Author Topic: What's up with the Frugalwoods?  (Read 141323 times)

Jrr85

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #350 on: March 27, 2018, 12:48:52 PM »
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation??????
I think the problem with a poll is that while they may have misrepresented the income they earned in the years to get to FI, calling it "average, not special, median" etc.., I don't believe it was an intentional misrepresentation. I believe they really did (and still do) consider that they were average earners with median incomes back in 2014 when they started to save and weren't anything special financially. And maybe they weren't amongst their peers. So they may believe that their "extreme frugality" was what got them to FI rather than a very high salary.

I see this same mind set here all the time with high earners. So many high earners think they have "average" salaries. There is just such a disconnect between them and the reality of most true average income earners. I read journals and post about how they "struggle" to get to FI and are only spending $120k a year (minus mortgage) and wonder if they could ever attain FIRE or be able to live on $100k a year once RE. I just read the "can you retire on $5 million" thread and someone said well maybe if you live frugally. YIKES.

 Have I accidentally wandered into Bogelheadsville? Maybe its the lower income people like me who are the ones with the disconnect and don't even belong on MMM site. Guess I need to head off to ERE wit da po' folks ;-).

I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

I think the evidence is overwhelming that they intentionally misled.  It could only be overcome by somebody with enough personal history with them to say, "No, believe it or not, they really are this oblivious and have no exposure to paying for any services or employees and have never heard any claim about what the median household income is in the U.S. or north east." 

I'm not sure that's a big deal (if I were a reader maybe I'd feel differently), but I don't think an argument that it was unintentional can really be supported.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #351 on: March 27, 2018, 01:01:58 PM »
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.

I think that blog post has kicked off a number of posts by other bloggers starting to disclose or disclaim their other income or stories.....and I think that was directly the result of the FW story.

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #352 on: March 27, 2018, 01:28:54 PM »

I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

I think the evidence is overwhelming that they intentionally misled.  It could only be overcome by somebody with enough personal history with them to say, "No, believe it or not, they really are this oblivious and have no exposure to paying for any services or employees and have never heard any claim about what the median household income is in the U.S. or north east." 

I'm not sure that's a big deal (if I were a reader maybe I'd feel differently), but I don't think an argument that it was unintentional can really be supported.

It gets even tougher to believe when she literally runs a blog and wrote a book that is personal finance focused.  She's been thinking about and discussing this stuff for years.   

skp

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #353 on: March 27, 2018, 01:41:17 PM »
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

sui generis

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #354 on: March 27, 2018, 01:49:58 PM »
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.
Eh, isn't this an argument basically about cash vs. accrual methods of accounting?  In fact, I thought accrual was the commonly used method.  I can see what you're saying about how it looks weird, but I think it's pretty universally accepted. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #355 on: March 27, 2018, 02:24:44 PM »
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

We do our accounting that way. We don't have a budget, we have expense reports. So taxes are only an expense when we pay them. I don't account for them when we don't pay them, because we didn't pay them...so they weren't an expense that month.

skp

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #356 on: March 27, 2018, 02:35:22 PM »
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

We do our accounting that way. We don't have a budget, we have expense reports. So taxes are only an expense when we pay them. I don't account for them when we don't pay them, because we didn't pay them...so they weren't an expense that month.
I get that your mortgage and your taxes are fixed and that you have no control over them (except picking an appropriate place within your budget to live) But I don't get subtracting them from the monthly bottom line or totally ignoring them in your accounting sceam until they are due.  It gives people the idea that you are living on less than you do.   

Vertical Mode

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #357 on: March 27, 2018, 02:45:03 PM »
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/

Catching up on this thread and wanted to give you a +1 for this link. That article is outstanding and there are some good discussions in the comments section, too.

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #358 on: March 27, 2018, 03:22:46 PM »
I don't think they are disingenuous with just their income. 
Who writes a monthly expense report then subtracts their mortgage from the bottom line?
Who disregards a big annual expense- like taxes and house insurance- until they are due?   I haven't followed them for long.  So I see they are spending about $2000 a month.  Seems frugal to me.  Then I see they aren't considering their taxes until they are due.  Unless you follow them for a while you get the idea that they are living on $2000 a month.  Then you find out they have a $10,000 months.  I don't budget that way. I pay my taxes bi annually (they don't allow annually or I might do that) but I'm putting aside money monthly to do it.    I direct deposit money into my credit union for big ticket items- car insurance, house insurance,  I consider it part of my budget.
I don't know if it's purposeful deceipt or not.  But subtracting mortgages from the bottom line, not accounting for known big ticket item expenses until the last minute, is not how I operate and seems suspicious to me.

We do our accounting that way. We don't have a budget, we have expense reports. So taxes are only an expense when we pay them. I don't account for them when we don't pay them, because we didn't pay them...so they weren't an expense that month.
I get that your mortgage and your taxes are fixed and that you have no control over them (except picking an appropriate place within your budget to live) But I don't get subtracting them from the monthly bottom line or totally ignoring them in your accounting sceam until they are due.  It gives people the idea that you are living on less than you do.

But they are transparent that they subtract the mortgage, the total is one line above.

And in the giant block of text above the spending report she explains that annual expenses are only in the month paid.

This is not an area where she fails at transparency, IMO.

A lot of people add their mortgage principal to their savings rate. Makes no sense to me, but it works for them.

Prairie Stash

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #359 on: March 27, 2018, 04:26:44 PM »
Yep she has detailed expenses listed. Because I'm stuck at home with a bum knee I added up their expenses for the last 12 months, including mortgage and prop taxes (can't remember if that included income taxes but likely) and it was a tad over $54k/ year ($4500/month). They don't include there rental house expenses since those are all covered by the rent income. So not bad overall. I don't think anyone here has a problem with their current spending though.
depends...did they have $1,350,000 (4% rule) when they first claimed FI? In other words, could their passive income support them if they were to both stop working? To me that's FI, the ability to quit at any time without modifying anything. Thank you for compiling the numbers. 

Either way I'll probably just gloss over their website and only read the interesting articles. I'll enjoy it the same way I enjoy any fiction novel, I have learned many life lessons from the genre. Is "Tom Sawyer" or Old Man and the Sea" any less enjoyable for being fiction?

HBFIRE

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #360 on: March 27, 2018, 04:32:48 PM »
I wasn't really into their blog, but this thread and all the haters makes me really root for them.  I hope they absolutely crush it.

mm1970

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #361 on: March 27, 2018, 05:02:53 PM »
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation??????
I think the problem with a poll is that while they may have misrepresented the income they earned in the years to get to FI, calling it "average, not special, median" etc.., I don't believe it was an intentional misrepresentation. I believe they really did (and still do) consider that they were average earners with median incomes back in 2014 when they started to save and weren't anything special financially. And maybe they weren't amongst their peers. So they may believe that their "extreme frugality" was what got them to FI rather than a very high salary.

I see this same mind set here all the time with high earners. So many high earners think they have "average" salaries. There is just such a disconnect between them and the reality of most true average income earners. I read journals and post about how they "struggle" to get to FI and are only spending $120k a year (minus mortgage) and wonder if they could ever attain FIRE or be able to live on $100k a year once RE. I just read the "can you retire on $5 million" thread and someone said well maybe if you live frugally. YIKES.

 Have I accidentally wandered into Bogelheadsville? Maybe its the lower income people like me who are the ones with the disconnect and don't even belong on MMM site. Guess I need to head off to ERE wit da po' folks ;-).

+1

I was going to make this point, but you made it perfectly.  They probably felt average when they started this thing.  And they were.  Among their peers.  If you don't go outside your bubble...well, how do you know differently, unless you make an effort?  I mean, I'd say with their reader case studies, maybe they are making an effort.

We are high earners and I'm surrounded by people who are like us and think they are average.  I purposely surround myself with a variety of people IRL (and well, I'm related to a bunch of po' folk).  I bet they'd score pretty high on the bubble test.  I think it's heavily location dependent, but where they live and being professionals, I can TOTALLY see it.  I'm an engineer, I work with engineers and PhDs - the vast majority of people at my company make >$100k, most are highly compensated employees.  My friends who live in the Bay area are in an even BIGGER bubble.  My friends who live in the DC area and work in Government - also, bubble for many of them.

Someone else mentioned that they thought the blog was uninteresting and second-rate, and well - that's in the eye of the beholder I guess.  I grew up in the country, so I like the country spin.  Even though I don't ever want to go back there, it's a nostalgia thing. It's probably the same reason I like onehundreddollarsamonth, who is more suburban but just now moving to a big place in the northeast.  Her writing style is more accessible but her blog is heavily monetized, and people have also called her out on income/ spending too.

mm1970

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #362 on: March 27, 2018, 05:04:49 PM »
Quote
I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

It's really not that hard to live in that kind of bubble.  People are self-centered.

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #363 on: March 27, 2018, 05:35:14 PM »
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #364 on: March 27, 2018, 06:05:15 PM »
Yep she has detailed expenses listed. Because I'm stuck at home with a bum knee I added up their expenses for the last 12 months, including mortgage and prop taxes (can't remember if that included income taxes but likely) and it was a tad over $54k/ year ($4500/month). They don't include there rental house expenses since those are all covered by the rent income. So not bad overall. I don't think anyone here has a problem with their current spending though.

Given we know how much her husband makes I think it's highly unlikely 54k in expenses includes income taxes.  Therefore 54k in expenses after income taxes means the average American household cannot afford their frugal lifestyle.   When you start to include things like their excellent healthcare the difference becomes even greater.

Look, I don't care how much they spend or make, and I'm sure there's some context an avid reader would like to point out, but on the face of it FW is pretty silly.   It's the kind of thing the show Portlandia used to lampoon.

Carrie

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #365 on: March 27, 2018, 06:40:20 PM »
If we don't count healthcare premiums or taxes, our annual household expenses are $29,000 for a family of 5. Maybe I should  start a blog.

Captain Cactus

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #366 on: March 27, 2018, 06:46:29 PM »
I wonder what Frugal Liz thinks about this thread?  Probably been good for business!

aspiringnomad

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #367 on: March 27, 2018, 06:47:14 PM »
Yep she has detailed expenses listed. Because I'm stuck at home with a bum knee I added up their expenses for the last 12 months, including mortgage and prop taxes (can't remember if that included income taxes but likely) and it was a tad over $54k/ year ($4500/month). They don't include there rental house expenses since those are all covered by the rent income. So not bad overall. I don't think anyone here has a problem with their current spending though.

Given we know how much her husband makes I think it's highly unlikely 54k in expenses includes income taxes.  Therefore 54k in expenses after income taxes means the average American household cannot afford their frugal lifestyle.   When you start to include things like their excellent healthcare the difference becomes even greater.

Look, I don't care how much they spend or make, and I'm sure there's some context an avid reader would like to point out, but on the face of it FW is pretty silly.   It's the kind of thing the show Portlandia used to lampoon.

Portlandia reference is spot on.

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #368 on: March 27, 2018, 07:16:25 PM »
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
I've been reading their blog for a long time and Mrs FWs posts here and she always has acknowledged they are privileged. However (at least for a fair number of us here) her lack of disclosure of past income numbers leading to FI leave a big hole in her story. It"s kind of like saying Warren Buffet got to be a billionaire because he drove an old car and ate the $3 breakfast sandwich at MacDonalds everyday.

One reason I like MMM so much as he was very open about the salary and stash size  he had pre-FIRE as well as his spending. It's relatable. Even though we debate what his current spending and RE status is now (he's FIMER - Financially Independent Mustachian Early Retired. You are FI and RE but still do some work ;-)) how he got to FIRE initially is pretty clear.

I don't see any big holes, or any holes at all really.  No one retires in their early 30s on minimum wage or even median household income.  You're obviously going to have a high income.  It's par for the course.  The only thing the income does is speed the process.  Everything else is the same.

McStache

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #369 on: March 27, 2018, 07:33:17 PM »
Just want to point out that according to the publicly available 990's (that I was able to find with cursory googling), 2014 was his highest earning year and included a large bonus.  Probably due to the mid-term elections if I had to guess.

Salary history:
2010 - <$100K (not a highly compensated employee)
2012 - $122K
2013 - $138K
2014 - $201K
2015 - $173K

These are still above average salaries (far above on a national/global scale), but not atypical for a software type in Cambridge.

Edit: Actually looked at the 2014 990, the $225K number includes benefits/retirement, which is pretty sweet, but inconsistent with how I had reported the other numbers (wages only)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 08:58:01 PM by McStache »

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #370 on: March 27, 2018, 07:58:04 PM »
Just want to point out that according to the publicly available 990's (that I was able to find with cursory googling), 2014 was his highest earning year and included a large bonus.  Probably due to the mid-term elections if I had to guess.

Salary history:
2010 - <$100K (not a highly compensated employee)
2012 - $122K
2013 - $138K
2014 - $225K
2015 - $173K

These are still above average salaries (far above on a national/global scale), but not atypical for a software type in Cambridge.

Well, 2014 is when they changed their spendy lifestyle so the years before that aren't really germane to their narrative.   Also, looking at the 2015 data here (page 21) I'm seeing compensation of 206,482.

Just a typical non-profit nothing-special compensation like they tell their readers/customers, right?

McStache

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #371 on: March 27, 2018, 08:34:36 PM »
Just want to point out that according to the publicly available 990's (that I was able to find with cursory googling), 2014 was his highest earning year and included a large bonus.  Probably due to the mid-term elections if I had to guess.

Salary history:
2010 - <$100K (not a highly compensated employee)
2012 - $122K
2013 - $138K
2014 - $225K
2015 - $173K

These are still above average salaries (far above on a national/global scale), but not atypical for a software type in Cambridge.

Well, 2014 is when they changed their spendy lifestyle so the years before that aren't really germane to their narrative.   Also, looking at the 2015 data here (page 21) I'm seeing compensation of 206,482.
The $206k number includes employer retirement contributions and benefits (sounds like a sweet benefits package to boot).  Wages were $173K.

Quote
Just a typical non-profit nothing-special compensation like they tell their readers/customers, right?
I'm just here to provide more data, make some popcorn, and watch the thread keep churning.

reader321

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #372 on: March 27, 2018, 08:40:24 PM »
2014: $225k
2015: $226k (20 + 173 + 33)
2016: $271k
2017: $294k? (TBD)

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #373 on: March 28, 2018, 04:52:09 AM »
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.

Thanks for the link.  Good stuff!

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #374 on: March 28, 2018, 06:17:42 AM »
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.

That blogger manifesto really hits the nail on the head. The discussion in the comments is very good as well.

Re. The Frugalwoods blog - I was there for the dog :-)


grantmeaname

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #375 on: March 28, 2018, 06:46:35 AM »
RIP :(

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #376 on: March 28, 2018, 09:36:23 AM »
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
I've been reading their blog for a long time and Mrs FWs posts here and she always has acknowledged they are privileged. However (at least for a fair number of us here) her lack of disclosure of past income numbers leading to FI leave a big hole in her story. It"s kind of like saying Warren Buffet got to be a billionaire because he drove an old car and ate the $3 breakfast sandwich at MacDonalds everyday.

