025: FI School Lesson 2 | Frugality and Saving

In this lesson, Ryan and Chrissy discuss the low-hanging fruits of FI—frugality and saving. We define frugality, what it means to us, and how you can implement it in your own FI journey. We’ll also share our favourite frugality content and give updates on the goals we shared in the intro episode of FI School.

Click to view transcript

Ryan 0:09
Welcome everybody to Explore FI Canada podcast—the future of personal finance in Canada. You’re listening to Explore FI Canada, and our special series, FI School, or as I like to call it, FIRE School.

Chrissy 0:25
No, it is not.

Ryan 0:28
Yeah, I’m creating a separate, you know, lesson and website and whatnot for FIRE School. Hope you know you have some competition coming.

Chrissy 0:35
Ah ha, let’s see do it.

Ryan 0:39
Calling my bluff and accurate. All right. My name is Ryan Myricks. I’m from Kitchener, Ontario and the author behind CanadianFIRE.ca and joining me from rainy Vancouver, BC is Chrissy, my co host and the author behind EatSleepBreatheFI.com. Hey, Chrissy,

Chrissy 0:56
Hello. It’s actually a little bit sunny today, which is nice.

Ryan 1:01
Lies.

Chrissy 1:03
The flowers are coming up, so it’s getting warmer.

Ryan 1:07
Hey, not bad. Not bad. I still have five foot snow banks at the end of my driveway but, yeah, that’s cool. And we’re recording this in early March in case we got this out a month later and people qre like, What are you talking about? It’s 20 degrees or something, right?

Ryan 1:25
Yeah, anyways, today we’re covering the second lesson of FI School, which is frugality and saving. Is it a stretch to say that this is kind of like the main entree of the FIRE movement? Would you say that’s, that’s agreeable or no?

Chrissy 1:43
I would say it’s what the FIRE movement is most known for. Probably not in the best light. I think a lot of people take it out of context and focus so much on that, that it seems like we’re obsessed with this portion of the journey. But really, I feel like it’s just the easy way for most of us get started. And so that’s why there seems to be a lot of focus on it.

Ryan 2:08
Okay, so let’s, let’s stop right here and just iron out the definition of what frugality actually is. And I know when people sometimes want to answer that question with what it’s not, but let’s stick to what frugality actually is.

Ryan 2:23
So in my opinion, frugality is simply just going with less, even though you could have more. I mean, that’s the actual basis of it, right? So if you have $50, you could buy something that’s $50. You could buy something that is equivalent, or simply more appropriate for what you actually need and value for $30.

Ryan 2:42
And making that conscious decision, even though everyone’s telling you to spend the 50 on the $50 item. You could just say, Well, why don’t I just be frugal about this and spend the 30. I mean, it isn’t that obvious.

Ryan 2:54
And I think it’s important to have that type of context where you see something that is less expensive, but more appropriate whereas other people are trying to tell you that it’s not more appropriate. And to me that is exactly what frugality is. It is kind of saying no to those type of people. Chrissy, what is your definition of frugality? What is it, actually?

Chrissy 3:15
I feel like it’s making more mindful decisions… all of what you said, but in addition, there’s a lot more mindfulness to your spending and you’re not spending on things that are unnecessary and you’re not spending more than you really need to or should.

Chrissy 3:30
And that also leads me into the discussion of frugality versus cheapness. And there is a difference, you know, when you are being cheap, you are hurting other people or taking away from other people or doing something that’s skating the line between ethical and not ethical. So, frugality is about making smarter choices and not wasting basically, to me, that’s what sums it up.

Ryan 4:00
Yeah, isn’t it funny though, right? Because just into your response, maybe like 30 words in you began like defending almost you know what I mean? Like more of a defensive posture and don’t get me wrong, my answer was very similar, right?

Ryan 4:12
It was, it was very like, you have the people trying to tell you that it is something else or whatever and frugality can sometimes feel like an ongoing war of sorts because you’re constantly picking what you value.

Ryan 4:28
And you’re having to sort through all the BS out there to find what is actually important to you in life and where your money is going in particular to this episode, like what you’re actually tapping your credit card to buy.

Ryan 4:42
It matters a great deal to a frugal person. And to me that is a fundamental and all important step to the FIRE movement like it has to it has to be part of it. I have what I call the FIRE ethos, which I basically describe as: a third, increase your income, a third, frugality, and a third, investing.

Ryan 5:04
And I think you have to hit every single third in order to basically join the movement and actually be a part of it and see some actual results because it’s not enough if you just focus on increasing your income alone, because if you increase your income, you might just increase your spending and as to come to lifestyle inflation.

Ryan 5:21
And if you increase your income and save a whole lot with frugality, you’re not investing your money. You’re just gonna lose it to inflation or something like that, right? And you have these very important sectors and frugality is probably in my opinion, a third of the pie. I think it is that critical that we must embrace frugality.

Chrissy 5:42
Yeah, I fully agree with you. I like that FIRE ethos that you put out there. It explains it perfectly and I would have to agree that frugality is it needs to be a big part of the journey. Because without it, you’re just spending like crazy.

