How I Saved $20,000 in 2014 and Used it to Invest in Lifestyle Design

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I’m 24 years old, and I’ll admit that I’m a little immature. I was a Frat Bro and Captain of the Rugby Team in college, and honestly, I probably haven’t changed all that much in a year and a half. I have an expensive social life, and in the last 3 months, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on things like ski passes, a ski-diving session, club sports dues, (unsuccessful) dates, and of course a little booze. I don’t regret that spending. I’d do it again. And I’m going to keep on doing it.

But I also saved $20,000 last year.

To start, let me note that I will end up making somewhere between $45,000 – $50,000 in 2014 pre-tax. That’s a ton of money for a single man.  I also have no student loans. Having disclosed that, I’ll admit that a savings rate of 40% makes me nothing more than an apprentice at personal finance. But I will say that I find it interesting that most of my peers with even higher levels of income were unable to save anything, and some of them started in even better financial situations.

I didn’t save over $20,000 because I was some sort of financial wizard or because I was a cheapskate. I just think that I made a slightly-better-than-average choice in determining the “default option” for the three biggest expenses in a 20-something’s life:

  1. My residence
  2. My transportation
  3. My diet

I design my lifestyle such that these three things, these three necessities, are as close to free as possible and such that I have no ability to change them except with long-term planning. As a result, I don’t have to really think about the financial impact of “fun” and frivolous spending because by default, I spend so little on these three categories that it is almost impossible to spend too much recreationally!

Related: The 5 Steps Necessary to Master Your Personal Finances

I think that these choices are repeatable for most 20-somethings, and I’d love to hear feedback on whether I’m over the top or not — I’ve heard it before.

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3 Lifestyle Habits I Use to Better My Financial Situation

Habit #1: By Default, I Live in a Small Space

When I say “small,” I don’t mean that I live in a run-down, decrepit building. Until I moved into my duplex, I lived in a clean, well-maintained facility. It was fine — just not in the greatest location and not very big. And I lived with a roommate. Between these decisions, I spent less than 13% of my income on rent.

As a 24 year old kid, the physical layout, neighborhood, and size of the unit I live in is totally immaterial to my happiness, as is sharing that space with a friend. I wouldn’t want to spend a ton of time in ANY place that I lived in! I’d rather be out playing basketball, going to my club sport practice (still a rugger), biking, and just generally DOING.

In 2015, I plan to continue to live in my newly acquired (also very small — 1,433 sqft in both units combined) duplex, rent one unit out, plus half of the unit that I live in, and live for free. Not accidentally, this property is very close to both my workplace and downtown Denver. I believe that this purchase is the best possible investment in my future happiness and financial situation combined, and I think it is a repeatable strategy for many 20-somethings with similar objectives and a year or two of savings.

Habit #2: By Default, I Don’t Use a Car

I really did a terrible job of commuting for the first half of 2014. I worked at a location that was 10 miles away from my apartment! I don’t know what I was thinking!

But I learned.

I don’t like commuting. I think it’s horrible; I hate traffic, and I don’t understand how we built a society around such a ridiculous concept. After reading this article by one of my favorite bloggers, I realized just how much this cost was kicking my butt. Assuming $0.50 per mile, my commute cost me well over $200 per month!

I had a twelve month lease at my apartment — moving was not an option — so instead, I started looking for jobs closer to home in March. It took me three months of networking and lunch meetings to finally luck into meeting Josh Dorkin and land this job at BiggerPockets (I know — I hit the jackpot). Maybe I got lucky, but BiggerPockets HQ was also 5 miles from my apartment. It wasn’t an accident that I was looking for work in the area.

Upon starting here in July, I bought a bike, pannier, helmet, gloves, and some lights to begin biking to work. I’ve biked almost every day since. I immediately noticed an improvement in my health, happiness, and productivity. And I’ve noticed the savings. I went from driving close to 750 miles per month (I’m appalled that I was driving that much and had no idea until I wrote this article and did the math — 9,000 miles over 12 months comes to 750 miles per month!) to less than 75 miles per month.

I can definitely do better. Because I’ve bought a duplex and now live close to work and the area I like to hang out in, I’m in the process of selling my car. I know that seems crazy, but I really don’t think it is. See, truly bad weather and long trips occur at most twice per month on average for me. On the rare occasions that I do need to travel long distances or through unreasonable weather conditions, I’ll take a cab.

