31 Frugal Tips and Tricks

Frugality is the animal that must be bred to achieve financial goals. There is no amount of income that can’t be spent, and then some. If you don’t believe that, take a long look at the U.S. government to get a view of an amount of money that can be spent with ideas to spend more.

The seed of wealth is the money you didn’t spend and instead invested. That is the only course in building a steady stream of income to enjoy the life you want. 

The investment isn’t the problem; the seed is. You can generate a generous income stream from real estate, index funds or a business. In each case it is the excess cash you didn’t spend that is the seed that grows to satisfy your dreams.

The more frugal the lifestyle, the less you need to retire. 

Image a man with a million dollars invested. Is he rich? Could he retire? Well, the questions are impossible to answer. If he spends $300,000 per year the million isn’t so much. If he spends under $40,000, he qualifies under the 4% rule to retire because he is unlikely to ever deplete his nest egg. 

 

We have all seen short lists of frugal things we can do to cuts costs. Those lists tend to focus on daily actions that can save a few dollars. This list will have some of the same advice, but will also include actions that are long-term in nature and build serious financial wealth. Coupled together, the long and short term frugal behaviors, lower your cost of living without giving up anything that you value in life.

Frugality sometimes gets a bad rap because it is perceived as depriving yourself of things you want. Nothing could be further from the truth! Frugality is discovering what you truly value and focusing on those things that give you the greatest pleasure. Nobody ever found nirvana in being a buying unit. (Well, except for that one guy in Tupelo, but I have it on good authority he doesn’t read this blog so I am safe.)

This list of frugal tips and tricks will not ask you to give up anything. I will ask you to reconsider your behavior, as in, how to acquire the things desired.

Epictetus gave us words to consider close to 2,000 years ago:

Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.

For our discussion, this means that we can’t gain the maximum benefit from these frugal tips and tricks if we refuse to make even the most minor of changes to our behavior. In other words, you can still enjoy a pot of coffee every day, but every cup doesn’t have to cost $5. (I might ask you to consider a more modest caffeine intake over health concerns if you consume a whole pot every day, however.)

As we begin our list, know that these tips are in no particular order. I am not going from smallest savings to largest or shortest term to longest term tips. I mix it up because that is how life comes at us, in bits and pieces. It is how our billfold gets crushed, too. Rarely are our financial woes the result of one decision (and even if it is, these frugal tips will get you back into the game quickly); it is usually financial death by a thousand cuts.

Let’s begin with our morning cup of coffee since the topic has already been broached.

 

1.) The Best Coffee You Ever Drank for Pennies a Cup

The morning cup of coffee is something many people cannot give up. I understand. Office coffee can be nasty so stopping at Starbucks along the way has become a routine. At 5 bucks a cup (price depends on geographic location) that adds up over a year. 

You can have coffee equal in quality or better with the right coffee machine and coffee beans. Many years ago I wrote a series of short articles on getting a really good cup (or pot) of coffee for a fraction of the price at a coffee house. Fill your coffee mug before you head out the door and you keep $1,825 in your pocket each year, assuming you only imbibe with one cup per day. 

Here is the list of articles I published on coffee:

Gourmet Coffee for Less

Kona Coffee: The Drink of Heaven 

The Best Coffee Machines

Choosing the Best Brew Coffee Machine

The best cup of coffee you ever drank does not have to cost a fortune. Gourmet coffee for less is easier than you think. It’s the frugal thing to do.

2.) Trains, Planes & Automobiles

I never saw the movie, but the title is catchy. 

This tip is a biggie. So big that it can single handedly make you rich! 

I know, I know. There are bloggers that say you should never drive. Bike and walk everywhere. Awesome idea, but not for everyone. 

Your car can drain your finances more than any other purchase! It is a depreciating asset. The speed at which it travels to zero is determined by make, model and condition. But make no mistake; it will end up in the scrapyard like every other vehicle ever made. 

People all too often focus on the depreciation of an automobile. There is another vehicle cost that digs nearly as deep: transaction costs.

