A Day In The Life Of A Frugal Weirdo

So just what does a frugal weirdo do on a daily basis? People ask us all the time–no really, how do you and Mr. Frugalwoods make it through each month on only $1,000 or less? Are we holed up in a hovel weaving dog fur into sweaters to keep warm? Sitting in the dark to save electricity eating cold beans straight from the can? Not a chance!

Delicious homemade bread and split-pea soup by Mr. FW with a homemade kale salad brought by a friend

Homemade bread & split-pea soup by Mr. FW with a tasty kale salad brought by a friend

Hate to disappoint, but our daily lives bear a striking resemblance to everyone else’s save for the fact that we progress through most of them without spending a dime. How? We established frugal habits and we execute them day after day. There is no one weird trick for frugality.

Since we have a number of mega life changes on the horizon–just, you know, having a baby, quitting our jobs, and moving to a homestead in the woods–I wanted to enshrine this relatively standard dual income, 9-5 juncture in our lives. Plus, in a few months I can look back fondly on how simple and non-sleep deprived our lives used to be ;). I reserve the right to write a completely different iteration in the future titled: A Day In the Life Of Frugal Weirdos + A Baby!

I’ve chosen to illustrate a typical weekday since most of us have more weekdays than weekends (except for you fools who are already early retired) and, I want to highlight the importance of routinizing frugal habits on average days. So this isn’t the best day of the month for us, or a particularly thrilling Saturday, or even a rather exciting Friday. In fact, let’s say this is a commonplace Monday (cue the booing now). Since there’s nothing special about a regular ol’ Monday, we see no reason to blow exorbitant amounts of money on a day that’s just a day. Instead, we optimize our quotidian existence for frugal efficiency.

That’s all well and good to say, but what does that look like in practice? You’re in luck–it’s written below!

Sidenote: while my schedule-oriented personality might prefer that we keep to the below timetable, we don’t adhere to these times precisely–we’re not running around with a stopwatch or anything.

A Monday In The Life Of The Frugalwoods

The standard Frugalwoods breakfast. Perfect, simple, yum.

The Frugalwoods breakfast: healthy, cheap, yum.

6:00am: Family wake-up time! All three (3.5 counting Babywoods?) of us wake up at 6am every weekday because we’re fans of routine and togetherness. Waking up at the same time means we can divide and conquer our morning chores and enjoy a few hours together before heading off to work.

Plus, we’re suckers for a good night’s sleep and committing to our 6am reveille provides ample motivation to go to sleep on time at night. Mr. FW and I make the bed while Frugal Hound carts a toy from the bedroom to the front room, which is her little AM ritual. I then take the Hound out for her morning constitutional while Mr. FW prepares breakfast.

  • 1st spending opportunity: Breakfast. We eat on the cheap for this first meal of the day. Instead of rushing around and grabbing a pricey pre-made breakfast like a protein bar or, worse still, buying breakfast and coffee out somewhere, we cook this meal at home hot and fresh every morning. Our frugal breakfast of choice: Costco coffee, hacked seltzer, and $0.10/serving whole grain oats from Costco with a sliced banana on top. Throughout pregnancy I’ve added milk to mine for bonus calories and calcium.
Frugal Hound performing her high-five for a treat

Frugal Hound performing her high-five for a treat

6:15am: For some good old-fashioned frugal fun, Frugal Hound gives a high-five for her breakfast (the one trick we’ve trained her to perform reliably). Our Hound eats grain-free kibble from Costco, which is vastly less expensive than the dog chow sold in pet stores or on Amazon. Bonus: it has the same ingredients as its much more lavish analogues!

6:30am-8:00am: Special projects time! This is when I write the majority of what ya’ll read right here on Frugalwoods.com and Mr. FW engages in various pursuits including getting started on his workday, reading news, fixing blog back-end issues, browsing homestead properties, and the like. It’s a wonderfully relaxing and productive way for us to start each day.

8:00am: I get in the shower. This is self-explanatory. Suffice it to say, I’m a believer in soap and water. To keep our bathing low-cost, we use the cheapest shampoo and soap from Costco, which cleans our frugal bits just fine.

Me cutting Mr. FW's hair

Me cutting Mr. FW’s hair

Other ways we save money in the bathroom: we purchase Costco toilet paper and refillable hand soap, I wear almost no makeup, and I rarely dry my hair (except in cases of extremely cold temps). But perhaps most notably of all: we insource our beauty care. I cut Mr. FW’s hair, he cuts mine, we bathe Frugal Hound ourselves, and we conduct all of our own personal grooming (beard trimming, greyhound whisker curling, eyebrow plucking, and the like).

8:30am: I drive to work.

  • 2nd spending opportunity: the first commuter. My drive to work takes a mere 20 minutes thanks to the proximity of our house to my office. Thus, we’re able to get through each month on just one or two tanks of gas. And, our 19-year-old Frugalwoods-mobile costs a meagre $1,000 or so each year in insurance, gas, registration, and maintenance. Needless to say, we obviously don’t have a car loan.

