Put Your Life on Frugal Autopilot

We don’t have a budget. For anything. Ever. When I first shared this, folks were mildly shocked. After all, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are all about saving money, so how on earth do we skip this most basic of financial conventions? Through habitual frugality.

Just thought you'd want to see this photo

Just thought you’d want to see this

Mr. FW and I have been living frugally for so many years that it has become our modus operandi. We’ve programmed ourselves to see the world through a frugal lens such that it’s more natural for us to not spend money than the alternative. A budget is moot because our approach to spending is on autopilot. But getting to this budget-free frugal zone didn’t happen automatically. Deliberate decisions over the years have facilitated the formation of our consistent frugal habits.

Over the duration, these seemingly insignificant decisions have had a pretty major impact on our savings. These are things that wouldn’t cost much per unit, but over the course of a year, or five years, would dramatically reduce our capacity to save and our overall net worth.

These decisions have a cumulative effect akin to the act of brushing your teeth every night. Brushing just once isn’t going to prevent you from cavities, and skipping a night isn’t going to yield a mouth of dereliction, but the comprehensive benefit of brushing daily is lifelong dental health.

Brushing Frugal Hound's fangs

Brushing Frugal Hound’s fangs

Frugality works the same way and a concerted, long-term application of frugality will yield substantial savings and, perhaps more importantly, a very low cost of living. When your expenses are low, you have the freedom to make much less money.

Here are a few of the Frugalwoods consistently frugal habits:

  • What we eat for breakfast. 10 cents a serving for oats is pretty hard to beat. As I outlined in Breakfast: The Hidden Destroyer, we save $913.44 per year by adhering to our oats.
  • Bulk homemade lunches that we take to work every day. Mr. Frugalwoods whips up a batch of rice-n-beans or lentils or quinoa on Sundays and we take them to work all week. It never even crosses my mind to buy lunch because I’m prepared every day with my homemade vittles.
Frugalwoods lunches all lined up for the week

Frugalwoods lunches all lined up for the week

  • Living without cable TV. We only had to make this choice once and it’s been a recurring frugal habit ever since. Instead, we watch free YouTube and Roku shows when we do watch TV, which isn’t all that often.
  • Mr. FW rides his bike to work, which is vastly cheaper than taking public transit or driving.
  • Drinking seltzer instead of soda. Especially with our franken-seltzer set-up, this is a dang cheap way to get our daily (hourly) doses of carbonation.
  • Making coffee at home (up to and including pumpkin spice lattes). Conversely, if we both habitually bought a coffee
    Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte in a trash find mug

    Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte in a trash find mug

    everyday for $3 apiece, for example, that’d be $2,190 over the course of a single year. While that $3 doesn’t sound like much in the abstract, it’s a pretty significant sum over time.

  • Conserving energy. We only turn on the AC or heat when necessary. We allow our bodies to acclimate to the ambient temperature so that we don’t need to condition our home for a fairly broad band of temperatures.
  • Doing fewer loads of laundry. We wear our clothes more than once before washing them, which helps the clothes last longer and uses less energy, water, and laundry detergent. I line-dry most of our laundry in order run the dryer less.
Line drying our clothes in the basement

Line drying our clothes in our basement

  • We don’t shop unless we need something specific. This removes the temptation to “find” something we need in a store. I used to be a terror with this in CVS and Target. I was forever locating something I suddenly “needed” (a shower cap! travel-size tissues!). Now, I don’t go into a store unless I’ve determined in advance that I seriously need something.

In the course of life, you’ll have weeks where you make amazing advances towards life goals and personal achievements galore. But, there are also hundreds of weeks where you just go through life and chug along. And there’s nothing wrong with chugging and enjoying the simple pleasures of taking a walk, cooking a nice meal, eating that meal, eating the leftovers of that meal, and then talking about that meal (maybe that’s just me and Mr. FW).

The key is to have these habits in place so that you don’t have to make laborious financial decisions on a daily basis. When you establish a frugal autopilot, it frees your brain to do other things (like dream up ways to surprise your wife by making her homemade marshmallows) and you don’t succumb to decision fatigue over the plethora of material goods you could be buying. By incorporating frugal habits into the things we do automatically and everyday, we don’t have to spend a lot of energy calculating a budget or debating expenses.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have made frugality second nature and it’s just how we live our lives. We love our routine frugality and the financial independence that it will enable.

