The story of Tammy from rowdykittens.com has been a big inspiration of mine. What I love about Tammy’s story is how she and her husband went from the typical consumer-driven lifestyle and “keeping up with the Joneses” to minimalist living and enjoying the finer things in life.
Specifically? Well, Tammy and her husband were living the “normal” middle class life of living a two-bedroom apartment, driving two cars, commuting long distances and living well beyond their means.
They were stressed and in debt just like many normal American couples. Instead of resigning to that lifestyle, Tammy and her husband decided to pursue their own path instead. Not only did they downsize their apartment and stuff, they went big by going small. They now live in a tiny house of 128 sq feet, and Tammy now works on her own terms.
It’s an awesome story and an inspiration to me in my process of getting everything I own into two small bags.
So it was great to chat with Tammy and get some more insight into her process of transformation and hacking her own path.
[MV] How you were living your life after you first got married?
[TS] We were living beyond our means. Basically, we were spending more than we were brining in and buying stuff that we didn’t need. At the time I was really concerned about what others thought of me and I felt like I had to look a certain way, live in the perfect apartment, and have a big diamond ring too.
That seems to be the default way of living for may middle class Americans. How were your values influenced by society rather than what is actually important to you?
Consciously or subconsciously we are shaped by advertising. And that’s not surprising, considering that the average American is exposed to 3,000 ads everyday. A lot of these ads present unrealistic images of what we need to live a happy and healthy life.
When did you start to realize that was not a sustainable or happy way to live?
I recognized that I wasn’t happy while I was working in the investment management industry. I left the industry about eight years ago because I was depressed; to cope I started drinking too much wine at night. That was a big red flag for me and I knew it was time to get out and make a career change. Making such a big change took time and it didn’t happen overnight.
How did you get more clarity on your values and make a change, and what actions did you take?
In short, by reading a lot and talking with my husband, Logan. We started by taking very small steps. As we simplified we knew that we had to pay off our debt. By itself, that’s a really big goal. So we broke it up into steps, what I call micro-actions.
Some of those actions included creating a budget, not charging stuff to our credit card, building up an emergency saving account, and selling our cars. By taking very small steps, we were able to pay off $30,000 in debt in four years.
When did you move into your tiny house and how is it going?
We moved into our little house on October 23rd and we adore the living space.
For example, we have a dedicated drawer for computer cords and other odds and ends. Leaving these items out on the counter would clutter up the house quickly. In addition, I love our window nook. It’s a space to read, it folds out into a single bed, and under the seat is storage for our camping stuff.
Tiny homes don’t have to be cramped. These little spaces can feel open and spacious; it’s just a matter of designing them well. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, ‘You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.’
What advice would you give to people living life according to society’s values but are looking to hack their own path?
As humans, we crave to be liked and accepted by others because we’re social creatures. However, I don’t think it’s healthy to live for everybody else. It’s important for you to do what’s right for you. For instance if I become fixated on other peoples expectations, I take a step back and remind myself that I only get one life. My life is finite and I want to use it well.
I truly believe you can accomplish any goal by taking a few small steps every single day.
Sound words from a true path hacker. Small steps really do add up to big changes. Read more about Tammy’s amazing journey at rowdykittens.com.
And be sure to check out Tammy’s latest project, your lovely life, for simple lessons of joy, beauty, and gratitude. It’s quite a lovely site sure to provide you with inspiration.