Our decision to live near both of our jobs was a strategic choice we made to sacrifice house size and yard (we have none) in order to reap the benefits of short commutes. In addition to the costs associated with long commutes, there’s a serious decrease in quality of life when you’re required to be in your car for long stretches everyday. Plus, the later you get home from work, the less likely you are to cook your own dinner, clean your own house, walk your own dog… a long commute can quickly translate into a vicious cycle of spending.

8:45am: Mr. FW partakes in his shower and then walks Frugal Hound once more.

  • 3rd spending opportunity: a dog walker and/or doggie day care. We chose to adopt a breed of dog (the greyhound!) that’s fine staying home alone all day while we’re at work. Hence, no need to shell out for a dog walker or doggie day care.
Mr. FW biking off to work

Mr. FW biking off to work

9:00am: Mr. FW jets off to work on his handy dandy bicycle.

9:00am-12:00pm: We do things at work, mostly involving computers and cubicles. Oh yes, we lead ridiculously thrilling lives. Commence jealously at any moment.

  • 5th spending opportunity: morning coffee or tea. To avoid this archetypal resource squander, I bring my own tea bags to work and Mr. FW avails himself of the free coffee in his office kitchen.

12:00pm: Lunchtime! Ahhh lunch, glorious lunch and the topic of the…

  • 6th spending opportunity: the midday meal. Not buying lunch at work is perhaps the easiest, most implementable frugal tip you can enact. If you take nothing else away from this rambling and ridiculous post, start bringing your own lunch to work right now! ASAP! No excuses friends.
Our rice-and-beans portioned out for the week

Our rice-and-beans portioned out for the week

While Mr. FW and I typically munch our $0.39/serving classic Frugalwoods rice-n-beans (with a side of organic salad greens), sometimes we branch out into more extravagant options such as salmon burgers, homemade chicken salad, or avocados. But even these ritzier meals still cost a fraction of procuring lunch from the cafe.

Frugal lunch protip #1: cook up a huge batch of something tasty on Sundays and then portion it out for your lunches all week.

Frugal lunch protip #2: pack your lunch the night before–this eliminates the “I was too busy this morning!” excuse.

Frugal lunch protip #3: keep a jar of “oh crap” peanut butter (or similar) at your office to combat the “oh crap, I forgot to grab my lunch!” excuse. I learned this lesson the hard way after forgetting said lunch once last year.

1:00pm-3:00pm: We do more things at work, mostly involving computers and cubicles.

My daily hardboiled egg

My daily hardboiled egg

3:00pm: I get very hungry (some might say hangry) and require a snack!

  • 7th spending opportunity: the afternoon snack. Since I know I’m going to need a snack every afternoon, I plan ahead and pack a menagerie of food for myself everyday. I used to get by on just a piece of fruit, but pregnancy has wrought a need for far more caloric intake. Hence, my daily snacks include: carrots, broccoli, green pepper, almonds, and 1 hardboiled egg. I don’t eat this all at 3pm, rather I sort of graze all day long, but I figured you didn’t want to read about every single one of my frugal snacktimes.

I’m always shocked when people don’t realize they’re going to need a snack and then must dash to the vending machine every day in a famished frenzy. Failing to plan ahead with regard to snacks is a frugal fail, folks. Know thyself and thy’s eating needs and henceforth plan accordingly.

5:00pm: The official workday ends and we begin our respective commutes. I usually talk to my mom on the phone during my drive. I suppose that’s not a frugal tip per se, but it is nice to call one’s mom on a regular basis. Moms everywhere agree with this statement.

Namaste for free yoga!

Namaste to free yoga!

5:30pm: I go to free yoga!

  • 8th spending opportunity: exercising/recreating. I love me some yoga and while I could (and sometimes do) practice yoga at home by myself, I prefer the camaraderie and challenge of doing yoga at a studio. I learn something new every single time I’m on my mat and, without fail, I get a better workout when it’s led by a trained professional (otherwise I’m wont to recline in child’s pose for too long… ). But you can bet your frugal fanny I’m not paying $18 per class for this pleasure! Nay! Instead, I volunteer at my studio twice a week in exchange for free classes. On Mondays, I take out the studio trash barrel (total time commitment: 4 minutes) and on Wednesdays, I check people in for class and mop the studio (total time commitment: 30 minutes).

In addition to receiving free yoga classes for my labors, I get to chat with everyone, make new friends, and become part of the yoga community. I sincerely enjoy the job of checking people in for class–there’s just something fun about welcoming everyone to yoga and making sure they’re all set to have a good class.

This opportunity is not unique to my yoga studio–it’s actually fairly common practice at exercise/yoga/dance studios across the country. Rather than incur the overhead of hiring full-time employees, studios are thrilled to have free help in exchange for free workouts. Plus, you never know where this type of volunteering might lead. My fabulously frugal sister used to clean her ballet studio in exchange for free dance classes for herself and her three kids and now, she’s paid to teach ballet several times a week thanks to the relationship she formed with the studio owner (of course it doesn’t hurt that she’s a stellar ballet dancer).

A standard, simple weekday meal for us: salmon salad

A boilerplate weekday meal for us: salmon salad

7:30pm: Dinner time! While I’m at free yoga, Mr. FW bikes home, takes Frugal Hound on a long walk, manages general household affairs like trash/recycling and getting the mail, and prepares our dinner. I really did marry a winner.

