Reflecting on Nine Years of Frugalwoods
April is the ninth anniversary of Frugalwoods! Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for so long yet am still invigorated and excited to type words at you and help people with their money!!!! This is–by far–my longest tenure at a job and I’m not ready to quit or fire myself!
To celebrate, I’m going to write a series of reflections on my own writing over the past nine years. Do I agree with my old self? How have my views changed? When I started Frugalwoods on April 9, 2014, I had just turned 30, I lived in the city of Cambridge, MA, I’d been married to my husband for six years, we were both working 9-5 office jobs and we had zero kids.
A lot happened in the intervening nine years!
- I just turned 39
- This is the 718th post I’ve published on Frugalwoods
- My husband and I have two kids, ages 5 and 7
- We’ve been married for nearly 15 years
- We live on our dream homestead in the woods of Vermont
- Our former city home is now a rental property
- My husband fully retired in 2021 when we reached financial independence
I now work part-time (~23 hours/week) on Frugalwoods, which has grown to include:
- The Reader Case Study series, which has featured 95 different peoples’ financial lives to date!
- My one-on-one financial consultation services, which allow me to work with folks to create holistic financial plans for their futures
- My book, Meet the Frugalwoods, which was published by HarperCollins in 2018
- The Frugalwoods Instagram and Facebook communities
- ….and who knows what’s next!!!! (I’m always taking suggestions!)
I feel lucky to do this work and deeply grateful to all of you for going on this winding (and often long-winded) journey with me!!! Thank you for being here and for sharing your stories with me.
How I Got Here
I started writing Frugalwoods because I felt lost.
I’d just realized I didn’t want to work at a desk in an office under fluorescent lights every Monday through Friday for the next 35 years. I was only 30 and already counting down to 5pm every single weekday. And I had a great job. A job I was fortunate to have. A job at a nonprofit that paid pretty well. But those facts–those checkboxes–didn’t make me content or fulfilled. I felt like I was bumping through life as a balloon just ricocheting off of other people’s expectations. I wanted to change how I lived. I wanted more freedom and self-direction. I wanted more space.
The way my husband, Nate, and I decided to achieve that was through financial independence. We figured if we lived frugally enough and saved well enough, we could obviate work-for-pay from our lives. We’d no longer be beholden to an employer’s schedule, demands or location. We’d also, of course, no longer have that employer’s salary, retirement benefits or healthcare. So… just a few things to figure out!
The full story of our evolution is in my book, but the outline is that we dove into the concept of FIRE (financial independence, retire early) and determined that if we were ruthless, we could probably eek our way to financial independence by our mid-30s.
I define financial independence as no longer needing to work for money.
That means we now have enough in assets (taxable investments, retirement investments, real estate and cash) to be able to drawdown a sustainable percentage of these assets every year in order to cover our living expenses without running out of money before we die. We determined this is through a great deal of math, online calculators and modeling in excel.
If you want to run your own numbers, and research how to reach FIRE, I highly recommend the following resources (since this is NOT back-of-the-envelope math):
- The Rich, Broke or Dead Post-Retirement FIRE Calculator: Visualizing Early Retirement Success and Longevity Risk
- Everything from the MadFientist
- Early Retirement Now’s Sequence of Returns Risk posts
- JL Collins’ famous stock series, or, his book The Simple Path to Wealth
How We Reached FIRE in 23 Simple Steps (hah!)
We graduated college without debt and both found jobs right away. This is an immense privilege due to the fact that our parents helped us pay for school.
- We got married at 24, so we grew up together and started planning for our financial future at a really young age. The earlier you start saving and investing, the more years you have to reap the benefits of compound interest.
- Post-marriage we were low income and didn’t have much in savings, so we lived in a basement apartment and were frugal by necessity. No inherited money, trust funds or family money for us.
- We were able to avoid debt, which enabled us to put all extra money into savings, as opposed to servicing debt.
- We steadily climbed the ladder in our respective careers and increased our salaries over time.
- We lived below our means and socked away extra money into retirement and savings.
- Early on, we set a goal of buying our own home. This seemed ludicrous at 24 when our net worth was like $2,000, but we plugged away at saving up a downpayment.
We managed to save ~$60k in cash by the time we were 27 and bought our first home in 2012 (this house is now our rental property).
