“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
Don’t keep up with the Joneses. You don’t even like them. It’s time to impress yourself.
Last week we had a funny thing happen. Someone that George had known from the church he went to when he was growing up dropped off a card full of cash at our house! Apparently they had heard that George was unemployed (he’s not) and that we were having a hard time (we’re not). But they also had driven by and saw the trailer, so they assumed all of that information was correct. It was a super sweet gesture and I was certainly happy to receive the gift, but we are not “in need.” We’ve returned the money and I thought it might be nice to share the letter that I attached to the money. The long of the short of it is: We consider ourselves to be houseless, not homeless.
Thank you so much for your generous gift. It is comforting to know that in a time of need, neighbors, friends and strangers will be there for you. I am writing to you today because this is not our time of need and we cannot accept your gift. Please let me explain.
Almost two years ago, George and I were at a crossroads. I had a new job opportunity in the area. Unfortunately, the job requires me to work evenings. I knew with both of us working “regular jobs,” we would rarely get to see each other. At the same time, George was working as a teacher by day and illustrating by night. Together we made the decision that George should quit his teaching job to pursue his art full-time. In order to get George’s business off the ground, we knew that we would have to make some sacrifices. I make a decent wage at my job, but we knew that it would be difficult to pay rent or buy a house and establish a small business at the same time. Therefore, we decided to live a simpler, smaller life. It is the best decision we have ever made. I know it may look strange to others, but our lifestyle was and is our choice. We consider ourselves very lucky. Neither George nor I have ever known hunger and this lifestyle has given us the ability to save money to pursue our dreams.
I cannot thank you enough for your concern and your gift. Knowing that people care about us is a gift in and of itself.
Melanie and George
Matthew 6:22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is simple, your whole body will be bright.”
Have anyone ever thought you were in need due to your lifestyle choices? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
This week there’s been some great stuff on the interwebs. Here’s the best of the best:
Decorating tips for INTJs. (That’s my personality type, if you are interested in decorating for your’s, scroll to the bottom of the page.)
10 of the cheapest countries to travel to.
Suze Orman recently quit her show. I just adore her. I’ll miss her, but she writes beautifully about knowing when to move on.
Remember how I was just talking about minimalist makeup? Well there’s a company who is doing it. It’s so smart! I never use up regular size makeup before it expires and it’s budget-conscious.
When you’re buying things you don’t need (and how to stop).
That’s it folks! Happy Thursday!
Today on “The Small Life” we have Amber’s inspiring story. After divorce and debt, Amber and her “TinCan” are picking up the pieces and in the process, making a simple and lovely home. Take it away, Amber!
Hi, I’m Amber. I am 42 years old, and I live and work in central Arkansas. I am a bookkeeper and I work in HR, Safety and Compliance. On the side I am a photographer, artist and blogger. I would love to eventually transition to do these things full-time or at least into something I can do more flexibly while traveling. For now I work for and with some great people at my day job. Since work is stationary, my home is too. I currently rent a space in a local RV/Mobile home park. It isn’t my dream location, but it works well for now. My goal is to be able to spend more time traveling in the future (either on the road in the TinCan or by using her for my home base for even further destinations). Simplifying my life and living in the TinCan is enabling these dreams to become much more attainable— hopefully in a year or two. It is amazing how much freer I feel having embraced this simple lifestyle and letting go of so many unnecessary things. I want a life full of moments and experiences not things. I think I always wanted this kind of life, but I didn’t always recognize that I did. Fear of losing my “sense of security” and asking to many negative “What ifs” held me back.
So then how did I actually end up simplifying and living in a vintage, 1970 Airstream? Let me just say it took some life upheavals to get me on the right track. Several years ago I found myself picking up the pieces after going through the dreaded d-word…divorce. I relocated to Arkansas and spent a couple of years trying to keep up a similar lifestyle to what I was used to. I made some not so great decisions and accumulated more debt than I like to admit. After a few years, I worked my way up to a better job, but I was working all the time and not happy. I realized that I could keep working ridiculous hours to achieve what society says is normal, or I could make new choices that would allow me to be much more in control of how I spend my time. I really liked the sound of those new choices. Therefore, I downsized; first to a studio apartment and then to my beloved TinCan.
I have long drooled over Airstreams, but never really thought I would be brave enough to embrace living in one full-time. That changed with a find on eBay and a quick drive to Ohio in April 2013. I had researched a lot online about full-timing, but I had no actual experience of ever even camping in an RV. Thus, the drive to get her was a little nerve-wracking. What did I get myself into? However, it was love at first sight. From the moment I stepped foot inside her, I knew I was home. Fortunately, the previous owners of my TinCan took very good care of her. She was in lovely shape for her age and didn’t need any extensive repairs. I did spend a few months painting, decorating, replacing window seals, stripping clear coat, and simply making her more my own before moving in October 2013 when my apartment lease was up. I’ve done a few more projects over the year and 4 months I have lived in her. I still have a long list of projects to be completed as time and the budget allow. I find it is a pleasure investing my time, money and energy into something that is mine instead of throwing away rent every month.
