Lifestyles of The Rich and Frugal

by Mr. 1500 - Published July 19, 2017

DIY ceiling

[As part of our new weekly column by Mr. 1500 of 1500Days.com]

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The most frugal times of my life were my college years. While my apartment rent was paid with loans, I had to come up with money for everything else. To support myself, I worked for minimum wage ($4.25/hour) at a computer lab. This income had to pay the utility bills and everything else. I kept the air conditioning off.

Another casualty of low income was a healthy diet. Dinners during those years consisted almost entirely of spaghetti. I’d make a huge bowl of noodles on Sunday evening and store them in a big plastic container. I’d reheat them along with some cheap spaghetti sauce for dinner almost Every. Single. Night. Breakfast was cold cereal and lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I ate for under $20 per week. My poor diet must have scarred me because the very first thing I bought when I received my first paycheck from real work was a pound of ground beef.

Life is better now. Through a lot of hard work and diligent saving, my net worth is about $1,800,000. While I don’t eat spaghetti every night, I still retain my frugal ways with rare exception. I’m careful with my dollars, I have a modest home, and I don’t eat out often and am not afraid to clip coupons.

However, I recently spent time with someone who is younger, far better off and maybe even more frugal than I…

Calling Doctor Frugal

Near the top of the Rockstar Finance Net Worth Tracker sits the Physician on FIRE (I’m calling him PoF from here on out):

PoF is an anesthesiologist who makes a healthy income. According to one of his recent posts, the average pay for his specialty is $350,000:

PoF happens to live in a red county, so his pay probably exceeds $400,000 (about four times more than the average American household). Despite the big income, he’s not a big spender. The PoF family went through $62,000 in 2016, less than $63,784 that the average American family plowed through in 2013.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Frugal

On a recent vacation, I visited the PoF and his family and was eager to see how they lived. Any time the conversation turned to money or I noticed something related to dollar signs, I made a mental note. Here are some of my favorite observations:

Home: PoF lives in a modest space in a 1950s subdivision. The house is tastefully decorated with mid-century modern furnishings, right down to the dishes and silverware. All of it could have been purchased at expensive antique stores or through auctions. However, the PoF family bought it here and there, piecemeal from thrift stores, Craigslist and garage sales.

The picture at the top of this post is a custom ceiling in a screened-in room at the PoF house. When I asked PoF about it, he said this:

I found the old wood flooring on Craigslist and thought it would make a neat ceiling. I stuffed it into my car and nailed it up myself.

While PoF’s home is 3600 square feet (equally divided between above ground and basement), it cost less than PoF makes in a year. And PoF ‘s vacation home set him back just $15,400.

Grocery shopping (PoF’s wife speaking here):

We shop at Aldi. They have the best fruits and vegetables.

Aldi is a discount grocery chain in the United States. No Whole Foods here!

Vehicles: PoF’s wife drives a modest minivan and he sports an HHR with over 100,000 miles on the odometer:

Bicycles: PoF has a load of bicycles in his garage. While they are nice bikes, they aren’t made out of carbon fiber or exotic metals. He bought most of them used:

I picked up my road bike and these two mountain bikes on Craigslist.

Going out to eat (or not): The PoF and I sampled beers at local microbreweries, but we never went out to eat. A couple of our outings overlapped lunch and we simply packed sandwiches.

And when PoF and his family do go out to eat, they don’t visit high-end steakhouses. Before I departed, I asked PoF for advice about a town that we were stopping at:

Yeah, we’ve stopped off at the Arby’s there for lunch a couple of times…

Vacations: I asked PoF his opinion on signing up for a hotel credit card. I’m going to New York and this card would get me two free nights in a super swanky hotel that would set me back $1,600 otherwise. I told PoF that I’m not really comfortable staying in fancy places like that and he said this:

I don’t like it either. I can open my own doors and carry my own bags.

The PoF family isn’t cheap. Cheap is serving guests Spaghettios, using generic toilet paper (just don’t do it) and tipping poorly. I ate very well at the PoF household and the toilet paper was plush, just how I like it. PoF tipped generously on our microbrew expeditions.

Deprivation or Optimization?

I get into arguments with spendy people frequently:

Why don’t you just treat yourself?

Just buy it!

