Why You Should Marry a Frugal Freak

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Photo Credit: TaxCredits.net @ Flickr

Last Monday, on my “How to Get Your Spouse Aboard the FI Train” post, I polled readers on the type of spouses you have.

Of the 369 people who responded, here are the results:


#1 Supportive: 42.3%
#2 Spendy: 15.5%
#3 Scaredy: 13%
#4 FI Virgin: 11.9%
#5 What About the Kids: 7.6%

So despite complaints about “my spouse” being the reason people can’t become FI, most readers actually have supportive spouses. Bad news for relationship counsellors, great news for the FI community! With your spouse next to you rowing just as hard, your FI dreams are easily within reach.

Now, that doesn’t mean the ones with reluctant spouses are doomed. It just means you need a little more trickery—er, I mean negotiation—to get your spouse on board.

And of these reluctant spouses, the most prevalent is the Spendy Spouse. Now, I mentioned that you can try to cure spendiness with a goal of some sort. Something that Spendy can work on so they can derive happiness from creation rather than consumption. But failing that, our reader Mark, has an even better idea.

Set up a budget and before they can complain, tell them they can keep 25% of whatever gets saved towards anything they want. For example: If you save $20,000, they get $5000 to blow on whatever they want–iWatches, a flatscreen TV, a diamond ring, or any of these ridiculous $5000 items. Who cares! You still end up saving $15,000! No judgement. No pushiness.

This gets your spouse to inadvertently save money while THINKING they’re actually spending.

Machiavellian isn’t it? Thanks, Mark!

PROTIP: If any of you are thinking of using this method, make sure your spouse DOES NOT know about this blog. I’m not responsible for any injuries sustained if they find out.

One of the things I realized while tallying the results of the poll is that I’ve completely forgotten about all the single people out there. For those of you, who are still single and looking for your other half, take a page from Mrs. Money Mustache, Mrs.RootofGood, Mrs. MadFientist, and GoCurryCracker’s books:

Marry a Frugal Freak.

Now I’m no relationship expert (before I found my hubby and BFF, Wanderer, I lusted after pretty boys whose only skills include cheating, being good at sports, and writing bad poetry), but judging by how all early retirees seem to have at least one Frugal Freak (MMM, MadFientist, Justin, Winnie, me), having a frugal spouse seems to be a pre-requisite on becoming FI.

And I don’t mean the “eat cat food and live in the basement” kind of frugal. I mean frugal as in “cares as much about saving money as making it”.

So, what are some signs to help you find your Frugal Freak?

#1 Thinks A Good Time on Friday Night is Staying In and Calculating Your Tax Refund.

#2 Rolls their eyes when you pay for dinner with a coupon. Pulls out their much bigger, much better coupon, while muttering “amateur” under their breath.

I make it rain, bitches. (Photo credit: OOingle.com @Flickr)

#3 Laughs a little too hard from this “Fresh Off the Boat” scene:

When asked by staff if she wants a towel for an extra fee:

Jessica: “We will be using God’s towel” *points to the sky* “the sun.”


#4 Thinks Louis Vuitton purses are a Tax on Stupid People.

Purses full of BULLSHIT.


#5 Climaxes immediately when they hear the words “Discount”, “Budget”, “Travel Hacking”, or “Roth IRA Conversion Ladder”.

Oh God. Somebody get me a towel, STAT. (photo credit: PT Money @ Flickr)

#6 Does Not Give a Rat’s Ass What Other People Think


Now, being a Frugal Freak myself, I have to say, one of the best things about being an FF is not giving a rat’s ass what other people think.

Because one of the keys to becoming an early retiree is to go against the status quo. And that means having to listen to judgy people. A lot. Sometimes right here in the our comment section! But luckily, I’ve developed a thick skin as a kid. When the other kids made fun of me for being poor, I just went “I may be poor, but at least I still have intact shins!” Before delivering a roundhouse to kick to said shins. Good times. Good times.

So all those comments about “you’re going to run out of money”, “you’re never going to find a job again”, “but don’t you want nice things?” or “you’re a loser if you rent” just roll off my back.

That’s why being a Frugal Freak and not giving a shit what other people think is a HUGE advantage. Because instead of wasting time trying to keep up with the Joneses, or falling into the FOMO trap, all you give a crap about is reaching your goal. If it goes towards your FIRE goal, do it. Otherwise, ignore it.

That’s the best part about being a Frugal Freak. You will be able to get to FIRE much faster than everyone else.

What do you think? Single readers out there, are you looking for a Frugal Freak?