My ability to sell my car is a direct result of planning my living situation around where I work and the things I enjoy doing. I simply don’t need to go very far for anything!  I’ve yet to meet an unmarried 20-something who doesn’t have the ability to easily move within a few miles of his workplace or move his workplace closer to home. This is not something that happened overnight for me, but over the course of 6 months to a year, I think it is repeatable for most.

Related: 6 Lessons My Work Life Has Taught Me About Managing Finances

Habit #3: By Default, I Plan or Cook All of My Meals With Reasonable Purchases From Reasonable Grocery Stores

I think I must have been very young when I realized a hard truth: I have no option; I have to eat everyday. But it wasn’t until earlier this year, when I began truly planning my lifestyle, that I realized another problem with food. Unlike living for free and commuting for free, growing my own food and eating for free is not really a reasonable option. Compounding those two problems is the fact that I really enjoy good, healthy food, and a LOT of it (biking everywhere = lots of food consumption).

Enter cooking.

I don’t eat ramen noodles, I don’t eat freezer meals, and I don’t have PB&J for lunch everyday. I actually think I eat like a king! And I do it extremely cheaply.

I do this by shopping at the grocery store (Safeway), and when possible, Costco. I buy a lot of food, make it all in advance (usually in the crockpot — here are some delicious recipes) and eat my meals throughout the week. This has been extremely powerful for me in three ways:

  1. It ensures that the most accessible food in my day is healthy and (usually) delicious
  2. It ensures that the default option is to eat a meal I’ve prepared cheaply
  3. It forces me to plan any restaurant trips ahead of time

When the opportunity to go to lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant with friends comes up, I don’t say no — I go, and I have a great time. But by making cooking the default option, I avoid fast food, unnecessary purchases and ensure healthy habits on average.


I’m not some well-behaved financial wizard over here. I’m actually a pretty rough-around-the-edges kid who has no idea what he’s doing. But in spite of my shenanigans and childish spending habits (just ask Brandon Turner about my “legendary” antics on his recent visit to downtown Denver), I think I’ve put my financial house in pretty good order — and I think I did it without too much work or sacrifice.

For me, strong personal finance is not about discipline, self-control, or the “Latte Factor” (“If you cut back on your daily latte, you’ll save thousands!”). Nope, for me, Personal Finance is all about doing the big things right. Life, on the other hand, is about the little things. I won’t cut back on Life now, but I also refuse to spend the bulk of Life in some cube. I’ll have my cake, eat it now, and keep chowing for as long as I live. Life is just too damn short.

Looking to set yourself up for life as early as possible and enjoy time on your terms? Scott Trench’s new book Set for Life, slated for release April 23, 2017, is now available for pre-sale! Whether you’d like to “retire” from wage-paying work, become less dependent on your demanding nine-to-five, or simply spend time doing what you love, Set for Life will give you a plan to get there. This isn’t about saving up a nest egg. It’s not about setting aside money for a “rainy day.” Set for Life is an actionable guide that helps readers build the accessible wealth they need to achieve early financial freedom.

What do you think? Am I over the top? Do you agree with my philosophy? How would you design your lifestyle differently?

Leave me a comment below, and let’s discuss!

About Author

Scott Trench

Scott Trench is a perpetual student of personal finance, real estate investing, sales, business, and personal development. He is CEO of, a real estate investor, and author of the best-selling book Set for Life. He hopes to now share the knowledge he has acquired with others so that they will have the tools they need to repeat his results in just 3-5 years, giving them the option to go anywhere they want in the world, work any job, start any business, or finish out the journey to financial independence and retire young. Scott lives in Denver, Colorado and enjoys skiing, rugby, craft beers, and terrible punny jokes. Find out more about Scott’s story at, MadFientist, and ChooseFI.


  1. So important. Reliable car you can pay cash for, cheap but safe apartment, and less eating out. Pinterest so simple to help with recipes. I just crock pot everything. It helps for the major purchases I want to do.

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks for the comment Ericka! I agree with everything you are saying, though I may go a little farther on the car – I use a vehicle so little that just the insurance, taxes, and maintenance on the vehicle would cost more than the few cab or uber rides I may need to take each month!

