Do we practice extreme frugality? That depends on your definition. If saving money on both the big things and the little things over the past almost 50 years is considered extreme, then we must practice it. Did we save that money just for the sake of saving it? Heck no! We always had goals and still have a goal that we are working towards.
Our very first three goals in order were: saving for early retirement, putting Hubby through his last two years of college for his B.S. and then putting him through for his M.P.A, and saving for a down payment on our first home.
As our lives changed, our goals changed. When our children were born, college educations were added to the goal list. But the saving for retirement goal was never taken off the list until we achieved it.
Did we have to be extreme to achieve these goals? The answer is complicated. If you think watching every penny is extreme, then I guess we were extreme. However, we watched those pennies so that we could reach our goals without sacrificing anything that our children needed. We only had one income and it was an average middle class income during the years they grew up. They went on vacations, had an in ground swimming pool in their backyard, went to private schools for junior high and high school, and both got college educations without a lot of debt. Did they always have the most expensive "in crowd" jeans? No, they wore Levi's. Did they get money to always go to a movie every weekend? Not always. Were they involved in expensive sports teams? Of course: soccer, football, basketball and track. Did they lack love in our household? Absolutely not! They knew how loved they were no matter what was or wasn't purchased for them.
If you were to ask them today if they lacked anything, they would tell you a resounding NO. But they knew that money didn't grow on trees because we taught them the value of a dollar. They didn't graduate from college and think that the world owes them a living. They had to work right away because it wasn't our job to support them any more. Have they had some rough spots? Sure every one does. Did we help during those rough spots? Of course we did. But they watch their dollars today the same as we do. They are saving for early retirement and their children's college educations and have been since they got jobs years ago. They already own homes.
Our list of what we do frugally will be different from someone else's list. Our list may seem extreme to some people the same as their list may seem extreme to me. But we all have a right to do what we want and make our own choices with our money.
We may make substitutions to save money, make repairs the DIY way rather than hire someone, never go to a movie in a theater, and rarely eat out because my food is healthier and better. But I will never save money at someone else's expense. For example, I won't stiff a waitress or hairdresser their tip to save money. I won't take more condiments than are needed at a fast food restaurant just to bring them home. Other people pay for that greediness when the prices need to be raised.
Someone who is really extreme may use cloth for toilet paper. They may make their own cloth pads to save that expense monthly. They may use the gym or work shower everyday to save water at home. Sure you have paid for your gym membership so you can use the shower. But I have known people who have gone to the gym or the Y before they go out at night just to take a shower. These are not things that I have ever done nor would I do. But if other people do them, I will not judge their choices.
So am I extreme? Perhaps. But we have lived well, done everything we have wanted to do and still do. Have we ever gone to a movie in a theater, you wonder? Yes, may times over the years. But we prefer these days to watch our movies in the comfort of our home on the big screen TV while making our own snacks. Do we live any different than we did years ago? Yes, we have a few creature comforts that we didn't have then. Mostly being able to hire people to do things for us that we can no longer do. But we saved for those circumstances so we are reaping the rewards.
So if someone thinks that we are too extreme that is their problem not ours. We love our life and how we do things and we are not about to change any time soon. If someone wants to spend and spend and not save for tomorrow then that will be their problem when tomorrow comes. I will not judge nor do I want to be judged.
All I can tell you is that if you watch your pennies your net worth will grow. You will reach your goals and you can retire early and be your own boss. Just make sure that the goals you set are within reason. It takes determination and we can all find that within ourselves.