The one resource you will never get back is time. Time marches on, whether you’re ready for it to or not. If you’re unhappy, you can’t expect that you’ll magically find happiness by continuing to do the exact same thing. Mrs. Frugalwoods learned this lesson the hard way, but shares her insights of her newfound knowledge in a witty, thoughtful story that will likely spare you years of unhappiness and mindless consumerism.
The truth is, the editors did Mrs. Frugalwoods a disservice in the book jacket.
First, when they said “[the Frugalwoods had] determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day,” that’s not really true by traditional standards. Mr. Frugalwoods is a successful software engineer, and Mrs. Frugalwoods is a now-published writer! Had the wording been something along the lines of “determined to achieve their homestead dreams and escape the corporate rat race,” it would have been a more understandable and relatable explanation of their situation. Financial independence doesn’t mean you need to retire, and in fact the freedom may open more doors to do even more work that you are passionate about. That’s what the book’s focus really is. When you wake up every day knowing today will be a good day, and when you are no longer living for the weekends or riding the endless consumer merry-go-round, that’s the secret to real and lasting happiness.
Second, there wasn’t much in the way of actionable advice in the story. Instead, it really was a memoir about their journey and how Mrs. Frugalwoods came to understand that there’s so much more to life than perfection and fulfilling society’s expectations. The advice in the book was sporadic and short, and all things she has mentioned before on her blog (although you’d have to read the blog for actual details to the methods). That was fine with me, because I would have been extremely disappointed had the book simply been recycled blog posts. I feel like I now know Liz personally, and I can better appreciate their journey. Her stories were thought-provoking, her writing was witty and captivating, and I’m grateful that she shared her journey.
Huge kudos to Mrs. Frugalwoods (in both her book and through her website) for always encouraging everyone to solve problems with DIY and brain power instead of money, focus on the value of time, cut waste in both areas, and use money as a tool and a means rather than an end. Life and financial independence are both about more than just money. Sitting on a pile of money and stuff won’t provide lasting fulfillment. It’s all about how you manage your resources, how you spend your days, and how you give back to the rest of the world.
How to do Good and Give Back
The Frugalwoods don’t have to give back, but they’ve experienced poverty firsthand and choose to carry on doing good in the world. They mainly do this through a donar advised fund.
Uber Frugal Month Challenge
I’ve done the challenge three times, and regularly encourage others to take the challenge with me. There is a lot of value in resetting your spending and understanding what your baseline is.