I have only owned 3 cars in my life and I’m on the wrong side of 50. I tend to buy used vehicles and keep them for 20 years. (Most vehicles come to their natural life expectancy around 20 years.) 

Depreciation still hurts. Fortunately, I don’t have that accelerated depreciation newer vehicles suffer. The best news is that I have few transaction costs because I don’t do a lot of transacting. Every time you buy a car the state wants a piece of the action. With the exception of 5 states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) you will also pay a sales tax. 

Used car prices are out of line as I write this. I probably would buy a new car if I was in the market at this time. Regardless, I buy a vehicle when my current vehicle is close to the grave and then keep it for a really long time.

This one tip can save you enough to fund your retirement account if you funneled all those payments you didn’t have to make. And you would trade title, transfer and sales taxes for a tax deduction! Easy choice, I think.

 

3.) Grow a Garden

I’m lucky in that I live in the backwoods of NE Wisconsin. Gardening is easy for me. 

If you have the ability (space) to grow a garden I would encourage you to do so. It doesn’t have to be big. A few tomato plants, carrots, beans and anything else that pleases your palate can make a difference.

Living in an apartment limits your ability to do this. You can still grow a few plants by windows that get sun. There is nothing like enjoying your own fresh tomatoes.

It isn’t the food you grow that saves a lot of money. There are savings, but the real advantage is spending a few more meals at home with your family enjoying a home grown and cooked meal. And that is priceless compared to the $500 or so in savings over the course of a year from avoided dining out.

Might I also suggest planting a fruit tree if you have the room. There is nothing like picking your own fresh apples/peaches/pears/plums . . .  The flavor from tree ripened fruit is nothing like you find in a grocery store.

 

4.) Adjust the Temperature

I know I’m a bit more extreme on this than most.

Living in a northern climate (in the Northern Hemisphere) allows me the luxury of rarely using air conditioning. The winters are another story. 

I have found that my entire family can enjoy a cooler house in the winter comfortably (low 60s F). Yes, we wear clothing in the winter, as in a flannel shirt or other such comfy warm garment. The wife and kiddos cover with a blanker when watching TV (me when I read). The cooler house means we sleep better at night, too.

During the summer we adjust to the warmer temperatures. When it gets hot in July we draw cool basement air into the house. Rare is the year when we kick on the AC. (I actually have a geothermal heat pump for space heating, water heating and AC.)

 

5.) Use the Library

It is well known that I sin when it comes to buying books. I love owning books. It is my one non-frugal habit.

However, several local libraries still know me on a first name basis. Some books I borrow from the library. But the library is so much more than books, books on tape, music and so forth.

I encourage you to read this post on all the surprising things you can get for free from the library. (Did you know your library might offer free college courses, tutoring and more? Some libraries have fishing equipment and one I interviewed even had a sewing machine they borrowed out.)

 

6.) Down Time

One of the most frugal things you can do is give yourself down time. Bill Gates has a “think week” several times per year. Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs both scheduled “no time” where they had no duties or interruptions so they could focus on just thinking creatively.

While it might be hard to understand how down time is a frugal activity, it is time where you are not spending money and instead are focused on making good decisions in your life, finances and business. 

Creativity happens during down time. When I write I close the door. This is “me time”. I’m actually talking to myself and letting you listen in. 

Time spent with the door closed and the internet and email off is vital to mental wellbeing and financial wealth. Your best ideas will come from the quiet time where distractions are not demanding your attention.

 

7.) Write it Down

Along the same line as down time, writing notes, a journal, a blog, a to-do list and any other things you want to think about later during down time is important to a frugal lifestyle. Frugality is not only about money. You can always make more money, but you can’t make up for lost time! 

Slowing down and writing notes is the best way to reduce expenses! You are not buying the best goods and services when you are fighting the clock. 

Notes allow you to slow down and make better decisions. I can give you a million ways to reduce costs, but only you know what things you can reasonably cuts costs on. 

The goal of this post is to provide ideas and spark ideas in your mind. Don’t just do it because some crazy accountant from the backwoods of NE Wisconsin told you to do so.