And my personal favorite (is the sarcasm coming through?):

I could never live your life of deprivation.

The PoF family isn’t deprived in any way. They’ve been to Iceland and recently went on a cruise. PoF’s children have loads of Lego ($$$$$). PoF’s beer making operation is sophisticated and his refrigerator contained many fancy brews.

They spend money on what matters to them and save when it doesn’t. Cars don’t make them happy, so the HHR is all they need. Neither does a big home or designer clothes.

The PoF family has realized that stuff doesn’t bring happiness. Money isn’t an issue when you have a net worth north of $3,000,000, but that isn’t the only cost of stuff. Managing stuff requires your time. Accumulate enough stuff and it owns you.

PoF and his family have optimized their lives for what is important to them. They live minimally and with intention. They optimize their spending and more importantly, optimize their time.

Be Like Dr. Frugal

It’s easy to be frugal when you have no money. Frugality by choice is much more interesting. People like PoF have life figured out. He knows what matters and if it costs money, he spends it. However, figuring out what matters is the true hard part, and it looks like PoF has succeeded.

You may not be able to earn like the PoF family, but you can certainly live like them. I recommend that you do!

Mr. 1500 writes the Wednesday column here at Budgets Are Sexy, and is the founder of his own financial blog, 1500Days.com. He hit financial freedom at the age of 43 with $1,800,000, and stops by here to share his thoughts on finance, frugality, and life in early retirement.

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance July 19, 2017 at 6:43 am

Thank you for the great post, Mr. 1500. It makes a lot of sense that if you make a lot and live below your means, then you can save, invest, and get richer by the day. However, many of us fall into the lifestyle inflation trap and keep getting into debt. I really admire what Dr. PoF does to maintain a frugal lifestyle although he makes a really good income. And it’s great that his wife is on board with the idea!

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2 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 8:28 am

“I really admire what Dr. PoF does to maintain a frugal lifestyle although he makes a really good income.”

Yep. And what’s amazing is he isn’t trying. They are living the life they enjoy most. You just don’t need to spend money to live a great life.

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3 Dave @ Run The Money July 19, 2017 at 7:04 am

I’m really enjoying your posts on BAS, Mr. 1500. This one is particularly interesting with PoF. Reading stories like this helps in trying to prioritize what really matters and focusing on the true end goal – FIRE. Thanks for sharing!

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4 J. Money July 19, 2017 at 7:16 am

He’s really good at the story telling, isn’t he? I love being able to read them all first before we publish them haha… #NerdAlert

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5 Mrs. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 8:02 am

Well, technically, you’re not the one who reads them first…

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6 J. Money July 19, 2017 at 9:41 am

Heyyyy where’d you come from! :)

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7 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

Awww, thanks. I’m turning all red over here! Life is good. :)

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8 Mrs. Adventure Rich July 19, 2017 at 7:16 am

Yes! I’ve been following PoF for awhile now and I really like his focus on frugality and shunning lifestyle inflation in a career path that often begs for an outwardly flashy lifestyle. I think we can all take a few notes from the PoF family playbook regardless of income! :)

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9 [email protected] July 19, 2017 at 7:45 am

This connects to what you wrote on your site this week about “finding your tribe” too. After reading PoF now for awhile and your site for years, you can see how easily you guys would have connected. Most of the people I know would think PoF (and you) are crazy for not spending more money and having more “fun” and “toys” in your lives or bigger houses or fancier cars. Yet they are the ones that also complain about having to go to work and whine that they’ll never be able to retire…

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10 J. Money July 19, 2017 at 9:43 am

(And you can now tell those same people that Mr. 1500 in fact DOES drive fancy cars now! http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/financial-confession-bought-used-acura-nsx-for-45k/ )

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11 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 11:07 am

Yep. The car’s name is Asterisk. As in: “I’m a frugal* person.”

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12 Lance @ My Strategic Dollar July 19, 2017 at 8:03 am

Thank you for sharing this awesome post! I loved PoF’s story and following his life advice. I’m amazed when I hear all these stories about high-earning individuals who are living that uber frugal lifestyle.

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13 Mike B. July 19, 2017 at 8:05 am

Must’ve been one cool trip, Mr. 1500! Anyone who lives below their means, and brews their own beer, is a winner in my book. The PoF truly knows the value of money and how to have fun without needing to spend excessively. Love it.