  • 9th spending opportunity: dinner. Once again, cooking vittles yourself will always be more economical. We keep our food bill in the range of $300/month by not eating out and strategically shopping frugal. Our weeknight meals are quick, healthy, and fairly easy to prepare so that chef Mr. FW isn’t overburdened by complicated recipes after a long day of work.

Frugal dinner protip: keep a stash of prepared frozen meals on hand just in case. For nights when you’re unexpectedly held up at work, not feeling well, or otherwise just know that cooking ain’t gonna happen, pop one of your frozen items into the oven and relax. While not the healthiest option, our frozen pizzas have saved us from getting take-out on more than one occasion. Here again, it’s a question of knowing yourself and being prepared.

7:45pm-8:15pm: TV time! We like to watch a little bit of TV while eating dinner (classy I know and I swear we won’t do this once Babywoods is old enough to eat at the table with us), which brings us to our…

  • 10th spending opportunity: televised entertainment. In lieu of paying for cable, Netflix, Hulu or whatever else is for sale these days, we watch free internet TV. Woohoo for free stuff!
Frugal Hound attacking her toys

Frugal Hound attacking her toys

8:15pm: Frugal Hound playtime! Frugal Hound loves it when we carry her toys from the front room back into our bedroom so that she can repeat the process. It’s hilarious to watch and it never fails to entertain her. We do this until she gets tired and flops down dramatically on her bed (sidenote: FH is one of the laziest dogs on earth).

8:30pm: More special projects/work time! I catch up on freelance writing work as well as Frugalwoods-related activities while Mr. FW puts in more time for his job.

9:30pm: Time to get in bed and read books. This is pretty straightforward: we get in bed and read some books.

  • 11th spending opportunity: books. As avid readers, Mr. FW and I require a steady supply of readable materials. But rather than purchase them, we rent them from the very excellent Cambridge public library. We’re able to request titles online in advance so we have a constant flow of literature to peruse.

10:00pm (sometimes 10:30pm if we’re really engrossed in our books and lose track of time): Lights out. Of all the things we sacrifice in service of our goals, a good night’s sleep is never one of them. Despite being absurdly busy right now between working full-time, blogging full-time, freelancing part-time, traveling, and preparing for the birth of our first child, sleep is a priority. And this, in fact, is a frugal tip.

By eating well, sleeping 8 hours a night, drinking loads of water (ok yes, usually in the form of homemade seltzer), and exercising, Mr. FW and I keep ourselves in superb health. Of course our good health is also partly due to luck and living in a first world country, but it’s amazing how many little illnesses one can stave off by following these simple principles. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that we snooze on a $279 mattress either.

Closing Thoughts

I only wish we hiked every day

I only wish we hiked every day

If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You made it through our relatively humdrum weekday existence! It’s not all hiking and travel and exotic discoveries with chest freezers everyday around here. A lot of life is just elementary, happy routine. And the pivotal frugal hack of life is: we only had to implement a frugal solution once for each of the spending opportunities listed above and then we reap the benefits every single day thereafter.

We don’t reinvent the frugal wheel on a daily basis, we just rinse and repeat our already frugalized existence. Thus, extreme frugality isn’t a struggle or a hardship for us, it’s just how we naturally live. With each of the spending opportunities I outlined, we did have to exert some energy around creating a frugal workaround, but the key is that we only had to do it one time. Now that is some frugal efficiency.

I think many people’s weekdays probably resemble ours and here’s the thing: we all get to the exact same end result. The frugal weirdo difference is that we spend precious little money getting there.

What’s your daily routine? How have you incorporated frugality into your life?

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61 Responses

  1. I pack my husband a massive bag of breakfast, brunch, lunch, linner, and snacks which has been compared to the wrestler’s sack lunch in The Breakfast Club. This saves us a ton and keeps him eating healthy and holding hangry at bay throughout the day. My routine with the kids involves frequenting free or nearly free activities like playdates, my $2-with-childcare exercise class, playgrounds, and libraries. We stay up too late hanging out with friends many nights but we consider it worth it.

  2. To sum up your post, I think you and Mr Frugalwoods live proactively. You are able to live your everyday lives according to your values because you are thinking ahead. I incorporate many of the same ideas that you have in my everyday life. I pack lunch for work and I pack snacks as well. I think an afternoon craving for a snack must be in our dna and it can be predicted already in the morning when you are packing your lunch 🙂

  3. I definitely get hit with the afternoon snacking urge- luckily, I’m at home all day so I just eat whatever’s in the fridge, though I do have a terrible habit of ordering delivery sometimes twice a week! I’m trying to commit to spending less time working and more time doing things for myself, like cooking- hopefully making the work time more productive and efficient, while being less time consuming.

  4. Cath says:

    This is such a great post. I love how you’ve broken this down!

  5. Katie says:

    Note that not all greyhounds are content to stay home for an entire work day…. Many of them experience separation anxiety, which does not allow them to be left all day long. We’ve had our greyhound for 4 years and despite a lot of work to get him used to us leaving / being gone, we still can’t leave him for more than 5 or 6 hours during the day. Luckily my husband works from home so it’s only an issue when he is traveling.

