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Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  3,826 ratings  ·  556 reviews
The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Harper Business
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Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is basically rich people who play frugal and profit off of it. When you bring in 4k+ per month in rental income plus income from a 250k+ job, you are not middle class. I think the message of living within your means is important, but there's a difference between people who struggle to get by and the Frugalwoods.
4 stars!

Meet the Frugalwoods is a book I’ve been looking forward to. About 2 years ago, a friend on Facebook who runs a group about finances recommend a blog in her group- The Frugalwoods ( for anyone interested). I read a ton of their blog posts and got some fantastic finance tips. There were certain things I was never going to do, give up makeup, buying books, clothes ban etc, but I did participate in several no spend months and was able to cut my grocery b
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
One of the most frustrating personal finance books I've ever read - and I generally love learning about people's approaches to money. Somehow manages to be condescending, deceptive, and self-congratulatory all at once. They're not retired; he works from their rural home and she's a part-time blogger/SAHM. His job apparently pays him over $200,000 a year, which makes any lack of haircuts and restaurant meals pretty small changes in the scheme of things. Wouldn't have bothered me so much if she di ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I have a lot of nit-picky criticisms of the book. (It barely escapes my dreaded "millennial special snowflake" tag. ;-) And yet, I find the Thames' story extremely inspirational. In fact, while listening to an interview of the author on a podcast, I came up with a scheme to change our living situation drastically--hopefully for the better-- and save a ton of money.

So, I rolled my eyes reading her section on parenting (children don't need things! they just need your time! . . . easy f
Aug 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
They had excellent jobs, made good money, saved every cent, and wrote a book about it. I have saved you three hours of reading about the world's dullest couple.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave the author seven chapters - nearly half of the book - to get over her insufferably whiny tone. It didn't happen and so unfortunately I had to put the book down. When Thames isn't complaining, she is so arrogant and full of her own virtue that it's impossible to see how this book serves any purpose other than stroking her unjustifiably large ego. In the portion of the book I read, there was literally not one useful piece of information related to the book's premise. Rather it was just a su ...more
Hector Ibarraran
Before reading this book, understand that you are going to be reading a memoir, not a step by step guide to frugality. Also, this book will challenge your notions about what it means to live reasonably, and comfortably. Personally, I loved the whole thing, and will probably will start looking at my own consumeristic tendencies, because even if I never get to the author’s level, adding a bit of frugality to my life will not hurt.

Some people have criticized this book for using a literary voice fo
Aug 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To her credit the author does start with the disclaimer that this book was written by middle class white people living in a First world country. But by god I've never met a more removed from reality and preachy woman as this author. For whom frugality is a bid to purchase success (her limited way of saying happiness).

From $300 hair cuts, $40 artisan cheese, $500 per month bubbly water and $300 per month hot yoga this woman and her husband have NO CONCEPT OF FRUGALITY. Its a joke - reading this
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy the author’s blog and have incorporated a lot of her ideas into my own life. So, I was excited to read her book. For some reason I thought it would be more of a lifestyle book. Maybe some frugal living ideas, recipes, etc.

The book was ok at best. I felt like she came across as unintentionally preachy, without a true understanding of how the majority of our country lives. She continually said that she knows how privileged she is to be able to make these choices, and then goes on t
Jos M
Dec 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Man, this was a hate-read. I am not sure why I finished this --spite maybe, and hating on something this bad is too easy, and so many others have done so much better than I could. Like, if you want to go live on a hobby farm more power to you. If you want to live solely for that future goal, and burn all current life events on the altar of frugality, again, more power to you. But the idea that this represents an achievable goal for other people is just laughable:

a) To be fair, Thames
Lori Jackson
I thought the book was well written as far as the prose are concerned, with several anecdotes that had me laughing out loud. Unlike some other reviewers, I enjoyed her word choice. But, the whole premise that this couple has achieved financial independence while both still work is a contradiction in terms in my view and diminishes the book's premise. I get that the author stipulated that FI is definitional, but come on: your husband works full time and you supplement with blog/book money.

I also
I feel sorry for Nate for marrying a dimwitted, narcissistic, spastic, selfish, privileged prima donna. This book is so ridiculous. You can tell Thames got a creative writing degree from the overwrought and burdened writing that uses Faulkner levels of imagery for no reason. This girl is a hot mess from her obsession with marriage to relationship ultimatums not to mention her complete ignorance of personal finance. Clearly her parents failed her. After reading the book one wonders why anyone wou ...more
I really wanted to like this more- part of me loved it and part of me hated it. The part of me that loved it is the part of me who (not so) secretly dreams about financial independence, working from home part time, and owning a homestead. That said, this book is going to be very unrelatable to most of it's audience. Not only do the "Frugalwoods" have a very real amount of privilege as upper middle class, heterosexual (married), educated, white folks- they had essentially no debt. Namely, no studen ...more
Janna Dorman
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I've read the Frugalwoods blog for about a year and a half, which details the frugal lifestyle of Elizabeth Willard Thames, her husband, and her daughter. The blog mostly consists of money-saving techniques so I expected a book by Thames to be much of the same. I was pleasantly surprised that this was more memoir style and told the story behind Thames' ability to become financially independent at age 32. Thames is a talented writer and her story was really interesting! I also appreciated how ful ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My husband bought me this book to get me excited about financial independence, and it worked! This book is full of good personal finance information without being dry and number-filled, and really reads like a novel. Thames is a good writer: concise, honest, thorough, and full of funny similes. My husband and I are already pretty frugal, but Thames opened up my eyes to additional opportunities to be frugal and I can’t wait to apply it to our budget! Plus, her book isn’t really about money, it’s ...more
Willian Molinari
I follow their blog for a while now and like it a lot, but I didn't have the same feeling with the book.

