Cutting it down the size

Lessons learned from the ‘tiny house’ movement

I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because I live with so many other people (many of whom *still* don’t put their backpacks where they belong), but I am absolutely intrigued by “tiny houses”.

The tiny house movement was initiated by people who want to simplify their lives. Instead of living in a large house with expensive upkeep, they’ve decided to live in small houses that have anywhere from 100 to 700 square feet of living space. In these small homes, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Tiny house living is a way to acknowledge what is really necessary in your life and it’s also a way to free up funds so you can pursue the life you want. Many of the tiny house people have no mortgage and as a result of cutting down they have the money to travel, volunteer, or do whatever they want. Many seem to have a clear purpose that is decidedly missing from those who are cluttered in home, as well as life.

I look around at our huge (in comparison) house and I wonder: Could it even be done? Could our family move to a tiny house, paring down to the absolute minimum? The short answer for us is that as long as we have kids living at home, kids storing things while they are in college, and four seasons to deal with, tiny house living is not for us.

But the concept of tiny living is.

In reading about this type of lifestyle, I’ve been challenged to purge. Because while we do live in a large house to accommodate our kids, we don’t necessarily have to live in a large house just to accommodate our stuff.

There is so much we have that is just sitting in-waiting. Take the ski equipment, for example. No really, take it. The kids have not been in a ski program for the last two years and yet I still have all six ski helmets and goggles – just in case, on the off chance, we might take them all skiing again (even though two are in college.)

Also take my black sweaters. I had five black sweaters. As a result of cutting back, I now have two black sweaters (one dress, one casual) and Savers has the other three. We all win.

Living tiny has me looking at my kitchen in a different light. Do I really need a quesadilla maker when I could make them just as easily in a fry pan? Or do I really need to store extra pots to save for when my kids move out to their own apartments?

I can’t tell you how many times I have run out to buy something I needed because I couldn’t find that item in the house (I know I put it somewhere) or how many times I have purchased a book that I already have. It is money wasted that could be put to better use. And with so many people hurting from the economy and natural disasters, it just feels wrong to not pass on our excess. We simply don’t need it all.

It’s the beginning of a new year and with it comes new intentions. Our family intention is to cut back to what is important in our lives. We have far too much and with excess comes non-use and waste. As I’ve assured my kids, we’re not going to get rid of the things that we love, we’re simply going to get rid of the things we don’t use so we can appreciate the things that we do.

We are going to live in our big house as if it were a tiny house.

Wendy Thomas lives in Merrimack with her husband and six children, and has been published in various regional magazines and newspapers. Check out her blog Lessons Learned from the Flock, at Contact her at

Categories: Family Finances