You know what really grinds my gears?!

You know what really grinds my gears?!

I was going to post today about the updates to my interior design today, but I’ve realized that I’ve neglected something huge that’s happened at different points along my Tiny House journey.

As a single female (barely) under 30, I understand that there are many things I may not know a lot about while building my Tiny House. I have never installed drywall, tiled a shower, or laid a floor. I don’t own a nail gun and I hadn’t used a circular saw until just a couple of weeks ago. I wear pink and have six earrings in each ear. (I also wear blue and love DCs, but I digress…) I have outsourced the spray foam insulation, electrical work, plumbing, and shell build to others who are much more qualified that I am.

Now with all that being said, I’d like to finally address something women everywhere probably think, but never say. I’d like to address the elephant in the room.

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Just once, I’d like to be able to hire someone or talk to a professional without getting hit on.

That’s right. I fucking said it.

It’s not too much to ask for, really. I mean, do men get hit on when they walk around in paint-covered shorts and smell like two-day-old sweat? I’ve smelt them; I can assure you they do not.

I’m just saying that it would be nice to go get my oil changed without feeling like I’m being hustled to replace parts that are absolutely fine, just because the mechanic assumes I know nothing about cars. (Even though I don’t.)

I would like to walk into a gun shop without getting the side-eye from the salespeople. I usually get asked if I’m buying a gift for a brother or father. (I like guns. So…shoot…me?)

If you offer me a deal, I would like to be given a discount because of my professional merit, because you think I can advertise for you, or because you are offering a special.

I would NOT like to be given a discount because of my appearance. I will NOT sleep with you if you give me $100 off a big project. I will NOT feel obligated to go out with you if you start throwing freebies my way.

Here is a less obvious example of what I’ve been dealing with. Two weeks ago I went to Home Depot with my dad to look for light sockets for my antique sconces that I found on Craigslist. We split up to look for them for two reasons: 1.) We had no idea where they’d be or if they even sold them in stores; and 2.) We’d imprudently gone to Giant Eagle first. (Why is that imprudent, you ask? Because we’d bought ice cream. It was 92 degrees out. Again, I digress…)

So here we are in Home Depot, wandering the aisles aimlessly, when I decided to buck up and just ask someone for help. A nice middle-aged man showed me the correct aisle and I promptly found what we needed. Bingo! Mission complete! I “ca-cawed” to my dad to signal that I’d found them, and he promptly whistled back. By the time he got back to me, I was surrounded by three or four Home Depot associates.

But Rachel, you needed help. You said you didn’t know where the item was.

True. But at this particular point in time I no longer needed help. My sales trip was all wrapped up and I was just waiting in the middle of the aisle for my dad to meander over.

But Rachel, maybe they were just bored. Maybe they just wanted to make conversation.

Possible. But when my Dad found me his comment was right on: “How come I’ve never gotten that much help when I come in here?!” Then they scattered like baby mice.

I’m not going to throw any individual person under the bus, but so far in working on my Tiny House I’ve been asked out, texted about how beautiful I am (that was from someone on Craigslist – creepy), and one even told me he’d leave his wife for me. My whole point is that I would just like to be treated professionally. If I am hiring you to build something for me or help me with a project, I am hiring you.

I can also fucking fire you.

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And before you all get your panties in a bunch, let me clarify some things.

  • Am I saying I could complete this project alone? No.
  • Am I saying I wish I were dangling-dingleberry-butt ugly so I no longer got hit on? Nope.
  • Am I saying I could get along just fine without a faux marriage proposal every other week? ABSOLUTELY.

So think before you speak next time fellas. I know you’re ruled by your penis and all but do you really think “buying” a lady is something you’ll feel good about later?

Scratch that last part. I don’t trust your feelings. Just stop fucking doing it.

 

 

 

I’m in the Pursuit of Happiness

I’m in the Pursuit of Happiness

Have you ever put off things when you’ve really wanted to do them? How many times have you said, “Oh, maybe next year”? How often have you wished for the financial freedom to live out your dreams?

I can tell you that my answers to those questions are probably not surprising. They may even coincide with yours. If I had a dollar for everything I wish I could’ve done in life, I probably would have had enough money to have done them. I’m not even talking big trips or vacations, but small excursions that someone else may take for granted. One example: Each year I see a list of concerts coming to Pittsburgh, PA and I list out all the ones that I’d love to go to. I check ticket prices, I check sales dates, and I mark my calendar. And do you know how many I go to? I’d say, on average, 1-2 per year. (And that is only because last year and this year I’ve gone to more than usual.)

