Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

5 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

Christmas is just weeks away, but if you’re unprepared, there are still ways to save money this holiday season. It just take a little planning, honestly and self control Here are five ways to cut costs last minute.

1: Make a Budget

Whether you have $100 or $1,000 to spend on the holidays, you need to make a plan on how to spend it. If you don’t, you’ll inevitably overspend in one area or have unplanned expenses pop up and bust your budget. Learn how to set a budget here.

The way you make one for the holidays is exactly like you would for the month. Simply make lines for each person and planned expenses like food, travel, décor and events. Don’t forget stocking stuffers (like I did one year!) Allocate how much you want to spend in each category and shuffle until your budget is spent. If this is your first year making a holiday budget, make sure to have a miscellaneous category for things you might not think of.

Remember to reconcile your budget by either using cash envelopes for each area or tracking your spending in your phone or spreadsheet. A budget doesn’t work unless you follow it.

2: Cull your gift list

At this point, you may realize that you have too many people to gift for and not enough cash. It might be time to decide that you don’t have to spent $5-10 on every neighbor, teacher, coworker and friend.

Remember that gifts aren’t the only way to make someone feel appreciated. For years now, I’ve only gifted to an “elite” list of my family and friends who are closest to me. Everyone else gets handwritten cards, hugs and bags of homemade cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels and other yummy treats. Consumables are always appreciated, especially when made with love.

Don’t give into the temptation to buy cheap or gag gifts. Every woman has enough cheap perfumed lotion sets and probably shoves them into a closet or drawer as she buys herself the lotion she prefers. If you wouldn’t enjoy the item yourself, don’t give it to someone else.

3: Potluck it up

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, not putting on the perfect Martha Stewart event single handedl, so if you’re feeding more than one person this holiday season, request help with meals. Too often we stress out about making our homes, food and décor perfect (guilty) and it ends up at least partially ruining how much we are able to enjoy the moment.

Tell people what to bring and if someone volunteers to help in the kitchen, hand them a whisk. Enjoy the time cooking with them and reject the stress that comes with trying to do it all yourself.

4: Tone down décor

It can be so tempting to decorate every nook and cranny of your home for the holidays and even easier to spend hundreds of dollars doing it.

Christmas décor is incredibly overpriced and the companies who produce it play completely into it, jacking up prices because they know you’ll be distracted by all the glitter and holiday cheer. It may not feel like it, but adding a few things for you or your home to your cart definitely adds up money-wise.

There are also fairly simple do-it-yourself décor options like holiday pillow covers, ornaments, wreaths and more that can be frugal alternatives to store-bought goods, just be mindful of material costs. Stores that sell trees often give away cutting

s that can be made into garlands, wreaths, tablescapes and more while also making your home smell incredibly Christmas-y.

5: Know when to stop spending

Once you start shopping, it’s hard to stop. We get a natural high when buying and the holidays are the perfect excuse to shop since we are obligated to purchase gifts for other people. Remember what is really valuable about the holiday and stop yourself. Once you’ve hit your budget, it shouldn’t matter if you find the holy grail of presents, you need to stop (or return the other stuff). Holidays are about family and love, not finding the ultimate gift or spending more than another person.

Whatever you do, don’t go into debt for the holidays- you don’t want to start 2018 paying off 2017. It’s okay to have a smaller Christmas you can afford.

 

Your Turn!

  • What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
  • What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Five Tips for A Mindful Home

Living a nomadic lifestyle means that I live in a lot of different homes. My home can change weekly – which has given me the opportunity to figure out exactly what works (and what doesn’t) in making a mindful and simple home just that, a “home.” These are five tips for a mindful and simple home.Tips for a Mindful Home

Keep Only What Adds Value

By surrounding yourself with things that add value to your life – in terms of usefulness or beauty, you are creating a more mindful home. When the clutter is cleared away, your home will become fresh, clear and a place of serenity and happiness. I like to keep my surroundings ultra minimal, and make sure everything that I keep has a purpose, and that I use it often.

