How I Save 85% of My Income and Live Happily

I save 85% of my income. And I’ve been doing this forever. I believe you can save 85% too. It starts with having money pulled directly from your paycheck into a savings vehicle before you ever see the money. The rest comes from lifestyle choices and, as I’ve said before, choosing to save instead of spend.

Here’s my rave for the day: The bare necessities of life are only getting cheaper! More competition drives lower prices. The more advanced our society gets, the less money people have to spend on the necessities of life. More arable land and advanced genetics mean cheaper food prices. More communications companies mean cheaper prices for your cell phone bill. Better technology in cars means fewer repair bills. Heck, 40 years ago a car that got to 100,000 miles was considered beaten to death. My last car had 310,000 miles and was still purring along until it got side-swiped. The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more money we can save. The temptation to spend more will become greater but that can easily be wiped out with a little self-discipline.

Saving 85% was never my goal. My goal for years has been to spend as little as possible, while still being happy with my life. It just so happens that I can be very happy while saving 85% of my money. Who knew?

Note: I calculate my savings rate using after-tax dollars.

My Income

Fun Fact: I don’t make that much money. Although I haven’t disclosed my net worth spreadsheet on this blog, you should know that I make a decent salary for someone a few years out of school. Nothing spectacular though. I have about eight other streams of income outside my full-time job, but most of these are minimal.

Where the 85% Goes

About 60% of my income I never see. 50% goes straight into my employer-matched 401(k) Vanguard to buy up an assortment of index funds. 10% goes into my employer’s ESPP plan. That means 60% of my income is saved without doing anything but ticking a couple boxes on my company’s intranet.

I max out my Roth IRA each year ASAP. The max is $5,500.This goes into Vanguard as well.

After the Roth 401(k), ESPP, and Roth IRA, I put the rest in a taxable investment account. This is a last resort, as I wish I had more shelters for my money but I do not. I’ve researched a ton and can’t find any more ways to get my money into a tax-sheltered environment.

All this is pretty simple, eh? I’ve tried crazy savings plans in the past but, like most everything in life, the simple solutions are usually the best.

How I Spend the Other 15%

I’ve never been much for a written budget, but I’ve looked over tons of receipts to lay out my average cash flow so you can get an idea of how I spend that 15%. In total, it ends up being $580.57 per month.

Food: $75 per month

Auto insurance: $18.07 per month

Fuel: $17.50 per month (I mostly bike but drive home about once a month to see my family). Hypermiling FTW.

Car repairs: Basically non-existent, but we’ll say $30 per month to cover the eventual oil change, random hose. I fix everything on my car myself, too, so there are no added labor charges.

Housing: I’m failing a tad by living in luxury at $300 per month (utilities included). I’m not kidding about the luxury; the house I live in is nicer than most (HOA, BBQ deck, pool, cleaning lady, other fancy-nonsense that I never use).

Bike accessories/repairs: $10 per month

Cell: $10 per month via Republic Wireless

Toiletries: $20 per month. Normally much lower but I get a few laser/microdermabrasion treatments each year to make myself beautiful (aka fix my face from my acne-inflicted teen years).

Entertainment: Hmmmm. The internets are free… Well, I usually spend <$100 per month, but this category includes gifts so I estimate entertainment costs per month at $100.

Health Care: Free. I’m under 26 so I can piggyback on my parents’ plan (no extra cost to them).

Students loans: None. I’m a big believer in making money before spending it, but if a person has to take loans, they should be wiped out ASAP.

Increased Necessary Spending as You Age

Living as a single person with a decent income is not expensive. Remember, saving money is easy (because you don’t really do anything), but spending takes effort.

You may say: “Oh, he gets free health care and fixes his own car and he’s a guy so he doesn’t need to buy makeup etc., etc.” But, by the time I have to pay for health care, my income will be significantly higher, so my percentage saved will still likely be 85%. I enjoy working on my own car and most people don’t. If you don’t, I would suggest you make maybe $30 extra per month to give your savings rate a boost. And, yes, I’m a guy so I have it easier in the beauty department. But I do work out a lot, so maybe all the extra food I eat makes up for the beauty expenses. That sentence probably made quite a few girls laugh. Please excuse my ignorance.

When you’re young, life is cheap, hence a higher savings rate. When you’re older, you’re making more money, so your percentage saved can remain high even as your expenses go up. As expenses increase, make sure income increases! NEVER STAGNATE. If I was still making the same money as I was last year, I would not be pleased. You shouldn’t be pleased with the same results either.

Life’s Necessities Will Get Cheaper

My life (much like yours) is constantly changing. That’s why I created the antibudget. The antibudget forces me to regularly write down and evaluate all of my expenditures. This exercise helps me decide how to spend money in the future. It goes hand in hand with my personal strategy to save 85% of my income.