    Also, I 100% that meal planning is the best way to save money, save time, and eat healthier! It’s really nice not having to think about what you’re going to pack, and planning enough food ahead of time ensures that I won’t grab junk food that is expensive and bad for you 🙂

  6. FIbrarian says:

    You couldn’t ask for a more comprehensive itinerary. Who would have thought you were both just normal people after all!

    It’s great to see insights into what other people are doing and you’ve certainly given me some ideas on how to try to “shave” down my spending (no prizes for guessing which idea I intend to steal!). This routine you guys have established, did it just naturally fall into place for you as frugal people or have you analysed aspects and then crunched it down to the most efficient/cheapest?

  7. Justin says:

    Looks a lot like my days back when I was working! Minus the dog walking and yoga pants of course.

    I always packed my lunch and even peer-pressured my coworkers into brown-bagging it, thereby creating lunch buddies to hang with (for free) during lunch time. That was the best part of the work day. 🙂

    4 mile commute in low cost car – check. Free books from library, check.

    We do watch Netflix, but use my mom’s plan for free (which sounds really embarrassing to admit as a financially independent 35 year old millionaire). I’d definitely pay the $8/month or whatever it is because we get a ton of value out of it and with a firehose of content blasting your way, we’re never interested in paying $11 for movie tickets or $1/day for redbox rentals (both of which are way less convenient than clicking a button on our Playstation and instantly watching Netflix in the comfort of our home).

  8. Kristen says:

    99% of the time (my job does occasionally require a dinner/lunch meeting) I take my lunch/snacks to work. I pack a LOT of food. My husband laughs, but I am a big eater and get hungry. My snacks (as nuts are out at work as is sesame) include – homemade baking (living gluten free makes that necessary), 2 pieces of fruit, 1/4 cup of seeds, 2-3 cups of raw veggies. My lunch for the week is made on the weekend. In the summer it is based on the vegetables we get in our local farm veggie share basket. The other 35 weeks of the year it is based on what I feel like. It is always vegetarian and includes, soups/salads/stews/chilli and occasionally leftovers. I have bought a kettle and have my own tea at work. Reducing the money we spend on food is a big goal of mine.
    I also buy soap at Costco. Because I am trying to reduce my chemical exposure, I buy shampoo at Winners. A $7 bottle lasts me about 6 months (I only wash my hair about every 4-5 days).

  9. Like you we’re all about making coffee at home, bringing food to work, and using the library. And bonus on the days one of us can score some free food at work! (Although the pizza at the college where I work is so bad, I’d actually prefer to eat whatever I’ve paid for and brought with me.)

    As a parent of a young child, our library has been a fantastic frugal tool. We have a great library, and in addition to grown-up books and DVDs, we use it for children’s books and DVDs, a free playroom, and tons of free programming, like the summer reading program, reading to the visiting therapy dog (a non-judgmental audience), magic shows, music concerts, and even a gingerbread house making class in December. Although I didn’t take part in this, I know a lot of moms who met other moms through the “library babies” program, too.

  10. Thanks to your rice-and-beans recipe, we’ve been preparing and packing lunch for months! Frugality is a big part of our daily lives now. We make our own French pressed coffee in the morning, carry our packed lunches daily, and Garrett makes dinner nightly. If you figure out how to incorporate daily hikes, let us know! Thanks for the frugal inspiration!

  11. MEL810 says:

    Here’s something I made this weekend and it is so good! I bet y’all could make up goo-gobs of it and you’d love it, too:
    Homemade Bean Stew:
    About 1 bag or two cans of red beans (kind usually found in chili)
    2 small onions, chopped and/or scallions
    3 small shallots, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 hot pepper, chopped
    No-sodium added Vegetable broth
    Olive oil
    fresh or dried thyme
    1 T, Worcestershire Sauce
    1 T. Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar Glaze (if it’s on hand, if not, don’t worry)
    I can fire roasted tomatoes
    1 bag of frozen sweet corn
    1 small bag of baby carrots or regular carrots, skinned and chopped
    1 sugar (to help break down the starches in the beans and carrots and make the tomatoes less acidic)
    1-2 slices of bacon or pancetta diced (this is just for seasoning: you could use chicken, beef, tofu crumbles, etc. if you don’t use bacon. Or nothing at all!)
    Boil a big stew pot of water and/or vegetable broth.
    Prepare beans. (The time for the stew will depend upon the type of beans used. I used fresh that I got at the farmer’s market, so cooking time was about 45 minutes.)
    Sauté in the olive oil until translucent onion, shallot, garlic and pepper. Reduce heat to very low and add the bacon and sauté until cooked.
    Add beans to pot and start to boil them. About 10-15 minutes before the beans are done, add the carrots to the stew pot. Stir. Then add the corn and then the tomatoes. Add the sugar. Stir. Add the thyme, Worcestershire Sauce and Balsamic Glaze. Stir well. Add the onions, garlic, shallot, pepper and bacon mix about 5 minutes before it is all done. Stir well to combine. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and some crusty bread or corn bread. Very easy, delish, filling, frugal and nutritious!

  12. Zoe says:

    I appreciate this post! I too am mostly living a frugal existence except for one major area… My social life. I often have people over or go to a potluck event but for example tonight, a friend wanted to meet up and suggested dining out. Do you guys have any suggestions for graceful ways to avoid these kinds of situations where you would like to meet up social but want to avoid spending money?

