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For Tammy Strobel and her husband, Logan, happiness is found within their 128-square-foot home parked on wheels.
Strobel’s book You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) chronicles her transition from a standard middle-class lifestyle which included credit card debt, a long commute and living a beyond her means to a significantly downsized or “smartsized” existence.
I found You Can Buy Happiness to be an easy, inspiring read and I’d recommend it to most anyone. You don’t need to be on board with living in a teeny, tiny home to get something out of this book. Her central point seems to be that relationships and experiences versus stuff will make us happy.
This is a message we can certainly get behind as reduction is a key component of a sustainable lifestyle.
I had a chance to ask Tammy questions I wondered about You Can Buy Happiness. Here’s her answers from the Q & A:
GPB: The message that downsizing is “smart-sizing” in You Can Buy Happiness resonated with me. As you simplified your life and focused on reduction were you cognizant of the positive environmental effects of your choices? If so, how?
Tammy: We didn’t go small to “save the planet.” However, we discovered that an awesome side effect of going car-free, moving into a smaller dwelling, and not shopping so much is better for the environment and it made us happy too.
GPB: As someone who sometimes struggles with multi-tasking and time management I’d love for you to expand on how you were able to make the transition to a self described “single-tasker”?
Tammy: Technically, no one is able to “multi-task.” Researchers have shown that our brains can only focus on doing one thing at a time. After I read some of this research, I started to track how I was spending my time and realized that single-tasking was the way to get things done more effectively. For example, when I’m writing an article I focus on writing rather than toggling between my article and email.
GPB: Our readers are (clearly!) environmentally conscious, and you are an excellent example of someone living the reduce, reuse, recycle concept. Reduction is a major theme in You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap), can you give some examples of how you strive to reuse and recycle in daily life?
Tammy: I follow Katy Wolk-Stanley’s model of, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” We use what we have first, rather than going out and buying something new. Personally, I think that’s the best way to reuse and recycle daily. Also, when I buy something new I try to make sure it will last a long time, that it’s repairable and that the item can be used for multiple purposes. For example, my husband just got his cowboy boots resoled and he has been wearing them for fifteen years. When he walked into the local cobbler he didn’t even recognize his own boots on the shelf. They look awesome!
For awesome tips on this topic, I’d suggest reading Katy Wolk-Stanley’s blog (Beth’s note: I love this blog as well!)
GPB: Do you and Logan cook? What are the pros and cons of such a small kitchen?
Tammy: Yes, we cook 90 percent of our meals in our tiny kitchen. We recently hosted a small dinner party at our house and it was a lot of fun. Personally, I don’t see any cons of cooking in a small space. With that being said, it’s important to have the appropriate tools.
For example, we have a cute little stove/oven called an Origo 6000. It’s used predominately on boats, but it works for small homes. It uses alcohol as fuel so its safe to burn indoors with minimal ventilation and its free standing (no pipes or wires it just sits in the counter).
I love our little oven and cooking in a small space because it’s easy to clean up and I know where everything is located in the kitchen.
For more on that read How I Organize My Tiny Kitchen.
GPB: Do you envision yourself living in the tiny house for years? Would you ever go back to a bigger living space? Why or why not?
Tammy: Living in a little house works for us 95% of the time. However, there are moments when I want a bigger house. For instance, when my mom visits it gets a little cramped in our tiny dwelling. We always have fun, but part of me wants to offer my mom more space and a private bathroom too. In the past, we’ve put her up at a bed and breakfast and that is a fun option. But I always love having my mom stay with us.
Overall, I love our little house and I don’t envision ourselves upsizing. Sometimes we run into challenges but we also faced challenges when we had a larger home too. Whenever I feel the pull of wanting more, I try to practice gratitude. I’m grateful for what I have in this moment. I might not have an extra guest room, but I do have money and time to be generous in other ways.
Want to read more? Check out You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap!)
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