Author Topic: What's up with the Frugalwoods?  (Read 141341 times)

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #200 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.

Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4061
  • Location: On my bike
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #201 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.

Lichen

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 428
  • Location: PNW
  • Just another dharma bum
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #202 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.

 

Tyson

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #203 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. 

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4994
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #204 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.

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4994
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #205 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?

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #206 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.

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #207 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.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13882
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #208 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.

Lichen

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 428
  • Location: PNW
  • Just another dharma bum
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #209 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.

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #210 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. We’re not rich or famous or geniuses or even particularly good-looking (although we have our moments). We’re 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 it’s true that Nate and I are average people, and we’ve never won the lottery or had investment banker salaries or been the beneficiaries of inheritances or trust funds, I’m 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.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #211 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.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 11:35:52 AM by iowajes »

Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4061
  • Location: On my bike
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #212 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)



grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4994
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #213 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.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #214 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.

Tyson

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #215 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...

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #216 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.

Tyson

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #217 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 

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #218 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.

Tyson

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #219 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?

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #220 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.

PoutineLover

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1340
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #221 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:
We’re 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.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 01:05:29 PM by PoutineLover »

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #222 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.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 01:08:14 PM by mathlete »

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #223 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.

Tyson

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #224 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. 

NoraLenderbee

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1254
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #225 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.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8299
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #226 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.

FIRE Artist

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: YEG
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #227 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. 


Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4061
  • Location: On my bike
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #228 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.

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #229 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

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.


big_owl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 895
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #230 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.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8299
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #231 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.

fuzzy math

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1074
  • Age: 38
  • Location: PNW ---> Midwest (for now)
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #232 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...

force majeure

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 147
  • Age: 45
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #233 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.

Lmoot

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 844
    • Journal
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #234 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).
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 04:35:09 AM by Lmoot »

Nancy

  • Guest
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #235 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): 19–31).

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 clear—when brain capacity is used up on these worries and fears, there simply isn’t 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 we’d 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).

Penny_Hartz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #236 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 Pant’s 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, Liz’s contribution, and her parents’ contribution and Liz just kept talking in circles and saying she didn’t remember because it was “so long ago”. I don’t understand why she evidently thinks it’s shameful to say “I was very fortunate that my parents paid completely for my college”. It doesn’t take anything away from her current success, although it does change the narrative she’s tried to create for herself which I think is why people are so upset.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 06:57:43 AM by Penny_Hartz »

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #237 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.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #238 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.

StarBright

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1779
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #239 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?:)).

Lichen

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 428
  • Location: PNW
  • Just another dharma bum
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #240 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!

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4994
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #241 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.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8299
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #242 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?

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #243 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 – 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."

RelaxedGal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 349
  • Age: 42
  • Location: 495 corridor, Massachusetts, USA
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #244 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.

Captain Cactus

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 267
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #245 on: March 21, 2018, 11:27:11 AM »
The folks at “Our Next Life” addressed this topic head-on this morning...without naming names of course!

https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8193
  • Location: United States
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #246 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.)
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 01:00:01 PM by iowajes »

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13882
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #247 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 Pant’s 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, Liz’s contribution, and her parents’ contribution and Liz just kept talking in circles and saying she didn’t remember because it was “so long ago”. I don’t understand why she evidently thinks it’s shameful to say “I was very fortunate that my parents paid completely for my college”. It doesn’t take anything away from her current success, although it does change the narrative she’s 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.

mathlete

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1638
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #248 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.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13882
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #249 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 Pant’s 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, Liz’s contribution, and her parents’ contribution and Liz just kept talking in circles and saying she didn’t remember because it was “so long ago”. I don’t understand why she evidently thinks it’s shameful to say “I was very fortunate that my parents paid completely for my college”. It doesn’t take anything away from her current success, although it does change the narrative she’s 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.