Today’s post is by my wonderful staff writer Jordann. Enjoy!
Last week’s post about how I’m not always a minimalist got a lot of responses to the fact that I live with my fiance, my dog and my cat, in a 400 sq. ft. house. Really, it’s more of a cottage. The story of how I came to live in this house is one of luck and a good relationship with relatives.
You can check out the whole story here. The bottom line is: By living in this small space, I’ve been able to reduce my rent to $100 per month plus utilities, which has enabled me to pay off $27,000 of debt in 17 months.
That said, living in such a small space with so many other creatures isn’t easy, even for a minimalist like me. Sure, the sacrifice is worth it for the monetary gain, but it can get stressful at times. There are a lot of problems that come along with small space living, so if you’re thinking about down sizing in order to save a little money or live somewhere more desirable, here are a few of my tips.
As much as I love things like having a home gym, painting, and having an expansive indoor plant collection, I had to give up these hobbies when I moved into a smaller space that couldn’t accommodate all of that stuff. I didn’t intentionally stop these hobbies because I didn’t have enough space, instead, the hassle of lugging everything out and then putting it away became too much, and I started to gradually drift towards my more space-saving hobbies, like reading and blogging.
I love my dog and cat, but in such a small space, they can get on my nerves a bit. That’s why I have a strict “No pets in the bed” rule. Being able to stretch out while sleeping has makes me feel so much less claustrophobic and crowded, that this little space suddenly seems a lot bigger. Plus, I love seeing their faces in the morning after spending the night apart. Since we never break this rule, the pets don’t whine or fuss about it, they just accept it.
Since 400 sq. ft. is so small, it doesn’t take a lot of time to clean every inch of the space. That said, it can also get cluttered so quickly! With no place to hide stuff away and no rooms that I can just shut the door on and think “Out of sight, out of mind”, if I don’t keep up with the cleaning and organizing, this little house can become a disaster zone very, very quickly.
Luckily, my tiny little 400 sq. ft. house is situated on a good-sized lot that allows us space in the backyard for a fire pit and room enough for the dog to play a solid game of fetch. Because of this, I try to get spend a lot of time outside moving around. This keeps me from feeling too cooped up in our little house and getting cabin fever. If you decide to move into a small space, make sure you have either access to your own outdoor green space or plenty of amenities within walking distance to get you out and about.
I live in a tiny house because it affords me the opportunity to drastically reduce my rent and funnel more cash towards getting out of debt. Before living here, I lived in a 700 sq. ft. apartment, and before that, an 850 sq. ft. space. I don’t plan on living here forever, in fact I can’t wait to move somewhere a little more suited to my family’s needs. Not everyone is cut out for it, and it’s definitely not easy. It’s not something everyone should aspire to.
That said, if you’re thinking about downgrading your current living situation, living in a 400 sq. ft. space with two adults and two pets is totally doable. Heck, we could probably even throw a baby into the mix and still manage to get by (no plans to!). Living in a tiny space is a great way to save money in order to achieve other goals in life.
I love being a minimalist. I love the freedom it gives me, and the financial power.
Over the years I’ve extended my minimalism to most areas of my life. From my wardrobe, to my furniture, to my book collection, I’ve been slowly and surely trimming away unnecessary items in my life for years now. The result is that I can live comfortably with my spouse in a 400 sq. ft. house, which helps us save all kinds of money.
There are some parts of my life, however, that minimalism hasn’t touched. In fact, there are some things I still love to have a large collection of. I know that, in these areas of my life, minimalism has failed spectacularly, but I’m ok with that. Here are my minimalism fails:
I wouldn’t say I have a huge collection of work out gear, but I definitely have more than I need. I love to work out but I’m not naturally athletic, so being active can be a challenge for me.
To help combat this, I’ve collected a large selection of high quality work out gear. I definitely don’t need as much as I have, but I love adding to this collection, filling gaps here and there and keeping an eye out for the perfect piece that will make my runs that much more comfortable.
