A Year of Extreme Frugality

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LookingtogetFIRE'd
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A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by LookingtogetFIRE'd » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:44 am

Am thinking about embarking on a year of extreme frugality in order to help save for some big picture expenses coming up. Curious whether anyone here has done the same (for a year or more) and if so: What was your experience? How much did you save? What life hacks did you discover to save money? Any other insights or thoughts? Thanks!

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WoodSpinner
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by WoodSpinner » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:08 am

OP,

Assume you have found the Mr Money Mustache Forum?
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/index.php

My experience is that you will find more radical savers and tips there than here.

Good Luck,

:beer

pangea33
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by pangea33 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:09 am

I don't know if I make the cut for "extreme" frugality, but I can tell you some things that cut my expenses down.

Cut my own hair with clippers, pack my lunch every day, and take 20 showers a month at the $10/mo gym using their soap. Drive older paid off cars, dropped my cable down to Internet only, took a chance on myself and started doing all my own auto maintenance and repairs thanks to Youtube. Buy my clothes at thrift stores, buy used tools from Craigslist. Don't drink or smoke any more, which is an ENORMOUS expense over time.

My experience suggests that it was easy to promise myself I would make sweeping life changes. They were always somewhere just over the horizon though. It was far simpler to make one change at a time and commit to it. It allowed my desires to change without feeling like I was a monk punishing myself.

Dollar amounts are all relative, right? My total expenses were originally about 60% of my take home pay. They're about 30% now.

livesoft
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by livesoft » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:15 am

I was extremely frugal during college since I had to pay for it myself. I got a job in a kitchen, so didn't have to eat except at work where food was free. I didn't have a car nor health insurance. I got clothes from friends. I had lots of roommates. I didn't travel home for Thanksgiving or Christmas or the summers because I could not afford it. I ate expired moldy Twinkies thrown out from vending machines. In those days, one didn't have cell phones, cable, or internet, so times were simpler.

How much did I save? Enough to pay college tuition, fees, books, and have place to sleep.

Is that the kind of frugality you are looking for?
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bloom2708
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:20 am

Join the FrugalWoods challenge for January. See how it goes for a month.

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/12/08/t ... challenge/

You might pick up some ideas to help you during the rest of the year.
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LookingtogetFIRE'd
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by LookingtogetFIRE'd » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:30 am

WoodSpinner wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:08 am
OP,

Assume you have found the Mr Money Mustache Forum?
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/index.php

My experience is that you will find more radical savers and tips there than here.

Good Luck,

:beer
Thanks - I have seen MMM, but I find the forum discussions here to be more engaging. I probably should not have described my goal as "extreme" frugality - I am not intending on cutting my standard of living a la eating nothing but ramen and/or Saturday samples at Costco. I was more curious as to what folks have done to keep themselves on target for a short period of mass saving.

Shallowpockets
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by Shallowpockets » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:45 am

You don't say how much you want to save with this frugality. For a car? That would be a big change unless your spending is out of whack now. Some people here are making it on 150k a year. Others 50k.
Once again you need to know your expenses in order to know what you might be able to cut.
The most significant cuts I could make and save would be to cut out all my travel because it is about 30% of my expenses. But that would only net me maybe 14k year. Not enough for a car. So something as costly as a car would be pretty much out the window for me to save for in one year.
So you need to delineate how much you want to save and if it is achievable.
It would be a easiest to save on some bigger things than to nickel and dime your way through a year. Saving .29 cents on a can of peas? Not the way. Now that is the way to live frugal but not to save for something that is on a larger magnitude.
First you have to tally up your discretionary expenses and if that total does not allow you to reach your goal, then you will have to dip into the rest of your expenses and at that point it becomes a discipline for an extended period of time.
You have not stated any numbers so it is hard to even see if it would be achievable.
The math will speak for itself.
Last edited by Shallowpockets on Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

quantAndHold
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by quantAndHold » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:49 am

It’s hard to tell where you’re coming from. I’ve been poor enough that at times I had to collect cans to buy food. What I “saved” at the end of that was nothing, except that I was never homeless, always was able to pay for the bus pass to get to work, and had enough food to eat, even if I had to collect cans a couple of times to raise money for groceries.

