Key Frugal Habits for Financial Freedom (and Fun!)

We’re all looking to get the best value, but how can you balance saving money, hitting your financial goals, while still having fun?

Today we’ll go over how you can master the art of being frugal!

Financial Freedom with Frugal Living?

Whether you’re pursuing a debt free path, financial freedom, or independence, there’s one skill that can help you hit your goal faster – being frugal. 

Unfortunately for many, it’s a loaded word that can have different meanings, depending on who you’re speaking with. 

Who doesn’t have a story about someone they know who’s super cheap about something? 

But that’s not what I’m talking about. 

When I say frugal, I’m talking about living a rich life without spending a ton of money. It’s about maximizing your dollars for the best value. 

To help show the ways you can live well while spending less, I have two guests. 

First off, Joel Larsgaard from How to Money Podcast is sharing ways couples can work together so they’re spending on what matters to them.

Next, we have Joel Kades of Republic Wireless. We’re going to look at how technology opened up some options so you can get an affordable smartphone and family plan. 

Finally we’ll wrap things up with how you can weave in being frugal in your family budget that’s both fun and reflects your values. 

We got a lot to cover so let’s get started! 

Resources to Maximize Your Dollars

Being frugal is really about optimizing your expenses so you’re getting the best value. Here are a few resources to help you significantly save!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

Slash Your Phone Bill with Republic Wireless!

I'm so happy to announce our new sponsor Republic Wireless.

If you’re looking to hit your family’s financial goals faster, optimizing your expenses is the way to go. Chances are you’re paying too much for your smartphone and not getting the value you deserve.  

Same thing happened to me years ago. Wanting to become debt free faster, I switched to Republic Wireless and saved big time. 

Nationwide coverage, fantastic phone options like the Samsung Galaxy and Moto g, plus seriously affordable prices (plans start at $15/month!) make it a smart choice for families looking to save without sacrificing value. 

See all they have to offer at Republic Wireless

Key Takeaways on Adopting Fun Frugal Habits

I want to share a few key takeaways I got as I was preparing this episode.

  • Prioritize which expenses matter most to you.
  • Focus on big wins and low hanging fruit.
  • Redefine what frugal means to you.  

Join Us in Thriving Families

 If you want to discuss this more – ask questions, swap ideas, and maybe get a debt-free strategy set up – don’t forget to join us in the Thriving Families group on Facebook.

We swap ideas and tips because our goal is to help one another out with our family and financial goals. 

Hope to see you there!

Getting Your Spouse on Board with Being Frugal

Note: Transcript below edited for clarity and length.

One of the biggest struggles I’ve seen and we’ve gone through ourselves is getting synced up with being frugal and what that means for you as a family.

With a couple, it’s common to struggle for a bit with finding that line where you’re both comfortable with cutting back.

The root of it is defining what priorities you each have and what you have as a family.  How do you find space in your budget for those things you enjoy and love while still keeping with your financial goals? 

How to Money host Joel Larsgaard took some time to chat with me about how he and his wife have made a budget that they both love. 

The Art of Living Well While Spending Less

Elle Martinez: You and Matt talk about this on how to money and I love the balance that you hit because I think certain phrases or terms when people hear they have a gut reaction.

Budgets, people think restrictions. Also when you talk about frugal, They're worried, ‘Wait, does this mean I have to be that cheap person. That's always trying to get other people to pay for stuff?'

Which isn't the case at all, so how do you decide where to cut back and where to prioritize your spending?

Joel Larsgaard: When people very frugal, I think times like what you're thinking is cheap.

Frugal what I think is essentially maximizing value and being is you're almost like saving money at someone else. It's like stiffing, someone up tip.

Right. We don't want to be the kind of bull but we do frugal. We want to find them value from our money.

When it come to the things that spending money on the things that you value, that's certainly an important thing for all of us. It's important thing that the Matt and I try to convey.

One of the ways we do that is. We did a craft beer on the show. We really liked beer and you know what good craft beer is expensive.

