Frugality is present in almost everything Mr. FAF and I do. In fact, it was what actually brought us together in the first place.
Today I will share with you the story of how Mr. FAF and I got together thanks to our frugality.
Mr. FAF and I didn’t go through the traditional route of him asking me out on a date.
We stayed friends for about a year and a half before we became each other’s special half. And it all began with me wanting to save money.
Mr. FAF and I went to school in the same city four years ago. I then decided to head to Washington DC to start a new chapter of my life.
I wanted to learn how to drive before I left for the city. Having been born and raised in Vietnam, I didn’t know how to drive although I was 26.
I asked around to see if my friends knew of any good and reasonably priced driving schools that I could attend before going to DC.
A mutual friend of ours recommended Mr. FAF and said he would teach me how to drive for free.
I didn’t want to take advantage of Mr. FAF, but he eagerly agreed and volunteered to teach me without asking for compensation. I thought it wasn’t a bad deal and said yes.
I started my first driving lesson in Mr. FAF’s 14-year-old car. It was an old Toyota Corolla (1999 model) Mr. FAF had bought for $1,500.
The exterior paint was peeling off, showing the frame of the car. The interior of the car was falling apart and had to be held together with tape and paper clips (I’m not kidding).
I don’t remember how I felt about driving in such an unattractive car. But I think I was glad that at least someone offered me their precious vehicle to practice driving.
Mr. FAF told me he thought about getting a newer car since he couldn’t impress any girls with his aging Toyota. But he decided against it since it wasn’t in his budget. I guess sometimes it does cost guys money to impress a girl they like.
Getting to know each other
Up until that point, I had always thought of Mr. FAF as a friend and didn’t have much interest in talking with him. Plus, I was going through the biggest crisis of my life, so I wasn’t in the mood to discuss anything with anyone.
However, being stuck with Mr. FAF in the car for hours and not wanting to sound ungrateful, I started making small talk. We went from one topic to another: friends, family, career goals, politics, financial plans, money spending habits, etc.
I gradually realized that Mr. FAF and I had more in common than I had thought. We both cared deeply about our family and good friends. We were ambitious about our career goals and wanted to make an impact, not just lots of money.
And most importantly, we wanted to save money to be independent but were willing to support our family and help out our good friends when they were in need.
It dawned on me that Mr. FAF was in fact an interesting, intelligent, and kind man.
Though ecstatic that I didn’t have to drop $500 on driving school, I didn’t want to just thank Mr. FAF without returning his favor.
We practiced driving two to three times a week for about a month and a half. Sometimes it would take just the whole morning or afternoon to finish a lesson.
I was aware that Mr. FAF was devoting a lot of his valuable time to helping me. Every time after we practiced, I’d treat Mr. FAF to lunch or dinner depending on the time of the day.
After getting my driver’s licenses, I also gave Mr. FAF a $200 check and insisted that he cash it to accept my gratitude. I also consulted with my mom about the amount, and she said it was the right thing to do. I gave him a gift on his birthday as well, and he was touched.
Mr. FAF later confided in me that this whole experience helped him to get to know me better as a person: frugal yet generous when necessary.
Mr. FAF had given free driving lessons to his friends (both males and females) before, but no one had shown him the level of gratitude and generosity that I did.
I have to admit that at one point all the eating out was really hurting my bank account. It wasn’t cheap eating out 2-3 times a week for two people for more than a month, especially when I was saving up for the high costs of living in DC.
I offered to cook dinner for Mr. FAF a couple of times to cut costs. Mr. FAF was impressed with my cooking (?!) and said later on that those homemade meals reaffirmed his belief that I would be a good wife one day. Little did he know that he would be the main chef in the house after we got married (oops!).
I guess restaurant meals are great, but if you truly want to thank someone and show them your true self, cooking at home is not a bad choice either.
After I got my driver’s license, Mr. FAF and I embarked on a bumpy yet rewarding journey of a four-year long-distance marriage. We also have one of the most wonderful gifts life has given us: Baby FAF, our 2.5 year-old son.
Thinking back on the driving practice experience, I don’t think I saved a lot by picking Mr. FAF over the driving school. Although I didn’t have to pay Mr. FAF in any way, I don’t regret taking him out to lunch and dinner and giving him a $200 check. It was the right thing to do.
Saving money is good, but I just can’t sleep at night thinking I might be taking advantage of someone, especially if it’s a good person. It’s just not who I am or who I want to be.
The only thing I might have tried to do differently was cooking for him more at home. It could have saved me a lot of money, and I could still show Mr. FAF that I cared about him.
I sometimes jokingly tell Mr. FAF that I had to pay for his ‘free’ driving lessons with my single life. Mr. FAF then quips that I won a lottery with both a free driver’s license and a great husband by investing only in some restaurant meals and $200.
We just laugh together, thinking about the amazing things that frugality has enabled us to do throughout our lives, one of which is to live happily together as a family.