11 Ways To Be A Frugal Weirdo And Love It

What does it take to be a frugal weirdo?

We all have our spending weaknesses. You know, those things we look at every month and say “I know it’s expensive, but…” and then insert some sort of justification/excuse/guttural groan. But what if you didn’t have any of those expenses? What if absolutely everything you paid money for was under scrutiny, was being “challenged” as Budgets Are Sexy would say.

I smell a gas

I smell a gas

Here’s the thing: if you have pants-on-fire debt or are saving towards a dream of financial independence, you can’t afford not to do this. Spending is like a gas–it’ll expand to fill whatever space you give it. If you allot yourself $900/month for groceries, guess what? I bet you’ll spend $900 per month on groceries.

Disagree with me? Sure, go ahead and cling to your Whole Foods organic seaweed ice cream and your cable and your gym membership. But don’t be surprised when you’re still in debt at the end of the month. I’m speaking truth-to-frugal today folks.

Never fear frugal comrades, it’s not a painful process to stop the spending. Why? Because we’re bringing frugal back. Just follow my 11 simple steps to frugal weirdo-ness and you’ll be well on your way to saving 71% of your income too. You think you’re frugal? THIS is frugal.

The Frugalwoods Guide to Becoming A Frugal Weirdo

1) Stop caring what other people think.

HoneyBadger 2Frugal weirdos first and foremost do not care what you think about them. Much like the honey badger, we don’t care. Caution: your partner/spouse is not included in this–you should care deeply what they think and, you’ll experience the highest frugal weirdo success rate if you’re in this together.

By eliminating the notion that you need to impress people, you’ll suddenly start saving money! Way too much money is spent by people who labor under the delusion that other people give a hoot about their car, clothes, house, or snow shovel. Stop caring and start saving!

Do you really want to live your life for other people? Do you really want to base your spending and your time around what other people may or may not think? I doubt it. Instead, start caring about what YOU think and…

2)  Embrace your inner frugal weirdo.

Mr. FW investigating a dumpster: definitely embracing the frugal weirdo

Mr. FW investigating a dumpster: definitely embracing the frugal weirdo

Don’t be embarrassed by your frugality. Come out of the frugal closet and no longer fear uttering the words, “I’m too frugal for this shirt, too frugal for this car, too frugal for this dog, oh just too frugal.”

Mr. Frugalwoods and I used to cloak and conceal our frugality, but no more. We own it, which makes it easier to live it all the time. We’re so transparent about our frugality that people stop us on the street and ask about our frugal ways. Ok not really, but that’s what happens in my mind.

P.S. I want to make “Proud To Be A Frugal Weirdo” t-shirts, bumper stickers, fanny packs… but no one would buy them. Dang! I’ve thwarted my own merchandizing. 

3) Figure out what you want in life.

Can you honestly say that what you want out of life are expensive grocery bills? Or a new purse? Or a car lease? I’m not asking what you want in the moment (in which case it would obviously be cookies… or is that just me?), I’m asking what you want your life to look like in the long run. Who do you want to be in 10 years?

Money is life, whether you like it or not. Your money can either control you, or you can control it. There’s not a whole lot of middle ground. Set your priorities and your money will follow.

Mr. Frugalwoods and me? We want early retirement to a homestead in the woods. Everything else is a distraction from that goal, so, we don’t spend money on it. Freedom, folks. That’s what awaits.

4) Don’t spend money on entertainment.

Frugal Hound is the ultimate sous chef

Two entertaining activities in one: cookie baking and Frugal Hound

There are approximately 1.2 million ways to entertain oneself for free. Get creative, get weird and cancel your cable, ditch the movie theatre, and avoid the mall. Go to the library, go hiking, dress your dog up in human clothes, bake cookies, watch free PBS programs, look around your house and fix what needs fixin’ and organize what needs organizin’ (for example, my basement… eeek!). Find frugal friends and have potlucks, picnics, and outings to the woods.

Our $0 entertainment budget gives us the license to devise all sorts of hilarity. Paying for entertainment is like admitting defeat. You’re essentially saying you’re incapable of constructing enjoyable ways to fill your own time. Don’t admit defeat, frugal it up!

5) Friends don’t let friends pay people to do things for them.

After!

The chest of drawers I refinished

Cut your own hair. Cut your friend’s hair. Fix your own window trim. Bathe your own dog. Clean your own house. Cook your own food. Shovel your own snow. Refinish your own furniture. Heck, refinish your own kitchen cabinets while you’re at it.

This isn’t just about saving money, this is about self-empowerment. You can figure out how to do these things for yourself. Mr. FW and I have and we’re not experts in, well, anything really. All you need is confidence and patience. And a willingness to experiment. Remember how you’re not paying for entertainment anymore? You’ll now have plenty of time to teach yourself new skills.

6) Stop eating out.

This was our own personal weakness for a long time. Mr. Frugalwoods and I went out to dinner once a week for years. YEARS I tell you. And then, we stopped.

We really and truly just stopped as soon as we crystallized our homestead goal and set our aggressive savings rate. The first month was the hardest and then honestly, it simply became our new norm. Restaurants rarely even cross my mind anymore. We ate out for Mr. FW’s birthday in August and we’ll probably do the same for my birthday next month. Other than that? Nope.

This is a random photo of me on my Craigslist bike. Enjoy!

This is a random photo of me on my Craigslist bike

7) Don’t buy stuff.

No seriously, just don’t buy things. 99% of our success with our savings rate, and the fact that we spent circa $13,000 in 2014 (sans mortgage), is attributed to the fact that we don’t buy things. You can’t really hack your way to frugal. You can and should take advantage of discounts, coupons, rewards points, and the like. But at the end of the day, the only way to truly save money is to not buy stuff. Money doesn’t walk out of your wallet on its own accord.

8) When you do buy stuff, buy used.

Our $75 dining table and chairs

Our $75 dining table and chairs

Don’t buy anything new. I’m serious you guys. There are darn few things in this world that you should buy new. Underwear, food, and socks come to mind and frankly, not much else. We’ve purchased plates at Goodwill for $0.10 each, I found my coat in the trash, we bought our solid wood dining room table and chairs off of Craigslist for $75, and the list goes on. Buying new is essentially announcing to the world that you don’t care about your money. Don’t tell the world you don’t care about your money, buy used!

9) Go moneyless.

This is the frugal weirdo corollary of paperless. One of my favorite tactics is to travel about town with just my ID and a pad of paper and a pen. Yep, I walk around moneyless. All the time. And if I see something I want to buy? I write it down. And then maybe I buy it later on Amazon for a fraction of the price. But more often? It turns out that I don’t need it after all. And thus my friends, money is saved.

10) Remove the need.

What’s the true nature of a need vs. a want? How dire are your needs? Wants often embed themselves in our lives and make us think they’re needs. But they’re merely masquerading wants!

I do not need a bicycle

I do not need a bicycle

I used to buy eyeliner. Eyeliner was a “need” for me until I admitted I was a frugal weirdo and began questioning every single dollar I spent. I quickly realized that calling eyeliner a need is tantamount to saying that Frugal Hound needs a bicycle.

Don’t mindlessly replace everything that runs out. Don’t automatically assume you need more of something just because it’s gone. Wait and see. If you run out of beard oil on a Monday, try going the rest of the week sans beard oil. Reassess next week and see if you survived without it.

11) Don’t Treat Yo’self.

Just because you had a hard day at work doesn’t mean you should reward yourself by going out to eat. Just because you have a job where you need to look professional doesn’t mean you should buy your clothes new or pay for haircuts. I don’t.

