Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

(New York: HarperCollins, 2018), 225

Chapter 3

  • lifestyle creep (47-48)

Chapter 4

  • "We were growing less reliant on each other, and more on money to solve our problems" (57)
  • "Nature is resolute in its age, its splendor, and its absence of concern over my trifling little life." (60)
  • "Climbing a mountain isn’t easy and the physicality pushes out unnecesary, clogging thoughts." (63)

Chapter 5

  • Realtors, etc.: "We have a belief that the only people with our best interests at heart are us." (69)
  • "Bigger houses are one of the more insidious elements of lifestyle inflation." (73)
  • optionality of being able to rent out your house: "liquid cash and assets are what grease opportunity" (75)
  • she's "formerly Catholic" (75)
  • they are great at doing research about things they may be interested in in the future (real estate market, dogs, etc.)

Chapter 6

  • her starting a blog: "Sometimes it takes the perspective of an outsider (even if it's just your own spouse) to tell you what you need the most." (85)

Chapter 7

  • "My commitment to the secondhand market deepened as I witnessed firsthand the remarkable depreciation curve that new furniture [and cars, clothing] undergoes"...our tastes change and it can make sense to buy quality second-hand items (90-91)
  • "I'd thought money was the ultimate resource, but it was dawning on me that time is actually the greatest resource of all." (93)
  • Hedonic adaptation: we calibrate ourselves to whatever we repeatedly do; if we constantly remind ourselves (with consumption, eating out, ice cream, etc.), we deaden our ability to derive true pleasure from those rewards. Then we require larger and more frequent rewards. (94)
  • $0 budget: aim for spending $0 because every dollar you spend is stealing from your future self
  • DIY lifestyle (100)
  • frugality isn’t depravity but an opportunity to identify priorities (102-103)
  • modern bartering to trade your time for money, yoga class example (104-5)
  • loss aversion makes us feel deprived; need to find cheaper options that give similar result (107)
  • make your goal clear so that frugality isn’t about giving up, but what you’re gaining (110)

Chapter 8

  • "every single sale in the world won’t save you as much money as not buying anything" (118)
  • recognition of the false promises of feminism (122-3)
  • "letting go of caring what other people thought enabled me to figure out what I really wanted out of life, not what society wanted out of my life" (124)

Chapter 9

  • they had an 82% (!) savings rate (though some Amazon comments suggest they have a pretty high income) (125)
  • Financial independence: you no longer need to earn money in order to live (125-6); when a sustainable level of withdrawals from your assets is more than your ongoing expenses (135)
  • their investments (126-133):
      1. 401(k)
      1. Index funds
      1. Real estate
      1. Donor advised fund (for charitable contributions)
      1. Cash

Chapter 10

  • IKEA Effect: people experience greater satisfaction with projects they do themselves, even if the result is subpar (141)
  • "our consumer culture has co-opted our need for community, for safety, and for love, and packaged it up as something to be bought (141)
  • benefits of frugality: achieves the financial goal, more satisfaction in the work (140), brought them closer in their marriage (142), good for the environment (144), you have fewer decisions to make to make you unhappy (163), makes you more grateful (t222), self-insurance (223), perspective (225)
  • "when you do something yourself you permanently reduce your dependency on outside sources and permanently increase your own altitudes" (143)
  • Kondo: "when we tell ourselves that our stuff needs to bring us joy, we begin to justify downing money on everything that we think might possibly achieve that desire for us...things do not fulfill us" (149)
  • "paying money is the laziest, least creative way to solve a problem or reach a desired end" (150)
  • The only right answer to "Why can't you quit your job now?" is "Because I love my job and I don't want to quit." (152)

Chapter 11

  • Anxiety: "It's nearly impossible for me to rest in happiness because my brain picks away until it finds something fresh to worry about." (156-7)
  • what our kids need most is time with us, not things (166)

Chapter 14

  • owning a car is a luxury and should be paid for in cash (197)

Chapter 16

  • better community in a rural place (205) and inter-generational friends (208)
  • many rural people make living on the internet (210)
  • they both work and both stay home thanks to the internet and working remotely (214)
  • homestead to get both physical and mental work in (216)
  • "Having an intimate relationship with the natural world is a liberation from the technolgy, the pressures, the conformity, and the consumer-driven lifestyle of our modern age." (217)
  • They don’t buy gifts for each other, but they don't need to because they have "smoothed the happiness curve", i.e. their base level of happiness is very high by "creating a daily routine that embodies the things you love" (219)
  • "money doesn’t bring us happiness..." (221)