Tag Archives: budget living

Why I love tiny homes and a new challenge.

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Some of the happiest times in my life have been those periods when I was most unencumbered with STUFF. Living abroad, attending camp, traveling. Does anyone else feel this way? Any excuse to whittle down the daily necessities to the bare minimum just feels so reassuring to me. Decision making causes me a lot of anxiety. So, there’s immense comfort in knowing the less possessions you have the fewer decisions you have to make. If you only have one set of coffee cups, you use those coffee cups. Just 2 pairs of shoes? Guess what, it’s a coin toss. I think this is especially true for children. Kids get stressed too and I really believe that bombarding them with a bunch of toys causes just that–stress. In fact, I can strongly remember feeling tangible, physical relief when, at 10, my family moved to Vienna, Austria for the year and I just had…less. And my sister, who was 5, has mentioned feeling similarly. We were happy to have less so that we could live more. A philosophy I’ve tried, since drawing this connection time and time again, to actively adhere to.

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A strong sense of calm comes over me when I can see all of someone’s belongings in one place, unobstructed. And it’s not just tiny homes. Many of my internet obsessions center around this idea of “less is more.” Capsule wardrobes, backpacking, ex-patriating. I’ve literally googled “a list of everything I own”…probably multiple times.

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I fantasize about paring down my possessions to accommodate the tiny home lifestyle. I know I probably will never part with enough to live in a 8×10 home on wheels. But I hope I can continue on a simple living path. To waste less and buy used. To approach my purchases mindfully and treat the whole outdoors as my backyard. You can’t put a white picket fence around all of that. You CAN have an American Dream that involves having less. I love tiny homes because I can live vicariously through these people I see online who’ve achieved this version of the American Dream. I can ogle their homes and limited STUFF and vow to at least take lessons from the tiny home lifestyle.

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For the next month, I will be putting a very simple simple-living rule into practice and letting y’all know how it goes.

One in. One out.

Meaning, for every thing I buy new I will give away or donate a similar item that I already have. If I buy a shirt, I must part with one. If I buy a book, I’ll pass one along to a friend I know would enjoy reading it more than I enjoy having shit on a shelf. I’m hoping this concrete rule will encourage considerate consumerism while allowing for some healthy decluttering. Yesterday I kicked off this challenge when I bought a drink dispenser (like this one. It’s for storing the spoils of my new adventures in cold brewing coffee at home…but more on that later) and a DOZEN mason jars. So, I got rid of a pitcher and a dozen cups…and then ended up throwing in 4 margarita glasses. Because who doesn’t want to have their margaritas in a mason jar? Heathens, that’s who!!!

I’ll keep you updated as things progress this month. Have you ever done a challenge like this? Would you? Let me know in the comments below! And follow me on Instagram @BBerg1012 for future “One in. One out.” documentation. Accountability, y’all. Let’s do this!

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(Tiny home photos via Apartment Therapy, Curbly, Tiny House Talk, and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens. All fantastic resources if you, like me, want to waste hours looking at tiny homes on the internet.)

 

The Case for Chromebooks

A few months back, as I twisted my laptop’s charger round and round for ten minutes patiently waiting to hear the beep letting me know it was actually charging, propping a pillow under the cord JUST. SO., and trying to work as motionlessly as possible to not upset this careful balance –I succumbed to the idea that it might be time for a new lappy. Putting old lappy out to pasture was a stressful notion…mainly because I feel hopelessly clueless about all things technology and have a terrible time making decisions (especially when they involve spending money). I didn’t want to live lappy-less for weeks on end as I waited to make up my mind. I also never necessarily believe that more expensive is better…surely there was a better option than dropping a few G’s on a machine. Thankfully, I received some much needed tech advice. And because I think the words of wisdom I received could be valuable advice for all of my budget conscious readers, I asked Chet Breaux to share it with y’all, too! It’s great to have a tech guru on speed dial. ; ) Enjoy!

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Chet: I’m writing this post using a Chromebook. What’s a Chromebook? You may have seen them advertised recently and thought “that’s just a tiny laptop!” You would be correct, but not necessarily about the tiny part. Chromebooks are a new kind of computer that runs the Chrome operating system. If you’ve ever used Google’s Chrome browser, the setup of a Chromebook will look remarkably similar. So what’s the big deal? Why should you care?