Also, think about it: how much do you honestly want to spend on your job? On coffee at work, on lunch out at work, on clothes and shoes for work, on transportation for work… pretty soon you could find yourself paying to work. Let’s put a stop to this nonsense right now. Cease the treating of yo’selves! You’re not treating yourself, you’re permanently chaining yourself to a need for more money.

DoNotTreatYoSelf

Here’s Where I Rant About Consumer Culture

Our culture espouses the notion that people are supposed to employ these absurd workarounds in order to achieve what they want. For example, if you want the “best” for your kids, you’re supposed to work longer hours so that you can afford to send them to the best schools and buy them the most expensive “educational toys” and the latest shoes.

Classic Frugal Weirdo: Mr. FW holding bread he baked, next to the wall he built and the cabinets we painted, while wearing a shirt from the trash.

Classic Frugal Weirdo: Mr. FW holding bread he baked, next to the wall he built and the cabinets we painted, while wearing a shirt from the trash.

My counter to that is, why not do what Mr. Money Mustache and Root Of Good did and what 1500 Days to Freedom is doing and quit working so that you can actually spend time with your kids and teach them all this great stuff yourself.

If you want to be “successful,” you’re supposed to spend a ton of money mortgaging yourself to the hilt on a giganto-house and pour whatever’s leftover into a brand new car that’ll really show how powerful you are. Why not just keep the money and have power over your life and your time instead?

The material things society dictates people care about are little more than money drains that don’t provide fulfillment. The carousel of consumerism and lifestyle inflation will enslave you to your job in perpetuity. Work, buy, work more, buy, go into debt, better work more! That’s not a life, that’s a prison sentence.

We’re Bringing Frugal Back

Don’t unconsciously mimic the spending habits of those around you. There’s no reason to approach the world as a consumer. Your goal in life shouldn’t be to buy things. Spending money is the easy way out. It doesn’t require creativity, ingenuity or adventure. In a word, it’s boring. Don’t be boring friends, be weird.

Are you a frugal weirdo? What are your tips?

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185 Responses

  1. Frugal_canuck says:

    Wait! So because I’m the only person at my office who walks to work instead of driving I’m a weirdo ? Sweet. I’m going to start embracing it instead of feeling ‘weird’ about it.

  2. Gretchen says:

    Love this – and I’ve been following J$’s Challenge Everything posts for quite a while too! Sometimes, you get so used to your version of “frugality” that you don’t realize where you’re lax in your spending! These are some great tips to get me back on track questioning everything I spend money on!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I totally agree–I can get too comfortable in my spending habits and forget to really analyze expenses. Always good to challenge everything from time to time!

  3. Love this post!!! Especially #7 and #9. For my clients who have spending problems, I challenge them to engage in no spend days or cash only days where they only have $5 on their person. It’s amazing how you shift your mind around spending money on stuff when you don’t have the money to do it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And, so true! It always makes me realize that everything I would’ve bought isn’t actually worth it.

  4. Hey! My daughter is a t-shirt designer. I think you guys should work with her to design “I’m a frugal weirdo” T-shirts. 🙂 Life as a frugal weirdo is AWESOME. 🙂

  5. I am in a weird middle camp on the frugal train. There are things that I am absolutely frugal on, for example clothes, but then there are other areas where we end up spending, like buying our way out of food allergies.
    I get called cheap by my coworkers a lot, which is pretty ridiculous given how much we still spend. It goes to show how much money people spend without thinking about it at all or challenging it.

    • Mary says:

      I too have food allergies and need to buy organic since I am hyper-sensitive to chemicals. Our grocery bills are high, but we don’t spend on clothes, extras, etc. I am cooking batches of chili, soups, rice dishes in an attempt to cut down on the costs of food. Any tips you have found?

      • Thegoblinchief says:

        A good CSA can be well worth the money if you can handle the up front cost. Several organic ones in my area.

        But the best is to grow your own. My favorite two books to recommend are “The Resilient Gardener” by Carol Deppe (herself a victim of celiac disease) and “Resilient Farm and Homestead” by Ben Falk. We had a good garden last year that we’re still eating a few stored things from (frozen summer squash and cellared winter squash) but I’m making a major push next year. That way you know precisely how the food was grown.

        If you’re especially concerned about nutrient density, check out the “Intelligent Gardener” by Steve Solomon.

      • Mary, we too avoid most processed foods b/c of food intolerance/allergy issues, but still manage to feed our family of six for about $400 a month. I know it differs depending on where you live, but by shopping the sales and keeping menu items simple, we’ve managed to do pretty well. Head over to my site and email if you have any questions, and best of luck to you!

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          All good advice here! I agree with Thegoblinchief–if you can grow your own, that’s the way to go. And, I’m with Laurie on the grocery costs–it’s very possible to shop cheap and healthy. We don’t eat much meat or processed/packaged foods, which keeps our costs low and enables us to buy primarily organic fruits and veggies.

      • Those are all awesome ones! Things I don’t recommend include buying goat’s cheese all the time when you’re allergic to cow dairy! Hahaha..
        We buy proteins on sale only (meat/fish). I’m leaning more on cheap veggies lately, like carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash. We use our freezers extensively, plan meals based on what’s in there and then buy whatever new proteins are on sale. Mostly, though, we’re pretty lavish with our food budget, so I can only assist a bit!
        I have also participated in some local group bulk purchases of nuts, seeds and dried fruits. They don’t save a ton of money versus what is at the store, but the quality and price on the organics is very good.
        If you can eat them (we can’t), eggs are an amazing food that’s cheap and can be served a million ways.

      • Bethany says:

        Check out Miss Maggies recipes on http://www.frugalabundance.com. Gluten free and casein free. several variations of lentils/beans and rice, ideas for cornmeal based things, using rice in place of pasta, etc. for those that have been around the online frugal weirdo for awhile, this is the very same Maggie from old hillbillyhousewife- which. although under new ownership, still has many of her frugal recipes in the archives – not GFCF. Penniless parenting also has some interesting posts on organics, but she is based in a different country, so some things- like foraging cactus paddles and lambquarters- may not work for your local.

  6. As you say, if you budget $900 for groceries, you are most likely going to spend $900 for groceries. Rather than going that route with our basic living expenses, we operate on the basis of “budgeting by exception.”

    Budgeting by exception means to us to scrutinize each budget category/line with the objective of driving that cost ever lower. We do this as a continuous process. This means that we periodically shop to see if we can secure better deals on the cost of things such as insurance policies, propane deliveries, etc. It also means “staying in focus” when we are out spending money on more variable budget lines (such as groceries) and jumping on “surprise” savings opportunities (such as grocery loss leader sales). And, as you point out, we always question whether a particular purchase is needed at all.

    Applying this budgeting by exception process has resulted, over time, in a 42% reduction in our basic living expenses. And that has made a whole world of difference to us.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That sounds like a great approach, Alex! We don’t budget either–we just live on frugal autopilot :). I’ve always felt like budgeting would cause me to spend more since I’d think I still had money to spend. Way to go on reducing your living expenses by 42%–that’s terrific!

  7. Mr. 1500 says:

    Thanks for the shout out, much appreciated! 🙂

    Also, congratulations on being the first PF blog to incorporate Boyle’s Law! http://www.chm.davidson.edu/vce/gaslaws/boyleslawcalc.html

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You are most welcome, my friend! And I feel like YOU should’ve been the first PF blog to incorporate Boyle’s Law ;). I use that gas theory with a lot of things, by the way, because it’s true. If I give myself an hour to get ready, it’ll take me an hour. Conversely, if I give myself 20 minutes, it’ll take 20 minutes. Maybe I’m secretly a gas…

  8. I love being a weirdo! Great article. The biggest thing for us was to quit worrying about what everyone else thought. I went to a women’s event at our church the other day. My prep routine included a hairbrush and some mascara. I was doing some people watching and I started to feel sorry for some of the ladies who clearly spent an hour or more to prepare.

