Yes. I’m Doing A Giveaway.

Look to the right of your screen and you’ll see that I just surpassed 100 subscribers (hopefully that will still be true when this gets published!).  I realize that 100 subscribers isn’t a lot compared to many blogs and I’m OK with that because I know that my 100 subscribers are a whole lot smarter than tens of thousands of people getting their advice from Money magazine (seriously?).

So in honor of surpassing 100 subscribers, I’m doing a book give-away.

As many of you know, over the past few months I’ve pulled in my retirement date by over 20 years by making some significant (and fun) life changes.  I changed jobs, I moved cities, I downsized my house, I sold my car, I cut my grocery budget in half – and now I’m on a path to self-sufficiency. And in less than 2 years, I’ll retire at age 35.  There were plenty of things leading up to my decision to make these changes (life ennui, job frustration, money-sucking McMansion, and more), but the final catalyst was reading Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker.

So with all that said, I’ll be giving away 3 copies of Early Retirement Extreme, Kindle edition.  Why the Kindle edition, you ask? Because it’s cheaper, and because no trees will need to be cut down.  If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry.  You can read it on the Kindle for PC program (which works great by the way), your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.  And before you say “oh, a book..  I was hoping for an iPad or at least a $50 gift card,” think again.  This book is a $10 value per Amazon, but for me it turned out to be a $895,000 value.

There will be 3 ways to qualify, with one winner for each method.  You can enter all 3.  The winner will be announced on 10/25, so you can enter as late as 11:59 on 10/24.  Here’s how to enter:

1. Write a comment to this post describing a method you use to decouple money from your needs/wants.

This could be something big like selling your car and biking to work, or moving houses to be closer to work.  Or it could be something smaller like learning to make your own pasta out of semolina flour, while crock-potting some homemade pasta sauce.  I’ll choose the winner of this category based on significance of the task, originality, and quantity.  So if you’ve done several things, list them here.  And please don’t list that you cut coupons, or I’ll be very disappointing.

2. Write a blog post about one significant thing you’ve done to decouple money from your wants/needs.

I realize you need a blog to do this.  If you don’t have one but want to enter, then send me a short (or long) essay on what you’ve done to decouple money from your life’s needs, and why.  I’ll then post it on this site, whether you win or lose the give-away.  The winner will be the most thought-provoking prose.

If you do have a blog and choose to write it there, you don’t need to link back to this site (although you are more than welcome to do so).  Just make sure you post a comment below that links back to your site so I know it’s there.

3. Tweet one significant thing you’ve done to decouple money from your wants/needs.

Start the tweet with @bravenewlife.  The winner of this category will be chosen at random. If the ideas good, I’ll also retweet.

Remember that you can enter all 3 categories.  Also, keep in mind that while tweeting is easiest, it will also be the toughest to win since it will have more entries (I’m speculating, of course).  If you write a blog post, you’ll be far more likely to win the book.  And you really want to win this book because it’s an eye opener, and a potential life changer.

Before I go, I want to say thanks again to the BNL subscribers.  Before I publish a post, I remind myself that this will be read by hundreds (and getting closer to thousands) of people and it forces me to really put a lot of thought behind them.  Lately, I’ve even deleted posts that didn’t meet the new bar you guys have set for me.  For that I’m grateful.

128 Responses to Yes. I’m Doing A Giveaway.

  1. duncan says:

    So, after graduating earlier this year, I finally had to come to terms with the idea of a life that is not my own. Forty hours a week sounded terrifying. Sixty hours a week, which my dad pulls on a regular basis? Plus a commute? Impossible.

    I’ve found a decent 40-hour job since then. The main thing that lets me face it is knowing that I won’t have to do it forever.

    Here are a few things helping me get there:

    1. I decided to look for a job close to home so I could live with my parents. There’s no shame in it. It lets me cut out transportation, housing, and food costs out of my life almost entirely. I do have to help my parents around the house and cook for them–instead of paying for a car and for rent, I get to hone my cooking skills and bike to work. This isn’t realistic for everyone, but use the options you have!

    2. Food: I’m a vegan, and I don’t go out to eat or drink. I *need* food, but I don’t need to pay extra money for status food. Even people who will never agree with ethical veganism can appreciate that cutting down on meat and dairy would fulfill the same needs (nutrition) and wants (food! yum!)–so if you’re eating meat, you’re paying extra. (Any vegans *must* visit though)

    3. After being an Amazon addict for years, I learned to love my local library! Free is better: when I’ve read a library book, I can return it, and don’t have to deal with more clutter or the hassle of selling.

    4. People are always giving away great stuff, and always ready to take your dusty treasures off your hand. I got the bike that I use to ride to work from there, and found a home for my old bass.

    5. Frugal exercising. I strongly believe that going to the gym is a waste of money–you can fulfill the same want/need by bodyweight exercises you can do at home. I’ve been doing “Convict Conditioning” (a great exercise program and book) for the last 3 months. The author argues that bodyweight exercises are healthier, too–doing proper pull-ups and pushups won’t lead to rotator cuff injuries. This isn’t antisocial, either–I’ve partnered up with a friend who’s doing the program, and we’re keeping each other in line.

    6. In general, I’ve learned to appreciate the things I already have instead of looking for ways to pay for them. I have friends. I don’t need to pay a bartender for that friendship. *So much* of our world is geared towards selling the things we already have back to us–think bottled water.

    I’ve been doing my best to separate money from my desires and necessities recently… and am learning that freedom and “free” things aren’t so unrelated.

    Cool blog, by the way!

    • It looks like you’re way ahead of the game. I was cheap when I graduated college, but mostly because I was used to being poor – not because I held the right perspective of life the way you already do. Lacking the right perspective, lifestyle inflation is guaranteed.

      I hadn’t heard of Convict Conditioning before, but it looks similar to how I’m exercising. I just checked, and my library doesn’t have it. Would you say it’s worth buying ($32 online) or is the information online sufficient? Also, it’s $18 for the Kindle, do you think it’s the type of book that would be good on a Kindle? Sometimes pictures don’t format well on Kindle, in my experience.

