Frugality: The Green Swan and The Frugalwoods
Hello folks! Welcome back to The Green Swan. I appreciate you stopping by, as always. In today’s post I want to chat about how frugality has been my means to an end. First, let me acknowledge there are numerous great personal finance bloggers out there and I’ve been enjoying reading many of them the last couple years. One of my favorites is the Frugalwoods. Their frugal lifestyle is very inspirational and thought provoking, Mrs. Frugalwood’s writing style is very easy to read, and the blog posts are always filled with great pictures (especially of Frugalhound). Although, I am still waiting on a picture of a moose out in the woods from their motion camera! 🙂
Mrs. Frugalwoods wrote a post recently how to them, Frugality is Not Deferred Spending. I loved the post and not unlike many of her other posts, it got me thinking. I love the frugal lifestyle philosophy her family espouses and lives, but I couldn’t help but draw a few differences from my thought process and lifestyle philosophy. Ultimately, it boils down to whether it is temporary or permanent; whether it is a means to an end or an overarching life philosophy.
My Frugal Philosophy
Let me start by giving you my vision of frugality. Similar to the Frugalwoods, frugality is not a necessity but a choice. Frugality does not mean you are poor, you don’t know how to manage your money, or you’re a cheap-ass. In fact, it may be the exact opposite. Frugality is the delicate balance of comfort and cost. It’s not easy and some folks do it better than others.
According to the Frugalwoods, frugality should be tailored to meet your individual long term goals and spending priorities. Also, frugality is a way of life, but not to the point of depression or anger. I couldn’t agree more with these points; life wouldn’t be much of a joy otherwise!
Lucy and I have embraced a frugal lifestyle since college. We’ve focused on keeping our cost of living low, managing our expenses, and we’ve gotten better and better at finding areas to save as the years have gone by.
While admittedly, Lucy and I have chosen to allow some lifestyle inflation in our lives in recent years and have focused our spending more on comfort and experiences than just to meet our needs. We touched on this in my recent How I Got FIRE’d post, but we still focus on living a frugal life and in fact have introduced new “frugal measures” to help reduce or control spending.
For example, for the last couple years I began getting my haircut at home which saves us ~$150 per year. And that is not temporary, no reason it should be. I don’t plan on ever paying anyone to cut my hair again. I think the Frugalwood’s would be proud of this! There are numerous other examples too, we are always looking for new and creative ways to save.
The Core of Frugality
Frugality is about examining expenses, determining if they are necessary and add some level of comfort or happiness to your life that outweighs the alternatives. And frugality is about constantly searching for better alternatives. While getting my haircut is necessary and doing it at the barber does add some convenience, when I realized we had a feasible at home alternative (my wife and a few YouTube videos) I quickly called quits to that!
Saving money by spending less on haircuts means we can sleep better at night when we spend money on a new dress for Lucy for a recent wedding. Saving money by cutting cable helps us feel better by spending a couple hundred on swim and gymnastics lessons for Jr. Saving money by evaluating our cell phone options and cutting our plan in half means we can splurge on craft beer instead of the cheap “Light” or “Lite” beers.
The point of frugality is to find less expensive ways to enjoy your current quality of life!
The Same but Different
I commend the Frugalwoods. They’ve embraced frugality and it has allowed them to reach their dream of buying a homestead in Vermont. They’ve tailored their life perfectly to allow them to reach their long-term goals. They’ve tightened their belt and have learned to love it.
Lucy and I aren’t much different from the Frugalwoods. Until recently, we’ve never been high wage earners. We’ve used frugality as a way to get ahead, as a way to save money and build our net worth. Slowly, but surely. And now that we’ve reached a more comfortable stage in life, in terms of incomes and net worth, and are nearing early retirement we want to loosen the belt just a bit, maybe just a notch.
And that’s where I start to see some differences.
“Frugality isn’t deferred spending; it’s a wholesale transformation of how we interact with our money.”
“But does it have to be permanent?”
– The Green Swan
And while the point of frugality is to find less expensive ways to enjoy your current quality of life, the point of retirement and the goal of financial independence is to spend more time doing hobbies and things you enjoy more often and to cross some things off the bucket list.
My Financial Independence
Most things in life worth having are difficult and require hard work and that includes reaching financial independence. But once I hit financial independence I don’t want to work as hard, I want to embrace it! For me, that is why frugality is a means to an ends, not an overarching life philosophy.
It’s not about buying a lot of things, but buying a life time of experiences. Frugality allows me to boost my investments so that one day it will provide me a never ending supply of happiness and experiences. For me, frugality = temporary simplicity which expands gradually to full-fledged lifestyle inflation driven by experiences and what brings me the most happiness. It’s never going to be spending just to spend, I will still be calculated and considerate of how to spend, but just a lot more of it…it being life experiences. Camping trips with the kids, traveling across the country, a membership at the golf club, and a trip to the super bowl / national championship game / Olympics whenever my team makes it or when I ultimately decide it is a bucket list item. Why not? You only live once!
My approach to frugality is the same, but slightly different from the Frugalwoods. My frugal endeavors have been difficult and uncomfortable at times (including boarder-line starvation). I am now ingrained with life-long frugal habits. But in the end, I plan on having more spending priorities than I do today. I don’t plan on blowing my nose with hundreds, but my spending on travel, family and fun will increase. I plan on kicking back one day. It’s not being satisfied with less for simplicity’s sake, its being satisfied with less in order to indulge more later on.
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan
Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach