This is how to make a banker cry. It’s their worst nightmare. It’s also how to change the world, one step at a time. Read my comments below after this brief intro.
“Austin Hay is still in high school, but he’s building his own house. It’s only 130 square feet, but it makes him a homeowner without a mortgage at just 16 years old. Right now, it’s parked in his parents’ backyard, but he’s built it on wheels so he plans to take it to college and then wherever he goes after he graduates. He’s been sleeping in his tiny home for a few months now and he’s already decided not to return to big (his parents’ home is 1800 square feet). “Living small means less bills, living big means more bills,” he explained from the tiny stoop of his new home. “I don’t want to pay big bills”. Hay’s 130-square-foot home may make him the youngest member of the growing Small House Movement. Hay expects to spend about $12,000 building his home (the used trailer cost him $2000) and he’s paying for it working two summer jobs (at a camp and at a park snack bar). He’s cut his costs in half (the home’s estimated DIY price is $23,000).” You can read the full story at FairCompanies.com.
What Austin is doing is so powerful. In addition to changing his life for the better, his actions will have a ripple effect through his family, friends, high school, university and those around the world who watch this video. Think how much money Austin and his family will save over the next few years while he’s in school. He’s learning independence, self reliance, confidence, valuable trade skills, delayed gratification, and how to plan wisely and live sustainably. The savings on energy alone are significant. It will be easier for Austin to save on food and cook healthier meals while in university. He will have a quiet space to study, so maybe he will get higher grades. And there’s a good chance he will apply the same thrifty principles to other aspects of his life – saving and buying a car with cash, building his own family-sized home out of pocket, and so on. This will naturally give him a financial edge that will make it easier to start his own company if he wants. Austin will also have more free time to devote to things he cares about. And, most likely, his wisdom will be passed on to his children, who will have a better start in life with little or no debt.
Let’s take this process one step further. What if schools – all schools, not just one here or there – taught this sort of experiential, hands-on, project based learning? I think students would learn far more this way than repeating endless rote-learning drills or ‘teaching to the test’. Students would learn many valuable job skills by creating a practical project from design to completion. Assignments in these cutting edge classes would integrate real world skills that involve research, problem solving, writing, and creating and managing a budget, to name a few. We saw above how Austin and others will benefit from his tiny house. Now imagine the impact of millions of students doing something similar and becoming empowered self-starters. If bankers aren’t crying yet, they will be soon if this way of life catches on.