      Thanks for stopping by. You set the bar pretty high with your list of items.

      • duncan says:

        I think you can probably find good information on the exercises online–after reading the book I even found that someone had compiled the pictures of the exercises into a single image file, in order of progression (I didn’t hang on to it, sorry). For a lot of the exercises there are also YouTube videos–they really helped me clear up some ambiguities. I’m not familiar with the Kindle edition, but the internet should compensate for any deficiencies.

        (Have you tried interlibrary loan?)

        I’d recommend reading the actual text in whatever way once you decide to stick with the program. Although part 2 (the exercises) is the heart of the book, I think you should check out parts 1 and 3 as well. The tips on self-coaching are essential IMO, otherwise it’s really easy to overtax yourself (I found out the hard way, moving to one-leg squats too soon… I’m OK now though, having re-started at a lower level). The key thing is that your muscles can gain strength more quickly than your joints are really able to support, so you shouldn’t skip exercises. Anyway–if you can’t get it through interlibrary loan, I’d say parts 1 and 3 are worth the $18.

        For those who aren’t familiar with it: Convict Conditioning focuses on mastery of six bodyweight exercises (push-ups, squats, pull-ups, leg raises, bridges, and handstand push-ups). For each one you work through 10 steps. So for squats, step 1 might involve supporting yourself with your arms as well, whereas step 10 has you lift your body weight with a single leg.

      • Thanks, Duncan.

        I did check interlibrary loan, but they don’t have it. Incidentally they also don’t have ere.

        I’ll check out the used bookstore this weekend. Otherwise I’ll go ahead and order it. Looks intriguing.

      • duncan says:


        You should update your readers on how it works out for you!! 😀

  2. Arte says:

    Uf, so many things… The catalyst was reading “Your Money or You Life” and realizing that buying things and my daily work time were related. So I started measuring everything in “how many hours of work it costs”. Simple but so effective. Suddently, most things were not worth it (and retiring earlier with that money was!, even though I enjoy my job).

    Biking to work has also cut lots of expenses. With the money saved, my partner and I would be able to buy our appartment without mortgage… leaving all friends and family astonished.

  3. 2 INTJs n NZ says:

    Hi there

    To decouple money from my needs/wants I casually passed on Jacob’s blog address to my boyfriend ;)…

    He was already frugal so reading the site helped him/us to figure out a way to do what we had both wanted to do, even before we met – get out of the rat race and live a more meaningful life.

    We have implemented several strategies (I know you only ask for one)…. so far – including moving in together (we didn’t do this to save money but it definitely has!). Our rent is less than 10% of our take-home pay and it’s saved us a combined amount of over $17,000 a year! We already lived close to our workplaces – so we clearly wanted to do this again. He can bike to work in 15 minutes, I can walk in 42 minutes (although trying to reduce this amount).

    We are also going to sell one of our cars. Unfortunately we live somewhere where it is not feasible/cheaper to go car free – we keep use to weekends only.

    We are about to embark on making all our own cleaning products.

    We built a compost “bin” from wood (found free on a walk – we disassembled some old stairs) and some chicken wire. It’s spring where we are so we are about to plant a garden – mostly containers…

    Until we moved in together we were both saving 50%+ of our salaries and estimate that now we should be saving at least 70% (we only moved in a couple of weeks ago ;)).

    • Saving $17K per year by moving in together, well done! It’s these types of changes that make the big impacts, and they really aren’t difficult or even a sacrifice in many cases. I’m saving about the same since downsizing my house, and we actually like our smaller house far more. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way with your new roommate. 😉

      Unfortunately we live somewhere where it is not feasible/cheaper to go car free

      What is the situation you have where it is cheaper to own 2 cars? I can understand if you need 1 in a rural area, but is it the case that you need 2? (I’m not questioning your commitment to reduce, just curious what the circumstance is).

      I recently made my own compost bin, and we’ve been making our own detergent for awhile. Both are fun activities for kids also.

      • 2 INTJs n NZ says:

        Hey, sorry, I wasn’t too clear about the cars. We both had a car each when we met, so we are going to sell one car and keep the other. The car we are keeping is 9 years old with 56,000km on the clock, was bought second hand, paid for in cash, is small and cheap to run and we expect to keep in “forever”. It’s actually gone up in value since I bought it, as small, cheap to run cars are more popular now and harder to come by.

        Public transport where we are (in any part of the country) is abysmal – as in expensive and unreliable. We’ve both lived overseas in places where public transport was top-class and in those cases chose to go car free.

        We limit our use of the car (no hardship) as all the places we most often need are in walking/biking distance (work, supermarket etc).

        Bottom-line it is cheaper and MUCH quicker here to have a car than to attempt to use public transport (of course, this could well change in the future – in fact I hope it does :D).

  4. kristin says:

    Hi — My mother’s friend has a saying, “If it’s free, it’s for me!” I just love that and would love to win a free copy of your book . Sometimes, when I get a super bargain, I will call her and tell her. She cheers me on and is really proud of my skills, as is my own mother. Being frugal and learning how to purchase needed items free or on sale is a skill. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people helps with living a more frugal lifestyle. They are proud of ways you are saving, instead of feeling sorry for you or wondering what is wrong with you, as many in society feel. My grandmother taught me about frugality and I frequently think of her when I am saving and living frugally.
    One of the greatest ways I have saved is by not purchasing a new car. My parents gave me their used car when I was in grad school in 2000. It is a 1995 Toyota Camry. It is now a teenager at 16. The little “rust” spots are it’s pimples, and I am happy to say it is not acting up! Many people lease cars, and I would have had to lease 3 cars during this time. A non-stop car payment for 11 years is crazy to me. Instead of a new car, I bought a new house, that I rent out. The rental income pays the 15 year mortgage. Soon, the mortgage will be paid and I will be receiving monthly checks to use on my living expenses or to save or to spend however I want. Living frugally gives you more options for how you truly want to live your life. It ultimately gives you the gift of freedom. It doesn’t restrict you as so many people believe it does, it empowers you for an even better life.

    • It ultimately gives you the gift of freedom. It doesn’t restrict you as so many people believe it does, it empowers you for an even better life.

      I was thinking this exact thought as I strolled into work today around 10am, planning to leave around 2pm for an early weekend. I’m working about 15 hours per week these days because business is slow, yet everyone else is working 50+. I’m not getting less done, if anything I’m probably getting more done (my coworkers don’t work efficiently for 50+ hours per week) Because I’m not dependent on the income, I don’t feel the pressure to meet some unspoken office “facetime” requirement. This is true freedom of choice.

  5. Michael says:

    The primary way that I have saved money is housing. In fact, of all life choices I have made, I have done best on real estate.

    I bought my first house in 2002 when prices were low but climbing. I sold in 2006 for a 50% profit.

    I then rented as cheaply as I could while all of my friends were buying expensive, flashy condos. Finally, after the crash, I bought my current apartment for $99,000–it was the cheapest on the market where I live (it’s a major city and a very expensive market). I will have my mortgage paid off in 9 months, leaving my expenses for shelter near 0.

    My choices to buy, sell, and rent have never been dictated on my desires but on how I feel the market will change. I have always seen shelter as a necessary expense, but also one that can be manipulated to bring profit. This has motivated me to make real estate choices that benefit my net worth more than anything else.

    I need to live somewhere, so it’s best to make a profit from just living if I can.

  6. Tabatha says:

    To decouple money from my needs/wants I live with my in-laws. They are from an Eastern European culture and I’m Canadian (massive difference in communication styles) so that should make me the winner right there! :)

    The in-laws work from home and I’m a stay-at-home mum with the children so we’re in the same space A LOT. It’s more cost-efficient for me to stay home than to work and have the kids in creche. We live in a European capital city where everything is expensive.

    Other things… we use less meat with more beans/lentils to save on groceries. My husband cycles to work instead of using public transportation or driving. We’ve cut some travel and recreation. The children receive few new-to-them toys (most are puzzles, skill-builders and books), and October is no-new-toys month. We reuse plastic sauce containers as kids-size bowls, a wine bottle for a rolling pin and a cardboard box for my everyday clothes.

    Thanks for running the contest. I follow Jacob’s blog and am sure the book is excellent.

  7. Thaddeus says:

    I just saw your site linked on Jacob’s site. I don’t even have a kindle, but I’ll post here anyway.
    5 years ago my wife and I were living in Michigan. She was a school teacher and I was an engineer working in R&D for a Pharmaceutical company, a job I had been doing for the last 8 years. We had a house, some land, cows, and a horse. My wife is from Minnesota. We always talked about moving back to be near her family when we decided to have kids. I also wanted a job more in line with my values.
    That year, we sold our house, moved into a 700SF apartment and I found a new job. I became the sustainability engineer for a new company ensuring their products were as sustainable as possible. We saved money like crazy, even though this new job was a pay cut for me. We lived in our little apartment for two years.

    2 years ago, she was pregnant and it was also the end of her school year. We packed up our bags and headed to Minnesota to be near family. I had negotiated with my employer to keep my same job and work remotely, out of my house.

    We now have two young kids (a 2 year old and a 4 month old). I work from home. My wife stays home with the kids. We purchased a house putting 50% down and bought in an area close to family, but where I could bike to the store, the bank, the library and even city hall (where I volunteer as their chairman of the environmental commission).
    We dont make nearly as much money, but our quality of life has improved and I don’t have to commute to work anymore.
    We are working on our plan to fund an early retirement.

    • This is a great story. I also took a pay cut to move to Colorado, but that’s just an income cut, not a net profit cut. The amount I’m saving due to the smaller house and lower taxes far exceeds what I lost in income.

      I’d love your advice on how to work from home with 2 small kids. I do it quite a bit now, but I don’t get much done. I have a 3-yr old and 20-month old and they don’t like to let me work. If I actually need to get something important done, I have to go into the office or the library.

      • Thaddeus says:

        I admit, the first year working from home was tough. I ended up going to the library or coffee shop a lot. Year 2 and now I’m on to year 3 have been easier. My son knows I;m working, he says, “Daddy go to work now”. And my wife plays with him and our younger son upstairs mostly, I work in a basement office. Also, my son would rather be outside all day anyway.
        When they come to play downstairs I let my 2 year old sit on my lap and help me work for 10 minutes, then he gets bored and plays his trucks out in the living room.
        Mostly I had to discipline myself to stay focused and then spend time on a short break or at lunch playing for 10 or 20 minutes.

        The hardest part is conference calls when my son is downstairs and wants to come in the office. People on the other end hear him asking to play with the pinecones I have in a special box for him on my filing cabinet.

        Yes, I took a pay cut, moved to a state with higher state and property taxes, and my wife left the workforce. So we have not been progressing as quickly as I had hoped, but we did manage to pay off $100,000 in student loan debt and reduce our mortgage to only $550 a month. We plan that in 9 years we will be debt free and have enough investments to retire, I would be 44 at that time. Not ERE, but ER.

  8. Anthony says:

    Wow, I just clicked on the ‘seriously’ link. I’m not kidding, my stomach churned when I saw the college fund thing. I’m not even gonna “get into it” because this post is about a giveaway.

    BUT BUT BUT, did you guys see the “What to do with a thousand dollars now” article? Number 1 was buy a Macbook air!!! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!!! It gets worse, number two was use a credit card that rewards you!

    And it’s a wonder people are broke. Wow, you’ve got to be kidding me.

    • I picked up that issue of Money Magazine in the lobby of our building – at first glance, the “What to do with $1,000” article looked like it was just an advertisement to invest it with Schwab! I didn’t read further.

    • You must not have kept going. Here’s #6:

      Like a meal that’s fun and good for you, too, the Mercedes-Benz E350 is a pleasure to drive — and comes equipped with a host of new technologies that help keep you out of danger.


  9. Bernie says:

    Downsized from a huge 4200 sq ft house to a small apartment. Got rid of a ton of stuff in the process by either donating or selling. Review every bill and expense to decide if it is a want or a need; currently re-evaluating the need for TV and cell phones. Downsizing and living frugally is helping our family spend more time together and work less. The ultimate goal is to retire early. Thanks for offering this giveaway.

  10. Anthony says:

    I thought the “…my 100 subscribers are a whole lot smarter than tens of thousands of people getting their advice from Money magazine” was kind of tongue in cheek. Now I realize you weren’t kidding at all.

  11. Ashley says:

    I became interested in self sufficiency when I met Jim Merkel ( in college. I learned a lot about satisfying my own needs simply, and spending time, not money, to live the life I wanted.

    I worked several jobs through college, and when I graduated I had saved up enough for the down payment on a house. I didn’t want to put money into the black hole of “rent”, but at 22 I’ll admit I really had no idea what a black hole home ownership of a 160 year hold house could be if you’re not educated on doing your own repairs…I’ve learned a lot about in the past 4 years.

    My penchant for self sufficiency relied mostly on producing as much of my own needs myself. I grow a large garden and raise my own ducks & goats for meat/eggs/etc. I love food, but because of that I know how to cook just about anything from the simple to the elaborate to keep my habit frugal.

    When I found my life partner, I found someone who looked at self sufficiency from a more economic perspective, and focused on saving, investing and calculating for early retirement. He really opened my eyes and introduced me to ERE.

    We’re working towards renting out the house we currently live in to cover costs, and building a small cost effective house on 2 acres we just purchased without a mortgage. If we can build it ourselves from our savings we can bring our monthly costs down substantially by eliminating the roughly $1000 per month mortgage payment we’d otherwise be paying.

    The land we’ve chosen is excellent for farming, and we already have a spot picked out for our root cellar and greenhouse, and sources for supplies that we can get second hand for free or next to nothing.

    How do we get there though? How do we reduce our expenses enough to save enough to get there?

    –Reduce our food expenses to $300 per month while still eating extravagantly. There’s Thai coconut pumpkin soup going in the crock pot right now that’s less than a dollar per serving. Last night’s home made ravioli were similarly priced. Make your food from scratch at home. We originally thought we could get away with $150 per month, but food prices have really risen since we did our original research, and the CPI for food is almost doubled. Now to get 2000 calories for 2 people for a month, it costs more than $150 in just beans and rice. (Work it our yourself, beans are roughly $1.89 per pound in bulk, rice is $2.39) We found this helpful calculator to get us more in the ballpark of where we need to be ( and then took 1/3 off of the total it gave us.

    –Find good deals. When produce is in season a local farm here always has too much. They sell basil for making pesto for $5 for a TRASH BAG FULL. It goes normally for $16 per pound in the store. Right now in fall, a 30 pound box of winter squash is $18. They’re selling for $1.89 per pound in the store. Both of these things will be prepared and frozen and enjoyed all year long. Buy in bulk when things are in season.

    –Find a hobby that’s free or that makes money. We love hiking and foraging for wild food. Not only is it mostly free beyond a backpack and the basics, but if we are successful foraging, it’s actually a net gain. I also love cooking, and I’ve made quite a bit of money selling baked goods at local farmers markets.

    –Get things for free. Our local dump has a shack build in the center where people can drop off things that still have useful life left in them. We get most of our books from here, as well as dishes, appliances, etc. Wherever you are, there’s likely somewhere you can shop for free, even if it’s just online through

    –Get rid of your TV. I haven’t had a TV in close to 10 years, so it’s not that I “got rid of it” it’s more that I just never had one when I began living on my own. Sitting there you’re just letting life pass you by. “Unwinding” from your stressful job, you’re letting your job follow you home and paralyze you on your own couch. Watching commercials and reinforcing the consumerist cycle that keeps you in that job you hate. Break free. Read a book. Go for a walk.

    –Throw pot luck parties, persevere swaps (jam, pickles, etc) or clothing swaps to get social time with your friends, rather than going out. Today happens to be my birthday and I have ~18 people coming over to hand out, each bringing pot luck food. What did this cost me? Only a few hours cleaning up, and I’ll have friends and food. What more could I want?

    It’s two fold though. Reduction in expenses AND increase in income. In “Your Money Or Your Life” they talk about leveraging your skills and recognizing your worth to negotiate for better pay. I’ll use myself as an example. Out of college I began a job paying $12 an hour doing administrative work. Within 3 months I showed myself to be competent, diligent, confident and articulate. Honestly, just being computer literate in an office of people that had been working there since before the advent of computers really helped, as I instantly became everyone’s tech support. So, 3 months in I applied for a job that was two steps up from the one I started in, and came with my own assistant and substantial company paid training. I got it!

    I did research on the job before it was offered to me, and learned what others were making. They offered me $16 to start. That seemed like a huge jump in pay to me, and I was excited, but I knew from my research that no one else was making less than $20 per hour and the “minimum” salary range HR had set for that job was $18. I told them this, and was re-offered $18, and told that would then be raised to $20 after 90 days if I was preforming well. Sweet! One 5 minute conversation and a bit of research won me an extra $4 per hour.

    A year or so later I was doing well, and they offered me “more responsibility and training” to do a job that was significantly harder than what I was doing. I told them I was excited about the challenge and would love to accept, but if I was going to be asked to do significantly harder work, I’d need to be compensated. They for some reason didn’t see this coming? None the less, they valued my work, so they worked with HR to get my pay increased to $25 per hour. Knowing your worth and placing a value on your time can really pay off towards your early retirement.

    • For some reason this got caught up in the spam filter, but I’m glad I found it. This is a great list both for frugality and sustainability. I think a lot of people can learn from you on how these two things tend to go together. I certainly can.

  12. Kristy says:

    Big: We moved from Boulder to Dallas for higher-paying jobs and lower cost of living. Hopefully once we’re set we can leave again; this is NOT a frugally minded city.
    Medium: We cut our meat consumption way, way down. (I was surprised to discover that I actually like beans when they don’t come out of a can!) We use $20 prepaid cell phones (but load $100 at a time, to get the most value/minute).
    Small: We eliminated household use of paper towels–replaced them with real napkins and a cut-up pair of ancient flannel pants. We hang-dry laundry. We try to limit our exposure to advertising.

  13. Shawn says:

    Hey there. I Had no idea you had this site!! I wondered why your comments were not as frequent on other sites. I cant wait to read through it! Hope all is well.

    • Sshawnn, I presume?

      My comments are less on most sites, but I’m still lurking around. I try to just jump in where I feel I’m actually adding to the conversation. Also, my journey has become much more introspective – I feel it’s important to have direction and peace within before going outward.

      That may sound contradictory to having and sharing advice on a blog, but the blog really forces me to think through and defend my philosophy – which has accelerated my transition.

  14. Teresa says:

    Congratulations on your milestone. I am kind of new to this way of thinking but I am getting off the “coupon train” of saving money. I think I actually used to spend more money using coupons. *sigh*

    This summer I had an epiphany – the Fight Club kind. I finally realized the stuff I own really owns me. I went on a massive clean out selling stuff on ebay and craigslist. I would have done more but hubby and daughter like their stuff still.

    Got rid of the pumped-up $67/month telephone service and purchased an ooma and pay $3.47/month (I have to have unlimited local and long distance – I live in a rural part of the country and work from home).

    Ditched our $52/month trash service and switched to a recycling program of $24.95/month.

    I unplug items not in use and am planning on getting water heater timer on our water heater (it uses 4775 kwh/year!).

    Just got a used bike off Craigslist and have already started replacing some of my trips with my bike (trust me this is not easy as I have not rode a bike in 20+ years and am terribly out of shape and most of my riding is over hilly terrain – read: I walk with the bike quite a bit).

    Planning on setting the temperature this winter to 57 degrees at night and 60 degrees during the day to reduce consumption of heating fuel. We use approximately 400 gallons/year. Not fun at a price of nearly $4/gallon.

    Planning on ditching the $20/month cable and get OTA tv instead (I would ditch the tv altogether, but there has to be some compromises).

    Cut fuel consumption in vehicles from $250/month to $150/month by going grocery shopping less. Spent less on grocery shopping because we went less. Spent less on dining out because we went grocery shopping less.

    Goal is to live off one income and bank the rest. Not nearly as extreme as some, but I say start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.

    • Ah yes, the Tyler Durden awakening phase. I think most of us have gone through this.

      Great job on getting and using a bike. I’m impressed that you’re willing to take that leap after 20 years. I know too many people (mostly women for some reason that I can’t explain) who won’t ride a bike because they haven’t done it in so long. To me, these are the things that make life exciting!

  15. Kjrstin says:

    We moved from a 45 minute each way commute to a 3 minute each way. My husband rearranged his work so he mostly works from home, at least 4 days a week.

    We switched to cloth diapers.

    We got work to pay for our cell phones (well, they offered, but we took them up on it).

    I’ve been reading Mr. Money Mustache and I’m really interested in rethinking how we handle our money. I’m interested in reading this book, so I’d love to win it, but, I’m good looking for it at the library (which I can bike to).

    Thanks for the blog, keep up the good work!

    • Hopefully you can find it at the library. I know it’s not available at my library, even with inter-library loans.

      Cloth diapers seemed gross to me. Are you washing them yourself, or using some sort of service? Luckily for me, by the time I had the life-changing revelation to become truly frugal and retire early, my kids were almost potty trained. So we decided to just ride it out with the disposables. If we have another kid, I think we’ll go cloth.

  16. John says:

    I actually just purchased Jacob’s Book paperback (will donate to local library once Financially Independant) from Amazon so I exclude myself from the contest ,) After spending every day at work reading every recent entry for the past 2 months, His site has changed my life completely and given me a better lifestyle and a chance to achieve complete freedom! “Follow the courage in your hearts and you can achieve something greater than you ever thought possible, a freedom of our own!”-Braveheart
    I was paying $695 in rent for a 750 sqft apartment one bedroom apartment slightly outside of Pittsburgh, PA, that was reducing their parking lots and increasing rent by $55/month…we had to get out of there! My gf and I quickly asked are friends in the area for possible new places to live for a better deal, and we were very lucky to find a townhouse mortgaged by a friends mother she was renting out for only $400 a month. This townhouse is about 1000 Sqft and has standard utilities and a decent kitchen. This place included our own two car driveway, our own laundry room which saves us $50 a month in $1.50 wash/dry ripoffs, another bedroom (needed until my gf downgrades her Zelda Collections) with the sacrifice of a dining room, which we gave away our given dining room setup in the move anyway because our living room has a big enough $20-$10 coffee table that is our dinning room table anyways. This turns out to be a perfect size for us 2 and our cat, and even big enough if we wanted to start a family once we get married. I work as an Electrical Engineer and she is a student in her 3rd year for teaching. My savings rate is averaging around 75% each month+ and still has room for improvements by getting uncontracted/rid of a smartphone, initiating my own mix of workout routines at home, finding free entertainment outside of my house (examples, casinos where you walk around and talk and get free soda, college campuses with free lectures, free courses, cheap sports classes, and a wonderful place to socialize and meet new friends if in 20s, beautiful views where you can park and walk/jog too, natural reserves, free museums, libraries especially Enormous College Libraries!, etc). I also have plans for developing my own Movie database by backing-up the movies i own onto my computer that has cheap $60 2-TB HDDs, my friends share of movies, and what I borrow from the library, (this can be created as an online movie database server for friends as well that you can charge a $1 a month if you want too). This will replace my Netflix account subscription as well as my friend’s. Internet is a must, but cheaper promotions are coming along all the time( I am paying $30 a month for 15mbps and unlimited download limits for now, but this i have seen on promotions of $20/month for 6 months). I am also investing in my own webhosted blog and programming it all myself with My SQL/PHP. For investments, I am investing in High Yield REIT dividends, with the $3,000 I save each month, taxes very but are usually between 0%-15% Capital gains taxes and or Tax Free Dividends.

