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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: Captain Cactus on March 05, 2018, 11:37:17 AM

Title: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain Cactus on March 05, 2018, 11:37:17 AM
Anybody notice that the Frugalwoods popped up as the guest this week on various personal finance podcasts?

I haven't listened yet.  Did they publish a book or something?  Just thought it was unusual, even Mad Fientist has her on there, and he hardly ever posts podcasts.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cranky on March 05, 2018, 11:38:35 AM
Yes, there's a book coming out!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: terran on March 05, 2018, 11:39:39 AM
Her book came out, so this is a big PR push. Smart, but it does lead to some repetition for those of us who follow multiple FIRE bloggers/podcasters.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 05, 2018, 12:02:45 PM
I don't think I'll ever not find the ecosystem of celebrity PF bloggers amusing.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 05, 2018, 12:03:16 PM
Book and a baby :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain Cactus on March 05, 2018, 12:07:35 PM
Ah ha, I suppose I would know that if I listened to the podcast!  Makes sense, thanks!



Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain Cactus on March 05, 2018, 12:11:14 PM
I don't think I'll ever not find the ecosystem of celebrity PF bloggers amusing.

Yes, I agree. They've got themselves a nice little business going.  Some are better than others.  Some seem to be riding on the coat tails of others.  Others produce some cool content and do some cool traveling.  Basically I'm jealous:)

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 05, 2018, 12:19:06 PM
I don't think I'll ever not find the ecosystem of celebrity PF bloggers amusing.

Yes, I agree. They've got themselves a nice little business going.  Some are better than others.  Some seem to be riding on the coat tails of others.  Others produce some cool content and do some cool traveling.  Basically I'm jealous:)

Yes, me too.  I think it's pretty cool.  I enjoy following some of them.  Interesting content - some of it quite well written.  Definitely different methods and lifestyles abound.  I think "I wonder if I could do that?"  But it's not really in my personality.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 05, 2018, 12:25:09 PM
To put it extremely cynically, the pitch in the FIRE blogosphere is: "I retired early by being super frugal (and getting in bed with affiliate marketers on my lifestyle blog) and you can too!"

To put it extremely generously, the readers know the score. There is a limited way to repackage "life on less/invest the rest". But getting repeated reminders and encouragement in the way of blog posts helps to motivate people and keep the end in mind when things get tough.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. Probably closer to the latter than the former. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 05, 2018, 12:28:19 PM
The Frugalwoods have never claimed to retire. They both still work.  Unlike MMM (who to be fair is barely blogging anymore; but says he is retired) she claims her writing as a job; she blogs, does freelance writing, and does the books.  He does some sort of work at home.

It's more "living frugally has allowed us to live our dream life".
Frugalwoods also doesn't seem to have a ton of affiliate income on her blog. Or else she hides her advertising way better than some bloggers.


Though I do think the general "I became rich convincing other people they don't need to be rich" is pretty amusing.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: rothwem on March 05, 2018, 02:03:43 PM
Fucking frugalwoods.  Easily the most worthless podcast I've listened to.  If I recall correctly, they had a pretty insane income (200k+) prior to FIRE and they were lucky enough to buy their house right after the bubble popped 2008.  Its kinda like, "Hey yall, the way to win at roulette is to bet on black!  I bet on black and now I'm a millionaire!".

It wouldn't be so bad if they had actual good ideas in their blog, but its most of the same boring "cook meals at home", "ride a bike places instead of driving", etc.  If you didn't realize that those are ways to save money, I'm not sure what to tell you. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: thenextguy on March 05, 2018, 02:19:50 PM
RIP Frugal Hound :(
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 05, 2018, 03:56:47 PM
Fucking frugalwoods.  Easily the most worthless podcast I've listened to.  If I recall correctly, they had a pretty insane income (200k+) prior to FIRE and they were lucky enough to buy their house right after the bubble popped 2008.  Its kinda like, "Hey yall, the way to win at roulette is to bet on black!  I bet on black and now I'm a millionaire!".

It wouldn't be so bad if they had actual good ideas in their blog, but its most of the same boring "cook meals at home", "ride a bike places instead of driving", etc.  If you didn't realize that those are ways to save money, I'm not sure what to tell you.
I can't speak to how much money they made, and yeah, sometimes you buy a house at the right time.

But I think the strength in their blog isn't the "tips", although some of them are good & they as for reader suggestions.

It's more the "getting people to rethink their whole lifestyle".  Most of the articles are pretty in-depth and well written, and to me seem like they want you to REALLY THINK about how you are living your life and if it's what you really want.  Does it match your values?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: $200k on March 05, 2018, 04:16:06 PM
I enjoy Frugalwoods' approach and am definitely a fan after binge reading the whole blog.  My one criticism is that I wish that every new article from late 2017 and beyond was not an epic 5,000-10,000 word post.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: hadabeardonce on March 05, 2018, 04:35:37 PM
What's a frugal wood? Like without Viagra or other pills? ;-)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: marble_faun on March 05, 2018, 04:47:28 PM
I really like the Frugalwoods!  I've sent links to people and will consider buying the book as a gift. Frugalwoods has a gentler tone than MMM, which is good, because not everyone responds to facepunches.

They've always been pretty clear that they got lucky in certain respects. Most significantly, they bought a house that skyrocketed in value. They don't claim that their success is all due to hard work and packing lunch. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 05, 2018, 04:51:13 PM
The value of their house is also in rental income. They didn't cash out the equity. They got lucky in some respects, but also positioned themselves to take advantage of opportunities, they were not handed to them


And while they are high income, she claims it was never absurdly high. It's also easily to live high when you are a high earner, and they have really resisted that.

I agree her posts are a bit long sometimes, but I just skim.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HappierAtHome on March 05, 2018, 04:59:17 PM
I really like the Frugalwoods!  I've sent links to people and will consider buying the book as a gift. Frugalwoods has a gentler tone than MMM, which is good, because not everyone responds to facepunches.

They've always been pretty clear that they got lucky in certain respects. Most significantly, they bought a house that skyrocketed in value. They don't claim that their success is all due to hard work and packing lunch.

Agree so much with this. They seem very aware of the ways in which they are fortunate. And the gentler tone makes it a much better blog for sharing with certain friends and family than MMM.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 05, 2018, 05:37:50 PM
Maybe it's just the podcast medium but I came away pretty unimpressed with Mrs Frugalwoods on the ChooseFI podcast.  Just didn't feel like I heard anything that was new information.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: kendallf on March 05, 2018, 05:59:31 PM
I haven't listened to the podcasts, but the negativity of a couple of people here misses the point of their blog, I think.

Mrs. Frugalwoods writes well not about the nuts and bolts of investing or budgeting, but about the importance of mindfulness and crafting your lifestyle to suit your goals.  Motivation for doing the atypical (frugality, never going out to eat, etc.) and the importance of consistency in accomplishing these things are also strong points. 

I am probably 20 years older than the Frugalwoods, with grown children of my own, but I have read many of her posts that made me aware of areas that I need to re-examine and strive to improve (think cooking, as I have just returned from eating out as I write this!).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 05, 2018, 07:19:57 PM

  Not some PF millionaire who writes a blog with affiliate links, who avoids paying taxes, and plays video games all day.  That don't impressuh me much.   

That doesn't sound like the Frugalwoods at all. They are insanely hard workers. Not many people split their own wood to heat their home for the winter, for instance.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grandep on March 05, 2018, 07:20:12 PM
I don't think I'll ever not find the ecosystem of celebrity PF bloggers amusing.

Haha.  Thank you for writing that.  Made my day. 

I think I'm more annoyed by just how overwhelmingly pleased with themselves each of them seems to be.  They act like they found the cure for AIDs... but most seem to be benefactors who are only benefitting themselves.

You know who impresses me?  Some person who is terrible at personal finance, with -3% savings rate, but who is a foster parent.  Not some PF millionaire who writes a blog with affiliate links, who avoids paying taxes, and plays video games all day.  That don't impressuh me much.   

What about someone who is great at personal finance, maintains a 10+% savings rate, and is a foster parent? Why do you equate poor financial skills with virtue (and conversely, good financial skills with vice)?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FireLane on March 05, 2018, 07:33:45 PM
Fucking frugalwoods.  Easily the most worthless podcast I've listened to.  If I recall correctly, they had a pretty insane income (200k+) prior to FIRE and they were lucky enough to buy their house right after the bubble popped 2008.

Do you have a source for that income figure? AFAIK, they've both worked at non-profits for their whole careers.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: martyconlonontherun on March 05, 2018, 08:05:54 PM
I don't find frugalwoods interesting but found nothing wrong about her. I did find the choosefi selling out for a very non-mustachian conference very off-putting. It basically goes against all the advice they would normally give but they are either motivated financially to go or driven by ego to be a presenter.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Penn42 on March 05, 2018, 08:29:07 PM
Being relatively new to the FI/PF blogosphere I've really only checked out three: MMM, jlcollins, and Mad Fientist.  Even then they cover lots of the same stuff, so I don't really see a need to branch out.

This thread is the first I've heard of fw.  I briefly scanned the blog and a couple posts.  Gotta say they seem to have a pretty great thing going for themselves that's very close to what would be my ideal situation.  Of course I'm a long ways away from anything like that, if I even get there at all...

I do seem to think that there's a hole to be filled in this niche blog world of someone who follows these same principles but doesn't have The Perfect Lifetm.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 05, 2018, 10:28:59 PM
Fucking frugalwoods.  Easily the most worthless podcast I've listened to.  If I recall correctly, they had a pretty insane income (200k+) prior to FIRE and they were lucky enough to buy their house right after the bubble popped 2008.  Its kinda like, "Hey yall, the way to win at roulette is to bet on black!  I bet on black and now I'm a millionaire!".

It wouldn't be so bad if they had actual good ideas in their blog, but its most of the same boring "cook meals at home", "ride a bike places instead of driving", etc.  If you didn't realize that those are ways to save money, I'm not sure what to tell you.
I can't speak to how much money they made, and yeah, sometimes you buy a house at the right time.

But I think the strength in their blog isn't the "tips", although some of them are good & they as for reader suggestions.

It's more the "getting people to rethink their whole lifestyle".  Most of the articles are pretty in-depth and well written, and to me seem like they want you to REALLY THINK about how you are living your life and if it's what you really want.  Does it match your values?
mm1970, I agree with you.

Rothwem, I just don't see the reason for such vitriol. Almost sounds like you're envious. Also, do yo have a citation for that income figure you quoted? I've read the entire blog and don't recall ever seeing a specific number, but I could be wrong.

I will admit, the sesquipedalian loquaciousness sometimes gets to me, but otherwise, I find FW to be quite thought provoking.

And yes, RIP Gracie, the Frugal Hound. What a sweetheart she seemed to be. And kudos to the FW Family for giving her such a nice life.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: rothwem on March 06, 2018, 06:22:44 AM

Rothwem, I just don't see the reason for such vitriol. Almost sounds like you're envious. Also, do yo have a citation for that income figure you quoted? I've read the entire blog and don't recall ever seeing a specific number, but I could be wrong.

I will admit, the sesquipedalian loquaciousness sometimes gets to me, but otherwise, I find FW to be quite thought provoking.


I first heard them on a podcast, and the interviewer straight up asked them about their income.  The husband was making ~150-160ish if I recall correctly, and the wife was making a solid amount as well.  Add to that a house that they bought for a steal that brings in roughly the same amount as my monthly take home income and you would have to have a pretty solid cocaine habit to NOT be successful.  Maybe I should applaud them for staying away from drugs?

As for envy, sure.  I'm envious of plenty of people.  I'd love to have perfect teeth, perfect vision, a 10" long...beard, etc.  Its not the fact that they were lucky that bugs me so much though.  After all, MMM got lucky in almost exactly the same way that the frugalwoods did...a bull market and a high paying job.  I don't mind MMM though.  The frugalwoods put on this fake modesty on the podcast I listened to though and I was really just disgusted.  Then you get to the blog, and hot damn, its even worse.  All that aside, I think I could get over it if they offered really good information.  After all, I'm an engineer and I deal with talented assholes all day.  But when you get to the blog, there's nothing!  Just a high income, educated white couple that doesn't spend extravagantly. 

So to summarize, in order to FIRE like the Frugalwoods did, all you have to do is:
-Be born at the right time
-Be born in the right place
-Have intelligent parents that were born in the right place at the right time
-Have intelligent parents that value education
-Pick exactly the right career
-Have no significant health problems
-Buy a house at a steal (due to being born at the right time)
-THEN pack your lunch and ride your bike to work AND THEN YOU'LL BE A MILLIONAIRE IN VERMONT!
-Then, go and spread the word about how everyone else can be FIRE like you (all the while making money off of affiliate links and ad views/clicks)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on March 06, 2018, 06:51:20 AM
Never got into the Frugalwoods. Something about the way she writes makes me grit my teeth. I can't articulate why.

I inexplicably hate his beard too. It bothers me.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MayDay on March 06, 2018, 07:05:58 AM
I don't follow them at all (they sound insufferable).

The review of the book I read said it was bad.

Why do lifestyle bloggers write books? None of them are ever good. Just stop.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: LouLou on March 06, 2018, 07:09:58 AM

Rothwem, I just don't see the reason for such vitriol. Almost sounds like you're envious. Also, do yo have a citation for that income figure you quoted? I've read the entire blog and don't recall ever seeing a specific number, but I could be wrong.

I will admit, the sesquipedalian loquaciousness sometimes gets to me, but otherwise, I find FW to be quite thought provoking.


I first heard them on a podcast, and the interviewer straight up asked them about their income.  The husband was making ~150-160ish if I recall correctly, and the wife was making a solid amount as well.  Add to that a house that they bought for a steal that brings in roughly the same amount as my monthly take home income and you would have to have a pretty solid cocaine habit to NOT be successful.  Maybe I should applaud them for staying away from drugs?

As for envy, sure.  I'm envious of plenty of people.  I'd love to have perfect teeth, perfect vision, a 10" long...beard, etc.  Its not the fact that they were lucky that bugs me so much though.  After all, MMM got lucky in almost exactly the same way that the frugalwoods did...a bull market and a high paying job.  I don't mind MMM though.  The frugalwoods put on this fake modesty on the podcast I listened to though and I was really just disgusted.  Then you get to the blog, and hot damn, its even worse.  All that aside, I think I could get over it if they offered really good information.  After all, I'm an engineer and I deal with talented assholes all day.  But when you get to the blog, there's nothing!  Just a high income, educated white couple that doesn't spend extravagantly. 

So to summarize, in order to FIRE like the Frugalwoods did, all you have to do is:
-Be born at the right time
-Be born in the right place
-Have intelligent parents that were born in the right place at the right time
-Have intelligent parents that value education
-Pick exactly the right career
-Have no significant health problems
-Buy a house at a steal (due to being born at the right time)
-THEN pack your lunch and ride your bike to work AND THEN YOU'LL BE A MILLIONAIRE IN VERMONT!
-Then, go and spread the word about how everyone else can be FIRE like you (all the while making money off of affiliate links and ad views/clicks)

I don't think this is accurate.  I did NOT have a financially stable childhood (spent part of it in homeless shelters), received absolutely no good financial advice from my family growing up, had $0 for college, have not bought a house for a steal, etc.  I still have gotten to a place where I have a high income.  Higher than I could have imagined growing up.

Am I lucky in some ways? Sure! I didn't get cancer right when I started working full time, for example.  Are there systematic issues that make it harder from some people to succeed than others? Yep!  As a society, we have things to work on.  Is my success only because of luck, meaning that my frugality is meaningless? Nope.

These free blogs on the internet are an excellent resource for people like me, who didn't have people talking about compound interest or investments in our families while growing up.  Reading blogs like MMM and Frugalwoods absolutely stopped me from putting on the golden handcuffs. I thought consciously about what kind of life I want to live and realize that my real life goals don't necessary involve spending all the money I make.  It doesn't take a cocaine habit to ruin a high income - just a mortgage, large vehicle car note, eating out for lunch every day, etc.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: BuildingFrugalHabits on March 06, 2018, 07:39:30 AM
Man, tough crowd!  I hadn't been over to their blog in several years but this thread prompted me to go back check it out again.  Sorry to hear about the dog :(

I congratulate them for envisioning and then building their ideal life and taking the time to share it with the world.  They seem like nice folks too.  There's only so many topics one can write about frugality so essentially all of these FI blogs and podcasts are going to be rehashing the same ideas and concepts.  However, I don't see anything wrong with someone putting a fresh spin on it whether it's retiring to start a homestead or travel or go backpacking etc.  The part that interests me is what people are doing with their freedom, not the nuts and bolts of how to save money. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: pachnik on March 06, 2018, 08:10:26 AM
I've enjoyed the FW blog for a few years now.  IIRC they used to post here in the forum.  I don't know about what kind of $$$ they made  in the city but she often lists their many privileges and doesn't pretend to have bootstrapped from nothing. 

I don't read it word for word but I do like hearing what they are up to.  Their life in rural Vermont isn't something that interests me personally so I read it more for the frugality enforcement.  Also, I like the pictures of their homestead, their little girl.  I was sad to hear that FrugalHound died but I know she had a good life with her people. 

I have a feeling that if I met them in person I would probably like them. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 06, 2018, 08:38:57 AM
From what I've read, they spent many years making low wages and living in a shithole in NYC. They didn't start out making six figures. They kept their expenses very low even they could have increased their "lifestyle," which is admirable. And last time I was on their site, I barely noticed ads or affiliate links.

As far as I know she doesn't run any ads. There are a few affiliate links, but not many. 

I also don't really know why their income matters, because they post their expenses in great detail. Those expenses would be easy even on a tiny income.  And even though they are high income, I don't think they've ever been super high earners, and there were certainly times they were very low earners.

And yeah, they "lucked" into their Cambridge property, but it also sounds like they were a bit insane during their house hunt to find exactly what fit their requirements. They didn't just go out one day and buy the first property they saw.

I can understand they aren't for everyone; but the vitriol seems excessive.

I will say I credit them for me finding out about both the Buy Nothing Group and DAF- both of which have been really really helpful.  MMM gets credit for index funds; we'd only used managed funds before I found him.  All the "pack your lunch", "buy less", "bike to work"- I didn't need a blogger for that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIFoFum on March 06, 2018, 08:43:23 AM
Chances are that if you're on this forum, you're not the intended audience for the Frugalwoods blog or book. There's no reason for negativity just because it's not for you.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 06, 2018, 09:15:38 AM
Chances are that if you're on this forum, you're not the intended audience for the Frugalwoods blog or book. There's no reason for negativity just because it's not for you.

Negativity about things not intended for us is pretty much the central core of this entire website and forum.

The PF/FI community at large is incredibly high on their own supply. From the most popular bloggers, down to myself.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cranky on March 06, 2018, 11:27:23 AM
Chances are that if you're on this forum, you're not the intended audience for the Frugalwoods blog or book. There's no reason for negativity just because it's not for you.

I don't want to live on a farm in Vermont, and I think the FW are very, very young, but I really enjoy reading their blog.

I also think that MMM works and awful lot more at things that seem fairly horrible than I spend working at my actual job, but I still enjoy reading his blog.

Both of them have interesting non-mainstream things to say about life and money choices, and that's interesting.

I actually prefer the NonConsumer Advocate Blog, because she's probably closer to me in age and life stage, and I admire the way she makes it work.

I'm not actually looking for advice from any of them.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: LurkingMustache on March 06, 2018, 12:39:15 PM
Chances are that if you're on this forum, you're not the intended audience for the Frugalwoods blog or book. There's no reason for negativity just because it's not for you.

Negativity about things not intended for us is pretty much the central core of this entire website and forum.

The PF/FI community at large is incredibly high on their own supply. From the most popular bloggers, down to myself.

I have always received positive responses and helpful tips from folks here when I post.  However, I would agree in general - itís interesting to lurk and just read the huge amounts of general negativity and criticism of others that have differing opinions or lifestyles (reading the healthcare post is hilarious, or even the hate for some internet blogger on this post - my god...).  For a place where a general level of Stoicism is preached you sure do see people sweating a lot about things they have no control over.  Maybe people just get really bored when they are so frugal.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 06, 2018, 01:01:50 PM
Maybe people just get really bored when they are so frugal.

Our entertainment budgets are low.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 06, 2018, 01:21:26 PM
Maybe people just get really bored when they are so frugal.

Our entertainment budgets are low.

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/cheap-things-that-make-you-happy/

Are you suggesting adding "trolling on the internet" to the list?

/s
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 06, 2018, 01:26:29 PM
I've enjoyed the FW blog for a few years now.  IIRC they used to post here in the forum.  I don't know about what kind of $$$ they made  in the city but she often lists their many privileges and doesn't pretend to have bootstrapped from nothing. 

I don't read it word for word but I do like hearing what they are up to.  Their life in rural Vermont isn't something that interests me personally so I read it more for the frugality enforcement.  Also, I like the pictures of their homestead, their little girl.  I was sad to hear that FrugalHound died but I know she had a good life with her people. 

I have a feeling that if I met them in person I would probably like them.

Yes, I think a lot of people just seem to have decided they "don't like them", and are reading things into them, and their blog, that aren't there. I  think that's pretty common on the internet, to be honest.  In real life, you get to know people and talk to them.  On the internet you see what people want you to see, and you are free to read it any way that you want.

It's easy to read their blog and glom on to a few bits of info, and decide you don't like them.  Or their tone.  Or their writing style.  But so what?  I enjoy the blog - though I agree on a few things.
- it's kind of long.  I skim it.
- I don't really want to live on a million acres in the rural Northeast.  Grew up there.  Been there, done that.
- I'm old.  I mean, I probably have 15 years on these two and so I'm not really their target audience.  I've given some "tips" on FB for their blog, but I don't think they've made it to the blog because...I'm not the target audience.  That's okay.
- MMM is no different, really.  There are things you like, and things you don't, and whatever.


As far as I can tell, they have always been honest about how lucky they are in life.  Not everyone is as fortunate.  So?  I grew up poor and did fine for myself.  But I'm lucky that I'm white, smart, got scholarships, was taught hard work, was raised in a mostly together home (parents divorced when I was a teen), had parents who weren't addicted to any substances, etc.  Oh, it would have helped to be male, but whatever.  I'd have LOVED to have bought my house at a better time.  I would have LOVED to have bought a SECOND house when the downturn hit my city.  But I'm risk averse.  And I SAY if houses drop to $500k again I'm buying one!  But I probably won't.  How can I be mad at someone who carefully watched the market and bought correctly?  Shoot we bought our house 6 days after we started looking.  I try not to regret it, because hindsight is 20/20.

One way to not be so bitter is to make sure you read a lot of other blogs.  I read a blog of a woman who has adopted foster children and is basically barely surviving on no income due to severe health issues.  She writes with such love and grace and commitment to her family and (necessary) frugality.  The only and only blog that I don't miss, ever.  Even though it's often hard to read when they go negative every month.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 06, 2018, 03:38:59 PM
One way to not be so bitter is to make sure you read a lot of other blogs.

I don't read these people's blog, and so I can't really express an opinion on them one way or the other. Regarding the use of the word "bitter" though, as my posts in this thread have erred a bit on the cynical side, I feel the need to speak up for my so-called "bitter" brethren here.

It takes a tremendous amount of arrogance to think that you are living life the correct way while everyone else is doing it wrong. This is not a normative statement. Most people in this community possess that arrogance. Myself included.

Save for a few saints, everyone here is fine passing judgment on other people. We do it all the time. Making fun of co-workers for driving gas guzzling clown cars, or otherwise doing it wrong. Making fun of people who fall prey to marketing, or those who have chosen to make marketing their life's work.

I understand that it feels a bit more personal to pass judgment on a blogger with a name and a face, than it does to pass judgment on an anonymous coworker, or an anonymous salesperson who tried to get you to do something ridiculous like finance a car for 84 months, and then was shocked (SHOCKED!!) when you paid in cash and then the whole bus clapped and all that jazz. While it does feel more personal, I'd argue that making a lifestyle blog requires arrogance on top of arrogance (again, not a normative statement). Not only the arrogance I talked about before, but the arrogance to think that your life experience is worth selling. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think that you open yourself up to judgment when you do so.

Passing judgment on others is not a bug, but a feature of personal finance and alternative lifestyle communities. Whether it is keeping up with the Jones's, keeping down with them, or evaluating the Jones's life based on your own utility curve.

Usually this is done by looking to the outside from within. I don't necessarily think it makes a person bitter when they decide to turn the telescope inward though.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 06, 2018, 03:43:49 PM
Their affiliate linking was out of control.  She was squeezing in a paragraph about Personal Capital in just about every post.  I liked the (non-PC) content, but this was driving me nuts and I had to unsubscribe.  I'm sort of wondering if she devoted a whole chapter in her book to PC...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: katscratch on March 06, 2018, 04:23:54 PM
I will admit, the sesquipedalian loquaciousness sometimes gets to me....

This made me giggle :)


When I worked 60 hours weeks for $20k/yr and felt like I was drowning and would never have a solid financial plan, pf blogs seemed so condescending and out of touch with anyone who wasn't a two-income moderate-high earning household.

Frugalwoods was the first blog I found that spoke to me. The message of identifying the life you truly value and making your choices align with that resonated. Acknowledging privilege and ways some of us start out ahead did also. The stories about choices to live without furniture in a crappy NYC flat to still make saving a priority was helpful -- they made purposeful, really smart choices to get them where they are. And their telling of those choices, no matter how minor or repetitive, helped me start to see how I could do the same on my own small scale.

I also really like her essays on consumer culture, especially around raising kids.

Not all writers will be for everyone, not by a long shot, and it doesn't surprise me that the blog doesn't appeal to many forum folk here. But I thought I'd throw my take out there because I owe a lot of my trajectory shift to discovering their blog years back (before Personal Capital, I'll say that much!).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain Cactus on March 06, 2018, 05:36:12 PM
OP here.  I really didn't mean to spark this negativity.  FW cool by me.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 06, 2018, 06:08:00 PM
One way to not be so bitter is to make sure you read a lot of other blogs.

I don't read these people's blog, and so I can't really express an opinion on them one way or the other. Regarding the use of the word "bitter" though, as my posts in this thread have erred a bit on the cynical side, I feel the need to speak up for my so-called "bitter" brethren here.

It takes a tremendous amount of arrogance to think that you are living life the correct way while everyone else is doing it wrong. This is not a normative statement. Most people in this community possess that arrogance. Myself included.

Save for a few saints, everyone here is fine passing judgment on other people. We do it all the time. Making fun of co-workers for driving gas guzzling clown cars, or otherwise doing it wrong. Making fun of people who fall prey to marketing, or those who have chosen to make marketing their life's work.

I understand that it feels a bit more personal to pass judgment on a blogger with a name and a face, than it does to pass judgment on an anonymous coworker, or an anonymous salesperson who tried to get you to do something ridiculous like finance a car for 84 months, and then was shocked (SHOCKED!!) when you paid in cash and then the whole bus clapped and all that jazz. While it does feel more personal, I'd argue that making a lifestyle blog requires arrogance on top of arrogance (again, not a normative statement). Not only the arrogance I talked about before, but the arrogance to think that your life experience is worth selling. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think that you open yourself up to judgment when you do so.

Passing judgment on others is not a bug, but a feature of personal finance and alternative lifestyle communities. Whether it is keeping up with the Jones's, keeping down with them, or evaluating the Jones's life based on your own utility curve.

Usually this is done by looking to the outside from within. I don't necessarily think it makes a person bitter when they decide to turn the telescope inward though.

This is some good stuff to remember though.  It's easy to be bitter, and negative...and it's also easy to be arrogant, and pass judgment.  And, it's all normal, because we are all human.

Sometimes, though, it helps to step back and remember to try and be KIND.  Yeah, some people deserve facepunches for their stupidity, but they are still people.

This works for all areas of life -
I work hard at feeding my family healthy food and exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.  But I've been fat.  When I was younger and first lost weight, I went through ALL the phases.  The super excited talk-about-it-all-the-time phase.  The cheerleader "if I can do it, you can do it!"  The critical phase "clearly you aren't trying/ don't want it enough".  And now, when I see overweight people, I try to see people.  Not the food in their carts, not their weight, but the people.  Because it's easy to make fun of fat people because it's so visible, we need to stop and be kind.

Same goes for money.  Or anything really.  I've sat in enough PTA meetings where I've heard other parents just venting "I can't believe she's not volunteering more than an hour a week, she's not WORKING?  What is she DOING??"  And "I can't believe more people aren't donating money."  Etc.  I felt like a few times I was constantly reminding everyone that you do not know every little detail about these people.  You don't know if they have a sick parent or a mountain of bills.  Cut it out.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Rosy on March 06, 2018, 06:36:37 PM
MMM is not for everyone and neither is Frugalwoods. Each blog has a distinctive style.

What I love about their blog is her in-depth review of a reader's case. Quite impressive, although some of her posts could be shorter and still get the point across:).
I don't connect to much else on her blog and I don't pay too much attention to the ads
I find it to be a good blog, just not that suitable for my particular situation, therefore I subscribed and unsubscribed within three months.

The Frugalwoods strike me as a hardworking couple and I am happy to see their success.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grandep on March 06, 2018, 06:43:02 PM
Chiming in to this thread to also say that I am a big Frugalwoods fan. My SO is not a fan of MMM's tone (even though I personally find it motivating) but she loves Mrs. FW because she can relate to her better. I think their blog is a valuable contribution. I have personally benefited from it quite a bit)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Mtngrl on March 06, 2018, 08:27:22 PM
  I read a blog of a woman who has adopted foster children and is basically barely surviving on no income due to severe health issues.  She writes with such love and grace and commitment to her family and (necessary) frugality.  The only and only blog that I don't miss, ever.  Even though it's often hard to read when they go negative every month.

I read that blog, too (Notes from the Frugal Trenches.) Completely humbles me every time i read it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: calimom on March 06, 2018, 10:06:45 PM
Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods have humble-attentionwhore down to an art. Or possibly a science. Either way, a well paying one. Good for them, since that seems to be their goal.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tuskalusa on March 06, 2018, 10:37:57 PM
Iím a huge fan of the Frugalwoods. They are true to themselves and their values. They are examples of simplicity and environmentalism. They inspire me to spend less and focus more time on connecting with friends and family. Like others have said, they live many of the MMM principles, but speak about it in a gentler way.

Iím going to start reading the book tonight.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: westtoeast on March 07, 2018, 05:08:20 AM
I love the Frugalwoods. They've been one of the more relatable blogs for me. The strategies are simple and I go back to the blog when I need reinforcement of the concepts and the "why" of frugality. I also really enjoy Mrs. Frugalwoods writing, I like the longer articles, and I LOVE the thoughtful case study responses. I also think that they do an pretty good job of owning their privilege and acknowledging many of the advantages they've had. 

I will say, however, I hope that the very high income number that someone here mentioned isn't accurate. On the blog, they talk about their former salaries like they were typical, and often mention that they both worked for non-profits. As someone who knows typical salary for non-profits in their area, I made some assumptions! And because I believed they had a more modest income, I was better able to connect with them and feel inspired by their story. I wish they would re-frame the language on the blog around their salary. A high salary doesn't change the value of the message, but it does change how readers might compare their own situations.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lmoot on March 07, 2018, 05:30:11 AM
I've heard of them but never really visited their blog, so thanks to this thread I went and had a look. They seem like they are just trying to live their best life. I like how well organized the blog is and the amount of content. From what I read, MFW is a decent writer, a little less individual personality in the style, but...good at getting the points out while being palatable to a wide general audience and not alienating.

Personally I've dreamed have having a homestead in Vermont (and a winter house in FL). So I think I've found a new blog to read!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Apples on March 07, 2018, 02:00:28 PM
Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods have humble-attentionwhore down to an art. Or possibly a science. Either way, a well paying one. Good for them, since that seems to be their goal.

That's so interesting to me.  Because I view them as having humbleness down, but not attention-whoring at all.  Yes, Mrs. FW wrote a book and is now doing a little PF-community book tour.  That's the usual thing that happens when someone writes a book.  I've heard her monthly during the Martinis and Your Money podcast and she is genuine and down to earth.  As much as I remember, neither of the FW has ever said "this is the best way, do it our way, look at us doing great things".  It's always been figuring out their values and then living within them, and on not much money.  And Mrs. FW admits she loves to write, so here she is with a blog and book.  Are they doing something really attention-grabbing and ungenuine that I've just missed the last year or two?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mtnman125 on March 07, 2018, 03:30:58 PM
I've been reading FW for a while- I think the first article I read was about killing their dining out habit.  I like Mrs. FW style and humor.

It resonates with me as I have a young daughter, dog (RIP Frugalhound), and have short-mid term goals to semi-fire in a more rural setting.  Nothing groundbreaking in her posts, just nice reinforcement of habits.

Contrast that with Justin at Root of Good. There is a TON of really good information and he is a really smart dude, but doesn't resonate with me as his frugality strikes me as cheap/"unfair" to his kids outside of their awesome travel budget.  No doubt it works for him though.

The affiliate links drive me crazy, even though i use Personal Capital, Ebates, etc.  I just dont need to be reminded EVERY post.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: herbgeek on March 08, 2018, 06:27:09 AM
I just finished the book.  It was good in that there were a number of stories not told on the blog - which I've been an avid fan of for a couple of years.  Not everyone likes their financial advice with a side of testosterone and face punches.   The book had a more serious tone, and not as funny as the blog.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MasterStache on March 08, 2018, 07:40:00 AM
I followed FW for a little bit. But the writing was just too much, and seemed like a lot of repetition. I figured out the "nuts and bolts" of FIRE a few years ago. I do take bits and pieces from different blog sometimes. I enjoyed their post about painting cabinets and giving their stairs a makeover (both of which I have done). I've learned about churning and other side ventures through MMM. And I have enjoyed learning more about detailed financial strategies from the Mad Fientist.

Overall I don't necessarily follow any blog on a daily basis.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 08, 2018, 08:14:00 AM
Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods have humble-attentionwhore down to an art. Or possibly a science. Either way, a well paying one. Good for them, since that seems to be their goal.

That's so interesting to me.  Because I view them as having humbleness down, but not attention-whoring at all.  Yes, Mrs. FW wrote a book and is now doing a little PF-community book tour.  That's the usual thing that happens when someone writes a book.  I've heard her monthly during the Martinis and Your Money podcast and she is genuine and down to earth.  As much as I remember, neither of the FW has ever said "this is the best way, do it our way, look at us doing great things".  It's always been figuring out their values and then living within them, and on not much money.  And Mrs. FW admits she loves to write, so here she is with a blog and book.  Are they doing something really attention-grabbing and ungenuine that I've just missed the last year or two?
My thinking aligns with yours, Apples. Calimom's comment surprised me and left me scratching my head a little bit. The FW blog is not overly monetized and she's doing what everyone does to promote a book. Note that MFW used to contribute regularly here. She could easily have hopped back on to promote her new book, but did not.

Calimom's name calling strikes me as more than a little unkind, possibly even tiptoeing into the realm of jealousy.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 08, 2018, 09:50:18 AM
Again I feel the need to stick of up for Calimom and others here.

"Attentionwhoring" is a crass term, and so I get why it puts people off. But we all understand what it means. Like most things, it is a sliding scale, with the meekest of people on one end, and Egyptian Pharos on the other end.

Lifestyle bloggers aren't commanding slaves to build monuments to their greatness or anything, but you have to see how they're further to one end than say, someone who hasn't touched social media in several months. I feel like this may come down to a type B/Introvert vs type A/Extrovert kind of thing. Most lifestyle bloggers are probably type A and extroverted. To me, and others, it's just kind of an obvious fact of life that these people crave attention on another order of magnitude than we do. Because of this, their product tends to be too "fluffy" to be of any use to us.

Perhaps there's something to be said that if you don't have anything nice universally inoffensive to say, then say nothing at all. But the PF community clearly doesn't live by this adage. I posit that if you're upset by someone pointing out a rather obvious truth that (the royal) you enjoy shining a spotlight on yourself, that is probably a "you" problem. It doesn't necessarily make the other person bitter or jealous.

I think phrases like "attention seeking" or "egotistical" tend to be pretty loaded, but sometimes, they are just simply matters of fact. Blasting photos of yourself on the Internet is attention seeking behavior. Throwing a party in your own honor, such as for a birthday or a wedding, is egotistical. These things aren't "bad", but it is what it is.

The great news is that there is plenty of reading material out there for everyone. Plenty of websites give concise, actionable advice that you can follow to lead a more efficient life. Recipe sharing websites and youtube how-tos are great examples. There are plenty of writers that educate without telling and re-telling their life story. Buffet's Berkshire letter is a great example.

FWIW, people could flip the script and be critical of these as well. My overnight oats recipe is boring. Letters to shareholders are dry and devoid of personality. These are inarguably true statements.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: scissorbill on March 08, 2018, 10:21:06 AM
I like the Frugalwoods.  I think they became popular with their sodastream hack and then people stayed for the writing.  I will definitely check out their book.  From the library as soon as it's my turn, our state ordered 7 copies.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: NorthernBlitz on March 08, 2018, 10:59:43 AM

Rothwem, I just don't see the reason for such vitriol. Almost sounds like you're envious. Also, do yo have a citation for that income figure you quoted? I've read the entire blog and don't recall ever seeing a specific number, but I could be wrong.

I will admit, the sesquipedalian loquaciousness sometimes gets to me, but otherwise, I find FW to be quite thought provoking.


I first heard them on a podcast, and the interviewer straight up asked them about their income.  The husband was making ~150-160ish if I recall correctly, and the wife was making a solid amount as well.  Add to that a house that they bought for a steal that brings in roughly the same amount as my monthly take home income and you would have to have a pretty solid cocaine habit to NOT be successful.  Maybe I should applaud them for staying away from drugs?

As for envy, sure.  I'm envious of plenty of people.  I'd love to have perfect teeth, perfect vision, a 10" long...beard, etc.  Its not the fact that they were lucky that bugs me so much though.  After all, MMM got lucky in almost exactly the same way that the frugalwoods did...a bull market and a high paying job.  I don't mind MMM though.  The frugalwoods put on this fake modesty on the podcast I listened to though and I was really just disgusted.  Then you get to the blog, and hot damn, its even worse.  All that aside, I think I could get over it if they offered really good information.  After all, I'm an engineer and I deal with talented assholes all day.  But when you get to the blog, there's nothing!  Just a high income, educated white couple that doesn't spend extravagantly. 

So to summarize, in order to FIRE like the Frugalwoods did, all you have to do is:
-Be born at the right time
-Be born in the right place
-Have intelligent parents that were born in the right place at the right time
-Have intelligent parents that value education
-Pick exactly the right career
-Have no significant health problems
-Buy a house at a steal (due to being born at the right time)
-THEN pack your lunch and ride your bike to work AND THEN YOU'LL BE A MILLIONAIRE IN VERMONT!
-Then, go and spread the word about how everyone else can be FIRE like you (all the while making money off of affiliate links and ad views/clicks)

I did listen to her interview on Stacking Benjamins. My guess is that they generally acknowledge these things. She was constantly talking about how privileged they were (almost annoyingly so). I'm also not sure how your bullet points make them different from MMM (and me, and I'd imagine many people who post here, or are pursuing FI).

Ultimately, I thought that her message was more about (1) realizing that the status quo "American Dream" wasn't making them happy, (2) trying to redefine their own priorities to try to maximize happiness and (3) executing your plan (through trial and error) instead of falling into the pre-programmed "you have to love your job (more than your family)" message society gives us all. It's probably a common refrain for people that post on a frugality message board, but I think society will be better off if it becomes adopted at a larger scale.

I don't think that her message was "do what we did and you'll get rich".

I like her message (it's not really different from most FI podcasters I listen to) because I think most people would get depressed at the end of the road if they are only seeking FI for FI's sake. It's a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Apples on March 08, 2018, 11:16:51 AM
Again I feel the need to stick of up for Calimom and others here.

"Attentionwhoring" is a crass term, and so I get why it puts people off. But we all understand what it means. Like most things, it is a sliding scale, with the meekest of people on one end, and Egyptian Pharos on the other end.

Lifestyle bloggers aren't commanding slaves to build monuments to their greatness or anything, but you have to see how they're further to one end than say, someone who hasn't touched social media in several months. I feel like this may come down to a type B/Introvert vs type A/Extrovert kind of thing. Most lifestyle bloggers are probably type A and extroverted. To me, and others, it's just kind of an obvious fact of life that these people crave attention on another order of magnitude than we do. Because of this, their product tends to be too "fluffy" to be of any use to us.

Perhaps there's something to be said that if you don't have anything nice universally inoffensive to say, then say nothing at all. But the PF community clearly doesn't live by this adage. I posit that if you're upset by someone pointing out a rather obvious truth that (the royal) you enjoy shining a spotlight on yourself, that is probably a "you" problem. It doesn't necessarily make the other person bitter or jealous.


And I'm going to take this opportunity to say that calling someone "attentionwhoring" is an insult.  Because you think of yourself as an introvert, can I call you a cave dweller who never comes out into the sunlight with others?  Calimom's point could have been made with "attention seeking" or something similar.  That's why we're reacting the way we are.  And you and I have different opinions of what would make someone a person who "craves attention".  I don't see that with the Frugalwoods and their blog.  In fact they kept their identities secret for years
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cromacster on March 08, 2018, 11:43:04 AM
Again I feel the need to stick of up for Calimom and others here.

"Attentionwhoring" is a crass term, and so I get why it puts people off. But we all understand what it means. Like most things, it is a sliding scale, with the meekest of people on one end, and Egyptian Pharos on the other end.

Lifestyle bloggers aren't commanding slaves to build monuments to their greatness or anything, but you have to see how they're further to one end than say, someone who hasn't touched social media in several months. I feel like this may come down to a type B/Introvert vs type A/Extrovert kind of thing. Most lifestyle bloggers are probably type A and extroverted. To me, and others, it's just kind of an obvious fact of life that these people crave attention on another order of magnitude than we do. Because of this, their product tends to be too "fluffy" to be of any use to us.

Perhaps there's something to be said that if you don't have anything nice universally inoffensive to say, then say nothing at all. But the PF community clearly doesn't live by this adage. I posit that if you're upset by someone pointing out a rather obvious truth that (the royal) you enjoy shining a spotlight on yourself, that is probably a "you" problem. It doesn't necessarily make the other person bitter or jealous.


And I'm going to take this opportunity to say that calling someone "attentionwhoring" is an insult.  Because you think of yourself as an introvert, can I call you a cave dweller who never comes out into the sunlight with others?  Calimom's point could have been made with "attention seeking" or something similar.  That's why we're reacting the way we are.  And you and I have different opinions of what would make someone a person who "craves attention".  I don't see that with the Frugalwoods and their blog.  In fact they kept their identities secret for years.

To have a successful lifestyle blog/book you have to "crave attention".  Is it attention whore status?  I'd it's a bit extreme when talking about a generally accepted literal definition.  If were talking in hyperbole, I'd say it fits.

at∑ten∑tion whore
nounUSderogatory
noun: attention whore; plural noun: attention whores
a person who behaves in a provocative, outrageous, or reprehensible manner in order to attract attention.

I'd say most FIRE blogs could be considered provocative and outrageous.

Edit to add Definition and clairification
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: DarkandStormy on March 08, 2018, 12:50:54 PM
I don't find frugalwoods interesting but found nothing wrong about her. I did find the choosefi selling out for a very non-mustachian conference very off-putting. It basically goes against all the advice they would normally give but they are either motivated financially to go or driven by ego to be a presenter.

Fincon?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FireLane on March 08, 2018, 12:52:30 PM
I agree that there are some surprisingly unkind comments towards the Frugalwoods. If anything, their attitude is far gentler and less judgmental than most of the other FIRE bloggers out there.

I read their site regularly, and it's one of the few I can say that about, because they found a way to keep it fresh and interesting. They transitioned from a personal-finance and frugality blog to more of a homesteading/lifestyle blog, and that's pretty cool. I admire that they decided exactly what they wanted out of life and then made it happen.

Are they attention-seekers because they write a blog telling internet strangers about their life? I mean, I guess. But no more so than any of us who write journals here on this board.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: dodojojo on March 08, 2018, 01:11:17 PM
Featured in the Guardian, accompanied by the usual comments that come with frugality/FIRE articles.


https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151 (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on March 08, 2018, 01:46:16 PM
Featured in the Guardian, accompanied by the usual comments that come with frugality/FIRE articles.


https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151 (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151)

From the article:

"Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks."

Also from the article: she used 'frugalized'.

Now I can identify why she irks me so much. @calimom is right. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 08, 2018, 02:04:08 PM
Featured in the Guardian, accompanied by the usual comments that come with frugality/FIRE articles.


https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151 (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151)

From the article:

"Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks."

Also from the article: she used 'frugalized'.

Now I can identify why she irks me so much. @calimom is right.
I can totally understand why this irks you, but that does not make calimom right.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 08, 2018, 02:57:36 PM
I am willing to bet that she just got fed up with people telling her she should write a book, so she just did it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 08, 2018, 04:14:15 PM
Featured in the Guardian, accompanied by the usual comments that come with frugality/FIRE articles.


https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151 (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending#comment-113281151)

From the article:

"Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks."

Also from the article: she used 'frugalized'.

Now I can identify why she irks me so much. @calimom is right.
I can totally understand why this irks you, but that does not make calimom right.
Was she an English major?  That may explain the wording.  Which can be irksome.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HappierAtHome on March 08, 2018, 04:21:46 PM
I am willing to bet that she just got fed up with people telling her she should write a book, so she just did it.

Plus she loves writing. Good on her!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: wordnerd on March 08, 2018, 04:40:39 PM
I am willing to bet that she just got fed up with people telling her she should write a book, so she just did it.

Plus she loves writing. Good on her!

Seriously. This forum: "Be a badass, so you can follow your dreams...unless your dreams make you an attention-whore."
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: calimom on March 08, 2018, 08:22:29 PM
Oy, they're being crucified in The Guardian comments.  But this excerpt:

"Gratitude and respect began to infuse our interactions"

Agreed, "attention seeking" is probably a better descriptive term. Duly noted, and thank you. The internet is a funny place. For every Frugalwoods and #vanlife, there are probably 1000 others who would love to have a successful blog or Instagram presence that made them famous and/or gave financial benefits. Seriously, good for them. They are exploiting no one besides themselves. Much of their advice seems painfully obvious, like spending less than you make, purchasing used vehicles, or finding old lamps in the trash on the street and DIY rewiring them. These things are of course helpful to those thinking of new or different ways to live.

I personally find the MMM blog and forums very useful. I like the edgier advice and humor (almost nonexistent on the FW blog) to be a style that fits my own circumstance in a better fashion. May the Frugalwoods find the life and path they desire. There is a lid for every pot.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: marble_faun on March 08, 2018, 09:23:54 PM
I don't think long-time readers of MMM or MMM forum participants are the main audience for the book, honestly. 

She is trying to reach folks who haven't had exposure to the concept, who are voluntarily wasting money and going into debt, not realizing that another way of life is possible.

Reading through the Guardian article comments, I'm struck by the fatalism and disbelief of people who don't get it. This is the population she is trying to reach (though unsuccessfully in this particular case).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 08, 2018, 11:33:29 PM
I personally find the MMM blog and forums very useful. I like the edgier advice and humor (almost nonexistent on the FW blog) to be a style that fits my own circumstance in a better fashion. May the Frugalwoods find the life and path they desire. There is a lid for every pot.
Totally agree with you,  calimom! Well said.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 09, 2018, 06:37:25 AM
Because you think of yourself as an introvert, can I call you a cave dweller who never comes out into the sunlight with others? 

Be my guest. It's not strictly true, but I get the implication. I stay in 6+/7 nights of the week and know just one of my neighbors. And that's only because we had a property issue to settle between us.

But mostly, I'm fine with it because I know where I am, and turnabout here is fair play. Kind of my point. See below:

The vitriol expressed here toward them...

When a car is termed a "clown-car", what do we think the implication is about the driver? What is the implication of posting about someone (even anonymously) on a board titled; "The Wall of Shame and Comedy"?

I think it's only vitriol/bitterness/jealousy when it's pointed at someone that we like, or someone within the circle.

Seriously. This forum: "Be a badass, so you can follow your dreams...unless your dreams make you an attention-whore."

I don't think anyone is implying that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: papillon on March 09, 2018, 08:48:15 AM
I used to follow the frugalwoods blog.  I moved from Boston many years ago to a LCOL state and saved a great deal of money.  I don't like how Liz defines herself as average, middle class, nothing special, no high incomes, etc.  They were making 200k+ in Boston in their 20s.  Do they still make this?  Linkedin shows he is currently an executive director.  So it seems he just works from home now.  They bought their $466,000 Cambridge home with $60,000 down according to an older Forbes article.  While I think they have done a great job, I just don't like how they portray themselves.  Am I missing something?  They are similar to MMM but he seems more straightforward about where the money came from.  The frugalwoods, for me, seem like one of those annoying portlandia couples.

RIP frugal hound.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 09, 2018, 11:07:19 AM
I decided to read the guardian piece, some of the user comments, and listen to the Financial Independence podcast in order to develop an opinion that is a little less... middle of the road than the one I've been expressing so far.

I think I'm at the root of the divide here. FIRE is fucking cool. A lot of people get really geeked out on and, and it's why we're all here. Frugality is an important step on the path to financial independence. But if I were to rank in order, the steps to achieving a kick-ass, FI lifestyle, I'd do them as follows:

1.) Have a high income job
2.) Get a cooperative partner
2b.) It really helps if they have a high income job too.
3.) Watch your spending.

For a lot of people pursing financial independence, 1.) and 2.) have already been met. Which means the whole, "Watch your spending" thing, really is the marginal difference.

To a mass audience though, that doesn't play. It'd be like blogging about a road-trip across America, but in each blog post, you discuss how your windshield wipers helped you get from place to place. Yeah, they were important during the rainy parts, but the engine and transmission were doing the heavy lifting.

To white collar professionals who have been living fat and happy on bloated spending, blog posts about how you cut out restaurants might seem eye-opening. This is the main audience of FIRE blogs. At least it was a few years ago. To the average income public though, for example, those who read The Guardian, you're describing every day life as "frugal".

The "painting the kitchen cabinets" thing caught a lot of flack in the comments. That's because even caring about the color of kitchen cabinets is already a rich person's concern. And then on top of that, they think it is particularly frugal of them to do it themselves instead of hiring a contractor. They're getting rightfully roasted on that IMO. It's tonedeaf.

It's nice that they acknowledge their privilege, but there is getting it, and then there is "Getting It". Thinking the kitchen cabinet story (or really their entire story in general) would play to the readership of a large newspaper shows that they don't "Get It".
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 09, 2018, 11:49:04 AM
I decided to read the guardian piece, some of the user comments, and listen to the Financial Independence podcast in order to develop an opinion that is a little less... middle of the road than the one I've been expressing so far.

I think I'm at the root of the divide here. FIRE is fucking cool. A lot of people get really geeked out on and, and it's why we're all here. Frugality is an important step on the path to financial independence. But if I were to rank in order, the steps to achieving a kick-ass, FI lifestyle, I'd do them as follows:

1.) Have a high income job
2.) Get a cooperative partner
2b.) It really helps if they have a high income job too.
3.) Watch your spending.

For a lot of people pursing financial independence, 1.) and 2.) have already been met. Which means the whole, "Watch your spending" thing, really is the marginal difference.

To a mass audience though, that doesn't play. It'd be like blogging about a road-trip across America, but in each blog post, you discuss how your windshield wipers helped you get from place to place. Yeah, they were important during the rainy parts, but the engine and transmission were doing the heavy lifting.

To white collar professionals who have been living fat and happy on bloated spending, blog posts about how you cut out restaurants might seem eye-opening. This is the main audience of FIRE blogs. At least it was a few years ago. To the average income public though, for example, those who read The Guardian, you're describing every day life as "frugal".

The "painting the kitchen cabinets" thing caught a lot of flack in the comments. That's because even caring about the color of kitchen cabinets is already a rich person's concern. And then on top of that, they think it is particularly frugal of them to do it themselves instead of hiring a contractor. They're getting rightfully roasted on that IMO. It's tonedeaf.

It's nice that they acknowledge their privilege, but there is getting it, and then there is "Getting It". Thinking the kitchen cabinet story (or really their entire story in general) would play to the readership of a large newspaper shows that they don't "Get It".

I disagree.  I had #1 and #2 for most of my life and had very little saved up by the time I hit 40.  I wasted/spent it all.... IME, #3 is the CRITICAL piece to becoming FI or FIRE. 

Based on your specific carps, I'd ask you what kind of car you drive and what is your current savings rate?  You sound like someone with moderate to high expenses that is bitter about the need to cut back more.  Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how your coming off to me in this thread.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: papillon on March 09, 2018, 12:43:12 PM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/debtfreeguys/2018/03/07/yes-lgbt-people-can-overcome-heterosexual-privilege/#64eae91fbc60

Here's a new one: Yes, LGBT People Can Overcome Heterosexual Privilege   

I can't read all of it or listen to it.  She is too much.

She wants to reach a broader audience, but after reading the comments on On Point and the Guardian, it doesn't seem to be going too well.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 09, 2018, 12:53:58 PM
Quote
"Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks."

I'm not surprised that the individual who wrote the sentence above is not universally admired.

I am surprised that so many thoughtful people in this thread have responded to critics with some version of You're just jealous.

I don't understand that though- he does the log splitting and snow removal. She does the gardening and housekeeping.  It seems like most childcare duties fall to her.
Is it because he bakes?   


Are there really that many people who do "man's work"/"women's work" vs. "agreed upon divvying up of tasks"?  I mean, my husband gets most of the "man's work" we've "agreed upon that" because he is categorically stronger than me; I get most of the "women's work" because I have to do something while he mows the lawn or repairs the roof.  But he also does the cooking because I'm a shit cook.


I mean I'm glad they, like I, decided who does what work- but I also think it doesn't really seem "devoid of traditional gender roles"
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 09, 2018, 12:54:01 PM
I disagree.  I had #1 and #2 for most of my life and had very little saved up by the time I hit 40.  I wasted/spent it all.... IME, #3 is the CRITICAL piece to becoming FI or FIRE. 

Based on your specific carps, I'd ask you what kind of car you drive and what is your current savings rate?  You sound like someone with moderate to high expenses that is bitter about the need to cut back more.  Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how your coming off to me in this thread.

I'll put it this way, if I'm playing a game where the goal is to hit FI as soon as possible, I'd much rather start out with 1 or and then work on getting 3, then I would start out with 3 and work on getting to 1 or 2.

I drive a 2008 Honda Civic and save 60% of my income. What else would you like to know?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on March 09, 2018, 12:58:10 PM
It's nice that they acknowledge their privilege, but there is getting it, and then there is "Getting It". Thinking the kitchen cabinet story (or really their entire story in general) would play to the readership of a large newspaper shows that they don't "Get It".

This is an overall excellent post, but this particular observation is so dead on that I almost stood up and clapped. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cromacster on March 09, 2018, 01:00:06 PM
Quote
"Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks."

I'm not surprised that the individual who wrote the sentence above is not universally admired.

I am surprised that so many thoughtful people in this thread have responded to critics with some version of You're just jealous.

I don't understand that though- he does the log splitting and snow removal. She does the gardening and housekeeping.  IT seems like most childcare duties fall to her.
Is it because he bakes?

Are there really that many people who do "man's work"/"women's work" vs. "agreed upon divvying up of tasks"?  I mean, my husband gets most of the "man's work" we've "agreed upon that" because he is categorically stronger than me; I get most of the "women's work" because I have to do something while he mows the lawn or repairs the roof.  But he also does the cooking because I'm a shit cook.

I mean I'm glad they, like I, decided who does what work- but I also think it doesn't really seem "devoid of traditional gender roles"

It's just a fancy way to say "we discussed different tasks that need doing and divvied them up based on skill/ability/willingness".  By saying it the way she did it shows they are better and more thoughtful because they don't believe in traditional gender roles....even if they tend to follow them.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 09, 2018, 01:03:55 PM
It's just a fancy way to say "we discussed different tasks that need doing and divvied them up based on skill/ability/willingness".  By saying it the way she did it shows they are better and more thoughtful because they don't believe in traditional gender roles....even if they tend to follow them.

This is what I thought as well. She used a bunch of five dollar words to act as if they discovered the magic of non-traditional gender roles. In a world in which 23% of children are raised by single mothers and women 25 and older have a 74% labor participation rate, the face of gender equality and egalitarianism is a privileged blogger. Nah.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 09, 2018, 01:20:37 PM
This is an overall excellent post, but this particular observation is so dead on that I almost stood up and clapped.

Why thank you!

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 09, 2018, 01:35:17 PM
I disagree.  I had #1 and #2 for most of my life and had very little saved up by the time I hit 40.  I wasted/spent it all.... IME, #3 is the CRITICAL piece to becoming FI or FIRE. 

Based on your specific carps, I'd ask you what kind of car you drive and what is your current savings rate?  You sound like someone with moderate to high expenses that is bitter about the need to cut back more.  Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how your coming off to me in this thread.

I'll put it this way, if I'm playing a game where the goal is to hit FI as soon as possible, I'd much rather start out with 1 or and then work on getting 3, then I would start out with 3 and work on getting to 1 or 2.

I drive a 2008 Honda Civic and save 60% of my income. What else would you like to know?

OK, since you're actually doing very well with frugality, I'll take your posts more seriously.  I had you lumped in with the newbies that come here and want to FIRE ASAP!!!! and then don't want to do any of the actual hard work of cutting back.  Clearly that's not you and I apologize. 

I don't read FW either because it all reads like a softer, more watered down version of MMM and I only have so much time in a day (although enough time to post on a blog on the middle of a Friday). 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 09, 2018, 01:41:48 PM
OK, since you're actually doing very well with frugality, I'll take your posts more seriously.  I had you lumped in with the newbies that come here and want to FIRE ASAP!!!! and then don't want to do any of the actual hard work of cutting back.  Clearly that's not you and I apologize. 

I don't read FW either because it all reads like a softer, more watered down version of MMM and I only have so much time in a day (although enough time to post on a blog on the middle of a Friday).

No worries! I understand the trepidation. While skimming The Guardian comments section, I saw quite a few people saying something to the effect of,

"Psh! Wait until they're 35 and broke and have to go back to work."

People like that clearly don't know the ins and outs of this whole game.

But the plurality of people making what could be perceived as negative comments, had sound points to make. Sometimes it can be tough to suss out who is who.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Urchina on March 09, 2018, 07:25:33 PM

Neither FrugalWoods nor MMM is happy because of money, theyíre happy because theyíve engineered their lives into what makes them happy. A solid financial situation is the pre-requisite for that, but itís the starting line, not the finish line.

This right here is what we all should be spending our time on. +100000. ;)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Bee21 on March 09, 2018, 09:42:07 PM
If a blogger I read regularly publishes a book, I usually buy it to support the author. For 22$ I definitely won't be buying it, maybe later when the price is reasonable. Most of these blog books are not that good unfortunately, I am disappointed most of the time, but if I enjoy reading a blog it is a small price to pay. Paying 22 for a book about frugality is unfrugal ridiculous.

Not sure why the people around here are upset about mr an mrs fw having a decent income from their day jobs. What's wrong with working hard, being successful and making money from your job? They are educated people and probably worked hard to get where they are professionally. They never pretended to be retired. They say they work from home. And their income is none of our business really. If a couple makes around 200k by working normal jobs, nobody trashes them. It is great. If they make this amount and save most of it and dare to blog about painting their own kitchen, driving an old car, cutting their own hair, the knives are out. Really? Their message has never been about how to be poor. It was about living a frugal life and enjoying it. And mrs fw must be really good at marketing and communication, as their book campaign is pretty impressive. They are everywhere. Well done.

 I agree with the comments about her writing style though. some of those elaborate odes to frugality and the joys of housework are a bit hard to read. The sentence quoted before was particularly cringeworthy. She should work on editing her prose a bit more. Being more frugal with words would be great.

They are not the first people capitalising on this frugality trend (looking at you mmm), so let's just take it as another well deserved success story. I wish them well. And I hope she keeps writing her blog.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: WynnDuffy73 on March 10, 2018, 05:56:53 AM
The Frugalwoods story is somewhat relatable.  Quitting my cubicle job and moving out to a large acre, rural property is exactly what I want to do.  I enjoyed their posts on their search for the perfect homestead and I also like seeing the photos of their 66 acre property.. 