P.S. I made a few updates to the site over the weekend–check out my brand new repository of Frugal Hound pics, Frugal Hound’s Funny Greyhound Photo Corner, as well as my new Hire Me/Collaborate With Me page.

What mechanisms for saving or frugality are automated in your life?

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113 Responses

  1. Being frugal superstars > having a budget. I was just wondering the other day when I’ll hit the point where I quit obsessing over budgets. It might be a fun experiment to take a month off and see where I land. Yes……that’s right. FUN.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So fun! Glad we see these things in the same way. Really, I’m just always so glad I’m not the only one 🙂

    • I’m going to have to disagree here. Your budget should be a result of how frugal you’re willing to be and vice versa – how frugal you’re willing to be should drive your budget. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other but rather they work hand in hand in a circular fashion.

      Jay

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Makes sense. We sort of budget backwards–we review our spending at the end of every month to make sure we’re on track. That way, we can make adjustments if necessary for the next month. Backwards, I know ;)!

  2. Kirsten says:

    We are nowhere near your frugal talent level, but we did forgo cable. This was hardest on me and my NASCAR obsession, but I’ve made it work by listening to races on my iPad. I need to get better about some of these things… How do you specifically manage not washing your clothes everytime? Do you just put them in the hamper when you know they smell or something is on them? Or what? I pretty much have baby spitup or poop on me every day but hubby should be in the clear 😉

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Forgoing cable is awesomely frugal! With the clothes, we hang them back up in the closet or on our clothes tree after wearing them once. If they’re super stinky after 1 wearing, they go straight into the hamper. Some clothes cannot make it more than once. But some stuff can last multiple wearings! I do an agressive sniff test on all items 🙂

  3. Love this frugal lifestyle! We are pretty similar but I need to get better about planning out lunches etc. Also I am so weird about clothes though and can’t wear them twice but I think it’s awesome yall can!

  4. I never “go shopping”. If I’m going to buy something that isn’t food, 99% of the time, I order it online. It really helps me make sure I’m not spending unnecessarily.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good point! Online shopping is my favorite as well–it’s a surgical strike and I can’t be tempted by the unnecessaries 🙂

  5. Wow, that was an amazing amount of great advice! I will be making hubby read this later. He has always been so difficult to reign in. If something costs $4, but you could get it for $2 at a different store, he’d figure there had to be something wrong with the cheaper one, even if it was the exact same thing.. I think living by certain rules helps with so many situations. i can only think of one offhand right now, but it’s about snacking. Jay will eat anything off any table anywhere. If it’s free food (the only thing he’s cheap about) and available, it’s in his mouth. Then he’ll complain about the extra pounds it brings. I always told him that if he’d just make the rule that he will not eat freebies off the table at work or any other business he goes into, that he won’t have that problem. I always had a strict rule about that at work. I would never ever ever eat off the freebie table (it’s a trap!). I love your post. I love it when there is advice I can put into practice. Thanks Mrs. FW! 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks so much! Glad it’s helpful! I do love the free food table at work, but you’re so right about the pounds. I passed on some free chocolate chip cookies today for that very reason (even though they looked soooo gooood).

  6. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not having a budget if you’re on auto-pilot. However, I’m a visual person so I like having a budget down on paper for that reason. It helps me stay organized in my crazy, messed up mind =)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I can’t imagine that you have a crazy, messed-up mind! You seem of sound mind to me :). But, it is nice to see things written out, I can understand that.

  7. Kassandra says:

    I too wear my clothes more than once unless the day is very humid and I’m outside in the sun. You and Mr. FW are truly of the same mind and I can see how you are successful in living frugally. I really don’t care for shopping and this is coming from a former certified shopaholic so that helps a lot with keeping our spending low. I still use a budget as a reference point and it helped me to identify some categories that we had exceeded during the summer and brought those back to normal level.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m impressed that you’re a reformed shopaholic–that takes dedication! Agreed on the humid days–clothes usually have to hit the hamper right away for us ;)!

  8. Lunches and coffee are two areas we tend o be frugal. We pack lunches everyday. It also helps when you are busy at work or get caught late in meetings, no worrying about having to run out for lunch.

