Frugal Living for Dummies and Our Start as Savers

Today’s post is Frugal Living for Dummies and shares the story of how we as a couple stressed out about saving money. Frugality gets a lot of negative looks, but for us it was mostly about saving time and avoiding the negative emotional baggage money can bring up. Enjoy the post!

Back when my wife and I were living paycheck to paycheck, a lot beautiful nights were ruined by money.

We would be out to dinner, having a few drinks, laughing about our busy week, and then BOOM.

The bill would show up.

You could practically feel the air being sucked out of the room.

My wife would zone out and think about her 100K+ in student loans.

I would feel guilty for not knowing how to bridge this gap in our relationship.

The waiter was probably like, “ummm, are you guys okay?” … as we were letting money get the best of us.

Here I was, a money savvy CPA, yet I was stuck and had no idea what to do or even how to bring up the subject of money.

What I did know was that what had worked in the past was no longer going to fly.

I wish I knew then that only 9 months later we would be escaping the paycheck to paycheck nightmare.

Frugal Living for Dummies

Today’s post centers on this topic of Frugality because one of our latest YouTube videos talks about the specific benefits of Frugal living.

You’ll notice I bring up the dining out experience, but this time, it’s a positive reflection because of our frugal lifestyles.

No more emotional jabs to the gut!

So, What Does Frugality Even Mean?

After spending hours on the phone this week with DD readers after Wednesday’s post, I’ve discovered there are MANY concepts of what frugality is and isn’t.

For me, frugality isn’t just about saving money, or pinching pennies, or clipping coupons.

Frugality is about saving time.

We all spend 2,000 hours (give or take) earning money each year, but how much additional time do we spend thinking or even worse, stressing out about money?

How much time is spent arguing about money or thinking about how to communicate our side of the story?

My wife and I still have scar tissue from all those stressful, exciting, but impulsive nights out.

Our $100 dinner bill would cancel out our efforts to save more money.

Frugality allowed us to be thrifty and savvy with our investments, earning additional money via tax savings, and being massive benefactors of one of the largest bull markets in history.

I love this concept of Frugal Living for Dummies because that’s what it was for us.

We were being dumb.

So, for anyone out there still struggling to save and implement a long-term sustainable plan to building wealth, I hope you see the benefits frugality has to offer. Saving money is great, but saving time and preventing emotional scars is even better.

How do you practice frugal living?


P.S. For anyone interested in adding feedback on what they’d like to see in my upcoming 4 Pillars Workshop, you can take a short, 1-question survey by clicking here.

P.P.S. THANK YOU to everyone who added feedback and spent time with me on the phone (once again, apologies to Larry for interrupting the birthday party!!).

As promised on most of the calls, I’ll be combining 2 of my pillars, adding in an entire section, and revamping another based on your feedback. Despite the additional work this will be for my weekend, I’m glad to be addressing each of your concerns and questions ahead of next week. Enjoy the weekend!

3 comments… add one
  • The FIRE Engine Feb 2, 2018, 1:56 pm

    Great post Matt!

    I feel we often apply different scales when assessing spending i.e. dinner out could be $20-50 per person, while new sporting goods could be $50-200 etc. I try to boil them down to a common tangible scale to compare the value I am likely to get from the purchase. Many people use the number of hours’ work required to pay for it, while I tend to use how many weeks/months I could feed myself for that amount. If I know that I can eat for a week on $30, then a $100 dinner out could instead have fed me for the best part of a month!


    • Distilled Dollar Feb 4, 2018, 6:00 pm

      Well said and I used that same approach with thinking about how daily investments lead up to massive amounts of “early retire” days at a later age. I’ve heard this approach used by quite a few FIRE bloggers so it must be something that runs in the blood for us.

  • robin Feb 4, 2018, 10:51 pm

    As one of your older subscribers my focus when younger was not wanting ever, ever be an old poor woman. I knew what living on the edge looked like/felt like and I sure as heck never wanted to have to experience that later in life. Never! So my thoughts were not about retiring early, but retiring with enough financial resources whereby I could live mindfully, yet not fear running out of money at the time when I would be the most vulnerable. And now that I am a widow that sense of vulnerably becomes even more powerful. I am a resourceful and capable person, but… And the US is, frankly, not a place you want to live when poor or vulnerable. I am not rich, that was not my goal. What I have is no debt, an income stream that is modest but I won’t outlive it, I own my own home (a condo), I live in a community that is compatible with my values and I have good friends. As I age these are the things that I most appreciate — and what I worked for my whole life.

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