      I’ll have to check out Pinterest! I’ve actually never used it which is kind of sad.

  2. Great article! I love the fact that you are living in a duplex and living for free. I wish more young adults ….ahem my kids or first time buyers would take this route. You’re doing an excellent job keep up the good fight.

  3. Mitch H.

    Scott, I think this is a basic, but great, point. You can bend over backwards to save $5 here and there, but if you then go and buy $20K more car than you need, all your hard(er) work goes to waste. People think they can “hack” their way to financial health, when in reality it will be less time consuming and demanding on day to day life to make some very basic ‘default’ choices like you lay out above.

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Mitch! That is exactly my point. Just tonight, I was invited to go see the Hobbit (I love LOTR). Movie tickets are OUTRAGEOUS at $18 per show, but I went anyways and had a great time with some friends. Another friend of mine bragged about how he saw this movie for about $5 by driving to a theater in another part of town and watching it early in the day.

      This same friend eats fast food or out almost every single night. It is baffling to me that in the amount of time that it took him to find the deal, drive out, and see the show, I can cook a week’s worth of meals and save $75-$100. I’d rather just do the big things right, and not worry about getting ripped off with the small stuff.

  4. Tim Holmes

    Good to hear your living life intentionally. Human powered sports will save you a ton over the throttle powered sports and keep you in shape as well. However you might consider trading in your fixie for something with gears. Maybe pick up some chains for traction for those Denver winters.

    • Scott Trench

      Hi Tim! I actually have two bicycles – a road bike and a mountain bike (for snow or other “fun” conditions). Both of them have gears. As far as the Denver winters go, I’ve been riding all winter, and have only had two or three days where snow would have prevented me from using my road bike. It just seems to melt here pretty fast!

      The biggest thing for me is a good pair of gloves! Going fast on a bicycle is just like skiing – you can stay warm with relatively little clothing, but your hands will freeze. You can solve that with a nice pair of ski gloves.

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Paul! That’s definitely what Real Estate and Financial Independence are for me – freedom and options! The less my lifestyle costs, the more options I have – and it’s the same thing with more income.

      I just think that I can cut my expenses today and still focus on my income generation with just as much effectiveness.

  5. Great article! I can relate to your article very well and I strongly agree with what you say. I too am a frat bro who is 24. Monitoring travel expenses and food cost is a great way to save. Fyi, I bought a triplex and now live completely free. With my lifestyle and great saving tactics, I was able to purchase my second property. I don’t think I did anything special, just some discipline and montior your spending habits. 20k is very feasible for most people to save if they really try.

    • Scott Trench

      Christian! – Sound like you are doing the same thing as me! Definitely reach out, I’d be interested to hear your story because it sounds like you are farther along than I am if you own that much property already! Congrats!

  6. John Tucker

    Hey Scott,

    Thanks for your articles and helping me out. Being almost 19, I feel you on the being young deal. I’ve cut back on food expenses, but as far as commuting expenses I’m not sure. This is specific, but I’m curious what kind of bike did you buy for your commute? I appreciate!

    • Scott Trench

      Hi John, I ride a Trek 1.2 as my road/regular bike, and another Trek mountain bike (not sure about the model) for harsher conditions like snow or ice. I purchased the mountain bike on craigslist and the road bike from a co-worker. I’d definitely recommend starting with a nicer road bike like the Trek 1.2 if you are serious!

      I started with the mountain bike, and when I upgraded to the road bike, the difference was night and day. I’ve heard that the difference is even greater between truly high end bikes… but buying a high end bike would somewhat defeat the purpose of buying a commuter bike in the first place.

      More important than the specifics of the bike are the accessories, in my opinion – A headlight, flashing taillight, helmet, and potentially a pannier or storage accessory are all very important.

  7. Good article. Food is such a excessive expense.

    I would like to share a couple of ways to save money.

    For those that drive, if your local grocery store offers fuel points, you can buy gift cards at the grocery store to places you routinely shop. For example, we rehab around 100 homes a year, I buy Home Depot gift cards to cover the first $1,000 of the rehab on my Delta American Express or Marriott Chase Visa. I accomplish 2 things, I am accumulating airline miles or hotel points and saving around .30 to .50 a gallon by going this route. After the first $1,000 on rehab materials, I am putting the rest on my AMEX or Visa.
    I recently upgraded several computers and bought a new TV for the office. Same deal, I went to Kroger, bought several Best Buy gift cards, then went to Best Buy to make my purchases.

