Living Tiny: Ethan’s Tiny Vermont Abode – Home Tour
Author: Melanie Gnau
Living Tiny: Ethan's Tiny Vermont Abode - Home Tour

Photo c/o Rikki Snyder

Hi! Melanie here! At ATWS we’re interested in challenging the norm of debt and spending. In the “Tiny Living” column, we interview people who who have gone to (what some would say) extreme means with their living situations to get out of debt, save money and live a simpler life. Today we have Ethan with us. Ethan is a writer in Vermont. Take it away, Ethan!

My name is Ethan Waldman and I’m a writer and tiny house owner. I live in my tiny house in Vermont. My girlfriend often stays there with me too. I finished building my tiny house around September 2013. I have been living in it ever since. Read More »


in Living Tiny (Home Tours)
Empty Pockets Never Held Anyone Back
Author: Melanie Gnau

empty pockets never held anyone back

“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”

Being broke and in debt can take a mental and emotional toll. It can make us feel like we can’t do anything. “I can’t get in shape because I can’t afford a gym membership.” “I can’t eat healthy because I can’t afford healthy foods.” “I can’t have a social life because I don’t have any money.” All those thoughts have run through my head. But they’re just excuses. It’s true, being broke makes almost everything more difficult, but it also makes us more creative. It forces us to think about the things we can change. We can eat healthy on a budget. We can exercise outside of a gym and we can have a social life with a limited income. It just takes a little creativity, know-how, effort and time.

How are you overcoming the mental and emotional challenges of saving? Talk to me in the comments!


in Motivation
Sure-Fire Ways to Save Tons of Money on Everything Baby Needs
Author: Valerie Rohde

How to Spend and Save Wisely During Pregnancy and Your Baby’s First Year |

This is a guest post from Valerie Rohde. I couldn’t help but add a few notes throughout the post. :) – Anna 

Diapers, bottles, and booties, oh my!

How sweet it is to dream and prepare for your new baby! It is so easy to get caught up in all of the adorable little bitty items and the parenting magazines that suggest all of the items you’ll need for your baby. The coupons and fliers begin filling up your mailbox, e-mail inbox, and you even start getting text messages to alert you of the latest baby sales in every local store. The sales seem great, and the pressure to measure up to others and have the latest baby gear can become quite overwhelming. I hope this guide helps to dispel some of the myths regarding what you really need to have, and what you should splurge on.


Worth the Splurge (if You Can):

Childbirth/Breastfeeding Classes

The childbirth class my husband and I took was worth every penny, and I would take it again and spend the same amount of money with no regrets. It was a 12-week course offered by an organization outside of the hospital setting. I highly recommend that you look into a class other than the short class on a Saturday that is typically offered by your local hospital. (Take advantage of the free tour your hospital or birthing center offers in order to learn about their specific policies.) Otherwise a comprehensive birth class is the way to go.

Read More »


in How To, Kids, Pregnancy
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Having an Inexpensive Funeral
Author: Aaron Jones

Creative Ways to Save on Funeral Costs |

My sister, Christine, is a nurse and she suggested a book to me. It was called Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. Caitlin is a mortician and she also writes a blog called The Order of the Good Death. Her book was an eye-opening read and she is really changing thoughts and ideas around death and dying. She’s got a young, relatable voice, and the book is a memoir about her time working at a crematorium. It’s hard for me to think about death and I don’t like to do so. I know that this is not something that is unusual or unique to me. When I was reading her book I noticed that I felt like crying a lot, and I realized that I have a lot of anxiety around this topic. This isn’t very surprising considering death and dying isn’t a topic we openly discuss in our culture. Caitlin Doughty’s book got me thinking about this uncomfortable topic in a different way, and while it feels completely awkward to think and talk about this stuff, I know it’s important to do so. – Anna


I started down the morbid path awhile back when I wrote the post Your Body Is a Gold Mine (If You So Choose) – Selling Body Parts for Cash. And, not too long ago I decided to walk down the path a bit further and look into ways that your corpse can save a family money. Hey, anything to save a buck, right? One of the inevitable facts of life is that one day, life will end for all of us. Yes. It’s super depressing, and it’s a thought that most people don’t like to linger on for too long, but when is the last time you really thought about what type of funeral you want to have? Never? Okay. Maybe today is the day to think about it or, at least, think about thinking about it…

In western societies disposing of a deceased body has come down to two main choices: burial and cremation. Even though cremation is an excellent, inexpensive option, more choices are available. When I stopped to think about it for more than a fleeting moment, I realized that I don’t want my awesome corpse to be a financial burden on those I leave behind. reports that the average cost for a traditional funeral (embalming, casket, tombstone, etc) is roughly $8,000-10,000 dollars. Imagine, with inflation, the cost of your funeral. The majority of the cost of a traditional funeral comes from the funeral home itself and you’ll pay for every service they provide. Most services also have a way to be up-sold as well (did you know most caskets are marked up a ridiculous 900%??!). Imagine the savings if you can cut out that middle man altogether. There are ways to do this and save a bundle.

