We’re Reaching Financial Independence Without Bikes or Baked Beans

That’s right! We’re reaching financial independence without riding our bikes to work. Ever. First of all, let me say that I am in awe of people who put this much effort into their financial independence journey. It’s not only the effort that astounds me, it’s also one’s willingness to risk their life to reach financial independence a little bit sooner. I mean let’s be real, for most people, riding a bike to work is risking your life. It certainly would be for me. So, I can say with 100% certainty, at my not-in-my-20s-anymore-age I absolutely REFUSE to risk my life each day on windy roads, in all sorts of weather, just to save a few bucks each week. It just ain’t happening.

As I just mentioned, there is absolutely no way I will be forgoing the comfort of my economical car so I can start biking to work to save a few bucks. And that’s not the only extreme frugal thing we refuse to embark on in order to reach financial independence a little earlier. Read on to see what else we’re NOT doing…

Biking To Work


Pinterest PinAgain, let me reiterate how much I do admire those who take the initiative to embark on such an extreme activity to reach FI. For us, it’s just not worth the effort. Unless I’m missing something, this can be extremely dangerous, can it not? I have a 13-minute commute (by car) to my job each day. But to get there on a bike would mean facing harsh elements, navigating dangerous curves, and competing with cars. No thank you! I’m all for combining trips and even carpooling – but I draw the line at actively risking my life to save a buck.

Never Going Out to Eat


Mr. MMM and I have flipped and flopped on this one over the years. It used to be my biggest financial nemesis! We both absolutely LOVE going out to eat. Thankfully, we have significantly curbed our restaurant budget since the early years. However, we have decided that depriving ourselves of this huge pleasure should not be carried out in our family for extended periods of time. It just makes us grumpy. So, we nixed the act of ALWAYS cooking at home and never enjoying a dinner out. To be clear, we do budget our outings and constantly seek out the most frugal option.

Baked Beans


Let’s be clear, I do love me a good batch of baked beans! In fact, baked beans are a rare treat in our house. But I can tell you this, Mr. MMM and I are not forcing ourselves to eat an overabundance of these little tasty guys in order to reach our FI goal faster.

That said, of course we watch our grocery bill. We purchase less expensive cuts of meat, stock up on weekly specials, and even order the majority of our groceries online to save money. Yes, we order our groceries online to save money. Not only does it save us money, it also saves us precious time. Check it out here!

Cutting Our Own Hair



Pizza I splurged on in Philly!

Lucky for us, Mr. MMM shaves his head! And he does take it upon himself to insource this almost daily grooming activity. Yay! I, on the other hand, am not so fortunate? I have long hair and so does our little Mini Monster, which makes for less frequent haircuts compared to our shorter-haired counterparts.

We tend to find ourselves in a local, trendy hair salon once every few months or so. Having long hairs (and no color or highlights) means we can indulge every now and then and be treated like loyalty. And, the haircuts are amazing! I have suffered through many a bad haircut in my day just to save a buck. Those days are over. And, I’m not apologizing for it. And yes, I do have a glass or two of wine while I’m there. Thank you very much!

Freezing In the Winter And Roasting In The Summer


Nope. Not gonna do it. We live in a small house, compared to the national average, and I refuse to sweat my butt off in the summer or freeze it off in the winter. Our home is well insulated and we have a highly efficient HVAC system. Our bills could certainly be lower than they are – but I’m not willing to sacrifice my comfort to save another few bucks. So I assure you, there are no thermostat wars in our house. We set it and forget it and live quite comfortably all year.

Mrs. MMM, How Can You Call Yourself Frugal?


Mad Money Cat

Mad Money Cat splurges on everything. #notfrugal #yolo

By now, some of my readers might be wondering how I could possibly claim to be a frugal activist. Not to worry, even though we splurge on a few things that we enjoy and value, we are quite the savers in lots of other arenas.

Here’s a list of things we continue to frugalize in order to reach our financial independence goal!