Be Picky

I am pretty picky about the clothes I wear and the people I hang out with, so why wouldn’t I be picky with the stuff I surround myself with? I chose to keep my belongings in tip-top shape, and purchase high quality electronics and equipment that I’ll use daily.

Make Your Bed

Minimalists aren’t always clean. But making sure that your bed is easy to make ensures that you’ll actually do it. I like to minimize my blankets and throw pillows on my bed, so that I just have to pull up a duvet cover and viola – the bed is made. Making your bed is step one in being productive for the day.

Tips for a Mindful Home

Pay Attention To Noises

I have always been super sensitive to noise. The sound of a television in the next room drives me absolutely up the wall. I much prefer sounds of classical music or even silence. I have noticed that I am much more productive, happy, and positive when I’m surrounded by uplifting sounds or silence.

Clean Up

A clean home equals a clear mind, right? I notice a huge difference in my mental clarity when my home and area is clean and tidy. Minimalism makes my life so much easier in terms of cleaning. I hardly ever have to dedicate more than 20 or 30 mins of time to cleaning – and when I do dedicate time to cleaning, it is always only to deep clean.

These are five simple tips that have helped me enjoy my living space a bit more, even if that space does change regularly.

Your Turn!

  • Which tip would make the biggest impact for you?

Getting Ready For The Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching and that means a really busy time here at the tiny house.  With family in town and holiday parties with friends, it can get a little crazy so I decided to try to get all my to do list done so I could just enjoy the time.

First off, I decided to get a tree this year, something I haven’t done in a long time, but I found the perfect solution one day while I was picking up some wood filler from the hardware store.  It’s a rosemary bush that is shaped and pruned into the form of a Christmas tree.

christmas tree tiny house

I haven’t decorated it, YET!  But I really like the look of it and it smells great, plus come spring time I plan to drop it into the ground and let it open up some so I can use it for cooking.

In a small space it can be tricky to do holiday things, but this little tree is perfect for the season.  At only about 2 feet tall and about 10 inches round, its a great little way to decorate for the holidays.

how to fix floor noises

The next big task I had to do was fix my floors.  I have solid wood floors made of maple and I love the look of them, but they are noisy.  There were several places where the floor would flex enough to make noises and I have wanted to fix it for a long time, but didn’t know how.

I found this neat little kit for sale called the Squeak No More Kit which was exactly what I needed.  The screws are specially designed to snap the head off, so you can drive them into your floor and then they break off below the surface of the wood.

floor noise fix

I was a bit hesitant to put holes in my nice floor, but this kit made a very small hole and then can be almost completely hidden with some wood filler colored to match the wood tone.  To use it you first drill a pilot hole with the jig, then drive the screw through the middle hole of the jig and then you hear a snap!  Give it a little wiggle and you have the screw recessed below the wood surface.

The trick to this is you need to be confident, if you go slow you will run into issues with the snapping.  So when your drive in the screw, go in with a lot of speed and torque, I used my impact driver to put the screws in.

before and after stair build

One my floors were nice and quiet, I decided to update my stairs.  The old one was very sad looking and wasn’t super stable, so I wanted to install a nice set.  I wrote all about this in this post about how I built my stairs.

gifts for christmas

Finally I’ve decided to buy and wrap all my gifts way ahead of time so that I don’t have to worry about it.  While people are still thinking about Thanksgiving, I want it all to be done with.

A lot of these things are things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but they just hung over me, always at the back of my mind that I needed to take care of.  So I just decided to go to town on them and get setup for the holidays early this year.

Your Turn!

  • What things are you going to do to get ready for the holidays?
  • What things do you do to reduces holiday stress?

The Connection Between Clutter and Mental Health

Before minimalism, I was constantly surrounded by clutter. Laundry, trinkets and souvenirs, mail – I was swimming in it. I didn’t notice the impact it had on my mental clarity until I cleared out this clutter. When I was living in this constant state of chaos, my mind was always jumping around from one idea to the next. My to-do list seemed endless. I was always distracted, and hardly ever productive.