    Good luck to everyone’s new found inspirations to Retire Extremely Early. May we bankrupt the corrupt 0.01% Rich of the world and learn to share and become self-sustaining and a create an intelligent, minimalist world with our Life Energy’s taken Back!

    • That seems like expensive rent for Pittsburgh, no? Are you considering buying? From what I’ve seen, real estate in some nice areas of Pittsburgh is really cheap.

      I grew up in Pittsburgh, and most of my family is still there. I may move back there in a few years after retirement. I’m curious where you work as an EE in Pittsburgh, I looked but didn’t see much a few years ago. Not that I’m looking for a job, but I do know someone who is and wants to move back to the burgh.

  17. SanderS says:

    Hi BNL,

    Found your site through Jakob’s site and I will be reading your posts this weekend to catch up and subscribe for new posts!

    My biggest ‘decouple’ was not something I did myself, but together with my wife. When our oldest turned one, we decided not to keep up with the Joneses anymore and my wife quit her job to stay home with the children (now 2 and 4). We sold the car (although the Netherlands is relatively small it’s still uncommon to not own a car as a family here), didn’t buy a flatscreen tv like all the other Joneses have done, did invest in a good Danish tent to spend the next 10-20 holidays in a cheap way and rented an allotment in our town to grow our own vegetables. Although we’re still struggling sometimes to live on one income, I feel we’re more at ease and are slowly seeing the benefits of making solid, well-thought choices.

    Let’s see if this comment was a wise time investment and if I earned a book with it! :-)

  18. Nami says:

    The biggest thing I did was to detach myself from the mainstream media/ads. I used to watch TV, listened to the radio with ads, had multiple magazine subscriptions, went to the mall/home decor shops etc.
    After years of decluttering projects, I just fed up with dealing with stuff. After 2 years of vigorous purging and selling (craiglist, eBay, by the curb you name it), I’m done with that way of living. It’s not wise monetarily and environmentally.

    Last December, we had 112K left on our mortgage (5 years into our 30 yr mortg). We managed to pay off 40K including interests and managed to bring it down to 78K. We are paying 2 to 3 times our normal payment and planning on paying it off completely by Christmas 2012 (we are 34 and 35). We have been investing into 401K, Roth IRA, 529 college and non-retirement brokerage accounts as well at the same time.
    (No we are just regular middle class income..)

    I cut groceries by half and trying to cut even further,
    have a compost bin in our yard,
    pack lunch/cook at home (school lunch costs $2.00 which is expensive to me),
    hang dry clothes,
    switched bulbs to CFLs after reading MMM’s post,
    switch car insurance and cut cost by half (I don’t know a way to get rid of our 2 cars for now),
    make detergent at home,
    cut my dog’s hair :-),
    cut everyone’s hair actually :-),
    No New clothes challenge since last yr( Katies’s idea
    I want to try more ideas from Amy Dacyczyn’s book, my bible.

    My goal is to be like Jacob, MMM, and you by 43.
    Thanks for being such an inspiration.

    • Good luck with your goal, Nami. You are the 3rd person to mention Amy Dacyzyn – someone I had not previously heard of. I think I’ll check out this book you mention. It appears she wrote more than one, which one do you recommend?

      • Debbie M says:

        She wrote “The Tightwad Gazette.” It comes in three volumes or you can get a single volume with all three. It’s really a compendium of newsletters on living frugally. She chose to spend less than average on food, clothing, and entertainment so that she could spend more on housing and so she could be a stay-at-home mom. But she has loads of tools for frugality you can use even if her priorities don’t match hers.

      • Nami says:

        DebbieM answered your question!
        I have the complete tightwad gazette book.
        (I think I got it through, btw).
        It’s an old book so usually any local library should carry it – that’s how I discovered her.

      • Thanks guys. I just reserved it from the library.

  19. Femtoman says:

    Love the site! I was also referred here by Jacob’s post. I really like the post about financing a flip, what a great idea! I’m also intrigued by Lending Tree.

    Just wanted to point out that you have another 27 subscribers, including myself, on Google Reader. Here are the stats for your feed on Reader:
    Posts per week:3.7 Subscribers:27 Last updated:12:46 PM (27 minutes ago)

    I already have the ERE book so I’m not too interested in the contest, but figured I’d add a brief item anyways. One thing I did to cut down on wants vs. needs is move into my girlfriend’s place. Instead of us each paying a combined rent of $1400, we now rent a house for $950 total. Plus we cook together and carpool much more frequently which also cuts down on costs. I have a long ways to go to reach extreme frugality again (I have definitely lost my frugal ways the past couple years) but I’m working on it.

  20. Martin says:

    I have been reading various personal finance and frugality blogs for the last few years. I have had some good results and had been able to start spending less and saving more. This was mostly the result of just being a bit more mindful about where I was spending my money.

    The next step for me was reading “Your Money or Your Life.” This was a huge eye-opener for me in terms of how I look at spending, money, savings, and life in general. From here, I started keeping track of every penny that I spent. I would conduct monthly reviews of where my money went and analyze if those expenditures were in categories that were important to me personally. While I was doing…well, not better, but less bad than I had been before, these monthly check-ups were the first time that I realized that I had a negative net-worth, and that I was dumping tons of money into things that really didn’t matter to me. Progress was made.

    3 websites are what really brought me to the next (current) step: “Brave New Life,” “Extreme Early Retirement,” and “Simple Living in Suffolk.” I don’t recall the exact order that I found each, but they were all linked together one way or the other.

    This was the first time that I really thought to myself, “wow, I could actually retire early!” This was huge for me, because I had been saving more mostly out of some sense of duty/obligation. I knew I was supposed to save, so I did. Now I had a goal, and it was a very appealing one. By cutting back on all the things that I was spending money on, most of which I got no real value out of, I could set myself up for a future without being FORCED to work. I could work when I wanted. I could take up projects that I felt were interesting. I could travel. From here, I have begun making what to me are major changes.