First, Chromebooks are inexpensive. They aren’t “cheap” as many tech bloggers have been quick to claim. My machine, an Acer A7, set me back just under 200 dollars. It has an 11.6 inch screen (small, yes), an Intel processor with Haswell architecture (more on this later), and a 16 gigabyte internal hard drive (tiny right?). How can I get anything done on this thing? It’s actually easier than you might think.

Google launched this project because they know a thing or two about the internet, and, more specifically, how people use the internet. Their analysis of Chrome browser users indicated that people were spending a whopping 90% of their time on a computer in the browser. Suddenly, a machine built around a web browser makes much more sense.

Let’s go back to my Chromebook, which seems to have very limited specifications. First, the size. It’s small. Is it a problem? Not really. I have very large hands, but I’m still able to type normally. The small size also means light weight, clocking in at about 2 pounds. This machine is perfect to travel with (no more super heavy bag). The Intel processor is slow, but that’s not important. Most desktop processors, and even many laptop processors, are overkill for what most people actually need a computer to do. The processor in my machine can easily run high def video and keep up with quite a few open browser tabs. Oh, and the small internal storage? Google will automatically give you a huge amount of cloud storage for free for a couple of years (don’t worry, that storage doesn’t cost much after your trial expires, and you are essentially paying for cloud backup, which everyone should have). You’re also getting a solid state hard drive. That means instant wake from sleep and about 20 seconds to boot.

Should you consider getting a Chromebook as your next laptop? Absolutely! Unfortunately, a lot of people in the tech industry have taken to bashing these machines and comparing them to netbooks. Dan Ackerman recently reviewed a new Chromebook manufactured by Toshiba. He’s making a lot of the same complaints I see in other Chromebook reviews. Yes, you have to be connected to the Internet, but so what? I’m not sure who they are speaking to with comments like these. I work at a University and have a home Internet connection. I don’t work in the middle of a field. Yes, it’s made of plastic. So is every other laptop under 1000 dollars. Yes, it has limited on-board storage, but that’s kind of a moot point in the streaming age.

What can Chromebooks do for you? Just about whatever you need in a laptop. Google has a suite of services that can easily take the place of word, powerpoint, and excel (plus all of your work is safe in the cloud and can be accessed from any web browser on any computer!) It runs Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora….In short, I’m not seeing any limitations with my machine, just convenience.

Why do I care so much about Chromebooks? As an educator, I often see students that don’t have easy access to technology, and, I’m sorry- college students NEED a laptop. A 200 dollar Chromebook is a lot easier to afford than an overloaded, overpriced machine that Best Buy normally tries to sell to the parents of college students.  They can succeed with a Chromebook in front of them. I’ve seen it happen. Oh, and if something happens to it, don’t worry. All of your work is safe, and once you can afford a new one, all that it takes is a Google sign in to restore your machine.

I purchased my Chromebook with Chet’s help and couldn’t be happier with it–all of my work is seamlessly saved through my Google account which allows me to pick up where I left off right from my work computer with no hassle, I’ve yet to find anything I CAN’T do on it, and it didn’t break the bank. Perfect lil bloggin’ machine, in my opinion. What do you think? Do you have a Chromebook? Would you buy one? 

 

Hobbies on the cheap: Urban Exploration

As I’ve gotten older, I have found, I’m always on the hunt for cheap hobbies. I think it has something to do with committing so much of my free time to extracurriculars from about age 3 to 23. And now that I’m a (boring) old adult who works 40 hours a week, I don’t want to spend the other 128 hours watching TV, hitting up the occasional happy hour and cleaning my apartment. I want to find new and exciting things to do without draining my bank account of the money I earned during the 40 workin’ hours. It’s a delicate balance.

So, let’s start with something that can range from thrilling to educational at a cost of ZERO dollars. Urban exploration is all about exploring your city and surroundings, seeking out it’s oddities and unique infrastructure. While I can’t condone any law breaking for the sake of a new hobby, any sort of exploration–even legal exploration–can be exhilarating. I’ve always loved going places that feel off limits or hidden to see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I climbed up the belltower of a church the hour before my confirmation. I’ve been in all sorts of nooks and crannies on my college’s campus (and a lot of other college campuses too). I love checking to see if doors are locked and if they’re not, curiosity just gets the better of me! Perhaps I read too much as a child? jk no such thing. Perhaps, at nearly 30, my imagination is still too active? also no such thing.

