Your Money Or Your Life

Book Review: Your Money or Your Life, 9 steps to transforming your relationship with money and achieving Financial Independence,  By Vicki Robin, & Joe Dominguez with Monique Tilford

The book is a bit wordy with lots of charts and graphs, so I am going to give you “The Good Parts Version.”

This book offers an antidote to corporate culture, and lays out the pathway to a more simple and meaningful life. The mainstream financial road map was created during the Industrial Revolution: Work Hard, Earn More, Buy More, Use More, Build Bigger, etc. Our planet cannot handle our modern level of economic growth and consumerism. We need to change the way we think and the way we do things. Our Global Community requires us to reexamine our choices.

  • Money is something we trade our Life Energy for. You work 40 hours a week at your job to pay your bills. Add to that all the hours and the costs of commuting, buying work clothes, buying lunch during a work day, paying for child care, etc. For most people work actually eats up 60 or 70 hours each week. We have a big house with a big mortgage payment, 2 cars in the garage, and more “stuff” than we know what to do with.  Is it all worth it? For most people the answer is “NO.”

Wow. Let’s wake up and do something entirely different! Get off the treadmill!  Stop trying to impress other people! We can make bold changes in old patterns. We can simplify our lives to the point of “Enoughness.” We can find our sense of Purpose when we toss out our consumer addictions. We can make a Choice to spend our money and our time carefully and mindfully. The expenditure of our life energy can be brought into alignment with our values and life purpose. We can have an accountability to the Earth and what is fair and sustainable for all people and all life.

Suggestions for how to lower your expenses:

  • Buy only what you need; Do not “go shopping”
  • Live within your means
  • Take care of what you have
  • Wear it out
  • Do it yourself
  • Anticipate your needs
  • Research value, quality, durability, multiple use and price
  • Get it for less, buy it used
  • Practice sharing and bartering
  • Pay off your debts
  • Walk or bicycle to do errands

The main point of the book is to become Aware of what you are spending your life energy on. Are you spending it on something you truly value?


My Trailer is Here!

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Whoo, Hoo!  My Tiny House trailer arrived at the trailer store! I was so excited I had to snap a couple of photos right away. This is a 20 foot long trailer I bought for the “Bedroom House.” This one will have no plumbing, only electric. It will be a shell made with the plans for the Ynez Tiny House from Oregon Cottage Company. 🙂


Being with Trees


I believe we need to take time to “be still” in nature. That is the only way to commune with the trees. The trees are old, and time moves much slower for them. I must slow down my thoughts, feel the breeze on my cheeks, and be truly, deeply quiet on the inside. Then I can listen to the trees, and join them in “beingness.” There is music in this quiet place. It is a very old, haunting tune; sweet, quiet, holy.

The “Tiny” Movie!

The Tiny Movie

I LOVED IT!!! I bought the 1 hour DVD “Tiny, A Story About Living Small” from  They did a marvelous job making this Tiny House Movement documentary! They showed how one couple built a Tiny House from start to finish, and interspersed that story with interviews with other Tiny House enthusiasts. They interviewed Jay Shafer, author of “The Small House Book,” who basically kick-started the Tiny House Movement. They interviewed Dee Williams and showed the inside of her Tiny House that she built herself. Several other Tiny House Dwellers very eloquently explained why they changed to this counter-cultural lifestyle. The original music was lovely, and the scenery was well photographed.

Am I Brave or Nuts?

011 Camano Island, Washington, where I live!

My relatives are asking, “Are you really planning to live with your daughters in a Tiny House?” The answer is, “Yes!” I plan to make one Tiny House on a trailer that will be a “Bedroom House” with no plumbing, with the Inez plan from Oregon Cottage Company. The main house will be a small cabin on a foundation. So am I Brave or Nuts? Maybe a little of both.

I took a great online class called “The Plan: Creating your Pathway to Mortgage–Freedom.” It was taught by Hari and Karl Herzins of the Tiny House Family ( Hari and Karl bought 3 acres of land with cash, built a Tiny House on a Trailer, and lived in it with their family. There was a big loft for their 2 children. They grew a lot of their own food in a magnificent garden. It took them 4 years to save for and build a larger house on a foundation on their land. But they are still completely Mortgage-Free! That sounds really great to me! Hari and Karl give talks about their process and their lifestyle at Tiny House conferences. In their class I learned A LOT and made more supportive friends working towards the same goals as I am. In our culture it is a radical idea indeed to get off the cycle of debt and mortgage payments, and build a homestead that is completely debt free!

