How We Choose To Live Small

  • Public Library for Entertainment – It’s true.  We don’t pay to go to the movies.  Growing up in Burma, we had to wait until the American movies arrived there.  So same principle here, we just need to be patient and wait until they arrive to the library.   We also do not go to blockbuster etc.  We just don’t.   We get music and books we like from there as well.  Est. Saving $30 = $360 annually
  • No  Cable – Just plain regular channels with Tivo  Est. Saving $50 =$600 annually
  • No Land Line – We are accessible by 2 cell phones, email, FB,  Twitter.  Saving $50 = $600 annually
  • No new clothes, shoes, accessories purchases in the US  in over 6 months (except for occasional purchases for Em and her uniforms.   I always by them big, so she can grow into them and I only buy one set).   School has a hand-me-down program and that works out GREAT!  Est. Saving $50 = $600 annually
  • Hand-me-downs – Em gets most  of her clothes from her cousins.   She knows that when she grows out of them we donate them to The Burmese Refugee Children so that they could benefit from them.
  • No fancy shmancy products –  Just shampoo and body wash.  No sculpting gel, no spray, no nail polish, no foundation, no lipstick, no nothing extra.  Just basics.  Just facial cleanser, moisturizer,  eye liner (that’s for Aye) and 30 SPF organic lip balm.  I did try Cindy Crawford’s facial products recently.  🙂 
  • Homemade Lunch- Mostly organic .  Otherwise, it costs extra at Em’s Montessori School.  Est Saving $75 = $900 annually – Now that is a biggie!!

  • NO fast food dining,  but we love Chipotle.  They serve “REAL” food!  Seriously, Emma has not been to a fast food place because of her parents.
  • Bring it. Whether it is a road trip cross country,  just across Texas, or picnic at the park — we take our own food, own water *not plastic bottles,* own snacks so we don’t have to pay overpriced food and eat fast food.  For example, we made our food/sandwiches when we were at Disney World.  We love picnics. We don’t deprive ourselves either.  If we feel like it, we makes exceptions and eat on the road, but careful with our choices.
  • We don’t order drinks, instead if we’ve brought our own water, we just ask for Lime or Lemon and add a dash of sugar and salt, you have yourself a Lemonade/Limeade.
  • We use cloth napkins at home and when we are traveling.  We almost always bring our own silverware also.
  • We have had the same rice cooker for over a decade, maybe even 15 yrs. No Kidding!  Kept hoping it will die so we could finally get a new one.  We may take it with us to Thailand.
  • We don’t have too  many latte factors in our lives as we don’t do starbucks, drive through breakfast, lunch or dinner.   Except for monthly cravins Aye has for chocolates, Thai food and any other foods come across Twitter and Facebook.
  • Birthday Parties – Usually at a local park, It’s FREE!   Children and parents are asked to bring gently used toys or books as gifts.   Goodie bags are filled with FRUITS!!
  • Christmas – we prefer to spend time with immediate family, traveling or on a volunteer project during major holidays.   We don’t make a habit of giving BIG gifts to each other.  Our gifts to each other is being together, mostly traveling.
  • Recycle gifts–  Yes, we admit it and not ashamed of it, by the way.  If  we don’t find it useful, someone else might.  We also recycle gift bags and tissues.
  • Jack  changes  the oil in one of our cars. It’s a hobby, it relaxes him.  Est saving  $150 annually

Photo Credit

  • While traveling,  NO big souvenirs for ourselves,  family and friends.  We send handwritten postcards.
  • We use credit cards when we can to pay for groceries, light bills, gas bills, life insurance and  internet to gain miles and points.  For example, we utilized these points to get amazon gift cards and applied them towards our latest Nikon DSLR  D5000.  It was a deal and a steal.
  • We have no credit card debts.  They are paid off monthly and there are NO fees.
  • Last year we bought the Wii with the rebate we received from Costo.
  • Aye does trade work with a local dance studio and she gets to exercise/dance at NO charge,  10 classes a month. (Just started this this year).   It was once or twice a week in previous years since 2006.  Still a pretty good deal.  Est, Savings  $120 mo.

The great thing about us these days is that we are emptying our home:  Downsizing to suitcases.

Everything must GO before summer,  including the cars and the house.

Hopefully this post will give YOU some ideas for you to live a bit smaller!

Already living small, what are you doing??  Advice, Suggestions, Tips??  Care to  Share!!



Big fan of Prevention Not Prescription Blog and the Kathleen Show. Give them a visit.



30 thoughts on “How We Choose To Live Small

  1. Very great read and tips! We are cutting and down sizing as well… more cable and no more house phone. Also gonna start planting a variety of herbs and pepper. Miss you dearly!


  2. Some awesome tips here.. some of which we (try) to utilize for ourselves to save money, live simply and live rich in experience!

