When it comes to building frugal habits, I think the biggest and most important step you can take is to adopt philosophy. Think about the things you do, and ask yourself why you do them. This is the key to so many things, and being frugal isn’t an exception.
Now, be warned, taking a long, hard look at any aspect of your life can present you with both good and bad revelations. When it comes to being frugal, once you truly embrace it, it becomes an addiction. Not spending money is an addiction? That’s jazzing it up a bit. It becomes addictive to only spend money on what you need.
Since I truly embraced being frugal, I’ve put so many things back on the shelf, removed them from my shopping cart, and deleted them from my wish list. This may sound a bit ridiculous, but it’s very satisfying when you know you have only purchased what you will need and use. Now, when I do buy something, I am extremely satisfied knowing that it was money well spent.
The things I do own, I cherish, and the value goes beyond money. Once you know what you value, and you can see through the facade of more and be happy with less. Frugal is a mindset, and isn’t really easy, but it does have a huge amount of impact on your life. In my opinion, it makes life better. Really.
A couple years ago while visiting friends in Melbourne, Australia, I had some downtime so I decided to do some laundry. After the washing was done, I noticed there was no dryer. Oh, looks like I’m using a clothesline for the first time since childhood. I still get grief from my Aussie friends regarding North Americans’ use of dryers. In Canada, we don’t have the luxury of drying clothes outside all year round, but you can hang them inside during the winter as your house will be very dry (for those of us in Southeastern Ontario, anyways).
There are a huge number of benefits for such a simple task:
- Less damaging to your clothing [Lint is your clothing degrading]
- Wash Less! [Okay, so it’s labour intensive to dry everything. Only wash when dirty!]
- Better for the environment! [No electricity required!]
- No electricity required so it’s free! [No electricity or coin dryer cost]
- Humidify your house! [In the winter the added moisture will keep you healthier]
- Get outside! [Enjoy a few minutes outside; we all can use it]
Try it! More money in your pocket and better for the environment; it’s a double win!
As part of a FIRE retirement plan, you need to have an idea of total cost. As a minimal apartment dweller, I don’t have all of the things I’ll need for my retirement. While I may not have these items yet, I’ve compiled some starter ‘forever’ lists of what I think I’ll need to meet my needs for my entire life. My retirement plan is comprised of 3 main pieces:
- A Canadian homestead
- A Canada-based adventure van
- A foreign property in a warm climate to hide from winter
I haven’t fleshed out my plan for more foreign property yet, but I have started to think about needs for my adventure van and homestead. A lot of the items listed cross over between the two, so I’ll have a shared, homestead, and van list. Let’s get into it!
- First Aid Kit – Safety First, folks! [PURCHASED] [Needs Upkeep]
- Fishing Rods – Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. [PURCHASED]
- Chopsticks – The only utensil you’ll ever need! [PURCHASED]
- French Press – Always keep good coffee on-hand. [PURCHASED]
- Hand Coffee Grinder – Don’t waste power grinding coffee. [NEED]
- Cookware, Silverware, Tableware – Stainless steel will last forever. [PURCHASED]
- Mattress – Good mattress = Good sleep. Good sleep = Longer Life. [PURCHASED]
- Fire Extinguisher – Safety First! [NEED] [Needs Upkeep]
- Butane Stove – Portable stove for indoor, road, and outdoor use. [NEED]
- Carbon Monoxide Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
- Smoke Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
- Water Jug and Pump – Depending on water use, this may not suffice. TBD. [NEED]
- Wire Rack – For campfire cooking at home and abroad. Incredible [NEED]
Adventure Van Items
- Dash Cam – Gather video, and cover your ass. [NEED]
- Car Toolkit – Carjack, Jumper Cables, Pump. [NEED]
- WiFi Extender – Use wifi from outside a store..keep a lower profile. [NEED]
- Sleeping Bag – A warm weather sleeping bag that works into fall. [PURCHASED]
- General Toolkit – Screwdrivers, Socket Set, etc. [PURCHASED]
- Canning Pot + Jars – Preserve the fruits of your labour. Literally. [NEED]
- Hunting Rifle – Hunting offers a great opportunity for food and experience. [NEED]
- Tiller – Cut time and expand your garden operation. [NEED]
- Fruit Trees – Start these as early as possible. Pears, Apples, Peaches, etc. [NEED]
What do you have on your forever lists?
