Link Love: 55

Link Love I’ve been struggling with a cold this week, so Link Love is short and sweet.

The government will pay you to live in this ghost town. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

They’ve never been out of style for me, but Airstream RVs make a comeback.

The incredible life and haunting death of world traveler Harry Devert. You know those stories that just stick with you? Well, this is one of them for me.

How one German millennial chose to live on trains rather than pay rent.

Let’s stop pretending it’s “so easy” to be healthy. YES, YES, ONE THOUSAND TIMES, YES.

Side job helps chop 25-year payoff plan to 6 months. Uhhh, I need a side job like that.

I’m off to wallow in tissues and cough drops. Happy (almost) weekend!

love,
melanie

Link Love: 54

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I love the roof on this structure built with shipping containers. And the light and the white. And pretty much everything about it.

Did ya’ll see this concrete dome home? It sustained a wildfire!

This calculator helps you determine if you can become a stay at home parent. Or don’t calculate because it’s depressing.

How to find cheap airline tickets.

George and I are going to Iceland in December! I am pumped! Here’s how not to blow all your money in Iceland.

There’s entire villages in Spain for sale and they are relatively cheap. Let’s buy one and start a commune? Who is with me?

How to live wisely, a college course.

Alexandra Franzen has been talking a lot about social media and our phone culture. I love it all and I want to quit it all. Why I don’t use social media anymore. And The Phone People. And Is it possible to run a business without social media?

And for fun… High school adopts local cat named Bubba. He has a student ID and everything…

This corgi is more excited about his swimming pool than I’ve ever been about anything.

We’re going to NJ for a wedding this weekend! I’m excited for a mini-trip. Are you doing anything exciting this weekend? Talk to me in the comments.

love,
melanie

How Much Money Can You Save by Living in a Tiny House?

How much money can you save by living in a tiny house?

Today I’m going to address the question: How much money can you save by living in a tiny house? This answer is based on our own experiences and our own finances. The amount of money could vary for everyone.

We originally began living in an Airstream because we needed to save money. (At 188 square feet, we consider the Airstream a tiny house.) After we got married, George and I started to look at our finances and it wasn’t pretty. Individually we’ve each received 6 years of higher education. This gave us a bit of a later start in life.  During our college years and even into the beginning of our professional careers, we saved nothing. Yes, we probably didn’t spend as wisely as we could have, but there wasn’t much left after paying our bills to save. George was a teacher and I am a librarian. We made (and still make) less than the national average wage index, but we are above the poverty line. We knew that we needed to do something that would dramatically improve our finances.

Living in a more affordable place seemed the answer. We looked around at apartments in the new area where we were going to live. We were instantly discouraged. The apartments that were clean and safe would leave us with nothing at the end of the month. We’d be fighting the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle for the rest of our lives. We wanted out.

One day I stumbled across this Featured Seller story on pollenArts— a creative couple who work and live in their Winnebago! One night while lying in bed looking at adorable little properties we couldn’t afford, I mentioned it to George. I didn’t put the pieces together, but George started searching for RVs on Craigslist right away. He knew we could do this. Airstreams had the most appeal, although they were a bit pricier than other RVs. Our Airstream cost $5,000 and it took about $1,500 to fix up. (You can read the whole buying story here.)

Now that you’ve got the history of our story, on to the good stuff! We spend about $700 on living expenses each month while living in the Airstream. (More about our expenses breakdown here.) This includes food, electricity, life, etc. In the past, our rent payments varied widely. Our most expensive rent payment was $1,000 a month– that’s what we were paying before we decided to move into the Airstream. That doesn’t even include the life stuff. When we were renting, we were spending everything we made.

This past year while living in the Airstream, I also went on a Spending Diet for the website I write for, And Then We Saved. I attempted to spend only $100 a month on “extra” stuff. Extra stuff included makeup, haircuts, clothes and stuff that I needed but didn’t really need to live. (You can read more about my Spending Diet here.) I didn’t succeed every month. It was much harder than I expected it to be! But I succeeded about 75% of the time.

With the help of the Spending Diet, I saved $12,441.99 in a year! I was hoping to save $15,000, but considering that I saved about half of my paycheck each month, I consider this a huge success. I also don’t plan on going back to my old ways, so I think I’ll hit my $15,000 goal in a few months.

Prior to the Spending Diet, we had lived in the Airstream for about a year. We went spent much of our “extra” money going on trips, but I don’t regret that at all. We could definitely save more if we didn’t go on vacations, but traveling is one of our priorities. George and I have been able to travel to Portland, Memphis, Austin, Canada/Niagra Falls and we took a road trip to Florida. I now also have emergency savings, a 401k and a Roth IRA. I didn’t even know what those things were a few years ago! Now that I’m off the Spending Diet (but still on the savings train) we just booked a trip to Iceland! So crazy.

Yes, we’ve been able to save more money by living tiny, but we’ve also been able to travel and explore the world outside our tiny home. That is priceless.

That being said, the longer we stay in the Airstream, the more we can save and the more we can travel. If we stay in the Airstream for another 5 years and continue saving at the same rate, we could save $60,000. That’s insane. I don’t know what our life will look like in another 5 years, but with that kind of savings, we could do something big.

