Even though I’m not a big fan of the word “frugal” as I described in my last post, it still applies best here. I have issues with the word and the overuse of it, not the principles behind it.
On my current financial journey, I’ve worked to be more frugal. We have done things like cutting our cable TV cord, budgeting for groceries, and restricting vacations. These are all ways we have used to cut expenses and bring in more monthly cash flow.
In addition to those standard frugal approaches, I have found some additional and interesting places to cut back on expenses recently. These new frugal methods are all in relation to my diet and health approach.
I’m cutting back on booze and carbohydrates.
At the risk of sounding weird and possibly revealing way too much about myself…here goes…
I have drastically cut back on my consumption of booze lately. I’m at the age where I enjoy an evening cocktail with my wife. She generally likes to have wine or a beer and I like a gin and tonic. Sometimes I like scotch, whiskey, or bourbon on the rocks when I’m in the mood for liquor, or sometimes I have a beer (craft beer or homebrew). It’s a way to unwind after getting spun up by work and a house full of kids.
The problem is that booze is expensive. I’ve tried moving down the shelf to the lower quality liquor, but that has not worked well. The bottom shelf stuff tastes terrible and the middle shelf stuff can be hit or miss. It just makes me want the good stuff even more. I can drink mid-shelf gin, but I can’t drink the cheap scotch, whiskey, or bourbon.
Discerning taste, I know…I sound like a snob, but I don’t care. While we’re at it, here is the list of things where I won’t compromise on quality…liquor, coffee, beer. I’m sure there is something else I’m forgetting, but that’s good for now. I like some great quality items…so what?
Coming from Irish heritage and adding the fact that I have four young children…booze is a borderline necessity in my house. I almost put it in the “need” part of my budget. I wrestled with that while making my budget, but I finally relented and admitted to myself that it’s really just a “want.”
Booze is also hurting my diet efforts. More on that below.
So…booze is out. Hurts to say it, mostly because my kids are running around driving me crazy right now and a drink sounds good. Seriously, I have to avoid watching TV shows where the characters are enjoying a drink.
My method for cutting the booze was to stop buying more. I finished what was in the liquor cabinet (except for bottles that just collect dust because they are mixers) and that was it. It was easier mentally to have a finish line like that.
There are only three main food types…carbohydrates, fat, and protein. When you cut carbs out from your diet, you are left with fat and protein. It turns out that when you cut carbs, you eat less. Then when you buy fat and protein, the fat is generally cheaper.
I didn’t go into this diet with the financial outcome as the aim. That was a happy coincidence. I’ve been a low carb enthusiast for a long while. It all stems from weight loss efforts. What I have learned in my research (books, podcasts, and lots of articles) and trial and error (so much trial and error) is that low carb is the way to eat, but you also need to moderate your protein intake. That means the diet should be primarily fat, low to moderate protein, and low carbs.
I’ve been cutting carbs for so long that this was very easy to implement. The difficult part is getting back into a long-term mindset with it.
Here’s what my current low carb days look like:
Breakfast – Coffee with heavy cream or butter mixed in, my version of Bulletproof Coffee.
Lunch – Usually something small like cheese sticks or deli meat or hard boiled eggs or another coffee with butter.
Dinner – Whatever the family is eating, usually some protein like chicken or beef and some veggies. Or sometimes I will add an avocado to the protein.
That’s it. Simple way for me to go without carbs for the day. I stay under 20 or 30 grams of carbs on these low carb days.
Let Me Explain the Deal with Carbs
Here’s the basic deal with low carb diets…standby for a tangent. Overall, we collectively need to reduce our carbohydrate consumption. It is the primary reason for the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
On the personal side with my own diet, I need to reduce carbs in order to lose weight. My goal is fat loss. In order to reach my goal weight, I need to lose an additional 30 pounds. I’ve lost 20 pounds over the last 2 years, with some yo-yoing in there, but all from one specific type of diet.
I found a book from DH Kiefer called The Carb Nite Solution, and things completely changed for me. I also found amazing amounts of info from blogger/podcaster/author Jimmy Moore. Check these people out if you are interested in the topic.
Anywho…the premise of this diet is to eat low carb, high fat for the majority of the time. Then on one day per week, I feast on carbs at night for 6-8 hours. This cycling of carbs causes your body to drop fat from your storage and you lose weight. It’s nothing dramatic or crazy in terms of time. I lose about 1-2 pounds per week on the diet, which is all fat. So there is no crazy “celebrity endorsed, eat cabbage for 5 days, drop 26 pounds” thing going on here. This is dedication and hard work to drop the weight.
At one point, I dropped about 20 pounds over about 8-10 weeks on this diet. Now I need to commit to it again and drive on until I hit my goal weight.
Back to the Financial Stuff
I have found several keys with this low carb diet that tie in with my financial goals. Here is a quick list:
• Alcohol slows or stops weight loss when eating low carb. I’ve been the most successful with this diet when I cut out booze. So out it goes. That’s a considerable savings each month.
• Processed carbs are expensive, not to mention loaded with sugar and chemicals. The transition to eating primarily fat and protein has cut down on the grocery bill.
• Eating fat keeps you from getting hungry all the time. So eating low carb, high fat means that I eat far less food than on the standard American diet. That also cuts down on the grocery bill.
• High fat is better than high protein on this diet. After you cut carbs, your body will transition to burning fat for fuel, protein is inefficient and will be burned last. Fat is generally cheaper than protein. I eat lots of butter, cheese, avocados, and eggs with low to moderate amounts of beef and chicken, which also cuts the grocery bill.
One more tangent…
When eating low carb, high fat, it’s important to eat high quality fat. In general that means to get your fat from grass-fed cows and not the factory farmed cows of mass production. I do the best I can in this department, but grass-fed is more difficult to find and costs more. I eat a lot of butter and that is from grass-fed cows. The other fats are from traditional sources for now.
Eventually I will try getting lots of my fat and protein from local farmers who use only grass-fed cows. There are two good ones near me. I need to get my finances on the right track before I splurge on that, though.
Here is an article that explains more about using fat for fuel. Beware, it goes very in depth and your eyes may glaze over.
I’ve Said Too Much
At this point, you have either checked out or you are the only reader left…and that’s my mom. Hi mom!
The point here is to show you that you can get unorthodox in your approach to being frugal. Don’t look at only cutting the cord or cutting out your morning coffee (that’s blasphemy anyway). Look at every area of your life and see where it makes sense to cut back…for you.
Look at me, I found booze and carbs could be cut out. I dropped my monthly expenses by getting frugal in a weird way, but it works for me. I bet you can find some unorthodox places to cut as well.
Leave a comment and tell me the most interesting thing you have cut from your budget in an effort to be frugal.
As always, check in on Twitter to interact and see what I’m up to lately, like running out of coffee because my wife and I forgot to stock up on k-cups.
We have a coffee emergency people!! I say again, a 4-alarm coffee emergency! This is not a drill. We are out of coffee and it’s Monday.
— Brian (@PBJBusiness) August 22, 2016