  9. I totally agree with making frugal choices a habit. Many of us don’t realize that we have developed bad habits and we continually make them, but just as bad habits can form, so can good ones. We are not budgeters either in the traditional sense. We have goals and we know in order to achieve them we have to cut and focus in other areas. The process of doing that has lowered our monthly bills dramatically and cut out a lot of the nonsense we used to get distracted by in the past.

  10. My aunt and uncle are very wealthy and they don’t budget; they’ve lived their entire lives on frugal autopilot. I will say for me that I’m not there yet, but could imagine this one day. I do a lot of things you mentioned – no cable; pack lunches; make my own coffee; no pop; conserve energy. I just think that until my student debt is gone, I need to be on a strict budget so I can make sure I’m snowballing and getting out of debt asap. After that, I think I could try a frugal autopilot life.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Interesting to know about your aunt and uncle! And, you are so on the right track–you would definitely succeed on frugal autopilot in the future!

  11. Frugal Hound has a nice set of chompers there! 🙂 I so want to meet your dog. 🙂 I do pretty much all of those things, but in a slightly different way, meaning with lunch I work from home, so I never go out for lunch. I avoid stores unless I need something too (Target is my weakness). For me the one thing that has changed a lot since I started my blog two years ago is eating out. I don’t think much about it anymore, but at first saying no to going out to eat felt really painful, but now I’m pretty much used to it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Frugal Hound would love to meet you! She loves making new friends (especially if she can sniff you) :). Agreed on the eating out thing–after awhile, I stopped missing it.

  12. Wow, no budget! I really admire your frugal habits! Definitely not at the point where I can live without one; I still exceed my budget too many times to count. I monitor my expenses down to the penny, and eventually hope to get to your point, where it’s so ingrained in me that I don’t even need to worry about tracking that. Oh well, I still have plenty of time!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks so much! You’re wise to watch your spending so closely–I think that’s a crucial step. And, we do look at our expenses at the end of every month to make sure we’re on track. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Lauren says:

    Love this post! Especially seeing your lunches all set out like that, such a great idea to have it all ready to go for the week. We do laundry once a week, max. I always re-wear stuff as many times as I can. I’m always shocked by people who claim to do laundry everyday- like, are you seriously that dirty?!

  14. Will says:

    Pyrex, FTW. I’ve worked at the same company for nearly 2 years and have yet to eat out for lunch.

  15. Courtney says:

    As someone else said – I need the visual reminder of a budget to keep me on track. Otherwise, I forget I’m not wealthy… As far as frugal habits, I do a lot of meal planning to cut down on grocery expense and I make my own laundry detergent and household cleaners. It’s surprising how much money that seems to save me. One thing I’ve also done is put my paper towels under the sink, so they’re not as easy to grab for every little thing. It encourages me to use my dish towels and reusable rags – it’s green and saves money!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good call on hiding the paper towels! I’ll have to try that. I’m impressed that you make your own laundry detergent and cleaners–I haven’t ventured into that realm yet, but I should! Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Leigh says:

    I hang dry all of my clothes except for pyjamas and in the summer, I tend to hang dry those too. I don’t have A/C, though we do have a ceiling fan. My boyfriend is also starting to come over to the ways of hang drying more clothes since the dryer has been pilling his shirts 😀

    I hardly ever go into a store to buy anything. Buying stuff online means I’ll only buy that specific item AND gives me time to think about it. I also tend to think about purchases for quite a while before doing them.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So true about the added benefits of line drying clothes! They really do last longer and sustain much less damage in the washing process. Agreed on buying stuff online!

  17. Wait a second, are you talking about my life? I do the same things so I guess I’m pretty frugal. I wear my work shirts twice before I wash them and let’s not talk about my jeans (those get worn more than twice).

    I do, however, have a budget. Not to keep me under a leash, but so I can keep track of my expenses. I like to know exactly where my money is going and having a budget/tracking my expenses are the best way for me.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We’re totally talking about your life, Aldo–we have ways of knowing things ;). Not! But, glad to hear you wear clothes more than once too!

  18. Kara says:

    Your non-budget method makes a lot of sense based on how you guys roll!
    I tried to channel your Halloween decorating prowess this weekend. Moderate results!

