Your Friends Should Respect You And Your Choices
Frugal Hound’s friends respect her choices
Real friends who are worth spending time with will respect your life choices. Mr. FW and I have discovered over the course of our extreme frugality quest that being honest with our friends and family about our financial proclivities goes over very well.
Our friends are clued into what we value in life, and they’re respectful of the decisions we make. We take a non-judgmental approach to discussing finances and our friends–many of whom spend money very differently than we do–have no problem with the choices we make. They respect the journey we’re on and we, in turn, respect the journey they’re on.
4. Store things off the kitchen counter. Messes attract messes and clutter attracts clutter. The better we get at storing clutter out of sight, the less likely it is to accumulate. The kitchen counter is a good example. When countertops become an acceptable place to store things, more things begin to collect there. But a clean countertop communicates calm and order, promotes opportunity for its intended use, and is probably easier than you think.
9) Fewer consumer choices = happiness.
Eliminating shopping from our schedule frees up both our time and mental resources for more productive endeavors. It takes a fair amount of energy to spend the afternoon at the mall selecting the perfect shade of turquoise golf shorts. It’s a lot easier to wear what we have–or score something from Goodwill. My goal in life isn’t to be a consumer and I relish how few times I need to set foot in any store other than the store of groceries.
Furthermore as humans, endless choice doesn’t necessarily make us happier. It’s far more likely to stress us out and tax our little mammalian brains. By taking hand-me-downs and other used items, we don’t suffer the worry over whether we should’ve bought the blue one or the red one or the small one or the large one–we take what we’re given, or what we find on the side of the road, and are shockingly pleased with it. And then we get on with our lives. Our existence doesn’t revolve around our stuff.
We spent years going to open houses and investigating the market before we bought our home; adopting Frugal Hound happened only after years of holding off for the right moment to own a dog; we waited to get pregnant until we felt adequately prepared for the challenges of parenthood; I didn’t go to grad school until I secured a way to attend for free; and we postpone every major purchase until we’ve had ample time to explore all of our options.
Abandon Guilt, Embrace Your Truth
While there’s certainly merit in learning from others and sharing our stories, I find that blatant comparison almost always yields frustration or guilt. We only have incomplete understandings of other people’s lives and trying to model our choices off of theirs is naturally flawed.
Hiding her face in shame: not very productive, Frugal Hound
In many ways, I think our culture doesn’t encourage the value of charting one’s own unique path. Although rugged individualism is a tenet of our American ethos, it seems to play out quite rarely. Far too often, we’re all shuttled into the same boxes of expectation and taught to desire the same things (usually material goods) and achieve them in the same way (usually working jobs we may or may not like for our entire lives).
So far, her experience contradicts studies that have recently claimed that “long commutes are killing you.” And financially, she benefits from living on a train: The flat-rate ticket costs her about $380, whereas she had to pay about $450 for her previous apartment. However, living cheaper is not the only goal she has in mind.
“I want to inspire people to question their habits and the things they consider to be normal,” Müller told The Post. “There are always more opportunities than one thinks there are. The next adventure is waiting just around the corner — provided that you want to find it.”
hat Frugality Can Do For You
Through talking with and learning from all of you, I’ve gleaned that no matter what precise path you’re on in life, the universal truth is that–without fail–frugality gives you options. The only demographic this doesn’t ring true for are the billionaires of the world–after all, they can pretty much afford to do anything. But for the rest of us, there’s a limit to our spending capabilities. And it’s alarmingly easy to fritter that spending away on seemingly innocuous things like lunches out at work, new cars, manicures, haircuts, and the list goes on…
Our culture makes it ridiculously accessible to spend money and unsurprisingly, it’s the default mode for most folks. Conversely, not spending takes more effort but yields the benefit of putting you in a position of power. Instead of being ruled by your money, you’re fully in control of it. I, myself, prefer to be in charge of most things in my life (Mr. FW can attest to this… ) and so the thought of letting my money dictate what I can do is abhorrent. Yes, indeed, I’m the dictator of my money. It’s not a democracy around here.
I firmly believe we’re all on our own unique journeys and I advocate the philosophy that there’s no one right way to execute your financial decisions or set your spending and saving targets. But there is no denying that frugality makes life easier. Full stop.
What Frugality Will Do For The Frugalwoods
Frugality will enable Mr. FW and I to reach financial independence by age 33. For quick reference, financial independence (commonly abbreviated as FI) means you have enough money saved that you can live indefinitely off the passive proceeds of those funds. For an average family earning a typical middle-class income, frugality is the most important component of becoming financially independent.
Though I don’t fixate on our appearances or how dapperly we’re dressed, it does pay dividends for us to keep our clothes in decent condition. Not needing to replace our wardrobes annually–or even every five years–is liberating from the perspective of reducing our dependence upon consumption and also, quite obviously, an excellent frugal hack.
In much the same vein as we continue to drive our 19-year-old car, use our 10-year-old popcorn popper, and enjoy our used furniture, wearing old clothes is just another way that we flaunt our culture’s missive to constantly buy newer and better stuff. Nope, there’s no need. We’re perfectly content with the clothes we have.
So how do two people (that’d be us) who only spent $13,000 (plus our mortgage) in all of 2014 manage to live a luxurious life? We only spend in service of our life goals and on what we genuinely value. We don’t let anyone else dictate how we should structure our spending, we don’t fall victim to our culture’s clarion call to buy buy buy, and we don’t care what anyone else thinks of us (my decision to cease buying clothes and stop wearing makeup are elements of this). We’re serenely at ease in our frugal skin and when we do spend money, it’s because we want to, not because we feel we have to.
Once Mr. FW and I taught ourselves to strip away all of the external reasons why we were spending money–to impress others, to keep up with our friends’ spending, to follow someone else’s advice, to adhere to cultural norms–we concluded there’s very little we need to buy in order to live our version of the good life.
The one thing I want to convey is that frugality is an awesome alternative to our dominant, debt-laden consumer culture. But, if it’s not your thing, that’s OK! I just don’t want anyone to go through life not knowing about the joys a frugal existence can provide. I’m a mission to spread the frugal word. However, I’m not out to convert you. Striking that balance between sharing how fabulous frugality is for me and not judging others for choosing a different financial path is something I think about a lot.
Don’t bother a sleeping hound
Much of the early retirement canon is rather polarizing and casts the debate as “us smart, frugal people” vs. “those dumb, spendy people.” I’m frankly not comfortable with this dogmatic approach. There are countless permutations of frugality and of how people want—and need—to live their lives. We’re all beholden to a unique set of circumstances, backgrounds, and goals.