The Simple Secret to Living Intentionally

What do you want out of life right now? Do you want to quit a job you hate? Do you want the freedom to travel? Want to write more? Turn that hobby you’re so passionate about into your full time gig? Save money and retire early? Pay off your student loans? Buy a motorcycle and ride to Patagonia?…

Me too.

There is a literal mile-long list of things that I would love to do in my life and there is one common denominator between all of them.


I hate it that most of the things that I want to do require dinero, moola, dough, green, pesos, pounds, Ben Franklin and some of his friends. But this is the reality of the world we live in. There is a ray of hope though. You don’t have to be a millionaire to live authentically and intentionally. You don’t need to have a billion dollars to do any of the things you want to do (unless your goal is to make a billion dollars). You do, however, have to be smart and little self disciplined. Are you ready? Here’s the secret.

Living below your means is the only way to carve out an intentional life.

I told you it wasn’t going to be complicated or sexy. Not even earth shattering or original. But it’s true and, best of all, it means that you can take steps towards your preferred life no matter how much chedda you are currently pulling down.

If you are making $1000 a month, but can find a way to live like you are only making $800 a month, you can start making a sweet life for yourself. The same holds true if you are making $2000, $10,000, or $20,000 a month. It’s not about how much money you are making (although you will need to make at least some) it is about spending well below that amount so you can have a pile of cash left for the dreams (reference the above list).

The authentic life equation works like this:

(Amount of $ you make) – (Amount of $ spent living) = (Amount of $ you have left to create an authentic life).

I’m not going to pretend to know what an authentic life looks like for you, but for me it looks like: building businesses I believe in, having time and money to write, travel, tinker on old motorcycles and cars, and giving back. It also means having the time to exercise and stay healthy so I can enjoy all those things for as long as possible.

My wife and I both graduated from a Masters program in 2015 and were graduate student broke. We knew we wanted to live really simply so that we could prioritize paying off our student loans, but we also wanted to have some money left over to do things like travel. I was just getting started with Wind River Tiny Homes, building custom tiny houses for people and cash flow was an issue. Most people look at the authentic life equation and only focus on the first thing (Amount of $ you make). As an entrepreneur, I definitely think there is value in making more money, but most people spend way too little time thinking creatively about how to decrease the second part of the equation (Amount of $ spend living). This is the part of the equation that you have the most control over.

Looking at our situation, Lindsay and I decided that living in a tiny house was the best way to decrease our expenses to a point that even if we were making very little money, we would still have money left for awesomeness.

img_3206And so we did. We built our 276 square foot Nomad’s Nest on Tiny House Nation and have been living in it ever since. We won’t live in a tiny house forever, but for this phase of life (circa October 2016) it makes sense for us. It has allowed me to help start a bootstrapped business that I believe in. It has allowed us to invest in our dream piece of property just outside of Chattanooga, TN where our house sits. It has allowed me the time to spend on this blog.

Read more about our story here.

The Tall Man Tiny House blog is about more than just some oversized dude (me) living in a tiny house. It is a metaphor for living smaller than you can afford to live, with the intention of creating financial breathing room for the awesome parts of life. The Tall Man doesn’t pretend to have it all figured out and will often be writing posts more for his own benefit than for anyone else. He has learned a thing or two about living and building tiny and would love to share some of that with you. Think of the stuff you read here as the collected musings of a fellow traveler that might be just one step further down the tiny road.

2 thoughts on “The Simple Secret to Living Intentionally

  1. Just what I needed today as my husband and I were looking at a big property that requires building a big house at a time where I SHOULD be looking for something “tiny”. This also ties into the philosophy of “living simply so that others may simply live”. Thanks Jeremy for the perspective.

    1. Glad my perspective was helpful. To be clear, I don’t think “tiny” is the answer for everyone. I believe that people should find the sweet spot between having a house that is large enough to hold their life comfortably, but small enough not to suck them dry (financially, time, energy, etc.). For us, right now, that is 276 square feet. For someone else that may be 1500 square feet. The important, and difficult, part is being really honest with yourself about what that number is and not letting the “American Creep” towards bigger infect too much of the decision making process.

Lets talk. What do you think?