  19. mrs TIP says:

    you are not wrong. i definitely did want to see Unicorn Frugal Hound. thanks for making my afternoon 🙂

    i hope to get to the point of frugal auto-pilot. i feel like things are kind of clicking into place, recently, and not budgeting doesn’t seem so far fetched. although i do love tracking spending for charts and graphs purposes.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      See, I knew people would want to see Unicorn Hound! We examine our expenses at the end of every month just to make sure we’re on track, but it’s sort of an after-the-fact budget methodology 🙂

  20. Mr. FI says:

    I believe this is how MMM does it too. No budget, just habit. We use a loose budget–meaning I just set up some general categories in Mint, more as something to measure against rather than setting groceries at $100 and being like “we’re at $90 with a week left, no more food!”

    I’m obsessed with tracking where our money goes and the budget is the simplest way to categorize the spending. Figuring out my savings rate is more cumbersome, so it’s an easy way to see how we’re doing. So while we get our frugal muscles buff, we can see how frail we were to begin with 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I do love seeing where our spending is too. We just do it at the end of every month, so it’s more informative than directional. I like the idea of buff frugal muscles… oh yeah! 🙂

  21. We use a budget every month to see where we’re spending our money. Many of our habits are on frugal auto pilot, but I like to have the budget restrictions. I feel more creative when I I know I only have a limited amount to work with.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I like the idea of creativity–that’s an interesting element! We’re definitely creative with our meals and with making stuff last, that’s for sure 🙂

  22. Even Steven says:

    I think just like the title of your website says you are very Frugal, sounds like you are in the ERE/MMM area of frugal, my compliments.

    I’m with you on about 50-75% of them. I think there are comfort levels and adaptions to each item for each person. Using the clothes dryer for instance, we own a multi-unit, so hanging up laundry in the garden apartment area/shared laundry area would not work out to well and having renters follow suit, might get a little confusing.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Totally get what you’re saying on the clothes drying. Our first apartment was a difficult space for it and we’d end up with damp clothes all over the house! We feel really lucky to have the basement space now to dry our clothes with ease.

      • sunny says:

        I love this post! And I needed the reminder about not using the dryer as much. To dry my clothes, I just hang them up on hangers on the shower rod (am in a condo – so no basement or backyard to dry them in) If I hang the clothes up in the early evening, they’re usually dry by morning. No special drying rack or area needed 🙂

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Thanks so much! And, hanging clothes on the shower rod is a great strategy! I’ve done that many a time :). Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  23. Pichirino says:

    I think with Frugalwoods mindset it’s possible to live relatively frugal and still have a high savings rate without a budget but imagine you’re going with a 80-90% savings rate.

    With such a high savings rate you will need to know exactly by the dollar what amounts your various categories of spending can come out.

    If there’s luxuries in your spending in order to maintain a super high savings rate you will need to know the limits of that luxury,this can be anything from a videogame to a new car for the year(depending on income).A budget let’s you see exactly which of your wants you can maintain while still having an extreme savings rate(by extreme standards)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Very true! Our savings rate fluctuates month to month from 65%-85% depending on the bills that hit in a given cycle. And, I agree that it’s important to know your threshold for luxuries. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Tawcan says:

    Looks like we’re doing a lot of these frugal practices in both of our households. It’s actually quite easy to be frugal. It doesn’t take much to save money here and there but all the savings do add up in the long run. I’m always amazed to hear people spending $100 or more on cable. What a waste of money and time! We use drying rack for drying our clothes too.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hooray for drying racks! And, you’re so right, it absolutely adds up in the long run. A few dollars a day is real money over the course of a year!

  25. liz says:

    Looks like you guys have really found a way to thrive living the frugal life. We do pretty good at living frugally but sometimes we do get into ruts where we’ll start to spend.. and then it’s a slippery slope. A budget helps keep us on the straight and narrow. and as an accountant I <3 numbers : )

  26. We don’t really have a budget either. I’d like to say it’s because we’re just naturally frugal, but alas, it’s really because we’re not organized enough. In general, I do agree however that very effective frugalness can be achieved by simply saying “Do I NEED this?” If the answer is no, don’t buy it. I find this simpler to wrap my head around than keeping a running tally of how much I am “allowed” to spend on any category of things.