Hari and Karl taught us two “Self-Care” techniques for coping with stress: Breathing (conscious, intentional, aware) and dancing (freely, joyfully, letting go of all else). To this I would add one more that helps me: Singing! I love to sing, outside, inside, in the shower, in the kitchen. It gives me joy.

To find out more about the e-course on Creating Mortgage Freedom




Tiny House Plans!

Whoo, Hoo!!!  Today I got a package in the mail!  It was the plans for the Ynez Tiny House on a Trailer from

These complete plans were designed by licensed architect Todd Miller. Here are some photos of what it is supposed to look like when it is all finished. (Note: These photos are from Todd’s website.)

Ynez Tiny House Ynez inside Ynez inside 2 Ynez inside 2 Ynez loft



A Talk by Dee Williams!

The Big Tiny Book

Here is an event I attended for my special treat for myself on Mothers’ Day:

A talk and slide show by Dee Williams, author of “The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir” in Bellingham, Washington. This is what the bookstore website said about the event:

“Join Village Books as we welcome author Dee Williams, owner of Pad: Portland Alternative Dwellings, for a slideshow and author presentation at 4pm in the Readings Gallery. Unfortunately, Dee will not be able to bring her tiny house on a trailer for people to tour, as originally planned. She will, however, bring life-sized blueprints for her little travel house, as well as samples of salvage and green materials used in her tiny houses. This event is co-sponsored by ReSources, Sustainable Connections and Transition Whatcom.

Dee Williams’s life changed in an instant, with a near-death experience in the aisle of her local grocery store. Diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty-one, she was all too suddenly reminded that life is short, time is precious, and she wanted to be spending hers with the people and things she truly loved. That included the beautiful sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest she had painstakingly restored–but, increasingly, it did not include the mortgage payments, constant repairs, and general time-suck of home ownership. A new sense of clarity began to take hold: Just what was all this “stuff “for? Multiple extra rooms, a kitchen stocked with rarely used appliances, were things that couldn’t compare with the financial freedom and the ultimate luxury, “time,” that would come with downsizing.

Deciding to build an eighty-four-square-foot house on her own, from the ground up, was just the beginning of building a new life. Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her approximately ten minutes to clean the entire house. It’s left her with more time to spend with family and friends, and given her freedom to head out for adventure at a moment’s notice, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch. The lessons Williams learned from her “aha” moment post-trauma apply to all of us, every day, regardless of whether or not we decide to discard all our worldly belongings. Part how-to, part personal memoir, The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down, scaling back, and appreciating the truly important things in life.

Dee Williams is a teacher, designer, woodworker, and sustainability advocate. She is the owner of two businesses, Portland Alternative Dwellings and Boxcar Woodcraft, where she designs and builds tiny houses. She conducts green-building workshops across the country with Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and is also the author of Go House Go, a manual for building small homes. She lives in Olympia, Washington.”


I LOVED DEE!! She was funny, honest, and down to earth. I also love her book, which she signed for me.

You can listen to a recording of a talk on her book tour at this address:





Always Learning

Radical Simplicity Small Footprints on a Finite Earth

After reading “The Small House Book,” I wanted to learn more about Tiny Houses and simple living, and the environmental impact of the American lifestyle. I took an online class led by Mariah Coz about Tiny House living called “Tiny Transition and Downsizing.”  I made some new friends online who are trying to accomplish the same goals as I am. I also learned A LOT from a book Mariah assigned us to read called “Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth” by Jim Merkel.

