How We’ve Enjoyed Nine Years Of Marriage With Frugality As The Backbone

Where we met and got engaged! Yep, a college auditorium 🙂

Mr. Frugalwoods and I celebrate nine years of marriage this month. We got married young–at 24–and reflecting back on the people we were when we met at age 19 during our second semester of our freshman year of college, I realize we’re quite different now. The languid unfurling of maturation that awaited us at 19 was a mystery as are the years yet to come. The key for us, and the reason we’ve stayed married and deepened our relationship, is that we’ve changed together.

We’ve aged, matured (hopefully), and charted new iterations of ourselves as a team. One of the aspects of our shared life that’s brought us closest, and enhanced our connection most profoundly, is our frugality. And I’m not just saying that because this is a place where I write about frugality. This is a place where I write about my life, and frugality is a central, pivotal aspect of my worldview. Indeed, it’s about much more than the money it saves me.

Shared Longterm Goals

The most significant contribution frugality yields for Mr. FW and me is our shared longterm goals. Money and life are remarkably intertwined. How you spend (or save) your money has the ability to dictate the type of life you’ll lead. The absence of a clearly articulated path through life can cause us to overspend on the insignificant ephemera that marketers blast us with: new clothes, new furniture, more, more, more.

Hiking together is our idea of a perfect day.

When we’re not sure what we want to do with our lives, one of the simplest answers is to spend money. There is no shortage of ways to waste your cash–it’s an endless, ceaseless stream of junk peddled to us and promoted as the solution to our problems. Conversely, when we define the trajectory of our lives–and don’t allow others to define it for us–we step into a position of leadership. We have power over our money and over our time. With concerted goals and inventive frugality, it’s possible to craft a life of meaning. A life we want to live, not a life we feel we must live.

When Mr. FW and I got married, we had an ironclad first financial goal: to buy our own home. It was a pretty ridiculous, aspirational dream at the time since we had $8,000 in our joint savings account (the sum total we’d managed to save from our first post-college jobs) and we lived in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world: Cambridge, MA.

We knew it would take us years to accumulate the six-figure downpayment we’d likely need, but we weren’t deterred. Sharing this goal became a central feature in our relationship: we were on a mission together, we were planning, plotting, and discussing. We went to open houses every weekend, we discussed the merits of condos vs. single family, we analyzed market trends, and we talked incessantly about our future first home. This single-minded focus did two things: it prepared us for home ownership and it kept our goal top of mind even though we were years away from bringing it to fruition, which in turn, made forgoing short-term expenses easier.

Money As A Regular Fixture Of Conversation

The Frugalwoods Family

We didn’t know it at the time, but our house-buying goal provided us with a format for regularly discussing our finances in a non-combative, non-judgmental way. Since we were both bought into our shared dream of home ownership, we both became invested in how we spent our money. We’d check our balances together regularly and make projections on how much more we could save and how many more years until we could afford a down payment.

Money was never a divisive issue for us mainly because we went about managing it through the lens of goal-setting. It was never a conversation built around “you spend too much!” or “why on earth would you waste money on that!”; rather, it was always a conversation framed around where we wanted to go in life together.

It was a pretty simple equation for us: we wanted to buy a house and so we made the determination not to buy a bunch of other stuff. Embedding both longterm goals and frugality into our lives gave us a platform of intentionality around how we manage our money and how we direct our lives.

The Failure Of Our Goal-less Years

All of my epiphanies over the importance of longterm goal-setting are retrospective and I had no clue at the time that this was the secret sauce of our early success. I had no idea this goal was why we never went into debt, never fought over money, and were able to buy our first home in Cambridge, MA at age 28.

Life on our homestead

Lacking as I was in this awareness, after we bought our house we spiraled into a goal-less spending abyss. Mr. FW and I’d achieved what we’d set out to achieve: we owned a single-family home in a red hot real estate market, which we planned to one day transition into a revenue-generating rental property (which we’ve since done).

In the absence of a new goal, we started to bleed money. We made decent salaries, we contributed to our 401ks, and we felt financially secure. So we spent. We went out to dinner all the time, I went to expensive yoga classes several times a week, we bought more stuff that we could ever possibly need.

