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



We actually sold this bike because we had one more than we needed

Again, 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 over abundance 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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23 comments… add one
  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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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