Top Five Reasons Why I Save So Much Money

>> 2.10.2011

AKA "Top Five Reasons Why You'd Probably Hate My Life"

I preach a lot of thriftiness around here, but I'll be the first one to admit that the lifestyle I live is probably too difficult for most. Sometimes a perk in life is just worth it. I know that I wouldn't give up eating ice cream for anything (although it would probably save us a good $500 per year... it was scary to write that, but that's a pretty accurate estimate).

I promise, we're not rich by any means, but we do have a good bit of extra wiggle room in our budget each month (which usually goes into savings for big house projects or the future (wedding, new house, etc).
So why do two not-rich people end up with so much extra extra?

1. No Meat- I do eat fish once or twice a week, but I've been going strong without meat for a good 7 years now and I doubt I'll ever go back. My health, my conscious, and my $200/ month grocery bill thank me.
estimated savings per month~ $60 for the two of us (Nate eats meat half of the time) 

2. No Alcohol- I've been legal for more than just a few years now and will you believe that I've never actually purchased alcohol? I'll have a glass of champagne or wine at a big celebration or wedding, but I'm all about water the other 363 days of the year (no soda or tea either).
estimated savings per month~ $55 for the two of us (Nate doesn't drink alcohol, but he does drink soda and tea once in a while)

3. No Smart Phone- This probably explains why I failed so miserably at keeping up with a Twitter account, but I can't say that I've ever actually wanted anything more than my $25 family plan and $60 Go Phone.
estimated savings per month~ $115 for the two of us

4. No Yearly Vacation- True story. In fact, in the past two years the only times Nate and I have even left our state has been to go visit family. Part of me thinks  it would be fun to do something like a yearly beach trip, but then the real me winces at the thought of $1,000+ being gone within a week (I'm even having a hard time planning on spending for our honeymoon).
estimated savings per year~ $1,500; $125/ month

5. No Spontaneity- Ouch, even saying that hurt a little bit, but it's unfortunately how I have to live. "Have to" as in it's how I find peace with money. I like having a budget, I like knowing what the future holds, and I like having a big safety net. This means: no spontaneous movies on the weekends, no weekend trips to Vegas, and no exciting new dinners (we eat practically the same meals each week).
estimated savings per month~ $50

My guess is that I save around $400 per month by eliminating these things from my budget... but I have no idea how accurate my estimates are. How much would you guess that you would save by eliminating one of the things above? Would the savings be worth it to you?


The Ballard Family February 10, 2011 at 11:03 AM  

I personally think it's a little over the top and falls on the side of being boring, but that's me. If it works for you and you are happy and don't feel like you are letting life pass you by for the sake of having extra extra extra money in the bank, then so be it. I say LIVE A LITTLE! p.s. This is coming from someone with no debt, so I am not sitting on my high horse with piles of debt under me either.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog February 10, 2011 at 11:12 AM  

I know, hence the "Top Five Reasons Why You'd Probably Hate My Life." Reasons #1-3 are more of my normal way of living... which doesn't work for many. Training so hard for things like triathlons and marathons really leaves me without the need for alcohol or the time to go out and spend a bunch of money on entertainment.

I do really need to work on that whole vacation thing. Hopefully the honeymoon will inspire me to plan a few more...?

Kate@TwentySixToLife February 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM  

Ha. My life isn't actually much different. My phone still "flips," that's how old it is. Sad, right?

I am working on getting better about #4 and #5 though. After being "gifted" a cruise it really made me realize that we are missing out on some great experiences by not getting away more. I started a little "vacation fund" with automatic deposits so we'll have a separate pool of money just for getting away. It's not a lot of money, but at least it's there.

Alotta Lettuce February 10, 2011 at 11:57 AM  

There are definitely ways that my husband and I could save even more money than we do - namely, giving up the same things you've given up: meat (never going to happen), smart phones (probably not going to happen), vacations (life's not worth living without these), and DirecTV (would love to do this, husband objects).

We could also get rid of one car (another thing I'd love to do, but my husband objects to).

All in all, we make decisions in regards to our finances by looking at a number of factors, one of which is quality of life. And while all of the aforementioned things are no doubt decreasing the amount of money we could save, they are absolutely increasing the quality of our lives as well.

Anonymous,  February 10, 2011 at 11:58 AM  

I say one has to live a little... There is no point in having X dollars in the bank if you are living to save money - one must enjoy life (and save some $ too).

Maybe try a little travel - I find it really enriches my life.

Jennifer February 10, 2011 at 12:03 PM  

I spend a lot of money eating out the few times the hubs and I actually do eat out of the home... its not super often, but we kind of spoil ourselves when it comes to sushi or thai. Being more frugal with that would totally help us! The smart phone downgrade too -- though P insists on the smart phone and cable. boo!

Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

great post love! <3 you save a lot! go you!

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog February 10, 2011 at 12:10 PM  

@Anonymous~ I agree! I guess it's easier to hold off of traveling because I did travel a lot when I was younger. I actually lived in Europe for a little while as well as traveled to over half of the fifty states.

I suppose a big motivating factor of this whole thrifty thing is housing. My big dream has always been to settle down in a beautiful home. I do want to stretch my (not giant) salary as much as possible so I keep my life simple.

Amanda- Hip House Girl February 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM  

I don't think it sounds TOO bad. I already do #1 and #3. Could improve on #2. I don't strictly do #4- I usually end up flying out to OK or TX for holidays, and we take a ton of weekend trips in the summer.

I think it's interesting about how you're feeling about your honeymoon. I'm actually having kind of the same thoughts. We want to do a beach thing (because let's be honest- besides a honeymoon, we're not so sure we'll ever do something like that again!) and it's just so much money! I actually haven't known very many people who do a "yearly vacation". Is that a thing? Seems like most people I know just save up to go somewhere awesome, then they start saving up again. I didn't know it was supposed to be "yearly"! Haha.

#5 would kill me. When I get off work, I love doing something last-minute. Or unplanned weekend trips to Wendover (the trashy casino town 1.5 hours away- don't worry, I never gamble more than $5).

Thanks for your honest position!

Anonymous,  February 10, 2011 at 5:32 PM  

Ballard Family, I couldn't agree with you more. This blog is less of a thrifty advice resource and more of a celebration in condescension and self martyrdom.

I manage to save 15% of my post-tax income, contribute heavily to my 401k, have a 6 month nest egg in case of emergency, have no debt all while eating meat, drinking wine, traveling to visit friends and family and thoroughly enjoying playing Angry Birds on my smart phone. I paid for a private school college education myself and have worked since I was 14. You don't have to be cheap to be good with money.

If you found out you had pancreatic cancer tomorrow would you look back and feel like "With the resources I had, I made the most of each day."? Would pinching all those pennies be worth it?

Be smart, be frugal, find balance. Frugality is always in style, cheapness doesn’t look good on anyone.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog February 10, 2011 at 6:41 PM  

@Anonymous~ Hmmm, I think I feel a follow-up post coming soon. My point in writing this post was more to explain why I end up with so much extra each month... not to tell anyone that they should start changing how they live. I'm different and I know that, but every time someone asks why I have such an unusually low grocery budget or how I can afford to renovate my house in cash I explain in the comments. Today, I felt like writing it out there on the blog.

PS I'm not sure I'd call my blog a "thrifty advice resource," but more of my personal thrifty lifestyle blog (web log). When I do save money in a unique way, I make sure to put it out there in case someone else can benefit from it.

Sara @ Russet Street Reno February 10, 2011 at 7:26 PM  

I'm right there with you on 1, 3, 4. I couldn't give up alcohol though, I'm dreading pregnancy just for that reason! haha

I also struggled with spending 3k on a honeymoon, but our last real vacation was in March 08, so it's well-deserved. Being spontaneous doesn't have to be expensive, either. Go out to dinner once in awhile!

threeacres February 10, 2011 at 8:39 PM  

We only do #3. We're not to far off on #2 but we have a couple drinks a month. To save money we rarely buy alcoholic drinks at restaurants because they are marked up so much.

