Laziness Made Me Rich

Patriotic wind catcher.

BOOM! BOOOOOOOM! SKREEEEEE!

Yeah, we just had July 4th here in the states, so did you. The only difference if you live in a country outside the U.S. is we celebrated our Independence Day. Lots of fireworks were involved.

It’s not a one night affair either. Some cites shoot off fireworks a few days early over the weekend, some do it the night before, many do it on the 4th.

Neighbors have the same philosophy. For a week the crack of thunder (well, it sounds like thunder when I’m trying to sleep) can be heard until the wee hours of the morning. As long as nobody gets hurt I’m okay with it.

I don’t participate in the festivities. Laziness is the problem. Many years ago I had a year or so of insanity and bought some fireworks. Some ointment cleared that insanity right up.

Before you call me a prude, play with me. Fireworks take a lot of work! First you run around finding a place where they sell the stuff, then you crack your wallet wide (bend forward slightly—this is going to hurt) and finally you have to plan the event to shoot them off. Like I said, a lot of work and I’m too lazy for all that. It’s much easier to watch what the neighbors shoot off while I sit around my fire pit watching stars between displays.




It Started a Long Time Ago

My frugal nature has been around a while. When I met Mrs. Accountant we made a pact: no gift giving. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and bat mitzvahs (I have daughters) were out. We celebrated all these events, but gift giving wasn’t a part of the process. No struggling to find a gift someone will want; no faux gratitude for another concrete chicken we need to find a place to display in the house.

So we don’t seem like prudes to the community we found a way to feed our laziness. Whenever we need something around the house or take a trip we call that our Christmas/anniversary/birthday gift. The last several years have been easier as this blog requires more travel (and everyone knows how much I love to travel) so we pick a conference I attend and call it the appropriate seasonal gift.

The kids jumped on board early, too. They didn’t care what kids at school did. The Christmas tree (more on that later) was bare Christmas morning. There were never tears. When the kids need something, say a bike, we get them the item and tell them that is their Christmas gift. They get to use their gift when it is more practical. Riding a bike in late December in NE Wisconsin is not happening.




The rest of the family took more work. When my brother bought me a concrete chicken (I have chickens on my farm) for Christmas and followed it up the next year with a plastic chicken it was time for the talk. He took it well. My brother and I don’t give each other gifts anymore. A simple “Happy Birthday!” or “Merry Christmas” suffices. For Christmas we visit and enjoy our company. No breaking up the conversation with ripping gifts open.

My parents are a tougher nut to crack. I don’t get them gifts except for Christmas and the gifts get smaller by the year. The girls, Mrs. Accountant and I still make a haul. How do you tell someone not to do it? If they enjoy gift giving then gift give. I guess it is a way of sharing a sliver of their legacy while they are alive so I am good with it.

The patriotic wind catcher (see picture) is a birthday gift from my mother. I proudly displayed it on my front lawn. My mother knows my attitude for gift giving and dealing with junk around the house. She gave it to me with a reminder it probably will only last the summer so I can throw it out when the snow flies. {Sigh} After all these years my mother still doesn’t understand how much I loathe buying stuff just to throw it away.

Christmas is always the litmus test. There “was” a family tradition of dad picking my brother and me up and heading to the Christmas tree lot the day after Thanksgiving. A decade ago I stepped off the tradition, electing to use a massive fern we call Fronds as our Christmas tree. There are two ferns actually. The tallest one is Fronds, the shorter one his wife. Our Christmas tree is technically up all year round. For the holidays we decorate the guy (and gal) with pretty bows, candy canes and some blue lights donated to us.

For us Christmas is free.

Don’t Call Me Scrooge

At first blush you might call me Scrooge. That is 100% wrong! (Okay, maybe a little bit, but this is my story so I’m telling it my way.)

My kids are not deprived of anything. We still celebrate, only we celebrate what the holiday is really about.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts do not transfer, but we have a heck of a cookout with plenty of brats, hamburgers and hotdogs. We have great laughs as a family together.

“Merry Christmas!” Concrete chicken?

Christmas Eve the family gathers at my parent’s home for an awesome dinner followed by the Christmas program at church. It is a special night and feels special, too. We talk and laugh; the best gift anyone can receive.