Write it down. Record your thoughts in a journal and review those thoughts later. Use a grocery list. You will be amazed at how your thoughts change and the money you save. 

And always be willing to revise. Editing your notes and lists is required. The first draft is always junk. That is why you need to review and edit, preferably with the door closed.

 

8.) Health Insurance

This tip only applies to my American readers. Virtually every country on the planet has a single payer healthcare system. In the U.S. getting sick is a major crisis that requires work on your part at your lowest moment of health.

Serious savings can be had by comparing your options. If your employer offers health insurance be sure to review what is and is not covered. Be sure to review the health reimbursement features if your employer offers one.

For everyone else, you need to review the Affordable Care Act options, private insurance and medical health sharing. 

I personally settled on the Christian health sharing options. It was the best value. My worry was it would not deliver if claims were made. A serious illness in my family has put those concerns to rest. You can start your health sharing research here.

And here is a medical health sharing option.

 

9.) Read

Read voraciously! Reading is the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge is power! 

Don’t read only one source. Not even this blog! (Please, continue reading my blog as a starting point. Thank you.) Dig deep into a topic from multiple sources and come to your own conclusions. It’s important.

Learn to think. Reading builds your thinking muscle. 

Read good books. Even a pleasurable novel now and again.

Read blogs.

Read.

Very few have built serious wealth without serious reading. 

 

10.) Cut Cable

Are you the last person on the planet to cut the cord? Cable is so 1990s. And expensive!

You do know that the local networks broadcast over the airwaves 30 or so channels now? You can watch about as much for free from broadcasts as you can with cable and at no cost.

Then you have YouTube and Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime and many more. YouTube is mostly free. Netflix is still pretty cheap. If you have Amazon Prime you already have a streaming service at no additional cost.

You can also check out the library tip above for even more free programming, including the expensive stuff on HBO, etc. Yes, your library has many of these programs, available at no cost to you. Check it out.

 

11.) Cell Phone

Cell phone service can be out-of-this-world expensive. I (my whole family) switched to Visible Wireless a few years back. You get unlimited data, messages and minutes. Visible Wireless is owned by Verizon.

All this for $25 a month!

Since I live in the boondocks I have few options for internet. I use my Visible phone as my internet as well. They even have 5G in areas where available. I am writing this post over my Visible Wireless data using the hotspot.

Visible Wireless is the best deal for cell service I could find. Be aware the link in this tip is an affiliate link. Also know that I went to check to see if they had an affiliate program if I refer them. They did and I signed up just now because, well, I may as well get paid for my referral if I was going to make the referral anyway.

 

12.) Buy a Freezer

When a food item goes on sale it is time to stock up. . . 

. . . if you have the space.

A freezer can cut 20% or more off your food bill. A meat special can be maximized. You can prepare larger quantities for later consumption. 

For the best meat quality and price, check your local butcher shop. Many sell the whole animal (already in the familiar cuts) for significantly less than buying piecemeal over time. A freezer is required is such a situation. 

A freezer is a must if you have your own garden or fruit trees. Nature produces more than you can consume before it spoils. A freezer pays for itself quickly.

 

13.) Can and Dehydrate Your Excess Food

Canning is a lost art. It used to be that folks in the backwoods canned their food. I only know of one other person that cans their own food now. That is a shame since it is such a money saver.

Mrs. Accountant cans and dehydrates like crazy. Fruits and vegetables fill our cellar. When a semi bringing fresh Georgia peaches to Wisconsin arrives, we stock up. A lot. We eat peached until we had our full and can the rest for later. 

The wholesale trucks are hard to find so keep your eyes and ears open. The prices are super low! A box of peaches can run a few dollar at most. And they are better than we can find in the grocery store. 

Consider canning as a hobby. One that pays you in more than one way.

As long as you are at it, you should consider dehydrating food, as well. This is easier than canning. And your food will taste incredible.

Frugal living is easy with dehydrating and canning food. And your food will taste incredible!

Dehydrating and canning are powerful ways to preserve food. Buy on sale and preserve for all year round.