  • We rarely buy anything new
  • We’re a one-car family (even though we actually own two)
  • We buy used cars and drive them until they’re toast
  • Saving and investing is the first expense out of our income
  • There is no debt hanging over our heads, except our 2.7% mortgage
  • We don’t have cable! Psst…you shouldn’t either 😉
  • Free dates and entertainment are all the rage around our house
  • We invest found money – even if it’s just a couple hundred bucks!
  • The only birthday bash around here is in our backyard
  • We indulge in inexpensive staycations instead of traveling
  • No gym memberships here – we get our exercise at home
  • Eating out includes cheap stuff, like pizza
  • We host frugal evenings with friends at home

And THAT, is how we’re still reaching financial independence without riding our bikes to work or eating baked beans for dinner!

What about you? Do you advocate extreme behaviors like biking to work to save a buck and reach financial independence slightly sooner? If so, let us hear why!


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  • Cubert Jul 19, 2017, 3:26 pm

    I ride my bike to work about three days a week. I happen to be aspiring to early retirement. The two are mutually exclusive. One should consider biking to work if:
    1. You want some decent cardio
    2. You want to capture what little summertime we get after grade school
    3. You simply enjoy riding
    4. You care about the environment
    5. You get excited about saving serious coin on gas, wear, and insurance
    6. You want to avoid the stress of a god-awful commute
    Note that only one item on this list calls out the money factor. So yes, you’re being a bit lazy with this post.

    • Mad Money Monster Jul 19, 2017, 9:33 pm

      It really comes down to safety for me. Where I live it simply isn’t safe to ride my bike to work. I’d rather my daughter grow up with a mother as opposed to reaching FI a little bit sooner 😉

      • Cubert Jul 24, 2017, 9:49 am

        That’s fair, and not every situation allows for a reasonable bike commute. I wanted to point out that some of us like to bike to work for reasons purely unrelated to money. And we happen to be early retiree types. 😀 Cheers, and congrats on a fantastic blog!

        • Mad Money Monster Jul 24, 2017, 11:19 am

          Oh, of course…I won’t argue that. In fact, I absolutely LOVE riding bike and going on 20-milers whenever possible. Unfortunately, I’m not able to ride it to work for the reasons I mentioned. BUT, I am able to walk to the grocery store! That’s gotta count for something 🙂

  • Mr. Bk2fi Jun 4, 2017, 4:44 pm

    I save 50% of my income then don’t obsess over the rest.

    • Mad Money Monster Jun 7, 2017, 11:28 am

      Awesome accomplishment!

  • Ariel @ Frugal Mermaid May 31, 2017, 12:56 am

    I’m just glad you are showing another side to financial independence…it doesn’t have to be about cutting every expense in your life, or even just cutting all of the ones you hear about on the internet (i.e. cars, Starbucks, etc.) It’s such a personal journey, and it can be different for everyone.

    • Mad Money Monster Jun 7, 2017, 11:22 am

      Totally agree. It’s called “personal” finance for a reason 🙂

  • MB55 May 26, 2017, 12:38 pm

    Great article!! I agree with your philosophy wholeheartedly; however I believe that “extreme frugality” just like beauty is purely in the eye of the beholder. What you are NOT willing to give up, others may consider very easy sacrifices. While the sacrifices that your family makes, others may consider “extreme”.

    I killed $200k of debt and have been debt free for nearly 2 yrs (including mortgage). 1/3 of my gross income goes to long term investing off the top which maxes out all retirement accounts and invests in taxable brokerage accounts. I’m cash flowing my son’s college education. I pay cash for used cars and run them into the ground. A fire/stick plus Netflix and amazon prime eliminate the need for cable. I haven’t bought a new piece of furniture in ten or so years.

    On the other hand, I eat out whenever I want to; vacation where and when I want to; pay for professional haircuts and massages; pay for other professional services…accountant, auto mechanic, financial services, etc.

    Since my health is at least as important to me as FI (I want to be alive and healthy enough to enjoy my FI), I don’t skimp on quality whole foods. I follow a paleo-diet so I buy fresh unprocessed butcher cut meats, fruits and vegetables. I don’t eat processed snacks, bread, pizza or pasta (which are much cheaper foods dollar-wise by comparison). I also exercise regularly, including riding my bike…sometimes to work and otherwise. But it’s not to save money. it’s to save time. I want to both go to work and ride my bike so I can kill two birds with one stone. I also hike/backpack mountain ranges and rock/cliff climb. Some consider these dangerous activities…I view them as physically, mentally and emotionally fulfilling. In short, I do these things because I enjoy them. The money savings of not needing a gym membership is a bonus; not the driving force for these actions.