Yes, the overuse (or any use) of the term privilege makes me roll my eyes but overall I enjoy the blog.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: englishteacheralex on March 10, 2018, 08:48:34 AM
I love the blog; I read every post over a week or so back in 2016. Then watched with great interest as they accomplished their mission of buying a homestead in Vermont and working like crazy to keep it going. They are thriving and it's really fun to live the dream with them. And I think her writing is great.

There's an element of living vicariously that happens with the best blogs--I love imagining myself on a homestead in Vermont. I grew up near Vermont and my life in Hawaii is so different that it's very pleasant and nostalgic to put myself in their shoes and imagine myself in a parallel universe. And the narrative of creating a well-defined dream, working hard to achieve it, and then succeeding is very powerful.

I didn't buy the book because I'm too frugal and I hate, hate, hate with a passion buying books new.

I read as much as I could get on Amazon for free and it kinda didn't do much for me. I feel a little guilty about that, but the tone or something? Bite sized (yes, very long but easily skimmable), light chunks of "living the frugal dream" blog posts worked really well for me, but a book-length situation (oh, I really feel like a jerk) kinda feels like much ado about nothing. A little sanctimonious, somehow? A story that to my mind is interesting and cool, but not that amazing, except inasmuch as our contemporary culture doesn't really encourage the lifestyle that they celebrate, so they are counter-cultural...but I mean, it's not that counter-cultural.

I say all that, but you know what they say about critics. It's easy to pontificate about somebody's work, but hey, she had a couple of praise worthy goals that she set out to accomplish and she legitimately made them happen. You think that's easy? Good on them. Creating something is to be celebrated, and I think I can take my little opinions and go stuff them. Tell you what, at least it's not Eat, Pray, Love. Give me Meet the Frugalwoods any day of the week.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MMMarbleheader on March 10, 2018, 11:07:11 AM
I bought the book.l for my wife. Her an mrs frugal woods had a very similar path with americore and living on a budget. Big difference is we got pregnant at 25 and the frugalwoods struggled for a while. My wife has been a stay at home mom since so we missed a lot of the "dink" years. She has really liked it so far and reading a gentler female voice works better with her than MMM or even Simple Path to Wealth.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MMMarbleheader on March 10, 2018, 11:24:14 AM
Also I really identified with the frugalwoods due to living in an affluent suburb of Boston, I see double income couples in their late 20s and early 30s who easily make of $200k just throwing money away. I can see how they are getting killed on the comments when compared to average Americans. But Boston is a very classist area where college grads marry each other and there is very little mixing. Two electrical engineers that got married and had their colleges paid for could be pretty close to the frugalwoods if they saved. Although they got very lucky with their home inc Cambridge though they did put a lot of research into buying.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: WynnDuffy73 on March 11, 2018, 07:45:20 AM
Itís an interesting story but itís mislabeled.   Itís not an early retirement story.  Itís a work remotely story.  From what Iíve read her husband maintained his high paying IT job but he now just works remotely. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 11, 2018, 01:28:23 PM
Until this media tour, I don't remember them calling themselves retired. Just FI.

I mean, she works as a freelance writer. And I think he has always kept his job.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nottoolatetostart on March 11, 2018, 03:58:49 PM
I bought and enjoyed the book. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Last year, she had a blog post about a car battery replacement expense they had incurred that month. It gave me confidence to replace my husband's car battery. I enjoy "paying" people back for their help. I now have a lifelong skill.

Her message was great and I enjoy consuming content like this. We are FI yet (gasp!) my husband works doing something he is passionate about. I am not her target audience but I hope it will inspire a friend of mine who does not "get it" yet.  Most of the population does not get it yet. The appeal of her book could be wide ranging.  To me, she is like the gentler version of MMM's face punch.

I don't get why so many people hate on the FW's  and why these comments are negative here. This kind of attitude prevents people from stepping out to be successful in our community. She wrote a book. She loves to write. This is her thing. Writing a book soubds hard. She did a great job. Who cares if she is FI or not? She is monetizing this. Awesome! Most of us would do the same thing if given the opportunity. It takes guts to do what she did. Especially with all the haters out there.  Kudos to them! 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: herbgeek on March 11, 2018, 05:07:46 PM
Quote
I don't remember them calling themselves retired.

They still don't.  They say FI. Its the people interviewing them who are saying that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Carrie on March 11, 2018, 05:09:59 PM
It is awesome to me that the Frugalwoods family identified their family goals and put in place actionable to-do items to live their homesteading dreams. This is all kinds of inspirational. How many people waste entire decades never even exploring what would give them peace or their ideal life.

I also appreciate the detailed blog posts of country living in the NE. I realize it's not for me. :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: cerat0n1a on March 12, 2018, 05:44:32 AM
From the article:

"Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks."

That's the kind of quote that would play well to the Guardian readership (or at least the common stereotype of Guardian readers in the UK.)

Obviously, the comments section on any mass market media website is filled with lunatics.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: hadabeardonce on March 12, 2018, 09:58:02 AM
The Frugalwoods were mentioned on PBS News Hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6607PgzCE&t=0s

MMM was displayed in a graphic during the segment. Is frugality too mainstream now?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 12, 2018, 10:04:16 AM
The Frugalwoods were mentioned on PBS News Hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6607PgzCE&t=0s

MMM was displayed in a graphic during the segment. Is frugality too mainstream now?
Since its on PBS, it might still be okay. Maybe.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 12, 2018, 10:28:31 AM
The Frugalwoods were mentioned on PBS News Hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6607PgzCE&t=0s

MMM was displayed in a graphic during the segment. Is frugality too mainstream now?

Frugality is way oversold, and mass media is playing right into it IMO.

Edited to add: It's oversold by and in the PF community. Obviously a vast majority of people could benefit from being more frugal. But bloggers from MMM to Frugalwoods play up frugality while handwaving income.

I don't say this out of jealousy or anything. I'm a six figure earner in my late 20s and I save a lot. I'm doing just fine. I don't think frugality is nearly as germane to my life story as how much money I make is though.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cranky on March 12, 2018, 01:47:47 PM
The Frugalwoods were mentioned on PBS News Hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6607PgzCE&t=0s

MMM was displayed in a graphic during the segment. Is frugality too mainstream now?

Frugality is way oversold, and mass media is playing right into it IMO.

Edited to add: It's oversold by and in the PF community. Obviously a vast majority of people could benefit from being more frugal. But bloggers from MMM to Frugalwoods play up frugality while handwaving income.

I don't say this out of jealousy or anything. I'm a six figure earner in my late 20s and I save a lot. I'm doing just fine. I don't think frugality is nearly as germane to my life story as how much money I make is though.

Ah. Well, leaving the media out of it, my life story is about doing stuff that my dh and I love, not earning 6 figures combined at the peak of our earning years - and yet having a great life. So frugality stories are pretty compelling to *me*, and to the many other people who are never going to make the Big Bucks, but can work out a good life on the Medium Bucks.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 12, 2018, 04:49:10 PM
The Frugalwoods were mentioned on PBS News Hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6607PgzCE&t=0s

MMM was displayed in a graphic during the segment. Is frugality too mainstream now?

Frugality is way oversold, and mass media is playing right into it IMO.

Edited to add: It's oversold by and in the PF community. Obviously a vast majority of people could benefit from being more frugal. But bloggers from MMM to Frugalwoods play up frugality while handwaving income.

I don't say this out of jealousy or anything. I'm a six figure earner in my late 20s and I save a lot. I'm doing just fine. I don't think frugality is nearly as germane to my life story as how much money I make is though.

I don't think anyone "handwaves" income.  Plenty of MMM posts about earning more.  It's just that it's *easy* to write a relevant frugality post, because it can apply to everyone.  It's hard to write a grow your income post, because the steps you'd take to increase your income could not work for me, or vice versa, depending on what fields we work in, the value of seniority vs jumping ship, education necessary, location, etc.  Whether you're a CEO or a Walmart cashier, not buying Starbucks everyday and riding your bike to work will save you money.  I doubt the Walmart cashier is going to get much use of out an MBA though.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: vivian on March 13, 2018, 04:59:35 AM
I think the reason they focus more on frugality is that part of their point is also about getting off the consumer treadmill. What I get most from FW and MMM is “live the life you want, not the life society has said you should want.” Telling people to increase income so they can continue to waste money on things that don’t bring long term fulfillment doesn’t work towards that end.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 13, 2018, 08:36:58 AM
I don't think anyone "handwaves" income.  Plenty of MMM posts about earning more.  It's just that it's *easy* to write a relevant frugality post, because it can apply to everyone.  It's hard to write a grow your income post, because the steps you'd take to increase your income could not work for me, or vice versa, depending on what fields we work in, the value of seniority vs jumping ship, education necessary, location, etc.  Whether you're a CEO or a Walmart cashier, not buying Starbucks everyday and riding your bike to work will save you money.  I doubt the Walmart cashier is going to get much use of out an MBA though.

Sure. As I edited my post to add, pretty much everyone can benefit from being a bit more frugal.

But after reading the Guardian article, watching the PBS piece, and reading a few of their blog posts and expense reports, I find the frugal branding to be a bit disingenuous. As an independent, outside observer, if you asked me to come up with a title and subheading for this lifestyle, I probably wouldn't pick,

"Frugal[something]: Financial Independence and Simple Living"

Perhaps it depends upon how you define "frugal", but they spend quite a bit of money. A huge property with $8K in taxes. Toys like a cider press and a wood-splitter. Plenty of airline travel. If frugality is measured by spending / net income, then yes, they're extremely frugal. But I believe the denominator is much more germane to the story than the numerator.

It's a story of high incomes and a flexible working situation more than it is a story of frugality. Frugality is achievable by everyone, so it makes for a much better sales pitch. At the end of the day, what they sell is extremely worthwhile, so no harm no foul. But it reads as disingenuous to me. And I'm not surprised that others have similar misgivings.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MMMarbleheader on March 13, 2018, 08:50:18 AM
I don't think anyone "handwaves" income.  Plenty of MMM posts about earning more.  It's just that it's *easy* to write a relevant frugality post, because it can apply to everyone.  It's hard to write a grow your income post, because the steps you'd take to increase your income could not work for me, or vice versa, depending on what fields we work in, the value of seniority vs jumping ship, education necessary, location, etc.  Whether you're a CEO or a Walmart cashier, not buying Starbucks everyday and riding your bike to work will save you money.  I doubt the Walmart cashier is going to get much use of out an MBA though.

Sure. As I edited my post to add, pretty much everyone can benefit from being a bit more frugal.

But after reading the Guardian article, watching the PBS piece, and reading a few of their blog posts and expense reports, I find the frugal branding to be a bit disingenuous. As an independent, outside observer, if you asked me to come up with a title and subheading for this lifestyle, I probably wouldn't pick,

"Frugal[something]: Financial Independence and Simple Living"

Perhaps it depends upon how you define "frugal", but they spend quite a bit of money. A huge property with $8K in taxes. Toys like a cider press and a wood-splitter. Plenty of airline travel. If frugality is measured by spending / net income, then yes, they're extremely frugal. But I believe the denominator is much more germane to the story than the numerator.

It's a story of high incomes and a flexible working situation more than it is a story of frugality. Frugality is achievable by everyone, so it makes for a much better sales pitch. At the end of the day, what they sell is extremely worthwhile, so no harm no foul. But it reads as disingenuous to me. And I'm not surprised that others have similar misgivings.

They have increased their spending since FI, their expenses in Cambridge were pretty bare bones.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 13, 2018, 09:13:57 AM
They have increased their spending since FI, their expenses in Cambridge were pretty bare bones.

Fair enough. I have more thoughts on this, but I'll ease up for now. I've mostly said my peace in this thread. I appreciate all the civil engagement.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 13, 2018, 10:57:22 AM
I don't think anyone "handwaves" income.  Plenty of MMM posts about earning more.  It's just that it's *easy* to write a relevant frugality post, because it can apply to everyone.  It's hard to write a grow your income post, because the steps you'd take to increase your income could not work for me, or vice versa, depending on what fields we work in, the value of seniority vs jumping ship, education necessary, location, etc.  Whether you're a CEO or a Walmart cashier, not buying Starbucks everyday and riding your bike to work will save you money.  I doubt the Walmart cashier is going to get much use of out an MBA though.

Sure. As I edited my post to add, pretty much everyone can benefit from being a bit more frugal.

But after reading the Guardian article, watching the PBS piece, and reading a few of their blog posts and expense reports, I find the frugal branding to be a bit disingenuous. As an independent, outside observer, if you asked me to come up with a title and subheading for this lifestyle, I probably wouldn't pick,

"Frugal[something]: Financial Independence and Simple Living"

Perhaps it depends upon how you define "frugal", but they spend quite a bit of money. A huge property with $8K in taxes. Toys like a cider press and a wood-splitter. Plenty of airline travel. If frugality is measured by spending / net income, then yes, they're extremely frugal. But I believe the denominator is much more germane to the story than the numerator.

It's a story of high incomes and a flexible working situation more than it is a story of frugality. Frugality is achievable by everyone, so it makes for a much better sales pitch. At the end of the day, what they sell is extremely worthwhile, so no harm no foul. But it reads as disingenuous to me. And I'm not surprised that others have similar misgivings.

You must be ERE level of frugality if you think the Frugalwoods are not frugal.  That's pretty mindblowing to me.

Their title is basically perfect for their situation.  They ARE frugal.  They DO live simply.  And they're at least close to FI, if they're not there yet.

Your nitpicks are kind of getting ridiculous.  Can't own a wood splitter when living in the snowy wilderness because it's a toy?  That's how we know you're just grasping at straws here.  Crabs, buckets, etc.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 13, 2018, 11:56:51 AM
The wood splitter cost $999.  Since they harvest trees off their own property and use them as a primary means of heat in the winter; that seems like an incredibly frugal decision.  I don't know whether he sells wood he splits, but it seems like he could make that cost back pretty quickly. Heck- with the time involved in hand splitting (I think when he was doing it by hand they were having to buy some wood to supplement); it seems the cost could be made back pretty quickly.

The cider press was $691.93.  I'll file that one under toy. But it isn't exactly insane extravagance. You have to do something with the apples, after all. Leaving them to rot in the fields is disgusting.  Since there was not  a cheap used market for them to pick one up; they could likely sell it pretty well if they needed to, and it will last a very long time. It isn't a one off purchase. And now they will purchase less hard cider, because they made their own; and they can give it as gifts- meaning the purchase decreases spending elsewhere.


/And yes, I am totally white-knighting for them.  Because to say the Frugalwoods aren't frugal is absurd. 
But more importantly than not spending anything at all; they are very intentional about everything they spend.

They have faults for sure, I don't think they are perfect; but they are frugal
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 13, 2018, 12:14:12 PM
You must be ERE level of frugality if you think the Frugalwoods are not frugal.  That's pretty mindblowing to me.

Their title is basically perfect for their situation.  They ARE frugal.  They DO live simply.  And they're at least close to FI, if they're not there yet.

Your nitpicks are kind of getting ridiculous.  Can't own a wood splitter when living in the snowy wilderness because it's a toy?  That's how we know you're just grasping at straws here.  Crabs, buckets, etc.

Hold up.

I never said anyone couldn't own anything. When you're purchasing something (60 acres of land, farm equipment, etc.) in pursuit of living out a fantasy though, I don't think it's out of left field to call it a toy. This is coming from a grown man who spends a good deal of time playing with toys (video games). It's not pejorative. It just is what it is.

I never strictly said that they weren't frugal either. True, I did say that they seem to spend quite a bit. And they do. Their spending looks about in line with a median household. FWIW, my spending is in the same ballpark. Probably even a little higher. I'm able to save a lot too, because I make good money. Just like they did/do.

This is what I mean when I talk about frugality not being as germane to the broader story.

It's easy to paint yourself as hyper-frugal when you whip up imagery of a family eating out 4 nights a week and driving a brand new car. But the reality is that the average age of a car on the road in the US is 11 years. The middle 20% of households spend about $160 eating out per month.

Here's a challenge. I assume most of us have models or spreadsheets that we use to track our time until financial independence. Try shifting $160/month out of savings and into spending and see how it affects your FI date. Chances are that if you're high income/high saver, the impact is small. And that represents a cut from ~median US restaurant spending down to zero. Even FW isn't at $0.

This is what I mean when I talk about frugality not being as germane to the broader story.

Based on my reading, they don't discuss their income in terms of hard numbers. But given age (early 30s), spending (discussed above), and inheritance ($0), it's a reduced to a mathematical exercise to impute the rest. If I were to ball-park it, I'd say, in excess of 3X the median household income.

And that's the story. It's about income + the recognition that marginal change in happiness per dollar spent is relatively low when you're at first world levels of spending already. They deserve credit for both the former, and the latter, but we should recognize that the latter is really about not dropping five figures on stupid shit on an annual basis. It's not about rescuing a lamp instead of buying one at WalMart. It's not about cutting each other's hair to save $20 at Super-Cuts.

It's about income, and I view this kind of as an empirical fact.

The great news is that everyone wins. They get to live and share the boutique lifestyle that they earned. Readers get actionable tips on how to save a buck. I just happen to feel that the narrative that "tips to save a buck" => badass alternative lifestyle is a bit oversold. I think I've done an effective job of explaining that in this thread. I resent the implication that I'm grasping at straws when I've done such a thorough job of explaining myself, while also exhibiting patience with those who write it off as jealousy, bitterness, nitpicking, and so on.

Various references:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/261881/average-age-of-light-vehicles-in-the-united-states/ (https://www.statista.com/statistics/261881/average-age-of-light-vehicles-in-the-united-states/)

https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/food/pdf/food.pdf (https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/food/pdf/food.pdf)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 13, 2018, 12:49:43 PM
You must be ERE level of frugality if you think the Frugalwoods are not frugal.  That's pretty mindblowing to me.

Their title is basically perfect for their situation.  They ARE frugal.  They DO live simply.  And they're at least close to FI, if they're not there yet.

Your nitpicks are kind of getting ridiculous.  Can't own a wood splitter when living in the snowy wilderness because it's a toy?  That's how we know you're just grasping at straws here.  Crabs, buckets, etc.

Hold up.

I never said anyone couldn't own anything. When you're purchasing something (60 acres of land, farm equipment, etc.) in pursuit of living out a fantasy though, I don't think it's out of left field to call it a toy. This is coming from a grown man who spends a good deal of time playing with toys (video games). It's not pejorative. It just is what it is.

One is toy.  The other is a tool.  Is your snow shovel a toy?  Is your lawn mower a toy?  In what world is a wood splitter a toy?  If you think splitting wood is *fun*, then remind me to never hang out with you.


I never strictly said that they weren't frugal either. True, I did say that they seem to spend quite a bit. And they do. Their spending looks about in line with a median household. FWIW, my spending is in the same ballpark. Probably even a little higher. I'm able to save a lot too, because I make good money. Just like they did/do.


For someone who doesn't read their blog, you sure seem to know a lot about their spending.  And also have a lot of opinions. 

One way to not be so bitter is to make sure you read a lot of other blogs.

I don't read these people's blog, and so I can't really express an opinion on them one way or the other. Regarding the use of the word "bitter" though, as my posts in this thread have erred a bit on the cynical side, I feel the need to speak up for my so-called "bitter" brethren here.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 13, 2018, 01:01:51 PM
One is toy.  The other is a tool.  Is your snow shovel a toy?  Is your lawn mower a toy?  In what world is a wood splitter a toy?  If you think splitting wood is *fun*, then remind me to never hang out with you.

It's not my idea of fun. It's their idea of fun. The enjoyment of working a Vermont homestead was the whole impetus for the earning and saving and frugality and all that.

For someone who doesn't read their blog, you sure seem to know a lot about their spending.  And also have a lot of opinions. 

Since making the post you quoted, I said this:

I decided to read the guardian piece, some of the user comments, and listen to the Financial Independence podcast in order to develop an opinion that is a little less... middle of the road than the one I've been expressing so far.

I also posted at some point about reading some of their expense reports and watching the PBS video, but I trust you'll forgive me for not tracking that one down. Hope that helps!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 13, 2018, 01:23:24 PM
One is toy.  The other is a tool.  Is your snow shovel a toy?  Is your lawn mower a toy?  In what world is a wood splitter a toy?  If you think splitting wood is *fun*, then remind me to never hang out with you.

It's not my idea of fun. It's their idea of fun. The enjoyment of working a Vermont homestead was the whole impetus for the earning and saving and frugality and all that.


It's still a tool.  It's not a video game.  The item has a purpose besides entertainment (and it would take a "special" person to find much if any entertainment in it).  The idea that they could uproot their lives in the city, move to the sticks, and then not buy anything to support their new lifestyle because otherwise they're no longer frugal is simply ridiculous.

So again, I'm not sure the reason for your nitpicks, other than the fact that you must just not like them.  That's cool.  I don't particularly like them either.  But they're good at not spending money.  A few one off purchases to support their brand new lifestyle doesn't invalidate that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 13, 2018, 01:52:31 PM
It's still a tool.  It's not a video game.  The item has a purpose besides entertainment (and it would take a "special" person to find much if any entertainment in it).  The idea that they could uproot their lives in the city, move to the sticks, and then not buy anything to support their new lifestyle because otherwise they're no longer frugal is simply ridiculous.

Yeah but they are those "special" people. They say just as much themselves. They had a dream. The uprooting, the moving to the sticks, and yes, the buying of the wood splitter, are in service of that dream.

(also I could discuss AT LENGTH about how video games are much more than just entertainment, but I'm positive that absolutely NO ONE wants that :) )

So again, I'm not sure the reason for your nitpicks, other than the fact that you must just not like them.  That's cool.  I don't particularly like them either.  But they're good at not spending money.  A few one off purchases to support their brand new lifestyle doesn't invalidate that.

I don't think I'm picking nits, but that's in the eye of beholder evidently. I genuinely find the message;

Quote
Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 Ė and regain control of my life

and other such expressions of "Look what frugality has wrought!", from high income people with cool lives, to be disingenuous.

It plays to the certain audiences. PF nerds and white collar workers mainly. But when you're trying to go mainstream, you should expect a certain amount of clap-back when you tout the satisfaction of staining your own cabinets or the egalitarianism of (gasp!) the man doing the cooking. Not everyone dislikes them. Not everyone is bitter. Not everyone is jealous. It just rings false or out of touch to some of us.

I promise you that I have nothing against these people. They seem like perfectly fine human beings. I just think there is a lot to be critical of in the FIRE blogosphere at large.





Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 14, 2018, 06:50:29 AM
So if they bought oil for their heat instead of a wood splitter- is that not being frugal?  Because the wood splitter is how they manage to heat their home over the winter.  It's an odd thing to pick on.

They are going out to dinner once a month now. So that is less frugal than they used to be.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: JumpInTheFIRE on March 14, 2018, 09:14:47 AM
So if they bought oil for their heat instead of a wood splitter- is that not being frugal?  Because the wood splitter is how they manage to heat their home over the winter.  It's an odd thing to pick on.

They are going out to dinner once a month now. So that is less frugal than they used to be.

No, a wood splitter is part of how they heat their home in the winter, they also use fuel oil and propane.  If you look at the expenditures in this month: https://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/10/04/a-wood-splitter-and-other-september-2017-expenditures/ those items are included.  Someone above mentioned a snow shovel not being a toy, and I agree.  But a wood splitter is not a snow shovel, it is a snow blower - an axe is a snow shovel and that is how they split wood prior to the splitter purchase.  I just find it ironic that they call themselves frugal when their spending in that month is more than my annual spending.  I was the person defending them on mainstream sites but I think on this board we are a little more critical of spending than the mainstream.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: slappy on March 14, 2018, 09:25:21 AM
From a strictly MMM perspective, it seems that they should be using their own body power to cut the wood. MMM seems big on that.

Personally we heat with wood, and we also have oil. (We keep the heat set at 62.) My husband hand splits all the wood because he considers it a workout. He also doesn't mind the work. He can just zone out with his headphones and chop away. I don't know how our house size compares to theirs though.  The same goes for mowing the lawn. He puts on his headphones and takes care of business. We don't have 60 acres though. ;) We do have a snowblower, but it was actually given to us for free.

I don't have an opinion either way about the FW. I believe I am subscribed to the blog, though I don't often read the posts. I do read the emails and that is usually enough for me. I don't need to read the whole blog post. That Frugal Hound post was like a gut punch to me, showing up in my inbox not too long after I lost my own dog.  I am enjoying reading these comments though.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 14, 2018, 09:31:27 AM
So if they bought oil for their heat instead of a wood splitter- is that not being frugal?  Because the wood splitter is how they manage to heat their home over the winter.  It's an odd thing to pick on.

They are going out to dinner once a month now. So that is less frugal than they used to be.

No, a wood splitter is part of how they heat their home in the winter, they also use fuel oil and propane.  If you look at the expenditures in this month: https://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/10/04/a-wood-splitter-and-other-september-2017-expenditures/ those items are included.  Someone above mentioned a snow shovel not being a toy, and I agree.  But a wood splitter is not a snow shovel, it is a snow blower - an axe is a snow shovel and that is how they split wood prior to the splitter purchase.  I just find it ironic that they call themselves frugal when their spending in that month is more than my annual spending.  I was the person defending them on mainstream sites but I think on this board we are a little more critical of spending than the mainstream.

The oil is a backup system, if you read, they barely use any of it. They are 99% wood burning for heat.

This is a good (but like all of her things LONG) explanation of why the wood splitter is more important than a snowblower vs. snow shovel.  TL:DR Some woods are too difficult to split by hand. It's needed for forestry maintenance. To take care of the property, they have to take down some trees.  It still takes quite a bit of manual labor to use a wood splitter.
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/10/06/this-month-on-the-homestead-splittin-wood-orderin-fuel-eatin-greens/


I'm impressed your annual spending is less than $14k.   So if it were a competition, you win?
What are your property taxes? That was 60% of their spending the month you compared to.

Personally we heat with wood, and we also have oil. (We keep the heat set at 62.) My husband hand splits all the wood because he considers it a workout. He also doesn't mind the work.

Is he splitting woods like maple?  If so- impressive.  How many cords does he split a year?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 14, 2018, 09:36:39 AM
So if they bought oil for their heat instead of a wood splitter- is that not being frugal?  Because the wood splitter is how they manage to heat their home over the winter.  It's an odd thing to pick on.

They are going out to dinner once a month now. So that is less frugal than they used to be.

1.) I never strictly said they weren't frugal. I don't have a judgement to make on this one way or another. What I said is that from how they've represented themselves, frugality takes maybe third place to high incomes and flexible careers if I were asked to explain their lifestyle.

1a.) In fact, I think I even said that if frugality is simply a function of spending / income, then they're frugal by a large margin. But when you're living an American middle class existence, then by that stated definition of frugality, the difference between you and everyone else living a middle class existence, is your income. That's why I think income is more the story here. No hate. It's my story too. That's why I recognize it.

2.) I've tried many ways of explaining the woodsplitter as a component of the luxurious (their word) boutique lifestyle that they live. I'm not "picking on" the woodsplitter as much as I'm being asked to re-litigate it. I generally dislike analogies, but I'll try one here, since I don't appear to be doing an effective job of explaining it on first principles:

Imagine that I am a blogger who lives on the top floor of a 100 story building. One day, I decide that the energy it takes to pump water all the way up to the 100th floor is kind of a waste. Instead of taking showers in my apartment, I decide to take the elevator down to ground level and take my showers there. Since I'm gong down stairs most days anyway, I'm saving a lot of energy by not having the building's pump have to pump all that water up to the 100th floor.

Maybe I'm technically correct (I honestly don't know, physics class was a long time ago), but I think I'd get some eyebrow raises if I called myself, "The Penthouse Environmentalist" or something.

Now, working a 60 acre estate is not the same as living in a penthouse, I recognize that. But they're both rather expensive lifestyle choices. Living in the woods is protected a bit by the veneer of being more rustic or natural. Not to mention being way way cooler than living in a Penthouse.

They should live whatever kick ass life they want. And their message probably plays really well to the high income crowd (except me apparently). But as I said, I find the Guardian article to be, in the main, kind of disingenuous and out of touch. I don't think that everyone making fun of that, or being critical of it, is necessarily being vitriolic or jealous.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: slappy on March 14, 2018, 09:43:20 AM

Personally we heat with wood, and we also have oil. (We keep the heat set at 62.) My husband hand splits all the wood because he considers it a workout. He also doesn't mind the work.

Is he splitting woods like maple?  If so- impressive.  How many cords does he split a year?
[/quote]

Haha, I have no idea. All I know is that it's hard wood, and pine is not good to burn indoors. That's his area to deal with. He doesn't mind it and we get the wood for free from our land or family land. So it works out well for us for now. Since you posted that they barely use the oil, I'm sure they use way more wood than us.  He also doesn't "have" to do it, since we do have the oil and use it as more than just back. We spend about $1500 on oil per year, live in the northeast and it also runs our hot water/boiler (from what I understand).  So for us, we don't have a certain amount that we need to have ready by a certain time, because we can just use the oil (which I don't prefer, because then the house stays between 62 and 64, which is too cold for me). I imagine FWs have an amount that they need to have done by fall, since they fully rely on it for heating the home. So the splitter would be quite a time saver for them. My dad actually has a small one and has offered it to us for borrowing, but my husband doesn't take him up on it. I was going to say that if Mr. FW is retired, he should have plenty of time to split the wood, but I guess from reading the comments on this post that he is still working, just remotely. My husband is a stay at home dad, so I guess that gives him a little time and flexibility with his schedule as well. Plus the kids love watching him and helping him stack the wood afterwards. Actually, his brother has even offered to help, because he also considers it a workout. They are both pretty fit guys. :)

I have to say, this is making me want to read their blog more now.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: englishteacheralex on March 14, 2018, 09:49:43 AM
Anybody ever read https://www.amazon.com/Good-Life-Nearings-Self-Sufficient-Living/dp/0805209700 (https://www.amazon.com/Good-Life-Nearings-Self-Sufficient-Living/dp/0805209700)? Scott and Helen Nearing--the original frugal homesteaders. I'm kinda surprised Frugalwoods haven't ever mentioned them.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: PoutineLover on March 14, 2018, 09:51:03 AM
I just read their post about the wood splitter, and I would say they have a decent reason for getting it. They need about 3.5 cords per year, and it's ideal to dry the wood for 2 years, so they wanted to get 7 cords in before winter so that in subsequent years they could just chop the amount needed for the 2nd year ahead. Chopping 3.5 cords of wood/year sounds like a lot to me, a one time $999 purchase becomes pretty economical. Since they manage their own forest, they wanted to chop the wood that needed to be removed, but since certain woods take a lot longer to chop, they were picking the easier wood to do by hand, and the splitter allows them to remove the dead but hard to chop wood too.
Anyway, I don't know why everyone here cares so much about how they live. I personally find there are a ton of PF blogs to choose from, and I've read a sampling from maybe 30-40 of them, but regularly follow only about 5-10 at any given time. I read the frugalwoods for a while, but since my life is very different (city, no kids) then I kinda lost interest. Their methods seem pretty frugal to me (delaying purchases, trying to buy used, getting lots of quotes) so even if the $ amount of certain purchases is high, they are still spending according to their values/needs and getting the best deal.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FireHiker on March 14, 2018, 09:53:27 AM
I have a fond spot in my heart for the Frugalwoods; theirs is one of the first blogs I came across when I was first looking at frugality and savings, and were a big stepping stone along the way before I finally found MMM. I live in a HCOL area and there's a lot of "keeping up with the Joneses" around me, so their blog was exceedingly helpful in reconsidering all of that. I think it's much more valuable as an initial entry point (as it was to me) to the concept of frugality and FIRE as opposed to being something that might appeal to your standard MMM reader. Not everybody wants to be facepunched when they're first introduced to a concept and trying to figure out how to make it work in their own lives.

I personally enjoy the writing style on their blog, but I also read all unabridged 1463 pages of Les Miserables when I was 13 and have made it through the Silmarillion three times, so I acknowledge that my reading preferences are not exactly mainstream. I'm happy to read their book in the very near future, after recommending it to my library and being informed yesterday that they purchased the ebook and it's available on overdrive. I wish them the best, but I'm still going to be frugal myself and use the library to read it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 14, 2018, 09:56:37 AM

Haha, I have no idea. All I know is that it's hard wood, and pine is not good to burn indoors. That's his area to deal with.

:)

We have many "that's his area to deal with" things at my house too.

I recently learned that "hardwood" has nothing to do with the "hardness" (the way I think of it) of the wood.  Balsa wood is a hardwood!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: JumpInTheFIRE on March 14, 2018, 10:09:04 AM

The oil is a backup system, if you read, they barely use any of it. They are 99% wood burning for heat.

The page lists an expense of $600 for an annual fuel oil bill.  If 99% of their heat comes from wood then if they just used oil then their fuel bill would be $60,000?  Either their home is VERY energy inefficient or they are actually using more fuel oil than 1%.

Don't get me wrong, I like their blog and I think they ARE frugal compared to most of American society but if we are comparing them to Mustachians or EREers their frugalness might fall a little short.  I think they do embody what I feel the most important thing about this lifestyle, identify what spending actually makes you happier and be mindful of your purchases.  They don't mindlessly consume, their purchases are well thought out and justified.  They live a lifestyle that's more expensive than many but it's the lifestyle they want to lead and it makes them happy so I wish them the best.

I'm impressed your annual spending is less than $14k.   So if it were a competition, you win?

It's not a competition and I'm in a position to be able to spend much less than majority, I certainly wouldn't expect most people to match my spending level (also, I'm comparing apples to oranges, their spending is for a family and mine is for a single person).  I come here because I like the emphasis that Mustachianism puts on frugality but it seems like a lot of posts lately are people asking the group to help them justify purchases that I would consider wasteful.  That being said, I'm sure there are things I spend money on that other people would consider wasteful so I try not to judge (obviously I have varying level of success in that attempt).

What are your property taxes? That was 60% of their spending the month you compared to.

Quite low, but I don't live on 66 acres.  My taxes are on the order of 2k a year which I split with my brother, so about 1k of my spending is property tax.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 14, 2018, 10:22:08 AM

The oil is a backup system, if you read, they barely use any of it. They are 99% wood burning for heat.

The page lists an expense of $600 for an annual fuel oil bill.  If 99% of their heat comes from wood then if they just used oil then their fuel bill would be $60,000?  Either their home is VERY energy inefficient or they are actually using more fuel oil than 1%.

Don't get me wrong, I like their blog and I think they ARE frugal compared to most of American society but if we are comparing them to Mustachians or EREers their frugalness might fall a little short.  I think they do embody what I feel the most important thing about this lifestyle, identify what spending actually makes you happier and be mindful of your purchases.  They don't mindlessly consume, their purchases are well thought out and justified.  They live a lifestyle that's more expensive than many but it's the lifestyle they want to lead and it makes them happy so I wish them the best.

I'm impressed your annual spending is less than $14k.   So if it were a competition, you win?

It's not a competition and I'm in a position to be able to spend much less than majority, I certainly wouldn't expect most people to match my spending level (also, I'm comparing apples to oranges, their spending is for a family and mine is for a single person).  I come here because I like the emphasis that Mustachianism puts on frugality but it seems like a lot of posts lately are people asking the group to help them justify purchases that I would consider wasteful.  That being said, I'm sure there are things I spend money on that other people would consider wasteful so I try not to judge (obviously I have varying level of success in that attempt).

What are your property taxes? That was 60% of their spending the month you compared to.

Quite low, but I don't live on 66 acres.  My taxes are on the order of 2k a year which I split with my brother, so about 1k of my spending is property tax.
The cost of fuel oil and the cost of wood aren't the same, so no.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: JumpInTheFIRE on March 14, 2018, 10:36:59 AM
The cost of fuel oil and the cost of wood aren't the same, so no.

The quote didn't say 99% of the cost, it said 99% of the heat.  Of course the wood is cheaper (for them) than the fuel oil but if they are spending $600 per year on oil there is no way it is only 1% of their heat.  At current prices, that would be around 150 gallons or 21,000,000 BTUs.  A cord of wood is 20-25 million BTUs depending on species so they are burning approximately a cord's worth of fuel oil per year.  They have said they burn around 3.5 cords per year so the fuel oil would be around 20% of their heating, not 1%.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 14, 2018, 10:38:48 AM

The oil is a backup system, if you read, they barely use any of it. They are 99% wood burning for heat.

The page lists an expense of $600 for an annual fuel oil bill. 

You typically pay for oil upfront- as you have to fill the tank.  They didn't say they used all of that oil.  It was a backup.
I don't know whether oil goes "bad" or if they have that oil as a reserve for future years.
Since they just moved to their homestead they have a number of one-time expenses.

She did just do a blog post on why country living costs more than city living; yet people seem to think the country is "cheap".
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: slappy on March 14, 2018, 11:04:23 AM

The oil is a backup system, if you read, they barely use any of it. They are 99% wood burning for heat.



The page lists an expense of $600 for an annual fuel oil bill. 

You typically pay for oil upfront- as you have to fill the tank.  They didn't say they used all of that oil.  It was a backup.
I don't know whether oil goes "bad" or if they have that oil as a reserve for future years.
Since they just moved to their homestead they have a number of one-time expenses.

She did just do a blog post on why country living costs more than city living; yet people seem to think the country is "cheap".

Here is my husband's contribution to the debate.  Also he said we use about two cords per year.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: JumpInTheFIRE on March 14, 2018, 11:08:35 AM

The oil is a backup system, if you read, they barely use any of it. They are 99% wood burning for heat.

The page lists an expense of $600 for an annual fuel oil bill. 

You typically pay for oil upfront- as you have to fill the tank.  They didn't say they used all of that oil.  It was a backup.
I don't know whether oil goes "bad" or if they have that oil as a reserve for future years.
Since they just moved to their homestead they have a number of one-time expenses.

She did just do a blog post on why country living costs more than city living; yet people seem to think the country is "cheap".

The entry specifically says "Oil (annual total)", that doesn't sound at all like a multi-year thing.  I have no idea why people are so adamant that they aren't using this oil.  Whatever the case, their oil cost lot lower than most people's so I don't see a huge problem with it.  They don't seem to list that expense anywhere else so you may be right, or they just may have omitted earlier purchases.  Whatever the case, it's not an excessive expense and it appears they are doing the bulk of their heating [but not 99% ;-)] with wood, so kudos to them.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 14, 2018, 11:11:37 AM

The entry specifically says "Oil (annual total)", that doesn't sound at all like a multi-year thing.  I have no idea why people are so adamant that they aren't using this oil.  Whatever the case, their oil cost lot lower than most people's so I don't see a huge problem with it.  They don't seem to list that expense anywhere else so you may be right, or they just may have omitted earlier purchases.  Whatever the case, it's not an excessive expense and it appears they are doing the bulk of their heating [but not 99% ;-)] with wood, so kudos to them.

Guess we'll just have to keep this thread going for a year to see if they spend this much every year or not.

I'm going with them not using it because she says it is a backup.  I can't find what they spent on oil in 2016, so it will be the 2018 expense report that tells us if they are spending $600 in oil EVERY year, or if $600 was the amount they spent this year, but an anomaly.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 14, 2018, 02:03:34 PM

The entry specifically says "Oil (annual total)", that doesn't sound at all like a multi-year thing.  I have no idea why people are so adamant that they aren't using this oil.  Whatever the case, their oil cost lot lower than most people's so I don't see a huge problem with it.  They don't seem to list that expense anywhere else so you may be right, or they just may have omitted earlier purchases.  Whatever the case, it's not an excessive expense and it appears they are doing the bulk of their heating [but not 99% ;-)] with wood, so kudos to them.

Guess we'll just have to keep this thread going for a year to see if they spend this much every year or not.

I'm going with them not using it because she says it is a backup.  I can't find what they spent on oil in 2016, so it will be the 2018 expense report that tells us if they are spending $600 in oil EVERY year, or if $600 was the amount they spent this year, but an anomaly.

That would be $0, because they lived in the city and would've had electric or gas heat.  I can't for October 2018 to see the results of who "won" this debate about how they heat their house and whether or not the wood splitter was a good purchase. 

Next up, I read that they cut their grass with a lawn mower instead of scissors because they are big fat liars about being frugal.  Go!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MMMarbleheader on March 14, 2018, 02:39:42 PM
Also they could have bought the home with oil in the tank which is typicall and settled at closing.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: JumpInTheFIRE on March 14, 2018, 02:42:51 PM
Just a little education on those of you who don't have a woodstove/oil furnace combo...

We burn oil in the summer. When it's 80F outside. Because it heats our water. And we don't have a system set up to heat water using wood ;)

An oil bill is not an exact indicator of (house) heating costs. Also, oil costs less the more you buy, so it's always good to fill your tank when it's close to empty.

We typically only burn the fire consistently on the weekend, because we both work, though I like to build fires during the week when it's really cold outside.

Anyway, judging how much oil someone uses by their first fill-up is kind of like saying you obviously get horribly gas mileage because you put gas in your car.

Yeah, YOU burn oil to heat water but the Frugalwoods use propane for their cooking and water heating.  From the same expense report cited above (Sept. 2017)

"Propane (annual total)   $522.05   For our hot water and gas stove"

You're right that we don't know how much they use from one fill-up but at least I am citing actual numbers from their blog rather than just blindly speculating like many of the posts in this thread.  Like I said above, doesn't really matter that much and it seems like they are doing well with their heating plan.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 14, 2018, 03:02:58 PM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.

I did watch the PBS link. I have to say, I much prefer Liz's conversational style. Also, call me an outlier, but I think Mr. FW looks much better cleanshaven (What a difference!), but that may just a generational thing. It's fine by me that they do whatever makes them happy.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 14, 2018, 03:10:12 PM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.

As long as we are doing it manually and not with a hair splitter, it's OK, right?

I can't for October 2018 to see the results of who "won" this debate about how they heat their house and whether or not the wood splitter was a good purchase. 

"You" can't bump the thread then though.  It only counts until we argue about it until then.

(I am kind of interested to know if they will buy that much oil next year or not though.)




My boss just bought goats so he doesn't have to mow as much of his property.  There's a solution other than scissors. You don't have to feed scissors though.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 14, 2018, 03:12:06 PM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.

I did watch the PBS link. I have to say, I much prefer Liz's conversational style. Also, call me an outlier, but I think Mr. FW looks much better cleanshaven (What a difference!), but that may just a generational thing. Its fine by me that they do whatever makes them happy.

No, I'm pretty sure you're in the vast, vast majority here.  I'm even a guy with a beard, and his looked absolutely terrible.  :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 14, 2018, 07:23:14 PM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.
As long as we are doing it manually and not with a hair splitter, it's OK, right?

Dunno, I hope to never split wood or shovel snow in my life. So far, so good.

(I am kind of interested to know if they will buy that much oil next year or not though.)

I have never lived anywhere that required oil for heat. I do remember that my grandmother got a little loopy towards the end of her life. She stopped paying the heating oil bill, because "They come every year whether I pay them or not." My poor dad and his slightly less poor brother had wisely moved from Boston to SoCal to start their families. Both had SAH wives and a dozen kids between them. I know it hurt like hell, but they paid her fuel oil bill every year. I am fairly certain she did not supplement with a wood stove, but her house did, in fact, burn down, so who knows?

My boss just bought goats so he doesn't have to mow as much of his property.  There's a solution other than scissors. You don't have to feed scissors though.

DH's company uses goats to control brush. We live just down the street from one of the larger outdoor facilities. Those goats do an amazing job, and they're so cute. One year, some dumbass put poison out to control some rodent. The goats got into it and eight of them died. I'm sure that cost the company a pretty penny.


...I think Mr. FW looks much better cleanshaven[/b] (What a difference!), but that may just a generational thing. Its fine by me that they do whatever makes them happy.

No, I'm pretty sure you're in the vast, vast majority here.  I'm even a guy with a beard, and his looked absolutely terrible.  :)

For some reason, knowing you feel this way makes me oddly happy.



Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 14, 2018, 07:29:47 PM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.

As long as we are doing it manually and not with a hair splitter, it's OK, right?


Hahahahaaha.  Best comment in this thread!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: aspiringnomad on March 14, 2018, 07:44:04 PM
I remember when Mrs. FW posted on these forums regularly and she had a link to her blog in her signature, but I never read more than an article or two and had absolutely no idea it was popular enough to induce any amount of controversy. Good for them, I guess.

I do understand criticism of excessive affiliate linking though. When I noticed several Facebook friends liked The Penny Hoarder, I thought, ďcool, maybe itís a more mainstream MMM,Ē but the first post I read offered little more than ideas to separate readers from their pennies via paid affiliate advertising.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Vertical Mode on March 14, 2018, 08:47:41 PM
I just read their post about the wood splitter, and I would say they have a decent reason for getting it. They need about 3.5 cords per year, and it's ideal to dry the wood for 2 years, so they wanted to get 7 cords in before winter so that in subsequent years they could just chop the amount needed for the 2nd year ahead. Chopping 3.5 cords of wood/year sounds like a lot to me, a one time $999 purchase becomes pretty economical. Since they manage their own forest, they wanted to chop the wood that needed to be removed, but since certain woods take a lot longer to chop, they were picking the easier wood to do by hand, and the splitter allows them to remove the dead but hard to chop wood too.
Anyway, I don't know why everyone here cares so much about how they live. I personally find there are a ton of PF blogs to choose from, and I've read a sampling from maybe 30-40 of them, but regularly follow only about 5-10 at any given time. I read the frugalwoods for a while, but since my life is very different (city, no kids) then I kinda lost interest. Their methods seem pretty frugal to me (delaying purchases, trying to buy used, getting lots of quotes) so even if the $ amount of certain purchases is high, they are still spending according to their values/needs and getting the best deal.

Depending on what kind of year the local paper mills may be having, firewood in this part of New England commonly costs $200-$250/cord, delivered. If they are going through 3.5 cords per winter, my abacus suggests that they'd break even on the cost of the equipment in just over a season, not to mention the savings in time and energy. I get the idea of doing it manually for the exercise, but having done that myself for a mere 2 cords, it gets old quickly!

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 07:56:16 AM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.

If you take issue with something I've said specifically, feel free to respond directly, unless you feel that's caring too much. I thought I offered some pretty mild commentary about the bolded, but oh well.

My responses are long, boring, and detailed. I get it. Perhaps I'll try making pithier comments in the future. It should be easier if I just talk past everyone instead. ;)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: big_owl on March 15, 2018, 09:31:05 AM
Jfc all this analysis over a wood splitter.  Cutting your own wood and heating with it is tough enough on its own even when young.  Trying to do all that when you're late 30s, 40s, 50s seems downright reckless when you can spend $1000 for a splitter.  A bulging disc, torn labrum, or bursitis and what, he's supposed to throw a couple more beaver pelts on the hay mattress or freeze to death on principle?  Did Jeremiah Johnson up and find the internet  and start posting in this thread?  I bet they even use a chainsaw to cut vs a hand forged blade of iron mined on their property.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 15, 2018, 10:06:23 AM
I think it's crazy that there's so much hair-splitting going on here, especially from mathlete. Who cares that much? We laugh our assets off at the absurd comments posted whenever MMM is interviewed by mainstream media, yet here are a shitload of people naysaying the Frugalwoods.

If you take issue with something I've said specifically, feel free to respond directly, unless you feel that's caring too much. I thought I offered some pretty mild commentary about the bolded, but oh well.

My responses are long, boring, and detailed. I get it. Perhaps I'll try making pithier comments in the future. It should be easier if I just talk past everyone instead. ;)
Hmmm, volume of words, number of posts, level of vitriol about something that has zero effect on your quality of life. What's the point of being so relentlessly negative? Agreed, you were not the only one, but holy crap, why do you care so much?

No idea what that last bolded sentence means.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 10:19:47 AM
Hmmm, volume of words, number of posts, level of vitriol about something that has zero effect on your quality of life. What's the point of being so relentlessly negative? Agreed, you were not the only one, but holy crap, why do you care so much?

No idea what that last bolded sentence means.

I don't feel I'm being relentlessly negative. I rather dryly, and rationally explained why I feel that the way they've pitched their story (and further, the way the media has picked it up and run with it) is disingenuous. It's just how I feel. And I think I did a perfectly adequate job of explaining that while being mostly polite.

I was met with an awful lot of responses in the vein of,

"Why do you hate the Frugalwoods so much? So they can't buy a woodsplitter now!?! Gosh!!"

This is what I mean by pithy comments and talking past people. It would have been really easy for me, to at any point, respond in kind with something like,

"Why are you guys rushing to the front of the line to be offended just because not everyone finds your favorite blog compelling?" It would have been a lazy and inaccurate depiction of what I was responding to. It also would have been needlessly combative. But it would have been par for the course.

It's pretty shitty discourse, but the alternative has been for me to patiently re-litigate my point every time, only to have third parties come in and decide the volume = vitriol.

I don't know man. I tried.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 15, 2018, 10:54:06 AM
Hmmm, volume of words, number of posts, level of vitriol about something that has zero effect on your quality of life. What's the point of being so relentlessly negative? Agreed, you were not the only one, but holy crap, why do you care so much?

No idea what that last bolded sentence means.

I don't feel I'm being relentlessly negative. I rather dryly, and rationally explained why I feel that the way they've pitched their story (and further, the way the media has picked it up and run with it) is disingenuous. It's just how I feel. And I think I did a perfectly adequate job of explaining that while being mostly polite.

I was met with an awful lot of responses in the vein of,

"Why do you hate the Frugalwoods so much? So they can't buy a woodsplitter now!?! Gosh!!"

This is what I mean by pithy comments and talking past people. It would have been really easy for me, to at any point, respond in kind with something like,

"Why are you guys rushing to the front of the line to be offended just because not everyone finds your favorite blog compelling?" It would have been a lazy and inaccurate depiction of what I was responding to. It also would have been needlessly combative. But it would have been par for the course.

It's pretty shitty discourse, but the alternative has been for me to patiently re-litigate my point every time, only to have third parties come in and decide the volume = vitriol.

I don't know man. I tried.

So if their pitch is disingenuous, what, in your opinion would have been ingenious?  How should they present themselves?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: The Happy Philosopher on March 15, 2018, 11:19:49 AM
Wow, some pretty harsh criticism of the Frugalwoods. I don't understand all the hate. Not every blog will resonate with everyone, but I think she has done a great job telling her story and has built up quite a following. I met them both at FinCon and they were very genuine and down to earth people. I also know people who regularly read the blog and are inspired by it to pay more attention to frugality and personal finance in general, and overall this is a good thing.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 11:38:33 AM
So if their pitch is disingenuous, what, in your opinion would have been ingenious?  How should they present themselves?

Haha. You're not going to like it, but I probably would have shied away from the name "Frugalwoods" to begin with. I'm also an introverted weirdo who could never blog about myself so that's probably neither here nor there.

If they're marketing exclusively to the PF space, they're probably fine. Lots of high income people here. But if these media blitzes are going to become a regular thing, I think they could do some things to appear less out of touch. Their hearts are already in the right place with the acknowledging privilege thing, but they could go a bit further IMO.

If you and your husband are both gainfully working, maybe don't sign your name to an article titled, "Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 – and regain control of my life". Retirement police, I know, I know. But if you're trying to appeal to a broader audience, that's already starting out on the wrong foot because 1.) They still work, and 2.) as I've said a billion times, frugality is less germane than income. It might have been the marginal difference for them, but it won't be for most people.

If you get specific about expenses, and not about income, expect some criticism. It doesn't take a mathlete (lul) to see that if someone has middle class+ spending during an early 30s retirement, that either their income wasn't typical (to large degree), or they're still subsisting in large part on working income (which they deny). I get why they wouldn't want to be specific about income. It'd probably alienate people and make the blog less popular. It's their prerogative, but I think they should expect the criticism, which they probably do.

If you're going to focus on frugality, pick more honest or relatable examples. The cabinet staining story doesn't play because as I said before, caring about the color of cabinets is a luxury for most people. Contracting out the work is even more so. Expecting a cookie (for lack of better phrasing) for doing your own painting is out of touch.

Avoid saying things like this,

Quote
Frugal insourcing led us to a more egalitarian partnership devoid of traditional gender roles and reliant instead upon a system of routines and an agreed-upon divvying up of tasks.

Aside from sounding ridiculously hoity toity on its face, it's potentially kind of insulting to the readership. I posted stats about female labor participation and single mothers earlier. There's a good chance that the audience won't react well to an admittedly privileged person waxing philosophical about these things.

They're obviously killing it, and don't need my advice, but there it is. They're rich and live cool lives. People are going to envy them no matter what. I think it's a mistake to look at the clap-back they get and think it is all about jealousy though. Rich people are very capable of being out of touch and communicating poorly.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tuskalusa on March 15, 2018, 11:47:46 AM
I think the easiest way to learn about the Frugalwoods is to read their book. (No, this isnít a sales pitch...check it out from the library or borrow from a friend.)

I just finished the book. Itís an interesting story about how a couple making a middle class income changed their lives through the frugality. Sure, theyíre probably killing it now, but their story lies in how they got there.

And even today, the Frugalwoods have guarded against lifestyle inflation. Theyíre pretty much doing everything thatís advised on this site, and theyíre reaping the rewards.

Anyway, the book shows the back story, and it definitely answers the question.

My only question is about what Liz will write about next, as this story has now been told in the book and the blog.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: rothwem on March 15, 2018, 12:02:52 PM


I don't feel I'm being relentlessly negative. I rather dryly, and rationally explained why I feel that the way they've pitched their story (and further, the way the media has picked it up and run with it) is disingenuous. It's just how I feel. And I think I did a perfectly adequate job of explaining that while being mostly polite.

I was met with an awful lot of responses in the vein of,

"Why do you hate the Frugalwoods so much? So they can't buy a woodsplitter now!?! Gosh!!"

This is what I mean by pithy comments and talking past people. It would have been really easy for me, to at any point, respond in kind with something like,

"Why are you guys rushing to the front of the line to be offended just because not everyone finds your favorite blog compelling?" It would have been a lazy and inaccurate depiction of what I was responding to. It also would have been needlessly combative. But it would have been par for the course.

It's pretty shitty discourse, but the alternative has been for me to patiently re-litigate my point every time, only to have third parties come in and decide the volume = vitriol.

I don't know man. I tried.

I'm with you, and I 100% agree.  I think I may have been the first person in the thread with a negative comment though, so my support is probably not going to change anyone's opinion.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 12:33:53 PM
I'm with you, and I 100% agree.  I think I may have been the first person in the thread with a negative comment though, so my support is probably not going to change anyone's opinion.

Thank you! It's nice to know that I'm not (completely) crazy!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 12:59:37 PM
As with most problems I face in life, it turns out that someone has already done a better job of solving it publicly on the Internet. Here is an Amazon review that says pretty much everything I've been trying to say, much better.

Quote
Let's talk about the fact that Liz and Nate did not actually become financially independent because of their frugality, but rather because they have made top dollar in their non-profit careers. According to public records, Nate made $225,000 in 2014 working as a non-profit executive. It's admirable that they were able to live intentionally and not experience the kind of lavish lifestyle inflation that many of their high-income peers experience (the reality is that many high-income folks DO live beyond their means). But the idea that Liz/Nate are "average" or "middle-class" because they don't make as much as investment bankers, as they contend in their article in the Guardian, is preposterous on its face. In an ideal world, frugal bloggers/gurus would be forthcoming about their finances and the actual reasons they've been successful, even if these reasons can't be distilled into a single, highly-marketable theme such as "extreme frugality."

It's a three star review. It acknowledges that they've done an admirable job accomplishing what they have. But it drives home the point high income talk was eschewed in favor of frugality because frugality is infinitely more marketable.

I haven't personally verified the income figure, but I'm very familiar with non-profits. If they work for non-profits and make even livable salaries, they're going to be on the form 990. They're not bad people, but I'm pretty comfortable in upgrading my rhetoric at this point. Going to great lengths to describe yourself as "not exceptional", "not rich", "average", and "never (having) investment banker salaries" when you're knocking at the door of a 1% income is downright dishonest.

That's the way salesmanship goes. But salespeople don't get to escape harsh rhetoric, and nether should bloggers.

Thanks to everyone for engaging with me on this.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Vertical Mode on March 15, 2018, 02:38:24 PM
As with most problems I face in life, it turns out that someone has already done a better job of solving it publicly on the Internet. Here is an Amazon review that says pretty much everything I've been trying to say, much better.

Quote
Let's talk about the fact that Liz and Nate did not actually become financially independent because of their frugality, but rather because they have made top dollar in their non-profit careers. According to public records, Nate made $225,000 in 2014 working as a non-profit executive. It's admirable that they were able to live intentionally and not experience the kind of lavish lifestyle inflation that many of their high-income peers experience (the reality is that many high-income folks DO live beyond their means). But the idea that Liz/Nate are "average" or "middle-class" because they don't make as much as investment bankers, as they contend in their article in the Guardian, is preposterous on its face. In an ideal world, frugal bloggers/gurus would be forthcoming about their finances and the actual reasons they've been successful, even if these reasons can't be distilled into a single, highly-marketable theme such as "extreme frugality."

It's a three star review. It acknowledges that they've done an admirable job accomplishing what they have. But it drives home the point high income talk was eschewed in favor of frugality because frugality is infinitely more marketable.

I haven't personally verified the income figure, but I'm very familiar with non-profits. If they work for non-profits and make even livable salaries, they're going to be on the form 990. They're not bad people, but I'm pretty comfortable in upgrading my rhetoric at this point. Going to great lengths to describe yourself as "not exceptional", "not rich", "average", and "never (having) investment banker salaries" when you're knocking at the door of a 1% income is downright dishonest.

That's the way salesmanship goes. But salespeople don't get to escape harsh rhetoric, and nether should bloggers.

Thanks to everyone for engaging with me on this.

Metro-Boston (as in, including Cambridge and the surrounding suburbs that really make up "Boston") salaries tend to be much higher than the national average, across a lot of sectors. You're absolutely correct that $225k is not an "average" salary by any means, and certainly helped dramatically hasten the FW's journey to FIRE. Perhaps their idea of "average" is warped by the fact that in Cambridge they were surrounded by other high-earners, and as such did not feel like outliers. Such salary figures are not unheard of out here.

I guess maybe I don't feel misled by the way it's all presented because I always kind of suspected the numbers were in that range. I think I understand the issue you take with it; for my part, I like their message and enjoy their blog anyway. I think we can all agree that saving 71% of your income is admirable, no matter what the numerator and denominator are.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 15, 2018, 02:49:10 PM
When did they pay off the cambridge mortgage? I thought they had a mortgage on both properties still?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Vertical Mode on March 15, 2018, 02:59:18 PM
When did they pay off the cambridge mortgage? I thought they had a mortgage on both properties still?

Reading the latest they've published on this, it appears you're right, they do still carry a mortgage on it. I must've been thinking they had done so because they had converted it into a serious cash-flowing rental property. I stand corrected and will revise that part of my post.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 03:07:09 PM
Metro-Boston (as in, including Cambridge and the surrounding suburbs that really make up "Boston") salaries tend to be much higher than the national average, across a lot of sectors. You're absolutely correct that $225k is not an "average" salary by any means, and certainly helped dramatically hasten the FW's journey to FIRE. Perhaps their idea of "average" is warped by the fact that in Cambridge they were surrounded by other high-earners, and as such did not feel like outliers. Such salary figures are not unheard of out here.

Certainly possible. They may just not grasp how much money that really is. Since they're personal finance bloggers though, I rather doubt it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 15, 2018, 04:00:33 PM
Hmmm, volume of words, number of posts, level of vitriol about something that has zero effect on your quality of life. What's the point of being so relentlessly negative? Agreed, you were not the only one, but holy crap, why do you care so much?

No idea what that last bolded sentence means.

I don't feel I'm being relentlessly negative. I rather dryly, and rationally explained why I feel that the way they've pitched their story (and further, the way the media has picked it up and run with it) is disingenuous. It's just how I feel. And I think I did a perfectly adequate job of explaining that while being mostly polite.

I was met with an awful lot of responses in the vein of,

"Why do you hate the Frugalwoods so much? So they can't buy a woodsplitter now!?! Gosh!!"

This is what I mean by pithy comments and talking past people. It would have been really easy for me, to at any point, respond in kind with something like,

"Why are you guys rushing to the front of the line to be offended just because not everyone finds your favorite blog compelling?" It would have been a lazy and inaccurate depiction of what I was responding to. It also would have been needlessly combative. But it would have been par for the course.

It's pretty shitty discourse, but the alternative has been for me to patiently re-litigate my point every time, only to have third parties come in and decide the volume = vitriol.

I don't know man. I tried.
Why would you think it's my (or anyone's) "favorite blog"? We're here, aren't we?