14.) Cut Your Electric Bill 80%

A watched pot never boils, it is said. I’m not so sure about that. When I was a kid I kept my eye on a pot on the stove, and sure enough, it boiled.

Electric bills are out of control. There are so many phantom energy drains in the average home that half or more of electricity consumption goes down the drain without any benefit to the homeowner. 

Read more about recording your electricity consumption here. This one simple step can lower your energy costs significantly. 

 

15.) DIY, Except When You Shouldn’t

The mantra is getting old. The frugal tip of doing everything yourself is a double-edged sword. 

Sure, you can save money doing it yourself. Sometimes. If you know what you are doing.

When I owned rental property years ago I learned quickly I was not cut out for carpet laying. It was cheaper to hire it done. (Really, I was bad at it. One job was so bad all the carpet had to be ripped out and tossed.)

Where you are able to handle the repair or maintenance, doing it yourself can save a lot of money. Changing the oil in the car, sharpening lawn mower blades, light appliance repair, changing a faucet and other tasks might be under your purview. If so, by all means, consider it a DIY job. 

However, knowing when to hire the professional is important. A DIY job when you don’t know what you are doing can lead to disaster. 

If you want to increase your skills, consider volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. A summer of free time spent learning several crafts of the trade is a powerful education that will pay off the rest of your life.

 

16.) Consider a Spending Fast

Sometimes the best way to accomplish a goal is to go all-in. This is where a spending fast comes in.

A spending fast is exactly what is sounds like. There are 5 levels to the spending fast. Each level teaches new financial skills and supercharges your frugality muscle.

You can read more about conducting a spending fast the right way here.

 

17.) Manage Your Taxes

Taxes will cost you more than any other thing in your life, including your home. It may not feel like spending, but taxes are a massive expense everyone can do better at reducing.

I see people in my office all the time that had prepared their own tax return. In nearly all cases they overpaid the government.

Since income, sales, excise, property and other taxes consume over half of the national income, you will need a two-pronged approach in applying frugality to your tax spending. 

First, most people need a tax professional to assure they are utilizing as many tax benefits as possible. The tax code is complex and getting more so every day. Even the pros struggle to keep up with the changes. What chance do you have? And the over-the-counter DIY software can’t do everything for you either. 

Second, even with a tax pro in your corner you need to keep yourself informed on tax issues. Read about tax breaks that apply to you. Question your tax professional. Don’t be afraid of paying for some consulting with your tax pro. When I consult with clients I have in excess of a 10x return for the client. That means for every dollar they spend they benefit over $10. We call that hyper-frugal!

 

18.) Stay Healthy

Easier said than done. 

Illness is expensive and the cost goes beyond the medical. Lost wages and a lower quality of life are two huge costs of poor health.

Staying healthy is easier for some and harder for others. Regardless, you need to eat quality food in proper proportions. Exercise is vital.

Because everyone reading this will be in a different place with their health, I encourage you to consult with your doctor in building a plan to improve your health. Get on the right diet for you. Find the best exercise program for you. 

Don’t forget your social life. Family and friends play a large roll in your health. If you sit in taverns with friends that drink too much and smoke, you might have a problem. Consideration for your lifestyle is an important part of your frugal lifestyle. Choose who you associate with well.

 

19.) Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent in the box stores have so many fillers just to make it look like you are getting a lot for your money when you are not.

You can cut your laundry costs up to 98% by making your own laundry detergent. It is easy to do and it cleans better than store-bought detergent. 

Consider the detergent-making process a family project. It is fun and teaching your children the low-cost way of living is priceless; a gift that never stops giving.

 

20.) Stay Put

As discussed above with vehicles, transaction costs add up fast. The same applies to where you live.

It is expensive to move. It takes time and requires helping hands and/or a moving truck, etc. If you are renting there might be some damages that get deducted from the security deposit; the new place will also require a security deposit.

Owning your own home can be a very frugal move! But take a page from Warren Buffett’s book. Buffett is one of the financially wealthiest people on the planet. He bought the home he lives in back in 1958 for $31, 500. His home is worth over $650,000 now. 