How frugal do you want to be? Is this an “I already have enough stuff so I won’t need to buy anything for a year” frugality, or do you need tips like “buy a can of Lysol and spray the heck out of the shoes you buy at the thrift store?”

By the way, if you buy shoes at the thrift store, spray them with Lysol. Really.

All I can say is pay attention to the big things. You’ll get the biggest wins by figuring out where your money is going and reducing the biggest numbers. In my day, food was my biggest expense, so extreme couponing was super useful. Today, it’s probably housing, but getting rid of your car can score some big wins too, as long as you can still get to work.

Okay, so after reading what you just posted in response to someone else...yeah, don’t live like I did. It was really not fun. Focus on the biggest budget items, and the rest will take care of itself. Focus on living simply, buying basic food items, cooking for yourself, and avoid eating out. If you’re in a situation where you can move, look at housing cost and see if you can reduce that. Look at your car and transportation costs, and optimize that. Can you sell your car and still get to work? You can save money even if you rent a car every weekend.

For fun, look for free things to do that you’re interested in. For example, I’ve always been into theater and music. Being a volunteer usher will get you into a lot of shows for free, at the cost of having to show people to their seats. Museums have free days. Big city libraries have free concerts. Dad loved sports, but instead of paying big bucks for major league tickets, went to the local college baseball and basketball games. Baseball was free. Basketball was like $50 for season tickets. What you find for yourself will depend on what your interests are and how much effort you put in.

fposte
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by fposte » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:04 pm

I still think it's a tough question--a lot of people's "short period of mass saving" is other people's adult life standard. However, the areas I see people have the most frequent ability to cut back easily are food and drink (dinner out, bought lunches, etc.), phone plans, internet/cable, and gym memberships.

I also have a budgeting app where I have to enter everything by hand (though I can set up recurring charges). It really is fascinating how that becomes a disincentive to spend.

TravelforFun
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by TravelforFun » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:21 pm

There are more ways you can have more money besides just being frugal. Stop being wasteful, get a higher paying job, work a second job, and learn to invest.

TravelforFun

MnyGrl
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by MnyGrl » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:28 pm

Are you married and/or do you have kids?

If so, how do they feel about a year of extreme frugality? I spend the vast amount of my free money on their college funds, child care, medical bills and school/activity expenses.

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LookingtogetFIRE'd
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by LookingtogetFIRE'd » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:36 pm

fposte wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:04 pm
I still think it's a tough question--a lot of people's "short period of mass saving" is other people's adult life standard. However, the areas I see people have the most frequent ability to cut back easily are food and drink (dinner out, bought lunches, etc.), phone plans, internet/cable, and gym memberships.

I also have a budgeting app where I have to enter everything by hand (though I can set up recurring charges). It really is fascinating how that becomes a disincentive to spend.
fposte - what app are you using? Thanks!

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VictoriaF
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm

Follow a plan:
- Keep track of your expenses for a month.
- Be precise. if you give $1 cash tip at a bar, note it in your log.
- Organize your expenses by categories.
- In an alert analytical state of mind review your normal pattern of expenses and decide which ones you want to cut.
- Create a strategy for reducing the expenses you have identified. This could be tighter budgeting or developing new habits, e.g., not having credit cards readily available at the times when frivolous expenses are more likely.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

halfnine
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by halfnine » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm

Took on work assignments in other locations so that for most of the year lodging and food were covered by employer. Plus earned a nice per diem. When I was back in the home office lived out of my car or stayed at $1/night walk in campgrounds. But, I never tried to save by eating what I would consider an unhealthy diet. Healthy food is the last thing I'd give up.

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VictoriaF
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:41 pm

halfnine wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
But, I never tried to save by eating what I would consider an unhealthy diet. Healthy food is the last thing I'd give up.
Excellent point. It's worth repeating even if it's obvious.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

delamer
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by delamer » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:41 pm

Find a second job. If you need to save more, you can either cut expenses or increase income (or a combination).