Here’s another for you. I often get too lazy to see my friends. I rationalize to myself that it will cost too much in gas, plus then we meet somewhere to eat, plus a drink or two, and before you know if I’m crashed on my couch pants-less eating Cheetos and Twizzlers for dinner having canceled on my friends yet again.

Does that ever happen to you?

I hope so, because if I’m the only one that does this, that’s pretty embarrassing. Well, me and Ron White

In any case, I’m going to operate under the assumption that I’m not alone since I know plenty of procrastinators and putter-offers. You don’t have to admit it here, or even to others, but for the sake of your own mental health you must at least admit it to yourself.

We all have different ways of doing this. Some people fill their schedules to the point of bursting until they have a mental breakdown. Others feign being busy so as to rest, watch TV, or Netflix and chill (alone). Still others just ignore problems until they no longer can, which in my opinion is the worst approach to take.

I’ve been guilty of each of these at different times, but at least I know it now. I know that when I put off doing my dishes for the third straight day to watch reruns of “Law & Order” that I’m not being productive. I know that when I wake up earlier than usual and waste that time on Facebook rather than getting ready or taking out the trash that I’m not making good use of my time.

So why do we do this? Why do we procrastinate? I’m guilty of it, obviously, and in many more ways than I mentioned above. But why do we do it?

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One theory I have is that we always assume that we’ll improve our circumstances by next week, next month, or next year. Much like our oft-forgotten and ill-begotten New Year’s Resolutions, we assume we can change our lives without making much effort. I see all the infomercials and ads for “quicker-faster-better” results. Burn fat now! Get rich quick! 22-Day Fix! But does any of this really last?

No, is the short answer.

We have to want to change our lives and ourselves before we actually embark on this journey.

First, we have to WANT to change. Now I don’t mean:

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Or:

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I mean you actually have to define what you want in real terms. It’s too easy to ignore a goal when you have no accountability for it. But if you take the time to lay out a plan, it will seem like you’ve wasted time by giving it up. Rather than joining a gym alone, get yourself a work-out buddy. Instead of promising to read more on weekends, join (or form) a book club. Instead of wishing you were outside, go outside.

The great thing is that we all have our own goals. We all have the right to pursue our dreams the way we want. But in this TV-watching, movie-streaming, Facebook-stalking “modern” world, we have to hold ourselves and each other accountable.

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So now let’s focus on the JOURNEY.

We need to accept that the best things in life are worth working and fighting for. Is it more rewarding to work hard to buy your mother a birthday present or to steal it? Would you rather earn your diploma or cheat your way through school? Is it better to read the entire book or just the CliffsNotes? (On second thought, don’t answer that last question. I’m afraid of your choice…)

When I started college, I assumed I’d graduate in four years like any “normal” student. After all, I was always smart and I did well in school. That didn’t happen for me. After giving up for five years, I went back and reached my dreams. I finished that journey.

And I started a new one. After four years of being in a so-so relationship, I made the very difficult decision to break up and learn what it meant to me an adult in the world. It’s been tough and it’s been wonderful. It’s necessarily had its ups and downs. It’s been a learning experience and I hope it never ceases to be. I have found pieces of me that I never knew existed. I’m still trying to regain pieces of me that I thought were lost forever.

This journey that I’ve embarked on this year has taken many twists and turns and it’s only been a few months. I’ve changed my mind, made decisions over and over again, and changed my mind some more. I’ve angered people, pitied people, been angry, and been pitied. I’ve taken some hits and I’m sure I’ve dished some out. I’ve made some good deals and I’m sure I’ve made some bad ones.

I just know that I am no longer willing to exchange the life I want and the life I lead for the life I could maybe-possibly-someday have. I’m no longer willing to suffer today in hopes that tomorrow is better. This life is a journey, and I’m going to enjoy it until the end.

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Financial freedom?

Financial freedom?

So as you all know, a large part of my Tiny House journey has been about finding my way financially in life. My ultimate goal is to live on the income from one job without sacrificing things that are important to me. I don’t want to have to give up all of my worldly possessions to live in a huge empty house, right?

So I have been keeping track of the things I’ve bought so far for Tilly. I’m going to give you a run-down of what I’ve gotten so far as well as costs associated and pictures, if I have them.

KitchenSo here is what I’ve spent on my kitchen so far. I’m not completely done, but there are some amazing things to note here!