    This is a great article in that you make a strong point that you do not need to do things that YOU feel are extreme to achieve FI. I sometimes catch myself moving towards what I consider extreme in the name of FI and when I realize it I have to remind myself of what’s my “why”. The key part of the FI equation for me is “independence” financial and otherwise. If one goes to extremes they become a slave to it, just as they were once a slave to their home mortgage or other debtors. Best of success on your journey!


    • Mad Money Monster May 26, 2017, 1:16 pm

      Wow! Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. You are absolutely right about my extremes not being extreme at all for other people. It really is all relative when you dissect it. All in all, anyone striving for FI and acting in a way to conserve their income and build wealth will certainly achieve it.

      Congrats on your achievement!

  • SeekingTheDividends May 24, 2017, 9:31 pm

    Work is some 30 miles away, mostly via highway, so biking to work ain’t happening either. My fiancée and I have decided to limit spending on some things,but pick our spots and spend on what we enjoy. So we’re not just building something to enjoy in the future, but also enjoying life now. Tomorrow is promised to no one, so for us it’s best to strike a balance between present and future.

    • Mad Money Monster May 25, 2017, 8:28 am

      I could not have said it better!

  • Ryan @ Just Another Dollar May 24, 2017, 3:00 pm

    We have avoided the extreme frugality thus far in our FI journey. We still put over 50% of our net paychecks toward debt repayment and retirement savings. We justify the few luxuries we allow ourselves by looking at our overall picture. The debt we owe would not be cleared more than a couple of weeks sooner if we had an extra $200-300 per month. Our happiness and quality of daily life is worth more to us than living in perpetual frugality.

    • Mad Money Monster May 24, 2017, 3:07 pm

      Agree. Agree. Agree! A few luxuries here and there make this journey fun.

  • Carolyn May 23, 2017, 2:15 pm

    Riding my bike to work wouldn’t be so bad but I have to bring my son with me and drop him off at daycare on the way, even though it is only a couple miles. My husband keeps the thermostats at 60 in the winter and we wear sweaters.
    I have long hair, past my elbows and my husband is the only one allowed near it with the shears. He gave me a haircut shortly after we started dating and he has continued to be my stylist ever since. He does a great job every time, he does my children’s haircuts and even cuts my mom’s hair for her. I get a glass of wine set before me as he capes me and does the sectioning before he starts cutting. My mom asks for wine as well as she takes a seat for her haircut. He does the boys’ haircuts monthly (no wine for them) my mom and I get ours trimmed every couple months. So I am saving alot of money by my husband being the family haircutter. He colors my hair and I do my mother’s. Results are great with the henna, fantastic color and shine. It leaves my hair feeling so silky I just want to play with it afterwards. We do eat out about 1-2 times a week when we are out, but eat most meals at home.

    • Mad Money Monster May 24, 2017, 12:20 pm

      That is awesome! I wish Mr. MMM would be so skilled as to cut my hair and our daughter’s hair…but that’s definitely not his expertise. And that’s okay. We’re okay with spending on certain things since we cut back in other areas. I’m sure we would get used to turning the thermometers back, I just don’t want to. Haha. That’s another area where we could certainly be saving more than we do. Thankfully our small house means we’re not bleeding when it comes to our utility costs. Thanks for sharing your story! Glad to hear you also get to enjoy wine with your haircut. Sounds like you guys know what you’re doing 🙂

      • Carolyn May 25, 2017, 8:36 am

        Actually the wine started as kind of a joke when we were still dating. My husband was combing my hair and I love the way the wide tooth comb massages my back and I mentioned I felt pampered, the only thing missing was a glass of wine. He said not a proble, and he opened a bottle and poured me a glass of red wine, was a merlot I think. Now he pours me a glass of wine, not always red, I get a chardonnay some times and even Meade. It makes it quite a nice bonding experience. It didn’t start as a money saving thing completely. Before I met him, I had received a horrible haircut about 9-10 months before. I dreaded the thought of going to the salon and really did not have the $55 in my budget for one either. I was on a rant about my dislike of going to the salon and he offered to give me a haircut. I said it sounds great, do you how? So instead of going to the salon Saturday morning, I was sitting on a stool in his living room actually having him give me a haircut. He did a great job, I told him this was not a one time event, he was now my stylist. I got a haircut I was very happy with and it happened to be free. No one else has cut my hair since and the money saved is a bonus.

