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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?

Don’t Go Gentle Into That Night

I recently was listening to a podcast where a quote was given that struck me.  I have been thinking a lot recently about how predetermined and designed life can be for us unless we wake up and take charge.  The quote was:

It’s called the American dream because you

have to be asleep to believe it.

Wake from your slumber!

The scary thing is if we don’t wake up from this slumber of complacency, our lives are influenced to a point that defies common sense.  It may be extreme sounding, but to be a cog in the machine, to work long hours only to “buy, buy, buy!” it’s like we are merely an engine which we fuel consumerism.  That isn’t to say that to consume, buy or trade is inherently wrong, but to do it with such abandon that the average American has over $15,000 in credit card debt is insane. (source)

dulyposted-live-your-life_quote-610x610Being “awake” is an odd experience when people some call tiny housers crazy for living in a tiny house.  If I were to have no debt of any kind and $10 in my pocket, I’d have more wealth than 25% of Americans combined!  If I have no debt and $15,000, I’d have a higher net worth than about the bottom third of Americans… combined! (source)

We are told debt is normal, that credit cards are normal, that a home loan and a student loans are a “good investment” and people believe it.  I believed it for a time!  I have a Master’s degree and after crunching the numbers, it panned out financially, but that is quickly changing for many people. (source)  A home loan… no thank you.  I have friends who talk about buying a home, with no money down and all I can think of is “I want you to be happy, but I can’t but help question the wisdom of not being able to afford a down payment, but thinking you can afford a house”.

I don’t think it’s my place to say people can’t shop till they drop, have no debt of any kind or they should live in a tiny house.  But I struggle when I see people – particularly friends – taking this predetermined path without giving it serious consideration.  If someone were to be fully aware of things and still decided to proceed, I’d be okay with that, but blindly following the pattern is scary.

tumblr_mzzdbvaN5A1sk4myeo1_1280As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen more and more of my friends get into the grind of adulthood and be miserable in their jobs; luckily I think this is the minority of my friends/acquaintances.  I’ve had friends comment that they now drink more than they used to because it makes the work week a bit more bearable.

I see consumerism as a troublesome band-aid for many folks who are unhappy with some aspect of their life.  Again, I’m not saying no consuming, there are things we need in life, but it shouldn’t be a coping mechanism like it is used today for so many.  I was shocked to find out that I know several people who go to the mall and shop 2-3 times a week!  I think the city where I live, Charlotte, is on the extreme end of this, because I have 6 large malls within a 30 minute drive of my home; there is even tour bus companies here that bring people to our city just to shop!

To not just complain about it all, below are some things that might help determine your own path.

  1. Consider what your goals are in life, then look at why they are your goals, dig deep.
  2. Write a personal mission statement.
  3. Do the math on what debt really means for you.
  4. Ask yourself “if I could do anything right now, what would it be?”
  5. Identify the reason you cannot do number 4 right now… How can you eliminate that?
  6. Consider how resilient your currently are in your situation.  How can you be more resilient?
  7. Identify stressors and potential disrupts, guard against or change to eliminate.

 

To close I thought I’d share this poem, which I used part of in the title.  It’s by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Finally, I’d like to hear your thoughts about this topic. 

Your Turn!

  • How did you “wake up”?
  • How do you help people consider their path?
  • How can we awaken loved ones we care about?

Gratitude In The New Year

With New Years right around the corner, many folks are thinking about what will come in 2014.  Many people will also be making new years resolutions.  I’d like to propose something a little bit different this year.  Instead of looking forward to what will be, lets look back and what has been; more specifically, lets practice gratitude for all the good things that we enjoyed in 2013.

This looking back and practicing gratitude has been show to be more productive.  It is something that I have learned this year to be a huge boost to my happiness, there are moments where I am struck by how lucky I have been and what a great life I have been fortunate enough to live.  I have learned to appreciate the things we often take for granted.

This practice of expressing gratitude has been shown in studies to actually boost happiness.

2013 was an amazing year, lets be thankful for it.

5 Gifts For Tiny Housers

Out of all the things that comes up with tiny houses, the holidays might be the trickiest for tiny house folks.  Even after years of living tiny, people around me still feel the need to give gifts.  While it isn’t necessary, I appreciate gifts much more because people really have to think of a creative ways to gift without taking up space in my tiny house.

Today I wanted to share the top 5 gift ideas for tiny house folks.

If you are having trouble telling people what you want for the holidays, try sending them this post so they can get some ideas!

1. Experiences:

This is my absolute favorite gift to give and receive because it means that I can do something fun with that person that I care about.  It could be dinner out, tickets to an event or some other adventure.  I try to think of things that the person likes and often get two so that not only is it an awesome experience, but we can experience it together.