Who Should Use the Antibudget?

In my opinion, everyone. But the antibudget is especially useful for people who are self-employed, work on commission, or enjoy the art of the side hustle.

I recently wrote that I save 85% of my income. But, a few months ago, it was 92%. This month, it may be a tad higher. But come December, it will probably be down to 70%. Aside from my regular salary, some months I make a lot, some months I make a little extra. As far as creating a budget to make sure I stay right at saving 85%, forget it! If I want to go on a ski trip or fly to NYC, so be it!  No bossy paper plan is gonna stop me!

But I’m certainly not reckless with my spending; far from it. So, instead of budgeting, I constantly reevaluate my spending habits. This way, I ensure I’m spending the minimum amount possible to stay healthy and happy. Sounds like a pretty great alternative to a budget, eh?!

WARNING: This kind of spending requires self-discipline. Please consult books on the topic if you (like me) have room to improve.

How the Antibudget Works

About once a month, I make a giant list of everything I spend money on. Each good/service I spend money on falls into one of three categories: K (Keep on keepin’ on), D (Delete), or R (Revise). Why do this? Because most of us spend too much buying stuff that either A) we don’t need or B) there’s a better replacement. Also, because our lives are constantly changing, which means we must constantly change our spending.

Here’s a sample from my last antibudget session:

1) Mentadent toothpaste – R

Replace with Colgate Total, as it’s the most highly recommended toothpaste, even if it is more expensive.

2) Fancy electric toothbrush – K

Although a manual toothbrush can clean just as well, it’s rare that the average person will always use the proper technique and time requirements, so an electric toothbrush (with a timer) is a safety net that’s worth having.

3) Prescription glasses – K

Keep upgrading lenses/frames as needed/desired. Although I usually wear contacts, it’s beneficial for eyes to breathe freely every now, then I’ll wear these a few hours a day.

4) Mutual fund expense ratios – R

I have to keep paying them, but I’ll switch to Vanguard from American Funds as the E/R’s over at VG are way cheaper and fund performance is comparable.

5) Fancy filtered water system – D

I do not need to keep buying filters and fiddling with water pitchers because there’s no evidence that shows there is anything harmful to filter out of my city’s water.

Harness the Power of the Antibudget

Creating a list like this will keep you from buying stuff just because “that’s the way I’ve always done it.” I got in the habit of using a water filtration system when I lived in a city with rust-colored water. I first bought into American Funds when I wasn’t as well informed. Our lives change, we become more educated, and our expenses are ever-evolving.

For all of the oddities I spend money on (random getaways, gifts for people, etc.), I think long and hard about their impact on my life. Then I choose to spend the money or pass. My life is chained to no budget.

I liken this way of watching your money to being self-employed. You have much more say in what you do and no person (or budget) is going to stop you from doing whatever you dang well please.

Suggested Article: 25 Facts About the Person Who Wrote This Article

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96 comments

  • Awesome post! You got me killed on your gas expense. I spent close to $100 a month commuting to work and back alone! My job is about a 30 min drive so biking is out of the question for me. Even if it was close even to bike, I live in wisconsin and this time of year it’s pretty cold (negative 10 degrees today!).

  • This is more discouraging than inspiring to me. For health insurance alone my husband and I have to pay $550 a month. And then that doesn’t cover anything, until we meet the deductible we are still paying out of pocket for stuff and I have a health condition. Neither of our employers contributes to health insurance at all.

    I coupon like crazy and have never seen the prices you speak of. I study the sales ads, I cut coupons, I work that system and our food bill is still at least $300 a month.

    My husband needs the car to commute to his job as a teacher. We only have one car and I walk to my job at a grocery store. The car is 14 years old and starting to need big repairs a lot.

    We have a mortgage (way lower than the rent we were paying), student loans, and a baby on the way.

    I’m glad you’re killing it but it’s not a formula many of us can follow. I hope you’re right that your income will only continue to go up. That has not been the case for us. Husband was laid off and unemployed for two years. His job as a teacher makes him happy but is not big bucks.

    • Sorry, I know this sounds like a pile of excuses. I’m just feeling really discouraged and jealous that you’re in a place where you’re not paying health care costs. I should have been smarter about money when I was your age. Then maybe I wouldn’t feel now like I’m constantly drowning.

      • CM,

        I am reading this about 2 years after you posted. You touched me with your story. Would you be able to update us?

        I really hope things have improved over the last 2 years.

