Our Frugal, Zero-Waste Wedding

We promised you all the nitty, gritty details to our frugal, very nearly zero-waste wedding, so here they are. Included a detailed rundown of all our expenses!

I will begin with a caveat that weddings in Norway are nothing like some of the weddings I have seen in the US or UK. Like baby showers and other customs that are not common here, they are slowly making their way here, but are still somewhat isolated to middle class and above.

In Norway, “barselgrøt” or “maternity porridge” used to be a thing instead of baby showers. Friends, family and neighbors literally came over with porridge (full of cream and butter to get your energy back up), and would help the new mother with looking after the child and various house chores after she gave birth.

Costs less, helps more.

This was also the theme with our wedding. We wanted it low-key, low barrier of entry, simple and fun event with our closest family and friends. Big bonus if we managed to keep it less than 10 000 NOK, or $1 250 as well.

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Our Frugal Honeymoon

As I am writing this, Mr. E. (perhaps we can now finally change to Mr. and Mrs. Frugasaurus? For less confusion all around?) and I are relaxing in Mr. E’s parents’ vacation home in Sweden. It is set in an idyllic, rural setting and the only audible noise outside right now are the various different birds chittering to and at each other.

Not much has changed since the wedding last Friday, perhaps except a general exhaustion after the party (post to come!), and trying to get used to wearing a ring.

I am not a ring person. They are distracting and in the way when I work. But as far as rings go, we chose the simplest, most unobtrusive gold band we could find. As far as rings go, I might be able to get used to this one.

But that is not what this post is about. Here I talk about how we managed to enjoy a frugal get-away honeymoon through the help of our family. We also share some tips to how you could hack your own honeymoon if you are considering tying the knot and want to have some time just for the two of you.

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The Personal is Political

Mr. E. checking in, dropping some news right before our big (wedding) day!

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for quite some time now. A blog post about sex, gender, queerness and how it all fits with personal finance. I’ve given a lot of thought to the trend across various media to attempt raising issues about privilege. And this is where a lot of people will go “But Mr. E, aren’t you a straight white dude from privileged-as-F-Scandinavia?”

…well, both yes and no. I will be the first person to say that yes, I am privileged. I come from a white background and have a loving supportive family. I have a secure home. I have an education. I have an amazing fiancé, who happens to be a woman. But my first relationship was with a man. And I still like men. I just like women, too — and one woman in particular. But I digress. My bisexuality is not the topic of this post. What I wanted to write here is that while I wear all these hats of privilege, I was also assigned female at birth and lived the first 19 years of my life as a woman. And then continued to live the consecutive 3 years trying to “pass” as a man, in order to receive the help I needed from the Norwegian health institute for gender-related dysphoria (note: this is not their official title). The reason I’m mentioning this is not that I want to write a long soppy story about my past. But to address what this means to me in the present, and how it links to personal finance and FI.

Ever since K brought me on this financial journey last year, I’ve been eagerly consuming podcasts and blogs about Financial Independence. And the next sentence I’m going to write is certainly not going to surprise anyone, because it has been said so many times. Yes, I’m talking about the representation of straight white men in the FI-community, in the shape of bloggers and podcasters. I have nothing against straight white men or their content in general (hey, in a lot of people’s eyes, I’m considered a straight white man, so who am I to judge?). And a lot of my favourite podcasts/blogs are produced by these straight white men, such as ChooseFI and The Mad Fientist, whose podcasts I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.

Over the past year, I’ve also started listening to a lot of the female voices in this strange corner of the internet. It’s no secret that one of K’s favourite bloggers is Liz from Frugalwoods.com. And I’ve grown dependent on my weekly feed from The Fairer Cents podcast, and recently (after K sent me in their direction), the FIRE Drill Podcast. And their content is amazing to listen to. Just like every other blogger and podcaster, they bring their own unique voices to the FI-community and add content that really opens up the space to new conversations.

But the more time I spend here, the more I notice the lack of queer voices. It is quite selfish of me, but I miss seeing, hearing from, and reading about people like me talk about FI. How the question of money relates to queer people. And how queer people feel about money. There are definitely some great and visible queer role models in the FI community, such as Debt Free Guys. And this episode of The Fairer Cents podcast is all about money, success, and how they relate to sexual identity.

Still, I have yet to find a blog post or a podcast episode about personal finance written by someone who identifies on the gender queer spectrum (and if you have seen any, please point me in their direction!). My first thought is that it might be related to the costs of physical gender transition, which I’ve heard are quite high in many countries. But then I think about all the people I’ve heard who talk about the amount of debt they were in before they heard about the path to FI. And that makes me think that the reason has to be something else. What that something else could be, is impossible to say.

emil r. jonas5

In a podcast episode by Freakonomics, titled Are Gay Men Really Rich?, they discuss the social stereotype of gay men always being portrayed as rich on different media platforms. In the podcast, they came to the conclusion that it would be near impossible to find an accurate answer to this question. Why? Because accurate/

good data on queer identified persons are really difficult to get by. It’s not hard to imagine why this data would be hard to come by. With all the social stigma around queer identities, many LGBTQ+ people don’t wish to share their data. This makes it difficult to know what an average income among queer people is at, as well as how discrimination feeds into the job market in terms of employment and alienation.