    More than anything, I started looking at my money much more consciously. I started paying myself first, by allocating the first part of my paychecks to a variety of investment and savings accounts. I incorporated my business in order to create a SEP IRA account, which allows me to invest a much higher amount of cash than a normal or ROTH IRA. I am saving for a down payment on a 4-plex property than I plan to live in for a year in order to take advantage of an FHA loan. I have high hopes for this as a I expect it to become 1) the kind of static income that will be invaluable once I retire, and 2) it would start the important process of having rent-free/mortgage-free living that I would feel essential before retiring.

    Additionally, I have paid off all debt save for a small personal loan this year. That small balance will be resolved before the end of the year.

    My major expense currently is my rent in Los Angeles on a 2BR + Office apartment. Yes, I live by myself, and I am disgusted that I felt the need to have this much space all to myself. I am already starting to look at studios and 1BR’s in the area, and will be moving from here as soon as my lease runs out.

    I still have a few expenses that other people would consider excessive, such as an expensive boxing/muay thai gym membership, but I get real value out of this, and I consider it money well-spent.

    Through savings, investments and frugality, I have gone from a negative net-worth to one of about $50K in a year or less. Still small potatoes, but I am making major progress every month, and most importantly, my mindset is completely different than what it was before.

    • Yabusame says:

      Rather than looking for a 1BR place in LA, have you thought about getting an RV like Jacob over on ERE?

      Just a thought.

      • Martin says:

        Yabusame – Nope, haven’t considered it, but not prepared to go that route at this point.

        BNL – Thanks for the link. I was surprised to find out that a 4-plex can actually be considered your primary residence, at least in California. To me, having 4 units is an obvious rental investment property. It doesn’t make sense to me that you could qualify for an FHA loan on that type of property, but I would be happy to take advantage of such a thing. Cheers.

    • Martin, your story really hit home with me. First off, YMOYL was the initial eye opener for me, much like you. As soon as I finished the book, I started tracking my monthly progress (you have probably seen my charts in my monthly reports).

      Second, I was also disgusted at myself for the house I had chosen to buy. But… It’s important that you don’t spend too much time kicking yourself over it. Just as it says in YMOYL, when you start valuing things by life-energy, it’s important to not focus on previous decision, but rather on future ones. From that perspective, it looks like you’re on the right track.

      Regarding living in your 4-plex for a year, you may want to read the series of recent articles here:

      I don’t know much about it, but it appears she was unable to capitalize on living there because it was considered “commercial.” Still, I think it’s a good idea to live there because it will be cheap and you’ll be able to manage the property easier (if you’re planning on doing that).

  21. Emily says:

    We live in what most people consider to be a crappy area of Brooklyn. We have a nice place, wonderful neighbors, comparatively very cheap rent, and no fancy shops or restaurants to tempt us. We eat healthy home-cooked meals. People think we are crazy, but we think it is one of the best decisions we’ve made.

    • I’m with you. When I chose our location near work, people said I was crazy because there were much nicer places to live. But this area is still in the same great school district, close to work, and very cheap. Plus, I relate with my neighbors here far more than when I lived in a rich neighborhood back in Texas.

  22. Tabatha says:

    To decouple and save money I live with my in-laws. They’re from an Eastern European culture and I’m Canadian (massive communication differences) so that should make mine the winning entry 😉

    It’s more economical for me to not have a job, and to stay at home with the little ones. My parents-in-law work from home so we’re in the same space A LOT. But not paying rent makes a huge difference to the cash flow.

    My husband cycles to work, we cut a lot of not-free travel and recreation, replaced most of the meat with beans and lentils, made October no-new-toys month and re-purposed things: sauce containers for baby bowls, wine bottle for rolling pin, cardboard box for everyday clothes. I’m also learning how to garden and have 3 successful plants with homemade self-watering pots.

  23. Yabusame says:

    Congratulations on reaching your blog milestone. Because it’s late at night here (I’m in lil’ ole England) and the deadline for entry is drawing nigh, I’ll submit a quick entry if only as a means of egging you on.

    One thing I have done is to get a mobile phone contract (I know, shocking isn’t it!). But wait, I can explain…

    I’ve had a mobile phone for 10 years now, and I’ve had it on Pay As You Go all that time. I would average about £5 every month or two. I actually took the contract, though, because it will save me money. I am now paying £1 per month on a rolling contract that gives me 50 text messages and 25 minutes talk time. I usually text, but I would rarely reach 50 texts in a month, so this is the perfect size for me.

    Well done to the winner, I’m jealous, but my bed is calling me.

    • I’m thinking I’ll do the same with a pay as you go plan. Is there any way to do that but link it to a smart phone,so I could still have internet when there’s a wi-fi hotspot?

  24. I am so happy to have learned about your blog! Financial blogs are what I do instead of watching TV. I would also love to mention your blog on my teeny blog.

    Gosh I make this stuff my full time job but if I had to name a few things I would say reading blogs like yours and the ERE site are very motivating. I also read a lot of Jeff Yeager and my old stand by Amy Dacyzyn. If I had to list just one thing it would be to put yourself through a financial bootcamp. Sometimes we think we are being frugal and we justify other expenses. It’s amazing what you can live without or your paying and you don’t use. Also “stop buying crap” that’s my latest motto!

    Love your blog!

    • Welcome!

      I just read your post on having a financial bootcampand enjoyed it. It’s funny how everyone always refers to The Matrix when they are awakened to the consumer culture we’ve all been fed. I’ve used the analogy as well.

  25. Terri says:

    We are living on an island in the Bahamas at the moment. We’ve been here for two years, and will be here another one before returning to the States. Coming here was by far the best thing that’s ever happened to us (although, after finding the ERE blog, it might end up being second best). Our store is the size of a 7-11, we rely on outside sources for most things here, and when the weather is bad, we don’t get food for the store. Also, there is really no place to get things like clothes for our kids.