I got some items for FREE! I got my cabinets and countertop from a friend who was tearing out his kitchen.

Nearly everything else I’ve bought so far has come from Craigslist or eBay. I negotiated WAY more than I could at a big box store or even some specialty shops. I still have a couple of big appliances to get, but this is a great start!

I had to make a really painful decision regarding my appliances. I bought a beautiful stove and microwave set from my friend but ultimately they were just too big. I had to sell them and settle on smaller appliances. I’ve decided my best bet now is to go with a cooktop and large toaster oven rather than a traditional range.

Living Room

 

Next up is the living room… Originally I wanted to purchase a brand new couch from Ikea immediately. It has a chaise lounge and pulls out into a full queen mattress for company. But after crunching some numbers I decided to wait. I’m going to keep my almost-new sofa a while longer and use an old brown leather ottoman as a table/footrest.

I’ve been searching Craigslist for a couple of months now and I bargain for everything I want. For example, I got two antique sconces for just $15 after they were originally listed for $65. When I got there to pick them up I realized what bad shape they were in and he just wanted rid of them. SCORE! I also picked up free white shelves/cubbies from my old job and a brand new ceiling fan (with a remote) for $40.

I purchased some plywood to build a desk/table and I’ll jazz it up with some stain and metal details. I also bought a brand new fireplace from Wayfair when it was 20% off.

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So many of my plans changed from my original bathroom layout. In fact, most ALL of my layout has changed. More on that later. But for the purpose of this financial post, I must address the bathroom. I nixed the idea of a smaller-than-normal shower and opted for a smaller-than-average bathtub. How much smaller you ask? It’s 46″ long. Here it is:

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Bathroom

I picked this pretty puppy up on Craigslist brand new for $125. As it turns out there is a local warehouse that gets lots of run-off from Home Depot. While I was there I also picked up an American Standard toilet, the most beautiful vanity light (below), a kitchen faucet (also below), and a sink. Now I’m returning the sink in order to get my dream antique sink (below), but it was still a great find!

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Now for the big category. This last category includes everything from exterior stain to my water heater to my contractor who’s doing the electrical and plumbing installations.

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The items in red are items that I’ve budgeted for but haven’t bought yet. Since the plumbing and electrical are set to be done by the end of this weekend and the insulation is next, there’s no sense in buying the walls, ceiling, and flooring until I’m ready.

The big ticket item on this list is my radiant heat floors from Thermosoft. I couldn’t be more pleased with the experience thus far! I wasn’t sure exactly what I needed to I called their Customer Service. They had me send them a layout of my floorplan so they could work up a quote for me. The representative called 4 or 5 times to get it all right and still got me a quote the same day! The price above got me my heated floors, underlayment, thermostat, and extra floor sensor. As if that wasn’t enough shipping was free!

So there you have it. I’m trying to be as frugal as possible so as not to break the bank. I took a pay cut to work for a local non-profit and I love my new job. I am also only working on job right now, so money is tight. I will pick up a second job again soon, but for now I’m just enjoying my summer with Tilly.

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Back from the dead…

Back from the dead…

First, I want to apologize to those of you who were/are loyal readers. I obviously took a more-than-brief hiatus from blogging about my Tiny House journey. I shan’t do it again.

Second, I’d like to take a brief moment to appreciate the beauty that is young Bruce Campbell from his “Evil Dead” days.

*pause*

Le sigh. Now that that’s out of the way… It’s time for some Tiny House (and life) updates!

I will try to blog each day this week to document what has been going on with my Tiny House. For one, I must introduce her in all of her glory. This is a picture of my THOW the day it got delivered to my parents’ house…

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Tiny House delivery

This, my friends, is Matilda; I call her Tilly for short. I named her such for several reasons.

  1. I loved the childhood book-made-movie “Matilda”. I even re-typed the entire book in grade school to improve my typing. #goals
  2. In the book-made-movie, Matilda is small but magical. I’d like to think my Tiny House will be the same…
  3. Tilly is the name of my high school lunch lady. She was small, adorable, and gave us extra tots. Who doesn’t like free tots?!

I have been working on Tilly most weekends since she was delivered. Needless to say, things have been taking much longer than expected. Here is Tilly’s near-finished exterior. (It’s still got painters’ tape on it so she doesn’t look 100%.)

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I’ve also updated my interior plans for Tilly, which I’ll show you later this week. #teaser

All in all, things have been going well. However, I’ve had many changes in my life since my last post…

  1. I changed jobs.
  2. I am only working one job right now.
  3. I am happily single and not looking for anyone.
  4. My depression is a bit more under control.