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LookingtogetFIRE'd
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by LookingtogetFIRE'd » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:43 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
Follow a plan:
- Keep track of your expenses for a month.
- Be precise. if you give $1 cash tip at a bar, note it in your log.
- Organize your expenses by categories.
- In an alert analytical state of mind review your normal pattern of expenses and decide which ones you want to cut.
- Create a strategy for reducing the expenses you have identified. This could be tighter budgeting or developing new habits, e.g., not having credit cards readily available at the times when frivolous expenses are more likely.

Victoria
Thank you - this is a really good idea. I also like fpost's idea of using an app to do the budget tracking.

coupleofcents
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by coupleofcents » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:48 pm

If you really want to save money look to the big 3: housing, food, transportation:

1. Housing: Get roomates. As many as possible. If married, you could rent a room in your house if spouse is amenable.

2. Transportation: Immediately sell any car you are making a payment on. Buy a small, fuel-efficient used car cash for $5000 or less. Liability insurance only. Run that puppy until it dies. Repeat. Better yet, don't own a car.

3. Food: plan out your meals weekly or even monthly basis. Always eat at home, pack your lunch everyday.

Extra ideas:

- cut your cable,you only need an internet connection in this day an age
- cut your own hair (buy clipper set from Costco)
- do your own yard work
- cut your expensive phone plan, go with Ting, Republic wireless, etc. with their base plan... you don't need a data plan
- cancel any subscription service
- cancel gym membership, you can workout at home/outside
- led bulbs only
- if you must travel, learn how to travel hack with credit cards
- learn about a capsule wardrobe (don't buy new clothes if possible, just pair down to minimum amount of clothes necessary that are versatile)

I've done all or most of these. As my salary has improved I've added back a few things. But most of these will pay life time dividends so I'm not sure that's what you're looking for when you say "A Year of Extreme Frugality". I'm married with 1 kid. My savings rate is about 40%.

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VictoriaF
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:50 pm

LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:43 pm
VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
Follow a plan:
- Keep track of your expenses for a month.
- Be precise. if you give $1 cash tip at a bar, note it in your log.
- Organize your expenses by categories.
- In an alert analytical state of mind review your normal pattern of expenses and decide which ones you want to cut.
- Create a strategy for reducing the expenses you have identified. This could be tighter budgeting or developing new habits, e.g., not having credit cards readily available at the times when frivolous expenses are more likely.

Victoria
Thank you - this is a really good idea. I also like fpost's idea of using an app to do the budget tracking.
I use my own spreadsheets instead of apps. My spreadsheets are custom made for my patterns of spending and analyzing. More importantly, the manual effort I exert on noting my expenses and entering them into the spreadsheet is a powerful deterrent from spending. This deterrent works partly subconsciously.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

runner3081
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by runner3081 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:03 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:50 pm
LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:43 pm
VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
Follow a plan:
- Keep track of your expenses for a month.
- Be precise. if you give $1 cash tip at a bar, note it in your log.
- Organize your expenses by categories.
- In an alert analytical state of mind review your normal pattern of expenses and decide which ones you want to cut.
- Create a strategy for reducing the expenses you have identified. This could be tighter budgeting or developing new habits, e.g., not having credit cards readily available at the times when frivolous expenses are more likely.

Victoria
Thank you - this is a really good idea. I also like fpost's idea of using an app to do the budget tracking.
I use my own spreadsheets instead of apps. My spreadsheets are custom made for my patterns of spending and analyzing. More importantly, the manual effort I exert on noting my expenses and entering them into the spreadsheet is a powerful deterrent from spending. This deterrent works partly subconsciously.

Victoria
Bingo, we were already frugal, but it hurts just a bit more adding each line (money spent) to the tracking sheet!

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LookingtogetFIRE'd
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by LookingtogetFIRE'd » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:09 pm

OP here- some folks have asked why I want to do this. In the next few years, my family and I will either need to sink six figures or more to make necessary repairs / maintenance to our house, or move. I live in an old house in a VERY HCOL area. To pay for the work or the move, we can either finance (which will decrease our savings rate), blow up our current savings (which I don't want to do), or save like crazy and see how much we can put together before the roof starts leaking, so to speak. So if that helps with giving advice -that's the motivator. I get that its a bit like asking "how did you lose weight" -- everyone knows you need to create a calorie deficit, but in practice, what strategies worked for you to save the most possible? What were your keys to success? Thanks so much to everyone for helping.