  27. We don’t budget, but I do have a spreadsheet with our spending and income from the past 2+ years in it. Takes about an hour or so once a month to update. It’s pretty useful and I keep telling myself I will make a downloadable one for the Y.A.M. blog but haven’t gotten around to it. We bring leftovers for lunch too. I can’t remember the last time I paid for lunch. One thing we DON’T do is limit our loads of laundry. I have a lot of allergies (a lot) and while I’m taking immunotherapy for it, one important thing to do is to control your environment. So I will hop in the shower if I was outside to get rid of allergens before going to bed, as well as only wear clothes once so that I don’t have cat hair or outdoor allergens on them. We also pretty much never open our windows to keep the allergens out. As you can see, sometimes you have to be unfrugal for health reasons, but honestly I haven’t seen a big impact on our finances at all, even when we do a lot of laundry.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Absolutely vital not to endanger your health! Allergies are a nightmare if not controlled. I had terrible allergies in the midwest, but strangely enough, not a single problem up here in the Northeast… who knows!

  28. Julie says:

    I love this approach of a frugal lifestyle becoming second nature. My husband and I have recently budgeting our money (we spent $1200 less this month than what we have on average over the previous 12 months). Even after a few weeks, I’m starting to get used to little things like walking by the coffee shop on my break without a second thought, whereas even at the beginning of the month I had to desperately fight the temptation. I hope it will eventually become second nature to us too! Thanks for sharing your insights 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Congrats on spending so much less, that is awesome!! It really did become second nature for us. I find that I don’t miss buying things anymore–it just becomes the new normal. Best of luck to you and thanks for stopping by!

  29. Allison says:

    Great post! Like you, a lot of things that we do are just second nature. We rarely eat out for lunch. Its easy to prep lunches on Sunday’s.
    I cannot imagine buying food without coupons at the store. All the fruits and veggies we buy are price matched to the lowest price in town, so we don’t over pay for anything.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a great deal on fruits and veggies! I wish I had a grocery store that did that! Thanks so much for stopping by

      • Blaze says:

        Not sure if it’s a Canadian thing or not, but here we have the “Scanning Code of Conduct”. Participation is voluntary, but virtually every grocery chain in our area takes part. When an item scans through at a higher price than advertised you get the item free (up to a $10 value). The key seems to be not to say anything at the cash when it happens, as the cashier will just offer to correct it. Instead after you are done bagging everything pull over and review your entire bill while in the store. Identify any items where you were over charged and head for customer service. They may need to have someone check the sign in the aisle if it’s not a sale item in the flyer, but I tend to find an error about 40% of the time. All they have to do is over charge you by a penny and you get the whole thing free. This week I got a free 3lb bag of apples. Last week a free 12pkg of bagels. A month ago I got a free roast – sticker said $9.58 but the barcode used to ring it up said $11.14. Of course I love getting things free, but it makes me wonder how many other people overpaid and never noticed. I’d like to think that when I bring it to their attention they immediately correct the problem, but they probably rightly assume most people won’t notice.

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Interesting! I haven’t heard of that in the US, but I do watch our groceries like a hawk as they’re being scanned. I rarely spot an error though, but, could just be that I’m not very good at watching them scan through… 😉

        • TomTrottier says:

          It works with the cashier, too, usually. You do need the ad, or the bad aisle sign.

  30. Robin says:

    We hate budgeting so we don’t either. I’m glad that we aren’t the only ones. We just track our spending and continue to whittle down our expenses. I love that kind of whittling. (Not particularly the traditional kind.)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah! My whittling days were back in girl scouts–haven’t done much in recent years, but maybe it’ll make a come back :). We do the exact same thing: review our spending and whittle when possible/necessary.

  31. Kim says:

    I love how your frugal lifestyle is ingrained. We haven’t used a strict budget since we paid off our debt, but do track spending and it is easy to let something skate because it’s just a dollar here or there, but it does add up. If it doesn’t fit into the long term plan, it’s usually best to let it go, like my soda that I thought I loved so much. I realize after a week, that I don’t actually love it. I do love the hat frugal hound is wearing in that first photo. Classic!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      It was hard for me to give up soda too! It’s been about a year (since I stopped drinking it every day) and I can honestly say I don’t miss it anymore. I actually had a little bit of Diet Coke at a work party last week and I couldn’t drink the whole glass–it tastes awful to me now!