Chrissy 5:58
And you’re not watching where your dollars are going and whether you really need to be spending as much as you are on certain things. So, yeah, it’s important and the way it ties into the FI journey, I think, is that it’s a fantastic starting point, just because anybody can get more frugal.

Chrissy 6:16
Earning more is a lot harder, as well as investing. Investing takes, there’s a learning curve there, right. So there are barriers to entry for earning more income and starting with investing, whereas frugality anyone could start this very moment. You could cut back on things so easily and so quickly, and that’s why I think it’s a great starting place for increasing your savings by going with more frugal choices.

Ryan 6:43
Yeah, frugality is the low hanging fruit, isn’t it? Like whenever anybody discovers the FIRE movement, and I’m assuming a lot of our listeners could be quite new to financial independence, but man, starting with frugality is an awesome way to go because you can get such minor but significant incremental gains.

Ryan 7:02
And you can really just stack up those wins and on top of each other, you know switching your insurance, switching your cell phone provider, shopping at No Frills instead of Fortinos or something like that, right? Like you can get these little little things just keep switching it over and over again and no one’s going to really know because you’re not going to change anything.

Ryan 7:19
And yet, your amount of spending is going to go down and then you’re naturally becoming more frugal, you’re becoming more aware of your financial decisions. And that is so powerful. So I wouldn’t actually even be surprised Chrissy if people just skipped all the rest of our FI School lessons and started with this one.

Ryan 7:35
Just because of how easy frugality can be to embrace and achieve and it really does take like some, a bit of motivation, especially for the people who are high income earners and have have a Fortinos right beside them to use my previous example, right? It’s hard to go past it and find the food basics or what have you, right.

Chrissy 7:55
Yeah, I agree. It’s it’s a great place to start. It’s like the snowball method with Dave Ramsey, how you start with the smallest little thing that you can manage and then it just grows. And frugality is, is a very small easy thing that you can take on and you just get better.

Chrissy 8:11
It’s a skill too. I feel like it’s a muscle that you can exercise; your frugality muscle. So you start with really easy stuff, you know, maybe it’s energy saving where you make sure you turn off all your lights when you’re not using them or you switch to LED bulbs.

Chrissy 8:25
Those are pretty easy things that you can take on and then you move on up to bigger and bigger things like maybe changing your own oil for your car, things like that. But there are just endless options for frugality. It’s really only limited by your creativity.

Ryan 8:42
Yeah, I agree with that so much. I’m not at the level of changing my own oil yet. I’m not there yet. I know the Money Mechanic would be disappointed. But I am not there yet. You know, but that is why he asked that signature question on our interview episodes, right?

Ryan 8:57
Like he likes to know what people can do around the house or with their car. Because those are the easiest things just keep outsourcing, you know, you can just throw your hands up and say, I don’t know how to cook my own bathroom. Ah, this is too hard, you know, or something like that.

Ryan 9:10
Or, I mean, my own mother, for example, like she had to be convinced by the mechanic at Canadian Tire that she could change the light bulb on her Jeep. And she wanted to say like, no, no, no, throwing her hands up in the air, like I, I don’t know anything about cars, I’m going to do this wrong. I’m going to blow up the light bulb.

Ryan 9:27
And the guy had to literally just like, take her to her Jeep and say you can pay me 30 or 50 bucks an hour to change the light bulb. And by the way, that is what you’re going to pay even though it’s going to take me two seconds.

Ryan 9:37
Or you can pop that thing out right there from inside your trunk, unscrew the light bulb and screw in the new light bulb and then put the cover back on. It’s your choice, right? And you know, you kind of have to… a frugal person to someone who’s frugal by nature is going to be able to explore this type of option.

Ryan 9:54
And it’s that type of way of thinking that I really want to get across with this episode that you don’t have to always go with the status quo, right? The mechanic, maybe someone who’s much less nice than the one my mom went to is going to convince you that you need them to do this because you can’t be trusted with your own car, right? I mean, I service your oil I change your tires. You can’t be trusted with a light bulb, can you?

Chrissy 10:20
It’s true. Well, yeah, there are lots and lots of ways to be frugal. And I think what people need to remember is that all of us are capable of being frugal and all of us are capable of thinking of our own ways that fit into our own lifestyle that will not make it feel like deprivation.

Chrissy 10:39
So it’s, it’s just so flexible, you can scale it up, you can scale it down, you can take a break, but when you choose to do it, it can make a huge difference because there are so many little ways that you can be frugal that they add up over time and they compound and before you know it you’ve got… you’re saving thousands every year just because of small, little, more intentional choices.

Ryan 11:02
Yeah, I love it and, and a frugal person… the best way you can tell a frugal person is when they do dole out the money you know, when they do whip open the wallet and they’re just like, you know what? This costs a crap ton of money and I’m paying for it.

Ryan 11:16
And someone might be like, how can you possibly afford that and it’s like well, I save on all the other crap that I don’t care about because the celery at Fortinos is the exact same celery I bought at No Frills, but I bought it for $5 less, you know, and like, the No Name can of pineapple juice.