  • Catty Librarian May 22, 2017, 1:07 pm

    Biking to work is definitely not an option for me either. My 35-mile commute would take about 3 hours each way (according to Google Maps) and would be extremely dangerous, not to mention hotter than hell 8-9 months out of the year. Luckily here in my part of Texas gas is still hovering around $2 per gallon so it’s not too expensive to fill up my car. My husband works from home 3-4 days a week so although we have two cars (both paid for), his doesn’t get much use.

    As for haircuts, I do go to a salon – I have shoulder length curly hair which requires a professional to cut it properly. Fortunately my hair grows very slowly so I generally only get it cut once a year or so.

    I’m with you on the heating and a/c: we also have a small (1200 sf) home and keep it at 73 year-round which is perfect. Our electric bill averages about $115 a month so I’m not too worried about it.

    We do go out to dinner twice a week but keep it reasonable: under $40 for two is about average for us. I take my lunch to work pretty much every day – I’m vegan and there are few restaurant options I can eat at near my work so that keeps me on the straight and narrow!

    • Mad Money Monster May 24, 2017, 12:15 pm

      Love it! Frugality can be crucial in hitting FI a bit earlier, but it’s also all about spending money on what you value. It sounds like you and I value similar things!

  • CheapaAthlete May 22, 2017, 5:42 am

    Although it can save thousands it’s entirely circumstantial if you can ride to work or not. The first 43 miles of my commute is on the nj turnpike and it’s illegal to ride. And deadly. But biking the last 2 miles saves 2,100 a year!

    • Mad Money Monster May 24, 2017, 12:14 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more. 🙂

  • Kim from Philadelphia May 21, 2017, 9:22 am

    Hi Lisa,

    I don’t usually comment, but wanted to come out of the woodwork, say hello, and let you know how much I truly enjoy your blog!!

    I have to say I agree wholeheartedly on the points you make here.
    I live just outside the city and work in Phila proper, and there is no way I’m riding my bike through the dicey neighborhood where I work.
    We enjoy eating out, and are fine with an occasional dinner at a restaraunt. I mist definately do not cut my own hair!
    We also own two cars, but they are Hondas which we purchased preowned, are relatively low cost and reliable, and are good on gas.
    However, we are frugal in many other ways so I’m just fine with our decision!
    It’s all about priorities!!

    • Mad Money Monster May 21, 2017, 3:35 pm

      Hi Kim! Thanks for saying hello and for being a reader! It sounds like you and I are definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to spending on certain things that add value and being frugal in other areas that make more sense. It IS all about priorities! 🙂

  • Mrs. MFB May 21, 2017, 9:02 am

    I would love to bike, but just in the neighborhood. Going to work in a bike is not just feasible.
    Our biggest expense that we are trying to curb is eating out. It is very hard to refuse the little ones especially when we are out and about in the city center.

    • Mad Money Monster May 21, 2017, 3:33 pm

      I would actually love to bike to work, too. Unfortunately, it’s just not safe where we live. I also don’t want to battle the weather. Maybe if I were a 22-year old just out of college, I’d be more motivated 🙂

  • Ty Roberts May 20, 2017, 11:44 pm

    I’d LOVE to bike to work, but it’s just not feasible. Maybe next time we move we can be more deliberate about designing a walkable and bikeable lifestyle, but that’s not a reality today. Our most extreme money saving moves have been ditching two brand new cars for old POS rides that we paid cash for. Today I ride the bus to work rather than getting a second car, but whatever I save in that area is eaten up by my monthly restaurant tab 🙈 D’oh!

