Who is the Frugal Paragon?
I’m a part-time work-at-home mom with a financial situation that is pretty typical. Mr. FP and I have student loans and a car loan. Our net worth is less than $50,000. We’re in our early thirties, we have two little kids, and Mr. FP is a schoolteacher.
But “typical” doesn’t seem good enough anymore. A little over a year ago, I discovered badass early retirement blogger Mr. Money Mustache and the concept of financial independence. MMM and his wife worked their asses off while stashing most of their incomes for several years so that they could both “retire” at age 30 and start a family free from the daily grind of full-time jobs.
Now I don’t know about you, but I learned about that way of life and said to myself, “Wait, why didn’t I do that?” And the reasons are, of course, many and varied, but mostly they boil down to the fact that I didn’t think of it and so I went about my life more or less like other people do.
I may have missed the boat on retiring at thirty and before procreating, but I’m ready to stop shoveling money the Everybody Else Way.
What’s the Everybody Else Way?
Well, for starters it’s a term I just made up. It refers to beginning with the assumption that if most of the people that you know personally are doing things a particular way, then that way is right. When you’re driving down the Everybody Else Way (because Everybody drives, right?) you often utter phrases like too much trouble or a big hassle. As in, “I thought about using cloth diapers, but I hear they’re a big hassle,” or “I just traded the car in at the dealership. It seemed like too much trouble to sell it myself.” You’re afraid that people will think you are “crunchy,” cheap, or just plain weird if you go a different way.
The thing is that when you go the Everybody Else Way, Everybody doesn’t pay for it; you do. And you are not just paying for it with dollars; you are paying for it with extra hours, days, years of your life that you will spend at work instead of reading, playing with your children or grandchildren, going for bike rides, and wearing your favorite jeans.
What do you mean, extra years of work?
The Everybody Else Way assumes that you will spend most of your income, no matter how much you make. It promises that if you save something like fifteen percent of your income, you can retire in your late fifties or early sixties and be able to keep on spending almost as much money as you were before.
But if you don’t spend most of your money, you won’t have to work as much for two reasons. One, you will have more money to save, so if you have a number in mind, you’ll reach it faster. Two, your savings goal can be lower because your expenses are lower. If your goal is to match, say, $50,000 in spending with investment income, you’ll have to save a lot more than if your goal is to match $25,000 in spending.
Having enough investment income to cover all your expenses even if you never earn a paycheck again is financial independence, and that’s the lofty long-term goal that I’m shooting for by becoming the Frugal Paragon.
So what’s the blog about, anyway?
In a nutshell, the Frugal Paragon blog is about starting the journey toward financial independence during the raising-little-kids years: financial decisions like debt payoff vs. savings, frugal living tricks, mindset changes, and balancing income generation against time with the little ones. If that sounds like the journey you’re on, too, then keep reading.