    Bottom line, this purchasing method allows us to fly and stay free on our trips and save a ton on gas.

    The other way to save money is to ask for discounts on virtually everything you do. You would be surprised what is negotiable, especially medical. My private insurance did not cover our recent birth of baby #3 and most bills were cut by 60% by paying the entire bill at once.

    • Scott Trench

      Alex – very good point. There are plenty necessary expenses, such as those you point out. Purchasing them in a manner that directly builds towards something you want or use is a great way to benefit from those expenses.

      As for the discounts thing – another great tip. I’m not the best negotiator in the world, so I tend to avoid those situations, but that is something that I should probably work on, especially on the big ticket items!

  8. You’re my hero! Seriously one of the best articles ever- I agree on a lot of these points and have always tried to live similarly. FYI it does get a bit harder after you get married and your spouse wants a slightly nicer place to live and more nights out, but keep up the amazing work!

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Kate! I appreciate the support. I’m definitely not able to contribute to the discussion and comment on the problems of working through finances with a wife as a single guy haha. I just hope that by the time I get there I have enough passive income to create a lifestyle that anyone reasonable can be content with!

  9. JT Spangler

    I’m ten years older than you, but you’ve got me beat on the biking and cooking for the week (two things I keep swearing I’m gonna start this week).

    My blog post a week ago on frugality has a lot in common with some of your strategies. I’m 34 and still have two roommates (who allow me to live for free and focus my consulting income on investment properties and traveling).

    • Scott Trench

      JT – thanks for the comment. I just read your article and loved the suggestions. I left you a comment as well! I’ve also cut the cable cord (I go with Netflix instead) and that’s in spite of having worked for a large pay tv provider before BiggerPockets! That’s awesome that you still hack your housing, I’m sure that it produces tremendous options for you!.

  10. Jeff S.

    Good article. I enjoy saving money and I will tell you it is better to do it when you are young because it is hard to reduce lifestyle when older. And, if you are frugal when young you won’t have to be later in life.

    Find a frugal lady and life will be good. Find a spender and watch all your hard work go up in smoke.

      • Scott Trench

        haha Dave! I was thinking the same thing ;).

        Jeff – I will say that as a young man, I’m not finding it too hard to reduce expenses. I don’t have family responsibilities and having just graduated college, my living situation is easily better than the dormitory/fraternity house that I used to live in (also without a vehicle)!

        On the other hand, I can definitely see it being difficult to go from a routine involving nice cars, fancy clothes, and an enormous house to the one I advocate here. I know several friends and some family members who experienced reversals of fortune recently, and it seems that going from rich to not-quite-as-rich is much more psychologically devastating than living frugally in perpetuity.

  11. David Shapiro

    Scott- Awesome! I don’t think you’re over the top at all. Some of my friends spend $1,000/mo or more on housing. By house hacking and living for free you’re already 12k ahead of many young professionals. The other area I see people spend a good amount of money on is drinks at the bar. Have you done anything to try and save in that area? How much in potential savings on drinks do you think there is for the average person in their 20’s?

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Anybody with a clear vision to save money and invest in their future should be taking these three principles into consideration when making lifestyle decisions. I’ll be moving into a duplex 4 miles closer to my office, thanks for inspiring me to start riding my bike to work!

    • Scott Trench

      David – thanks for the reply. I think that in my case, a lot of the same people that live in the $1,000 or more per month housing are also the ones that seem to spend more at the bars That’s the way it has been in my experience at least.

      Your potential savings on drinks has to do with the amount that you drink and where you want to drink like always. I know that some of the most fun nights I have are playing pong at a friends place or going to the local bar that plays some sing-along jams ;). We save money by having pre-games and heading to bars that allow us to do what we want at reasonable prices.

  12. Sharon Vornholt

    Awesome post Scott.

    You have successfully done what most folks much older than you have failed to do. You have; created a life that you love by making conscious choices that will directly impact your wealth and your health down the road. You deserve to be congratulated.


    • Scott Trench

      Thank you Sharon – really appreciate the kind words!