One reason I like MMM so much as he was very open about the salary and stash size  he had pre-FIRE as well as his spending. It's relatable. Even though we debate what his current spending and RE status is now (he's FIMER - Financially Independent Mustachian Early Retired. You are FI and RE but still do some work ;-)) how he got to FIRE initially is pretty clear.

I don't see any big holes, or any holes at all really.  No one retires in their early 30s on minimum wage or even median household income.  You're obviously going to have a high income.  It's par for the course.  The only thing the income does is speed the process.  Everything else is the same.
True and I agree for the most part. As a lower income earner pre-FIRE there can be a few challenges beyond just time to get to FI. As trying to save 50% of $40k each year for a couple of decades is different from saving 80% of a $300k salary for less than 5 years. But agree that overall it works the same. However their claim of being average median income earners is the issue most have with the blog when its soooo easy to just say they earned a high income but saved a butt load by LBYM.

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though. 

Jrr85

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #377 on: March 28, 2018, 09:41:59 AM »
Quote
I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

It's really not that hard to live in that kind of bubble.  People are self-centered.

Well, living in a bubble is not hard, having zero awareness about the bubble is a different story.  Again, somebody writes about money, spends a lot of time worrying about their spending and saving and early retirement, and has zero clue that they are earning more than three times the median family income for their area?  They're obviously aware that most people are not reaching financial independence at a young age.  There are plenty of self absorbed and not very bright people.  The little I've read of their blog, I just find it hard to believe that they never had any introspection about their income or how it compares to others.  It just seems almost certain that they made a conscious decision to downplay their income, maybe to increase the marketability of their blog, maybe just because it seems in bad taste to be in the non-profit world and advertise that you are making more than three times the median family income.  Again, not sure it's that big of a deal, but you have to be particularly credulous to think there weren't aware that their income wasn't standard.   

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #378 on: March 28, 2018, 10:14:24 AM »
Quote
I don't know.  It's hard to live in that much of a bubble.  It pretty much requires a highly paid professional with no management responsibilities.  Did they really earn $300k in the non-profit world and not have any exposure to payroll to realize what other workers actually make?  Or did they work for one of the most ridiculous non-profit ever, where none of its employees made below say two times the median income and also the mission was such that they were never exposed to anybody needy to give them an idea that $300k per year is not "standard"?  I just can't believe people who are so thrifty with their purchaes have never given a single thought to what market labor rates were.  They never purchased a single service where the labor rate worked out to less than $75 per hour and thought, "wow; how are they making the standard $150k per year if they're not even charging enough to get to $150k before paying any expenses or profit to the owner?"

It's really not that hard to live in that kind of bubble.  People are self-centered.

Well, living in a bubble is not hard, having zero awareness about the bubble is a different story.  Again, somebody writes about money, spends a lot of time worrying about their spending and saving and early retirement, and has zero clue that they are earning more than three times the median family income for their area?  They're obviously aware that most people are not reaching financial independence at a young age.  There are plenty of self absorbed and not very bright people.  The little I've read of their blog, I just find it hard to believe that they never had any introspection about their income or how it compares to others.  It just seems almost certain that they made a conscious decision to downplay their income, maybe to increase the marketability of their blog, maybe just because it seems in bad taste to be in the non-profit world and advertise that you are making more than three times the median family income.  Again, not sure it's that big of a deal, but you have to be particularly credulous to think there weren't aware that their income wasn't standard.

Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #379 on: March 28, 2018, 12:00:17 PM »
The FWs remind me of my adult kids. And who didn't love the photos of the dog dressed up and such? If they lived next door to me I'd love to have them bring the little ones and drop by for tea and cookies.

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #380 on: March 28, 2018, 01:21:41 PM »
Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

Hmm, yes they do seem to get it:

Quote from: FrugalWoods
Achieving early retirement isn’t something everyone can do. I wish I could say that if everyone would just save a little more, and live a bit farther below their means, and avoid buying an SUV, they’d be able to quit their jobs and live the life they crave. But that’s not the reality. There’s structural privilege inherent in our ability to pursue financial independence at a young age.

reader321

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #381 on: March 28, 2018, 01:35:48 PM »
Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

Hmm, yes they do seem to get it:

Quote from: FrugalWoods
Achieving early retirement isn’t something everyone can do. I wish I could say that if everyone would just save a little more, and live a bit farther below their means, and avoid buying an SUV, they’d be able to quit their jobs and live the life they crave. But that’s not the reality. There’s structural privilege inherent in our ability to pursue financial independence at a young age.

Yes, they get it.

The question is why do they use coded language to describe their financial situation? This is especially true of their more recent messaging in the run-up to the publication of their book. For example, a few weeks ago in the Guardian:

Quote
My husband, Nate, and I are not exceptional people. 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.