- Now we do… not-so-good. After buying our house, we failed to set another big financial goal and so… I’ve dubbed these years (ages 27-30) the “pre-Frugalwoods hedonistic heyday.” We were DINKS (dual income, no kids) with salaries that had increased over the years. We lived in a fun city and went out to restaurants, coffee shops and bars. A lot. We started buying more stuff, we inflated our lifestyle and our spending kept right up.
- Then we hit 30 and malaise took over. We asked ourselves, “Is this all there is to life? Working a job you don’t like to make money to spend to assuage your unhappiness over working the job you don’t like????”
- We had a joint quarter-life crisis that ushered in what I now call the “lean Frugalwoods years.”
- We articulated our goal of quitting our office jobs and moving to a rural plot of land.
- To make this happen, we dove into extreme frugality. We saved money with the zeal of the recently converted and there wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t cut in service of our financial independence/rural homestead goal.
The “lean Frugalwoods years” were an extremely effective detox. We eliminated a lot from our spending, including:
All eating out: bars, restaurants, coffee, take-out, work lunches, etc
- Buying clothing
- Buying non-necessities (such as home decor, makeup, etc)
- Paying for haircuts
- Entertainment that cost money
- Exercise that cost money
- Name something and we probably eliminated it
Doing this forced us to identify our priorities. It was a transformational experience that made us realize how much money we’d been wasting on stuff that ultimately did not matter to us. If you want to do this exercise yourself, my free Uber Frugal Month Challenge will lead you through the steps we took.
→Eliminating everything is an easy way to figure out what you value and what you want to add back into your life.
It’s essentially Marie Kondo-ing your finances. You remove everything from the sock drawer of your spending and then YOU are in charge of deciding what goes back in. It was a necessary examination for us, but after a few years, we realized it wasn’t sustainable for a lifetime (at least, not for us).
We needed to find a middle ground, but there’s no way we could get to that middle ground without first dropping down to the ground ground.
During 2014–our first lean Frugalwoods year–we vacillated between saving 65%-82% each month making our average savings rate 71.4%. This was accomplished, yes, through extreme frugality, but also through having good, white-collar salaries. I’m under no delusion here; there are but two variables in this equation:
If we’d had lower incomes, we wouldn’t have been able to save nearly this much. We hit our financial independence number a few years later, but made the decision for Mr. FW to continue working because he enjoyed his job well enough, it paid extremely well and he was able to work remotely from our homestead in Vermont. We also wanted to pad that FI number because more is always better.
Back to our 23 Simple Steps…
14. We purchased our Vermont place in late 2015 (the same week Kidwoods was born, which for the record, I do not recommend… even though it totally worked out).
15. I left my office job after Kidwoods was born and started working more hours on freelance writing and Frugalwoods.
16. We moved to Vermont full-time in May 2016 and began renting out our Cambridge house in June 2016.
17. We continued to save at a pretty high rate–typically saving all of my husband’s salary and living off of my income combined with the rental income.
18. We had our second daughter, Littlewoods, in 2018… mere weeks before my first book published! I seem to have a knack for birthing children at REALLY stressful/busy times.
19. In the spring of 2021, we made the decision for Mr. FW to retire from his job as a software engineer after being with the same company for 14 years.
20. We paid off our Vermont mortgage prior to his retirement, for reasons that are fully explained in this post.
21. I continued to work part-time at my favorite job of all time: helping people with their money!!!!
22. We’ve never initiated a drawdown of our assets because we’re able to continue living on my income combined with the net profit of our rental property. We “practiced” this for several years while saving my husband’s income, which was a fabulous way to determine the feasibility of this plan.
23. If I decide to stop working, or the rental ceases to be profitable, or some combination thereof, we can always start a sustainable drawdown, per our above FIRE calculations.
All in all, I’m very cognizant of the role that privilege and luck play in our successes.
Sure, we worked hard, but we were also dealt a winning hand at birth and continued to rack up privileged opportunities over the years. That fact is not lost on me and I know I’m a very fortunate person.
Present Day: April 7, 2023
That brings us to the present day and what I identify as the “Frugalwoods financial maintenance phase” (hat tip to my favorite podcast). We’ve settled into a more temperate version of our old selves, which extends its tendrils into every aspect of our lives. This moderation plays out not only in the way we spend money; it permeates everything we do.
