Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Meet The Frugalwoods

You guys! So many of you liked my posts about working the Dave Ramsey method that as soon as I saw this one come up for review I jumped on it because we now struggle so hard with simple living. It feels like this daunting task void of anything nice or fun and this book changes that.

Meet the Frugalwoods - Elizabeth Willard Thames

The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog.

In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to "the good life." Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums.

Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

The really great thing about this autobiographical tale is that it stems from average working joe's wanting more out of their chaotic life. They just want the American Dream: kids, home, success. It's hard to achieve that in modern day even with the best education and great jobs, we get bogged down with cost of living, cost of children, what if emergencies pop up, can you find an affordable home, is it possible to not work yourself to death but have a fulfilled life? 

The answer is yes to all of that and it's in the book. This book isn't your how-to, and if you follow all of these steps you too will have a little homestead with acreage and a storybook garden. That might not be your dream and that might not be a reality where you live. 

The book also reminds us that we have all lived frugally at one point. We have. Remember your college days when peanut butter AND jelly was a luxury you couldn't always afford? Easy Mac, for date night, anyone? You know how to doctor ramen noodles so it feels like a meal every night. The book isn't telling you to go back to those days in order to pay off debt and get what you want, but it does remind you that you can do it. You know where to cut corners, you know how to be frugal. Somewhere along the way we all get off that path because we feel like we deserve it, we work hard, why don't we deserve it? You might deserve it but you can't afford it and that's the key. 

The book isn't very long (just under 230 pages) but it is jammed pack with an entertaining story of how one family beat the odds and did it. It's inspiring, it's funny, you can relate to it, and you finish the book ready to make some changes in your own life. For me, I've started cutting down meal nights, no more fancy pants meals with multiple ingredients. That'll cut out some for us. We've adjusted our mortgage to save a little each month, and we've been making great strides in cutting down our debt. 

I highly recommend this one if you are intimidated by things like the Dave Ramsey approach and having a concrete budget and money envelopes scare you- this is not scary. These are stupidly simple ways to spend money wisely and some of their experiences can be your experiences, too. Maybe you don't have a fruit farm but maybe you start with an herb garden and save an extra $30 you would have spent. Maybe you get yourself a square foot garden and grow only the veggies that you know you are going to eat all year round. Conform their ideas to your situation. It's a great book and I found myself laughing because man alive, we've been there. It reminded me of our "poor years" in our first apartment and I realized we can go back to that. I don't know why we stopped, maybe because we had larger credit lines and we thought we could? But I have nothing but fond memories, even funny ones, of our time being frugal and getting creative with our funds. Ha!



Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

This book sounds like a great place to get both inspiration and practical advice for achieving one's financial and life goals. I'm glad you found it helpful!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

DoingDewey said...

I loved this book, but already do almost all the things it mentions that are relevant to my life right now, so I may have to check out the Dave Ramsey book. I'd enjoy something with more specific advice than this gave.