Buffett mentioned many times he would not be happier living in a bigger or newer home. He is happy right where he is. And good thing. The money he saved in Realtor fees and other selling costs would have come from the seed money he used to build his fortune.

Fees generally are things you pay that give you next to nothing in return. Cutting fees is the surest frugal step you can take. Stay put. Move only if you have to (i.e.. job change).

 

21.) Use a Clothes Drying Rack

Everyone loves the smell of clothes dried outdoors. 

We saw in Tip #19 how to save money on laundry detergent. How about cutting the cost of drying your clothes to zero?

If you are able to hang clothes outdoors, do so. If not, you can use a clothes drying rack. They are inexpensive and pay for themselves many times over. 

As a bonus, you add moisture to the air during the dry winter months. That means your frugal clothes drying habit will also make your home more comfortable.

You can read more about the clothes drying racks I use here. There are some links to Amazon to help in your search for the best clothes drying rack also.

 

22.) Get a Free Bike

You can save the world and yourself one frugal act at a time. Whenever possible, bike to work, the grocery store, the bank or anywhere else you might be going.

There are bloggers who think you should live close to work to be frugal. I personally love living in the backwoods where I grew up. It is 15.1 miles from my driveway to my office. And I bike it many times every year. 

I had an old Huffy bike I rode forever. I decided to get myself a new flashy set of wheels and pulled out my pencil and paper to calculate exactly what it would take to get a free bike. You can read that story here. It is about halfway through the linked post.

 

23.) Dispose of Disposables

How full is your recycling bin each week? How about the garbage bin? 

All the stuff in those bins is filled with stuff you paid for only to throw it away.

Want to inject frugality into every purchase? It is simple. Buy stuff with the least packaging. 

Packaged foods are the worst. Processed food is a bad health choice, as well. All that packaging is paid for by you. But did you want the food inside or the box? The food, of course. Yet you paid for the box, too. (There is no free ride. The box has a cost and it is added to the price of the product.)

When you purchase something, be aware of the packaging. It is costing you a fortune. 

 

24.) Watch Your Water Consumption

Water isn’t an expensive commodity in my part of the world. That isn’t true everywhere. Water can be an expensive purchase. Heating the water adds more to the cost.

Shorter showers and a low-flow shower head is an excellent way to reduce water consumption. Turn off water when not in use. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

So much of frugality is common sense. Examine all water use. It should be easy to see where you can reduce consumption in your household.

 

25.) Clean Filters

Filters make a difference. 

I have an open-loop geothermal heat pump in my home. The filter where the water comes in needs to be cleaned periodically. If it gets dirty the efficiency is reduced. If dirty enough, the heat pump trips off. 

The air filter also needs changing a few times per year. I have a reusable air filter I clean and then put back into the unit.

Filters on your vehicle, lawn mower or any other item in the house, need to be charged or cleaned on a regular basis. Forgetting this reduces the life of the item and increases energy consumption.

And clean the grill behind your refrigerator! And under the darn thing, too! Stressing the compressor on your refrigerator can cause the compressor to fail. Have you seen what refrigerators cost? Yes, it is very frugal to clean and replace filters often.

 

Knowing when to do-it-yourself or call in the professionals is the smart way to save money. Sometimes the repairman is the cheaper choice. And the frugal one.

26.) Insulate Your Living Space

A sure way to save money is to keep the heat (or cold) where you want it. Insulate the attic. Wrap your water heater and the hot water pipes. Weather stripping around windows and doors offer serious energy savings. 

Many communities have low-cost services to help with your insulating needs

If doors and/or windows are deteriorated it might be advantageous to replace them. Tax credits are available to reduce the cost. 

 

27.) Dump the Landline

Is there anyone left with a landline? Everyone has a mobile phone today. There is no reason to have a landline as well.

And as long as we are talking about it, stop paying for AOL!!! Or any other unnecessary service. It blows my mind when I see people still paying for dial-up service or other such nonsense.

 

28.) Cancel Recurring Payments

Companies love to set customers up on recurring payments. The customer is later either too lazy or doesn’t remember to cancel the service.