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14 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 8:31 am

The trip was great! I’m an introvert, but not when I’m with people like the PoF family. I love it when I don’t have to hide in a room with a book (it has happened)!

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15 Budget on a Stick July 19, 2017 at 8:09 am

We love Arby’s in the BoaS household but you can usually find us at our favorite high-end restaurant Culver’s. Using some coupon or gift card :D #custardForLife

I love hearing how frugal high income earners are because it goes against the assumptions everyone else has. What is bewildering to me is how low income earners can out spend high income earners.

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16 Physician on FIRE July 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

Nothing like a double butterburger and concrete mixer with crinkle cut fries to put a smile on my face and few deposits in my coronaries.

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17 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 8:33 am

I love Culver’s too. At least I did until I read this:

“…and few deposits in my coronaries.”

Oreo mint brownie, we must break up.

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18 Lily @ The Frugal Gene July 19, 2017 at 8:23 am

I remember listening to PoF’s podcast episode where he talked about his frugal yet fun vacation to France with his kids and thinking “this man knows how to live life!”

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19 Divnomics July 19, 2017 at 8:27 am

This should be a mantra for everyone that wants to be in control of their finances (and life):
“spend money on what matters to them and save when it doesn’t.”

Great story!

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20 Physician on FIRE July 19, 2017 at 8:27 am

Does this coat make me look fat? No? Good.

Does this post make me look boring? Kinda? Dang!

I love the way we live, and I think our lifestyle is a testimony to the fact that a great lifestyle doesn’t have to be super expensive if you look for value and spend with intention. It’s also a good example of spending and income uncoupled; my latest post portrays a much better example with a guy earning $1.8 Million with a budget nearly identical to ours: http://www.physicianonfire.com/hsw/

Oh. And to address the kinda boring part, here’s a few not-so-boring things we’ve done.
*Took my uncle and boys boating on a 7-hour trip through 4 lakes and 3 rivers yesterday.
*Lots of travel, both with kids and without. Went camping in Canada last weekend
* Tough Mudder and Spartan races
*Invest in breweries — one of which is opening next weekend, and the other provides me with free beer whenever we’re at our vacation home (like we are now!)
*Entertain! Like we did with the 1500s, and we often do with neighborhood gatherings. That keezer full of homebrew is awfully popular.

I’m running out of ideas and need to get up and go running. Maybe I am kinda boring — but I’m never bored. Thanks for the feature, Mr. 1500 & J. Money!

Cheers!
-PoF

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21 J. Money July 19, 2017 at 9:49 am

I tell everyone I know how you invest in breweries and get free beer for life. BRILLIANT!!

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22 Wall Street Physician July 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

Just because you make a lot of money doesn’t have to mean you have to spend a lot of money. PoF has shown that by being frugal while making a high salary as a physician, you can retire early and give generously while living the life you want.

-WSP

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23 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Love the “give generously” part!

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24 Brian July 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

Thanks for the POF profile Mr.1500. I agree with Vicki, most people just don’t understand this mindset and that what’s holding them back from being successful with their money.

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25 Paul July 19, 2017 at 9:02 am

Proper choice of housing is probably the #1 thing a person can master to get ahead. Beyond maximizing cell phone plans and getting the best insurance rates, right sizing a house is the single biggest catalyst to getting ahead. I mean earning more is always an option but I am strictly talking about debt reduction.

There are so many caveats to this though. Spousal influence, falling for the school system hype, area of US, etc… Where I live a basic single family home costs 500-600K. Incomes are higher than most of the US but I doubt they are high enough adjusted for localized cost of living. I do better than most but getting ahead is tough, especially if you prioritize retirement and investing (like I do). It feels like even though you earn multiple six figs, that you are scraping by.

I think the thing to do is to stay here for a while, build up enough equity in my house that I can sell, move further south, and pay cash for an equivalent property. I have yet to find a place in the US that makes me want to move though… Maryland is very well kept compared to the slop I see when I visit other states.

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26 J. Money July 19, 2017 at 9:51 am

Charleston, SC!! SOooooo beautiful! (Although admittedly, sooooo expensive in the parts I’d want to live – the downtown water-close places… Where all the old money is :))

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27 Paul July 19, 2017 at 10:49 am

Yeah, it is. But the problem for me is that I don’t really feel that way about anywhere. So like a rube I stay put.

