To aspire to be a millionaire is a lofty goal, and one possible way of achieving that objective is to first become a frugillionaire. This is the philosophy of author Francine Jay, who penned Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune. It's a guide about mindful spending with tips for helping you live a life you want and enjoying frugal living with greater reward.
LoveToKnow Save talked with Jay about how saving more is important for young people, understanding your true desires, and learning how to "make do" with what you have.
Please tell us a little about your background.
In 1999, I had the good fortune to stumble upon Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, and was inspired to pursue financial independence. My husband and I decided to live well below our means: buying a bungalow instead of a McMansion, driving modest cars instead of luxury ones, and purchasing a minimum of material goods. By regularly saving half our income, we eliminated our debt, paid off our mortgage, and built a healthy emergency fund. At the same time, we learned how to live full and interesting lives--rich in arts, culture, and world travel--without spending a lot of money.
Why were you inspired to write your book?
During my own financial journey, I discovered the most effective, efficient, and enjoyable ways to save--and was so excited about their potential to improve people's lives, I wanted to shout them from the rooftops! I wrote Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune to share this easy path to prosperity with the world. Being a frugillionaire isn't about the number of zeroes in your net worth; but rather, being mindful about how you spend your money. It's a formula for leading a rich and happy life, while sidestepping all those financial bugaboos, like overconsumption and credit card debt, along the way.
While many of the tips apply to everyone, it seems like the primary audience is young people. Do you think individuals between the ages of 18-30 have a good financial foundation?
If I had this advice when I first graduated, I probably could have retired by now! Young adults can get a wonderful head start in life simply by starting to save at an early age. Unfortunately, they're constantly exposed to marketing messages that encourage the opposite. By writing this book, I hope to show them that frugality is not about being cheap, but rather growing rich--and how practicing it gives them a tremendous opportunity to lead financially secure lives.
Frugal Tips for Everyone
Your blog addresses many interesting issues, one of which is "frugal fatigue." What are some ways that we can let go of those reins a bit without losing our progress?
"Frugal fatigue" happens when we approach saving like a crash diet. At first we feel righteous and noble nibbling our celery sticks, but then a sense of deprivation kicks in and that chocolate cake (e.g., the cute handbag, the new iPod) starts to look more enticing than ever. We can beat frugal fatigue by taking a more balanced approach to our money management: being mindful of our spending, but allowing ourselves an occasional treat. If you're living frugally, a well-considered expenditure won't lay waste to your plans--on the contrary, it may very well help keep you on the path to your financial goals.
Another blog post I found interesting was for individuals to ask the question, "What if it was free?" Please tell us a little more about that exercise and what it teaches us about determining what we really want.
In "What If It Was Free?" I was speculating whether certain "desirable" possessions--like a big house, fancy car, or expensive jewelry--actually make our lives "better." In most instances, I concluded that such items actually have the opposite effect: causing us more worry and stress, and forcing us to spend more money maintaining and insuring them. Therefore, even if they were free, we'd be better off turning them down. Which begs the question: why aspire to own such items, or go into debt to acquire them, when life is much easier without them?
Please give us the steps for a "Make Do" month.
Ah, I love a good "Make Do" month! The idea is to meet all your needs, without purchasing anything new, for four weeks. If it helps, pretend some crisis has forced all retail stores to shut their doors. If the dishwasher breaks, fix it or live without it. If you want to read the new bestseller, get it from the library. If you're invited to a formal event, make do with (or re-fashion) something already in your closet. It's a fun challenge, and can really inspire some creativity. Plus, it helps us develop frugal habits that'll serve us well the rest of the year!
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
When people set out to save money, they often fail for two major reasons: they think that being frugal is difficult, and somewhat of a drag; and they lack specific techniques, and don't know where to start. I wrote Frugillionaire to eliminate these obstacles; my goal was to make saving easy and enjoyable, with 500 foolproof (and fabulous) techniques. Most of all, however, I wanted to cultivate a new mindset with regard to money and material goods. Once we realize we can enrich our lives without buying stuff, a ton of pressure is lifted from our shoulders, and our bank accounts. It's incredibly liberating!