I am NOT a hoarder… if you ask my husband he’d say I am but I am clearly stating it now, I AM NOT A HOARDER.
I just like things.
He’s always lived minimally. Growing up in a family of 13, he just didn’t have a lot. Plus he’s just never cared for material items. On the other hand, I am one of two kids, artsy and love trinkets and collecting different kinds of bottles. If it has a solid memory attached to it, I’d probably keep it.
(Hello, I still had a Ruby Tuesdays coaster from one of our dates in HIGHSCHOOL).
But I have gotten better over the years, the last move into this house I was already wanting to go tiny and got rid of a BUNCH of unnecessary things. But now we’ve moved into 320 sq ft and there just isn’t much room, you start getting angry at unnecessary items or anything “extra”.
We made the “official decision” sometime in March. Johnny was getting involuntarily separated from the military and we were left in this weird space of not knowing our next step. He wanted to complete a full 20 years…this wasn’t the plan. Now what?
I reintroduced going tiny to Johnny after I came across the Good New Bus on Youtube. At the time they were a family of 8 that converted a school bus and travel the US, I thought if they can do it surely we could. The last time I brought up going tiny was before we bought this previous house. I was trying to get him on board with buying property and building a trailer tiny house like Ana White’s Tiny House Trailer. He said hell no to the trailer. But I never found a question I couldn’t ask and it never hurts to ask… so I asked what he thought about a school bus conversion. To my happy surprise, he was actually interested!
Research & Development
Our first step was researching exactly what we knew we needed and want we hoped for. This meant it was time to create lists and plans (my favorite).
We mapped out our finances; identified our current and incoming debts and made plans to reduce or eliminate them. Projected what our future costs of living would be on the bus and what we needed to make monthly. Through countless hours of Youtube and Pinterest we figured out what we would need and want out of our bus. This meant the engine and its specs, the layout, the space needed (interior and exterior). We even laid out a tentative timeline:
April- End of service
May- List house, Sell all things
June- Pick bus up
July- Start bus build
August- Sell House
September- Try to close on house, Survive Hurricane Florence
October- Leave for reserve duty
November & December – Finish build in Florida
(There were a few hiccups but we made it.)
This was and has been Johnny’s favorite thing to do. HE LOVES GETTING RID OF THINGS. Like it’s sick how much he enjoys it.
I had no problem downsizing the furniture or TVs and kids toys… even clothes but when it came it my office and kitchen… man, I struggled. I use to create art all the time. Paintings, clay work and really anything crafty I’d try. So my office was a massive collection of old art I had created and supplies collected. My kitchen was the same, I love cooking from scratch, canning, dehydrating and processing animals. I had a LOT of stuff and a tiny house.
I finally realized that my need to keep things was from the idea that ONE day I would use it and (yes this is two part) that I spent money on it and didn’t want to waste it. Thankfully most of the items I had held onto had a shelf life, but I still had so much. Johnny looked at me and said, “If you decide down the road to pick up (enter craft/cooking thing) again we can just buy it at that time.”
Duh, right. I can just buy what I need when I need it and donate the remainder when we are done.
The irony of us going tiny was I now had to basically shop for a new house. It was great, You can see basically everything that I purchased for the bus here! Anything and everything purchased needed to be used before we moved or was something that we’d be using on the bus. There were no birthday presents, we spent our time together, went to defy gravity or bowling and ate dinner where they wanted to. We’ve never really been ones to buy a lot of stuff just to have it, everything we buy is to be used and reused.
I also had to limit my spending in the way I food shopped. I like to buy in bulk and store a LOT. I figured I could get through my pantry in the 5 months that I had left. I still have some canned chicken, pulled board and chilli in the bus pantry. It goes to show you that I was really serious about having meals ready to serve and enjoyed the comfort of preparedness.
It is amazing how much our cost of living has been reduced. Like just feel the financial stress lifted off our shoulders. We used to have to entertain the mortgage, water, electric, city/county taxes, waste management, and the endless maintenance cycle for a 2-acre farm and over 2500 sq ft house. Johnny handled the finances but he admitted that it was getting to be a bit much.
But just because we went tiny and our bills were reduced doesn’t mean we don’t need money! The goal with this lifestyle change was to spend money on more experiences and spend quality time together. That goal is slowing being met but more so finding the financial avenues that will allow this adventure to continue.