The Truth about Frugalwoods is one of my all-time highest read blog posts. As this is a topic you all like to read about, I’ve been doing some more digging. I have even shocked myself with what I’ve pulled up about them this time – hold onto your hats people!!! I share this because I want to warn others to be very careful where and from whom you take advice, not just on the internet but in real-life too. Some close family members were recently duped out of their entire retirement and inheritance from someone purporting to give ‘financial advice’. Not only should you check out what you are being told, but also their background. Do they have qualifications to advise you? Insurance? Does it all add up?
I had heard some rumblings on the internet that the Frugalwoods are not being truthful about their income. All you ever read on their blog is that they had good jobs when they were working, in the not-for-profit sector and they make out that they are now ‘retired’ in the country. Well, everyone knows about working for a charity in Britain – most people would be lucky to be paid the National Minimum Wage. But even higher up the career ladder, you will not be getting rich. I guess we could probably lump together the Public Sector as not-for-profit, as the NHS for example, certainly does not pay most of its staff well either. A nurse starts out on around £21,000 a year here in the UK.
So it was a little bit shocking to dig around for Mr Frugalwoods tax returns online, (thanks to this MrMoneyMustache forum thread) and find out that he earnt a mere £209,735 in the financial year ending 2016, as the Executive Director of a company. Not retired at all! According to what I’ve read online, that would make him amongst the top 5% of US earners. But here in the UK that kind of income is only paid to the top 1%. Let’s put it this way – the Prime Minister of Great Britain only earns £150,402! Gosh, it must be nice for all those people who think they’re donating to a not-for-profit company in the USA – to find out how much they are paying their staff. Claiming only to exist to do good and then having people taking home salaries like that!!!! Mind you, there was recently a shocking episode of Dispatches on Channel 4 which uncovered similar ridiculous amounts that Housing Association bosses are making, whilst plenty of people are going homeless. We do live in a very unjust world.
Frugality, when one half of the couple is bringing home that kind of money is a very different thing from the likes of say….Jack Monroe (a single mother trying to exist on benefits with her child and struggling to feed herself). That’s 7x the average £30,000 income for men in the UK. And then Mrs Frugalwoods earns money on top from writing for various sources. I stopped following their blog a while ago, as it just didn’t seem to ring true to me and this confirms my gut feeling once again. Let me know in the comments whether or not you’re going to continue reading their blog.
More musings from the Story of Stuff book:
Because we spend so much of our time chasing after money, to buy stuff that we don’t need, that promises us the world but delivers none of it – our communities are suffering. We spend so much time on the above, that we’re not available to be present and useful amongst our local community. This feeds our discontent and unhappiness because people in our local community could meet our need for relationship. We can have our emotional needs met by having a chat with a neighbour. We can have logistical needs met, by a neighbour bringing us a meal, babysitting, dog-walking, offering a lift or taking in our mail whilst we’re away.
Ironically, all of these things have now been commodified in our consumerist society and are available to buy from strangers, at a price! Probably most people don’t even know their neighbours these days, since all they do is go to work early and arrive home late. They are too busy, too stressed, time-poor and over-scheduled. No wonder we have increasing amounts of isolated elderly, or even depressed and overweight adults and children in our society. And the solution is really so simple!
If you’re a systems thinker, than you might liken this phenomenon to a negative feedback loop. A problem or problems, that cause an effect that only serves to add to the original problem. We now have to work harder, to pay for the kinds of service that friends and neighbours used to provide for free. This only serves to add to our stress levels and lack of time. So you can see how the downward spiral continues!
We recently re-configured the storage in our garage, so it was a good chance to go through a whole bunch more stuff. I was able to turn out a variety of items that we haven’t used in the 2 1/2 years since we moved in.
- 20 mixed cardboard boxes for moving (Since we don’t plan on ever moving again and we’ve redecorated most of the house now, there will be no further need to keep boxing our stuff up. We don’t have the room to store all of these boxes anymore and decided there are other priorities for storage. Also, if we did keep them; we’d have to pay out to board more of our loft which seems crazy for some boxes! They’ll only deteriorate up there, so it was the best decision to let someone who needs them, take them).
- Bundle of car care stuff (this wasn’t even ours, someone had left it in the shed in our last place and I took it because it seemed wasteful to leave it or chuck it. That daft ‘just incase’ scenario again. Thankfully I was able to give it all to a family member who would use it).
- 3 metal poles (Used to hold up the storage we removed from our garage. Freecycled on to a gardener who wanted to use them to prop up their plants – perfect).
- A cake tin (Purchased as a recipe specified it was needed, but it never worked as well because it was too large. Decided to stick to standard tins and freecycled this on to someone who could use it).
- Bunch of rubbish (Took a large box of broken carpet gripper rods, odds and ends of carpet that were too small to use, empty paint cans and a broken drill to the tip).
That’s actually quite a lot more stuff gone when you look at it! I think I’ll be able to let go of some more, once we’ve organised our new space a bit. Stay tuned minimisers!
It seems I have finally found my biggest motivator for decluttering – philanthropy. I guess it’s the most logical too. I have finally concluded that having items sat in my cupboards that I am not using, is preventing them from being used by someone else. Talk about wasteful! That is your most potent motivator, right there – for being Zero Waste and decluttering.
I don’t know if something has changed in me as well, but it’s like a pair of fresh eyes for me. I’ve got 2 pairs of sandals in my wardrobe, both were bought to go with a specific outfit to wear to a wedding. Neither the shoes or the outfits have been worn since! Let that be a lesson to me, never to buy something ‘just for a wedding’ again. Well, I’ve decided to donate them all. I’m sure plenty of people will be thrifty enough to use a charity shop for their one-time wedding purchase. That’s what I should do next time! Far better that someone wears that Bridesmaid dress, perhaps to their prom than it sits in m wardrobe forever. I am never going to be that slim again and besides, I have photos and my memories.
Another great motivator has been recognising that there are some things I am just not going to fix and therefore, it’s either time to throw out those items or Freecycle them on to someone who might like to fix them. There are a great deal of people out there, looking for a project. I had to admit that I was never going to glue those shoes back together, I had moved on. And that fridge magnet, no-one cares enough to glue that back together and it probably wasn’t going to last, even if I did! There are plenty of other fridge magnets on my fridge, but I felt attached to it as my parents had brought it back from holiday for me. Yes, I was ‘attached’ to a fridge magnet. Like I felt they would notice if I threw it out!
I am getting much better at putting unwanted gifts straight into the bag to go to a charity shop. I just don’t want to even have to deal with that kind of guilt anymore. What matters is that the person wanted to give you a gift and that you graciously accepted it. That doesn’t mean that you have to keep it. I often receive gifts that are duplicates of items I already own, so however thoughtful the gift-giver thinks they are being. I am sure they would rather someone use them, than they sit in my cupboard forever and a day. It’s also better for the planet if we use the things that have already been made, rather than storing them.
Over to you, what’s your biggest motivator for decluttering? I think big life events can also be a great initiator – especially if you are boxing everything up for a move (as we have done several times before), or preparing for a life change – like the arrival of a baby or an elderly parents coming to live with you. All these things mean that you need to clear some space and take some time to sort through your belongings with a more critical eye.