    • MEL810 says:

      If you have to dine out, ask if they could do lunch or a buffet. That’s usually cheaper. Or could split entrees.
      Or just be polite but honest and say you are on a limited budget right now and can’t dine out but would you love their company and thrilled to hostess a pot luck. Maybe you could decorate your house with a fall theme and have people over to eat and watch DVDs or play games. Buy some cheap wine or beer or do a BYOB.
      Or how about a picnic in a park?
      I have a different problem. I don’t spend much money at all on social activities because I don’t have hardly any social life. My one friend who occasionally goes to discount matinees, theater, etc. which I would love to attend but can’t because I lack transportation, only goes with her other friends and not me. I would love to do the occasional thrifty splurge (Group on discount, folks!) but for some reason when vital social occasions come along, I am never invited. This friend has all her friends put in categories and never the twain shall meet: friend x – museum,. friend y dinner or theater, friend x & y both, friend MEL (moi) thrift shops and farmer’s market and the occasional Indian lunch buffet. I have another friend, who has a luncheon group that sounds interesting but I am never invited to that either. I am somewhat of a social pariah.

      • K says:

        How are these people your friends if they constantly ignore you?

        • MEL810 says:

          They don’t totally ignore me. They just don’t mix me with their other friends. For someone reason, these people have people put in categories/friend boxes: In other words: I go to theater with X, dinner with Y and other stuff with me. On the other hand, they don’t invite the others when they do stuff with me.
          In the first case, that person’s other friends are either people she knew from her job of 30 years or people she knew from college. And she just never mixes those people, either. I know her from some place completely different and have known her less long than she has known the others. Her way is a bit rigid for me, but then I can’t change that and I enjoy what we do together.
          In the other case, that person is just totally socially clueless and seems to have no idea what impact she might have on others.

  13. MEL810 says:

    Should be one Tablespoon of sugar!

  14. Meal planning became a huge thing for us when we decided to live more frugally, and like you point out, you want to have meal options on hand at any given point for when you can’t make it to the store. We are big fans of bulk rice and with rice on hand, you can create just about any meal you want quickly and efficiently. I personally love your rice and beans recipe and make it frequently, but still don’t understand how you guys eat it EVERY DAY, I need to break it up every now and then. 🙂

  15. Ali says:

    A good ol’ day in the life post. Honestly, these are among my favourite bloggy things to read. Sad but true!

    Also, as a fellow hangry person, snacks are important.

  16. Sarah Noelle says:

    The Cambridge library is truly the most amazing public library I have ever encountered. I would add that another way to avoid paying for entertainment is to borrow DVDs from the library (Cambridge or elsewhere)!

    It’s so interesting how forming habits like the ones you’ve described can quickly come to feel like “normal”. And all other things being equal, why not orchestrate it so that “normal” saves you money, right? 🙂

    Speaking of habits, I read a great book recently (borrowed from the Cambridge Public Library!) called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. It’s all about how habits shape our daily lives, with tons of examples of people and businesses who have successfully changed their habits. It’s super well written, and entirely based on research. It was probably the best book I’ve read this year.

  17. Caroline says:

    This takes me back to living and working in London… when husband and I were making plenty and not too concerned with budgeting… suddenly realising that simply by making our own lunches 3-4 times each week, we were making enormous, noticeable savings. The habit stuck and though I am now work-from-home, husband takes his own lunch virtually every day, barring specific occasions. Once you start that habit, the sheer expense of even quite simple supermarket / take-out sandwiches and so on just grates. We absolutely never buy coffee out unless we are actually meeting someone at a coffee house for a particular outing, no grab-a-coffee rubbish. Either wait till you’re home or take your insulated mug!

    We are fortunate to live close to many amenities, so I try and walk to and from the shops unless I’m doing a bulk shop or it’s really raining hard (South Africa, not that often!) and the kids school is over the road from our house, a key reason for buying our home where we did. Transport time / petrol is just a huge time and money suck. Days go by and I don’t use my car. It’s great!

  18. Aaron says:

    I didn’t realize 9-5 still existed. Around here it’s 8-5 or 9-6, maybe 9-5:30 if you only get 30 minutes for lunch. So, Mr. FW doesn’t even leave for work until 9? He must only have to put in 6 1/2 hours of work a day(1 hour lunch) for a six-figure job. Wow, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to give that up.

    • Kim says:

      I’m curious about this too. I work 8-5 with an hour, unpaid lunch. 9-5 would be a lot nicer for me. I’m not a morning person, so having an extra hour of sleep would be perfect.

    • Amy K says:

      I was thinking the same thing! And here I thought I had a sweet gig with an 8-4 job, 1/2 hour lunch.

      The commute is a big deal – I leave home at 7:30 to be in at 8, leave the office at 4 to get to daycare by 5 (worse traffic) and home by 5:30. I am nowhere near as good as the Frugalwoods about having dinner planned, and nowhere near as good about making my off hours productive.

      Excellent habits and inspirational post, thank you!

