How To Get Started: A Practical Guide Part 4

Now many of you who are looking to actually live in a Tiny House have some level of awareness of this cultural phenomenon we know as consumerism.  It essentially functions by creating social pressures to buy more stuff, our culture has an instilled mentality that we need more stuff to be happy.

The more stuff, the more happiness right?  Wrong.  Studies have actually shown that the purchase of stuff gives us a quick high, but ultimately leaves us even more unhappy.  Buying more stuff means we need to work more to pay for it, we incur more debt.  All of these things bring stress, give us less time to relax, time away from family and friends and when we do have free time, we are hounded by collection agencies.   When we move into a Tiny House, we need to reduce the amount of things we need to fit in, this actually reduces stress, focuses us on what is important and create greater value for what little we do have.

I encourage you to have some time set aside to do some introspection.  During that time consider what you have purchased over the last month using receipts and a spreadsheet.   I have seen it a million times, people who don’t track it, don’t realize how bad the problem is.  This is a pretty well document phenomenon.  Studies have shown that when people track things, they typically spend 1/3 less, just by tracking it!

It has taken me a long time to really weed through my subconscious to get to a point where I can realize when these deep rooted influences are pushing me to buy something.  I have been on this journey now for 2 years and still am struggling with it.  I do intentionally strike a balance between separation of consumer culture and still staying generally socially acceptable.  Clothing for example is a big societal function, fashions and trends drive us to buy more and I think many have a hard time breaking this cycle.


Now it is true, men’s clothing is easier to do this with, but I still believe anyone can do it.  My clothes literally can fit in a big suitcase, all of them.  I own 1 suit, 3 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, 10 shirts, 15 undershirts, 30 pairs of socks, 30 pairs of underwear, 3 work shirts, 3 shirt that get dirty, 2 pajama pants, a hat, rain jacket, winter jacket, one pair of dress shoes, one pair of running shoes, and one pair of garden shoes.   I have also worked to be able to work from home or a job that I can dress casually, this drastically reduces the amount of clothes and limits social pressures.

So today start looking at what you have spent, take some time to think about how these cultural norms influence you behavior and check out the story of stuff to help understand these mechanisms.

  1. What to do about clothes has been a sticking point for me for awhile. I don’t feel pressure to be fashionable in the least and that isn’t really my problem. My problem is that I do things/jobs/hobbies that get my clothes really dirty and stinky. I do these things year round so that means I have to have winter/summer/spring clothes that can get dirty and the same that I will try to keep clean for casual wear. I only buy clothes from thrift stores so that makes it somewhat easier and I have considered giving a good deal of my non season clothes to goodwill and then getting some “new” ones when the season rolls around again.
    It is kind of a chicken or egg dilemma…do I keep few clothes and use little space while washing them constantly or keep more clothes, use more space,but wash less often?

  2. Hey Ryan!

    Great post! Indeed happiness is more a product of relationships and experiences than of material wealth. Also, manual vs. automated tracking is a great suggestion for simpler living! It teaches mindfulness in our everyday actions.

    Regarding clothing, I know nothing of fashion. However, one strategy that we have adopted to simplify clothing is to wear more wool! Wool is a great fiber because it resists odors that can built up in clothing and thus not need to be washed as often. Although wool is more expensive when purchased retail, it can often be found for very little in thrift stores. We have even found ultra soft merino wool sweaters for $4 here in Portland, Oregon. Folks see the “dry clean only” label on wool garments and pass them by on the rack. However, simple castile soaps like Dr. Bronners and minimal agitation can be used to clean wool effectively without requiring a trip to the dry cleaners.


  3. Two weeks of outfits may be sufficient.

    3 tops x 3 bottoms = 9 outfits
    Omit accessories.
    Rather than an ironing board, iron clothes on a towel over a kitchen counter.
    Rather than use a hanger, iron an outfit and wear it.
    Try one pair of dress shoes, sneakers and boots – or go barefoot.
    Rather than a hat or umbrella, try a hooded jacket.
    Rather than a coat closet, try coat hooks near an entry door.

    • Totally agree that cultural norms influence our behavior, but after realization all my clothes now can fit in a big suitcase and a little one. But still it is very small place so I can travel a lot. Thanks.

  4. Try a wardrobe of summer outfits that can be layered for warmth throughout the winter.

  5. For convenience, try an under-counter, combination washer/dryer:,default,sc.html

  6. Very interesting post. I was looking for this long time now.

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