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28 Mrs. Picky Pincher July 19, 2017 at 9:19 am

Isn’t it funny how you don’t really need to make big changes to live frugally? It’s definitely a mindset, but it leads to so many fun things in life.

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29 [email protected] and the Beach July 19, 2017 at 9:20 am

I’m surrounded by a lot of people who are living flashy lives in giant houses where they have multiple outsourcing from nannies, housecleaners, lawn care, etc. It feels so out of touch to me personally. One has such a fancy life he always seems incredibly stressed. It’s nice to see how it’s possible to remain grounded yet still have a lot of wealth.

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30 Dads Dollars Debts July 19, 2017 at 9:23 am

I think you also nailed the head on the hammer with the housing costs. Keeping housing costs low leads to a lot more disposable (or investable) income. POF did that right and in a 3000 square foot home too. Plenty of space but not so expensive!

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31 Miss Mazuma July 19, 2017 at 9:44 am

PoF – that second home of yours was a bargain! This post goes to show you don’t have to spend like a doc to live a life of luxury. A bit of ingenuity will get you a lot further for less than most. For example, your use of CL wood flooring for an awesome ceiling?! Genius! My home is also furnished by Craigslist (and a bit of IKEA) and is perfectly as comfortable as my sisters home of Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware…maybe more so because no one is afraid to spill on my couch! :)

As for the 1500’s, I’m still disappointed that you have no access to Aldi in the Denver area. What a heartbreak!!

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32 Cubert July 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

I guess it just goes to show that net worth really is meaningless, right??? You don’t need a mountain of illiquid assets on a spreadsheet in order to live a simple, meaningful, and rich life.

Obviously I’m not a big fan of the Net-Worth Leaderboard. A better gauge would be savings rate, followed by annual household spending totals. But apparently, even our little community of FIRE can’t resist opening up the kimono. Not a big deal I reckon, so long as it doesn’t frighten prospective early retirees into thinking those figures unobtainable and sends them running for the hills. Once you start to get above $1M, net worth can start to look pretty daunting for someone trying to retire early in his or her 30s or 40s, no?

Regardless of that little rant, big-time kudos to my fellow Minnesotan, PoF, for charting a path that would appear obvious to most well-educated, post-graduate professionals but sadly is not. His site is fantastic and his posts are spot-on.

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33 J. Money July 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

I think someone needs to make up a Savings Rate Leaderboard ;)

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34 Cubert July 19, 2017 at 11:16 am
35 J. Money July 20, 2017 at 9:49 am

Hit up Mustachian Post too – I know he was doing something similar over the past cple years, and maybe you guys can collaborate on it? https://www.mustachianpost.com/2017/01/25/blogger-savings-rate-index-2016/

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36 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 11:14 am

“I guess it just goes to show that net worth really is meaningless, right??? You don’t need a mountain of illiquid assets on a spreadsheet in order to live a simple, meaningful, and rich life.”

Yep. I’d argue that money is simultaneously the most and least important part of life! If it was a facebook relationship, I’d set it to It’s complicated..

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37 High Income Parents July 19, 2017 at 10:24 am

I want to second the statement about the second home. Usually those are poor “investments” but that was a deal. The access to cheap but amazing activities make it a win win win in my book. Oh and not boring. :)

Tom @ HIP

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38 Physician on FIRE July 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

Thanks, Miss M.

We’ve purchased our share of IKEA stuff, too (the Aldi of furniture, or is Aldi the IKEA of groceries?). But most of our furniture is solid, quality wood from ~60 years ago from great companies and designers like Lane, Kroehler, Jens Risom, and others.

That ceiling is pure teak hardwood flooring, which is ideal since it’s in a patio space that sees a little bit of moisture despite my best efforts. Best of all, it didn’t cost a thing but a box of nails and the sweat equity from wielding a nail gun. My kind of Restoration Hardware.

Cheers!
-PoF

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39 Working Optional July 19, 2017 at 10:39 am

Thanks for the great feature, Mr. 1500. It’s interesting to see Dr. PoF from someone else’s perspective and how he’s content and doesn’t need to spend more to be happy.