Recurring payments are a cancer on the family budget. It is also low hanging fruit when it comes to frugality. And some subscriptions are outright scams! 

These recurring payments are financial death of a thousand cuts. They drain you dry a few drops of blood at a time. 

You must review all your credit and debit card statements each month. The same for all checking and savings accounts. Highlight the little buggers nickle and diming you to death each month and exorcise them. Be merciless! Your frugal reputation is on the line. You can probably retire 10 years sooner if you avoid these vampires.

 

29.) Review Insurance Annually

Insurance is a necessary evil. At least for home and auto coverage.

The insurance they sell to protect a $100 purchase at Best Buy or Walmart or Amazon is worthless, in my opinion. 

Insurance is a commodity. The insurance company hopes you don’t see the relentless climb in the premium. 

Your best defense is to review and shop your insurance annually. This is the only way to ensure the best insurance for you at the lowest cost. 

Also be sure to review that you have adequate coverage. Especially liability. Lawsuits can take out just about any nest egg.

 

30.) Get All the Rewards You Deserve

Just about everything today has a rewards program attached to it. Credit cards have offered cash-back rewards for a long time and debit cards have also started adding rewards programs.

If you enjoy playing the game, you can find inconsistencies inside rewards programs. You can game the system for profit. Doctor of Credit is a good place to start playing the game. Sign up for their newsletter and get a weekly email on all the deals and specials on rewards programs. There are juicy deals each week. It can even be a profitable side hustle.

Paying with a credit or debit card also comes with hidden perks. Many credit cards offer free extended warranties of products bought with their card. Purchase protection guarantees the lowest price or the card will refund the difference. Roadside assistance, delayed or lost luggage, trip cancellation, auto insurance are all free perks found with many credit cards if you know enough to ask. Even if you have an item stolen, many credit cards will replace the item!

And don’t forget about local rewards programs. A local gas station created so many moving parts to their rewards program that I will pay under $2 a gallon for gas for the next year and a half.

More details about utilizing all the hidden perks on credit cards can be read about here.  

 

31.) Have Fun

Frugality only works if you are having fun. Deprivation is not a long-term solution. Make it easy. Make it fun. 

Your financial goals are closer than you think if you can get rid of all the dead weight spending. 

And it is even okay to be silly about frugality. Here is a post on 10 Ridiculous Ways to Save Money.

Life needs to be fun. Frugality is a way of life, a way of living. There is no need to give anything up! Quite the opposite. You can actually have more while being frugal. And so much of it allows for high-quality family time. It is fun to see how things work. It is not about yelling at the kids to turn off the lights. 

 

I hope you enjoyed these 31 tips and tricks to cutting spending. Frugal seems to be a dirty word until money is tight. I think good money habits are best applied at all times so money stress is reduced or even eliminated. 

And please, don’t let me do all the heavy lifting. My back is sore as it is. Share your favorite frugal tips and tricks in the comments below.

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Keith Taxguy

16 Comments

  1. Michael O on April 12, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Great article Keith, as always, thank you!

  2. Stephanie on April 12, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    In addition to canning, I love using my Food Saver attachment to vacuum seal items inside glass canning jars. Tortilla chips that would otherwise go stale, vacuum sealed in a giant mason jar. Bulk items like nuts stored in vacuum sealed jars means I can buy a bit more at once and get a better price per pound (nuts will stay fresh for months). And I love having back stock on hand! I got my used Food Saver off ebay for a great price and the mason jar attachment was cheap to purchase new.

    • Keith Taxguy on April 12, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      I love it, Stephanie!

      Mrs. Accountant and I have not used the Food Saver. We need to give that a try.