Ryan 11:31
It’s the exact same thing it came from the same factory to the same distribution centre but I just bought it at a store that sold it for a cheaper price. And now I can go and splurge on things, you know. Let’s use like Tesla for an example.

Ryan 11:44
Right, you know, like, maybe not Tesla but you know, like an electric car like that’s a very expensive purchase for some people but for a frugal person, they might be able to just flex that kind of cash that they have because they have a superb savings rate because they’re not wasting money on other stuff.

Ryan 12:00
So I think we’ve done a really good job of explaining what frugality is. And I’d like to then turn the conversation into our conversation pieces that we pick from your website. So we have some sources.

Ryan 12:14
If you guys have never been to FI School, on Chrissy’s blog EatSleepBreatheFI.com you’ll know that there’s a whole ton of resources and she usually links about like 10 or 15 or something like that. So we have a couple I think we have a couple books that we want to talk about and a Mr. Money Mustache article. So Chrissy, do you want to get right into that?

Chrissy 12:33
Sure. I guess I can talk about my pick for this episode, which is a book this time. And it’s a book that’s near and dear to my heart. I I just love it. I just read it in detail again recently. And that book is The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and that the title always makes me laugh.

Ryan 12:56
What? Say that one more time.

Chrissy 12:58
It’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette. So this lady, her name is Amy Dacyczyn. So she wrote what she called The Tightwad Gazette. I believe it started in 1990. And she wrote it for I think, maybe a decade. It was what you would call an email subscription these days.

Chrissy 13:17
She would send out, actually mail out, these newsletters to people whose I assume paid and subscribe to receive her newsletters. So I think every week they would receive this newsletter from her where she would list all these tips for being more frugal and how to save money.

Chrissy 13:34
And it was all collected. Some of it was from other readers submitting their tips, and a lot of it was her and she was just amazing with the amount of research she did. Some of the math she works out, for instance, how much powdered milk costs in various recipes versus using whole milk, things like that.

Chrissy 13:53
Just the amount of detail and time she put into the information she shared was just incredible. And this is before the internet. Now, this is the 90s. So yeah, there’s a little bit of internet, but most of what she did was through phoning people, reading magazines, reading recipe books, things like that, and just plain old pencil on paper math, things like that is what she did to collect this info.

Chrissy 14:15
So it’s just an amazing resource. So what she did was she took all of these newsletters, and over the years, she compiled them into three sets of books. At the end of it all those three books then became The Complete Tightwad Gazette, which has everything basically that she’s ever written.

Chrissy 14:34
Maybe not everything, but probably the best of all her newsletters combined into one huge compendium. And it’s amazing. If you’re into frugality, you have to read this book. I loved it.

Ryan 14:45
Wow. Yeah, I see here actually, that you’ve called it the Bible of frugality. So wow, I have not read it, but that’s very high praise coming from you. So I’m definitely going to have to look at my local library to check it out.

Chrissy 14:59
Oh, you do. It’s actually a book that I think you could buy and just keep on yourself and just refer to it. It’s fantastic. It’s just so packed with info. And as I was reading it, I had to stop every few minutes to write down one of the tips that I learned that I thought was worth keeping and sharing with other people.

Chrissy 15:17
And one thing that I really wanted to mention about the book that surprised me, like I said, this was written in the 90s, before the FIRE movement, and before FI, but she actually does mention FI in the book, and she says that she was, I think she became friends with Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez who wrote Your Money Or Your Life.

Chrissy 15:30
She had her community with her readers, but before this all existed, she had found these philosophies that we now call the FI movement. And she put it in place, and she actually reached early retirement with her husband.

Chrissy 15:30
And I think that’s just amazing that it’s existed all this time. And it was just this stealthy kind of movement. But people were into it. And people loved it. And other people were successful with frugality, and just learning how to invest and save and they did it before the internet existed.

Chrissy 15:39
She has high praise for that book that there are a lot of interconnected philosophies in her book. And, and there’s, and the cool thing is she actually does write about FI. And she and her husband actually reached financial independence.

Chrissy 15:54
I don’t know exactly how old they were, but I think they were in their 40s and their kids were still relatively young. So, to me, that was quite an accomplishment that there was no internet movement. There was no community, per se, not like it exists now.

Ryan 16:44
Yeah, that’s actually astonishing. Actually, I’ve heard this stat before. I don’t know if it’s true. So I hope I’m not spreading misinformation here. But apparently, the average Canadian in 1994 did not know what the internet was.

Ryan 16:56
So just for anybody who’s younger, like me you know, growing up with the internet was like, just part of the fabric of being a human kind of thing. Yeah, it’s, it’s definitely incredible to hear about that. Because I mean, consumer culture has really been in full swing since, you know, the 60s or something like that maybe right?

Ryan 17:16
Maybe the 70s if you’re being generous, but to be able to figure this all out, before communities could mass as big as they can on the internet, and to write about it and be able to kind of spread that just like, just like Vicky and Joe, that you mentioned before from Your Money Or Your Life, that book.