        JS

  • My dilemma:
    I just graduated and I am currently living with parents to save some money. My problem is that I go out with friends on Fridays and Saturdays. Most of us don’t have a place of our own yet so we usually go somewhere that requires us to spend some money (restaurant, cafe, pool/ darts, board game cafe etc). On just leisure and eating-out alone, I rack up $400 a month. I didn’t see you include that in your expenses and I am pretty sure you have some sort of social life. So what do you for fun with friends that doesn’t require spending?

    • Hey Jocelyn,

      I like your name btw.

      $400 is a lot of money each month. I used to be tempted to spend this kind of money each month. But then I started to hang around more frugal people. Actually, I wouldn’t even describe them as frugal. They just don’t get their kicks from spending money, I guess. Everyone has to eat. So we’ll go to restaurants that offer good value. Or we’ll get groceries and cook something at one of our house’s. Netflex, Hulu Plus, YouTube, etc. provide more than enough low cost video entertainment. We also tend to go biking. That’s basically free. We do projects at each other’s houses which actually builds equity. We help each other with side hustles. That makes us money. There are quite a few free events around town if you know where to look. Also, the more people you know, the cheaper life gets in general. Like someone just gave my friend 2 free football tickets. House parties are cheap. Dates don’t have to be really expensive. Try to think outside the box. In the US, ads push us to spend. But it’s avoidable if you can ignore all the noise.

  • Wow $75 a month. My fiancee and I spend around $1100 a month. Your list of what you recently bought on a grocery trip wouldn’t last me a couple days. I know I could cut back, but its awesome to see someone young with such a high savings rate. Currently I am at 55% but I know i have a lot of room to go.

    • $1100/month! That’s hefty-mortgage-payment territory. What would your savings rate be if you cut the grocery budget way down?

  • Encourage you to read about the dangers of GMO’s and pesticides. While I wish I could spend less on groceries, with a digestive illness I must buy organic and GMO free. You may be healthy now, and I hope you remain healthy forever, but the dangers of GMO’s and pesticides are well documented – if you look for the info.

  • I just found your site, and wow, just wow! I am SO impressed! I have been recently saving around 50% of my income and I thought I was doing great… until I read your post 😀 Definitely setting myself a new goal now 🙂

  • Do you donate money to church, charities, etc? I don’t see any mention of charitable organizations in your 15% above.

    • Nope. I volunteer my time to 4 organizations. I considered giving money to charity and consulted quite a few people about it. I then determined it would be better to make myself financially independent first. It like an oxygen mask in an airplane. If you don’t put yours on first, you can’t help anyone else.

      When I do donate, it’ll be to organizations such as Heffer and Kiva. Check them out if you get a chance.

  • I just came across the link below and thought I’d share it with you as I remembered you saying in this post that you could not find additional vehicles in which to invest your money. I’m not sure if your employer offers an HSA account, or if this account would help you meet your goals, but I thought that the potential tax savings and long-term investment opportunities (especially if you use out-of-pocket money to pay for medical expenses now with the plan of using HSA-grown funds to pay for them in the future) were intriguing enough to share: http://www.financialfinesse.com/blog/2014/02/why-i-max-out-my-health-savings-account-and-you-should-too/.

    Paul

    • Thanks for the link, Paul! My employer does offer a HSA but since I’m still on my parents health insurance, I can’t have both. Staying on my parents plan is the better option at this point. However, I’ll have to get my own plan in <1 year.

    • I am a retired school teacher. I have teacher’s retirement income, Social Security, rent income from 4 properties (paid off), IRA’s and some investment. No debt. My question is what are good investments at my age (78) and single. I do quite a bit of donations, but I am still paying too much income tax.(in my opinion)

      • I wish that I hadn’t put my last name on the previous post.. For a single older woman, it may be dangerous. Could you elimate my last name on the previous post?

        • Hi Janice,

          Annuities, dividend-paying stocks, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and municipal bonds can all be excellent investments for someone in your position. The interest earned on municipal bonds is tax-free for federal income tax purposes, and it may be exempt from state and local taxes too. I found an article from U.S. News that might be helpful for you — you can take a look here and see if any of those strategies would be a good fit for you. I hope this helps!
          P.S. No worries — your last name has been removed from your original post.

  • I came here from the link on Budgets Are Sexy but I’m only going to repeat the same thing I said over there: 85% savings is insane! Phenomenal! You’ll be retired well before your 30th birthday at this rate and I can’t wait to follow your progress.

  • Wow Will, so impressed with your savings percentage and your determination to make your money work for you.

    An inspiration and a fantastic role model to youngsters today 🙂

  • Hi, Will.

    Thanks for the linky link from today’s guest post on Budgets are Sexy. You have some impressive savings. I’ve been meaning to check out Republic Wireless for some time now. And I also agree that one can get their groceries pretty darn low if they want.

