We don't do snowmen in FL...
We don’t do snowmen in FL…

I love this time of year. Sure, the holidays are busy (probably busier than ever for the Frugalwoods with their tiny new baby!), and that busyness can make them a bit stressful. But they’re also beautiful. From the smell of our Christmas tree in the living room to the amazing holiday display that our neighbor puts together every year and lights each night from mid-November through mid-January.

Down here in South Florida, the weather is nigh perfect most days. As a runner, this is my peak season–the time of year when I am trying to run faster over longer distances and I live for my early morning runs on the beach. I wait all year for these months.

While Mr. Frugalwoods and I enjoy/attempt to survive our very first month as parents to our daughter, Babywoods, I have a delightful slate of guest posts from my friends lined up for your reading pleasure. Today, please welcome the wonderful Mrs PoP  from Planting Our Pennies!

By: Mrs PoP

In addition to the glorious weather (and the sandmen found on the beach!), there’s one other thing that arrives this time of year that puts an extra skip in my running–the annual Best of Bootie mashup album. What is that, you ask?

Well, it’s a free downloadable album (perfect for maintaining a $0 entertainment budget like the Frugalwoods!) that contains some of the best mashups of the year. For those of you that are still confused, a mashup is a song where a DJ or sound artist combines different songs together using audio-editing software to create an entirely new (and often much better) piece of music.

To me, a good mashup surprises and tingles the senses in a way that traditional pop (current and oldies), rap, and dance music just don’t. Listening to a new mashup album is energizing and invigorating and an absolute ton of fun–perfect for putting some pep in your step when you’re miles into a long run, but know you still have miles ahead of you.

Mashups can also bring divergent interests together, leaving something for everyone. For instance, I love singing along to Taylor Swift. Mr PoP prefers brooding while listening to Nine Inch Nails. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve grooved out together listening to this excellent mashup video of Taylor Swift’s Shake-It-Off and Nine Inch Nails’ The Perfect Drug. Seriously, try and watch it without smiling… even if you severely dislike one of those artists (which Mr PoP and I both do!).

What Does This Have To Do With Personal Finance?

I did mention the album was free, right? =)

Though we often forget it, each of our lives is the canvas for our very own mashups. And embracing them is a crucial ingredient in optimizing your own frugal lifestyle.

To Take A Very Tangible Example…

Let’s consider home décor. To those that hate it, sorry. But since we’re rounding the bend on a year-long remodeling project, this subject has been on my mind a lot as of late.

Poke around Houzz, Pinterest, or home décor books and magazines and you’ll find tons of beautifully decorated homes to serve as amazing inspiration. But go to recreate the looks exactly, and you’ll likely find yourself facing a huge bill. Instead, create your own “eclectic” look by taking different (preferably frugal) parts that you like from each style and mashing them together.

When we finish our own dining room décor, we’ll have a vintage radio (inherited from Mr PoP’s grandfather) and mis-matched vintage chairs (a mix of more hand-me-downs and two that were found on the side of the road–an amazing trash find!) around the dining room table we’ll have built ourselves (as of writing this, it’s not yet started!). This mashup of home décor will be more “us” AND more frugal than if we’d tried to recreate a look that seemed amazing in pictures.


To Get a Little More Existential

We’re not meant to live an existence that’s simply a carbon copy of another’s. Not only would the world be particularly boring if that were the case, but living a carbon copy life is HARD!

Trade this guy in? No way!
Trade this guy in? No way!

Think about it. We’ve all got unique circumstances that impact our lives in many (sometimes minuscule and sometimes large) ways from day to day. And these bits of unique circumstances compound (much like interest!) to form huge differences in the ways that each of our lives will look. Trying to live a carbon copy life will mean fighting those differences (even as they accumulate) day after day after day after day. Just imagining trying to live life that way is exhausting.

The life of the Frugalwoods folks sounds pretty idyllic sometimes, but I’d drive myself insane if I decided that in order to be that happy AND frugal I’d need to pull up our stakes in Florida, move to the tundra*, and swap out Kitty PoP for a hound. (In addition to this warm weather girl possibly dying of hypothermia, Kitty PoP would miss me.)

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from one another as we continually seek to optimize our lives for maximal happiness. It just means that we can’t be dogmatic about the application of everyone else’s happiness (and financial) optimizations to our own lives. Living life open to new ideas and willing to try new experiences will (like the music mashups) result in the mashup of your life being more interesting, and energizing.

And who knows, maybe we’ll live somewhere cold and have a pup someday. That door’s not closed forever, just not one I want to go through right now. Brrr!

*In my warm-weather universe, the tundra is basically any geography north of south Georgia. =)

Mrs PoP writes about money, happiness, and kittens at Planting Our Pennies, a repository for the financial journey and musings of both Mr and Mrs PoP, as well as the ever-adorable Kitty PoP. They’ve been documenting their financial progress, as they “plant their pennies” toward financial independence in Florida every month since 2012.

What personal finance advice have you mashed up in your life? What tweaks did you make to fit it to your own situation?