We hewed to this spendy path until we had the watershed awakening that birthed Frugalwoods: we were not happy. All of this spending, all of this stuff, all of these balms of consumerism that promised to soothe our discontent weren’t working. We spent most of our waking hours in cubicles, droning away on projects dictated to us by other people and that didn’t allow us the time, space, and mental energy to uncover our passions. We’d become cogs in the consumer machine: we made money in order to spend money and had no greater purpose to our lives. That is, until we hatched our plan to become financially independent, leave the city, quit our jobs, and pursue a wholly different existence on a rural homestead.

The Power Of A Lifelong Goal

Last year’s Christmas merry!

After defining the life we wanted to live: one freed from the constraints and stressors of urban life and 9 to 5 office work, we were on fire with frugality. Mr. FW and I were once again running in the same direction, towards the same aim.

We no longer derived pleasure from the nonsensical money drains we’d been enslaved to, we now saw them for what they were: distractions from our ability to craft a meaningful life we’d be proud to live.

When I worked in an office, I constantly worried about how I’d define my life, how I’d infuse a sense of purpose into what I did. I wondered what my legacy would be. But after Mr. FW and I decided to radically transform how we lived, I was confident I could match the way I used my time with the person I wanted to be.

An Agreed-Upon System of Money Management

At the outset of our extreme frugality launch, Mr. FW and I sat down and had the mother of all financial conversations: we hashed out how we’d use our money for the rest of our lives. Before that, we’d been bumping along, adrift in a sea of spending, careening from one minor goal (a vacation!), to the next (dinner out on Saturday!) with no plan for longterm sustainability. But life–and money–don’t do too well with weeklong or monthlong goals. Life and money have a way of slipping through our fingers if we’re not on top of what we want in the long range.

Mr. FW and I became dictators: we would now be telling our money precisely where it would be going and precisely how we’d be using our time. This determination also opened the door for us to have a comprehensive, transformative conversation about what makes both of us happy.

A terrible selfie we took on a rare baby-less date

We had to sit down and write out our goals, define the people we wanted to be, and be honest with one another. Too often, we compromise on a life that’s mediocre in its rendering. A life that halfway meets our dreams, a life that partially encompasses what we love, a life that sort of does it for us. But what’s the point of that? To be obnoxiously cliché here, you only get one chance at life and there’s zero point in living it half-assedly.

Sidenote: For the purposes of this story, I’m glossing over a tremendous amount of nuance here, so check out these posts if you’re interested in that missing insight: The Privilege of Pursuing Financial Independence and Striving For Compassion In A World Of Judgement.

My point is that by challenging ourselves to define our vision for the future, Mr. FW and I realized we weren’t happy and that we needed to change some things in order to get there. The easiest thing is to skate on by, to ignore the stuff we don’t like about our routine, to think maybe someday it’ll get better without our doing much of anything about it. But we all know that’s folly. Nothing changes unless we muscle it. Unless we get in there and alter how we use our money, how we communicate with our partner, and how we plan our future.

By defining these goals, Mr. FW and I were able to define a shared financial management system, which is detailed here if you’re curious. This system incorporated both of our longterm aspirations and became the infrastructure on which we hang our lives. You can mold a life around many different constructs, but without managing your money in a holistic manner, it’s unlikely you’ll bring any of those dreams to actualization.

Check-in Regularly, Forever

Mr. FW pulling Babywoods in a sled last winter

Now that Mr. FW and I have achieved our biggest goal of moving to our 66-acre homestead in rural Vermont and becoming financially independent, we don’t rest on our laurels. We still discuss our finances and our goals on a regular basis. We know all too well what can happen when we stop dreaming about the future and stop communicating about our money.

By remaining in close communication, Mr. FW and I are able to adjust as our lives change. When Babywoods was born, we didn’t have to change much about our finances because we were already dialed into extreme frugality and committed to our vision of a simplified, rural life. Just as our financial infrastructure allowed us to pursue fairly outlandish goals on fairly regular salaries, we’re now able to accommodate changes–and additions–to our dreams with ease.

It’s not that we have it all figured out–we have no idea what life will throw our way–rather, it’s that we have an enshrined system for navigation and communication. I’m of the belief that you never know the challenges or opportunities that life will drop in your path and I, for one, want to be financially ready for either.

I know that mindless spending doesn’t bring me lasting, deep happiness and so we’ve eliminated that from our lives. And we know that we require longterm projections in order to remain consistent and committed–both to each other and to our frugality.

What Do You Want Out Of Life?

My longterm goals

Your longterm goals are likely very different from mine, but I’m certain that your true goal isn’t to slog through life frittering away money and wondering why you can’t do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing, but can’t ever seem to afford.