      • Melissa says:

        9-5 still exists, and I am proof! I work 9 to 5 with an hour lunch. I am salaried, so basically my lunch is paid (I know I am lucky to have such a great schedule). However, I work for a non-profit so I am definitely not making six figures haha! I also usually work over my required hours anyways. Regarding Mr. FW’s schedule, I will say that some places (like my employer) are pretty flexible. If I only want to come into the office for 6 hours and then do some work from home later, they are fine with that. From the post, it sounds like Mr. FW does work from home during the special project/work time frame. This could account for the shorter day at the office.

    • Anna says:

      Mr. FW puts in an extra hour of work in the evening between 8:30-9:30 pm.

      • Amy K says:

        Ah… Thanks for pointing that out, I missed that when I first read it and you’ve made me much less jealous.

        My husband had a similar gig when our daughter was born. It paid really well but was effectively 60+ hours a week because he was always on his laptop or checking e-mail on his phone, making sure he was available while we were on vacation, etc. He left that soul suck before our daughter turned 2 and we’re all much happier for it.

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Yes, sorry for the confusion–thanks for pointing that out, Anna! Mr. FW typically puts in at least several hours of work at home every day during our “special projects” times in the early mornings and late evenings. We’re both able to do work for our jobs from home, so we stick to a mostly 9-5 “in office” schedule, but then do a fair bit of work at home as well (and Mr. FW works at home on the weekends too). The lunchtime thing may have been misleading too–we both work at our desks through lunch, again to enable the 9-5. Hope this helps clarify :)!

  19. This is so helpful, and thank you for sharing! I feel like one of the things that makes your routine work is that you have both gotten over the need for constant novelty that so many people in our generation have (maybe it’s from media/surfing the web all the time?). Some people (*cough* my husband and I until several months ago) develop a need for constant stimulation. This leads to boredom with eating the same meals all the time, which in turn leads to eating out or buying convenience food, which ain’t cheap. We’ve really made progress curbing this behavior by focusing on our larger goals, and also by reminding ourselves that it’s not healthy to reward ourselves all the time. Patience and moderation – not hedonism – are the keys to happiness, in my opinion!

  20. Ana says:

    I’m curious what your going too do about day care once the baby comes, since that is often something expensive and you both work fulltime.

  21. mike says:

    Thank you so much for this. Especially liked the first part about habit. Really, that’s all it boils down to. I’ve been vegan now ~20 years and it’s the same thing. The thought of eating meat is just not there.

    But for someone who’s done it all their lives, the idea of not eating an animal or animal secretions is daunting. I remember as a Catholic kid only allowed to eat fish on Fridays. I thought I’d never survive. Now I eat no meat and it’s almost auto pilot.

  22. Marcia says:

    Like Aaron, I was surprised at the 9 to 5. I’m not even sure the banks around here keep those hours. While my job has gotten a little more flexible over the years, it’s not that flexible.

    Standard hours here are 7:30 to 4:30 pm, or 8 to 4:30 pm, or 8 to 5, or 9 to 6, or 10 to 7. Note that it’s a full 8 hour work day (if not more), plus lunch break, because you don’t get paid for lunch. I wouldn’t mind that schedule at all. We shift our schedules to handle kid drop off and pick up, and often have to work weekends/ evenings to make up for “lost” time due to dentist and doctor’s appointments. I kind of miss working part time. I did that for a bit after having the baby. I actually quit my last job because they wanted me to go full time. My coworker, with a teenager, said “it’s only 10 hours a week!” I said “it’s TWO HOURS PER DAY. What would you do with 2 hours a day? Should I sleep 2 less hours? Stop exercising? Stop cooking? Spend less time with my kid?” She said “I didn’t think of it that way.” For me it was the difference between working 8 to 3 with an hour lunch break for exercise (and I’d go pick up my kid, go to the park, play, stop at the store, pick up what we needed, go home, cook dinner), and working 7 to 4 with an hour lunch break (where I had to use the break to do errands instead of exercise, and had to go straight home after picking up my son, and rush through dinner, then prep the next night’s dinner after he went to bed).

    I find the snack thing funny. I remember being pregnant and needing snacks. We don’t have a vending machine at my company. So I pack morning snack (veggies, hummus, cottage cheese), lunch (a salad with protein), and afternoon snack (fruit and nuts) almost every day. My husband does most of the dishes, so it drives him nuts sometimes with all of the little tupperware to wash. He just takes a sandwich. But on days where he goes to the gym to spin (yes we pay for a gym for me to swim, and him to spin, and the kids to swim, because our “gym time” is only at 5:30 am because of the kids), he is STARVING. So he keeps snacks at work, usually Costco-purchased boxes of pretzels or granola bars. I’ve tried to get him to take fruit/ veggies, but as I’m the one who washes and chops, honestly that will double my work. So I don’t push it too much!

    I’ll be interested to see the post-kid schedule. I try to have dinner ready by 6, because most of the time the toddler is ready to eat at 5:30. But we get hoe at 5:30 pm, and it’s a struggle to have dinner ready in 30 minutes. So sometimes I just say “screw it” and aim for 6:30 pm. I used to do all of the cooking, but my schedule is 9 to 6 or 6:30 3x a week because of meetings with our Asian office. That means spouse has to cook 3x a week. I leave him a note of what leftovers we are having on what day.

