Summer time is tiny house project time around here! Last summer was spent getting ready for Baby to join us, which was quite the ordeal in our little space. This summer, the task list isn't as elaborate, but we still have our fair share of things to do. Here is the list of things we'd like to fix up and update.
1. Fix Drywall under sink. During transport, things got shuffled around. We ended up with a leak by our hot water heater. Alex had to take out the drywall to repair it. We planned to replace the drywall, but we wanted to give everything time to dry out. We also wanted to make sure that there wasn't another leak. Then, we had the baby and it never got done.
2. Install airconditioner. We don't really have a place for the AC in our house. Last year, we put it on our bench, as shown. However, this corner has been replaced by a pack and play. We're considering putting it up in the storage loft.
3. Replace the trim. When we got our door replaced and removed the bench, there was no trim in that corner. It is currently covered up by the pack and play, but it will look much better with trim over it.
4. Replace the glass on a cracked window. It doesn't leak badly, but it cracked a bit during transportation and we never got around to fixing it. At least the view isn't obstructed! Check out that awesome pine tree.
4. Paint. You may have noticed the patched in the pictures above. We love the color, but don't have any more of it, so we aren't able to just touch it up. We will have to repaint the whole thing. It could use a fresh coat, as I don't think the original paint was that high quality and it seems a bit thin. We'll choose something similar and repaint the whole house. Thankfully, in a tiny house, painting the whole house can be done in an afternoon!
Alex and I LOVE budgeting. We have found that creating a budget and sticking to it has been both eye opening and freeing. Many people view budgeting as a constraint. However, we found that budgeting liberated us to make conscious, informed decisions about how we spend our hard earned cash. We experience less guilt, less "buyer's remorse", and less hesitation to buy the things that we know we need. We can be generous with gifts, intentional with splurges, and frugal when we can. While I could say many, many things about budgeting, I will begin by listing our monthly budget, and a breakdown of last month's purchases so you can see it in action.
Rent/Utilities: $0 (Gracious family members)
*We do track our utility usage and will make a payment every 6 months for our electricity since we use electric for heat, cooking, and AC. So far this year, we have spent $141 on electricity. That's less than $15 a month.)
Laundry: $12 ($1 per load)
Internet: $67 (We pay for the Big House's internet, too).
Cell phone: $80
Retirement contribution: $150
Home Improvement: $75
Baby Supplies: $20
Korie's Personal: $40
Alex's Personal: $20
*This is where we put overflow from any category. If we consistently go over in an area, we know that either our behavior or our budget needs to be adjusted. We also add "extra" money to this area of our budget. Alex and I both do various work on the side that brings in an extra $20-50 per month.
Our fixed expenses remained the same, so I'll post the breakdown for the variable areas only.
Entertainment: $107/110 All of this was spent on restaurants, coffee, and ice cream!
Hobbies: $74/114 Alex spent this on jujitsu and aquaponics.
Home Improvement: $72/75 We bought new lights, charge cords, and outlets.
Baby Supplies: $26/20 We had rollover from the previous month. I got Abel summer clothes.
Korie's Personal: $11/40 I bought two e-books.
Alex's Personal: $9/20 He bought jeans.
Discrerionary: $50/245 We have quite a bit extra stored in here now. I splurged on a cute, versatile dress because I have several events to attend this summer, and still don't quite fit into my pre-baby clothes.
Miscellaneous: May happens to be when we got our tax return, so we used that money for some bonuses that we don't have built into the budget. $280 on plane ticket to see my grandma, $260 on gifts because it is wedding and graduation season, and $600 on new cell phones for Alex and I.
In a typical month, we put away about $2000 in savings because we are in "save as much as possible" mode. The minimum we want to save each month is $1000. We don't keep a budget for gifts and vacations and things like that; we just take them out of savings. Because we are in a season of life when we are making a surplus amount of money, we are comfortable using our discretion to splurge in those areas.
So, that's what our
Are you ready to talk money?
Some people are shy about finances. They are weary of discussing their bank account, savings, and expenses. I'm not. In my opinion, we're in a great place financially for a young couple who got married with student loans and not-so-great jobs.
I don't like debt. I grew up with a mortgage broker for a father, and my family experienced the worst of the 2008 housing crisis. At the time, I was 18 and graduating high school. I filled out FAFSA, and saw that my family fell below the poverty line that year. I attended community college and lived at home for 2 years, but I still graduated college with almost $20,000 in debt. Because I had only gotten federal loans, I believed that I had the "good" type of debt. I deferred my payments, travelled overseas, bought a used car in cash, and 2 years after graduating, landed my "grown up" job.
When Alex and I got married, we debating between spending all of our savings on my debt (He had none.) or on a tiny house. We chose a tiny house, and figured the $1000 we would have been spending on rent would go towards loans. And that rate, we knew we could pay them off in 20 months, maximum, but hoped to do it sooner. If we lived in the tiny house long enough to pay back our loans, we would be satisfied with our commitment.