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59 thoughts on “Why You Should Marry a Frugal Freak”

  1. Yes, I was all keen on taking the survey, but it had no option for ‘Single’

    Single Male, 46
    Net worth $2.8 Million
    Never married, no kids

  2. (1) As an offshoot project, perhaps you should start a dating site called “efrugality.com” for aspiring FIRE singles.

    (2) Don’t know what the average saving rate is here in the USA, but I bet it is pretty low. Spend, spend, spend not only seems to be the norm, but also is highly encouraged as the only way to support GDP growth and the economy. Whatever.

    Glad to say that I hear a different drummer….currently I am saving about 110% of my work income each month — that is, I pay for all my monthly expenses using dividends, and basically don’t even use my salary at all. (The extra 10% is from 401k matching.) Take that spendthrifts!

    1. OMG, this is an amazing idea. I want to find my next partner this way 😀 ! EFrugality, love it! Or alternatively… FIREsingles.com!

        1. Nope West coast of Canada 😉 Although I am a US citizen and love New York and would consider moving there one day as I am an actor! That’s what I intend to pursue full time with my FIRE-ness 😀

          1. haha, I’m on the west coast of Canada too! Care for a drink sometime 😉
            If by west coast of Canada you mean Vancouver ish.
            FireSingles. I like it.

              1. haha, we can talk about TFSAs and RRSPs, and “bond”. Bad joke? 😉
                Email me at manofadventure8@gmail.com. That’s not my main email, but it’s the one I’m willing to post in an online forum. I’ll give you my actual one after.

    2. 1) *Scampers off to buy the domain*
      2) Average US savings rate is 5.5%. So you are kicking ass! At 110% saving rates you’re already FI! I’m guessing you really like your job because you are choosing to work at this point 🙂

  3. Fun post FireCracker! I admit to being a Frugal Freak. I guess I was born that way.

    Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to be a Frugal Freak. People can be judgey… Sometimes those awful commenters on my blog are so mean it makes me cry.

    But whatevs…

    I’m literally typing this in my bed on a Monday morning, while *they* commute to work… So yeah, you f**kers go ahead and be judgey.

    1. “I’m literally typing this in my bed on a Monday morning, while *they* commute to work… So yeah, you f**kers go ahead and be judgey. ”

      That’s the spirit! Haters are just jealous assholes who wish they had your life.

  4. I’m a saver but my partner is super spendy. I’ll have to try the budget % spending rule, to get him saving.

  5. Hee hee hee. This is a great point, though. 99% of the time you choose who you marry. If you know they aren’t open to living a thrifty lifestyle, it’s worth reconsidering a lifetime commitment–if it’s going to be a deal-breaker.

    1. On our first date I asked my now husband if he have student debt. And his answer was a big factor why I knew he is the one. If he answered yes, like most young Canadian professionals, that would have been a deal breaker. But instead he said he worked for 2 years so he can fulfill his lifelong engineering dream. Though he doesn’t seem as frugal as me, I was impressed with his sense of delayed gratification.

      Now both in our early 30’s, we are trying an 8-month mini retirement, taking off from work and traveling Asia with our baby. And if we are lucky, we only have 7 more years of fun learning before FIRE.

      1. Wow! Enjoy your mini retirement 🙂 So impressed that you guys are able to work together to achieve your dreams. And congrats on your new baby!

      2. When I met my spouse he was over $10k in debt from student loans. I had just enough money to pay them off so I paid them off for him and he slowly paid me back over the years by paying more towards rent every month.

    2. You’d think that’s true, but there are enough thrifty + spendy couples out there that it makes me wonder…

  6. There’s nothing wrong with being frugal as long as you aren’t so stingy that it is affecting the health and safety of you or the people around you (for instance being too cheap to maintain/repair your car and then it’s unsafe to drive, not repairing things that affect the safety of your home, cheaping out on medical care that your family needs, letting your family go hungry, etc.) I drove a car with a giant dent in the door and duct tape holding the bumper on over over 2 years and didn’t care about what people thought of, I got it serviced regularly but I didn’t care about paying for cosmetic issues.

    My spouse and I were often criticized by my mother and coworkers because we didn’t go out on dates or go on trips. Most of our date nights consisted of us cooking dinner at home and watching netflix (which is just what we did every night, so basically every night was date night) and when we took vacations from work we’d just stay at home and get things done we’d put off because we were working full time or we’d focus on our creative projects (we actually preferred it to spending hundreds/thousands of dollars on travelling and accommodations and having to waste 2 days of our vacation in a busy airport). We actually hate going out in public so much that we’d rather go to the dentist than a crowded movie theatre.

