5 Former Must-Haves We Decided To Ditch

It is pretty incredible, as you begin to downsize and purge yourself of non-necessities, what you find you no longer need or haven’t even used. We have uncovered entire boxes we hadn’t unpacked in years. Clearly the items packed inside weren’t important. I feel certain you have an attic or basement stockpile like we did. Most people do.

So here are the five former must-haves we decided to ditch. Some of them may surprise you!

Multiple Seasons/Sizes of Clothing

Full transparency, if left to my own devices, I can be a hoarder. Growing up with limited funds taught me to be thrifty and responsible. This includes couponing for groceries, buying in bulk, and snagging deals on clothes or shoes before my kids can even fit into those sizes.

Now that we live in under 300 square feet, my storage has drastically decreased. This means, aside from our dresser and closet space, we have exact one drawer (I repeat: one.) for the next season’s items. So, when I change over from winter to spring, everything that can still be worn next winter must fit into the drawer.

This mindset has cut down on excessive spending as well as allowed us a true picture of what we actually wear. Lean in close: It’s not that much!

Extras of Everything

It shocks me to say that my son does not, in fact, need over 20 pair of underwear and our dog will not actually drop dead if she runs out of dog treats. Say whhhaaattt!? I know. Stay with me here.

As a former bulk and budget shopper, I might have 9 bags of dog treats or an entire shelf filled with toilet paper just because it was on sale. It pains me to admit that all of those things just took up space that could have been used for something else and never did we find ourselves in a state of dog treat-less panic.

So, my fellow saving-savvy friend, step away from the Chich fil a sauce packets. It’s fine. You have BBQ sauce in a bottle in your fridge. You will make it through this nugget crisis without taking 13 extra packets home with you. Trust me.

Trendy Toys and Gadgets

Maybe it is a good thing we Roadschool because my six year old son will not be another cell phone toting elementary student. Nope. Not happening. Our kids watch Netflix so they don’t see commercials marketing the latest and greatest toy with flashing lights and obnoxious noises because we don’t have room for them anyway!

Each of our kiddos has two fabric bins each for toys. If they don’t fit, they don’t stay. If they get something new, something old is replaced. We go through and purge toys about once every 6-8 weeks and they know this is coming. It has been pretty freeing because we keep a box of their old toys at my folks’ so every visit they take things and trade them out. It’s like a toy library system and it always makes them feel like they are getting to play with ‘new’ things for my favorite price of free-ninety-free!

“Just In Case” Items

For the love of first aid kits, when has there ever been a need for 2 Ace bandages, 3700 bandaids, and 10 double thick gauze pads during one accident? I couldn’t tell you either, but I certainly had that many or more on hand at any given time when we lived in our larger home.

Friends, natural disasters occur but they are rare. So, it is unlikely we will need to make the space for a ‘Go Bag’ or the 30 pieces of fine china most people keep in a specially designated cabinet in case the queen comes over. You don’t need these things so rid yourself of them!

Often Buying In Bulk

As previously stated, I am a natural hoarder. At any given time in our pre-tiny living years, you could’ve basically shopped my pantry or medicine cabinets as if they were an extension of Target.  This had to stop.

Since going tiny, I no longer buy things in multiples unless they are on budget and on my list. If we don’t have plans to use them in the next week (or month, depending on the item), they remain on the shelf.

It hurts my heart sometimes, but it is the right move.

11 Easy Ways to Downsize and Simplify, No Matter What Size Your Home

Downsizing and going tiny isn’t for everyone, but purging your closets and countertops of unwanted and unnecessary stacks of stuff is not only good for your household but great for your soul. Many articles support that clutter encourages anxiety. So, let’s partner together on this organizational journey.

While my planner may be color-coded, sometimes my house isn’t. So, here are some simple ways even the messiest can become a minimalist.

Start Small: One Room at a Time

Right after Christmas, even though we live in a 36 foot camper, I felt like I couldn’t look somewhere that there wasn’t a stack of something about to attack me. I felt like I was about to be on an episode of Hoarders. So, I started with my pantry. No, it didn’t help with the piles of Christmas gifts and the graveyard of wrapping paper, but it was a small area that I could control. Once I finished that, the feeling of accomplishment was motivation to move on to something bigger.

Find Joy: If You Don’t Love It, It Has To Go

This was the mantra in our house before downsizing from over 2000 square feet to less than 300. Some studies suggest holding each item of clothing or trinket from your bookshelf in your had and if it doesn’t bring joy or trigger a positive memory, it has to go. So we are now left with only the things that have deep meaning for us or clothes and shoes that sincerely make us feel good.

Make Piles: Keep, Donate, Give Away, Trash

This gets easier the more you do it, trust me. Once you start throwing things into boxes, you get on a roll and it is so freeing to let things go. It feels great to donate to those who need the clothes you haven’t fit into since high school and then you have space in your closet for things you actually feel comfortable wearing. make sure not to let the boxes sit around cluttering up your space. Take them where they were designated and wash your hands of what you let go.