If you got a lot of responses questioning your comments, that says a lot. And stoics don't cotton much to "I tried."
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 15, 2018, 04:42:36 PM
I knew they were high earners, but I didn't realize it was that high. I imagined like a combined 150k. I don't recall them calling themselves middle class, but even if they do, who knows what it even means. Everyone thinks they are middle class.

Saving 70% is admirable, but less so when you are still spending more than the median income.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 15, 2018, 04:59:03 PM
Yeah, it is easy to be "frugal" when you have that much cash to work with.

Not sure I see the connection.  Hopefully you're not under the impression that income drives spending.

They were very frugal for many years.  The fact that they earned large salaries and still spent very little should be viewed as an example of success, not failure.  This type of criticism is pretty ridiculous for people on this site. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: big_owl on March 15, 2018, 05:06:45 PM
Ok I've been reading their blog more and more and I retract my earlier statement.  I'm not going so far as to call them outright frauds, but if anything, I've learned that the definition of "homestead" is pretty loose.  I see a really nice house on 70 acres, what looks like a really large out building, a so-so garden (certainly not enough to grow the majority of their food), a clown sized front lawn, chainsaw, log splitter, FRONT END LOADING TRACTOR with snow blowing equipment, aux oil backup heat.  Christ, I don't have a log splitter, I have a battery powered chainsaw and a battery powered mower...and I have electric backup heat.  I think I might actually use fewer fossil fuels than they do.  And I don't even have a kid so I'm sure I use far less resources.  I actually think I might be homesteading in the DC exurbs!  I don't have the prerequisite hipster beard so maybe I'm not quite there yet though.  It also isn't clear to me yet whether they're actually retired or not.  Maybe I'll change my tune again as I continue to read, but for now I'm leaning toward "what's so special about them?".
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 15, 2018, 05:37:53 PM
Yeah, it is easy to be "frugal" when you have that much cash to work with.

Not sure I see the connection.  Hopefully you're not under the impression that income drives spending.

They were very frugal for many years.  The fact that they earned large salaries and still spent very little should be viewed as an example of success, not failure.  This type of criticism is pretty ridiculous for people on this site.
Its not so much that income drives spending and more that income drives savings. And the larger the income the larger the savings potential. So a median income earning who saves $25k and lives on $25k a year isn't going to be able to live like the FW do and also become FIRE in a few years. Where as the FWs may have been frugal and also lived on $25k and saved $300k or more each year so that they could live the life they now do, have the expensive homestead, the house in Cambridge, and the wood splitter. Everyone might be washing out the used Baggies and line drying their clothes but doing those things probably had very little impact on The FWs FIRE success.

So they're just like MMM in that respect.  The idea that not spending money had little impact is patently false.  That's the part that allowed them to save and invest most of their money.  Do none of you actually read or understand the blog attached to this forum?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 15, 2018, 05:41:07 PM
The tractor came with the property sale. So when they show their mortgage, it's in there.  I think they would have had a hard time explaining that as a separate purchase, no matter how handy it is.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: big_owl on March 15, 2018, 06:07:05 PM
Not sure everyone here is aware, but they make their own seltzer water, and that means that every cup of seltzer is only a few pennies.

In the context of this thread the above statement might be the funniest thing I've ever read on this board.   It's sort of a cross between a non sequiter and an insider pro tip.   It's put a big smile on my face.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 15, 2018, 06:17:28 PM
Yeah, it is easy to be "frugal" when you have that much cash to work with.

Not sure I see the connection.  Hopefully you're not under the impression that income drives spending.

They were very frugal for many years.  The fact that they earned large salaries and still spent very little should be viewed as an example of success, not failure.  This type of criticism is pretty ridiculous for people on this site.
Its not so much that income drives spending and more that income drives savings. And the larger the income the larger the savings potential. So a median income earning who saves $25k and lives on $25k a year isn't going to be able to live like the FW do and also become FIRE in a few years. Where as the FWs may have been frugal and also lived on $25k and saved $300k or more each year so that they could live the life they now do, have the expensive homestead, the house in Cambridge, and the wood splitter. Everyone might be washing out the used Baggies and line drying their clothes but doing those things probably had very little impact on The FWs FIRE success.

So they're just like MMM in that respect.  The idea that not spending money had little impact is patently false.  That's the part that allowed them to save and invest most of their money.  Do none of you actually read or understand the blog attached to this forum?

I didn't say not spending money was the key to their success. I said being extremely frugal (as they've said in their blog) was not the key to their success. Obviously the definition of "frugal" is going to be much different from person to person. Are you frugal if you earn $400k a year and only live on $200k? Are you frugal if you earn $30k a year and only live on $15k?  Which will allow you to get to FIRE faster and live your expensive dream life?

Yes, their frugality was the key to their success.  Their income was also the key to their success.  Shall I provide an obvious example for you too?  Which is better?  Earning $300,000 and spending $299,000 or earning $300,000 and spending $30,000? 

The fact that they earned a good income and spent very little is an amazingly good thing.  This is exactly what MMM did.  Whenever someone comes on here to criticize MMM in this manner, we have 1000 fighters stepping up to defend him.  The fact that they're being criticized for doing that on this forum is the height of hypocrisy.  Frankly, I expected better from most of you.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: fuzzy math on March 15, 2018, 06:23:14 PM
I enjoyed their blog for a while when I first found it. Never found her to be overly preachy or lengthy. There was some serious cross referencing to other posts (every other word linked) which seemed to just rehash all the old topics.

That guardian article some people mentioned was pretty bad. Very over written (like the a "give a kid a thesaurus" in English class assignment). Perhaps she was nervous about writing on a national stage, or perhaps they wanted different things from her. It did not read smoothly and did come off sanctimonious.
I did find her to be really pleasant and down to earth on the podcast I listened to. I agree she comes off better in a more relaxed conversational atmosphere.

3rded (4thed ? 5thed?) about the beard. There's a whole lotta "I don't give a fuck" going on there.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Nancy on March 15, 2018, 06:46:52 PM
Firstly, I'd say good for them for being frugal, making a plan, and reaching their goals.

@Eric MMM was up front about his high salary and the need for one. I was turned off when she wrote the post about their non-profit salaries and how they "havenít done anything all that unusual," while failing to mention their unusually (for the sector and the country) high salaries. I felt she was being opaque, if not purposefully misleading about the income part of the equation.

This is probably going to be unpopular, but I'm tired of the PF blogger bootstrapper myth. In that same post, FW talks about her rise from SNAP benefits (after graduating college with no debt, while participating in AmeriCorps) to FI, saying: "the most imperative element is that weíve both worked hard and gone above and beyond in our positions."
Many people work hard and go above and beyond in their positions, but they will never have access to similar networks, jobs, incomes, raises, and promotions. These types of comments make it easy to believe that we're special and that other people don't reach comparable wealth levels due to some fault of their own.

Hey, guess what? The FWs were lucky. Most of us on this forum are lucky. We have way more than our fair share of global wealth, and we don't deserve it any more than anyone else.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 08:07:26 PM
Why would you think it's my (or anyone's) "favorite blog"? We're here, aren't we?

I don't, and I wouldn't. Saying so would be lazy and inaccurate. Some might even say, needlessly combative.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: chasesfish on March 15, 2018, 08:25:04 PM
I'm surprised at all the hatred on here...

Some of the old-timers like me remember Liz lurking around on the MMM forums either before she had the blog or right when she started.   Her, Mr. Frugalwoods, and a hound in a small Boston apartment.   She was always nice and encouraging while reminding people they DO have a choice of what to spend.   I miss seeing her and RootofGood around ever since their blogs got big

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 15, 2018, 08:25:38 PM
Why would you think it's my (or anyone's) "favorite blog"? We're here, aren't we?

I don't, and I wouldn't. Saying so would be lazy and inaccurate. Some might even say, needlessly combative.
Well, the words came straight outta your comment above and it was a lighthearted attempt to point out that of course, MMM is everyone's favorite blog, obviously.

But, this isn't a hill worth dying on, so I'll happily concede. Game, set, match to mathlete.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 15, 2018, 08:57:40 PM
I'm surprised at all the hatred on here...

Some of the old-timers like me remember Liz lurking around on the MMM forums either before she had the blog or right when she started.   Her, Mr. Frugalwoods, and a hound in a small Boston apartment.   She was always nice and encouraging while reminding people they DO have a choice of what to spend.   I miss seeing her and RootofGood around ever since their blogs got big

I must sound like a broken record at this point, but it's not hatred. At least not from me, and I don't very much that it's hatred from any of the other folks around here either. Check out this quote:

Quote
My husband, Nate, and I are not exceptional people. Weíre not rich or famous or geniuses or even particularly good-looking (although we have our moments). Weíre just some average, middle-class kids from the midwest who decided we wanted something more out of life than what our consumer culture sells us.
 
While itís true that Nate and I are average people, and weíve never won the lottery or had investment banker salaries or been the beneficiaries of inheritances or trust funds, Iím keenly aware that we are also extraordinarily privileged.

Imagine writing that while having a one percenter income. It's dishonest. The word choice is very careful. There is a nod to privilege there at the end, but it's very transparent to me what they're doing. Emphasize the frugality and not the income. Because frugality is marketable when you're selling dreams. Extremely high incomes are not.

I don't care how many posts someone has on this forum. I know it makes it hard for some people to be objective when it comes to other members of their own community, but clearly I don't have that particular hang-up.

It's personally no skin off my nose. I'm not doing as well as MMM or FW, but I'm not yet 30 and my girlfriend and I have more than 2x the median US household income. The MMM or FW brand of life will probably work out very well for us. But there are real people who are affected by such dishonesty. Check out these Amazon reviews. These aren't just haters. Many of them are fans of the blog.

Quote
From the blog, I got the impression that the Frugalwoods were previously working "average" jobs in Boston, earning modest non-profit salaries. Not so, at least in the case of Mr. Frugalwoods. A 200,000+ salary is not average.

Quote
I had no idea they made that kind of money. From the blog, I just figured average was $50-60,000. Thanks for that eye opening comment.

Quote
I have been following the Frugalwoods blog for 3 years and I have always enjoyed it. I really wanted to love the book.

The online persona is entirely different from what I read. I feel like the account we have been given through Frugalwoods is a sham.

Quote
Hard to take financial advice from someone who selectively feeds the audience only pieces of information. The tone of the narrative is ó- we get by on very little. The missing piece is ó- we are a high earning couple with substantial resources and savings.

Quote
the Frugalwoods also obfuscate the income side of reaching financial independence.

Quote
This book is disingenuous by not revealing this couple's financial details.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: redbird on March 15, 2018, 10:22:03 PM
I've never had a problem with the Frugalwoods personally. I never read their blog much, even though I hear them mentioned here a lot, because they are simply irrelevant to me. They talk about babies and homesteading a lot... at least, every time I take a look at their blog that seems to be the focus. I have no interest in a homesteading in a rural area life and I don't have children. Even when they talk about finances, it felt too generic and not helpful enough for situations like mine. I mean, when I found MMM, I didn't even need MMM's help. I was already frugal and almost-Mustachian. He just 1) gave me the courage to try investing and 2) taught me ways to be more frugal/badass, which eventually lead to FI and then RE. His articles still give me ah-ha moments sometimes. Frugalwoods have never taught me anything in the times I've looked at their articles because it feels more beginner to mid-level assistance with finances. Even before we found MMM, my family was at the expert level.

I didn't know much about the Frugalwoods' financial situation before reading the discussion here. I didn't know they had made that much money when they were still working. The amount Mr. Frugalwoods made in his non-profit exec job alone, ignoring whatever his wife made, was WAY more money than DH and I ever made combined when we were still working, and we retired at similar ages as they did. So it's definitely possible to get the kind of life they have without the high income they had and at a similar age that they did. But it also requires being lucky, and it requires being frugal and financially smart pretty much as soon as you become an adult - if not sooner. It's so easy to not have one or more of those things in your life because of the way society/the world works.

I guess the whole point of this post is I just have never gotten the appeal of them because they are pretty far off from my life. MMM I get, him being an engineer with an engineering-type mind, and the fact that he doesn't pull punches to try to make you feel good. He preaches truth. But you know what? That's why we can have lots of financial bloggers out there. Some will resonate with you and give you those ah-ha inspiration moments. Others you will not care about and won't read much about them.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: chasesfish on March 16, 2018, 05:57:45 AM
@spartana @lhamo

Ah - I got it now.  Crazy frugality is definitely a game to them, not something that really got them to their version of Financial Independence.  I picked up on the fact Mrs. FW is still working remote, which allows the freedom.   They also hit the housing lottery based on the time they bought in Cambridge, which isn't unlike some other bloggers from this once in a lifetime housing crash.  I'm happy for them.

The only thing I struggle with a little is the "age-marketing".  Its kind of like any of these sub-33 early retirement stories, there's always a catch.  Wildly low personal spending hurdle to start, hitting the generational lottery with real estate, or knowingly relying on work remote stuff.  This isn't internet retirement police stuff or disparaging their work, but the generational real estate lottery winners just got there a few years earlier than someone could in 99% of the time in the real estate market.

I'm about to turn 36, have had a professional income since 3 months after my 21st birthday, and enjoyed a high individual/household income since 2009.   I was three years too early in real estate and lost $100,000 and it took until 34 to be at a "lean FI" number.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on March 16, 2018, 06:33:57 AM

Hmmm, volume of words, number of posts, level of vitriol about something that has zero effect on your quality of life. What's the point of being so relentlessly negative? Agreed, you were not the only one, but holy crap, why do you care so much?


He's not being relentlessly negative. He's pointing out why the FWs are full of it. He's using logic to do so, and he's being very polite about it. You seem to take his disenchantment with them very personally. Why is that?

The thing about $225k salary and that sickening article about LGBT overcoming hetero-privilege make me want to go for take-out coffee and fast food.

Nobody is knocking them for being frugal. People are knocking them because they said they were middle-class who got where they did by being frugal. They lied, they have capitalized on that lie, and people are calling them out of their shit. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Nancy on March 16, 2018, 07:41:41 AM
@Warlord1986 there is nothing sickening about that article. Good on Mrs. FW for shining a light on heterosexual privilege!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on March 16, 2018, 08:13:46 AM
@Warlord1986 there is nothing sickening about that article. Good on Mrs. FW for shining a light on heterosexual privilege!

I'm pretty sure that the only people qualified to tell the LGBT squad that they overcome heterosexual privilege....are LGBT individuals.

Also:

Quote
Having overcome her ďRumspringa of spending,Ē Thames urges those in queer community driven to live a lifestyle that meets a certain expectation to be honest about whether thatís providing them true happiness. ďAsk,Ē she says, ďare these things delivering the benefits that I hoped they would? Is my life transformatively better because of my spending, or am I just looking for the next thing to buy?Ē

Later:

Thames believes that ďanywhere along the frugality continuum you can derive benefit from being more financially secure and financially stable.Ē

She didn't 'shine a light' on anything. She just shilled her product using her usual self-important blather. Only this time she used the LGBT community.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on March 16, 2018, 08:18:55 AM

That's certainly one way to look at it.  I read the article too, and my initial reaction was: Oh look, they've added some new angle about heterosexual privilege in order to get spotlighted on a financial advice blog curated for the LGBT community. My reaction was that it was more a cynical proclamation to get entree to that niche audience -- not some courageous political statement that happened organically. 

Maybe that's what he meant by "sickening"?  Because that would indeed be sickening.


I'm a woman, and yeah. That's what I meant. Poor choice of words.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: jdroth on March 16, 2018, 12:20:17 PM
JD Roth is friendly with them and he also finds the lack of transparency about their income to be odd:

https://www.getrichslowly.org/frugalwoods-review/

Yikes, the next FinCon is gonna be awkward.

Haha. I hope not! I think Liz is awesome. I like her story. But I cannot in good conscience review her book without noting what I consider a glaring hole in her story. I would have called out any other author, so it would by hypocritical to not call out a colleague.

The narrative "we were frugal for fifteen months so we could then buy 66 acres in Vermont" doesn't hold up. It doesn't work like that. And while I think Liz and Nate have admirably acknowledged that their story comes from a place of privilege, they're doing a tremendous disservice to readers by obfuscating the income factor. They didn't achieve financial independence by being frugal. They did it by boosting income.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with having a high income. What I think is wrong is pretending that others can do what they did without the income portion of the equation. As I said in my review, it's like giving a recipe for bread without mentioning you need yeast.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 16, 2018, 01:20:56 PM
JD Roth is friendly with them and he also finds the lack of transparency about their income to be odd:

https://www.getrichslowly.org/frugalwoods-review/

Yikes, the next FinCon is gonna be awkward.

Haha. I hope not! I think Liz is awesome. I like her story. But I cannot in good conscience review her book without noting what I consider a glaring hole in her story. I would have called out any other author, so it would by hypocritical to not call out a colleague.

The narrative "we were frugal for fifteen months so we could then buy 66 acres in Vermont" doesn't hold up. It doesn't work like that. And while I think Liz and Nate have admirably acknowledged that their story comes from a place of privilege, they're doing a tremendous disservice to readers by obfuscating the income factor. They didn't achieve financial independence by being frugal. They did it by boosting income.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with having a high income. What I think is wrong is pretending that others can do what they did without the income portion of the equation. As I said in my review, it's like giving a recipe for bread without mentioning you need yeast.
I guess I don't remember (and too lazy to look) if they even discuss income?  Because at their ages, it's not uncommon to have your income increase exponentially as you gain new experience, job hop, get promotions.  That would make for an interesting addition to their blog, if it's not already there.

I mean, I'm frugal.  So is the spouse.  We've got bucks.  But don't miss the truth.  20 years ago my spouse was in grad school making $12k a year and I was making $50k a year as an engineer.  We were in our mid to late 20's.  That was pretty close to the median income of the time.  Now our family income is 5x that.  So...we haven't dealt with much lifestyle inflation (well, except mortgage and kids, which are big, I grant you that).  It's easier to be frugal when you are over $200k, even in a HCOL area (which we are).

On the other hand, some people will ignore good advice if people aren't "suffering" enough.  You know I never talk about $$ with my brother because he doesn't want to hear frugal tips because we make so much money.  But he didn't want to hear it 20 years ago either when we were making the same $$.  Good advice is good advice, even if the writer isn't suffering.  "Try and do that on $40k" is a hell of a defense mechanism.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Nancy on March 16, 2018, 02:23:16 PM

That's certainly one way to look at it.  I read the article too, and my initial reaction was: Oh look, they've added some new angle about heterosexual privilege in order to get spotlighted on a financial advice blog curated for the LGBT community. My reaction was that it was more a cynical proclamation to get entree to that niche audience -- not some courageous political statement that happened organically. 

Maybe that's what he meant by "sickening"?  Because that would indeed be sickening.


I'm a woman, and yeah. That's what I meant. Poor choice of words.

Thanks for the clarification. I thought you were sickened by either the LGBTQ community or the idea that some people are privileged (some people deny both).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: gettingtoyes on March 18, 2018, 04:28:25 PM
I posted the following on JD's blog review of their book:

I love reading the Frugalwoods blog, but I have become a little disillusioned...

I reserved a copy of the book at the library and started reading through the Amazon reviews. Someone pointed out a link to Actblue's IRS filings and Nate (whose actual first name apparently is James) made $225,000 in 2014, the year that they decided to be more frugal (link from amazon review: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/455097038 )

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with them making a great income (including Liz's income from when she worked full time for a w-2, I bet their income was around $300k). But I feel a little cheated when she talks about her anxiety over things like being able to stay home with her child and how she could make up for her lost income.

That's so disingenuous. Anyone making the kind of money their husband does can stay at home with their child with absolutely no difficulty. Even on half of that income!

I also have no problem whatsoever with them sourcing out used items. It's awesome for the planet. But now what I object to is her description of things like getting her stroller-

"As we pulled into the thrift store parking lot, I spied my dream stroller sitting out front. Resplendent with 20 inch wheels, there it sat. I leapt out of the car and rushed over to claim it."

I am all for sourcing out used things, but when you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, maybe one shouldn't be so anxious to get the used item that someone else making a lot less money than you might need.

In summary, I think it's awesome that they make great money and it's awesome that they are frugal and help others to be frugal. But the tone of the blog makes it sound like their frugality was the key to their success, when really it was only a small part of the equation.  She does talk about privilege, it's true, but not enough in the right way. From her blog, I would have guessed they made around $150k or so. Not approaching $300k

eta: Full disclosure, I will probably make around $210k this year (about a third of it is overtime that won't happen next year, but still a high base income around $130k). One of my siblings makes around $50k. Even if she led a hardcore frugal lifestyle, she won't be nearly as well off as I would be given the income I make. I could put her entire salary of $50k in the bank without much trouble. She cannot do that. If I was to tell her that she could, it would be dishonest. I think that this is what rankles me more, the misleading...saving 93% of your income is a lot easier (as they reported in 2014 including their retirement) if you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 18, 2018, 08:17:02 PM
Yeah, it is easy to be "frugal" when you have that much cash to work with.

Not sure I see the connection.  Hopefully you're not under the impression that income drives spending.

They were very frugal for many years.  The fact that they earned large salaries and still spent very little should be viewed as an example of success, not failure.  This type of criticism is pretty ridiculous for people on this site.
On the podcast I listened to a couple weeks ago they talked about having an 82% savings rate which sounds very impressive.  The problem is if you are making 300k and 82% savings rate still leaves you with more than the median US household income to spend.  I'm oversimplifying by not including tax impacts but yeah, seems like a gaping hole in the story to not mention your 1% income as a major contributing factor.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Adram on March 19, 2018, 06:47:00 AM
I like their story, and i like their move to the woods lifestyle.

But I can't stand it when a blog becomes more about the money than about telling the bloggers story.

I never had that feeling with the frugalwoods until they moved to the country and she quit her job. I don't remember them being FI until she needed the blog to make money and it made the story sound better. Since he kept his job and just worked remotely, why does she need to push the blog and book so hard if they are FI?

Still, i like her writing, and the extract from the book that i read was pretty decent. She has talent.

Just the stuff about privilege drives me nuts. It's so pat, like oh they are asking if poorer people can do what we did, this is the bit where i trot out how grateful and aware of my privilege I am, and not even answer the actual question. Telling everyone how woke you are makes it almost like you actually care.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: big_owl on March 19, 2018, 04:01:56 PM
I like their story, and i like their move to the woods lifestyle.

But I can't stand it when a blog becomes more about the money than about telling the bloggers story.

I never had that feeling with the frugalwoods until they moved to the country and she quit her job. I don't remember them being FI until she needed the blog to make money and it made the story sound better. Since he kept his job and just worked remotely, why does she need to push the blog and book so hard if they are FI?

Still, i like her writing, and the extract from the book that i read was pretty decent. She has talent.

Just the stuff about privilege drives me nuts. It's so pat, like oh they are asking if poorer people can do what we did, this is the bit where i trot out how grateful and aware of my privilege I am, and not even answer the actual question. Telling everyone how woke you are makes it almost like you actually care.

So is he still actually working?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lichen on March 19, 2018, 05:31:28 PM
I use the general you throughout, I'm not trying to single out anyone in particular. I also hesitate to post, since I have a gut feeling I might get my head chewed off by some. I just want to voice my take on it from the other end of the income spectrum.

I think the privilege posts are made in response to the mass amount of FIRE types that honestly DO NOT recognize their privilege. The ones that tell low income earners to simply earn more, or live on less, or not be poor. Even this enlightened forum has quite a few that would benefit from reflecting upon their own privilege (as opposed to gloating over it). To those like myself with a little less privilege than all the six figure earners in the PF forum/blog world, I can shy away from high earners and their advice because so many really don't see their privilege and judge those with a smaller income as being inept, less intelligent, and lazy (or a combination of the three). By government standards my family is at the poverty line, but we are so much more privileged than many in this country.

I respect FW for harping on their privilege and recognizing it, because trust me, very few really do in the PF world or world at large. My kids will hopefully begin their adult life with a similar level of privilege, because their broke ass parents have worked hard to give them the opportunities to be in the upper echelons of society/earnings. And damn straight we make sure they are mindful of that privilege.

Also, from a low earner's perspective (full disclosure: read the blog, not the book), FW has always been honest that their income was high and that allowed them to achieve what they did quickly, but that their tactics could be used on a smaller scale by lower earners. And you know what, I'm finding out they are right. We were always frugal-ish, but we were never focused. With focus, maybe not anything is possible, but a whole new field of possibilities really does open up -- even at the poverty line.

That's the real FW message, you know. Frugality + Focus = Options
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Llewellyn2006 on March 19, 2018, 05:42:12 PM
I received an email update about the latest post this morning so went and skimmed through it. It turned out to be one of the expenses reports that i don't pay a lot of attention to generally. Down the bottom was a comment asking why Mrs Frugalwoods doesn't show the income side of the equation - possibly inspired by the recent comments after her podcast? I just went back to see if there were any other comments and that particular question is gone. Maybe the uncomfortable questions are being censored?

While I like her frugal principles I do find the refusal to disclose the income side of things does reduce her credibility. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lichen on March 19, 2018, 06:01:02 PM
How incredibly crass to ask someone what their income is, and I don't care if they are in the public eye as a PF blogger. Knowing their income will do nothing to help anyone, it is just for the looky-loos and judgy-joes to gossip over. The over-sharing culture of social media and the Kardashians has made too many people step over the line when it comes to basic etiquette.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 19, 2018, 08:17:58 PM
Okay, okay, apparently I have more to say. I posted something to this effect over on GRS, but I'm going to draw in a deep breath and dive in again here. You know how people who lose a lot of weight can have trouble seeing themselves as anything but fat? Or the classic case of parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and can't spend money even though they have plenty, due to all their years of stretching a dolla 'til it hollas?

The Frugalwoods didn't start out with much. I believe at one time they even qualified for food stamps, as they were called back then. They worked hard, saved their pennies, then their dollars, and dreamed big dreams. In time, they were successful and their dreams came true.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THAT?

Who the hell are we that we can't be happy for their success? Sure, they may be earning the big bucks now, but it wasn't always that way. They did it. We may nitpick over small points, but they are living their dream. Look at how much MMM apparently makes from his blog! Who cares? He just keeps on doing his thing. It doesn't invalidate his experience (or theirs) one bit.

There's a great line by Barry Switzer. "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." I would argue that the FW's get what this means and they are grateful for all the opportunities they have been given. This takes absolutely nothing away from what they've accomplished. They do understand that their stars aligned in such a way that their dreams came true and they are grateful for it.

Finally, who cares if he still works and she writes? If he's really pulling down that kind of coin and feels like he's making a difference in the world, while working from home, hooray for them!

/End rant.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Chaplin on March 19, 2018, 08:34:00 PM
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THAT?

Yes. If you can live on $20-$30K, that's what's relevant, not how much you make. If you make $100K that level of spending implies X years to FI and if you make $300K it implies Y years to FI, but for everyone making >$30K, advice on living on $20-30K could be beneficial. If you learned to live frugally while your income was low, it's sustaining that spending as your income increases (or just stays the same) that will help you be financially successful. Whether it takes 15 months or 15 years to achieve your goals isn't the issue, it's whether you're on a path to achieve them or not.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: seattlecyclone on March 19, 2018, 11:35:02 PM
I've been following their blog on my RSS reader for a while. They seem like interesting people, with a similar financial trajectory to my own family, and kids about the same age as ours as well. Their preference for rural living is about the opposite to my own, which in some ways makes it more interesting, rather than less, to read about their lifestyle. That said, I can rarely make it all the way through one of their blog posts. Something about the writing style just doesn't quite agree with me.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: rothwem on March 20, 2018, 08:10:46 AM
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THAT?

(http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/031/783/obamam-lol-y-u-mad-tho.jpg)

They do understand that their stars aligned in such a way that their dreams came true and they are grateful for it.

So, if they truly acknowledge that is the case, why would their story be exceptional at all?  If I inherited 100 million dollars from a rich uncle, would I be qualified to write a book on how to be financially independent?  Sure, it might make a good story,  but I doubt anyone would be impressed with my financial prowess. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tuskalusa on March 20, 2018, 08:43:18 AM
I think the people who discount the power of Frugalwoods journey are missing the key part of the story. They started from typical lifestyles and cut their expenses way back. They didnít start from any kind of windfall, other than stable employment. As best I can tell, they started from jobs similar to the ones that many on this blog hold.

They did exactly what is described here. They set a goal, super-aggressively saved, and got there. Then they reaped the benefits of setting goals and curbing lifestyle inflation. It doesnít surprise me that they have seen their incomes rise. In their case, it seems to be a natural progression.

I donít really understand why the Frugalwoods are the subject of such ire on this thread. Their book explains their journey, and itís pretty similar to the success stories here.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 09:07:16 AM
I'm very happy for the Frugalwoods.

Being happy for someone and still not wanting to cosign their dishonesty are not mutually exclusive.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 20, 2018, 09:13:34 AM

So, if they truly acknowledge that is the case, why would their story be exceptional at all?  If I inherited 100 million dollars from a rich uncle, would I be qualified to write a book on how to be financially independent?  Sure, it might make a good story,  but I doubt anyone would be impressed with my financial prowess.

Did they do that though? I though their book was more of a memoir than a how-to.  I didn't read it though. $5 on kindle is my max.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: leftcoastenvy on March 20, 2018, 09:18:06 AM
I don't really have a problem with Frugalwoods, but I was turned off when listening to her on the Mad Fientist podcast. She was saying that when there is free food for a conference or what not, she always grabs an extra sandwich and snacks so she can have free lunch or dinner later. Mad Fientist said that she did that at FinCon and then when he arrived to breakfast there was not enough food left for others. With a $225,00k+ salary, she can still be frugal without stealing food. I think she can afford buying a $5 sandwich for lunch at Fincon.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 09:21:41 AM
I don't really have a problem with Frugalwoods, but I was turned off when listening to her on the Mad Fientist podcast. She was saying that when there is free food for a conference or what not, she always grabs an extra sandwich and snacks so she can have free lunch or dinner later. Mad Fientist said that she did that at FinCon and then when he arrived to breakfast there was not enough food left for others. With a $225,00k+ salary, she can still be frugal without stealing food. I think she can afford buying a $5 sandwich for lunch at Fincon.

I actually thought that story was pretty funny. I wouldn't rake her over the coals too hard for that one though. I'm sure that whatever they give to charity has more than made up for that on a cosmic scale.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FireHiker on March 20, 2018, 09:42:54 AM
I'm reading her book right now. I started it last night and I'm 26% through it now. I did check it out for free from my library because I do try to be frugal too (although I fall far, far short of their frugality). I am really enjoying her book because I feel like we are very similar personality-wise. She had a much more stable and sheltered upbringing than I did, but a lot of the same perfectionist, borderline neurotic, traits are similar so I find I can relate well to her story even though mine is different. The entire introduction was a giant disclaimer about privilege. I am at the point where they're getting ready to move to DC for grad school.

Yes, @iowajes, it is definitely a memoir and not a how-to. If you can find the book at your library (mine has the ebook on overdrive), it's so far a pretty quick read. I am enjoying it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 20, 2018, 09:56:13 AM
I received an email update about the latest post this morning so went and skimmed through it. It turned out to be one of the expenses reports that i don't pay a lot of attention to generally. Down the bottom was a comment asking why Mrs Frugalwoods doesn't show the income side of the equation - possibly inspired by the recent comments after her podcast? I just went back to see if there were any other comments and that particular question is gone. Maybe the uncomfortable questions are being censored?

While I like her frugal principles I do find the refusal to disclose the income side of things does reduce her credibility. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 20, 2018, 10:01:01 AM
They do understand that their stars aligned in such a way that their dreams came true and they are grateful for it.

So, if they truly acknowledge that is the case, why would their story be exceptional at all?  If I inherited 100 million dollars from a rich uncle, would I be qualified to write a book on how to be financially independent?  Sure, it might make a good story,  but I doubt anyone would be impressed with my financial prowess.

No one is impressed with your reasoning skills either if you think working hard and advancing your career is the same as an inheritance. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 20, 2018, 10:03:36 AM
I don't really have a problem with Frugalwoods, but I was turned off when listening to her on the Mad Fientist podcast. She was saying that when there is free food for a conference or what not, she always grabs an extra sandwich and snacks so she can have free lunch or dinner later. Mad Fientist said that she did that at FinCon and then when he arrived to breakfast there was not enough food left for others. With a $225,00k+ salary, she can still be frugal without stealing food. I think she can afford buying a $5 sandwich for lunch at Fincon.
Ha! You could also say that for what they charge to attend FinCon the organizers could have provided more food. If one skinny pregnant woman took a little extra food and there wasn't enough left "for others", the problem was not of her making.

IIRC, Amy Dacyczyn, of Tightwad Gazette fame, was crucified for taking an extra muffin from a hotel breakfast (to eat later) when she was being interviewed on a talk show in NYC.

I can appreciate that both of these women actually ate the food. I have a bigger problem with people who fill their plates and don't eat what they've helped themselves to.

And mathlete: "dishonest"? You have such a gift for hyperbole!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 20, 2018, 10:27:14 AM

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It is much easier to be frugal when you earn more.

First off- when frugality is a choice, psychologically, it is easier on you.  You can always spend more if you need to (see restaurants on frugalwoods spending this month), you know you have a backup in a major medical emergency.  If a tornado or flood hits your house, you can probably deal with things until your insurance comes through. 

Second- A lot of frugal options aren't available to low income.  It's easy to not use a car when you can live in an area close to your job. Those desirable areas are often expensive. Public transportation in the US is a sham.
It's easy to say "buy in bulk" when you have money to do so all at once, and a place to store it.
It's easy to say "pay cash for your car" when you have enough money to cover your basic necessities and aren't worried about keeping the electricity on.

"Frugality" as we know it today has privilege associated with it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 20, 2018, 10:44:20 AM

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It is much easier to be frugal when you earn more.

First off- when frugality is a choice, psychologically, it is easier on you.  You can always spend more if you need to (see restaurants on frugalwoods spending this month), you know you have a backup in a major medical emergency.  If a tornado or flood hits your house, you can probably deal with things until your insurance comes through. 

Second- A lot of frugal options aren't available to low income.  It's easy to not use a car when you can live in an area close to your job. Those desirable areas are often expensive. Public transportation in the US is a sham.
It's easy to say "buy in bulk" when you have money to do so all at once, and a place to store it.
It's easy to say "pay cash for your car" when you have enough money to cover your basic necessities and aren't worried about keeping the electricity on.

"Frugality" as we know it today has privilege associated with it.

No need to go all reductio ad absurdum.  I'm not talking the difference between minimum wage and 6 figures.  I'm talking about people on the FIRE path.  That's why I stated it's a basic tenet of FIRE.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lichen on March 20, 2018, 10:49:25 AM
Some frugality is easier when you have more money, but not all. Just five years ago we brought in $19k for a family of four in a MCOL area. I know low income frugality. It was much easier to be frugal on $19k than the $45k we made a couple of years later. Note: Easier to be frugal, not easier to save. At $45k we saved a couple of hundred that year, but if it had been easier to be frugal we should have saved $26k. Since earning more makes it easier to spend more, and I had yet to discover MMM, that didn't happen.

Sure, some frugal options aren't available at low income, but man, at higher income levels frugal decision fatigue becomes an issue I never had to deal with in my poorer days. Example from my own life: Eating simple foods at home and not going out to eat was a lot easier when we were rock bottom then than it is now with just a little bit of extra money. The amount of will power it takes not to piss away a couple hundred extra a month on random crap like a dinner out, new jeans instead of used, a replacement instead of repair, etc was actually shocking for me as someone that never had to make the frugal or not choices just a few years ago. Lifestyle inflation is a real issue, even at lower income levels, so I can only imagine the challenge it is at a higher income level.

Perhaps on a forum like MMM, the story of the progression of a middle to high income earner achieving their goals with frugality isn't exceptional. Yet, considering that the average first world consumer sucka simply pisses away more resources as their income rises, the story that is a yawn around here is actually quite exceptional when it is contrasted to life within the general population.

Plus, at this point I know most of the frugal tips and I need no more how to guides :) It's reading the "lifestyle" stories that keep me inspired to stay on the FI straight and narrow.

 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 20, 2018, 10:49:54 AM

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It is much easier to be frugal when you earn more.

First off- when frugality is a choice, psychologically, it is easier on you.  You can always spend more if you need to (see restaurants on frugalwoods spending this month), you know you have a backup in a major medical emergency.  If a tornado or flood hits your house, you can probably deal with things until your insurance comes through. 

Second- A lot of frugal options aren't available to low income.  It's easy to not use a car when you can live in an area close to your job. Those desirable areas are often expensive. Public transportation in the US is a sham.
It's easy to say "buy in bulk" when you have money to do so all at once, and a place to store it.
It's easy to say "pay cash for your car" when you have enough money to cover your basic necessities and aren't worried about keeping the electricity on.

"Frugality" as we know it today has privilege associated with it.

So what? 

Yes, it's easier to FI when you make a lot of money.  People who make a lot of money generally work hard but also have had good breaks.  So they are doing things from a privileged position. 

Is your point that things are harder if you're poor (ie, low income)?  If so it seems like kind of an obvious point. 

IME, people like MMM and Frugalwoods appeal and apply most to upper income high lifestyle wasteful people.  That's where their message resonates and has the most affect. 

Rather than people carping about how it doesn't apply to low income people, maybe the low income people should blog about frugality and life lessons from a lower income perspective?  Maybe they're out there, I don't know as I only read MMMs blog (and not even that very much any more).  I never got the sense that either MMM or Frugalwoods ever tried to portray themselves as poor or low income people. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 20, 2018, 10:56:13 AM
And mathlete: "dishonest"? You have such a gift for hyperbole!
Mathlete feels that when they don't disclose their income they are painting a distorted picture of their finances. I didn't find that statement hyperbolic at all. It's a lie of omission rather than a lie of commission, which is maybe a little better, but I think their income is a big detail to leave out.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 20, 2018, 10:57:03 AM
I never got the sense that either MMM or Frugalwoods ever tried to portray themselves as poor or low income people.
I take it you didn't read the book, then?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 11:12:07 AM
Whether or not frugality (as defined by spending/income) gets easier as you make more money (it does) is completely secondary in my opinion. Because frugality isn't all that important to the story here.

Let me clarify; I'm sure frugality is extremely important to Elizabeth and Nate themselves. I'm sure they get the same exact warm and fuzzies from saving a buck that everyone else here gets. But these are two different stories.

Story A is about doing the little things. That rush you get from cutting each other's hair or picking up an item of need from the curb outside a neighbor's house.

Story B is about the big picture successes. Financial independence. The 60 acres. The beautiful photography. Gazing out on the savanna with the knowledge that everything the sun touches is yours.

Neither story is all the compelling by itself. You get a mega popular blog and a published book though, when you create the false impression that Story A enables Story B. And you create that impression by playing up frugality and obfuscating income.

They famously saved like 80% of their income or something. We could get bogged down by asking the question, "How much easier was it for them to save that much than it is for me (or the median family or whoever)?"

I think the much more interesting question is, "What changes if they didn't save that crazy high number?" My answer would be, "Not much". Maybe they blog would be a little less compelling.

And this, to me, is the heart of the matter. The thesis, "Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living" is laughably inaccurate at best, and by my estimation, very likely willfully deceptive. They're financially independent and live life to the extent that they do because they're one percenters with flexible work arrangements.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 11:14:46 AM
And mathlete: "dishonest"? You have such a gift for hyperbole!

Hyperbole would be if I made many multiples of the median US household income and then started a blog about how I got rich by skipping my monthly appointment at Fantastic Sams.

That was probably rude and unnecessarily snarky of me. But I'm trying to do a better job of being concise, lol. I made a much longer post above that is more mechanical.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 20, 2018, 11:18:33 AM
And mathlete: "dishonest"? You have such a gift for hyperbole!
Mathlete feels that when they don't disclose their income they are painting a distorted picture of their finances. I didn't find that statement hyperbolic at all. It's a lie of omission rather than a lie of commission, which is maybe a little better, but I think their income is a big detail to leave out.
Like most of us, they weren't trust fund babies. They started small and worked their way up. No "dishonesty" there. Kinda like the way MMM reveals his family's spending, but not the portion that can be attributed to their businesses. Pete does not reveal his blog income in these annual updates, either. They have a right to control how much of their personal information they divulge. It doesn't take away from the lesson, and it is not "dishonest", IMO.

The FW have an Uber Frugal Month challenge that can shake coins out of anyone's pockets, possibly even the great MMM's. It provides value to anyone at any income level, even if it just serves as a reminder to review all aspects of spending.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lichen on March 20, 2018, 11:26:22 AM

Neither story is all the compelling by itself to Mathlete. You get a mega popular blog and a published book though, when you create the false impression that Story A enables Story B. And you create that impression by playing up frugality and obfuscating income.


FTFY. You don't find either story compelling. That doesn't mean others aren't compelled. You feel not sharing exact income is dishonest. I don't. Honestly, it all comes down to personal opinion. FW rubs you the wrong way or isn't interesting/useful to you, great. Don't read them or waste headspace on them.

It's one more PF book/personal journey book in a world where there are a ton. We can argue that the world doesn't need anymore. We could also say the world has enough art/fiction/recipe options/potted succulents/what have you, but that doesn't mean that more isn't appreciated by some people. I appreciate the stories, especially from those with drastically different life experiences from me. You may not. It's all good.

I'm picking up the book from the library today. I've read the blog beginning to end, so I'll be pleasantly surprised if I find anything new.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 11:28:30 AM
RE: Dishonesty, I'll refer to a post I made earlier in the thread:

Quote
My husband, Nate, and I are not exceptional people. Weíre not rich or famous or geniuses or even particularly good-looking (although we have our moments). Weíre just some average, middle-class kids from the midwest who decided we wanted something more out of life than what our consumer culture sells us.
 
While itís true that Nate and I are average people, and weíve never won the lottery or had investment banker salaries or been the beneficiaries of inheritances or trust funds, Iím keenly aware that we are also extraordinarily privileged.

Imagine writing that while having a one percenter income. It's dishonest. The word choice is very careful. There is a nod to privilege there at the end, but it's very transparent to me what they're doing. Emphasize the frugality and not the income. Because frugality is marketable when you're selling dreams. Extremely high incomes are not.

Without outright lying (I'm not accusing them of lying), they've worked very hard to create the perception that they are normal or average. That they are the the kind of people for whom cutting out tiny expenses like hair cuts, or buying new table lamps, make a meaningful difference. This simply isn't true. These things don't change the overall narrative. They could sustain the homesteading lifestyle with zero savings just off of their high income, work from home situation.

True, saving did make them financially independent, but it wasn't saving on cellphone bills and hair cuts, it was electing not to buy sports cars and yachts. No one wants to read a book about how rich people didn't buy a sports car though.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 20, 2018, 11:34:18 AM

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It is much easier to be frugal when you earn more.

First off- when frugality is a choice, psychologically, it is easier on you.  You can always spend more if you need to (see restaurants on frugalwoods spending this month), you know you have a backup in a major medical emergency.  If a tornado or flood hits your house, you can probably deal with things until your insurance comes through. 

Second- A lot of frugal options aren't available to low income.  It's easy to not use a car when you can live in an area close to your job. Those desirable areas are often expensive. Public transportation in the US is a sham.
It's easy to say "buy in bulk" when you have money to do so all at once, and a place to store it.
It's easy to say "pay cash for your car" when you have enough money to cover your basic necessities and aren't worried about keeping the electricity on.

"Frugality" as we know it today has privilege associated with it.

No need to go all reductio ad absurdum.  I'm not talking the difference between minimum wage and 6 figures.  I'm talking about people on the FIRE path.  That's why I stated it's a basic tenet of FIRE.

I'm really not meaning to take this argument to an absurd level. I was pointing out very real scenarios people face. Maybe you don't know people who have lost their entire property to flood or tornado. I do.   It is easier to be frugal when you are making the choice to be frugal vs. having the choice made for you.  I work with refugees who have nothing when they come here. Their frugal choices are forced, it's not "being frugal" it is surviving. But they can't take advantage of many of the "simple" tips bloggers like to share.

By stating you weren't talking about the difference between six figures and minimum wage, but only people "on a FIRE path"- that seems to me you are saying there is an income aspect to it.  But FIRE doesn't have to be about frugality at all- it only means you have to make enough to cover your expenses. The easy way for most people to do this is to have fewer expenses, but making more money works too.



I like The Frugalwoods. But I've always thought they portrayed themselves as "high earners, but still average" which I took to mean maybe a low six figure combined, or each barely making six figures.  Lots of families hit that metric, so even though it is well beyond the median, I understand why people in that position still call themselves average. Knowing Nate alone pulls in six figures, and not just barely; well, it's disingenuous to state they are just average. It's also ridiculous to fret about being a SAHM when your husband makes that much.
Their 90% savings rate isn't nearly as impressive to me anymore. They still have more to spend than I made some years.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 20, 2018, 11:50:02 AM
No need to go all reductio ad absurdum.  I'm not talking the difference between minimum wage and 6 figures.  I'm talking about people on the FIRE path.  That's why I stated it's a basic tenet of FIRE.

I'm really not meaning to take this argument to an absurd level. I was pointing out very real scenarios people face. Maybe you don't know people who have lost their entire property to flood or tornado. I do.   It is easier to be frugal when you are making the choice to be frugal vs. having the choice made for you.  I work with refugees who have nothing when they come here. Their frugal choices are forced, it's not "being frugal" it is surviving. But they can't take advantage of many of the "simple" tips bloggers like to share.

Hmmmmmm.

By stating you weren't talking about the difference between six figures and minimum wage, but only people "on a FIRE path"- that seems to me you are saying there is an income aspect to it.  But FIRE doesn't have to be about frugality at all- it only means you have to make enough to cover your expenses. The easy way for most people to do this is to have fewer expenses, but making more money works too.

Income absolutely helps in attaining FIRE.  That's obvious.  However, you can still spend $30k/yr whether you make $70k or $500k.  The income portion, when it comes to frugality, is irrelevant.  (excepting truly poor people)


Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 20, 2018, 11:53:50 AM

Quote
we’ve never won the lottery or had investment banker salaries
My favorite part is the reference to IB salaries. I’m about to be an investment banker making like 40% of Mr.FW’s take home.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 20, 2018, 12:03:04 PM
No need to go all reductio ad absurdum.  I'm not talking the difference between minimum wage and 6 figures.  I'm talking about people on the FIRE path.  That's why I stated it's a basic tenet of FIRE.

I'm really not meaning to take this argument to an absurd level. I was pointing out very real scenarios people face. Maybe you don't know people who have lost their entire property to flood or tornado. I do.   It is easier to be frugal when you are making the choice to be frugal vs. having the choice made for you.  I work with refugees who have nothing when they come here. Their frugal choices are forced, it's not "being frugal" it is surviving. But they can't take advantage of many of the "simple" tips bloggers like to share.

Hmmmmmm.

By stating you weren't talking about the difference between six figures and minimum wage, but only people "on a FIRE path"- that seems to me you are saying there is an income aspect to it.  But FIRE doesn't have to be about frugality at all- it only means you have to make enough to cover your expenses. The easy way for most people to do this is to have fewer expenses, but making more money works too.

Income absolutely helps in attaining FIRE.  That's obvious.  However, you can still spend $30k/yr whether you make $70k or $500k.  The income portion, when it comes to frugality, is irrelevant.  (excepting truly poor people)

Not sure what you are Hmmmmmming about here.  It's a reality. They are real people. And they are part of my daily life.  I'm not making up silly hypotheticals.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 20, 2018, 12:20:19 PM
I remember there was a LOT of sniping at MMM last year when it was revealed he made $400k just from his blog alone.  Seems like some people around here are OK if you make an income "up to" the low 6 digits.  But make between $200k and $500k per year and WATCH OUT, the knives really come out...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 12:37:44 PM
I remember there was a LOT of sniping at MMM last year when it was revealed he made $400k just from his blog alone.  Seems like some people around here are OK if you make an income "up to" the low 6 digits.  But make between $200k and $500k per year and WATCH OUT, the knives really come out...

I think you're probably on to something here. I would not be surprised if "the low 6 digits" is about what most people around here make, or will top out at. So it shouldn't be surprising.

That might move the needle for some people on whether or not to gripe, but I don't think it changes the core of the gripes themselves.

FWIW, I am critical of MMM when he describes himself as retiring on "two normal salaries". He and his wife made multiples of the median household income decades before what are typically considered a person's peak earning years. If that is "normal", and Elizabeth and Nate are "average" or "not exceptional", then it's time to start writing the eulogy for the English language because words don't mean anything anymore.

Early retirement blogs are largely the story of young, high income people realizing that money doesn't buy happiness beyond a certain point. That message tends to resonate further when you attempt to describe yourself as normal or average or middle class or whatever. Myself and others find that to be dishonest, and I really don't see any compelling arguments for why we're wrong.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 20, 2018, 12:49:55 PM
I remember there was a LOT of sniping at MMM last year when it was revealed he made $400k just from his blog alone.  Seems like some people around here are OK if you make an income "up to" the low 6 digits.  But make between $200k and $500k per year and WATCH OUT, the knives really come out...

I think you're probably on to something here. I would not be surprised if "the low 6 digits" is about what most people around here make, or will top out at. So it shouldn't be surprising.

That might move the needle for some people on whether or not to gripe, but I don't think it changes the core of the gripes themselves.

FWIW, I am critical of MMM when he describes himself as retiring on "two normal salaries". He and his wife made multiples of the median household income decades before what are typically considered a person's peak earning years. If that is "normal", and Elizabeth and Nate are "average" or "not exceptional", then it's time to start writing the eulogy for the English language because words don't mean anything anymore.

Early retirement blogs are largely the story of young, high income people realizing that money doesn't buy happiness beyond a certain point. That message tends to resonate further when you attempt to describe yourself as normal or average or middle class or whatever. Myself and others find that to be dishonest, and I really don't see any compelling arguments for why we're wrong.

I'll just give my $.02 here on the bolded part as I tend to agree with the rest.  I think the disconnect is this.  When you or I look at FW or MMM they are high income.  But when MMM and FW look at themselves compared to their peers, and their peers are pissing away that firehose of money, then to them it seems like the key ingredient is to stop pissing away all that cash and save/invest it instead.

The perspective to them is "I'm not special (any different from my peers), we got wealthy and became FI (and our peers didn't) because we are frugal and they are not". 

And those are all true statements.  And it's quite honest, from their perspective.  I find there's rarely ever one absolute "truth" but rather "this is how I honestly see things, from my perspective". 

You might call their perspective skewed, and you'd be right.  I'd counter with the truth that everyone's views are skewed :P 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 20, 2018, 12:56:38 PM
I remember there was a LOT of sniping at MMM last year when it was revealed he made $400k just from his blog alone.  Seems like some people around here are OK if you make an income "up to" the low 6 digits.  But make between $200k and $500k per year and WATCH OUT, the knives really come out...

I guess I'm just "retirement police" because I don't see how MMM is retired. He's self-employed.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 20, 2018, 12:58:53 PM
I remember there was a LOT of sniping at MMM last year when it was revealed he made $400k just from his blog alone.  Seems like some people around here are OK if you make an income "up to" the low 6 digits.  But make between $200k and $500k per year and WATCH OUT, the knives really come out...

I guess I'm just "retirement police" because I don't see how MMM is retired. He's self-employed.

Does it matter?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 01:02:54 PM
I'll just give my $.02 here on the bolded part as I tend to agree with the rest.  I think the disconnect is this.  When you or I look at FW or MMM they are high income.  But when MMM and FW look at themselves compared to their peers, and their peers are pissing away that firehose of money, then to them it seems like the key ingredient is to stop pissing away all that cash and save/invest it instead.

The perspective to them is "I'm not special (any different from my peers), we got wealthy and became FI (and our peers didn't) because we are frugal and they are not". 

And those are all true statements.  And it's quite honest, from their perspective.  I find there's rarely ever one absolute "truth" but rather "this is how I honestly see things, from my perspective". 

You might call their perspective skewed, and you'd be right.  I'd counter with the truth that everyone's views are skewed :P

Absolutely fair. I tend to think that there is a bit more to it than that, but that's just idle speculation on my part.

As Eric points out, the people on the FIRE path are most likely high income themselves, and so the message works well within the community regardless. Maybe it'd benefit the FW to seek a more diverse perspective before marketing a book to a broader audience though. Unless they sincerely don't care about the criticism, which is certainly possible.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: PoutineLover on March 20, 2018, 01:03:15 PM
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
(https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/)

I don't think they know what "standard" means...

also:
Weíre saving between $5k and $6k per month.  An emergency that fell under that amount could be taken care of with pure cashflow.
(https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/30/is-an-emergency-fund-necessary/)

Their savings alone is above the median household income.

Not to say their frugal tips aren't good, but there's a huge lack of self awareness on that blog.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 01:05:37 PM
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
(https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/)

I don't think they know what "standard" means...

"Normal" and "standard" here, strike me as an extremely purposeful effort not to use the word "average". This is why I tend to err on the side of, "They know what they're doing."

Maybe I'm wrong though. Wouldn't be the first time.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 20, 2018, 01:45:15 PM
I remember there was a LOT of sniping at MMM last year when it was revealed he made $400k just from his blog alone.  Seems like some people around here are OK if you make an income "up to" the low 6 digits.  But make between $200k and $500k per year and WATCH OUT, the knives really come out...

I guess I'm just "retirement police" because I don't see how MMM is retired. He's self-employed.

Does it matter?

Not really. But I think lots of people get stuck in the message when someone who is still working says they are retired. FIRE seems more about working a job that isn't a 9-5 than actually not working.
That's why I like that the Frugalwoods just say they are FI.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 20, 2018, 01:45:42 PM
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
(https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/)

I don't think they know what "standard" means...

"Normal" and "standard" here, strike me as an extremely purposeful effort not to use the word "average". This is why I tend to err on the side of, "They know what they're doing."

Maybe I'm wrong though. Wouldn't be the first time.

I do totally agree that they have neither normal jobs or standard salaries. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: NoraLenderbee on March 20, 2018, 02:04:55 PM
. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It may not be easier to be frugal when you earn more, but it is a hell of a lot easier to get to FI. Income has no bearing on spending. It has an enormous bearing on saving and on how soon you reach your goals. I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 20, 2018, 02:49:10 PM
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
(https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/)

I don't think they know what "standard" means...

"Normal" and "standard" here, strike me as an extremely purposeful effort not to use the word "average". This is why I tend to err on the side of, "They know what they're doing."

Maybe I'm wrong though. Wouldn't be the first time.

I do totally agree that they have neither normal jobs or standard salaries.

They are probably just comparing themselves to their peers.  Apparently, google tells me that "Middle class" in Boston is $50k-$125k for household income.

And that's where the tricky thing comes in, for MMM and anyone else with high incomes who consider themselves middle class.


There's income, and there's lifestyle.

Many people consider themselves "middle class" because they live a middle class lifestyle, even if they have high income.  Even I make jokes about "the rich people", and yesterday a coworker said "some people would call you rich".  I said "absolutely - I *am* rich compared to the world AND the US AND probably most of California."

However with higher income comes lifestyle creep.  So a lot of my cohorts feel like they live a middle class lifestyle, because they have a small house (that was >$600k or in some cases $1M because of location).  Or they can't afford to do "whatever they want".  And in some cases, the thought is that "I'm a professional, and I'm not even as well off as my parents were!"

Of course standards have changed and that's easy to forget.  Most people carry around a computer in their pocket.  Most people I know buy new cars (and big ones).  When I was a kid, all of our cars were used, and small, and STILL when I go back to visit family you see a LOT fewer SUVs and trucks and luxury vehicles in the big snowy northeast compared to California.  So many people have lost touch with what is "average".

We live a boring, middle class lifestyle - or what would be one somewhere else.  But we aren't "average" by any means.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIRE Artist on March 20, 2018, 03:31:30 PM
Here is a pretty good article outlining the different salary brackets for middle class around the US.  Definitely someone on the high end of the scale is going to find saving for FIRE a whole lot easier than someone on the bottom end. 

http://www.businessinsider.com/middle-class-income-us-city-san-francisco-2018-2

While they could be much clearer about their pre-FI socio-economic status - i.e. dual income, white, college educated, working full time, I don't think it is fair to say the FWs do not have normal jobs or salaries.  I see nothing abnormal about their situation for a dual income couple. 

While there is a lot that can be learned about frugality on these blogs by anyone on any income, I believe that FWs know who their core audience is, as does MMM - early FI/FIRE through living a frugal/middle class lifestyle even though you have a household income that exceeds (even doubles or more) the middle class income band.  Are they making efforts towards marketing their message to an audience wider than their peers?  I'm not sure they are necessarily. 

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 20, 2018, 03:39:58 PM
. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It may not be easier to be frugal when you earn more, but it is a hell of a lot easier to get to FI. Income has no bearing on spending. It has an enormous bearing on saving and on how soon you reach your goals. I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

Not if you're tying income to spending it doesn't.  Your goals are just as far away no matter how much you make if you don't increase your savings rate.  There's probably an MMM post about this.  It's like some sort of shockingly simple math.

Everyone understands that making more is good.  But saving more is even better.  The statement that anyone who makes "more" has an easier time with frugality shows a complete divorce from the basics of FIRE.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 20, 2018, 04:02:23 PM
Here is a pretty good article outlining the different salary brackets for middle class around the US.  Definitely someone on the high end of the scale is going to find saving for FIRE a whole lot easier than someone on the bottom end. 

http://www.businessinsider.com/middle-class-income-us-city-san-francisco-2018-2

While they could be much clearer about their pre-FI socio-economic status - i.e. dual income, white, college educated, working full time, I don't think it is fair to say the FWs do not have normal jobs or salaries.  I see nothing abnormal about their situation for a dual income couple. 

While there is a lot that can be learned about frugality on these blogs by anyone on any income, I believe that FWs know who their core audience is, as does MMM - early FI/FIRE through living a frugal/middle class lifestyle even though you have a household income that exceeds (even doubles or more) the middle class income band.  Are they making efforts towards marketing their message to an audience wider than their peers?  I'm not sure they are necessarily.

https://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpswktab5.htm (https://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpswktab5.htm)

Massaging the BLS data tables, they were probably somewhere close to the top 10% of all dual income households with bachelor's degrees or higher. Even in that tiny subset, they were earning more than as high as 90% of their peers. Peers of any age, when they were around age 30 and more than a decade away from traditional peak earnings years.

They are exceptional by nearly any measure of income.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: big_owl on March 20, 2018, 04:31:52 PM
For the folks who say 300-400K (6-7 times median income) is still standard, middle class, or whatever, I ask you this:

Pretend for a moment that FW made more than 300-400K every year since 2014; at what dollar amount, do you feel that the words "standard" or "middle class" would become dishonest or misleading?  Like if FW made 100 million dollars per year but they said they made standard, middle class incomes, I'm thinking some of you would maybe say they were being dishonest.  So that's my question: at what income level, would you be confident in saying they were being dishonest with their words?

ID, but anybody making $300k+ who claims their income is standard, normal, or close to middle class, is wholly, completely, and utterly full of shit.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 20, 2018, 06:51:33 PM
. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It may not be easier to be frugal when you earn more, but it is a hell of a lot easier to get to FI. Income has no bearing on spending. It has an enormous bearing on saving and on how soon you reach your goals. I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

Not if you're tying income to spending it doesn't.  Your goals are just as far away no matter how much you make if you don't increase your savings rate.  There's probably an MMM post about this.  It's like some sort of shockingly simple math.

Everyone understands that making more is good.  But saving more is even better.  The statement that anyone who makes "more" has an easier time with frugality shows a complete divorce from the basics of FIRE.

Meh, it's easier though.  My expenses have gone up over the last 15 years because I bought a house and had kids, but...we went from a small income and a grad student stipend to two middle-aged engineers over the space of 15-20 years. 

Being frugal is, in many ways, easier.  At least before we had kids. 

As long as you don't increase your expenses as your income goes up.  I mean, our income more than tripled in the first few years and the only thing that went up was rent, because we weren't living in student housing anymore.

When  you don't have to be frugal - you aren't stressed out. (That's huge.) You aren't as reliant on having reliable transportation.  If you are poor and you drive a crappy car and miss work - sometimes you get fired.  If you are living frugally by choice, you've got the $$ to run off and rent a car or take a cab if your POS dies on the freeway.  Having lower incomes and not having the flexibility or ability to buy in bulk, shop for discounts, etc. makes a huge difference.

I'm thinking more about this right now as I'm reading the book $2 a day.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: fuzzy math on March 20, 2018, 08:00:33 PM
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
(https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/)

I don't think they know what "standard" means...

"Normal" and "standard" here, strike me as an extremely purposeful effort not to use the word "average". This is why I tend to err on the side of, "They know what they're doing."

Maybe I'm wrong though. Wouldn't be the first time.