    • I hear you there, Rebecca. It’s the same with me: mascara and a hairbrush. 15-20 minutes max after I get out of the shower. I love it, and it’s nice looking my best naturally.

      • MEL810 says:

        I’m maybe a tad older than you ladies so I need a little more paint to keep from scaring small children! But I have discovered ELF cosmetics: Most make up in under $5.00 and the majority is $3.00 or under.
        I buy my mascara and lipsticks on 2/1 sale at CVS, use coupons and CVS Extra Bucks and can get, for example, two $10.00 retail mascaras for about $2.00 and earn $5.00 extra bucks that I can use later on almost anything I might buy there.
        But I do like being well-groomed and pretty for myself. I’m not out to impress anyone. I’ve found as I have gotten older that the urge to impress anyone, if I ever had it, has gone bye-bye.
        And as you get older, no matter how good you look, you’ll never get the appreciation for your appearance from either men or women that you got when you were young and frisky. Appearance fades and bodies wither but a virtuous character enhances with age!
        But hell, I’ve ALWAYS been a weirdo, frugal or no. LOL! For those versed in astrology, I have the weirdo planet Uranus sitting on the most public part of my chart!

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          This is so well said, Mel: “but a virtuous character enhances with age!” Heck yes! I know I’d probably look “better” with make-up on, but I just feel more free without it. Plus, saves me a ton of time. I think more than money, it’s the time for me.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Laurie & Rebecca: you are ladies after my own heart! Hairbrush, sunscreen, and mascara is my full beauty routine 🙂

        • MEL810 says:

          You ladies are young enough to look nice and fresh w/o anything more. Expect when I used to go clubbing when I was in my 20’s, I never wore more than that, either. Howsomeever, when you are pushing actual normal retirement age, a little extra help is a good thing. It only takes me about 5 minutes because I use multi-use products for blush and shadow.

          • Kate says:

            I’m with you, Mel810. The time I spend primping in the morning is “me time,” and looking nice is important TO ME. I think the secret to frugal living — if there is a secret — is to save where you can so you can spend where you want. With coupons, of course!

          • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

            You are so right, Kate! It’s all about saving where you can so you can spend where you want! Well said.

  9. Amy says:

    What an inspiring post!! I’m definitely not frugal by FW standards, but I’m learning just how much excess there is in my life – and obviously it’s to blame at least in part for our debt. I really like the concept of “use what you have”, which I read about in the context of cooking, but can be applied in many areas.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks, Amy! I think it’s awesome you’re getting on the frugal train :)! I’m a huge fan of “use what you have”–I’ve had so many instances in which I’ve been able to just sub in something we already own and saved a ton. Frugal on, my friend!

  10. Great article! I agree with them all, but it all starts and ends with #1 in my opinion. Well, things like #3, #7 & #10 are hugely important as well. 🙂 We get comments all the time from family members because we’re supposedly weird for what we do…but I’ll wear it as a badge of honor as we’re not enslaved because of poor decisions.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So true about #1–a lot of life opens up once you let go of caring. It’s pretty liberating! I love the weird comments because, as you said, it usually means we’re doing it right :). Cheers, fellow frugal weirdo!

  11. Jen says:

    These are all really helpful reminders! I am relatively new to mustachianism/frugal weirdness/FI and it really helps to read swift-kick-in-the-pants style advice when I’m veering off track. I really like your point about not spending for work. I’m fortunate enough to work in an office that is the more casual side of business casual, but would still find myself justifying new clothing and accessory purchases. Would anyone even notice if I wore practically the same thing everyday? Would they care? I find that having a put-together attitude is far more important than necessarily looking a certain way. I had also realized a lot of my spending was aspirational, and once I accepted it, I realized I didn’t need the things on my wants list and my life would not change in any way (well, except having more money to save/pay off debt). Thank you for these wonderful tips!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hey Jen–that’s awesome that you’ve had these realizations about your spending. It’s not easy to change the way you think about money, so congrats!

      You hit the nail on the head with the observation that life doesn’t really change without our “wants”–that’s exactly what I realized over the course of my no-clothes-shopping ban (which is actually still in effect… ).

      I’ve actually worn the same outfit twice in one week to work, just to test your theory, and nobody noticed. Or if they did notice, they didn’t care. So I say, go for it :)!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      • Marianne says:

        I straight up instituted an office uniform for myself after returning from maternity leave. I read a great article by a woman who had done the same thing after realizing she spent way more time than her male colleagues prepping in the morning. I have the added edge of not wanting to express myself through clothing, so now I have a fleet of plain black long sleeves shirts, a nice belt, three pairs of work appropriate pants and a collection of scarves and necklaces I use to change the look. I keep a couple of pairs of shoes at work to mix that up a bit. I spend 0 minutes considering what to wear each day, I always have something appropriate to wear and I never have trouble bike commuting. And I have my weekend and weeknight clothes for fun. I took 2/3 of my wardrobe to consignment and I have never looked back. I have clawed back hours of my life already! No one cares. It’s bliss.

  12. Amen to #1! It all starts with that frame of mind. Of course, it would be great if peer pressure made people feel weird for NOT being frugal.

  13. Bring it! I’m with you except #4 (entertainment) and #6 (dining out). 🙂 Although we spend almost zero on both categories.

    We just went crazy and bought take out pizza twice (twice!) this weekend (with a 60% off coupon code obviously) and that marked dining out purchase number 2 and 3 for 2015 (YTD spending = $41). We like to splurge and the spending level shows. 🙂

    Of course it’s almost as cheap to get take out as it is to cook stuff at home (which we do 99% of the time). Buying awesome groceries (and spending more than the bare minimum in that category) is our antidote to dining out. At any given moment, we’ll look in the fridge and think “hmmm, should we have sushi or pad thai or stir fry or barbecue pork or thai curry or…” (to list just a few leftovers currently awaiting us for lunch).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Two takeout pizzas!! Dude, you might have to go back to work 😉

      We actually ate two frozen pizzas this weekend–it was a rough weekend of illness and ice removal, so we felt justified :). Awesome groceries and a good cook definitely help. I’m so spoiled because Mr. FW’s cooking is as good as any restaurant. I think it’d be a lot harder for us if we were dependent on a terrible cook, like for example me…

      Your fridge sounds amazing–we’ve never made sushi at home, so now I’m impressed and jealous.

  14. I think the idea of a t-shirt is great! Although I would hope it’s free because as a frugal person I shouldn’t buy it right? 🙂 As I was reading your post I was thinking that again frugality is about personal choice and spending on things you really value. As a single person, it’s hard to say don’t spend ANY money on entertainment. While I spend a lot of time alone and very little on entertainment, something like going to the movies every once in awhile is something special to me because I grew up watching and loving movies and it’s a huge part of my life. But I also don’t spend money on other areas that someone else who is frugal does…or I have very low utilities because I live in such a small apt in a good climate. It’s all very personal. And you know how I feel about my hair! lol! Someday I might take a chance and try something a lot cheaper, but damn that’s a tough one.

  15. Even Steven says:

    Like liberals and conservatives I feel like their is 2 ends to the spectrum(I don’t do politics just needed a good comparison) and I think Frugal Weirdo is the Liberal side while the Joneses/Spendy Pants are the Conservative side(once again not political). I certainly see some of the great things a Frugal Weirdo can bring you, like I don’t do the gym anymore, I walk and run my dog a ton for example. But like the Spendy Pants when I buy something I’m buying the best preferably used item out there.