Sorry but I have to agree with some of the others that it sounds pretty boring. That's great that you can do it but it wouldn't work for us. Splurging on a big honeymoon was one of the best things we've ever done! To pay for the HM we cut back in other wedding areas. My two priorities were photography and the HM because they are the only things that last for more than one day. It was a once in a lifetime trip and we will never forget it. After never taking a spring break trip in college and not going on any vacations for 5 years we went for it while we had the money and vacation time to spare. My parents have always regretted not taking a bigger HM or going on more trips before they had kids (and had less time and money) so I'm glad we didn't make the same mistake.

Tovah February 10, 2011 at 10:11 PM  

I have to say that I feel kind of offended for you Kasey. You weren't telling us how to live, just how YOU live. And if you are okay with that and saving up for the house of your dreams is what you want in life I applaud you for doing it without burying yourself in debt.

Since you commented on the honeymoon thing I would say that it is such a special time to spend with your special someone--I too would put a vote in for "go somewhere!" My husband and I got married right after college and though the wedding was paid for in full on the day it happened we didn't set aside much money for a honeymoon. So we took a little road trip up to Canada and stayed in a cheap bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days. It was awesome. We then went into Vancouver for two days/one night and then headed home. It was just different enough from our lives that it felt special and, of course, it was real special to be together.

Anonymous,  February 10, 2011 at 11:56 PM  

Wow! props to your ability to keep up with your budget. I have to agree with others who say this sounds like you are missing out on a lot. Spontaneity brings so much fun and joy into my life. My debt consists of school loans, which do not bother me at all because I now have a my professional degree, which now gives me a better "quality of life." I would live a little, enjoy the fun, and not miss out on my honeymooon. Money comes and goes and at the end, its all gonna burn.

Meg February 11, 2011 at 8:04 AM  

I think Lee and I are pretty frugal in most ways. We eat at home most of the time and always scout out deals.

I'd say my two big indulgences are buying things for the house (though I always look for a sale)and going out with friends on the weekends.

It is completely awesome that you're being so frugal, but I definitely think you should have a few fun social splurges every now and again! AND it can be done cheaply...

Just this past weekend, for example, Lee and I stayed with 8 other friends in a cabin. We found a discount, went for a cheaper house without the bells and whistles, and it ended up being $30 per person for the ENTIRE weekend. We just brought our groceries with us and spent a tad bit more on gas to make the 1.5 hour trip to the mountains. That's still a pretty cheap weekend if I do say so myself! We did the same thing in November with 13 people and only paid 20 bucks a person for the entire weekend. We all try to go on group "cheap" trips every 3 months for sanity checks. :)

I think with a little creativity and thriftiness (which you have beaucoup of) you can have your cake and eat it too!

Ingrid@morestylethancash February 11, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

I am really sad to read that you eat the same foods every week. I don't think that has anything to do with frugality. There are so many amazing foods and dishes out there that would suit you're no meat diet. Food is not the enemy, it is one of the basic pleasures of life and should be savored.

You sound like you are frozen somehow. You are very young and you have chances now to take risks that you will never have again in your life.

Our family has travel a good chunk of the world without going into debt. Travel is not just about finding out about the world, it is also about find out who you are.

We have many friends that are runners and they have run in half marathons and marathons all over the world. Have you ever thought about checking out the marathons in Australia? (amazing country, take a safari into the outback).

The whole reason that I started writing my blog is that I truly believe you can have a rich life with out spending a lot of money...but you do have to spend some money.

I am really looking forward to your follow up post regarding some of these comments.

Audreya February 11, 2011 at 9:23 AM  

I enjoy reading about your money-saving ideas. Some makes sense for my lifestyle, others don't. Either way, it's nice to at least be spurred to think about how other people do it and reevaluate myself from time to time.