You're not wrong. she also emphasized their work in non profits. That to me conjures up the image of social work, peace corps etc kind of stuff that typically doesn't garner a 6 figure salary. $225k is approaching a doctor's salary. Imagine their story being rephrased to "a couple achieves FIRE in their 30s on a doctor's salary!" Not quite as compelling...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: force majeure on March 21, 2018, 01:08:45 AM
Going public with this information is not a good idea.
If I exposed my financial situation or FIRE goals, it would be career suicide.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lmoot on March 21, 2018, 04:32:04 AM
. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It may not be easier to be frugal when you earn more, but it is a hell of a lot easier to get to FI. Income has no bearing on spending. It has an enormous bearing on saving and on how soon you reach your goals. I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

Not if you're tying income to spending it doesn't.  Your goals are just as far away no matter how much you make if you don't increase your savings rate.  There's probably an MMM post about this.  It's like some sort of shockingly simple math.

Everyone understands that making more is good.  But saving more is even better.  The statement that anyone who makes "more" has an easier time with frugality shows a complete divorce from the basics of FIRE.

Meh, it's easier though.  My expenses have gone up over the last 15 years because I bought a house and had kids, but...we went from a small income and a grad student stipend to two middle-aged engineers over the space of 15-20 years. 

Being frugal is, in many ways, easier.  At least before we had kids. 

As long as you don't increase your expenses as your income goes up.  I mean, our income more than tripled in the first few years and the only thing that went up was rent, because we weren't living in student housing anymore.

When  you don't have to be frugal - you aren't stressed out. (That's huge.) You aren't as reliant on having reliable transportation.  If you are poor and you drive a crappy car and miss work - sometimes you get fired.  If you are living frugally by choice, you've got the $$ to run off and rent a car or take a cab if your POS dies on the freeway.  Having lower incomes and not having the flexibility or ability to buy in bulk, shop for discounts, etc. makes a huge difference.

I'm thinking more about this right now as I'm reading the book $2 a day.
mm1970, Agree 100%. I don't earn alot, but I still earn twice what I made when I first started out, and my expenses have barely changed. The only thing that goes up is my savings rate. But if I want to splurge, or throw money at a problem to make it go away, I generally can. Just knowing that is a HUGE relief, and why I don't consider being frugal a sacrifice...being frugal to me, is getting paid for piece of mind; not only do I get to keep more cash in my pocket, but I'm getting a bonifide service in return, for the "price" of paying myself. It's a win-win in my book.

Regarding the FG's, like I mentioned in an earlier comment, I've never read their blog, but judging from the little bit I skimmed, and the comments here, it seems that many have a problem with the coy tone regarding their income. Or if they do refer to their breaks, they do it in a self-depreciating way (that's the sense I get from comments here...I have not read the blog). I can see how this is annoying, if that's true. Downplaying achievements makes it seem as if one is trying to be something they're not. Yes, it's super inspiring to hear ground-up stories...but if that's not YOUR story it could come off as disingenuous . But maybe they actually are embarrassed to have had a quick and "easier" go at it. It's clear they enjoy a challenge, so maybe they don't consider the truth of their story to be enough of a challenge, and that may be something that makes them self-conscious as it goes against the self-image they have/want of themselves.

Or maybe we're all (including myself) reading way too much into their intentions and psychology :D

I would like to see them OWN their financial success (on the income earning side), and discuss the drive it took for them to get those high paying jobs, with the same verve they apparently talk about the other side of it. I don't see anything wrong with being proud about financial achievements. They wouldn't be where they are (at the same level they are anyway), without those achievements, so whether they like it or not, it is forever a part of their origin story, and to ignore or downplay it, takes away their foundation (which is kinda important if your M.O. is to show people how you built your house).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Nancy on March 21, 2018, 06:51:16 AM
...
While I like her frugal principles I do find the refusal to disclose the income side of things does reduce her credibility. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

@Eric I think this would be true in a vacuum, but I don't think it actually plays out this way because people with high incomes generally have a lot of other benefits that make spending less easier. For example, high-earners have been found to have better health outcomes than lower-and-moderate income counterparts. "Evidence has accumulated...pointing to socioeconomic factors such as income, wealth, and education as the fundamental causes of a wide range of health outcomes." (Public Health Rep. 2014 Jan-Feb; 129(Suppl 2): 19Ė31).

And when lower-to-moderate income folks incur medical bills due to a lack of health insurance or high deductibles, they have to pay a higher percent of their income toward these bills. After reading the U.S. Financial Diaries, I realized that low-to-moderate income people ARE being frugal, but their frugality is going toward paying down medical and other bills and smoothing out their income volatility.

There is also the stress effect of poverty on the brain. According to an Atlantic article, "when a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways...They are constantly struggling to make ends meet and often bracing themselves against class bias that adds extra strain or even trauma to their daily lives. And the science is clearówhen brain capacity is used up on these worries and fears, there simply isnít as much bandwidth for other things." Income affects one's ability to choose to be frugal by physically altering the brain.

To take the FWs example, she was able to walk to a yoga studio where she could volunteer in exchange for a free restorative yoga practice. This not only improved her physical health, but also her mental clarity and ability to choose to be frugal. She also lived one mile away from a low-cost grocery store where she had access to fresh and ample fruits and vegetables. I was going to write about their ability to absorb the medical expense of Nate's bike accident, but I'll leave you with Ms. FW's own words when they were having to contemplate using IUI (intrauterine insemination):
Quote
Once the words IUI were on the table, we started researching our insurance coverage for such treatments and came up with an almost unbelievable discovery: our insurance actually covers fertility treatments. This is ridiculously rare and we felt beyond fortunate. It was yet another time in our lives when we realized that privilege plays a huge role in our successes.

The great irony is that we could easily afford to pay for fertility treatments out-of-pocket, whereas for many couples, those costs (which are usually in the low to mid five-figures) are a debt sentence or entirely out of reach. It almost seems unfair that since Mr. FW has a really well-paying job, he has premiere health insurance, and so weíd be off the hook for the costs. A classic case of the rich get richer.

I applaud Ms. FW for this post and others where she calls out her privilege. Unfortunately, they are mixed in with posts where she downplays their income and inflates their bootstrapping.

I think what's up with the Frugalwoods is that they are bloggers, and in today's current environment that means they are selling us a lifestyle. In order to sell it to the widest audience, they have rounded off the edges that make their story less than appealing (like their incomes).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Penny_Hartz on March 21, 2018, 06:54:28 AM
I hate to pile on, because I do in general like the The Frugalwoods. However, I was listening to Liz on Paula Pantís podcast (Afford Anything) yesterday and similar to her evasiveness regarding their income, she would not say how much her parents contributed towards college. Paula flat out asked her what the breakdown was between scholarships, Lizís contribution, and her parentsí contribution and Liz just kept talking in circles and saying she didnít remember because it was ďso long agoĒ. I donít understand why she evidently thinks itís shameful to say ďI was very fortunate that my parents paid completely for my collegeĒ. It doesnít take anything away from her current success, although it does change the narrative sheís tried to create for herself which I think is why people are so upset.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 21, 2018, 07:47:48 AM
Going public with this information is not a good idea.
If I exposed my financial situation or FIRE goals, it would be career suicide.

I think this may have been true many years ago, but I think lots of employers get the picture at this point. People job-hop enough to where it is unrealistic to expect someone to be hired on and stay forever.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 21, 2018, 08:13:03 AM
Going public with this information is not a good idea.
If I exposed my financial situation or FIRE goals, it would be career suicide.

I think that is why they stayed anonymous on their blog for a long time. If you read all their old posts you will see photos from neck down, or from their back.

Of course, I think Nate's employer is well aware what is going on now (they revealed themselves when they first got TV spots); since he works at home.  But I believe their original plane was FIRE.  They just decided against the RE thing and work from home now.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: StarBright on March 21, 2018, 09:29:15 AM

However with higher income comes lifestyle creep.  So a lot of my cohorts feel like they live a middle class lifestyle, because they have a small house (that was >$600k or in some cases $1M because of location).  Or they can't afford to do "whatever they want".  And in some cases, the thought is that "I'm a professional, and I'm not even as well off as my parents were!"

 . . . . .

We live a boring, middle class lifestyle - or what would be one somewhere else.  But we aren't "average" by any means.

mm1970 - I think you've got the right of it. In our case (and I suspect we are similar to the FWs in this case) - We are still living a very similar lifestyle to when we probably would have qualified for food stamps - we are driving the same type of cars, still have the same furniture, still cook most of our food from scratch, try not to use heat and AC, and still don't take vacations.

My gut reaction is still that we are poor and frugal. The reality is that we are now a low six-figure family - we just still live the same lifestyle and are funneling everything else into savings. It doesn't feel exceptional because we aren't seeing the money yet. It wouldn't surprise me if the FWs are similar.

Someone upthread also said that it bothered them that Mrs FW worried about being financially able to take care of their kid when they were so well off. I will just say that for some of us the Inner Bag Lady is especially strong. My husband and I have jobs that pay better and (mine is) are more stable than most of our friends and families - but I am always the one worried about saving for a rainy day. Some of us are just neurotic that way (how do you think we end up on MMM?:)).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lichen on March 21, 2018, 09:41:44 AM
My thoughts now that I have read the book:

1)The section on privilege pretty much is in answer to the complainy pants people that moan about them being high income. In other words -- she point blank says their results are because of their high income (and other privileges) and she knows those with less  income or other barriers can't easily replicate their results, but they can still change their narrative to the better.

2) She gives their exact starting salaries when they began their FI journey with saving for the Cambridge house, which were solidly within the middle income range of Cambridge professional in 2008: +/-$69k. So yes, they did begin their savings journey on a middle class income. Their income has ballooned since then. May we all be so blessed.

3) They did come from a suitably middle class background. Whether they are middle class now economically is neither here nor there. Socially, they were and likely still are middle class. Economically, they are now likely "rich" but they aren't the style of filthy rich that she probably thinks of thanks to her fundraiser work. Social class can have a lot of bearing on behavior and thought patterns -- just like it is hard for someone with a middle class income and a poor upbringing to feel comfortable around other middle class, it can be hard for someone with middle class upbringing/desires/tastes to feel comfortable with even upper middle class socially, regardless of income. (Disclaimer: I'm not a sociologist, just took the required gen ed class ;) )

4) In response to the college breakdown, Liz admits freely in the book that she didn't pay anything for college, it was a mixture of her parents and scholarships. She had some very minor jobs, like babysitting or internships while in school. Why the hell does the exact ratio matter? Plus, this was KU, an inexpensive state school (relatively speaking) and she would have been on instate tuition. If her grades were as advertised, the bulk was likely scholarships as it tends to be for high achieving scholars in their own state school. But again, who cares?

So yeah, the nitpicking over details or wanting specific details that no one really has the right to demand but they think they do in our culture of paparazzi, Facebook, and oversharing sort of irks me.

I'm not sure why I care so much, and I'm kind of laughing at myself for spending so much time on this. Perhaps it's because I hope my kids have a similar trajectory as Liz and Nate, and I am projecting my own feelings? Maybe because I've been writing professionally for over a decade and it sucks when people tear your words apart into meanings you never intended? I don't know, but it's a beautiful day and I'm not dead, so I'm going to go out and enjoy it now! I hope you all find beauty in your corners of the world, too!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 21, 2018, 10:08:35 AM
wanting specific details that no one really has the right to demand but they think they do in our culture of paparazzi, Facebook, and oversharing sort of irks me.
This kind of seems like something that bothered you before you came into the thread, and are now seeing here, rather than something that has actually happened in this thread.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 21, 2018, 10:19:51 AM

However with higher income comes lifestyle creep.  So a lot of my cohorts feel like they live a middle class lifestyle, because they have a small house (that was >$600k or in some cases $1M because of location).  Or they can't afford to do "whatever they want".  And in some cases, the thought is that "I'm a professional, and I'm not even as well off as my parents were!"

 . . . . .

We live a boring, middle class lifestyle - or what would be one somewhere else.  But we aren't "average" by any means.

mm1970 - I think you've got the right of it. In our case (and I suspect we are similar to the FWs in this case) - We are still living a very similar lifestyle to when we probably would have qualified for food stamps - we are driving the same type of cars, still have the same furniture, still cook most of our food from scratch, try not to use heat and AC, and still don't take vacations.

My gut reaction is still that we are poor and frugal. The reality is that we are now a low six-figure family - we just still live the same lifestyle and are funneling everything else into savings. It doesn't feel exceptional because we aren't seeing the money yet. It wouldn't surprise me if the FWs are similar.

Someone upthread also said that it bothered them that Mrs FW worried about being financially able to take care of their kid when they were so well off. I will just say that for some of us the Inner Bag Lady is especially strong. My husband and I have jobs that pay better and (mine is) are more stable than most of our friends and families - but I am always the one worried about saving for a rainy day. Some of us are just neurotic that way (how do you think we end up on MMM?:)).

Ha ha ha, this is true for me too!

I feel like if you read back on FW, you'll read about how they started out.  When they were making less, and were frugal because they had to be.  The whole grad student thing and all.

Honestly, I grew up poor, went to college on scholarships, loans, and the US Navy.  My first couple of years in the Navy were lean - Ensigns weren't making much and I was living in DC.  I worked, shared housing, paid off loans, had a used car, ate at home (even though I didn't know how to cook).  Got married to a grad student on the 7 year PhD plan.  Near the end of the PhD is when I discovered the Simple Living Network and doubled-down on frugality.

So on one hand, we are making big bucks.  Totally true.  On the other hand, I *still* remember growing up living in a trailer, running out of money for food, and the lean days.  So I don't *feel* much different as a person. 

Maybe the answer is the definition of frugal.  Is it a hard number, or does it involve comparison to others?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 21, 2018, 10:58:14 AM
1)The section on privilege pretty much is in answer to the complainy pants people that moan about them being high income. In other words -- she point blank says their results are because of their high income (and other privileges) and she knows those with less  income or other barriers can't easily replicate their results, but they can still change their narrative to the better.

Allusions to privilege and good fortune are nice. But they called the book, "Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living". The subhead of the blog is similar too. The OpEd in The Guardian is titled, "Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 Ė and regain control of my life".

They lead with frugality constantly, despite the high probability that their frugal nature has little bearing on the big picture of their lifestyle. (i.e., the FI, the house, the 60 acres)

A few posts ago, I talked about how it seems like they're trying to connect two unrelated things; their frugality, and their cool homesteading lifestyle. I believe this to be very purposeful, because otherwise, the story is, "How Mega High Incomes Enabled Us to Live an Enviable Life".

No one wants to hear about that.

So yeah, the nitpicking over details or wanting specific details that no one really has the right to demand but they think they do in our culture of paparazzi, Facebook, and oversharing sort of irks me.

I think you gotta put this one more on The Frugalwoods, and less on the naysayers. They are the product. They are selling themselves and their personal lives. Even defenders in this thread or in the Amazon reviews describe it more as a memoir than as a how-to.

You mentioned how silly it is to spend so much time on this. I have similar feelings. Two weeks ago, I didn't know of these people or care about their lives, and now I'm doing light reading about them on a week-daily basis. Why do I care?

The only answer I can come up with is pretty unflattering: I enjoy being right about things on the Internet. If that were the title of my own memoir, the subhead would be, "I also enjoy calling out misleading marketing when I see it."
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: RelaxedGal on March 21, 2018, 11:22:13 AM
I don't remember them being FI until she needed the blog to make money and it made the story sound better. Since he kept his job and just worked remotely, why does she need to push the blog and book so hard if they are FI?

Still, i like her writing, and the extract from the book that i read was pretty decent. She has talent.

Because everyone wants approval.  Because she loves writing.  Because this is her new career.  Every author pushes their new book.

I read the book, and "Frugalwoods" was actually his idea.  He registered the domain and got her into writing the blog because he knew she loves writing, and would need something to work toward rather than just away from cubicle work.  He knows her well, it worked.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain Cactus on March 21, 2018, 11:27:11 AM
The folks at ďOur Next LifeĒ addressed this topic head-on this morning...without naming names of course!

https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 21, 2018, 12:26:56 PM
Perhaps she was working PT that second year, but most likely also got at least a partial tuition break for being an employee there while doing her degree.

I think she has actually written that she recommends people have employers pay for their advanced degrees.

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/08/26/that-time-i-went-to-grad-school-for-free/
here she thanks her parents for paying for her undergrad.


(Disclosure: My parents paid for my college, including living expenses, that was not covered by scholarships. I had signifigant scholarships my freshman year, and smaller ones every other year. I went to a very inexpensive state university and lived in modest housing instead of extravagent. I was not allowed by them to work my freshman and sophomore years. I worked 3 jobs during junior and senior year for extra spending money, savings, and because I liked working.  My parents did not pay for my Master's degree. I got $2,000 from my company for the entire degree and paid the rest out of pocket. I didn't take out any loans, instead we didn't inflate our lifestyle after my husband got a job after finishing his PhD and I continued to work fulltime.)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 21, 2018, 12:48:27 PM
I hate to pile on, because I do in general like the The Frugalwoods. However, I was listening to Liz on Paula Pantís podcast (Afford Anything) yesterday and similar to her evasiveness regarding their income, she would not say how much her parents contributed towards college. Paula flat out asked her what the breakdown was between scholarships, Lizís contribution, and her parentsí contribution and Liz just kept talking in circles and saying she didnít remember because it was ďso long agoĒ. I donít understand why she evidently thinks itís shameful to say ďI was very fortunate that my parents paid completely for my collegeĒ. It doesnít take anything away from her current success, although it does change the narrative sheís tried to create for herself which I think is why people are so upset.
I'm not defending Liz, I'm just saying that if I was asked that question, I would totally hem and haw too. Warning: I feel a wall o'text coming. Feel free to skip to the last line.

Here's why: my parents did not pay for my college. Wouldn't even let me apply to my school of choice, even though the school asked me to, based on my SAT scores. When I graduated from HS, they gave me a check for $1000 [WOW!!!, right?] Then my mom wrote in the card that I could put it toward college, a house or my wedding. WTF? My eighteen year old self was outraged. They just let themselves off the hook for everything for the rest of my life for $1k? (Remember, that's my asshole teenage self speaking.)

I got a job straight out of HS. Worked FT for a semester to build my savings. I went to a local Junior College. Held as many as three jobs at once to pay for it. Got scholarships, worked hard. Bought my own used car. I did live at home until I was almost 20. My mother wanted me to pay rent. I flat-out refused, which was the source of many, many fights. I got a good career job offer just as I was finishing my AA, so I grabbed it and moved to another city. My rage at my mother was endless.

Not long after starting the career job, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was given a medical leave and moved back home during surgery, recovery and treatment. I lived under my parent's roof, but paid all of my own expenses, including all medical (after my own insurance paid, but 20% with no OOP cap was still a fuck-ton of money). Afterwards, my parents were nicer to me and didn't ask for rent, at least. My mom went so far as to explain what she wrote in the graduation card wasn't exactly what she meant.

Based on the cancer experience, I wanted to own a house, for the security it represented. Took me almost a decade, but I did it. I also didn't want to be a wage slave. I read YMOYL. I wanted FIRE before the term existed. I wanted to savor the best life has to offer as well, 'cause there are no guarantees, right? I spent my life doing just that. And saving, of course.

As I matured, I let go of the resentment. I encouraged my parents to help my younger Sibs with their educations. They did. They also helped pay for weddings, etc, etc. My Dad's pension and benefits were good, as was my Mom's later in life career rekindling.

I also developed a better appreciation for what I had been given by my parents in terms of basic needs and a relatively stable upbringing. (Did I mention I am the oldest of six?) Eventually, I figured out that at the time I graduated HS, my Dad was about to enter forced retirement, to avoid the now-infamous Air Traffic Controller's strike. My mom was scared shitless about how they were going to survive...

I didn't marry until I was 54. We eloped. My parents loved DH, 'cause he fixed stuff for them when we'd visit;-) My mom died about two years later. It wasn't until much later still that it dawned on me they hadn't given us any kind of wedding gift. Huh. Funny, I didn't even notice. I guess the card proved to be prophetic after all. And that $1k? I cashed the check, but I never spent it. I guess you could say it became the seed money for the rest of my life.

I realize this it turning into quite the hijack. I'll end by saying that I'm grateful for everything I've been given in my life. My parents were good people, just trying to do their best. And their best was pretty damn good.

No fucking way would I have answered that question.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 21, 2018, 02:02:22 PM
I read your post twice, and I'm still not sure why you're so vehement, except maybe that it stirs up emotional angst for your personal story. The answer is $0, or $1K if you're feeling generous towards your parents IMO.

I don't understand at all why that is a big deal of a question unless one is trying to hide something/avoid revealing something.

What I took from Dicey's post, is that you can't necessarily know a person's life story or understand their outcomes based on the numerical answer to a personal question.

People can have a thousand different reasons not to address personal questions. Or no reason at all.

I'm not typically someone who likes to pry, or who cares all that much about this stuff. I'm particularly interested when it comes to PF bloggers though, because I think many of them are profiting (through money from advertisers, or just by having their attention seeking satiated) by propagating a story that is a mathematical impossibility.

JD Roth had good commentary on the mathematical impossibility part. Captain Cactus's ONL link has good commentary on the profiteering (my word) part.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 21, 2018, 02:18:26 PM
I hate to pile on, because I do in general like the The Frugalwoods. However, I was listening to Liz on Paula Pantís podcast (Afford Anything) yesterday and similar to her evasiveness regarding their income, she would not say how much her parents contributed towards college. Paula flat out asked her what the breakdown was between scholarships, Lizís contribution, and her parentsí contribution and Liz just kept talking in circles and saying she didnít remember because it was ďso long agoĒ. I donít understand why she evidently thinks itís shameful to say ďI was very fortunate that my parents paid completely for my collegeĒ. It doesnít take anything away from her current success, although it does change the narrative sheís tried to create for herself which I think is why people are so upset.
I'm not defending Liz, I'm just saying that if I was asked that question, I would totally hem and haw too. Warning: I feel a wall o'text coming. Feel free to skip to the last line.

......

No fucking way would I have answered that question.

I read your post twice, and I'm still not sure why you're so vehement  Hmmm, vehemence was not my intention, except maybe that it stirs up emotional angst for your personal story Hmmm, again. That was the point. There is a personal story. And it's personal(-ish).  The answer is $0, or $1K if you're feeling generous towards your parents IMO.  The answer is not a such convenient sound bite. I guess all those words I wrote were a failure in your eyes. Sorry to have wasted your time, but thank you for trying. Good thing I'm not trying to write and sell a book. ;-)

I don't understand at all why that is a big deal of a question unless one is trying to hide something/avoid revealing something.  Because she wrote a PF book, she must reveal every single detail about her life to anyone who asks?
Honestly, (and calmly, without vehemence) their kind of frugality is effective, at any income level. MMM only reveals the parts of his life he chooses to share. This is true of most, if not all, bloggers, yet they continue to attract and retain followers.

By now, I'm guessing all this discussion has given the book something of a boost. Next week, we will have collectively moved on to something else, and the world will keep spinning on its axis.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 21, 2018, 02:37:10 PM
Dicey, I'm sorry that was your experience and very happy for you that you ended up happy and FIREd in spite of it.

The thing is, she has said already on her blog that their parents paid for what scholarships and limited part time work didn't cover, so why be so coy about it?  For people who seem to recognize their privilege they are being suspiciously opaque.

I am nearly 30 years out from when I started college and can tell you exactly how I paid for it:

1)  Money my mom saved from my social security survivor benefits covered most of my tuition.  I also had a tuition waiver my sophomore year for high grades

2)  Mom covered my half of the rent for the house I shared with my sister.  That was actually less than my parents had originally agreed to contribute toward college costs (dorm + room and board costs) and my sister and I got a nicer rental as a side benefit

3)  I covered the rest of my living costs from part time work.  I worked between 20-30 hours a week except for the one summer I did study abroad

4)  I was short on money to cover tuition costs my last two quarters -- for the first one, my sister gave me a loan that she then converted to a graduation present.  She helped me get a FT summer job with her software company so that I could pay the last quarter tuition (a small amount because I just had to finish writing and submit my honors thesis).  THANKS SIS!

Grad school was fully funded with fellowships and teaching positions.

It isn't that hard to remember where you got the money to pay for higher education.  You could do it, I could do it, I think most people can do it.  Even the Frugalwoods when they aren't trying to pitch a book about how the main answer to everyone's search for meaning in life is frugality. Obscuring the truth just leads to more scrutiny and more (in my opinion) justifiable criticism of how they have presented their story. 

I mean, I could start a blog all about frugality, too -- but to use that to explain how I managed to FI at 46 on a (much lower) non-profit salary while omitting the facts that:

1)  Our tax burden was extremely low in relation to our incomes thanks to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and

2)  We lucked out big time with two strategic and timely property investments -- earning over 2x what we paid on our NYC co-op and 3x the later investment in the Beijing condo.

I saved a few hundred bucks a month commuting cross town in Beijing by bus and subway, and later by bike when my office moved closer.  We saved a few hundred more a month by limiting our meals out.    We made all kinds of choices that differed from the standard expat lifestyle that certainly helped us accumulate our stash.  But to say that I FIREd mainly because I was frugal?  That would be more fiction than fact.  We really were just extremely lucky that we had the resources to deploy into some unique and rapidly rising markets -- NY city real estate in 2000-2003, Beijing real estate in 2009-2017, and the stock market from 1999-present.

I guess it just rubs me the wrong way to see how they do clever machinations to come up with things like 71% savings rates while obscuring the real fact that there huge income on top of an already privileged middle class starting point allowed them to do that.
@lhamo, I love the way you think and you write. I hugely appreciate how kind and helpful you are to others. I love learning more of your story. All of our tales contain elements of "luck". If you hadn't saved your money and invested in real estate you would have missed the run-up that boosted your trajectory to FIRE. Capitalizing on opportunities is a classic element of every success.

Many of us are born into relative privilege, does that mean we shouldn't try our best to make something of ourselves? And if we hit on something that works, should we not be allowed to share it, because we're "privileged"? It shouldn't have to be 100% perfect as determined by 100% of the people to be useful to enough people to justify both the effort and whatever small profit is derived from said efforts.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Fuyu on March 21, 2018, 02:49:32 PM
I don't care if they make $1 or $300k+ per year. One of my favorite journals is someone who said at the beginning that he don't want to share his income amount. It just feels very off because it seems like she's pushing this image that they succeeded despite having low income.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 21, 2018, 02:49:47 PM
My parents also gave me $1k to start my life off with at 18. I was surprised and happy to receive anything. A few years later they fell on tough times and told me that it had actually been a loan, so I paid it back. Although I had some emotions surrounding the fact that they moved the goalposts on that one....it doesn't really bother me to discuss, and if I were earning money related to my financial history and someone probed for more info, I would give it.

Although I might be a robot so YMMV.
My dad gave me $1k when I graduated from HS and $1k when I graduated from college.  I just remembered that.

I would have rather he fill out FAFSA.  He refused, so that tacked on another $1800 a year I had to borrow.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cassie on March 21, 2018, 05:50:13 PM
Dicey, your story goes to show that we never really know what people are worried about or thinking. Given that your parents had 5 other kids to worry about and your Dad's forced retirement I can see why they were worried.  Glad it turned out okay.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 21, 2018, 06:16:39 PM
Going public with this information is not a good idea.
If I exposed my financial situation or FIRE goals, it would be career suicide.

I think this may have been true many years ago, but I think lots of employers get the picture at this point. People job-hop enough to where it is unrealistic to expect someone to be hired on and stay forever.
Depends on manager more than company.  My boss at my last company was a 30+ year lifer who just couldn't figure out why people weren't loyal to the company that did so much for him.

The folks at ďOur Next LifeĒ addressed this topic head-on this morning...without naming names of course!

https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/
I don't read FI blogs generally but I think I need to start reading that one.  Really appreciate her honesty on the subject as it seems there is no shortage of bloggers that throw out crazy savings rates while forgetting to mention the 250k+ salary.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 21, 2018, 08:36:18 PM
Funny @ lhamo, someone mentioned Amy D up thread (was it you?). I am a huge Amy D fan, and still read the big blue book annually for renewed frugal inspiration. I google her name once in a while and follow all the threads to see what she and her family are up to. The thing is, I never remember her breathing a word of how much income the newsletter brought in. She always said something like "We never earned more than X during our working years". By that yardstick, IIRC, then even the great Amy D wasn't transparent enough for modern folks. Oy.

I do appreciate that Amy D knew when she had "enough" and pulled the plug. The pressure on her to publish more must have been tremendous, but she turned her back on it so she could do what she set out to do in the first place. Good head on her shoulders, that one.

If you're wondering who the hell Amy D is, she wrote a newsletter and several books in the pre-internet Stone Ages called "The Tightwad Gazette". And then retired. Parts of the book are hilariously outdated now, but the fundamentals are still rock-solid. The "D" is for Dacyczyn. It's easier to say than spell. It's pronounced like "decision". Her books are still available and many libraries have copies or you can buy it used for a cheap price on the internet. Amy D would approve.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: RootofGood on March 21, 2018, 08:50:51 PM
I'm surprised at all the hatred on here...

Some of the old-timers like me remember Liz lurking around on the MMM forums either before she had the blog or right when she started.   Her, Mr. Frugalwoods, and a hound in a small Boston apartment.   She was always nice and encouraging while reminding people they DO have a choice of what to spend.   I miss seeing her and RootofGood around ever since their blogs got big

I'm still around some :)  Honestly trying to log off the computer MORE these days and MMM forums don't get much love from me.  Haven't posted in FOREVER but lurk. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 21, 2018, 08:58:49 PM
Maybe that is another reason I have a bug in my bonnet about all of this -- Amy D was the original "I'm gonna move away from Boston and up to the NE woods and live out my frugal dreams on a tight budget with my big family" pioneer (well, even she probably had inspiration from the Nearings) but The Tightwad Gazette isn't even listed on the FW resource page.  They do reference Your Money Or Your Life, thankfully.  Still, leaving Amy D out of the picture, even if her stuff is now somewhat dated, is a bit of a sacrilege to us old-time frugalista fangirls....

I carried my copy of The Complete TWG all the way to China and back -- hey, it sells for $20 used on Amazon these days when I think I got it for around $10!  I still use her master muffin recipe regularly.  That was one of the greatest things about her stuff -- she wasn't just doing the "here's this week's coupon deals" fluffy articles.  She would spend the time and energy to figure out the formulas behind stuff to quantify the money saved versus the labor involved.  Her "Cost Per Wow" formula is still my go-to ruler for deciding whether or not to splurge on certain items or experiences.  I sometimes wonder if MMM is the secret surrogate love child of Amy D, Joe D and Vicki R....
@lhamo, this is weird, only the first paragraph is showing up until I hit reply and then the second one shows up. Is it because paragraph two contains revelations about a secret love child? Is the super secret spoiler alert turned on?

ETA: I see you just edited your post. Maybe that's the explanation for what happened. I like my guess better.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 22, 2018, 08:21:30 AM

Depends on manager more than company.  My boss at my last company was a 30+ year lifer who just couldn't figure out why people weren't loyal to the company that did so much for him.


Excellent point! Sometimes, people can't see toxic company culture for what it is because they've been rewarded by it. My first job was like that. Luckily, the culture at my current job is pretty great.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: NoraLenderbee on March 22, 2018, 10:50:04 AM
. As others have said it's a lot easier to be frugal and FI when you're earning several times the median income..............and the writing is a bit over the top sometimes.

But it's NOT easier to be frugal when you earn more.  It's also not harder.  It's exactly the same, since income has no bearing on spending.  This is a basic tenet of FIRE.  I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

It may not be easier to be frugal when you earn more, but it is a hell of a lot easier to get to FI. Income has no bearing on spending. It has an enormous bearing on saving and on how soon you reach your goals. I'm frankly shocked at how many people seem to not understand this.

Not if you're tying income to spending it doesn't. 

But why would you tie income to spending?
Quote
Your goals are just as far away no matter how much you make if you don't increase your savings rate.  There's probably an MMM post about this.  It's like some sort of shockingly simple math.

Everyone understands that making more is good.  But saving more is even better.  The statement that anyone who makes "more" has an easier time with frugality shows a complete divorce from the basics of FIRE.

Anyone who makes more has an easier time with *accumulation.* If you keep spending to (say) 40,000 per year, then the more you make, the more you save, and the faster you reach FI. A higher income makes it easier to increase your savings rate. It doesn't make frugality easier, but it makes the goal of FI easier to reach.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 22, 2018, 11:20:01 AM
I just want to say I completely agree with mathlete and he's doing a great job breaking down his criticisms in a fair and rational manner.   I do not think he's a hater at all.   Frugalwoods is not above reproach.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: calimom on March 22, 2018, 11:35:50 AM
It does seems that if someone has a blog that primarily focuses on personal finance, and posts their months spending (or the part they want people to see anyhow), that asking about income is not the most outlandish questions in the world.

If someone had a food blog with lovely pictures of say, cupcakes, and a reader wanted to know the recipe of said cupcakes, having the author say "I don't give that out! My recipes are private" makes the blog a bit less informative. That said, any blog owner is free to say whatever they wish. Their blog/their rules.

The FW blog purpose seems to be aspirational lifestyle porn: pretty nature pictures, cute babies, dogs wearing clothes, tractors and such. I think their readers see what they want to see. Nothing wrong with that, but the philosophical ramblings about consumerism and simple living don't provide much actual grit.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: crispy on March 22, 2018, 12:22:41 PM
I think the disconnect is between "we saved a bunch of money and retired early to live our dream life in rural Vermont" when the truth is "we make a lot of money and use it to live our dream life in rural Vermont."  One sells, the other doesn't.  Basically, they are rich people funding a dream life, not average people doing the extraordinary. Most people could "retire" if they could work from home and make a 300K per year income. I could.

That being said, I think mm1970 hit the nail on the head when she stated that they probably do see themselves as average, middle class people of their background and their peer groups. That doesn't mean it is the truth.  That also doesn't mean they are bad people...they have obviously worked hard and have reaped the rewards and that is really commendable. I think people are asking for transparency, but being complete transparent doesn't jive with the narrative they are selling. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: reader321 on March 22, 2018, 12:27:34 PM
I'm so conflicted about FW-- on the one hand, they've made it! And I think they have credibility as advocates of frugality, mindfulness, etc. But as many people here have pointed out, they don't really "own" their story and actually seem to spread misinformation and half-truths about their finances (e.g., that they were normal, middle-class folks working uninteresting, middle-of-the-road non-profit jobs until they were able to move to the woods). It would have been interesting to hear how they managed their careers and negotiated their job offers and salary increases and navigated tricky office politics. Instead "Frugality" is being peddled as a platitude, a solution to everything.

But like others have said, it's dishonest and self-promoting to have a personal finance blog with evasive language about being middle-class when they probably make $400-500k/yr, and then write a memoir that sells people the dream of financial independence through "simple living" instead of grappling with the discomfort of owning your own finances. But their blog/book, their decisions I suppose.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 22, 2018, 12:57:24 PM
I think the disconnect is between "we saved a bunch of money and retired early to live our dream life in rural Vermont" when the truth is "we make a lot of money and use it to live our dream life in rural Vermont."  One sells, the other doesn't.  Basically, they are rich people funding a dream life, not average people doing the extraordinary. Most people could "retire" if they could work from home and make a 300K per year income. I could.

That being said, I think mm1970 hit the nail on the head when she stated that they probably do see themselves as average, middle class people of their background and their peer groups. That doesn't mean it is the truth.  That also doesn't mean they are bad people...they have obviously worked hard and have reaped the rewards and that is really commendable. I think people are asking for transparency, but being complete transparent doesn't jive with the narrative they are selling.

It's sometimes SO HARD for people to step out their bubble.  It doesn't matter the bubble!  I was having a convo with a guy at work this week who recognizes that racism exists but that "being white never got me anything, hard work did!"  I just shrugged because...I'd just got done giving stats on job callbacks based on race.  If you can't see that "hard work" and "privilege" co-exist, I can't argue with you.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIREandMONEY on March 22, 2018, 01:45:33 PM
Wow, just on page 6 of this thread, the Frugalwoods went from earning $200K per year, to $300K, then to $400-$500K.

I wish my income went up that fast!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 22, 2018, 02:22:16 PM
Wow, just on page 6 of this thread, the Frugalwoods went from earning $200K per year, to $300K, then to $400-$500K.

I wish my income went up that fast!

Well Nate alone brings in more than $200k. So that was an underestimate.

I think people thought $150-200k was their combined income. Not only his. You have to put his salary and hers, which includes all her freelance writing and the blog together.

MMM makes over $400k on his blog. Hers isn't heavily monetized, but it is definitely a six figure blog, and she has other projects too.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: sui generis on March 22, 2018, 02:30:12 PM
I think the disconnect is between "we saved a bunch of money and retired early to live our dream life in rural Vermont" when the truth is "we make a lot of money and use it to live our dream life in rural Vermont."  One sells, the other doesn't.  Basically, they are rich people funding a dream life, not average people doing the extraordinary. Most people could "retire" if they could work from home and make a 300K per year income. I could.

That being said, I think mm1970 hit the nail on the head when she stated that they probably do see themselves as average, middle class people of their background and their peer groups. That doesn't mean it is the truth.  That also doesn't mean they are bad people...they have obviously worked hard and have reaped the rewards and that is really commendable. I think people are asking for transparency, but being complete transparent doesn't jive with the narrative they are selling.

It's sometimes SO HARD for people to step out their bubble.  It doesn't matter the bubble!  I was having a convo with a guy at work this week who recognizes that racism exists but that "being white never got me anything, hard work did!"  I just shrugged because...I'd just got done giving stats on job callbacks based on race.  If you can't see that "hard work" and "privilege" co-exist, I can't argue with you.

Totally agree with this and give them lots of credit for what they have legit accomplished and the discussions about privilege that they DO have....while at the same time, it's hard to cut them slack on this.  I make about the same as Mr. FW, my partner maybe makes the same as Mrs. FW did (hard to tell as it appears her salary was harder to pin down) and I live in an even higher COL location than they did before moving to the woods....and there is NO WAY I would ever in my wildest dreams even attempt to tell anyone I make an average salary or that we are an about average household.  Even *within* the Bay Area, our salaries are not average.  And I'm as bubbly as anyone, spending most of my time with data scientists, other lawyers and investment bankers (unfortunately for me) and I still can't imagine the depths of obliviousness one would have to have to, in good faith, call those salaries "standard" or any other similar words they've used over the years.  Honestly, I try to remind myself I can't put myself in other people's shoes, so it may just be that, but let's just say I think it would be fascinating to explore the mind of someone who believes $300k +/- per year is "standard".  There must a lot of other very fascinating stuff in a mind like that!

It's misleading, plain and simple.

Nevertheless, I do still like the perspective of mindfulness and encouragement to frugality as a way to live one's values.  And I mean, as much as there's heated discussion on this thread, it seems like all parties can agree that no one's perfect and there can be value even where there is some serious misleading happening.  It would be nice, though, if they could make some serious attempts at cleaning up the misleading parts.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 22, 2018, 02:37:38 PM
I think the simpler, and more likely, explanation for the misleading income language is it helps sell the narrative of the blog.  Like sui generis I have a fairly high income (but lower than 225K) and I can't imagine ever using the type of language she uses.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: birdie55 on March 22, 2018, 03:15:57 PM
This is an interesting discussion.  I bought her book and enjoyed it, but I had no idea his salary was so high.
I did wonder when they got another mortgage on the VT house.  Their income had to support two mortgages, or they wouldn't have gotten the loan. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: OutBy40 on March 22, 2018, 04:18:28 PM
I think the simpler, and more likely, explanation for the misleading income language is it helps sell the narrative of the blog.

This is exactly what I'm assuming as well. Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of the FW blog. Though I greatly admire their overall lifestyle, there's just an "I'm a highly-educated, privileged white girl" attitude in her writing that gets old after a while. While I didn't read her book (and do not plan to), I'm convinced that the editorial staff at whatever publishing house is paying her probably believes that the "early retirement" idea will sell more books and create more of a discussion (like it is here) rather than just "living frugally".

As for their income - doesn't really surprise me a bit. I think readers need to take a more critical eye of PF blogs (yes, including mine!) rather than taking what you read at face value.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: aspiringnomad on March 22, 2018, 05:27:29 PM
but it is definitely a six figure blog

Really?! Is it that easy to pull in six figures with a blog?! I knew MMM was raking it in, but also knew his site traffic is crazy high (not to mention the forum traffic).

As a somewhat objective observer here, or at least someone with no opinion coming into this debate, I can honestly see why people feel misled. It seems as though they were intentionally misleading precisely because they made so much money. They probably couldn't believe how much money they made themselves (just a couple of non-profit workers after all) and probably didn't feel rich because they were so intentionally frugal. But yeah, they were income rich and they should probably acknowledge it since it's mostly a matter of public record anyway. And that income surely had a big hand in their FIRE timeline.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 22, 2018, 05:29:55 PM
I think the simpler, and more likely, explanation for the misleading income language is it helps sell the narrative of the blog.

This is exactly what I'm assuming as well. Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of the FW blog. Though I greatly admire their overall lifestyle, there's just an "I'm a highly-educated, privileged white girl" attitude in her writing that gets old after a while. While I didn't read her book (and do not plan to), I'm convinced that the editorial staff at whatever publishing house is paying her probably believes that the "early retirement" idea will sell more books and create more of a discussion (like it is here) rather than just "living frugally".

As for their income - doesn't really surprise me a bit. I think readers need to take a more critical eye of PF blogs (yes, including mine!) rather than taking what you read at face value.

I don't know, man.  I think "Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence By Making Over 300K" is pretty snappy.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 22, 2018, 05:39:05 PM
but it is definitely a six figure blog

Really?! Is it that easy to pull in six figures with a blog?! I knew MMM was raking it in, but also knew his site traffic is crazy high (not to mention the forum traffic).

As a somewhat objective observer here, or at least someone with no opinion coming into this debate, I can honestly see why people feel misled. It seems as though they were intentionally misleading precisely because they made so much money. They probably couldn't believe how much money they made themselves (just a couple of non-profit workers after all) and probably didn't feel rich because they were so intentionally frugal. But yeah, they were income rich and they should probably acknowledge it since it's mostly a matter of public record anyway. And that income surely had a big hand in their FIRE timeline.

I have a friend who pulls in six figures a month with a crafting blog. She works her ass off though. It's a full time job.

There seemed to be a sweet spot to start them. Market is saturated now.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: calimom on March 22, 2018, 06:02:08 PM
but it is definitely a six figure blog

Really?! Is it that easy to pull in six figures with a blog?! I knew MMM was raking it in, but also knew his site traffic is crazy high (not to mention the forum traffic).

As a somewhat objective observer here, or at least someone with no opinion coming into this debate, I can honestly see why people feel misled. It seems as though they were intentionally misleading precisely because they made so much money. They probably couldn't believe how much money they made themselves (just a couple of non-profit workers after all) and probably didn't feel rich because they were so intentionally frugal. But yeah, they were income rich and they should probably acknowledge it since it's mostly a matter of public record anyway. And that income surely had a big hand in their FIRE timeline.

I have a friend who pulls in six figures a month with a crafting blog. She works her ass off though. It's a full time job.

There seemed to be a sweet spot to start them. Market is saturated now.

Many of the comments on the FW blog appear to be from bloggers who are hoping to drive traffic to their own projects. Blogging for a living seems like selling real estate: most make little to no money, others do pretty well, and some are just crushing it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Lance Hiruma on March 22, 2018, 07:14:44 PM
WGBH, where Mrs. FW worked, is one of the largest and most successful PBS stations in the country.  In an article published in 2011, WGBH was criticized for their high salary ranges:

https://current.org/2011/03/boston-herald-reports-on-wgbh-salaries-14-employees-make-more-than-200000/


According to the 2016 PF990 for WGBH, the VP of Development (which is the department Mrs. FW worked in and seemed to be pretty senior in) earned over $291k:

https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/42104397/201701319349304690/IRS990

According to the same document, WGBH had over 195 employees in 2016 who made over $100k.  I would not be surprised if Mrs. FW's salary was at least in that range, given her position (Manager of Donor Relations and Communications -- probably one or maybe two management levels below the VP)

She was not working for a scrappy, local community development or social services non-profit.
Lhamo is such a good investigator. Truth is of paramount importance. Thank you for the info!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: birdman2003 on March 23, 2018, 08:16:24 AM
Whew. Read through this thread. Time for a seltzer water break.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 23, 2018, 08:49:14 AM
Whew. Read through this thread. Time for a seltzer water break.
I see what you did there.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 23, 2018, 08:58:50 AM
Me too. Are we all done now?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 23, 2018, 09:00:22 AM
It does seems that if someone has a blog that primarily focuses on personal finance, and posts their months spending (or the part they want people to see anyhow), that asking about income is not the most outlandish questions in the world.

If someone had a food blog with lovely pictures of say, cupcakes, and a reader wanted to know the recipe of said cupcakes, having the author say "I don't give that out! My recipes are private" makes the blog a bit less informative. That said, any blog owner is free to say whatever they wish. Their blog/their rules.

The FW blog purpose seems to be aspirational lifestyle porn: pretty nature pictures, cute babies, dogs wearing clothes, tractors and such. I think their readers see what they want to see. Nothing wrong with that, but the philosophical ramblings about consumerism and simple living don't provide much actual grit.

Many of the comments on the FW blog appear to be from bloggers who are hoping to drive traffic to their own projects. Blogging for a living seems like selling real estate: most make little to no money, others do pretty well, and some are just crushing it.

calimom is killing it with these two posts. Superb take.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: RelaxedGal on March 23, 2018, 10:40:38 AM
Wow, just on page 6 of this thread, the Frugalwoods went from earning $200K per year, to $300K, then to $400-$500K.

I wish my income went up that fast!
Hahahahhahaha! 

I think people thought $150-200k was their combined income. Not only his. You have to put his salary and hers, which includes all her freelance writing and the blog together.
Yep, I got the impression from the blog that he was an average programmer (~$100,000/yr here in Boston, +- $35,000) and she was making something like $65,000.  So my guess was right in line with iowajes.

I still get value out of the "ruthless prioritization" side of the blog.  And I'm a voyeur who likes it for the pictures and the first hand experience posts.  And I'm still waiting for them to totally crash and burn out on country living after living in the city.  It seems less and less likely with each passing day and happy post but after reading the book I see that they usually do things for about 2 years before getting sick of it, so I'll keep tuning in.  For their sakes I hope they've finally found happiness.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 23, 2018, 02:07:32 PM
Quote from: MrMoneyMustache
I find that when people earn their freedom from money constraints, they usually donít stop working. Instead they start doing their best work. Looking at many of societyís highest achievers right now, the world leaders and founders of the most productive companies, I see mostly people who have already made it. And yet are still working because it means something to them.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/04/15/great-news-early-retirement-doesnt-mean-youll-stop-working/

I was reading this today on the MMM blog and thought of this tread.  I tend to agree - becoming FI doesn't necessarily mean people stop working or even want to.  IMO the real gift of FI is that you don't have to do things "for the money" anymore, and can just do things that are important to you.  I suspect the FWs are like this. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 23, 2018, 03:03:46 PM
Quote from: MrMoneyMustache
I find that when people earn their freedom from money constraints, they usually donít stop working. Instead they start doing their best work. Looking at many of societyís highest achievers right now, the world leaders and founders of the most productive companies, I see mostly people who have already made it. And yet are still working because it means something to them.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/04/15/great-news-early-retirement-doesnt-mean-youll-stop-working/

I was reading this today on the MMM blog and thought of this tread.  I tend to agree - becoming FI doesn't necessarily mean people stop working or even want to.  IMO the real gift of FI is that you don't have to do things "for the money" anymore, and can just do things that are important to you.  I suspect the FWs are like this.

"Retirement" by definition means ceasing to work.  It makes no sense to use it to mean anything other than that.

FI doesn't mean ceasing to work; but when people claim to be retired and aren't- why even have words? Until this recent media blast, I'd never seen the FWs claim to be retired, though MMM claims that. I don't think either is retired.  Both are FI, of course.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 23, 2018, 03:11:44 PM
Quote from: MrMoneyMustache
I find that when people earn their freedom from money constraints, they usually donít stop working. Instead they start doing their best work. Looking at many of societyís highest achievers right now, the world leaders and founders of the most productive companies, I see mostly people who have already made it. And yet are still working because it means something to them.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/04/15/great-news-early-retirement-doesnt-mean-youll-stop-working/

I was reading this today on the MMM blog and thought of this tread.  I tend to agree - becoming FI doesn't necessarily mean people stop working or even want to.  IMO the real gift of FI is that you don't have to do things "for the money" anymore, and can just do things that are important to you.  I suspect the FWs are like this.

"Retirement" by definition means ceasing to work.  It makes no sense to use it to mean anything other than that.

FI doesn't mean ceasing to work; but when people claim to be retired and aren't- why even have words? Until this recent media blast, I'd never seen the FWs claim to be retired, though MMM claims that. I don't think either is retired.  Both are FI, of course.

I think you missed my point.  For some people, becoming FI doesn't mean you stop working.  It means you are free to do some of your best work.  So you end up making piles more money after "FI" than you did during the frugal/savings times leading up to FI. 

I do think this is what happens with some of the more successful bloggers in the FI community - they 'made it', but kept working and now have even more income/wealth than before they 'made it'.  Some people on this thread make it sound like there's some hidden conspiracy by FI bloggers to hide their income with the implication that the FI bloggers are somehow dependent upon the new revenue stream.  Which sounds like crazytown conspiracy theories to me.

I do agree though, that if you do make a ton of money or income even after FI, you should disclose it.  MMM does and I think it's a good example to follow.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: sui generis on March 23, 2018, 03:28:07 PM

FI doesn't mean ceasing to work; but when people claim to be retired and aren't- why even have words? Until this recent media blast, I'd never seen the FWs claim to be retired, though MMM claims that. I don't think either is retired.  Both are FI, of course.
Agreed.  Even being quite new to "the community" I see there is a lot of disdain for the "Retirement Police" that harp on this, but honestly language is utilitarian so consistency in words helps a lot.  Every time I search on "early retirement" all I get is a bunch of people working harder than ever but that just have a lot of money in the bank.  Maybe what I'm looking for - people that are actually not working and have no active income many years before traditional retirement age - is buried somewhere beneath all those results, but I can't find much of it because there's so much conflation of *actual* retirement with the idea of just having enough money that you *could* retire if you wanted.  These things are very different.

ETA: I kinda think I finally did find what I'm looking for here, though, if I find the right journals here to follow as well as the post-FIRE subforum :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: honeybbq on March 23, 2018, 04:01:40 PM

I am all for sourcing out used things, but when you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, maybe one shouldn't be so anxious to get the used item that someone else making a lot less money than you might need.


I'm really perplexed by this comment. If I make 100k a year or more, I shouldn't thrift shop because someone making less might want the same item I do?

I'm not allowed to be 'thrifty' if I have a large income?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: honeybbq on March 23, 2018, 04:17:00 PM
I don't read frugalwoods and don't care one way or the other but I think a lot of high income people describe themselves as 'average' because:

- they don't have a butler/chauffeur/full time house help
- drive Hondas or other used cars
-don't live in a mcMansion
- don't fly first class jet setting around the world

I really think average == millionaire next door type in their vernacular.

I know my salary is no where near median or average but my lifestyle and spending is pretty darn mainstream.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 23, 2018, 04:55:30 PM

FI doesn't mean ceasing to work; but when people claim to be retired and aren't- why even have words? Until this recent media blast, I'd never seen the FWs claim to be retired, though MMM claims that. I don't think either is retired.  Both are FI, of course.
Agreed.  Even being quite new to "the community" I see there is a lot of disdain for the "Retirement Police" that harp on this, but honestly language is utilitarian so consistency in words helps a lot.  Every time I search on "early retirement" all I get is a bunch of people working harder than ever but that just have a lot of money in the bank.  Maybe what I'm looking for - people that are actually not working and have no active income many years before traditional retirement age - is buried somewhere beneath all those results, but I can't find much of it because there's so much conflation of *actual* retirement with the idea of just having enough money that you *could* retire if you wanted.  These things are very different.

ETA: I kinda think I finally did find what I'm looking for here, though, if I find the right journals here to follow as well as the post-FIRE subforum :)

Post-FIRE subforum is awesome!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: gettingtoyes on March 23, 2018, 06:44:55 PM

I am all for sourcing out used things, but when you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, maybe one shouldn't be so anxious to get the used item that someone else making a lot less money than you might need.


I'm really perplexed by this comment. If I make 100k a year or more, I shouldn't thrift shop because someone making less might want the same item I do?

I'm not allowed to be 'thrifty' if I have a large income?

As you quote, I said I was "all for sourcing out used things." And that doesn't depend on one's income level. As I said in my post, getting used items is great for the planet and I encourage anyone of any income level to do so.

What I object to is her voicing this anxiety about being able to get the used item as fast she possibly could before anyone else could, as though her life will be upended unless she gets it. She talks about how she literally ran into to the store to grab it as fast as she could before anyone else got it as soon as she heard about it. It's one thing to go "oh I heard that the jogging stroller I wanted was at the thrift store, I should go get it" versus acting as though the world will come crashing down if one doesn't get it. Half of the post is dedicated to this anxiety about being able to get a jogging stroller...and I can't help but roll my eyes at the unnecessary drama, considering they make in excess of $200k, likely $300k per year based on the IRS tax filings.

Let me clear- I still read FW and I do enjoy the experience for the most part. It's the charade that bothers me more than anything else.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 23, 2018, 08:25:08 PM
WGBH, where Mrs. FW worked, is one of the largest and most successful PBS stations in the country.  In an article published in 2011, WGBH was criticized for their high salary ranges:

https://current.org/2011/03/boston-herald-reports-on-wgbh-salaries-14-employees-make-more-than-200000/


According to the 2016 PF990 for WGBH, the VP of Development (which is the department Mrs. FW worked in and seemed to be pretty senior in) earned over $291k:

https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/42104397/201701319349304690/IRS990

According to the same document, WGBH had over 195 employees in 2016 who made over $100k.  I would not be surprised if Mrs. FW's salary was at least in that range, given her position (Manager of Donor Relations and Communications -- probably one or maybe two management levels below the VP)

She was not working for a scrappy, local community development or social services non-profit.
Not to throw cold water on this but glassdoor has salaries in the 50-70k for various titles with "manager" in them at WGBH:
https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/WGBH-Boston-Salaries-EI_IE27056.0,4_IL.5,11_IM109.htm?filter.jobTitleFTS=manager
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Nancy on March 24, 2018, 05:57:53 AM
WGBH, where Mrs. FW worked, is one of the largest and most successful PBS stations in the country.  In an article published in 2011, WGBH was criticized for their high salary ranges:

https://current.org/2011/03/boston-herald-reports-on-wgbh-salaries-14-employees-make-more-than-200000/


According to the 2016 PF990 for WGBH, the VP of Development (which is the department Mrs. FW worked in and seemed to be pretty senior in) earned over $291k:

https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/42104397/201701319349304690/IRS990

According to the same document, WGBH had over 195 employees in 2016 who made over $100k.  I would not be surprised if Mrs. FW's salary was at least in that range, given her position (Manager of Donor Relations and Communications -- probably one or maybe two management levels below the VP)

She was not working for a scrappy, local community development or social services non-profit.
Not to throw cold water on this but glassdoor has salaries in the 50-70k for various titles with "manager" in them at WGBH:
https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/WGBH-Boston-Salaries-EI_IE27056.0,4_IL.5,11_IM109.htm?filter.jobTitleFTS=manager

Your link includes positions far below a department manager. Based on knowledge of the area and the sector, that position would have been paid a minimum of $70K in 2016.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 24, 2018, 06:41:01 AM
I do agree though, that if you do make a ton of money or income even after FI, you should disclose it.  MMM does and I think it's a good example to follow.
Hmmm, I must have missed that. Can you provide any links to MMM's recent actual annual income that he has personally disclosed?

Edited to clarify I am not referring to pre-FIRE income.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: johndoe on March 24, 2018, 08:44:58 AM
Saw this without previously hearing of FW:
https://theoutline.com/post/3840/frugalwoods-frugality-millennials?zd=1&zi=c76n2354

IMO the whiny tone is pretty funny.  The author's focus on the generational (millenials "vs" boomers) aspect is also good for some laughs.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on March 24, 2018, 03:58:18 PM
I'm always late to the game and have just started following the frugalwoods.  The blog is good. I like her down to earth personality.  I read it more for "what's new on the farm" than for financial reasons.  Kind of like watching Pioneer woman for "what's new on the ranch" instead of the recipes. 
Money wise I don't see her being all that special.  Her monthly budgets are right about on target with mine already, although I do like her cell service- going to look into that one.   I don't get the recent purchase of apple cider equipment.  That sounds more like a (expensive) hobby than something useful to me.  I have several apple trees in my yard.  I make applebutter applesauce, dried apples, and bake apple desserts Sept thru Nov.  I'm appled out by the end of the season.   None of that requires any special equipment.  I priced cider equipment and shut that idea down.  How much cider is one person going to drink anyway.  It seems to me buying apple cider equipment is more like "playing" at being frugal.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 24, 2018, 04:57:35 PM
I'm always late to the game and have just started following the frugalwoods.  The blog is good. I like her down to earth personality.  I read it more for "what's new on the farm" than for financial reasons.  Kind of like watching Pioneer woman for "what's new on the ranch" instead of the recipes. 
Money wise I don't see her being all that special.  Her monthly budgets are right about on target with mine already, although I do like her cell service- going to look into that one.   I don't get the recent purchase of apple cider equipment.  That sounds more like a (expensive) hobby than something useful to me.  I have several apple trees in my yard.  I make applebutter applesauce, dried apples, and bake apple desserts Sept thru Nov.  I'm appled out by the end of the season.   None of that requires any special equipment.  I priced cider equipment and shut that idea down.  How much cider is one person going to drink anyway.  It seems to me buying apple cider equipment is more like "playing" at being frugal.
I suspect they have a plan involving hard cider...


I am all for sourcing out used things, but when you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, maybe one shouldn't be so anxious to get the used item that someone else making a lot less money than you might need.


I'm really perplexed by this comment. If I make 100k a year or more, I shouldn't thrift shop because someone making less might want the same item I do?

I'm not allowed to be 'thrifty' if I have a large income?

As you quote, I said I was "all for sourcing out used things." And that doesn't depend on one's income level. As I said in my post, getting used items is great for the planet and I encourage anyone of any income level to do so.

What I object to is her voicing this anxiety about being able to get the used item as fast she possibly could before anyone else could, as though her life will be upended unless she gets it. She talks about how she literally ran into to the store to grab it as fast as she could before anyone else got it as soon as she heard about it. It's one thing to go "oh I heard that the jogging stroller I wanted was at the thrift store, I should go get it" versus acting as though the world will come crashing down if one doesn't get it. Half of the post is dedicated to this anxiety about being able to get a jogging stroller...and I can't help but roll my eyes at the unnecessary drama, considering they make in excess of $200k, likely $300k per year based on the IRS tax filings.

Let me clear- I still read FW and I do enjoy the experience for the most part. It's the charade that bothers me more than anything else.

Wow! You've never seen people flip over a bargain? Seriously? Or perhaps there is an income limit above which one is not allowed to get excited? That sounds snarky, but it's not my intent. I read it like she might have been about to give up and pull the trigger on a new one (see: log splitter, cider press) so she was thrilled to find a used option. I've never shopped on Black Friday, but I hear the giddy excitement over "deals" on shit no one needs is legend. Meh, she can have this cheap thrill. A stroller is not the same as a 100" TV.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 25, 2018, 09:04:32 AM
Saw this without previously hearing of FW:
https://theoutline.com/post/3840/frugalwoods-frugality-millennials?zd=1&zi=c76n2354

IMO the whiny tone is pretty funny.  The author's focus on the generational (millenials "vs" boomers) aspect is also good for some laughs.

I actually found this pretty compelling. Thanks for the link.

I don't agree with all of it, but it does make me think. No doubt, these frugal early retiree millionaire stories do a lot of good. But I have to wonder how much it reinforces negative stereotypes against young people. A wide audience sees their story and thinks, "See, these young people can do it, what's wrong with the rest of the lazy lot?" while not understanding how exceptional these people really are. And certainly not understanding the broader challenges facing today's young people, like historic home unaffordability, stagnate wages, and ballooning tuition and healthcare costs.