    When I read FW or other crazy Frugal Weirdo’s out there, it begins with a “these people are crazy”, like riding my bike every day to work(18 miles total through Chicago streets) and I say no way you guys are crazy. Then I start talking myself into 1 day a month on a Friday, when it’s 60 degrees, then maybe it’s every Friday in the summer. I hope that this happens with others, because yes you guys are crazy Frugal Weirdo’s, but some if not most of the stuff you do is getting you to Financial Independence sooner and for that we thank you for the message.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Totally! I’ve had a lot of frugal firsts where I’ve said I’d never do something, and now I have! Like letting Mr. FW cut my hair…. and now that I’ve done it once, I can’t imagine it any other way.

  16. My frugal weirdness comes out when I pile 8 boxes of pasta into my cart and pay for it with 4 coupons and $2. And then I have my preschooler do the same thing! Because the store will only double 4 coupons per transaction, and won’t do multiple transactions for each customer.

  17. Shelagh says:

    Waking up in the morning and getting these posts are the best part of my day. I am definitely a spending addict masquerading as a frugal person in hopes that one day it sticks. And reading about your frugal weirdness is like my version of spending AA. I find that the hardest part for me is making these habits stick. I feel like I have to trick myself into doing what I want to do, like I think about cancelling my car insurance so it will force me to bike to work every day. Ha ha. I’m really impressed by what you guys are doing. Please keep sharing the small details of your daily frugality. It helps me think about what else I could be doing and it helps me feel sane amongst my consumerist peers. That picture of Mr.FW really says it all. Ha ha.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much, Shelagh! That’s really sweet of you! And hey, fake it ’til you make it with frugality! I have to trick myself into not spending as well, like not taking my wallet with me–a trick, but it totally works. Stay strong! You’re not alone in this frugal life 🙂

  18. #1 is so important! Probably why you listed it first, right?! I also leave the house without money all the time!

  19. Chonce says:

    I don’t do all of these, but I do enough to considered a frugal weirdo by the rest of society. When I told some of my coworkers and friends I’d be opting out of buying lunch and dining out this whole month they were genuinely confused and didn’t get it. When you disengage yourself from consumer culture, it’s normal for people to raise an eyebrow at what you’re doing or even call you cheap or weird but it’s important to be comfortable with yourself and committed to your goals regardless what everyone thinks because you’re absolutely right, being frugal forces you to figure out what you really want in life and commit to it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      100% agree. It really does bring to the fore your own desires and not just what our culture says you should care about. And, way to go on not buying any meals out this month–that’s awesome!!

  20. The Roamer says:

    I think we qualify as frugal… We are also weirdos but I’m not sure we’ve merged the 2 yet

    I think people really need to think about # 10… For example we rarely and I mean rarely bought ice cream cartons to enjoy at home… We would go out to have ice cream once in a while I will say less the 1/wk but then we thought we can buy it and have more at home we’ll get morebanv for our buck. However then it became a habit when we finish it it goes right on the shopping list … Its become a staple we mindlessly replenish. I realized it and now I wonder if we are spending way more then we use to when we actually went out to eat it…. So yes big Yes! To question everything days and not mindlessly replacing stuff just because its ran out.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a great example of not mindlessly replacing stuff. I found I was just automatically buying replacements for things without considering if we actually needed them. Far better to do without for a week or so and then reassess! I think you probably qualify as frugal weirdos 😉

  21. Nicola says:

    Great article! I also am moneyless most of the time – can’t spend if you don’t have it 🙂 we’re trying to curb our food spends as I’ve been a bit lazy recently – can definitely do better there… Oh and I would totally wear a frugal weirdo tshirt….

  22. I used to be all about the frugality. Over time, I become less enamored with it because of its diminishing returns. It’s a great tool: the trusty hammer in a personal finance toolbox. But not everything is a nail.

    • Thegoblinchief says:

      This is very true! In most of our spending, we’ve basically arrived at peak frugality, where further reductions would harm quality of life.

      My solution with food, partially because I too am a future homesteader (but unlike the FrugalWoods have a decent yard) is to replace boughten with homegrown or bartered.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Very true. You guys are both at peak frugality I think, as are Mr. FW and me. For us it’s not so much about ramping up our frugality, but more about maintaining for the long term. I ascribe to the notion that permanently reducing your annual expenses is a good way to go about early retirement and FI. I’m also a fan of the simpler, more minimalist lifestyle that frugality enables.

  23. Being a frugal weirdo is cool. It took me some time to embrace it, but I now have my frugal weirdness in a bear hug.

  24. Love #9 – I may have to try that! I almost never walk around with cash but consistently whip out our debit card to pay for small purchases. The key for me is to plan ahead. My spending usually revolves around food and I know that one of our major money leaks is spending money on coffee. If I don’t have my coffee in the morning I’m pretty much a monster the rest of the day, but that doesn’t mean I have to buy it out at a coffee shop! We also love eating out but are trying to limit that to when we have friends in town or for special occasions.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I love coffee too/must have it!! Used to be a weakness for me as well. Still is to an extent, because we buy nice beans to make at home. But, it’s still vastly cheaper than buying coffee out. Special occasions for eating out makes sense to me 🙂

  25. Alicia says:

    Love it! I’ve started getting to that point where I stop caring about what other people think. I’m okay driving my 8 (approaching 9) year old car, and it’s still in pretty good shape. I have loads of hand-me-downs, and if we had more outdoor space I would love to refinish my dresser and night stand (it’s little girl white). It will get done eventually. My dining table was $200 used, which is a solid price for a solid wood table, but I have to say your deal was better 🙂

    PS, the chemist in me loved that you used gas volumes to explain spending 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah–glad you appreciated my gas reference! I find it applies to a lot of things in life, personally…

      I had a really good time refinishing my jewelry chest. It took me an entire day, but it was actually a lot of fun. Plus I got red paint all over myself 🙂

      Way to be on not caring! Woohoo! Drive that old car!

  26. My wife told me that I shouldn’t be proud of the fact that all of our couches were either free or pre-owned. I love it and want to flaunt it! At least she’s OK with us having this kind of stuff even if she doesn’t want to yell it from the hills like I do.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s hilarious! I always want to flaunt our used stuff too, which I’m sure some people think is totally weird.

  27. Mrs. Bug says:

    I love this post! I have definitely stopped caring what other people think and I’ve also started being more vocal about our frugalness. Unfortunately, we have lost touch with some friends because of it but that just makes me question how good of friends they were to begin with. Friends shouldn’t judge you on what you wear or what car you drive. I am the worst about treating myself when I have a stressful or rough day at work. Thanks for calling attention to it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I agree–friends should definitely not judge you based on material possessions! Not cool! I always want to treat myself after work, so it’s kind of a constant reminder for me 🙂

  28. Yes! I am a frugal weirdo. Recent example: I wanted to be able to bring my coffee to work, then pour it into a mug and warm it back up. Solution: Repurposed jar that once contained salsa!

    I do still pay for haircuts as I haven’t figured out a good short-hair solution, but I wax my own caterpillar-like eyebrows. I haven’t worn makeup since the last time I went on a job interview. I find myself caring less and less what people think. No proper biking pants? I’ve just been wearing these horrible white sweatpants I’ve had since 1998. It’s preschool dropoff, not a fashion show, right?

    We have not zeroed out the entertainment and restaurant budgets. We do like to go see our favorite musicians play live, perhaps a few times a year (I got Arlo Guthrie tickets for my birthday!), and, as an example, Mr. FP ordered half-price pizza when I went to work and left him at home with two preschoolers, on a Saturday, on a snow day, when he was down with a bad cold. Gotta be compassionate to one’s spouse :-).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nice coffee/salsa solution ;)! I’m loving your white sweatpants get up. I wear atrocious clothing to take Frugal Hound out and I must say, I just don’t care.