Most people would think, Oh my gosh, you just spent $18 dollars on a bottle of it. And it might think that we had no right hosting money podcast because of that.

Right; but it is something that we have put aside in our budgets. This is important for us.

We ought to figure out those few things in our life that have value that we're willing to spend money on those things.

One of the things I would suggest, yes, the why behind you and your money, you really want to do like some soul searching. What are the things that move the needle needle for?

You might need to write some things down, have a talk with your spouse or partner and figure that out together.

Often times what you'll realize is very few of the things that matter the most. actually cost money.

And a couple of listings that do, if you do de-prioritize spending another area, cause you've actually thoughtfully decided these few areas are where you put more of your money.

Say it's the vacation you want to spend $5,000 on vacations here. You can do it. You're probably gonna end up back in other areas to make that happen.

But you have spent the time had that conversation and said, this is our priority. And it's like that desire, that willingness to cut the cut backs other areas, because you're going to see the fruits labor somewhere else pay off downs down the road with sweet vacation.

Elle Martinez: I think you hit a lot of great points. One thing in particular is first of all, that step of defining what exactly each of you value.

With a lot of couples and families, you value things differently. What matters to you might not matter so much to them, but you understand, ‘Hey, this is what they put on value'.

From personal experience, our first money discussion. We were broke college kids. We were engaged.

Our friends were like, have you guys talked about money yet? We thought this was going to be the easiest conversation because we're both broke.

Long story short, not on the same page, had no idea, like, wait a minute, how are you going to approach this?

So for us, it was kind of defining why do we spend money this way? And that can be tricky, especially when you've been married for a few years, you know, or you have kids. How do you define what really is a priority?

I know I'm a fan of money challenges to test things out, but everyone's different.

Joel Larsgaard: Yeah. You said, it's funny because some of the most important money to say decisions were around things around, how do you like to spend your time? What are the things, things that we'd like to together as a family right?

I think it's really important when it comes to couples is having line items for each individual to then not have to question choices right?

So I like beer, my wife likes beer not as, not as much I do and so she's going to want to cut back on that line item in the budget. That's kind of my money, then it's different and she doesn't get to question, but how much I spent by non craft beer, as long as it's in our budgeted amount.

It's the same thing like I use shampoo costs 99 cents. She prefers to use shampoo. It's like $18 dollars or whatever. It's totally fine if she wants to spend her money in eight.

Because she has a certain amount to spend the same as I do. I think, you'd have to give each other the freedom to be able to spend in some of the areas that you deem important as an individual. Then come up with some common things that you care about in order to spend money well altogether.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. Between the two of us, I mean, we both enjoy traveling, but I have no problem. Like, Oh, we're on vacation. I I've cut back here because we eat most of our meals at home. We enjoy cooking. We enjoy well before COVID having people over and enjoying that.

When we go on vacation, I want to eat out. I am already looking up hole in the wall, spots, local reviews, because I want to try something different, something new.

My husband's more like, I just want to sit at the beach or read, you know? But defining those priorities allows you then to shift money in the budget and have those discussions.

Of course, you know, there is a limit, money comes in, money goes out. How do you you mentioned You have your own individual areas where you spend but for those joint expenses. Where do you cut back? How do you kind of compromise and finesse the budget so you're both happy with your shared expenses and those individual joys you have?

Joel Larsgaard: I think one of the most important things is if we're talking the why behind money and picking out a few things that really matter that really move the needle and putting more, or your budgetary resources versus that again, take takes it from being something something's like a topic of division that you don't want to talk about as a couple to something that you're like, let's talk about the budget because it gets our goals.

Oh, like excitement, right? You are going to have to cut their areas to then funnel more money towards the areas that it does matter.

Matt and I are, are fans of finding the lowest lying fruit. Something that's gonna make impact to your life and changed it.

You can look to bigger things to cut even more. This year, we downsize to being a one-car family. We were able to get work for our lifestyle and we bike more. That's something that can save you money, but that's a bigger thing to do, right?

It's too drastic for a lot of folks. Although with many people are working from home I would say everybody at least put it on the table and consider it.