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40 Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom July 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

“Frugality by choice.” I love that perspective! It is so inspiring when wealthy people live without the fancy toys and homes and cars that the rest of America covets. True wealth shouldn’t be measured by materialism. Great, thought-provoking read!

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41 Mr. Tako July 19, 2017 at 11:38 am

Good stuff Mr. 1500, and a great story! PoF sets a very good example for high-earning individuals everywhere.

Hope to see more of the same great stuff in the future!

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42 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Thanks Mr. Tako for the kind words. Stories like this write themselves when you’re around interesting people.

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43 Primal Prosperity July 19, 2017 at 11:58 am

Nice post! I think it was ERE that also once wrote that he gets more enjoyment out of what he does rather than what he buys. This is so true.

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44 Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto July 19, 2017 at 11:59 am

J$, SOOO cool to see you profiling our friend, Doc. A great example of living (well) below your means. Also very cool that he’s worked out an innovative “downshifting” strategy with his work, starting later this year.

The guy’s crushing it, and deserves your well-written shout out. We can all learn from Doc, even if we can’t (quite) match his awesome income level!

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45 J. Money July 20, 2017 at 9:34 am

I’m just glad you’re still alive over there!!! Your last post freaked me out! :)

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46 Dave July 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm

My vote is for optimization. PoF is a master at accumulating wealth. He also has an awsome blog and interacts with people who comment. He is one of my favorite bloggers in the FI community.

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47 Physician on FIRE July 25, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Very kind of you to say, Dave.

You are one of my favorite commenters on this post.

Cheers!
-PoF

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48 Mr Crazy Kicks July 19, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Lots of beer, bikes, and Legos… What more do you need :)

Sometimes I forget how people manage to blow their paychecks. They don’t even live any better.

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49 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Yep, it’s a hollow pursuit.

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50 Mark July 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm

There’s a pretty huge caveat in this story and I’ve never really gotten the attraction to PoF. Yes, he’s the perfect example of not falling into the lifestyle inflation trap, but he’s still not particularly frugal. At least not compared to the average American that can’t afford to pay for a huge house in cash, vacation in europe, etc. His story is not even that translatable, in that he basically fell into the perfect storm of working in an industry that demands extreme salaries while being able to live in an area with extremely low cost of living. Something that is not applicable to most industries (higher than average salaries usually coincide with higher than average cost of living), and thus not achievable by most Americans.

By all means, follow his example of living below your means, but let’s not pretend that luck hasn’t played a huge part in his success.

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51 Mr. 1500 July 19, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Luck playing a huge part? No. Hard work. Loads of hard work.

Getting into medical school requires loads of dedication to study. I’ve taken organic chemistry, physics, calculus, cell biology and that stuff isn’t easy. And it gets worse in medical school. And he excelled there too and was rewarded with a coveted specialty.

True, he does live in an inexpensive place, but his story wouldn’t have been that much different in most other parts of the United States.

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52 Terry Pratt July 24, 2017 at 2:56 am

Luck plays A PART, which might be small or large or middling. Getting into medical school is 100% hard work and preparation, but there are many possibilities in life where luck can be a factor. Like meeting your future spouse or business partner in class entails an element of luck.

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53 Steve @ Think Save Retire July 20, 2017 at 12:54 am

I’ve never really understood people’s fascination with “luck”, and especially the tendency to chalk success up to a serious of lucky breaks that practically handed people their success – PoF included. Tell someone who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical school that they “fell into a perfect storm” and try, as you might, to keep a straight face.

To say that luck plays a huge part in his success, or the success of so many others out there, is a slap in the face to what good decisions and hard work produce in one of the most opportunity-rich countries in the entire world. The fact remains that if success like PoF’s were primary luck, a hell of a lot more people would be in his position. Or better. The average retirement age wouldn’t be in the mid 60s.

People have a hell of a lot more control over their lives than they care to admit. You included. YOU control where you live. YOU control what job you have. YOU control the home you live in, the person you married, your expenditures, your…everything.

Hard work amounts to amazing things. Respectfully, only fools chalk up someone’s success to luck…fools who probably never “get lucky”.

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54 J. Money July 20, 2017 at 9:40 am

As Thomas Edison once said, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work!”