    Now after 10 years together we are about to FIRE in less than a month. I keep going through my daily routine and thinking to myself how lucky I am that I only need to do it for a few more weeks where other people my age (30) still have decades to go. Though I’ll say to FIRE Cracker that I don’t have you beat as Canada’s youngest retiree because FIRE looks a lot different to me and my spouse than it does for you. I will still be working part time from home (so only semi-retired) and my spouse and I will be building a business together.

      1. We met at work, we worked in different departments at the same company. We used to have to go through security every day before we left and one day he backed up and stepped on my foot. I was wearing steel toed shoes at the time so it didn’t hurt but he kept apologizing. That was the first time we spoke to each other.

        We are both artists and would both have our sketchbooks with us during breaks. There was an old man in my department and he mentioned something to my spouse about how I also had a sketchbook. One day my spouse started talking to me about art and it turned out we liked the same music too and we started taking our breaks together and we just clicked and within a few weeks we were dating.

  7. The only thing better than marrying a ‘Supportive’ spouse, is marrying a ‘Formerly Spendy, now Supportive’ person! My spouse went from nearly broke after his divorce to on the cusp of FIRE in only 5 years. When I pack my lunch, cook from scratch, shop at thift stores for essentials and give practical gifts etc., he’s totally on board. Working together on a shared goal is awesome!

    1. Before we were married my husband was not as frugal as me. On our first date I asked him if he have student debt. And his answer was a big factor why I knew he is the one. If he answered yes, like most young Canadian professionals, that would have been a deal breaker. But instead he said he worked for 2 years so he can fulfill his lifelong engineering dream. I was impress with his sense of delayed gratification.

      Now both in our early 30’s, we are trying an 8-month mini retirement, taking off from work and traveling Asia with our baby. And if we are lucky, we only have 7 more years of fun learning before FIRE.

    2. I think this was the case with MadFientist’s wife and MMM’s wife as well. Which is awesome proof that when there’s a worthwhile goal, people can change.

  8. Thanks for mentioning my idea FC (it’s actually Mark not Matt). I hope it helps those who don’t have your loved ones on board yet…you can give them a little money but you’re actually saving and investing more by doing that !

  9. I think I got lucky with the spouse not caring what other people think. Even though we’re both professionals with “prestigious” jobs, we still like to keep our humbleness and do stuff that most people won’t do. There’s this sweet dumpster at an apartment building that we used to live in that always has awesome trash that we resell (as an example, two weekends ago, we stopped by there while we were in the neighborhood and sold two things we found on Craigslist for $70).

    Not a lot of spouses would actually actively want to dumpster dive to find sweet, sweet, trash. I honestly am more self-conscious about it now than she is. She basically does it without any fear because she doesn’t really care what people think.

    1. You two are the most surprising couple out of of the FI blogs I read. I don’t know many lawyers who would be willing to do the side hustles and not give a crap what other people think. Kudos to you!

  10. So my first date with Mr.Wow was actually based on a coupon. I thought he was cool and adventurous by taking me for Indian food. I later found out he wanted to go there because he had a coupon. Guess I knew about his frugal ways from the very beginning.

    1. Sounds like a keeper 🙂 I was a Groupon addict for a while. But then I got lazy, and just went back to my tried and true favourite restaurants.

  11. Yep. I definitely fall in the category of a Frugal Freak. And I have spent a Friday night doing my taxes before. Lame, but who cares.

    I got lucky with a supportive FI spouse. She’s a little more spendy than I am, but using the allowance method helps rein that in. I like the idea for getting a spendy spouse on board. But 25% is too high. Start low with your negotiations! 🙂

  12. “That’s why being a Frugal Freak and not giving a shit what other people think is a HUGE advantage.” <–Hell to the Yes! I used to try to fit in with my coworkers by always grabbing coffee with them but that gets expensive! Now I don't give a shit and bring in my own coffee from home and if I want to, I can still join them, but I don't have to buy anything. It's FREEING!

    1. lol…oh that takes me back!!

      I used to do that daily – join my colleagues in the mid-morning jaunt to the coffee shop, but after a couple of months of buying tea (significantly cheaper than coffee but still caffinated tasty), I stopped buying. I had to endure quizzical looks for about a week (…hey, I already had my coffee, just needed to stretch my legs), then…acceptance. Not that I really cared if people thought I was weird, but interesting how when it doesn’t matter to you what others think, often it turns out to be perfectly fine with others too.

