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Frugal Living: Why We Stayed Frugal Even After Getting Out of Debt!

Frugal living is a way of life we’ve enjoyed for a long time.

I mean, really enjoyed.

[This post was written by a guest writer, Lindsey Ralston. Check out her bio at the end of the post!]

We’ve been debt-free and mortgage-free since we were 25. The only debt we’ve ever had were my student loans and a small mortgage we took out on our first house. I paid most of my student loans off before we married, then my husband paid the balance later.

We worked hard, saved like mad, and lived very frugally to pay our first and only mortgage off in 13 months.

That was about 9 years ago.

We were only 25.

Frugal Living – Why We Stayed Frugal, Even Today!

So, why do we continue with our frugal living even though we’ve been debt-free for so long?

Today, I’m going to give you 5 reasons why we stayed frugal even after getting out of debt.

Let me just give you an insider’s tip right off the top: Frugal living pays off…literally.

Frugal Living - why we stayed frugal1) Frugal Living Became a Life We Enjoy

We love our frugal lifestyle.

I mean, why wouldn’t we love saving money and reaping the benefits?

Frugal living has taught us to think critically before making purchases, so we don’t waste our money. It has also taught us that we need far less than we think.

We don’t eat out much because we feel that it’s very overpriced. Therefore, I have become quite a good home cook.

Don’t get your hopes up; I’m not on the level of Martha Stewart but I’ve got her in my sights.

I can make…

  • a mean meatloaf,
  • a homemade pizza that will make you never want to step foot in a pizzeria again,
  • the softest cinnamon rolls on earth, and
  • funnel cakes that make you say, “Never again will I stand in line for this at the fair!”

We save hundreds every month by not eating out and only buying basic ingredients at the grocery store so I can cook at home.

Did you read that?

We save hundreds every month…by buying basic ingredients…and making homemade pumpkin spice lattes…and eating homemade cinnamon rolls…in our pajamas…at home.

Doesn’t that make you want to take frugal living by the horns and say, “I’m in?”

Now, all we have to do is throw in a movie we rented for free from the public library and we’ve got ourselves a frugal family night to top the charts.

side hustles - photographer

2) We Continue Living Frugally Because We Value Our Money

Here is one of the fundamental differences between those who have money and those who don’t.

…The haves and the have nots…

Those who have money often have it because they value their money.

It takes a lot before they pay money for something.

That’s exactly the way we are.

Frugal living causes us to examine products and services for what they really are.

  • Is it a quality product?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Will it improve my life?
  • Will it be collecting dust in the garage in a month?
  • Does it save me time or make me feel guilty for not having enough time to enjoy it?

If you change your mindset about your money, it can change your life.


For example, let’s say a very expensive camera is on sale. I mean, a deeeep sale. It’s a tremendous savings.

Amazon says, “THERE ARE ONLY 25 LEFT.”

Do you buy?

You may never see this deep of a discount again.

Here is what I do:

I ask myself…

  • “Am I in the market for a new camera or am I just getting caught up in the moment?”
  • “Is it a good value or does it just seem that way because they plastered the work ‘discount’ across it?”
  • “What am I going to use it for?”
  • “Is it worth my money?”

Once you start thinking clearly and back away from the “Buy It Now” button, you will see how much money you can save in a short amount of time.

We Value Our Money…to the Extreme Sometimes

Recently, a friend was slightly making fun of me because I was debating about spending $10 on a product.

She thought I was being kind of silly.

But, I wasn’t sure if I really needed the product or not. I’m not the type who just says, “Oh well. It’s just $10. I’ll get it. No big deal.”

My husband isn’t that way either. In fact, he’s more frugal than I am!

That kind of mentality is what enabled us to:

  • pay our mortgage off in 13 months,
  • become debt-free and mortgage-free by the time we were 25,
  • buy 10 acres of beautiful land with cash,
  • AND save our first $180,000 before we were 30.

We have come to realize that even $10 purchases can make a huge impact over time.

the best airline credit card in 20213) We Save Like Millionaires

Knowing how to save like a millionaire can change the entire direction of your life.

When many people think of millionaires, they think of reality TV celebrities with their..

  • expensive cars,
  • endless shopping sprees,
  • manicures,
  • and mansions.

But that’s not real life for a lot of self-made millionaires.

Self-made millionaires know better.

If you want to be a millionaire, then you need to know how to save like a millionaire

Many millionaires are intensely frugal people. Frugal living is part of their nature. After all, they work hard for their money.

These millionaires know where their money came from – their own blood, sweat and tears.

It takes a lot of work to earn a dollar. It takes a lot of work and determination to earn a million dollars (or more).

True Millionaires. And Us.