      The funny thing is, I don’t think that I did anything worthy of congratulations! I basically just did ALMOST all the things I wanted to do, and did a little planning. I want to show those in similar situations that it doesn’t have to be either/or.

  13. Sharon Vornholt

    Awesome post Scott.

    You have successfully done what most folks much older than you have failed to do. You have; created a life that you love by making conscious choices that will directly impact your wealth and your health down the road. You deserve to be congratulated.


  14. Dave Visaya

    This is really great Scott! I’m glad you funnelled down the three biggest expenses for people in their 20s (who are single too). Most don’t really know about this, well, only if they truly track their expenses and realize these are the ones. I believe this lifestyle will help a lot of people and even get some people inspired (including me) to save as much. Cheers!

  15. Ron Thomas

    Very cool man! When I was 18/19 I saved about 13k by doing several similar things and used it to start a small business. I’m 30 now and haven’t had a ‘real job’ in a decade. If you keep this mentality, you are at the start of a great path. Good article!

  16. Nathan Brooks

    Well done man … I love this article, and I love the fact that you have made sacrifices on some things to enjoy amazing things on others. We have done the same … bought the house we live in at half the cost of what we could “afford” (per mortgage lenders) and then another 40% off of that value because it was a “rehab” house, and I have done a lot of the work myself. We cook and eat well, at home. We also have “allowance” money that my wife and I get every month … a whopping $60-100 monthly. Because seriously, I don’t need to have a “starbucks” every freakin day. And that affords us to do … say, a worlds series game 7 a few weeks ago, or our trip to the NBA finals, or my crossfit addiction, or the Royals season tickets we are about to pick up for our Christmas presents to ourselves (owned by our LLC of course).

    Well done man .. keep it up!

  17. Hey Scott,

    I loved your article!

    It inspired me to at least bicycle to work and the grocery store. I wear a suit to work, so I’m going to try keeping some clothes at my office, and changing clothes when I arrive and leave work.

    I live in Colorado too, and I don’t love bicycling when it’s cold in the winter, but I have to remind myself that I am not a fragile little daisy.

    • Scott Trench


      That’s great! I do the same thing, except I don’t have to wear a suit every day… yet.

      Here are some tips for making the bike ride very comfortable in the winter:

      Wear a ski helmet instead of a bike helmet to keep the ears warm – I actually even wear the goggles too!
      Wear heavy duty winter gloves – your hands will get cold as the first thing facing the wind.
      Wear long wool socks on REALLY cold days – I got four pairs from Costco for about $8.

      With these few simple things, I’m very comfortable on a 15-20 minute ride during 20-25 degree morning. Biking truly is one of the best parts of my day. There’s something really nice about zooming past traffic jams on your bike every day.

      • Thanks for the advice!

        I will definitely wear my ski gloves. I need to change my mindset to be exactly like yours; instead of looking at my bike ride as a hassle, look at it as one of the best parts of my day! And if I really push it on the uphill ride home, I may count it as a workout and feel good about that too. Plus, I love riding my bike, so I don’t know why I have been looking at biking to work as a pain, instead of an awesome bonus!

        Riding my bike will also force me to cure my habit of waiting to the last minute to go to work, and sometimes getting there late.

        I like the crockpot recipes you linked to, also. My food staple is a massive salad with all kinds of goodness on it, including plenty of olive oil and avocados.

        Let us know how it goes with no car. Personally, I like having my twenty year old Toyota Corolla on standby. I pay $19/mo for insurance, and $61/year for registration, but that works out to be less than ubering or renting a car when necessary. If I sold it, I would probably get $1K, so I’m losing about $100/year in opportunity cost also, if I invested that money instead. I still come out slightly ahead, plus the convenience factor of having the car right there waiting for me.

        • Scott Trench


          That’s definitely the right mindset – it’s fun, not a sacrifice. I’m always amazed when I bike home after staying late at work – I’ll routinely see people that I know that are going for a bike ride for fun. This is after many of them commuted dozens of miles to work. Crazy!

          I was a fool last year and bought a brand new 2014 Toyota Corolla – 20 years newer than yours. You can see how that is killing me! Maybe if I sell my Toyota, I can buy one more similar to yours in a few months.

