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Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living Kindle Edition
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First, when they said “[the Frugalwoods had] determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day,” that’s not really true by traditional standards. Mr. Frugalwoods is a successful software engineer, and Mrs. Frugalwoods is a now-published writer! Had the wording been something along the lines of “determined to achieve their homestead dreams and escape the corporate rat race,” it would have been a more understandable and relatable explanation of their situation. Financial independence doesn’t mean you need to retire, and in fact the freedom may open more doors to do even more work that you are passionate about. That’s what the book’s focus really is. When you wake up every day knowing today will be a good day, and when you are no longer living for the weekends or riding the endless consumer merry-go-round, that’s the secret to real and lasting happiness.
Second, there wasn’t much in the way of actionable advice in the story. Instead, it really was a memoir about their journey and how Mrs. Frugalwoods came to understand that there’s so much more to life than perfection and fulfilling society’s expectations. She walked us through her career, her successes and her failures, and her family life. The advice in the book was sporadic and short, and all things she has obviously mentioned before on her blog (and you’d have to read the blog for actual details to the methods). That was fine with me, because I would have been extremely disappointed had the book simply been recycled blog posts. I feel like I now know Liz personally, and I can better appreciate their trek from city life to the woods. Her stories were thought-provoking, her writing was witty and captivating, and I’m grateful that she shared her journey and her perspectives.
Huge kudos to Mrs. Frugalwoods (in both her book and through her website) for always encouraging everyone to solve problems with DIY and brain power instead of money, focus on the value of time, cut waste in both areas, and use money as a tool and a means rather than an end. Life and financial independence are both about more than just money. Sitting on a pile of money and stuff won’t provide lasting fulfillment. It’s all about how you manage your resources, how you spend your days, and how you give back to the rest of the world.
Their financial situation is unclear on so many levels. They did not "retire" in the financial sense of the word. They retired as in withdrew from the city to rural Vermont. I understand that retirement can be defined differently in the FIRE community, but not everyone is aware of this.
From the blog, I got the impression that the Frugalwoods were previously working "average" jobs in Boston, earning modest non-profit salaries. Not so, at least in the case of Mr. Frugalwoods. A 200,000+ salary is not average.
I started reading the book, but ended up returning it.
For more a better reading about a general (big picture) approach to early retirement, read Early Retirement Extreme: A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence. This book gives you a nicer overview and a philosophical approach to early retirement.
For help with consumerism, then go here: The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, which really paints an interesting picture of consumerism and minimalism.
Truth be told, for a memoir to be good, you either need an interesting person or an interesting story. Neither occurs in this book. For the story to be interesting, you need a character/person who struggles with something to achieve a goal. Thames seems to struggle with nothing major and comes to frugality with a lot of ease, making this an insipid story.