  32. Michelle says:

    I love all of your frugal ways! We are thinking about cutting our cable bill out of our lives. It’s just so hard for us!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! We’ve been really happy with the Roku and YouTube content that’s available for free, but, I totally understand how hard it is to make the decision to cut the cord!

  33. I really love this frugal lifestyle! We are pretty similar especially with living without cable TV. It’s been 6 months and saved $50 per month. We just watch our favorite series online or download it on Kickass.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! Saving $50 a month is fantastic. There are definitely plenty of other entertainment options besides traditional cable.

  34. As far as I can tell, the traditional methods of budgeting is geared toward the “control of spending” whereas the frugal auto-pilot method is more for “maximization of saving”. I’ve tended to fall more in the first category while my wife has always been in the second. So we used to have these discussions where I say things like, “So we’ve got some extra cash in our recreation budget this month, what would you like to do?” Her response inevitably would be, “Just because you designated that money for recreation, doesn’t mean we HAVE to spend it.” Before long, I was converted to her way of thinking so now we do like the Frugalwoods. We’ve developed habits (or eliminated them!) so we simply spend as little as we need to live each month. (Our ideal monthly budget is $0.) If special occasions come up or we want to do something out-of-the-ordinary (rare), we just do them. No worries about preallocating arbitrary amounts of money for discretionary spending, no nail-biting if we’re over for the month. We just keep track of all our spending and assess every month.

  35. I spent several months last year tracking our expenses and then working on an aggressive budget every month. It was quite time consuming though and once I found out the normal and acceptable range for our monthly cash outflow, I stopped with the detailed budgeting. Now I just track our cash flow every month to make sure we are meeting our targeted savings rate.
    I wish our savings rate was as high as yours but we’re not quite as frugal as you. Your lifestyle really is impressive! 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh gosh, thank you! What a nice compliment :)! Yeah, we monitor our savings rate too and just generally ensure that all of our expenses are necessary and low.

  36. I had to do a double-take on the unicorn photo! Like I said before, I love your methods of frugality. More days than not, I’m on frugal autopilot. But every so often, a few things crop up. Food is our weakness, mostly because neither of us are fond of cooking. I don’t particularly like eating out, but my boyfriend has way more of an appetite than I do. While I’m fine with a sandwich or eggs for dinner, he needs something a bit more. We need to get cracking on having more leftovers! Other than that, I’m okay with our spending.

    Also, I’d like to say, since others are likening you to MMM, that you’re much more relatable, less extreme, and have Frugal Hound, so I think you win. At least in my book.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Your spending is awesomely low! I’m not surprised at all to hear you’re on frugal autopilot too. Food is our weakness too. Even with not eating out, we still spend plenty at the grocery store.

      Thank you so much for the amazing compliment! I’m a huge fan of MMM, so it’s an honor to even be mentioned in the same sentence. Seriously, thank you!!!

  37. Wow, I’m totally inspired by this! It’s kind of similar to adopting a permanent healthy lifestyle rather than constantly yo-yo dieting. My frugality certainly feels like a lifestyle at this point, but there is always room for improvement. It certainly helps that you and Mr. Frugalwoods are 100% united on this.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! It’s definitely a lifestyle, you are so right. And, it absolutely does help that Mr. FW and I are on the same page. It just wouldn’t be possible for us any other way.

  38. Mrs. FW,

    Great post. I completely agree. It’s all about setting up lifelong habits and consistently adhering to them. You don’t have to deprive yourself, but I’ve found that frugality is an enjoyable lifestyle. Once you realize that useless crap doesn’t buy you happiness, it’s quite easy to be content with much, much less. And being content with much less means you need to make less, which then means you have freedom at a very early age. It all works together. 🙂

    Best wishes!

  39. Holy cow, I thought I was reading about myself there for a minute. Almost identical, except we drive cars, but no coffee, besides that it is dead on. When you are saving more than 50% of your salary you are on autodrive. Get a raise and continue to live the same. Makes life pretty simple and easy and very little concern about money.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome! We drive our car sometimes too and we definitely drink coffee :). Life is absolutely simpler!

