I have been pondering about this recently. We have been saving a large chunk of our income for over a year now, but to be honest, I don’t feel like we are depriving ourselves of a normal life. Being frugal has become an intrinsic part of our daily routine.
We eat good food, have a great flat, and my electric bike feels like the epitome of hedonic adaptation and luxury. Looking at how I grew up, it feels like we’re way more luxurious than my childhood memories. Then again, Mr. Frugasaurus and myself don’t have children to raise and care for.
But at the same time, the question comes back to haunt me: What do “normal” people spend money on that we don’t? Obviously, this is not such an easy question for me to answer since I, admittedly, don’t spend money in the way other people do. But as I remarked to Mr. Frugasaurus the other day: What would I do with all my income if I didn’t save the majority of it? Sushi? Lunch at work? A bus pass? Maybe a bunch of new socks?
Then what? I’d still have quite a bit left over I’d imagine, unless we started going out every month.
So here are 7 things we simply don’t spend (much) money on, which enable us to save half of an average income in my area.
While Mr. Frugasaurus and myself do occasionally go out to eat, it is a very rare occurrence. If I had to venture a guess, I would say every other month or so, with guests or birthdays being the primary reason we seek out a dining establishment. Take out is an even rarer occurrence. I can’t even remember getting take out once since moving back to Norway 1.5 years ago. The price of delivery is atrocious and the time it would take us to bus down, pick something up and bus back home again would take much longer compared to just making something at home. Plus, the take out would be cold by the time we ate it.
So dining out happens every so often, and as foodies we really enjoy it. But take out? Not worth it.
I am religious about bringing lunch or having emergency rations at work. I can count on one hand the number or times I have actually gone down to the cafeteria at work. I grew up in a family where the adults worked in places without cafeterias (only lunch rooms), and the same for primary and secondary schools. You either brought your own food, or you went hungry.
There was a small cafeteria by the time I attended high school and beyond, but never having had much in terms of money, I was not about to spend $8 on a sandwich when it’d cost me less than $1 to put some spread on a few slices of bread and bring those. Extra bonus for fruits or dinner leftovers.
Obviously, everyone needs clothes, but we don’t spend a fortune acquiring it. Like most adults, we have a reasonably sized wardrobe already. What we need to supplement we get from secondhand and charity shops at a fraction of the cost, but higher quality. The only exception to that are underwear and socks, which reminds me that I really need to stop stalling and find myself some new socks… you can only darn them so many times.
But overall? Clothing is a very small part of our budget, and we repair everything on our own, from missing buttons to broken zippers and holes. It is strangely empowering to be able to take care of your own garments. Plus – less landfill!
When I was a student, the bus pass was the obvious mode of transportation. The same in London, where work was so far away that it really necessitated an Oyster card.
But since moving back to Norway, we have turned that on its head. I bought a bus pass when I first arrived, because my good friend M lived so far away from work that it would have taken too long to do anything else. But once we secured a flat right next to where Mr. Frugasaurus studied, and only 15 minutes by bike/45 minutes walk from my job? A monthly bus pass became deliciously optional.
We still do make use of the bus for visiting friends or going to the city if we need anything, but they are all one-off events where it makes more sense to buy a single ticket. We don’t see the need for a car just yet, but don’t rule out that there might be one in our future – especially if we find a nice home outside the city.
I hear people spend a lot of money on their living space. Heck, I used to live with a lovely lady who devoured interior magazines and had the most cozy little house you can imagine.
But she also worked in an interior/furniture shop, and her account with them was always sending her monthly bills for furniture she had purchased often months if not years previously.
When we moved into our flat, almost all our furniture and interior finishings were second hand. Gotten free online for naught but the price of gas and the gratitude of friends, and in some cases on “permanent loan” from friends who could not fit for instance curtains into their new house, but they fitted perfectly in our windows. True, not all of it matches to a T, but it is all perfectly functional furniture, and it is all in good shape. Several of the pieces you cannot even tell it has been used, and since we had the time to trawl our online spaces for months before moving it, the majority of it is the type of furniture I would actually spend money on in a shop.
Now, here is an item on the list we probably should spend more money on, but just haven’t.
It would be a blatant lie to say that Mr. Frugasaurus and myself do not spend money on vacations, as we did spend a chunk on our honeymoon this summer, and we do travel to visit family every winter solstice. But we have not yet had neither the time nor the willingness to spend money on fancy trips with the traditional plane ride, holiday home and (I imagine) regular dining out and loads of sightseeing and museum trips. It is simply not a priority.
Mr. Fruasaurus’ family has a holiday home in Sweden which we have been privileged enough to be allowed to borrow, and we have friends we would like to visit who would be happy to lend us a couch. I would much rather spend precious vacation time visiting them, even if being just the two of us is nice too .
Plus, I have so many friends who enjoy historical reenactment that we could easily spend a whole summer going from one medieval/viking market to the next, where tenting is free and you only have to pay for transportation. Plus, it is super-cozy and you get to meet all the people it’s been a whole year since you met last time! I cannot even begin to tell you how nice it is, but being a historical crafts and general foodie/crafts-person does help a lot in that respect.
How does one do a traditional, all-inclusive vacation anyway? Wouldn’t you get bored just lying around sunbathing all day?
Not to mention, when we did go for our very short honeymoon extravaganza, the two of us, horrible newlyweds, spent a lot of our time enjoying a break from ordinary obligations with a glorious “workation” as Mr. Frugasaurus likes to call it. Which was basically him and me with our respective laptops, tapping away at our screens at least from breakfast until lunch, trying to get ahead on various sidehustles. I don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for that – we can do that anywhere.
Lucky for the both of us, neither Mr. Frugasaurus nor myself are addicted to cigarettes or nicotine in any way, shape or form. And while Mr. Frugasaurus does enjoy the occasional beer, and there is the occasional dish which is improved with the addition of wine or beer for flavour, you would be extremely hard pressed to say that any of us spent a lot of money on alcohol. Much like with eating out, it is something we can enjoy on occasion, but it is nowhere near a regular or even a monthly occurrence.
I know this makes us very lucky, both to not feel a need for it to socialize/have fun, nor having friends for whom alcohol is the best way to socialize. I have said it before, but I just feel genuinely lucky and grateful for our amazing friends. Again, none of them abstain from the occasional alcoholic beverage, but it has never been about getting drunk or having a party.
What about you, what are your own personal wins and losses for prioritizing a frugal lifestyle and working your way towards your goals? For us, good food is just not something we’re willing to give up, so we do spend more than we need to in the grocery shop – without going completely mad.
Like other frugal friends, we also don’t feel one iota of guilt if we do splurge on a nice dinner out. It’s all about priorities, right? What are you willing to give up and not to get to where you want to be? We’d love to hear all about it!