We spend more than we did during “the lean years,” but less than during our “hedonistic heyday.” I think we’ve hit that middle ground where we’re not constantly leaning into extreme frugality, but we’re still judicious about our spending.
We continue to invest for retirement (through my solo 401k), contribute to our taxable investments, save into 529 college savings plans for our kids, and add to our Donor Advised Fund for charitable giving. Our income is much lower than when my husband was working, but we live happily and we live well.
Crucially, we have the time, space, freedom and clarity of purpose that we lacked nine years ago.
My early Frugalwoods posts outline those lean years in detail and my hope is that this nine-year retrospective will enable me to illuminate the middle ground, the maintenance phase, the sustainable-for-a-lifetime place we’ve (hopefully) arrived at today.
I look forward to excavating some of my years-old posts, many of which I haven’t looked at since I first wrote them. And since you’re on this journey with me, I MUST know…
What old Frugalwoods posts are you interested in hearing an update on???
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First time commenting but I’ve been reading for…pretty close to nine years. Happy anniversary! This is the perfect opportunity for me to ask something I’ve wondered about. Long ago, near the beginning of the blog, you wrote a post outlining your plan, which I think had both of quitting your jobs before moving and also possibly an AirBnB yurt? Obviously, that’s not exactly what happened, so I’d love an update on when and why you decided to change the plan as you went.
I can’t reply to myself since my previous comment is still awaiting approval, but I believe this is the post I was thinking of: https://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/01/14/frugal-homestead-series-part-2-heres-the-budget/
Great question! Thank you! I’ll put that in the queue!
I liked your post on clothing and how you changed as a fashionista.
Similarly, and from the same era, I think there was one with a detailed breakdown of anticipated expenses like equipment, gear, repairs, etc. that was published, commented on, revised–how did that compare to actuals?
And this would probably not merit an entire post, but it would be interesting to hear your reflections on the evolution of your writing style. You were not frugal with the 25-cent words early on 😉, but your style has become much more relatable since then.
I love that you are sharing the steps you took and pointing out the privilege behind many of them. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy this blog so much. As a community, FIRE enthusiasts consistently fail to acknowledge the privilege behind so much of what they do.
+1, this is why I keep reading Frugalwoods and have fallen away from following some of the other FIRE folks.
Happy Frugalwoods anniversary! You are an inspiration to me and I look forward to continuing to read about your journey.
If I’m right that the “us at 30” picture is from Atwood Tavern, you may be sad to hear they’ve announced they’re closing. One more example of things that have changed over the last nine years!
You are 100% correct!!! Oh that is too bad they are closing! We loved going there during our hedonistic heyday ;).
Wow congrats on 9 years and thanks for all the great content! Amazing you are able to live such a great life without drawing down on your savings.
It’s not such a big throwback but I do remember at one point your saying you were opting out of 529s for the kids, and then it seems like you changed course so I’d love to hear how your thinking evolved.
Ah yes, 529s! I think I’ve got you covered in this post: How We Use 529 Plans To Save For College. But let me know if you have other questions on 529s!
Thanks! yes, I remember that post but was specifically wondering about the change of heart from this 2017 post when you weren’t planning to do 529s , if you care to share! https://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/01/24/our-low-cost-no-fuss-diy-money-management-system/
i ,like many, am a sucker for a good remodel story and would love any and all detail on progress of home remodel .
also infrastructure of homestead; shop: tools, and the like. i loved that about “living the good life” by helen and scott nearing. also you would crush on a well placed private airbnb cabin or do hip camp for RV in discreet place on your land.
I’d like to hear about home updates too!
Happy Anniversary and thank you for continuing to share here.
I would also enjoy learning more about how renovations are going.
Meet the Frugalwoods was the first FIRE related book I read several years ago. After becoming debt free, I felt lost and wondered what to do next. Your story is inspiring and enlightening on so many levels. I appreciate your honesty and openness as it helps others to understand and relate more easily. Thanks for all you do. Here’s to many more Frugalwoods anniversaries!
If it is not too painful, I would love to see a retrospective on the life of Frugal Hound.
Oooh me too!
I believe there was a post around the time of Frugal Hound’s passing. Nonetheless, I’m not opposed to a post full of “fotos” (as Liz used to call them) of Frugal Hound. And the new pup, too!!!