And I disagree with those who say you are missing out. Some people like eating out, taking trips, etc. Other people enjoy home improvement projects and that sort of thing. It makes them just as happy to redo a room as it would make me to take a weekend trip. To each his (or her) own. As long as you are happy and Nate is happy and you agree on how to spend your incomes, then you are living life to the fullest. It doesn't have to mean the same for everyone.

RJ @ A Life Designed February 11, 2011 at 10:38 AM  

Great post and I'm loving reading all the comments.

If you're happy in your lifestyle then kudos to you! We cut back on red meat a few years ago and it's amazing what a difference it makes in our grocery budget and our health!

But I can't imagine cutting out the others {although we aren't big spenders when it comes to spontaneity). Our trade off was moving to a small town so we could still enjoy great bottles of wine and annual vacations on our budget.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog February 11, 2011 at 11:14 AM  

@Tovah~ I'm happy to hear that you "got" the message behind the post :).

Oh, and don't worry WE ARE GOING ON A HONEYMOON! It's just tough for me adding up the costs of it all and thinking about all of the house projects that could be done with the cash.

@Meg~ Don't worry, we do have social splurges! We just plan them ahead of time. Like at least a few days or a week... I get stressed out when my plans change within 24 hours. Your cabin trip sounds like a ton of fun and what a great deal!

@Ingrid@morestylethancash~ I agree, food isn't the enemy! I'm just not a big cook so it's not a priority to put time into new meals every week- we do change things up a bit by season though. Oh, and we do eat out for dinner every Saturday using Groupon and; I love trying new restaurants around town.

The running vaction idea is a great one. Last summer when I visited my sister in Buffalo, we actually drove up to Canada to do a half marathon. Nate and I hope to find a good race to do when we're out on our honeymoon.

Jen February 11, 2011 at 11:27 AM  

I wouldn't say my life is all that different. I still eat meat, but cut back on it a lot. I don't have a smart phone and don't take expensive vacations or eat out much. I do my fair share of drinking w/ friends, though!

I sometimes get flack from my coworker who loves designer clothes and overseas vacations, but to afford it she works several side jobs. Works for her, but I could never be that busy and stay sane.

I think we all have different priorities. I thought about getting a smart phone but realized I only really wanted it so I could listen to Pandora at work. So that works out to $360 a year to listen to music and check my e-mail. When I thought about it that way, I realized I'd rather put that money in my condo-fund.

craftosaurus February 11, 2011 at 6:35 PM  

For what it's worth, we went to Iceland for our honeymoon. Total bargain for a European trip, and I'm telling everyone I possibly can to go there. We had such a great time.

Ahem. Yes. Keep on keepin' on, lady! :)

~Melissa~ February 12, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

Wow... to the anonymous poster who called your blog "more of a celebration in condescension and self martyrdom." Puh-lease! I find it funny that this person felt the need to post anonymously.

A simple (not boring!) life can be a happy one. Happiness is defined differently by each person. If you've found how to live a happy life, then kudos to you. I don't care if it fits MY needs for a happy life. I also thinks it wonderful that you're saving for your retirement. Many, many people don't think of that until it's too late and they are way behind the 8 ball.
I would agree with those who said it may be worth it to save for/plan on vacations. If every year doesn't suit you... maybe every other year? I think it's important to pamper yourself a little bit now and then and IMO it's a worthy cause; YOU. :) You can certainly travel on a tight budget. Not to mention if you're planning ahead, it would be a small amount of $ into your vacation fund each month. Perhaps that would be the right balance for you.
However... it's YOUR life and if you are happy living it your way, then that's all that matters. I think your blog is great! Keep up the great work and keep on living your happy life.

Anonymous,  February 12, 2011 at 3:08 PM  

I happened upon your blog today and enjoyed this post. My husband and I have lived w/o these items (and more) for our 20 years of marriage. We wanted a big family (6 kids) and have me stay home to manage the kids and household. So we are very frugal.

The only thing I miss is vacations, but we've decorated our house to look like a beach house and eliminated clutter, so life's a breeze. When I need a break I drive 3 hrs away to a retreat house, and for $60 a night I have a change of scenery, peace and quiet. Occasionally, we stay in a hotel for a child's sports tournament.

