Mr. and Mrs. AE live in Minnesota with their dog Finn and are going to be first time parents in early 2017. Outside of operating ApathyEnds.com, they enjoy trying out new restaurants and anything involving a MN lake.
1) Frugality in the personal finance sphere is really popular right? Why do you think this is?
I think Frugality is popular and pushed in the personal finance sphere because you can take action on it today. There is nothing stopping you from finding ways to cut costs or spend less right now. The other aspects of personal finance can take a lot longer to produce results. Specifically increasing income, developing a side hustle or investment gains.
All are important, but with frugality the results can be immediate.
2) Do you be think frugality is needed to reach financial independence for the millennial generation? Is there another way?
This is a tough question, I don’t necessarily think you need to be extremely frugal to reach financial independence. If you cut off lifestyle inflation where you are comfortable and are able to increase your income substantially you can reach FI without cutting spending to bare minimum levels.
If you are stuck in a career that has limited income potential being frugal becomes increasingly important.
Obviously if you can find a way to combine the two it happens faster – save more and need a smaller nest egg (provided you are okay living frugal for the future)
3) You’ve talked about the 7 levels of frugality in your blog before. Where do you think you fall in this spectrum? Can you give us examples of why you would classify yourself in this category?
We fall somewhere between “The Thoughtful Splurger” and “Frugal-Ish”
One of my characteristics for Frugality Master was:
“You will reach into the bottom of a 30 pound dog food bag to grab the last few kernels even though your arm will smell like dog food the rest of the day”
That is not something I am willing to do so we had to move down at least one level. I think we could cut 10-15% of our spending if we wanted (or needed) to and that is how we fit into the Frugal-Ish category. But we also Weigh Quality vs Cost on specific items we care about or use frequently and will pay higher prices.
4) Do you think it is possible for a natural spender to become frugal? If so, what would need to happen to make that change?
I definitely think it is possible, but its not easy and that is why most people don’t make the transition. It takes a lot of reflection on what makes you happy and then setting goals around it.
I consistently say this on my site – small incremental changes over time are the key to success. Some goals we have used are increasing our 401K 1% a quarter for a year or increasing student loan payments by a $100 over the course of the year. Don’t try to make a “big bang” change, it wont stick.
5) How do people that are natural savers and may not want to part with their money find balance while still remaining frugal?
I think they need to look at what they are saving money for. If it is just to stockpile it, then you need to figure out what makes you happy and start paying for some of those experiences.
Saving money just to have it doesn’t really make sense to me – figure out what your values are and set goals around them. A personal example for me is Freedom, I want to have enough saved that I don’t need a regular paycheck and working becomes a choice vs a need.
6) Do you think there is a difference between frugality and minimalism? If so, what are these differences?
I think the two intersect with minimalism going to an extreme of frugality. Almost like all Minimalists are Frugal but not all Frugal people are minimalists (at least the way I think of minimalists – its tough to define). I guess it would come down to how you view it yourself, but I think there are a lot more people in the frugal camp than the minimalist camp.
Even if you aren’t a full out minimalist (we are not), you can still put more thought into the items you own. We “de-cluttered” and got rid of 100s of unused items. I always joke that I don’t need to twist the spatula to get the kitchen drawer to close anymore.
7) Have certain experiences with money made you more or less frugal? If so, can you provide an example of an experience and tell us how this has affected your view of money?
I think mind games have had a significant impact on our spending. A few of my favorites are “How many hours of work does it take to pay for this” and “How much am I giving up in investment gains to buy this” – Once you get in the habit of asking yourself those questions it becomes a lot easier to skip or find an alternate solution.
Another motivating factor has been setting and hitting yearly goals and seeing the progress that can be made in a relatively short amount of time. If you aren’t doing this today I highly recommend it!
Thanks AE for taking the time to do this interview!