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Living Small

November 4, 2008


Villa Vizcaya, originally uploaded by Elliot J..

No this isn’t where J. and I live and no I didn’t take these pictures but they do represent the American McMansion. Part of the reason the housing situation is in the toilet is because too many people who couldn’t afford homes or couldn’t afford the home they wanted were able to get financing that they can no longer afford. In reality they could never afford it.

I’d love to say J. and I didn’t fall into that trap but we did. I mean we can pay our mortgage and our rent but we are spending more then we should. We’ve mentioned before our house in NC that’s rented out (thank goodness) but the rent doesn’t cover the mortgage much less the additional property manager fees and the additional insurance required when you rent your house out. It wasn’t such a big deal when we lived in a $800 a month 750 sq ft apartment but now putting that on top of our $1300 a month rent for our 1500 sq ft house and it’s a bit much. We knew we should have looked for another small apartment but we didn’t want one and so we went didn’t get one. With both of us working it’s not a huge stretch to pay all these bills but we want to find a way to slow down which would mean making less money which means needing to make do with less.

Right now J. works 7 days a week anywhere from 8-14 hours a day (including travel) and I’m traveling 10+ days a month. Many of those trips are five straight days away from home. This is not how we want to live our life. With our two incomes we can afford to not budget, we can afford to go out and splurge but we don’t want to. Instead we want to save as much as possible so that we can step away from the high paying, high time committment jobs we have.

To that end I’m on a mission to see if we can live on one of our incomes and save the rest. Some things are set in stone like rent, the mortgage, car payment, tolls (J gets reimbursed for gas but not tolls), medical deductibles/copayments etc. I’m also keeping up with our Roth IRAs and 401ks. I know I could “save” some money by reducing our deposits but that money will serve us more 30 years from now when we retire.

On the other hand I’d like to cut back on:

Grocercies- when we first moved to Philly we were spending $130 a week (almost 3 times what it cost in Colorado). This past Saturday I got it down to $70 and actually bought more organic products then I had previously

Phone- now that we both have work phones we want to cut out the $140 a month we are spending on our cell phone plan

Energy- Gas is pretty set since both of our jobs require a lot of travel but we can cut back on electricity and cooking gas. We’ll try rioting and see how low we can go.

Hobbies/Enterainment- I don’t want to give up on fun but I want to focus more on finding sales or alternatives to accomplishing projects that cost less.

And lastly, STUFF! We have been purging and selling or giving away stuff for months now and yet there is still more that needs to go. We weren’t happy in a 750 sq ft home because we didn’t fit. We still wouldn’t fit and in fact even in our 1500 sq ft house we have a basement full of unsorted boxes which probably contain a lot more STUFF.

Some things like glasses we kept because they were also “useful” you know if we ever had 25 people over and they each wanted a martini 🙂 but with the holiday season swiftly approaching I want to sell off some of this to make room and pocket some cash. Maybe by July 09 we will be able to fit in a 1000 sq ft house and we’ll have a budget that will enable us to buy some land and a wee house in 10 years or less.

At the beginning of Decemeber I’ll post all of our costs and let you know how well we did.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2008 7:35 am

    Very true. Mr Chiot’s and I bought a small house within our price range and have never regretted it. It’s 1000 sq ft and we run 2 businesses from home. It’s a bit cramped for a party or when friends spend the night, but that’s so rare and it works perfectly the rest of the time. A smaller home also means smaller utility costs. Our home is super cheap to heat & cool, our bills only go up about $20-$30 in the winter for heating and $10-$15 in the summer for cooling. We’re projecting since we bought small we’ll be able to have the house paid off in 3 years or so (9 years total). We’ll appreciate the smaller home even more then, when it’s 100% ours.

    That being said, we are also in the “need to get rid of lots of unnecessary stuff camp”. This winter we’re planning on reorganizing & watersealing our basement and hopefully about 50% of the stuff will go to charity or in the yard sale pile.

    Here’s to living small!

  2. November 4, 2008 11:47 am

    “were also “useful” you know if we ever had 25 people over and they each wanted a martini”

    🙂 That made me laugh. We actually are guilty of hording wine glasses because I go through them so fast. I buy them for a nickle or quarter at yard sales and invariably I drop one or break it in the dishwasher. And I COULD have 25 friends who want a glass of wine. Although I don’t actually HAVE 25 friends.

    Saw you over at Chile’s. Would like to come back and visit again.

    Peace.

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