Here are some of the important lessons I learned from the book:

  • Each of us has an “Ecological Footprint” which is a measure how much land and sea space is used to supply what we consume, and absorb the waste we produce. Americans have the highest Ecological Footprints in the world. In America we are trained all our lives to want more of everything: bigger and newer houses, cars, TVs, stereos, etc.
  • Currently the world’s wealthiest 1 billion people consume the equivalent of the Earth’s entire “Sustainable Yield.” Together all 6 billion people are consuming 20 percent over the Earth’s Sustainable Yield.
  • If we continue to live, consume, and waste like there is no tomorrow, there will BE no tomorrow.
  • “Renewable Resources” or the Earth’s Bio-productivity, takes time to regenerate. Resources are only renewable if they are consumed at a slower rate than their annual growth or yield.
  • “Sustainability” means not causing harm to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.
  • “Global Living” is an equitable and harmonious lifestyle not only among humans and their future generations, but all the species living on Earth.
  •  “Radical Simplicity” means changing the way we do things. Our personal choices do add up. We can help by consuming less, buying locally, living simply, and making wiser choices in all aspects of our lives. It is a life less centered on things, and intentionally shrinking our environmental footprint.
  • We can learn from Nature, reconnect to the Earth, and expand our compassion for all of Life. In his book Jim Merkel states, “By holding the Earth to your ear and listening for its secrets, you just may feel inspired to walk the path to a wild Earth shared by all people and all species.”


A Book That Changed Me

The Small House Book

We were all brought up to know what the American Dream is. You own a big house with a yard, and a nice car, and everyone knows how successful you are. You work 5 days a week to pay your 30 year mortgage, then on the weekends you do yard work, home improvement projects, clean your big house, do laundry and go grocery shopping. But when do you relax and enjoy nature, your children, and your hobbies? And what is the true cost to the environment?

A book that had a big impact on my thinking was “The Small House Book” by Jay Schaefer. Here are some important things I learned from this book:

  • The average American home uses ¾ of an acre of forest to build, and produces approximately 7 tons of construction waste. Each year this average American home emits 18 tons of greenhouse gases. The average American house gives off more carbon dioxide than the average American car!
  • Most Americans live a life of drudgery to pay for their large houses. These homes are often just a false show of success.
  • Minimum size housing standards were implemented for the purpose of preserving a “high quality of living.” The actual effect of these laws has been to eliminate housing options for low income Americans. Countless attempts to design and build shelter for the homeless have been thwarted by these building codes.
  • There is a housing crisis in the USA. The Bureau of the Census states that more than 40 % of families in the USA cannot afford to buy a house.
  • Zoning laws have been determining the size of houses, yards and streets for decades. After World War II, the suburbs were invented as a means of dispersing the urban population. During the Cold War, the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials pushed hard for streets wide enough evacuate and clean-up after a nuclear crisis. Also Fire Departments demanded wider streets for larger trucks. The result was suburban sprawl.
  • The large distances between home and offices, shopping, and restaurants means that now car ownership is required. This results in more gasoline usage and automobile pollution.
  • Lawsuits over the constitutionality of minimum size standards have forced some cities to drop these restrictions. Where this has happened little houses have begun to pop up, and they are selling quickly.
  • In our society which is obsessed with over-consumption, embracing less and living simply is countercultural. Magazines, TV, and billboards claim that the cure for what ails us is earning and spending more money, and increasing square footage. Simplification means that we stop following the herd, and have the courage to take the road less traveled.

Unfortunately, I just read a news article that says, “After shrinking for a few years during the housing downturn, home size has surged in this recovery, with the average house built in 2013 weighing in at 2,598 square feet…. Of the new houses built last year, one-third had at least three bathrooms, and 44 percent had four or more bedrooms, both all-time highs….. It doesn’t look like their appetite for housing cars went away, either. Of the new houses built last year, 85 percent included a garage to fit at least two cars, an all-time high.”




Nature is Amazing!



Spring has come to my new property with tiny wild flowers and baby ferns!!! Nature is amazing! The logging operation on my property left it looking dead and barren like the surface of the moon. It reminds me of what happened after the devastating eruption of Mount Saint Helens, a volcano in Washington State.

On the morning of May 18, 1980 Mount Saint Helens erupted. The largest terrestrial landslide in recorded history reduced the summit by 1,300 feet and triggered a lateral blast. Within 3 minutes, the lateral blast, traveling at more than 300 miles per hour, blew down and scorched 230 square miles of forest. But small plants and trees beneath winter snow, and roots protected by soil, survived the eruption and now thrive. Scientists originally predicted it would take over 20 years for life to begin to return to the scorched forest land. However, within just three years, 90% of the original plant species were found to be growing within the blast zone. The landscape devastated by the eruption has evolved into a rich and diverse habitat for plants and animals.