Mar 20, 2016 · 6 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Chinese Proverb

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter and I want to move into a tiny house.

I may have mentioned that we don’t have a firm timeline on that because tiny houses, especially those on wheels, aren’t what you would call “legal” where we live.

That simple fact has led to a lot more work, and probably will lead to a lot more expense in our situation, but it’s also not going to stop us. In fact, we have already begun the downsizing process to prepare to live in a tiny house.

Why would we do that now, when we don’t really need to? Because, like the proverb says, “The second best time is now.” If we’re going to move into a tiny house, the time to purge and ready ourselves for it is not when it’s all built and ready for us to move in. That would be a very stressful weekend with us getting rid of things without really examining them.

The time to get ready for the move is when we can move through our items and be intentional about what we keep and what we get rid of.

The same is true of any effort to downsize or declutter or change your lifestyle. Start now, and your changes can be more gradual. You can take baby steps, and when you’re ready to make whatever leap you’ll be making, you’ll be more prepared than you thought.

Here are some steps I’ve gone through to prepare for our eventual tiny house move.

Whole house declutter

Last summer I went through and KonMari’d the house, which I’m planning to do again soon. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “KonMari,” it’s a method developed by tidying guru Marie Kondo in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which you should totally read if you haven’t already. Anyway, I went through everything in the whole house.

Kondo advocates for going through everything all at once, but that really wasn’t feasible. I mean, I have a job and a child and a desire to see the light of day for at least a little bit every day, so I took my time. I worked through Kondo’s method when I had time and energy, which was more often than you might think. Once you get started on the decluttering journey, it becomes like a game, where you see how much stuff you can get rid of with each go. (I’m an organizing nerd. What can I say?)

So I got rid of a lot of stuff, but when I look around my house now, I wonder why I still have so much stuff left. I decided I need to do another, more unforgiving round of decluttering. In fact, I’m going to get started today. No time like the present.

Put the kibosh on shopping

I just talked about all the effort that went into decluttering my whole house, why on earth would I want to undo that? There’s no way, NO WAY, I’m going to go on shopping sprees and counteract all of my hard work. No way. Besides, if I get a bunch of stuff now, I’ll have no place to put it in the tiny house, where even one thing out of place will make the whole thing look cluttered.

Building your own house, no matter how small, takes a lot of money, even if it’s significantly less than the amount you would need to buy a conventional home. I need to save what money I can to pay for the house and any contingencies that might come up. That’s another reason shopping as entertainment is no longer in the repertoire. Also, I never really liked shopping anyway, so I’m happy to spend my time doing something I love. (Writing this blog for my beautiful readers, for instance. Love you guys!)

Get the financial house in order

I’ve always been pretty good with my finances, but not always with sticking to a budget or saving up for things, but that’s what I’ve been trying to do more of lately. When I changed jobs last year, I took a pay cut in order to work closer to home, so I’ve had to be good about making a budget and sticking to it. That means not just going out and buying whatever I want, but saving up for things that I need. If I’m not willing to wait and save up for something, then it doesn’t belong in my house.

Cut down on garbage

Part of living tiny is trying to reduce our carbon footprint, and it’s important for me to try to go zero waste. We’ve been on this journey for a while, trying to use less plastic and make less garbage. We haven’t quite gotten to where some zero waste experts here, here and here are, with just a mason jar full of clothing tags and twist ties from the last two years, but we now only have to empty the garbage once every three weeks. This effort has saved us money because we buy less packaged stuff, is helping us do our part to save the planet, and is saving me from the detestable task of taking out the garbage. I will figure out how to get down to just a mason jar. Eventually.

Keep to a schedule

I have made a concerted effort to keep to a schedule for writing, because it’s not about just getting rid of stuff, it’s about making room in our lives for what we love, and being able to express our creativity. So I get up at 5 a.m., do yoga or another form of exercise, mediate, then write for an hour. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I get up at 4:30 a.m. No, it’s not ideal, but since I must work a full-time job to pay the rent right now, it’ll have to do. Eventually, writing will be my full-time job, and I won’t have to get up quite so early.

So these are the preparations I’ve been making to prepare us for tiny house living.

What have you been doing to prepare for the life you want to live?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.