Ryan 17:37
I mean, like, for anybody who doesn’t know, those are the grandparents of the FIRE movement, essentially, right? Like they were the ones that said like, if you just save and buy bonds back when bonds paid a whole lot more, you know, you don’t have to work anymore.

Ryan 17:48
Like It’s really that easy, right? So it’s very exciting. You know, when you when you hear about these, the the OCs, the original creators, you know, or you know, I don’t know yeah, very inspiring.

Chrissy 18:01
Well, I felt such an affinity for her and her book as I was reading it because I thought you could take this info she’s got here and put it into some modern FI blog and it would fit right in. It’s, it’s right up our alley. So I, I really, like, anyone in the FI community would just love this book.

Chrissy 18:22
And I hope it’s okay… I just want to read one kind of a long quote that she wrote about because it sums up what she was trying to teach people and it still holds true for the phi community today. So she…

Ryan 18:34
We love, we love quotes.

Chrissy 18:35
Yeah. So it’s kind of long, so bear with me. I’m gonna read it out. So she says:

Chrissy 18:40
“Consider retiring early. We’re conditioned to think that every breadwinner will work into their 60s. If our work creates extra income, we raise our standard of living. However, we can choose to live well beneath our means and invest the surplus.

Chrissy 18:55
When the interest from the investments equals our cost of living, we reach financial independence. Once freed from having to earn a living, you can devote your time to doing things you find more enriching. You might choose to volunteer or have a low paying but satisfying career.”

Chrissy 19:09
And so she goes on but that’s the gist of what she thought about financial independence way back in the 90s. I just think that was amazing. It was like I got smacked in the head when I read that. I thought, this this has existed for so long!

Chrissy 19:23
And how is it that there seemed to be this disconnect between what she did and then the modern FIRE movement? How is it that it seemed like it got lost and forgotten? I don’t know. I find that fascinating.

Ryan 19:37
I wanted to amplify my excitement for that one line in there. This one line that says we can choose to live well beneath our means and invest the surplus. Chrissy, did I not just mentioned the FIRE ethos at the beginning of this podcast episode?

Ryan 19:52
Yeah, that literally is what it is. Living beneath your means is increasing your income and lowering your expenses, right? The frugality and invest the surplus, right? Like, she’s already figured this out. And she did it without listening to podcasts like ours.

Ryan 20:07
I think that’s incredible that this has already been done. It’s tried and true. There is no misinformation that we are spreading here because this has been done 1,000 times before. And so I hope people really take away from something like that this is the Bible. It it really is it?

Chrissy 20:23
Yeah, it’s, I feel like it’s the foundation of FI if you can learn how to be frugal, you can go so far with it. So yeah, you’ve got to read this. It’s a fantastic read. It’s it’s a fun read. It’s kind of crazy some of the stuff that that some of the readers and she suggests.

Chrissy 20:41
But it what she points out over and over in her book is it’s not about the specific tactics. It’s about the mindset and about being creative and using your own wits and your own resources to be more frugal. It’s not about deprivation or trying to be as cheap as possible.

Chrissy 20:59
It’s just about getting more creative and rethinking this cultural stereotype that we’ve been sold that we have to consume, consume, consume. I really love that, you know, the general message that she’s trying to share in all of her newsletters.

Ryan 21:14
Chrissy I love it when you just totally tee me up for what I’m about to talk. I love you mentioned the D word, deprivation.

Chrissy 21:24
Yeah…

Ryan 21:24
Scary, right? Very, very scary. So while everyone is waiting to take The Complete Tightwad Gazette out of the library, you can head over to MrMoneyMustache.com. And we think that this is an amazing, amazing article. It’s actually a guest post by The Military Guide.

Ryan 21:43
So you can give that a Google as well to support him but basically, he wrote a guest post for Mr. Money Mustache, titled, Frugality is Not Deprivation. And I think from the outside looking in, people find the two hard to distinguish.

Ryan 22:00
Much like people have a hard time distinguishing income and net worth, right? They just think it’s one and the same when it’s really, really not. So I’m going to lead my my resource off with a quote as well because I think we will be able to better speak to it. So here it is:

Ryan 22:16
“The difference between frugality and deprivation is derived from your values. Everyone has a dividing line between the two. Frugality feels good, it makes you enthusiastic about reaching your goals. It’s a challenge and when you’re doing well at it, then you feel like a winner.

Ryan 22:30
You might not even miss the consumerism or the materialistic lifestyle. Frugality matches your values and frees up quite a bit of savings for financial independence. You’re living a life that you enjoy and you’re making progress towards your goals.

Ryan 22:41
It’s easy to feel good about this. Deprivation sacrifices your values for a higher priority. It feels like slavery. Rather than volunteering, you may be making great progress but it’s definitely not easy and you will not feel good about prolonged deprivation. It’s extremely difficult to sustain and it usually leads to unhappiness.”

Ryan 23:00
So that was The Military Guide. That was not me just in case anyone thinks I’m stealing work. I’m not. I think that that was so so so well put. And I want to just pull it apart for our listeners for a second because frugal living feels good. But deprivation feels bad.