      And I agree, compassion for one’s spouse is key 🙂

  29. Kathleen says:

    I’m working on my frugal weirdness. I have the food situation pretty well contained, although we do eat out at lunch once a week, usually at my sister’s restaurant (we get free food but we still tip well).
    I’m working on clothing right now. I haven’t bought anything new this year, not that I ever burn up the fashion runways. (Winter=pajama bottoms, long sleeve tee shirt, sweatshirt; rest of the year=workout clothes and skirts and tees). However, my only pair of sandals bit the dust last year and so I am waiting for a reasonable pair (leather, less than $30) to come to my attention.
    One thing I started doing last year which was a lot of fun. I would go to Marshalls or Target and shop but not buy. I would list things that caught my eye and that I would buy. I found I no longer needed the item once I had it listed and these “shopping” trips happened less and less.
    This summer I am going to refinish our dining room table that is the same table that I grew up with. And also my husband’s grandmother’s rolltop desk that has been sitting in the garage for ten years and maybe the rocker that I was rocked in as a child.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a novel approach to shopping/not shopping–I like it! I too find that writing things down on a list really helps me to not buy them. Seems counter intuitive, but it totally works!

      Your furniture refinishing projects sound fabulous! Enjoy!

  30. Michelle says:

    Love this! I think you should do the bumper stickers, great idea! I’m moving more and more towards being a frugal weirdo but still have a few things to change. When I get back from vacation I’m cutting the phone, TV and finding an alternative for my internet – that will be a challenge since I work from home.
    I still pay for haircuts as I have no one to do it for me LOL! Manis/Pedis I only go out to have done once a year usually before my vacation, otherwise I do it myself.
    I’ve taken the “treating” out of groceries and well, I’m on a no spend year so no more fancy clothing. I ultimately want to cast off consumerism altogether and for the most part the mindset has set in.
    We’ll say I’m a Frugal Weirdo in Progress! 🙂 Give me a few more months and I’ll be there.

  31. Fiby says:

    I completely agree – be a frugal weirdo! I get all sorts of hate from drivers when I bike with my trailer to a Korean grocery store 13 miles away, but I ignore it (to the extent that drivers aren’t endangering my safety….)

    I used to budget for things like groceries and eating out…but as you said, my spending always expanded to fill the budget allotted. So I threw out the budget, and became even more frugal! Though this only worked because I had built my frugality muscles during my first transition of not having a budget to having one.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Agree on the no budgeting approach. We’ve never budgeted, which works really well for us. We just spend as little as possible!

      I love that you bike to the grocery store with a trailer. That’s absolutely awesome.

  32. Another great post! I’m sure I’ve been called a weirdo, just never thought of myself as one. I don’t think I’m quite a frugal weirdo just yet, but I’m getting there. 🙂

  33. We’re workiing on it! Your spending always stops me in my tracks when I hear it. $1,000 a month in a city like Boston is an awesome feat!

  34. Norm says:

    Now I’m curious. Does Mr. Frugalwoods use beard oil? I only grow a winterbeard, and I’ve never used it before, but this time I made my own beard oil. It took about $30 worth of ingredients, but since I only have a beard in the winter, the stuff will probably last 5 or 10 years. And in the meantime, I smell like lemony-peppermint.

    • Thegoblinchief says:

      Wait, beard oil is an actual thing? Ewwwwww (from a bearded man).

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        It’s totally a thing! Mr. FW had some beard balm, which worked well (it’s basically a leave-in condition for one’s beard). But, it ran out and we didn’t replace it and his beard looks the same. Norm–I’m super impressed/intrigued by the homemade beard oil. Is there a recipe you followed?

        • Norm says:

          I found a bunch of recipes online, and got a couple of the most common oils, jojoba and argan… can’t remember if there was a reason why those in particular. I mix those together half and half, in a bottle which I think is less than one ounce, and add about ten drops each of peppermint and lemon essential oils.

          I probably wouldn’t do it just for myself, but this is a case of “happy wife, happy life.”

  35. I really love your post! We are not yet Frugal Weirdos but we are working on it! We buy used, don’t buy stuff and go moneyless. We have to work on the other points… 🙂

  36. Becca says:

    I think I qualify as “frugal-ish” – I’m not totally at frugal weirdo status yet, but I’m definitely making strides in that direction. I spend some money on entertainment and eating out, mostly as social outings, but a lot less than I did even a year ago, and I challenge myself to spend as little as possible or even cut out entire categories for weeks or months at a time. As long as I don’t try to make up for time lost at the end of a month without eating out, I’ve effectively pocketed what I would have spent!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Frugal-ish is fabulous! Sounds like you’ve made excellent moves in the right direction–congrats! And, it certainly makes sense to spend money on some things–all about the balance, I think.

  37. Sara says:

    All great reminders!

    I do think that it is OK to spend more than absolutely necessary though, if it is thought out and purposefully intended. For instance – I pay extra to buy my dogs’ food. I want them to have food that is of human grade ingredients and that is not made from animals that have had cancer or other illnesses. I think this pays off in both fewer vet bills and longer, healthier life expectancy for my furry family members. To me, it is most definitely worth it given the concentration of their consumption in that one item. In a very limited sample, this proved to be true with my first dear departed ones who both lived to be 16 – and very spryly until near the end.

    I do not, however, pay extra to buy organic groceries for myself. I eat a varied diet and have the ability to wash my produce well. It does not seem like the return would be worth the cost.

    We each have to choose what matters to us, I think – but it should be a conscious choice and not self delusion regarding the long term costs.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Well said–making conscious choices about spending is absolutely where it’s at. We buy Frugal Hound the more expensive grain-free kibble, which is supposed to be best for greyhounds and so far, she’d been super healthy. Definitely important to keep our fur babies healthy!

  38. Love this: “Also, think about it: how much do you honestly want to spend on your job? On coffee at work, on lunch out at work, on clothes and shoes for work, on transportation for work… pretty soon you could find yourself paying to work.”

    Amazing thought. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! I just see that a lot of folks end up spending so much money on things that surround their jobs, which seems like a huge waste to me. The point is to get paid, not to spend :)!

  39. FI Investor says:

    Love it! My wife and I are trying to do these very same things and it is amazing the responses you get when you tell friends you dont want to go see that new movie or go out to eat at that restaurant. It does feel like defeat when that bill comes to your table and you see the total you just spent for one meal 🙁

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, we’ve found over time that our best route for socializing is inviting friends over to our house for dinner. That’s much more our speed and I feel like we’re able to have better conversations over the course of the evening as well. Good luck to you and your wife on your frugal weirdo quest :)!

  40. Thegoblinchief says:

    If you made the “I love being a frugal weirdo” as a bike sticker that fit on my top tube or down tube, I’d throw you a few bucks and buy one.

    That said, when it comes to products, I’m similar to Jacob from ERE (or your own “amazing expensive things we own” post). I have no problem spending $$$ IF the quality is appropriate. One example on my mind right now: farm/garden tools made these days are mostly trash. So, unless you have a stash of old tools you serendipitously discover (like Jacob’s hundred-plus dollar saw that only increases in value each year, or Ben Falk’s amazing find of an antique Japanese mechanical rice huller), sometimes you have to search very carefully for proper BIFL tools.

    I’m all over #1 and especially #3. #8 also resonates with me. Restaurants were already fading away from my radar, but the more I learn about nutrition and sustainable agriculture, my body is a temple and damn if I’m going to eat something I don’t make myself. Hiring servants to cook for me is, frankly, bizarre. I *love* to cook and I think we should all have an intense love affair with food.

    Not “food” but FOOD. Real food is so awesome that occasionally my grocery spending gets a bit wild, because I go all Anne of Green Gables poetic and giddy over the quality of the ingredients.

