No matter what your feelings are on tiny home living, I think we can all agree that living with less meaningless crap and more of what makes us happy is a pretty good life goal, right? You don’t have to go as minimal as we did to reap the benefits of tiny living—in fact, we wouldn’t recommend a 250 sq. ft. house on wheels to everyone. But there are several principles to tiny living that we do encourage, all of which can be used no matter how big your home is or how much you travel, to free up your space, mind and wallet for the things that truly matter to you.
If this seems a little too simple, it’s because it is. When you sit down and examine exactly what you buy, use and store on a regular basis, you might be surprised to see how much of it you don’t really need (or even want) and how many opportunities you have to eliminate useless stuff. If you notice you’re constantly throwing out expired food, focus on better meal planning and grocery shopping. If you find yourself digging through clothes you never wear to find the things you do, collect everything you haven’t worn in a year, sell it, or donate it to organizations in need in your area. Sell things you use just once or twice a year, like a turkey fryer, then borrow or rent them from libraries of things when you need them. Just because you have space for something doesn’t mean you should fill it—extra junk takes up space in your mind, too. Your stress levels and bank account will thank you for getting rid of the unnecessary.
Reduce your waste.
Parallel to consuming less is wasting less, a cornerstone of the tiny house movement. While many tiny house dwellers are environmentally conscious, they also simply don’t have space for garbage, and you don’t have to either. Zero-waste advocate and cosponsor of our #WasteNot Challenge Lauren Singer offers three easy steps to reducing your trash production:
- Examine the trash you already produce.“Learn what your trash is and figure out how you can reduce it.” See Lauren’s list of zero waste alternatives.
- Make one-time changes that are easy to implement in a day, such as using a reusable shopping bag at the grocery store or swapping single-serve packages for bulk.
- Learn how to make your own products.“They’re package free and give you control over the chemicals you’re putting in your body.” They’re also cheaper!
By following her own advice, all of her trash from the last four years can fit into a single mason jar. We’re not saying you have to go that extreme (although if you do, great!) but mindfully reducing your trash isn’t just an eco-conscious move, it’s a self indulgent one, too. Less trash makes for more peace of mind and hidden cash savings.
Switch to multi-purpose products.
Why let multiple single-function items take up room in your life and budget when multi-functional items accomplish so much more with less? Instead of a footstool, coffee table and storage chest, get a storage ottoman that serves all three purposes. Instead of packing a dozen full outfits for a week-long trip, pack 10 staple clothing items that can be layered, mixed and matched for weeks’ worth of combinations for every occasion. Instead of separate slow cooker, steamer and pressure cooker in your kitchen, switch to an all-in-one next time you’re due for a replacement.
Making the move to energy and water efficiency takes a bit of time and money up front, but if you break it down into steps, you can start saving right away with minimal effort. Try tackling one green activity a month, such as:
- Swap incandescent bulbs for LEDs or CFLs
- Install insulating curtains
- Seal gaps around your doors and windows
- Install a smart thermostat like Nest to reign in your heat and AC use
- Fix leaks
- Switch to low flow shower heads
- Reduce how much electricity and water you use, such as shortening your shower by five minutes and cutting down your screen time
Once you make all the small changes you can and start to see the savings roll in, level up to bigger projects as your home needs upgrades and replacements:
- Install a rain barrel to catch rainwater and irrigate your garden or landscaping
- Switch your toilets to low-flush versions (or consider installing a dual-flush converter)
- Insulate your attic
- Switch your appliances to Energy Star approved options (bonus: if your old one is in good condition, sell or donate it!)
- Install a tankless water heater
- Power your home with solar panels
Invest in things that will last.
Quality and meaningfulness are two more cornerstones of living tiny. Embrace this in your own life by investing in quality items that will last you for years, rather than saving a few bucks on something cheap you’ll just have to fix or replace over and over. Not only will you save time and money in the long run, you’ll accumulate things that you can pass on to others with memories attached, like a cast iron pot or a solid set of tools. Check out BuyMeOnce.com for a great place to get started.
Fill your life with the things you love.
Above all else, this is what going tiny is all about. Get rid of anything that’s not meaningful or useful and taking up valuable space in your home and mind—then fill that space with things you love! Use your extra cash to take that dream trip you’ve always wanted to. Spend the time you save on cleaning to read or get together with friends or learn something new. Turn your once-cluttered spare room into a yoga retreat. Going tiny gives you the room to live big, whatever that means to you, so go live!