105 Responses

  1. Mitchell Wischmann
    Mitchell Wischmann Published |

    Hi Justin!

    My favorite money saving tip is to use coupons and start a stockpile. Stop paying for items you use daily, such as toothpaste. Turn to coupons and get it for free! You can get lots of other personal care items for free or very cheap, and even save money on food and dining out.

    I have a money saving blog at Frugal Finders. Check it out and let me know what you think! πŸ™‚

  2. Justin | Mazzastick
    Justin | Mazzastick Published |

    Hi Justin,
    My wife and I shop at yard sales, garage sales, thrift stores and so on. We save our money for eating out and trips throughout the year.

    Automatic deductions are good for taking out money and saving that we wouldn’t otherwise.

    I started the receipts in envelopes about 9 years ago and still do it. Home, Auto, Medical, Fun, and so on.

  3. Nathan Rice
    Nathan Rice Published |

    You’ve already taken the first two steps…

    1. Assess your situation. Look at what you’ve made and what you’ve spent for the last 3 months. Find the leaks, your weaknesses, and make note of them.
    2. Budget. Every single dollar that you’re going to spend each month needs to be spent on paper FIRST. The first couple of months are hard, because try as you might, you can’t remember everything you typically spend money on. But when the unexpected comes, make note of it, and budget for it next month.
    3. Save. Don’t let money sit in your checking account. Set a goal, like an emergency fund or something. Meet that goal, then make another one, like investments, saving for a new car, or a down payment on a house.
    4. Splurge. Don’t go overboard, but the quickest way to lose with money is to try to go completely “needs only”. Identify one area where you can spend money without guilt. Keep it reasonable. There are expensive hobbies out there, and you should stay away from those, unless you’re in GREAT financial shape.
    5. Become debt free. Even student loans.
    6. Give. Make a plan to be a big giver. There is no better cure for overspending than seeing people in need, and actually having the means to help them. You can’t give what you don’t have, though, so do steps 1-5 to make step 6 possible.

  4. Joss Crowcroft
    Joss Crowcroft Published |

    Hey Justin,

    Good that you caught it early, looks like you were firmly on the earn-to-spend treadmill that cripples 99% of people!

    One thing changed my life in this regard – a book called “The Millionaire Next Door” by (I think) Thomas J Stanley.

    Also “The richest man in babylon” if you can handle the super-old-school language. It’s just great.

    The jist of it all – before you allow yourself to spend anything, put AT LEAST 10% of your income into a savings account, and don’t consider it part of your ‘income’

    I do 20-40% depending on how my finances are – so if I make $5k on a project, I only write that down as $4k in income, and $1k is already in a no-touchy-savings account.

    Been doing that for 3 months so far, and already have about $5k USD saved up… and I haven’t noticed the pinch, really. Just means I haven’t been going to Starbucks and have had to think more sensibly about purchases.

    Good luck!

  5. designodyssey
    designodyssey Published |

    Although I don’t have the financial good luck to live in rural Alabama, I did go from a poor kid who scrimped on everything to an attorney with more money than I knew what to do with at 25 years old. I learned giving was important, both at church, charity and just folks I find in need. It kept me grounded about the importance of the resource.

    At about 28 I tracked everything I spent for 6 months. Talk about eye-opening!!
    I built a budget based on that information that was much more realistic than budgets I had before that experience.

    Check out http://wisebread.com. They have a list of top financial blogs. After years of helping the rich get richer, I plan to start my own blog designed to target those who have some money, aren’t buried in debt, but know they aren’t being wise in how they use money to maximize their life now or for their future.

    Remember what I said about weight – you can’t improve what you don’t track.

  6. Gunnar Lindberg Γ…rneby
    Gunnar Lindberg Γ…rneby Published |

    Justin, I really prefer your input on all things WordPress. This is a bit like Matts myriads of photos of non relevant people.

    Anyway, since youre asking so nicely. The answer is the same as holds true for most americans I’m afraid.

    Stop. Buying. Shit. You dont need it. Promise.

    That was easy, wasnt it it? πŸ™‚

  7. kyle
    kyle Published |

    I haven’t visited in a while, but The Simple Dollar was a pretty good site for personal finance when I last visited.

    There could be some gold in Ask Metafilter’s Posts Tagged with Frugal.

  8. Andrea_R
    Andrea_R Published |

    Gail has a tv show up here in Canada where she talks about jars, similar to the envelopes. http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/

    She’s got a TON of good things on her site, all free. πŸ™‚ If you can catch her show somehow, even on a preview, we really enjoy it.

    Not sure if you own a house, but for us, we’ve been paying our mortgage twice a month instead of once. I mean, two half payments during the month. πŸ˜€ I can’t remember the fiddly details offhand, but this has knocked 4 *years* off our total mortgage so far and saved us a ton of money that would have just been interest.

  9. Paul Koso
    Paul Koso Published |

    For the last 5 years, my phylosophy has been to pay myself first via 401k, savings and company stocks. Automatic deduction is a great tool. Once that’s done – I focus on the rest.

    It’s really takes discipline and focus to stay on budget. You have to know the difference between needs and wants – otherwise your spending will be out of control everytime.

  10. Jeff Ivany
    Jeff Ivany Published |

    Emergency money and savings are good and all but if you have a lot of high interest (non-housing related) debt, consider paying it off as quick as possible. There’s not much point in putting money in savings at 1% interest if you are carrying a debt at 5% (or higher). You’ll save more money in interest by paying off the debt faster.

    That said, make sure your budget includes an amount for savings. Irregular pay cycles make this sort of harder to manage but just get in the habit of putting at least 10% (at the bare minimum) of everything you make directly into savings before you do anything else.

    There are lots of tips online about how to save money or be more frugal but a lot won’t apply to you specifically. The best approach is to track your spending for a few months and see what crap you’re buying. My wife was constantly buying little things and semi-useful trinkets for $20 a pop until she realized it was averaging $500/month. Now she’s only buying things we actually need.

    I found I was spending *way* too much on coffee/lunch places. A couple coffees a day at Tim Horton’s (go Canada!) was running close to $150/mon. I bought a very nice coffee maker and now grind my own premium coffees for substantially less than that.

    WRT budgets – tracking every penny can be really annoying (and time consuming) so consider using something like Mint.com or YNAB. Credit Cards and Debit Cards can be really handy for tracking purchases as they are itemized on your bank statements and you know where you bought from. We *always* pay the CC in full because I always know what’s on it because it’s all budgeted.

    I don’t use cash very much but our budget allocates a small cash allowance to both me and my wife each pay. This goes to the little things like a quick lunch/snack when you forgot yours or coffee shop stuff, etc.

    I’ll second Andrea’s comment about Gail VazOxlade. She has a lot of really useful info on her website. I find the website much more useful than the little snapshots that her “Til Debt Do Us Part” show had.

    Enough babbling – make a budget, stick to it, plan for future purchases instead of buying with credit. If something comes up you forgot about, readjust the budget.

  11. Jeff Ivany
    Jeff Ivany Published |

    Oh, sorry, I forgot one thing – if you don’t know how to cook (from scratch/recipe) then learn. This is one of the easiest ways to save money as prepared meals from the grocery store cost a fair bit. Cooking from base ingredients allows you to buy in bulk (cheaper) and cook your own stuff for a lot less. That also means learning what is a “good price” in the grocery store sale flyers. πŸ™‚

    1. Diana
      Diana Published |

      So true! I find most people in US never cook anything πŸ™ “industrial food” is very unhealthy and expensive.

  12. Search
    Search Published |

    It is called living when you spend such sums on Walmart. What good is it being a millionaire when you wasted half your life not living it, just to transport yourself?

  13. Suzanne with Laughing Wallet
    Suzanne with Laughing Wallet Published |

    Justin, I agree with several of the other posters that just by what you’ve done so far, you’re already on the road to both financial security and freedom! One of the number one things that gets people in financial trouble is simply being unaware. They have no idea how much they spend and have no budget. So congratulations!

    And though you’re already planning on doing this, I have to add to the chorus that I find automatic deductions very helpful in saving for the future. I have a 401k at work, and the money comes out of my check before I ever see it, so it’s painless. I also *budget* for extra savings, like an emergency account, just like it’s any other expense, so it’s become a habit. Don’t worry if it’s just a small amount at first. It all adds up! And with time, you’ll be able to comfortably bump up the amounts.

    I have a website, Laughing Wallet: http://www.laughingwallet.com, with tons of other ideas for living frugally (yes *living* frugally, in response to those who think spending intentionally and not mindlessly is somehow just existing). Check it out if you have time – you’re bound to find some helpful tips there!

  14. Asesoria de Imagen
    Asesoria de Imagen Published |

    I am 40 and I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t own a house but I won’t leave my kids any debt if I can avoid it. Financial freedom means also not owing anything to anybody.

  15. Jeremy Jared
    Jeremy Jared Published |

    It’s good to know someone else feels the same way. I worked construction most of my life. Towards the end (back problems) I was operating large hydraulic cranes working out of state (Ft. Smith Arkansas) was the last one, some hospital. Anyway I was bringing in travel pay, working 60 hours a week and had a sweet deal set up with the out of town foreman to do side-work for cash. Long story short, I doubled my monthly income but didn’t have anything to show for it. Where did it go? It doesn’t seem like it’s possible but the little things like not worrying about the price at the grocery store checkout line, or the extra convenient store trips for various items added up and ate my money. That’s enough about me… back to your question:

    Do I have any tips?

    One that has worked well for me was setting up a separate savings account. I add myself to the bills to be paid (determine a reasonable amount or you’ll end up skipping it and it won’t work). Then just pay yourself monthly as if you were a “must pay” bill. Don’t touch the account even in tough times and you should acquire a nice little nest egg.

    Good Luck,
    Jeremy Jared

  16. mp
    mp Published |

    Here’s my tip:

    Avoid dating.

    If you screw-up and find yourself inexplicably on a date, then avoid getting into “a relationship”.

    If you find yourself in a relationship, despite your best efforts – then avoid having her “move in”. Do your best to keep her out of the house – Especially on the weekends.

    If suddenly you find “frilly wet things” hanging in the bathroom, there are tubes and bottles in your medicine cabinet that don’t belong to you, and suddenly meals arrive at your table without you ordering out, and without your having cooked anything – then you’ve really screwed-up – So just remember to not get married.

    If you, despite your best effort, find yourself at the alter, making promises that can’t ever imagine yourself making with words like “til death do you part” – Then get a hold of yourself – Just remember to not have any children. Go fishing instead – and spend most nights in the garage – under the car if you have to.

    If you find yourself dismantling your office, so that a crib can be moved in – and there’s a woman dragging you into something called a “lamaze class”, and later to a hospital – then you’ve really messed-up big time – So just remember to not do it again. This time – REALLY stay in the garage and try to take you meals outside of the house. Go away on even longer fishing trips – and if need be – help your neighbor paint his house or rebuild his boat or something – a large, time-consuming project, and this is important – as far away from the house as is possible.

    If you have not heeded my advice up to this point, and suddenly there are “little beings” running aimlesly around your property calling you “Daddy”, then you’ve realy, really messed up – and there’s only one final piece of advice, that I can possibly give you – that will permit you to survive into your later years with a “sliver” of your former net worth, now that the bulk of it has been evicerated in full view, with all of your hopes and dreams dashed completely away.

    Don’t get a divorce.

  17. Tom
    Tom Published |

    For my emergency fund – I set up a 12 step Certificate of Deposit (CD) portfolio, where each month, I opened a new CD for 1 year, set to auto renew. After 12 months, I simply let the CD renew – and added the same amount to it as I had the previous year.

    Depending on how much you put away each month, in a few years you can have an equivalent to your monthly salary paid out to you each month as a CD comes due to be renewed. 12 Months of a guaranteed income.

    Plus – it generally pays more than a savings account.

  18. Richard
    Richard Published |

    I find keeping to cash as much as possible helps cut down on impulse spending. Then I cut down on some of my monthly expenses.

    Hmmm, this isn’t for everyone, but I cut my cable and went to netflix with the basic unlimited streaming plan. That cut my tv bill from almost $70 a month to $8 a month. I got a roku that connects netflix to my TV, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything there.

  19. matt
    matt Published |

    since I am much older than you I will give you advice that didn’t sound like much at the time, but now I truly know…Don’t get married, and don’t have kids… I know is sounds terrible to say, but I have 2 of one and 3 of the other and friends with neither. Seeing their life makes me think, could I have made this choice? I don’t think so now, but if you haven’t made those decisions I say stay clear and live through your friends with kids and date without the obligation.

  20. Pete K
    Pete K Published |

    Well, I am definitely looking at finances myself. Times have been very hard for many of us and here in Florida Unemployment is among the highest in the whole country. Couponing and deal finding is a way of life. Obviously trying to find other streams of income are key also. Thanks for all the good info guys!

  21. Ai Mei
    Ai Mei Published |

    I coupon πŸ™‚ That is my #1 frugal tip.

  22. Helen McLean
    Helen McLean Published |

    Sounds like you are doing a lot this year to figure out how to live a thoughtful life. The most important changes will be ones that work with your lifestyle and personality. For what it’s worth, the book that was most helpful to me was “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez – a book that transforms your relationship with money by helping you to understand what it means to you.

    All the best in building the life that you want.

  23. Jenn
    Jenn Published |

    I recommend David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King if you’re patient in reading.

  24. Jenn
    Jenn Published |

    Frugal tip:
    Save first before buying anything.

    As soon as you receive your paycheck, save a portion of it (can be 10% or whatever you like).

    Then live with what’s left.

  25. Mike
    Mike Published |

    I’m starting to make money for the first time in my life, so I’m in a similar situation — trying not to let the spending get out of control just because I have the money to spare now.

    Two things currently working for me:

    -At the grocery store, ONLY buy something if it’s on sale. It’s surprisingly do-able and you’ll discover more good meals. (And if you have one of those store cards, the line on your receipt where it says how much you saved year-to-date is awesome.)

    -Get a cash-back credit card and use it as much as possible. That might not mesh with your envelope strategy, so feel free to disregard. But the 1% cash back adds up and is helpful for Christmas presents and whatnot. (The only danger is using the “well, at least I’m getting 1% off” excuse to buy something.)

  26. Bradley
    Bradley Published |

    I think you have hinted at one solution in the comments that has worked well for me in the past. Instead of using the debit card to pay for transactions, pay with cash. It hurts more!

    I ended up spending less money when I carried cash to pay for groceries, gas, etc. Plus I has to limit my times eating lunch out so I didn’t run out of cash.

  27. Deyson
    Deyson Published |

    Hello Justin, congratulation on your new venture of being frugal.

    Here is one book I highly recommend.

    This book is for the frugal hardcore, but if you go through it you will find tons of ideas that can help you save TONS of money:

    This book can be found at the local library and if they do not have it, you can ask your library to order it in through http://www.worldcat.org/ intra- library loan program.

    Every since I started using the library again I have saved thousands on movies, music, books and games.

    Good luck good sir and remember it is the small things that add up the most.

  28. Deryk Wenaus
    Deryk Wenaus Published |

    like another commenter above, I HIGHLY recommend β€œYour Money or Your Life”. It’s a bit dated (written in the 80s), but it contains a philosophy of Financial Integrity that goes beyond budgets, coupons, tips. It has the potential to affect a paradigm shift in one’s relationship to money.

    1. Deyson
      Deyson Published |

      Double recommend this book as well πŸ™‚

  29. jeddyford
    jeddyford Published |

    This is good Blog to spent time on .I just stumbled upon your informative blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your very well written blog posts. I will be your frequent visitor, that’s for sure.

  30. jeddyford
    jeddyford Published |

    sorry i watch instructions after commenting πŸ™

  31. Emma
    Emma Published |


    I actually really like to see this stuff from designers and programmers – it’s nice to know it’s possible to make a decent living from it too.

    I’m based in the UK, so it may be different where you are. My partner and I buy an organic fruit and vegetable box from a company who also stock pretty much everything else. They look after their farmers, instead of rinsing them for everything they’ve got like the UK supermarkets (is that different in the US?).
    You can order online, so you see how much it’s going to be and don’t get distracted by supermarket offers that you really don’t need.

    We also plan all of our meals for the week and what we’ll need for that, plus some extra. We make all our bread and baked goods instead of buying them in – much cheaper and, let’s face it, better than a soggy bag of doughnuts from the supermarket. We also make huge batches of stew or soup and freeze them, which works out way cheaper than buying microwave meals. Any extras we need we get on our local highstreet and we only do one shopping trip each week so it never really gets out of hand.

    I’d echo what’s already been said about thrift shops – for furniture and bedding they’re great. Also, mend things when they break, don’t just go out and buy something new (that doesn’t apply to electrical items, obviously!)

  32. Caspar
    Caspar Published |

    Justin, don’t make your own soap, but… plant a garden if you can. Even if it’s only a couple of pots on your balcony. Make sure to grow from seeds, don’t just buy ready plants!
    My wife and I have had our first self-grown Zucchini for dinner a couple of weeks ago. It’s an amazing experience. From a 90-Cents-bag of seeds we got over a dozen of Zucchinis (up to now, and counting), big as little wales! One of those makes 2 dinners in a row for 2 people.
    The little work we had to put into growing has been all fun, and as a reward we get more healthy food than we could ever buy at a store.

  33. Sara Tetreault
    Sara Tetreault Published |


    As you know, I’m a “Stylishly Frugal Living Expert” and have had many years of practice being one. I published a post today about “How to Save Money Each Month” which is not difficult to do with a system in place. Most Americans spend all they earn and then some. Living frugally is about having self-discipline and a new mind set. It is also about giving yourself choices, to live how you’d like.

    Getting your finances in check during your 20’s is an excellent time to start. Saving money early and often with compounding interest will be helpful later in life. Books suggested above are good. “Your Money or Your Life” is another good book.

    I’m not a big coupon user. Coupons encourage spending which is not sustainable. Wholesome foods don’t have coupons. Living frugally isn’t about using coupons.

    Being married and having kids doesn’t take away from living frugally, either. Our family has traveled to Europe several times by doing home exchanges and using airline reward points. We all wear name brand clothing, purchased used. Our home is decorated quite nicely with dumpster-diving finds or used furniture stores. We don’t have lots of stuff, cable TV, or fancy electronics.

    You can do it, Justin! Just like your decision to live healthier and lose weight, putting yourself on a financial diet (otherwise known as a budget) will be worth the effort.

  34. Nicolas Bouliane
    Nicolas Bouliane Published |

    Congrats on your new lifestyle.

    The first places to cut expenses are your monthly bills: cellphone, cable etc.

    Just having a polite discussion with the retention department of these companies can reduce your bill by up to 30%.

    You can also revisit your need for some options, like cable television, unlimited internet and whatever you have tacked on your cellphone plan.

    Good luck!

  35. Tony
    Tony Published |

    Hi Justin,

    First of all I want to say Congrats on you finding what works for you. It is always good to take a totally different direction in life. I don’t have much opinion to give you because I am currently a college student and am struggling probably the way you did when you went to school. Thanks for your post it was really insightful and it inspired me. Good luck!

  36. Anthony
    Anthony Published |

    Grow your own food is a great way to live on the cheap. Easy to start with any herbs and spices you use regularly then move onto some stock veg.

    Here in the UK, my garden is starting to produce loads of veg for tea. Currently make pasta sauces using own tomatoes, chillies, basil, oregano, thyme etc Only have to buy the big bags of pasta. Made own chutneys, own pesto coming next. I also make my own sauces and dips for crisps make them taste nicer, cheaper and healthier.

    Also other people will have gluts of food, never turn it down. Make stuff then freeze it. Such as apple sauce, fruit pies etc etc.

    Timewise it is more time consuming but it is a real money saver and can be quite rewarding when you sit down and eat a meal that you made from seed yourself.

    1. Steven Gliebe
      Steven Gliebe Published |

      Not to mention you haven’t had a real tomato unless you’ve had a home-grown tomato!

  37. Cochrane
    Cochrane Published |

    This doesn’t work as well for guys, as they tend to just wear their clothes until they literally fall apart, but my daughter goes to the thrift store most Mondays when they have a certain selection of items on clearance for $0.99. She has built an entire wardrobe of modern, almost new clothing just by carefully curating from the thrift stores!

  38. Leah Rae
    Leah Rae Published |

    Good For You!!!!

    If you have not done so already, open a ROTH IRA account if you are self employed or find out if your employer offers them. I personally like Vanguard (No load mutual funds). Then treat it like a bill. Have a set amount removed from your checking account every month. IRA’s rock because of the compound interest (interest on interest). With a ROTH you do pay taxes on the $ now, but you will pay no taxes when you retire.

    Get crazy & open another mutual fund direct draw account. Maybe do $100 a month in the index 500 – forget about the money & see how much you accumulate.

    Cook at home! It is cheaper & you know what ingredients you use. I just read that the never ending salad at Olive Garden is a calorie & sodium nightmare: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/8-worst-free-restaurant-freebies Plus, caring about your health today is an incredible investment when you think about how costly it is to be sick.

    All these awesome books everyone is recommending… go to your library… it’s free. Do your body & wallet a favor -> ride your bike there.

    Get rid of cable, there is never anything on anyhow. Watch tv on hulu.

    As someone else recommended -> stop buying stuff. If you are going to buy something buy something of great quality (not name brand – quality). You will have it for years. Cheap stuff is cheap stuff you end up tossing out because it was cheaply made to begin with. I will never understand Black Friday sales. Yes you bought a DVD player for $10. But it broke 3 weeks later after eating a few DVDs.

    Thrift stores are awesome!

    If you are an employee… make sure your w-4 is correct. Getting a huge tax refund means you gave Uncle Sam a free loan & you had less $ all year.

    If you are self employed. Make sure your business is structured to protect you from lawsuits & structured to maximize tax breaks. It is worth the $$ to talk to a professional about this.

    Good Luck πŸ™‚

  39. Billy
    Billy Published |

    I put it on a credit card that gives me rewards then I pay the bill when it arrives. I put more into savings than I spend so I don’t budget for travel specifically. We don’t pay for air travel so that keeps costs down.

  40. merhi
    merhi Published |

    yes yes you are realy crazy 800$ omg just wow

  41. Sedih Rian Ahyadi
    Sedih Rian Ahyadi Published |

    This article very good. Now I have reference for my small biz . Thank you.

  42. Vic
    Vic Published |

    There are many frugal tips and principles that I’m embracing in life, but the most that I embrace is keeping in mind that… keeping money doesn’t always mean saving money, while spending money doesn’t always mean losing money. I am talking about investing and spending money for a return in the future (with a calculated risk), rather than just putting that money into sleep.

  43. Steven Gliebe
    Steven Gliebe Published |

    You ever heard of Dave Ramsey? Great radio show. Give it a listen. Also Motley Fool, Suze Orman and so on.

    I was surprised and enlightened that when you pay with a credit card you end up buying something like 17% more versus cash because cash is tangible and it hurts to hand it over (plus it runs out!). Swiping the card is painless. Even if you pay it off monthly and incur no interest, the plastic is still a liability.

    Save and pay cash for everything. Banks are predators with their debt products. The only exception might be a home purchase but don’t do a 30 year mortgage just because that’s “normal.” Buy less and be free in 10 years, then consider an upgrade if you want. Better than being in bondage until you retire and having spent $600,000 for a $200,000 home!

    Save 10% – 15% immediately – Roth IRA. Don’t use a broker (see vanguard.com). Not necessary to have some salesman tell you what to do with your money just so he can get commissions. Learn some things about investing. Don’t buy and sell, buy and sell. Buy and hold… for decades. Mutual funds. Don’t waste time with CD’s. And don’t ever let an insurance salesman talk you into “investing” with them – it’s a scam.

    Oh and seriously, stop using the dishwasher. It’s more work anyway! Have to bend down and empty those dishes! The thing doesn’t even clean ’em anyway. Gotta scrub ’em halfway before you put ’em in. What gives?

    This is stuff I’ll tell my kids after I’ve actually done it all myself. πŸ˜›

  44. Steven Gliebe
    Steven Gliebe Published |

    Also get produce at Aldi. Man, they had Avocado’s for $0.35 once. They don’t take credit cards and you bring your own bags. You lose a quarter too if you don’t return the cart. Genious.

  45. havit
    havit Published |

    I would like Living the frugal life , but how ???? πŸ™‚

  46. John Currie
    John Currie Published |

    “Stop. Buying. Shit. You dont need it. Promise.” – that has been a problem of mine for many years. I can’t believe how much crap I have actually bought.

  47. Yukoner
    Yukoner Published |

    One thing I use to set goals in terms of saving and investing is learning the value of interest rates. Here’s a simple example, if inflation was at a steady 2% per annum, it would take 35 years for that to double. 70 / interest rate = number of years to double!

    This also works in your favor of course when you count money in the bank accumulating interest at an annual percentage rate. But it shows you how important it is to fight the high inflation environment your government has imposed on it’s citizens. Sorry if this is off topic. Congratulations on setting focused financial goals.

  48. Brian Maher
    Brian Maher Published |

    Once you turn over that magical 30 something you start to realize you need to plan for tomorrow. It’s not easy and the recession has not help but good budgeting should be instilled at an early age. Good luck

  49. Kevinjohn Gallagher
    Kevinjohn Gallagher Published |

    Hi Justin,

    You’ve had lots of good advice here, and I’m going to go against the grain a little bit in telling you of my experiences.

    Don’t fret the little stuff.

    That’s not to say that you shouldn’t watch the penny’s, but its very easy to become fixated on saving a few “cents”. Don’t try and change buying the cheapest toilet role, or deny yourself that nicer biscuit in an attempt to save. What happens is that most brains compensate the other way, and you’ll throw in something you wouldn’t normally buy as you’re saving so much, or worse you’ll work out how much you actually save!! I worked out that by being frugal at the shops I saved a grand total of $400 one year or $8 a week. The reality is, that makes very little difference.

    Forget the little stuff, and aim for the big stuff.

    Have a look at everything costing more than $20 that you’ve purchased in the last 6 months. DVDs, computer games, books, furniture etc. Do you see a pattern? Were they all necessary? I found that I was buying 20 DVDs, 10 computer games, 2 magazines and 25 books a year, along with about 6 songs and 4 phone/ipad apps a month. All of these were not needed, and it was surprisingly easy to cut these in half (at least). This saved me much more money than worrying about my grocery shopping.

    In reality though…

    You have to work out what’s driving this, and what your success factors are; otherwise it’s not really going to make any difference.
    From what I’ve read, your student loan is your primary driving factor. Ok, ignore the small stuff, how much money do you need every quarter to pay that off in 3 years instead of 10? How much do you currently earn per quarter? How much do you spend per quarter? Budget each 3 months separately, and you’ll notice a huge difference. That way you’re achieving a long term goal, but medium term planning short term budgeting.
    Can’t tell you how awesome it feels when that happens!

  50. Scott Webb
    Scott Webb Published |

    I noticed at least one person mentioned Dave Ramsey. This guy is your man. Put his name into the Google machine or also look up the great recovery.

    The focus is to have a $1000 emergency fund at the start. Once you have that set up, you attack that debt you have. You attack the student debt, in your case, with gazelle intensity. Eliminate all debt and you have the most powerful wealth building tool in the world: Your Own Income.

    His big line is that you have to be willing to live like no one else so that you can later live like no one else. People will think you’re weird. Weird is good. Weird is best.

    There are other books like “The Millionaire Next Door” and it looks at attributes of millionaires – ie they typically drive a car that is 2 years old (they buy it 2 years old). ect.

    He’s a hardcore budget machine and tells things as they are on his radio show. One of his books is called The Total Money Makeover. It’s very smart! He also has a course called Financial Peace University.

    Good luck on your journey! Get fired up! I’m doing the same thing πŸ™‚


  51. ron
    ron Published |

    Talk about an excess of information on a scaled back subject like frugality–that buzz I hear is the busy sound of savvy citizens saving the wealth and I like the sound; but, caveat emptor, not everyone does–the faceless providers of the essential services synonymous with life in America: insurance i.e.auto, health, renters/home, life, GL…; phone i.e. land & cellular; financial institutions i.e.banks, credit card companies, & mortgage brokers (I know); professionals and other service providers, don’t admire frugality-yours or mine, anyway. This, however, is my all time favorite area for frugality, honed by years in business where dealing with businesses and consumers is a part of my daily life. This is an oft overlooked area, where tremendous savings almost always can be found with a minimal investment of time and a modicum of research; yet, it is an area where even the most tightfisted, at times may feel the sting of timidity and intimidation.
    Why we so often attribute unwarranted trust and respectability to professionals (because they gouge us ?) and place them above suspicion insofar as assuring we’re getting the most bang for our buck where their service is concerned, is a mystery to me, yet we continue to throw larger than necessary sums of cash their way without question. Instead, try this:
    1. Recognize that you own what you own and are under no obligation to part with any or all of it with anyone-vendors are people who own business, nothing more.
    2. Always assume that your best interest is NOT being looked out for by anyone in business. That’s good business. There are ALWAYS better deals than the first one you’re offered, always.

    Your first big score will hook you for life. Here’s a couple personal examples of how I save on provider costs.
    I don’t live on a cell phone so I use pay as you go from a provider using Sprint network that charges .05/minute .02 text and gives me web access with better coverage than the high profile company I switched from. I average $25-30/month savings easy, and I’m saving at both ends-cost and service.
    Another is insurance. I pay half or better of what most other businesses like mine pay for general liability insurance, saving me $1500. year or more. I just call a dozen or so companies.
    I spend more time than I care to admit getting informed about health insurance plans in the areas of lower co-pays versus higher monthly premiums and what my wife and I need at a minimum. This alone has saved us $2,000-3,000/year. I know folks who rarely go to the doctor yet pay for a plan with a $20 copay rather than pocketing $300/month in premiums and going with a plan with a $50/copay or choose a high deductible and save even more.
    Summed up:
    Don’t be afraid to make your providers know who they work for-you- and let them figure out on their own, that your just as likely to walk if they can’t come up with what you want. There are ethical business people out there, and they’ll respect you for your prudence, and you’ll know them by their fruit.

    Look to your essential services first, and cut the best deal on all of them, you’ll see savings you never thought possible. Happy hunting.

    Great thread you’ve started and a real inspiration. Thanks!

    JOSEPH PERKINS Published |

    just came from 60 person organizing meeting of OCCUPY SANTA ROSA CA.
    /for the mass and occupation of santa rosa square at 2 pm sat.
    i’d say about frugality / that it comes comes from integrity /as in understanding the books by Buckminster Fuller at bfi.org where he states that ” in the future only integrity will matter”
    the future has arrived
    1) Nonviolent action AND speech, no matter what. Zero tolerance for violence. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    2) Unity of message across orgs & people. Consistent demands, all should know them. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    3) There must be a long-term and coherent strategy, not just tactics & actions. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    4) Police should be seen as potential recruits to movement, not enemy. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    5) Keep national/international audience in mind when framing. Goal is win ppl over. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    6) Defensive strategies never win. Don’t respond to attacks using their language. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    7) Claim victory whenever possible. Important for morale. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

    Keep anger in check /w solidarity actions & humor. #8rules via @CynthiaBoaz #OWS

  53. Cathie Dunklee-Donnell
    Cathie Dunklee-Donnell Published |

    The best way I have found to save money is to ask myself do I really need this? One easy way to determine this is to ask yourself, If this was twice the price would I still buy it. Also you can ask yourself, how often do I think I will use this product. Often when you start asking these questions you will see how few things you really need, and also how it is the low price that is causing the problem in the first place.

    That should also get you to avoid places like wal-mart, instead opting to shop at more local shops that have higher quality goods.

  54. steph
    steph Published |

    Just a side note, I know someone mentioned it higher up, but mint.com is a life saver for me in terms of budgeting, it even sends me disapproving emails when I go over my budget for various categories (it automatically categorizes all your purchases, really useful for lazy [I mean busy] people who want to get a sense of where their money is going)

  55. Bhaskar
    Bhaskar Published |

    There is a thin line between being frugal and being “penny wise and pound foolish”

    Stay clear !

  56. SteffL
    SteffL Published |

    Justin, if you are making that sort of money then why are you not leveraging it to borrow more and invest? I am never good and frugality and I don’t trust that’s how we should live. For someone with a family, a day out with my family (in-laws included) means my husband and I have to pay for meals for all of us, at the very least. It’s extremely hard to control at this level.

    Well, I know that I’m not the best person to speak out about frugality, but you are in fact in a very good position to make more money than to spend so much effort to save some loose change.

    Although we’re in debt (good debts) and not cash rich, we treasure the fact that our properties have risen in value significantly more than we can save in the same amount of time.

  57. Matt Teal
    Matt Teal Published |

    I stopped eating out. When I actually sat down and saw how much money I was spending eating out everyday for lunch, I was amazed. So I bought groceries and made sure I packed my lunch everyday for work. Also, I like to drink coffee. But you’ll find that daily coffee can add up as well. Instead, I started using the coffee maker at work versus buying a $3 cup everday. These were simple changes but over the course of a month, came out to hundreds of dollars worth of savings.

  58. Chris Cox
    Chris Cox Published |

    Hi Justin,

    Sorry if I’m adding something that someone else has already added, but a large freezer (or two) can save you a ridiculous amount on food. It enables you to buy food close to the use-by date at a reduced price, store leftovers until they can be re-used etc.

    It can be hard to stick to a healthy and frugal cooking schedule when you’re not in the mood to cook, so when I am in the mood I tend to cook and freeze a load of “fakeaways” for days when I’m not.