Yankuba
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by Yankuba » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:15 pm

OP should post his/her monthly budget so everyone can weigh in. Otherwise just use the Google machine and search for "frugality tips"

c1over8
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by c1over8 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:17 pm

LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:43 pm
VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
Follow a plan:
- Keep track of your expenses for a month.
- Be precise. if you give $1 cash tip at a bar, note it in your log.
- Organize your expenses by categories.
- In an alert analytical state of mind review your normal pattern of expenses and decide which ones you want to cut.
- Create a strategy for reducing the expenses you have identified. This could be tighter budgeting or developing new habits, e.g., not having credit cards readily available at the times when frivolous expenses are more likely.

Victoria
Thank you - this is a really good idea. I also like fpost's idea of using an app to do the budget tracking.
I do this using a googledoc spreadsheet so that I could pick the exact format I wanted for summarizing data. Once you decide on categories you will use and set up the first month with columns and a summary section to auto sum the categories (to then copy the sheet to use as a template for future months), the only work is copy and pasting from your credit card statement (and adding in any cash purchases) and then assigning categories to each charge in your category column. Doesn't take a long time and after you've done it a while you really get a sense of how much you spend on things (either specific items or generally such as your weekly total at the grocery store) so when you are out shopping you are more informed before you spend.

I'd be interested to hear fpost's app too as it may be easier to enter it immediately on an app after each purchase and it may be easier if it allows multiple family members to input data for one account.

fposte
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by fposte » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:36 pm

Mine's imaginatively called "Best Budget," so good luck Googling for reviews. It's not one of the big players, and there may be a reason for that, but it works for me. I prefer running a budget off my phone because I already spend too much time on my computer and in spreadsheets; I have a pleasant weekend ritual of inputting the week's expenditures (I almost never pay cash for anything) while I enjoy a tasty treat and some nice music, and there's a vaguely competitive goal of keeping the time down so I can spend more of my morning off doing other stuff.

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LookingtogetFIRE'd
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by LookingtogetFIRE'd » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:40 pm

fposte wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:36 pm
Mine's imaginatively called "Best Budget," so good luck Googling for reviews. It's not one of the big players, and there may be a reason for that, but it works for me. I prefer running a budget off my phone because I already spend too much time on my computer and in spreadsheets; I have a pleasant weekend ritual of inputting the week's expenditures (I almost never pay cash for anything) while I enjoy a tasty treat and some nice music, and there's a vaguely competitive goal of keeping the time down so I can spend more of my morning off doing other stuff.
fposte -- Thanks! Curious whether you went for the free "Money Saver and Expense Tracker Version" version, or sprung for the $.99 "Pro - Control your Expense" version? Thanks! :sharebeer

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simplesimon
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by simplesimon » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:42 pm

If your goal is to save an incremental $100k+ in a year, little tricks like brown bagging lunches and reducing Starbucks purchases will help but is not a strategy I believe will win.

What I believe are the biggest contributors to my family's high savings rate (in no particular order):
  • We cook most of our food. We will get take-out or go out for dinner about once a month.
  • We rent a modest apartment.
  • We make decent income.
Using your weight analogy, is there a lot of fat to cut in your spending? Since you live in a VHCOL area and the purpose of the money is to be spent towards your home, I'm going to guess no.

FWIW, I use YNAB and know where every dollar goes.

MnyGrl
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by MnyGrl » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:49 pm

If you post your household income and fixed expenses, it will be easier to advise you. If you make 500K it will be a snap to save 100K. If you make 120K, not so much.

quantAndHold
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by quantAndHold » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:52 pm

So, I'm assuming that a lot of the large expenses in your budget are not going to.....ummmm....budge. :wink:

You're looking for an extra $2k per week in savings. Since we don't know your income, is that even possible?