Why go to great lengths do depict yourself as "normal", average midwesterners when you make $40k per month? Is it perhaps because the truth undermines the narrative that frugality alone made them financially independent?

MMMarbleheader

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #382 on: March 28, 2018, 02:54:51 PM »
I remember a reference in an interview or blog way back that she said they decided to focus on expenses and not income because they did not want to disclose their salaries to their family as they felt it was uncomfortable.

Also they have always been forthcoming about their savings rate and that they maxed out their 401ks it was pretty easy to back into an income well over $200k based on their spending.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #383 on: March 28, 2018, 03:26:11 PM »
Bears repeating from above:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

Hmm, yes they do seem to get it:

Quote from: FrugalWoods
Achieving early retirement isn’t something everyone can do. I wish I could say that if everyone would just save a little more, and live a bit farther below their means, and avoid buying an SUV, they’d be able to quit their jobs and live the life they crave. But that’s not the reality. There’s structural privilege inherent in our ability to pursue financial independence at a young age.


Do they...

"We have high-paying jobs. While this alone isn’t a predictor of financial health, or the ability to achieve financial independence at a young age, it sure does help. Yes, we’re extreme frugal weirdos and yes, we save 71% of our incomes every year and yes, minus our mortgage we spent $13,000 in all of 2014. But, we recognize how fortunate we are to be able to do this."

This could be calculated a bunch of ways...
- The first, and laziest, would be oh they spend $13,000 and saved 71%....so they made only $45,000....that's like poverty in Boston. 
- next would be to add back their mortgage (hold on let me track down that number from another post)....found it $23k (including taxes) so that means they make only $124k.....that's not at all that much for two working people in Boston and makes sense given they non-profit workers.
- oh wait, their savings rate is only based on their take home pay (after taxes, benis, and 401k)....what now I am confused, so they make a lot more than that?
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 03:27:57 PM by tooqk4u22 »

pbkmaine

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #384 on: March 29, 2018, 08:06:53 AM »
My life isn’t anything like theirs or Pete’s or Amy Dacyczyn’s or Vicki Robin’s but I have gotten inspiration from each one. There’s a core message to be had, if you choose to hear it: figure out what you truly value and live a life consistent with it. All of them believe what Socrates said in Plato’s Apology: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

nick663

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #385 on: March 29, 2018, 03:10:55 PM »
Do a lot of people who live in a bubble write multiple posts about how privileged they are?

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/03/28/deprivation-or-abundance-turns-out-its-your-choice/

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/11/14/starting-the-thanksgiving-season-with-gratitude/

There's probably others too.  I remember her adding bits and pieces referencing her privilege to multiple posts.  These are just the full ones that I could find in 2 minutes of searching.
I've been reading their blog for a long time and Mrs FWs posts here and she always has acknowledged they are privileged. However (at least for a fair number of us here) her lack of disclosure of past income numbers leading to FI leave a big hole in her story. It"s kind of like saying Warren Buffet got to be a billionaire because he drove an old car and ate the $3 breakfast sandwich at MacDonalds everyday.

One reason I like MMM so much as he was very open about the salary and stash size  he had pre-FIRE as well as his spending. It's relatable. Even though we debate what his current spending and RE status is now (he's FIMER - Financially Independent Mustachian Early Retired. You are FI and RE but still do some work ;-)) how he got to FIRE initially is pretty clear.

I don't see any big holes, or any holes at all really.  No one retires in their early 30s on minimum wage or even median household income.  You're obviously going to have a high income.  It's par for the course.  The only thing the income does is speed the process.  Everything else is the same.
True and I agree for the most part. As a lower income earner pre-FIRE there can be a few challenges beyond just time to get to FI. As trying to save 50% of $40k each year for a couple of decades is different from saving 80% of a $300k salary for less than 5 years. But agree that overall it works the same. However their claim of being average median income earners is the issue most have with the blog when its soooo easy to just say they earned a high income but saved a butt load by LBYM.

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though.
"High paying" relative to what though?  A couple paragraphs before that she mentions being in a "higher earning category than many other people in the world" ...which is true for pretty much anyone in the United States.  The median household income of earth is less than 10k.

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #386 on: March 29, 2018, 04:11:34 PM »

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though.
"High paying" relative to what though?  A couple paragraphs before that she mentions being in a "higher earning category than many other people in the world" ...which is true for pretty much anyone in the United States.  The median household income of earth is less than 10k.

Jobs.  Relative to other jobs.  Hence the phrase "high paying jobs".

Cressida

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #387 on: March 30, 2018, 12:55:42 AM »
Wow -- this NYT editorial discussing anxiety around affluence sure is pertinent to this discussion:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/opinion/sunday/what-the-rich-wont-tell-you.html

"Scott and his wife had spent $600,000 in the year before our conversation. “We just can’t understand how we spent that much money,” he told me. “That’s kind of a little spousal joke. You know, like: ‘Hey. Do you feel like this is the $600,000 lifestyle? Whooo!’ ” Rather than living the high life that he imagined would carry such a price tag, he described himself as “frenetic,” asserting, “I’m running around, I’m making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” Having money does not mean, in his view, that he is not ordinary."