People–myself included–experience so much anguish over their money. Disagreement over money is the leading cause of divorce in the US; financial failure is a cause of depression and suicide; and money is a source of shame and secrecy the world over. But there’s another way. By acknowledging that money is something you need to actively manage and discuss, you can enfranchise yourself to wrest back control. And by committing to open, honest, ongoing conversations with your partner about what you want out of life, you can start to create a system of intentional living that strikes at the heart of who you are–not who marketers tell you to be.

If you’d like support on your journey in identifying your longterm goals and if you’d like guidance on how to have these conversations with your partner, consider signing up for my Uber Frugal Month Challenge. This month-long Challenge, which starts on July 1, 2017, provides a framework for holistically managing your money, and by extension, your life. I hope you’ll join us.

How do you communicate about money with your partner? What tools have helped you to craft a productive financial management system?

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66 Responses

  1. So much truth in this post, such as: ‘Too often, we compromise on a life that’s mediocre in its rendering. A life that halfway meets our dreams, a life that partially encompasses what we love, a life that sort of does it for us. But what’s the point of that? To be obnoxiously cliché here, you only get one chance at life and there’s zero point in living it half-assedly.’

    Wow, reading that again, I have nothing left to say, but ‘Thank you!!!’

  2. Congratulations on your anniversary! I’m glad to know that frugality has helped strengthen your marriage.

    Frugality is also key to my marriage with Mr. FAF. It helps prevent a lot of unnecessary fights and show us both the long term goals we want to achieve. 🙂

  3. Congrats! Being on the same page financially is so important for a relationship. Being frugal and realizing that being together is more than just stuff strengthens relationships. Definitely helps reduce arguments about money for sure!

  4. Happy anniversary!

    You are so right that shared goals – especially when it comes to money – are key for building a strong relationship. My boyfriend and I both agreed to take the risk to build freelance businesses and a life that can be location independent – without that shared goal one of us would be left behind for sure!

    Thanks for a great read 😊

  5. Sarah says:

    Happy Anniversary!!! Congrats on 9 years!!! Cheers to many more 🙂

    I love that you two have changed together. My husband and I are very similar (married 7 years). When we met, he had no savings and I had $1000 in savings and $1000 on a credit card hahaha. Together we saved $800 pretty quickly and thought we were rich!!

    Now, three kids later, we have no debt outside of our mortgage and a decent amount in savings. Our goal is to pay off our mortgage ASAP, preferably in five years. We were actually just talking last night about this and all that we wanted to do once we were completely debt-free. I agree that communicating with your spouse regularly is key to a healthy money relationship in marriage.

    Thanks for the great post!! Hope you two enjoy your anniversary!

    -Sarah

  6. Happy anniversary! You have been an incredible inspiration to our family ( and many others! ). Thank you for sharing so much of your frugality and life philosophy. Cheers!

  7. Happy anniversary Nate and Liz! May you have many more years of frugal happiness in the woods 🙂

  8. Marina says:

    Congratulations on 9 years of marriage (and over a decade of being together)! You both are such an inspiration. I also live in a very HCOL area (greater Boston area) and with housing and daycare costs, I feel like I’m just making money to spend it on essentials. I haven’t yet figured out what I want my ideal life to look like but I know working long hours just to maintain living here isn’t it. I’m glad that you were able to achieve your goals and that you feel fulfilled now. You’re giving me some hope!

  9. Happy anniversary! We just recently celebrated 6 years of marriage. I feel very fortunate to be in a marriage where we are so open about our finanaces. We got together when we were 16 and penniless and so when we moved in together we combined all our money and worked to what we have now together. We’ve never had a disagreement about money which I’m thankful for when I see the strife it causes in some relationships. And now we’re on the path to financial independence, I feel even happier we were on the same financial page to start with.

