Gaming frugality

After stumbling upon the Mr. Money Mustache blog and reading a few posts, I was intrigued. Here’s a guy and his wife (Mrs. Money Mustache*) who have pretty much cut out every unnecessary item from their spending and retired in their early 30s in order to start a family. They have a lot of the same habits that my husband and I do. They got rid of all debt, because debt is a major emergency. They lived close to work, don’t borrow money for cars, don’t buy stupid cars, have no cable television, etc.

With our incomes, we can live quite comfortably on about half of our income, but we enjoy some frivolous things on a regular basis, with the justification that we already pay down debt and save pretty aggressively by most standards (we put toward debt or saved over 33% of our take-home pay in 2012). However, we have a couple long term goals that would be helped along if we gave some things up for a while. These goals include a trip to Seattle at the end of this month, paying cash for graduate school tuition for my husband, visiting France in the summer of 2014 or 2015, and satisfying my major love of bling with the last couple pieces on my jewelry wish list. We also both like the idea of buying a house with cash. This is totally within reach, if we are patient.

Last night, I asked my husband, “How frugal would you be willing to be? And for how long?” He said, “Well, I can be pretty frugal if I am working toward something.” And so we started making a list of things he is wiling to give up, and things I am willing to give up, and things we can give up together, in order to save money and slash more debt, more quickly. We have decided to:

  • give up beer until summer (unless bringing a host/hostess gift to a party), which will have the added bonus of helping us look better in our swimsuits
  • one fancy coffee drink per month (as long as we don’t buy any the month before and meet our gym-going goals to get our reimbursements which nearly pay for our membership)
  • both will bike/walk to work once it is warmer than 30 degrees when we leave
  • only eat out together for dates, not as a convenience – do more meal planning
  • husband will not get professional massages, and will visit the chiropractor only once per month, as needed
  • no new clothes unless essential for work
  • no new makeup, nail polish, other frivolous lady temptations for me – I have tons of stuff stockpiled that I purchased on sale, so can probably go 6-12 months without buying anything new
  • I will eliminate lady temptations by only going to Target for groceries (they have the best price on some items in our area, like the largest/cheapest size of the creamer for our non-fancy coffee)
  • Buy gifts primarily with credit card points for

We figured we can save a few hundred dollars a month by trying this for 3-6 months. This is a challenge in order to change some of our behaviors, and we are trying to make it into a game, by making the things we really enjoy into more of a treat than a regular daily experience. I will report on how this goes.

*He considers it an extremely high honor to have given her this title through marriage.