I place a lot of the blame on the media for this. I'm a big fan of journalism and I've become quite the vocal defender of it since 2016, but I think the PBSs, NPRs, Yahoos, and Guardians of the world get duped by bloggers into basically generating free publicity when they produce incredibly lazy and shallow puff pieces.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: exit2019 on March 25, 2018, 10:12:51 AM
So the Frugalwoods had high incomes and aren't really retired; they are seemingly really financially independent and have found careers that they can use to give them the lives they want.  I kind of envy where they are and that they got there so young.

Maybe people are upset about the Frugalwoods because they're highlighting the obvious unpleasant truth.

Basically:

1. there are limits to what you can achieve with frugality alone
2. it is far, far easier to reach financial independence if you have higher income (or other sources of money, obviously)
3. there are vastly different grades of FIRE mostly dictated by stache size (entirely dependent on (2))
4. a lot of the community seemingly focuses ONLY on frugality and not at all on the input side of wealth building
5. the bloggers in the community cater to (4)
6. on top of all of that, the FI blogger community in general has a ton of survivorship bias baked into almost every topic (examples: a lot of the community seems to believe they'll never get sick, there is very little attention paid to the  differences between luck-of-birth-date investment cohorts, time-and-effort-intensive frugal lifestyles are probably not sustainable long term, etc.)

The Frugalwoods are coy on the input side of the equation, but so is almost everyone else.  It seems to me that almost the entire blog and podcast space is full of people who basically market around simple living as the key path to FI just like the Frugalwoods but, like the Frugalwoods, are mostly the beneficiaries of high incomes coupled with savings and many are, like the Frugalwoods, not really retired.  I only discovered this whole community a few weeks ago and that was pretty much the first thing I noticed. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: crimwell on March 25, 2018, 10:43:42 AM
Going public with this information is not a good idea.
If I exposed my financial situation or FIRE goals, it would be career suicide.

Haha, I wonder what Nate's subordinates at work think? "Regular, normal salary, huh? I wish I had a regular, normal salary then, how you about you give me a raise?"
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 25, 2018, 12:21:55 PM
Going public with this information is not a good idea.
If I exposed my financial situation or FIRE goals, it would be career suicide.

Haha, I wonder what Nate's subordinates at work think? "Regular, normal salary, huh? I wish I had a regular, normal salary then, how you about you give me a raise?"
Nate works from home, so not much water cooler razzing, I'd guess.

And to @exit2019, I really enjoyed your post. However, I do not believe the FW have made any claim to early retirement.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: crimwell on March 25, 2018, 01:27:37 PM
Ok, I read through the whole thread 😂

Wow, huge amount of inexplicably defending the frugalwoods' misrepresentation of their financial inputs. They did great, and are admirable examples. But not examples of the power of frugality when you have a normal salary. Examples of the power of mindful living when you have a fantastic top 3% salary, yes. If they presented themselves like that (see, for eg, Physician on Fire) they wouldn't get as much backlash here, although they would probably still get similar backlash from the general public.

V impressed to see @mathlete engaging so thoughtfully here. you're a better person than I, but also see https://xkcd.com/386/

 Also weird to see these expensive hobby purchases (cider press) defended as necessities. I don't even think Mrs FW would claim that purchase was somehow required by their choice to live on a spacious estate. I mean, I'd buy one too, that sounds like fun. But hard cider is a luxury, let's remember. And having a 66 acre estate is a luxury too. That's not a working farm or even a self sufficient homestead. It's just an awesome fancy house in the woods. Again, really cool place to live, but definitely not a frugal choice. Mindful choice because that's what they value, yes.

Also to be fair, the form 990s for act blue show that Nate made a relatively normal software engineer salary before 2014 (it was like $120k and $130k in 2012 and 2013, can't remember exactly since I looked it up yesterday), although probably on the high side for a nonprofit. He got a huge boost from 2014 onward, and they undoubtedly wouldn't have been able to reach their goals that quickly without that:
http://990finder.foundationcenter.org/990results.aspx?990_type=&fn=Actblue&st=MA&zp=&ei=&fy=&action=Search
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Carrie on March 25, 2018, 04:33:12 PM
My admiration has waned since finding out one normal salary of two is $225,000. Now I'm not feeling nearly as encouraged that we'll ever be able to afford a modest homestead on 1/3 or 1/4 the total salary of these two normal earning range younsters. Oh well the dream was nice while it lasted. :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: alleykat on March 25, 2018, 05:06:26 PM
I donít read their blog often but when I do it is not for financial reasons.  Just to see life on the homestead. I often wondered though how they afforded that homestead and now it makes sense. That is a big homestead and a ton of land. No matter how frugal you are, that is a big expense if your income was just average.

Their representation is a bit misleading, but more power to them for achieving it so young.  I suppose they have to keep up appearances.  The blog is called frugalwoods.  🤣

Having said that, As with all bloggers, i glean what I need and leave the rest.  We all know the established ones make a ton of money.


Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain FIRE on March 25, 2018, 06:48:38 PM
V impressed to see @mathlete engaging so thoughtfully here. you're a better person than I, but also see https://xkcd.com/386/

For what it's worth, mathlete changed my mind about their blog.  I was ready to defend their logsplitter and oil (although not the cider press...) as necessities.  I felt it was perfectly fine for them to share however much of their finances as they liked.  I thought mathlete and others were harping away and nitpicking.  However, the info about one salary at $225k did persuade me that they have misrepresented themselves on the blog as "standard" and they aren't.  Which is unfortunate.  I still like their blog (though I agree it's overly wordy), but I am a bit disappointed by their obscuring of information.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HappierAtHome on March 25, 2018, 06:53:44 PM
V impressed to see @mathlete engaging so thoughtfully here. you're a better person than I, but also see https://xkcd.com/386/

For what it's worth, mathlete changed my mind about their blog.  I was ready to defend their logsplitter and oil (although not the cider press...) as necessities.  I felt it was perfectly fine for them to share however much of their finances as they liked.  I thought mathlete and others were harping away and nitpicking.  However, the info about one salary at $225k did persuade me that they have misrepresented themselves on the blog as "standard" and they aren't.  Which is unfortunate.  I still like their blog (though I agree it's overly wordy), but I am a bit disappointed by their obscuring of information.

Yup, me too. Still like their blog, still think they're awesome for living so intentionally, but presenting yourself as being on average / middle-class salaries when your household income is super high... nope. Not okay.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: lemonlyman on March 26, 2018, 09:37:30 AM
I never really took to the blog. Definitely won't now. Being so misleading about how they actually became financially independent when their brand is about how to get there through simple living is lame. If they actually believed they were ordinary middle class, they wouldn't be so cagey about that stuff.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Spiffy on March 26, 2018, 10:22:17 AM
I just checked their blog to see if any of the comments have alluded to the very high salary part of their frugality story. I didn't look through many of them, but they all seem to be from people with finance blogs of their own. Just drumming up business, I guess.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 26, 2018, 10:47:38 AM
I just checked their blog to see if any of the comments have alluded to the very high salary part of their frugality story. I didn't look through many of them, but they all seem to be from people with finance blogs of their own. Just drumming up business, I guess.

^_^

It seems like just yesterday that I made my very first post in this thread:

I don't think I'll ever not find the ecosystem of celebrity PF bloggers amusing.

They grow up so fast!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 26, 2018, 10:48:25 AM
There is definitely an insincerity or misleading aspect to it as it relates to income, and I really don't view their blog as a FIRE one so it really doesn't matter that much.  But they definitely over emphasize the average joe (but we are privileged avg joes) and they do write about having savings and being FI. 

I guess the one big F'ing question that I have is do they have enough money to live without his paycheck....ie truly FI, or was this a move out to the wooded estate predicated on being able to negotiate a "work from home" option - to me that would quite possible be the biggest misleading factor bordering on fraudulent misrepresentation.  I mean if he lost his job, pretty sure it will be much more difficult for him to find another given where they are at...although at this point just from the traffic generated by this thread and all the articles and cross-blogging they probably can afforded from blog income only. 

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: RelaxedGal on March 26, 2018, 12:51:04 PM
I'm not sure what their annual expenses are but I think they were less than $50k - including the wood splitter.

Correct, $48,058.10 (http://www.frugalwoods.com/2018/01/29/city-vs-country-which-is-cheaper-the-ultimate-cost-of-living-showdown/) spent from May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 at their place in Vermont.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on March 26, 2018, 01:34:53 PM
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work? 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 26, 2018, 01:44:51 PM
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work?

Probably. She's talked before about how they have good insurance. Since he still works, the family is probably on that plan.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: reader321 on March 26, 2018, 01:47:23 PM
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work?

It appears that health insurance at ActBlue is "fully-paid health, dental, and vision insurance for you and your dependents" so $0 premiums for the whole fam.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 26, 2018, 01:50:52 PM
There is definitely an insincerity or misleading aspect to it as it relates to income, and I really don't view their blog as a FIRE one so it really doesn't matter that much.  But they definitely over emphasize the average joe (but we are privileged avg joes) and they do write about having savings and being FI. 

I guess the one big F'ing question that I have is do they have enough money to live without his paycheck....ie truly FI, or was this a move out to the wooded estate predicated on being able to negotiate a "work from home" option - to me that would quite possible be the biggest misleading factor bordering on fraudulent misrepresentation.  I mean if he lost his job, pretty sure it will be much more difficult for him to find another given where they are at...although at this point just from the traffic generated by this thread and all the articles and cross-blogging they probably can afforded from blog income only.
I'm pretty sure they could live without his pay check and are FI. The rental property in Cambridge throws off $26k in income after expenses and the rest of their incomes could probably come from investments to cover the rest of their expenses even without the blog money. I'm not sure what their annual expenses are but I think they were less than $50k - including the wood splitter.

I fully get why you would think that from their blog but how do you know that:

1.  The $26k income per their site does not include repairs, maintenance, or even a vacancy factory and turnover costs.
2.  The rental income offsets the PITI of the homestead. BTW, $26k income on a $900k house (that appreciated $400K in 5 years).  The would be better to sell the house and invest the difference or pay off their $300k 4% mortgage on the homestead.
3.  Nowhere that I have seen have they said they have a lot of money....they have said (without any details) how they went from $8k to FI - but FI means different things to different people. 

 I think they made almost nothing early on, then made a little money and got more spendy, then found frugality, negotiated the telecommute aspect for him, she elected to work part time too and write....sure they have made good money but it sounds like from the prior posters research the big money didn't start until the last couple of years.  Which is why I think they did the math and said...."hey if we save a shitload of this big money for a year we will come up with a down payment for the homestead, have a bit of cash left over, keep our 401ks intact and work from home. I will bet their NW sans blog and real estate isn't as high or FI worthy as some would think - although its probably much higher now given the low cost living with very high paycheck and blog income.

I don't begrudge that either bc it fits more with their living intentionally message and is akin to MMM's recent post on confidence - that's ok.  But its still not above board and is merely intended to be a story that sells.

Also, I do have a big issue and hate these statements:

"Weíve managed to do well while doing good. Both Mr. FW and I have always worked for nonprofit or mission-based organizations, which has enabled us to do work that we believe in."

There are non-profits* that do good and struggle and then there are non-profits that blow most of their revenue on things that don't really support their mission....."

Also, I think the term non-profit is very liberal when you are talking about a political fundraising group regardless of side but just one more disingenuous part to sell the story....
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 26, 2018, 01:56:47 PM
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work?

It appears that health insurance at ActBlue is "fully-paid health, dental, and vision insurance for you and your dependents" so $0 premiums for the whole fam.

Good to be a non-profit.....add that $25k value on to the $225k salary.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 26, 2018, 03:29:51 PM
Also, I think the term non-profit is very liberal when you are talking about a political fundraising group regardless of side but just one more disingenuous part to sell the story....

Agree with this. There is just something kind of distasteful about ascribing value judgement like "good" to the work of a political action committee.

I say this as someone who loves PBS and public radio, and who has very liberal politics.

And just by-the-by, I really hope that it isn't Frugalwoods types who are in charge of finding a message that resonates more with the common man, or else my team is gonna get washed in November. lol
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on March 26, 2018, 03:39:03 PM
I'm wondering how much one would have to pay for a down payment on 80 acres in Vermont and "only" have a $300,000 mortgage.   I live in Ohio and 80 acres around here you'll pay at least 400- 500,000. I thought real estate in Vermont was pricier. - I'm guessing your looking at at least $150,000 down- the price of my house.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 26, 2018, 03:51:20 PM
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: calimom on March 26, 2018, 04:04:54 PM
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

The monthly spending reports look much like Martha Stewart's calendar - what they want people to see. Seriously, no childcare expense other than very part time preschool? And both parents work at home? There is only so much insourcing you can do. Did they forget to mention the wages for the full time nanny who's stashed in the attic? Or maybe it's a manny, because subverting the gender paradigm and all.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: savedough on March 26, 2018, 04:37:36 PM
I'm wondering how much one would have to pay for a down payment on 80 acres in Vermont and "only" have a $300,000 mortgage.   I live in Ohio and 80 acres around here you'll pay at least 400- 500,000. I thought real estate in Vermont was pricier. - I'm guessing your looking at at least $150,000 down- the price of my house.

$389,000 was the purchase price for their homestead.


ETA:  Easy to find purchase price when you can cross reference pictures from the real estate listing to pictures from the blog.  And this is why I will never have a blog.   I don't want people to find me so easily.  I don't really care if they know how much I make or spend.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 26, 2018, 05:38:04 PM
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

The monthly spending reports look much like Martha Stewart's calendar - what they want people to see. Seriously, no childcare expense other than very part time preschool? And both parents work at home? There is only so much insourcing you can do. Did they forget to mention the wages for the full time nanny who's stashed in the attic? Or maybe it's a manny, because subverting the gender paradigm and all.

She's always said she works while babywoods naps or at night.  Wouldn't work with my baby,but maybe it does for her.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrsTuxedocat on March 26, 2018, 06:01:35 PM
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 26, 2018, 06:20:00 PM
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.
Possibly because they haven't always earned a high salary???
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 26, 2018, 06:31:26 PM
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

The monthly spending reports look much like Martha Stewart's calendar - what they want people to see. Seriously, no childcare expense other than very part time preschool? And both parents work at home? There is only so much insourcing you can do. Did they forget to mention the wages for the full time nanny who's stashed in the attic? Or maybe it's a manny, because subverting the gender paradigm and all.

She's always said she works while babywoods naps or at night.  Wouldn't work with my baby,but maybe it does for her.

Yes, plus I'm not sure how "part time" she is working either.  I've worked at home when kids are sick - or right now, when it's spring break.  Luckily they are easier now.  I probably could have gotten a good 2 hrs a day in when my kid was that age (not with a newborn though).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: calimom on March 26, 2018, 06:45:41 PM
I'm wondering how much one would have to pay for a down payment on 80 acres in Vermont and "only" have a $300,000 mortgage.   I live in Ohio and 80 acres around here you'll pay at least 400- 500,000. I thought real estate in Vermont was pricier. - I'm guessing your looking at at least $150,000 down- the price of my house.

$389,000 was the purchase price for their homestead.


ETA:  Easy to find purchase price when you can cross reference pictures from the real estate listing to pictures from the blog.  And this is why I will never have a blog.   I don't want people to find me so easily.  I don't really care if they know how much I make or spend.
Jeeze I think I need to move to Vermont as that's less than the price for a delapitated studio condo in my neck of the woods. Wonder what a nice studio condo would cost in.Burlington? Off to Google Zillow!

Ö.or maybe they could convert one of the barns to a groovy living space and you could live there in exchange for childcare! How are you with infants and toddlers?:P
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on March 26, 2018, 07:38:48 PM
I wonder if they are exluding property taxes in their budget.  Vermont supposedly has high taxes.  Someone upthread said $8000 a year?  That's about $700 a month.  Based on their reported mortgage on last months reported expenses, I don't think they are including taxes. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 26, 2018, 07:46:25 PM
They pay their taxes annually. They complain they are high, but mine we're higher on a tiny property in Iowa.

Under $7000 for the year
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/10/11/checked-luggage-and-other-september-2016-expenditures/
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: obstinate on March 26, 2018, 09:31:19 PM
1. there are limits to what you can achieve with frugality alone
2. it is far, far easier to reach financial independence if you have higher income (or other sources of money, obviously)
3. there are vastly different grades of FIRE mostly dictated by stache size (entirely dependent on (2))
4. a lot of the community seemingly focuses ONLY on frugality and not at all on the input side of wealth building
5. the bloggers in the community cater to (4)
6. on top of all of that, the FI blogger community in general has a ton of survivorship bias baked into almost every topic (examples: a lot of the community seems to believe they'll never get sick, there is very little attention paid to the  differences between luck-of-birth-date investment cohorts, time-and-effort-intensive frugal lifestyles are probably not sustainable long term, etc.)
Not to pick on you, because I think all of these observations are valid. But I was made aware of the blowback against the FW today and I want to take a look at a couple of these items, which I have also seen brought up elsewhere.

Points 1-3 boil down to something like, "if you have a lot of money coming in, doing things that require a lot of money (non-ERE RE) are easier." Um, yes? In other news, it's easier to get laid if you're very attractive, it's easier to become a great musician if your parents inculcate you in the world of sound from age 2, and it's easier to sail across the ocean if you already have a boat. I really don't get why this is so shocking to some people. Early retirement is at best a distant dream unless you can save 40+% of your income, and for a huge swathe of Americans, that means either very thin living, or later retirement.

Regarding your points 4-5, I can only imagine that this is because focusing on the input is just a lot harder. It's very difficult to give useful advice about how to improve income. And a lot of the advice is fraught. One of the best ways to get more money is to switch jobs to something that pays more, or to use school or training to improve your skills. But those options have huge potential downsides, whereas buying less meat at the grocery store basically doesn't. The output side contains a lot of elements that are either mostly or fully under the control of the person doing the spending, whereas the input side really doesn't. How much I make has a huge luck component, but how much I spend is 95+% my decisions.

And before someone asks me about unplanned medical expenses, well, sure! Bad luck is a thing. But you'll still have $1 more if you buy the $2 eggs rather than the $3 ones. Many/most frugal decisions can be examined in isolation and are purely a function of discipline, which is much less true of decisions that go into improving income.

Point 6 is also totally valid, but survivorship bias is literally everywhere, especially when it comes to things that are popular. I mean, it's almost the definition of popularity in a socially generated medium like blogging.

It's totally valid to wish for candor, but it's also totally valid to consider your income a private matter. If your blog's purpose is to treat the spending side of the equation, then how much you're bringing in seems rather irrelevant. One thing that is important is not to sell something you can't deliver. "Follow my advice and you'll be able to retire in ten years," is not a good thing to say. "Follow my advice and you will spend less money than you would otherwise, and, oh, by the way, if you're in a certain income range early retirement is attainable," is a perfectly fine thing to say, and the income range of the person saying it really has diddly squat to do with it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: aspiringnomad on March 26, 2018, 09:37:47 PM
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.
Possibly because they haven't always earned a high salary???

To be fair that's true for almost everybody. They were likely able to achieve their goals because of their absurdly high combined salaries (by average American standards) later on.

I too lived in a HCOL on 18k a year for two years just twelve years ago. Even saved a bit back then. Now I make 10x that. The experience of being a temporarily poor but upwardly mobile youngin' is a reminder of how little I need to be happy, contributing to my mindset around money and thus contributing indirectly to my current wealth. But in terms of savings and progress towards FIRE, those lean years had an infinitesimally small direct contribution to my current wealth. This isn't to say that you should throw your hands up and give up if you're not fortunate enough to make 225k a year at a nonprofit. Just that you have less room for error and it will likely take you a bit longer, even if you don't pay retail prices for seltzer water.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: gettingtoyes on March 27, 2018, 03:36:08 AM
Wow! You've never seen people flip over a bargain? Seriously? Or perhaps there is an income limit above which one is not allowed to get excited? That sounds snarky, but it's not my intent. I read it like she might have been about to give up and pull the trigger on a new one (see: log splitter, cider press) so she was thrilled to find a used option. I've never shopped on Black Friday, but I hear the giddy excitement over "deals" on shit no one needs is legend. Meh, she can have this cheap thrill. A stroller is not the same as a 100" TV.

Well, I stand by my point that it's unnecessary drama. We can agree to disagree...Sure it's okay to be glad that you got a great deal. But to describe it as though the world will end if you didn't grab this deal makes me roll my eyes.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: westtoeast on March 27, 2018, 05:17:04 AM
1. there are limits to what you can achieve with frugality alone
2. it is far, far easier to reach financial independence if you have higher income (or other sources of money, obviously)
3. there are vastly different grades of FIRE mostly dictated by stache size (entirely dependent on (2))
4. a lot of the community seemingly focuses ONLY on frugality and not at all on the input side of wealth building
5. the bloggers in the community cater to (4)
6. on top of all of that, the FI blogger community in general has a ton of survivorship bias baked into almost every topic (examples: a lot of the community seems to believe they'll never get sick, there is very little attention paid to the  differences between luck-of-birth-date investment cohorts, time-and-effort-intensive frugal lifestyles are probably not sustainable long term, etc.)
Not to pick on you, because I think all of these observations are valid. But I was made aware of the blowback against the FW today and I want to take a look at a couple of these items, which I have also seen brought up elsewhere.

Points 1-3 boil down to something like, "if you have a lot of money coming in, doing things that require a lot of money (non-ERE RE) are easier." Um, yes? In other news, it's easier to get laid if you're very attractive, it's easier to become a great musician if your parents inculcate you in the world of sound from age 2, and it's easier to sail across the ocean if you already have a boat. I really don't get why this is so shocking to some people. Early retirement is at best a distant dream unless you can save 40+% of your income, and for a huge swathe of Americans, that means either very thin living, or later retirement.

Regarding your points 4-5, I can only imagine that this is because focusing on the input is just a lot harder. It's very difficult to give useful advice about how to improve income. And a lot of the advice is fraught. One of the best ways to get more money is to switch jobs to something that pays more, or to use school or training to improve your skills. But those options have huge potential downsides, whereas buying less meat at the grocery store basically doesn't. The output side contains a lot of elements that are either mostly or fully under the control of the person doing the spending, whereas the input side really doesn't. How much I make has a huge luck component, but how much I spend is 95+% my decisions.

And before someone asks me about unplanned medical expenses, well, sure! Bad luck is a thing. But you'll still have $1 more if you buy the $2 eggs rather than the $3 ones. Many/most frugal decisions can be examined in isolation and are purely a function of discipline, which is much less true of decisions that go into improving income.

Point 6 is also totally valid, but survivorship bias is literally everywhere, especially when it comes to things that are popular. I mean, it's almost the definition of popularity in a socially generated medium like blogging.

It's totally valid to wish for candor, but it's also totally valid to consider your income a private matter. If your blog's purpose is to treat the spending side of the equation, then how much you're bringing in seems rather irrelevant. One thing that is important is not to sell something you can't deliver. "Follow my advice and you'll be able to retire in ten years," is not a good thing to say. "Follow my advice and you will spend less money than you would otherwise, and, oh, by the way, if you're in a certain income range early retirement is attainable," is a perfectly fine thing to say, and the income range of the person saying it really has diddly squat to do with it.

I agree with some of this. However, I think that a FI blogger with integrity has two choices: be upfront about your income, or say nothing at all. Using words like "typical" and "middle class" evoke comparisons in the reader's mind. When I saw them write that they have typical non-profit incomes in my current area, I thought about how much they might earn relative to myself. When you unfairly call your income "typical" you are encouraging people with truly typical incomes to compare themselves to you. It is misleading.

Also, why can't I tear myself away from this thread?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: obstinate on March 27, 2018, 05:22:14 AM
Fair enough. I guess that's about all there is to say.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: StarBright on March 27, 2018, 08:11:11 AM
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.
Possibly because they haven't always earned a high salary???

To be fair that's true for almost everybody. They were likely able to achieve their goals because of their absurdly high combined salaries (by average American standards) later on.

I too lived in a HCOL on 18k a year for two years just twelve years ago. Even saved a bit back then. Now I make 10x that. The experience of being a temporarily poor but upwardly mobile youngin' is a reminder of how little I need to be happy, contributing to my mindset around money and thus contributing indirectly to my current wealth. But in terms of savings and progress towards FIRE, those lean years had an infinitesimally small direct contribution to my current wealth. This isn't to say that you should throw your hands up and give up if you're not fortunate enough to make 225k a year at a nonprofit. Just that you have less room for error and it will likely take you a bit longer, even if you don't pay retail prices for seltzer water.

To the bolded above - this is tangential to the FWs but I think lean year frugality can have more impact than simply teaching folks to live on a small budget. Any extra savings, at any time, allows people to take advantage of opportunities as they become available. DH and I had incomes similar to yours (we were at 22k and 12k), also about 12 years ago in HCOL area. We lived (extremely tightly) on one income and saved about 80% of the other one for a couple of years.

It wasn't much money at the time but when the housing market crashed we had enough saved to get into a starter home w/ a good down payment and a great mortgage. That starter home had a much cheaper mortgage than rents in the area, which allowed us to save even more (and our incomes were starting to rise around this time too).

Obviously we had a crappy economy and a dual income situation that ended up working in our favor (so a single person in a booming economy wouldn't have the SAME opportunity) but saving the majority of small, pittance wage allowed us to get into a position where we can NOW save a ton of good salaries. But if we hadn't been saving a decade ago we would not be close to being able to save what we do now.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 08:29:20 AM


I agree with some of this. However, I think that a FI blogger with integrity has two choices: be upfront about your income, or say nothing at all. Using words like "typical" and "middle class" evoke comparisons in the reader's mind. When I saw them write that they have typical non-profit incomes in my current area, I thought about how much they might earn relative to myself. When you unfairly call your income "typical" you are encouraging people with truly typical incomes to compare themselves to you. It is misleading.

Also, why can't I tear myself away from this thread?

Agree.   They are misleading their readers by basically claiming their frugal lifestyle has led to all the cool stuff they have when it's obvious their high incomes are the big reason for their lifestyle.  It's obvious with their incomes they could have their lifestyle without being very frugal.  From a marketing perspective their decision makes sense because the frugal message is going to resonate with more readers.  Unfortunately, it's very unfair to their community and a lie by omission.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 27, 2018, 08:35:55 AM
Wow! You've never seen people flip over a bargain? Seriously? Or perhaps there is an income limit above which one is not allowed to get excited? That sounds snarky, but it's not my intent. I read it like she might have been about to give up and pull the trigger on a new one (see: log splitter, cider press) so she was thrilled to find a used option. I've never shopped on Black Friday, but I hear the giddy excitement over "deals" on shit no one needs is legend. Meh, she can have this cheap thrill. A stroller is not the same as a 100" TV.

Well, I stand by my point that it's unnecessary drama. We can agree to disagree...Sure it's okay to be glad that you got a great deal. But to describe it as though the world will end if you didn't grab this deal makes me roll my eyes.
Agreed, but virtually every post is embellished with excessive use of polysyllabic vocabulary. I get that she loves the English Language and is well educated, but I find it jarring that someone preaching frugality is so effusive with ten-dollar words.

For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 08:47:49 AM

For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

This is pretty plain English:

Quote
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/

They also love to invoke that they work for nonprofits.   FW knows exactly what they are doing and it's very clear they are intentionally misleading their readers because it sells a more accessible message to profit from.   We have people in this thread who are disappointed with FW and were previously comparing themselves to them.   At least in this thread the backlash is mostly due to their lies by omission. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on March 27, 2018, 09:51:06 AM
For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

This is pretty plain English: Which in no way negates my point.

Quote
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/

They also love to invoke that they work for nonprofits. Duh, it's what they do. You were perhaps unaware that some people at some non-profits actually earn market wages for their efforts? Shocking!

FW knows exactly what they are doing and it's very clear they are intentionally misleading their readers because it sells a more accessible message to profit from.  Wow! A lot of assumptions on your part. Amazing clarity you have about their intentions.

We have people in this thread who are disappointed with FW and were previously comparing themselves to them. Uh, comparison is the thief of joy? Mustachians are more stoic lot than that and don't believe in comparing themselves to others, aka "Keeping up with the Joneses".

At least in this thread the backlash is mostly due to their lies by omission. I call BS. Their methods work. Their current income is fairly well beside the point, just like MMM's. They developed their tactics when they were earning far less than they do now. So the fuck what? That is the crucial point you seem to be missing. I am referring to you and all those other "disappointed" people you cite.

One of the key themes of Mustachianism, as divined by the great Pete himself, is that finding ways to boost income (better skills, better job, side hustles, blogging, etc.) is key to FIRE. He also cautions not to allow increased income to allow lifestyle creep. This is exactly what the Frugalwoods have done. I am surprised at the outrage, especially on this forum. You know, the one Pete started to foster the growth of Mustachianism? Put another way, why are you condemning the FWs for doing exactly what Pete did and wants he wants all of us to do? Both of them take time to share what worked for them so that others may benefit, if they wish.

Now that I have reached FIRE, I am grateful to everyone who took the time to share their skills and insights with me, a total stranger. I took what worked for me, incorporated it into my life, and reached my goal of FIRE. I ignored the rest (Sorry, Joe and Vicki). Gasp! I even bought all three Tightwad Gazettes and the final compendium, brand new, at a brick and mortar [discount, of course] bookstore, because Amazon and free blogs didn't exist back then. One more beacon of light illuminating the path to FIRE is a good thing, regardless of what the author earns now. It's a shame for the people who can't see the FW book for the tool it is. But hey, if you don't need any help, don't buy the FW book. Don't check it out from your library. Don't read their blog. Don't take any of their suggestions. That'll show 'em.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 27, 2018, 09:54:06 AM
Why all the bitterness? Pop’s post didn’t seem like it deserved that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 27, 2018, 10:33:08 AM
Wow! A lot of assumptions on your part. Amazing clarity you have about their intentions.

It is true that no one can get inside their heads and know exactly what they're thinking and why they do what they do.

But sometimes, you have to make a determination on incomplete evidence. The preponderance of the evidence suggests to me that they're being willfully deceptive. I think that myself and others have brought forward a lot of good evidence in this thread to support that conclusion.

I don't think they're bad people and I don't think they've committed some great crime, but lots of folks like myself are hardwired to be skeptical of claims and stories that are used to promote and sell you things. It's part of what makes us such judicious consumers.

I have to live in a world in which dishonesty is rewarded. The Frugalwoods and their fan base have to live in a world in which people like me will point that out. It's just kind of the way it is.
Title: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: westtoeast on March 27, 2018, 10:41:18 AM
Clarifying my points...

I’m not condemning the Frugalwoods because they earn good money at non-profits (assuming those non-profits pay their non-executives fairly too). I’m simply disappointed that they use misleading language to make their incomes seem lower. They should tell the truth or not discuss their income at all. Just don’t mislead your readers!

If the blog was exactly the same minus those “normal incomes” lines, I would have no problem. If the Frugalwoods are reading this thread, I suggest that they edit or remove those lines. Frugalwoods, I love you guys— just be straight with us!

A note on comparisons... I do like to know how I compare to others seeking FI so that I can assess what goals are reasonable for me to achieve on my income. I also like to follow stories that reflect my experiences and situation, as I’m sure many of us do. I’m not trying to “keep up with the Jones.” I’m trying to goal set and figure out what’s possible.

MMM’s income was/is very relevant to his readers. He was clear and honest about what he earned over the years he was chasing FI. I found this helpful. A person can read MMM and say “OK, I’m earning a similar amount in a similar COL area— I can expect success similar to MMM if I use the strategies.” Or they can say “Well, my income is much lower, so I won’t get the same results, but if I use the strategies I’ll still end up in a better position!”

Of course, the Frugalwoods are not REQUIRED to share their income as long as they are not misleading. It would be helpful, but they are not obligated.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: sui generis on March 27, 2018, 10:49:05 AM
Put another way, why are you condemning the FWs for doing exactly what Pete did and wants he wants all of us to do?

With few exceptions (the cider press and stroller being the primary ones), almost no one on this thread (esp. in the latter pages) has condemned the FWs for their frugal lifestyle and recommendations.  Most of the condemnation is about misrepresenting themselves and their salaries.  Many of those same posters seem to have taken pains to give acclaim to the FWs for other aspects of their blog/lifestyle.  I think it's important to recognize what people are really upset about, and by eyeballing it, I'd say the vast majority of disillusioned posters here are disillusioned about the misrepresentation of their income, pre-FIRE (not just post).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 27, 2018, 11:01:55 AM

For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

This is pretty plain English:

Quote
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/

They also love to invoke that they work for nonprofits.   FW knows exactly what they are doing and it's very clear they are intentionally misleading their readers because it sells a more accessible message to profit from.   We have people in this thread who are disappointed with FW and were previously comparing themselves to them.   At least in this thread the backlash is mostly due to their lies by omission.

You have zero idea of how much they made in 2014.  But hey, don't let a lack of facts get in the way of a good witch hunt!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on March 27, 2018, 11:20:46 AM
You have zero idea of how much they made in 2014. 

This isn't strictly true since highly compensated employees are listed on the IRS Form 990 filings that tax exempt orgs must complete.

Even without that though, it's a pretty simple exercise to ballpark based on the following inputs:

Age
No inheritance
Claim of financial independence

Early on in the thread, before all the 990 stuff, I ball parked at or above 3x the median household income. I still feel pretty comfortable with that. The numbers just don't make sense otherwise.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 27, 2018, 11:22:18 AM
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation?????? (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/frugalwoods-guilty-or-not-89742/)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 11:25:13 AM
Clarifying my points...

Iím not condemning the Frugalwoods because they earn good money at non-profits (assuming those non-profits pay their non-executives fairly too). Iím simply disappointed that they use misleading language to make their incomes seem lower. They should tell the truth or not discuss their income at all. Just donít mislead your readers!

If the blog was exactly the same minus those ďnormal incomesĒ lines, I would have no problem. If the Frugalwoods are reading this thread, I suggest that they edit or remove those lines. Frugalwoods, I love you guysó just be straight with us!

A note on comparisons... I do like to know how I compare to others seeking FI so that I can assess what goals are reasonable for me to achieve on my income. I also like to follow stories that reflect my experiences and situation, as Iím sure many of us do. Iím not trying to ďkeep up with the Jones.Ē Iím trying to goal set and figure out whatís possible.

MMMís income was/is very relevant to his readers. He was clear and honest about what he earned over the years he was chasing FI. I found this helpful. A person can read MMM and say ďOK, Iím earning a similar amount in a similar COL areaó I can expect success similar to MMM if I use the strategies.Ē Or they can say ďWell, my income is much lower, so I wonít get the same results, but if I use the strategies Iíll still end up in a better position!Ē

Of course, the Frugalwoods are not REQUIRED to share their income as long as they are not misleading. It would be helpful, but they are not obligated.

We basically agree.  I don't have a problem with the fact that they make a lot of money or how they choose to spend it.   I don't even think they are horrible people.   I do think they are misleading their community in a way in which just so happens to enrich them.   As evidence in this thread it leads to some of their readers to feel unfairly inadequate.  In short: they are selling a lifestyle primarily based on a misrepresentation. 



You have zero idea of how much they made in 2014.  But hey, don't let a lack of facts get in the way of a good witch hunt!

The source for his income was posted in this thread:


I reserved a copy of the book at the library and started reading through the Amazon reviews. Someone pointed out a link to Actblue's IRS filings and Nate (whose actual first name apparently is James) made $225,000 in 2014, the year that they decided to be more frugal (link from amazon review: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/455097038 )

edit - it's in the 2014 pdf tax filing (https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/download-filing?path=2015_11_EO%2F45-5097038_990O_201412.pdf).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nippycrisp on March 27, 2018, 11:31:41 AM
It's surprising to find so much discourse on such a small topic, but I see how this has morphed into a whole character thing. 

One thing that doesn't get mentioned: every PF blog seems to have a "thing". GoCurryCracker has the perpetual traveler/tax thing. The Wealthy Accountant has a tax/business thing. ERE is/was the crazy frugal guy, JLCollins's hallmark is his excellent writing and stock series and MMM has his own style (and these forums), etc. Frugalwoods is, in my opinion, a second-tier effort because their "thing" (farmstead/country life) is just boring/uninteresting to many (most?) people in the FIRE world and probably not hardcore enough to attract real farmsteaders. To compound this, the writing is bland and lacks any real personality. As mentioned in the thread multiple times, the most endearing thing about their website might be the greyhound in a dress.

Now, there's nothing wrong about producing something with limited appeal, but I think lady Frugalwood wants to move into that top tier quite badly. At least the evidence supports it: She's written the book, pours out blog content (much of which is superfluous, both in post quantity and length) and, as discussed at length here, has provided a debatably ambiguous/deceptive financial picture (done, I suspect, to add wow factor for the book's media push). Not hating - it's her job and she probably doesn't have too many options out in the sticks - but it highlights the unique challenge here: after writing a memoir, what else could they possibly say? I have no idea what they could do to harvest more attention for their blog, but it seems like pushing the financial angle may have run its course. To continue as a FIRE blogger, FW needs to find something unique that's not already discussed ad nauseum in the blogsphere (I wonder: does such a thing even exist?) otherwise it's hard to imagine their site as anything more than a rube-goldberg machine that churns out pleasant, trivial posts on DIY piesafes and apple harvesting.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: undercover on March 27, 2018, 11:35:44 AM
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 27, 2018, 11:38:15 AM
It's surprising to find so much discourse on such a small topic, but I see how this has morphed into a whole character thing. 

One thing that doesn't get mentioned: every PF blog seems to have a "thing". GoCurryCracker has the perpetual traveler/tax thing. The Wealthy Accountant has a tax/business thing. ERE is/was the crazy frugal guy, JLCollins's hallmark is his excellent writing and stock series and MMM has his own style (and these forums), etc. Frugalwoods is, in my opinion, a second-tier effort because their "thing" (farmstead/country life) is just boring/uninteresting to many (most?) people in the FIRE world and probably not hardcore enough to attract real farmsteaders. To compound this, the writing is bland and lacks any real personality. As mentioned in the thread multiple times, the most endearing thing about their website might be the greyhound in a dress.

Now, there's nothing wrong about producing something with limited appeal, but I think lady Frugalwood wants to move into that top tier quite badly. At least the evidence supports it: She's written the book, pours out blog content (much of which is superfluous, both in post quantity and length) and, as discussed at length here, has provided a debatably ambiguous/deceptive financial picture (done, I suspect, to add wow factor for the book's media push). Not hating - it's her job and she probably doesn't have too many options out in the sticks - but it highlights the unique challenge here: after writing a memoir, what else could they possibly say? I have no idea what they could do to harvest more attention for their blog, but it seems like pushing the financial angle may have run its course. To continue as a FIRE blogger, FW needs to find something unique that's not already discussed ad nauseum in the blogsphere (I wonder: does such a thing even exist?) otherwise it's hard to imagine their site as anything more than a rube-goldberg machine that churns out pleasant, trivial posts on DIY piesafes and apple harvesting.

While I think FW does have a thing (whether its good or not is up to the reader), I think what is becoming more apparent when compared to the other bloggers you mentioned is that the intent of starting the blog was for monetary purpose and its edited and scripted for that purpose....ok.  The others just put stuff on a page bc they wanted to and then it started making money - in some cases a lot of money.

Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

hahahaha
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 11:55:27 AM
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cassie on March 27, 2018, 12:08:48 PM
I think it is perfectly reasonable for her to work at home with a baby or small children.  I had 3 boys and they took a 3 hour nap form 12-3 and went back to bed at 7 until first grade.   It gave me plenty of time to work from home.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 27, 2018, 12:42:02 PM
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation?????? (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/frugalwoods-guilty-or-not-89742/)
I think the problem with a poll is that while they may have misrepresented the income they earned in the years to get to FI, calling it "average, not special, median" etc.., I don't believe it was an intentional misrepresentation.

I believe they really did (and still do) consider that they were average earners with median incomes back in 2014 when they started to save and weren't anything special financially. And maybe they weren't amongst their peers. So they may believe that their "extreme frugality" was what got them to FI rather than a very high salary.

I see this same mind set here all the time with high earners. So many high earners think they have "average" salaries. There is just such a disconnect between them and the reality of most true average income earners. I read journals and post about how they "struggle" to get to FI and are only spending $120k a year (minus mortgage) and wonder if they could ever attain FIRE or be able to live on $100k a year once RE. I just read the "can you retire on $5 million" thread and someone said well maybe if you live frugally. YIKES.


I agree that there is a relativity to it all.....if ones peer group is all a bunch of high paid doctors/lawyers/investment bankers and you are just a lowly paid non-profit executive then you might not even feel average.  But there still has to be some self awareness that you are still above or well above average in general except within your peer group - so I don't buy that argument.  I suspect the average feeling is more driven by the spending/lifestyle part of it...for high earners with high savings rates the lifestyle one lives is for the most part average or less than average in many cases. 

As for the extreme frugality, as I mentioned in a prior post I think their evolution was frugal by need, LBYM when more money was made, then in the 2014/2015 they went extreme frugal at a time when the income doubled with the goal of coming up with a down payment for the farm and having some extra money.....I really believe that they were/are dependent on his income for the move and lifestyle (now less so with the blog income). 

And to your first comment, after paying more attention to their script and specific wording and some of the other interviews, etc, I think it is all very calculated to engender themselves to a wider audience and drive traffic/revenue - and there is nothing inherently wrong with that in of itself other than the dishonesty.  No crime committed, used car sales people do this all the time - oversell the positives, undersell the negatives. So I do think it is intentional but that doesn't make them bad people, just good business people.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Jrr85 on March 27, 2018, 12:48:52 PM
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation?????? (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/frugalwoods-guilty-or-not-89742/)
I think the problem with a poll is that while they may have misrepresented the income they earned in the years to get to FI, calling it "average, not special, median" etc.., I don't believe it was an intentional misrepresentation. I believe they really did (and still do) consider that they were average earners with median incomes back in 2014 when they started to save and weren't anything special financially. And maybe they weren't amongst their peers. So they may believe that their "extreme frugality" was what got them to FI rather than a very high salary.

I see this same mind set here all the time with high earners. So many high earners think they have "average" salaries. There is just such a disconnect between them and the reality of most true average income earners. I read journals and post about how they "struggle" to get to FI and are only spending $120k a year (minus mortgage) and wonder if they could ever attain FIRE or be able to live on $100k a year once RE. I just read the "can you retire on $5 million" thread and someone said well maybe if you live frugally. YIKES.

 Have I accidentally wandered into Bogelheadsville? Maybe its the lower income people like me who are the ones with the disconnect and don't even belong on MMM site. Guess I need to head off to ERE wit da po' folks ;-).

I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

I think the evidence is overwhelming that they intentionally misled.  It could only be overcome by somebody with enough personal history with them to say, "No, believe it or not, they really are this oblivious and have no exposure to paying for any services or employees and have never heard any claim about what the median household income is in the U.S. or north east." 

I'm not sure that's a big deal (if I were a reader maybe I'd feel differently), but I don't think an argument that it was unintentional can really be supported.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 27, 2018, 01:01:58 PM
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.

I think that blog post has kicked off a number of posts by other bloggers starting to disclose or disclaim their other income or stories.....and I think that was directly the result of the FW story.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 01:28:54 PM

I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

I think the evidence is overwhelming that they intentionally misled.  It could only be overcome by somebody with enough personal history with them to say, "No, believe it or not, they really are this oblivious and have no exposure to paying for any services or employees and have never heard any claim about what the median household income is in the U.S. or north east." 

I'm not sure that's a big deal (if I were a reader maybe I'd feel differently), but I don't think an argument that it was unintentional can really be supported.

It gets even tougher to believe when she literally runs a blog and wrote a book that is personal finance focused.  She's been thinking about and discussing this stuff for years.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on March 27, 2018, 01:41:17 PM
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: sui generis on March 27, 2018, 01:49:58 PM
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.
Eh, isn't this an argument basically about cash vs. accrual methods of accounting?  In fact, I thought accrual was the commonly used method.  I can see what you're saying about how it looks weird, but I think it's pretty universally accepted. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 27, 2018, 02:24:44 PM
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

We do our accounting that way. We don't have a budget, we have expense reports. So taxes are only an expense when we pay them. I don't account for them when we don't pay them, because we didn't pay them...so they weren't an expense that month.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on March 27, 2018, 02:35:22 PM
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

We do our accounting that way. We don't have a budget, we have expense reports. So taxes are only an expense when we pay them. I don't account for them when we don't pay them, because we didn't pay them...so they weren't an expense that month.
I get that your mortgage and your taxes are fixed and that you have no control over them (except picking an appropriate place within your budget to live) But I don't get subtracting them from the monthly bottom line or totally ignoring them in your accounting sceam until they are due.  It gives people the idea that you are living on less than you do.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Vertical Mode on March 27, 2018, 02:45:03 PM
The folks at ďOur Next LifeĒ addressed this topic head-on this morning...without naming names of course!

https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/

Catching up on this thread and wanted to give you a +1 for this link. That article is outstanding and there are some good discussions in the comments section, too.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 27, 2018, 03:22:46 PM
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

We do our accounting that way. We don't have a budget, we have expense reports. So taxes are only an expense when we pay them. I don't account for them when we don't pay them, because we didn't pay them...so they weren't an expense that month.
I get that your mortgage and your taxes are fixed and that you have no control over them (except picking an appropriate place within your budget to live) But I don't get subtracting them from the monthly bottom line or totally ignoring them in your accounting sceam until they are due.  It gives people the idea that you are living on less than you do.

But they are transparent that they subtract the mortgage, the total is one line above.

And in the giant block of text above the spending report she explains that annual expenses are only in the month paid.

This is not an area where she fails at transparency, IMO.

A lot of people add their mortgage principal to their savings rate. Makes no sense to me, but it works for them.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Prairie Stash on March 27, 2018, 04:26:44 PM
Yep she has detailed expenses listed. Because I'm stuck at home with a bum knee I added up their expenses for the last 12 months, including mortgage and prop taxes (can't remember if that included income taxes but likely) and it was a tad over $54k/ year ($4500/month). They don't include there rental house expenses since those are all covered by the rent income. So not bad overall. I don't think anyone here has a problem with their current spending though.
depends...did they have $1,350,000 (4% rule) when they first claimed FI? In other words, could their passive income support them if they were to both stop working? To me that's FI, the ability to quit at any time without modifying anything. Thank you for compiling the numbers. 

Either way I'll probably just gloss over their website and only read the interesting articles. I'll enjoy it the same way I enjoy any fiction novel, I have learned many life lessons from the genre. Is "Tom Sawyer" or Old Man and the Sea" any less enjoyable for being fiction?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on March 27, 2018, 04:32:48 PM
I wasn't really into their blog, but this thread and all the haters makes me really root for them.  I hope they absolutely crush it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 27, 2018, 05:02:53 PM
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation?????? (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/frugalwoods-guilty-or-not-89742/)
I think the problem with a poll is that while they may have misrepresented the income they earned in the years to get to FI, calling it "average, not special, median" etc.., I don't believe it was an intentional misrepresentation. I believe they really did (and still do) consider that they were average earners with median incomes back in 2014 when they started to save and weren't anything special financially. And maybe they weren't amongst their peers. So they may believe that their "extreme frugality" was what got them to FI rather than a very high salary.

I see this same mind set here all the time with high earners. So many high earners think they have "average" salaries. There is just such a disconnect between them and the reality of most true average income earners. I read journals and post about how they "struggle" to get to FI and are only spending $120k a year (minus mortgage) and wonder if they could ever attain FIRE or be able to live on $100k a year once RE. I just read the "can you retire on $5 million" thread and someone said well maybe if you live frugally. YIKES.

 Have I accidentally wandered into Bogelheadsville? Maybe its the lower income people like me who are the ones with the disconnect and don't even belong on MMM site. Guess I need to head off to ERE wit da po' folks ;-).

+1

I was going to make this point, but you made it perfectly.  They probably felt average when they started this thing.  And they were.  Among their peers.  If you don't go outside your bubble...well, how do you know differently, unless you make an effort?  I mean, I'd say with their reader case studies, maybe they are making an effort.

We are high earners and I'm surrounded by people who are like us and think they are average.  I purposely surround myself with a variety of people IRL (and well, I'm related to a bunch of po' folk).  I bet they'd score pretty high on the bubble test.  I think it's heavily location dependent, but where they live and being professionals, I can TOTALLY see it.  I'm an engineer, I work with engineers and PhDs - the vast majority of people at my company make >$100k, most are highly compensated employees.  My friends who live in the Bay area are in an even BIGGER bubble.  My friends who live in the DC area and work in Government - also, bubble for many of them.

Someone else mentioned that they thought the blog was uninteresting and second-rate, and well - that's in the eye of the beholder I guess.  I grew up in the country, so I like the country spin.  Even though I don't ever want to go back there, it's a nostalgia thing. It's probably the same reason I like onehundreddollarsamonth, who is more suburban but just now moving to a big place in the northeast.  Her writing style is more accessible but her blog is heavily monetized, and people have also called her out on income/ spending too.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 27, 2018, 05:04:49 PM
Quote
I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

It's really not that hard to live in that kind of bubble.  People are self-centered.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 27, 2018, 05:35:14 PM
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 06:05:15 PM
Yep she has detailed expenses listed. Because I'm stuck at home with a bum knee I added up their expenses for the last 12 months, including mortgage and prop taxes (can't remember if that included income taxes but likely) and it was a tad over $54k/ year ($4500/month). They don't include there rental house expenses since those are all covered by the rent income. So not bad overall. I don't think anyone here has a problem with their current spending though.

Given we know how much her husband makes I think it's highly unlikely 54k in expenses includes income taxes.  Therefore 54k in expenses after income taxes means the average American household cannot afford their frugal lifestyle.   When you start to include things like their excellent healthcare the difference becomes even greater.

Look, I don't care how much they spend or make, and I'm sure there's some context an avid reader would like to point out, but on the face of it FW is pretty silly.   It's the kind of thing the show Portlandia used to lampoon.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Carrie on March 27, 2018, 06:40:20 PM
If we don't count healthcare premiums or taxes, our annual household expenses are $29,000 for a family of 5. Maybe I should  start a blog.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Captain Cactus on March 27, 2018, 06:46:29 PM
I wonder what Frugal Liz thinks about this thread?  Probably been good for business!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: aspiringnomad on March 27, 2018, 06:47:14 PM
Yep she has detailed expenses listed. Because I'm stuck at home with a bum knee I added up their expenses for the last 12 months, including mortgage and prop taxes (can't remember if that included income taxes but likely) and it was a tad over $54k/ year ($4500/month). They don't include there rental house expenses since those are all covered by the rent income. So not bad overall. I don't think anyone here has a problem with their current spending though.

Given we know how much her husband makes I think it's highly unlikely 54k in expenses includes income taxes.  Therefore 54k in expenses after income taxes means the average American household cannot afford their frugal lifestyle.   When you start to include things like their excellent healthcare the difference becomes even greater.

Look, I don't care how much they spend or make, and I'm sure there's some context an avid reader would like to point out, but on the face of it FW is pretty silly.   It's the kind of thing the show Portlandia used to lampoon.

Portlandia reference is spot on.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 27, 2018, 07:16:25 PM
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
I've been reading their blog for a long time and Mrs FWs posts here and she always has acknowledged they are privileged. However (at least for a fair number of us here) her lack of disclosure of past income numbers leading to FI leave a big hole in her story. It"s kind of like saying Warren Buffet got to be a billionaire because he drove an old car and ate the $3 breakfast sandwich at MacDonalds everyday.

One reason I like MMM so much as he was very open about the salary and stash size  he had pre-FIRE as well as his spending. It's relatable. Even though we debate what his current spending and RE status is now (he's FIMER - Financially Independent Mustachian Early Retired. You are FI and RE but still do some work ;-)) how he got to FIRE initially is pretty clear.

I don't see any big holes, or any holes at all really.  No one retires in their early 30s on minimum wage or even median household income.  You're obviously going to have a high income.  It's par for the course.  The only thing the income does is speed the process.  Everything else is the same.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: McStache on March 27, 2018, 07:33:17 PM
Just want to point out that according to the publicly available 990's (that I was able to find with cursory googling), 2014 was his highest earning year and included a large bonus.  Probably due to the mid-term elections if I had to guess.

Salary history:
2010 - <$100K (not a highly compensated employee)
2012 - $122K
2013 - $138K
2014 - $201K
2015 - $173K

These are still above average salaries (far above on a national/global scale), but not atypical for a software type in Cambridge.

Edit: Actually looked at the 2014 990, the $225K number includes benefits/retirement, which is pretty sweet, but inconsistent with how I had reported the other numbers (wages only)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on March 27, 2018, 07:58:04 PM
Just want to point out that according to the publicly available 990's (that I was able to find with cursory googling), 2014 was his highest earning year and included a large bonus.  Probably due to the mid-term elections if I had to guess.

Salary history:
2010 - <$100K (not a highly compensated employee)
2012 - $122K
2013 - $138K
2014 - $225K
2015 - $173K

These are still above average salaries (far above on a national/global scale), but not atypical for a software type in Cambridge.

Well, 2014 is when they changed their spendy lifestyle so the years before that aren't really germane to their narrative.   Also, looking at the 2015 data here  (http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/455/455097938/455097938_201512_990O.pdf)(page 21) I'm seeing compensation of 206,482.

Just a typical non-profit nothing-special compensation like they tell their readers/customers, right?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: McStache on March 27, 2018, 08:34:36 PM
Just want to point out that according to the publicly available 990's (that I was able to find with cursory googling), 2014 was his highest earning year and included a large bonus.  Probably due to the mid-term elections if I had to guess.

Salary history:
2010 - <$100K (not a highly compensated employee)
2012 - $122K
2013 - $138K
2014 - $225K
2015 - $173K

These are still above average salaries (far above on a national/global scale), but not atypical for a software type in Cambridge.

Well, 2014 is when they changed their spendy lifestyle so the years before that aren't really germane to their narrative.   Also, looking at the 2015 data here  (http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/455/455097938/455097938_201512_990O.pdf)(page 21) I'm seeing compensation of 206,482.
The $206k number includes employer retirement contributions and benefits (sounds like a sweet benefits package to boot).  Wages were $173K.

Quote
Just a typical non-profit nothing-special compensation like they tell their readers/customers, right?
I'm just here to provide more data, make some popcorn, and watch the thread keep churning.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: reader321 on March 27, 2018, 08:40:24 PM
2014: $225k
2015: $226k (20 + 173 + 33)
2016: $271k
2017: $294k? (TBD)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: rosarugosa on March 28, 2018, 04:52:09 AM
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.

Thanks for the link.  Good stuff!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: SpreadsheetMan on March 28, 2018, 06:17:42 AM
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.

That blogger manifesto really hits the nail on the head. The discussion in the comments is very good as well.

Re. The Frugalwoods blog - I was there for the dog :-)

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 28, 2018, 06:46:35 AM
RIP :(
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 28, 2018, 09:36:23 AM
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
I've been reading their blog for a long time and Mrs FWs posts here and she always has acknowledged they are privileged. However (at least for a fair number of us here) her lack of disclosure of past income numbers leading to FI leave a big hole in her story. It"s kind of like saying Warren Buffet got to be a billionaire because he drove an old car and ate the $3 breakfast sandwich at MacDonalds everyday.

One reason I like MMM so much as he was very open about the salary and stash size  he had pre-FIRE as well as his spending. It's relatable. Even though we debate what his current spending and RE status is now (he's FIMER - Financially Independent Mustachian Early Retired. You are FI and RE but still do some work ;-)) how he got to FIRE initially is pretty clear.

I don't see any big holes, or any holes at all really.  No one retires in their early 30s on minimum wage or even median household income.  You're obviously going to have a high income.  It's par for the course.  The only thing the income does is speed the process.  Everything else is the same.
True and I agree for the most part. As a lower income earner pre-FIRE there can be a few challenges beyond just time to get to FI. As trying to save 50% of $40k each year for a couple of decades is different from saving 80% of a $300k salary for less than 5 years. But agree that overall it works the same. However their claim of being average median income earners is the issue most have with the blog when its soooo easy to just say they earned a high income but saved a butt load by LBYM.

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Jrr85 on March 28, 2018, 09:41:59 AM
Quote
I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

It's really not that hard to live in that kind of bubble.  People are self-centered.

Well, living in a bubble is not hard, having zero awareness about the bubble is a different story.  Again, somebody writes about money, spends a lot of time worrying about their spending and saving and early retirement, and has zero clue that they are earning more than three times the median family income for their area?  They're obviously aware that most people are not reaching financial independence at a young age.  There are plenty of self absorbed and not very bright people.  The little I've read of their blog, I just find it hard to believe that they never had any introspection about their income or how it compares to others.  It just seems almost certain that they made a conscious decision to downplay their income, maybe to increase the marketability of their blog, maybe just because it seems in bad taste to be in the non-profit world and advertise that you are making more than three times the median family income.  Again, not sure it's that big of a deal, but you have to be particularly credulous to think there weren't aware that their income wasn't standard.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on March 28, 2018, 10:14:24 AM
Quote
I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

It's really not that hard to live in that kind of bubble.  People are self-centered.

Well, living in a bubble is not hard, having zero awareness about the bubble is a different story.  Again, somebody writes about money, spends a lot of time worrying about their spending and saving and early retirement, and has zero clue that they are earning more than three times the median family income for their area?  They're obviously aware that most people are not reaching financial independence at a young age.  There are plenty of self absorbed and not very bright people.  The little I've read of their blog, I just find it hard to believe that they never had any introspection about their income or how it compares to others.  It just seems almost certain that they made a conscious decision to downplay their income, maybe to increase the marketability of their blog, maybe just because it seems in bad taste to be in the non-profit world and advertise that you are making more than three times the median family income.  Again, not sure it's that big of a deal, but you have to be particularly credulous to think there weren't aware that their income wasn't standard.

Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MarciaB on March 28, 2018, 12:00:17 PM
The FWs remind me of my adult kids. And who didn't love the photos of the dog dressed up and such? If they lived next door to me I'd love to have them bring the little ones and drop by for tea and cookies.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 28, 2018, 01:21:41 PM
Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

Hmm, yes they do seem to get it:

Quote from: FrugalWoods
Achieving early retirement isnít something everyone can do. I wish I could say that if everyone would just save a little more, and live a bit farther below their means, and avoid buying an SUV, theyíd be able to quit their jobs and live the life they crave. But thatís not the reality. Thereís structural privilege inherent in our ability to pursue financial independence at a young age.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: reader321 on March 28, 2018, 01:35:48 PM
Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

Hmm, yes they do seem to get it:

Quote from: FrugalWoods
Achieving early retirement isnít something everyone can do. I wish I could say that if everyone would just save a little more, and live a bit farther below their means, and avoid buying an SUV, theyíd be able to quit their jobs and live the life they crave. But thatís not the reality. Thereís structural privilege inherent in our ability to pursue financial independence at a young age.

Yes, they get it.

The question is why do they use coded language to describe their financial situation? This is especially true of their more recent messaging in the run-up to the publication of their book. For example, a few weeks ago in the Guardian:

Quote
My husband, Nate, and I are not exceptional people. Weíre not rich or famous or geniuses or even particularly good-looking (although we have our moments). Weíre just some average, middle-class kids from the midwest who decided we wanted something more out of life than what our consumer culture sells us.

Why go to great lengths do depict yourself as "normal", average midwesterners when you make $40k per month? Is it perhaps because the truth undermines the narrative that frugality alone made them financially independent?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MMMarbleheader on March 28, 2018, 02:54:51 PM
I remember a reference in an interview or blog way back that she said they decided to focus on expenses and not income because they did not want to disclose their salaries to their family as they felt it was uncomfortable.

Also they have always been forthcoming about their savings rate and that they maxed out their 401ks it was pretty easy to back into an income well over $200k based on their spending.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on March 28, 2018, 03:26:11 PM
Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

Hmm, yes they do seem to get it:

Quote from: FrugalWoods
Achieving early retirement isnít something everyone can do. I wish I could say that if everyone would just save a little more, and live a bit farther below their means, and avoid buying an SUV, theyíd be able to quit their jobs and live the life they crave. But thatís not the reality. Thereís structural privilege inherent in our ability to pursue financial independence at a young age.


Do they...

"We have high-paying jobs. While this alone isnít a predictor of financial health, or the ability to achieve financial independence at a young age, it sure does help. Yes, weíre extreme frugal weirdos and yes, we save 71% of our incomes every year and yes, minus our mortgage we spent $13,000 in all of 2014. But, we recognize how fortunate we are to be able to do this."

