Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

5 Signs You Might Be A Minimalist

Minimalism is a very personalized lifestyle – it’s about finding a system that works for you. Though it varies person to person, there are some essential aspects to it. These are five signs that you might be an unintentional minimalist.

minimalism signs

1. You’re Not Attached To Stuff

It’s important to get things that you like, but it can be common in our western culture to get very attached to things. When you refuse to let your sister borrow your shirt because it’s your favorite shirt (though you know she will treat it well), you may be a bit too attached to that shirt. Minimalism is about only owning things that you need, but getting attached to material possessions is never a helpful mentality.

2. You Don’t Buy Much

Because minimalism focuses on the essential, becoming a minimalist usually means that you won’t be shopping very often. I rarely visit malls anymore, and I only go food shopping once every week (for produce) or every other week (for bulk items). I use my clothes until they are unusable, whether that means holes, rips, or tears. I don’t buy multiples of things I don’t need. I have one pair of pajama pants, and I don’t need a second, so I won’t buy another pair of pajamas until the pair I have is no longer usable.

minimalism signs

3. You’ve Defined Your Essentials

You know what you want and you know what you need to thrive. For me, essentials include a simple capsule wardrobe, basic hygiene products, a good backpack, my laptop, camera, and a good book and/or notebook. In terms of belongings, this is all I really need. If I was settled down in a permanent living situation, I would simply add dishes and some basic furniture to this list. Viola!

4. You Don’t Have Unnecessary Stuff

Not only do you not buy much, but you get rid of belongings when you realize that you don’t use them or don’t need them any longer. By continuously culling your belongings, you’re creating a clutter free, clean, and minimalist surrounding. I’m constantly getting rid of things that I don’t use regularly anymore. I recently purchased a keep cup, and as soon as I brought it home, I got rid of my old reusable coffee cup (I donated it to a friend who didn’t have one).

5. You’re Debt Free (or paying off debt very quickly)

A minimalist lifestyle helped me save money faster than any other savings plan I’ve ever tried. I was shocked to look at my bank account after payday, and realize that I still had money left over from my last paycheck. I danced a little jig when I saw this happening weeks in a row, and saw the number in my checking account consistently growing. Saving money and paying off debt is one of the many benefits that makes a minimalist lifestyle one of freedom and happiness.

These are just five of many reasons you may be a minimalist. There are so many benefits to minimalism, I definitely recommend trying out a minimalist lifestyle. It’s helped me go from broke while working a 9-5, to traveling the world and happier than I’ve ever been.

Your Turn!

  • What aspect of minimalism is most appealing to you?

 

Time for a Financial Check-Up

In order to make sure that we’re in good health, many of us will be sure to check in with our doctor for a yearly once-over. The same is true for your finances. If you want to make sure that all is well on the money front, it’s equally important to complete a yearly financial check-up.

I always do my financial check-up at the beginning of a new year, but any time of year will work. It doesn’t take long, and is relatively painless, but checking in with your financial big-picture once a year will give you a great reference point as to where you are now and how far you’ve come when you check in this time next year.

Step 1: Check your Credit Report

It’s important to check in with your credit report once a year just to make sure that everything that is listed there are debts that you yourself have signed up for. This will help to make sure that there hasn’t been any fraudulent activity under your name.

It will also give you a sense of where your debts lie. Listed you’ll see any loans that you’ve taken out and have paid off or in the process of paying off. You’ll also see the last reported balances on any rotating debts like credit cards or lines of credit.

Checking your credit report is fast, easy, and more importantly free. Equifax and TransUnion are two of the most popular websites that you can use. Just simply enter in your name, address, and social security number, and within seconds you’ll have access to your credit report.

Step 2: Calculate your Net Worth

When calculating your net worth, I always start with listing down what we own. I start off with the liquid assets which includes our checking account, savings accounts, and our emergency fund. I also list the current balances on any investments such as our retirement funds and education funds, as well as the current worth of my pension. The last thing I list are the major assets that we own including the resale value of our home and two vehicles.

Once you’ve figured out what you own, the next step is to add up what you owe. Included in this list should be any outstanding debts such as credit cards, student loans, lines of credit, or medical debt. The other debts to include here would be the outstanding balance that is left on the mortgage and car loans.

To calculate your current net worth you simply take the amount you own and subtract the amount you owe. Whatever is remaining is your net worth. I like to compare our net worth year over to year to see the progress that we’re making.

One thing I did notice this year was the substantial increase we saw in our net worth once we finished paying off all of our consumer debt. It’s amazing to see just how much your net worth grows when you can keep your money for yourself, rather than giving it to the bank in the form of payments.

Your Turn!

  • How often do you check in with your finances?

Tiny House Kitchen Tour

I’ve been cooking up a storm in my kitchen and even though I live in a tiny house, I can still do almost anything I’ve wanted.  Just because you go tiny doesn’t mean your meals have to suffer.

Here is a video tour of my tiny house kitchen

 

Your Turn!

  • What do you think is important to have in your kitchen?

 

video tour of tiny house kitchen

Minimalism & Family: Minimizing with Kids

When the topic of minimalism comes up in my conversations, often times it’s followed by a comment that it would be so much harder to be a minimalist with kids. While minimizing with kids isn’t easy, it’s entirely possible, and maybe even more important that minimizing on your own. Here are some tips on minimizing when you have a family.

minimalism family

1. Have a Packing Party

A packing party is a fun way of saying to throw all of your stuff in boxes, and pull things out as you need them. This could work very well for kids, because they will have to ask for specific toys before you get them out of the box. After a couple of weeks, donate the toys still in boxes.