Now that the weather has warmed up, I have my eye on a few places I’d like to explore! Setting out on an evening walk can take on a whole new level of excitement if you commit to making it an urban exploration adventure–veer off the path, stop for things that strike your eye, look for clues, read signs and historical markers, do research, Nancy Drew the shit out of your town! Take pictures or don’t. Bring a friend or don’t. Just keep your eyes open to the wonders around you.

For some added inspiration, check out the video below! If you don’t have half an hour to commit to watching something right now I HIGHLY recommend you come back to this page when you do…I promise this short docu, called “UNDERCITY”, is worth it. It follows Steve Duncan on a few urban exploration missions in New York City. All his emotions; fear, exhilaration, nerves, EVERYTHING–are just so palpable. You just have to watch it for yourself! What a rush!

Where would you love to explore this Spring? For the next month, I’m gonna make it my mission to hunt down some cool stuff that has otherwise been tucked away. And to hold myself accountable with this new hobby (I told you I spent a lot of time in extracurriculars…I need structure! lol) I’m going to document some of my findings on Instagram with the hashtag #urbanexploration. If you’d like to play along, let us know how to follow YOU on Instagram in the comments below. Happy hunting!

Women of the Web: Ashley, Crystal and Erin!

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It’s no secret that I love blogs. There are plenty of web presences I turn to for inspiration, information and advice. These interweb relationships are almost always with women–smart, strong, beautiful ladies who help keep me up to date, looking put together, eating well and laughing…all with a few clicks of my laptop. Today I’d like to share just a few women of the web I come back to again and again.

Ashley of {never} homemaker…

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She writes about healthy recipes and running (and cross-training) tips here. After the birth of her adorable daughter Ada she started a second blog to cover more aspects of her family life. She makes a mean pizza, educates readers on what runners should be eating, and has tons of great posts for new runners in general.

To learn more about Ashley CLICK HERE.

To follow her on Twitter CLICK HERE.

And to follow her on Pinterest CLICK HERE.

Crystal of MoneySavingMom…

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She writes about living frugally, organization and scoring deals (couponing, freebies, etc) here. If you have a Kindle or e-reader, her round-ups of the weeks FREE e-books are worth checking out. This post set me on the right path to a cheaper grocery bill by spending a few weeks making short term sacrifices. And she has tons of income earning ideas and how-to’s for blogging for profit. Of course, you may be wondering why I; a single, liberal, non-churchy gal, would be turning to this Christian Mom blogger as one of my go-to’s. Well, the answer is simple–SHE HAS SAVED ME MONEY. And I love saving money. If you’re trying to cut costs or make the commitment to budget-livin’, I would absolutely recommend turning to blogs like these; home-schoolin’, bible quotin’, budgetistas…these SAHM’s get a bad rap but they’ve made saving money their full time jobs. Haters gonna hate but I’m addicted to Christian Mom bloggers. : )

To learn more about Crystal CLICK HERE.

To follow her on Twitter CLICK HERE.

And to follow her on Pinterest CLICK HERE.

Erin of Bad Yogi…

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She takes a fun, non-judgmental approach to yoga here. She also contributes stellar content to my favorite yoga site. She teaches this fantastic 30-day yoga challenge in which web followers everywhere fell in love with her yoga teaching style! ❤ (me included.) Her self-declared “bad yogi” style is easily adoptable and you can even purchase her super cute yoga tank top (WANT). I value her honesty.

To learn more about Erin CLICK HERE.

To follow her on Instagram CLICK HERE.

To follow her on Youtube CLICK HERE.

I hope you check these gorgeous ladies out and incorporate them into your own web rotation. I’d love to share more inspirational “women of the web” in future posts, if y’all would like. Who is providing you with internet inspiration these days? I’d love to hear! Thanks to Erin, Crystal and Ashley for providing such ride or die web presences in my life. ❤