Frugal Hound turned six last week! Our little greyhound is entering doggie middle age. And she couldn’t be cuter! To mark the occasion, we presented her with a pterodactyl toy we bought for $2 a year ago–oh yes, I’ve been known to buy dog toys on sale well in advance of the celebratory day.
Sweet, devoted Frugal Hound is our constant companion on this frugal journey and hasn’t complained one bit about our cost-saving measures. While I believe it’s entirely possible to care for pets frugally, there’s no doubt they’re an extra expense. All told, the Hound costs us around $900 each year.
Nothing to sneeze at, but vastly less than if we took her to a groomer, had a dog walker, and paid to board her when we travel. Although she’s a luxury in our lives, we value her presence much more than that $900.
Frugality (and life in general) is all about making value-based spending decisions and Frugal Hound is a choice we make. Sure, we’d save more money if we didn’t have a dog. But by that metric, we’d also save more money if we weren’t having a baby. For us, extreme frugality is about designing the life we want to live and then ruthlessly optimizing everything that doesn’t fall into our core mission and strategy. Suffice it to say, Frugal Hound is mission critical.
In addition to providing hound-faced adorableness, Frugal Hound teaches us quite a few daily lessons on how to live the satisfying, frugal life.
Frugal Hound’s 10 Tips For A Simpler, Happier, More Frugal Life
1) If it’s in your bowl, it’s food.
Frugal Hound eats the same meal (grain-free salmon and sweet potato Nature’s Domain kibble from Costco) day in and day out with great relish.
While Mr. FW and I have a bit more variety (and slightly less kibble) in our diets, we eat our leftovers until they’re gone, we’re not picky (pickiness is a sworn enemy of frugality), and we enjoy whatever’s put in front of us (well that last part is mostly about me since Mr. FW is the one putting down the food). And hey, if you need a food-pacer-ball in your dish–à la Frugal Hound–to help you not rush through your meals, go for it.
2) When in doubt, take a nap.
You’ll always wake up feeling better. Frugal Hound is a master of napping. That dog can nap anytime, anywhere, for any amount of time. Having the ability to shut out the world and enter an inner state of meditation and relaxation is pretty enviable.
Although Mr. FW and I don’t nap per se, we’re typically early-to-bed old folks. Adequate rest gives us zest for life and fortifies us for doing both what we have to (go to our jobs) and what we want to (plan for our homesteading future).
3) When you travel, stay with friends for free.
Frugal Hound has nailed it with regard to travel hacking. Thanks to
her cunning credit card strategy dog-swapping, she always sleeps for free at one of our friends’ houses when Mr. FW and I travel. Fortunately, this technique is great for hounds and humans alike. We love hosting people at our place (we don’t even make anyone sleep in a dog bed) and finding gratis lodging when we’re on the road.
4) Do all of your own grooming.
While technically we–the humans of the house–do her grooming, Frugal Hound is a clever insourcer of hound care and maintenance.
Mr. FW and I bathe her (to comic outcomes), groom her, brush her teeth, Dremel her claws, clean her ears, and administer preventative heartworm and flea/tick medications.
We do take her to the vet every year for a check-up and any shots she needs, but beyond strictly medical care, we do it all ourselves.
5) Practice contentment with what you have.
Our esteemed hound doesn’t beg for new toys or beds or treats–she’s perfectly thrilled playing with the same toys day after day. They’re brand new to her every single morning and she pounces on her stuffed animals as if she’s never seen them before.
And each time we give her a treat, she hops around with glee. No matter that it’s the same treat she had the day before. It’s always exciting and new! That sort of joie de vivre is contagious and it makes me realize that Mr. FW and I already have everything we need.
6) Everyone you meet could be a friend and is deserving of
a sniff compassion.
Although sometimes I wish Frugal Hound were a bit less enthusiastic to meet every single person we pass on the street (especially when we’re running late for work… ), she sees the world through an indisputably positive lens. She doesn’t pass judgement or worry what people might think about her. All she sees are potential friends.
7) Don’t dwell on your past.
Since Frugal Hound was a racing greyhound before we adopted her three years ago, she had a fairly tough first few years of life. She lived in a crate, had to run around a track, and didn’t have much in the way of affection, toys, or treats. It was a pretty spartan existence.
But she doesn’t let her rough past get her down. Sure, she made some mistakes (chiefly, being a terrible racer) and lost some money (for other people), but she worked her way to firm financial footing (by mooching off of us) and doesn’t waste time dwelling on what could have been.
Confidently looking to the future is a key ingredient in our Frugalwoods sauce–we’re all about what’s ahead of us (early retirement) and very little about what’s already come to pass (years of less-than-optimal frugality).
8) Buy used.
In the rare instances where we do need to buy something, we’re best off finding it used. Frugal Hound herself is used in a sense–we adopted her from the racetrack and thus didn’t incur the exorbitant costs of buying a puppy “new” through a breeder. In addition to saving mad dough, we gave her a loving home–just like most of our furniture, clothing, and car. Buying used is always a fraction of the new price and, it saves stuff from the landfill.
9) The best form of entertainment is a good walk.
When in doubt, take a walk. Strolling Cambridge with Frugal Hound in tow (or more accurately, in the lead) is a staple in our frugal, $0 entertainment budget.
Walking clears the mind, gives Mr. FW and I an opportunity to talk and connect with each other, and provides fabulous exercise for the whole family (I always imagine Babywoods in there kicking her legs around while we walk, though she’s probably just lulled to sleep by the movement). Walking is mind-clearing, free, and just feels good.
10) Live everyday exactly how you want to.
Frugal Hound is not out to impress anyone. She doesn’t care if she lolls around on her back with her tongue sticking out for hours on end. She’s not worried about buying cool new stuff to impress her pals at the dog park and she doesn’t regret a single day. Her path in life is uncomplicated, harmonious, and comprised of doing exactly what she wants to do.
Something I didn’t count on when we adopted Frugal Hound was just how much she would impact the way we live our lives. Having her steady, tranquil presence in our home causes Mr. FW and I to reflect on how much we delight in the simple things in life.
Every time one of us feels stressed or tense, the other will suggest it’s time to “go visit the hound.” We’ll snuggle and play with her together and our anxiety melts. Her world is so inherently peaceful that it’s contagious.
She requires so little to be happy, yet exudes such pure love and joy in return. A true minimalist and connoisseur of the good life, Frugal Hound is like our own Zen charm in dog form. Greyhounds are notoriously calm beasts and she seems to be a particularly laid-back example of the breed. Having this daily reminder that life doesn’t need to be complex, expensive, or contentious is refreshing.