  40. Similar to others that have commented, I also follow most of those principles too!

    I’d like to think I’m naturally frugal, but there are still loads of improvements I can make.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m always looking for areas to improve on as well. And, I try to come to terms with the areas in which we’re not uber frugal and make sure those are conscious decisions. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  41. Mrs. WW says:

    You are so right, but you stretch me because I LOVE my budget. Like, a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t rely on it so much. Maybe I should be able to do all those things without it.

    But my budget does help me find things to cut. Can I keep it? Pretty please? I super respect you and your ways but I want to keep mine.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ok, Ok, you can keep your budget :). I think it’s all about finding the system that works best for you. I’d never force you to give up your beloved budget! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  42. debs says:

    If you don’t have a budget but review your expenses after the month is over, how do you know if your spending too much and have to readjust? I think I know what you mean and I guess we are kind of like this now, but we needed to do a budget in the beginning to get on track. Being frugal sure makes things simpler, that’s for sure! 😛

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good question! We make any needed adjustments going forward. So, if for example we saw that we spent too much on groceries in August, we’d review all of those receipts and devise a strategy for spending less in September. I know it’s backwards, but, it works for us weirdos. Hooray for the simple frugal life :)!

      • How do you define too much if you don’t have a budget? Sorry that’s what I meant to say.

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Ahh, gotcha :). We look at our savings % rate at the end of every month–we’re always greater than 65% (barring some bizarre situation), but we try to get as close to 85% saved as we can. So, in months where the % is lower, we do a serious investigation into discretionary expenditures (like groceries & household goods) to see if there’s anything we can improve upon going forward.

  43. Great post; I love the idea of frugal autopilot! My favorite autopilot strategy is just finding ways to lower my bills, whether it’s going with a different company, negotiating a lower rate, etc. You put in the effort once, and it pays off each month 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Excellent point! Once you lower expenses permanently like that, you’re coasting! Thanks for sharing.

  44. Zambian Lady says:

    I have a standing order for my savings and fun/travel accounts. I carry my own lunch to the office and the fact that our cafeteria food is lousy helps. I rarely eat out and fortunately for me I do not like shopping unless I really have to. The habits I have cultivated over the years help me with following a loose budget.

  45. Mrs Y says:

    Saving money and being green at the same time is great. We also wear clothes more than once before they go into the washer; especially winter clothes. Conserve water and electricity/gas is always good for the environment.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Absolutely! I’m a big fan of the environmentally-friendly/frugality hybrid. Anything that achieves both is ideal in my book. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  46. TomTrottier says:

    You can cut the cable cord and still have local programming. Use an aerial to get Off The Air HD programs!
    UHF Rabbit ears or a simple $1 dipole may suffice, but set up a $40 multi-bay reflector in the attic or on the roof and you will get more signals.
    You can even time shift with something like http://kk.org/cooltools/archives/24449

  47. Kristel says:

    Does this autopilot mean, that you shop for food not more often than once a week? 😊

  48. Pat says:

    I’m at a different point in life. I did the frugal thing for all my adult life. Took early retirement and lived on a small acreage with hubby. We lived well on little. Then we got older, Hubby died, and I knew I couldn’t keep everything up and needed to be closer to town. Moved near my children into a senior’s apartment, down sized my living area. Moved thousands of miles and unloaded nearly everything. Now had fair amount of extra cash, low cost housing, a place where there are a lot of no cost or low cost activities, and some meals that I can pay for and eat with others, or cook for myself at home. Close to family for visits and celebrations. For the first time in my life I purchased all new furniture, exactly what I wanted. Shopped around and found 1 store that had most of what I wanted, very nice lady and over the items I wanted has saved me nearly 50% by telling me not to buy that day but to come back on a certain date and things were up to 70% off what I was going to pay! Other times it was only 30%. I have savings, and pensions that I built up over many years, and now am enjoying them, I am still able to save over 1/3 of my pensions, and am going to travel while I still can. All I can say is that this is far more than I thought I would be able to do years ago when I was left a single parent in my 20’s, then meeting my Dh in my late 30’s and we started from nothing. So it is possible , and I know I could save so much more, but why? I am enjoying the fruits of my labours. I can no longer garden as I used to, but I can window box! So still enjoy fresh herbs and tomatoes. Also still can and make a little jam and things like that.

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