To get that level of savings, you'll need to look for big things, like selling a car, renting out a room in the house, or taking on a part time job. Or all of those things together. I might suggest that if your current retirement/college savings rate is north of 10-15%, then you can cut it to there for a couple of years in order to pay for current expenses.

Have you done a budget to figure out where the money is actually going?

Another thing is to look at the upcoming major expense, and see if you can either find a way to do it more cost effectively, or to defer parts of it to upcoming years, so that you have more time to save.

timmy
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by timmy » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:58 pm

6 to 8 years ago

My wife had lost her job and we wanted to proceed with our home addition (paying cash).

My big tip ... A written budget and sticking to it. This created a structure for making decisions. Which led to the obvious things ... no vacation save for a few long weekends paid for with travel points, no eating out.

Good luck.

mariezzz
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by mariezzz » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:45 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:15 am
I ate expired moldy Twinkies thrown out from vending machines.
Didn't know they could mold! (Maybe the preservatives improved in the last few decades!)
Aside from my mortgage payment (which includes home owners insurance & property taxes), I spend about <$10,000 annually for everything (including home improvements/repairs which I have done mostly myself; car (19 yrs old) needs few repairs but there are oil changes, tires, brake expenses included in the $10,000, depending on the year). Has been the case for many years. That includes some travel. Alcohol is very rare, esp. in a bar/restaurant; restaurants are very infrequent and on the cheaper end. I buy healthy food, including some organic; vast majority is prepared at home, but I'll buy trader joe's salads, entrees to take for lunch (the cheaper ones usually). I don't plan food expenditures, though (no menus); just try not to waste food (I could do better) and think before buying and avoid processed food for the most part. :sharebeer
I view my mortgage payment as if it were a contribution to a savings account as it adds to my equity.
I don't keep a log of my spending, although most is paid for by credit card, so that provides some degree of a log. Rather, I've just trained myself well to ask "do I really want to spend money on this, rather than put the money in my retirement account & retire earlier as a result".

stoptothink
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by stoptothink » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:13 pm

In finishing the last 2yrs of my PhD ('11-'12), I lived of <$10k/year, and one of those years was renting my own apartment (the other, I had 2 roommates). FWIW, I was at the time still making ~$55k, so I was saving a ton of money in the process. To say some of my lifestyle decisions were extreme is probably a massive understatement, and things that I do not recommend anybody else due. I was also going through a divorce at the time, so my mental faculties were not all there and I derived some weird pleasure from depriving myself. Some things I did:

-Parked my car in the carport and did not drive a single time for an entire year, rode my bike 30+ miles a day, rain or shine.
-Shut off my electricity. Really. I think this may in fact not have been legal, but it wasn't nearly as hard as it sounds. I was very rarely home, so it wasn't that bad.
-All showers were taken daily at the school gym.
-I became very interested in researching intermittent fasting (I was researching obesity for my PhD anyway), and it worked out well. I didn't have the ability to refrigerate food so it was a lot of tuna, raw nuts, and protein shakes; pretty much keto. I maintained a shocking amount of my energy and lean muscle mass.

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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by Caduceus » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:18 am

LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:44 am
Am thinking about embarking on a year of extreme frugality in order to help save for some big picture expenses coming up. Curious whether anyone here has done the same (for a year or more) and if so: What was your experience? How much did you save? What life hacks did you discover to save money? Any other insights or thoughts? Thanks!
Focus on the big picture items. If you want to really save most of your money, live with roommates and split the rent. Don't own a car if you live in a place where you can get to where you need to go fairly easily, and Uber everywhere else. Don't eat unhealthy things though - that doesn't pay off health-wise in the long run. Oatmeal, lots of whatever vegetables and meats are on sale, bananas.

Don't buy clothes (I've never found this difficult, but apparently a lot of people do.) Focus on free/cheap entertainment - Netflix, Tinder (if you're straight) and Grindr (if you're gay), etc.

Take an extra job on weeknights or weekends.