  10. Lisa Bibby says:

    I have just begun following & reading all u have written. First, Happy Anniversary & Baby woods is adorable. I am on SS Disability & my husband is 65 & on Social Security. We have a very limited fixed income. I hope to learn from u how to “not be broke by the 5th of the month, after getting paid on the 3rd”. I look forward to learning from your experiences u share. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Congratulations! I’d love to know more about how you’ll be celebrating a frugal anniversary 🙂
    Me and my husband got married young too – I was only 20, not even old enough for a drink! Yet, we’ll be celebrating our tenth anniversary in about half a year as well.
    We were successful because we grew up and molded our financial habits to each other, rather than coming at this relationship with established habits already in hand and trying to smash them together. We also had shared goals too – a house – which helps guide all of our decisionmaking. We haven’t always been the best at communicating, and I am definitely the money manager in this house, so when we started to reshape our finances it helped to put everything in perspective of our shared goals. He used to be resistant to spending less, but once he figured out that he could reach our goals sooner by cutting back his spending, even he is surprising me with ways to save today!

  12. Yay! Congrats on 9 whole years and many more!!!

    I married my husband young too (23) and it brings me a slow hum on joy when I realized there’s a lot in that list that hubby and I do together as well. Hope that means we’re meant for each other!

    We’re definitely on the same money page and our long term goals are…Not exactly the same but in the same house just for different reasons.

  13. Tarynkay says:

    We just realized that since we started dating at 19, and we are now 38, we have now been together for half of our lives. We will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary next month.

    After all this time, my husband still hates talking about money. He is not particularly a spender, he just doesn’t want to think about it at all. So I send him emails about our finances, which he is then able to treat as business correspondence.

    We are both generally extremely content. This probably goes too far and veers into complacency. It’s very comfortable, but it does mean that we tend not to set goals with any real passion.

  14. Kate says:

    Congratulations on 9 years of marriage! As someone who was married 33 (!!) years this spring, I have to say we avoided a lot of fights because we were basically on the same page about money. (Also because neither of us wanted to get divorced on the same day, LOL!) My husband was raised by frugal parents; I was poor and occasionally hungry. So I wasn’t good with money. All I knew about money was, there was never enough of it, and don’t spend all of it. Pretty basic. My girlfriends got diamond earrings for wedding presents; my DH gave me the $2300 (not chump change, especially not in 1984) to pay off my Visa bill and a lecture about how “we’ll eat bread and water for a month before i’ll carry a balance on a credit card!” You can see that I never forgot THAT one! By being sensible, forgoing some luxuries and being frugal about necessities, plus living slightly beneath our means, we are on track to paying off our mortgage 10 months early. The kids’ college educations were paid for, in cash, we are saving for retirement, and while we are not financially independent by any means, we aren’t going without. To me that is huge. We could have probably made more sacrifices along the way, but overall I feel pretty good about where we are.

    Bless you for continuing to share your life and philosophy openly and honestly. I think you are making a great difference in this overly materialistic world. And best wishes for many more happy years together!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      What a wonderful story you have, Kate! Thank you for sharing it! Also, you are so right about “neither of us wanted to get divorced on the same day” Hahaha!!!

    • Melanie says:

      “Also because neither of us wanted to get divorced on the same day.”

      Too funny!

  15. Congratulations on a beautiful 9 years! We just celebrated 2 years ourselves. 🙂 It’s funny how people change in the span of only a few years! But that’s why it’s so important to have the basics (communication, shared goals) down from the start.

  16. Elle says:

    Congrats on your anniversary!

    While we never had a fight/fight over money, I will say things became more productive relationship wise and financially when we took little money dates. These check-ins help us take a step back to relax and discuss about what we’re working towards, financial or otherwise. (Now with two little ones, they’re even more appreciated lol! )

    Pretty much 90%+ of our money is automated. We live full lives and enjoy it so having those transfers and bill payments done allows us to have more time together. We check-in for that last 10% to see if there’s anything coming up we need to spend. If not, it goes to savings.

  17. Great post…agree completely!

    Once we understood what we wanted from life (freedom, fun, togetherness), cared enough about doing it and knew it was possible (thanks to bloggers like you!)…the rest followed. Frugality has helped us be more honest with ourselves, and therefore with each other, which has made us far closer than we ever would’ve been living an aimless consumerism lifestyle. Also, from a very logistical point of view, frugal activities (walking, running, cycling, reading, board games, cooking etc) seem to naturally foster close bonds as opposed to typical spendy activities.

  18. Rachel says:

    Happy anniversary 😀
    I’m wondering what your long term goal is now that you’ve got your homestead? I know it’s not paid off, but you’ve addressed why that’s not something you plan on doing. Are you trying to get your savings up to a certain point? What about after that? The concept of always having a goal makes me feel tired.

