the house and they grab it.  It’s important to note that obscurity doesn’t equal security, but if someone isn’t able to see it from the road, if it’s existence isn’t known to many, the likelihood of someone stealing it is much lower.

My recommendation is to always have your house hidden from sight.  This causes less issues with neighbors, less issues with the city and less people poking around in general.  Practically speaking, if you house is visible from the road, you’re going to have people who literally stop their car and peer in your windows, not a great thing when you’re stepping out of the shower!

Don’t forget that while your house might not be seen in the summer months, but when the seasons change, all the leaves will drop.  I often suggest budgeting a few hundred dollars for some evergreen shrubs to plant as screens.

Security

Once you have your house hidden from prying eyes, it’s time to make things difficult for someone to waltz in and take your home.  The very sad truth is that if a thief really wants it, they’re going to get it.  All locks and security measures can be canceled out very quickly.  With the advent of battery grinder wheels, I’ve seen even hardened security locks be rendered useless in about 10 seconds.

Lock The Hitch

If a trailer has a hitch lock, it’s that much more difficult for someone to hook it up and go.  I recommend the hitch vault because it surrounds the entire hitch and the pin is difficult to get at.  I used to use a simple hitch pad lock, but one day I needed to get at the hitch and had lost the key.  I grabbed my bolt cutters and, in literally 2 seconds, had it off.

Get It Off The Wheels

This is one of the most effective options in my mind because it represents a huge obstacle for anyone trying to steal the house.  When you get your house in it’s final spot, you need to get it off the wheels anyway to avoid tire shock and tire rot.

What I do is get the house lifted off the ground until I can remove the tires.  I secure it with solid blocks, then I remove all the wheels.  I hide the lug nuts in another location and put the tires in a shed which is also locked.  What this means is if someone wanted to steal my tiny house, they’d have to jack the house up some, break into a shed, find the wheels, carry them over, put them on and then have the correct number and type of lug nuts to fasten them on.  It’s not that likely and if they could, it would take a fair bit of time, which is time they could be caught.

Have A Mean Sounding Dog

Many criminals often steer clear of dogs because they’re unpredictable.  A good sized dog with a mean bark can go a long way to keeping your house and property safe.

Insurance

This is a controversial topic, but I still think its worth mentioning.  I still maintain the stance that even if you are able to get a policy for your tiny house, if you ever had a claim, they’d never honor it.  I’ve written about how little faith I have in insurance companies for tiny houses here.  For standard things like cars, traditional houses, etc. I feel like it is a good practice for people to carry insurance.

If something goes wrong and your home is damaged, has a fire, flood, etc., insurance is how we mitigate risk.  For tiny houses, I feel it’s better to have a wad of cash in the bank, but each person need to make that decision for themselves.

Your Turn!

  • How are you going to protect your house?
  • What tips do you have to share?

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?
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