I am working for a non-profit very near my apartment now. I ditched the waitressing job for a few reasons, but mainly due to the long drive. I will pick another one up here shortly, but for now I’m enjoying having my weekends to myself.

I have also been buying MANY things to outfit Tilly which I will probably update this weekend. I am also thinking of switching my blog over to a wordpress.org site so I can generate some income from my writing. That is probably a big part of my lack of blogging the past few months… I was afraid to blog more on here in case I switched over. But since I haven’t made that decision yet I couldn’t wait to post any longer!

More to come later tonight…

Do not go gentle into that good night…

Do not go gentle into that good night…

Good afternoon Tiny House enthusiasts! I know I promised I’d post about my research regarding insulation and other super fun things (like drywall), but first I need to put some things down that have been bothering me…

I was asked this weekend who I am writing this blog for. While I am hopeful that my audience will find this to be both amusing and (eventually) informative, I am primarily writing this for myself. I want to be able to remember the decisions I’m making now and why I made them. I want to be able to look back and show things I accomplished and things that deflated me. For this reason, some of my posts will be less about decisions I’m making and more about how I’m feeling or why I’m confused.

Truth be told, I’ve been having a hard time at both of my jobs lately…

The restaurant I work at started (and kept on) messing up my schedule. I was working Monday night, Friday night, and sometimes Saturday and/or Sunday. I’m not even available to work Sundays or Mondays. It was stressing me out quite a bit and for quite a few reasons. First, with the amount of time I’m spending working I need a full day off each Sunday. Having to find someone to come in on what is actually my only day off was stressful, primarily because no one would ever want to work the shift. Second, I have been at this restaurant since the day it opened. I was one of the first three people hired and I didn’t understand why I was being singled out to work on a day I wasn’t available. So I sat down with them, had the conversation, and have been given my preferred schedule. I now work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, as well as all day Saturday. My knees are killing me but I’ve already made an extra $1600 this month. (And it’s only halfway through the month!)

Now on to my full-time job. (I find it hard to call just one of my jobs “full-time” now since I’m basically working full-time at both jobs, but I digress.) Things are feeling increasingly stifled to me. I work for a private company, but a large one. We recently moved to a new location and the vibe around the office is becoming more and more corporate. There is a lot more micro-managing and a lot less creativity. There is also an awful lot of inter-office pettiness that stresses me out daily and negatively affects my mood. I’m annoyed or upset more often than not these days and it takes all my energy just to get up in the mornings.

I know part of this is my depression but knowing why you feel a certain way doesn’t change that you do feel that way. My new medication takes the edge off the depression like ibuprofen may dull joint pain, but it doesn’t take it away.

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I worry about what will happen when this Tiny House push is over. I know I’ve outlined all of the reasons I’m embarking on this journey, but what happens when it’s all done? I have always been good at pushing through and working toward a goal. What happens when I attain that goal?

Time for a story.

When I started college I was 17 and very smart. I earned several scholarships for writing and academics. I was excited for all that college would bring. I enrolled in interesting classes like one about Marxism and another called “Your Karma Ran Over My Dogma”. It was exhilarating to open my mind up to topics I’d never really heard of, yet alone dared to study. Coming from a close-minded Catholic education, this was really a treat for my mind.

And then it all crashed, and crashed quickly. My depression quickly spun out of control and by my sophomore year I was failing classes. I had to transfer to a larger and less prestigious school, but I did so well there (while living at home with my parents, mind you) that I was convinced I was cured. I even managed to convince my parents of that. I returned to my fancy (see: expensive) college, and promptly ended up back on academic probation. I quit college just one year shy of graduating.

Why am I telling you this sad story? To tell you this better one:

Fast forward five years. I’d never gone back to school and I’d moved around Western PA a lot. I was fed up with my job after two-and-a-half years and ready to move on. When they said they’d pay me unemployment if I quit, I quit that very day. I decided a few weeks later that I’d return to school. And I decided to return to my school. Sure, I could have gone somewhere closer or cheaper or less distinguished, but I wanted to prove to my 17-year-old self that I could do it. I filled out the paperwork, I got my loans, and I returned to class.