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djpeteski
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by djpeteski » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:38 am

LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:44 am
Am thinking about embarking on a year of extreme frugality in order to help save for some big picture expenses coming up. Curious whether anyone here has done the same (for a year or more) and if so: What was your experience? How much did you save? What life hacks did you discover to save money? Any other insights or thoughts? Thanks!
First off I think you need a why and goals. Rhetorically: what exactly are you trying to accomplish and what specifically are the money goals? Doing so will keep you on track and motivated.

For us we were paying off all non-mortgage debt and it lasted 13 months. We were making about 245K and our living expenses were about 35k. We paid off about 120K in those months and purchased a condo for cash for about 50K.

Here are some hints:
1) Budget
2) Keep good records
3) Use cash for all variable expenses - that is when you get paid, take out $x for groceries. Do not ever take out more money until the next paycheck. You will be amazed at how little you spend.
4) Earn more. Do whatever it takes to earn.
5) No vacations, no eating out

Given your username I would assume that you are FIRE motivated. As such, I would give yourself an amount to increase your savings by in the year. You can start off for 3 months and reevaluate.

ShenziNation

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by ShenziNation » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:45 am

LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:30 am
WoodSpinner wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:08 am
OP,

Assume you have found the Mr Money Mustache Forum?
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/index.php

My experience is that you will find more radical savers and tips there than here.

Good Luck,

:beer
Thanks - I have seen MMM, but I find the forum discussions here to be more engaging. I probably should not have described my goal as "extreme" frugality - I am not intending on cutting my standard of living a la eating nothing but ramen and/or Saturday samples at Costco. I was more curious as to what folks have done to keep themselves on target for a short period of mass saving.
TBH, I find the financial advice better at BH and the life tips better at MMM. I'm on both forums, and can tell you that at MMM people do not live on ramen, but love cooking good food without being spendypants. You won't find debates about mid-life Porsche crises or play cars, you'll get a "facepunch" for bringing that up. If you want solid portfolio advice, BH is the place to be.
Reading your concise assessment about MMM, you haven't really delved through the forums, which have more diverse topics than BH. Please give them a second chance. The more you know, the richer your life will be. Why not take the best of both?

fposte
Posts: 1759
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by fposte » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:59 am

LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:40 pm
fposte wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:36 pm
Mine's imaginatively called "Best Budget," so good luck Googling for reviews. It's not one of the big players, and there may be a reason for that, but it works for me. I prefer running a budget off my phone because I already spend too much time on my computer and in spreadsheets; I have a pleasant weekend ritual of inputting the week's expenditures (I almost never pay cash for anything) while I enjoy a tasty treat and some nice music, and there's a vaguely competitive goal of keeping the time down so I can spend more of my morning off doing other stuff.
fposte -- Thanks! Curious whether you went for the free "Money Saver and Expense Tracker Version" version, or sprung for the $.99 "Pro - Control your Expense" version? Thanks! :sharebeer
I splashed out on the 99¢ version years go, because I'm profligate like that.

Shallowpockets
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by Shallowpockets » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:15 am

Maybe the best thing to do is sell that house that requires $100,000 of repairs. Then you a avoid this entire frugality thing, which seems unattainable. As someone said, you need to save 2k a week. Brownbagging your lunches is not going to do that.
Other than that you have all kinds of tips posted here.

cherijoh
Posts: 6379
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Location: Charlotte NC

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by cherijoh » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:32 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
Follow a plan:
- Keep track of your expenses for a month.
- Be precise. if you give $1 cash tip at a bar, note it in your log.
- Organize your expenses by categories.
- In an alert analytical state of mind review your normal pattern of expenses and decide which ones you want to cut.
- Create a strategy for reducing the expenses you have identified. This could be tighter budgeting or developing new habits, e.g., not having credit cards readily available at the times when frivolous expenses are more likely.

Victoria
I agree with Victoria.

A friend of mine went all cash and used the envelope system (this was years ago before debit cards were readily available). When she ran out of money from her discretionary spending envelope she declared herself "broke". She also froze her credit card in a block of ice in her freezer. This was when she was trying to save for a down payment on a house.