  19. Ilene says:

    Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. F on growing together!! You have each other’s backs and that is essential. Some single folks (and married) may wish they had someone to support them in frugality. If so, don’t be discouraged. Look outside the relationship box…we have Mrs. Frugalwoods for a mentor and a frugal friend can help greatly. For me it’s my sister. We both want to grow our own food so we have pooled our cash and are looking for a very mini homestead. Even one acre should keep these two 60 somethings busy!

  20. Jen says:

    Happy Anniversary! I am always so impressed with the way the two of you have bonded through your financial goals to live such a meaningful life. I always wonder if once couples have achieved their ultimate goal (buying a house, homestead, having a baby, etc.), they then try to look for more. It seems to happen more often to people I know and they look outside of their marriage to find fulfillment. If, on the other hand, you’ve already built a marriage that is built on faith, happiness, honesty, and joined long-term goals, your relationship will be successful and can withstand any hardship. Congratulations on 9 years!

  21. Happy Anniversary! You two are inspirational!

  22. Aviva says:

    Mrs. FW: Thank you for your inspiring post! Your story and posts continue to motivate me to be more frugal and consume less. Thank you so much.

  23. Happy Anniversary to you both. It is great to hear more about your backstory and how the two of you got on the FIRE path together. It’s so great to start the journey together, just as my wife and I have. That way our journey has jointly defined goals. Because of that we also regularly discuss our finances because we’re saving, spending and enjoying the money together.

  24. tess says:

    happy anniversary
    so nice to see your smiles

    question/future topic request: how to pay for college for children?
    we are not high earners, but are high savers,
    we have 2 kids, 1 year apart (15 and 16), overwhelming to think how we might manage

  25. Erin says:

    Happy anniversary! It’s frustrating sometimes to be starting down the FI path while single (just think of all the money that could be saved with two incomes!), but I’m so thankful that I’ve decided I want to follow this route in life and therefore already know I want a partner on the same page. I think it’ll help a lot in the future to figure out fairly early on if a relationship will work for me: if someone typically wants to only go on dates to fancy restaurants and bars or do other similarly non-frugal activities, that’s not the partner for me!

    Thanks for being so open about your life and finances and philosophies, and I’m excited to learn more about your next big goals in life now that you’ve got the homestead.

  26. Samantha says:

    Fiancee and I discuss finances almost daily over our morning cup of coffee. Right now we are focused on the short term goal of having a median sized wedding on a median sized budget. Otherwise, we are celebrating hitting financial milestones in our retirement and shared savings accounts. We use a combination of Mint, Personal Capital, and an excel spreadsheet to see what the budget is and project just how we can save for future goals.

  27. Leane Fortune says:

    We married very young as well-I was 21 and am now 67. Our shared frugality allowed us to live securely through many ups and downs {interest rates of 17% on our first little condo}. Our retirement is totally debt free allowing us to enjoy a wonderful simple life. You two are so on the right path – happy anniversary!

  28. Elle of CA says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary & on your awesome blog that is a complete joy to read! Longtime reader but today, first time respondee.

    We married young, broke and Murphy’s Law chose us as it’s pet project. A horrible work injury ( brain) that happened early in our 24 year marriage and 6 months into parenthood took years to heal my husband ( mostly but his personality now has a real edge to it). The scars that remain are financial (years of healing are EXPENSIVE) and contentment. It’s been a marriage case of “sickness & poorer & bad times.” It’s been a very hard, hard marriage…

    Fast forward to present day…life once again cursed us (yeah it’s blunt) with a nonverbal severely autistic /intellectually handicapped son who ranks at a 1 year olds mind –he’s almost 11yrs…who gave his dad 2 huge drywall holes to fix for a Father’s Day present.

    Why am I writing all this? To thank you for giving me a glimpse of when most things go alright or better for hardworking &frugal couples. To wish my own 2 adult children (23 & 20) a better life because of a profound respect for money and proper self-fiscal management.

    We started our marriage young and dumb with money but through survival and sheer will we learned frugalness & still learning. Also good Teamsters union job ( from same company of work injury) w/great healthcare has allowed us to buy our house (goal is 6 years till paid) cash flow our 2 oldest college bachelors tuitions ( 1 completed & 1 finishing) and I’ve been a SAHM for 12 years all while in costly SF Bay Area.

    This blog & many of the other responders whose blogs I connect to from here gives me fabulous insight to saving money & acceptance of life & its challenges. You bring lots of laughs and hope to my world.