  3. S&M on April 12, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Keith,
    I hope your family is doing better at this time.
    In light of health events with your both daughters, I want to confirm that you’ve indeed been using health share ministries all along and not ACA or maybe combining both (heath ministry AND a silver or bronze plan under ACA).
    Your recent article about the younger daughter stressed the necessity of having health insurance. It didn’t say anything about other options. Now I’m confused because a Christian health ministry is NOT an insurance company per se. Or did you opt to go with Medi-Share (this is my assumption since you mention it here) w/o fear because in the very worst case you still have tremendous wealth to fall back on?
    Have you written a blog post with the numbers/math behind the use of Medi-share when long and very troubling medical problems befall? Of course, it’s probably not proper to ask financial questions in relation to medical issues but since you’re very open to tackle very difficult topics, I think it would be enlightening to your audience. Besides, if not for the Internet and people sharing information about money spent on medical insurance and expenses, consumers in the USA would be completely doomed, that’s how American health insurance is awful. Mafia-like secrets and dealings in the US healthcare industry sometimes make Russian gangsters look innocent (well, maybe the analogy is little over the top, but you get the gist). Regular people just want help and not be abused at their low points of their lives.

    Thanks

    • Keith Taxguy on April 12, 2021 at 3:11 pm

      S&M,

      Let me clarify the history of medical insurance in my household.

      I had traditional insurance and used the ACA in the beginning when my kids were still dependents. Once my kids hit 18 they were off my return. Brooke is low income with significant medical issues so she is on Medicaid. (This whole process is a story in itself.)

      Once the kids were on their own Sue and I went to the Christian health sharing. The two I know of are Medi-Share and Liberty Health Share. I list Medi-Share because it seems to fit more people. I did go with Liberty, but only because they had a program with a really low deductible at the time that no longer is available. We were grandfathered in.

      The medical event mentioned in the post is not about my daughter, but about my wife. She had some back issues that got expensive. Liberty was on top of it making sure Sue got the best treatment and paid the medical bills. Not bad for a program that cost $399 a month with a $1,750 annual deductible. The monthly fee recently climbed to $499, but we got to keep our low deductible. They gave us the choice of keeping the $399 monthly payment with a higher deductible. We didn’t take that option.

      Keep in mind this was a frugal post so I did not go into details on personal medical issues. If I covered even half the details of the medical issues in my household it would require a good sized book. I share bits and pieces as best I can in the blog.

  4. Jay on April 12, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    You write ‘Virtually every country on the planet has a single payer healthcare system’ (except the U.S.)

    but it’s my understanding that somehow U.S. makes a disproportionate amount of the medical breakthroughs. Why?

    • Keith Taxguy on April 13, 2021 at 5:57 am

      Jay,

      That is a different blog post. This post is about frugal tips and tricks. Your question would require a rather long blog post, perhaps even a heavy book, to cover all the details comparing the U.S. healthcare system to the rest of the world.

  5. Don on April 13, 2021 at 6:25 am

    I see what you did there…. A frugal life is a happy life! 😉

    • Keith Taxguy on April 13, 2021 at 6:28 am

      A sneaky game inserted in the text. Now who do you think might have done that?

  6. ol1970 on April 13, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Great stuff, and I admit I’m guilty of being frugal as well. Having grown up in the rural Midwest not too far from you. Do you think though there’s a flip side or a point where you slip down the slope of becoming a miser? I fully expect to die with way too much money probably a lot like yourself, so at a certain point wouldn’t the memories that spending what would equate to a rounding error in your NW be a better use of your capital than to just continue to stack it up?

    I’m not talking about new Escalade’s every year or flying business class to Paris for the weekend, but damn you can take your family to a beautiful VRBO in Kauai for a week and hike the Napali coast, sit under 300 foot waterfalls, swim with Manta Rays, and watch amazing sunsets together for less than what your brokerage account earns you most days of the week. You can’t get that time or those memories back. As I clipped passed 50 this past year with an 8 figure NW it became very clear to me that I have less time than I have money. Maybe having a withdrawal rate under 1% is a little excessively frugal.

    I still do stuff myself like paint my house and yard work because I enjoy it, but I’m of the mindset that’s it’s okay to spend a little bit these days as well. I lost 2 family members to Covid at 71 and 68, if you only have a few years left you better get busy enjoying them.

    • Keith Taxguy on April 13, 2021 at 7:35 am

      ol1970,

      I’m sorry about your family members dying from COVID.