Another thing to consider is how you socialize. I think the biggest deprivation occurs if you are in the habit of meeting friends for dinner or drinks, movies, sporting events, etc. So I would recommend enlisting your friends in your campaign. How about hosting a potluck and games or cards night instead? Or combine your frugality with a goal to get healthy. When my friend was on her savings kick we switched to meeting for a walk or a hike instead of meeting for dinner and a movie.

Another friend (who lived nearby at the time) and I set up a regular dinner night where we switched off cooking for each other instead of meeting to eat dinner out. That encouraged me to try new recipes and do a better job of menu planning.

You can save a ton of money on food by planning meals around what is on sale that week. And by writting a shopping list and sticking to it.

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yukonjack
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Location: Rocky Mountain West

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by yukonjack » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:53 am

Shallowpockets wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:15 am
Maybe the best thing to do is sell that house that requires $100,000 of repairs. Then you a avoid this entire frugality thing, which seems unattainable. As someone said, you need to save 2k a week. Brownbagging your lunches is not going to do that.
Other than that you have all kinds of tips posted here.
+1. Without knowing more about your finances it’s hard to give actionable advice but from reading some of the extreme tips given in this thread I would at the very least take a hard look at downsizing (selling home and either renting or moving to a less expensive home). Some of the recommendations in this thread seem to be borderline torture.

delamer
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by delamer » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:49 am

Don’t know if this has been mentioned already, but that other thing to do is set specific goals as to how much you want to save and by when.

This will keep you better focused than just a general intent to “save money,” and will enable you to see if your goals are realistic relative to your income. If you make $100K per year and have a $2,000/month mortgage payment, you aren’t going to be able to save $75K in a year no matter how frugal you are — as an extreme example.

retire57
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by retire57 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:28 pm

One simple method, and one I have used for a 'no-spend month', is to resist buying any non-food item unless the item is a replacement for another e.g. toothpaste, car battery, refrigerator...

2015
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by 2015 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:37 pm

yukonjack wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:53 am
Shallowpockets wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:15 am
Maybe the best thing to do is sell that house that requires $100,000 of repairs. Then you a avoid this entire frugality thing, which seems unattainable. As someone said, you need to save 2k a week. Brownbagging your lunches is not going to do that.
Other than that you have all kinds of tips posted here.
+1. Without knowing more about your finances it’s hard to give actionable advice but from reading some of the extreme tips given in this thread I would at the very least take a hard look at downsizing (selling home and either renting or moving to a less expensive home). Some of the recommendations in this thread seem to be borderline torture.
Yea, the big stuff is what makes a difference. Downsizing from a needlessly wasteful extravagant lifestyle long ago in an HCOL area was the smartest financial move I've ever made. Since retirement, I seem to be up-sizing just about everywhere because now I can. That said, I could never go back to that former needlessly extravagant lifestyle because I have no interest in all of that.

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MichaelRpdx
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Contact:

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by MichaelRpdx » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:47 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:50 pm
I use my own spreadsheets instead of apps. My spreadsheets are custom made for my patterns of spending and analyzing. More importantly, the manual effort I exert on noting my expenses and entering them into the spreadsheet is a powerful deterrent from spending. This deterrent works partly subconsciously.

Victoria
And the manual effort forces you to pay attention. This is a major win over using an app.
Be Appropriate && Follow Your Curiosity

h82goslw
Posts: 128
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:44 am

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by h82goslw » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:49 pm

bad78andy wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:45 am
LookingtogetFIRE'd wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:30 am
WoodSpinner wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:08 am
OP,

Assume you have found the Mr Money Mustache Forum?
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/index.php

My experience is that you will find more radical savers and tips there than here.

Good Luck,

:beer
Thanks - I have seen MMM, but I find the forum discussions here to be more engaging. I probably should not have described my goal as "extreme" frugality - I am not intending on cutting my standard of living a la eating nothing but ramen and/or Saturday samples at Costco. I was more curious as to what folks have done to keep themselves on target for a short period of mass saving.
TBH, I find the financial advice better at BH and the life tips better at MMM. I'm on both forums, and can tell you that at MMM people do not live on ramen, but love cooking good food without being spendypants. You won't find debates about mid-life Porsche crises or play cars, you'll get a "facepunch" for bringing that up. If you want solid portfolio advice, BH is the place to be.
Reading your concise assessment about MMM, you haven't really delved through the forums, which have more diverse topics than BH. Please give them a second chance. The more you know, the richer your life will be. Why not take the best of both?

