A couple of months ago, I wrote about living in a tiny house can save a ton of money. This struck a cord with reader Jason Stone of Iowa.
He wrote me an email so inspiring I ask him if I could share with the rest of you. Here it is:
"My wife, medium-sized dog and I live in an 800 square foot house, and it is PLENTY adequate. We get comments on it all the time in fact from people with much larger houses. Usually they are on the order of: I just love your little house (which I take as a compliment). I host get-togethers here ALL the time for the likes of 8 or 9 people. Once in a while 15. If we have to, we move things outside (weather permitting).
We love the low heating bills & low cost of the property in the first place (plus it came with a garage the same size as the house, and a big double-lot yard). We're already half done paying it off, and bought it in 2005. That's not rocket speed, but considering my wife's been in medical school for half that time I think we're whittling away at it nicely.
She's now a Doctor of Physical Therapy (as of 2 weeks ago), so we'll really start down the fast track to getting out of debt which is exciting! We've always paid cash for our cars, so no payments there. Only other debt is the student loans. There is so little freedom in having tons of nice stuff. Like you... I guess I just must be lazy, because I don't wanna work that hard just so I can drive a shiny new pickup that isn't impressing anyone anyway."
There are so many interesting things in this email. It is one thing to live in a 800 square foot place in New York City. There, financial constraints may force one to make that choice. I presume that the real estate in Iowa is inexpensive enough that Jason could live in a bigger place.
By choosing to live in a tiny house, his mortgage is low, his utility bills are low, and his property taxes are low. He doesn't buy a lot of stuff to fill up his house either. The one decision to live small has a dramatic effect on how much he spends every month (in a good way).
The result of that is a mortgage that is on pace to be paid off in 18 years, while supporting his wife in medical school. Presuming that she gets a good job and attack debt as Jason says, they might pay off that mortgage in the next 5 years.
The big question mark is how big the student loans are. If they aren't big, they'll have eliminated almost all of most people's two biggest expenses: housing and transportation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that's half of everyone's expenses on average.
That's halfway to financial freedom. At the risk of sounding like a teenage girl, that's super cool.
One of my favorite parts of the email was at the end where he wrote about not wanting to work hard for a material possession as a status symbol. In a follow-up email, he pointed out how some people buy expensive cars and then fret over a ding on the door. It's a perfect example where people don't own possessions, possessions own people. Not only did they spend a lot money on the car, but in doing so they created another source of stress, protecting that possession.
This reminded me of a tagline I used to use on this website: "Making my money work, so I don't have to." That's exactly the idea, put the money into appreciating assets such as stocks or a real estate instead of depreciating possessions.
Do you have a story about your financial journey that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear about it. Shoot me an email.This post deals with: