I was checking Twitter on a Friday afternoon when I saw a great post titled “Our Struggle With Frugality” by Passive Income MD.
The article discusses his guilty feeling about not being frugal enough like many personal finance bloggers.
The post resonated with me so much that I had to start writing my own version of my struggle with frugality.
Passive Income MD’s post can’t be more timely.
Some of the uber frugal personal finance bloggers that have inspired me to be more frugal, especially with food, are:
Kristen at The Frugal Girl
Deb and Al at Saving The Crumbs
Lily at The Frugal Gene
Joe at Retire By 40
Mr. Tako at Mr. Tako Escapes
Whenever I read the blogs above, I feel both inspired and guilty.
I get motivated to find more ways to save.
But at the same time, I also feel like I haven’t done enough to keep up with the bloggers above.
Related: How We Are Keeping Up With The Jones
I started to wonder if Mr. FAF and I are frugal enough. If yes, that’s great news. If no, I feel like we’re wasting our money by not saving and investing it for a good return. And I have to admit that I think the latter scenario might be more applicable to us.
In this post, I will discuss my frugality fantasies based on the tips and experiences from other personal finance bloggers. In the perfectly frugal world, I imagine Mr. FAF and I will be doing the following things:
We would at oatmeal like Mrs. and Mr. Frugalwoods in the morning. By simplifying their breakfast, the couple manage to spend only $1.40 between the two of them for the whole week.
Another option is for us to have rice porridge cooked with beans, boiled eggs, and whole milk for breakfast which is more expensive than oatmeal but still frugal and inexpensive.
That’s actually my go-to breakfast, but Mr. FAF still prefers to have croissant and Hawaiian bread for breakfast.
We would eat rice and beans for lunch at work every day like what Mrs. and Mr. Frugalwoods do. They cook a batch on the weekends.
Each serving amounts to merely $0.39. It’s five meals at $1.95/person/workweek. You can’t get anything more frugal and healthier than that.
My work lunch when I was on a diet: 3 tablespoons of rice + 2 tablespoons of canned beans + 2 boiled eggs + a banana
I would love for Mr. FAF and I to just cook delicious food at home like Joe, Mr. Tako, and the Frugalwoods do. We won’t eat out ever maybe except for when we get invited to a friend or a friend’s birthday or farewell party.
Home-cooked meals: fried tofu, pork ribs, and radish soup
4. Keep our food expenses under $300 a month
$300/month was the cutoff limit for the Frugalwoods when they still lived in Cambridge. Deb and Al at Saving the Crumbs spend $60 on food each month by opting for a vegetarian diet and growing a lot of their own vegetables.
It would be AMAZING if Mr. FAF and I could spend less than $100 on groceries for our family of three. Allen at The Practical Saver spends $300 on food a month for a family of 5. They make everything from scratch and grow their own garden.
We hosted a hotpot party at home and invited our friends.
5. Shop at thrift stores
I have shopped at thrift stores a couple of times and have suggested Mr. FAF give it a try. But Mr. FAF has turned down that idea, saying that we can now afford new clothes.
I really want us to either get hand-me-down clothes or buy high quality clothes from Good Will. The Frugalwoods even got clothes for free from the curbside, and I think it’s such a great find.
The good news is that my 2018 clothing ban has been working out great so far. I’m 5 months pregnant now and haven’t bought any clothes or shoes this year.
6. Grow a garden
Mr. FAF and I have a tiny backyard which my mother-in-law has turned into a small garden (we own a townhouse).
But it definitely can’t provide us with enough fresh vegetables every day.
7. Get all furniture from Craiglist and the curbside
While Mr. FAF and I got a lot of used and inexpensive furniture, we still spent $3,000 on new furniture when we moved into our new home.
Related: How To Save On Furniture
8. Hand-me-down clothes for Baby FAF
Mrs. Frugalwoods got a lot of hand-me-down items as well as other baby gear for Baby Woods, and I’m hooked!
I’ve gotten a lot of used clothes for free or at a cheap price for Baby FAF.
But we have also spent $80 on a brand-new stroller after Baby FAF was born and then another $100 on another brand-new stroller recently since the first one didn’t work well.
Ideally, I’d prefer to get all used items for Baby FAF. But sometimes we just can’t find things that we need (i.e. mittens), and the parental guilt does kick in to make us buy new clothes for him (i.e. a $25 winter jacket from Costco).
I got all these for Baby FAF for FREE!
9. Choose to have no car
Lily and her husband choose to be carless despite making an impressive household income and having reached the millionaire status.
Mr. FAF and I own one car (a fuel-efficient Toyota Corrola), but I would love for us to have no car at all. We would then take full advantage of the public transit in DC and wouldn’t have to worry about car insurance, maintenance, and a myriad of expenses that come with owning a car. Like Mr. Money Mustache, we would bike anywhere we want.
However, despite the sprawling public transit system in DC, it doesn’t go to all places such as the hospital, grocery stores, and random places like the post office. While we can Uber, take a cab, or rent a car for such trips, it’s expensive and not always convenient.
Over all, I’m glad we have one car to get around. But being frugal to the point of choosing to have no car is something I still consider sometimes.
Related: How To Save On Transportation In DC
10. Free trips to camping sites and enjoying nature
Mr. FAF and I don’t really go on expensive trips. When we hang out as a family, we just go for a walk at the mall or around our neighborhood. Sometimes we eat out.
While going for a walk is free, I would like to replace eating out with going camping and national parks.
When Stephanie at Six Figures Under go camping with her family, they usually choose a free camping site and bring food from home to cut costs.
Mr. Money Mustache enjoys spending time with his son in nature which is both free and beautiful.
I have suggested Mr. FAF and I go on camping trips a couple of times. But I think it’s still hard for him to imagine living without all the amenities we have at home.
Related: 7 Frugal & Fun Family Activities
11. Keep our annual expenses around $25,000/year
Mr. Money Mustache and his wife managed to keep their annual spending around $25,000 in 2016. They paid off their mortgage, don’t need to pay for daycare, and live a simple yet fulfilling life. And that’s a goal I would definitely love to achieve.
We current pay much more than $25,000/year for our mortgage and daycare alone. I hope and believe that our spending level will be closer to $25,000/year that once our house is paid off and our kids go to public school for free.
12. Maxing out our 401(k) and Roth IRAs
Saving is the hallmark of frugality. It would be amiss not to mention our retirement savings. While we are maxing out our 401(k), we have yet to contribute anything to our Roth IRAs.
Mr. FAF doesn’t want to park our money in an account we can’t touch until we’re 60. He wants to allocate more money to our emergency fund, our new house purchases, a rental property, traveling, supporting our extended family financially, among other goals.
We had a heated debate since I wanted to max out our 401(k) while Mr. FAF didn’t. But I will compromise with Mr. FAF and give him some time to sleep on it.
Some of you might be thinking that we can start turning those fantasies into reality right now. Some of them are doable (i.e. oatmeal breakfast, rice and beans lunches) while some are beyond our reach at the moment (i.e. keeping our expenses below $25,000/year).
I realized two things. First, now that I’m married, deciding to make a certain change is just the first step. Getting my husband on board is another key step in the process. And reaching a compromise with him will take some time and persuasion.
Second, while all of the goals above sound amazingly frugal and feasible, the truth of the matter is that it is not easy to get out of our comfort zone (i.e. owning a car, eating out).
That said, I still want to pursue the frugality fantasies mentioned above if not now then gradually.