Have you ever thought about living tiny to save money? Talk to me in the comments!

love,
melanie

The Small Life: Dre’s Free-Spirited Airstream

The Small Life: Dre's Free-spirited Airstream Hey ya’ll! Today I’m excited to share the Airstream of my friend, Dre. Dre is an incredibly talented artist whose work I have long admired. She lives and works out of her 1975 Airstream Sovereign! Take it away, Dre!

Please introduce yourself (name, occupation, current location, etc.)
Hi!  I’m Dre!  I’m an artist with a day job (the day job is visual merchandising).  I have been actively working towards being a full time artist for about 3 years.  I work with textiles; making quilts, tapestries, embellished re-purposed clothing, and other things!  I currently live in West Virginia.  I grew up in WV, and moved away to Savannah, GA for college when I was 18.  I was there for 4 years then I moved to Los Angeles where I lived for 5 years and I returned to WV about 2 and a half years ago. Continue reading

Link Love: 53

rp_Link-Love-1024x102411111111-1024x10241-1024x1024-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x1024-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x1024-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x1024-1024x10241-1024x10241-1024x1024-1024x10241-1024x1024.jpg This was the first week back for the students at the school where I work. It’s been pretty eventful and I haven’t had much spare time, but I’ll get back into the swing of things soon. For now, there’s Link Love. And it never disappoints. :)

This was my favorite story of the week. (Although I think being “millennials” was irrelevant.) How Four Millennial Sisters Joined Forces To Demolish $182K Debt Within Two Years. I love how they worked together to get rid of their debt. So inspiring.

My finances sucked until I got over my fear of being poor. I need to get over that fear too.

Student loan debt and what presidential candidates are saying about it.

And similarly… 3 college students reveal, What it’s really like to default on your student loans. Gah, so sad.

“Zombie houses” are haunting New Jersey.

This tiny house was built for about $33,000. A little more than I would like to spend, but it’s a really well-laid out home.

This garage mini house is gorgeous. Painted black houses are so hot right now. :)

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/facebook-should-pay-all-of-us

And one from the archives… How to find the best stuff at thrift shops (it’s not just luck!)

Let’s get to the weekend, already!

love,
melanie

Link Love: 52

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Super cheap plane tickets to Europe. I’m dreaming of taking a trip abroad and these deals make it seem possible.

7 ways to water your garden for free.

31 things you can freeze to save time and money.

I know that you shouldn’t shop when you are hungry, but did you know you shouldn’t shop after you’ve saved money?!

Have you heard of the Diderot effect? It’s basically this: “the introduction of a new possession into a consumer’s existence will often result in a process of spiraling consumption.” Here’s how to avoid it.

This $2,554.48 bubble tent is the craziest thing I’ve seen lately.

“This ‘net-zero’ home itself is a marvel. The home produces all its own energy needs and consumes 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than the conventional home.”

Gifts for people who live in small spaces want less “stuff.”

Have you thought of giving up social media? I sure have. This guy gave up social media for a year.

I know this link has been everywhere this week, but in case you didn’t see it, Mindy Kaling’s Guide to Confidence is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever read. I can’t wait for her new book!

love,
melanie

Living in an Airstream: A Two Year Update

 

living in an airstream: a two year update

We’ve been living in an Airstream for two years now… two years! Sometimes it feels like no time has passed and other times it feels as if we’ve been living there forever. Most days it just feels normal. I go to work and come home. I come home to a home that is much smaller than average, but it still feels like a very conventional life.

Sometimes conventionality is good, but if I’m being honest, I am getting the urge to switch things up a bit. I get this urge every couple of years. We’re not planning on moving out of the Airstream, but we’d love to get a larger plot of land where we can do more gardening. George and I are also thinking more about the future of our family and what that looks like. We don’t know what the future will hold, but it’s good to question your priorities every few years.

Anyway, on to more shallow things! I’ve been getting some questions about how well the Airstream has held up after two years. The answer is: surprisingly well! We’ve actually switched very little around since we moved in. We did have to replace the hot water heater and the AC unit. Both were costly, but both were original to the Airstream, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.

The paint on the walls and on the storage units has held up well. (You can see what products we used here.) It looks mostly the same, but slightly less white from use. We’re big fans of Magic Erasers for getting dirt and marks off the walls. The paint on the counter and the paint in the shower has begun to chip a bit. (Pictures below.) We used oil-based paint on the counter (not something like this product for counters), so it is to be expected. I also put a hot French Press directly on the counter every day for two years, so I’m not surprised about that one either. This fall, when it cools down, we want to do a big repaint and clean. It’s surprising how dirty a tiny space can get.

This is the kitchen countertop. It's seen the most wear and it is the worst of the paint chips.

This is the kitchen countertop. It’s seen the most wear and it is the worst of the paint chips.

The bottom of the shower.

The bottom of the shower.

The bench in the shower.

The bench in the shower.

The bathroom sink.

The bathroom sink.

Since living in the Airstream, we have accomplished our goal, which was to get ahead with our savings. We have jumped ahead savings-wise, but we’re still not at a place where I feel comfortable. (Will I ever feel comfortable? I don’t know.) I’ll have an in-depth savings post on how much we’ve saved on Friday.

Do you have any more questions about how the Airstream has held up? Talk to me in the comments!

love,
melanie

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