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55 Dads Dollars Debts July 23, 2017 at 9:47 am

Luck equals hard work and preparation meeting opportunity. You don’t get lucky without the hard work and you have to be smart enough to spot the opportunity.

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56 Physician on FIRE July 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm

Yeah, me neither, man.

I walk a fine line between being seen as unrelatable to the middle class worker who will never expect to earn a six-figure salary and being seen as too frugal and lame to the average physician who will be spending double to quadruple what we do.

My target audience is the high income professional, and I work hard to get them off the hedonic treadmill, or at least slow the damned thing down. If I’m not your jam, I can understand the reasons. You’ve got hundreds of personal finance sites to choose from — spend your time on the ones that resonate with you the most, and best apply to your particular set of circumstances.

Cheers!
-PoF

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57 WealthyDoc July 23, 2017 at 10:05 am

PoF,
I’m so glad that you “fell into” blogging as well as accidentally falling into becoming an anesthesiologist. Hilarious.

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58 Jason July 19, 2017 at 6:54 pm

Love this article and I think it also helps that PofF might be from MN if I am correct? Best state in the union I mean I could you not be living a rich and frugal lifestyle there :).

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59 Megan July 19, 2017 at 7:49 pm

“It’s easy to be frugal when you have no money. Frugality by choice is much more interesting.”

Agreed! Right now I’m in the former category, though I plan to one day be in the latter. Curious to know if Dr. Frugal came from a frugal family, growing up, I mean.

It’s easier for me to live a frugal lifestyle because my family didn’t have a lot to spare growing up, so I’m used to going without what I feel I don’t need. However, I see a lot of my friends who grew up in wealthy households (or “wealthy” in their possessions/lifestyle choices, perhaps not necessarily money, who knows) and they end up spending much more than they can afford and going into debt because they’re used to a certain way of living.

So I guess I’m wondering about PoF’s money scripts and how he feels like they affect his current spending habits.

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60 Physician on FIRE July 20, 2017 at 8:32 am

Hey Megan,

Good question. I have basically followed my parents’ lead when it comes to spending intentionally and looking for value in our purchases.

Growing up, we went to thousands of garage sales, dozens of thrifts stores, warehouse sales, scoured the scratch and dent stuff and clearance racks. We had nice things, but rarely paid retail.

All the while, my Dad was a dentist, and the son of a dentist, so we were relatively frugal by choice. The money was there, but my parents used it on things that gave us great family experiences like a lake cabin and family vacations.

I am grateful to have grown up learning those values, and we’re doing our best to instill those same values in our boys.

Best,
-PoF

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61 Physician on FIRE July 19, 2017 at 9:58 pm

You betcha!

Real good, then.

Uff da!

-PoF

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62 Physician on FIRE July 20, 2017 at 8:32 am

This was supposed to be nested under Jason’s comment about being from MN.

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63 Shivika July 19, 2017 at 11:16 pm

Love this post, and the timing was perfect. Funny though, I’ve always found the word “frugal” to be unsexy. It brings to mind yellow teeth, corduroy seat covers and plastic bag functioning as a handbag. Well, that’s me. But, I’d rather use the word mindfulness. When we use that term in context to our spending, the powerful combination of words brings hopes, aspirations and light to life.
PoF keeping us inspired over here! Thank you.

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64 J. Money July 20, 2017 at 9:38 am

Haha… I always think of my mother when I hear “frugal” because we never bought anything full price growing up, but I agree mindfulness sounds a lot more… empowering, maybe?

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65 Steve @ Think Save Retire July 20, 2017 at 1:04 am

Lifestyle and income can – and probably should be – independent of each other. It takes discipline and good decision-making, which is where most people fail. You, sir, have your game on point. Your net worth is more than three times mine, but you only spend twice what I spend – and a large part of that is because you have kids and we don’t. Otherwise, the spending gap between us would probably be even smaller.

Well done, my friend.

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66 Esthy July 20, 2017 at 1:42 am

This article and PoF reminds me of one of my favourite books – The Millionaire Next Door. Being frugal shouldn’t actually be a choice forced on us by circumstances, it should be our regular habit although I learnt this the hard way.

I guess millionaires like PoF became rich by being frugal. This is truly a great insight for those of us who want to accumulate wealth and also reminds us on the virtues of frugality even for those not intending to become millionaires.