  • Wow Will, that is some inspiring frugal living! It’s great you are keeping costs low at your age. Lots of folks have a tendency to splurge then.

    SF is quite expensive. Studios are $2,000, rooms $1,200, and two bedrooms are $3,600 median. But the income is pretty good.

    Where do you live again? What is your FI financial nut you plan to accumulate?

    Let me go check some of my expenses now. 🙂

    Sam

    • Heyo,

      I live in Lincoln, Nebraska. The cost of living is low compared to the national average but not extremely low for the Midwest. There are a few close cities nearby (KC and Omaha) where I could live for less and earn more. Speaking of that, if I was completely obsessed with FI, I would move to a place like SF. The fantastic income I would receive would far outweigh the cost of living increase. Stupid family being from Nebraska :). I wish they were from Hawaii. 😉

      Technically, I would be FI (based on my current expenses) right around $200k. So that means I’m FI right now. But my expenses will go up so I’d be insane to count $200k as being FI. I want to hit $1M just for fun (and I absolutely will). But my goal isn’t to live off $40k/year of passive income from investments. I would like to live off investments as well as keep alive different business ventures which I can outsource most of the heavy lifting.

      I wish I had a simpler answer for you.

  • Nice job saving 85%! And here I thought I was doing something saving 50%. It is pretty easy to live cheap as a single young professional.

    The only way I got up to saving half was by cutting my expenses to the lowest I could get them, if I had a roommate I could probably get up to 60% but some things are just creature comforts.

    • 50% still is pretty great (as you know). You’re probably just not as obsessed with financial independence as I am.

      And yes, “Holy late reply, batman!

  • Teach meeeee…. I want to put a hard cap on my income. I work 2 jobs. My rent doesn’t bother me as much (I have a son so I have to have enough space for him and I) but I definitely want to get started investing. I have about $30k in debt though that I’m just now getting started paying (hence the reason for the second job)… either way, I like details. How do I get more information?

    • Kofi, what’s up?! I love your site. Divi for the win, am I right??

      Man, way to kill it by getting the extra job! You probably need my help less than you think. I’d go through your expenses and whittle them down as small as possible (while still maintaining a healthy/enjoyable lifestyle). Then you’ll know what you actually need for living expenses each month. ALL the cash cash you have leftover can go towards the debt until it’s been wiped off the face of the planet. Then start investing the money that’s coming in that used to go for paying off debt.

      Kill debt – then invest. Plus, a lot of people think the market will correct soon so it’s probably not the best time to start investing. I hate to speculate but it seems likely. Message me up top and we can chat via email.

      Talk with ya soon, Kofi.

  • Good luck finding anything than a cardboard box for less than 500$/month in any developed city.
    You seem to take EXTREME care of what you spend so I definitely give you credit for that but you also happen to live in a freakin cheap state. There is NO WAY, you can get insurance, rent or even food that cheap here in LA. The closest Walmart is probably like 15-20 miles, “cheapest” here is Ralph’s and you still get ridiculous prices, can’t find a yogurt under .60$ or meat under 5-6$/lbs.
    I make more than twice your salary (if 500 is 15% you make around 3k3/mo) but with a 1200$ (for a room, not even a whole apt) rent I’m already out of the game of the 85% savings…
    As a student I used to be super careful on my spending but I never achieved such a low expense/month even with not owning a car and walking to school everyday…
    I guess my point is, while your general advices are awesome, the numbers are not applicable to any other case than yours making them a bit useless.
    But keep up the good work man 🙂

    • Lucas, thanks for the comment.

      I understand where you’re coming from. The initial shock of a person saving 85% of their income can be a bit much. I’ll give my rebuttal. Please respond if you make your way back here.

      1) I would consider Lincoln, Nebraska to be developed. With such low poverty, crime, unemployment – I would argue we’re more developed than LA.

      2) I do choose to live in a cheap state. Choose is the keyword in that sentence. But if you like the desert, Lincoln isn’t for you. Perhaps you could move from LA to Phoenix where cost of living is only 5% higher than in Lincoln. Their salaries are higher as well so you could save 85% there, too.

      3) I rarely eat yogurt or meat.

      4) Congrats on kicking my butt with twice my salary! Seriously. I think I’m a bit slacking in this department at the moment.

      5) It’s strange. My old roommate just moved to LA. He pays $400/month for rent in a nice house. Sure, every bedroom is occupied with struggling actors but it’s a nice house for cheap.

      6) That’s strange you say you were super careful with money as a student. You imply you’re not anymore. For most people it’s the other way around. If you’re not careful anymore, then how can you really swat away my ideas? It’s easy to yell at the players when you’re up in the bleachers.