    I’ll stop rambling now…

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Totally agree on spending for quality and BIFL products. Tools are a great example. We actually have had decent luck finding tools at garage sales. Especially if people are moving, they often don’t want to haul huge tools (clearly they are not frugal 😉 ). We’re going to try and hit up more garage sales this spring for the express purpose of finding more tools! Also, FOOD :)!

  41. Tawcan says:

    Great tips! DIY as much as you can will save you a lot of money too.

  42. JD says:

    Totally agree with what you have another well written article. After living through more years than I care to think about having had snide comments made about our level of budgeting I am now at the “I could care less (stage) of what anyone thinks”. Rude and very unkind comments now no longer matter.

    Ps We are forecast a light dusting of snow here in Arizona and I may need to get out a frugal cat nose warmer! 😀

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nice! I think life is definitely more enjoyable when you let go of caring. Plus, letting that negativity just slide away from you is so freeing :)!

      Good luck with your dusting of snow and fugal cat warmer 😉

  43. MEL810 says:

    I’m a bit of a Photoshop geek and I volunteer to make you a nice design to place on this page! For free!

  44. Budget Beth says:

    I am definitely on my way to frugal weirdo. We used to go out to eat with friends for entertainment, but now we host dinner and board games once a week…it’s frugal fun. We also receive a bunch of hand me downs for my toddler son. I have embraced this lifestyle, but my husband is not as gung-ho as I am… I am slowly converting him. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nicely done! I love that you host dinner/board games nights–that’s right up my alley :). And I think it’s all about finding the frugal weirdo style that works best for your life. Good luck with the husband conversion 🙂

  45. Linda says:

    What a marvellous post! We need to hear this repeatedly! As I’ve said before – you are amazing and we can’t thank you enough for all the work you do, in so generously giving us the specific examples of your wonderfully frugal life – and written with such intelligence, character, wisdom and humour – so inspiring. We REALLY appreciate it. Linda from Australia

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much, Linda! That’s so kind of you to say :)! I really appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment–means a lot to me!

  46. strandedrocks says:

    Mrs. FW, I have been reading your posts religiously and I always get excited when I get a new post notification but I must say it is starting to sound a little one note to me. I am with you on being frugal but it isn’t always black and white. There are certain things worth money. From my personal experience I wouldn’t mind paying money to watch a play with world class actors. I don’t mind paying for the independent artist’s album on iTunes. I just watched The Skeleton Twins that I got from the library and LOVED it. All the while thinking how I should’ve gone to the theatre to watch it to support smaller films because I want movie people to know there is an audience for them. The theatre, music and movies make me happy and I don’t want to sully that happiness by associating spending money as being a bad thing all the time. I get what MMM achieved and what two are aiming for but it’s a mixture of the journey and the destination, you have to have a little fun along the way.

    • strandedrocks says:

      It was while brushing my teeth that I thought I would like to add, I know this is FRUGALwoods and I should expect frugal posts and I love them, I am with you on 99% of the points. But spending money is not evil. In times of frugal uncertainty I sometimes ask my self, what would Mrs. FW do? I know she wouldn’t approve of paying to see Molly Parker on stage, she would probably stay in while her husband baked bread and she organised her multitude of pet pictures (there is no sarcasm) but I think I will go watch her. Mrs. FW you do win out most of the time but there are just those very few times when you don’t 🙂
      Cheers,

      • MEL810 says:

        I, too, have two rather expensive yet not totally 100% necessary things I splurge on: Genealogy (which I plan to do at least semi-professionally in retirement) and photography and digital design. Could I live without them to save bucks? YES! Would I want to? NO! That being said, I find ways to do the stuff cheaper than normal. I did some beta testing for a LDS computer project that earned me a full year of Ancestry for one hour of work or so.
        I find discounts on photography supplies, Photoshop stuff,etc. and find freebies, also. I just went to a Scott Kelby seminar and for registering early and being a NAPP member, I got $20.00 off. And $79.00 + continuing education credit for a full day of seminar by a master photographer/digital imager is a very good price. If anyone wants to know some hints about how to get such equipment cheaper, I’ll let you in on what SK mentioned at his SLAP seminar.
        Now, how I was a frugal weirdo at that seminar: I bet you I was the ONLY person there that took public transit to the event. The parking fees there are about $25.00 or more but my bus fare up and back was $3.50.

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          I definitely agree that there are things worth spending money on. I’m all about conscious, mindful, and meaningful spending. For example, Mr. FW and I spend quite a bit on travel every year as well as on smaller things like good coffee beans. For us, it’s about spending on things that bring value to our lives and not spending on the stuff that doesn’t.

          I’ve written a lot about our homestead goal and since we’re so focused on that right now, we’ve decided to funnel all of our resources towards that goal. But that’s not the right system for everyone. I think frugality is about finding the balance that works for you in your life–it’s about saving where you can and spending on what you want to. Spending money is certainly not evil ;)–just check out my 10 Shockingly Expensive Things We Own. I’m all for spending on quality and buy-it-for-life products.

          For us, it’s about being smart with our money so that we can control our lives and do what we want. Plus, weird as it sounds, frugality is a lot of fun for Mr. FW and me–that’s just how we’re wired :). Everyone’s wants and goals are different and you’ve gotta strike the balance that works best for you.

  47. Frugal weirdos, I love it. I am happy to be a frugal weirdo too! Excellent post, yet again FW fam. I am going to try the pad of paper thing…as the box of hand rolled Austin cigars is staring me down from the table.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hooray for a fellow frugal weirdo! The moneyless pad-of-paper method works shockingly well for me. It sounds so simple, but I love it. Thanks for stopping by!

  48. This had me giggling at various points, loved it! I think the key is definitely not giving a hoot what anyone thinks :).

  49. Reepekg says:

    I know you say you got that bike off Craigslist, but I would recognize that pink and green 90’s monstrosity anywhere. That is my sister’s bike from middle school. How did you get into my parent’s garage?

  50. Lindsey says:

    “Way too much money is spent by people who labor under the delusion that other people give a hoot about their car, clothes, house, or snow shovel.” I laughed out loud when I read this sentence…. because…I shoveled snow off our sidewalk earlier this week with a dustpan! It worked wonderfully on the fluffy snow and cleared the perfect width walking path. We inherited a snow shovel with the house we bought three years ago, but it broke shortly into the first winter. Most people seem incredulous that we won’t spend $20 for a new snow shovel, and laugh at my dustpan shoveling story (I’ve done it before you see) like it was a joke. We really don’t get that much snow here, so a shovel seems like a real waste of money. And not something we want to have to list in our expense tracking. Besides, what would our neighbors have to laugh at if I had a normal shovel?! Great post, we’re right there with you on all of those weirdo traits!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah, I love your dustpan story! Perfect example of a frugal weirdo at her finest! Hey, if you can use and reuse stuff you already own, then I say why not! Frugal on, my friend.

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  52. Lindy says:

    Ok, it’s official…I love u!!! Mrs. FW, your writing is amazing and most of all the content is just SO GREAT!! I simply love reading and laughing during your posts! Please keep them coming…you and Mr. FW are such inspirations!! Thank u:)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Awww, thank you so much Lindy! That’s really sweet of you to say! I’m glad you’re enjoying the frugal weirdo content around here 😉

  53. Wish I could have had some of that bread, it looks so good. My number one weirdo frugal style is to never care about what people think. This way of thinking will save you lots of money. Love this post.

