About a week after Meet The Frugalwoods was released, I made two realisations:
Which, all combined, led me to a frugal alternative to lending it at my local library. Being Norwegian, our libraries has a limited selection of English books.
Of course, I unsubscribed as soon as I finished reading the book. Subscription services always make me cautious lest I forget them for a little too long and get charged.
Do you like audiobooks/podcasts, and haven’t started your Audible trial? Why not give it a go if you’re curious about the book? Just remember to add a reminder in your calendar about unsubscribing again before the free trial month is up.
Side thought – Maybe I should try to translate/get it translated. It is cute enough that I would recommend it to friends, but I know at least a handful of them might be more inclined to read it if it came in their native tongue.
The story begins after Liz graduates from college. It portrays the frustration at having done “everything right” up until now in terms of life and school, but as many of us realise, a relevant, meaningful job did not magically materialise itself.
Beginning with a temp job agency position, the next step up is an AmeriCorps placement with a small stipend, barely enough to live on. The contrast described between living in a poor part of New York city while fundraising for the mega rich was staggering and unreal. We saw a great deal of wealth in London, but I never had to work directly with it.
After a year of good “resume fodder” Liz gets more conventional jobs and returns to get a Master’s degree while working full-time. A prospect I would not entertain if I had any sort of personal life, which being married, she absolutely does.
The description and frustration related to cubicle life does not pain a pretty picture of a life dedicated to working for 40+ years for someone else. It is a notion I can relate to without question. Feeling forced to work for someone else without autonomy in your daily schedule feels like a cage, even in the best of jobs, especially knowing there are alternatives available.
Their timid beginnings into a different life starts with a hike. A simple hike on a Saturday afternoon, which sparked a passion to make room for nature and hiking, no matter the schedule.
Realising nature was where they wanted to be, Nate (Liz’s husband) launched a plan for how they could save lots of money and live in the woods instead of in the city. With a bit of talking and discussing, Liz came on board. Some time after that, the blog Frugalwoods was born.
Months became years, and their staggering savings rate continued to give them more power and momentum. They viewed houses, researched homesteads and generally enjoyed a kick-ass frugal lifestyle of used things and insourcing. After a few homesteads they thought were going to be “it”, they finally found the place they now call home.
All while having their first born, of course.
I will admit, it was shorter than I expected, being read to me at a leisurely five hours and change. Then again, I am used to epic fantasy novels which can take anywhere from 10 to 20 hours to read, even as a fast reader. I will admit my expectations are probably a bit askew.
In general, I liked it. It is not a rehash of the blog, but contains the same actionable tips and attentive detail to privilege and the oppression of institutionalised poverty. They know they are luckier than most, which is something I thoroughly appreciate.
It also has a nice way of going full circle by talking about privilege both at the beginning and end of the book.
It is cute.
But of course, I would think that, seeing as how the Frugalwoods are living my dream as well as their own.
It is the kind of feelgood, off the beaten path book that I want to buy, perhaps even several copies of, and then lend out to the world in a lending train where each person inscribes the margins and then lends it on to a new person, friend or stranger.
I figure if it inspires me, it might have the potential to inspire other people as well. And if we are really lucky, perhaps we can slow down some of the rampant consumerist madness that is wrecking havoc on our planet.
There are very clear similarities between Nate and a personal friend of mine. So much so that I find myself wishing there existed a similar book written from his perspective, a research-driven geek and self-acclaimed mountain man/engineer/self-sustained enthusiast.
I think that sort of story could have the potential to appeal to another demographic, further expanding the reach and inspiration potential of joyful frugality.
There are some actionable tips in this book. But that is not the main purpose. The story accounts for their own personal journey and thought process in a way that is both relatable and inspirational. They do not gloss over hurdles they met on the way and do not try to pass themselves off as perfect.
The more frugal weirdos, the merrier. And this is a low-barrier-of-entry type of book that has the potential of leaving you with the idea that another life is possible.
If you want it. If you have the courage to chase it.
Have you read it yet? What did you think?