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67 Physician on FIRE July 20, 2017 at 10:04 am

My wife and I listened to the audiobook version of TMND early in my career. I took the lessons from Drs. Stanley & Danko to heart.

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68 Fruclassity (Ruth) July 20, 2017 at 5:30 pm

“It’s easy to be frugal when you have no money. Frugality by choice is much more interesting.” We had many years of forced frugality, but we’re turning a corner now. We’re in good solid financial shape (nothing like Mr. 1500 or Physician on Fire though!) – and still choosing frugality. I never understood why people with money wouldn’t spend it (because I certainly would have – and did even when I didn’t have it – back in the day), but I’m getting a taste of it now. It feels liberating to drive a 1999 Dodge Caravan when we are, for the first time in our lives, in a position to buy a new one for cash. Great post. Thanks : )

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69 J. Money July 21, 2017 at 9:49 am

You have one of my favorite comeback stories, Ruth – always an inspiration :)

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70 Miguel @ The Rich Miser July 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I agree with most things here, especially with shopping at ALDI! The one idea that gives me some pause is the cars. Perhaps wrongly, I like to lease relatively nice and well-featured cars (not BMWs or anything like that), for a few reasons: (1) the car will always be under warranty, meaning any repairs beyond routine maintenance are taken care of; (2) new cars will generally not break down. Living in a big city, the idea of breaking down at night on the highway or in an unfamiliar area is a nightmare scenario for me; (3) safety technology is advancing quickly, and I like to have the latest (like rear-view cameras and blind spot monitoring systems); and (4) it’s nice to have a new car every 3 years.

I can see how many of these things would not really be an issue in some areas, but in a big city with crowded highways and hectic traffic, they’re important to me.

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71 Mr. 1500 July 23, 2017 at 7:09 am

Hi Miguel! I can relate to your fears because growing up, I remember my father working on our unreliable cars seemingly every weekend. I learned how to swear from the words that floated out of the garage from my dad’s mouth. But I digress…

The good news is that cars are reliable now. Any modern car, if driven with care and maintained, should give you at least 200,000 trouble-free miles. My 2003 Honda Element, with 170,000 pain free miles is my personal example.

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72 Hatton1 July 23, 2017 at 5:37 am

I just found this post. Luck has nothing to do with pofs success. If you read his story he had some early career set backs but he recovered. His “luck” is genetic (IQ) combined with life long good decisions and hard work.

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73 ZJ Thorne July 23, 2017 at 10:45 am

I love that you spend on what you value. Investing in a brewery sounds like heaven. If I change my finances substantially, that would be the sort of investment that just makes me happy.

Congrats on a well-lived life!

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74 Physician on FIRE July 25, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, ZJ!

So far, so good. A brewery I loaned money to is opening this Friday — can’t wait to see the new place.

Cheers!
-PoF

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75 Harvey July 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm

“It’s easy to be frugal when you have no money. Frugality by choice is much more interesting.”

This will likely be the stupidest two sentences strung together about personal finances I’ll read in 2017.

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76 Mr. 1500 July 23, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Oh no, I can get much stupider! The depth of my dumb, deficient, doltish, dopey and dazed dithering knows no bounds!

Tune in for more of my titillating prose next week! Or check the archives for more verbal vomit!

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77 Mike July 23, 2017 at 3:03 pm

“Another casualty of low income was a healthy diet. Dinners during those years consisted almost entirely of spaghetti.” WTF?!?! Spaghetti as HEALTHY? Spaghetti has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever! It’s all empty calories, and what’s more, it’s all simple carbohydrates! No healthy fat, healthy protein, or healthy fiber at all. No vitamins, minerals, nada. Zilch. Even ice cream has SOME nutritional value.

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78 Mr. 1500 July 23, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Yep. That’s why I said spaghetti wasn’t healthy. Please reread.

It’s all good, I still like you!

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79 Terry Pratt July 24, 2017 at 2:43 am

Keeping a roof over my head must be extremely important to me because it consumes more than half my income and leaves me without discretionary income.

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80 Melissa Tosetti July 24, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Thank you for sharing POF’s story. He’s a mentor for savvy living.

It’s much easier to spend smart when there’s not a lot of money available. The challenge is to continue to spend smart when money is flowing freely.

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