My first time around, I’d planned to graduate with both a Psychology and an English degree. Each Professor who knew me way back when told me to take it easy and choose one major and allow the other to become my minor. I didn’t listen. I couldn’t do that. Instead, I took 22 credits during the fall and 23 in the spring. I re-enrolled in classes I had failed or gotten a ‘D’ in, just to pull up my cumulative GPA. When I returned to school, my GPA was a measly 2.3. My goal was to graduate with a 3.0.

After just one year and enough classes to fill at least three semesters, I graduated with both degrees. I made the Dean’s List each semester and my GPA was a 3.0. (Well, it’s technically a 2.97 but we all round up, right? Math, right!?)

So again, why am I telling you this? Because I need to remind anyone who is listening that you can do whatever you put your mind to. And I need to remind myself that I can do it. Despite any craziness at my jobs or with my family or the battle against my inner self, I will not succumb. And neither should you.

It shouldn’t matter who is with you or against you, as long as you are with and for yourself. So long as you keep your own hope alive, you can do anything.

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     – Dylan Thomas

My First Step – Finances

My First Step – Finances

Good evening!

I thought I should take a step back tonight and start at the beginning of my Tiny House journey. Way back to the very beginning, back before I knew what a Tiny House was and before I had this dream. Yes folks, it’s that time. It’s time to talk about money.

So I’ll admit I used to be bad with my finances. One doctor even tried to diagnose me as bipolar because I spent too much money shopping. (Okay, okay – in my defense I was 19 then and had attended a private Catholic school my entire life. I’d always worn uniforms! At 18 or 19 I finally got into clothes and started buying a lot of them. Sue me.) But it went much farther than clothes. I inevitably had student loans (and no degree to show for it), got into super fun credit card debt, and spent tons of money I didn’t have. I even had a car repossessed. I eventually had to move back home with Mom and Dad for a year to get myself back together.

I moved back out of my parents’ house for the final time about 5-6 years ago. I moved in with my (then) boyfriend into a townhouse we could (sort of) afford and started (what I thought would be) the rest of our lives together. I never thought money would be an issue since we were both equally bad with it.

Wrong. So wrong!

Fast forward 3 years: I’d gone back to school and finally received 2 degrees. I was accomplishing goals, was excited for the future, and my credit had risen about 100 points. He… hadn’t done those things. Suffice it to say things ended.

That was almost 3 years ago now. I was left with a $695 per month rent payment for a 3-bedroom house with 2 cats. My gas bill in the winter months often exceeded $300 per month. I had to find roommates… I had to use [shiver] craigslist. (I actually met someone who has become a very good friend this way, but I had to put up with 3 VERY bad roommates to find her.)

While I was straddled with bills (and more bills, and then some more bills) I had to find ways to cut costs. I want to give anyone who reads this my very own “Idiot’s Guide to Eventually Sorting Out What Money You Sort Of Have”. Catchy, eh? So here are my first nuggets of advice:

  • Cut whatever bills you can in whatever ways you can.
    • I couldn’t cancel my Dish subscription, so I called to haggle. Before I called my bill was around $85/month for TV only. With a few phone calls to customer service and a promise not to break my contract for the final year, I got my bill down to $19.10/month. (I get fewer channels but I kept my DVR!)
    • Another idea is to combine your cell phone bill with friends or family members. This saved me about $30/month.
  • Take advantage of special offers through work or online.
    • I get a 20% discount on my cell phone service through my job, but they don’t tell you that when you hire you. You have to ask. Always ask.
    • I use a website called The Penny Hoarder to find ways to save on groceries, dining out, and even credit cards!
  • Save money on things you already do.
    • Do you clip coupons? Subscribing to the paper is often cheaper than paying $2.00 on Sundays.
    • Do you like to eat out? Search for discounts before you go, then decide where to eat. Base these decisions on financial goals, not your growling tummy.
    • Do you like to go on special dates with that special someone? Check out Groupon or LivingSocial for ideas and cheaper ways to go out.
  • Consider getting a second job. Even if it’s one day a week, maybe that keeps you from spending loads on a Friday night and puts $50 in your pocket.
  • For the love of everything Tiny, keep a budget!!!

I’d like to share with you a sample of my budget sheet. I’ve left in some examples for you to see even though I’ve deleted most of the figures. It only takes around 2 minutes each morning to update my budget sheet and check registers. Please note that you can easily adapt this to Microsoft Excel, but I simply like the tediousness of updating it in Microsoft Word; it reminds me how much I hate spending money!

Using this budget sheet or some modified version has helped me pay off credit card debt, get through Christmas in one piece, and save for my Tiny. Hopefully it may help some of you as well!

Budget Worksheet Template