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  1. We also live in The Tundra. Pennsylvania. Interestingly, it was 70 degrees on Christmas Eve. We were actually much warmer than our friends in Phoenix, AZ this year. A fluke, to be sure. And I do miss the cold weather on Christmas *sigh*

    I definitely agree that each person must find their happiness, both personally and financially. There are frugal things we do that other weirdos 😉 would think are, well, weird. And, there are extravagant/ridiculous things we do (think: eating at McD’s) that our fellow frugal friends wouldn’t even consider spending a dollar on. We also can’t be too hot or too cold. We would much rather live in a smaller home and be able to crank the heat up and the AC down, as needed, than live in a larger home that would eat our utility budget. This is something we value, and thus, will spend money on. I call it the frugal threshold. It’s different for everyone. The Frugalwoods definitely lowered the bar 🙂

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    1. The weather this Christmas was something else! My best friend in DC was telling me it was so warm they wanted to turn their AC on for Christmas Eve dinner! Down here the beaches were packed and the weather was perfect for it – mid 80s!

  2. That video was hilarious! I’m a BIG NIN fan and these days my car radio gets taken over by an almost 8 yo and 6yo girl so despite my anti-pop beliefs we are often shaking it off in the car!!!

    Have your hubby look up I prevail blank space. It’s a metal version which my girls find hilarious and I often hear them mimicking the screams!!!

  3. I couldn’t agree more that there’s no use mimicking others’ lifestyle, especially not those depicted in ads or on Pinterest. It’ll cost a fortune, take up all your time, and not fit your personality. The mashup idea is like a corollary to “frugality is the enemy of perfection” or, as we say, “everything doesn’t have to be your favorite.” Fun post!

  4. I suppose our home decor approach is “mashed up.” I prefer to call it garage sale chic. I actually have very good (and extremely expensive) tastes, but prefer not to act on those impulses.

  5. Hmmm… mashed up. I would say our house and our belongings. We live in a huge house (they are so cheap in Texas), and I can tell that our neighbors are definitely on the spendy side of things with nice cars and nice furnishings and all those fun grown up electronics and toys. We joke that if someone tried to rob our house they would be so disappointed… we have no fancy electronics, no expensive jewelry. I think my camera and the treadmill and maybe the most expensive things we own. Even most of our kids toys and clothes are hand me downs.

  6. Now we’re talking, Mrs. Pop. I remember when mashups were called “bootlegs” and there were all these British people putting out collections with “bootie” in the name. I even made some of my own way back in college when I had the time… One of my favorite mashups was also Nine-Inch Nails related, a Feist remix by a guy called Totom. It’s got Trent Reznor singing along to a banjo and is totally adorable.

  7. Great post! Living in a small studio apartment has definitely taught me the value of mashing together disparate elements. I love the comparison between musical mashups and interior décor. It sheds an interesting new light on my ugly, cheap furniture. Being a student, I haven’t really had much of a choice, but hopefully I will take this lesson with me when I eventually move to a different apartment in a new city to start my working life.

  8. I keep my minimum 50% savings rate on my monthly spreadsheet. I know I could be saving even more but I am comfortable with my level of spending (buying organic seeds, fertilizer, a birdhouse all for the garden, and a trip to Hawaii!!) to make me feel like I’m living extravagantly. I have no debt and am saving a princely sum of cash compared to 99% of people so it’s okay for me to splurge in my comfort zone. I know that if I cut back on the things that make me happy and that I can afford (grass fed steaks, fancy chocolates…) I could save closer to 70% like the Frugalwoods. But that would feel like deprivation to me. I like my lifestyle and I don’t feel guilty! Everyone has their own comfort level 🙂

  9. Fun! A mashup! I did enjoy it very much-the oh, so serious NIN and Miss Swift who has come to grow on the cantankerous part of me.
    Here’s a decor mashup we’re considering: ranch leather and antiques with Meredith Baer. I keep reassuring skeptical Mr. Wannabe that this will work.
    I believe it will 🙂
    Fun, original post!
    Thank you 🙂

  10. I actually love Pinterest as a way to DIY and combine what I have it find at Goodwill into what I want. For example- I learned how to paint my own curtains, so I took cheap Ikea curtains and got the look of bright striped Crate and Barrel curtains!

  11. Whenever I give out financial advice from my experience of being frugal, it just falls to the wayside on other people. For example, I try to tell my mother that since she uses paper towels so often that she should buy them in bulk at Costco so it would be cheaper for her in the long run, she just says no. You just can’t convince people to be more frugal because they are stuck in their “old spending ways.” But that’s all you can do right? Just give people advice from time to time and hope that they follow it. Especially advice on how to save money.

    The financial advice I would give anyone is to have a budget for everything and do the envelope system. It helps me a ton each month and it helps me stay organized and best of all, I know where all of my money is going each month. ; )

    I hope everybody has a Happy New Year! C:

  12. A frugal mashup, I like it! The best way to have success with your own personal finances is to keep doing what works best for you. Not everyone will benefit from the same budget, so learn early on to take the bits and pieces that work and move on without the rest.

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