We have lots of spontaneity, but we don't spend $$$ for it. We throw impromptu parties (wake up in the morning and start inviting people for that night), usually cook-outs, everybody brings something to share. We also do lots of bonfires and picnics. Over the years I've collected many antique picnic baskets, coolers, thermos's, etc. It makes the house look like a beach cottage, and we use them often!

Several weekends a year we are tourists in our own town, then stop off at the store for steaks for the grill, then sleep in our own beds.

We drive to nearby towns, do a 5K run/walk with the kids, then go exploring for the rest of the day.

The kids and I started watching Rachel Ray 6 years ago and now we cook like she does. Chop fresh ingredients, throw it in the pan, done in 30 mins. After learning her recipes and techniques, we've become disappointed in restaurant food. It's just not as good as our food. Plus, I would rather spend $100 on building supplies than on a fancy dinner out.

In reading about millionaires, most of them started out living frugally, and as their income climbed, they kept spending to a minimum, banking the rest.

With the money we've saved, in the last 2 years we've bought a used motorhome and a large
pontoon boat.

I encourage you to do whatever you can to live frugally and stay the course. Living frugally is the best way to live.

Lauren February 12, 2011 at 11:41 PM  

Whatever Kasey! Don't listen to those Debbie Downers! You are just giving us tips and if they don't agree or want to be thrifty in other ways so be it! Personally I could never give up our vacations.. but we give up other things in order to do it. It all depends on what makes you happy and your lifestyle. I LOVE your blog and will continue to read it. :)

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog February 14, 2011 at 12:53 PM  

@craftosaurus~ I've never thought of Iceland! Good to know it's an affordable option :).

@Melissa~ I know, I need to get to the point where I see vacations as worth the cost. It will probably be easier once I'm in the "forever" home.

@Anonymous Feb 12~ It sounds like you're living a very rich and full life. Thanks for the inspiration!

waldobungie February 15, 2011 at 7:58 PM  

I think all of your ideas are good and definitely things to think about (and implement one or two if you can). One way we save money is only doing a bigger trip every 2 years. We did San Francisco for our 1 year anniversary and are doing Portland for our 3 year. In the in-between years, we just do small trips to visit family. That way we get our traveling in every year, but we keep it in budget.

Amanda @ Little House on the Corner February 22, 2011 at 8:41 PM  

Those are some pretty impressive figures! I can definitely relate to #4. We haven't taken a vacation together (not even a weekend getaway) since our honeymoon over three years ago. We did break down last year and get SmartPhones, which cost us about $140/month for both. However, I use my phone for my laptop internet connection and therefore don't have to pay a separate provider for internet. We also don't usually have cable (except for basketball season this year, at my husband's request), so that saves us a good chunk of money too.

Referring back to #1, I could probably go without meat most of the time, but my husband never could! :(

Kayla K February 28, 2011 at 4:56 PM  

I have always enjoyed reading your blog because I think we are the same kind of thrifty; less concerned about pinching pennies and more interested in enjoying more with less. I certainly don't "hate your life" in fact I enjoy checking in to your personal blog and see how that life is going. Good for you for reaching your goals!

Jenny,  July 25, 2011 at 4:50 PM  

Living frugally is sometimes difficult and other times easy. Like yourself, I find some of the frugal things our family does as ‘easy’ and comes ‘naturally.’ But other times its difficult to stick to the course and just like on this post’s comments: some mock and jeer you but when they see the results everyone cheers you! All people want the end result of delayed gratification and frugality but few are willing to do the work it requires. In my opinion, money is useless if it is not serving its intended purpose; some money is for spending and some for saving and yet some is for saving for an expensive purpose! We saved a lot of money for the sole purpose of a larger down payment - and our goal is to pay the rest of the house off in less than 10 years. Lots of people look on at us and say, “yeah right” or others say, “oh whatever I can do it five years.” But who cares about what they’ve got going on, you can only be responsible with your finances and your life alone. I encourage you in your efforts and cheer you on in your choices!

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