Clutter and Mental Health

Once I cleared out the chaos and simplified my surroundings, my mind became decluttered as well. It was an unexpected side effect of minimalism, but a welcome one. I felt that I had the time and clarity to finally think clearly. My to-do list became shorter, not only because I didn’t have a constant overflow of laundry, but also because I became more intentional. I gained clarity in my priorities and what I wanted from my days, weeks, and months. I found my passions and made some serious goals (and then I achieved them).

When the clutter was gone, I noticed a bunch of little changes that added a lot of value to my life. I didn’t want to spend my weekends shopping anymore – I became happy with the way that my home looked. I wanted to keep it clutter free, which ended up saving me tons of money on home furnishings.

Clutter and Mental HealthPreviously, I’d been in a consistent pursuit of home perfection. I wanted my home to be clean, clear, and look like it had been decorated by an interior designer. When I cleared the mess, I realized that I loved the way my home looked when it was clutter free. It was easier to manage, and I no longer felt like I needed to find the perfect throw pillow to attain home perfection.

Another change I noticed quickly was my wanting to use my new surroundings to my best capabilities. I finally had a room that had good energy and made me want to keep it tidy. I started making my bed every day and putting my dirty laundry in the laundry basket instead of on the floor. By doing these little tasks, I was able to save bits of time that all added up to a lot of time. When I got rid of all of my excess clothes, I was able to spend my weekends hiking around Northern California instead of doing 10 loads of laundry (I’m still not sure how I was able to make that much laundry in a week, with only 2 people in my household).

I noticed that I had more energy and drive after clearing out my house. I didn’t feel weighed down anymore (though I hadn’t even realized how weighed down I felt until I got rid of the stuff). I felt light, free, and motivated.

I never expected minimalism to give me so many benefits. These little changes came from just clearing the clutter in my surroundings – I’ve experienced even more benefits from living a fully minimalist lifestyle.

Your Turn!

  • Do you live clutter-free?
  • If so, how has it changed your life?

 

Building A Basic Electrical Kit

My sister is a new home owner and with it comes a lot of handy man projects that she and her husband have to figure out.  So I was called in to teach them how to install a new chandelier in the dining room.  As part of it I decided to put together a little kit for them to handle all the basic needs of a DIY homeowner when it comes to basic electrical work.

Things like changing lights, adding a fan, swapping a switch of plug all are done very easily and most people can figure out how to do it safely and successfully with a few basic tools and a little know-how.

Here’s What I Put In The Kit

 

First is the tools of the trade.  A good set of wire pliers and a box cutter.  I used to think it was silly to have a set of pliers just for wiring, but when I had to wire my own house I got a pair.  It was there I realized the value of these very specialized set of features.   I’ll often strip wires with the pliers themselves, but sometimes a good ole box cutter is needed.  The pliers ran me $15 (get yours here) and the box cutter was $5 (found here)

Next was electrical tape, I don’t skimp here and I always buy name brand.  Nothing special, but a must have supply to have on hand for any electrical work. You can get them here

wire tape

Next were wire nuts.  Often lights and fans come with some, but if you ever need to redo the connection, it’s best practice to use a fresh wire nut.  These are pretty basic, but I found a good deal on them here

wire nuts

Zip ties are just one of those things that you can’t have enough and they are amazing useful.  I just buy them in packs for cheap here

zip ties

Finally I included a small bit of 14 gauge wire which is good for low power draw items and things up to 15 amps.  For 20 amps I’d go a bigger wire, but for most uses this is fine.  Having some extra is great when you need to make a pig tail or extend a wire because you had to cut it kinda short and need some working room.

14 gauge wire for 15 amp

Finally I packed it up in a nice box for them as their gift.  electrical tools

If you want to learn more about doing your own electrical for your tiny house or even a big house, check out our guide to electrical, click here.

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