My partner and I subscribe to a different lifestyle than most of our peers. (Hint: we are more frugal kitty than fancy kitty).We are both in our early-mid 20s, we own our cars, we rent our apartment, and we have no debt.And right now, we don’t have a kitty. Or any pet. At least not yet.Unlike many of our friends, we aren’t buying a house right now. And while we envision a future for ourselves where we can afford a beautiful home to share and grow our family in, it’s not on our radar right now.We take trips and enjoy traveling. Usually, to visit family, run races, or just to get to the beach for the day.We are also frugal with our time. We give it up reluctantly. This may seem cold, but in reality, there are a few very important things in our lives that require our quality time and devotion. Like family. Our relationship. And our careers.A more recent ‘important thing’ is our finances. Crafting financial independence out of a graduate student stipend is not easy.
Time is on our side right now, though. And as part of a natural progression towards financial independence, we have begun making several changes in our daily lives. We don’t have a ton of experience with all of these changes. We are just trying to get creative and see ‘what sticks.’
We use one kind of water
Whatever comes out of the sink. We turned off the water heater to save money. We want to soak up whatever residual cash we were spending on heating the cold water and save it for other purposes. Like the move. Or investments that will generate future income, basically turning our water into cash. Turning off the heat may turn out to be a drop in the bucket.This has actually worked out ok for us over the past two months. We live <5 minute walk from our gym, which has hot water. Do we want to live this way forever? Of course not. But the numbers are enticing. Say we save $200 over the course of a year.Even $200 in annual savings could compound into over $40,000 at 7% in 40 years.Another way of looking at it: it would take an extra $6,700 in income to pay that $200 in annual fees, at a 3% yield.
We turn off electricity to unused rooms
This was another recent change we made. There are a couple circuits in the apartment that get fed unused electricity. Since we turned off circuits that we don’t access, we haven’t noticed the difference. Although electricity costs aren’t too bad here, our apartment building was built in the 1960’s, so this bullet and the first make a difference.Our future kitty is going to thank us for all these smart, frugal moves when we were younger. Or, maybe just for the fancy feast.
We use gym showers
I mentioned our gym has showers. With hot water. Since we both workout in the mornings, we get a shower in right after. Evening showers are usually at home. In addition to cutting costs on heat, we are cutting some on volume, too.
We wash clothes in our bathtub
This is probably the least convenient and most time consuming. Since we live in an apartment with no washer/dryer, we were taking our dirty clothes and quarters to the laundry mat each week. We spent about $5-6 (or more) between washing and drying. I would say we spent close to $300 easy per year.
Now, we spend a fraction of that just to keep the water on and for detergent. Not our most glamorous hack, but it does the job.
We shop by unit price
Until we started looking at unit prices on price tags in our local grocery stores, we didn’t realize how much we were overpaying for certain basic goods and foods. We’ve learned that the cheapest ground coffee gets priced is close to 17 cents an ounce. When it’s this cheap, we usually buy 5-10 units. This is a rarity, as most weeks, the price hovers close to 23 cents – 25 cents an ounce, and usually it is higher. We always get the cheapest, which is usually Folgers, but can be Maxwell House, too. In contrast, Starbucks coffee is usually 50 cents to 90 cents an ounce. I’ll take 50% savings anyway, especially for a regular purchase like coffee. (If anyone knows of bulk coffee distributers, let me know…)
We look for deep discounts
Second to rent, food is our single biggest expense. It is also our most enjoyable expense, and our time in the kitchen is some of our happiest times. We usually go to Sam’s and Wal-Mart to buy the cheapest we can get across the two stores, and purchase the rest of our food at Publix.
We put everything we can on a reward points credit card
We charge things that we already owe to the card, in addition to groceries. We pay the balance in full at the end of every month, so we are left with the points generated by the spending. We recently stopped charging our rent to the card, because the online vendor that processes the charges adds a small 2% fee to the charge. Since that fee obliterates any additional income we save (for example from turning off the heat), we decided it would be best to pay the rent in cash. This is typical for university-based graduate-housing situations, unfortunately.With the move coming up, we’re hoping these changes towards frugal will make a difference. I’ll have to keep the changes going after he moves in order to crunch the numbers. I’ll share those as soon as I can. I’m very excited to see them. Thankfully, I have a partner that is extremely supportive and willing to participate.Take care,Dylan