Make a Schedule: Rotate Which Rooms You Tidy Up

Once you’ve cleaned out and decluttered, make yourself an easy-to-follow schedule that rotates rooms in your house. Beyond your typical doing laundry and cleaning up leftovers, it will keep you from becoming overwhelmed to know that on Mondays you clean the bathrooms and on Wednesdays you straighten the living room, and so on. We also get our kids involved. Our six year old is an expert at taking out the trash and vacuuming and our almost tow year old loves to unload the dirty and clean laundry baskets. It teaches them responsibility and helps them feel like they are contributing to the family chores.

Counters Aren’t For Storage

This the main culprit of cleanliness-related mom anxiety. Why must we have piles of hair ties, a collection of Legos, and a mountain of bills and junk mail covering our counter tops? For the love of organization, throw. It. Out!

A clean counter in your kitchen will provide endless happiness for mom and send all of the unwanted treasures usually found there to their rightful locations. Then, if Suzy can’t wear a ponytail Monday or Johnny’s Lego truck only has three wheels, they will learn to pick up after themselves.

If You Haven’t Worn It/Used It In The Last Year, Say Bye-Bye

As a woman of pretty solid size, this one is hard. But what if i lose weight? Or But what if I gain some back? I like to be prepared.

However, some of us are hanging on to our pre-teen N*SYNC concert t-shirt and, sister, that reunion tour ain’t happening! We need to move on.

So, go through your closet, dresser drawers, show racks, and handbag holders, and throw out or donate everything you haven’t worn in the last year (six months is actually preferable). I promise you will be shocked at how many items this eliminates if we are truly honest with ourselves.

Rid Yourself of Expired Items

I have no explanation as to why many of us shop and hold onto pantry items like we are living through the Great Depression, but honey, this isn’t 1930! Even folks like me who know the struggle of Ramen noodles and paycheck-to-paycheck living can usually afford to replace the ranch dressing they’ve had open in their fridge since New Kids on The Block were actually new.

Many women have makeup that used to line the shelves of our 8th grade Caboodle case and hair accessories we haven’t worn since our headbands were hand-decorated with puffy paint. WHY!? Friends, can we have a collective trash bag frenzy please!?

Buy Quality Over Quantity

Okay, admittedly, this one might hurt a little at first but you have to trust me on this. When you cut your closet contents in half (or, in our case, by 80%), you want to sincerely love the things that remain. This means that when you buy a new item, you not only remove an old one, but you should also be buying things that will last.

I was just able to replace three mediocre sweaters with one from Patagonia that I honestly love and is versatile enough to wear traveling or to the office. The initial cost on these items seems higher, but when you can get 10+ years of wear out of them, your investment was well worth it!

Invest In Things That Have More Than One Use

This is a tiny living mantra. If it only has one use, I don’t need it. We need a coffee pot that doubles as a hot water maker, a can opener that opens bottles of wine and beer, and a table that is also a prep space and desk.

If you look at buying items, especially the larger purchases for your home, as needing to be multi-functional, you will spend less money and have less ‘stuff’.

For Everything There Is A Place 

Whether you live in a tiny house or a mansion, there should be some sort of order. Our kids know that they each have two toy bins. If new toys won’t fit, they have to rid themselves of enough old ones to make room or they have a choice to make.

My husband and I know that our wall-mounted mail holder will only hold so much so eventually we will have to go through it, separate it, and pay bills or respond to mail. In our old, larger home, mail would pile up, collect dust, and remain unopened.

This same rule should apply for kitchen items, pantry food, tools and gardening, and everything else one might keep in or around their home.

Some Things Are More Worth Your Money Than Your Time

This is an important step and one I am continuing to learn from. Whether you are a traveling single or a settled family, a retiree or a divorcee starting over, you have responsibilities. Sometimes our money is worth more than our time.

This means, instead of stressing over the heart-wrenching fact that I honestly cannot keep up with my family’s laundry on top of writing, a full time job, motherhood, wifing, and the everyday of running a household, it is a worthwhile investment to pay a dry cleaner to launder our clothes or a housekeeper to clean the toilets. There is no shame in that sister! It isn’t defeat. It is working smarter, not harder.

Three Things We’ve Learned Since Going Tiny Allowed Us To Pay Off Debt

When we decided to minimize, simplify, and downsize to tiny home living a year ago, financial freedom was one of our driving motivators. Ours is a hard-working family who still lived paycheck to paycheck due to circumstances like medical bills and living in areas of high poverty and low employment (therefore, the living wage was well below the national average).

Since we have sold our traditional house and gone tiny, we have been able to pay off all existing debt, with the exception of one medical bill. We have also been able to build a savings that is allowing us to both travel this summer for the first time since having kids, and to experience the freedom that comes without worrying when the next payday will arrive.

So, here is a list of the top three things we are learning as we’ve downsized to tiny life and paid off debt.

  1. Watching Cash Leave your Hand Is Physically Painful

Since being budget conscious by choice instead of necessity, our perspective has changed. It is pretty amazing what kind of turnaround happens when you pay cash for all things outside of automatic online bill payments.