Ryan 23:19
And the balance between which side you’re on is entirely up to you. It is not up to anybody else, right? Some people really, really care what kind of shoes they have on, some people do not. So it doesn’t make sense for all of us to go and buy Pumas. Right, because some people will value in some people won’t, right?

Ryan 23:40
And that is, once you understand that, you know, and I guess Pumas is a crappy example for deprivation or something like that, because I guess they’re a quality shoemaker or whatever, but it is so important to note that you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses…

Ryan 23:55
And spend money where you have to and then for you to take away that money and say well, I don’t actually value this, that someone would say, oh, you’re just depriving yourself of the Pumas? No, I’m not. I’m just being frugal. Because I don’t care for these. I can buy the same value at Walmart for a lot cheaper. So why wouldn’t I do that? Chrissy, what are your thoughts on what I just read?

Chrissy 24:13
I think it’s fantastic. It’s so true. And I think what it’s also saying is, it’s partly mindset, right? It’s how you approach your frugality. If you’re looking at it, as I’m giving up stuff, because I have no choice and I have to, you’re going to feel deprived.

Chrissy 24:32
And Amy Dacyczyn actually touches on this in The Tightwad Gazette. She also talks about how when we choose to for instance, paint our own house or fix our own car, if we’re feeling like we’re doing it because we have no choice and that we don’t want to, then we’re going to feel awful about it and deprived.

Chrissy 24:51
Whereas if we think, I am choosing to do this and I’m choosing to learn a new skill, or I’m choosing to save money in this way, and that’s because it will get me X, which might be freedom or it might be more time or whatever it is to save money for a vacation. But the point is that it’s the way you look at it a lot of the time, whether it then becomes deprivation to you or frugality.

Ryan 25:16
Yeah, I think deprivation in doses can be okay if not actually very beneficial. Because sometimes we create this story for ourselves, right? You know, I’m not a runner, I could never run. I hate running, bla bla bla bla bla, right?

Ryan 25:32
But if you hit the treadmill or start running outside, and you do it over and over again, and after three weeks, you say, That was horrible. I’m never doing that, again. You hate running, but you’ve deprived yourself of better times and happiness during, you know, the time spent you were running when you know you hated it, but at least you tried, right?

Ryan 25:52
At least you figured out that you really don’t like running and it wasn’t just the fact that your shoes were uncomfortable and that’s why you thought you didn’t like running, right? Or that your technique was horrible or something like that.

Ryan 26:01
And you’re like running on your heels the whole time or something like that, right? Like, you have to be able to dip your toe into deprivation, to really test your values. And I think that’s really important for everybody to understand.

Ryan 26:15
So maybe you do, buy the groceries that are 50% off and cook it that night, but there now you’ve just deprived yourself of time, you don’t have the time anymore. So if you bought something that’s 50% off, say with like Flash Food or something like that.

Ryan 26:31
You have to do something that night with the chicken that you just bought, you have to and now you’ve deprived yourself at the time but you saved yourself a lot of money. And if you can be okay with the fact that you just bought chicken, okay, you’re gonna cook it and freeze it or you’re gonna throw it straight into the freezer, you’re gonna blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right?

Ryan 26:47
I mean, when you make that conscious decision, you realise that the deprivation that you thought you were going to have to live with isn’t actually deprivation at all because it matched your values. And that’s really important for people to understand.

Chrissy 26:58
Absolutely, yeah. spending and saving according to your values is so key in the entire FI journey. When you stay true to your values, everything just falls into place. I think you’re right, a lot of the deprivation could result in… is a result of not being true to your values. And when you stray from that, that’s when the bad stuff happens. So I think getting clear on your values is so key to all of this.

Ryan 27:29
Definitely. Well, I think we’ve talked so well to frugality. I hope people have really enjoyed that. I think we need to catch up on our goals that we mentioned in the intro, Chrissy.

Chrissy 27:41
Yes, we neglected to do this on our last episode, and we apologise… our last episode of FI School. So we’re going to try to get back on that wagon this episode.

Ryan 27:53
So my goal was to ditch the credit cards for an entire month and spend only with cash. So, and the reason I wanted to choose this goal for myself, I’m still gonna do it.

Ryan 28:05
But the reason why I chose this goal for myself is that I think that I might be overspending just because I’m tapping with my credit card and I’m not getting that little jolt of pain or guilt when I have to fork over hundreds of dollars for groceries or something like that.

Ryan 28:19
Like, did I really need those Mike and Ikes or something like that? Am I overspending because I have a credit card and it’s so easy to make a transaction. Should I be feeling that little bit of pain by handing over 20s, right? So that’s, that’s what I want to know. I want to know if I’m overspending plain and simple.

Ryan 28:34
So, now my excuse for why I haven’t done it.

Chrissy 28:38
Ryan, why not?

Ryan 28:39
I have not done it. I know, I know it’s a disservice to our listeners, I apologise. But I haven’t done it because I’ve been churning credit cards. So I’ve actually been doing the whole increasing your income kind of third of the FIRE ethos pie.