    As we can only carry a small selection of clothing with us, we regularly utilize thrift shopping to keep our wardrobe refreshed and suited for whatever climate we’re in. In addition to being very inexpensive and helping a good cause – it also gives us a lot of variety of fun stuff!

  3. We did most of these as well when we were saving up to go traveling! In fact the no cable rule was around since I moved on my own in college and could never afford it…then I just got so used to not having it that I can’t make my self pay for it now. We also did monthly cell phone providers, sure it’s a bit more upfront (depends on provider) but then you can leave any time without paying the penalties. You can buy sim cards overseas for much cheaper. We did have to splurge once in a while on hitting the town though, tend to get cabin fever easily 🙂
    Great List btw!

    1. Hi Aly,

      Great to see you here. And thanks for sharing your tips. As for our cell phones, we have no contracts for ours so we can leave any time we wish. And yes, while overseas we just get a new sim card, usually with data package so we can have access to internet and use our phones as a modem for our laptop.

      Our list is really how we live our lives traveling or not. There are some things in life that we feel are just not worth spending our $$ on!! 🙂

  4. You are setting an excellent example to all of us! You are living, breathing proof that it CAN be done. It all comes down to knowing what we NEED, not (just) what we WANT.

  5. Great tips here! I find that it’s a trade-off/balance when I am saving. I really, really love my Starbucks, so I let that be a treat for me, but like you, I rarely eat out and never eat fast food. Oh, and the silverware – I am right there with you, I have a fantastic stainless steel set that I love and took w/me RTW and it came in really handy.

    1. gotta reward yourself, right. for us is eating out whenever the urge strikes or don’t feel like cooking on a Friday night, or getting together with family!! 🙂 Great to see you here as always, Shannon!

  6. I’ve found that two things have allowed me to live a ridiculously high-end lifestyle without breaking the bank.

    1. I eliminate bad habits when I realize I have them. Past habits that I’ve broken include eating a lot of fast food and drinking a lot of soda (I haven’t consumed either for many years), getting involved in hobbies that require collecting/buying (think collectibles, video games, etc), and not living a healthy lifestyle (just being healthy and fit saves you an amazing amount of money…preventative healthcare will always be cheaper than fixing problems that have developed as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle).

    2. Cutting down the number of items I own. I’ve always whittled away slowly at my stockpile of possessions, but about 7 months ago I began to get rid of things in droves, and now that I’m down to under 70 possessions in total I find that it’s REALLY easy to not buy new things, but to have really nice things, while still saving a whole lot of money. I’ve enjoyed this aspect of my life so much that I’m working to get down to 50 items in total by mid-February when I move to New Zealand. Wish me luck!

    1. Colin,

      Yes, I remember reading your post about the specific items you own. Now are you cutting down even more to 50! That’s great. Exactly what we want- LESS IS MORE!
      You’ll do just fine. Looking forward to your journey in NZ!

  7. Really great tips! One other thing we do is that I never buy paper towels. I save old clothes and cloth towels to use as rags and then for cleaning glass I use tissue paper that comes in gifts. It’s a great glass cleaner!

    1. Good one Carmen. We did that when we were in Thailand for over a month. We just bought a towel and used it the whole trip and it was great to have it when we came back to the states and did more camping on the third leg of our trip. I’ll have to remember about the tissue paper from gifts.

      Always great to see you here. Thanks for stopping by!! 🙂

  8. Great list! Another tip: I use to exchange books I don’t want for books I do. The only cost is shipping.. Depending on where you live this may be a better option than the library. (I mean, if there is no close library.)

    Question: Did I catch this right, you bring your own silverware while traveling?

    1. We do still have a lot of books from our grad school days and it’s been over more than a decade. Hmm I think this requires another post. Hee heee.
      We will look into the book swap thing. thanks. We do have a library within 5 minutes from our house. Trust me we frequent it — they know my husband & daughter very well. Going to the library is a field trip and Em loves it.

      Yes, when we are camping in the US and traveling to rural areas of countries like Asia or Mexico we do bring our own. We prefer not to use plastic – every bit helps to save the earth eh??

  9. Some great ideas here! We use the public library too instead of buying books, but I hadn’t thought about it for movies.

    I loved the feeling of freedom we got from downsizing and getting rid of so much “stuff” before our move to Spain two years ago.

    Now that we are back, our neighbors wonder why our daughters have so few toys; they just got used to using their imagination, playing outside, riding their bikes. It’s been such a good lesson for all of us that we don’t need as much as we think.

    1. Hey there Dee, Great to have you here. Yeah, gotta love the public library. Looking forward to that same feeling of freedom when we are done with our downsizing efforts. It’s true, we don’t need as much as we think– that’s why our summer sabbatical was so awesome and liberating..

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