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.
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!
I’ve been reading http://www.reddit.com for a long time. Typically I’d waste time reading useless junk. I mean I still do, but I used to, too. All jokes aside, there is a tonne of great resources on Reddit and tonnes of talented people. Find me at /u/torontosurvivalguide
Below are some subreddits that contain a treasure trove of useful information to help make you more self-sufficient:
I hope you find something you like!
I’m going to preface this by saying that I haven’t conquered all of my bad habits yet and I’m still a work in progress. However, I have a clear picture of where I want to be, and why I want to get there.
As a fairly social person, I used to go out a lot more than I probably should. Go out for lunches, dinners, clubbing, to bars, and more. Now I allow myself to try new things but I’ve cut drinking, most lunches, and dinners out of my day to day. Lunch is a relatively in expensive venture so I allow myself all you can eat sushi, Japanese ramen, and all you can eat Korean barbecue once a month. These are all cheap, delicious meals that I can’t make at home (yet!). These lunches serve as face time with my friends which is the most important thing for me.
I’ll have friends over for a homemade dinner, coffee, and homemade cider and beer. It is a great way to connect with friends and show them that my life isn’t boring after giving up the previously mentioned things. I still make it out to bars as well, sometimes for happy hour drinks or I grab a ginger ale as a treat.
Eliminating your bad habits saves you money, and helps harden your resolve and remind you of your goal. Here are some things that you may want to give up in part or in full:
- Drugs – Adrenaline, Dopamine and Serotonin are free, you just have to earn them
- Smoking – Same as above
- Drinking – It’s bad for you and your wallet. Cutting down is a huge step forward.
- Late nights – Sleep is precious; don’t give it up unless you’re gaining something.
- Shopping – Really consider what you’re buying; you probably don’t NEED it.
- TV/Netflix/YouTube – Whatever your poison, don’t consume too much of it.
On the flip side of things, gain good habits! Here are some examples that I can attest to:
- Get Active – Exercise keeps you healthy, improves mood, and helps you think.
- Reading – Keep your brain active, too. Knowledge is power.
- Exploring – See something new. Exploration is a key human motivation.
- Photography – A creative outlet that pays dividends.
- Meditation – I don’t yet, but there is a lot of research detailing the benefits.
- Education – Learn CPR. Learn a language. Improve yourself everyday.
- Philosophy – Open your mind to new ideas. You might just learn about yourself.
Keep improving yourself! Don’t worry if you take a step back, just keep moving forward!
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.
Now, I certainly didn’t start off on a bad foot on my way to financial independence. I finished school and gained meaningful employment at 23 years old with about $5000 in the bank. This was thanks to generous investing in my education by my parents, and 40+ hour weeks for years during college. Additionally, I’ve been working since I was 13 years old in one capacity or another.
I’ve spent some money along the way: $60,000+ on travel, $15,000+ on some university that I dropped out of, 10s of thousands on partying and expensive food. All of these things taught me lessons and were a lot of fun, so I can’t feel too bad about it. Now I travel on better budgets, invest time teaching myself, party without over consuming, and cook amazing food myself.
You can enjoy life in so many ways without spending excessive amounts of money, which was a lesson I had to learn. I’m glad I figured it out when I did. Sure, if I had an extra $100,000 to invest I’d be miles ahead. In reality, I am already miles ahead of where I would have been had I not found this lifestyle. Many of the most important lessons in life are hard learned, so I consider myself lucky.
Forget about your past and focus on the future while making sure you take in everything along the way.