Back to Frugality

Last year was a smashing success financially. Our household income was the largest it had ever been but our spending wasn’t tracked whatsoever. We thought we could “go with the flow,” knowing our basic frugality would still end up leading to a large net worth increase.

And we were right, we had our largest net worth gains of all time! Of course the raging bull market had a lot to do with that, as I’m certain we spent more in 2017 that we had in any previous year.

As mentioned in my last post, saving is only one component to financial independence, making more money is just as important. However, I like knowing exactly how much we spend each month/year.

This year we are back on budget. Cooking more, shopping less. We have less vacations planned as well as our time is expensive. There are plenty of fun things to do in California so we might as well stay local for a while. Flying has lost much of its luster and I don’t enjoy short trips as much as I used to. Slow travel is my favorite form of travel and it will be unlimited in just a few short years.

So this year I’m going back to my frugal roots!

Saving half has never been that difficult for me. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money and in college I was poor so I just kept living a similar lifestyle.

Free housing and lunch in Korea made saving easy at the beginning of my career. Transportation costs were next to nothing since I could always walk or bike to work in under twenty minutes.

The Korean admins are smart enough to set up your apartment within walking distance to the school. And while the public transportation in Seoul is a million times better than BART; walking or biking is always preferable.

It’s been seven years since I lived in Korea but many of the lessons have stuck with me.

The first blog post I ever wrote was about biking to work. I started riding a couple of days per week once I realized it wasn’t much slower than simply driving. Seriously, my nine-mile driving commute was taking 30-45 minutes on most days. It was hard to bike on back-to-back days as I was typically a bit sore but I was happy with any progress made.

Once I switched jobs and started working east coast hours, biking to work went away entirely. My commute was still about nine miles but now it was in a different direction and at around 6 am, I had absolutely no traffic. I couldn’t commit to a 45-minute bike ride at 5:15 am when I could drive to the same place in 15 minutes.

Fortunately, my new company has had much more success than my previous two which has allowed us to grow exponentially, forcing a move into a larger office. That new office happens to be two and a half miles from my house.

No more nine-mile commute, no more excuses. I still work east coast hours but a 15-minute bike ride at 6 am really wakes me up in the morning!

So that’s what I’ve been doing the past month, biking to work. But this time I’ve been biking daily. I’m still a bit sore in the mornings, but I mostly blame the gym for that.

Thinking about my life in Korea versus today; not much has changed about how I live. My residence is still well under 800 sq. ft., I still bike to work, and I still eat free lunch Monday-Friday! And now I’m back to tracking my spending. It’s going to be a great year!

This article has 2 comments

  1. Pilar

    Tracking my expenses is hard for me. Ant tips? TY

    • Steve

      Sorry for the delay. YNAB has a large following. I prefer to use an Excel spreadsheet and calculate at the end of the month by logging into my credit card and bank accounts.