Tag Archives: saving money

2015 Garden Report

George tilling

I’ve had a few people ask about the results of my garden–which is super flattering. I still love gardening, I just didn’t keep statistics like I did last year. It can be time consuming to log everything you grow.

Beginning Garden

This year I planted zucchini, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, crookneck squash, peppers, potatoes and carrots. I planted the zucchini and carrots first. Too much rain washed all of the zucchini out of my garden and the carrots were washed all over the garden. The carrots ended up growing in chunks instead of neat rows. I was very disappointed about the zucchini because it was a huge crop for me last year. And it makes great noodles!

Mature Garden

Since I planted more tomatoes this year, I had a great crop. The cherry tomatoes have produced for months and are still producing! (I don’t expect this to happen for much longer.) The heirloom tomatoes did well, but I think I had a slight case of blight and they didn’t reach their full size potential.

potatoes

On a funny note, I must have bought the wrong pepper seeds. I thought I bought sweet peppers, but the peppers ended up being so hot that we couldn’t eat them! I managed to put a few into salsa and chili, and give some away, but most of the peppers ended up uneaten. I hate waste, but when I bit into one, I couldn’t breathe. They were that hot.

squash and tomatoes purple potatoes

The squash bloomed and produced for a good two weeks, then died suddenly. But for those two weeks, it was a stunner! My purple potatoes were the biggest surprise. Since they grow underground, I felt like it was a huge gamble. The flowering part of the potato plants looked great, but I had no idea what was going on under the surface. When I finally dug them up, I was so relieved. I ended up getting pounds of potatoes off of two starter potatoes!

IMG_2362

Although I spread nutritious soil on the surface of my garden, next year, I will probably dig deeper or use raised beds. The soil where I live is incredibly sandy and I think it has resulted in poor growth and small veggies.

Every year I learn something new with this little garden.

Did you plant a garden this year? I’d love to hear about it 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

Frugal Friday: The Importance of DIY

nail polish I’m usually a gung-ho DIYer. I mean, we fixed up the Airstream ourselves! And you can catch me on any given night knitting, cooking or making candles. I even tried to make all my Christmas gifts last year and plan to do so again this year! But there are some things that I just plain don’t like to do. I don’t like to clean my own car and I don’t like to give myself pedicures. I just don’t like to do it. #truestory. We’re going down to truth city today, folks.

But since I started the Spending Fast (spending only $100 per month on non-necessities) I’ve had to do many chores that I would outsource before because I didn’t like to do it. I’d like to say that it hasn’t been so bad, but I still hate doing those chores. I’m putting those things in the same category as working out— something I don’t like to do, but I have to do. (Both are in the same category as stuff that isn’t so bad once you start doing it.)

Even though I hate it, when trying to save money, DIY is at the utmost importance. There are some things I’d never DIY, like electrical stuff (it’s too scary and dangerous!), but if I can do it and feel safe doing it, I will. DIY not only saves me money, it also teaches me a new skill. DIY is empowering. Saving money is empowering.

DIY has totally changed my life. How has DIY changed your’s? Let me know in the comments.

love,
melanie