Also, your religion, if you have one, may have rules that dictate how a body must be treated after death. It’s also understandable that people would need closure when a loved one dies, and, granted, not all of the proposed burial practices will provide that.

Obviously no specific means of burial is “wrong” and it’s a personal decision, but if you (and your family) are open-minded and want to save some cash (and possibly become a piece of art) consider one of these alternatives to a traditional funeral.

Read More »


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, How To, Social
How to Determine Your Values
Author: Melanie Gnau

We Can Tell Our Values By Looking At Our Checkbook Stubs

“We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.”

What we spend our money on says a lot about us. Do you value healthy eating? Then your bank account (who uses a checkbook anymore?!) should reflect that. You should have deductions for the grocery store, not the drive-thru.


I want to challenge you to think about your values and then look at your bank statement. Is your money spent a reflection of your values? If not, what can you do to change? Talk to me in the comments!


in Motivation
Considerations for Couples: Accepting Money from Parents
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Accepting Money from Parents |

Hey Anna, My partner and I come from families that handle money very differently. His family will give us money with seemingly no strings attached but then they’ll expect things from us. Mainly, they want us to inform them about our decisions and take their loud opinions into account even on issues that (I think) have nothing to do with them. Are we obligated to take their thoughts and feeling into consideration if we’re accepting money from them? Should we stop accepting money from them even if it’s a “gift”? Are these two issues even related to each other? What do you think?

– Want the Money but Not the Drama



Managing money in a relationship is difficult all on it’s own but then when you throw parents and other people into the mix it gets that much more complicated. Then, add another level of difficulty when each half of the couple comes from different financial backgrounds. It’s not uncommon for one half of the couple to be completely financially independent from family while the other is happily used to receiving frequent financial gifts from mom and dad. There are several factors to consider in this situation — how gifting is received by the partner, how the money is used, and the expectations each person (within the couple) has.

Read More »


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, Hey Anna (Reader Questions)
10 Signs You’re Absolutely Not Ready to Be a Homeowner
Author: Anna Newell Jones

signs youre not ready to own a home (click through for the full post!)
As most people know, for many part of the American Dream involves home ownership. Owning a home can be awesome if everything is in order, but for a variety of reasons, there are some people who simply aren’t yet suited for home ownership.

When I bought my 1st home it was during the time when lenders were pretty much approving everyone for everything. I was not ready for a mortgage, I was drowning in debt, and I had no down payment. Still, I was somehow approved for a home loan. Little did I know that this practice was happening ALL OVER the U.S. and was the start of the subprime mortgage crisis. Since I didn’t have money for a down-payment my real-estate agent suggested that I apply for a grant through CHFA. I did and then they covered the down-payment. (On their site it now says that you don’t have to pay back the down-payment but I did have to pay mine back.) I’m thankful for the help they gave me but I really had no business buying a home at the time. My real-estate agent at the time also told me, “Everyone I know is getting approved for largest loans they can, they’re buying big houses, and they’re just getting roommates to help cover the costs!”  Uhhh… thankfully I was at least wise enough to not take that completely ridiculous suggestion seriously.;)

Are you one of these people who has homes dancing in their heads? Do you spend countless hours on Zillow or Pinterest day-dreaming about what it’d be like to have a place of your very own? I was one of those people too. I totally get it.

While you may want to end the cycle of paying rent to someone else so you can start building equity in something all your own, that’s a very big decision to make. If the factors involved don’t honestly line up the way they should, you may not be ready for the investment. Below are some things to consider if you are thinking of becoming a home-buyer.


10 Signs You’re Absolutely Not Ready to Be a Homeowner…

1. Checked In With Your Credit Lately?

Read More »

one comment

in Home Ownership, Investing
The End to a Year Long Spending Diet – Melanie’s Report
Author: Melanie Gnau

The End to a Year Long Spending Diet |

I am happy to report that at the end of June I finished my Spending Diet! For a year, I spent only $100 each month on unnecessary stuff. I can’t believe it’s over! There for a while, I thought it would never end, but now it feels like it went by so quickly.

For the most part, I succeeded in my plan. There’s been some unexpected expenses along the way, life’s all about unexpected expenses, am I right?! But overall, I stuck to my guns and drum roll, please…

I saved $12,441.99 on my Spending Diet!

I was hoping to save $15,000, but considering that I saved about half of my paycheck each month, I consider this a huge success. I also don’t plan on going back to my old ways, so I think I’ll hit my $15,000 goal in a few months.

I know that everyone’s life is different and different money tricks will work for different people. Here’s some tips and tricks that worked for me during my Spending Diet.

Read More »


in Spending Diet, Spending Fasters
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Also! We're building a Tiny House and we're going to be on Tiny House Nation. Follow along!!

    ⭐︎Come back throughout the day for updates.


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