  54. Mrs. Frugalista says:

    Frugality to us is a way of affording things we enjoy doing or having. As of today, we are on our second month of living on 3/4 of my salary and saving the remaining 1/4 of my income and saving my husband’s entire salary. This is possible because we have paid off our mortgage! Our long term goal now(5-7 years) is to pay cash for a retirement home and finish paying our youngest son’s college education. We have already put our eldest child through college and I am proud to say that we were able to cash flowed his education, which means no student loans for neither of us. Yes, we have a good income ($90K-100K) but we can have a good income and spend it all! 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Wow–that’s fantastic! Congrats to you! You are really reaping the rewards of frugal living. Thank you for sharing!

  55. I totally think people would buy Frugal Weirdo shirts! I’m good at not caring what other people think to the point they think I’m just downright weird! It seems to be the thing around here to get together for lunch with other moms. I’m not anti-social … I just am working on an allowance here people;0)

  56. yardley says:

    How does one bow out of all the parties. ??

    B-day, Holidays, pot luck for no reason. gifts for everything
    going on with every person in the office:

    weddings, etc

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We generally don’t bow out of parties–we just make our own food to bring to share. I must say, I don’t buy gifts for people in my office. When a gift is needed, I bake something tasty. For weddings, as a rule we always buy a gift off the registry–what I try to do is use gift cards for those, which usually works well. Good luck to you!

  57. Mr Zombie says:

    Really good article!

    Booya! Rule 1 is key. I think I am lucky in that I struggle to care what some random person thinks of my car, shoes, clothes, beard, jokes (luckily) or job. I used to spend money randomly, not on bits to fit in, but more because I had no direction. Being frugal just for the sake of it didn’t work for me, but being frugal as it let’s me become FI. YES PLEASE 🙂

    “Money is life, whether you like it or not.” Yeah I agree. Too many people get caught up in this…either by trying to prove they have loads of it (by spending it on tat) or by resisting it’s apparent unfairness… it’s unfair that so and so earns more than me, or that that guy was given a hand out by his parents to buy a car, that lady just got a massive payrise etc etc. The world is cruel and unfair. Gotta just crack on with it. Besides, if we can even entertain the idea of saving enough to become FI (even if it a huge portion of our salaries) then life is pretty dam good.

    I’m not going to even get started on consumerism… winds me up too much. “I need a brand new SUV because I have kids and I need to protect them”. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo you are just selfish!

    Mr Z

    PS – Frugalhound does need a bike 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah, well said Mr. Z! Right there with you on the value of frugality in service of a larger goal–makes it all the more worthwhile :)!

  58. Ben Luthi says:

    The thing I love most about being frugal is when someone calls me a cheapskate–because I don’t like to spend money on things they like to spend money on. Weirdos.

  59. I always feel slightly inadequate when I read your posts – but in a good way : ) My take-away from this one? “Spending is like a gas–it’ll expand to fill whatever space you give it.” We indulge in discretionary allowance, and I never fail to hit zero by the end of the month with mine. Last month, we had to decrease that discretionary allowance, and guess what? I hit zero again, but I didn’t go below zero despite the smaller amount. Clearly, I can manage on a smaller discretionary fund. (But can I actually save from it?) Thanks for challenging me!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks so much, Prudence! I appreciate you reading :). That gas analogy works for me in so many different contexts. I find I’ll eat as many cookies as there are on a plate, take as much time as I give myself, spend as much money as I allot, etc…

  60. Great rant about consumer culture – I tend to get pretty fired up about it too. I think it’s because I’m pissed off at myself for being a blind conformist for so long. It feels like we’re so far behind and killing ourselves just to overcome our debt.

    At least we finally woke up and realized there is a better way, the way of the frugal weirdo 🙂

  61. Great list! How long did it took you guys to embrace your inner frugal weirdness?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! I think it took us setting our goal of moving to a homestead to really and truly embrace the frugal weirdo within 🙂

  62. Kim says:

    We certainly don’t care what people think anymore, but I don’t think we are on the scale of frugal weirdos. Our plan does not require us to be. Jim is just getting started in his new career and really enjoys the challenge, so I think we have at least 10 years before he’s done. It fits us well to have me work 3 days per week and be able to take off all teacher work days when kids are out of school. We can travel quite a bit with school being out and Jim off for most of the summer. While some days I don’t love my job, I do like that it seems to serve a purpose, and I would be sad to stop it completely at this stage of the game. So I guess we are a little weird compared to most of the 40+ hour per week crowd, but not FW weird. I think as long as you have a plan for what you want out of life, you can make your own weird.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head there–“as long as you have a plan for what you want out of life, you can make your own weird.” Perfectly said! I definitely think it’s all about figuring out what works within the context of your long term goals.

  63. I’m not going to lie, I’m nowhere near your level of frugal. I think you can be frugal without taking it to the extreme. That’s not to say the extreme is bad by any means. I just think sometimes practicality has to come into play. I work with many people who are definitely not frugal, but they’ve made enough money where they literally could quit tomorrow if they wanted to. So I guess I’m a bit torn on the whole issue. Being frugal is great, but honestly it ends up mattering less and less the more money you make. Then again not all of us have plans of retiring at 33 and starting a rural homestead 😉

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I think you’re right that there are many different levels of frugality, all of which have merit. For us right now, we’re hitting the equation from both ends–earnings and savings. It’s the only way we’ll be able to reach our goals for the homestead :)!

  64. Number one was the hardest part for me. After that, everything else came with (relative) ease mostly thanks to having already gotten #s 3 and 10 down pat! But it was so hard for me to quit caring about what other people might think, and when I no longer worried about impressing people it turned into fending off people saying things like, “you don’t spend enough, you need to live a little,” or “I know you have the money, it’s not like you can’t afford it.” Maintaining a frugal mindset and lifestyle over time is difficult because you kind a bizarre kind of peer pressure from other people.. some people we know, it’s like they can’t stand the fact that we don’t feel the need or want to spend money in the way that they find acceptable. To me, they’re the weirdos!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes! Well said! I get the “you need to live a little” comment a lot, which I find so ironic and odd since I employ frugality to enable me to live the life I want! What better way to live is there? So glad to hear that I’m not the only one :)!

  65. I don’t treat myself to hair appointments or new clothes or anything, but food and travel are SERIOUS weaknesses for me. I did better on food in February which is good because I proved to myself I was capable of being smart about it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Travel is a weakness for us too. But, I’m a fan of spending on awesome experiences, so I feel like it’s a virtuous expense 🙂

  66. I am always met with looks of disbelief from dumbfounded people who find out that I don’t have cable and keep my house at a cool 64 degrees in the winter to save on utilities (to mention a few), especially since I have a great-paying job. However, I don’t think more money coming in necessitates more money going out – those long-term goals are more important, and that’s where I keep my mind focused. I’ll forget about that new handbag I wanted within a month or two, but I won’t forget the feeling of finally affording a vacation to Italy or retiring early!

  67. MEL810 says:

    I just splurged (oh, horrors!) on one of my items that I do tend to spend on: photography.
    HOWEVER, I found a 10 week online photography course that gives a diploma at the end of the course and CCE credit though Living Social. It is a retail value of almost $1400. I got it for $29.95. That is a major deal and it is something I will definitely use and value. I have made money from time to time via design and photography and I intend to pursue it as a money maker more in depth when I retire.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a fabulous deal! Totally makes sense to spend on investments for the future. Photography is something that I’d like to pursue more seriously once we’re on the homestead. I’d love to get a good camera and actually learn how to take good shots!