      To close,

      If I lived in a bigger city, my income would rise proportionately. Therefore, 85% is doable elsewhere. Heck, I know one girl who lives in Manhattan and spends less than $40k/yr! She just returned from a European vacation, in fact.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment. I do appreciate your time and concerns. Have you read Mr. Money Mustache, by chance?

  • I’m not sure the exact percentage that I save each month. I know that before tax I save 15% into my 401(k) and after tax I save a little over half of my income so maybe 60% or so… Once I start combining before and after tax I’m not sure what the percentage comes out to. For the most part I don’t consciously think about how much I’m saving, I just make sure I’m only spending money on things that I need or things that will actually improve my quality of life.

    • Zee, sounds like you’re right on track. See my antibudget post (linked below) for my story of how I budget like you. 85% is average. I prefer saving money in a way that I control the money, the money doesn’t control me.

  • Good Job on the savings rate, I believe I am closer to 25%. Yeah I laughed when you said that 85% cant be sustainable. Yet you managed to do for a long time. Keep it up, and how do you manage to keep others from eating your food. LOL.

    • 85% is about average since graduating college. It isn’t sustainable unless I increase my income to make up for my eventual increase in housing and medical costs. Which I plan to make a lot more $$ in the future.

      I miss the high school days when my savings rate was 99%! I worked a ton and mom and dad provided the necessities so… 🙂

  • Dude, this is seriously impressive stuff! I still live with my parents and don’t match that kind of monthly savings rate!

    Your food budget seems extremely low to me, don’t know if that’s manageable in Europe. Good thing a recent price war between the top food chains in Belgium continues to drive prices down! Like you said, life’s necessities keep getting cheaper and cheaper.

    Cheers!
    NMW

  • Wow, this is impressive. Saving that much money is quite the feat. I was feeling good about saving 15-18% of my income until I read this article.

    That low rent payment is particularly striking. I’ve read that housing typically consumed 25-35% of household income. You’ll have to elaborate on the low cost of housing at some point.

  • Nice breakdown, and good for you for taking advantage of those cheaper, younger years! When all of our debt is gone, our savings rate will increase dramatically, which will be nice. 🙂

    • Finishing off your debt will feel life-changing, I bet! Then all you’ll have to do with your money is give, save, and spend!

  • Well, you run a pretty tight ship when it comes to your budget. You are right though it likely won’t last forever. Eventually you will have to sort your own health care out and likely get your own place which will cost you more money. Groceries I can see how you can get by on $75 as we spend just over $200 a month for the two of us and eat very well (see our grocery game challenge) I’d love to have you join in each week. Car insurance in Canada is FAR more. Are you under your parent’s car insurance plan as well? Good for you not using the vehicle if you don’t have to and biking…. lots of $$ saved. I presume you may have some sort of bike maintenance at some point though. As you are younger it’s great you can save so much. If and when you get married and buy a house or have kids… you can expect this all to change. I know, I’m living it lol. I was like you and that’s how I saved so much money and bought my first house at 21. Do what you have to while you can and continue to budget as circumstances change. Well done. Mr.CBB

    • Thanks, Mr. CBB! I’m not on my parents car insurance (see article below for more details). I have a Schwinn bike at the moment and they have a lifetime warranty (which I’ve taken advantage of multiple times) on parts so I shouldn’t ever have to pay too much (tires, I suppose aren’t included).

      That’s awesome you bought a house @ 21. When I read that upon my first arrival to your blog, it’s what help give you credibility in my book. 🙂

      I’ll look into the grocery game challenge. I’ve noticed it but haven’t read how it works.

  • Wow, now I feel like my $500/month on food is such a waste. I would definitely be interested in a post dedicated to this subject only. I would love to learn some of your tips. My $500 includes other household products so it’s probably more like $400 for food for 2 people.

    • Yeah, I could do a post dedicated to the $75 food budget. I don’t want to bore people to death though so I’ll have to make it interesting somehow. ;P

        • Hey, Paul. I think I will publish that article the first week of August. Maybe I will title it, “my boring food budget”. LOL I’ll try to be funny.

          • Ha! Saving money is never boring!

            And thanks for injecting so much humor into your site – it makes your site one of the best personal financial blogs I have read.

        • Thank you so much for your comment about me injecting humor into the blog! When I first started FQF, I didn’t want to make it too personal. Mainly because I wanted to keep the focus on helping others. But then I realized readers like knowing the person behind the keyboard – so I give the people what they want. And I believe I’m able to help more people if my stuff is fun to read. Who would have thought?? 🙂 And honestly, it’s way more fun writing this way!