Ryan 28:54
And I’m taking a trip actually this summer to Ottawa with my wife and daughter. My wife is graduating from University of Ottawa. And while she’s done the entire course online, we really want to go to like the convocation and like have her dress up in the robe and her diploma and all that kind of stuff. Right? It’s a master’s degree, right? So it’s gonna be…

Chrissy 29:14
Yeah, that’s awesome.

Ryan 29:15
It’s gonna be a lot of fun, right? And, by the way, if anyone’s listening in Ottawa, totally love to hang out. I begged my wife and she has agreed that I meet up while I’m there, because we’re gonna be there today. So yeah, I’m gonna have a meet up or something then it’s gonna be in the summer so we’re going to choose like a park or something like that. That’s going to be awesome.

Ryan 29:32
But anyways, yeah, so I’ve just been churning these credit cards to pay for the hotel. Plain and simple. All right, I’m not gonna fly there because Kitchener to Ottawa is only about I think it’s five hours, maybe five and a half hours.

Ryan 29:44
So we’re just going to drive but I didn’t want to pay for the hotels. So I churned the RBC Avion card for anybody that’s interested and the BMO the World Elite, whatever it is card that they have. And yeah, that’s basically bought me two hotels in downtown Ottawa. So…

Chrissy 30:03
Very nice!

Ryan 30:04
Nice, nice good ones, right? Which is great. And by the way I think the Air Miles card sucks but that’s a conversation for another time. Air Miles sucks and RBC is so easy. I will say that I really like RBC over BMO air miles but that’s just me. Anyways, Chrissy, your goals.

Chrissy 30:23
My goal, I was working on revising my retirement plan with my financial planner, Ed Rempel. And I wanted to look at our retirement number because we’ve been on our journey for a few years and we had some lifestyle inflation last year. So I wanted to know if yeah, it was bad.

Ryan 30:42
Sorry, I’m thinking of all the posts you made on your blog, like we got a third car, we got a dog, you know, so I’m not I’m not criticising you. I’m just, yeah, you know, you have and that’s okay. Like you said, you value those things. So it’s totally…

Chrissy 30:57
Or my husband values his car! So we are partners. Yeah, yes. So yeah, because of these large factors, I wanted to go over our numbers again with Ed and just to make sure we are still on track and… we’re still on track, but it turns out that we will have to add a couple of years to our FI date, which is fine.

Chrissy 31:22
My husband was aware that this is what would happen, but it wasn’t just his car or our dog. It was also that he really wants to give our kids a bit of money when they start their adult lives. It’s not going to be a lot, but he wants to give them a little lump sum just to get them started.

Chrissy 31:38
Whether it’s to buy a place or have a wedding, whatever it may be. He that’s something he really wants to do for them. And so that was part of it and also rolling in some future plans, large expenses, you know, things like replacing our roof, or appliances, replacing our cars, things like that we’ve amortised over the rest of our lives once we reach FI.

Chrissy 32:01
And we backwards, figured out how much that will work out to be and added it to our numbers. So our number looks artificially large because of those extras that we won’t be actually spending every year. But they will be going towards these bigger expenses that we’ll need to just take out suddenly, you know, five or 10 or 25 years down the road. So we did that.

Chrissy 32:22
And I did accomplish that goal. We we looked at all our numbers with Ed and reviewed it and we have a new revised plan now, just… not, the plan hasn’t changed, but the numbers have changed. So we, while it’s not great news that we have to add two years, it’s it’s doable. It’s realistic, and we have we’ve accepted it. My husband a little… yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Ryan 32:33
Well, I was just gonna interject here and just say, your husband, he traded his time for these purchases and he went into it knowing what he was doing and to me that that’s okay, right? I’m in no position to judge what you and your family value because we to different people.

Ryan 33:01
But it’s when, if this was like, totally caught him off guard, and he’s like, I just don’t understand how this happened, how could I possibly have to work longer then it’s like, well, you know, there’s a disconnect between what you’re actually spending your money on and what you value in accordance with your financial goals.

Ryan 33:16
In this case, it being financial independence, right. So I’m just glad that, you know, it was just, yeah, we accepted it, we knew that it was going to extend our date, but we’ve, we felt that we owed our children a bit of cash and that we wanted this car, you know, because I really like driving it or blah, blah, blah.

Ryan 33:34
You know, like it feeds the happiness motor in my life kind of thing. So, I think that’s great. Actually, I and it and it’s good that you have someone like Ed that you’ve hired to help you analyse and, and put those purchases into a context where you can actually date everything out. I think that’s really powerful.

Chrissy 33:52
Yeah, and the more, the farther I go in this journey, and the closer we get to FI, the more I appreciate that, I have sounding board with Ed. Because I have mentioned many times I’m not the most math savvy person, but to have someone who’s really good at math and really smart, checking my numbers and my plans and telling me Yeah, this is gonna work.