This could be calculated a bunch of ways...
- The first, and laziest, would be oh they spend $13,000 and saved 71%....so they made only $45,000....that's like poverty in Boston. 
- next would be to add back their mortgage (hold on let me track down that number from another post)....found it $23k (including taxes) so that means they make only $124k.....that's not at all that much for two working people in Boston and makes sense given they non-profit workers.
- oh wait, their savings rate is only based on their take home pay (after taxes, benis, and 401k)....what now I am confused, so they make a lot more than that?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: pbkmaine on March 29, 2018, 08:06:53 AM
My life isnít anything like theirs or Peteís or Amy Dacyczynís or Vicki Robinís but I have gotten inspiration from each one. Thereís a core message to be had, if you choose to hear it: figure out what you truly value and live a life consistent with it. All of them believe what Socrates said in Platoís Apology: ďThe unexamined life is not worth living.Ē
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 29, 2018, 03:10:55 PM
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
I've been reading their blog for a long time and Mrs FWs posts here and she always has acknowledged they are privileged. However (at least for a fair number of us here) her lack of disclosure of past income numbers leading to FI leave a big hole in her story. It"s kind of like saying Warren Buffet got to be a billionaire because he drove an old car and ate the $3 breakfast sandwich at MacDonalds everyday.

One reason I like MMM so much as he was very open about the salary and stash size  he had pre-FIRE as well as his spending. It's relatable. Even though we debate what his current spending and RE status is now (he's FIMER - Financially Independent Mustachian Early Retired. You are FI and RE but still do some work ;-)) how he got to FIRE initially is pretty clear.

I don't see any big holes, or any holes at all really.  No one retires in their early 30s on minimum wage or even median household income.  You're obviously going to have a high income.  It's par for the course.  The only thing the income does is speed the process.  Everything else is the same.
True and I agree for the most part. As a lower income earner pre-FIRE there can be a few challenges beyond just time to get to FI. As trying to save 50% of $40k each year for a couple of decades is different from saving 80% of a $300k salary for less than 5 years. But agree that overall it works the same. However their claim of being average median income earners is the issue most have with the blog when its soooo easy to just say they earned a high income but saved a butt load by LBYM.

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though.
"High paying" relative to what though?  A couple paragraphs before that she mentions being in a "higher earning category than many other people in the world" ...which is true for pretty much anyone in the United States.  The median household income of earth is less than 10k.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 29, 2018, 04:11:34 PM

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though.
"High paying" relative to what though?  A couple paragraphs before that she mentions being in a "higher earning category than many other people in the world" ...which is true for pretty much anyone in the United States.  The median household income of earth is less than 10k.

Jobs.  Relative to other jobs.  Hence the phrase "high paying jobs".
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cressida on March 30, 2018, 12:55:42 AM
Wow -- this NYT editorial discussing anxiety around affluence sure is pertinent to this discussion:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/opinion/sunday/what-the-rich-wont-tell-you.html

"Scott and his wife had spent $600,000 in the year before our conversation. ďWe just canít understand how we spent that much money,Ē he told me. ďThatís kind of a little spousal joke. You know, like: ĎHey. Do you feel like this is the $600,000 lifestyle? Whooo!í Ē Rather than living the high life that he imagined would carry such a price tag, he described himself as ďfrenetic,Ē asserting, ďIím running around, Iím making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.Ē Having money does not mean, in his view, that he is not ordinary."

O_O

[this isn't related to your point about anxiety, but it, um, stuck out to me.]
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Basenji on March 30, 2018, 07:15:29 AM
My life isnít anything like theirs or Peteís or Amy Dacyczynís or Vicki Robinís but I have gotten inspiration from each one. Thereís a core message to be had, if you choose to hear it: figure out what you truly value and live a life consistent with it. All of them believe what Socrates said in Platoís Apology: ďThe unexamined life is not worth living.Ē

Amen. I don't understand the nitpicking on salaries and such. Take what works for you from them. If I hear a billionaire saves money by doing X, I don't ignore it because s/he's rich. I see whether I can use the tip!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: badassprof on March 30, 2018, 08:30:11 AM
 I think that someone on the previous thread hit the nail on the head:  while we might like to think that FI or RE is available to anyone willing to save and put in the work, the fact is that is much easier--and indeed much more likely--if you have a significant income to save (or money from an inheritance, a house sale, etc). As noted, 54,000 (the FW average spending [and MMM's is around there too, as I recall]) is the average income--before deductions-- of many. The fact that they can save on top of that points to a high wage, whether they reveal that or not.

I've read the FW blog for awhile, and I don't recall them saying, "Hey, anyone can do this, etc."  I suspect the ire in this thread and the other is that the blog exposes--unwittingly or not--the importance of income (not to mention stellar benefits and the ability to work from home and thus live in a less expensive area), and the fundamental inequities in those perks, particularly among millennials. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 30, 2018, 08:44:03 AM

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though.
"High paying" relative to what though?  A couple paragraphs before that she mentions being in a "higher earning category than many other people in the world" ...which is true for pretty much anyone in the United States.  The median household income of earth is less than 10k.

Jobs.  Relative to other jobs.  Hence the phrase "high paying jobs".
Well duh but jobs exist outside of the US.  That article was about privilege and they're not just privileged relative to those in the US.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on March 30, 2018, 10:25:02 AM
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Vertical Mode on March 30, 2018, 10:32:26 AM
Wow -- this NYT editorial discussing anxiety around affluence sure is pertinent to this discussion:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/opinion/sunday/what-the-rich-wont-tell-you.html

"Scott and his wife had spent $600,000 in the year before our conversation. ďWe just canít understand how we spent that much money,Ē he told me. ďThatís kind of a little spousal joke. You know, like: ĎHey. Do you feel like this is the $600,000 lifestyle? Whooo!í Ē Rather than living the high life that he imagined would carry such a price tag, he described himself as ďfrenetic,Ē asserting, ďIím running around, Iím making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.Ē Having money does not mean, in his view, that he is not ordinary."

O_O

[this isn't related to your point about anxiety, but it, um, stuck out to me.]

How the flying fuck does one spend $50k a MONTH and not understand how they spent it?! In NYC I guess mortgages are expensive on what must be multi-million dollar properties, but holy smokes! There's an eye-opener.

One of the things I admire about the FW's is that despite their apparently high incomes, they have thus far resisted the temptation to inflate their lifestyles and are still very forthcoming about their expenses. That's an interesting facet of their story that to me is only amplified by the revelation of them having very substantial salaries. Some of the folks in this story earn as much or more, yet can't seem to figure out how to not blow it all. You don't spend $600k per year by buying $6 bread. [Insert groan-inducing "dough" pun here, if you're into that.]

I understand where the outrage is coming from, and why some folks are left feeling like the rug was pulled out from under them; I'm in the camp that doesn't feel especially misled because I wasn't all that surprised to discover that they were very high earners. I've read their blog for years and have always operated under the impression that they earned more than they let on. That said, my reaction is to be happy for them for playing the hand they were dealt to enable themselves to live an intentional life.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on March 30, 2018, 10:51:27 AM
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say.

Lol
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on March 30, 2018, 11:06:12 AM
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say.
Yes, being somewhat obtuse there but he accused others of using words out of context while wanting to focus on 3 words in a 5,000 word blog post.  He wants to nitpick, let's nitpick. :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Basenji on March 30, 2018, 11:20:09 AM
I think that someone on the previous thread hit the nail on the head:  while we might like to think that FI or RE is available to anyone willing to save and put in the work, the fact is that is much easier--and indeed much more likely--if you have a significant income to save (or money from an inheritance, a house sale, etc). As noted, 54,000 (the FW average spending [and MMM's is around there too, as I recall]) is the average income--before deductions-- of many. The fact that they can save on top of that points to a high wage, whether they reveal that or not.

I've read the FW blog for awhile, and I don't recall them saying, "Hey, anyone can do this, etc."  I suspect the ire in this thread and the other is that the blog exposes--unwittingly or not--the importance of income (not to mention stellar benefits and the ability to work from home and thus live in a less expensive area), and the fundamental inequities in those perks, particularly among millennials.

Agreed, badassprof. Life circumstances are unfair from day one. One can either give up and say, "It's impossible for me to FIRE on my low salary." Or one can make the best of a situation. Even if someone can't fully FIRE, saving money puts one in a stronger position than being in debt. I think attacking Frugalwoods for making/having money is sour grapes and approaches personal stalking with the internet searches for taxes and salaries. Newsflash: a person who makes more money than you can (in theory) save more money and do it more quickly than you can! Math!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Eric on March 30, 2018, 03:37:44 PM
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say.
Yes, being somewhat obtuse there but he accused others of using words out of context while wanting to focus on 3 words in a 5,000 word blog post.  He wants to nitpick, let's nitpick. :)

Well Nick, I'll let you in on a secret.  High paying jobs relative to the US would still be high paying jobs relative to jobs outside of the US.  So no matter the comparative item, the meaning would be the same.  I'm a bit surprised you needed someone to explain that to you, but I'm happy to be of assistance.

Please read the other 4997 words (you can, right?) and you'll see that they agree with my points.  They will also provide context for the 3 words I used, which will show that I was not taking them out of context.

And I didn't nitpick anything.  I was attempting to show the nitpickers that they were wrong.  This is because a 5000 word post provides better information than a one sentence tag line designed to sell books.  That was the nitpicking that was taking place.  Did you happen to read the multiple posts accusing them of living in a bubble due to a single sentence?  No?  That's okay, as I'm assuming this is your reading comprehension problem cropping up again.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on March 30, 2018, 03:46:35 PM
I think that someone on the previous thread hit the nail on the head:  while we might like to think that FI or RE is available to anyone willing to save and put in the work, the fact is that is much easier--and indeed much more likely--if you have a significant income to save (or money from an inheritance, a house sale, etc). As noted, 54,000 (the FW average spending [and MMM's is around there too, as I recall]) is the average income--before deductions-- of many. The fact that they can save on top of that points to a high wage, whether they reveal that or not.

I've read the FW blog for awhile, and I don't recall them saying, "Hey, anyone can do this, etc."  I suspect the ire in this thread and the other is that the blog exposes--unwittingly or not--the importance of income (not to mention stellar benefits and the ability to work from home and thus live in a less expensive area), and the fundamental inequities in those perks, particularly among millennials.

Agreed, badassprof. Life circumstances are unfair from day one. One can either give up and say, "It's impossible for me to FIRE on my low salary." Or one can make the best of a situation. Even if someone can't fully FIRE, saving money puts one in a stronger position than being in debt. I think attacking Frugalwoods for making/having money is sour grapes and approaches personal stalking with the internet searches for taxes and salaries. Newsflash: a person who makes more money than you can (in theory) save more money and do it more quickly than you can! Math!

Agreed. Like I said on the other thread, I think this entire discussion is tacky. This isnít CSI: FIRE, but people are internet sleuthing like their lives depend on verifying if people who have said they make incredible salaries as part of their FIRE strategy, actually do. I expect more from the MMM community than this level of pettiness. This isnít reddit. I wish the mods would close of this discussion. Nothing new is being said, itís beating a dead horse and asking people to stalk and investigate innocent people who have done nothing but shared far more than anyone here complaining about their lives, in order to help others improve theirs. Be better people!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIREwannabe on March 30, 2018, 07:40:52 PM
For the record, I don't begrudge the Frugalwoods their income or their success.  If the book had been made available as a free download from the blog, I bet there wouldn't be as much arguing going on about them.  Speaking only for myself (and probably for others, given the comments on this forum), I feel like I've been duped by purchasing the book.  It is disingenuous.  It is not retirement advice, but an accounting of how two well paid individuals managed to live on the average/median income of the US household.  They have set goals and managed to live up to this goals, in part by creating a fan club that helps add to their net worth.  If the envelope hadn't been pushed to monetize their own life story by writing a pure-play vanity piece and selling it for more money than it is worth, the Frugalwoods wouldn't be facing the ire of those who (like I do) feel duped.

For the record, I have worked for investment banks for the past 16 years in a support role.  Like the Frugalwoods, I have never earned an investment banker salary, but investment bankers keep me very busy.  In the first few years of an investment banker's career, it would not be surprising to find that first- second- third- fourth- fifth-year bankers (pretty much everyone who isn't at least a VP) live, not on seltzer water, but on Red Bull and other caffeine/energy drinks.  My day starts anytime between 7:30 and 8 AM; it ends anytime between 5:30 and 7 PM - if I'm lucky.  The bankers, meanwhile, stay at their desks.  Many mornings, there will be an email sent at 8PM with a request; a follow-up email will be sent anywhere between 11 PM and 2 AM; and often, there will be a "when will you get this to me? I need it ASAP!" email sent between 5 and 6 AM.  No investment banker can go hiking every weekend, or even get a regular sleep schedule.  Many have joined the building's gym just to access the showers.  Six years ago one investment banker I did work for, who had been employed at this bank for less than a year, died in his sleep.  Investment bankers are overpaid, but they are also overworked.  Given the blog posts about the daily life of the family, it seems that neither of them have comparable work stress (despite the fact that he does have a more-than-comparable salary). 

And I'm not saying either of the Frugalwoods should work themselves to exhaustion, but I don't like using my limited funds to add to their less limited funds.  There is more in the book about how Mrs. Frugalwoods gave up make-up than how she managed to leave an employer, go to graduate school, and get the former employer to create a new position to bring her back.  Some tips about that would have been useful, and maybe earned the purchase price.  Instead we go from a distracted employee in a meeting learning that there will be layoffs, to a relieved comment about how she managed to keep her job.  This book is full of potential pitfalls, which the Frugalwoods managed to avoid because they are so awesome and frugal that the trouble that might hit your life or mine sees their combined strength and goes in the other direction.  Everything is mentioned in this book except the details that might be put to use in your life or mine.  This is the story of how their lives went from good to great - a total puff piece.  From all the pre-publicity hype, I expected more.  And I feel like an idiotic dupe for aiding and abetting them. 

Given the fact that there are so many other posts calling them out for their humble-bragging/obfuscation/misdirection/etc, I don't think I'm the only one.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on March 30, 2018, 08:56:24 PM
For the record, I don't begrudge the Frugalwoods their income or their success.  If the book had been made available as a free download from the blog, I bet there wouldn't be as much arguing going on about them.  Speaking only for myself (and probably for others, given the comments on this forum), I feel like I've been duped by purchasing the book.  It is disingenuous.  It is not retirement advice, but an accounting of how two well paid individuals managed to live on the average/median income of the US household.  They have set goals and managed to live up to this goals, in part by creating a fan club that helps add to their net worth.  If the envelope hadn't been pushed to monetize their own life story by writing a pure-play vanity piece and selling it for more money than it is worth, the Frugalwoods wouldn't be facing the ire of those who (like I do) feel duped.

For the record, I have worked for investment banks for the past 16 years in a support role.  Like the Frugalwoods, I have never earned an investment banker salary, but investment bankers keep me very busy.  In the first few years of an investment banker's career, it would not be surprising to find that first- second- third- fourth- fifth-year bankers (pretty much everyone who isn't at least a VP) live, not on seltzer water, but on Red Bull and other caffeine/energy drinks.  My day starts anytime between 7:30 and 8 AM; it ends anytime between 5:30 and 7 PM - if I'm lucky.  The bankers, meanwhile, stay at their desks.  Many mornings, there will be an email sent at 8PM with a request; a follow-up email will be sent anywhere between 11 PM and 2 AM; and often, there will be a "when will you get this to me? I need it ASAP!" email sent between 5 and 6 AM.  No investment banker can go hiking every weekend, or even get a regular sleep schedule.  Many have joined the building's gym just to access the showers.  Six years ago one investment banker I did work for, who had been employed at this bank for less than a year, died in his sleep.  Investment bankers are overpaid, but they are also overworked.  Given the blog posts about the daily life of the family, it seems that neither of them have comparable work stress (despite the fact that he does have a more-than-comparable salary). 

And I'm not saying either of the Frugalwoods should work themselves to exhaustion, but I don't like using my limited funds to add to their less limited funds.  There is more in the book about how Mrs. Frugalwoods gave up make-up than how she managed to leave an employer, go to graduate school, and get the former employer to create a new position to bring her back.  Some tips about that would have been useful, and maybe earned the purchase price.  Instead we go from a distracted employee in a meeting learning that there will be layoffs, to a relieved comment about how she managed to keep her job.  This book is full of potential pitfalls, which the Frugalwoods managed to avoid because they are so awesome and frugal that the trouble that might hit your life or mine sees their combined strength and goes in the other direction.  Everything is mentioned in this book except the details that might be put to use in your life or mine.  This is the story of how their lives went from good to great - a total puff piece.  From all the pre-publicity hype, I expected more.  And I feel like an idiotic dupe for aiding and abetting them. 

Given the fact that there are so many other posts calling them out for their humble-bragging/obfuscation/misdirection/etc, I don't think I'm the only one.

This seems so petty to me. You bought the book, did you read it? Was there anything valuable you could use? They arenít talking out their ass about anything. Now, you feel duped? Sheesh. You should have just read their blog, that was free or this one. Not sure what secrets of the universe you thought they had hidden in their book that they hadnít already covered. And this is your first post? Maybe the lesson is that sometimes the people writing books arenít the myths we want them to be, doesnít change that we can find value still in their words. Petty.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Fireball on March 30, 2018, 09:29:31 PM
Other than Nate's tragic, tragic beard, nothing the FW's have done really offends me. I decided a long time ago to take what I want from the PF blogosphere and leave the rest.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: obstinate on March 30, 2018, 10:09:57 PM
And I'm not saying either of the Frugalwoods should work themselves to exhaustion, but I don't like using my limited funds to add to their less limited funds.
Oh my god. Just return the book then. Anything but this continued whining.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Basenji on March 30, 2018, 10:20:57 PM
And I'm not saying either of the Frugalwoods should work themselves to exhaustion, but I don't like using my limited funds to add to their less limited funds.
Oh my god. Just return the book then. Anything but this continued whining.
My city library has the book. I hope Mustachians didn't pay full price!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: grantmeaname on March 31, 2018, 02:39:12 AM
this is your reading comprehension problem cropping up again
1.  It's so hard for me to understand how this topic is so persistently nasty. whatever happened to:
Quote from: Forum Rules
The overriding principle here on this site: Be a human being and treat others respectfully.

That includes, but is not limited to:
1. Don't be a jerk.
2. Attack an argument, not a person.
[...]
4. Be respectful of the site and other members.

2. Did you actually read the book? The "one sentence tag line designed to sell books" is not just in the Guardian article and the other media from the book's sales and promotion blitz, it's in the book itself. The infamous "investment banker" quote is pulled verbatim from the first section of the book that sets the stage for what happens in the rest of the book. Similarly, Mrs FW goes into extreme detail when it comes to her income during her year in AmeriCorps, then never mentions income again as she marries and climbs the ladder.

I was not a regular frugalwoods blog reader before the book came out, having poked my head in from time to time but nothing more. The blog seems a bit more even-handed in its treatment of their income than the book. Maybe it was slanted editing with an eye towards the story's marketability, but the book works far harder to advertise the FWs as everyday joes and obscure the fact that they were saving over 50% before their frugality kick and that they retired a few short years after they kicked it into high gear.  I think you'd be harder pressed to call the book even-handed if you had read it.

3. Can we stop with this tired trope that everyone who objects to the book is a petty, brutish person envious of the FW's success? I read the book and loved it (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mustachian-book-club/meet-the-frugalwoods-88909/). I thought it was great fun. The FWs deserve all the success they have had and I wouldn't take a dime of their income away from them. I've worked in nonprofits and did a year in a AmeriCorps, and have no issues with a nonprofit paying whatever salary it finds appropriate, including Nate's. I'm not the internet retirement police and don't give half a fuck whether you call yourself "retired", "FI", or nothing at all, nor for how much you work. And they look to be using their wealth well, building a life similar to the one that I hope to have in a few years. In short, I think they're terrific. I also think the book is misleading and works hard to obscure the truth at some times and misstate it at others.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cranky on March 31, 2018, 09:01:10 AM
What is confusing me is... is there really anyone, anywhere, who would read the FW blog and proceed to think "Well! If I am just thrifty on my $40k/year salary, I, too, will be able to buy a giant piece of property in Vermont, and a beautiful house, and a cider press, and will never work again except at cider pressing season?"

Really? Because I can do my own math with my own numbers.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: sui generis on March 31, 2018, 11:10:30 AM
What is confusing me is... is there really anyone, anywhere, who would read the FW blog and proceed to think "Well! If I am just thrifty on my $40k/year salary, I, too, will be able to buy a giant piece of property in Vermont, and a beautiful house, and a cider press, and will never work again except at cider pressing season?"

Really? Because I can do my own math with my own numbers.
Yes, I think there are potentially lots of these anyones everywhere!  It's not so confusing to imagine these people that are different than you/us in this way when we know that most people are different from you/us in *all the ways* wrt FI.  The PF community is chock full of stories of amazement at people that are undermining their financial stability in the stupidest of ways and don't seem to be able to do basic math.  It's at times sorta a hobby to make fun of those people around the community.  So I'm confused about how it's confusing to imagine those people existing in the first place and to imagine that they are the target audience of the book, media commentary on the book &etc.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cranky on March 31, 2018, 01:03:06 PM
Then, truly, the book is selling them a daydream and it won't matter what the FW say about their income.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIREwannabe on March 31, 2018, 01:07:00 PM
Oh my god. Just return the book then. Anything but this continued whining.

Why don't I return the book?  For the same reason I don't buy a sweater on Friday, wear it on Saturday, and return it for a refund on Sunday.  The book has been read; returning it to a bookstore is something that I don't consider ethical.  As I don't enjoy being mislead, neither will I mislead others.  It is that simple. 

But I see my post has hit a nerve.  This entire string reminds me of a story a teacher told our class years ago.  According to my memory, here is the story:
Tom is popular; Mike is not.  Tom and Mike compete in a 2-runner race.  Mike wins, but the story that spreads through the school is that Tom had a second-place finish in the race, but Mike was next to last.  When those who witnessed the race pointed out that there were only two people in the race, the popular/would-be-popular people did not the truth to get in the way of a good story.  Perception is reality to some/many/you, perhaps.  My preference is for facts/raw data.  If only this had hit my memory before shopping, I would not have shed the torrent of tears that comes from being called names. (Bazinga! - I'm being sarcastic).

The blog mentions a judgement (sic)-free zone; I took that to mean a lack of criticism, not critical thinking.  My bad.
My other bad: believing the Frugalwoods when they downplayed their income; I thought they were just living well as DINKs - since I am a SINK, I knew they were living off of more than I do, just not that much more.

Ever watch the 80s TV series Newhart?  There is an episode, Message from Michael, that parallels the book and forum/discussion.  If you can get it from your library, it is a season 7 episode.  Since you don't have a problem with returning read books, then you can find it on Youtube.  It might add some much needed levity to this discussion.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on March 31, 2018, 02:20:38 PM
Oh my god. Just return the book then. Anything but this continued whining.

Why don't I return the book?  For the same reason I don't buy a sweater on Friday, wear it on Saturday, and return it for a refund on Sunday.  The book has been read; returning it to a bookstore is something that I don't consider ethical.  As I don't enjoy being mislead, neither will I mislead others.  It is that simple. 

But I see my post has hit a nerve.  This entire string reminds me of a story a teacher told our class years ago.  According to my memory, here is the story:
Tom is popular; Mike is not.  Tom and Mike compete in a 2-runner race.  Mike wins, but the story that spreads through the school is that Tom had a second-place finish in the race, but Mike was next to last.  When those who witnessed the race pointed out that there were only two people in the race, the popular/would-be-popular people did not the truth to get in the way of a good story.  Perception is reality to some/many/you, perhaps.  My preference is for facts/raw data.  If only this had hit my memory before shopping, I would not have shed the torrent of tears that comes from being called names. (Bazinga! - I'm being sarcastic).

The blog mentions a judgement (sic)-free zone; I took that to mean a lack of criticism, not critical thinking.  My bad.
My other bad: believing the Frugalwoods when they downplayed their income; I thought they were just living well as DINKs - since I am a SINK, I knew they were living off of more than I do, just not that much more.

Ever watch the 80s TV series Newhart?  There is an episode, Message from Michael, that parallels the book and forum/discussion.  If you can get it from your library, it is a season 7 episode.  Since you don't have a problem with returning read books, then you can find it on Youtube.  It might add some much needed levity to this discussion.

Iím confused by your critical reading skills. Until I saw this thread and wondered what was going on, I didnít know who the FW were. I looked up one article, thought it was pretty good (a case study helping someone in a tough situation) and scanned the blog to see that they have at least 2 kids. So, how did you think they were DINKs? Or will you feel deceived about that now too? Youíre nothing like them, so why is it so important to compare yourself? They have a basic message, get the best job you can that makes you happy, save and invest your money and donít buy into consumerism. Thatís it. MMM says you can achieve FI on virtually any salary after 10 years, if you save over 50%, but your spend might need adjusting. Your salary doesnít determine your ability to be FI, your spending does. Anyways, this debate is inane because clearly the people upset are the ones who are missing the messages and want the magic pill and now feel duped. So, burn the book and leave a scathing review on Amazon and then vow to turn your back on all FI bloggers. Problem solved.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: badassprof on March 31, 2018, 03:58:44 PM
I know that this thread has taxed everyoneís patience, but i do think the extent of the ire and angst is instructive. While as a reader of the blog, I admit I donít find the FWs disingenuous. i understand others do, but letís think this through: we are sold things all the time that turn out not to be what we had hoped they would be. I have half a drawer of moisturizers to prove it. Our last election might serve as another example,lol.

Reading this thread symptomatically, I feel for those who feel upset about the FWs. I donít think it is really about the bloggers but about a fear that a financial dream might not be easy or even possible with their current income or responsibilities.
 I recommend kindness on all sides. This thread has definitively triggered something for some folks and those of us with high incomes, high savings rate or good luck maybe viewing this from another place.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on March 31, 2018, 04:29:17 PM
I know that this thread has taxed everyoneís patience, but i do think the extent of the ire and angst is instructive. While as a reader of the blog, I admit I donít find the FWs disingenuous. i understand others do, but letís think this through: we are sold things all the time that turn out not to be what we had hoped they would be. I have half a drawer of moisturizers to prove it. Our last election might serve as another example,lol.

Reading this thread symptomatically, I feel for those who feel upset about the FWs. I donít think it is really about the bloggers but about a fear that a financial dream might not be easy or even possible with their current income or responsibilities.
 I recommend kindness on all sides. This thread has definitively triggered something for some folks and those of us with high incomes, high savings rate or good luck maybe viewing this from another place.

The financial dream isnít easy, itís hard work and sacrifice, even if you make $300k. Yeah, that might not seem right, but again, remind yourselves, they arenít spending $300k! Most of these people are living poorer than many people who make far less. Granted $54k in expenses isnít living super poor, but itís not caviar and jets. Their day to day life isnít better per se, itís just they can RE sooner, if they want, which they donít have to.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Radagast on March 31, 2018, 05:37:37 PM
I wasn't really into their blog, but this thread and all the haters makes me really root for them.  I hope they absolutely crush it.
Exactly. Don't people have their own lives to be bettering, especially as posters on mmm? I wasn't really into 7 Habits either, but seriously, circle of concern / circle of influence, people.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on March 31, 2018, 07:30:28 PM
I wasn't really into their blog, but this thread and all the haters makes me really root for them.  I hope they absolutely crush it.
Exactly. Don't people have their own lives to be bettering, especially as posters on mmm? I wasn't really into 7 Habits either, but seriously, circle of concern / circle of influence, people.

Exactly my thoughts -- this hate/envy attitude seems very counter to the spirit of this community.  It's being implied they haven't "earned" their FI merit badge because of their income.  Of course it's easier to become FI with a higher income.  One can only do so much to improve their situation by being frugal, and every effort should be made to move the income needle at the same time.  Well done to them for doing both.  It's certainly not an easy feat to achieve a high income level AND be simultaneously frugal.  Community members should be asking how they can do the same instead of ridiculing.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 31, 2018, 07:53:41 PM


Iím confused by your critical reading skills. Until I saw this thread and wondered what was going on, I didnít know who the FW were. I looked up one article, thought it was pretty good (a case study helping someone in a tough situation) and scanned the blog to see that they have at least 2 kids. So, how did you think they were DINKs? Or will you feel deceived about that now too?
One of the kids was just born, the other is a toddler. Pre homestead, they were DINKS
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on March 31, 2018, 08:08:55 PM
I wasn't really into their blog, but this thread and all the haters makes me really root for them.  I hope they absolutely crush it.
Exactly. Don't people have their own lives to be bettering, especially as posters on mmm? I wasn't really into 7 Habits either, but seriously, circle of concern / circle of influence, people.

Exactly my thoughts -- this hate/envy attitude seems very counter to the spirit of this community.  It's being implied they haven't "earned" their FI merit badge because of their income.  Of course it's easier to become FI with a higher income.  One can only do so much to improve their situation by being frugal, and every effort should be made to move the income needle at the same time.  Well done to them for doing both.  It's certainly not an easy feat to achieve a high income level AND be simultaneously frugal.  Community members should be asking how they can do the same instead of ridiculing.

Maybe thatís why Iím getting so annoyed by this, I have a high income too but I just discovered this thinking. There are people who make a quarter of what I make with far more net worth. Iíll never catch them. Iím lucky I can accelerate but I still have had to make massive changes, cut out so much of what I was doing before and fight with my SO constantly about changing and again, itís touch because my SO canít understand why we should live on less when we make so much? I admire the FW for pulling their head in, not giving into creep and giving themselves security. Itís much easier to blow through all your money when you have a lot coming in. Haters need to find a new hobby.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: abhe8 on March 31, 2018, 09:09:47 PM
I actually think their high incomes make their frugality MORE impressive, not less. How many people do you know who go three years and only buy a pair of boots, but no other clothing? Oh and have two babies in that time.

I think they book is more forthcoming about income. She mentioned in many chapters that they are high earners and even devotes a chapter to career progression and how to maximize income.

I enjoy the book and the blog. I did assume they needed much less income, but I probably should not have made that assumption, given their quick FI.

That said, I agree they may not be FI. They moved sooner than planned, seemingly due to difficulty finding the right home/land and then loving that one and feeling very worried it would get away if they delayed. That could also explain why Mr kept his job. I listened to an interview on Mad fientist from two yrs ago, and mr was definitely planning to quit his IT job when they moved to the woods.

Over all, i love the FW and hope they keep the blog going. I do feel they were a little disingenuous with regard to their high incomes.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: SparkyPeanut on April 28, 2018, 03:04:07 PM
The very first page of the book (preview on Amazon) says "...embraced extreme frugality in order to ... retire to a homestead in the woods at the age of thirty-two".

This is what people are having an issue with. Neither one of them has retired and in fact the husband continues to make a very large salary. 

So their definition of "retired" is working from home (?). 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Cranky on April 28, 2018, 04:19:54 PM
Much like MMM!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: nick663 on April 28, 2018, 04:38:56 PM
Much like MMM!
MMM left his corporate job to pursue other things.  Mr Frugalwoods is still working at the same job he has for years.

Unsurprisingly, MMM has also written about this subject and why he defines himself as "retired"
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/15/a-brief-history-of-the-stash-how-we-saved-from-zero-to-retirement-in-ten-years/
Quote
Some people will say, ďBut Wait! You just said you still work sometimes! Thatís not retirement!Ē. To these people, I can only say, ďYouíll seeĒ. Because when you quit your corporate job, you end up with even more energy, which means you want to do more stuff! If some of this stuff happens to earn you money, so be it.

I define us as Retired, because that is a novel word to throw around for those under 50 that sounds much more interesting than ďFinancially IndependentĒ. Also, the cashflow from investments is much higher than our spending.. so work is only done for fun and on our own terms. For example, this year I stopped taking on carpentry work altogether for most of the year and just started typing this blog and doing other unpaid work like school volunteering. Other years, I may accidentally earn hundreds of thousands of additional dollars by starting another company. Who knows!? Even then, Mr. Money Mustache will still be retired, so there.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dee18 on April 28, 2018, 05:40:36 PM
My understanding is He was planning to retire when they moved to Vermont, but when he told his job he was leaving they asked him to work remotely.  Because he liked the job, he agreed. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on April 28, 2018, 05:43:09 PM
It's not worth quibbling over what it means to be retired.

Financial Independence should be the goal, not retirement.  If the Frugalwoods are FI, well done.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: SparkyPeanut on April 28, 2018, 08:34:39 PM
It's not worth quibbling over what it means to be retired.

Financial Independence should be the goal, not retirement.  If the Frugalwoods are FI, well done.

Well I guess so - but who wouldn't be in that same scenario i.e. one spouse works as a writer/blogger and one spouse has a full-time job. Is that financial independence? Then we all are. Yay!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on April 28, 2018, 09:02:00 PM
It's not worth quibbling over what it means to be retired.

Financial Independence should be the goal, not retirement.  If the Frugalwoods are FI, well done.

Well I guess so - but who wouldn't be in that same scenario i.e. one spouse works as a writer/blogger and one spouse has a full-time job. Is that financial independence? Then we all are. Yay!

Not sure I understand your comment.  They may have enough assets that allow for them to stop working should they choose to -- that's financial independence.  From what I can gather that is in fact their situation.  That's a much different situation than being forced to work in order to cover living costs.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: elliha on April 29, 2018, 09:27:01 AM
There is something with the tone of their blog that I find smug. I am not sure exactly what it is but I often find myself a bit irritated after reading a piece there. I wonder if other people pick it up too and this is why they get so critical?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Mustache ride on April 29, 2018, 10:01:43 AM
It's not worth quibbling over what it means to be retired.

Financial Independence should be the goal, not retirement.  If the Frugalwoods are FI, well done.

Well I guess so - but who wouldn't be in that same scenario i.e. one spouse works as a writer/blogger and one spouse has a full-time job. Is that financial independence? Then we all are. Yay!

Keep reading around the forum. I don't think you understand what financial independence means.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Saving4Fire on April 30, 2018, 09:03:49 AM
I think blogs like Frugalwoods and MMM use the word "retired" because it's better for marketing as opposed to "financial independence".   Personally, I think it's inaccurate terminology. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on April 30, 2018, 09:24:57 AM
MMM at least left his job, and while i think he is just self-employed, at no one writes him a paycheck.
Nate works for someone else. That's NOT retired.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on April 30, 2018, 10:54:51 AM
MMM at least left his job, and while i think he is just self-employed, at no one writes him a paycheck.
Nate works for someone else. That's NOT retired.

I don't see the difference.  I'm just as impressed with someone who achieves early FI as someone who retires early.  Not everyone wants to quit their regular jobs, some are passionate about their work.  There are many very good reasons to continue working.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on April 30, 2018, 11:34:29 AM
MMM at least left his job, and while i think he is just self-employed, at no one writes him a paycheck.
Nate works for someone else. That's NOT retired.

I don't see the difference.  I'm just as impressed with someone who achieves early FI as someone who retires early.  Not everyone wants to quit their regular jobs, some are passionate about their work.  There are many very good reasons to continue working.

Yes, but in NO definition is working for a company and getting a paycheck retired.  It just makes no sense that they would call themselves retired when Nate is still very clearly working for a company. He's not even 'consulting'. He works for them.

I personally don't think MMM is retired either (self-employed); but I can see how someone would bend the definition to say not receiving a paycheck is retired.

I am FI. I am not retired. I have no interest in being retired right now. I enjoy work. I don't think Nate should retire if he doesn't want to.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on April 30, 2018, 11:59:53 AM


Yes, but in NO definition is working for a company and getting a paycheck retired.


Agree, that's why they put that they are financially independent and not retired.

In any case, who cares if they do call themselves retired?  Why does it matter to anyone?  If they are financially free that's the major importance, right?  We are quibbling about silly definitions.  The core concepts are all that matter.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on April 30, 2018, 12:10:25 PM


Yes, but in NO definition is working for a company and getting a paycheck retired.


Agree, that's why they put that they are financially independent and not retired.

In any case, who cares if they do call themselves retired?  Why does it matter to anyone?  If they are financially free that's the major importance, right?  We are quibbling about silly definitions.  The core concepts are all that matter.

I'm seeing more instances of them calling themselves retired. I used to only see them saying financially independent.

No, it doesn't matter- but neither does 95% of things discussed on the internet... 
I read (well skim...) her blog and mostly enjoy it.

Still it seems the core concept was "make shit tons of money".  Which is fine- that's a good plan to do.
I like the homesteading stuff she talks about; but it isn't frugal. Their spending has gone up a lot.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: HBFIRE on April 30, 2018, 12:15:48 PM


Still it seems the core concept was "make shit tons of money".  Which is fine- that's a good plan to do.


Hell yes that's a good plan!  Well done for them, absolutely.  And now FI at relatively young ages.  Definitely something to be proud of.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 29, 2018, 01:27:00 PM
I did not find this forum until today, and I found it seeing what was out there regarding this very topic--e.g., the Frugalwoods income.

I think I discovered them several years ago by being mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, back when they were anonymous.  I actually figured out who they are by searching on line real estate records in the area they purchased their house in 2012 and a low price per square foot.  Didn't take long...

I thought about, since enjoying their blog and wanting a farm myself, maybe seeing about getting the book as a Christmas present.  Between when the book came out and now (Christmas), somewhere in the Wall Street Journal it was mentioned that Nate's income is like $270k and increased like 50k in the last 2 or 3 years.

Cross that book off my list!  How disingenuous, really blatant lies!  All along, I thought by living frugally, I could do the same!

I have more education than both of them, to earn $270k takes me nearly 3 years, my pay increases are minimal to none, I never receive bonuses, and I have never been allowed to telecommute.

I ALWAYS wanted an extremely high paying job where I could work from home, BTW!

I ask, what makes him worth that much working remotely?  Seems like he has friends who gave him a job such as this.

How hard does he work, really?  Takes a LOT of time from your working day cutting wood and maintaining your farm.

I don't mean to crucify the Frugalwoods, but it seems like they create hope for others and had MANY advantages most don't receive.  I never had that sort of job, paid for all my college expenses myself, etc.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Telecaster on December 29, 2018, 04:33:26 PM
Cross that book off my list!  How disingenuous, really blatant lies!  All along, I thought by living frugally, I could do the same!

I have more education than both of them, to earn $270k takes me nearly 3 years, my pay increases are minimal to none, I never receive bonuses, and I have never been allowed to telecommute.

I ALWAYS wanted an extremely high paying job where I could work from home, BTW!

I ask, what makes him worth that much working remotely?  Seems like he has friends who gave him a job such as this.

How hard does he work, really?  Takes a LOT of time from your working day cutting wood and maintaining your farm.

I don't mean to crucify the Frugalwoods, but it seems like they create hope for others and had MANY advantages most don't receive.  I never had that sort of job, paid for all my college expenses myself, etc.

Wanting a good job isn't enough.   One of the keys to getting a good job is developing an in-demand skill set, and another key is developing a robust professional network.  Do those things and you can make a lot of money working from home. 

I just don't get all the Frugalwoods hate.  Granted, I never paid much attention to them, so maybe I'm missing something.    Mathematically, the key to retiring early is to save lots.  High percentage savings trumps investment returns.   The Frugalwoods saved a whole lot.   The fact they earned (and apparently are still earning a whole lot) doesn't invalidate the math.   

And math is the main reason why I'm confused about Fruglewoods hate.  Everybody can figure out their own savings rate, and what type of lifestyle that will lead to in the future.   People seem to think that savings lots will automatically lead to a good paying job and a farm in Vermont and get mad when they realize that isn't necessarily the case. 

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Adram on December 29, 2018, 05:59:03 PM
I did not find this forum until today, and I found it seeing what was out there regarding this very topic--e.g., the Frugalwoods income.

I think I discovered them several years ago by being mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, back when they were anonymous.  I actually figured out who they are by searching on line real estate records in the area they purchased their house in 2012 and a low price per square foot.  Didn't take long...

I thought about, since enjoying their blog and wanting a farm myself, maybe seeing about getting the book as a Christmas present.  Between when the book came out and now (Christmas), somewhere in the Wall Street Journal it was mentioned that Nate's income is like $270k and increased like 50k in the last 2 or 3 years.

Cross that book off my list!  How disingenuous, really blatant lies!  All along, I thought by living frugally, I could do the same!

I have more education than both of them, to earn $270k takes me nearly 3 years, my pay increases are minimal to none, I never receive bonuses, and I have never been allowed to telecommute.

I ALWAYS wanted an extremely high paying job where I could work from home, BTW!

I ask, what makes him worth that much working remotely?  Seems like he has friends who gave him a job such as this.

How hard does he work, really?  Takes a LOT of time from your working day cutting wood and maintaining your farm.

I don't mean to crucify the Frugalwoods, but it seems like they create hope for others and had MANY advantages most don't receive.  I never had that sort of job, paid for all my college expenses myself, etc.

Wow, this is the most butthurt post Iíve ever seen on here. 😂😂😂

Too bad, youíre so educated but not worth much. Dry those tears.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 29, 2018, 06:00:12 PM
Yes, I know this NOW, but one's brain doesn't simply grasp these things when one is in college aged 18 to 22.  I guess it does for some folks, and they study logical things like business and engineering.  I grew up lower middle class in an area with a lot of wealth.  Trust fund babies and such.  My parents made sacrifices I wasn't even aware of until recently just to survive.  Some scary stuff; going over to the grandparents to eat was fun, but the real reason is the money ran out.  And nothing exorbitant at all there, that's what it took to just survive.

I got into the local state university and I had enough sense to start out with some accounting and economics courses.  My only goal at that time was to get out as soon as possible and get a stellar career with a major corporation.  I didn't care what I did, just as long as I made a ton of money...enough to trounce those trust fund babies.  The counselor asked me what I wanted to do and I told her I wanted to work for a major corporation and she told me corporations love liberal arts graduates.  WORST ADVICE I EVER GOT!!!  I did such, and because it was an easy track, I graduated a semester early.  I thought I was doing this to get such a job, but all I landed was a job that paid 25 cents more than minimum wage with no benefits!

After several years, I did get a government position, that was dead end.  Got another degree, another government job, only slightly better.  Not worth the years I was out of the workforce.

Networking.  Nonexistent.  I just don't know folks in major corporations except a few folks back when I got out of college and they didn't do anything for me.  Sure, I mowed their lawn nicely but I wasn't one of them!  And, growing up lower middle class with folks who keep to themselves, how do you develop such network?

Lessons learned:  Myself, yes develop a social network, should have majored in business or engineering.  (But why do that if you are told the easier route is just as good?).  Colleges, options should be to major in business, science, or engineering.  Get rid of the fluff.  Plus, I did have some science and business courses, like chemistry, biology, genetics, etc., but a biology degree isn't a cutting edge STEM degree.

I have since developed a more mature outlook on life, but I still don't know why there aren't lots of high paying jobs around for Gen Xers as baby boomers continue to retire?

At least the dream got me through my degrees.  Had this not existed, I would never have gone to college.  I tried to get into General Electric once.  For some reason, had I made it to the top, I think I could have run things better.  (Of course, I didn't realize how cutthroat it is in companies like that, but that's another topic).
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 29, 2018, 06:50:46 PM
I should have clarified something.  I have neibors all throughout where I live who work for a major corporation that is a few miles from here.  I could ask them I'd they could get me in, except I don't think that will go far.  On the website, all current openings are in engineering, IT, and HR.  So, finally I might have a network, but not the skills.

I came down hard on the Frugalwoods because they are not like you and I.  When you think about it, and what makes for a good blog, is that they were simply at the right place at the right time--right degree, location, and friends, for BOTH partners.  I think that happens quite rarely, which is why we don't all have our own blogs.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: remizidae on December 29, 2018, 08:10:00 PM
I did not find this forum until today, and I found it seeing what was out there regarding this very topic--e.g., the Frugalwoods income.

I think I discovered them several years ago by being mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, back when they were anonymous.  I actually figured out who they are by searching on line real estate records in the area they purchased their house in 2012 and a low price per square foot.  Didn't take long...

I thought about, since enjoying their blog and wanting a farm myself, maybe seeing about getting the book as a Christmas present.  Between when the book came out and now (Christmas), somewhere in the Wall Street Journal it was mentioned that Nate's income is like $270k and increased like 50k in the last 2 or 3 years.

Cross that book off my list!  How disingenuous, really blatant lies!  All along, I thought by living frugally, I could do the same!

I have more education than both of them, to earn $270k takes me nearly 3 years, my pay increases are minimal to none, I never receive bonuses, and I have never been allowed to telecommute.

I ALWAYS wanted an extremely high paying job where I could work from home, BTW!

I ask, what makes him worth that much working remotely?  Seems like he has friends who gave him a job such as this.

How hard does he work, really?  Takes a LOT of time from your working day cutting wood and maintaining your farm.

I don't mean to crucify the Frugalwoods, but it seems like they create hope for others and had MANY advantages most don't receive.  I never had that sort of job, paid for all my college expenses myself, etc.

It's odd that you refer to high-paying jobs as "advantages." Most people don't get handed jobs on a silver platter; we plan for them, work for them, develop skills, and sacrifice for a higher income. Over decades.

It seems like you're unhappy about your job situation. You must be working pretty hard to change it, right? Because that might do more good than envying strangers who are richer than you.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Telecaster on December 29, 2018, 08:35:41 PM
Networking.  Nonexistent.  I just don't know folks in major corporations except a few folks back when I got out of college and they didn't do anything for me.  Sure, I mowed their lawn nicely but I wasn't one of them!  And, growing up lower middle class with folks who keep to themselves, how do you develop such network?

By kicking ass at your job.  By being the guy who gets shit done.  Not necessarily working long hours, but working productive hours.  The boss may not appreciate your efforts, but your co-workers will notice.  As your co-workers move up the ladder and onto different companies they'll want and need people are good at what they do.  When they need that person, they will pick up the phone and call you.  That's how you develop your network. 

And if you get shit done and kick ass always, then people don't care if you work from home and are willing to pay you amazing salaries.  That's how you do it.  Simple, not easy. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Annie101 on December 29, 2018, 08:53:23 PM

I will say I credit them for me finding out about both the Buy Nothing Group and DAF- both of which have been really really helpful.  MMM gets credit for index funds; we'd only used managed funds before I found him.  All the "pack your lunch", "buy less", "bike to work"- I didn't need a blogger for that.

What is DAF?  I read "Meet the Frugalwoods" and really enjoyed it, but I don't remember DAF.  I love my Buy Nothing group (which I have been in for years) so I don't want to miss out on something else that might be similarly helpful.  Thanks!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Bublik2002 on December 29, 2018, 09:06:25 PM
I can't for the life of me understand all the hate that is surrounding this topic. They never claimed they came from poverty and simply write about their lifestyle.

If you don't like their blog don't read it. The losers/haters in life never ceases to amaze me.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Janie on December 29, 2018, 09:51:37 PM
Quote
What is DAF? 
Donor Advised Funds
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: marble_faun on December 30, 2018, 12:15:18 AM
Yes, I know this NOW, but one's brain doesn't simply grasp these things when one is in college aged 18 to 22.  I guess it does for some folks, and they study logical things like business and engineering.  I grew up lower middle class in an area with a lot of wealth.  Trust fund babies and such.  My parents made sacrifices I wasn't even aware of until recently just to survive.  Some scary stuff; going over to the grandparents to eat was fun, but the real reason is the money ran out.  And nothing exorbitant at all there, that's what it took to just survive.

I got into the local state university and I had enough sense to start out with some accounting and economics courses.  My only goal at that time was to get out as soon as possible and get a stellar career with a major corporation.  I didn't care what I did, just as long as I made a ton of money...enough to trounce those trust fund babies.  The counselor asked me what I wanted to do and I told her I wanted to work for a major corporation and she told me corporations love liberal arts graduates.  WORST ADVICE I EVER GOT!!!  I did such, and because it was an easy track, I graduated a semester early.  I thought I was doing this to get such a job, but all I landed was a job that paid 25 cents more than minimum wage with no benefits!

After several years, I did get a government position, that was dead end.  Got another degree, another government job, only slightly better.  Not worth the years I was out of the workforce.

Networking.  Nonexistent.  I just don't know folks in major corporations except a few folks back when I got out of college and they didn't do anything for me.  Sure, I mowed their lawn nicely but I wasn't one of them!  And, growing up lower middle class with folks who keep to themselves, how do you develop such network?

Lessons learned:  Myself, yes develop a social network, should have majored in business or engineering.  (But why do that if you are told the easier route is just as good?).  Colleges, options should be to major in business, science, or engineering.  Get rid of the fluff.  Plus, I did have some science and business courses, like chemistry, biology, genetics, etc., but a biology degree isn't a cutting edge STEM degree.

I have since developed a more mature outlook on life, but I still don't know why there aren't lots of high paying jobs around for Gen Xers as baby boomers continue to retire?

At least the dream got me through my degrees.  Had this not existed, I would never have gone to college.  I tried to get into General Electric once.  For some reason, had I made it to the top, I think I could have run things better.  (Of course, I didn't realize how cutthroat it is in companies like that, but that's another topic).

I agree that a liberal arts degree isn't for everyone, but it sounds like you did not make the most of the opportunities available.

As you described it, your motivation in college wasn't to learn anything... but to make tons of money doing [???] and to show up the rich kids.  You then sailed through college on the "easy track," expecting someone would just hand you a great job at the end.

The Frugalwoods majored in what you call "fluff": Creative Writing and Political Science. They've had some lucky breaks, but there were also elements of gumption, drive, playing to their strengths, and interacting well with others that all came together.

As a side note, your writing has a lot of grammatical errors and odd phrasings that are not exuding a "well-educated, polished corporate leader" vibe.  (Maybe you are not a native English speaker? In which case that is understandable.)  You might want to get some help in this area if you want a better white-collar job.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: soccerluvof4 on December 30, 2018, 05:02:08 AM
I can't for the life of me understand all the hate that is surrounding this topic. They never claimed they came from poverty and simply write about their lifestyle.

If you don't like their blog don't read it. The losers/haters in life never ceases to amaze me.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk







Exactly!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 30, 2018, 05:28:27 AM

I will say I credit them for me finding out about both the Buy Nothing Group and DAF- both of which have been really really helpful.  MMM gets credit for index funds; we'd only used managed funds before I found him.  All the "pack your lunch", "buy less", "bike to work"- I didn't need a blogger for that.

What is DAF?  I read "Meet the Frugalwoods" and really enjoyed it, but I don't remember DAF.  I love my Buy Nothing group (which I have been in for years) so I don't want to miss out on something else that might be similarly helpful.  Thanks!

Donor Advised Funds.
It worked as a way to maximize the tax advantage of charitable giving for us.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Maenad on December 30, 2018, 06:26:22 AM
I actually figured out who they are by searching on line real estate records in the area they purchased their house in 2012 and a low price per square foot.  Didn't take long...

Why? I understand curiosity, but trying to discover the identities of anonymous online bloggers is really not the best use of your time.

Quote
I ask, what makes him worth that much working remotely?  Seems like he has friends who gave him a job such as this.

This just sounds like sour grapes. You really don't know, and are telling yourself he "cheated" somehow in order to make yourself feel better.

Quote
My only goal at that time was to get out as soon as possible and get a stellar career with a major corporation.  I didn't care what I did, just as long as I made a ton of money...enough to trounce those trust fund babies.

I understand this, as I also grew up lower-middle class, surrounded by wealth (or apparent wealth). You and I both know that those people aren't thinking of you anymore, and I hope you're no longer thinking of them. Holding on to that kind of resentment really does nothing good for you, and definitely doesn't affect them at all.

Is this the point where I recommend you read up on the truly wealthy? They don't make a lot of money by working for major corporations, they founded them. They started their own businesses and sacrificed everything to make $$$.

Quote
I tried to get into General Electric once.  For some reason, had I made it to the top, I think I could have run things better.

Really? I doubt it - there's a certain mindset needed to run megacorps, certain personalities that excel at that kind of thing, and if you don't have it, you just don't have it. Most of us don't.

There's just... a lot of anger and resentment in your posts so far, and while that can feel good, it doesn't actually do anything to help you make your life better. Yes, some people get dealt a better hand in life than others, but you don't get to choose that - all you can do is play your hand, not someone else's.

Stick around - there are lots of people here making the kind of money you do, or less. You could pick up some great tips on reducing expenses, setting up your own business on the side, etc. But you need to focus on you, right now, and stop wasting your time comparing your life to what-could-have-been.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 30, 2018, 09:12:57 AM
Identifying the identities of the Frugalwoods didn't take much time at all.  I believe I was multitasking when I did it, sitting on the toilet or waiting for a train or something...

I wanted to find out who they were to see what their jobs were.  I then discovered that she worked for WGBH and he worked for ActBlue.  Probably $80 to $100k jobs in the Boston area, maybe they crack $200k combined.

So, when I discovered what Nate makes ALONE, it seemed like a bit of a scam.  Yes.  I am jealous, too.  It is something I am passionate about.  I mean, it seems to me my university would have their best interest in mind.  I make a ton of money, and can give some back to my university.  Win-win situation.  Even when I was there, a sports arena was being built, courtesy of a wealthy donor.  Good, I thought!  Me next!  This was obviously a success story as most where I went to were lower middle class.  That's another topic, but segregation is alive and well in this country.  Sure, there are always exceptions, but the rich go to Harvard and Yale, not because they're brilliant.  Likewise, folks like me go to bullshit State U.  It's like that for a reason...

I sound bitter about this, almost rabid, perhaps, and I'm sorry...

Yes, those rich folks don't care one whit about me, even the lower middle class folks I went to high school with have scattered.  The rich folks all went to private schools early on.  Segregation starts young.  The better off stayed behind, worked in a family business.  A few became tradesmen.  The rest had to scatter.  No where really to work there.  It almost feels like my whole entire high school class was on a ship that went down and I was the only survivor.  I am not on Facebook; perhaps if I was, it would be better.

As I have gotten older, I have discovered the truly wealthy form their own businesses.  I failed to realize this growing up.  To me, small businesses equalled minimum wage.  Of course, it did so for me, but family members not so much.  I think to myself, why didn't I think to form Amazon or something, but even that company had a substantial initial investment by Jeff Bezos' parents.

The part about GE...I meant to say that had somehow I been made CEO in 2001, I surely could have done a better job.  Who wouldn't have?  Do I have what it takes to be a CEO?  Certainly not, too introverted for one.  I always thought that I probably didn't have what it takes, but hey, if I do, great!  If not, resign quietly with a severance package and I am set for life.  (As you can see, I like the get rick quick approach!)

I live well beneath my means, and was FIRE before I even knew about it.  But, it isn't all bad.  I could retire tomorrow and live modestly if I need to, and I have a pension.  I can retire with a pension in a little over 10 years, so I shall plug away until then.  My enjoyment truly is a buy and hold approach to stocks.  For me, the ideal job would be a salary of $300-$500k a year so I could comfortably invest regularly, a quiet office, a computer, and a Wall Street Journal.

I cannot understand how most folks are NOT FIRE.  Yes, I get it that there are expenses like health care and college, and college is designed to make one rely on credit from a young age.  But I don't understand the allure of restaurants, fancy vacations, etc.  Restaurants are never good, are way overpriced, and you don't know how your food is prepared.  I do enjoy going to the UK every few years.  Hostels are a bargain, why pay a lot for a fancy hotel?  Your eyes are closed most of the time anyways.

I have never seen the inside of a country club, would feel uncomfortable at this point doing so, I think. 

I am ashamed that I am a government employee.  We really are detested.  Not getting paid until this shutdown ends.  I get no real perks, which is a downer, no bonus at Christmas.  But, on the other hand, my expenses are minimal relative to my job.  I can wear casual, cheap clothes, drive a generic car with 137,500 miles on it, etc.

There ARE many positives to my current position, just I feel like I could have been an asset at a major corporation.

It isn't necessarily your course of study that gets you ahead in life.  An English Lit degree from Harvard or Yale is far more valuable than a mathematics degree from good old State U.

Again, I know I often come across as bitter, and I apologize.  Just trying to point out the way I see things...warped or otherwise.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: wordnerd on December 30, 2018, 09:52:40 AM
Hey, Mr. Bojangles. I think it's perfectly normal to have those kinds of feelings and very healthy to acknowledge and work through them. It's when you project them onto two people you don't know that it becomes problematic. As you say, you will be FIREd. Your journey is different from theirs. Wishing you luck on yours.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on December 30, 2018, 10:09:20 AM
I can't for the life of me understand all the hate that is surrounding this topic. They never claimed they came from poverty and simply write about their lifestyle.

If you don't like their blog don't read it. The losers/haters in life never ceases to amaze me.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Lol. Anyone who identifies a rich person as engaging in impropriety is just a loser or a hater. Now who does that remind me of...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tralfamadorian on December 30, 2018, 10:17:00 AM
Wow! This discussion is still going?

A few things:

-The Frugalwoods are not anonymous. When you look up the book on Amazon, Mrs. Frugalwood's name is there as author. She and her husband are addressed by their real names in the various media outlets they interviewed with for the book's promotion.

-In less than three years the Frugalwoods made over $300k/yr and saved 75-80% post-tax so that combined with the $4.4k/mo rent from their former residence, apparently they are financial independent. Bully for them. That's probably the fastest FIRE timeframe I've heard of.

-For reasons not publicly disclosed, instead of owning their financial reality Mrs. Frugalwoods describes her and her family as "middle class", "non-profit salaries" and "not investment banking salaries", which is misleading and dishonest. Fans who thought the branding of the Frugalwoods was reality and not whitewashed fantasy had/have the feels about that; I don't blame them.

-The Frugalwoods no longer live what most of us would qualify as a frugal lifestyle according to their monthly budget. For example, they spent over $1,000 on groceries last month. I get it; Mr. Frugalwoods is still pulling in a huge salary. Their FIRE nest egg is untouched and they appear to still be saving a significant portion of their income. But it does increase the divide between the blog branding and reality.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Bublik2002 on December 30, 2018, 10:18:01 AM
I can't for the life of me understand all the hate that is surrounding this topic. They never claimed they came from poverty and simply write about their lifestyle.

If you don't like their blog don't read it. The losers/haters in life never ceases to amaze me.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Lol. Anyone who identifies a rich person as engaging in impropriety is just a loser or a hater. Now who does that remind me of...

What's inappropriate? That they make more money than you? Go out and make more. This is the easiest country on the planet to get ahead... I'm an immigrant college dropout age 35. I have never made less than 300k a year since age 21.. I work hard and you should as well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on December 30, 2018, 10:23:51 AM

What's inappropriate? That they make more money than you? Go out and make more. This is the easiest country on the planet to get ahead... I'm an immigrant college dropout age 35. I have never made less than 300k a year since age 21.. I work hard and you should as well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Some form of this extremely lazy argument/ad-hominem attack has been launched at me many times since the start of this discussion many months ago. So I'm used to it by now.

If you really want the answer to the question, read the thread. My posts in particular. I've done an excellent job of explaining what the impropriety in question is.

If though, as I highly suspect, you just want to dunk on imaginary haters, then go off. You also probably want a few good pats on the head for how good you've done in life too. You've done a great job in your financial pursuits. I truly, deeply mean that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Bublik2002 on December 30, 2018, 10:28:28 AM
I can't for the life of me understand all the hate that is surrounding this topic. They never claimed they came from poverty and simply write about their lifestyle.

If you don't like their blog don't read it. The losers/haters in life never ceases to amaze me.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Lol. Anyone who identifies a rich person as engaging in impropriety is just a loser or a hater. Now who does that remind me of...

What's inappropriate? That they make more money than you? Go out and make more. This is the easiest country on the planet to get ahead... I'm an immigrant college dropout age 35. I have never made less than 300k a year since age 21.. I work hard and you should as well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Trust me I'm not looking for any pats on the back. But anyone can have a blog and write whatever they please. Such is the beauty of this country. They blog about their life because it's still very different than most in regards to savings rate and lifestyle. Not really sure why it matters how much they make.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 30, 2018, 10:30:52 AM
Hey, Mr. Bojangles. I think it's perfectly normal to have those kinds of feelings and very healthy to acknowledge and work through them. It's when you project them onto two people you don't know that it becomes problematic. As you say, you will be FIREd. Your journey is different from theirs. Wishing you luck on yours.

How do I "like" this post?  Thank you!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on December 30, 2018, 10:33:38 AM
Trust me I'm not looking for any pats on the back. But anyone can have a blog and write whatever they please. Such is the beauty of this country. They blog about their life because it's still very different than most in regards to savings rate and lifestyle. Not really sure why it matters how much they make.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I'm not trying to take anyone's blog away. I'm certainly not trying to look down my nose at someone for earning a lot of money either.

I'm just accurately identifying a profiteer who is profiting from willful deception. It's not illegal. It's not the most amoral thing in the world. But it's demonstrably true. I really shouldn't be surprised at the extent to which people on a website with the phrase "join the cult*" on the landing page circle the wagons though.

