(Mrs. Frugalwoods is a guest blogger from Frugalwoods.)
My husband and I are on a mission to reach financial independence and move to a homestead in the woods of Vermont by the time we’re 33—which is just a few short years away. To make this dream a reality, our family of three saves over 70% of our income every year. And we still live an awesome life that we consider to be luxuriously frugal. So just how do we save so much and spend so little?
Above all else, we ruthlessly prioritize what we allocate our resources towards. By spending only in service of our long-term goals, we buy things we truly need and eliminate unnecessary expenses. To make this happen, my husband and I essentially restructured the way we think about money—we view it as a tool to get what we need, not as a stand-in for happiness or fulfillment. Buying doesn’t yield a jolt of pleasure for us; rather, it’s a mechanism for procuring necessities.
On the practical side of things, we focus on every single line item—no expense is safe! While it’s tempting to ignore little purchases, each $20 trip to Target really does add up. To combat this, we track our expenses closely every month to make sure we’re not letting the proverbial small stuff destroy our budget.
We almost never go out to restaurants, bars, or coffee shops. By cooking our own meals at home (usually from scratch), we eat cheaper and more healthfully than we did when we were regularly getting take-out.
The one car that we own is used and was purchased in all cash—hence, no monthly car payment for us.
In addition to our used car, just about everything else we own is used—clothes, furniture, kids’ stuff for our daughter—it’s all second-hand. The used market is a wonderful resource as we’re typically able to purchase higher-quality items at lower prices than we would with cheap (and cheaply made) new products.
We rarely pay people to do things for us. We insource everything from haircuts to cooking to home improvement to dog walking—by doing it ourselves, we save money and enjoy the added benefit of learning new skills! In this way, frugality has become a hobby for us.
LEARN MORE: Make a Starbucks Frappucino for $0.32
My husband and I discuss everything we buy and make a determination of its value. Before making a purchase, we ask ourselves:
• Is this something we could borrow from a friend?
• Could we get it used instead?
• Do we own something similar that might suffice?
• Do we honestly need it, or is it merely a want?
Going through this exercise ensures that when we do spend money, it’s a thoughtful undertaking.
One of the most important elements of our extreme frugality lifestyle is that Mr. Frugalwoods and I are on the same page about our finances. If you’re in a partnership, having a shared longterm financial goal is the first step to getting a handle on your money. It enables my husband and I to collaborate on ways we can save more and it safeguards against either of us feeling like we’re restricted from buying the things we want. Without this financial unity, there’s no way we’d be so successful in our frugality. And although we choose to save at a tremendously high rate, you can apply these principles to increase your savings rate at any level!
How are you taking the first steps toward saving your money?
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