Happy anniversary! I’ve been reading your blog since 2015, and believe I’ve been through every post. Absolutelye love it, and I think one of the reasons is your gratitude, which always shines through. (Some financial bloggers are a little too pleased with themselves for my liking, but your tone of voice is always warm, humourous and graceful). I remember that in the early days, you wrote a few posts about letting go of what other people think. It would be interesting to read your reflections on that topic today. I also really enjoyed your frugal hound posts – what about some photos of Frugal Hound 2.0 in some snazzy outfits? Anyway, I’m sure that whatever topic you choose to revisit, it will make an interesting read!
Thank you for the gift of sharing your experiences through beautifully written text and photos. There have been many times when I literally burst out laughing at some of these stories like when you attended a Christmas church service with your very young children. I don’t remember the exact date but I remember the comedic description through your excellent writing. I enjoy the case studies, stories of life on the homestead and of course your excellent and practical financial advice. You had a direct impact on my financial situation. I am in my sixth decade and for years I was in deep credit card debt. I never could see a way out. I do not fit the bill when it comes to saving for retirement, investments etc. but you inspired me to work on getting rid of that debt. In the fall of 2021 I am debt free. It is such a relief to be free and in control of my finances again . You have made positive impact, not only in my life, but I am sure many others who follow this beautiful blog. Thank you so much!
Happy frugalversary! So, this wouldn’t really be revisiting a past post, but I desperately miss the “this month on the homestead” series. Perhaps a “this season on the homestead” or “this year on the homestead” would be possible? So curious to know how you continue to develop your homestead vision!
Thanks for nine years of helpful, informative, and humor-infused content!
I also love the “This Month” series.
Totally agree! Seasonal updates would be fun! I enjoy that series more than the monthly spending updates.
I also miss the homestead series and would love to see some version come back!
I miss them too, and love the idea of “this season on the homestead.”
Yes, I miss these posts too! I liked these more than the monthly spending posts. Maybe there’s a way to combine them with more blog-type homestead updates for those of us who want them, plus a breakdown of spending at the end.
Happy nine-year anniversary, Liz and Nate! Your writing is wonderful, and I love whatever you write about.
I think I am a nine year girl. I feel in love with your ideas from the first minute. In a sense I have been living it all my life, but no one had ever put it in words or steps before. I think this is great for every young couple and should be a wedding gift for each of them. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary. I am looking forward to your future thoughts and guidance.
I’d be interested in hearing more parenting retrospectives if you’re up for it! I know that might feel a bit vulnerable—as a parent I look back on some of the approaches I had with my first and just feel like, “what was I thinking…” 🤪 It’s a journey! I also want to say I appreciated your posts on PPD so much, since it’s something I also struggled with.
I, too, am horrified by how ignorant I was about parenting. Too punitive, too easily caught in power struggles, sometimes unreasonable about what a child should be able to do at a certain age. I went back and apologized to them for being too harsh, for replicating how I was raised even though I hated much of my childhood.
That was my first thought, your detailed PPD story, and how are you feeling now? Do you feel your old self again? Has there been a permanent change?
Ahh yes! That’s a great topic! Thank you for bringing it up–I will add it to the list!
Just want to say thank you.
Glad to see you guys are doing well, seeing the ages of the kids 5 and 7 craziness I tell you. Hope the homestead is treating you better each day, cheers!
I have been reading since you lived in Cambridge and have loved following along on your journey. I have always appreciated your acknowledgment of the impact graduating from college debt free had on your early adult life. I had significant debt and it was a slog to pay off, but a huge relief when I could focus on saving.
Can you share what kind of financial assistance you had for your wedding and what you intend to do for you children? If parents pay for a wedding and the children receive generous gifts, this can also be a big leg up in early life. We are also seeking financial independence and right now I am bucketing a small sum in a separate brokerage account for my two boys for their future big life events (in addition to a 529). I look forward to your insight. Thank you again for all that you do and your inspiration the past 9 years. I’ve read you book several times 🙂
My husband and I retired last year at age 53. It is nice.
Thank you for normalizing giving second hand gifts. My son just had his first birthday and we got all of his gifts at a children’s consignment event. It was great!
Happy Frugalversary, Liz! Thanks for meeting us here for nine (!?) years of ups, downs, solid advice and hilarious jokes. (and dog photos, because dog photos)
I have been following your blog since you lived in Cambridge and have enjoyed every phase.