My only regret about embracing this simple life and moving into the TinCan is that I didn’t do it sooner. It has been one of the very best decisions I have ever made. My free time is much more relaxed, and I am able to spend more time on things that are important and fulfilling. I am happy to share my story in the hopes that it might help others gather the courage to simplify their lives and reach for the lives they really want. I know reading the stories of others helped me gather that courage too.
Thanks, Amber! I admire your courage, tenacity and grit! And that’s what small living is all about! If you want to hear more about Amber’s story, check out her blog, Auntie Am & Her Big Tin Can and check her out on Instagram @airstream365. And remember, if you have a small space that you want to share, email me at asmalllifemelanie at gmail. com. -Melanie
I swear to you all that I’m not a narcissistic person, although it might seem that way just looking at the title of this post. I came up with the idea to do this post as a way for you all to get a glimpse into what day-to-day life is like in my Airstream. Funny story, I actually did this experiment on a Thursday and the entire day was so boring that I waited until Saturday to try it again. My regular work day mostly consists of me going to work and not spending time in the Airstream at all! (I hope to remedy that one day.) Anyway, I hope this post is at least marginally more interesting than watching paint dry. Here it goes… A day in the life of a full-time Airstreamer.
Wake up to take Bambi out. Brr! It’s cold out there. Jump back in bed for a little while longer.
I make sure the hot water is turned off. When it’s turned on, I can’t boil water or turn on the stove or it will flip the breaker. I boil the water first since I also can’t cook while the electric tea kettle is on, it’s a balancing act, but we manage.
Once the water has boiled, I pour the water over the ground beans to make coffee in our French Press (press it good!), then I get started on the eggs. I have two eggs on a tortilla with guacamole or hot sauce almost every morning. I like not having to think too much about breakfast.
I know at this point, I should just do the dishes, but they’ll have to wait because this morning we are headed to our local flea market so we can scout treasures for George to sell. George works for himself as an artist, so it helps for us to have multiple income streams.
I make sure to turn the hot water back on so it’ll be hot by the time we get home. I then throw on (probably too many) layers of clothes and put Bambi in a sweatshirt and hit the road in our (new to us) van.
We realize on the way to the flea market we have no cash. Cash is king at the flea market, so we stop at a Trader Joe’s on the way. We need coconut oil and sweetened condensed milk. George runs in while I wait in the car. Trader Joe’s has neither coconut oil nor sweetened condensed milk, so George grabs beer and chocolate. Good choices, my husband, good choices. And we’re on the road again!
Finally make it to the flea market. Bambi doesn’t like to walk at the flea market. I don’t know if she is scared of the big dogs or she’s just a princess, but I carry her the entire time. My arms ache, but I try to think of it as a workout. We find a few treasures, nothing spectacular, but a few things that we think will sell. We never buy anything for ourselves. It’s hard, but when we’re at the flea market we aren’t looking for ourselves, we’re looking to make money.
We managed to make our way around the flea market and see everything. George brought a few things with him that he sold to a friend, so we leave the flea market to drop off that stuff. I’m fully aware that it’s ironic that George makes most of his money making and selling stuff. Not everyone is a minimalist and that’s ok.
We drop off the stuff and since Trader Joe’s was so bare, we head to a different grocery store on the way home. I try to get most of my groceries from our CSA, but it’s the end of the month and our cupboards are bare!
We finally get back home. By this time, I’m getting hangry, so I fix a small snack. George says I’m stingy because I won’t share, but he can have his own! I’m on a new eating regimen and I only get so many calories a day, so each one is precious! I know it’s mean.
I start by tackling the huge mound of dishes. Doing dishes is one of my most hated chores. The dishes never end! Before I even get to the end, I’m out of hot water. I switch the hot water off, so I can boil some more. In the mean time, I start tackling the bathroom.
While I relax, George sweeps the floors. Cleaning around our house is like a dance, it requires a lot of coordination and it’s difficult for two people to be in the same space at the same time. We usually just take different tasks and try to clean and cook at different times.
My afternoon snack was minuscule and I’m getting hungry again. But after cleaning up, I want something fast and easy. I picked up some gluten-free chicken nuggets on my grocery store trip, so I heat those up in our mini convection oven. I also fix a salad. I know it’s not the most healthy meal, but it’s fast, easy and I don’t have to clean much.
We head to a friend’s house. This particular friend is fixing up an old school bus to live in. I should have taken a few pictures, but I documenting every bit of your day is sort of weird. Right? I did manage to take a picture of the fire pit?
We head home. It’s Bambi’s second dinner time! I fix another snack and a glass of wine. Of course, I forgot to turn on the hot water so I watch a bit of TV while it heats up. We don’t have a real TV and live happily without one. (Here’s how.)
I fall asleep watching Dual Survivor.
I wake up and take a shower. I realize how lame I am.
Was this enlightening for you? My life isn’t always exciting, but it’s usually a good one.