  68. Heather says:

    I absolutely love this post! It really resonates with me and what I’m trying to convey on Simply Save! Great tips and great humor. 🙂

  69. Oh, this is GRAND! It’s so funny how many things we are frugal about, and then how many things are just robotic spending. I’ve been really challenging us on every single penny these days. You know what? It IS fun! And since I’ve always been a weirdo anyway, I may as well be a frugal one! 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, thank you Kay! I agree–I was weird to start with, so might as well add frugal to the list 🙂

  70. Stop eating out and stop buying stuff are the two I try to follow the most. So much money is easily spent on meals and stuff you don’t really need that your money is gone before you know it. I think laziness is big part of overspending. It’s easy to have someone else cook for you, and pay them too much to do it, then it is to do it yourself and think ahead.
    Great article!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Agreed! It’s so tempting to fall into the restaurant/take-out trap, which is such a money pit. Thanks for stopping by!

  71. catherine says:

    Sooo you know you have to set up a Frugalwoods shop on your website now. Tshirts, bumper stickers and DIY beard oil? All for sale, all profits for homestead 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, I love it! Though I feel like I may have thwarted my own merchandizing potential with the whole “don’t buy stuff” schtick 😉

  72. jack mabry says:

    The best frugality starts with no debt. I have not had a $1 of debt in 37 years. I even paid cash for my house. It is such an incredible feeling of freedom. No more fear of banks, or bills, or getting clobbered by life’s bad turns. When you have no debt, it makes it very easy to save.
    A great way to save on food is to let sales at your supermarket determine what you’ll eat that week. That way what you eat is constantly changing. It will add a great deal of variety ( no getting into ruts) to your diet, and you’ll save a whole lot of money on your food bill. Another way to save is to only use your antenna for TV. I have never had cable or satellite, and don’t feel at all left out. Here in Las Vegas, I have access to 25 channels, and that’s plenty for me. I do have Netflix, but I share the cost with a friend. As far as my phone, I use Skype. Costs me $5 a month, and I never have to deal with robo calls, or political campaigns constantly bothering me. I have a smart phone, which I paid $10 for, but I only use it with wi-fi, so no cellphone bills. Insofar as the internet goes, I only buy a slow internet connection, 1.5 meg, but I can still stream netflix and you tube. Yes, I’m a frugal weirdo, but living within my means is such a joyous feeling.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing! Having $0 in debt is such a marvelous thing and yields such freedom, as you mentioned. Way to go on embracing the frugal weirdo life! And, I think it’s wonderful that you describe it as “joyous.” I couldn’t agree more.

  73. june says:

    I always run the Mr. Coffee several times in a row: the first for a regular but the last 2 runs to store in the frig for an energy drink or sometimes to heat up in a larger amount than usual (to get the usual buzz) instead of making coffee. Also, I keep my eyes open for wild fruit when walking or opportunities like someone leaving 3 beautiful uncut pumpkins next to their can after Thanksgiving this fall! (I guess they knew I’d take them home, bake them and freeze the result. I am not into food scavenging inside cans though, haha.)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Foraging for wild fruit is a great frugal attribute! Nicely done on those pumpkins too! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  74. Frugalwoods, why did you put that sock on your dog’s mouth? No worry, it looks cute though. Today, I will start to be a frugal weirdo. Promise after reading its advantages.

  75. I’ve definitely stopped caring about what people think when it comes to many aspects of life, but a small part of me will always care at least a little. I’ve definitely made it a point to stop eating out at restaurants so much. I’ve saved SO much money this year from only going out once biweekly. I love cooking at home and learning new recipes as well.

  76. Admittedly I am at a different time of my life, so I am somewhere three quarters down the weirdness train. I follow most of these except I eat out occasionally and I do have a concert and musical entertainment budget. It is what it is….

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I think we all find the balance that works best for us. It’s all about spending on what’s meaningful, which varies person to person. Thanks for stopping by :)!

  77. Nellson says:

    I absolutely love this list. I’ve only recently embraced my inner frugal geek and it feels wonderful. For the last decade, I struggled with alcoholism. Any money that I made was spent on booze and when under the influence I made even worse decisions with my money. Addiction was a terrible battle, but I’ve now been sober over a year. This year I’ve learned so much about living with less. Things that I thought were necessary for my happiness have taken a completely different meaning. I’ve sold or given away most of my belongings that I once “had to have”. This has brought a calm simplicity to my life. I do a lot of things for free and spend a lot of time in nature. Living a minimalist and frugal life has been the most freeing experience of my life. Thank you for these inspiring posts that are also fun to read!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Congratulations on your sobriety! And on your calm, free life! That’s so wonderful and I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve found peace both in sobriety and in frugality and minimalism. I appreciate you sharing your story here–thank you.

  78. Nice post!

    I was raised by frugal parents, and so was my wife. Come to think of it, “being frugal” was the norm when we were growing up (back in India). We didn’t go out for food, were very conscious about what we purchased, and most importantly, it wasn’t a “lifestyle” – it was just how everyone was.

    Today, we do not have early retirement targets like you do – for our own personal reasons. But, we do out best to raise our kids to be frugal like us – and we attempt to lead by example. I ride a bicycle to work, we walk to the grocery store most of the time. We don’t have a television set in the house, but we borrow movies from the library to watch on the laptop. And yes, we all ride our bicycles to the library. And so on.

    But the current generation apparently has got caught up in the spending craze. Everyone loves consumerism and the flashy lifestyle that it entails.

  79. Vince says:

    The alternate but same Descartes rule apply in maximizing your savings/investments return from a time value of money standpoint. Selective frugalism from a time and payback perspective logarithmically minimizes you spend.
    Example, work trimming grapes vines, or gather and haul away charging a Vinter, make grapevine wreaths and sell at Craft Fair. Paid to take free stuff + Paid to sell free stuff. You get it right?

  80. Cara says:

    I start today. I live off 900.00 a month and have decided at 71 to follow your lifestyle the best I am able

  81. I love this and needed it right now.

    People at work don’t understand why I walk, always bring my own lunch, and don’t like going out to bars and restaurants after work.

    I like going to people’s houses, whipping up some home-cooked food, and entertaining ourselves.

    I guess I need to surround myself with better people…

    • Inna says:

      Yes, Elle, you are right. Just find friends with the same values. Actually, I grew up in Ukraine and we did not have much but after moving to US I have adopted this consumer culture very quickly and it took me 14 years, serious illness and divorce to realize what really matters the most to me. It is my time and my health, not trendy clothes, perfumes, jewelry, dinners out etc.

  82. Inna says:

    I absolutely love your blog. In fact, it is my favorite of all blogs about frugality. I have been on this path for the past 2 years and still improving. I was planning early retirement for me and my now ex husband. I wanted to buy a farm but he decided that he wanted a divorce and he is back on the “meat” market at age of 47. Nothing I can do. I am trying to work with what I have at the moment. I used to be a spender, big time, but serious illness was a wake up call for me. Now, trying to keep whatever left from my health, I am enjoying simple pleasures of life.

  83. Mr. Picky Pincher and myself are definitely frugal weirdos. This blog is a great guide to get on the path to frugality. It’s so, so hard to develop the self-control ultimately needed to live this way. But once it’s developed, it’s almost addictive and fun to see how frugal you can be!

  84. Simone says:

    Weirdest frugal/dirty hippie moments: (some are kinda disturbing)
    1. using my dog clippers to give myself a fauxhawk- hey, i kiss my dogs on the lips, so what’s the big deal if a few of their hairs get on my head? I wash my hair anyway.
    2. not using deodorant except for rare, stressful occasions like big social gatherings
    3. washing hair with “no poo” method
    4. driving around my rural neighborhood on garbage day, getting all kinds of good stuff, including an almost-new platform bed and mattress
    5. finding an abandoned bra at the laundromat that fit me 😀
    6. finding a box with half a perfectly good pizza on top of a trash can at work. Who throws out half a pizza??
    7. one time smoking half a cigarette i found on the ground. yes it’s disgusting, but addiction can be that powerful!

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