I think revisiting what it felt like in the years where you were in the planning stages vs. in the reaping the rewards stages would be so helpful. It’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m still years away from the end of my plan, and it would be great to hear about times where you felt less sure that this would all work out the way you’d envisioned.
Can you dig that frugal lunch rice and beans recipe out and repost 🙂 I am also one that eats the same lunch day in and day out at work to save money!
Cheryl it is this https://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/01/23/our-epically-frugal-lunch-recipe/
Love this post! I have learned so so much from you over the years. Our salaries aren’t quite as high as you and your spouse, but we’ve been able to save some money thanks to your tips and are in a pretty good financial space overall. And, you’ve really taught me about how to walk that line of being lean to the point of being miserable vs. hedonistic as you say! Has me thinking a lot about how to spend my discretionary money and what is important for me (online fitness classes, crafting supplies, and the occasional book and haircut from local businesses). As well as how to curb that restaurant spending!
I have so enjoyed your content over the past 9 years. It’s been something I’ve turned to again and again when I needed a pick-me-up in my own financial journey. I hope you feel good knowing that you’re adding such value to your readers’ lives! I would definitely enjoy hearing more about how you’re striking that balance between excess and leanness that you reference in this post. Sometimes I struggle with being all-or-nothing about finances—it’s that middle ground that is elusive. For instance, you used to do home haircuts for the whole family but now you get your hair cut and styled in a salon—how did you get to a place where you decided that expense was important and others were not? (And that’s not a judgment—it’s something I really appreciate because (1) I think it is important to have some things like that for ourselves that make us feel good, if we can afford to do so; and (2) practicing moderation can be harder than practicing lean frugality). Having more discussion around things like that would be helpful for readers like me who are trying to achieve that middle ground.
Also would like to register a vote for a new book on this phase of your journey 🙂
Just wanted to ditto the call to post about the issue of balance – moderation vs. what we have been calling “austerity.” We are going through this ourselves, realizing we had been penny wise on things where we should have spent more, and also trying to stay focused on not giving in to the thoughtless indulgence.
Happy anniversary! Thanks for all your thoughtful words. Amongst many, many things, a special thank you for your recommendation all those years ago of online yoga. After years of gym membership it was a lightbulb moment for me and I’ve been happily ‘rolling out my mat’ in my lounge room ever since. You make me feel I have another frugal friend in my life who doesn’t need to live the roller coaster life of consumerism at all costs.
Congratulations! Happy Anniversary! I enjoy your blog so much! Thank you for sharing your path. It is so important for others to know how to plan for a successful life and how to achieve it. My husband and I found each other later in life in our mid forties. We both loved our jobs, saved, invested and were able to retire very successfully, completely debt free. We planned every expenditure and were able to remodel our whole house over time, too. We are very fortunate and thankful.
Thank you for your wonderful blog. I miss seeing the reader suggestion posts. Those were fun to participate and read the great advice in the post.
Congratulations — you have done wonderfully well. I would say that with 2 kids and a homestead, working about 23 hours a week still seems like a lot to me! Thankfully your husband is right with you and everyone is healthy.
Just a comment on how much I appreciate your posts. I often re-read them to dive into information, etc. Thanks for your work!
I’m really excited about this series and I appreciate you taking the time to write about how your thoughts have evolved over the years. I look forward to more of these! I’ve been a reader since my twins were born in 2015 and my spouse and I have seen our own journey with money evolve over the years as well. It’s always helpful to hear other peoples stories to learn from!
Love you guys! I would suggest a point 24: We are handy/mechanically inclined which facilitates insourcing and saves money. I’m constantly amazed at how many things Nate figures out. Not everyone has this ability.
Indeed! My husband is very good at fixing things and problem solving. I am mediocre at best, and in most cases I don’t want to spend my limited time and energy figuring it out.
The one exception is sewing to fix clothing and our taxes. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing both.
Have been following since your Cambridge days and have loved your story since that time! Looking forward to your ongoing adventure & future stories.
Happy Anniversary! Not that this is super important, but Maintenance Phase is also my favorite podcast and love to see the shout out :).
I’m interested in learning more about the home renovations you mentioned a while back. What are you doing yourselves vs hiring out? How do you find contractors? And how do you find the time?? Thanks!
