Meet the Frugalwoods | Elizabeth Willard Thames

The deeply personal story of why award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced extreme frugality in order to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and retire to a homestead in the woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter“.

Elizabeth W. Thames, describing her book
Meet the Frugalwoods

Meet the Frugalwoods | Elizabeth Willard Thames

Meet the Frugalwoods is a fun read. It is not about hard and fast rules for investing and early retirement, but rather an interesting personal story about a regular American family and their journey to Financial Independence. Although there are some important lessons you will pick up amongst the pages if you read between the lines.

Elizabeth and Nate Thomas lived a normal suburban life, they had a house, careers as professionals, good savings and had started a young family. But they were becoming increasingly tired spending the majority of their days working without really seeing an end in sight.

They decided to pursue a ‘tree-change’ dream and to become as self sufficient as they could. To achieve this, the young family embraced frugality to achieve a savings rate of over 70%. For three years Elizabeth blogged about their journey, which some saw as extreme frugality, but to them just became the new normal.

Instead of catching a movie, the family took their *frugal hound* down to the dog park. Instead of going to a restaurant, Elizabeth and Nate cooked up many wonderful whole food Veggie based meals at home. Their frugal lifestyle was less about sacrificing, but more about replacing expensive activities; substituting them with more wholesome community and family based events.

We don’t stress out about impressing people with material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with the Jones’. In the process, I discovered self confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to ‘the good life’.

The Frugalwoods

Elizabeth and Nate eventually reached achieved their goal, reaching Financial Independence and buying their dream acreage in Vermont. To maintain Financial Independence and their current homestead lifestyle, they continue many of their ‘frugal’ ways. This has brought them a sense of peace and accomplishment, as they have removed themselves from the rat race. They continue to live there to this day, where they raise their two children.

Check it out on Amazon here, listen to it through Audible or buy it from Australia’s local bookstore Booktopia

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4 thoughts on “Meet the Frugalwoods | Elizabeth Willard Thames

  1. I enjoyed Meet The Frugalwoods but was left wanting to know more about their actual investments. Elizabeth was more interested in the frugality side and not really interested in the investment side. At least that’s how it seemed to me.

    1. Hey Jeff, I also liked Frugalwoods, but I think you might have missed the subtlety of this point – Liz and Nate are focusing more on the behavioral side of wealth because that is where all the massive gains are made. They deliberately don’t talk about investing as much because its the opposite – with investing, the LESS you do the BETTER you will perform. Aka an index approach, which is how they do it with regular investing. To take a quote from Elizabeth’s blog;

      “To the contrary, I find that the less we poke at our money, the better off it–and we–are. A lot of folks tell me they don’t have the time to handle their money and so they think they should hire a professional. False again. It takes precious little financial acumen, and even less time, to successfully manage the average family’s finances. If you are marginally organized, can do basic math, and know how to use a computer, then you can manage your own money. Because the vast majority of what you should do with your money is… wait for it… nothing.” https://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/01/24/our-low-cost-no-fuss-diy-money-management-system/

      “Our assets are distributed across the following vehicles: cash, real estate, and investments (comprised of both 401ks and low-fee index funds).”

  2. You’re right; The Frugalwoods have mastered the psychology and behavioural aspects around money. I think the investment ‘nerd’ in me just wanted more details about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of their investments!

    1. haha yes don’t worry, you and me both! The investment landscape is slightly different in the USA to what it is in Australia, but this post gives a great breakdown of how they manage their finances https://www.frugalwoods.com/2020/01/29/how-we-manage-our-money-behind-the-scenes-of-the-frugalwoods-family-accounts/ I believe They use two broad market index funds (US and international) as well as an investment property on their old home, buying their current acreage, and max out their tax deductible investment accounts (401K or super equivalent)

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