    So, between the supply problems, the high cost of everything that gets here, and how many things we just can’t buy at all, we’ve gotten immensely creative. I plan to do most, if not all, of these things when we return to the States because it’s actually a pretty awesome way to live.

    Here’s a list of the major things we’ve learned to do:

    Cloth diapered our youngest.
    Gone mostly vegetarian – we eat meat three or four times a week, and it tends to have a much smaller role than it once did in our meals.
    I make all our bread, learned to make yogurt, and stopped buying cereal for breakfast. Instead, we have eggs, or something like muffins I made the night before. We also make all our own ice cream now, and I learned to make pasta with wheat flour and eggs.
    We don’t have a cell phone, and set up a Skype account to video chat with the grandparents for free as our phone service here costs us 25 cents a minute.
    My husband, who hates working on cars, replaced the battery in ours when it died, and recently figured out how to take apart the door to put the window back on its track when it came off (no body shop here to do that for us).
    I started a garden, and bought heirloom seeds so we can save them later. I’ve also saved seeds from vegetables we bought from other people here on our island.
    I’ve learned how to make patterns from our kids’ pants, and cut down their dad’s old t-shirts to make pj pants when they outgrew their old ones. I also cut down an old uniform of my husband’s for our son when he wanted to be a military guy for Halloween.

    My proudest moment, however, was when I learned how to make Bokashi (a composting method that allows you to compost pretty much everything) from scratch. Basically, you take rice water, culture it, add milk, let it sit, strain the solids out, then mix it with molasses and water. Then you take, well, the type you can buy uses bran, but I used something we have plenty of from all the boxes we get from ordering food and such online – shredded paper and cardboard. I’ve also used old newspaper and black and white catalogs that came in the mail. After soaking this, you bag it up, let it sit for a couple weeks, then dry it out. Then, it’s ready to use to make some seriously awesome compost – and all our food waste is no longer making it to the garbage, something that is great when you have young kids who often don’t finish their food.

    • Just put “research Bokashi” on my list. I recently started composting,and the kids love it, but I want to find ways to make it degrade faster. We’ve almost filled up the container and it’s nowhere near being compost. It just looks like shredded paper, rotten food, and dirty grass…

      • Terri says:

        Bokashi compost will also look like that until you put it in the ground (or a raised bed, if you are going that route). But, after sitting, it ends up pickled (and smells it, too – in fact, if it smells rotten, you know your Bokashi is bad, something that’s happened to me once). Two weeks after you put it in the ground, it still won’t be completely broken down, but it will be okay to plant in it.

        That’s really why I did it. There’s no way to get compost unless you make it yourself, and I didn’t want to wait months to have some ready to use.

        Plus, we live in a trailer with neighbors right next to us, so they wouldn’t have appreciated a compost bin. I use two two gallon buckets that I punched holes into the bottoms, then set into a third (to collect the runoff, although you can skip this step if you don’t want to use the tea on plants). When one is full, I put it outside and use the second bucket. We seem to fill one about the time the one outside is ready to empty.

  26. Ham says:

    What has saved me a lot of money is avoiding all advertisement. We don’t have a TV at home and so we miss most tv-commercials and we subscribe only to few frugal living magazines.
    I’m constantly amazed how “I saw this ad and just had to buy it” is an accepted reason for spending money.
    With just a few phone calls you can also stop mail advertisement. Here’s how to do it by EPA .

    Also, congrats on your subscribers! I haven’t done that but I’m still a regural reader. I find it very inspiring that you have managed to make your dream true. That helps me keep going.

    • Thanks for the link. I didn’t realize you could opt out of direct mail. I’m not tempted by any of the advertisements, but it does annoy me what it does to the environment.

      • Debbie M says:

        You can also opt out of things that aren’t direct mail like catalogs from companies you’ve ordered from in the past. Catalog Choice is a really good service for this.

  27. Beth says:

    I have done a lot of things since reading this site, Jacob’s site, and Your Money or Your Life. I got rid of my car, moved to one mile away from all the things I need to do. Now I can walk or bike to them. I got rid of the computer, internet, TV and cell phone. As you can see I still have access, and it’s free. One thing my daughter and say often to each other is how wonderful our lives are. We are able to really spend time with each other. I very happy to have found this site. I look forward to making my dividends work for me. Keep the information flowing. I enjoy all the other other commenters. Every seems to have good ideas, here. Take care, Beth

  28. […] New Life is giving away three Kindle copies of Early Retirement Extreme (you can read my review here).  Enter by midnight on the […]

  29. Liz L. says:

    1. I read a lot. I used to buy a lot of books. Now I am a power library user.

    2. Once I found the right thrift store (one with a steady supply of high-quality things), I made it my default resource for clothing. It really makes me happy to find $3 Ralph Lauren shirts and high-end cashmere sweaters.

  30. Tony says:

    I’ve made a lot of changes this year. One of the first is I ditched cable. Saving $70+ a month. I kept internet service though because it was more useful to me than cable. I just watch free network TV, Netflix or HULU now. I also joined a CSA (community shared agriculture) this summer and got a bushel box of fresh locally grown produce for $20 a week. And I learned to can what I couldn’t use right away so I have a stockpile for the winter. I also bought a quarter of a steer for $2.10/lb from another local farmer. So I have about 200lbs of meat to last me for a year or more. My food bill went from almost $400 a month to well below $150.

    While my house is really too big for just me I couldn’t pass the price. I bought a foreclosed home. I bought a 4 bedroom 2 bath home with 2100+ sq ft for under $30k. I’m also doing most of the repairs myself to save money.

    Oh! I also got a sewing machine for $15 this year and my mom taught me how to sew so I could fix my clothes.

  31. curiousnomad says:

    I trade room and board for labor. I use this method to learn lots of new things (currently learning about grant writing at an animal refuge) while minimizing my living costs. It also frees me to move on when I get bored. Next step is to get my own travel trailer for places that might not have a room (or more accurately, desire for my own private kitchen!).

    WOOFing and caretaking are two other approaches to getting room and board that I’ve not tried yet.

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