What this makes me think is that this same aversion to disclosing data to others, perhaps out of fear of discovery, is the reason we see so few gender queer identified people in the FI-community. After all, personal finance isn’t exactly a non-taboo topic, either. But that makes it all the more important to talk about it. So let’s get personal. Because that’s how we let others know that it’s possible.

June Review

Summer is here in full (most days) here in Norway, and people are basking in the warmth and the sun. As I am sitting down to write this, I just delivered a second draft to my supervisor that marked the end of my to-do-before-vacations list!

Expenses this month have been… astronomical! Upcoming weddings will do that to you, and we haven’t even paid the venue yet. C’est la vie! Both Mr. E. and I are just trying to keep our head above water at this time with all the planning, organization and travel that has been going on. But in just a few short weeks, things will finally start to calm down.

With that in mind, it is with some trepidation that I present this month’s numbers. But we should be going back to normal soon!

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12 Easy Sustainable Swaps That Can Save You Serious Cash

This post contains affiliate links. 

We’ve all been there, right? We want to save the planet, but we also want to save our hard earned cash. We want to help but… is that expensive eco-shirt really going to make a difference?

Most things would just add clutter to your life unless you remove something else at the same time. We are so good at piling on our life, but rarely as good at reducing or decluttering.

So with that in mind, here are 12 easy swaps that are both sustainable and save you some serious money in the long run.

Yup, I am still on a mission to bring you easy, actionable things you can do to help #movethedate!

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Green Growth – An Ethical Index Fund

In the spirit of trying to take more action in life, I occasionally mail various strangers to ask questions to try to entice them into action beyond what I am capable of doing.

I don’t know how successful this actually is, but it is worth the shot, right?

I have been thinking about our investments lately. Wondering if I should take the risk and try to invest in individual companies, solely for the reason that I want my money to have a positive impact on the world, and not to fund things like weapons and fossil fuels.

But that has generally not been the way index funds work. By and large, they buy a small chunk of the entire market, warts and all.

There have been some actively managed funds on the market that dabble in sustainability, but I have not felt convinced that the extra fees are worth it for their inclusion/exclusion criteria.

So I mailed a few financial corporations to ask if they would be willing to consider blazing a trail in the financial industry by creating algorithms for ethical, sustainable index funds.

Lo’ and behold, one of them had just launched such a product one week prior!

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Entrepreneurial FI

We don’t talk a lot about big fancy graphs beautifully plotting our way to financial independence (FI) on this blog.

There are no savings calculators or inspirational loggers to help you figure out how many years of work until you can put your day job aside and figure out what you really want to do with your life.

One of the primary reasons for this is that life is crazy and unpredictable. Neither of us have permanent jobs and that is not something that is scheduled to change any time soon.

We know interests are going to go up “soon”, because they’re at an all-time record low and there really is only one way for them to go.

In short, there are just too many variables for us to make any sort of realistic budget for the next 10-15 years. And perhaps more importantly, neither of us want to work a conventional job for that long. Feeling like we had to do that would probably deflate our motivation rather than inspire us.

So what is our alternative?

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How Are You Motivated?

Recently, Mr. E. and I have been talking more than usual about our dreams and how to get there. It is fascinating to me how differently the two of us are motivated!

It took me a while to realise and appreciate that what lit a fire in my belly was not necessarily the same things that made Mr. E. charge full speed ahead. It was confusing in the beginning, and it seemed like we were talking around each other.

I suspect this is something that might frustrate or confuse other people as well.

“Why doesn’t this work for me, when it works for them?”

It might also grow to be a source of confusion and even frustration, if your friend, spouse or family member is motivated in a polar opposite way from yourself. It’s a communication issue waiting to happen!

Luckily, the solution is simply to talk to each other, and to learn to appreciate and respect how other people’s brains work.

Are you a carrot person or a Pants-on-fire! person? Or perhaps you are motivated in an entirely different way?

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Earth Overshoot Day 2018

For those of you who have been with this little blog of mine for some time, you probably noticed that in addition to a passion for personal finance and financial freedom, I am also deeply concerned about climate change and human environmental impact.

Even though I carefully curate my inbox to avoid newsletter clutter and spam, there are actually a couple I read with interest. One of those are the mails from Global Footprint Network, a nonprofit organization which calculates the earth overshoot day, or the day when humans start using more than the planet can replenish in a single year.

So when their mail about earth overshoot day and their campaign to move the date hit my inbox, I knew it was going to be worth my time.

This year, earth overshoot day is calculated to occur on August 1st.

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4 Frugal Habits From Growing Up Working Class

With recent events having encouraged both Mr. E. and myself to call various family members, I have found myself reflecting over how our pasts have shaped our current personalities.

I have mentioned it before that we both grew up working class. Our parents worked steadily to improve our living situation, in the classical scenario of slowly upgrading from renting to small apartment to bigger home to full-on detached house with garden and driveway.

Our parents worked, hustled and saved. From a young age, I remember being aware of how much it was appropriate to ask for in terms of birthday and Christmas presents. We enjoyed one vacation trip every summer, and did not really have a concept that there were people who did more than that.

I would say I was lucky. I grew up in an area where most people were in similar situations. So what I saw in class and when visiting friends was the same truth I was used to from home. I did not notice much shame in not having the “right” toys, although I will admit, my ugly flea market clothes did get some flack.

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