Frugality Is A Choice, Not A Punishment

Just three years ago “frugality” wasn’t even a word in our vocabulary. We preferred the high life, and back in those days, we probably would have laughed at the word and associated it with people who were cheap.

We wore high-end clothing – We used to visit Copley Plaza so we could shop at the finest department stores. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that I wouldn’t allow us to step outside our front door unless we were wearing designer threads. I was obsessed with clothing by Ann Taylor and Jones of New York, and despite my overly stuffed closet, I kept buying more.

We spent a fortune on entertainment – We never thought twice about buying the best tickets that money could buy. We went to numerous concerts and enjoyed tons of broadway performances such as Swan Lake and Phantom of the Opera. We also didn’t mind dropping $50 or more on parking so we didn’t have to walk far. Then afterwards we would savor a meal at one of Boston’s finest restaurants.

Newbury Street, Boston MA

I was high maintenance – My bathroom vanity was filled with expensive cosmetics from high-end department stores. I would schedule regular salon visits at the top salons in the city, and would think nothing of spending upwards of $300, plus a tip, every 6-8 weeks to maintain my hair. Manicures and pedicures were also regularly scheduled because I felt as though I deserved to get the full spa experience.

We thought we were athletes – We both had gym memberships with a monthly maintenance fee of $200. I had a personal trainer and paid an additional $50 per session, three times per week. I kept this routine for almost two years.

We traveled in luxury – We leased brand new cars and would turn them in every two years for a new model. We needed those cars so we could enjoy our weekend getaways. Plus, we wanted people to know that we were doing well.

In hindsight, we lived like a couple of pretentious fools. Now we look back on our old spending habits and cringeWe had no savings, and we were constantly fighting to get ahead in our careers so we could keep up with this ridiculous lifestyle.

Thankfully We Came to Our Senses

Once we had our epiphanywe knew that if we were to achieve FIRE, then we would need to make some radical changes in our spending habits. So we quickly went to work at reducing our expenses.

A stroll by the lake. An uber frugal thing to do!

And soon after we adopted a more frugal lifestyle, our lives had improved dramatically. We felt less stressed and more at ease. We stopped caring about what other people thought of us, and no longer felt the need to impress them. We were finally free from the constraints of consumerism.

Family and Friends Thought We Were Crazy

It didn’t take long for us to discover that we were an island by ourselves. Some treated us as if we were lepers and they became very judgemental. They wondered if we were suffering financially (or mentally!), and when we tried to explain our goal to achieve FIRE, we were met with skepticism. According to them, we are not supposed to retire until we are at least 70. Some even implied that we were lazy.

This new way of life also had a negative impact on our social lives. People just couldn’t understand why we no longer wanted to drop a few hundred on a meal out. When we made other suggestions like hosting a potluck or having a picnic in the park, we were met with lots of resistance. Eventually we had to cut our ties and move on. But for us, our goal of reaching FIRE was far more important than living up to someone else’s expectations, or keeping up with our ludicrous facade.

We have now lived a more frugal lifestyle for two years now, and you know what? We can honestly say that we don’t care what people think! For us, frugality is a choice, not a punishment.

What do you think about our choice to live a frugal lifestyle? 



39 thoughts on “Frugality Is A Choice, Not A Punishment

  1. I look back at what I used to value before I had a goal of financial independence. It was so shallow and superficial. Now I value relationships more than things and that is reflected in how I spend time with friends and family. But I still have friends and family who have a hard time with this and can’t understand why I wouldn’t want to blow my paycheck on shopping trips, dinners out, etc. Maybe once you retire the naysayers will see the light?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The exact same thing happened to us! Once we stopped spending money on *stuff*, we started to appreciate what really matters to us. We have no doubt that when we are retired this will all make sense. Especially where so many of the people we know have very little saved up for retirement. – Mrs. FE

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good on you guys for turning your world around!
    ML & I make a good income, I suspect that we’re in the mid-range in our friend group, so I find it hard to say no to certain things due to finances. I feel awfully cheap when I turn down 2 spur of the moment invitations to go to restaurants.
    As most of our friends select fairly reasonably priced things to do we’re going to up our ‘Fun Fund’ once I pay off my consumer debt. This way we can continue to achieve our goals but feel like we can be a bit more spontaneous.
    It’s amazing the things I’ve given up that I don’t miss though! Clothing being a big one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do understand the challenge in saying “no” based on finances, and in the beginning it felt a little weird for us. But over time the word “no” was much easier to to say, and after a while they stopped asking us to join them on expensive outings. We do still participate in family events such as our nephews college graduation and have no problem spending money on family in that regard. – Mrs. FE

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Frugality might even be considered more than a choice but actually liberating yourself from life’s clutter. Both the clutter caused by consumerism but also the clutter of consuming your time with consumerism! The lazy way out is buying your problems away, sound like you guys came around at the right time to recognized the trappings you had gotten yourself into. Now it all just seems ridiculous.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great story Escapades! Our family and friends thought we were crazy also…..then Mrs. IS was able to say home once our son was born. Then I quit my day job and we went on a 10 week roadtrip. Now Mrs. IS has the chance to take her dream job, or not. We still need to make SOME money, but the flexibility and options we currently enjoy is amazing. Those friends, they don’t make fun any more. To us FI is Flexible Independence.

    So glad we found your blog. I hope your week is going well

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! A 10 week road trip sounds amazing! By making wise decisions about your finances, the benefits you were able to extract is truly incredible. Most people can’t afford to stay at home or choose what they want for their careers. This proves that frugality really does pay off. By the way, we love your definition of FI. *Flexible Independence* says it all!

