What To Do When You Realize Frugality Won’t Make You Rich

There it is again, that dirty little “F” word, Frugality. If you’re a regular reader, you already know that we embrace a frugal lifestyle and actually have fun with it. But frugality isn’t for everyone, and it’s not enough to enable you to achieve financial independence. We use it as a piece of our overall money plan, but we do not pretend that it doesn’t have its limits. In short, frugality just isn’t enough to make you rich.

Frugality Takes Time


Frugality | Becoming Rich | Financial Freedom | Financial Independence via @MadMoneyMonsterMaking the decision to incorporate frugality into your life can be done in the blink of an eye. Practicing frugality, on the other hand, can be quite time-consuming. As with anything else, frugality is a continuum scale ranging from uber frugal all the way to not very frugal. And if you tend to reside on the uber side, you likely already know how quickly time can slip away in an effort to save a few dollars.

Picture This: You just spent the last two hours trying to decide which laundry detergent to buy in order to save 50 cents. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for saving 50 cents. I just don’t want to devote hours of my time agonizing over such a purchase.

Even if you do optimize most of your purchases in a manner that doesn’t capitalize all of your free time, there is still only so far frugality can carry you towards financial independence before you need to incorporate other means.

Frugality Plays Well With Others


Short of winning the lottery or an unexpected inheritance from some long-lost relative, the other means I’m referring to is increasing your income. Frugality combined with a higher than average salary is the dynamic duo most people use to reach a staggering savings rate and, ultimately, financial independence.

These days, the Internet tells us that a staggering savings rate is 50% or more of one’s personal disposable income. I know that might sound unbelievable unattainable to some of you. And that’s okay. Just keep this in mind, according to Investopedia, the national savings rate in the U.S. last year was a paltry 5.5%. Based on that sad statistic, if you’re able to get your savings rate into the double digits and keep it climbing instead of declining, you’ll probably end up a millionaire long before your government assigned retirement date. Now that should get you excited!

The bottom line is this, unless you’re already a successful investment banker, frugality, alone, will not catapult you into the exclusive Financial Independence Club. You’ll need to incorporate it into your overall money plan to get the most out of it.

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Earn More Money


Frugality | Becoming Rich | Financial Freedom | Financial Independence via @MadMoneyMonsterSo, when you reach the end of penny-pinching and coupon-clipping, you’re going to need to increase your income to keep your net worth trending upwards.

Lately, everyone talks about how great side hustles are, and I agree! But, they’re not the only route to bringing in more dough. And let’s face it, the thought of a side hustle on top of a full-time job and a busy family might be enough to make you want to pull your hair out.

But, don’t panic just yet. Increasing your income might be as simple as asking your boss for a raise. But if you do go this route, just make sure you actually deserve a raise and you present your case succinctly with data to back it up.

If, however, you don’t think your boss is going to acquiesce to a raise request, check out a few more options below. And yes, one does include side hustles. Feel free to embrace it or roll your eyes and keep reading. 🙂

Options To Earn More Money:


Ask For A Raise – This is possibly the easiest route to increasing your income and reaching your financial goals.

Complete A College Degree Or Get A Higher Level Degree – Make sure you check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement! Mine did. 100%!

Take Another Position With Your Current Employer – Check your company’s postings often and let your boss know you’re looking for more experience and responsibility. Network! It’s probably the single best thing you can do at work.

Start A Side Hustle – Side hustles can be entrepreneurial or just standard second jobs. They can range from driving for Uber to pet sitting or starting a blog! The choice is yours.

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Our Path To A Staggering Savings Rate


Mr. Mad Money Monster and I have been extremely fortunate to have attained graduate degrees with very little debt. In fact, we both earned our graduate degrees for free through employer-sponsored programs. The only student loan debt we incurred was for our undergrad degrees.

Just by chance, we both found ourselves in higher-than-average-paying careers. Now we certainly aren’t making investment banker money, but we can’t complain – and we don’t. From our perspective, we live in a perpetual state of gratitude.

Thanks to our degrees and generous-paying jobs we have the “Earn More Money” covered, but we don’t earn so much that we can turn our backs on frugality, either. We must still incorporate frugality into our overall financial plan if we want the option to retire decades ahead of schedule. So we do. And we enjoy it.

Live A Balanced Life


Mad Money Cat - frugality

Mad Money Cat is a male supermodel #millionairekitty #nofrugalityneeded

So what do you do when you realize frugality, alone, won’t make you rich? You stop depending on it to solve all your financial woes, but you don’t turn your back on it, either. You use it in its extreme form or in moderation. Either way, you incorporate it into your life in accordance with your values and goals.

Ultimately, if you earn as much as you can and only spend as much as you need, you’ll reach your financial goals long before you dreamed possible.

How do you feel about a frugal lifestyle? Have you embraced it? Or, do you choose to focus solely on earning more money?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • FullTimeFinance Oct 25, 2017, 2:52 pm

    We’re on a balanced approach. I regularly ask for a raise but we’re also fairly efficient in our spending.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 25, 2017, 4:09 pm

      It’s gotta be balanced…unless you’re an investment banker 😉

  • The 76K Project Oct 25, 2017, 1:48 pm

    I think frugalizing has been really good for our family, but we’ve gotten to the point where there’s not much more we can cut from the budget (or… I *could* cut more from the budget, but my family might leave me if I do that). So in terms of getting ahead, our side hustles have been a major boon for us. Generating extra income has allowed to accelerate our savings goals and will eventually allow us to accelerate our debt repayment.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 25, 2017, 4:09 pm

      I agree. I absolutely love being frugal and making every dollar work, but there is only so far you can take it. Unless you’re cool living under a rock alone for the rest of your life 😉 Sounds like your family is making the right decision with incorporating side hustles to increase your income!

  • Steve D Poling Oct 25, 2017, 12:18 pm

    In my ill-spent youth I studied Mathematics where I learned the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. Frugality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for wealth. The only sufficientl condition I know of is a positive savings rate compounded over time. I know a young professional who now has an 80% debt-service rate. If he can continue saving at that rate for 6.25 years after he becomes debt-free next year, he will have the magic 25x expenses (or 4% SWR) from which he’ll be able to declare FI. Faster if he invests well, but over such a short time-horizon there is little opportunity for compounding. The happy thing about figuring your debt-service rate is that terms cancel out and you get a time that works the same whether you retire to cat food or to caviar.

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 25, 2017, 12:22 pm

      That is an amazing savings rate in the example you provided! I wish I had focused on my savings rate long before I did. Oh well, we start where we start. As long as I have the option to retire decades ahead of schedule, I’ll be happy 🙂

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