Be Brave, Live Small

be brave, live small

Terrified, excited, nervous, relieved– these past few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion. My new job will force us to move and it has forced George and I to have long car-ride and late-night talks about our future.

Through those talks we’ve often discussed that world is not as it once was. I was told, we both were, that when we got out out of college the world would be waiting for us. As college graduates, no matter our major, someone would want us. They would pay us well. We would have healthy 401(k)s and retirement plans and we would soon be ready to buy a house. It’s the dream that our blue-collar parents did not easily achieve.

And as we are learning, it is not a dream we will easily achieve either. The world is not as it once was. An undergraduate education does not equate job safety– nor does a graduate education.  The job prospects in 2008 when I got out of school were abysmal– especially so for an English major and an Art major.

We hid out for a while in underemployment and in our parents’ houses. Then I hid out in graduate school where I was lucky enough to get a couple of assistantships, internships and a few very small scholarships. After a very long job search, George got an elementary school teaching position. We were thankful. And we were happy.

But our happiness was short-lived. We were again fearful when I graduated from my graduate program in 2011. The constant thought of how difficult my job search was in 2008 loomed in the background. I worried daily and we lived off canned soup and saltines. (Ultimately, our diet combined with the stress of looming unemployment made me very sick, but that is a story for another time.)

I applied to over 100 jobs and out of those 100 applications, I got one interview for a job at a small, rural community college. One job interview. But by some miracle, I got it. Again, I was thankful and relieved, but the job was in a rural area, hours away from any of our family and friends.

We were sad to leave the place that we had made our home for the past two years. We lived in a tiny, old apartment– only 400 square feet, but the rent was affordable, the area was walkable, and it was clean.

Moving to a rural area was hard for me. I still  struggle to find fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store and it is a 30 minute drive to the nearest Wal-Mart. Our rental choices in the area were slim and out of the two apartments available, we chose the more expensive choice because it was safe and didn’t have mold. Throughout it all, we made the best choices out of limited options.

During the time we’ve lived here, we’ve had some of the best and hardest times of our lives. Most importantly, we got married! But throughout the entire planning process, we struggled with the finances of a wedding. Ultimately, we made it out unscathed by being incredibly realistic with ourselves and I am so proud that we made that choice. But we ended up depleting our meager savings in the process.

We are also incredibly grateful to have very little debt. George and I worked throughout the time we were in school. (At one point, I had 3 jobs; it was kind of insane.) We got some scholarship help and our very middle class families helped us too. We know that we are incredibly lucky. And we know that we are better off than the majority of graduates.

Despite all of our luck and hard work, we still can’t get ahead. We still live paycheck to paycheck. If our rent and other bills stay the same, we won’t be able to buy a house in the foreseeable future.  George will never be able to pursue his art full-time. We won’t be able to afford a vacation or adopt a dog. We won’t get out of the cycle.

But we think we may have found a way to get ahead. To lead the life we want to lead, debt-free. And the answer is to live small.

For the next year, George and I will live smaller than we’ve ever lived before. Our budget will be smaller and our house will be much smaller (more details on this later!). But our bravery, our bravery will be big.

Have you ever had to take drastic measures to get out of the debt or break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle? I genuinely want to start an honest conversation about this in the comments.

living small but loving large,

10 thoughts on “Be Brave, Live Small

  1. Jen

    Congratulations on the new job and best of luck on your upcoming move! Thanks for the like on my post today. 🙂


      1. Felicia Cole

        I would love to chat!! My husband and I have been “living small” for nearly 4 years now in our 1998 Thor fifth avenue fifth wheel (to many fifths, I know, lol) we live it most of the time but there are times we just get frustrated beyond measure but so far it always goes back to that happy place. I love that a deep clean takes me only 30 minutes! I think that’s my favorite thing.

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  4. Shelby

    I am right there with you. I thought long and hard about how my fiance and I can get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle. It is seriously impossible unless you find a place for next to nothing. Moving into an airstream has always been the dream. One of those nice remodeled ones with a claw foot tub, nice new awning, just maximum comfort really haha. So I decided to sell my car one day and buy one. I figured it is better to do it now then wait and never actually do it. I figure we can rent out our property on airbnb to pay mortgage and hopefully make a little on the side to help remodel the excella and travel when we can. Until we can travel full time. Im really excited for the opportunity to get ahead. I’ve always wanted to live the small life.

    Im going to model my bed frame after yours except try and make the bottom have a drawer so we can use it for our clothing. Thank you for sharing! You guys have a very similar layout, our bedroom too will be next to the door. It has helped inspire me, I can see a bit more how ours will turn out. I’ve started the process of purging and it really does stir up emotions. Now that everything is almost out of the house I feel much more at ease. I can breath a little clearer. I also still feel like theres still too much around haha. The purging I think will never stop! You can recommend “The life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. Have you read this? Its a short read and has been my bible for purging haha. step by step processes of how to get rid of things and purge how to organize what questions to ask yourself most common one is “Does this item spark joy” great read for anyone. Anyways sorry to blabber!


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