When I have to physically watch Stacy at the gas station take the $10 bill out of my icy cold grip in exchange for a soda and a bag of Sun Chips, friends, I am seriously reconsidering my snack choices!  Paying cash helps to keep tight control of unnecessary expenditures as well as allows you the freedom to save up money without having it show up in you account to be spent on things like groceries or gas.

 

  1. Beating Your Budget Becomes Addicting

Once you get in the habit of creating a monthly budget (it takes a while, just like any habit), you will be able to track how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out in various categories each month.

Maybe it is because I am competitive, but this has driven myself and my husband to compete in who can save the most/spend the least, as well as trying to spend less each month in certain expense categories, such as couponing for groceries and buying in bulk to save.

 

  1. Mo’ Money Doesn’t Have To Equal More Spending

When you live tiny, you generally keep what you need when you downsize from your traditional house or apartment. This means that, unlike moving into a new traditionally built home, new tiny home owners generally don’t need to go buy a bunch of ‘stuff’.

However, if things come up or something that you want goes on sale, you should have a miscellaneous budget item or cash savings. This should be a built in part of your monthly financial plan.

So, let’s say you decided to save money in your tiny house build by using a handmade composting toilet to start and now you are ready to upgrade to a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. If you haven’t saved the $975 to buy it, you have to wait. This is great monetary modeling if you have kids, as well!

 

So You Wanna Go Tiny? Let’s Talk Toilets!

When catching up with tiny house builders across the country, they all agree on one thing: They talk about toilets…a lot!

Why Are Toilets Such A Big Deal?

When building a traditional home, toilets are pretty much basic outside of fancy upgrades like a dual flushing. When you are talking about a build that allows your house to move around, you have to consider all of the options for plumbing since many aren’t connected to traditional water and sewer/septic. This can also come with a hefty price tag so, in the tiny house world, toilets are actually considered a luxury item for many interested in saving space and saving money.

Things to Consider

-Cost: Handmade composting toilets can be built for under $50, while some other types can cost up to $3500. Your budget can be seriously impacted by your choice of commode, so choose wisely.

-Odor: Many people worry hard about how their toilet might smell, depending on what type they choose. Do your research. Composting toilets, if maintained correctly, shouldn’t smell. Incinerating toilets have their own smell. You have to choose how important this is to your quality of life.

-Emptying Options: Make sure you have someone living in your tiny who is comfortable emptying the waste, whether it is being drained outside or taken to the compost pile. If not, choose traditional flushing and have plans for plumbing and sewer hook ups.

-Space: Depending on your choice and brand, some toilets can be large since they hold the waste in a self-contained tank. Other options can be built to suit or can be moveable within your bathroom space. This should be a priority consideration when building a home under 400 square feet.

What Are Your Options?

  1. Homemade Composting- This is the least expensive option and the easiest to maintain, however it is the one that freaks people out the most. For this, you can use anything from a bucket with a foam seat to building a box set up with a traditional toilet seat and use pine shavings to cover odor. A urine diverter will help with smell and when you empty the waste.
  2. Working/Active Composting- This is a more pricey choice, but it has minimal upkeep and thus is a very popular choice among most tiny home builders. You can get one that is self-contained, or remote. Self contained are larger because they contain the waste in the bottom of the toilet, while remotes hold the waste in a separate location-typically outside or underneath the THOW.
  3. Incinerator- Another pricey investment, but with no worries of emptying compost, this toilet type burns the waste into an ash deposit. That being said, this does come with its own odor and can require a significant amount of energy to run.
  4. Traditional Flushing- This is just like what anyone is used to but it does require a full time hook up to sewage or septic. So, for THOWs, it really isn’t an option.
  5. RV Toilet- It is what it sounds like. For this option, you will need a holding tank and a place to brain it when it fills up. It does use minimal water per flush but you will need to consider special toilet paper so it breaks down fast in your holding tank.
  6. Dry Toilet- Another option to allow you to live off grid and without the requirement of plumbing, this type of toilet uses cartridges filled with silver liners that, when flushed, wraps the waste SUPER tight to prevent odor from escaping. Once the liners are full, you simply empty them out and replace the cartridge. These toilets are cheaper to install, but the liners are a maintenance cost to consider.

What Do We Use?

Since we are currently living in a 36 foot fifth wheel while saving to build, we use a traditional RV toilet. We really appreciate the water conservation aspect and we use a draining service for a separate large holding tank (500 gallons) when parked. This allows us to drain our tanks while we are on the road but also have a constant system when we are parked for longer periods of time.

What Do We Recommend?

Nature’s Head Active Composting Toilet This is one of the most popularly installed toilets for tiny home builders across the U.S. because they are more affordable than other brands/types and easy to maintain. While some models can rung in closer to $1200, this one won’t break the bank during your build at $975.

Founder and CEO of Titan Tiny Homes says, “The main reason we have decided to use natures head toilets as our go to composting toilet is because it is the only toilet officially recognized by the RVIA.”