Fortunately, being frugal comes naturally to both me and Mr. German.
Which is great because it makes life easier to be on the same page. I would say that we approach frugality differently, with me focussing on optimizing our lives, and him focussing on buying good quality things.
Sometimes we experience a lot of tension in our approaches when they clash, but in the end, I am grateful that we both want to save money and not be wasteful. Plus, Mr. German is very cute
and stubborn so he often wins. 😛
Here is a list of 8 frugal things we do:
- Saving on rent by living in a cheap city with a bad reputation. While this sounds depressing, we are enjoying it! We pay 610 EUR per month to live in a 65 sqm (700 sq ft) flat. It’s only a 20 min train ride to the rich city next door where everyone wants to live. I will admit, it was very tempting to move to the rich city, but then we would be paying at least 50% more than what we are paying now. Neither of us work in this rich city, though I pass through it everyday on my commute.
- Furnishing our flat almost entirely with used furniture. And it looks great, if I do say so myself!! If we wanted to sell all our furniture now, we would likely turn a profit as we bought everything at low prices, even on the used market.
- Packing our lunches to work. We cook a lot, and make extra dinner to bring to work the next day. Since we both work in the middle of nowhere (not in the same office), the alternative would be relying on our cafeterias for lunch, which is blechhh!
- Eating whole, vegan food! Yep, there are a whole bunch of tasty things we can make using plants. It’s not only cheaper, but also healthy and compassionate. Our estimated food budget is 200 EUR per month for dried staples (variety of beans, rice and spices) and mostly organic fruits and veggies.
- Using public transit. I commute to work by train, so have a monthly pass (88 EUR) that also lets me bring a passenger with me for free on week nights, weekends, and public holidays. Germany is great for that! On these days, we rarely use the car because the train is just so much easier.
- Buying groceries on foot. We literally live across the street from a Lidl (discount grocery store), and Aldi (another discounter) is also a few steps away. Every time we want something, we walk over to buy it. You would think this is normal, but a lot of our neighbours still drive to buy their food even though it’s right there. *sigh* There is also a Netto, Real, and Edeka nearby that we’ll walk 10-20 minutes to if we want something specific.
- Home hair cuts / cheap hair cuts. I cut Mr. German’s hair every few weeks! I’m no expert, but it turns out alright (most of the time!). Mr. German has also cut my hair before, and I’ve tried to cut my own hair before too. But I prefer to get my hair done professionally by my very talented hairdresser friend/life saver who charges me only 20 EUR. This happens about 2-3x a year as I keep my hair a bit longer than shoulder length, which is a very low maintenance hair style for me.
- Entertaining ourselves with physical activity to counteract our sedentary jobs. Everyday we either bike or take a walk in the forest that’s only 800m from our doorstep. We’ve also taken up long boarding which is really fun, and spent about 100 EUR in mostly 2nd hand gear to get ourselves started (this can all be sold to break even if we lose interest); we play tennis in empty parking lots since there are no tennis courts near us (!), and I’ve started running 3x a week to train for my mini-marathon.
- Volunteering to walk dogs at the shelter. This is the 9th bullet point on my list of 8. I’m adding it here because we intend to do this very soon, we just haven’t yet. We’re big dog lovers but unfortunately are not able to look after dogs at this stage (rarely home, travel a lot, small rental apt with no dogs allowed). Instead, we’d like to help out and get some dog-time. I know I’ll fall in love with all of them, which will be heart wrenching – but it’s not about me, it’s about them!
Writing out this list made me feel good. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit stressed about the whole FIRE thing. I just needed a pick me up and to remember that it’s a journey that requires one step at a time!