Thank you so much for posting. I have learned so much over the years. If you’re comfortable, could you do a post about the interplay between looking forward to a more joyful life vs financial anxiety propelling you forward to financial independence.
I would like to hear more updates on your garden and animals. Also a cost breakdown of the garden would be interesting. Also your current take on chores and allowances would be much appreciated. As well as if you talk to your schoolchild about family finances.
Wow! Have I really been reading Frugalwoods that long? You two are simply amazing and inspiring.
“All in all, I’m very cognizant of the role that privilege and luck play in our successes.”
Don’t cut yourself short! I cannot tell you the folks that I know; 25-85, with amazing amounts of money being made ($100,000 + every year), yet the credit cards are maxxed out, they do not have a paid for house nor anyway to get there, and stress out about taking a vacation or the dog to the vet or the car needing maintainence. I mention this blog to them, mention how it helped ME get my finances turned around and get my proverbial house in order. I get blank stares, then some ridiculous line about well it costs so much to live…….Nonsense! You two got your story outlined and made a plan to get there. I truly think that anyone can do this-but it requires a commitment to getting healthy financially. And therein lies the problem for most folks. My own folks, God Bless Them, while making incredible amounts of money-the finance box was a tinder box of misery and terror that no one wanted to touch. You Frugalwoods helped me get over that! I can now speak about money and not turn queasy inside. I think you are amazing and tell everyone to read this blog!
I’ve known “broke” people who “can’t” save money, but they can eat restaurant food several times a week, buy lottery tickets, go to coffee shops, and buy beer/wine/cocktails etc. I am not saying that we should *never* do those things, but maybe do them a lot less, and have $1,000-$3,000 stashed away for an unexpected situation. Eating two $20 restaurant meals per week will add up to $2,080 per year.
I appreciate Frugal woods acknowledging the roles of luck and privilege have played in her success. There are plenty of people out there who can work hard and make sacrifices but that doesn’t automatically mean that they’re going to have the good luck to invest in a hot real estate market at the right time or have parents who can pay for their college or have a very lucrative high paying jobs.
Nope, not everyone can do this. I appreciate Mr. Frugalwood’s acknowledgment of their privilege. When you have that privilege, it can be hard to see for some.
I typed Ms. Didn’t notice autocorrect ‘fixed that for me. >sigh<
Your writing and ideas have inspired me these past 9 years and I’m very grateful for you (and your family). Thank you!
I am a long time follower! I have always thought you should start a podcast! Just throwing it out there. I’ve enjoyed following your journey throughout the years.
Congrats on the 9 year anniversary. I’m a long time reader, first time poster. I continue to appreciate the openness and detailed aspects of your posts and have benefited from your writings. Thank you.
Way to go…. more people need to live within their means and stop over spending and keeping up with their friends lifestyles that they may not be able to afford. They need to prioritize saving for retirement, college expenses, charitable giving, taxes, etc. I have been very fortunate to work in financial services, however I have always been a saver. I had my first mutual fund at 20, which I still own, a great 401(k) with company match and a 529 plan and Roth IRA. I can’t stress saving for the future. You have shown and will continue to show others that it can be done, keep up the good work.
Ditto to all the above. I very much enjoy your blog and look every day to see if you have a blogged for the day! It has been fun to see all the changes your family has gone through. I’ve learned a lot and have participated in your Frugal Series twice. Would love to see a gardening book, recipes and how you use your garden foods. Keep on doing what you have!
Have you ever written about how you make money from Frugalwoods? I know you wrote a book (I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it!) and that you do consults now but I’ve never entirely understood how you make money from Frugalwoods. Congrats on 9 years! I’ve been a reader since the very early days and have loved following along.
That would be quite interesting!
I always enjoy blogs breaking this down
I rarely comment but have been here since the beginning. Love your posts, loved taking the frugal challenge, and have learned so much through the years even though I’m much older. I stay engaged and interested because of the tips I get from you. One of my all time favorite blogs. My favorite post is always the monthly roundup of all your spending…guess that makes me nosy (in a good way or course!)😸
We are not doing a hardcore 100% frugal lifestyle, but we wanted to be *much more* frugal than we were. Your blog has given us a lot of information and tips! The other day, I re-read the posts about six things that you never buy at the grocery store. Has the list has changed? Do you now buy any of those things? Have you stopped buying other items?
