Category Archives: money

How We Saved Over $30,000 On One Salary in Just 3 Years!

How one couple saved over $30,000
If you can’t guess from the photo, the key to saving a significant amount of money for us was to live small in an Airstream travel trailer. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, our money saving journey is no surprise, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared the amount until now. Continue reading

The 30 Day, No Budget, Money Saving Challenge

The 30 day, no budget, money saving challenge

This is the time of year where I really start thinking about saving money and not losing my mind during the holidays. In the past I’ve done a No-Spend November, a Handmade Holiday Challenge and a $100 Holiday Challenge. This year I’ve been busier than ever and I really need an easy challenge to kick my butt into high gear. Enter the easy, no-budget 30 days of saving challenge to the rescue! Each day, I’ll tackle one thing off the list. If you want to play along too, know that you don’t have to do the list in order, but you do have to do #1 first. I’ve also included a printable at the end of this post to print out and stick to your fridge, so you can cross stuff out as you go. Here’s the deets:  Continue reading

No-Spend November: A 30-Day Money Saving Challenge

No-Spend November: a 30-day money saving challenge

George and I are taking our first overseas trip in December and we all know what December means… present-buying season. In years past I’ve done a handmade holiday challenge and a $100 holiday challenge. This year, before the holidays begin, I’m going to challenge myself to spend no money in the month of November. I’m calling it “No-Spend November.” Clever, eh? Of course, I can’t literally spend no money at all. I have bills to pay and food to eat, but I will be spending no money on non-essentials in November. We paid for our plane tickets and our hotel on our credit card, so the money that I save in November will go to paying that off. I also plan to buy Christmas presents when I am overseas, so I don’t have to plan holiday gifts far in advance this year. It’s win-win all around. Anyway… here’s the rules.

No Spend November Rules

The rules may vary from person-to-person depending on your life situation, but rule #1 is the same for everyone:

  • Only spend money on essentials! This is by far the most important rule. Throughout the month I’ll be asking myself: is this essential?
    • Essentials include doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, gas for car, bills. Not much else!
  • Shop for groceries before the month begins.
    • For items that expire quickly (milk, fresh produce, etc.) I am using CSA share that comes once a week and costs $25 per week.
  • Leave credit and debit cards at home. This will help me avoid temptation.
  • On November 1st I’ll pull $100 out of an ATM for gas money and gas money only.
  • Bring lunch to work every day.
  • No online shopping!
    • Delete saved passwords and credit card info to make online shopping harder.

That’s it. Those are the rules. It’s easier said than done, but I’m excited to get one step closer to our first overseas excursion.

How are you saving for the holidays? Will you join me for the No Spend November challenge? Talk to me in the comments!


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!


Tuesday Thoughts: Wealth Consists Not In Having Great Possessions

wealth consists not in having great possessions “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” -Epitetus

Something to chew on this Tuesday.



How Much Does It Cost to Live in an Airstream?

How much does it cost to live in an Airstream I get a lot of questions about the logistics of living in an Airstream. Let me be the first to say, the logistics are going to be different for everyone because everyone’s life is different. You might have two kids or five dogs. You might be retired. You might work from home. There are all kinds of logistics that will make your life different from mine. That being said, people are often interested in the true cost of living in an Airstream. Today I’m going to be answering the question: “How much does it cost to live in an Airstream?” by sharing what it costs for us to live in the Airstream.

If you aren’t familiar with our situation, let me give you a refresher. Hi! I’m Melanie. I am a librarian at a community college and I run this blog. I live with my husband, George who is an artist and our small (11 lb) dog, Bambi in our 1978 Airstream Sovereign. We currently have our Airstream parked on family land due to my traditional job situation. Here’s a breakdown of our monthly living costs and the reasoning behind the costs. Continue reading

Frugal Friday: Saving Money and Time

Photo c/o Death to Stock Photos

Photo c/o Death to Stock Photos

I was recently having a conversation with someone about how saving money and saving time are so closely related. To be honest, I never really thought about it. But I started brainstorming and holy batman, saving money and saving time is like peanut butter and jelly.

I’ve always thought that my time was equally important as my money, but as I’m getting older, I think that saving my time can be more important than saving my money. I can make more money, but I can’t make more time.

I’m working on a post about ways to save both time and money (at the same time!!!), but I’d love to hear your little hacks too. Talk to me in the comments!