Chrissy 34:15
It brings me so much peace of mind and comfort to know that I’m not leading us down this crazy path that might not work out, you know, to have an expert confirm to me, Yeah, it’s fine. It’s gonna be okay. And this is how you’ll get there. It’s just, I can’t even describe how how much comfort it gives me and I feel like it’s so worth it to have Ed on our side and helping us there.

Ryan 34:39
Cool. So already by Lesson Two, you have accomplished your goal and I’m jealous. You have a new one for us or do we have to wait a few episodes for that?

Chrissy 34:49
Okay, so my new goal for the next episode to review is to take back our house cleaning. So we decided this, I think in December, my husband and I. We have a house cleaner. And people might judge me because I’m a stay-at-home-mom and I’ve had a house cleaner for a really long time.

Ryan 35:09
I’m judging you so hard right now.

Chrissy 35:12
And the reason why we had one for so long is because it started when I was pregnant with my first son. And this was 15 years ago that I was pregnant with him. And I could no longer clean the house because I was so pregnant, and I’m not a big person. And babies just take up a lot of room when I’m pregnant.

Chrissy 35:30
So I could barely walk around and stand it was just painful to be on my feet. And so it was just not okay for me to be doing the cleaning anymore at a certain point. And so my mom said just get a cleaner just try it out for a little while and I fought it for so long because I knew it was a slippery slope.

Chrissy 35:47
Once you get one it’s hard to go back. And that is in fact what happened. We got a cleaner and we haven’t looked back since then until recently. And part of it was because what we were doing was we were hiring cleaners who were nannies for families, but they wanted to side hustle, they wanted to earn extra income on the side.

Chrissy 36:06
So I felt like I was providing some meaningful employment to these really nice people who were working hard and sending money back home to their families. And, you know, I felt like why not support that and it saves us from having to do these tasks that none of us enjoyed and it gave me more time. And yeah, exactly.

Chrissy 36:06
And to do that they often did picked up random cleaning jobs like for families like mine. And for them, I felt like I was providing a good source of income, something alternative that actually paid them more per hour than their nannying jobs.

Ryan 36:38
Cleaning the toilets and scrubbing, right?

Chrissy 36:40
Yeah, yeah, it freed me to spend… exactly, no one really enjoys that! I’m sure some people do, but most of us don’t. And I just wanted more time with my kids, more time to focus on bigger ticket things, you know, tightening up our budget and trying to lower our bills, those kinds of things take time and not having to clean the house freed me to do that.

Chrissy 36:59
And I think in that it saved us more money to outsource the cleaning so that we could focus on more important things like cooking more, being with the kids, all those kinds of things. And so we did it. And it was, I guess, 15 years, almost 15 years now of having a cleaner.

Chrissy 37:15
And recently we, we looked at our budget again, because of all this FI talk and how it pushed our goals out longer. And we realised that was one thing that we actually could cut out now because our kids are old enough to help and I have more time now.

Chrissy 37:31
And we really, we aren’t that messy. We don’t host as many students as we used to. And so our house stays cleaner a lot longer than it previously did. And so we realised, you know what, this is something we could take on ourselves. We could vacuum every couple of weeks. It’s enough for us probably more now because we have our dog Mika and she sheds a lot so…

Ryan 37:52
Twice a week.

Chrissy 37:54
It is becoming that, but we realised that we can do it ourselves. I can get my kids to help and I can even pay them a little to help. Generally we don’t pay them to do chores. But this is something I could motivate them to help with more by paying them.

Chrissy 38:11
But all of that it, it’s something we could take on and save quite a bit because we were paying our cleaning lady quite well because we adored her and I felt like she was really doing well with the money she was sending it home…

Chrissy 38:23
And she was actually investing in real estate back where her family was still living, and she’s supporting her family all by herself on the income that she’s earning here. So I felt like it was it was worthwhile to me to pay her more than market rates just to keep her happy and help support her family.

Ryan 38:41
Can we know the final number like what like what you see for me? Yeah,

Chrissy 38:44
it was costing us around 100 bucks a month because she would come once about once every four weeks and we paid her 25 bucks an hour and she she cleaned for about three, three and a half hours but sometimes it would take her a little longer cuz she’s so hard working and she would just do way more than I asked her to do.

Chrissy 39:04
And so I felt bad paying for for only three hours. So I said, why don’t I just pay you 100 even? Sometimes it takes you longer, sometimes less, whatever, just take it. And so I would also give her Christmas gifts. So that factored into the cost. So it worked out to about 1300 dollars a year. So that’s quite a bit. But and to save that, yeah, it’s a lot.

Ryan 39:25
It’s kind of funny because we just talked about frugality so much. And if you were to look at it, like on the surface before anyone listened to her episode, and then they heard you just say all that they’d be going like, Oh my God, she’s not frugal at all.

Ryan 39:38
Right, you know, but um, yeah, I know you’re having those thoughts right now. Hit the rewind, go back to the beginning of this episode and listen again. Okay, I’m being too condescending. No, yeah, it’s a way that is a great way. I figured 50 bucks would get you like, three hours or something like that.