  18. Matt Sewell

    Good for you bro! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said, you’ve got it all figured out. I often tell people that if you can’t save/invest at least 50% of your gross income, you have almost zero chance of becoming wealthy within a reasonable amount of time. You understand how to spend money and you’re on the right track. Best of luck to you!

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Matt! I hope to be way over your 50% mark next year – though I will cheat by counting the rent from my Duplex as an “offset to my own rent” rather than income – thus lowering expenses and not increasing income. I don’t know if that will be cheating or not.

      If you count the rent that I SHOULD be paying, were I to be a tenant of my own property, I probably will save right around 50%. Sorry for the ramble there – just two ways to look at the same thing I guess.

  19. Chris Jordon

    Hey Scott,
    Great post man! Being a young adult myself (23), I battle mentally nearly every week on where to distinguish the line between frivolously spending money and actually enjoying life. I’m one of those people you alluded to that were fortunate enough to find high salary paying jobs after college but don’t have anything significant to show for it in the savings account unfortunately lol.. It’s great to see someone who’s in a similar position in life financially, be able to save so much so soon! It really is a source of motivation that it CAN be done. I will be taking some time this evening to re-evaluate where I can cut back personally to try to join the 20k club. Thanks for taking the time to share your story!

    • Scott Trench

      Chris – Thanks for the comment. In my case, I was lucky enough to understand the concept of financial freedom and early retirement relatively quickly – instead of ten years into a career.

      I’m not saving just to save, I’m saving so that five, ten, twenty years from now I don’t have to spend the best part of my day in a cube, in slacks and a cheap tie, in a meeting where I am “personally evaluated”, or on my once per year vacation answering emails on my laptop. I save to take back the best, most productive part of my day and week.

      You are lucky to make a high income. In my case, I refuse to waste it and put myself in a perpetual situation of weakness by being financially dependent on my employer.

      When I keep these things in mind, it becomes easy to save, save big, and do it gladly. You are literally purchasing back power over your own life with every dollar you accumulate.

  20. Hey Scott,
    Loved the article.
    What I liked most about it is you didn’t wait to learn these things. The thing that truly amazes me is that some really bright kids do what makes sense to them and it works for them.
    Meanwhile a nation builds huge debt and wonders what we could possibly do to get this madness under control. You don’t have to wonder how much healthier we could be if we just made our own lunch.
    Thanks for the article Scott

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Gary! I’m definitely overwhelmed by the support here. You are right, I am just doing what made sense for me. I could have eaten lunch at the local restaurant every day… except then I’d be worse off in the sense that it would take longer to prepare (have to order, pick up, etc), it would be way more unhealthy, it wouldn’t taste as good, and it would be expensive.

      Or I can make a delicious lunch that costs less than $2.

      It’s the exact same mindset with a car, a large house, my workouts, going out, etc. The more expensive option is often worse (for me) in every way. Why not just do the cheaper option, have more fun, and save more money?

  21. Jon Loca

    Great post. I think people often overlook how much they spend. Also, I want to add that I think it’s awesome that BP has added Scott to the staff, it’s very nice to have a fellow young person write about investing in real estate. I look forward to more posts.

  22. Rocco Grossi

    Excellent article! This is my plan at the moment as well. I am currently saving money for my first property which will be a duplex where I plan to live in one unit and rent the other. I need to do a better job of budgeting though. Do you recommend any other budget or saving articels? Wow to save 20 grand in such a short period is very impressive. Awesome article thanks.


    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Rocco – I believe that you are on the right track. There are countless other good budget and savings articles out there around the web. If you are looking for some really extreme tips (more than me) I’d recommend the following two blogs:

      Now that said – I think that you are probably a little bit more like me. To get to truly incredible savings rates like that of those two folks, you’ll need to do the big things like housing, commuting, and food right, AND you’ll need to be disciplined day to day, week to week, and month to month with all the little expenses. I find that level of consistent discipline to be very difficult as a young man, so I’m probably a little bit more loose with my money when it comes to restaurants, sports, and other small time purchases.