O_O

[this isn't related to your point about anxiety, but it, um, stuck out to me.]

Basenji

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #388 on: March 30, 2018, 07:15:29 AM »
My life isn’t anything like theirs or Pete’s or Amy Dacyczyn’s or Vicki Robin’s but I have gotten inspiration from each one. There’s a core message to be had, if you choose to hear it: figure out what you truly value and live a life consistent with it. All of them believe what Socrates said in Plato’s Apology: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Amen. I don't understand the nitpicking on salaries and such. Take what works for you from them. If I hear a billionaire saves money by doing X, I don't ignore it because s/he's rich. I see whether I can use the tip!

badassprof

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #389 on: March 30, 2018, 08:30:11 AM »
 I think that someone on the previous thread hit the nail on the head:  while we might like to think that FI or RE is available to anyone willing to save and put in the work, the fact is that is much easier--and indeed much more likely--if you have a significant income to save (or money from an inheritance, a house sale, etc). As noted, 54,000 (the FW average spending [and MMM's is around there too, as I recall]) is the average income--before deductions-- of many. The fact that they can save on top of that points to a high wage, whether they reveal that or not.

I've read the FW blog for awhile, and I don't recall them saying, "Hey, anyone can do this, etc."  I suspect the ire in this thread and the other is that the blog exposes--unwittingly or not--the importance of income (not to mention stellar benefits and the ability to work from home and thus live in a less expensive area), and the fundamental inequities in those perks, particularly among millennials. 

nick663

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #390 on: March 30, 2018, 08:44:03 AM »

And yet in that first link I posted here:

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

She states that they have high paying jobs.  So while it's super fun to look at one statement, take it out of context, and blow it all out of proportion by claiming they live in a bubble and have no sense of what's average, it's not really the case at all.  They obviously know they make a lot of money.  It's probably why she writes so much about how privileged they are. 

But of course by this point, the pitchforks are out and all of these anti-MMM attitudes are feeding upon each other, so there's probably not much anyone can do to stem the tide.  I tried though.
"High paying" relative to what though?  A couple paragraphs before that she mentions being in a "higher earning category than many other people in the world" ...which is true for pretty much anyone in the United States.  The median household income of earth is less than 10k.

Jobs.  Relative to other jobs.  Hence the phrase "high paying jobs".
Well duh but jobs exist outside of the US.  That article was about privilege and they're not just privileged relative to those in the US.

Tyson

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #391 on: March 30, 2018, 10:25:02 AM »
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say. 

Vertical Mode

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #392 on: March 30, 2018, 10:32:26 AM »
Wow -- this NYT editorial discussing anxiety around affluence sure is pertinent to this discussion:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/opinion/sunday/what-the-rich-wont-tell-you.html

"Scott and his wife had spent $600,000 in the year before our conversation. “We just can’t understand how we spent that much money,” he told me. “That’s kind of a little spousal joke. You know, like: ‘Hey. Do you feel like this is the $600,000 lifestyle? Whooo!’ ” Rather than living the high life that he imagined would carry such a price tag, he described himself as “frenetic,” asserting, “I’m running around, I’m making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” Having money does not mean, in his view, that he is not ordinary."

O_O

[this isn't related to your point about anxiety, but it, um, stuck out to me.]

How the flying fuck does one spend $50k a MONTH and not understand how they spent it?! In NYC I guess mortgages are expensive on what must be multi-million dollar properties, but holy smokes! There's an eye-opener.

One of the things I admire about the FW's is that despite their apparently high incomes, they have thus far resisted the temptation to inflate their lifestyles and are still very forthcoming about their expenses. That's an interesting facet of their story that to me is only amplified by the revelation of them having very substantial salaries. Some of the folks in this story earn as much or more, yet can't seem to figure out how to not blow it all. You don't spend $600k per year by buying $6 bread. [Insert groan-inducing "dough" pun here, if you're into that.]

I understand where the outrage is coming from, and why some folks are left feeling like the rug was pulled out from under them; I'm in the camp that doesn't feel especially misled because I wasn't all that surprised to discover that they were very high earners. I've read their blog for years and have always operated under the impression that they earned more than they let on. That said, my reaction is to be happy for them for playing the hand they were dealt to enable themselves to live an intentional life.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #393 on: March 30, 2018, 10:51:27 AM »
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say.

Lol

nick663

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #394 on: March 30, 2018, 11:06:12 AM »
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say.
Yes, being somewhat obtuse there but he accused others of using words out of context while wanting to focus on 3 words in a 5,000 word blog post.  He wants to nitpick, let's nitpick. :)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 11:44:43 AM by nick663 »

Basenji

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #395 on: March 30, 2018, 11:20:09 AM »
I think that someone on the previous thread hit the nail on the head:  while we might like to think that FI or RE is available to anyone willing to save and put in the work, the fact is that is much easier--and indeed much more likely--if you have a significant income to save (or money from an inheritance, a house sale, etc). As noted, 54,000 (the FW average spending [and MMM's is around there too, as I recall]) is the average income--before deductions-- of many. The fact that they can save on top of that points to a high wage, whether they reveal that or not.