I would be interested in follow ups to the reader case studies.
Looking forward to cheering you on for the next 9 years 🙂
Congratulations on nine years frugalversary!
I’m a fan from Australia. I stumbled on your blog almost the same number of years ago. I struggle to get DH to fully join in the frugal lifestyle but I am content to live vicariously through the many Frugalwoods community case studies and your well-articulated posts and tips.
I am hoping one day I’ll be able to arrive at a desirable FI as doing it solo without DH makes it more difficult. Nonetheless, I am thankful for your sharing and efforts.
DaKingskid, hang in there! Doing FI without DPartner on board is difficult but possible – and yes, the #1 advice to Have A Talk With DP So They Get It is often useless; if it was that easy to change their mindset, they’d have changed already. Keep doing your frugality! If nothing else, it may save you if/when a crisis hits and DP is fully unprepared but you are (as has happened to us). Plus DP may come around after a (very) long time of seeing what you do and how it helps. You will get there; always have faith in yourself no matter what, and keep at it!
Congratulations on your great blog, and also for keeping it lively and interesting for nine years! I have been reading it from the start, and even at my grandmotherly stage of life, I often learn new ideas from you. My husband and I always had a big frugal streak. We cook from scratch, grow a lot of our fruit and
vegetables, make home brew beer and delicious multigrain bread. We very rarely eat out and enjoy repairing items and finding treasures on the streets that others are throwing away. We raised our three children to be that way, and now guide our grandchildren to enjoy competency and appreciate frugality. We benefited from buying our first home in our early twenties and having reliable salaries and good superannuation. Now, it is much harder to achieve that here in Australia, and I suspect, in America. House prices here, in the cities, are way too high for most people, without help from family. So, my question is about the future. How do you see your lives and finances playing out over the next thirty or forty years? Do you anticipate needing to help your children financially, with a deposit, for example, when they are ready to buy a home? Does your excellent capacity for planning cover the entire lifespan? Best wishes, from a frugal elder in Oz.
Really awesome post. I did want to comment on the below.
“All in all, I’m very cognizant of the role that privilege and luck play in our successes.”
What a lot of people miss, to their detriment, is that a lot of of ‘privilege’ comes from making good decisions. The privilege of good decisions. No need to apologize for making the sacrifices and working exceptionally hard to achieve your goal.
Congratulations, Mrs. Frugalwoods! You’re an inspiration for me. You make the frugaler lifestyle a fun adventure and one that helps me feel happier with my life. I also appreciate the comments from the community because I feel like I’m not alone! Thank you and hat tip to you for all you have accomplished!
What are the next shows or content that your kids watch.. thank you for introducing me and kids to Daniel Tiger 🙂
Ahh this is an easy one: Anything on PBS Kids! It’s all highly educational and FREE with the PBS Kids app. They’re currently loving: Alma’s Way, Donkey Hode, Nature Cat, Odd Squad, Peg + Cat, really most of the shows on there!
I’d like to have a little update on the “spending 1000 hours outside” resolution. How did it go?
Oh yeah! Totally forgot about that. We bailed. Not because we weren’t spending a lot of time outside but because tracking it felt arduous and was sucking some of the joy out of it. For example: the kids like to spontaneously run outside for sporadic intervals of time, so do I have to track each child’s time separately? Do I count the hours they spend outside during the school day (their school has an outdoor classroom, etc)? Just too much admin for me!
Doing it made me realize how much we are indeed outside and also how much I don’t want to track our leisure time :). But the concept is cool!
I read your book when it came out and have been reading your email newsletters since that time. I particularly like blog posts about your life on the homestead. I used to read the case studies, but it seemed that most if not all of them were about people with fairly high incomes and savings, and I had a hard time relating. I would love to see some case studies about people who have average (50-80k or so) incomes and not a lot of savings. Where I live, those would be fairly common.