    I definitely prep a lot for the week, but I’m having difficulty prepping enough for the full week due to the size of our family and our fridge. I do make beans and rice fairly often, and that lasts for one of the meals (lunch or dinner) for most of the week. But then there’s the other meal. And all the veggies! I personally eat about 5 – 6 cups of fruits and veggies a day. Then add in the prep for the rest of my family (which totals about the same), that’s 12 cups, so what, 6 pounds? Yikes. Every day!

  23. Jean says:

    I have 7 children ranging in age from 21 to 3. For YEARS I bought the refillable soap wherever I could find it cheapest. About a year ago, I switched to just using bar soap. I found some small bowls at Target in the cooking area that are about 4″ in diameter. They come in adorable designs that match well with our kitchen and bathrooms. Because of the steep walls of the bowl, the soap doesn’t sit in water at the bottom. It is amazing how long a bar of soap lasts! And I don’t have to purchase and lug home a separate item from the store; we use soap in the shower;) I do wash the bowl when I clean sinks and mirrors. I’m certain your hand washing routine will pick up after the birth of your little one. Hope this helps!

    • TomTrottier says:

      FWIW, you can make bar soap last longer by letting it dry out before you use it. Open a package corner so each bar is exposed to the air after you buy it. The soap becomes harder as it dries out, and you use less soap.

  24. Helen says:

    Simple but interesting article! It really is the day to day aspects that count (as long as you don’t pack your lunch everyday so you can splurge on a yacht!).

  25. Even Steven says:

    I was reading the article and caught myself thinking “oh I do that”, throughout including the pet trick paw from Angel our Siberian Husky. While I don’t consider myself a frugal weirdo, I do think that putting a plan in place for your day, saves incredible amounts of money.

    I think everyone has their own amount of frugal in them, yours just shines a little brighter;)

  26. K says:

    I too am amazed at the 9-5. We usually work 7:30-4:40 (me) and 7:30-6 (husband). The leisurely mornings are definitely in for a shake up when the new baby shows up. Until my daughter weaned I had to wake up extra early to pump and feed her. I really miss those relaxing afternoons too!

  27. Tawcan says:

    Will be very interesting to see how your daily routine changes once the baby comes out. I’m sure you guys will continue the frugalness.

  28. Kim from+Philadelphia says:

    I totally geek out over stuff like this. Thanks for sharing!

    My days currently lack much definition as I’m waiting to join a new practice. Once I make my son and husband’s lunches and make breakfast for the little guy- he’s off in the school bus. I take the dog out for a short walk and come home to enjoy my delicious home brewed coffee.
    I’ll check out my favorite blogs, read the paper or news of some sort, then I shower and get dressed.

    I do various combinations of visiting elderly family/ friends, errands, hiking with the dog, cleaning/laundry.
    The days go by quickly. I do try to always sneak in reading time.

    Evenings are homework, activities 2x a week, family dinner, reading, then bed.

  29. Josh says:

    The worst part of those expensive breakfasts (aka protein bars or fast food) is you are hungry 45 minutes later. We usually have two eggs and/or a smoothie of fruit & greens. Farm raised and organic & still cheaper than packaged food 🙂

  30. Amy says:

    We make rice or potatoes for almost every dinner, which helps stretch dinners for 6. My husband makes all his lunches, unless the company is offering a free one and then he brings the leftovers home. I’m home so my meals are easy.
    My husband has a work truck so that relieves a lot of gas $ and I set up carpools with friends for the kiddos.
    We look for items we need on CL, garage sales or second hand before hitting the sales ads. After our tube tv died we huddled around a 13″ screen for 6 months before purchasing our 32″ flat screen. We like redbox because they send out free codes and you can earn free movies. We don’t watch that many so it is cheap for us.

  31. Awesome schedule! Having the tots and just a part-time job, I put more energy into making dinner and less into lunch. (I’m at home to make lunch usually; we generally get by on leftovers, sandwiches, or maybe scrambled eggs or homemade pizza for lunch, and sometimes I shell out the $1.75 so Big Brother can have school lunch.)

    I loooove my slow cooker and use it pretty much every day that I work. There is split pea soup in it right now… and it’s 6pm… and I won’t be home for two and a half hours. Sigh. I don’t want Mr. FP to get overly tired of the soup, stew, rice n beans rotation that comes out the crock pot, so on days I don’t work, I try to take it up a notch. Last night, for instance, was Costco marinated salmon, steamed green beans, and garlic parmesan quinoa. Made a double batch of the quinoa and froze half so I’ll have a super-easy side dish for another occasion. Black beans burgers are another favorite and suuuuuper cheap. I would probably eat the same three meals over and over again but gotta keep the other half happy or he’ll order pizza!

    (PS–we also ate dinner at the coffee table for years pre-kids.)

    There is a nonprofit coffee cart actually IN SIGHT OF MY DESK, but I am proud to say I have never bought coffee at work. I bring my own or sometimes partake of the Costco brew in the break room.

    I can’t wait to hear more about how you guys adjust to life with Babywoods! Are you both going back to work full-time?

  32. JMH says:

    Your blog is so inspirational! I would like to take our frugality up a few notches, and I can always count on you to provide a wonderful example of how to do it amazingly well. I echo others’ sentiments about your schedule – a job that doesn’t start until 9 is incredible! Our teenager often has to be at school a little after 7, so we are regularly out the door by 6:45. Consequently, leisurely mornings are unheard of around here, but they sure do sound nice! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and here’s to happy baby days to come!