  23. Deanna Opgenort

    Congrads on figuring out that spending more doesn’t equal happier!
    So, as a lifetime cheapskate it IS possible to over-do it (did YOU still have Halloween candy stashed 365 days later? yeah, I mighta been a bit miserly in my youth….).
    That said, it sounds like you’ve hit a pretty good balance.
    A few things DO come to mind as I read your post;
    a) $50k is a pretty good income for your age range (college degree or not), so others who aren’t making that may take a bit longer to get where you are.
    b) Crockpot. YES! Best invention ever, after the microwave.
    c) Health insurance. Part of being a grown-up. There are all kinds of folks who brag about how much they’ve saved because they didn’t have health insurance all those years. In my book they rank right up with the idiots who try to say smoking doesn’t cause cancer ’cause they know some guy who lived to be 100 who “smoked every day”.
    Get the insurance. A bike accident can set you back $60k in medical bills, and that’s if nothing is seriously damaged.
    personal suggestions; Get a high deductible plan, & an HSAs that will let you put aside $ tax free to use for anything medical (glasses, dental. Basically anything but cosmetic stuff & insurance premiums, and if you are broke sometimes you can even use it for that). In an emergency you CAN get your $ out, but pay 20% + income tax.
    Check out HMOs. With a high deductible plan and a decent HMO you can cap your total liablity for medical emergencies to under $10k per year (so $100k of chemo, car flattens you and you lose a lung & spend 100 days in the hospital — max outlay UNDER $10k). Beware of plans that cover 80% of expenses — you could still be bankrupt by the end of a serious broken leg.
    d) The frugal girlfriend issue will pretty much solve itself as long as you don’t get stupid. If you stick to being yourself the gold-diggers/users aren’t really going to be too interested once they realize you aren’t their ticket to fancy restaurants and expensive gifts.

  24. Deanna Opgenort

    Car. Get rid of the new one if it makes sense, but having ACCESS to a car is awfully darned useful (Costco run on a bike…rough).
    An old “little old lady car” isn’t bad for your situation; you know, the ’94 Buick Regal in pearl white with 24k miles on it that gets 18 mpg. You might even car-share with your roommate or a nearby friend (Costco runs & emergency in exchange for 1/2 insurance plus 10 gal extra of gas/mos or something like that – be a bit on the generous side so they don’t resent the deal).

  25. Fabio Secaira

    Scott, you’re doing it right. Great article!

    Someone here commented that it’s much easier to establish the habit of frugality early on in your earning life, because it’s harder to scale back once you’re used to a certain standard of living. This is absolutely true! My wife and I are 34, live in an expensive area (DC suburbs) and earn six figures, but don’t have much to show for it. We are making changes, cutting expenses and compromising so we’re able to keep and invest some of our money, and it won’t be easy but it will be worth it. You have to continually focus on the big goals and your big WHY.

    Keep up the good work, and keep us posted on your milestones!

  26. Raeshelle C.

    I absolutely need my car. I love driving and going anywhere I want without any limitations. However, everything else here I can definitely start applying to my life. I’m going to buy a duplex in a few years, and I need to invest in a crock pot too.

  27. Shaun R.

    I know I’m replying to a very old blog entry, but I’m just seeing it for the first time. I read your book Scott, and I only WISH I’d read it at 20 years old. I’m 35 years old now and married with two kids. We’ve got a combined household income of a little over $100k, we live in an 4 bedroom 1830 sf house with at $1118/mo payment. I drive a paid for 2008 truck with terrible gas mileage on my 45 mile round trip to work 5 days a week. My wife has always driven older, cheaper vehicles, but I felt like I needed to let her get something better… now we pay $738 per month for her GMC Acadia.

    I’m looking for ways to cut back since I’m just getting started in real estate investing. I don’t have the heart to ask her to sell her car (I know she would do it if I wanted her to, but she would be disappointed). I’m looking hard into how much we spend on food. Between eating out and groceries a couple months ago we spent $1200. That seems pretty excessive to me. I was able to get that down to $800 the next month. I’m trying to convince the wife join me in renting our current home out and moving into a 2 bedroom condo that will eventually be our second rental property. She isn’t excited about the idea, because the condo is pretty much like all the apartments we have ever lived in and didn’t like.

    If all the decisions were up to me I’d cut everything and live a very minimal lifestyle, but I can only do so much without the wife’s blessing. I hope this article and your book make it into lots of 20 year old’s hands. I can’t help to think of what life would be like right now if I had come across this info when I was much younger.

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