Hi Linda: Thank you for this request! Here are 7 recent Case Studies featuring folks with annual incomes ranging from $39,420 to $80,736:
1) Reader Case Study: Is Having a Stay-At-Home Parent Financially Feasible for the Longterm? ($40,764/year for a family of 5)
2) Reader Case Study: Home Health Aide with Incarcerated Husband wants to Write Mystery Novels($46,320/year for one person)
3) Reader Case Study: Looking For Less Stress and Lower Spending ($65,052 for a family of 4)
4) Reader Case Study: Fix the Fixer Upper or Move On? ($62,556 for a family of 4)
5) Reader Case Study: Rock Climber Seeks the Freelance Life ($39,420 for one person)
6) Reader Case Study: Can I Retire at 60 and Pay for My Kids’ College? ($80,736 for a family of 4)
7) Reader Case Study: A Doula, A Scientist & Three Kids in Alaska ($64,884 for a family of 5)
And this is just a random sampling! There are more in the 95 total Case Studies I’ve done. Here’s the section for those if you’re interested in diving in.
Congrats on the Frugalversary (?!) and thank you so much for writing. I’d also love some house renovation updates. I’d be interested to read a post on what you insource / outsource these days and how you got there. And a day in the life / usual daily or weekly routines. I so enjoy your writing. 👍
Happy Anniversary to you! This is by far my favorite blog! I always anticipate your posts as they have been tremendously helpful over the years. Looking forward to many more years 🙂
Happy anniversary and thank you.
I didn’t realize I’d been reading for so long, and I really look forward to your posts! I also LOVE the FB group.
We are coast FIRE, and both able to work only 32 hours per week. We still contribute to retirement, 529, and overall savings. We are spending a bit more intentionally to improve our home, give our son amazing family experiences while he’s living at home, and a bit of (intentional) lifestyle inflation.
You’ve certainly contributed to our ability to hit these financial and life goals. We’re much more intentional about how we spend because of your uber frugal month challenge.
Congratulations! I found your blog in 2015 after a recommendation from retireby40.org. I was new to the FIRE movement and looking for a way to get out of the Silicon Valley rat race. I can honestly say that without your blog, I would never have believed it possible. Fast forward and we are now on 10 acres in Southern Oregon with goats, chickens and rabbits! I still work in high tech, but at my pace and a balanced life that works for me and our family. Thank you Liz for showing the path! 💜💜💜
I’d be interested in seeing a retrospective on your food preservation. I know you’ve talked about some of it at different times. However, have you found that some things weren’t worth the work? Has your canning branched out? Are you still maple sugaring?
I don’t know if you’ve done an entire post on this before. I would be interested in your input on the problem of frugality and shopping/eating local. There is a lot of pressure to support local businesses whenever possible, especially in the past few years. It’s just not feasible for all of us to do that *and* be frugal. If my husband and I tried to buy everything local, we would be traveling several miles (ten to fifteen or more) to multiple stores, in different directions. We could easily spend three times as much money. I dislike the “every chain store is bad” stigma!
You are an inspiration to us all! Happy Anniversary and keep up the good work.
Question. Do. you think that you would be able to FI if you had remain in the city?
Yes! We choose to live rurally because we love the woods, the space and the privacy, but it’s actually more expensive to live out here than in the city for a number of reasons. I did a post outlining the difference in costs a few years back, which is here: City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown.
It’s been an excellent 9 year journey to follow…perhaps nothing more interesting than the many phases of hairstyles/chia beard. 🙂
Here’s to many more years of prosperity.
Hi Liz! I’ve been here with you for almost the whole journey…it’s hard to believe it. I spent a good part of today rereading some of my all-time FW faves and bookmarks, and I came back to this post to ask for an update on the city vs. country cost of living showdown! Back when you wrote that post, you were fairly new to the homestead and still investing in all kinds of expensive equipment to get to insourcing mode. Now that you’re a few years in and have a) acquired an additional child and b) settled into having most of the equipment you need, I think it would be so interesting to see an update that shows how costs have changed for you!
From the bottom of my heart, congratulations on your success in building your kind of life. From Peeps in Jeeps to snow bunnies and beyond, I have truly loved getting glimpses into it and can’t wait for the next nine years.
Awwww thank you so much, Kaitlin!!! I too have been thinking about updating that Cost of Living Showdown, but I don’t know how to calculate what our city spending would be now… I need a doppleganger city family with two kids who would be my foil… 🙂
Maybe it doesn’t have to be a comparison, but just kind of “third column” with what it costs to run the homestead now? Obviously things are more expensive in the cities now, too, but for suburban voyeurs like me, what’s especially interesting is the costs of that rural farm life. Also, I think you could write a solid Ultimate Amateur Guide to Necessary Homesteading Equipment – kinda like your frugal baby gear post 🙂