Leading a simple life is more than just living with less and thinking positively. Leading a simple life means saving money and knowing where to get deals. That’s where being frugal comes in. If you never want to worry about your budget (to an extent) again, begin frugal is for you. If you want to double what you save in a mere week, being frugal is for you. Get started by reading this intro. After you’ve read this, there are links to further topics as well as other blogs that may help.

1. sparing or economical with regard to money or food.

Simply Broke.

MadMan in New Orleans
Saving money here meant scenic walks over fast taxi rides.

When we first started being “frugal”, we were full-time college students with less than $500 to our names combined. We could go negative by going out to eat one to many times. One month, MadMan couldn’t cover his half of rent. This was when we reevaluated all of our spending.

We wanted to save money for the future and we were tired of always running on empty. We started working more hours, we hung out less with friends. Months went by and before we knew it, a year had passed. We went from having less than $500 combined to having almost $4,000 saved up.

That’s when we realized that we could do more that we could try to reach financial independence. If we kept doing what we were doing, we would save up enough to not work ever again by  30, or maybe even 25! Six more months passed. We now had $6,000 in the bank.

Lessons Learned:

While we made a lot in less than two years, we lost just as much. We lost our friends, time, and enjoyment. While we were so focused on not eating out, working as much as possible, and not doing anything that would hurt our future, we forgot to take care of the “now.”  We forgot to take care of each other. MadMan and I were fighting more, we hated our jobs and our lives, and we even hated MadDogge.

We needed to try again. This time we wouldn’t go from one end of money saving to the other, this time we would split the difference. Our aim this time, was to save money while also ensuring our current happiness. We wanted to go out again, we wanted to have friends again. That was just what we did.

“I know your trying to save money; but, I kinda tore up five toys… and a shoe…”

Our Frugal Solved!

Jul 2017 (4)
A Happy MadDogge with some of his new toys.

This time, when we sat down, we not only looked at ways to save money, but ways to be happy. We thought about what was worth giving up in order to save money and what spending was worth the happiness that came from it. We decided that eating out with friends every so often would not break the bank. We found free festivals and events to attend. We joined meetup to meet new people and get back out there. MadDogge got new toys.

MadMan & MadLady at a Baseball Game
Enjoy a game today, work hard tomorrow!

A few months have passed since we reevaluated life. We have friends and regularly go out with them. We go to festivals and concerts, but still save money. We have almost $10,000 in the bank. We actually saved more money when we spent some! We learned that spending a little money to keep us happy, made it easier to work harder. We’re still on track to retire early, though now we’re aiming for 35 not 25. We are still paying off student debt and hanging out with friends. We might not be able to have everything in life, but we can have quite a bit. We just needed to re-think.

What to learn from us…

We have been on both ends of the spectrum as well as the middle. We are constantly working on new ways to both save money and have fun. We are also aware of how fast it can spiral into doing nothing in hopes of saving more. If you are trying to reach financial independence then learn from us, don’t go too far. Life is a balancing game. You can’t only save for the future and you con’t only live for the now. You need both to be happy. Even if you do plan to retire in 5 years, that’s a long time to do nothing.

Our Best Tips:

From free baseball games to discounted food, letting go of friends does more than make you lonely. You miss opportunities as well.

Start simple! Save on groceries, go out less (don’t stop going out), and enjoy the free simple things in your town. You can build up to saving more over time. My advice is to use mint. Attach all of your accounts to it and try each month to be more in the positive than you were last month. This app also lets you see where your spending is by category, a wonderful way to see how your doing both overall and on each type of spending. Check at least every week to stay accountable.

Like minimalism, being frugal is a personal choice. The things I choose to save money on (like makeup) might not be right for you. If you are just getting into being frugal, think about what you could cut back. Stay true to yourself while also pushing yourself to change for the better.

Ready to jump into savings? Begin by reading these!

  • The Frugal Car – Need a new car? If you are in the market for a car, read this to think about what kind of car will get you the most bang for your buck.
  • Ten Tips to Save Money – This list will get you started on saving. It will help you break even every month, or maybe take home some extra when all is said and done. A starter guide.
  • Frugality for Females – A touchy subject. periods. There are ways to not only take better care of your body, but save hundreds every month just by talking about your monthly cycle.
  • Dog Toys for a Toy Lover – If you have a dog, you know how expensive they can be. Use this to trim down some of those expenditures.
  • How to Find and Save on Your Wedding Venue – The first post in my getting married series. If you’re looking to save money while getting married, this one is for you.

Other great writers that can help you out: 

Do you consider yourself frugal?
Has your version of frugal changed over time?
What is frugal to you now?