  • So I did the back calculation of your savings rate… and over $3,000 a month in savings is pretty crazy! I have to echo other commenters that $75/month is crazy low. That being said when I was single I wasn’t very mindful of sales or deals, soooo… who knows? Though I do know even with ad matching we can’t get produce prices like you mentioned… just doesn’t happen in rural Canada. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Alicia!

      I’ve never spent a dime from my full-time job-ever. Fun fact: Jay Leno has never spent a dime of his ‘TV money’. He lives off what he makes doing comedy gigs.

      $75 per month isn’t too difficult in the states but not sure it’s possible in Canada. After reading MMM, it sounds like you guys have it a little rougher than us. Perhaps your pay compensates?

      • It’s not that much “rougher” than you in that sense. Yes we have higher taxes, but that’s a national mindset of taking care of one another. We do have higher prices for food because things cannot be grown all year long unless they’re hothouse (we don’t have a California and Florida to provide us produce all the time, so we truck it in from the US).

        I’m not sure MMM says we have it rougher either. Just different. I’m okay with paying a reasonable amount for food. But $0.28/lb bananas… never gonna happen unless you shop in an Asian grocery market. And since I’m rural – it’s not exactly diverse enough to warrant an Asian market 🙂

  • At first I was like, how do you spend $75 on groceries? But then I realized we spend about $400 for 4 people on groceries & have two kids that eat non-stop. So $75 for one person is totally doable. Very impressive savings rate!

    • Thanks for the compliment, Tre!!

      I think $400 for 2 hungry kids and 2 adults is pretty great!

  • That is very impressive! For $300 are you renting a room in a house still? That’s pretty good because we rent a room out to coop students and get $460, the going rate. I’m pumped to follow your FI by 30 journey!

    • Yep, I live in a house with 3 roommates. I’ve tossed around the idea of buying but I’m not really sure even what city I want to live in. The city I live in now has ridiculously high property taxes and the homes are overpriced for the state as well. So I may leave and work remote. Plus, I’ve enjoyed living in a few different houses since graduating college. I get a feel for what kind of house I will eventually buy. Years ago, I actually thought the idea of living in tidy ol’ suburbia would be alright. Now, I can’t stand the idea. I’m glad I didn’t buy ASAP.

      FI by 30… I should do a post about that.

  • Congrats!

    I think your budget will get a bit tighter and you will have to spend more, so take advantage while you can.

    I probably save 85% of my income, but I have a much higher income.

    • Ha, see I hope to be like you someday! I know my expenses will skyrocket in the near future but hopefully my income will follow suit.

      I’ve always been a fan of saving while young since expenses are so low. Makes sense since young people can stash most of their cash (as long as we don’t bury ourselves in debt, of course).

  • Will,

    Simply awesome savings rate! We are saving about 50% each month, and the major costs are our housing and daycare for 2 kids.

    We are working on getting into a much smaller house and cutting out daycare, so hopefully we can get closer to your neighborhood.

    85% is crazy! You’ll be ready to retire in like 5 years.

    • Ha, my goal is to be permanently FI before 30. Shouldn’t be a problem since I’ve started early. Congrats on saving 50% even while running a household! I’m easy – I just have to worry about myself! I can’t imagine providing for so many others! *bows in respect*

  • Super impressed! We have the cell down through Republic, too. And I graduated without debt and the husband is on track to. Other than that, we are spending a lot more. A lot of that has yo do with our family size. We live in a space that’s small for our family, but still pay a lot more in rent. A lot a lot. We spend a little less than $100 pp/no on groceries, which isn’t bad, but adds up. (Got away with $60 when I was single! And ate well!) That’s one cost that I see going up rather than down: food. From a long term perspective it’s cheaper than 100 years ago, but in the past decade the prices have gone up significantly. And I don’t see them going down.

    • And $60/month on food when you were single! That’s awesome! You make me feel wasteful now (love the challenge)!

      How are you liking Republic Wireless??

      • I agree that from a long-term perspective, they have gone down. But in recent years they have gone up. A lot of the reason I was able to keep it under $60 was because of a) the area I was living in (I’ve moved enough to know that food prices vary with region,) and b)I was single a while ago, and while looking at the CPI over a 30 year span is great, it is the final tally at the grocery store that effects consumer’s pocketbooks. I can list specific items, what I paid ten years ago, and what I pay now…one example is a box of pasta. Same region, 10 years ago was $.50. Today, it’s $1-$1.50 depending on the brand. (So my $60 may have been pretty good, but that shouldn’t detract from your $75 today, which is also awesome.)

        And I love, love, love Republic. I’ve had nothing but good experiences.