Up until recently, I was trying to reduce my grocery bill as much as possible. Tweaking what I was buying, when I was buying it, and how much I was buying to tweak every cent. I realized that I was missing the mark a little bit and here’s why.
I was dedicating a fair amount of money to eating out. Eating out with friends is a social thing that I really enjoy, but I was definitely due for a restructuring of how I eat out with friends. Previously I’d spend a certain amount a month, eating at wherever I felt like. When this money ran out, I’d randomly crave sushi, Korean BBQ, and Japanese Ramen. Darn, I’m out of funds..I guess I’ll wait until next month.
The way I approach this now, is I make my social meals target things that I can’t make at home. I’ve reduced my eating out budget, and increased the enjoyment I get from it. The money I saved has been put into my food budget for greater flexibility. This flexibility has increased my recipe repertoire, allowed me to purchase bulk items on sale, and nickel and dime myself less when shopping.
Having more monthly spending for groceries also means I can have friends over for dinner more often, and share a homemade meal that always leaves other full and impressed. I’ve fulfilled my social needs, my love for cooking, my thirst for a better budget, and I’ve paid away less of my money in tips. Servers play an important role, but tipping has changed a lot in the last 30 years to make up for stagnating wages. Don’t get me wrong, I always leave a good tip and so should you. Now I just do it less often.
Think about the way your life works and align your budget to it; it will make you happier!
An economy is essentially a byproduct of monetary transactions. Money comes in, money is spent on services. Money is lent, money is spent, money is paid back with interest. These are the fundamental parts of the system.
Investing relies on the economy and we hope the economy grows in a healthy way. However, every investor should be prepared to weather a storm. Unfortunately, due to extreme amounts of lending and not paying back these loans in the western world, things are getting pretty scary out there. Is a crash imminent? I can’t say. What I can tell you is, by keeping your personal economy strong you can be prepared for this.
Lately, I’ve cut spending on items that don’t produce value. I’m spending more on investments, saving more liquid cash, and seeking novel ways to grow my money. If everyone were to do this, the economy would slow. The few FIRE minded people out there can benefit if they jump on this opportunity while the economy is strong; your money will go further when it’s not.
It may sound like I’m not enjoying the fruits of my labour, but I am:
- Getting more enjoyment out of the things that I have
- Finding joy and new experiences in starting businesses
- Focusing on internal growth. (Go to your local library and get a book. Do it now!)
I really enjoy seeing my net worth increase and learning, so this is easy work for me. If it’s not your cup of tea, I hope you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and can grow your own way.
Look at your personal economy and see how you can make it stronger, more robust, and be prepared to weather any storm. When the downpour starts, you’ll be happy knowing you came prepared and can hit it full on.
I’m 27 years old and have lived a pretty comfortable life so far. I moved out of my parents house into a fancy condo. This I downgraded to a big apartment in an older build. Now I am realizing, I don’t want this much space and will find a room in a shared house. This will save me money and help me eliminate possessions.
Going forward, I will not stay in hotels anymore while travelling. Usually I stay in hostels, but I splurge on hotels. I don’t need that comfort at this point in my life, so I won’t spend the extra money required to upkeep that comfort. In hostels I’ll stay in larger rooms with more beds to further shave costs off travelling (my biggest expense).
Walking, biking and transiting to work versus driving has been my life so far. I don’t plan to change this. I will no longer Uber to work unless I have no other option due to time. I’ll walk to the GO station instead of transiting. 30 minutes enjoying a walk through the city is better than spending to sit on a hot subway.
Are you able to trade comfort for additional money in the bank? Determine your tolerance and push your boundaries. You might find you’re a glutton for punishment like myself.