      Thank you for visiting our blog and we appreciate the comment! 🙂 – Mrs. FE


  5. I can relate. When we were double income no kids, we would just spend money because we were bored! We were investing for retirement, thankfully, but pretty much spent everything else and almost built a house “just because.” When we started following Dave Ramsey it gave us a plan… In our case to pay off mortgage and never borrow again. And it worked!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing your story! Crazy how easy it is to spend money, isn’t it? Like Jen above, I’ve also spent money out of sheer boredom. I also fell into the trap of thinking I “deserved” a certain level of living and all the fanciness that entailed. Fortunately, now I know I deserve to be FI and am working toward that instead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not exactly sure what the heck we thought we were training for! Lol! We still believe that fitness is important, but we use the great outdoors for that now.

      That’s awesome how you guys found the right balance by living *intentionally*. I’m sure it makes a big different in the amount of enjoyment you get out of life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. oh yes, a lot of this resonates with us! We were, (and still are) big fans of good dining. It’s just that now it’s only reserved for a specially planned occasion and is all the more enjoyable for it.
    It’s very surprising to me how easy it is to change your mindset about spending. To the extent that you can look back on old habits and find them ridiculous, and look at how others spend and find it ridiculous. The best bit is, I don’t feel I’ve lost anything by giving up expensive habits – only gained!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We hear you! It was certainly a challenge giving up fine dining, especially where we were real “foodies’ and loved trying new restaurants. Like you, we still go out on special occasions.

      Very well said! By giving up our bad spending habits we get more out of life, not less. We discovered activities that we love like hiking and long bike rides, and we are now richer from those experiences.


    1. Most of these changes were implemented immediately. Once we made up our minds that our goal was to achieve financial independence and retire early, we wasted no time in sitting down and going through every expense line by line and eliminating what we didn’t need. Admittingly, this was a radical change for us, but it was well worth it! – Mrs. FE


  8. I totally agree with you that frugality isn’t a punishment but a choice. A choice that results having the blessings of financial freedom. Even after my successful FI through frugal living I still get the “I don’t want to live on a budget” from friends and family even after they complain about their rat race lifestyles. We grew up lower income so we were always on a budget but our FI journey didn’t begin until our income raised above needs and we could then focus on our FI Strategy. For some of us our “wants” are no longer material possessions to spend money on but instead happiness focused and eventual FI. Everyone chooses their priorities and live a life based on those choices, good or bad. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We loved how you said “our wants our no longer material possessions” because this is exactly how we feel! We still enjoy a little splurge on rare occasions, but we get far more joy our of our experiences. – Mrs. FE


  9. We have always lived a pretty frugal lifestyle. Luckily, we don’t have a lot of outside pressure since this is how we have always lived. People just need to realize that everyone can choose how they want to live and there is nothing wrong with that! Wanting to retire early doesn’t make someone lazy. It makes them more motivated, something most people actually lack on the traditional career path!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hooray! You had the right idea to live frugally early on! You’re very fortunate that you don’t have to face the same amount of peer pressures that we do, but regardless of how others feel we are in this for the long haul. Who knows, maybe we will be able to *motivate* some others along the way! – Mrs. FE


  10. I certainly agree that frugal living is a choice not a punishment. I commend you for changing your lifestyle. I know that that it’s not easy to do that but you did it. For me, that’s a big accomplishment. What I found with frugal living is that you can sometimes live the lifestyle you had before without shelling too much money. We used to eat out but it was too expensive. So, we decided to buy the ingredients and cook everything at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Allan! We couldn’t agree more on the fact that we can still live a similar lifestyle. So far we have seen very little impact in changing out our expensive habits for inexpensive ones. Like you, we mostly cook at home and prefer it over going out to eat at restaurants. – Mrs. FE


  11. I think your choice of reaching financial independence is pretty amazing. Its too bad that some of your friends or family did not agree. I know that feeling, its like you are swimming uphill sometimes when you feel like your parents or closed loved ones don’t agree. They will come around however, when they see you succeed. Sometimes is just takes some evidence for others to support your decisions. What you guys are doing is radically different, and that is a good thing. All the best

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pamela! We are okay with that fact that others may not be on board with us. We know that when we succeed in reaching FIRE, we will have reached a very important goal for us personally. And if we can change a few mindsets along the way, than we’re okay with that too! 🙂 – Mrs. FE


  12. Luckily, my close friends and girlfriend all understand and support it. It probably helped that I had a business to point to as the reason I could no longer do X or Y, and now that the business is largely paying for itself, the pattern is set. I’m not frugal all the time, but that works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for sharing! Love the idea of frugality being a choice – it’s so true! It takes a lot to be honest with yourself about your financial decisions. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of thinking and reworking lately – major kudos to you for that! Look forward to learning more about your frugal journey.

    And hey, I’m not sure if you’re into this sorta thing, but I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award. You can check out the post here: If you’d like to participate, great! If not, best of luck during your blogging journey. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re correct in the sense that honesty is not always the easiest, but it’s an important part of our financial journey! Thank you for reading! 🙂

      Thank you! 🙂 We really appreciate the award nomination and also your kindness in thinking of us. However, we think we already talk a lot about ourselves so we’ll probably pass on the nominations. Lol! 😀 Thank you for understanding! And again, thank you!


  14. I’m just embarking on my own journey to financial independence, and once on that path, it’s really difficult to understand why everyone doesn’t want to do the same! There is a growing library of blogs on the topic, so I’m really enjoying exploring everyone’s blogs and absorbing their advice! I look forward to reading more of your blogs on how you’ve adopted your frugal lifestyle.


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