There are lots of women out there who have several times the clothing I do, so I don’t think I’m hoarding clothing by any stretch of the imagination.
Camping, in itself, is extremely anti-minimalism. Having a large collection of camping gear that I get to use, at most three or four times a year (it’s usually closer to two) is such a waste of space and resources. The space needed to store this gear could be put towards something I’d get a lot more use out of, as could the funds required to maintain the gear!
Then there’s the sheer superfluous nature of camping. I have chairs that are just for camping, along with plates, forks, knives, a small BBQ, a cooler, tons of stuff that I already own, but have separate specific stuff just for camping.
I don’t mind though. I love camping and having this large bunch of equipment taking up space in my garage is totally worth it.
Ok, this isn’t my collection, and if I had my way it wouldn’t exist, but my fiance loves to collect DVDs of his favourite movies and vinyl records for our record player. He’s a film major, and some of his favourite movies he’ll literally watch over and over. So, for those particular movies (or TV shows) he’ll buy the actual DVD instead of just watching it on Netflix.
His collection is a reasonable size, and he doesn’t spend much money on it every year, so I don’t complain too much.
While minimalism has helped me so much to get where I am today, it hasn’t completely permeated my life. I still like to have a few small collections, that I get a lot of joy and use out of. I don’t feel guilty about these collections, because they don’t take up too much space, and they aren’t hindering my lifestyle. I’m not one of those hard-core minimalists who try to live on 100 items or less. I like my stuff, I just don’t need much of it to be happy.
I didn’t always have minimalist tendencies. Though I never considered myself a collector, I did have a ton of clothing and furniture while in University, and the size of my book collection growing up bordered on the absurd side. For the last few years though, accumulating large volumes of stuff wasn’t really on my agenda anymore, it just didn’t hold the same appeal that it used to.
I didn’t know my new found feelings were called minimalism until I started trying to get out of debt, I realized what a great advantage my natural habits were, and how much they could help me if I was willing to hone them a little.
When I first started trying to get out of debt, I knew that I needed to cut my expenses and develop a budget. I also knew I needed to get a handle on my shopping habit. Even though I was no longer into collecting many material possessions, I still had the bad habit of purchasing dumb stuff like magazines and candy, which, when added up at the end of the month, represented a huge waste of valuable cash that could go towards paying off my $38,000 debt load.
So I set a budget, and challenged myself to cut out all of the waste that I’d been paying good money for.
The effect was amazing. Over the past 17 months I’ve given up almost all of those silly little money wasting habits I used to have, and not partaking in them has cleared my mind and my home. I used to get so frustrated with all of the stuff I’d end up dragging into the house. Receipts, wrappers, magazines, flyers and the like were the bane of my existence.
Now, that stuff never makes it into the house, because I never buy it in the first place. This has freed up a ton of cash in my budget, that I’ve put towards paying off my debt.
Once I’d realized how much I love simplifying my life, I started looking around at all of the other stuff in my life that could be simplified. I had a lot of furniture that, after moving from the city, no longer had a place in my new, 400 sq. ft. digs.
So I sold it. Not only did I make a little extra cash on furniture that I wasn’t even using, I cleared out a lot of storage space.
By decreasing my spending and selling off extra possessions I had no use for, I suddenly had more excess cash available. So, naturally, putting that excess cash flow towards debt was the logical thing to do. My living expenses now are lower than I ever thought they could be. Instead of spending all of my income on clothing or furniture or a large expensive rental, I spend it on debt.
Now, if I really want a book, I’ll still buy it, but I’ll get the eBook version, and I’ll appreciate it that much more because it’ll be the only thing I buy this month.
The funny thing is, even though I’ve drastically changed my consumption habits, I’m still just as happy or even happier than I was before. Having healthier finances has made a world of difference in my peace of mind, as has stepping of the consumer hamster wheel.
This was another awesome post by my wonderful staff writer Jordann. Hope you enjoyed it!