Author Topic: What's up with the Frugalwoods?  (Read 140776 times)

Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #100 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.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #101 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.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 10:31:50 AM by mathlete »

Cranky

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #102 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.

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #103 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.

vivian

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #104 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.


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mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #105 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #106 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.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #107 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.

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #108 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #109 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
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 01:12:05 PM by iowajes »

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #110 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.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/food/pdf/food.pdf

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #111 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.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #112 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!

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #113 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.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #114 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 – 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.






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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #115 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #116 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #117 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #118 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?

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #119 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.

slappy

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #120 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.

englishteacheralex

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #121 on: March 14, 2018, 09:49:43 AM »
Anybody ever read 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.

PoutineLover

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #122 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.

FireHiker

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #123 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #124 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!

JumpInTheFIRE

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #125 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.

mm1970

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #126 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.

JumpInTheFIRE

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #127 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%.

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #128 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".

slappy

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #129 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.

JumpInTheFIRE

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #130 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.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #131 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.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 11:16:56 AM by iowajes »

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #132 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!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 02:06:34 PM by Eric »

MMMarbleheader

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #133 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.

JumpInTheFIRE

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #134 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.

Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #135 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.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 07:00:25 PM by Dicey »

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #136 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.

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #137 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.  :)

Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #138 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.




Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #139 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!

aspiringnomad

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #140 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, “cool, maybe it’s a more mainstream MMM,” but the first post I read offered little more than ideas to separate readers from their pennies via paid affiliate advertising.

Vertical Mode

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #141 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!


mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #142 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. ;)

big_owl

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #143 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.   

Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #144 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.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #145 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.

Tyson

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #146 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?

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #147 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.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #148 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.

Tuskalusa

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #149 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 isn’t a sales pitch...check it out from the library or borrow from a friend.)

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

And even today, the Frugalwoods have guarded against lifestyle inflation. They’re pretty much doing everything that’s advised on this site, and they’re 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.