As I’ve been trimming our budget, I started to think about if we are perceived as frugal to outsiders. Is it enough to save over 60% of our income even while we transitioned to a single income? I know when we compare our spending to our parents or other extremely frugal bloggers, we spend more but we earn more.
However, when we compare our spending to our high income peers and friends we seem extremely frugal. Do you consider frugality a factor of income? We live comfortably, but not living with an abundance of luxury merchandise.
We haven’t felt any hunger pangs from frugality and we still save over 60% of our income, even when budgeting for a single income. We were fortunate that both of our professions found their way on the top 25 highest paying jobs in America and neither career path required a medical or law school degree.
Here are some of the ways we save over 60% of our income.
1) We relocated from Philadelphia to Atlanta
We moved to a low cost of living state and bought a 20 year old house in an established neighborhood within a top 5 school district in Georgia. Our house is over 3500 sq ft but costs less than our townhouse in Philadelphia and our tax bill was halved.
2) We live in a modest house
Sure, we could afford to step it up and buy a much larger house and lot, but more property comes with more hassle. Everything gets more expensive like moving expenses, maintenance, utilities, taxes, furnishings and equipment. It doesn’t seem worth it to move on up and we would lose out on our home being a quasi investment.
3) We have no debt except a small mortgage
Our student loans are long paid off. We pay our credit card in full every month and get rewarded with airline miles and hotel stays. We never finance automobiles or other consumer purchases.
4) Our children will go to public school
Since we live in one of the top 5 public school districts there is no need to send our children to one of the many private schools in the area.
5) We avoid country club situations
I love playing golf, but only get out a few times a year. I have been extended offers to play with neighbors at their club and went to play once for free. I don’t really understand the culture. Maybe its because we weren’t brought up with money. The idea that I would have to spend a certain amount every month seems ridiculous. We barely even eat out to begin with.
6) We keep our cars for at least 10 years and never have a car payment
At face value it looks like we spend on cars. We just replaced my 10 year old car with a larger kid carrier and Mrs TPM’s SUV was replaced with a 4Runner in 2013. My bachelor car was squeezed unfortunately or else I would still be driving it.
We plan on keeping these cars for a long time. Maybe even lil TPM #1 will learn to drive in one of them.
7) We decorate our home ourselves
I know big deal right. We have a few friends who hire interior decorators and their houses look fantastic. With a dog and two little kids this would be equivalent to going out back a burning a few thousand dollars in the fire pit.
8) We shop around to find the lowest cost food and household supplies.
9) We rarely go out to eat
At most we go out once a month and it is normally pub food our taking the little ones for pizza. 90% of household cooking is prepared by yours truly.
10) Our entertainment budget minimal
The extent of our entertainment is cable, Netflix, an occasional video game, four rounds of golf a year and a gym membership.
For the kids we purchased annual memberships to the Zoo and the Aquarium. These cost about two visits each. We have been to the Zoo five times so far this summer and the aquarium six times. These are very efficient outings.
We have avoided concerts, sporting events, movie theaters and any event drawing large crowds.
11) We vacation frugally
We usually vacation with extended family and rent a beach house. Sometimes the expense is a tank of gas and less than a thousand dollars. We usually cook at the rental house and minimize time at restaurants.
When we fly we almost always use airline miles gained through our credit card points and accrued from business travel. If we stay in hotels, it is usually a Hilton where I accrued hundreds of thousands of points from back when I traveled every week for work. We keep adding points from our credit card.
We also try to bolt on mini vacations when traveling for work to minimize cost.
12) We negotiate everything we can
We haven’t cut the cord but we do negotiate our cable bill every year. If they don’t accept, we switch providers. We have gone from Comcast to Direct TV and back to Comcast.
We express our dissatisfaction when there is pitiful service and usually this ends with some tangible reimbursement. We have been successful with airlines and cable providers.
When shopping for cars I usually negotiate the same car at two to three different independent dealerships. This lets me understand each dealerships lowest cost and provides additional negotiating leverage. Its time consuming and at times very frustrating, but we have saved thousands doing this.
We are not perfect but not willing to compromise on these things
Sure we could spend a lot more and have some interesting things, luxury cars, and take exotic vacations with luxury accommodations. At the end of the day we have nobody to impress and rather like the simplicity of how things are. Our travels have already brought us all over the Caribbean. We’ve been to Hawaii more than once. For work I’ve traveled across Europe on the corporate dime. Some day we’d like to travel more, for now we will not compromise on:
- Quality food, preferable organic.
- Experiences/Memories as a family (and more travel when kids are a little older)
- Dependable, Safe and Reliable Transportation. (I used to travel on MARTA rail and was once in the middle of shot out in downtown Atlanta)
- Good Beer, preferably IPA.
Is it enough to save over 60% of our income to be frugal? What tactics do you use to save money as your income grows in your career?