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.
You might be asking, why would someone else pay for your stuff? Well, the more common term would be ‘buying things used’. When you buy an item used, another person has put up the money for the immediate drop in value. Even selling an item new and in the package, you won’t get retail price for it. Some things you don’t always buy used, but things like clothing, dishes, cookware are easy to visually inspect.
If you’re moving out for the first time, you’re going to save a TONNE of money buying used. If you’re a single person, you can probably get by with 1-4 dining sets. Don’t bother with a 16 person plate set unless you host people frequently. Otherwise you’ll find yourself using the same plate over and over again; never making it to the bottom of your pile of plates. That, my friends, is what we call a waste of money.
You stand to save a lot of money on clothing as well. Typically, items you find used at thrift shops are in great shape, sometimes never worn, and they’re higher quality products. An H&M t-shirt never lasts long enough to make it to the thrift store racks. I’ve managed to buy brand new, white, Fruit of the Loom t-shirts that are MADE IN CANADA for $3-5. Where can you buy clothing made in Canada for that price?
Electronics can be hit or miss. Do your due diligence though and you can score a great deal. I recently sold my television because I’m moving. Someone got an amazing panel with little use for $150 less than retail. I got a really good deal on it during boxing, and definitely got my my money’s worth, but they got a steal as far as I’m concerned.
Before you buy anything, ask yourself, can I buy it used?
This is always a touchy subject for people. For some reason, we have been convinced to not talk about our salary. Whoever made this the norm, is a genius social manipulator. What do you have to lose by asking? Nothing. Sure, it might be embarrassing to find out other people make more than you..but it should light a fire under you to change that!
It is equally as important to keep an eye on what the going rate for your skill set is.
- What is the highest amount people are getting paid?
- What is the lowest amount people are getting paid?
- Where are you on this spectrum?
- Which companies/industries pay the most?
Make a determination to see if a few words with your boss might get you a sweet increase. I’m a saver, but all the saving in the world could be in vain if you’re getting under paid. What is your time worth? What is your pride worth?
Get out there and ask! If you’re low, make a plan to get even or better. Find your worth and get it.
I haven’t been able to bring myself to adopt a ‘prepper’ lifestyle, but recently with the large number of natural disasters it made me think about how well prepared I would be for one. I’m definitely failing that class. It’s not a huge concern for me, but thinking forward I’d like to be prepared in the future.
Living off the power grid sets you up for success in the event of a disaster. Having your own power source that doesn’t comes from the lines is crucial. Having multiple heat sources in a cold country is hugely important. Fresh water is another hugely important factor.
I haven’t gotten too detailed into my plan, but I will without a doubt recommend the following:
Two or more sources of clean water
- 365 Gallons of drinkable water
- Water purification tablets
- Water Distiller
- A good stock of perishable foods (say 1 month?)
- Optional stock of Meals Ready to Eat (MRES). Costco sells a year worth, it’s expensive but it would be a game changer
- Ways to grow your own food (I think without an emergency this is important)
- A weapon and ammunition. You may not want to hunt, but it might save your life. Ammunition is tradable in the event currency isn’t of much value
- Wood Stove and a winter’s worth of wood
- Propane heating and a large tank/bunch of tanks
I don’t have a hazmat suit on my shopping list yet, but it’s always worth keeping an open mind. All of the above things you can use day to day anyways, just keep more of it than what would be considered average.
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?
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.
Okay, so I’m going to humble myself really quick. I don’t know shit about Financial Independence/Early Retirement. I’m new to the idea, and I haven’t even gotten close yet. There is so much passion coming from the people involved in this idea, they study every aspect of how to make the dream the reality. These people are the sensei to my samurai; seriously. These people love the journey and the result.
However, maybe I just don’t see the raw excitement coming from some when they reach financial independence. I guess it’s sort of like winning a race; you’ve reach the end, you feel good but you’re gearing up for the next one. I really hope when I reach FI that I can showcase my passions and really share the experience with anyone who will listen. FI is when you earn true freedom and you really get to own every minute of your life. Yell about it! Tell everyone! Say everything!
I know a lot of the publications I read are tailored to their viewer, but I’d love to hear about how amazing the end result is! Listen to a podcast that makes me want to pickup my keyboard, throw it across the room and go buy motorbike and drive across south america. Maybe finance isn’t emotionally exciting, but it could be, you know?
Maybe I’m just being a dick and ranting. Maybe I’m showing my thrill seeking behaviour. Whatever. Hopefully I can bring some fire to FIRE.
Stay tuned for more heat.