The lowest and fruit, when we're talking about something like that, it would be like shopping your insurance policies and, and going with an independent agent and to see if you can save potentially a thousand dollars on your homeowners and car insurance. That's something that people should look to.

Another thing be like changing your cell phone plan. The average, but I think he's spending something like $75 to $77 on a month on their cell phone. There are cell phone plans out there that are way less.

You get a great cell phone plan 15 a month. And so I think being willing to do that, going to cut in those areas where you're going to see almost no change in your daily life.

It's going to do is save you money. Those are the places you should start to tackle. So you can allocate where your resources is towards what's the thing that matter..

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned cell phones. I use Republic wireless. Being willing to branch out and explore, that's a great idea.

Those expenses where, they don't matter as much you can experiment. Then when you see success, you'd build that frugal muscle and see where else you can prioritize.

So you guys are always having these great episodes enjoying some craft beers and brews.

What would you say for a couple that is listening right now for the first step? Like when they are going to have a money date, that's what we have over here. We have the craft beer, we sit down and we talk about what's coming up.

That first discussion, what would you suggest to them?

Joel Larsgaard: I think a lot of times when we're talking about getting one, talking about how budgeting helps us fulfill our goal are things that we really want want in life.

We're not budgeting as like, ‘how do we cut back and make our lives miserable??'. That's not what a budget's supposed to be.

You have the actual discussion, have beer or a glass of wine, whatever is that you like and make it a fun time.

Anything that you can do to make that conversation not stodgy and unhelpful, it starts started off in a where you're like able to give each other a compliment.

My wife and I find that in our weekly meetings, other, we can a couple of examples of what we're thankful for about each other before we begin that that meeting starts it off on a much better note to actually get played as in our discussion.

Yeah, I would suggest doing it in an environment that is conducive to how to have a good conversation. That's really important.

Then two other things that can be helpful is to find an financial blog or podcast that you like and listen to them episode.

That can spur some conversation. If you listen to the same pretty minute episodes, so that's not too much much to ask that.

When you get to get together for your meeting, maybe if there are things of that triggered in mind about what needs talked about when it comes to budget and what needs to be put on the table.

And so, yeah, I would say find something in common that you can kind of launch into the conversation with them with, especially if you're kind of new getting into it.

It can be helpful to have maybe a friendly yeah, Elle, who's trying to be a guide and then help people with their money to start that conversation and get it rolling.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. I know we're a little partial to podcasts. We enjoy them, but I found that just as a listener, I found it really helpful hearing other people's stories.

It's not 100% going to match, but you get ideas. You take pieces from like, Oh my goodness. That's great. Let me try it out and start that conversation.

Well, Joel, I appreciate you coming on and chatting with me. If anyone's listening right now and they want to find out more, what's the best way they could reach out and grab your podcast and your site?

Joel Larsgaard: Sure. Yeah. Well if they're listening to your podcast, they type out on the, in the search bar and they can find our show.

You can also go to a website, how to money.com and a little Facebook group where people help each other constantly.

How to Significantly Save on Your Smartphone Family Plan

Another misconception people have with being frugal is that it means you’re settling, you’re going for simply the cheapest option.

Price is a factor, but it’s not the most important. Depending on what you’re talking about, going for the bottom price can actually cost you more in the long run. 

Instead, frugality is again focused on value. What are you getting for what you paid? 

When you’re looking for value, you may discover solutions or options that give you the same service or good at a fraction of the price. 

Take smartphones. Chances are you’re overpaying for your family plan. 

Right now an unlimited family plan for 4 people can set them back about $170-$200+/month. You’re talking about $2,040- $2,400.

That’s a significant amount of money. What if you could cut that bill down, maybe by half without sacrificing service and still having an awesome phone? 

Years ago, when we were working towards paying off our debts, we knew we needed to do better with our phone plan. 

I discovered Republic Wireless. Nine years later, I’m still with them. 

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, I think you’ll enjoy the chat I had with Joel Kades.

We get into how Republic Wireless works and can offer more affordable plans. 

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
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  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

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