    Buy staples like rice in bulk – several kilos (or whatever weird arcane system you use over there) at a time works out to be a substantial saving over small bags.

    Technology-wise, I’m not sure what kit you have/use and where you stand in relation to offsetting it as an expense, but I’ve always found that prioritising my wishlist by impact on my productivity and upgrading incrementally has enabled me to have the best kit I can afford and take best advantage of it on a continual basis. I’ve always built my own computers so I know what to buy and what to avoid. When it comes to laptops, I’m firmly of the persuasion that portability is key. I have a powerful desktop which does the heavy lifting, I want my laptop to be pleasant to use, very portable and have a good battery life. If you buy high-end ultraportables a couple of years after release, you’ll have two years of real-world use and reviews to cut the wheat from the chaff and prove durability, they won’t be underpowered since Moore’s Law is racing ahead of the demands we place on the hardware, and you can buy very nice machines for less than a third of their launch price. Case in point: My Dell Adamo 13 has a 1.2Ghz low voltage dual core processor, 2Gb of RAM and gives me a comfortable 4 hours’ real-world use of Photoshop, Netbeans, my localhost, browser etc. It also weighs ~4lbs (that figure I can translate for you), and has the best keyboard I’ve ever used on a laptop. I’m not a big fan of Apple-style chiclet keys.

    If any of that has been remotely helpful to you I’m glad. You’ve been incredibly helpful to my WordPress development, and I’ve been recommending your book to anyone who’ll listen.

  59. Penny Bachelor
    Penny Bachelor Published |

    I agree with Chris Cox above but not just regarding buying cheaper close to the sell by date. Buying in bulk is always going to work out cheaper. Cook and freeze is good but so is buying a bigger supply of what you eat regularly and storing it. Whether that is beans or rice or cans of Campbells Chicken Soup. The point is to rotate your store so that you are always using up the oldest stocl and storing the newest.

    BTW I note this was written in August so… how are you doing with your bid for frugality?

  60. Ronno
    Ronno Published |

    The FRUGAL life. Had to laugh as I do consider myself a bit on the frugal side, but alas some of the people close to me would rather put a differing terminology to the the phrase frugal. I’m sure you get an idea of what I mean. Anyway buy wisely keep your wallet in your pocket and make sure it’s very low on spendable cash. Hope life is good and long live us tight as–d spenders. My wife has an alternate term when you mention frugal. It’s Ron lol.

    Cheers to all. Ron

  61. Vanity
    Vanity Published |

    well i could see myself in you! everybody keep poring the suggestions..will help many like justin nd me πŸ˜€

  62. 42 weeks: Fitness updates
    42 weeks: Fitness updates at |
  63. Robert Witham
    Robert Witham Published |

    Justin, new reader here. I found you through WordPress while searching for new themes/plugins. This post grabbed my eye since I’m into simplicity anyway, and need to live frugally due to a wife with advanced cancer.

    One tool that I just started using this month is The Birdy (https://thebirdy.com). It is available as a Chrome app which is how I discovered it, but also has a web interface. It’s financial tracking software without all the bells and whistles. Money management software never works for me because I have income from multiple sources, pay some bills with cash, etc. The Birdy allows me to simply post spending (via SMS, e-mail or web app). The spending is then categorized, but I don’t need to deal with various accounts, etc.

    Hope your frugality project is continuing to work well for you.

  64. Debbie
    Debbie Published |

    Hi Justin
    Just read all the posts here and the ones by MP had me laughing and nodding and laughing and nodding again!

    Now that some time has passed I hope you are doing well on Living your Frugal Life!

    My life includes raising 3 kids as a single Mom… I know frugal!
    On the to do lists:
    Always pay off anything that has an interest charge first!
    You are not saving money unless your savings or investment accounts are earning a higher rate than the interest on a loan.

    But my longest running life lesson is to always come from appreciation for what you have. Pay attention to your abundance rather than your lack!

  65. Sara Tetreault
    Sara Tetreault Published |

    I highly recommend backyard chickens! We just picked up 2 more chicks yesterday to add to our “flock” since they need replenishing over time. It’s not the least expensive way to get fresh eggs but it’s cheaper than paid television as chickens are infinitely more interesting to watch! Also, chicken waste mixed with pine shavings/straw is a great addition to your compost which eventually will end up in your vegetable garden. Chickens eat any leftover food scraps from your kitchen and they love to eat slugs out of the dirt. It’s a nice circle. If you can, get a rooster to protect your hens, too. Good luck!

  66. Pete
    Pete Published |

    Hi Justin, unlike you I’ve gone the opposite way. I once owned my house and had a well paid prestigious job. I now find myself earning less than half of what most people would my age and I have a mortgage. I have learnt to appreciate what is really important… my health, and time with my son… that’s it.

    I’m happy as a pig in mud and I’ve found I can have just as much adventure and excitement as when I was surrounded by more money.

    I try to help people more than I try to acquire things… it feels good.

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