    • Mad Money Monster May 21, 2017, 3:31 pm

      Ha! Those restaurants will get ya every time. That is and always has been my biggest financial splurge/suck. I struggle EVERY day to eat at home or pack my lunch for work. Fortunately, I mostly have it under control these days. …but we’re not perfect. We occasionally stop for an unexpected meal out. It happens 🙂

  • High Income Parent May 20, 2017, 10:27 am

    I really like your frugalization list, especially investing found money. My wife found $200 she forgot to deposit the other day from a photo shoot from monthes ago. It’s going in the taxable account as we speak. 🙂

    Tom @ HIP

    • Mad Money Monster May 21, 2017, 3:29 pm

      YES! Those little wins certainly add up over time. Congrats!

  • Jon Holtz May 19, 2017, 9:25 pm

    I love biking to work. I try to ride at least 30-40 times a year to work. I figure by the end of my career I will have done my part to help my pocketbook and the planet. I do cut my wife’s hair. I pack a lunch. I live in MN, my goal next year is to bike to work once a week all year long.

    • Mad Money Monster May 21, 2017, 3:28 pm

      That is awesome! …on all accounts. And, even though we don’t bike to work or cut our own hair, we are definitely frugal in many other areas. I actually love the idea of using a bike whenever possible; we just live in an area that makes it unsafe. We are, however, able to walk to the grocery store! 🙂

  • Felicity (@FelicityFFF) May 19, 2017, 2:14 pm

    Love it!

    Spending money (or not) is such a personal choice, and it sounds like you have a very healthy relationship with money now.

    Eating out is a big thing for us, too. We eat out about once a month, but we make it special (typically $60-$100 for one meal for two). We went from semi-frequent Chipotle to the rare all you can eat chocolate bar (#worthit). We actually spend less than we used to and are happier to boot. 😋

    I do cut my own hair, but it’s a pretty simple medium length cut. And I’ve never been that particular about my hair to begin with. Like, I’ve never turned around and gone “omg, I love it” after a cut at the salon (and I’ve paid $50 + tip for just a hair cut before, so I wasn’t even going to Great Clips). For me, it’s not worth the cost, but more power to you if it’s an indulgent experience for you. 😃

    • Mad Money Monster May 19, 2017, 3:39 pm

      Yeah, frugality really is all about what you value over what you don’t value. As long as you don’t value EVERYTHING…and yours pending is heavily curbed in areas of lesser value, building wealth shouldn’t be too difficult 🙂

  • Kate May 19, 2017, 10:51 am

    I’m with you on not biking to work. My commute is 20 miles each way and Minnesota weather isn’t very cooperative. And there’s no way I’m going to shower at work. Likewise, my house is always at a comfortable temperature. In my mind it’s money well spent.

    However, I did start cutting my own hair just over a year ago and that’s actually going great. If I ever decided to have a more complicated hairstyle or dye it, I would definitely go to a professional! Frugality has its limits 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster May 19, 2017, 3:37 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be able to cut my own hair – I just don’t think I have the ability. Hmmm…maybe I should try it! 🙂

  • Steve D Poling May 19, 2017, 10:37 am

    when gauging frugality, it’s wise to balance the inconvenience/hardship of saving money against the actual amount of money saved. For me, the cost of running two cars is much less than the cost of habitually restauranting for lunch. Or cable. Or an expensive cell plan. This is why budgeting is important: to identify the big expenses and attack them without being distracted by small things. It’s foolish to buy ramen without cutting cable first.

    • Mad Money Monster May 19, 2017, 3:36 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Dads Dollars Debts May 19, 2017, 10:15 am

    I debated biking over and over and still can’t get motivated to do it. Part of it is an 900 feet climb up a mountain. Even with an electric bike ($3-4k) it would be grueling.

    As for the other things, I am with you about restaurants. I love going out but lately we are staying home more. The occasional outing is good, but not every week or twice a week.

    Keep on keeping on. Many paths to financial freedom!

    • Mad Money Monster May 19, 2017, 3:35 pm

      Exactly! We’re definitely looking forward to our next pizza out!

  • FullTimeFinance May 19, 2017, 8:23 am

    I believe the biker crowd probably lives more suburban. My inlaws live in Millersville so I’m familiar with the area your in. I live in a similar area where riding a bike to work during rush hour is probably a death wish. But in some areas of the country they have these things called shoulders and even bike lanes. Pennsylvania and Delaware don’t believe in such things.

    • Mad Money Monster May 19, 2017, 3:34 pm

      Shoulders and bike lanes? Huh? 🙂

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