I've read the FW blog for awhile, and I don't recall them saying, "Hey, anyone can do this, etc."  I suspect the ire in this thread and the other is that the blog exposes--unwittingly or not--the importance of income (not to mention stellar benefits and the ability to work from home and thus live in a less expensive area), and the fundamental inequities in those perks, particularly among millennials.

Agreed, badassprof. Life circumstances are unfair from day one. One can either give up and say, "It's impossible for me to FIRE on my low salary." Or one can make the best of a situation. Even if someone can't fully FIRE, saving money puts one in a stronger position than being in debt. I think attacking Frugalwoods for making/having money is sour grapes and approaches personal stalking with the internet searches for taxes and salaries. Newsflash: a person who makes more money than you can (in theory) save more money and do it more quickly than you can! Math!

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #396 on: March 30, 2018, 03:37:44 PM »
Frugalwoods - "We have high paying jobs".

nick663 - "Yeah, but what does that MEAN!!!!?????"

Me - Uhm, sometimes words mean exactly what they say.
Yes, being somewhat obtuse there but he accused others of using words out of context while wanting to focus on 3 words in a 5,000 word blog post.  He wants to nitpick, let's nitpick. :)

Well Nick, I'll let you in on a secret.  High paying jobs relative to the US would still be high paying jobs relative to jobs outside of the US.  So no matter the comparative item, the meaning would be the same.  I'm a bit surprised you needed someone to explain that to you, but I'm happy to be of assistance.

Please read the other 4997 words (you can, right?) and you'll see that they agree with my points.  They will also provide context for the 3 words I used, which will show that I was not taking them out of context.

And I didn't nitpick anything.  I was attempting to show the nitpickers that they were wrong.  This is because a 5000 word post provides better information than a one sentence tag line designed to sell books.  That was the nitpicking that was taking place.  Did you happen to read the multiple posts accusing them of living in a bubble due to a single sentence?  No?  That's okay, as I'm assuming this is your reading comprehension problem cropping up again.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #397 on: March 30, 2018, 03:46:35 PM »
I think that someone on the previous thread hit the nail on the head:  while we might like to think that FI or RE is available to anyone willing to save and put in the work, the fact is that is much easier--and indeed much more likely--if you have a significant income to save (or money from an inheritance, a house sale, etc). As noted, 54,000 (the FW average spending [and MMM's is around there too, as I recall]) is the average income--before deductions-- of many. The fact that they can save on top of that points to a high wage, whether they reveal that or not.

I've read the FW blog for awhile, and I don't recall them saying, "Hey, anyone can do this, etc."  I suspect the ire in this thread and the other is that the blog exposes--unwittingly or not--the importance of income (not to mention stellar benefits and the ability to work from home and thus live in a less expensive area), and the fundamental inequities in those perks, particularly among millennials.

Agreed, badassprof. Life circumstances are unfair from day one. One can either give up and say, "It's impossible for me to FIRE on my low salary." Or one can make the best of a situation. Even if someone can't fully FIRE, saving money puts one in a stronger position than being in debt. I think attacking Frugalwoods for making/having money is sour grapes and approaches personal stalking with the internet searches for taxes and salaries. Newsflash: a person who makes more money than you can (in theory) save more money and do it more quickly than you can! Math!

Agreed. Like I said on the other thread, I think this entire discussion is tacky. This isn’t CSI: FIRE, but people are internet sleuthing like their lives depend on verifying if people who have said they make incredible salaries as part of their FIRE strategy, actually do. I expect more from the MMM community than this level of pettiness. This isn’t reddit. I wish the mods would close of this discussion. Nothing new is being said, it’s beating a dead horse and asking people to stalk and investigate innocent people who have done nothing but shared far more than anyone here complaining about their lives, in order to help others improve theirs. Be better people!

FIREwannabe

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #398 on: March 30, 2018, 07:40:52 PM »
For the record, I don't begrudge the Frugalwoods their income or their success.  If the book had been made available as a free download from the blog, I bet there wouldn't be as much arguing going on about them.  Speaking only for myself (and probably for others, given the comments on this forum), I feel like I've been duped by purchasing the book.  It is disingenuous.  It is not retirement advice, but an accounting of how two well paid individuals managed to live on the average/median income of the US household.  They have set goals and managed to live up to this goals, in part by creating a fan club that helps add to their net worth.  If the envelope hadn't been pushed to monetize their own life story by writing a pure-play vanity piece and selling it for more money than it is worth, the Frugalwoods wouldn't be facing the ire of those who (like I do) feel duped.