Gift idea: Use code  “tiny2013″ for $50 off tickets to the Tiny House Conference click here!

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2. Consumables

Next up is things that people can eat or use up.  Things that after a certain amount of use is are gone.  A perfect example of this is food items.  We are all busy and most of us like food, so making something or buying something that person likes is a great gift.  Think of things that are difficult to make or some other cause for it not being a regular thing.  Other things outside of food could be candles, eco friendly bath products, fire wood.

Gift Idea: a subscription to a CSA (community support agriculture).

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3. Help them pursue a dream

For those we care about, we want to see them succeed.  Find out some of things that the person is working towards in their goals.  Also learning about what is on people’s bucket list is another great way to get ideas of what you might be able to help them with their goals.  If people ask you for what you want, you can think of things that will help you achieve your goals.  The obvious thing here for this blog is how can you better achieve your goal of living in a tiny house?  Get a copy of your plans made up, get that resource you’ve been eying or what about getting some one on one coaching from us here?

Gift idea:  One on One coaching with the experts of The Tiny Life at our sister website – Tiny House Craftsman!

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4. Something you’re already going to buy anyway.

I do this a lot, since I don’t really need much, I don’t buy much either.  So when something comes up that I need to replace it or buy something new, I hold off and suggest it as a gift when others ask.  For example, I am in need of new shoes, have been for a month or so, but I’ve been holding off.  This way those who must have to give me a gift can and its something that I really need; Often something that will replace a worn out item.

Gift Idea: Shoes, socks, tires, etc.

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5. Digital or no tangible items.

Sometimes there are gifts that take up no space at all and can be used later on.   I’m thinking of gift cards, vouchers and digital downloads.  A gift card to your favorite restaurant takes up next to no space, but is a great way for you to still give or receive things when you are living tiny.  Other things could be itunes music, movies, or other media.

Gift Idea: Cracking The Code – Guide to building codes and zoning for tiny houses!

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5 Reasons Most People Never Discover Their Purpose

A recent article came out from Inc. about why most people don’t discover their purpose in life and it inspired me to write this.

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People don’t define what is right for themselves.

I hear it too often, “I did it because I was supposed to”.  That common phrase might be one of the most dangerous phrases today in modern America.  If you are here reading this, there’s a good chance that you know this all too well.  When we grow up we often look to those around us who we trust to help us make decisions and we are smart to do so.  However, there comes a time when we must really start to rely on ourselves more and through introspection, learn what is right for us.  We can still seek the council of others, but as we grow, we must understand when to ask for help and more importantly who to ask.

Not taking the time for introspection and goal setting.

How crazy is it that we spend all this time doing things that may or may not make us happy, but we can’t take an hour to just think about what we are doing with our life.  Introspection is one of the strongest tools I’ve found to help me navigate life.  It brings clarity, it bring confidence, it spurs new ideas and it speaks to the soul.

Using introspection allows you do realize your dreams, but also grapple with your fears; both in productive ways.  Most people never take the time to do this, they do what they do because they are “supposed” to, but don’t take the time really think about things.

Most people are scared of their darkside

Most tiny housers are great people, but everyone has a darkside.  We aren’t talking about a darkside a la sociopath or the like; We are talking about your regrets, insecurities and selfish drives.  Everyone has them and it isn’t until we wrestle with them that we can make any real progress.  It has been my experience that the most amount of growth and understanding occurs in this space; where you face these dark parts of yourself and lean into them.  In some cases I have learned from them, other times I have come to accept them, or in some cases I have come to embrace them.  Whatever it is you have been intentional with them.

Too busy worrying about everyone else.

There are those who’s opinions you deem important, but for most people, we are too concerned with everyone’s opinion of us.  It’s only natural, but spending too much time worrying what others think about us is dangerous.

It is funny in a way, But I have found that those who are most likely judge you or chastise you are often the ones that are the most uncomfortable with themselves, haven’t found themselves, do what they are “supposed to do”, and haven’t decided things for themselves; why would you care about a person’s opinion that is so ill conceived and fraught with insecurities?

Seek the advice of those important to you, then go forth, ignore the rest.

People don’t “buck up” and go for it.

There has been one thing that I’ve found when it comes to people who are doing what they love, are well balanced, living an adventure.  They don’t let excuses get in the way and they act today.  I did this with my tiny house, I put it off, but in the end when I did it, I realized I, myself, was literally the only thing holding me back.

What is more tragic than a life where you don’t get to live your dream?  Having the chance to do something amazing and not jumping at the opportunity.
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