  • Wow Will, that’s awesome. So how is it that you live in luxury for $300? Do you have roommates, is it a very rural area…what’s up there? As far as the food goes, I eat for a low cost too! I’m happy if I can save 30% of my income, so I’m very impressed with your savings rate!

    • Yeah, so I live with 3 roommates in a 5-bedroom house in a fairly swanky neighborhood. We have a hot tub, BBQ deck, balcony, big backyard, movie theater room, workout room, bar, quartz counter tops (I lol every time I walk by them) etc. I don’t own the house and if I did it wouldn’t have half of the stuff mentioned. All of it, save the workout room and backyard, is never used by me.

      And how I get so much bang for my buck is a mix between me sniping out the best deal in town and my town being fairly cheap to live in.

  • I’m super impressed, Will! And super envious that you’ve gotten your grocery bills that low. I’ve been wondering if eating a lower carb lifestyle could be a good way to decrease food cravings and thus all the snacky snacking that drives up the non-healthy food sections of our grocery bill.

    Where do your 8 other streams of income come from? Content for another post perhaps?

    • Cutting out the snack-type stuff is huge for me keeping costs down. I could eat 40 packs of fruit snacks in a day which would cost, I don’t know, $10. I’d still be hungry afterwards. So essentially I would have wasted $10 since I really got no nourishment.

      I’ll definitely post about the extra sources of income in the future! Thanks for the comment and congrats again for owning Mt. Whitney!

  • Really impressive! That is awesome you are on such a great path at such a young age. I currently put over 50% of my money to my student loans, but I think that once I’m debt free, I will be able to save 50-60%. I wish I would have saved like you when I was younger and had less expenses. That food budget is crazy, but I believe you. Nice work.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Melanie!

      After you pay off those loans, just keep living like you have them . Just direct the money into your own checking account. 😉

      …off to go have a looksy at your latest post.

  • I’m also very curious about the grocery bill. I can’t see how it’s possible to be eating healthy stuff and be paying that little. But overall you are really working it with your savings. I gotta give you that!

    • Tonya, Tonya, Tonnnya!! *does a little dance but not sure why*

      Yeah, I eat primarily whole foods. None of that Ramen Noodle nonsense haha.

      I ad-match using already ‘cheap’ healthy items. Oranges, carrots, apples, bananas, oats, milk, eggs, salads, peanut butter, etc.

      And I had originally thought my savings rate was 92% but recalculated… :/

      • I just stumbled across this site and am extremely impressed. I can’t wait to read more.

        However, I’m with Tonya. How are you eating “healthy” on $2 per day? I’m assuming you are not buying organic, local or grass-fed food, which may raise your health costs in the future. Also, where’s the protein in your food cart? I can’t imagine that two eggs, three oz of cottage cheese and a few ounces of milk is enough to meet even the FDA’s already-low daily protein recommendations.

        • Did lifehacker send you here? My traffic has been going crazy because of that article!

          No organic. No local (except for free stuff I get from coworkers/friends). I have yet to read any solid evidence as to why organic is better than non-organic. Link me if you have some. I’m not trying to be rude, I just haven’t read anything convincing yet.

          I am healthy. I bike/walk/jog/hike/strength train for at least an hour per day. Lately I’ve been doing nearly 3. I had a physical last fall and I’m apparently really healthy. They tested my oxygen levels and the nurse said she has only seen one person ever read higher levels. That was a baby. Apparently they have higher levels of oxygen naturally.

          I’m off to eat lunch now. I have an apple (.28/lb), carrots (.44/lb, canned corn (no sodium added @ .29 for 15.5oz) and cream of chicken soup (.49 for 10.5oz condensed). I probably won’t eat all that.

          I would have to be an idiot to put money in front of health. Without health, there is no money.

          Stay tuned for the food post! Thanks for commenting, Paul!!

          • Will,

            Thanks for the response! Not only do you have my respect for putting your thoughts / life on a blog (where any keyboard hero can try to shoot them down) you have my appreciation for being someone who will take the time to respond to a reader trying to learn more.

            I wish I had a link that contained definitive proof that organic is healthier, but it seems like the “experts” can never fully make a decision in the “non-organic vs organic” debate. My belief (like yours) is that health should be a top priority, and I guess I’d rather be safe than sorry.

            Thanks again for the response. I may be spending most of the rest of my Saturday on your site. 🙂

          • Just google pesticides in urine vs organic. That was a game changer for me… That is what has made me switch to organic only…

        • This nested comment is getting crazy small!! I love it though!

          Maybe I just reply to all the comments because I’m stubborn and want the last word! Just kidding. I love talking with anyone who’s kind enough to come give their two cents.