    One last thing…HELLO to ALL Special Needs families – especially those with kids like mine..I so know your pain.. To all educators & aides & Regional Center networks-thank you for your vocation. You all are such angels and TRULY make a difference and impact in each of these children’s lives!

  29. Laurie says:

    Heading into a relationship in my late 30’s brought with it a whole new idea about how to do it!
    I staggered along for years in situations that weren’t at all sustaining, and made the decision to be completely honest about everything in my next relationship, and, importantly, to expect the same in return. And you know? It worked.
    Taking the ‘risk’ of speaking openly about all things (and specifically about money), encouraged the same from my then boyfriend, and has grown a delightful and trusting marriage that will continue to develop soundly over the years because the groundwork has been laid.

  30. Congrats on your guys’ 9 years of marriage! My wife and I hit our 7 year mark recently and we got married young as well (I was 24, same as you, and she was 23). The days do fly by, it’s nuts.

  31. Carol says:

    I completely agree with you. We’ve been together 27 years and we have always had a plan. The plan changes over time, but we always know where are headed. When we are contemplating doing or buying something we actually say to each other – does it fit with the plan? We are tickled to hear our (grownup) kids talking about goals and plans. Right now the plan has a name- growing the pile- we are making a last dash this year to cash up various real estate holdings to a seven figure sum of passive investments, before we begin a life of complete retirement and lots of travel. We’ve also assisted two family members into home ownership this year, sharing the combination of good luck and good management we enjoy.

  32. Sandra & the 2 Spaniels says:

    A Happy Anniversary to 2 great people! I have learned so much from you and your blog. I no longer have a hate/anger/love/frightening relationship with money. How I wish I’d known you when I was 20! I worked for AT&T, they paid me an insane amount of money! Overtime galore that was constant. I sincerely wish I knew what the hell I did with all of that money. Clothes, new furniture, trips, jewelry-as if it were important-I spent worse than a drunken sailor. I did come through for my mom when she was sick: I paid all of the bills, living expenses, etc. My parents had no plan for money other than spending so not many good examples. My dad had a terrible gambling habit. Even worse, both were college educated professionals, who made a lot of money! Their attitude was. “You’ll get married and he will take care of you”. How is this a plan? So, thanks for getting me into a better money relationship. I am not yet perfect, but I am light years ahead of where I was!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I am so happy to hear of your transformation! That’s inspiring! Keep fighting the good, frugal fight :)!

  33. Brandy says:

    The timing of this article is perfect! Yesterday I had the same thought you had when you were working an office job “constantly worried about how I’d define my life, how I’d infuse a sense of purpose into what I did’. I had a moment like that yesterday and then I recalled that I am not my job and it is a means to end- financial independence. How I live outside of work and my goals is what defines me not my job – despite what employers may want you think! Thanks for reminding me of this!

  34. Diane says:

    Congratulations on your wedding anniversary! Thank you so much for your wonderful post. It is as inspiring as always. I participated in the January frugal month challenge and have signed up for July. Since my participation, which went extremely well, we’ve had a very spendy year. We have a car payment for the first time in years, planned and paid for a nonrefundable trip, and then drained our emergency savings for emergency dental surgery. Our child is turning 9 next month, and I have searched for a music/jewelry box for her everywhere to no avail. Yesterday, with the July challenge looming, I stopped into Good Will. I picked up the most beautiful music box for her for $3.99 and got her a dress for an upcoming event for $1.50. I feel so wonderful to have gotten beautiful things I couldn’t even find in the market, kept them out of a landfill, and how my daughters eyes will shine! Thanks for reminding me I am more than a body in a cubicle. Hope you had a wonderful anniversary day full of sunshine and hiking!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful, Diane! I love that you found such great treasures at Goodwill. It’s a beautiful thing to keep stuff from the landfill and to save money–such a win/win!!

  35. Gillian says:

    I’ve only read half of this article – had to stop cos i’m crying! You pair are so wise and so gracious. For myself I got well caught up in the rat-race of earning a lot with an executive career, and then spend-spend-spend. Now I’m in my 50’s, single, loads of debt and unfortunately unemployed due partly to ‘burn-out’. I feel so happy and encouraged to have stumbled across your blog a few months ago… your own happiness eminates from your articles and it’s a real boost. Am looking forward (?!) to my 2nd UFM Challenge starting – let’s do it together! Lots of love to you.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you, Gillian! I’m so glad you’re joining me for the Challenge again in July–can’t wait :)!

