Our Story

Hi. Our names are Sarah and Kevin. When we got married in 2011, we began to carefully track our spending. We soon realized that adopting a frugal lifestyle would allow us to live our best lives.

Today, we are in our late-thirties and parents to a toddler named James. We are “semi-retired”. We each work roughly 20 hours per week and earn a total of about $65k per year. We are both self-employed; Sarah as a speech pathologist, Kevin as a data scientist. We own a duplex in a midsize city in Colorado (purchase price: $320k). We live on the ground floor and rent out the apartment upstairs. Our total household income, after taxes, is typically $70-75k. Our net worth is about $400k.

We have a mortgage, a car (15 year-old Pontiac), and a dog (12 year-old mutt). We cook lots of excellent food, mostly vegetarian. Kevin bakes bread and plays the piano. Sarah bakes sweets and runs. We enjoy biking, hiking, camping, and reading. The local library is within walking distance and the Rocky Mountains a short drive. Our backyard has a vegetable garden and raspberry bushes, and we love having friends over for dinner.

Travel is our luxury of choice. In “normal years”, we spend 5-6 weeks visiting family and taking shorter camping trips. During “adventure years” (once every three years or so) we stop working, rent out the house, and take off for an extended, multi-month sabbatical — like our summer 2018 tour of the western parks. During 2021-2022, we will be on a 10-month adventure encompassing Europe, Central America, and Canada.

We think we have a really, really good life. If we found $1 million tomorrow, we doubt we’d change a thing. In a normal year, our family of three spends — excluding housing — about $22k. With a very reasonable mortgage, we can easily save or give away $40k of our $70k in after-tax income. Part of this finances the next grand adventure, while some is set aside for our eventual “full retirement”. We have also pledged to give away at least 10% of our income each year for the rest of our lives.

For us, semi-retirement means that we live some of our “retirement years” while we are young, healthy, and energized, rather than wait until later in life. And by working part-time, we get to spend lots of time with James — precious time that we (and, hopefully, he) will always cherish.

What have we “sacrificed” in this bargain? We don’t have a TV. Almost all of our furniture and most of our clothes and other household goods were purchased secondhand. We don’t do short trips (no flying to Cancún for the weekend). Our home is perfectly functional and comfortable, but it is small by U.S. standards (700 square feet) and you won’t see it in Architectural Digest. We do most home maintenance and childcare ourselves. We own very few devices, gadgets, or toys. We rarely eat out (but love dinner parties). We have “only” one car. And, to some extent, we have passed up professional advancement that accompanies a big city, fancy job, and longer workweek.

Frankly, none of these “sacrifices” concern us much. We simply don’t care about TV, a big/fancy home, frequent getaways, or the latest iPhone. Having them wouldn’t improve our quality of life. This is sometimes difficult for others to understand. They assume that we, like them, really do want these things and that forgoing them must be an act of self-denying deprivation. In fact, we just prefer other things far more: stress-free jobs, time with our son, “slow travel”, and the mental space to really appreciate our good fortune. In short, we efficiently use our time and money to sustain a lifestyle that reflects our priorities. That’s just frugality.

Next: Our Thoughts