Living large in a tiny house…or apartment

Over the last week, I have been obsessively watching the FYI channel’s Tiny House Nation. Anywhere from two to four people decide to throw caution to the wind and throw half of their belongings away in order to make the ultimate downsize: to a house under 500 square feet.

Everyone I have talked to about this has the same initial reaction….”That’s crazy!” I started off thinking the same thing….except now, I really admire the people how live in tiny houses and those who build them. These houses are insanely well thought out…every nook and cranny has a purpose and each piece of furniture has multiple functions. Beds pop out of walls and floors, then can be hidden away to allow for a larger daytime living space.

Maybe it’s because I’m a poor student in college who has spent the last two years of college (and eight years at home before that) in a space that’s a tight fit with all of my stuff, but if given the chance, I would like to try living in a tiny house. (My boyfriend may not like it so much, but I do think he would find the hidden nooks cool.) Or, if given the option, I would love the opportunity to re-vamp my apartment to give me more space and delight guests with my ridiculous creativity 🙂

Some fun facts I have found out since learning about this movement:

  1. Most tiny houses are constructed for under $30,000 – I guess this makes sense: less house to build, less materials needed, smaller cost.
  2. Not all tiny houses need to be connected to sewage – gross but true, there are composting toilets where your waste can end up becoming compost outside the tiny house.
  3. You can take tiny houses anywhere via truck! One episode of Tiny House Nation featured a traveling nurse and her partner who wanted a house that could travel with them.

And the coolest fact yet:

4. Despite the fact that tiny houses are mostly under 500 square feet (not sure if this is what constitutes a tiny house or not…), with all the hidden nooks and space-saving creativity, these houses can look and feel just as big as a “normal” house. (I’ve seen walls slide, beds pulled out of walls and from under steps and floors, and dog crates built into the inside of a kitchen island/table.

So what do you think? Would you ever consider living in a tiny house?

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What to do When Your Bank Account Hits Zero…(or less)

It’s the one thing that everyone dreads when they know they have limited funds and don’t have much (or any) cash to make the purchase they are standing in the check-out line for: a declined card.

Yes, this (sort of) happened to me today. And yes, I actually had less than zero in my checking/debit account. How is that possible, you may wonder.

Well, when you shop at a store and pay with a debit card, the cashiers don’t always ask “Debit or credit?” So when my mom and I went shopping for our pre-paid phone cards and groceries late last week — and I paid because she doesn’t get her paycheck until tomorrow — the cashier just entered it as credit. At my bank, this takes about two to three business days to process. When the bank opened this morning, they decided to process all of my transactions at once (lucky me!), resulting in my account being overdrawn.

I was slightly mad at this, as I got the alert email as I headed to buy lunch at work…luckily I had $5 on me to buy chicken and fries, and I refilled the big mug that held my morning coffee with water (which is one of my favorite things: free).

I was able to do a quick fix on my account when I got home from work. I had some money in my savings account, which is attached to my checking account thanks to my bank’s “student account” set up. I put just enough in there to get me out of the negative (-$15) and leave a little bit that can tide me over until my next paycheck comes through Friday.

You won’t always be able to find such a quick fix though, unfortunately. You may not have linked accounts, or a lot of money to cover any overdrawn accounts. Here are a few facts about overdrawing on your account that can be useful to protecting yourself:

  • Most people don’t realize that they have overdrawn their account until it’s too late! It sucks to look at your account an see the negative sign where your balance was, or to have your card denied when trying to pay for something. The best way to insure this does not happen is to:
  • Create a budget!! A budget can be your best friend, especially in college when finances are tight and you don’t always have the ability to generate a large income to cover all of your expenses and then some.
  • According to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), overdraft fees can range from $10 to $38, with the median being $27. Banks can also charge an additional, daily fee (such as $5 or $10) for accounts that remain overdrawn for a length of time.

Talk to your bank to find out how they handle overdraft fees. Talk to your parents (or spouse) so that you have a plan if it does happen. Trust me, you don’t want to pay your bank a bunch of money you don’t have because you weren’t careful with what you did have.

What do you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Comment below!