For the record, I have worked for investment banks for the past 16 years in a support role.  Like the Frugalwoods, I have never earned an investment banker salary, but investment bankers keep me very busy.  In the first few years of an investment banker's career, it would not be surprising to find that first- second- third- fourth- fifth-year bankers (pretty much everyone who isn't at least a VP) live, not on seltzer water, but on Red Bull and other caffeine/energy drinks.  My day starts anytime between 7:30 and 8 AM; it ends anytime between 5:30 and 7 PM - if I'm lucky.  The bankers, meanwhile, stay at their desks.  Many mornings, there will be an email sent at 8PM with a request; a follow-up email will be sent anywhere between 11 PM and 2 AM; and often, there will be a "when will you get this to me? I need it ASAP!" email sent between 5 and 6 AM.  No investment banker can go hiking every weekend, or even get a regular sleep schedule.  Many have joined the building's gym just to access the showers.  Six years ago one investment banker I did work for, who had been employed at this bank for less than a year, died in his sleep.  Investment bankers are overpaid, but they are also overworked.  Given the blog posts about the daily life of the family, it seems that neither of them have comparable work stress (despite the fact that he does have a more-than-comparable salary). 

And I'm not saying either of the Frugalwoods should work themselves to exhaustion, but I don't like using my limited funds to add to their less limited funds.  There is more in the book about how Mrs. Frugalwoods gave up make-up than how she managed to leave an employer, go to graduate school, and get the former employer to create a new position to bring her back.  Some tips about that would have been useful, and maybe earned the purchase price.  Instead we go from a distracted employee in a meeting learning that there will be layoffs, to a relieved comment about how she managed to keep her job.  This book is full of potential pitfalls, which the Frugalwoods managed to avoid because they are so awesome and frugal that the trouble that might hit your life or mine sees their combined strength and goes in the other direction.  Everything is mentioned in this book except the details that might be put to use in your life or mine.  This is the story of how their lives went from good to great - a total puff piece.  From all the pre-publicity hype, I expected more.  And I feel like an idiotic dupe for aiding and abetting them. 

Given the fact that there are so many other posts calling them out for their humble-bragging/obfuscation/misdirection/etc, I don't think I'm the only one.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #399 on: March 30, 2018, 08:56:24 PM »
For the record, I don't begrudge the Frugalwoods their income or their success.  If the book had been made available as a free download from the blog, I bet there wouldn't be as much arguing going on about them.  Speaking only for myself (and probably for others, given the comments on this forum), I feel like I've been duped by purchasing the book.  It is disingenuous.  It is not retirement advice, but an accounting of how two well paid individuals managed to live on the average/median income of the US household.  They have set goals and managed to live up to this goals, in part by creating a fan club that helps add to their net worth.  If the envelope hadn't been pushed to monetize their own life story by writing a pure-play vanity piece and selling it for more money than it is worth, the Frugalwoods wouldn't be facing the ire of those who (like I do) feel duped.

For the record, I have worked for investment banks for the past 16 years in a support role.  Like the Frugalwoods, I have never earned an investment banker salary, but investment bankers keep me very busy.  In the first few years of an investment banker's career, it would not be surprising to find that first- second- third- fourth- fifth-year bankers (pretty much everyone who isn't at least a VP) live, not on seltzer water, but on Red Bull and other caffeine/energy drinks.  My day starts anytime between 7:30 and 8 AM; it ends anytime between 5:30 and 7 PM - if I'm lucky.  The bankers, meanwhile, stay at their desks.  Many mornings, there will be an email sent at 8PM with a request; a follow-up email will be sent anywhere between 11 PM and 2 AM; and often, there will be a "when will you get this to me? I need it ASAP!" email sent between 5 and 6 AM.  No investment banker can go hiking every weekend, or even get a regular sleep schedule.  Many have joined the building's gym just to access the showers.  Six years ago one investment banker I did work for, who had been employed at this bank for less than a year, died in his sleep.  Investment bankers are overpaid, but they are also overworked.  Given the blog posts about the daily life of the family, it seems that neither of them have comparable work stress (despite the fact that he does have a more-than-comparable salary). 

And I'm not saying either of the Frugalwoods should work themselves to exhaustion, but I don't like using my limited funds to add to their less limited funds.  There is more in the book about how Mrs. Frugalwoods gave up make-up than how she managed to leave an employer, go to graduate school, and get the former employer to create a new position to bring her back.  Some tips about that would have been useful, and maybe earned the purchase price.  Instead we go from a distracted employee in a meeting learning that there will be layoffs, to a relieved comment about how she managed to keep her job.  This book is full of potential pitfalls, which the Frugalwoods managed to avoid because they are so awesome and frugal that the trouble that might hit your life or mine sees their combined strength and goes in the other direction.  Everything is mentioned in this book except the details that might be put to use in your life or mine.  This is the story of how their lives went from good to great - a total puff piece.  From all the pre-publicity hype, I expected more.  And I feel like an idiotic dupe for aiding and abetting them. 

Given the fact that there are so many other posts calling them out for their humble-bragging/obfuscation/misdirection/etc, I don't think I'm the only one.

This seems so petty to me. You bought the book, did you read it? Was there anything valuable you could use? They aren’t talking out their ass about anything. Now, you feel duped? Sheesh. You should have just read their blog, that was free or this one. Not sure what secrets of the universe you thought they had hidden in their book that they hadn’t already covered. And this is your first post? Maybe the lesson is that sometimes the people writing books aren’t the myths we want them to be, doesn’t change that we can find value still in their words. Petty.