*I understand that this is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but it's also kind of not.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: wordnerd on December 30, 2018, 10:34:11 AM
Hey, Mr. Bojangles. I think it's perfectly normal to have those kinds of feelings and very healthy to acknowledge and work through them. It's when you project them onto two people you don't know that it becomes problematic. As you say, you will be FIREd. Your journey is different from theirs. Wishing you luck on yours.

How do I "like" this post?  Thank you!
Of course! I hope you stick around and post more. This is a great community.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on December 30, 2018, 10:38:19 AM
Hey, Mr. Bojangles. I think it's perfectly normal to have those kinds of feelings and very healthy to acknowledge and work through them. It's when you project them onto two people you don't know that it becomes problematic. As you say, you will be FIREd. Your journey is different from theirs. Wishing you luck on yours.

How do I "like" this post?  Thank you!

+1

Excellent post by wordnerd.

People should always be encouraged when they have the self-awareness to recognize their own negative thought patterns.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: skp on December 30, 2018, 12:53:35 PM
For those of you who care (I was curious and kept looking out for the answer) Last go around someone posted that if this thread was still going on....  (:  , we could find out how much oil the frugalwoods actually use ( The debate about how much they needed that log splitter/ how much they really heat their house by the firewood they cut themselves).  Since it is going on, for those of you who care- Answer is $600.     
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: marble_faun on December 30, 2018, 03:32:35 PM
Identifying the identities of the Frugalwoods didn't take much time at all.  I believe I was multitasking when I did it, sitting on the toilet or waiting for a train or something...

I wanted to find out who they were to see what their jobs were.  I then discovered that she worked for WGBH and he worked for ActBlue.  Probably $80 to $100k jobs in the Boston area, maybe they crack $200k combined.

So, when I discovered what Nate makes ALONE, it seemed like a bit of a scam.  Yes.  I am jealous, too.  It is something I am passionate about.  I mean, it seems to me my university would have their best interest in mind.  I make a ton of money, and can give some back to my university.  Win-win situation.  Even when I was there, a sports arena was being built, courtesy of a wealthy donor.  Good, I thought!  Me next!  This was obviously a success story as most where I went to were lower middle class.  That's another topic, but segregation is alive and well in this country.  Sure, there are always exceptions, but the rich go to Harvard and Yale, not because they're brilliant.  Likewise, folks like me go to bullshit State U.  It's like that for a reason...

I sound bitter about this, almost rabid, perhaps, and I'm sorry...

Yes, those rich folks don't care one whit about me, even the lower middle class folks I went to high school with have scattered.  The rich folks all went to private schools early on.  Segregation starts young.  The better off stayed behind, worked in a family business.  A few became tradesmen.  The rest had to scatter.  No where really to work there.  It almost feels like my whole entire high school class was on a ship that went down and I was the only survivor.  I am not on Facebook; perhaps if I was, it would be better.

As I have gotten older, I have discovered the truly wealthy form their own businesses.  I failed to realize this growing up.  To me, small businesses equalled minimum wage.  Of course, it did so for me, but family members not so much.  I think to myself, why didn't I think to form Amazon or something, but even that company had a substantial initial investment by Jeff Bezos' parents.

The part about GE...I meant to say that had somehow I been made CEO in 2001, I surely could have done a better job.  Who wouldn't have?  Do I have what it takes to be a CEO?  Certainly not, too introverted for one.  I always thought that I probably didn't have what it takes, but hey, if I do, great!  If not, resign quietly with a severance package and I am set for life.  (As you can see, I like the get rick quick approach!)

I live well beneath my means, and was FIRE before I even knew about it.  But, it isn't all bad.  I could retire tomorrow and live modestly if I need to, and I have a pension.  I can retire with a pension in a little over 10 years, so I shall plug away until then.  My enjoyment truly is a buy and hold approach to stocks.  For me, the ideal job would be a salary of $300-$500k a year so I could comfortably invest regularly, a quiet office, a computer, and a Wall Street Journal.

I cannot understand how most folks are NOT FIRE.  Yes, I get it that there are expenses like health care and college, and college is designed to make one rely on credit from a young age.  But I don't understand the allure of restaurants, fancy vacations, etc.  Restaurants are never good, are way overpriced, and you don't know how your food is prepared.  I do enjoy going to the UK every few years.  Hostels are a bargain, why pay a lot for a fancy hotel?  Your eyes are closed most of the time anyways.

I have never seen the inside of a country club, would feel uncomfortable at this point doing so, I think. 

I am ashamed that I am a government employee.  We really are detested.  Not getting paid until this shutdown ends.  I get no real perks, which is a downer, no bonus at Christmas.  But, on the other hand, my expenses are minimal relative to my job.  I can wear casual, cheap clothes, drive a generic car with 137,500 miles on it, etc.

There ARE many positives to my current position, just I feel like I could have been an asset at a major corporation.

It isn't necessarily your course of study that gets you ahead in life.  An English Lit degree from Harvard or Yale is far more valuable than a mathematics degree from good old State U.

Again, I know I often come across as bitter, and I apologize.  Just trying to point out the way I see things...warped or otherwise.

The Frugalwoods didn't go to Yale or Harvard, but to a state school in Kansas, I believe.

I sympathize with the idea that not everyone starts off with an equal chance in life.  But no one owes you a $500K salary. You have what sounds like a fine job, plus a pension, and you say you could stop working tomorrow if you felt like it. All the complaining and bitterness seems unwarranted.  You're doing fine.  Pull your socks up!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on December 30, 2018, 04:26:39 PM


-The Frugalwoods are not anonymous. When you look up the book on Amazon, Mrs. Frugalwood's name is there as author. She and her husband are addressed by their real names in the various media outlets they interviewed with for the book's promotion.


They were anonymous for a long time. I think that's what the reference is from. They only posted obscured photos of themselves for a long time
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 30, 2018, 06:01:14 PM


-The Frugalwoods are not anonymous. When you look up the book on Amazon, Mrs. Frugalwood's name is there as author. She and her husband are addressed by their real names in the various media outlets they interviewed with for the book's promotion.


They were anonymous for a long time. I think that's what the reference is from. They only posted obscured photos of themselves for a long time

That's correct.  This was when they were trying to remain anonymous.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Gin1984 on December 30, 2018, 06:09:49 PM
I don't get how people are upset at this.  If you did the math when they first started, it was obvious how high their salaries were.  They were living on 30% of their post-tax income.  All you had to do was take their average spending by .3 and you get their post-tax income. Given the tax rates you multiple that by 1.5 or so and then add the max for the 401ks.  I did that when I first start reading them.  Everyone on here can do that math, so if you are surprised, you did it to yourself.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 30, 2018, 06:24:05 PM
Identifying the identities of the Frugalwoods didn't take much time at all.  I believe I was multitasking when I did it, sitting on the toilet or waiting for a train or something...

I wanted to find out who they were to see what their jobs were.  I then discovered that she worked for WGBH and he worked for ActBlue.  Probably $80 to $100k jobs in the Boston area, maybe they crack $200k combined.

So, when I discovered what Nate makes ALONE, it seemed like a bit of a scam.  Yes.  I am jealous, too.  It is something I am passionate about.  I mean, it seems to me my university would have their best interest in mind.  I make a ton of money, and can give some back to my university.  Win-win situation.  Even when I was there, a sports arena was being built, courtesy of a wealthy donor.  Good, I thought!  Me next!  This was obviously a success story as most where I went to were lower middle class.  That's another topic, but segregation is alive and well in this country.  Sure, there are always exceptions, but the rich go to Harvard and Yale, not because they're brilliant.  Likewise, folks like me go to bullshit State U.  It's like that for a reason...

I sound bitter about this, almost rabid, perhaps, and I'm sorry...

Yes, those rich folks don't care one whit about me, even the lower middle class folks I went to high school with have scattered.  The rich folks all went to private schools early on.  Segregation starts young.  The better off stayed behind, worked in a family business.  A few became tradesmen.  The rest had to scatter.  No where really to work there.  It almost feels like my whole entire high school class was on a ship that went down and I was the only survivor.  I am not on Facebook; perhaps if I was, it would be better.

As I have gotten older, I have discovered the truly wealthy form their own businesses.  I failed to realize this growing up.  To me, small businesses equalled minimum wage.  Of course, it did so for me, but family members not so much.  I think to myself, why didn't I think to form Amazon or something, but even that company had a substantial initial investment by Jeff Bezos' parents.

The part about GE...I meant to say that had somehow I been made CEO in 2001, I surely could have done a better job.  Who wouldn't have?  Do I have what it takes to be a CEO?  Certainly not, too introverted for one.  I always thought that I probably didn't have what it takes, but hey, if I do, great!  If not, resign quietly with a severance package and I am set for life.  (As you can see, I like the get rick quick approach!)

I live well beneath my means, and was FIRE before I even knew about it.  But, it isn't all bad.  I could retire tomorrow and live modestly if I need to, and I have a pension.  I can retire with a pension in a little over 10 years, so I shall plug away until then.  My enjoyment truly is a buy and hold approach to stocks.  For me, the ideal job would be a salary of $300-$500k a year so I could comfortably invest regularly, a quiet office, a computer, and a Wall Street Journal.

I cannot understand how most folks are NOT FIRE.  Yes, I get it that there are expenses like health care and college, and college is designed to make one rely on credit from a young age.  But I don't understand the allure of restaurants, fancy vacations, etc.  Restaurants are never good, are way overpriced, and you don't know how your food is prepared.  I do enjoy going to the UK every few years.  Hostels are a bargain, why pay a lot for a fancy hotel?  Your eyes are closed most of the time anyways.

I have never seen the inside of a country club, would feel uncomfortable at this point doing so, I think. 

I am ashamed that I am a government employee.  We really are detested.  Not getting paid until this shutdown ends.  I get no real perks, which is a downer, no bonus at Christmas.  But, on the other hand, my expenses are minimal relative to my job.  I can wear casual, cheap clothes, drive a generic car with 137,500 miles on it, etc.

There ARE many positives to my current position, just I feel like I could have been an asset at a major corporation.

It isn't necessarily your course of study that gets you ahead in life.  An English Lit degree from Harvard or Yale is far more valuable than a mathematics degree from good old State U.

Again, I know I often come across as bitter, and I apologize.  Just trying to point out the way I see things...warped or otherwise.

The Frugalwoods didn't go to Yale or Harvard, but to a state school in Kansas, I believe.

I sympathize with the idea that not everyone starts off with an equal chance in life.  But no one owes you a $500K salary. You have what sounds like a fine job, plus a pension, and you say you could stop working tomorrow if you felt like it. All the complaining and bitterness seems unwarranted.  You're doing fine.  Pull your socks up!

Correct.  But they are definitely in the upper echelon of State U grads.  You cannot deny that the odds of being wildly successful are far greater attending an Ivy League institution on Daddy's dime.

I have done the FIRE thing because most shit at Wal-Mart and fancy restaurants don't appeal to me.  BUT, on the other hand, had I started out EARLY with the high dollar job and every conceivable perk under the sun paid for by the corporation, perhaps what appeals to me and does not would be far different.

I get, as well as do not get, that a corporation does not owe me a $500k job.  There are fields one willingly elects to work in, such as biology, wildlife management, geography, etc, that do not pay well.  But, on the other hand, these jobs really ought to be for the taking, if you want them.  You should not forever be judged on what you majored in, but rather, that you have a college degree and can think critically.  Since I have never earned big money, I won't know how I would react if I did, or started out earning big bucks...but, it seems to me a corporation paying college graduates big money is a win-win situation.  The employee feels valued, works harder, and is more productive.  And, they have more money to spend, buy impressive homes, spend more at Home Depot, hire gardeners thereby creating jobs, buy more Mercedes-Benz's, etc and etc.

And I didn't have nearly the amount of debt these folks are getting out of college with now thinking that degree in women's studies that cost a quarter mil is somehow going to lead to a mid six figure job.

Again, I don't mean to sound bitter, and I have done really well given my upbringing.  I very might be the way I am because I saw the sheer WASTE that trust fund babies engaged in, and my lower middle class upbringing would never allow for, and I think that had I been handed a trust fund and lived the way I do, what I could have done.  For example, Apple was $17 a share in 1997.  I almost bought it, but thought then I really cannot afford to lose $1700.  If I was raised such that $1700 was pocket change, I would have bought the stock and never looked back. 

I don't mean to sound like a bitter spoiled brat, as I am not.  But, I have always had to be thrifty.  At first, just to survive.  Then, because I was afraid of being broke...

I am not unhappy, and am okay with how things turned out, but I would be lying through my teeth if I didn't admit that I wish I was raised really well off, spent summers in Europe, went to expensive schools all paid for by my family, a hefty trust fund at 18.☺
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on December 31, 2018, 09:06:19 AM
I should have clarified something.  I have neibors all throughout where I live who work for a major corporation that is a few miles from here.  I could ask them I'd they could get me in, except I don't think that will go far.  On the website, all current openings are in engineering, IT, and HR.  So, finally I might have a network, but not the skills.

I came down hard on the Frugalwoods because they are not like you and I.  When you think about it, and what makes for a good blog, is that they were simply at the right place at the right time--right degree, location, and friends, for BOTH partners.  I think that happens quite rarely, which is why we don't all have our own blogs.
Frugalwoods are, in fact, a lot like my husband and myself.

Yes, you will need the skills to get those jobs.  You just don't "get" jobs at big companies that pay a lot.  You have to earn them and work for them.  It's not just the skills.  Though obviously that is step 1.  It is earning your place.  It is working well with others so you get a reference.

Okay, no, neither my spouse nor I make $270k.  With a sacrifice or two, we probably could.  (We are both engineers!)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 31, 2018, 09:39:46 AM
The Federal government has provided me with ZERO marketable skills.  Believe me, I've tried many times to get out to no avail.  No longer am even wasting my time applying elsewhere.  The perils of graduating from college in a recession (1992).  In sure others who graduated in even worse times more recently can attest to this.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on December 31, 2018, 10:10:08 AM
I don't get how people are upset at this.  If you did the math when they first started, it was obvious how high their salaries were.  They were living on 30% of their post-tax income.  All you had to do was take their average spending by .3 and you get their post-tax income. Given the tax rates you multiple that by 1.5 or so and then add the max for the 401ks.  I did that when I first start reading them.  Everyone on here can do that math, so if you are surprised, you did it to yourself.

I don't get how people still repeat this same misconception after it should have been cleared up many times now. :)

Here I am, early on in this thread, doing the exact thing you describe. this is before the issue of IRS 990s that prove income came up:

This is what I mean when I talk about frugality not being as germane to the broader story.

Based on my reading, they don't discuss their income in terms of hard numbers. But given age (early 30s), spending (discussed above), and inheritance ($0), it's a reduced to a mathematical exercise to impute the rest. If I were to ball-park it, I'd say, in excess of 3X the median household income.

And that's the story. It's about income + the recognition that marginal change in happiness per dollar spent is relatively low when you're at first world levels of spending already. They deserve credit for both the former, and the latter, but we should recognize that the latter is really about not dropping five figures on stupid shit on an annual basis. It's not about rescuing a lamp instead of buying one at WalMart. It's not about cutting each other's hair to save $20 at Super-Cuts.

It's about income, and I view this kind of as an empirical fact.

I wouldn't describe myself as "upset" here. I did the math and ball-parked them as in-excess of $180K a year. Making a lot of money is not a crime. No one is upset that they make a lot of money. I make a lot of money too.

It's the fact that their one percenter incomes afford them a super cool lifestyle, but they sell their story to people as if it's frugality. It's not frugality. And it is dishonest to pitch it as such. This Guardian Op-Ed/book pitch referenced earlier in the thread is a perfect example.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending)

Quote
Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 Ė and regain control of my life

The title is misleading from the start. Most working mothers would describe her situation as one of a stay at home mom married to a man with a high salary and a flexible work-from-home situation. (inb4 "retirement police!") But maybe she wasn't 100% in control of the headline. So we'll read on.

Quote
My husband, Nate, and I are not exceptional people. Weíre not rich or famous or geniuses or even particularly good-looking (although we have our moments). Weíre just some average, middle-class kids from the midwest who decided we wanted something more out of life than what our consumer culture sells us.

While itís true that Nate and I are average people, and weíve never won the lottery or had investment banker salaries or been the beneficiaries of inheritances or trust funds, Iím keenly aware that we are also extraordinarily privileged.

That's seven different ways of trying to paint themselves as average before a a vague allusion to privilege. Seven. I would characterize many of them as misleading, and the IB salary one as flat out dishonest, since they make more money than many investment bankers their age.

I'm confident that this is calculated and purposeful. Because "we made a lot of money and now we have a cool rich person life" is not marketable, while, "cut your own hair like we did. We retired at 32" is very marketable.

I'm sure you and many others have lingering questions about why I care about this. I don't dislike or really even know that much about these people. I make good money and will probably retire early too. It's not bitterness or jealousy. It's because this is demonstrably misleading marketing and people are affected by it*. Real people. Read some of the verified Amazon reviews of the book.

Maybe you think it's someone's fault if they let themselves be mislead. Personally, I like to give them a break because I recognize that most people aren't as clever as I am and can't spot this kind of dishonesty right away. But if you want to place the blame on the people who were misled, that's honestly fine. But that doesn't make dishonesty not dishonest.

I posted in this thread back in March, and I'm posting in it today because I feel like someone has to say these things. The media is incredibly lazy when it comes to FIRE, so they're certainly not going to do it. And the PF community at large is so high on it's own supply, that they typically just circle the wagons and call all the nay-sayers in The Guardian comments section bitter losers. So here I am.

*I also like being right about things on the Internet.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Gin1984 on December 31, 2018, 10:25:30 AM
I don't get how people are upset at this.  If you did the math when they first started, it was obvious how high their salaries were.  They were living on 30% of their post-tax income.  All you had to do was take their average spending by .3 and you get their post-tax income. Given the tax rates you multiple that by 1.5 or so and then add the max for the 401ks.  I did that when I first start reading them.  Everyone on here can do that math, so if you are surprised, you did it to yourself.

I don't get how people still repeat this same misconception after it should have been cleared up many times now. :)

Here I am, early on in this thread, doing the exact thing you describe. this is before the issue of IRS 990s that prove income came up:

This is what I mean when I talk about frugality not being as germane to the broader story.

Based on my reading, they don't discuss their income in terms of hard numbers. But given age (early 30s), spending (discussed above), and inheritance ($0), it's a reduced to a mathematical exercise to impute the rest. If I were to ball-park it, I'd say, in excess of 3X the median household income.

And that's the story. It's about income + the recognition that marginal change in happiness per dollar spent is relatively low when you're at first world levels of spending already. They deserve credit for both the former, and the latter, but we should recognize that the latter is really about not dropping five figures on stupid shit on an annual basis. It's not about rescuing a lamp instead of buying one at WalMart. It's not about cutting each other's hair to save $20 at Super-Cuts.

It's about income, and I view this kind of as an empirical fact.

I wouldn't describe myself as "upset" here. I did the math and ball-parked them as in-excess of $180K a year. Making a lot of money is not a crime. No one is upset that they make a lot of money. I make a lot of money too.

It's the fact that their one percenter incomes afford them a super cool lifestyle, but they sell their story to people as if it's frugality. It's not frugality. And it is dishonest to pitch it as such. This Guardian Op-Ed/book pitch referenced earlier in the thread is a perfect example.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending)

Quote
Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32 Ė and regain control of my life

The title is misleading from the start. Most working mothers would describe her situation as one of a stay at home mom married to a man with a high salary and a flexible work-from-home situation. (inb4 "retirement police!") But maybe she wasn't 100% in control of the headline. So we'll read on.

Quote
My husband, Nate, and I are not exceptional people. Weíre not rich or famous or geniuses or even particularly good-looking (although we have our moments). Weíre just some average, middle-class kids from the midwest who decided we wanted something more out of life than what our consumer culture sells us.

While itís true that Nate and I are average people, and weíve never won the lottery or had investment banker salaries or been the beneficiaries of inheritances or trust funds, Iím keenly aware that we are also extraordinarily privileged.

That's seven different ways of trying to paint themselves as average before a a vague allusion to privilege. Seven. I would characterize many of them as misleading, and the IB salary one as flat out dishonest, since they make more money than many investment bankers their age.

I'm confident that this is calculated and purposeful. Because "we made a lot of money and now we have a cool rich person life" is not marketable, while, "cut your own hair like we did. We retired at 32" is very marketable.

I'm sure you and many others have lingering questions about why I care about this. I don't dislike or really even know that much about these people. I make good money and will probably retire early too. It's not bitterness or jealousy. It's because this is demonstrably misleading marketing and people are affected by it*. Real people. Read some of the verified Amazon reviews of the book.

Maybe you think it's someone's fault if they let themselves be mislead. Personally, I like to give them a break because I recognize that most people aren't as clever as I am and can't spot this kind of dishonesty right away. But if you want to place the blame on the people who were misled, that's honestly fine. But that doesn't make dishonesty not dishonest.

I posted in this thread back in March, and I'm posting in it today because I feel like someone has to say these things. The media is incredibly lazy when it comes to FIRE, so they're certainly not going to do it. And the PF community at large is so high on it's own supply, that they typically just circle the wagons and call all the nay-sayers in The Guardian comments section bitter losers. So here I am.

*I also like being right about things on the Internet.
They averaged about $3500-4000 per month, that is about $45000/year. Divide that by .3 and you get $150,000.  Then take into account taxes (which it sounds like you did not) and you get $225,000, add in th 401ks and you get $261,000.  If you went with the higher number of $4000 you'd hit $312,000.
They started off as normal kids, which they said and got good jobs which paid very well in a very expensive area (which means they get paid even better).  That is not winning the lotto.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on December 31, 2018, 10:30:26 AM
They averaged about $3500-4000 per month, that is about $45000/year. Divide that by .3 and you get $150,000.  Then take into account taxes (which it sounds like you did not) and you get $225,000, add in th 401ks and you get $261,000.  If you went with the higher number of $4000 you'd hit $312,000.
They started off as normal kids, which they said and got good jobs which paid very well in a very expensive area (which means they get paid even better).  That is not winning the lotto.

Well then I guess I shouldn't have made all those comments about how they won the lottery then. ;)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Laura33 on December 31, 2018, 01:10:34 PM
But they are definitely in the upper echelon of State U grads.  You cannot deny that the odds of being wildly successful are far greater attending an Ivy League institution on Daddy's dime.

In fact, studies have shown that equally-qualified students who were rejected from the Ivies do just as well financially as those who were accepted to those schools. 

Your posts have resonated with me because I used to think the way you do.  I was poor; I resented those around me who had more and felt like they had all of these lovely lives handed to them and there was no way I could ever catch up.  But I was determined not to be poor, did well in school and earned scholarships (for a BA in English, no less!), and then followed the money into law school.  And what I have learned over the years is that my own mindset was more damaging to myself than anything else.

Your view of networking is an excellent example, because I share(d) it -- I mean, I knew no one with a silver spoon, and even when I later met some of those folks, I never felt remotely comfortable around them.  So how could someone like me ever "network" successfully?  Then I watched my DH go through four separate job changes -- two shutdowns, one layoff, and one voluntary move.  Each time, he started by getting on the phone with people he had gone to (state) school with or worked with before and asking them to let him know of any opportunities.  Now none of the people were rich or powerful; they generally had worker-bee jobs like he did.  But because he had impressed these people with his brains and work ethic, they were more than happy to pass on news of job openings and put in a good word for him.  And each time, he ended up in a better job, with a raise and a promotion.  Nothing was handed to him -- he earned that reputation by years of working alongside those people, and he still needed to interview and get that new job on his own.  But that network helped him find doors that he could then open and push through. 

But to make that work, you also need patience.  Some of DH's contacts hadn't worked with him for 10+ years, but he had stayed in contact because they were good guys.  And then I saw the same thing happen to me:  I am the world's biggest introvert and horrible marketer, but then all of a sudden one year I pulled in a half-million-dollar client.  How?  Because I had worked with the guy in a former job and apparently made an impression (note that I had no concept of this at the time), and years later when his new company needed a lawyer in my area, I was the first person he called.  Similarly, many of the people who I worked with as a baby lawyer are now in positions of power in various companies all around the US.  25 years ago, I'd have told you that it was hopeless that I'd ever be able to bring in business, because the only people I knew were young and powerless like me; but now I find myself surrounded by seemingly "important" people who actually know who I am and think well of me.  WTF?  How the hell did that happen?  But it did. 

And maybe, if I hadn't spent so many years assuming that "networking" was something that was inherited (along with a silver spoon and a trust fund), I'd be even more successful now, because I'd have paid attention to making those connections and staying in touch years earlier.  Focusing on what I didn't have, instead of what I could control, cost me probably a decade of career growth. 

Oh, and as to those silver-spoon folks?  The grass is always greener.  I earned my way through college mostly through scholarships and work-study, with only a little financial support from my parents.  My brothers were younger; by the time they went to college, my dad was significantly better-off and provided them full rides to fancy private schools.  Both of them took 5-6 years to graduate; both of them blew ridiculous amounts of money and got into CC debt for years after graduating; and decades later, one of them is still financially unstable (currently chasing Bitcoin in the hopes of wealth).  I spent years resenting how much easier they had it than I did, and how they had blown an opportunity that I'd have killed for -- until one day, someone pointed out to me that perhaps it was having to work my own way up that made me more successful, because it forced me to work hard and not take anything for granted.  Turns out not having the luxury of paid-for failure is probably what I actually needed to reach my current level of success.

Sorry to be so long-winded on this (folks here will tell you I tend to do that).  But there is so much in your posts that strikes me as coming from a very self-defeating mental attitude.  I am glad that you have gotten to a place of financial security, and I hope that you can appreciate how far you have come, give yourself credit for the hard work you have put in to get there, and start to believe that those same abilities that got you this far can take you to even better places if you want it enough to put in the effort and make the tradeoffs.  Or, perhaps, decide that what you have already achieved is enough and enjoy what you have instead of wasting any more mental energy resenting those who have more.  No, life is not fair.  But I for one have far more respect for someone who worked his ass off for everything he has than for someone who had infinitely more handed to him.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Telecaster on December 31, 2018, 01:42:04 PM

In fact, studies have shown that equally-qualified students who were rejected from the Ivies do just as well financially as those who were accepted to those schools... 

...  Then I watched my DH go through four separate job changes -- two shutdowns, one layoff, and one voluntary move.  Each time, he started by getting on the phone with people he had gone to (state) school with or worked with before and asking them to let him know of any opportunities.  Now none of the people were rich or powerful; they generally had worker-bee jobs like he did.  But because he had impressed these people with his brains and work ethic, they were more than happy to pass on news of job openings and put in a good word for him.  And each time, he ended up in a better job, with a raise and a promotion.  Nothing was handed to him -- he earned that reputation by years of working alongside those people, and he still needed to interview and get that new job on his own.  But that network helped him find doors that he could then open and push through.

Great post Laura.  Getting into the Ivies isn't the important thing.  The ability to get into the Ivies is the important thing.  Your college pedigree will get you your first job.  After that it is on you. 

My wife waited tables all through college.   Years later she wound up getting two, good-paying professional jobs she found from people she used to wait tables with.  One was in government and one was in private industry.  Your network doesn't need to be the country club set.  Your network is people who know you, know you can do a good job, and want to work with you.   Even if the work is in a completely different field.   

My sister (until she retired early) is an engineer and would occasionally recruit for the aerospace company she worked for.   She told me that company valued people who worked through college over people with higher GPAs for the exact reasons you mentioned in your post.   They wanted people who knew how to roll up their sleeves and go to work. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on December 31, 2018, 03:03:17 PM
Yeah, I read that too about the Ivy League quality folks who did not attend Ivy League schools.  Don't worry, I'm not Ivy League material.  I got into a decent school once, but couldn't afford it.  BTW, that's the best thing that never happened!  I think, way back in the dark ages, when I applied to colleges, you could either afford them or you couldn't.  And that was that!  There was no way I could have afforded $18k a year in 1988.  I did not know that at the time, but this institution is now over $70k a year and I certainly know that I would not want to be paying that.  When you are 18 yrs old convinced you are worth hundreds of thousands a year, 18k sounds like chump change, LOL.  I think the MASSIVE mistake being made today is letting these kids go wherever they want to no matter the cost and no worries--until the student loans must be repaid.

As far as networking.  I have always worked behind the scenes Federal jobs.  Networking consists of anything my coworkers can provide, which isn't much.  We all have gone nowhere, we are all in this boat together.  I tend to hang out in blue collar environments, like the Legion.  I feel uncomfortable elsewhere.

I really detest this networking thing.  Demeaning, if you ask me.  All I ever wanted was to send my resume in to a company, avoid any interview, if possible, and put the principle of ROI I learned in economics class to good work.

Leaving me out of it personally, if one spends $300k on an education these days (I didn't come close) isn't it good corporate citizenship to be starting these kids right out of college at about $200k a year to start?  These companies earn so much friggin' money these days, it's high time salaries in this country got jumpstarted.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: obstinate on January 01, 2019, 06:21:29 PM
As far as networking.  I have always worked behind the scenes Federal jobs.  Networking consists of anything my coworkers can provide, which isn't much.  We all have gone nowhere, we are all in this boat together.  I tend to hang out in blue collar environments, like the Legion.  I feel uncomfortable elsewhere.

I really detest this networking thing.  Demeaning, if you ask me.  All I ever wanted was to send my resume in to a company, avoid any interview, if possible, and put the principle of ROI I learned in economics class to good work.
Your expectations are so far away from reality that it's hard to believe you're being serious. I'd expect this viewpoint from a child, not a grown adult who has presumably had a few years to learn how the world works.
Leaving me out of it personally, if one spends $300k on an education these days (I didn't come close) isn't it good corporate citizenship to be starting these kids right out of college at about $200k a year to start?  These companies earn so much friggin' money these days, it's high time salaries in this country got jumpstarted.
If you owned a business, would you pay an employee more just because they had taken out a big loan (whether for college or anything else)? I know I wouldn't. Employers do not care how much debt you have, not even in principle. They care how much value you bring to the table, or how much it would cost to hire another candidate. Your past foolish decisions do not enter into the compensation equation.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 01, 2019, 07:50:02 PM
In theory, avoidance of interviews are possible.  I stuck that in there as it's actually happened to me in a positive and negative way.  If there is a demand that far exceeds supply in the private sector, in theory, an interview would be unnecessary because what purpose would it serve if your skill set is needed and there is no one else to fill the position.

At one time, I desired interviews, this being a stepping stone to a corporate job.

In my experience, I actually got my Federal job without an interview, as did everyone else I know.  Basically, if you are willing to work in the location and the hours necessary and have the coursework to qualify for the entry level job, sooner or later you will get hired.  No interview necessary.

I have worked with some very nice, but eccentric, folks over the years.  Some likely could not get hired elsewhere.  It doesn't necessarily make them bad people.  Many find me to be a bit eccentric as well.

As for as an employer overpaying simply because an employee "needs" that kind of money, and the employer is altruistic, it makes no sense whatsoever, except it happens all the time.  For example, the Frugalwoods themselves.  They don't need to pay Nate $300k or so a year, but they do.  I guarantee you they could get rid of him tomorrow, and hire me at half his salary.  I just got a substantial pay increase, and I can work from home!  The employer saves money, too!  Win win situation!  Most jobs are learned through OJT.  I'm bright and intelligent.  6 mos of OJT, possibly far less, and I'm good to go!

Even when I got out of college, the average starting salary was 24k a year.  I took a job at under $7 an hour, so I was earning well under the starting salary.  If the average was 24k a year and I was at least 10k under that, folks are earning more than 24k a year to offset my low starting salary.  Why would a corporation do that when they could have had me for less?  I stated, in a futile attempt to get interviews with major corporations at one point, since nothing else seemed to be working, that I would be willing to start at 20k a year (in my cover letter).  Again, a win win situation.  I earn more than I was earning before, the company saves money by hiring me, and I can start climbing the corporate ladder.  Except it didn't work!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Telecaster on January 01, 2019, 08:43:13 PM
I stated, in a futile attempt to get interviews with major corporations at one point, since nothing else seemed to be working, that I would be willing to start at 20k a year (in my cover letter).  Again, a win win situation.  I earn more than I was earning before, the company saves money by hiring me, and I can start climbing the corporate ladder.  Except it didn't work!

Hiring managers don't think like that.  They want to hire someone who can get the job done.  Instead of saying how cheap you were willing work* you should have been explaining how you could solve their problems. 

*That's a secondary mistake.  By saying you are willing to work cheap, you are signaling you think your labor isn't valuable.  Isn't that the exact opposite of what you should be signaling? 

Don't get me wrong, I've made tons of bad career decisions.  But a consistent mistake I see you making is that you aren't putting yourself in the shoes of the employer.  They do not give a shit about win-win, they only care about win for them.  A win for them is you solving a problem they have.  If you do that, then salary is pretty much an afterthought. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: obstinate on January 01, 2019, 08:56:45 PM
Why would a corporation do that when they could have had me for less?  I stated, in a futile attempt to get interviews with major corporations at one point, since nothing else seemed to be working, that I would be willing to start at 20k a year (in my cover letter).  Again, a win win situation.  I earn more than I was earning before, the company saves money by hiring me, and I can start climbing the corporate ladder.  Except it didn't work!
I personally would never even consider hiring you for any role based on the views youíve espoused in this thread. You are very confused about a lot of things. For example, in this post you seemed to suggest that six months of on the job training would be sufficient to allow you to perform in an executive managerial role at a major non profit. They would be ill advised to hire a person with this viewpoint, even if that person would be willing to work for free. You seem to believe that workers are fungible and that the main variable employers should care about is salary ó since you say that based solely on your willingness to accept lower compensation, you are an ideal hire. This is a really toxic thing to believe about yourself and other people.

If any of this comes across in how you present yourself to potential employers, I have to say it is not at all surprising to me that you received few offers.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 02, 2019, 04:39:03 AM
How does one perform in an executive managerial role and telecommute, as Mr Frugalwoods does?  That sounds very hands on/on site to me.

My general impression is that he has bosses that like him very much and overpay him and allow him to work from home.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIPurpose on January 02, 2019, 06:05:36 AM
It's a non profit so I'm sure they max out the salaries to whatever the IRS wouldn't audit them for.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: StarBright on January 02, 2019, 06:34:20 AM
How does one perform in an executive managerial role and telecommute, as Mr Frugalwoods does?  That sounds very hands on/on site to me.

My general impression is that he has bosses that like him very much and overpay him and allow him to work from home.



FWIW- It can be done. My job is an "Executive" management role that I do from a more remote distance the Mr. Frugalwood. (I say "executive" because  even though it is upper level it is for a small company so I don't make crazy bank). 

I worked on-site for several years first, then cut my teeth on remote work about 5 hours away from the office (close enough to come to the office every two to three weeks), and then eventually moved a plane ride away.

My job is certainly harder now than it was when I was in the office, and aspects of it have morphed to more independent work than I used to do. I have had to make some concessions with my family time in order to be available whenever it is convenient for my boss and others which I have found to mean a lot of pre 9 am and post 5pm calls (out of site and out of mind) - but there is no doubt in my mind that I am worth (more than) what I'm paid, and that my boss would cut bait so fast if he thought I wasn't worth it to the company.

From my place - I assumed that Mr. Frugalwood was particularly good at what he does for him to be a remote worker. Also, remote work is so much more common now than 10 years ago that lots of jobs are doable remotely.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 02, 2019, 06:39:14 AM
It's a non profit so I'm sure they max out the salaries to whatever the IRS wouldn't audit them for.

In my quest for a job/career when I graduated college in the early '90's, I initially was seeking employment with a major corporation because I perceived that that's where the big money was.  This never panned out.  At that time, someone mentioned that there was big money to be had with nonprofits.

This seems dishonest.  Grant employees (okay management, but still employees) large salaries and barely skirt IRS rules/regulations.  Beg for donations from the general public, the general public thinks they are supporting a "cause", when the reality is that you are donating to pad the pockets of individuals who would be hard pressed to earn anywhere near that kind of money elsewhere.  Just my observations, not based in fact...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: leftcoastenvy on January 02, 2019, 08:23:31 AM
How does one perform in an executive managerial role and telecommute, as Mr Frugalwoods does?  That sounds very hands on/on site to me.

My general impression is that he has bosses that like him very much and overpay him and allow him to work from home.

I think those types of roles can be done from home, but I am surprised he was able to work during November when Liz mentioned that they were without power and Internet for more days than they had it. My husband works remotely and if the Internet or power is off for even a day it can be troublesome and he is trying to find somewhere else to get his work done at. I am super jealous that Nate can make that salary and not even have Internet half of the month and still get a million homestead chores done.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Laura33 on January 02, 2019, 08:29:05 AM
@MrBojangles:  From what you've posted here, I have the very clear impression that your worldview is that a bunch of people have a ton of money thrown at them with no effort and for little work, and that you have therefore gotten a raw deal because you have not had similar highly-paid opportunities thrown at you, despite trying harder than the chosen few.  All I can say is that this is incredibly damaging -- to yourself. 

When you see someone with a high-paid job, you can look at it two ways:  you can assume that they had everything handed to them and that you aren't in "the club" and therefore shouldn't even bother trying; or you can assume that they had some skill/ability/talent that they worked hard to develop to earn that spot, and see what lessons you can take from that about what that level job requires -- what kind of degree did they have, what kind of job experience did they need, how many years of work did it take, etc. -- so you can get the qualifications that would allow you to compete for that same kind of opportunity in a few years.

You clearly fall under option 1.  But that is exactly what I mean by a self-defeating attitude.  This view of the world gets you absolutely nowhere -- it convinces you not to even bother trying, because as long as you're not in the secret club of preferred people, you have no chance of succeeding.  The second assumption, OTOH, forces you to challenge yourself, improve your weaknesses, develop additional skills and experience -- all of which helps position you for better opportunities. 

So how does your worldview serve you?  It guarantees that you will never get what you want (because why try when the deck is stacked against you?).  All it does is salve your ego -- it lets feel better about yourself for not achieving what you wanted.  Do you want to succeed, or do you want an excuse to fail?  It seems to me that when there are two possible interpretations of a particular situation, why not adopt the one that gives you a chance to get what you want out of life?

I am not saying this to be mean; again, I see my younger self in you.  But I succeeded in large part because I finally learned to challenge that self-destructive thinking -- to learn from my failures instead of resenting the unfairness of my boss' inability to recognize my genius, to acknowledge my weaknesses and do the very hard work of getting better at them, to face up to the parts of the job that made me uncomfortable.  I am nowhere near perfect, and I still work to improve every day.  Yes, there have been times, even at my current great job, when I have not been fairly dealt with.  But sitting her resenting that accomplishes nothing; all I can do is figure out what matters to the Powers That Be and do that better (and then work to change that unfairness for the younger folks coming up behind me). 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIPurpose on January 02, 2019, 08:34:27 AM
It's a non profit so I'm sure they max out the salaries to whatever the IRS wouldn't audit them for.

In my quest for a job/career when I graduated college in the early '90's, I initially was seeking employment with a major corporation because I perceived that that's where the big money was.  This never panned out.  At that time, someone mentioned that there was big money to be had with nonprofits.

This seems dishonest.  Grant employees (okay management, but still employees) large salaries and barely skirt IRS rules/regulations.  Beg for donations from the general public, the general public thinks they are supporting a "cause", when the reality is that you are donating to pad the pockets of individuals who would be hard pressed to earn anywhere near that kind of money elsewhere.  Just my observations, not based in fact...

Not every non-profit derives from donations. You could run a coffee shop as a non-profit. Where all profits go to some charity. But of course if you start doing really well, you're going to start maxing out your employee's pay, that way you have extremely low turn over and thus less work for you.

That's what people here don't get. The company doesn't have a profit motive. Thus hiring someone for less isn't even a factor, in fact, they could care less. What they want is to *not* have to train someone else because that means more work for them. So instead, give him a salary he can't refuse, all the perks he wants.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on January 02, 2019, 08:39:07 AM
No reason to over-complicate the issue of non-profits.

If non-profits could find someone to do the work for cheaper, it stands to reason that they would. The work someone does still has value even if the entity they perform work for doesn't retain earnings.

People can and should draw competitive salaries when working for non-profits.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: StarBright on January 02, 2019, 08:55:30 AM
How does one perform in an executive managerial role and telecommute, as Mr Frugalwoods does?  That sounds very hands on/on site to me.

My general impression is that he has bosses that like him very much and overpay him and allow him to work from home.

I think those types of roles can be done from home, but I am surprised he was able to work during November when Liz mentioned that they were without power and Internet for more days than they had it. My husband works remotely and if the Internet or power is off for even a day it can be troublesome and he is trying to find somewhere else to get his work done at. I am super jealous that Nate can make that salary and not even have Internet half of the month and still get a million homestead chores done.

I don't usually read frugalwoods, but just perused their site because I was intrigued by them being without power and his remote work. Looks like they live only a couple of hours from his office, I suspect he heads in fairly often.

When I lived in Boston my commute/walk was an hour each way ( basically within the same city). To live in your dream house in a state with free pre-k, lower taxes etc and only a two plus hours commute doesn't sound bad at all for the East Coast.

It also puts his "remote work" into a clearer picture I think. My remote work is a two hour plane ride or 10 hour drive away- there are logistics when I go to the office. Sounds like Mr. Frugalwood can likely run to the office when needed making his job even more doable via remote.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: marble_faun on January 02, 2019, 10:35:45 AM
It's a non profit so I'm sure they max out the salaries to whatever the IRS wouldn't audit them for.

In my quest for a job/career when I graduated college in the early '90's, I initially was seeking employment with a major corporation because I perceived that that's where the big money was.  This never panned out.  At that time, someone mentioned that there was big money to be had with nonprofits.

This seems dishonest.  Grant employees (okay management, but still employees) large salaries and barely skirt IRS rules/regulations.  Beg for donations from the general public, the general public thinks they are supporting a "cause", when the reality is that you are donating to pad the pockets of individuals who would be hard pressed to earn anywhere near that kind of money elsewhere.  Just my observations, not based in fact...

The vast majority of people in nonprofits are not making "big money," I can assure you.

When nonprofit directors are paid 300K+ (which is rare for all but the biggest/fanciest organizations), it's generally because they are viewed as having connections or other abilities that allow them to fundraise for far more, and/or because the org has deemed it worthwhile to draw best candidates, possibly in competition with the for-profit sector.

If you're concerned about it, the salaries of nonprofit directors are publicly available.  The salaries of the top five employees should be listed on the organization's 990 forms. If you check them out and think staff salaries are too high as part of the overall percentage of income, you don't have to donate.  (See this web site: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/ (https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/).)

There are such things as scammy pseudo-nonprofits, but a high salary alone doesn't make the organization "dishonest."

Also, +1 to the comments by @obstinate and @Laura33
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on January 02, 2019, 04:05:30 PM
The Federal government has provided me with ZERO marketable skills.  Believe me, I've tried many times to get out to no avail.  No longer am even wasting my time applying elsewhere.  The perils of graduating from college in a recession (1992).  In sure others who graduated in even worse times more recently can attest to this.
I also graduated in 1992.

My post college roommate had it worse.  1991 was worse.  She got a job for the fed government, but not until 1992.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on January 02, 2019, 04:13:41 PM
Quote
Your view of networking is an excellent example, because I share(d) it -- I mean, I knew no one with a silver spoon, and even when I later met some of those folks, I never felt remotely comfortable around them.  So how could someone like me ever "network" successfully?  Then I watched my DH go through four separate job changes -- two shutdowns, one layoff, and one voluntary move.  Each time, he started by getting on the phone with people he had gone to (state) school with or worked with before and asking them to let him know of any opportunities.  Now none of the people were rich or powerful; they generally had worker-bee jobs like he did.  But because he had impressed these people with his brains and work ethic, they were more than happy to pass on news of job openings and put in a good word for him.  And each time, he ended up in a better job, with a raise and a promotion.  Nothing was handed to him -- he earned that reputation by years of working alongside those people, and he still needed to interview and get that new job on his own.  But that network helped him find doors that he could then open and push through. 

I just wanted to applaud this particular paragraph, Laura (not that the whole thing wasn't great!)  While I haven't necessarily brought in big bucks or changed jobs much - I have found that being good at my job and a hard worker means...people email me or call me if they have an opening.  And I know people everywhere.  And I'm easy to get along with.  It's a good reminder on days like today when I want to burn the fucking bridge down dealing with testosterone fueled men and their need to posture, be right, and put down everyone else.  (Those that aren't passive aggressive shits, and I get to work with BOTH.)

Also, my nephew is 25 and has a blue collar job.  He went to mechanic school.  Got a job near home.  Worked hard, crap pay, new kids come in getting more.  But he was so well known for his work ethic that when another company was hiring, they asked around - someone who'd worked with him gave his name.  They called him.  Here he is making $25-28 an hour vs, the $12 he was making last year.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on January 02, 2019, 04:28:34 PM
Yeah, I read that too about the Ivy League quality folks who did not attend Ivy League schools.  Don't worry, I'm not Ivy League material.  I got into a decent school once, but couldn't afford it.  BTW, that's the best thing that never happened!  I think, way back in the dark ages, when I applied to colleges, you could either afford them or you couldn't.  And that was that!  There was no way I could have afforded $18k a year in 1988.  I did not know that at the time, but this institution is now over $70k a year and I certainly know that I would not want to be paying that.  When you are 18 yrs old convinced you are worth hundreds of thousands a year, 18k sounds like chump change, LOL.  I think the MASSIVE mistake being made today is letting these kids go wherever they want to no matter the cost and no worries--until the student loans must be repaid.

As far as networking.  I have always worked behind the scenes Federal jobs.  Networking consists of anything my coworkers can provide, which isn't much.  We all have gone nowhere, we are all in this boat together.  I tend to hang out in blue collar environments, like the Legion.  I feel uncomfortable elsewhere.

I really detest this networking thing.  Demeaning, if you ask me.
  All I ever wanted was to send my resume in to a company, avoid any interview, if possible, and put the principle of ROI I learned in economics class to good work.

Leaving me out of it personally, if one spends $300k on an education these days (I didn't come close) isn't it good corporate citizenship to be starting these kids right out of college at about $200k a year to start?  These companies earn so much friggin' money these days, it's high time salaries in this country got jumpstarted.
This explains a lot about where you are and your attitude though.

Networking CAN BE putting yourself out there, going to conferences or meet-ups, handing your card to people, etc.  Some people are great at that.  I'm not!
Networking is OFTEN - being good at your job.  Working with large groups of people. Letting your skills and abilities speak for themselves.  Taking on new roles at work, and excelling at them.  Getting to know your neighbors, chatting with them at potlucks and letting them know your skills. (I got my 3rd job out of college because of someone I played volleyball with - that's how I found out about the opening.)  Taking on side gigs where you meet more people.

Networking helps you find out about jobs before they are listed.  If you are uncomfortable in "other areas", the only way to get past that is to put yourself out there.  But, from your posts and your age (we appear to be the same age, based on graduation year), I think it may be hard for you to change.  (It's an intense amount of work and energy to take on new roles, get a new job, etc.)

The "I just want to send in my resume" is a disaster, and here's why: people can make themselves sound GREAT on a resume.  Heck, people our age can often interview like a CHAMP because they know the buzzwords.  Then they start and are DUDS.  By far the MOST skilled and most successful hires I've ever been involved in are when we hire people who our current coworkers recommend.  Many (most?) of the good looking resumes were duds. 

The only job I've gotten "without an interview" was when I left my last job for this one - I called up my old boss and said I was looking.  He had me come in and told me what they were working on and gave me an offer (on a Saturday, no less).  The other "no interview" types of jobs probably aren't the ones you want.

Now, onto the college thing - yep, it's a complete mess.  When I went to college (1988) "you could afford it or not" was true BUT depending on your grades and the school, you could get scholarships.  I went to one of those crazy expensive schools on scholarship (because: I was poor).  I opted to join ROTC to make it even more affordable.  The cost of college has gone up so much that that school is >$70,000 now.  So when I started college, the cost of 1 year was about 50% of the average family income.  Now it is 150% of the average family income.   Even though it's still a great school, nobody should be going there unless you can bankroll it or get a lot of aid.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 02, 2019, 05:30:31 PM
Yes, we are about the same age.

I will have to try working on the networking thing.  I am not the most outgoing type, so it will be a struggle.

How have you moved from job to job, or maybe I am asking why?  I have remained on the same position for nearly 24 years now, which gets boring.  Wage increases from grade and step increases.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Telecaster on January 02, 2019, 05:46:06 PM

In my quest for a job/career when I graduated college in the early '90's, I initially was seeking employment with a major corporation because I perceived that that's where the big money was.  This never panned out.  At that time, someone mentioned that there was big money to be had with nonprofits.

You have been on the receiving end of an extraordinary amount of bad career advice.   Indeed some people can make lots of money at non-profits.   If the CEO of Boeing or GM will not only take your call AND give you money when you ask,  then yes, you can make a bundle of money working at a non-profit.   There are not very many people like this.  That's why these people make amazing salaries. 

Or if you have specialized knowledge in areas non-profits are interested in, you can make a bundle of money.  For example, I have a friend who has a PhD in civil engineering who specializes in third world sanitation issues.   Believe or not, that's a hot area, and she makes a bundle of money.  When she started though, nobody was interested in that field, so there are very few people with her education and experience.  Technically, she's in academia, but she gets amazing grants from non-profits looking to save the world and she spends time hob-knobbing flying on private jets with billionaires.     

Other than that, you are pretty much a worker bee and might even have to take a pay cut in order work at a non-profit.  And often there isn't much chance for career advancement because the people at the top are the ones with the fat Rolodex.   
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 02, 2019, 06:10:38 PM
Yes, we are about the same age.

I will have to try working on the networking thing.  I am not the most outgoing type, so it will be a struggle.

How have you moved from job to job, or maybe I am asking why?  I have remained on the same position for nearly 24 years now, which gets boring.  Wage increases from grade and step increases.

Changing jobs is the only way I've been able to increase my salary. Every 5 years or so. The bump tends to be about 15-30% instead of 1-2% annual raise standard in my industry.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on January 03, 2019, 09:50:50 AM
Yes, we are about the same age.

I will have to try working on the networking thing.  I am not the most outgoing type, so it will be a struggle.

How have you moved from job to job, or maybe I am asking why?  I have remained on the same position for nearly 24 years now, which gets boring.  Wage increases from grade and step increases.
There are several reasons to change jobs.  I am very good at lecturing, mentoring young people at this, not so good at following my own advice!

In business (I'm an engineer, but it applies elsewhere) - there is often very little incentive to give people big raises.  The fact of the matter is, most companies want to have the best people they can for the least amount of money.  So, the way to get bigger raises is to change jobs.

In engineering in particular, your "usefulness", if you are a good engineer increases a dramatic amount in the first 2-3 years.  Of all the young engineers that I've hired, the skills increase dramatically in this time. From "clueless" to being able to design experiments, run tests, write procedures, analyze and present results (you do, of course, need a boss/ mentor to train you on this).  After about 2 years, they require MUCH less supervision.  Here's the problem: you hire someone at $48k.  At 2 years, they are worth $65k (I'm sorry, these numbers are very much out of date and refer to about 2005).  How do you reach that number?  I asked my boss this very question when he offered my engineer in his 2nd year a raise from $51k to $54k.  The answer I got?  "I don't know, good point."

Well, he was recruited away from me.  They offered him $65k.  He turned it down.  They upped it to $70k.  I told him "take it.  You will never get that here."

So, reason #1 to change jobs: big raises.  Companies are willing to pay new people whatever it takes to get them in.  They are less willing to pay existing people more money.  You'll get 2-6% at best.  Maybe 10% if you are promoted.  Ask me how I know!

Reason #2 to change jobs - varied responsibilities and technologies.  Changing jobs gives you the opportunity to work in new industries. In engineering, it means you learn new technologies and are using to "learning new things".  In other areas, it may mean new software, new regulations, new groups.  It also gives you the opportunity to take on newer increased responsibilities.

So, at 48 I've only had 4 different jobs.  That's quite low.  That's because inertia is a powerful force for me.  I've thought about changing more often (I'd get better pay), but I'm fine where I am.  (Many of my friends are similar - have only changed jobs when they got laid off).

So, job #1: Navy.  Nuclear.  I was required to put in 5 years, so I did.  I got great experience in how to work, be methodical, design various parts of nuclear reactors, deal with difficult people, follow procedure.  The training was fantastic.

Job #2: manufacturing engineer.  Because I needed to do something different, it was the first offer I got.  And I thought manufacturing would be fun. I was right.  I learned a lot and soaked up as much as I could.  Company went bankrupt when I'd been there a few years.

Job #3:  Manufacturing engineer again, but this time in a start up.  So, I got to learn a new technology, and I got to do EVERYTHING - not just one small section of the process - all of the processes.  Then I learned design.  Then I learned testing.  Then I hired a tech and an engineer to work for me.  Then I set up a database.  I stayed there for 8 years.

Job #4:  Job #3, my specific group got shut down, and they offered me a transfer.  But I really wasn't interested in the transfer, so I called an old boss from job 3 who'd left.   Got to start up a new manufacturing facility.  I've had several different jobs here, manufacturing engineer, management, design, product engineering, and program management.  Basically, kept taking on new responsibilities.  I'm a "jack of all trades", so if we had layoffs (there have been many) and they needed someone to do "something else", I did it.  It all comes from being willing to do "more".  In my current job, it's mostly schedules and such.  But when big boss says "hey, I hear about an issue with X" I can explain it, because I've done everything and I can keep track of everything.  "Yes, we had X problem, which we discovered 2 weeks ago.  We are mitigating it with Y and fixing it on future parts using Z."

Some of the job changes have been because of difficult bosses. Some because of boredom.  Doing the same thing for 20 years is boring, and makes it much less likely that you'll be hired elsewhere.  People start to wonder if you can do anything else.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on January 03, 2019, 11:48:47 AM
Yes, we are about the same age.

I will have to try working on the networking thing.  I am not the most outgoing type, so it will be a struggle.

How have you moved from job to job, or maybe I am asking why?  I have remained on the same position for nearly 24 years now, which gets boring.  Wage increases from grade and step increases.

So...so this isnít really about the Frugalwoods anymore is it?

Iíve hated this discussion because I find it tacky still. I donít care how they represented their income. I seriously donít. The focus isnít on income, itís on savings. According to Jacob from ERE, you can achieve FI on minimum wage even. When people focus on salary and feel they donít make enough, then they give up being focused on salary. Iíve had a great salary for the last 5 years but didnít know/think to save and invest it properly until the last 2. Iíve wasted so much, so glad Iíve seen the light. If I hadnít, Iíd be working until normal retirement age. Because I have and my salary is high, Iíll achieve FIRE quicker (by keeping my expenses down as much as I am comfortable with), but still no where close to the bright 25 yos who are catching onto this now. Iím way behind. So if you donít get the savings and investing thing, salary doesnít matter.

The only way Iíd feel deceived by the Frugslwoods is if all of their frugal advice were lies or harmful. Thatís what they sell, how to save money and DIY. Thatís it, very simple. That people can learn from and itís changed their lives. Stop trying to bring them down the mountain and invalidate their contributions because of their speed to FIRE. If yiou want ideas of how to save more, learn from them and others. If you have that figured out, put your energy somewhere else and move on, otherwise what are you trying to achieve beyond being smug, and appearing envious?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 03, 2019, 01:21:19 PM
It IS about the Frugalwoods!  In fact, that's how I found this forum on Saturday.  I had been meaning to research this for months when I figured out what Nate earned, wondering if anyone else questioned this and discovered others did long before I did.

Yes, I AM envious!  My goal in college was to earn a massive amount of money and work from home.  I failed on both counts.  Nate did not.  I was under the impression that demand for workers would far outstrip supply, especially with regards to those with a college degree, so if a business even wants to attract employees in this day and age, they will have to accede to their demands--e.g., high income, work from home, etc.  Wrong on that count as well!

The world simply needs a whole lot more jobs like Nate's and a whole lot less like mine.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on January 03, 2019, 01:34:34 PM
It IS about the Frugalwoods!  In fact, that's how I found this forum on Saturday.  I had been meaning to research this for months when I figured out what Nate earned, wondering if anyone else questioned this and discovered others did long before I did.

Yes, I AM envious!  My goal in college was to earn a massive amount of money and work from home.  I failed on both counts.  Nate did not.  I was under the impression that demand for workers would far outstrip supply, especially with regards to those with a college degree, so if a business even wants to attract employees in this day and age, they will have to accede to their demands--e.g., high income, work from home, etc.  Wrong on that count as well!

The world simply needs a whole lot more jobs like Nate's and a whole lot less like mine.

I honestly donít understand you or your thinking. Stop comparing yourself to others. Thatís water energy. You donít have his life or his money. There are lots of people whose life you donít have or their money. MMM makes at least $400k a year from running a blog! Get off this train because the more you harp on it, the less you seem like someone who ďdeservesĒ the money or career.

Everyone doesnít have to make $300k and thatís what youíre not paying attention to. Focus on your finances, your savings and investments. You want to be FIREd? Well, thatís possible. Figure out where you want to be and make that happen and donít you dare say, working at home making $300k. Youíll do that by becoming FI and finding a side hustle. You wonít get there whining and complaining about what you donít have and how others have more. Youíve been given lots of advice and guidance around this and still you persist. Own your shit, change your thinking and achieve what you want. No one feels sorry for people who donít help themselves but complain, what about me!?! And no one owes you thing, you either make it happen or you sit back and watch others do it. Post a case study and action it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 03, 2019, 01:55:00 PM
I am FI.  I don't really want to RE because I can get a pension in less than 10 years.  I only heard about FIRE in the last several months.  I didn't even know that I am FI until after learning about it.  Kind of happened when I landed my first real job in 1995 in the DC area, $30,119, after several years of near minimum wage jobs.  (Hey, Monica Lewinsky earned EXACTLY the same I did, and she lived in the Watergate!)  When I realized how little that was, I started buying stock in many Blue Chip companies and then sending out ridiculous cover letters stating that, as a shareholder, I would work all the harder.  I rented a room as cheaply as possible, drove an old Ford, worked overtime when possible...

So I've done okay, just not how I expected.  The "plan" was to earn so much that I could be fully retired in my mid 20's.  However, I'm convinced had I earned not huge money, but really good money right out of college (say $250k a year in the early '90's, I would have gotten on the consumption bandwagon and saved nothing.

Read The Millionaire Next Door if you get a chance.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on January 03, 2019, 02:04:20 PM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 03, 2019, 02:15:47 PM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?

Yeah, that's insane amount of money.

In the early 2000s big money out of college was $80k.  I was pretty thrilled at my $30k job straight out of college.

MrBojangles seems to have a very unrealistic expectation of how money works in our economy.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 03, 2019, 02:20:16 PM

The world simply needs a whole lot more jobs like Nate's and a whole lot less like mine.

Does it though?
If there was need for this type of job, they would exist.

But only a few people will ever be needed for this sort of role.

Honestly, Nate is a huge success story in finding this kind of role. He didn't have the Ivy league connections. His parents didn't get him the job. He's a huge success story to end up in this type of position. He must be very good at what he does for a company to value him in this way.

They got lucky in the Cambridge property; but they also seized opportunity when they saw it. Other people weren't able to do that same thing.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 03, 2019, 02:20:27 PM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 03, 2019, 02:22:19 PM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...

It was a hell of a lot above average. Even NOW the average HOUSEHOLD (not individual) income in DC is $75k and Manhattan is under $70k.  And it's 20 years later.
Even today, a household income of greater than $250k is in the the top 5% of NYC.

You have very unrealistic expectations.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: ysette9 on January 03, 2019, 02:27:20 PM
Congrats. You have won the game, and did it apparently with ingenuity and frugality. You should be proud of what you accomplished.

I’m not really sure where the complaints come from. It makes you sound a little sour grapes-y.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on January 03, 2019, 02:55:08 PM
It was a hell of a lot above average. Even NOW the average HOUSEHOLD (not individual) income in DC is $75k and Manhattan is under $70k.  And it's 20 years later.
Even today, a household income of greater than $250k is in the the top 5% of NYC.

You have very unrealistic expectations.

This.

One of the worst personal finance memes is that everyone in New York and San Francisco makes $200K a year and are still barely surviving.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 03, 2019, 03:16:13 PM
BTW, I keep on forgetting to ask:  Any idea as to what Elizabeth Thames earned working for WGBH?  Was it at least more down to earth?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 03, 2019, 03:29:15 PM
BTW, I keep on forgetting to ask:  Any idea as to what Elizabeth Thames earned working for WGBH?  Was it at least more down to earth?