It’s also about the money! Fireworks can easily cost hundreds of dollars. Considering how many some neighbors set off a $500 bill would not cover it. (Yes, I know there are no $500 bills distributed by the Treasury anymore.) Over a decade my savings are at least $5,000, plus all the profits the $5,000 would earn over the decade. Over a lifetime the unspent money with normal index fund gains could buy a small home in some parts of the country.

Christmas gifts are worse! They add up fast. Once the gift giving was traded for quality family time I had only Fronds left to complete the perfect Christmas. Christmas trees run ~$40 in my neck of the woods: some cheaper, a few more expensive.

Then there is the time of putting the darn thing up and taking it down. Vacuuming the needles from the carpet is something the missus doesn’t miss. The cost of additional decorations requires a cash investment too.

Fronds is simple and free. Fronds and his girlfriend (wife?) enjoy dressing up for the season. The limbs on Fronds are weak so only a few bows and lights close to the trunk are allowed. No injuries for the holidays in my home.

Fronds is about 12 feet tall now. Mrs. Accountant received Fronds when he was a two inch twig as a gift from the apartment association back when I had rental properties. Christmas is free in my home, as is the gift from the Son of God, if you are of the faith.

Lazy Bones

So, I am lazy. You’ll get used to it. I’d rather read a book or write than shop for stuff. Even with Amazon I don’t shop unless a loaded gun is pressed tight against my left temple, books excluded, of course. (You can shop Amazon using the link. I have to eat you know.)

4th of July fire pit.

Some people will challenge my laziness claim. I’m always doing something. Call it selective laziness. My interests are catholic (little c). Life has been rewarding for me. There is no time for wasteful things like gifting obligations (giving and receiving).

I’m not a Grinch either. I donate time and money to charities in a larger portion than most. This isn’t bragging. If I say I’m lazy to save money only, it might seem I am shallow. I might be in the shallow end of the pool, but I’m not in the kiddie pool.

Selective laziness is an advantage! When it comes to stupid stuff, be lazy. When it comes to learning, be energetic. Don’t waste your energy on unimportant stuff.

Selective laziness will help you reach your financial goals sooner. Focus on the important.

My net worth is certainly higher due to my laziness. It doesn’t change my lifestyle one iota. Life is good without all the complication.

I have Mrs. Accountant and two wonderful girls. That is gift enough for me.



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Keith Schroeder

6 Comments

  1. erik huijsmans on July 5, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Very well explained. Thanks for sharing some of your wisdom on the web. Hopefully many will find out, whats life really is about.

  2. Mrs. Picky Pincher on July 5, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Hahaha, I love it! I do admit that celebrating holidays by spending ridonkulous amounts of money is … annoying. Mr. Picky Pincher and I tend to not get each other gifts, but we still feel pressure to give gifts to other people in our family. Hopefully we can drag everyone else onto the Frugal Train. All aboard!

  3. Sarah. on July 5, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Call me Grinch, Scrooge or whatever you want as long as you don’t expect me to buy you something you don’t need and/or you buy me something that I can’t eat or generate money from. Since it’s not polite (apparently!?) to ask for money, think caviar.

    We don’t tell people (except family) that we don’t celebrate the gift giving aspect of Christmas or any holiday/event (except for The Kids birthday). The few times we did, I got an earful enough to last me a lifetime. My in-laws don’t listen to me or ask me about what we could use so 90% of their gifts get donated. My Mom used to (and still kind of does) give way too many gifts (even though they’re approved by us) but we’ve convinced her to do a family trip once a year and that’s helped to minimize the gifts. I mean, what can be better than spending 2 weeks with your grandkids!?

    • Keith Schroeder on July 5, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Yeah, Sarah. It’s not always easy. All I can say is it took me a long time to get (almost) everyone on board.

  4. Mr. TYMP on July 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Selective laziness! What a great use of combination two English words. This is a great technique when approaching many things in life. Gifts should be given when you want to give them, not because of some quasi-religious-but-mostly-commercial holiday, so well said. I have made a similar pact with Mrs. TYMP, and guess what, we are just fine.

    Concrete goats could be nice if you have too many chickens…

  5. Mrs.Wow on July 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    The Mr and I stopped giving gifts awhile ago and we are no worse off. I’ve been trying to get away from the gift giving aspect of the holidays with the rest of the family. Going to try to do a trip this year rather than xmas gift with my family. Yet, I am still diligently working on situation with my in-laws, since they typically go way overboard and completely unnecessary. Hoping one year I can get through to them.

    Being lazy, now this is something I can get behind!

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