A Year of Frugality — How It Changed Me and My Views about Money

Today we have a first on The Wealthy Accountant: our first guest post. Offers to guest post are common once you reach modest traffic levels. Most offers are junk as they are nothing more than thinly disguised advertisements for things I do not approve of. (Anyone want me to promote forex trading? Thought so.)

Then a young lady, Patricia Sanders, emailed asking kindly if she could write a post for me. I did a Google search of her work and found she has a modest online presence. She sounds young, but genuine. Her writing is basic, but I took a chance and invited her to send me an article.

When I write I always try to find something few people are writing about. It is all about value. If I can share an idea with my readers I can make a difference, especially if it hasn’t been written to death before. I talk basic, but usually within the framework of a more complex financial or tax issue. Two things I shy away from—brevity and simplicity—works against me at times. My preference is for storytelling when attempting to convey a message. And no one had ever accused me of being brief.

Then I read the submitted article from Patricia. Her message was brief and basic. This started me thinking. My readers need to hear the basics, too. Michael Jordan was not a superstar because he made three-point shots. He was a superstar because he made the free throws without thinking. He was a superstar because he made the layup without thinking. He was good because the basics became automatic. Patricia reminded me of this.

It is important to encourage young people starting their life journey. We learn far more teaching than being taught. Patricia has a story to tell. Not some long-winded diatribe I like to spew. No, she has a simple message only a young adult can tell. Sometimes our old eyes forget where we came from and how we got where we are. I am not such a fool as to ignore the legacy granted me. It is a pleasure to present you Patricia Sanders today. She has a bright future. Maybe we will cross paths at a financial conference in the near future. It would be an honor meeting her in the real world.

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[My apologies to you, kind readers. Tax season is getting long in the tooth and I was hoping for a small break with a guest post so I could focus on more tax returns. I did a minor check online and found the author to be legit. Except, a reader discovered if you clicked far enough it was a debt consolidation BS site. I’m leaving the post below for those interested and promise to do better in the future. I do NOT support forex, debt consolidation sites and similar crap floating around the internet. I learned a valuable lesson and know I need to vet guest posts more. All links and references to the author are deleted to protect visitors. Forgive a sleep deprived accountant slogging through the last two weeks of tax season. You deserve better. —The Wealthy Accountant]

A year of part-time jobs after completing my higher studies made me realize the importance of frugality. The money I made wasn’t enough to cover my student loan debt payments and credit card bills. I had to think of ways to generate free cash. Frugality seemed the only option at that time.

 One Year of Frugal Living




The first few months were difficult since I was not financially disciplined. I had to fight with myself to be frugal. Every day was a challenge since I had to discover new ways to save money wherever and whenever possible.

I had to work hard on purposeful and goal oriented spending. For instance, I had short-term and long-term goals. My short term goals included covering necessary expenses and investing in things that have liquidity. On the other hand, my long term goal was to pay off my student loans and credit card bills.

I started saving money, applying the extra cash toward additional debt payments, built a short emergency fund and started investing in index funds. All extra funds retired debt in the beginning  so investing was out the first 6 months. After six months I was ready to start building my investment portfolio.

Where I Saved Money  

Food — I lived on homemade meals and gave up junk foods. Plus, I stopped buying frozen foods.

I planned the weekly menu before buying groceries and cooked something interesting every day with the leftovers.

Transportation — I sold my car and bought a smaller one to save on the maintenance costs, fuel, and loan interest. Earlier, I was paying $620 a month. But after switching to a smaller car, my loan payment came down to $373. It helped me to save 10% to 20% on my insurance premiums too.

Bathing — I stopped buying expensive essential oils. Rather, I used the old essential oils to make perfumes and air freshener. This helped me to save almost $5.70.

Home — I moved to a smaller apartment and saved $300 (per month) on my rent payments.

Clothes — I washed clothes once a week to save laundry cost. Plus, I sold old, unused clothing at consignment shops.

Medicine — The price of generic drugs are significantly lower than branded medicines. So, I bought generic OTC medicine whenever possible and asked my doctor to prescribe generic medications.

Energy — I installed LED lighting and insulated the windows throughout my apartment. Plus, I started using power strips to turn off electronics when not in use. It saved around $75 per month.

Events — I found a better way to celebrate birthdays and other social gatherings. I organized small parties at home for my close friends. In case of festive events, I looked for discounts on the goodies. I baked lots of chocolate-chip cookies and gifted them to friends.

Cell phone — I switched from unlimited plan ($100) to an economical plan (1GB data) and saved $50 per month.

One year later

Frugality became a part of my existence. It made me wiser as I now see things which I didn’t earlier. For example, I learned to live comfortably while trimming utility bills simultaneously. I learned how to survive on a small wardrobe. For instance, I used to buy a few t-shirts and jeans in solid colors. I could easily wear them in different color combinations and didn’t need to buy as many clothes.

Finally,

Like I said before, I needed lots of money to pay off debts. Frugality helped me save 60% of my income every month. It made me realize that one could find happiness from the immediate surroundings without spending 90% of his/her income.

A year later, my life was happier and less stressful with over 40% of my debt retired. Frugality and a smart debt repayment strategy gave me an advantage and a psychological boost. It gave me hope my debts will soon be gone and I can start investing more than ever so I can reach my dream of early retirement.

Author bio: *** *** is a content developer and freelance writer. Her passion is writing on various financial topics. A coffee addict and a voracious reader by nature, her motto is simple: Live simply and spread happiness. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s guest post. There are a few things I would do different. I would switch out the phone for Google Fi and I would have mentioned birthdays and holidays as gift-free zones. But Patricia is still smokin’ with a 60% savings rate! Awesome! Hope y’all enjoyed.



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Keith Schroeder

7 Comments

  1. M Bowden on April 3, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Frugality and a “smart debt repayment strategy” lol. This article has advertisement for debt consolidation written all over it.

    Hopefully an exception of an article rather than a new norm. I really enjoy your other work WA.

    MB

    • Keith Schroeder on April 3, 2017 at 11:55 am

      I looked further and see what you mean. I’m removing the link. My goal was to take a day off so I can focus on tax work. Wednesday I have an original post. (This end of tax season schedule is killing me.)

      • M Bowden on April 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm

        Thank you Keith. Fully understand. Keep up the good work!

        MB

  2. Justin on April 4, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I enjoy your more detailed posts. No harm no foul with this post, but I really come here for the long, well-thought out posts. Keep up the great work

  3. Kelly on April 4, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Great post and great tips.

  4. Renard on April 5, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Actually nice to see that even the pros get hoodwinked once in awhile….Keeps it real! Cheers.

    • Keith Schroeder on April 5, 2017 at 8:17 am

      It still hurts, Renard. I think any blogger who cares about what they do feels like shit when they let their readers down. Thanks for understanding.

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