She's not listed as one of their highly compensated employees. You could look at LinkedIn for her job title, and Glassdoor for salaries of people in similar rolls.
Beyond that- how is it any of your business?
Here's a 2011 article about WGBH salaries. 
https://web.archive.org/web/20110311203114/https://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1322292

What do you deem to be a fair salary for Elizabeth Thames? Do you know anything about the work she did? The money she brought in while fundraising? Her value to the company?
How do you determine what down to Earth is?

We do know she made next to nothing her first years with Americorps.


The Thameses are remarkably transparent in their spending. If you spend less than they do; you can do what they've done.

As you stated, you are already FI, you are not RE. Well guess what- exact same for them- they are FI, they are not RE.
You've both won the game.
But you are remarkably jealous of strangers, and they seem to be getting on pretty well doing what makes them happy.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on January 03, 2019, 03:35:18 PM
I am FI.  I don't really want to RE because I can get a pension in less than 10 years.  I only heard about FIRE in the last several months.  I didn't even know that I am FI until after learning about it.  Kind of happened when I landed my first real job in 1995 in the DC area, $30,119, after several years of near minimum wage jobs.  (Hey, Monica Lewinsky earned EXACTLY the same I did, and she lived in the Watergate!)  When I realized how little that was, I started buying stock in many Blue Chip companies and then sending out ridiculous cover letters stating that, as a shareholder, I would work all the harder.  I rented a room as cheaply as possible, drove an old Ford, worked overtime when possible...

So I've done okay, just not how I expected.  The "plan" was to earn so much that I could be fully retired in my mid 20's.  However, I'm convinced had I earned not huge money, but really good money right out of college (say $250k a year in the early '90's, I would have gotten on the consumption bandwagon and saved nothing.

Read The Millionaire Next Door if you get a chance.

Dude, I canít even with you anymore.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Vertical Mode on January 03, 2019, 08:01:08 PM

The world simply needs a whole lot more jobs like Nate's and a whole lot less like mine.

Does it though?
If there was need for this type of job, they would exist.

But only a few people will ever be needed for this sort of role.

Honestly, Nate is a huge success story in finding this kind of role. He didn't have the Ivy league connections. His parents didn't get him the job. He's a huge success story to end up in this type of position. He must be very good at what he does for a company to value him in this way.

They got lucky in the Cambridge property; but they also seized opportunity when they saw it. Other people weren't able to do that same thing.

Just wanted to emphasize the bolded part, I'm glad you mentioned this. If I recall correctly; they went to over a hundred open houses, knew exactly what they were looking for, and moved quickly to purchase the Cambridge place for the lowest cost/square foot for any sale in Cambridge that year. The impressive bit for me is the "100+ open houses" part - this is a case of preparation meeting opportunity. It is true that they got very lucky riding the rising tide of Cambridge real estate, but lets not discount the fact that uncovering that opportunity to begin with is a direct result of putting in the work. Furthermore, earning the kinds of salaries they did (in the non-profit sector, too!) and using those resources with a purpose to fashion their dream life continues to inspire me to step my game up and get after it.

After reading your post again, I'm starting to think I should have bolded your previous paragraph too, for the same reason.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: ysette9 on January 03, 2019, 09:45:46 PM
As they say, luck favors the prepared
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 04, 2019, 09:51:07 AM
I had thought about something I wrote the other day where I stated that the world (or at least the U.S.) needs a whole lot more jobs like Nate's and a whole lot less like mine, I was looking at it from a PURELY economic point of view.

Regarding the ability to telecommute, and earn a decent (not even stratospheric) salary is what the U.S. desperately needs.  Not from the employee's lifestyle point of view, but to invigorate small town America.  I thought when the internet came out, most folks could work anywhere and there would be a mass exodus to small town America and less of a population base in the large cities.  If anything, it seems that folks more than ever want to live in major metropolitan areas despite more opportunities than ever to work from home.  Telecommute while living in NYC, I guess!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on January 04, 2019, 09:56:42 AM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...
Look, I lived in DC in 1992-1997 and $250k was so NOT the norm back then.  I mean really.  Not for anyone right out of college - and honestly none of the experienced people I knew either.

Sure, I was in the Navy making $19,200 (as were my coworkers).  Now, several of them are CURRENTLY GS-15's and SESs making around $150-165k, more for the SES's.  But nobody was making that kind of money back then.  The government workers right out of college were making about $45-50k a year. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mm1970 on January 04, 2019, 09:59:13 AM
It IS about the Frugalwoods!  In fact, that's how I found this forum on Saturday.  I had been meaning to research this for months when I figured out what Nate earned, wondering if anyone else questioned this and discovered others did long before I did.

Yes, I AM envious!  My goal in college was to earn a massive amount of money and work from home.  I failed on both counts.  Nate did not.  I was under the impression that demand for workers would far outstrip supply, especially with regards to those with a college degree, so if a business even wants to attract employees in this day and age, they will have to accede to their demands--e.g., high income, work from home, etc.  Wrong on that count as well!

The world simply needs a whole lot more jobs like Nate's and a whole lot less like mine.
I think people forget that you need to work your way into these positions.  Even now, when I discuss working from home, part time work, and flexible schedules with my mom-friends - it comes up.  "I want a part time job!" 

Good luck.
Your best bet is to get a regular job.  Excel at it.  Negotiate your way to part time and work from home.  That's what I did, both times when I was part time, and now when I work from home if needed.  Nobody cares if I work from home if I get my work done.  (I'd mostly rather be at the office with the 2 big screens and free coffee).

It doesn't mean that you can't get a work from home job, but the vast majority of folks that I know who have that gig negotiated it after the fact.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on January 04, 2019, 10:44:09 AM
I think people forget that you need to work your way into these positions.  Even now, when I discuss working from home, part time work, and flexible schedules with my mom-friends - it comes up.  "I want a part time job!" 

Good luck.
Your best bet is to get a regular job.  Excel at it.  Negotiate your way to part time and work from home.  That's what I did, both times when I was part time, and now when I work from home if needed.  Nobody cares if I work from home if I get my work done.  (I'd mostly rather be at the office with the 2 big screens and free coffee).

It doesn't mean that you can't get a work from home job, but the vast majority of folks that I know who have that gig negotiated it after the fact.

Same story with me. You get flexible working arrangements by having skins on the wall.

Maybe that will change one day. And people will be hired to telecommute straight out of college.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 04, 2019, 11:13:16 AM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...
Look, I lived in DC in 1992-1997 and $250k was so NOT the norm back then.  I mean really.  Not for anyone right out of college - and honestly none of the experienced people I knew either.

Sure, I was in the Navy making $19,200 (as were my coworkers).  Now, several of them are CURRENTLY GS-15's and SESs making around $150-165k, more for the SES's.  But nobody was making that kind of money back then.  The government workers right out of college were making about $45-50k a year.

I was three years out of college mid '90's when I was hired by the government at a GS 07 Step 1 for $30,119.  Would have leaped for 45-50k!  Having said that, I ended up in the DC area in Fauquier county a bit distant from where I was employed expecting to find cheaper real estate and it didn't exist.  I came up with $250k a year to start as any decent place with land would require that.  Not that it's realistic.

Given how long I had worked for so little, when informed I was going to be paid over 30k a year, you would think I had won the lottery.  When it came time to figure out where to live, it wasn't all that much.  I ended up renting a room in a house as it was affordable.

I certainly paid my dues!  Not sure WHY it has to be that way though!  My 20's could have been a fabulous time, but it wasn't.  Income was the limiting factor.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: I'm a red panda on January 04, 2019, 11:25:50 AM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...
Look, I lived in DC in 1992-1997 and $250k was so NOT the norm back then.  I mean really.  Not for anyone right out of college - and honestly none of the experienced people I knew either.

Sure, I was in the Navy making $19,200 (as were my coworkers).  Now, several of them are CURRENTLY GS-15's and SESs making around $150-165k, more for the SES's.  But nobody was making that kind of money back then.  The government workers right out of college were making about $45-50k a year.

I was three years out of college mid '90's when I was hired by the government at a GS 07 Step 1 for $30,119.  Would have leaped for 45-50k!  Having said that, I ended up in the DC area in Fauquier county a bit distant from where I was employed expecting to find cheaper real estate and it didn't exist.  I came up with $250k a year to start as any decent place with land would require that.  Not that it's realistic.

Given how long I had worked for so little, when informed I was going to be paid over 30k a year, you would think I had won the lottery.  When it came time to figure out where to live, it wasn't all that much.  I ended up renting a room in a house as it was affordable.

I certainly paid my dues!  Not sure WHY it has to be that way though!  My 20's could have been a fabulous time, but it wasn't.  Income was the limiting factor.

Bolded statement is just entirely untrue. It's untrue now and untrue then. There are plenty of home owners in the DC area making FAR less than $250k. $250k is a far upper echelon salary.  It's absurd to think of it as any sort of minimal expectation.

You come off as so entitled.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Laura33 on January 04, 2019, 11:54:20 AM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...
Look, I lived in DC in 1992-1997 and $250k was so NOT the norm back then.  I mean really.  Not for anyone right out of college - and honestly none of the experienced people I knew either.

Sure, I was in the Navy making $19,200 (as were my coworkers).  Now, several of them are CURRENTLY GS-15's and SESs making around $150-165k, more for the SES's.  But nobody was making that kind of money back then.  The government workers right out of college were making about $45-50k a year.

I was three years out of college mid '90's when I was hired by the government at a GS 07 Step 1 for $30,119.  Would have leaped for 45-50k!  Having said that, I ended up in the DC area in Fauquier county a bit distant from where I was employed expecting to find cheaper real estate and it didn't exist.  I came up with $250k a year to start as any decent place with land would require that.

I graduated in 1991 -- with a law degree -- and started with a big DC-area firm at $57K; I had an offer in DC proper for I think $64K.  Even NYC firms weren't paying baby lawyers more than maybe $80K back then -- and at the time, NYC BigLaw was about at the tippy-top of the "starting salary" charts.  So $250K starting salary with only a BA?  That's almost an order of magnitude off. 

I was also able to buy a condo in the DC area in 1991 for $115K (though not DC).  5 years later, I was not making anywhere near $250K and yet was more than qualified to buy a VERY fancy townhouse a mile from the Metro for $285K; less-fancy ranch homes nearby were available for maybe 1/2-2/3 that price; even further out past the Metro, homes with land were even cheaper.  IIRC, mortgage companies back then would say you could afford a mortgage that was @2.5-3x salary.  So $250K to afford a home?  That's pretty laughable.

Oh, and when you came to DC with that $30K job?  That same year, my mom made less than that as a tenured full professor at a nearby college.

Tl;dr:  $250K starting salary, either as something anyone "deserved" or as something that was "needed" to buy a house, was clearly both unnecessary and unachievable.  If those are the kinds of expectations you were anchored to, it's no wonder you were dissatisfied with where you ended up, because you wanted something that did not exist.  And if you continue to anchor yourself to those expectations -- to the believe that some people got $250K jobs handed to them in the '90s because they were lucky or had connections or whatever -- you are always going to be disappointed in your life. Because no real life can live up to that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on January 04, 2019, 12:22:38 PM
I think we're getting trolled boys.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Fomerly known as something on January 04, 2019, 12:24:29 PM
In what universe is $250K out of college in the early 1990s not "huge"?
.DC area and New York City that was probably above average for the times, but not massive.  Head up Route 15 in Virginia, leading into Maryland, the pristine landscape has been forever ruined.  McMansions starting at $998k.  To do that, you and your significant other must be GS 15s or SESers.  Not that I want that junk, but just sayin'...

No, you are wrong.  In the late 90s you could still get a house sub 500k in Mclean.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Kronsey on January 04, 2019, 12:36:27 PM
I think we're getting trolled boys.

Me too.

Look at his other posts. I almost commented the same thing on one of his other threads about selling a rental property. Then figured it wasn't worth the hassle :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on January 04, 2019, 12:59:11 PM
I think we're getting trolled boys.

Me too.

Look at his other posts. I almost commented the same thing on one of his other threads about selling a rental property. Then figured it wasn't worth the hassle :)

Iíve been thinking that for a bit, which is why Iím done responding to anything he writes now.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: marble_faun on January 04, 2019, 01:11:41 PM
Earlier I was wondering if Mr. Bojangles was a troll, because arguing with him is like playing wall ball... everything just bounces right off. But we've been getting such a detailed portrait of a person with a truly backwards life-philosophy that to me it seems just too weird to be made up. 

If Mr. Bojangles is a troll, my congratulations to whoever invented the character.  I hope you write a novel starring Mr. Bojangles that makes at least 300-500K. May you sit quietly forever in the McMansion of your dreams.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Kronsey on January 04, 2019, 01:28:17 PM
Earlier I was wondering if Mr. Bojangles was a troll, because arguing with him is like playing wall ball... everything just bounces right off. But we've been getting such a detailed portrait of a person with a truly backwards life-philosophy that to me it seems just too weird to be made up. 

If Mr. Bojangles is a troll, my congratulations to whoever invented the character.  I hope you write a novel starring Mr. Bojangles that makes at least 300-500K. May you sit quietly forever in the McMansion of your dreams.

Haha! Thanks for the laugh!

I imagine Mr Bojangles to be someone in his exact scenario (so the facts of his life are legit) who absolutely knows he hit the life lottery (easy govt job with great benefits, born in USA during a decent period, and having the right DNA to save/invest) but is putting a spendypants twist on it to get under all the frugal people's skin.

Some people are bored and pretty creative :)

Definitely agree he could be 100% serious though. If so, I pity him.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 04, 2019, 01:51:04 PM
Okay that post came off wrong.  I meant to say I headed west on Route 66 and was quite a ways from work (an hour) with a $30k job and figured I would get some land.  Horse country.  Although I didn't understand what that meant at the time.  I just saw the quaint homes and land.  Okay, maybe not 250k a year needed to purchase, but 30k wasn't enough.  I got the idea since it was that far from work, it had to be cheap.  Not the case.

A 115k townhome was more realistic.

See other thread about real estate.  I bought a home with about half an acre 90 min from the big city.  Some areas will remain depressed.  It's simply too far away from a major city, and it gets tiresome making the drive.  Lived there 4 or 5 years and have rented out since.  It is near a highway though.  Easy access bit far enough away so as to not see or hear it.  Folks in these areas tend to work locally.  Husband and wife working at $12 or $15 an hour combined income can may be afford my house.

I could rent out indefinitely.  I figured the time to sell was when it was a seller's market and new inside.  Tenants are rough on stuff, whether new or old...

Maybe I do have unrealistic expectations.  I spent years in college with the crazy idea I was worth a ton of money.  I can't explain why I did, as there's no reason I should be worth what I thought I was worth.  Other than it seems to me It's a great idea to have lots of wealthy individuals around.  They spend money, create jobs for people, buy luxury goods.  Except I personally don't require anything luxurious and a McMansion would be simply too big.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Basenji on January 04, 2019, 02:29:10 PM
Maybe I do have unrealistic expectations. I spent years in college with the crazy idea I was worth a ton of money.  I can't explain why I did, as there's no reason I should be worth what I thought I was worth.  Other than it seems to me It's a great idea to have lots of wealthy individuals around.  They spend money, create jobs for people, buy luxury goods.  Except I personally don't require anything luxurious and a McMansion would be simply too big.

No, your expectations were correct and you are in the small percentage of the wealthiest people in the world.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/global-wealth-concentration/

Quote
Today, slightly less than 1% of the worldís adult population occupies the $1M+ wealth range. Despite their small numbers, this elite group collectively controls 46% of the worldís wealth, valued at approximately $129 trillion.

Gasp. [cogitates] I think I'm one of those horrible rich people...

But this is the killer: 7.9% of people are in the $100k to $1 million range. This covers pretty much everyone I know and I imagine many established MMMers. And I'm pretty sure YOU, MrB.

Sorry to pile on MrB, but there are people on this forum who have told stories of overcoming WAY more obstacles than you have described, who have applied spit and baling wire with a healthy dose of humility and humor. You aren't getting enough sympathy because you are actually doing very well, you just don't know it. I send you a big dose of self-care. Best to you.
Title: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: ysette9 on January 04, 2019, 03:03:14 PM
I don’t think I am convinced that “wealthy people” actually do that much to spread money around. Or maybe we disagree on what it means to be wealthy, or maybe my slice of society is really weird.

I am lucky enough to make a lot of money and work with people who do the same.
Yes, they (we) spend a lot of houses because this is HCOL area, but otherwise it isn’t like we are buying 10x the consumer goods as someone making 1/10 the salary. It just seems that people here are much more likely to be excited about a mega backdoor Roth option in the 401k plan.

For what it is worth: I graduated undergrad and got a good job. I haven’t done the inflation adjustment but perhaps it was on par with what @MrBojangles was making out of college. I had a lot of wants and lifestyle inflation plans and some jealousy of what those around me had. Today i earn something like 5x what I did back then. I live in a smaller house than I did growing up as a kid. We don’t drive new cars. I buy my clothes used. Don’t get me wrong, we live a very luxurious, comfortable life, but without much that looks luxurious from the outside. Mostly I have a very nicely padded set of investment accounts that gives me a great sense of security and satisfaction. We have found that as our ability to buy just about anything goes up, our desire to have those possessions seems to go down. Perhaps just knowing that I could is good enough?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MrBojangles on January 04, 2019, 03:16:01 PM
I donít think I am convinced that ďwealthy peopleĒ actually do that much to spread money around. Or maybe we disagree on what it means to be wealthy, or maybe my slice of society is really weird.

I am lucky enough to make a lot of money and work with people who do the same.
Yes, they (we) spend a lot of houses because this is HCOL area, but otherwise it isnít like we are buying 10x the consumer goods as someone making 1/10 the salary. It just seems that people here are much more likely to be excited about a mega backdoor Roth option in the 401k plan.

For what it is worth: I graduated undergrad and got a good job. I havenít done the inflation adjustment but perhaps it was on par with what @MrBojangles was making out of college. I had a lot of wants and lifestyle inflation plans and some jealousy of what those around me had. Today i earn something like 5x what I did back then. I live in a smaller house than I did growing up as a kid. We donít drive new cars. I buy my clothes used. Donít get me wrong, we live a very luxurious, comfortable life, but without much that looks luxurious from the outside. Mostly I have a very nicely padded set of investment accounts that gives me a great sense of security and satisfaction. We have found that as our ability to buy just about anything goes up, our desire to have those possessions seems to go down. Perhaps just knowing that I could is good enough?

+1

I'm the same.  Anyone who looks at me would not know I have over a million invested.  I am humble, hang out at and am more comfortable in blue collar environments.

I have done fine for myself.  But, there's a part of me that says, gee, there are 320 million folks in America.  As far as wealth goes, I want to be about 4th.  I know this is irrational.  Sometimes I reason and think I am completely reasonable when I see how many billionaires are out there and I think I am being realistic thinking I ought to have a cool $100 million in the bank as it is a fraction of what folks like Zuckerburg and Buffett have.  Sometimes this sounds completely reasonable to me, as bizarre as it sounds.

I have no idea why I am off the deep end when it comes to money, and I have no idea where it came from.  No one else in my family is, or ever has been, close to being a millionaire.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: ysette9 on January 04, 2019, 03:55:02 PM
Well we in America are taught that MORE and BIGGER is always better, so perhaps that is where the mind set is coming from. When I was younger I thought more money was always better, nicer everything, hell, throw in immortality and good looks while you are at it! (Yep, I love reading fiction)

While part of me still wants all of that, as I get older I start to appreciate the downsides. What if I did have $100M or whatever? I can easily see how a lot of my personal relationships would get f-ed up. So many people would just want a piece of my money that it would be hard to know who genuinely cared about me or what I think and who was sucking up. Or who would get jealous or entitled and be unhappy if I was generous and jealous if I wasn’t? Maybe I’d feel guilty for not being more generous and then there is the problem of how to give to charity in a way that aligns with my values and is cost effective.... on and on and on.

I’ve been in big houses and small houses and honestly, I don’t think big houses are all that great. Sure, I’d like a really nice car, but would I love it? Probably not. I can’t bother now to dress myself well even though I can afford it. I would really like to travel a lot and fly business class, as steerage on a plane is my definition of hell on earth. However, there just isn’t a lot that I really really want that having a ton of money would make a material improvement in my life.

Above all I want freedom of my time.
That can be bought for quite a bit less than what it takes to be really rich, and I’m not too far off from that point now.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Siebrie on October 14, 2019, 06:54:34 AM
I'd like to add to this old thread, if I may :)

From their blog, 28 august 2015 (all bolding and underlining mine):

[begin quote]
8) Hack Your Housing
No post about city living would be complete without a mention of the white whale of urban life: housing. Our greatest hack for housing is pretty simple: donít live directly adjacent to a transit line. We were able to buy a single-family home in Cambridge, but itís about a 20 minute walk to the nearest Red Line stop. We wouldnít have been able to afford a place closer than that. And as a result, we find that we T less and bike or walk moreĖthus saving even more money in the process!

Thereís a huge difference to be had in prices over the course of just a few blocks. For more on how we managed to buy our Cambridge house, check out Why Did We Buy Our House? and Our 12 Tips For Visiting Open Houses: Weíve Been To Over 270.

9) High Paying Jobs/Commensurate Benefits

This is the crux of why we live here in the first place. Although Mr. FW and I certainly donít make investment banker salaries, weíre able to earn more thanks to working in the city. If youíre living in Boston but arenít being aggressive with your career, itís sort of like getting a brain freeze without being able to taste the ice cream.

At the end of the day, the high cost-of-living is worth it if youíre reaping the commensurate benefitsĖsuch as a respectable salary or a world class education (hello Harvard and MIT).  Use the city to its fullest potential and leverage a higher salary or a terrific education or an amazing experience. If youíre not netting a significant benefit from living here, itís not going to be worth it."
[end quote]

They carefully picked where they live, both the city and the house. MFW seems to infer that they would have moved to get better payment elsewhere. They are not silent about making lots of money; they are happy with their choices, optimizing all expenses.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on October 14, 2019, 06:23:41 PM

Although Mr. FW and I certainly donít make investment banker salaries...

....

They are not silent about making lots of money...

They're not silent about making lots of money. They lied.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dicey on October 15, 2019, 07:23:14 AM

Although Mr. FW and I certainly donít make investment banker salaries...

....

They are not silent about making lots of money...

They're not silent about making lots of money. They lied.
Did you actually compare their income to that of investment bankers?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Dogastrophe on October 15, 2019, 07:36:54 AM

Although Mr. FW and I certainly donít make investment banker salaries...

....

They are not silent about making lots of money...

They're not silent about making lots of money. They lied.
Did you actually compare their income to that of investment bankers?

I think they are quoting from FW's blog but having a hard time figuring out what is a blog quote and what is not.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 15, 2019, 08:42:10 AM

Although Mr. FW and I certainly donít make investment banker salaries...

....

They are not silent about making lots of money...

They're not silent about making lots of money. They lied.
Did you actually compare their income to that of investment bankers?

I think they are quoting from FW's blog but having a hard time figuring out what is a blog quote and what is not.

And while "investment banker" salary can be hugely variable, I would argue that they do (did?) indeed make that kind of money

https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/compensation/investment-banker-salary/
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on October 15, 2019, 04:09:15 PM
I'm quoting Siebrie's post. She mentions that they said they don't make investment banker salaries (lol), then goes on to say that they weren't quiet about making lots of money.

Those two things do not match up.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Gin1984 on October 15, 2019, 05:26:20 PM

Although Mr. FW and I certainly donít make investment banker salaries...

....

They are not silent about making lots of money...

They're not silent about making lots of money. They lied.
Did you actually compare their income to that of investment bankers?

I think they are quoting from FW's blog but having a hard time figuring out what is a blog quote and what is not.

And while "investment banker" salary can be hugely variable, I would argue that they do (did?) indeed make that kind of money

https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/compensation/investment-banker-salary/
Based on his position, he would be equal to a VP and just manages to hit the low end of that range in a high cost of living area. For her area, they did not make the larger expected salary.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: slappy on October 16, 2019, 07:58:56 AM
Honestly, it doesn't matter if they actually made "investment banker salaries". That statement was designed to have the reader believe that their income was much lower than it actually was. They could have just said "we made good money". Or in Mrs. FG's style "we were incredibly blessed to have the capacity to earn higher than average salaries".

The point in not how much money they did or did not make. I'm certainly not going to say they lied about their salaries, but there seems to be intent to deceive. Then again, you have to take into consideration whatever privacy issues would arise if they had disclosed their salaries.

Overall, it doesn't seem to matter. Plenty of people like them  and they are living the life they want.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 16, 2019, 08:17:15 AM
Honestly, it doesn't matter if they actually made "investment banker salaries". That statement was designed to have the reader believe that their income was much lower than it actually was. They could have just said "we made good money". Or in Mrs. FG's style "we were incredibly blessed to have the capacity to earn higher than average salaries".

The point in not how much money they did or did not make. I'm certainly not going to say they lied about their salaries, but there seems to be intent to deceive. Then again, you have to take into consideration whatever privacy issues would arise if they had disclosed their salaries.

Overall, it doesn't seem to matter. Plenty of people like them  and they are living the life they want.

I agree with this, they were in a tricky position. They gave their story as an example of how one can live while minimizing expenses but if they were honest about their income, a lot of potential readers would latch onto that and ignore their story. In reality, their high salaries weren't necessary to achieve what they did, but when someone's looking for excuses to discount your story, high salary is an easy one.

Personally, I would have preferred honesty, but I'm already a believer in their message (I assume, I've only read a little of the blog). I think they had a choice to make and either way they were going to be criticized for it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: ysette9 on October 16, 2019, 01:09:49 PM
In some ways I donít blame them for obscuring their salaries. Look at how much text being written about that when the message of their blog is about frugality, not income. I do get that it is easier to be frugal when you are rich and can do it as a lifestyle choice, but still. I could write a blog about reaching FI early because we have awesome Silicon Valley tech salaries, but that would be alienating to most people. But if I wrote instead about living life while spending less, that would appeal to a wider audience, which is what the frugalwoods are trying to do.

At least that is what my take is. I donít read their blog regularly.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Siebrie on October 16, 2019, 02:06:35 PM
In response to an earlier remark, I have added [begin quote] and [end qoute] to my post.

To me, it does not really matter how much they make. To me, it is clear that they optimized their income aggressively. I do not know if they actually know how much investment bankers earn, or if it is middle class speak for 'more than you can imagine'.

What I take away from their blog is how much they enjoy life, each other, nature, the occasional weekend away.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: chasesfish on October 18, 2019, 11:25:02 AM
I figure I'll jump back in here and make a few comments:

- I'm a huge fan of Liz, she was a poster here in 2013-2014 when I was really active on the boards.

- I think, likely under the influence of a publisher, they would encouraged to call their income "not for profit salaries".  A statement like that sticks around, even if salaries grow over time.

$270,000 in 2017, the same year they were finishing their book, should not have been represented that way, especially when Mr FW works for an organization that must disclose the salaries of highly compensated employees.  Mid-level investment bankers I worked with earned about that (as did I during my final years).  I would never represent my pay as "not for profit salaries".  Them doing so has distracted from the message, which should really be financial improvement moreso than financial independence.  Her frugal ways can help anyone!

As a side note, there's also the other curiosity as to why his employer can even get away with being a not for profit, but that issue gets really political and not meant for this forum. 
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: OtherJen on October 18, 2019, 06:13:48 PM
Honestly, I consider the Frugalwoods in the same vein as Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, and the couple that puts shiplap on everything. Generally entertaining with some good info, but much of it is not applicable to my life. I take what is useful and leave the rest. (And the comparison to Martha and Ina is entirely complimentary. Love those two.)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: TomTX on October 19, 2019, 12:54:16 PM
I'm quoting Siebrie's post. She mentions that they said they don't make investment banker salaries (lol), then goes on to say that they weren't quiet about making lots of money.

Those two things do not match up.

Really? It was literally the headline for Item 9:

"High Paying Jobs/Commensurate Benefits" cited as a reason they live in Boston.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Chris Pascale on October 20, 2019, 12:13:12 AM
It would have been helpful if they said Start at $50,000 and save everything else. Per their own math, they had an 80% savings rate.

What I liked was some very simple ideas, like sticking to office coffee, eating $0.30 breakfasts of oatmeal, etc.

What I hated when I found out they made so much more than they alluded to was that some of the stuff they did to show how frugal they were, was just gross. Taking out the trash for the yoga studio to avoid paying for classes? The instructor probably felt bad and wanted to spread the joy of yoga. Taking a coat from a bin for the poor? You are not poor. Go to the Goodwill and spend $20. Giving firewood you cut as a wedding gift? Can you seriously not part with money, even to a loved one! I hope you at least had the decency to deliver it for the sake of their own convenience. Otherwise, it's like "hey, love, ready to go to Bermuda?" Nope! Gotta truck this tree corpse home before the venue charges us extra for the beetle infestation.

Not sure if I made that last one up, or they actually did that.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIPurpose on October 20, 2019, 10:44:28 AM
Right so does a family that was making north of 250k per year, even if they made their own coffee or ate eggs for breakfast instead would that have even delayed their FIRE date by a month? They're counting pennies while sitting on a mountain of money. I hope they end up eventually funding one of their community's resource centers or investing in some local improvements. Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have the money.

I make less than half of what they do, planning on being a SWAMI. And even I realize trying to squeeze another $300 out of my annual budget isn't going to move the needle that much. We need more FIRE bloggers talking about how to either give away or invest in local resources, education, etc. Luxuriating in all the free time we bought is great, and being mindful of our spending is also important, but at some point we don't need more money in an index fund.

Instead of building our own wealth at 8% a year, what if we could invest in other people for a return at 2-5x that rate? The Frugalwoods are in a place where they could easily have 20-30MM to manage in their lifetimes. What's important is how you spend it, not how you manage to spend less of it.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: OtherJen on October 20, 2019, 03:05:29 PM
What I hated when I found out they made so much more than they alluded to was that some of the stuff they did to show how frugal they were, was just gross. Taking out the trash for the yoga studio to avoid paying for classes? The instructor probably felt bad and wanted to spread the joy of yoga.

I think I missed that one. There's a difference between frugal and cheap.

I used to attend regular (twice-weekly) classes at an inner city yoga studio near my former workplace. At the time, I was making about a third of Liz's salary and a fifth of Nate's, but still paid my monthly dues ($75, I think) because I valued the classes so much and had the cash to spare. I left the work-study opportunities for the local public university students or lower-income neighborhood residents who would have equally benefitted from yoga but might not have had the cash on hand. Taking those positions would have been legal but would have offended my sense of morality.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Zikoris on October 20, 2019, 04:09:26 PM
I don't know the specific setup the yoga studio had, but it certainly isn't uncommon for independent fitness places to come to various arrangements like that, and not in a "feeling bad for someone" sort of way at all. A spin studio near me often exchanges free unlimited classes for a couple of hours a week of work signing people in and washing/folding towels, and I've heard of all sorts of other similar things - free ballet classes in exchange for running the website and newsletters, etc. Those sorts of arrangements seem to work really well for small providers that might have trouble hiring, say, a receptionist for a couple hours a week or an IT person to manage that stuff, but they can easily accommodate an extra person in their classes. It works out well for everyone, honestly. I could totally see doing something like that myself.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Warlord1986 on October 20, 2019, 06:54:07 PM
I'm quoting Siebrie's post. She mentions that they said they don't make investment banker salaries (lol), then goes on to say that they weren't quiet about making lots of money.

Those two things do not match up.

Really? It was literally the headline for Item 9:

"High Paying Jobs/Commensurate Benefits" cited as a reason they live in Boston.

Dude, they've been talking about how they made 'non-profit salaries' all over the internet. They used the 'we don't make investment banker salaries' line plenty of times. Now there's this spin about how they were never quiet about making lots of money, and that's baloney.

I'm not knocking their lifestyle. I'm living the frugal life myself. But they totally lied and then capitalized on that lie.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on October 22, 2019, 12:37:36 PM
It would have been helpful if they said Start at $50,000 and save everything else. Per their own math, they had an 80% savings rate.

What I liked was some very simple ideas, like sticking to office coffee, eating $0.30 breakfasts of oatmeal, etc.

What I hated when I found out they made so much more than they alluded to was that some of the stuff they did to show how frugal they were, was just gross. Taking out the trash for the yoga studio to avoid paying for classes? The instructor probably felt bad and wanted to spread the joy of yoga. Taking a coat from a bin for the poor? You are not poor. Go to the Goodwill and spend $20. Giving firewood you cut as a wedding gift? Can you seriously not part with money, even to a loved one! I hope you at least had the decency to deliver it for the sake of their own convenience. Otherwise, it's like "hey, love, ready to go to Bermuda?" Nope! Gotta truck this tree corpse home before the venue charges us extra for the beetle infestation.

Not sure if I made that last one up, or they actually did that.

I hated the disingenuousness of it all - yes misleading representations about their high income are probably high on the list like everyone else but I think even more so was the downplaying that he still HAD his extraordinary high income bc he could work remotely while they were selling their live freely lifestyle out in the woods due pursuing financial freedom through frugality.   Such BS. 


As a side note, there's also the other curiosity as to why his employer can even get away with being a not for profit, but that issue gets really political and not meant for this forum. 


100% agree.   


I kinda liked their blog early on but when all this came out it just became another fake persona going for a money grab so I stopped reading.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on October 22, 2019, 01:19:04 PM
Happy to see people coming around on this topic. The FWs are exceptional people. But what makes them exceptional is that they made a fuck ton of money at a very early age. Nobody wants to read a blog about that, and that's not an idea that you can sell to people making orders of magnitude less money than you make. Hence the willful deception.

They're not alone. Much of the PF/lifestyle blog space does this. In fact, much of the internet does this. People share the good stuff on Facebook. Fitness models on Instagram get visible abs, and then stockpile photos for a rainy (higher body fat %) day, but hashtag you all the supplements they're ostensibly taking.

I'll also add that I'm very appreciative of the work they've done for the non profit. I use the platform myself and I'm sure that the compensation they receive is more than worth it for the work they did to help build it. ;)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: OliveFI on October 23, 2019, 07:25:41 AM
I hope they end up eventually funding one of their community's resource centers or investing in some local improvements. Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have the money.


They talk about their Donor Advised Funds all the time and how giving back is incredibly important to them. But I really want to respond to "Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have money." How do you stomach reading MMM then? He is the epitome of being overly frugal while still having a lot of money. Doesn't compute.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIREandMONEY on October 23, 2019, 07:28:23 AM
What I hated when I found out they made so much more than they alluded to was that some of the stuff they did to show how frugal they were, was just gross. Taking out the trash for the yoga studio to avoid paying for classes? The instructor probably felt bad and wanted to spread the joy of yoga.

You deserve a big ole classic MMM FACE PUNCH!

What she did was awesome.  She WORKED at the studio.  Checked in customers at the front desk, cleaned, and yes even took out the trash.  It was clear that the small amount of time she spent helping out was a great ROI versus paying money for the yoga services.

Mrs. Frugalwoods mentioned the added lessons in humility that she purposefully brought on herself while working at the studio.  I guess that sailed clean over your head when talking about how "gross" it is to take out the trash?

Original post here: https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/07/23/how-does-free-yoga-help-our-financial-goals/
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: charis on October 23, 2019, 08:03:03 AM
I hope they end up eventually funding one of their community's resource centers or investing in some local improvements. Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have the money.

They talk about their Donor Advised Funds all the time and how giving back is incredibly important to them. But I really want to respond to "Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have money." How do you stomach reading MMM then? He is the epitome of being overly frugal while still having a lot of money. Doesn't compute.

Yeah, that's a joke, right? If you have money to burn, you shouldn't be frugal?  You sound like every other run of the mill spendypants that I've known in real life.  MMM's whole persona is being frugal despite having the money not to be.  That's literally the basis of FIRE, LWBYM, 50%+ SR, etc.

What I hated when I found out they made so much more than they alluded to was that some of the stuff they did to show how frugal they were, was just gross. Taking out the trash for the yoga studio to avoid paying for classes? The instructor probably felt bad and wanted to spread the joy of yoga.

You deserve a big ole classic MMM FACE PUNCH!

What she did was awesome.  She WORKED at the studio.  Checked in customers at the front desk, cleaned, and yes even took out the trash.  It was clear that the small amount of time she spent helping out was a great ROI versus paying money for the yoga services.

Mrs. Frugalwoods mentioned the added lessons in humility that she purposefully brought on herself while working at the studio.  I guess that sailed clean over your head when talking about how "gross" it is to take out the trash?

Original post here: https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/07/23/how-does-free-yoga-help-our-financial-goals/

 
Agreed.  I don't follow the frugalwoods, so if they were deceptive, that's BS obviously.  But bartering with the yoga studio was likely a great deal for the studio because they didn't have pay someone to do her job and they are running the classes anyway.

Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIPurpose on October 23, 2019, 08:54:15 AM
I hope they end up eventually funding one of their community's resource centers or investing in some local improvements. Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have the money.


They talk about their Donor Advised Funds all the time and how giving back is incredibly important to them. But I really want to respond to "Frugality is only a nice trait when you don't have money." How do you stomach reading MMM then? He is the epitome of being overly frugal while still having a lot of money. Doesn't compute.

I don't know that I really like MMM's posts much anymore. I just come here for the forum now. Maybe frugality is the wrong word here? Because I can recall multiple times where MMM talks about buying pricier coffee, organic produce, low-carb dieting for health, makes regular upgrades to his home that are completely superfluous. But also MMM never suggested that he made a low income. In fact, he mentions that he could do it so quickly only because both he and his wife were both making 6 figures.

Some of the Frugalwoods' suggestions are more on the level of ERE's posts. Now I haven't read the Frugalwoods blog in years. Maybe they've changed the tone of blog since this thread began. I'll go check right now...

It's cutesy. Lots of Reader Case Study posts and a lot about the weekly happenings what they're doing with their land. Looks like she has a formula that she sticks to now. I'll check the about page..

Quote
Through the application of frugalityĖcoupled with good incomes and judicious financial managementĖmy husband and I have created a life that we love living every single day. Itís not a life beholden to consumerism or the drive for material perfection or the incessant clarion call for more.

I'm getting the sense that she is changing her language around this. However, even saying "good incomes" brings to mind "oh like one was a school teacher and the other was an engineer and they made like 120k combined?". Frugality around saving 5% on their grocery bill wouldn't change their outcome. Great info for people who only make 40k. Not much point beyond frugal bragging if you're making 250k. (So for both MMM and Frugalwoods, I think they need to add their time spent to money-saving activities. Sometimes that trade-off is not worth it)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MonkeyJenga on October 23, 2019, 09:29:00 AM
In fact, he mentions that he could do it so quickly only because both he and his wife were both making 6 figures.

Where did you see that? This post says he got to six figures for the second half of his career, but she topped out at 70k in her last year.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/15/a-brief-history-of-the-stash-how-we-saved-from-zero-to-retirement-in-ten-years/
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 23, 2019, 10:21:29 AM
Great info for people who only make 40k. Not much point beyond frugal bragging if you're making 250k.

This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIPurpose on October 23, 2019, 10:36:05 AM
In fact, he mentions that he could do it so quickly only because both he and his wife were both making 6 figures.

Where did you see that? This post says he got to six figures for the second half of his career, but she topped out at 70k in her last year.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/15/a-brief-history-of-the-stash-how-we-saved-from-zero-to-retirement-in-ten-years/

Ok uh forgot. I read through MMM's blog 5-6 years ago. But that makes the point stronger. MMM never made the amount of money the frugalwoods did during his working career. It's only with this blog that he really made it to multi-millionaire status. With his divorce though, I imagine that he's currently sitting around 3MM or so.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on October 23, 2019, 10:39:08 AM
This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)

They're willfully creating a false impression that every day frugality like skipping haircuts is germane to the financial flexibility of their lifestyle. It's not. Cutting your own hair to save $20 is a survival mechanism for the poor. For middle income people, maybe it's a way to get ahead on retirement savings. For people in the upper stratosphere, it's play-pretend in order to service an image that helps sell books and ad impressions.

It's not like they murdered anyone or anything, but many people, myself include, have the opinion that this is a pretty scummy thing to do.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: FIPurpose on October 23, 2019, 10:56:55 AM
Great info for people who only make 40k. Not much point beyond frugal bragging if you're making 250k.

This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)

Warren doesn't eat cabbage and carrots to get his 5 vegetables a day. He can eat whatever he wants. So what would Warren know about what it's like to eat carrots and cabbage day-in and day-out? Even if Warren does do an experiment and eats only cabbage and carrots to prove that one can do it. He still has the money and knowledge that he gets to stop eating carrots and cabbage after so many days or weeks. Unless he gives away all of his money and lives the rest of his life as a pauper, he won't know what that's like. He's giving advice for a life that he has never lived.

The same, as far as I know, goes for the Frugalwoods. They make a lot of money. Their frugality is a choice that they make, not a necessity, nor, I would argue, does it meaningfully change their net worth. I assume that they also have >3MM saved and therefor could double their spending without breaking the bank. Their high net worth came from their prudence with managing a high income, not from eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast everyday or only drinking the work coffee.

It's the same reason that people who do "food stamp" challenges, say it's easy, and then go back to their regular life don't have the perspective to "know" what living on food stamps is actually like.

MMM on the other hand very openly declares that his advice is mostly for mid-to-high income earners. It's possible to do while only making 50k, but he doesn't have that experience. So he can only talk about it theoretically. The Frugalwoods, to my knowledge, do not make this distinction.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MonkeyJenga on October 23, 2019, 11:15:25 AM
This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)

They're willfully creating a false impression that every day frugality like skipping haircuts is germane to the financial flexibility of their lifestyle. It's not. Cutting your own hair to save $20 is a survival mechanism for the poor. For middle income people, maybe it's a way to get ahead on retirement savings. For people in the upper stratosphere, it's play-pretend in order to service an image that helps sell books and ad impressions.

It's not like they murdered anyone or anything, but many people, myself include, have the opinion that this is a pretty scummy thing to do.

When did they start making such large combined incomes? I thought they were legitimately in need of all those cost-cutting tactics when they were going through school, and maybe first starting out in their careers. Once it's a habit, it's hard to break out of it.

I did think they were in the same league as me, income-wise, when I read the blog back in the day. They... were not.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on October 23, 2019, 11:51:10 AM
When did they start making such large combined incomes? I thought they were legitimately in need of all those cost-cutting tactics when they were going through school, and maybe first starting out in their careers. Once it's a habit, it's hard to break out of it.

I did think they were in the same league as me, income-wise, when I read the blog back in the day. They... were not.

I'm unsure. Any research I did on them would have been well over a year ago at this point. But I'm fairly certain that they've been very high earners for the entirety of their public life.

No shame on those making lots of money. I make good money too. But I recognize that I make good money. I'm comfortably in the top 10% of all earners, and the top 1% of my fellow millennials. I would never try to imply that my earnings arc is normal or average, because that's empirically untrue.  I also like doing frugal things. I meal-prep 11/21 meals a week. I do it because it's healthier and more convenient though. And yes, a little bit because I cringe at the thought of spending $8 on lunch, like I do when I forget to bring my lunch to work, or get lazy with the prep. But that's different from implying that meal-prep is integral or even meaningful to my overall financial success.

FW seem like very lovely people, but I think they would do well (though maybe not financially) to unwind frugality from the overall narrative of their success.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Tyson on October 23, 2019, 12:22:02 PM
I think the message that frugality is not just for poor people or working class incomes, but everyone can do it is actually a worthwhile message.

I also think that the idea that "they make so much money that their frugal choices don't matter", while true, also miss the point a bit. 

For example, if someone said the same thing about them making environmentally friendly choices like, oh I don't know, recycling.  The same argument would be "the amount they recycle is so small that their choices don't matter".  Again, technically that's true.  So should they stop recycling? 

Some things are inherently good habits to have, IMO, regardless of income level.  I wish the Frugalwoods had focused on that as their message, it would have been pretty powerful, I feel.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 23, 2019, 01:00:55 PM
This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)

They're willfully creating a false impression that every day frugality like skipping haircuts is germane to the financial flexibility of their lifestyle. It's not. Cutting your own hair to save $20 is a survival mechanism for the poor. For middle income people, maybe it's a way to get ahead on retirement savings. For people in the upper stratosphere, it's play-pretend in order to service an image that helps sell books and ad impressions.

It's not like they murdered anyone or anything, but many people, myself include, have the opinion that this is a pretty scummy thing to do.

It sounds like you don't like being misled. I can get on board with that. For me personally, I would prefer a blogger to be completely up front about the details and I wouldn't stop reading just because they have a high income. But I also accept that admitting their income would have turned a lot of readers away, many of whom ended up learning from the blog and improving their own lives using the FW's advice. If they had turned their nose up at the blog due to the writer's income, they would have missed out on something useful. Whether it was the best choice or not, we can never know, but I think it was a defensible choice. Probably a little selfish too, but I wouldn't go so far as "scummy".
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 23, 2019, 01:15:46 PM
This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)

They're willfully creating a false impression that every day frugality like skipping haircuts is germane to the financial flexibility of their lifestyle. It's not. Cutting your own hair to save $20 is a survival mechanism for the poor. For middle income people, maybe it's a way to get ahead on retirement savings. For people in the upper stratosphere, it's play-pretend in order to service an image that helps sell books and ad impressions.

It's not like they murdered anyone or anything, but many people, myself include, have the opinion that this is a pretty scummy thing to do.

As for whether or not saving $20 $60-$520/year* will help one get ahead on retirement savings, it will, to the tune of about $20. But more importantly, the message isn't "this is how we FIRE'd and you can to" it's "Here are some ways that you can have more options in life". (and again, I wasn't a reader from the beginning. They may have updated this message as time went on.)

While their more "extreme" frugality practices like home haircuts and working in exchange for yoga classes may not have been critical to their savings rate, the frugality mindset absolutely was. The norm for people who earn what they earn is to spend the majority of their income and be caught in the same trap as so many are, regardless of income. So would you acknowledge that their choice to buy used, reliable vehicles rather than a brand new car every few years contributed to their financial independence? Assuming your answer is yes, should they limit themselves to writing about the big ticket items like vehicles and housing? Are they not allowed to write about cooking with rice and beans because it represents too small of a % of their income? And if so, what is the cutoff? At what % of their income should they not give advice?

*based on the lowest and highest annual cost of haircuts for men that I personally know. At least double this for a couple.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 23, 2019, 01:34:46 PM
Great info for people who only make 40k. Not much point beyond frugal bragging if you're making 250k.

This is the part of this discussion that I don't understand. What does their income have to do with their frugality advice?

I haven't read enough Frugalwoods to have a solid understanding of what kind of advice they offer, but good advice is good advice. If Warren Buffett told me cabbage and carrots are a good way to get your 5 servings of vegetables on a budget, he's not wrong just because the savings represent .000000001% of his net worth. (Did I use enough 0's? :)

Warren doesn't eat cabbage and carrots to get his 5 vegetables a day. He can eat whatever he wants. So what would Warren know about what it's like to eat carrots and cabbage day-in and day-out? Even if Warren does do an experiment and eats only cabbage and carrots to prove that one can do it. He still has the money and knowledge that he gets to stop eating carrots and cabbage after so many days or weeks. Unless he gives away all of his money and lives the rest of his life as a pauper, he won't know what that's like. He's giving advice for a life that he has never lived.

The same, as far as I know, goes for the Frugalwoods. They make a lot of money. Their frugality is a choice that they make, not a necessity, nor, I would argue, does it meaningfully change their net worth. I assume that they also have >3MM saved and therefor could double their spending without breaking the bank. Their high net worth came from their prudence with managing a high income, not from eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast everyday or only drinking the work coffee.

It's the same reason that people who do "food stamp" challenges, say it's easy, and then go back to their regular life don't have the perspective to "know" what living on food stamps is actually like.

MMM on the other hand very openly declares that his advice is mostly for mid-to-high income earners. It's possible to do while only making 50k, but he doesn't have that experience. So he can only talk about it theoretically. The Frugalwoods, to my knowledge, do not make this distinction.

I'm afraid I don't entirely see your point.

Does someone's advice carry more weight if they've lived it? Yes, on that we agree.

Is their advice wrong because they haven't lived it? I don't think so. Is this what you're saying?

And in FW's case, they fall somewhere in between. They have lived it, as they actually do the things they recommend, but they did it with the knowledge that they didn't need to, which I'll agree makes it easier*.


*I would argue that in some circumstances necessity actually makes things easier from a motivation standpoint, but we don't need to get into that debate. I agree with your general assertion that it's not the same when you have a massive income.


It's the same reason that people who do "food stamp" challenges, say it's easy, and then go back to their regular life don't have the perspective to "know" what living on food stamps is actually like.


Sure, but this isn't what the FWs do. If they were to conduct "challenges" where they limit their spending for short amounts of time and then told everyone how easy it is to live like that full time, I would criticize them too. Have they ever done this?
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on October 23, 2019, 01:55:37 PM
It sounds like you don't like being misled. I can get on board with that. For me personally, I would prefer a blogger to be completely up front about the details and I wouldn't stop reading just because they have a high income. But I also accept that admitting their income would have turned a lot of readers away, many of whom ended up learning from the blog and improving their own lives using the FW's advice. If they had turned their nose up at the blog due to the writer's income, they would have missed out on something useful. Whether it was the best choice or not, we can never know, but I think it was a defensible choice. Probably a little selfish too, but I wouldn't go so far as "scummy".

Personally, I don't feel misled. Because I was never a reader to begin with and I consider myself very smart and able to see things for what they are. But I do believe that they're purposefully being misleading, and I have reason to believe others, who may not be as vigilant as I am, have been misled.

Somewhere in this very long and old thread, I made a statement about how we as a society allow rich people to engage in dishonesty with impunity. The Frugalwoods shit is a small example of a very very very big problem. That explains most of my continued engagement on the topic.

I'll also openly cop to having a lower barometer for "scummy" than a lot of people probably have.

As for whether or not saving $20 $60-$520/year* will help one get ahead on retirement savings, it will, to the tune of about $20. But more importantly, the message isn't "this is how we FIRE'd and you can to" it's "Here are some ways that you can have more options in life". (and again, I wasn't a reader from the beginning. They may have updated this message as time went on.)

I disagree with the bold. They very purposefully lead with frugality and obfuscate the role that high income plays. After all, the blog is called "Frugalwoods", not "My husband's mega-high income, work from home situation-woods". The subhead is "Financial independence and simple living". The subhead of the book is the even less ambiguous, "Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living". Many podcast appearances or write-ups where headlined something like, "This couple quit their jobs and moved to the country thanks to their frugal habits." Maybe they weren't 100% in control of the messaging, but they certainly didn't go out of their way to challenge it or correct the record.

To their credit, they do pay some lip service the the importance of privilege and high incomes. But the story they tell and the image they present is, in the main, dishonest.

While their more "extreme" frugality practices like home haircuts and working in exchange for yoga classes may not have been critical to their savings rate, the frugality mindset absolutely was. The norm for people who earn what they earn is to spend the majority of their income and be caught in the same trap as so many are, regardless of income. So would you acknowledge that their choice to buy used, reliable vehicles rather than a brand new car every few years contributed to their financial independence? Assuming your answer is yes, should they limit themselves to writing about the big ticket items like vehicles and housing? Are they not allowed to write about cooking with rice and beans because it represents too small of a % of their income? And if so, what is the cutoff? At what % of their income should they not give advice?

*based on the lowest and highest annual cost of haircuts for men that I personally know. At least double this for a couple.

I have to disagree here too. This is a meme and a myth pushed by personal finance gurus meant to downplay the importance of making money.

The median household has expenditures of about 101% of their after tax take-home pay. For the highest 10% of households by earnings, it's 69%. High savings rates are a natural consequence of high incomes because most people recognize that marginal happiness gained per dollar spent falls off a cliff past a certain point.[1]

I don't want to downplay the goodness of spreading a message about spending money more purposefully, or reducing consumption, or practicing great personal finance. I love that stuff. But there's now a cottage industry around anti-consumerism, completely with tons of Amazon affiliate linking and cheery looking documentaries. The PF space is in need of some consumer watch-dogging.

[1] https://www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm (https://www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm)
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: MyAlterEgoIsTaller on October 23, 2019, 02:14:08 PM
They've been pretty transparent with their numbers all along - even if they didn't do all the arithmetic for the reader. They've been posting monthly expense reports on their blog for years, and they also posted sporadically about their current savings rate.  When I started reading them ~5 years back, they were representing their current savings rate to be around 80%, and their monthly spending at that time was often >$4000 per month.  She may never have stated their combined income explicitly, but the numbers she did post always gave enough info to figure that out.
Also the monthly expense reports frequently included things for which it was noted whether or not Mr. Frugalwood's employer would reimburse - so it was clear he was still at least somewhat employed.

The affiliate links have always been annoying - especially when they did things like show off the food storage containers they found on the curb, but then post the link so you can buy yours on Amazon while adding to their nest egg.  But... that's kind of why a lot of people keep up blogs...
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 23, 2019, 02:27:36 PM
While their more "extreme" frugality practices like home haircuts and working in exchange for yoga classes may not have been critical to their savings rate, the frugality mindset absolutely was. The norm for people who earn what they earn is to spend the majority of their income and be caught in the same trap as so many are, regardless of income. So would you acknowledge that their choice to buy used, reliable vehicles rather than a brand new car every few years contributed to their financial independence? Assuming your answer is yes, should they limit themselves to writing about the big ticket items like vehicles and housing? Are they not allowed to write about cooking with rice and beans because it represents too small of a % of their income? And if so, what is the cutoff? At what % of their income should they not give advice?

*based on the lowest and highest annual cost of haircuts for men that I personally know. At least double this for a couple.

I have to disagree here too. This is a meme and a myth pushed by personal finance gurus meant to downplay the importance of making money.

The median household has expenditures of about 101% of their after tax take-home pay. For the highest 10% of households by earnings, it's 69%. High savings rates are a natural consequence of high incomes because most people recognize that marginal happiness gained per dollar spent falls off a cliff past a certain point.[1]

[1] https://www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm (https://www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm)

I said the norm is to spend the majority of one's income and 69% is a majority. I did not say the norm is to live paycheck to paycheck which is what I think you're referring to. That meme is definitely overused, by MMM in particular.

Perhaps the word trap was misleading for some but personally if I was earning a top 10% income and only saving 30%, I would feel trapped in whatever job gave me that high income and the lifestyle it funded.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 23, 2019, 02:46:36 PM
As for whether or not saving $20 $60-$520/year* will help one get ahead on retirement savings, it will, to the tune of about $20. But more importantly, the message isn't "this is how we FIRE'd and you can to" it's "Here are some ways that you can have more options in life". (and again, I wasn't a reader from the beginning. They may have updated this message as time went on.)

I disagree with the bold. They very purposefully lead with frugality and obfuscate the role that high income plays. After all, the blog is called "Frugalwoods", not "My husband's mega-high income, work from home situation-woods". The subhead is "Financial independence and simple living". The subhead of the book is the even less ambiguous, "Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living". Many podcast appearances or write-ups where headlined something like, "This couple quit their jobs and moved to the country thanks to their frugal habits." Maybe they weren't 100% in control of the messaging, but they certainly didn't go out of their way to challenge it or correct the record.

To their credit, they do pay some lip service the the importance of privilege and high incomes. But the story they tell and the image they present is, in the main, dishonest.

I agree on your point of obfuscation and I've acknowledged it. I don't think the bolded statements in the last two comments are contradictory.

Assuming the book is primarily about their personal story, the subhead is going too far. I'm on your side with that one.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: mathlete on October 23, 2019, 03:08:43 PM
I said the norm is to spend the majority of one's income and 69% is a majority. I did not say the norm is to live paycheck to paycheck which is what I think you're referring to. That meme is definitely overused, by MMM in particular.

Perhaps the word trap was misleading for some but personally if I was earning a top 10% income and only saving 30%, I would feel trapped in whatever job gave me that high income and the lifestyle it funded.

Ah! Busted!! You're right. I clearly interpreted it as "spend a vast majority of their income." But that's not what you said. Good catch!

I think much of my point still stands though. High income earners save a lot more because it's easier to save more. I get your feeling WRT feeling "trapped". According to the MMM simple math post, 30% still means 28 years until financial independence. But if you're making that kind of money early in your career (let's say, 30), you're still on track to retire 7 years before your 65th birthday. And you live an awesome life with plenty of cushion to reduce expenses if things get shaky.   That's a pretty enviable situation to be in.

Thank you for engaging me on this. Good stuff!
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: Davnasty on October 24, 2019, 08:09:09 AM
I said the norm is to spend the majority of one's income and 69% is a majority. I did not say the norm is to live paycheck to paycheck which is what I think you're referring to. That meme is definitely overused, by MMM in particular.

Perhaps the word trap was misleading for some but personally if I was earning a top 10% income and only saving 30%, I would feel trapped in whatever job gave me that high income and the lifestyle it funded.

Ah! Busted!! You're right. I clearly interpreted it as "spend a vast majority of their income." But that's not what you said. Good catch!

I think much of my point still stands though. High income earners save a lot more because it's easier to save more. I get your feeling WRT feeling "trapped". According to the MMM simple math post, 30% still means 28 years until financial independence. But if you're making that kind of money early in your career (let's say, 30), you're still on track to retire 7 years before your 65th birthday. And you live an awesome life with plenty of cushion to reduce expenses if things get shaky.   That's a pretty enviable situation to be in.

Thank you for engaging me on this. Good stuff!

Indeed, good stuff. I think what I've gathered from this conversation is that some of our disagreement is in the words we use rather than the feelings behind them. There's also a difference of opinion as to what it costs to live a comfortable life which in turn influences our framing of other aspects of frugality.

Another point that I don't think has come up yet (and this may be going a little off topic, but on page 12, I'm ok with that) is that my opinion of high earners being frugal may be different because I don't think of frugality solely as a way to increase the nest egg, but also as a way to be more resilient in other areas of life. Where as some may see little value in cutting your own hair when it increases savings rate by a small fraction of a %, I see it as one less thing for which I need to rely on someone else. No matter how much money you save, it can lose it's value or be taken away, but skills and knowledge are built in.

Perhaps a more honest name for their book would have been "Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living" but that wouldn't have the effect they were going for and wouldn't have acknowledged that the majority of their advice is aimed at saving money. How about "Achieving Independence Through Frugality and Simple Living"? I like that better but most people probably think of being "independent" as something they do as soon as they leave their parents house.

Long story short, I understand the criticism, but when I try to put myself in their shoes I'm not sure I wouldn't have made similar decisions. Couple that with the number of people who claim that reading Frugalwoods has improved their own lives, and I think I'll give them a pass.

Now that I've spent all this time talking about them, maybe I should actually go read a bit more of their blog.
Title: Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
Post by: OtherJen on October 24, 2019, 10:57:54 AM
I said the norm is to spend the majority of one's income and 69% is a majority. I did not say the norm is to live paycheck to paycheck which is what I think you're referring to. That meme is definitely overused, by MMM in particular.

Perhaps the word trap was misleading for some but personally if I was earning a top 10% income and only saving 30%, I would feel trapped in whatever job gave me that high income and the lifestyle it funded.

Ah! Busted!! You're right. I clearly interpreted it as "spend a vast majority of their income." But that's not what you said. Good catch!

I think much of my point still stands though. High income earners save a lot more because it's easier to save more. I get your feeling WRT feeling "trapped". According to the MMM simple math post, 30% still means 28 years until financial independence. But if you're making that kind of money early in your career (let's say, 30), you're still on track to retire 7 years before your 65th birthday. And you live an awesome life with plenty of cushion to reduce expenses if things get shaky.   That's a pretty enviable situation to be in.

Thank you for engaging me on this. Good stuff!

Indeed, good stuff. I think what I've gathered from this conversation is that some of our disagreement is in the words we use rather than the feelings behind them. There's also a difference of opinion as to what it costs to live a comfortable life which in turn influences our framing of other aspects of frugality.

Another point that I don't think has come up yet (and this may be going a little off topic, but on page 12, I'm ok with that) is that my opinion of high earners being frugal may be different because I don't think of frugality solely as a way to increase the nest egg, but also as a way to be more resilient in other areas of life. Where as some may see little value in cutting your own hair when it increases savings rate by a small fraction of a %, I see it as one less thing for which I need to rely on someone else. No matter how much money you save, it can lose it's value or be taken away, but skills and knowledge are built in.

Perhaps a more honest name for their book would have been "Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living" but that wouldn't have the effect they were going for and wouldn't have acknowledged that the majority of their advice is aimed at saving money. How about "Achieving Independence Through Fr