Lifestyle

Confessions Of A Frugal Millionaire

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Unless you are an heir to a big fortune or you have won the lottery, you have to work hard to have money.  To accumulate wealth, you have to make more money than you spend.  The key is to keep your expenses low.  And there will be sacrifices.  Nothing crazy though.

At the Root of Good household, our clothes are not from the mall, we don’t dine out at Ruth’s Chris, or deck out our split level home with the latest from Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma.  We choose not to quench our thirst with Dom Perignon or Dasani.  Yes, we have made sacrifices.  At first we balked at some of these sacrifices, but we gave them a try.  You never know until you try right?

We have decreased our expenses by carrying our lunches in disposable plastic grocery bags (which also make great suitcases).  We refill disposable water bottles and reuse disposable straws and plastic utensils.

We keep our lawn care expenses low as well. If the weeds are pretty, why waste money on weed killer?  Makes no sense!  Dandelions are so pretty and the kids love making wishes and blowing on them!  We also keep expenses low buying store brand and finding substitutes where available.  We’ve substituted ground turkey for ground beef and pork, and canned tuna for fresh tuna when we make sushi.

In this turbulent era where it’s difficult to find the foods you need at the grocery store, and grocery budgets are tighter than ever, we have been forced to make one more difficult decision. Our portfolio is off more than a half million dollars from its recent high point. Needless to say, we had to make some sharp cuts now before our early retirement is totally ruined.

So let me just spit it out.

We gave up potted meat for canned cat food.  We confess, we struggled with this idea for a while.  But it dawned on us.  Our cat loves this tasty treat, why shouldn’t we give it a try?  If it’s that bad, then why are we feeding it to another family member?  Are we that much more superior than another living being?  We may face criticism for this culinary choice since we are trusting the tastes of our own cat, who happens to enjoy a steady diet of serendipitously obtained avian and rodent innards.

Much of that criticism will undoubtedly come from those who haven’t even tried a heaping spoonful of the puree’d goodness that comes in those small 5.5 ounce cans.  You wouldn’t trust criticism from a movie critic or a book reviewer who has never seen the movie or read the book would you?  In the same way, we can reject all of this criticism, for they don’t know the subject which they criticize.

cat-food

Cat food should really be the frugal family’s go-to choice for nutritious protein.  At less than a quarter of the price of steak, seafood, pork and chicken, you can easily feed a family of five for under two dollars.  It comes pre-cooked in convenient ready-to-serve containers.  Just pop the lid off, dig in with a spoon, and you’ll feel like you are in heaven (without losing all nine lives!).

The versatility of cat food is often overlooked.  You don’t normally associate it with fanciness (unless you are buying that expensive top shelf Fancy Feast stuff – but who can afford that?!).  But try this.  The next time you throw a dinner party for your friends or business associates, carefully peel off a few labels from some cat food and then make a tray of cat food for your guests.  Serve right out of the shiny silver cat food cans.  Get some really small spoons for that extra fancy touch.  Enjoy the rich, creamy texture smeared across crackers, baguette slices, or toast.  Good accompanying cheeses are Gruyère, cheddar, or American. And don’t forget to serve with tooth picks. Those are fancy, too, and allow for excellent dental hygiene if any cat food gristle takes refuge in the confines between your molars.

Foie gras. Or is it? Chew on that one for a bit.
Foie gras. Or is it? Chew on that one for a bit.    // photo credit: Luigi Anzivino / wikimedia

The texture and flavor of cat food comes very close to the finest foie gras imported from France.  Considering the cost savings, it’s really a no-brainer to substitute the feline food cousin of foie gras.  At under $.10 per ounce, cat food is 99% cheaper than most foie gras which tends to retail at prices of $10.00 per ounce or more.  If you can find a better way to squeeze out 99% of the cost of luxury goods, please let me know in the comments below.  I’m offering a whole can of “foie gras” for whoever offers the best suggestion.

So far, I haven’t taken a side in the great debate on the best part of the cat food.  Some champion the translucent jelly surrounding the more firm meaty bulk in the middle.  Others prefer the meaty paste itself and care little about the jellied juices lining the inner surface of the can.  To me, it’s all the same.  Dinner.

True frugality comes in when we buy the store brand cat food.  Or you can buy in bulk at Costco.  They come in a variety of flavors.  There are so many to choose from, Ocean Whitefish & Tuna, Mixed Grill, Turkey & Giblets, Turkey & Gravy, and the list goes on.  But our favorite is Sea Captains Choice.  You can literally dine on a different meat flavor every day of the week.  Surprisingly, we find some of the flavors taste better than potted meat.  Cha-ching! You can taste the savings!

If cats can enjoy human food, why can't humans enjoy cat food?
If cats can enjoy human food, why can’t humans enjoy cat food?

I can hear some of you laughing and maybe even gagging.  Remember, we are not trying to keep up with the Jones.  Yes, there are sacrifices, but if you like it, why not? And you’re saving money! Why should you care what others think?  We choose to live how we want to live and fortunately our sensible and frugal lifestyle has led us to an early financial independence.  Every time we hear “ewww, you’re eating cat food?!”, we write it off to that person’s jealousy manifesting itself in an insult vaguely veiled in the form of a question (like they are contestants on Jeopardy).

I hope you all enjoy this insightful post on April 1st.  Happy April Fool’s Day!  Keep all these tips in mind throughout the rest of the year and you, too, can be a frugal millionaire one day (and survive the current difficult times). Meow.  For other another great money-saving read on budget foods, check out Jonathan Swift’s recent essay, “A Modest Proposal“.

What sacrifices have you made?  Are you brave enough to choose the road less taken?

Also, happy April Fool’s Day! 


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