The Frugal Millionaire
Hello folks! Thanks for visiting The Green Swan. The key to financial success for many is the ability to start and maintain positive spending habits. I know this to be true for myself and others who are close to me. What’s great about starting these habits, especially early, is that many of them stick. Once we learn to get by doing things a certain way, why change? And many times, after starting frugal habits, you may realize that “the frugal way” is just as good or better than the alternative (i.e. store brand products vs. brand name).
Whether frugality is a means to an end, or an overarching lifestyle philosophy, we can all agree the frugal habits are important to develop early. So today I thought it would be fun to share some frugal habits of various millionaires and billionaires, some of the frugal habits I’ve developed, and then in the comments section you can feel free to add to the list!
Rich People’s Spending Habits
Kawhi Leonard (NBA player for the San Antonio Spurs)
- While he has a pro contract for $94 million over the next five years, he panicked when he thought he lost his Wingstop coupon for free wings.
- He still drives a rehabbed ’97 Chevy Tahoe because “it runs” and “it’s paid off”.
- He spends his summers in a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego rather than an expansive home on the coast.
Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA Founder)
- Despite being a billionaire, he still flies economy class.
- Gets his haircut in developing countries when he’s traveling on business to save money.
- Buys his clothes at a flea market.
Ryan Broyles (Former NFL player for the Detroit Lions)
- While his contract was worth more than $3.6 million, he and his family live on $60,000 / year.
- He and his wife drove Mazdas and he still had his ’05 Chevy Trailblazer from college.
- Uses the budgeting website Mint.
Warren Buffett (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway)
- While considered the world’s preeminent investor and the second richest person in the U.S., he still lives in his $31,500 home in Omaha, NE.
- He celebrated his wedding anniversary at his daughter’s house nearby and afterward at Bonefish Grill.
Gilbert Gottfried (Actor and Comedian)
- Gottfried was quoted as saying “If someone else is paying for it, food just tastes a lot better”. Isn’t that the truth!
- He’s also known for taking public transportation when going on dates.
- He refuses to host parties because they are costly and people just come for the food.
While these real life examples may seem a bit pedestrian, especially for those in the FIRE crowd, I thought I would share a few of my “more extreme” frugal habits. Admittedly, most are a little embarrassing, but some have been successful for me and have stuck around. Others I have tried and concluded them as failures.
Also, note that the examples below do not include a lot of simple cost saving methods such things as cutting cable, cutting back on our phone bill contract, my switch to solar power, using a rain barrel for watering the yard and garden, using my natural or home environment as a gym, my search for cheap but good coffee, or even DIY iPhone screen replacement.
- After seeing the suggestion on Mr. Money Mustache, I tried hang drying my clothes to save electricity by not running the dryer. I went as far as buying a few clothes drying racks. However, I concluded this was a failure though because I just didn’t like the feel of the clothes after hang drying. Maybe I’m not doing something right…
- I’ve tried to save money on the water bill by only running the water in the shower to get wet initially and to rinse. I still practice this as does my wife occasionally. I’m sure this saves money, but I haven’t tried to quantify it.
- Staying in the shower for a minute…I hog freebie toiletries from hotels when we travel and bring them back to use. Not that we travel a ton, but even for work trips we have managed to build up a stock-pile. This is basically all I use. This is admittedly a cheap-ass thing to do, but after recently being exposed to the mission of the Ronald McDonald House, I plan on donating these supplies and future supplies as well.
- Lucy and I have arranged our work schedules to match up to allow us to commute in together. On top of that, her employer offers free parking (saving ~$1.5k per year) which we take full advantage of.
- We bought blackout curtains for some of our upstairs bedrooms. I’ve become fairly strict about keeping window shades and curtains closed basically all summer, and keeping them opened all winter. This makes a surprisingly big difference on our utilities!
- I limit my dry-cleaning. I hate this expense, and the way some folks dry clean clothes I figure it would be more efficient to buy a new pair every time. My dress shirts are machine wash and non-iron so this isn’t an issue, but I do need to dry-clean my slacks. I try to limit this to just a few times a year. I mean they’re just pants and it isn’t like I work out in them! You may call me dirty, but I honestly don’t feel dirty. I don’t even know what the recommendation is on dry-cleaning frequency, but feel free to let me know in the comments.
- I don’t use deodorant on the weekends…do I need to even interject with my wife’s thoughts on this one. How much does this save me? Well, I may buy five sticks a year, so I would guess it saves me two sticks…However, of course I apply deodorant on weekend days that we are out and about more.
- I’ve put plastic window coverings up on some of our large windows for extra insulation in the winter. I didn’t really notice much of a difference in my gas bill, but I think this has more to do with the fact our winters aren’t too bad in Charlotte. But if I lived further north I would use them again, they’re very easy to put up and take down.
As I went through to make this list of “ultra-frugal” cost saving methods (some certainly save more than others), it was actually very hard for me. Not because I don’t take these frugal steps, but because they have become so ingrained that I hardly consider them unnatural or frugal anymore. Crazy, huh? And as a reminder, I use Personal Capital to track and monitor my spending. It is simple to set up and free to use.
So what do you think of my somewhat extreme methods to save a buck? You may say some are pretty petty, saving just a few dollars a year. Well, you’re right, but if you are so rich you no longer stop to pick up a dollar you see loose on the sidewalk, then you live in a different world than me. And after all, a penny saved is a penny earned, and now I’m one penny closer to FI.
Have any good ones you aren’t too embarrassed to share? 🙂 Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan
Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach