Need to Save Money? Have No Friends!


Mr. Groovy and I currently save over fifty percent of our gross income. One reason we’re able to save so much is because we have no friends. Well, let me qualify that. We have no friends that live near us.

Nine years ago we moved from Long Island to Charlotte, North Carolina, and yet after all this time we haven’t forged any new friendships. Why? Are we social misfits? No, we’re actually awesome and people love us. We’re just homebodies. And we’re perfectly content with having acquaintances here in Charlotte, while seeing our lifelong New York friends a few times a year.

Another reason we’re able to save so much is because we both work from home. That means no commuting costs. My round-trip train fare in New York was over $2,000 a year and I’m sure the cost has gone way up. We spend maybe $30 a month on gas for errands around the neighborhood, and even car insurance is less when you’re not using your vehicle regularly for job commuting.

Without physically reporting to an office, we have no peer pressure to join in on activities that cost money. There’s no going out with the gang for lunch or happy hour, and no need to ante up cash for girl scout cookies, wedding gifts, fantasy football, the boss’s favorite charity, or going away parties. The one exception is when Mr. Groovy meets up for lunch with a few office buddies who also work from home.  But that’s maybe once every other month and according to our groovy expense tracker, he has never spent more than $10.

My work pals are in New York and I see them for a holiday lunch once a year, covered by my boss.  My only other opportunity for catching up is by phone. There’s no stepping out to Starbucks on a break or shopping at Macy’s, a favorite past-time for several of my co-workers. There’s also no quick jaunt for a newspaper and candy bar and no vending machine with M&Ms calling to me by name.

Our clothing costs are minimal since we have no office dress code to obey. Mr. Groovy trims his own hair, while I go to a salon, but schedule my appointments 8-10 weeks apart and keep the cost under $50.  I hardly buy makeup since I don’t wear it during the week, although when I first began working remotely I got all dolled up. Every day I’d wash and blow my hair, put on makeup, and don business casual clothing before hunkering down in front of my computer. It would crack Mr. Groovy up.  That lasted only a few months but it helped set me on the path of committing totally to my job during working hours.

I mentioned the little money we spend on gas, and having no friends plays a part in that as well since we’d be driving much more if we had others to socialize with. We live in the country so the mileage would add up. Then we’d be frequenting movies, bars or restaurants where we would spend at a level we’re not comfortable with. For us, a $6 matinee is fine a few times a year; 12 bucks for Chinese food is an occasional treat, and a nice meal on occasion usually costs under $40. Who can go out with friends for an evening and spend as little as that?

When we sit down to dinner at home we’re usually joined by our closest companion, Groovy Cat, who loves being near us.  He’s the baby of the house, but he’s certainly cheaper than a child! His expenses are on track to reach around $900 for 2015, including food, vet, cat sitter during vacations, and his litter, which I now buy at the Tractor Supply Store. It’s better than the dust-free clumping kind from PetsMart and costs one third the price.

You can be like us if you want to supercharge your quest for financial independence. Just have no friends, work from home, forego children and have no dogs (groovy cats are OK).  If you read  Mr. Money Mustache you’ll know that he took some heat for his post about dog ownership, but he’s right. Dogs are expensive and they are optional. By all means, if you can afford them, the love they bring to a home is priceless. But please go to a animal shelter or rescue agency if you decide to get a dog or cat.

I’m not saying this lifestyle is for everyone. It works for Mr. Groovy and me especially since we’re late-bloomers. By the time we married, having children wasn’t part of the equation, and in hindsight, that was a lucky break. Because when times were lean, additional mouths to feed would have been tough.

I have no doubt we would have managed if we had children, but I also have no doubt we’d both be working until at least Social Security retirement age. In the midst of many bloggers writing about financial independence, we’re old farts. But to the baby-boomer friends we grew up with, and our families, retiring in our mid-50s is almost unthinkable.

What do you think? Do you feel  pressured to spend more money when with friends? Maybe the pressure doesn’t even come from them, but you just want to fit in and not feel like the odd person out?

I’d love to see your replies telling me about your experiences.

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  1. I think you have the strategy down for sure! I find that I spend more money with acquaintances than close friends because we go somewhere to hangout with acquaintenances. With good friends, we can sit around at our house or theirs and do absolutely nothing and be entertained. I’m very impressed you blow dried your hair for a time in your work from home job. I stopped doing that for my actual job and it saves me so much time. Or, I just finish off the ends with the blow dryer if needed. I don’t wear makeup anymore either. I don’t want the hassle just to look marginally more awake ha!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      The daily blow drying was a bit crazy! FYI, just last week I bit the bullet and had my hair cut very short. I couldn’t take fighting with it anymore especially with the 90+ degree days here.

      You bring up a very good point. You can let your hair down (pun intended) with close friends and family, and just hang out. But you often end up in restaurants or bars with acquaintances.

      Thanks for your comment, Julie!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Exactly, Nancy. And I also find the people you hang out with have a big effect on how you spend your money. Thanks for your comment.

  2. I can vouch for dogs being expensive!
    Mine just cost me $3000 (explained in my May net worth post).

    Not to mention the fact that he will end up costing over$25000 in his life time (now $28000) (as explained in the “my pet is a freeloader post on my site).
    They are expensive but for us well worth it! We bought both our dogs from the animal shelter and both are great.
    People need to look at the dog ownership long term costs. There is more costs involved than just dog food, this is often overlooked.
    I could buy two small new cars every 14 years instead of owning a pet but who needs a new car 😜

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I’m looking forward to checking out your May net worth post and the “freeloader” one.

      One of our cats had lymphoma and I agreed to a chemo plan for a while. Between an ultrasound to diagnose the problem and going to an “oncology” vet and subsequent vet visits, we spent close to $5K. I didn’t choose the most involved, expensive therapy – it was basically a capsule. When I realized I could buy it in a pharmacy and have my vet give it, I stopped with the oncologist. Mr. G went along with me because I was a basket case. I felt a lot of guilt about not detecting her illness sooner. It wasn’t until my cat sitter came to watch her, and told me my girl looked like she had lost a lot of weight, did I realize it…we only have 1 cat now. When we took him in we had no idea we’d retire in our 50s and want to travel for a month at a time. That’s another part of pet ownership – you can’t just leave them. It takes planning.

  3. I love both NYC and Charlotte! Lived in CLT for 7 years, and try to visit NYC once or twice a year. Great place to visit, but $$$ to live there. Both in true living costs and in lifestyle costs.

    My wife and I both worked from home (starting when we also first moved to Charlotte, hmm) running a business that I had started. We sold the business after 19 years and never had an office (or commute!) that entire team. We had dozens of staff and they all worked from home.

    It isn’t for everyone – you need discipline and to be able to block away distractions – but for the right person, working from a home office is amazing. Be there when the kid(s) leave for school – be there when they get home. Always home for dinners and family time. And much more.

    The impact on our family life is the biggest benefit of that season of our life for sure. Even now, as empty-nesters who are “semi-retired” (semi because we got bored in less than a year of not working), our next venture is also a work-from-home (or wherever) deal.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Brad, your background sounds very interesting. I must take a look at your site. I’ve been working from home since we relocated. Mr. Groovy has been doing it now for around 3 years. Some of his friends and family said it couldn’t be done – a husband and wife in the same house. But it works great for us. It definitely takes discipline. I’m also very strict about work infringing on my real life. I have a work phone my employer supplies. After 5pm, or during the weekend, I shut the ringer off and tape a sticky note over the caller ID window. I don’t want to know anything about the job when I’m not on the clock.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Hey Bus Thinker, I really appreciate the comment. Feeling like an outsider is something we had to overcome in NY. At that point it wasn’t even because we had made a conscious decision to spend less, we just didn’t have any extra money for socializing. I don’t know what’s harder to say “I have no money” or “I don’t want to spend my money on that”. Probably the latter, which is your situation (and ours, now) because in a way, it’s saying “I have money but I don’t choose to spend it with you”! The key thing is that if you want to become wealthy or to FIRE, you have to prioritize your spending. That’s a concept many people just aren’t familiar with.

    • I feel the same way often, but now most of our friends have kids and don’t go out much anymore either.
      We’re happy being homebodies and going on road trips and camping, but we’re always on the lookout for other frugal friendly people.

      • Mrs. Groovy

        Some people just have to spend money and treat themselves “special”. That’s not to say there aren’t worthwhile social activities to spend money on, but it’s just not a habit for us. Seriously we don’t know many people where we live. That will change when we mover closer to Mr G’s family and we’ve already discussed sticking to a budget – especially for things like going out to eat. That seems to be every American’s favorite past-time these days, doesn’t it?

        I’m sure your kids will have extremely fond memories of your camping and road trip experiences. I didn’t have that as a kid, but I live vicariously through Mr. G’s stories (like the one about both his parents smoking cigarettes in the car while he and his siblings couldn’t breathe).