Seldom does a book inspire action after years of reading countless books on finance, behavioral economics, investing, etc. However, Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames is one of the rare books that screams “it’s time to change!!!”
When I started this book, I believed Mrs. Stock Ninja and I were cheap – we still live in graduate student housing despite having two incomes, we have two older, paid off cars, most of our household item shopping is done through discount retailers, and we routinely plan our meals around what Kroger and Costco mail us for the week highlighting their deals and coupons. I thought we lived cheaply. Wow, was I wrong.
Thames and her husband took frugality to an extreme level. For them it became a competition to not spend money. What I genuinely found most impressive is their frugality when expecting a child. Many have witnessed or actively participated in running up credit cards when a child is expected. This creates an extremely negative compound effect of playing catch up to 20% interest. Side note: DON’T EVER DO THAT. Thames and her husband found almost everything they needed secondhand and for free from old friends and colleagues who went crazy spending for baby items a few years prior.
It is true, after tracking expenses, I sadly discovered Mrs. Stock Ninja and I spend a shameful amount of money every week on pizza. Our monthly budget gets blown routinely with clothes and books. If we applied a “Frugalwoods” mindset to this issue, we could easily save $200 a month. Let’s say we still wanted pizza once a week. We could replace 2/4 pizzas with higher quality frozen pizza from the grocery store and only get pizza from a restaurant twice a month. Books? Although I am shamefully addicted, I have learned most books are what I call “library books.” Quite honestly, most books are great to read once and never get read again. If that’s the case, you should get a free library card. If the book is truly that good and you will read it again, you can pick up a used copy at a discount bookstore or Amazon.com for cheap. Lastly, we have too many articles of clothing already. In fact, I don’t wear about 1/3 of my clothes as it is. In most cases (unless you just landed a job that requires a professional wardrobe), clothes are a want, not a need. This one is a simple fix: don’t spend money on clothes.
I’d like to state a caveat that Thames repeatedly brought up – Thames and her husband are both white, college educated, and had stable careers. But employing their tactics can help anyone with any education and any income level save more money and inch closer to financial independence. Through spending money only on needs, not wants, Thames and her husband achieved financial independence rapidly. Not only did they achieve financial independence, but they became a stronger, more connected couple who learned how to learn new things (instead of hiring out), and worked together to accomplish a massive goal. If you are interested in learning more about how to spend less, achieve financial independence and ditch the 8-5, or ready to take a huge step in your relationship to chase your dreams, I recommend Meet the Frugalwoods.
Learn more about the Frugalwoods: https://www.frugalwoods.com/
Meet the Frugalwoods: https://www.amazon.com/Meet-Frugalwoods-Achieving-Financial-Independence/dp/0062668137