Well said. This is exactly how I view both sites.

david99
Posts: 662
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:56 am

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by david99 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:55 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:41 pm
halfnine wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:37 pm
But, I never tried to save by eating what I would consider an unhealthy diet. Healthy food is the last thing I'd give up.
Excellent point. It's worth repeating even if it's obvious.

Victoria

I also would not be frugal when it comes to healthy food. Eating unhealthy food can cost you a lot more money down the road if you get sick.

quantAndHold
Posts: 3520
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:56 pm

I've owned a large historic home for long enough that I've written a check for pretty much every bit of expensive maintenance and repairs that it's possible to write a check for. I'm having trouble figuring out what would require $100k all at once, unless either the house is massive, or both the roof and foundation need doing all at once.

If it's the roof and foundation thing, my condolences. This is probably a good enough reason to get a home equity loan or a cash out refinance. If the house is too big for you to afford to maintain properly, consider downsizing.

GoldenFinch
Posts: 1994
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:17 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:13 pm
In finishing the last 2yrs of my PhD ('11-'12), I lived of <$10k/year, and one of those years was renting my own apartment (the other, I had 2 roommates). FWIW, I was at the time still making ~$55k, so I was saving a ton of money in the process. To say some of my lifestyle decisions were extreme is probably a massive understatement, and things that I do not recommend anybody else due. I was also going through a divorce at the time, so my mental faculties were not all there and I derived some weird pleasure from depriving myself. Some things I did:

-Parked my car in the carport and did not drive a single time for an entire year, rode my bike 30+ miles a day, rain or shine.
-Shut off my electricity. Really. I think this may in fact not have been legal, but it wasn't nearly as hard as it sounds. I was very rarely home, so it wasn't that bad.
-All showers were taken daily at the school gym.
-I became very interested in researching intermittent fasting (I was researching obesity for my PhD anyway), and it worked out well. I didn't have the ability to refrigerate food so it was a lot of tuna, raw nuts, and protein shakes; pretty much keto. I maintained a shocking amount of my energy and lean muscle mass.
Livesoft’s moldy Twinkie eating was pretty extreme, but stoptothink’s experience definitely wins the most frugal award. Sounds healthy too, with the biking, tuna and nuts.

When we decided to pay off our mortgage, we pretty much just said no to spending and became obsessed with watching the mortgage go down. The best take away from living through a year or more of frugality is you realize how much you can happily do without. Afterward, ramping up savings becomes second nature. Good luck.

DaftInvestor
Posts: 4842
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:11 am

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by DaftInvestor » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:27 pm

I lived very frugally out of necessity for a period of time while I was in college. Mac&Cheese and Spegettio's and hot-dogs were most of my meals (I'd eat out on occasion - when there were 2 for 1 coupons at McDonald's).
The reason I went to college was so I would have a good paying job and never have to live like that again. I believe in saving for the future while I'm living but not living just to save so no "extreme frugality" for me. Everything in moderation.

furikake
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:13 am

Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by furikake » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:54 pm

I think it's easier to just make more money instead of pinching pennies like what the MMM followers are doing. Or do both, but if you can't cut anymore expenses, the only way is to make more money.

TwstdSista
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Re: A Year of Extreme Frugality

Post by TwstdSista » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:11 pm

I have to be careful about being extreme -- I tend to land on the cheap side of frugal. But the husband and I recently found my currency. We have been ignoring retirement contributions for the last few years (buying a house, getting the kid through college and recouping our cash). And I pretty much bought whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.

But now, so long as we meet X for cash for the year I can put everything else into retirement funds. Woo hoo! Goal #1 is funding our Roth IRAs for 2017. And suddenly I no longer have an amazon problem. Hmmm....

Basically, set goals for yourself. Something to strive for, and to help you not feel deprived!

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