2. Explain the Importance of Donating

By telling a child what it means to donate, you are giving them the option to do something good. If you teach your children to share, why wouldn’t you teach them the importance of donating and charities? Teach the importance of giving and sharing to your children to help them learn that things and stuff aren’t the most important things.

3. Gain Inspiration

Read blogs by minimalists with families. They are out there. My favorite is Leo Babauta, a minimalist with six kids who lives in San Francisco. Other popular ones are Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, and The Minimalist Mom. Minimalism is a personalized lifestyle, but seeing how other people do it has always been helpful to me in determining how I want to go about it.

minimalism with kids

4. No Gifts, Please

Most kids toys come into the house as gifts. By asking for something other than gifts (donations to a college fund would be a good start), you will be cutting down on clutter and giving a better gift in the long run. If you definitely want to get a toy as a gift, consider buying your child one or two toys from yourself – it’s much easier to get rid of things that you buy a year or two down the road versus things your family or friends buy.

5. Minimize the Available Space for Toys

By creating a smaller storage space for toys (for example, a chest versus an entire playroom), you will be able to cut down the amount of toys your child has. Less space for toys should equal less toys. Less toys means that cleanup and maintenance is so much more simple.

These are five simple tips to start minimizing in a family household. I’d love to hear in the comments below which ones you plan to try out!

Your turn!

  • What is your best tip for minimizing with kids?

Start Growing Perennials in Your Backyard Garden

Perennial plants are a great addition to your backyard garden. They require little maintenance and come back for several years without needing to be replanted. They are often cold hardy and more drought tolerant as well.

raspberry bush

We have been living in our current house for three years now. It is a beautiful property with a lot of unused land that we have slowly reclaimed a little each year. We are renting this property while we work toward our forever homestead. Unfortunately when you are renting you have a very temporary mindset. We didn’t know if we would be here for one year or five when we moved in. For some reason, we thought it was more likely to be one.

planting strawberries

Because of our temporary mindset, we didn’t make an effort to plant any perennials the first summer here. The second summer I put in a few things and even more the third. Had I followed my intuition the first year we would be eating asparagus and lots of raspberries right from the land we are living on. Thankfully the strawberries I planted a couple of years ago are going gang-busters. I can’t wait to eat them on pancakes this summer!

What are perennials?

There are three types of plants, annual, biannual and perennial. Annuals are plants that need to be planted every year. Plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and most garden vegetables are annuals. Biannual plants have a two-year cycle. Carrots and onions are both biannual. Perennials are so great because you plant them once and then reap the benefits year after year. They rarely need to be replanted because they either spread or reseed themselves. Peppermint, asparagus, and strawberries are all perennials.

Benefits of planting perennials

strawberry flowers

They don’t need replanted year after year

Unlike annuals, which need to be planted each year, perennials will come back at least three years before they need to be replanted. Many perennials will last much longer than that. I have heard that a healthy asparagus crown can produce for 20 years. The longevity of their life cycle reduces the amount of work you have to invest to see a good harvest.

Perennials are generally hardy plants

Many perennial plants can survive through the cold of winter. We have the most beautiful sage bushes in our garden. They amaze me the way the come back bigger and better every year. It is important to know your USDA cold hardiness zones so that you buy plants that can survive your growing conditions. See the map below to find out your hardiness zone.

While sage, strawberries, and chives thrive here in Idaho rosemary and thyme just can’t survive the winter. I am always amazed when I see the gigantic blueberry bushes from the south, another plant that doesn’t do very well here. So make sure to grow what is appropriate for your region.

rhubarb harvest

They multiply without intervention

While the life cycle of a perennial plant can sometimes be a short as three years, they rarely need to be replanted because they multiply through their root system or by reseeding themselves. I get so excited every spring when my chives come back bigger and better than ever. I started with a very small plant and now have several large bunches. I recently harvested a pound of the flowers to put in the dehydrator, and that was not even a quarter of what was on the plants!

chive flowers

Perennials require minimal care to produce a harvest

Perennial plants have a more established root system than an annual plant. Over time they continue to spread their roots and adapt to their environment, often translating into less watering without a loss in yield from the plant. Their deep root system means that they are able to access nutrients further down in the soil than annuals can.

Raspberries are a perennial plant that thrive in our area. You plant one bush, and pretty soon you have a whole patch. They don’t need large amounts of water to bear fruit and only need some pruning in the fall to continue to produce and spread.

picking raspberries

They bear fruit earlier than annuals

Most annuals can’t be planted until the danger of frost has passed while perennials will often leaf out and begin growing before the last few touches of frost. They seem to handle cooler temperatures which mean that you will be able to harvest them earlier than the annuals you plant. It is so refreshing when my chives and strawberries begin to grow after a long cold winter.

choke cherries

Whether you have an established garden or are just getting started on your property, make sure that perennials are a major part of your plan. Include fruit trees, herbs and fruit-bearing bushes in your planning. The sooner you get them in the ground, the sooner you will be enjoying the fruits of your labor!

Your Turn!

  • What perennials do your have growing in your garden?
  • Which perennials do you hope to add to your garden?
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