You won’t often find a millionaire bragging about expensive things they have bought. Many of them…

  • clip coupons,
  • live in modest homes, and
  • shop at discount stores.
  • They drive used cars and have a limited wardrobe.

They do all these things by choice because their money is valuable to them.

Related: 18 Tips to Get Rich (From Actual Millionaires!)

Now, we aren’t millionaires…yet. But, we know how to save like millionaires.

Working until we’re 70 just isn’t in the plan. We don’t work for the typical “American Dream” of a big mortgage, new cars, and little league expenses.

We saved our first $180,000 years ago by doing a few simple things like:

  • not having paid TV service,
  • only buying used cars,
  • having a (VERY awesome) inexpensive cell phone plan,
  • and a few other tricks.

It’s amazing how much you can save (then put in the bank) by just living differently than the people around you.

Frugal living puts money in the bank.

benefits of owning real estate4) Frugal Living Allowed Us to Build Our Dream Home with Cash

After we paid our first (and only) mortgage off, we started saving for our next step.

After three years, we had saved enough to buy a little nicer house with cash in a little better neighborhood.

We lived in that second house for three years while we saved for our dream home.

When those three years were over, we had enough saved to buy 5 beautiful wooded acres and build our dream home with cash.

We call it Big House in the Woods (which also happens to be the name of my blog where I give all my frugal secrets away).

Frugal living made it possible to achieve our dream!

On my blog, I have written about how we saved our first $180,000 before we were 30 by not wasting our money on frivolous things that most other people buy.

That’s $180,000 on top of our regular savings.

Frugal living has profoundly changed our lives. Why would we give it up?

Early Retirement5) We Set a New Goal: Early Retirement!

The most important reason we have continued our frugal lifestyle after becoming debt-free and mortgage-free is that we want to retire early.

When we began our married life and looked at the road ahead, we just couldn’t picture ourselves working until we were 70.

Now, I definitely believe people should still be productive their entire lives. I mean, I don’t plan on retiring so I can plant myself in front of the TV.

That’s just not my style.

I want the option to…

  • travel when I want,
  • volunteer,
  • help others, and most importantly…
  • spend my time the way I choose.

Currently, we are on a path to retire by the time we are 45.

So, not only did frugal living enable us to pay our mortgage off in 13 months, become debt-free at 25, save our first (extra) $180,000 before we were 30, and build our dream home with CASH…

It has also allowed us to max out our 401ks every year and save for retirement in a very intentional way.

Frugal Living Pays Off

My entire point here…

…if you were paying attention…

and I know you were…

is that frugal living has allowed us to achieve things that a lot of people think are impossible.

Did I mention that we’ve accomplished all of this on ONE income?

It’s true.

Recently, one of my readers said, “You’ve been debt-free and mortgage-free since you were 25 without an inheritance or significant help from family? I find that impossible.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

Frugal living got us here.

And it can do the same for you!

Author Bio:

Lindsey Ralston is the personal finance guru behind She and her husband have been debt-free and mortgage-free since they were 25. Currently, they are on a path to retire by the time they are 45. Lindsey is on a mission to teach people How to Save Like Millionaires so they can achieve financial freedom and live their dreams.

Money Save Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Derek!! How exciting to see my post!! Thank you for letting me guest post!!

    • Yes! You’re welcome. Thanks for being an inspiration to all my readers! 🙂

  2. Lindsey, you are killing it! I worked until 60 because it was so much fun, but could have retired much earlier. My wife and I followed the frugal plan too, paying the house off early and still living in the same house we bought 40 years ago, our only one. She is driving a 2006 Nissan, I just replaced my 2008 car with 200,000 miles on it and we are multimillionaires. We will spend on things we value, like international trips, if those become possible again in the future. We have good equipment for our hobbies but even then we usually don’t buy much except replacements for cracked tennis racquets, worn out running shoes, broken fishing rods, etc. We also were a one income family raising three (now grown) millennial kids who graduated with zero college debt, and all completely supporting themselves, no longer on our payroll. We volunteer a lot and play a lot with running, tennis, hiking, fishing, pickle ball, skiing, off roading and bushwhacking on our list of favorite outdoor activities. You sound like a younger version of my wife and me, and you’ll be where we are, or better, in no time with your focus.

    • Steve! We should all hang out! 🙂 We have SO much in common. I completely understand everything you said. We spend on things we value too (like the 10 cruises we’ve been on) but we still consider every expense before purchasing.
      Will I pay for a cruise? Yes. Will I replace my tennis shoes that have the sole falling off? No, I’ll glue them. HA!
      Your life sounds amazing! We’re right behind you!
      We plan to buy a small yacht in a few years and sail the Great Loop with our kids. They’re all still small (8,4,2) and they can’t wait!!

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