Ryan 39:56
I’m not I’m not really well versed in what cleaning services cost? Because I’ve never actually paid for them myself. But I’ve definitely thought about it, because it is constantly a tug of war. Yeah, I mean, my wife and I have who’s going to clean the bathtub.

Chrissy 40:13
And that was the case for us too. But it this is actually quite cheap compared to professional services. So that’s partly also why I was okay with paying her the amount that we did. And again, it was a feel-good kind of expenditure, because I knew she was doing good things with her money. She wasn’t just blowing it.

Chrissy 40:32
So there was all that that prevented me from revisiting this decision until recently, and we still haven’t told her yet. We’re going to have her clean one more time. And I’d like to tell her in person.

Ryan 40:42
Oh no.

Chrissy 40:43
Yeah.

Ryan 40:43
Well, you’ve been very nice on this podcast, just send this one to her.

Chrissy 40:50
I will talk to her. So I don’t think it’ll be a tough transition for us to take it back and do it ourselves. But the hard part is going to be telling her. So that’s what we’re working on. We’re transitioning away from her. And by next episode, hopefully I’ll have an update on that.

Ryan 41:07
Cool. So Chrissy do we do we want to wrap up the show at all with a summary or anything, a little, little key takeaway for our listeners.

Chrissy 41:16
Sure.

Ryan 41:17
The whole purpose of frugality is just to figure out what you value and the moment you realise what you care about and what you don’t care about. You begin pouring money into the things you do care about, and you ruthlessly destroy the things you don’t care about. If you don’t care what kind of water you’re drinking, tap water it is, you know that that’s the way I look at it. So do you have anything to add to that?

Chrissy 41:42
No, I think it’s perfect. And I like again, I’d like to reiterate that your Ethos of FI where you said it was about frugality, and investing and earning more income. Those, they’re perfect. It sums up the FI journey and where we should be putting our focus

Ryan 42:00
That’s awesome. Yeah, I know, um, I don’t remember which lesson it is, but one of them is income. So I think it’s Lesson 5. (Editor’s note: it’s actually Lesson 4) I’m not sure if it is. But it’s one of those. So I just want our listeners to know that if you want to hear more about what we think of increasing your income and how to invest, you are going to get those.

Ryan 42:18
Especially the investing one, we have three different lessons on basically what investing is going to be and we’re going to be talking about TFSAs and RRSPs and taxable accounts. To the best of our knowledge, we might have to bring in some expert help, but otherwise…

Ryan 42:33
Students, I hope you took notes, but in case you didn’t, and let’s face it, I’m sure most of you are commuting or doing the chores that Chrissy doesn’t want to do. You can head over to EFIC! ExploreFICanada.ca, where we’ll have links to Chrissy’s blog, the resources we talked about today, and stay tuned for the next lesson.

Ryan 42:52
It is Lesson 3, budgeting and tracking. That will be a fun one. And I think once people begin, implementing a lot of this frugality to their lives that budgeting and tracking is just the cherry on top. And you’re gonna you’re gonna love to track your money once you know exactly what it’s going to what, what values exactly you’re paying for. So, until next class, I will see you guys then. Bye!

Chrissy 43:19
Bye!

Transcribed by Otter.ai

Outro
Thanks for listening. You can find all our show notes at exploreficanada.ca.

If you like what you’re hearing, help us grow by sharing the show with friends and family. Please subscribe and leave us a comment or review on your favourite podcast directory.

You can also find us at our own blogs: figarage.ca, canadianfire.ca, or eatsleepbreathefi.com. Our music today was provided by Purple Planet.

We’ll be back with another episode soon. We’ll talk then.

Disclaimer: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. That means we may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking through our links.


Episode links

Transcript provider


Help us grow by:

  1. Leaving a review and subscribing in your favourite podcast directory.
  2. Sharing our show with family and friends.
  3. Using our referral links on the Our Recommendations page.

Thanks for your support!

2 Replies to “025: FI School Lesson 2 | Frugality and Saving”

  1. So funny to hear Chrissy talking about ‘The Complete Tightwad Gazette’ as I have been gradually making my way through it. I bought a second hand copy really cheaply on Amazon.

    I agreed with Ryan’s comment about ‘dipping your toe into deprivation’. When I discovered FI(RE) I really cut back on so much spending, but over that first year I realised that there were some things that I really missed, so I’ve increased spending on those for this year.

    And finally, Chrissy – a cleaner? Really? You’ve got to just think of it as free exercise – no gym membership required!

    1. Hi Sam—yes, it’s my guilty secret! Really bad, I know! I agree that it’s an excellent way to exercise—yet another reason to take it on myself.

      I’m happy to hear there’s another Tightwad Gazette reader out there. It’s really such an amazing resource… and as an added bonus, the dated references (mailing things, catalogues, etc.) were charming and nostalgic. 🙂

      I think you and Ryan are right that maybe we need to feel that little bit of deprivation in order to figure out our own boundaries. It’s all an important part of the journey.

      Thanks, as always, for listening and sharing your thoughts, Sam!

Leave a Reply