  36. Kay says:

    I love this. I am very fortunate to have a spouse who is on board with me financially. However, we don’t check in and talk about goals often enough — you just inspired me to make that part of our next date night! (Spent at home after the kids are in bed, of course.)

    Also, my family took part in your first Uber Frugal Month Challenge and saved a ton of money. (Our kids, 6 & 11, even knew not to ask for extras during that month!) I’m looking forward to our doing it again in July.

  37. Catrina says:

    Happy Anniversary!
    I have been following your posts for almost two years now. In that time I have been able to pay off my student loans, save my emergency fund, new car fund and I’m looking towards that big house down payment goal. However, the real blessing is that I feel secure and capable of controlling my own financial destiny. I’m not afraid of my money and I’m not afraid to discuss money matters with my partner.
    Yesterday, I found out from my supervisor that I had accidentally left three days off of my time card and that there would be a deficit in my next paycheck. Because of frugality, that deficit will have 0 effect on my financial situation! Thank you for your posts, thank you for sharing your life!

  38. Melly says:

    Congrats as well. I just re-read your article on compassion and it occurred to me that your being married is a privilege. Obviously you love Mr. FW, and that’s wonderful. But also because the world is set up for couples. Over fifty percent of the adult population is unmarried, and yet we still act as though 95% of the population is married or living in partnered households. As a single person I am put in the almost infantile position of either sharing a cell phone plan and other memberships (such as AAA or Netflix) with my parents. To have an individual plan for the cell phone, for example, is almost double what joining my parents plan is. AAA was the same. In addition, I recently decided to start saving for a 40th birthday trip to Italy. I began to research my potential trip. Imagine my surprise when I realized that even day tours were cheaper for couples and my options were limited as a person traveling alone on a limited budget.

    I’m not dogging on married people. I’m single by happenstance, never having had a relationship work out. The Boston area is pretty brutal for single women anyway (only ladies who have it worse, I think, is NYC), and I’ve just never found the needle in a hay stack. But at 38, the pool is smaller and the issues, including children and past bad relationships, get amplified. So I may never marry.

    So I need to think of how to make my life as a single woman, with essentially half the income. And double, at times, the cost.

    I’m happy that you have a wonderful spouse and are able to create this life, together. But I’d also love to see you get some guest bloggers in who live the single life into middle age (also very different from dating in your 20’s…. believe me. My stories would curl your hair.) . This journey is different for everyone. Not all of us will have the amazing and wonderful opportunity to share the ride with a partner.

    (And I like you and your style of writing. )

    • Laurie says:

      I agree with this point of view.
      I didn’t marry until 43, and was single for many years in Vancouver (expensive city!), and it is certainly more challenging to make ends meet and save on one income. No doubt about it.
      The one benefit is that you don’t have to answer to anyone else on how you spend or save your money. You have a tremendous amount of freedom in that, I think.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes, I absolutely agree that marriage is a privilege, which is something I discuss in detail in this post: The Privilege Of Pursuing Financial Independence. And funny you should mention a guest blog, I had a guest blogger–a single, very frugal guy–who wrote this post on Frugalwoods a few years back: A Single Person’s Guide To Frugal and Happy Living . You are absolutely right that it’s tougher to save on a single income and it is unfair that everything is geared around pairs.

    • Rebekah says:

      Have you looked into Republic Wireless? I pay $18 – $21 per month on their refund plan. My husband pays the same for his, but it’s not set up as a family plan or anything. We’re very happy with Republic!

  39. Nancy says:

    Congratulations on your Anniversary! I so much enjoy your writing and watching your adventure in Vermont. I am a grandma that was inspired to see someone else out there ( Amy Dacyczyn 1990s The Tightwad Gazette) living the way we had been living as a family since 1980, in urban areas across the US. My husband and I of 37 years, grew up in the Midwest farm belt where entrepreneurship was a given & before it was a college major. This is how our farm community thrived and survived. After college, my husband and I lived in cities where our children worked with various businesses of their own: pet sitting, neighborhood delivery of donuts/baked goods on Saturday mornings (done with bike and wagon), babysitting, the sale of pumpkin wood cutouts for yards (with the help of their dad & use of tools), and newspaper routes…all before the age of 13.
    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blog!