That was in November 2014. Our goal was to pay off our debt by August 2015, paying $2000 each month. We had no other payments, low rent for the land, and two incomes. We also owed Alex's parents $8000, as they fronted the cost for part of the wedding, moving the tiny house, and hooking up utilities. We paid them first with the very generous gifts we received at our wedding. We stuck to a strict budget, and achieved our goal of paying off our loans by August 2015. By August 2016, we hope to have our savings account build back up to where it was when we got married.
As much as I would like to pat myself on the back for doing so well with our money, I also know that this wouldn't have been possible without the family and friends who supported us. Both of our parents let us live at home as young adults, rent free. Alex and I had our wedding almost entirely paid for. One friend donated decorations and put them up. Another bought my ($200) dress for me. A family member gifted us our honeymoon. Our friends and family continued their generosity through gifts and cards. Alex's parents allow us to park on their land and pay only a small amount in rent. They share their laundry, deep freezer, water, and electricity with us. Now that we have Abel, both grandma's watch him one day a week so we can go out. Alex's brother and sister who live at the Big House next door love the little guy and Abel's auntie babysits him so we can go out on dates. Almost all of Abel's things we handed down or gifted to us. We are truly blessed.
Staying on a budget played a big part, too. Next, I am going to share about tiny house budgeting and money saving!
For those of us who live in a 4-season climate, Spring has such an inspiring brightness to it. For my whole life, those first warm, sunny days have always helped both my waning vitamin D supply and my soul.
This freedom- finally, I can go outside without a jacket... Or shoes- is magnified when living in a tiny house.
Outdoor space is vital when living in a small space. I take that back. Outdoor space is vital when living in ANY space. But you can really appreciate just how great it is when living in 144 square feet with 2 other people.
Sometimes, people seem to assume that we spend all of our time in our tiny house. I've been asked, "Don't you need more than 150 square feet?" And yes, I do need more than 150 square feet. I just don't need to own it. I can go to the park, the mall, the library, the book store, the coffee shop down the street, a friend's house, the yard, the bike path... So many places! I want to take advantage of them.
For our yard, we don't have anything fancy. We bought a $150 gazebo from Walmart. It blew down in a windstorm last summer, so Alex had to fix it with some planks of wood. We bought a set of furniture from a garage sale for $75. It's worn, but super comfortable. I love our gazebo.
I love how easily we can entertain in the summers. Bonfires are our favorite. This summer, we have begun to explore cooking over the fire more often. I learned to cook Indian food over a fire when I was in India. After seeing them cook breakfast, lunch, dinner, and tea over a fire for 150 people every day made it a lot less intimidating. We've done lentils and curry, Asian hot pots (kind of like fondue), fried rice, and lo Mein. Next time, I'm thinking about putting the grill plate over the fire and making pizzas. We can buy premise crust and everyone can bring their favorite toppings and throw them on the grill. They cook in about 5 minutes each if we get the fire hot enough.
I'm excited for what this new season will bring us as a tiny house family.
I spent months honing my baby registry in preparation for Abel. Some necessities were obvious, but there were some aspects of having a baby that I wasn't prepared for at all. Here are some of the items that I didn't anticipate needing, but ended up being a godsend.
1. Zipper/Velcro swaddles
Some newborns love to be swaddled, and others hate it. I refrained from purchasing any specialty swaddles until after we got a feel for how our little guy preferred to sleep. Turns out he loves to be wrapped up snug and tight. We attempted to swaddle with blankets first, but he always broke free. We had hand-me-down woombies and halo sleep sacks. The first night we put him in a Woombie, he slept for 6 hours straight!
3. Breast Pumps
Some people have an easy-go with feeding their babies. Many people did not, and I was one of them. For some reason, my milk just wasn't producing, and my baby was losing weight. I ended up with 3 different breast pumps as I attempted to build a supply and feed my baby only breast milk, even though it was expressed. It took 6 weeks for me to be comfortable breastfeeding and be confident that he was getting enough. I used a breast pump rental, a used breast pump I bought online, and a new one I got through my insurance. Now, I didn't NEED three, but I did need at least one, and I needed to trial and error to see which one worked best for me. A breast pump became an unexpected necessity for us.
5. Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair
This is the best high chair I could find that goes from infant to adult. Other convertible chairs only hold up to 100 pounds. This can hold up to 300 pounds. We currently have it set up with the the baby seat and tray. Abel can't quite sit up yet, so he needs the extra support. After 5-6 months, we can remove the structured seat and secure him with the strap. We'll be able to use it too at that point. We searched and searched for the perfect high chair since we don't have much furniture. We debated getting a collapsible one or not using a high chair at all. I'm really happy with this piece. It keeps Abel and his food mess contained, and we can use it for years.
So there you have it. There were some products that were no brainers, like the car seat, clothes, blankets, diapers, and the baby carrier (We have a baby k'tan and ergo baby!). But these 5 products were a surprise to me. Sure, they are all things that we could live without, but to be honest, I like living with them better.