Live Simply By Breaking Free
For this week’s article we have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Andrew Odom of Tiny R(e)volution to TinyHouseBuild.com. Andrew has dedicated his life to his values and created a lifestyle that supports his ideals: working from home, prioritizing time with his wife and daughter, living the tiny lifestyle, living within his means, and enjoying all that life has to offer. Currently he, his wife, and their daughter are traveling the country together in an RV seeing the sites they’ve always wanted to see while still making a living. Sounds good, huh?! The Odoms are an inspiring example of the possibilities that exist once one is willing to live within their means and think outside the box. In this article Andrew shares valuable suggestions on how to live simply by breaking free. Enjoy!
Live Simply By Breaking Free
-By Andrew Odom
Let me make a formal disclaimer. I work everyday in a corporate setting. Well, that isn’t the whole truth. Let me try that again. I work every day for a corporation. I am a telecommuter and have a traditional 9-to-5 job (that is never 9am to 5pm mind you) in marketing. I went to a traditional college, earned a masters degree, and have worked hard to advance up the ladder in a white collar world. However, I have always done it in a non-traditional way. I don’t typically change from my sleepwear basketball shorts to my daytime basketball shorts until about 11am. I start work about 5am before my wife and daughter wake up allowing me to get in a full three hours before anyone else is even stirring. I take long lunch breaks almost each day and then work at inconsistent times throughout the rest of the day. I am very goal-oriented and a self-motivator so no one has to set a clock for me or sound the closing bell for me. With that issued I can’t rightfully write about my initial topic du jour: leaving the office grind behind.
You see, for the last 4 years my wife and I have dreamt up, designed, built, and lived in our 240 square foot home whilst I worked in my “tiny office” (80 square feet of dedicated space) in our backyard. It has been a less than normal situation. This past winter we traded in our tiny home lifestyle for a more traditional travel trailer and “snowbirded” in Ft. Myers, FL to enjoy the sun, the beach, and each other while I worked from a screened-in, outdoor room during office hours.
The lifestyle isn’t for everyone though. Not everyone can stay motivated or focused. Not everyone is fortunate (as I am) to have a location independent job. Not everyone can be around their spouse and children as much as I am without growing weary or feeling crowded. But for those who can there are some lessons I have learned along the way that I think will allow you to enjoy the simple life in a beautiful way! But before I mention those I want to reiterate that escaping the 9-to-5 is not just about not working in a cubicle. It is a mindset. It is about refusing to be defined by your job but rather bringing your talents, passions, and personality to the workplace. It is about taking your time away from work and investing it in life; in those around you.
BREAK FREE FINANCIALLY
We could never have started our more simple life had we not realized two things.
- We are in major debt.
- We will get nowhere if we are in major debt.
When I asked my wife to marry me almost six years ago now I had little to present her with. To be more specific I had only $40,000+ of consumer debt to offer. I was beyond broke and I was bringing a huge financial responsibility to the marriage. She, however, brought none of that. From the moment she said “Yes” we began plotting how to rid ourselves of said debt. We didn’t turn to a financial counselor or a self-help book. Rather we took a look at ourselves: our weaknesses, our desires, our needs, our income potential, interest rates, etc. We realized that I was the spender and she was the saver. So we knew then that in order to make a dent in the current debt we could really do neither. We couldn’t spend and we couldn’t save. Our next three years were spent taking care of ourselves, our car, our little house, etc. so that every penny we had from my paycheck could go directly to principle debt. We knocked out credit cards first as they had the highest interest rates. Once one was paid off we simply hid it from ourselves leaving the account open to generate positive credit scoring but not tempting us to spend. We then looked at loans and knocked those out, oftentimes finding a way to make a double payment each month. We took to gardening to save on food costs and to stay away from the doctor. We ate less allowing us to feel fuller while just sharing a meal instead of having a full plate for each of us. The list goes on. But I am proud to say that we are (with the exception of our brand new truck purchase) virtually debt free. We live cash-on-the-barrel and have begun saving again. Our rule is simple. If we can’t pay cash for it we don’t need it!
BREAK FREE RELATIONALLY
If you are currently in a relationship or you end up entering into one in the future I have only one tip for you. LOVE! Love your partner/spouse/significant other with all of your heart. From that love will stem a number of things that will help you live more simply. From that love will come respect and enjoyment and laughter and understanding and compassion and empathy and support and fun! Don’t allow yourself to be afraid. INVEST. Invest in your ability to love. Invest in the other person. Invest in your time together. If you work from 9am to 5pm leave it behind at 5:01pm. Don’t bring it home because it is not your whole self. It is just a facet of who you are. Living the tiny life or the small life or the nomad life or whatever you want to describe it as requires that you dwell in close proximity to others almost all of the time. Because of that you have to connect with a significant other in ways you perhaps never knew before. You have to invest in that relationship and commit to it.
BREAK FREE PARENTALLY
I have much to say on this topic because parenting in a small space is not as hard as some would like to think. It is actually quite enjoyable but it does come with its own set of rules and objectives. So much more is involved that it is actually a post of its own. Stay tuned for thoughts on that area of breaking free…
These are all just tips though. They are what has worked for my marriage, my pocketbook, my house, my daughter. They may not work for you at all. And because of that you have to figure out how to break free on your own. You have to challenge yourself to discover yourself and in order to do that you have to break free of what others have labeled you as on a number of levels. So please. Go ahead. Break free!
Founder of Tiny r(E)volution and author of the popular book ‘Your Message Here : GAINING CORPORATE SPONSORS for your tiny house project‘, Andrew Odom is a social media strategist and content crusader amongst other things. He is also an accomplished photojournalist with work seen in Details, Relevant, South, Kitchen Drawer, and Tiny House Magazine. His proudest accomplishment however is his adoption and current advocacy of the tiny house/small house/unconventional house community as a designer, builder, and dweller. Having recently sold their 240 sq.ft. tiny house Andrew and his wife (as well as his 3-year old daughter) live and travel in a 27′ Aruba travel trailer.