It was interesting to read that they felt themselves to be privileged when comparing to the rest of the population. Financial independence is not for everyone but frugality can be and that's what they tried to say, IMO.

Many of their personal experience doesn't resonate with me at all, but some others were interesting to read. They are real finance nerds and I admire that.

I found
Jenny Bunting
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I had a hard time with this book since it's obvious that this woman and I disagree on pretty much everything. I am frugal about certain things but overall, I'm gonna pay someone to do something I don't want to do so I get some time back. I can always make more money but I'm not getting that time back. Some of the book definitely came across as self-congratulatory and holier than thou, a common problem I see in minimalism and frugality works. Overall, I think it's good for people to consume fruga ...more
Margaret Sullivan
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This would have been a lot more useful to me thirty years ago. :) But then, thirty years ago I was living paycheck to paycheck and could barely pay my way, let alone save money. I was frugal by necessity.

And as I've gotten older, I stopped caring about material things very much. I don't know if that's just a function of getting older or what.

In any event, I did get some inspiration from the book. I can certainly pare back my expenses, and having a goal for saving is impor
Liz T
Apr 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretentious much? Aside from a not long enough section on investing, this book was one long “look at me and how great I am at self-imposed and self-defined frugal living, what a privilege it is that I can make the choice to forego artisanal cheese, lattes and haircuts.” Meanwhile there’s a whole swath of people out here living a frugal existence by circumstance, not by choice because they are just so over consumerism. I’d have rather read the account of one of those brave folks than the smug mus ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The title of the book does not really indicate to me that this is a memoir. It is a well written one, but I was expecting more financial information and frugal tips. None of the things that they did to become financially independent is really that radical or new, unless maybe you are a millennial. Maybe that is the desired audience? Not really someone who has been around the block before. I don’t know why I still read these kinds of books, there really is not anything new- still number one tip i ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book but it’s not realistic and practical for everyone.
Caiti S
More memoir than financial information. I mostly enjoyed their story, although the writing was sort of cheesy and I would have gained more from it if they would have been more transparent about actual finances and numbers. It was much more about their frugal philosophy than concrete advice. Thames is pretty clear in acknowledging they have numerous privileges in life, but I was somewhat frustrated that there wasn't more of an examination of how the systemic inequalities that they themselves perp ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was an interesting read but there were a lot of things that annoyed me. I like their blog a lot which offers a lot of good advice about being frugal. It was interesting to get the story about how the Frugalwoods changed their way of living. They seem like nice people. Elizabeth points out how privileged they were starting out and she also said that she is aware for a lot of people being frugal is the only way they can afford to live. However, then her writing comes across self congratu ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I preferred the more memoir style this book had and as someone who follows the frugalwoods blog I already knew I enjoyed her writing style.

I appreciated how multiple times the author acknowledges how privileged she and her husband are and how she related that as one of the reasons she was able to become financially independent so early in life. I enjoyed the portion where she talks about how her year in NYC was her almost trying on poverty. I thought it was very hone
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book reads like a novel. I follow her blog from time to time but did not know she was so funny. A definite read if you are on this frugal path and want to discover how other people already achieved it.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a dedicated reader of the author's blog which I have enjoyed reading and following for the last couple of years. I really enjoyed reading this book and hearing the whole backstory and journey from the beginning of when her and her husband were young up until now. It really showed where they had been and what they had gone through to get to where they are.

I really liked the fact that she clearly puts it out there in the beginning of the book that she and her husband are priv
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, autobiography
When I picked up this book at the local library I had never heard of Liz Thames, nor her blog Frugalwoods. I took the book at face value, "achieving financial independence through simple living." That's me, the queen of simple living! So what's not like about this? Well, for me, plenty.
First off, this is Liz's memoir of her (and hubby's) lifestyle. The book has little to do with achieving financial independence. Granted, Liz does provide examples of ways to save money through living a frug
JD Mitchell
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read, but thoughtfully written. One woman/couple’s story of achieving financial independence and their frugal philosophy. She begins the book by acknowledging her privilege and she refers to it periodically throughout the book. What I most liked about this is how their frugality is inspired by a bigger goal they have. They’re not penny pinching; they’re prioritizing. I also really liked how the author’s understanding of frugality evolved from saving money to something more significant. Whe ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Boy can this woman drag out a boring personal story. Good thing she retired because you'd hate to be stuck in the break room with her. Halfway through the book she actually starts offering useful advice on frugality... But all the practical information in this book could be covered in a couple pages. Her real cardinal sin is throwing shade at Marie Kondo out of nowhere and totally missing the Kondo philosophy. It is NOT about deriving all of your joy from things. It's about removing clutter from ...more
Melody Warnick
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Makes me want to stain my own deck instead of hiring it out for $1,300—and in all other ways get really clear on how I could best spend my money on what actually matters to me.
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Elizabeth Willard Thames is the personal finance blogger behind the award-winning At thirty-two she abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced extreme frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and retire to a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of Vermont with her husband and young daughter. Started in April 2014, Frugalwoods is a respected voice in
“Joy is not a “done” to-do list; rather, it’s the ability to appreciate and savor the simplicity of each day’s routine. To not feel that you need a vacation from your life. To know that you’re living as close to your ideal as possible, every single day.” 2 likes
“But I'd missed the truism that every sale in the world won't save you as much money as simply not buying anything.” 1 likes
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