There was a thread on Ravelry recently about saving money for the down-payment on a house. It got me thinking about how buying a house is more than just buying the roof over your head. There's a business concept called "sweating your assets", which is where you maximise the usage of your assets to get the most value out of them. The classic business example is where a manufacturing plant introduces a second or third shift in order to make as much product as possible without having to purchase another factory.
How this applies to owning a home is all about making the most of that house and the land it sits on while doing the things that cost nary a penny. Our house is tiny by American/Australian standards, coming in at less than 900 square feet (that's less than 9 "squares" in Australian terminology). Our back garden is approximately 70 feet long by 22 feet wide, including the patio and a concrete pad at the far end. Thanks to the shared drive, our front garden is even narrower and about 15 feet deep.
Sweating our assets means maximising our living space and our storage space while still living within the footprint of our house, so that our home is a welcoming, happy and efficient place to be. Consider the layout of your home, would the lounge work better if you moved the door six feet to the left? Ours does. And it makes the room look much bigger as a result.
It's about having a productive but pretty garden, growing vegetables and fruit trees alongside the flowering shrubs, a la Alys Fowler or Mother Chaos or The Cottage Smallholder, so that we can lower ourfood bill, do our bit for the environment, acquire a hobby and improve our quality of living all in one stroke. One thing I have to do this weekend is phone the garden designer whose services I won in a charity auction and book my alotted hour of her time. Hopefully, she'll give me a managable plan for the wilderness we own. (If I could borrow anyone for a week, it would be Alys Fowler. I always loved her segments on Gardeners World, I love her writing (see these posts for the BBC) and I wish she was back on our TV screens.)
And, finally, it's about using things that are free or that I've already paid for instead of forking out my hard earned cash for something new. It's asking myself: "Do I need a new dress/shoes/whatever?" when there are four perfectly good ones in the wardrobe that only need an iron to become presentable and usable again. Oh, and using one of these to dry our wash efficiently in the garden instead of running the drier (we don't even own one).