  33. I’ve started bringing a hard boiled egg as a snack! Such a great idea. I also get hangry usually 4-5 times a day, so keeping snacks around is key 🙂

  34. Jenessa says:

    I do a pretty good job of making all our food at home on the weekdays. The weekends are where we run into trouble because the other half always wants to go out to eat. We are lucky that we have three day weekends since we work a 4-10 schedule, but the longer weekends certainly give us more spending opportunities.

  35. I love the haircut pic! I cut my husband’s hair just last night, though he doesn’t cut mine.

    The aspect of our frugality that I’m most pleased with right now is where we live. I work from home and my husband’s job is only 0.2 miles away so he walks every day. I love not driving our car most days out of the week! Even though the location is perfect for his work, it not a super desirable area of our city for renters (too residential!) so our rent isn’t as high as it would be just a mile or three away.

  36. I love getting a glimpse into your day! I snack throughout the day and make my coffee and most meals at home. I do like eating out at least once a week, though.

  37. Very thorough post on the day… probably not a favorite one to write, but an excellent one to read!! Sounds like Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods live a pretty similar lifestyle to that of most other frugal peeps! 😉

    One thing that is a plus and a minus is that my job is actually about a mile from my parents’ house. So I spend almost every lunch hour at their house. That also meant “mooching” off their food which is always some great leftovers from the night before! The plus is the free food, but the minus is that they’re Italian, so it was always like eating dinner at lunch time! 🙂 So, I’ve since started to pack my own lunch to bring there so I could control not only how much food, but also eat healthier. It’s still nice to be able to take a break at lunch in a home though instead of being stuck at the office or going out to lunch.

    — Jim

  38. Jessie says:

    Have you ever considered going “no (sham)poo?” ( I hate the phrase “no poo,” but that seems to be the one the movement has picked.) I stopped using shampoo entirely this summer, and thus conditioner and all hair products as well. My hair is now naturally full of body and shine and the only cost was a good quality brush (maybe $15). I did it more for the actual health of my hair than I did it for the cost savings, but in the end I know it has saved me a TON on products.

    I also get all my books from the library – although I get mine sent automatically to my e-reader, saving me a trip 🙂

  39. Ann Bissett-Strahl says:

    I was just wondering, since you have children, I assume that you do the responsible thing and have routine check ups i.e. annual for the dog, and ensure that it is parasite free, you know with roundworms causing serious illness in children and babies. And fleas can be a nuisance. And I assume that it may require medical attention, dental cleaning etc, from time to time which is not covered by health insurance. I also assume you adopted it already neutered and microchipped so capital costs are not amortized into your monthly expenses, or are they?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good questions! Yes, we’re very careful and thorough with Frugal Hound’s care and, if you’re interested, I have this post (Our Approach To Affordable, Responsible Dog Care) on how we care for her responsibly and frugally. We take her for an annual vet exam, give her preventative meds, and she was indeed adopted already spayed and microchipped (one of the benefits of getting a rescue greyhound :)!).

  40. Leah says:

    We too used to watch TV while eating dinner. This continued for the first month or two, but once our little one became aware, we’ve started eating at the dining table. Our TV watching has shifted to post-bedtime. I know some watch TV while nursing, but I found that distracting for both of us. I instead read a lot of ebooks on my hand-me-down kindle or phone (easier than holding open a book).

    And yes yes yes to packing lunch the night ahead of time. And to keeping a few frozen things on hand for the “ugh, I don’t want to cook” nights. Both have saved me many a time. I also lay my clothes out the night ahead of time, which helps me be more aware of what I own, utilize items that could easily get stuck at the back of my closet, and reduce the need to shop.

    Will you still do yoga post-baby? How do you anticipate that (and daycare drop off) affecting your daily plan? I suppose it is hard to predict. Just be open to change. A year in, I’ve adjusted to the new normal, and I now do a lot of delightful afternoon walks with my little one.

  41. Ginger says:

    Honestly, the thing the jumped out at me is you really only have a eight hour work day. That is so strange to me. I am at work at least nine hours a day.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, we’re usually only at work from 9-5, but we do a fair amount of work from home in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. It’s the blessing and curse of being able to work from home 🙂

  42. Michelle says:

    What I really enjoyed about this post was how you were able to show all of the spending “opportunities” that crop up throughout your day. I think I need to write out a typical day so that I can identify spending “opportunities” and figure out ways to avoid them!

  43. TomTrottier says:

    That calcium is important. Our first child stole calcium from his mother’s teeth, giving her her first cavities. Second pregnancy, mother ate lots of almonds – she hates milk.

  44. Nice post! Lots of good frugal advice. If people are looking for something to shake up their beans and rice routine, I love millet. You can cook it in a rice cooker like rice, takes about the same amount of time, tastes great and is super cheap! I bought about a month’s worth for $9 and make it nearly every day for lunch. You can mix in leftovers, dried fruit, or pretty much anything! Paired with an apple it makes a nice lunch (and millet has a nice amount of protein, and advantage over rice).

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