    2. Wear your weirdness like a badge of honour.

      I used to go out to lunch with my co-workers, but once I had the FI goal in mind, I started cooking and bring lunch. Not only did it save me a ton of money, I also lost a ton of weight. Being a weirdo has its advantages. 🙂

  13. It is so hard to find another frugal freak because we are hardcore homebodies and our ideas just aren’t accepted. I went out on a date with a guy and he thought I was insulting him/blowing him off because I wanted to pay for half of the bill. I would totally sign up for efrugality.com/FIREsingles.com!

    Couple of ideas:
    -To sign up you need to post something related to FIRE before you have access, like a financial goal (pay off student loans, be debt free, invest in retirement accounts, reach FIRE by x amount of time).
    -Have local date ideas that are cheap or free. (And safe.)
    -Have a FIRE idol, a blog or community whose ideas you most identify with. (Free advertising for other FIRE blogs!)

    1. On second thought, I have begun to question whether a site like “eFrugality.com” or “FIREsingles.com” would be able to make money at all…since all the users would be so frugal. Haha.

      It is at least comforting to know that there are others out there who are like us.

      If you (or any FIRE fanatic out there) should decide to stop by the Washington DC area, let me know.

      1. It probably won’t make money, but it doesn’t matter. If it’s created by us FIRE people, we don’t need the money anyway.

      2. Why not have a free membership option with banner ads and affiliate links? The ads and links could advertise things like high yield savings accounts and financial software like personal capital. The person who creates the site would get some income even from free members, and those using the site for free would get some (possibly) valuable financial information.

        I don’t have my own website, so I don’t have an in depth understanding of how all the advertisement types work. From my understanding, owners do have some control on what is presented on a site. If not, I know the FIRE community is very intelligent and would research before blindly following an ad.

    2. LOL. Love those ideas! Keep them coming.

      And what guy would be insulted from a woman offering to split the bill? Geez. I’m like “dude, do you not like money?” Guess his ego is more important than his finances.

  14. As I type, this FF is enjoying a delicious homemade lunch for a grand total of about $1.50 in ingredients while most co-workers are out spending $20+ on restaurant lunches everyday. I get the judgey comments from said co-workers on a regular basis for not joining in their daily spending sprees. Meanwhile, I laugh at them all the way to the bank (I mean, Vanguard Fund) with my savings rate. Passed our FI goal last recently and working on convincing a slightly Scaredy Spouse to take the next step into RE.

    1. You go, JL! One thing I noticed that was common amongst all the judgy spendy people was that they always had loose change lying around. That was a sure sign that they do not give a shit about money. New flash, if you don’t care about your money, you won’t have any.

      Kudos for not falling into FOMO and passing your FI goal! I know how hard it is when everyone around you just wants to spend spend spend. Stay strong!

      Oh and best of luck with convincing your Scaredy Spouse to take the next step! Remember, I used to be a super SS, so if you can address all their fears, they’ll see that it’s not that scary after all.

      1. Hi Firecracker,

        I am single and approaching the big 40s. Iam still looking for such spouse. Till to date, it has been unsuccessful stint. It’s alright if I can’t find one.

        I have achieved FI and can quit my current job at any time. It’s just the matter of time. I have no property and no car. Cash and stocks ( which generate passive income) my only assets (about one million).


  15. As someone who grew up with frugal parents it’s really hard for me to not be that way because that’s the mindset I was raised with. I don’t have a post secondary education and while I’ve made more than minimum wage for the last 11 years I have never had a good paying job but I’ve also not had to worry about money because I’ve always lived below my means and had savings while still being able to live quite comfortably. I’ve never understood how people can have this “hear today, gone tomorrow” mindset when it comes to money or people who have huge credit card debt and keep spending like it’s no big deal.

    1. I agree. That’s why it’s so important to set good example to our kids.

      Sad thing, most people with who likes spending doesn’t understand us as well. Good thing, we just don’t care.

  16. Another great post, man I love this blog!

    I’m already working on a site and app to meet singles interested in FIRE. I’ll be happy to announce it here soon if it’s ok with you.
    I’ll be there looking too 😉 Frugal freaks unite!

  17. The comments remind me of my boyfriend. He orders pizza with vouchers and is definetely an easy-care version of a man. A hot tea, sometime a beer or sweets, watching series, scratching his head and he’s happy. I am happy he’s like that. When we met, I didn’t know the frugal lifestyle. We evolved together to this lifestyle because it was logical.

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