      As for your question: Can you become a miser if frugality goes too far? Of course! Balance is vital for a meaningful life.

      You mention vacations. I have been to Canada 6 or so times, Costa Rica, Jamaica and about 40 of the states. I rail against travel because people want me to travel more than I want to. One, maybe two, traveling episodes per year is enough for this backwoods accountant. I also prefer shorter trips. I get really antsy after a week to 10 days. It’s not you; it’s me.

      There is also something I don’t talk a lot about (a few times on the blog) when it comes to spending money. I find incredible pleasure in providing financial resources to certain non-profit organizations. Special Olympics is probably the largest big name (national and the Wisconsin SO). I also donate to numerous abuse, homeless and sexual assault shelters. You cannot believe the wonderful feeling of helping people in desperate need. They always want to pay you back. That is when they get my pay-it-forward speech.

      If you include my charitable giving I exceed the 4% rule many years. But with the markets climbing as fast as they are the pile keeps growing. I am working on a program that might provide even greater resources to these organizations dedicated to helping those in the types of crises I mentioned.

      The frugal tips I shared are not something I am compelled to do. Here in the backwoods it is just the way all of us live. I grew up doing these things. My neighbors would not find this frugal at all. They would call it normal. And to me, growing up where I have, it is.

      • ol1970 on April 13, 2021 at 9:44 am

        Thanks for your condolences, I hope your family is doing well with your recent challenges as well. Yep, I totally get you on this subject. It’s not considered frugal to clean your own house, that’s called normal where I’m from in the cornfields of Iowa as well! I just think it is important to have a little balance in life as well along the way, especially after you’ve won the game. If travel experience isn’t your thing that’s cool, to me I just see a lot of people saving way to much and kicking the things that would enrich their lives down the road in the sake of frugality. When I’m gone I’ll have given significantly more money away than I have spent in my lifetime and I think that’s a pretty good goal for someone to strive towards.

        No one will ever regret having spent a few bucks to have had the experience laying on the deck of your sailboat with your family anchored in an atoll in the South Pacific at night looking up and seeing the sky so clear and completely devoid of light from the earth that it looks milky from so many stars. Life is precious and way too short, I just tell people not to frugal themselves into an being an old rich person who thinks anything beyond the basics of existence is a waste. (This is essentially my parents bless their hearts!)

  7. Bob on April 14, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Got a couple more that will hopefully help someone:

    1) Buy a smaller house. It will cost less for taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, mortgage insurance.

    2) Learn to cook. Nothing fancy, but a bit of extra care in your cooking makes it much more enjoyable to eat at home. And you will know how to take advantage of all the stuff mentioned above i.e. freezer storage.

    • Bill in NC on April 17, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      Consider downsizing to a townhouse.

      I’ve lived in mine…3BR, 3BA…~3,000 sqft. for over 20 years now.

      Most here are older couples who downsized from a larger single family residence (SFR)

      I skipped the SFR because for the same money I could buy more square footage in a townhouse.

      Not having to do any outside maintenance is a big plus.

      Didn’t need a big yard for the kids…our development has a private pool & one of the city’s largest recreation centers (with its own pool) plus soccer/baseball fields, basketball courts, etc. is just across the street.

      I don’t think I’ll ever live anywhere as inexpensively as I do now.

  8. Charlie @ doginvestor.com on April 15, 2021 at 5:44 am

    I agree with all of these. I also had to stop at the point where I was depriving and then deal it back the other way.

    At the extreme points it became easier to earn an additional after tax dollar (or $2 pre-tax) than it was to cut another $1. When I say easier, I mean the mental effort required or restraint to not buy an immaterial item.

    It also seems that once you’re in the habits already, much of this becomes second nature and you no longer need to look at every line item. Then you can just focus on doing the things you’re skilled at and the wealth-building happens automatically.

    hope the family is doing well.

    • Keith Taxguy on April 15, 2021 at 6:25 am

      Charlie, you bring up an excellent point. Once you internalize frugal, habits they become second nature. The hard part is making the change to one’s lifestyle. Later, you discover you don’t miss all that spending after all.

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