  40. My fiancé and I have been together for 8 years now starting freshman year of college. We didn’t always agree on money but now that we own a home we have found that we balance each other perfectly. Im focused on savings and investments and she is focused on living a minimalist lifestyle. Both of these compliment each other in achieving our future goals.

  41. Mr. Tako says:

    So true FW! Being on the same page and having common goals is key for any couple (frugal or not)! Congrats on your 9 years!

  42. AML says:

    Congratulations! Cambridge-based KU grad here. Budig Hall I assume? I took chemistry, among other classes, in that auditorium. Rock chalk!

  43. Congrats! My husband and I also celebrate our 9th anniversary next week.

    We’ve been together now for more than 15 years and it wasn’t until the past few years that we started getting on the same page in terms of finances. So while my husband has many great frugal habits, he comes from a family that doesn’t talk about money. Therefore, this topic has always made him uncomfortable. It’s been a learning curve for both of us, but he always trusted me to make sound financial decisions for us. This has turned out to be great in some ways because had he taken the lead on managing our finances I probably wouldn’t have learned myself.

    Oddly enough, once we decided to invest in our first real estate property it became easier to talk about finances. I think this is partly because my husband is comfortable with real estate and construction and for the first time he had an investment option that matched his interests (something that will never be true with index fund investing). I wish we had discovered this sooner because we would probably be a lot further along with our retirement savings. Overall, I’m just happy that we found a way to connect over finances that works for both of us.

  44. Very good post! Thanks for writing it. I completely agree that a large amount of spending is mindless. Often it’s even out of boredom. If you think of shopping when you have downtime, then you should be scared! Plus we now know it won’t really make you happy anyway so what’s the point?

    On the other hand, once you have a purpose (usually multiple goals) for your savings that you care about, it becomes much easier to avoid wasting money on things that aren’t very important. You end up saving more in a relatively painless way and whatever spending you actually do helps make you happier.

    Thanks for articulating this so nicely!

  45. J. Money says:

    Hey!! We celebrated our 9 year anniversary last month two – we’re twinsies!

    (yes, I just said twinsies – it only comes out on special occasions!)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Awww, happy anniversary to you two! We’ll have to compare dates to see just how twinsies we are… 😉

  46. Arielle says:

    Congratulations! I’ve read a lot of your posts recently, as I just signed up for the July Uber Frugal Month Challenge. It is very inspirational to hear both your explanation and tips for being more frugal, but especially how it has allowed your family to live a simpler and freer lifestyle. I would also describe myself as a Type A perfectionist (hoping to be “recovering” soon), and have fallen victim to creating more plans and buying more stuff in hopes that it will make my life simpler and happier. As you may know, this is also stressful on marriages! However, I’m trying to adopt the frugal freedom philosophy you so accurately describe in hopes that it will promote calm, reduce stress, and highlight what’s really important in life. Thanks so much for your enlightened words! We are excited and feeling confident about next month’s challenge 🙂

  47. FrugalFox says:

    Having been married for almost two years it’s clear to me why so many people get divorced because of it.
    Money literally effects every decision you make whether the decision is not to buy something new or not to go out to dinner. I’m lucky that we are generally on the same page when it comes to money but just sometimes we do disagree.

  48. Sandi says:

    Truth? He knows he’s terrible with money. He gave $ management over to me yeeeears ago. If you were to ask him his net monthly pay, he wouldn’t know. He also rarely spends any $ at all. If we want food, I go get it. He does know where our investments sit value-wise and is active in mgmnt of his own 401k and IRAs, but that’s all. The day to day is on me. Which is fine, I’m SAHM with an accounting background.

  49. I needed this more than I can ever express to you. I’ve fallen off the wagon for a bit and was having a bit of an existential crisis when trying to get back up, but the over-arching message you have here about leading a life of worth and not just one of mediocrity is what I needed to get back on track. I’ve read this several times over and I think I’m ready to get back on the horse again. Thank you, to the moon and back.

  50. Megan says:

    You have a gift for storytelling! I love reading blogs like this that are so thoughtful and well written. Thankfully, my partner and I have the same ultimate goals, but I’ve had somewhat of a difficult time getting him on board with my frugal ways. He makes plenty and is able to save, but it’s going to take a lot more than what we’re currently doing to accomplish what we want. Congratulations to you and your family for making it to where you are!

  51. There is nothing as good as having a partner that shares the same goal with you. I congratulate you for finding such. That is an asset that you can’t ever quantify. Congratulations!

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