          If I find anything conclusive about organic v. inorganic, I’ll remember to link you!

          I hope to see you around, Paul!

  • Honestly, if I were single, I could probably get by with spending around $100 on groceries, maybe less. I eat like a bird, so my boyfriend gets the blame for that category! We’ve cut back to the point where we’re mostly happy (rent could see a decrease again), but we’re also not making a ton. I suspect when our income improves (and once we get our student loans paid off), our savings rate will dramatically increase. I really like this sentiment, though – “My goal for years has been to spend as little as possible while being happy with life.”

    • Hey, E.M.!

      With ad-matching, I’m sure you could get down below $100. I bike about 60 miles per week, workout every other day, and I still don’t require $100 worth of food.

      I love how you’re talking about cutting back to gain happiness. Have you read The Power of Less by Leo Babauta? He’s the creator of the blog, Zen Habits. You two seem to have the same spectacular way of thinking.

      And yeah, I would never put money in front of happiness. Not because I’m some super-awesome guy, it just doesn’t make any logical sense.

  • I still don’t understand the $75 grocery bill. Nz must be the biggest rip off in the world. The other day my boyfriend went to the store got a chicken, milk, almond milk, some almonds and some mandarins and it was like $60.

    Brain explode. I am very impressed by this saving rate and would like to see a breakdown of your networth.

    Also, do those facial treatments help? My skin is not as great as I’d like it to be…!

    • Yeah, the US has cheap groceries. Even in the expensive states, they are still about the same price as where I live.

      $60?!?! My brain just exploded as well!

      And oh, yes the derm. treatments work very, very well. I’ve had like 4 different types of things done and I get a lot of compliments on my clear skin. <2 years ago, I had TERRIBLE skin! Like, holy eff... I could post pics but it may be too shocking lol.

    • Oh, and yeah my savings rate used to be 92% until recently. I remember talking to you about this a few months ago! Don’t think I’m misled you. I’ve just gotten a little lazy in my expenditures. 🙂

  • How on earth do you manage only a $75 grocery bill? Are you eating only cherrios and Kraft dinner? That’s pretty impressive.

    • Actually, I eat pretty low carb. This way, I don’t have to workout as hard to get my abs to show. 🙂

      I ad-match EVERYTHING at Walmart. About a mile from me, there’s a new Walmart built in a swanky neighborhood. Shopping there is actually a pleasant experience. So, I watch the ads each week and base my groceries on 1. health 2. price

      Examples of recent purchases:

      Bananas 5.22 lb @ 1lb/.28 = $1.46
      Red apples 1.86 lb @ 1lb/.68 = $1.26
      Naval oranges 2/$1
      8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese = $.98
      32 oz baby carrots = $.88
      1/2 gallon milk = $.99
      12 grade A large eggs = $.49
      24 oz cottage cheese = $1.49
      16 oz canned vegetables = $.50

      I should really write a post dedicated to this subject and include receipts.

      Thanks for the comment, Michelle!

      • How can you possibly get a half gallon of milk for .99, or 8oz of shredded cheese for .98, or a dozen eggs for .49? I consider myself to be a great shopper, and I haven’t seen those kind of prices in many, many years.

        • he price matches.

          go to Walmart, or a grocery store that price matches with their competitors. ask the manager: what are your competitors? get the ads. write your grocery list and reference it (store/ad page number). go through all the ads and just write down what you NEED.

          bonus points: clip coupons you get in newspaper or print them off internet

    • $300 per month for rent? In the Northeast, one bedroom or studio apartments you wouldn’t keep a rat in cost at least $700 per month.

      And- $75 month for food? Can’t even imagine that-even eating all meals in.

      And- no car? Not here in rural Northeast!

      Most of this is not realistic for most people no matter how frugal.

      • 1. I live with other people. That drives the cost of living way down. A decent one bedroom or studio in Nebraska would cost $700+ as well.
        2. I ad match nearly everything. That’s why people are surprised at $75. I’m always buying loss leaders.
        3. I have a car (and post about it quite a lot). I just bike basically everywhere in the city. I grew up in a rural setting so I agree with you, biking would not be feasible. One of the reasons I didn’t choose to live far away from things.

        It’s all realistic. If one person can do it, so can others. Life is a series of choices.

    • I spend about $300 each month for 7 people, 3 adults, 1 teenage boy, 3 younger boys and we eat well. I base our meals off what’s on sale and buy in bulk when something is a loss leader ($.99 chicken breasts???? I’ll take 50lbs) I also use coupons and rebate apps and only buy the stuff I will use except when it’s free or a moneymaker and then if we don’t use it I donate it.