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Top 10 of the Most and Least Frugal Things This Doctor Does

My perception is that most people think that I am very frugal…like really, very frugal. But I don’t think this is the case. I happen to think that I have a healthy balance between the frugal and non-frugal things that I do.

So, I thought it would be fun to list out the ten most and least frugal things that I do here.

frugal things I do

(And for the record, it’s really not the frugal things that I do, but the frugal things that we – Selenid and I do. We are generally on the same page about this stuff which is really important as we lay out here!)

Top 10 of the most and least frugal things that I do

Let’s go!

1. Most frugal – My car

I have a feeling that most people think I am overly frugal because of my car. And to be fair, I do talk about it a lot as an example of intentional spending.

The full car story is here.

But in short, I decided to buy a used Toyota rather than spend more money on a luxury car that the masses may consider more of a “doctor car.” Why? Because I am not a “car person.” I really just want something reliable. It didn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on something that wouldn’t bring me a commensurate amount of joy. So I didn’t.

And instead I went frugal on the car.

2. Least frugal – Lawn care

We will get to my home and where that falls on this list later on. But for now let’s focus on the lawn and landscaping around our home.

I hate landscaping. I think I was scarred as a kid being sent out to pick weeds all the time. But I really hate it. Even mowing the lawn.

So, we hired a company to mow our lawn and do all of our landscaping. It’s not cheap and it’s not frugal. But we budget for it and it works in our financial plan.

I know plenty of doctors who do these tasks on their own – either because they enjoy it or to be frugal. But not us…

3. Most frugal – Leaf care

While we are on the topic of lawn care, I refuse to pay for someone to clean leaves on our yard during the fall. And not because I do it myself. I also hate raking leaves.

But I just don’t get the point. Who cares enough about the leaves to fruitlessly shuffle them around the yard?

I also Googled it and leaving the leaves will allow them to compost and feed your lawn. Is that a rationalization? Yes. Am I okay with that? Also yes.

4. Least frugal – Education

By some stroke of magic, we live in an area of the Buffalo suburbs that is both low(er) tax and has a great school district.

But do we send our kids to the local school district that our taxes pay for? Nope! This was a decision that we spent a lot of time on. But ultimately we decided to send our kids to a private school that we felt was a better fit.

This was not a frugal decision! In our monthly expenses, child education is always near the top. But we are very happy with the decision so far. And we feel very fortunate to have the financial flexibility to even have this option.

5. Both most and least frugal – Our home

Our house definitely falls into both categories.

One the one side, it can only be called a doctor’s house. We came from living in a. small apartment in NYC with two kids, a dog, and COVID. When we moved to Buffalo, we wanted space. And while the conventional and generalizable advice would be to rent your first home, we decided to buy.

And buy we did. Every month, our biggest expense is our home mortgage and interest payment. So…not frugal in this sense.

But, on the flip side, we did buy the house very intentionally. And we bought it well below market value due to a combination of luck (pre-crazy housing market) and good negotiating/sticking to our numbers. Also, all of luxury furniture in the home was included and we continue to use that furniture today.

So…frugal in this sense. A little bit of both.

6. Most frugal – Spotify

I talk about my favorite songs in the OR a lot for a reason. I can’t really imagine operating without music.

However, I absolutely refuse to pay for Spotify Premium. Why? Principle.

Every 30 seconds of ads that I suffer makes me feel like I am winning this battle with big music streaming.

Prideful? Maybe. Do I get made fun of a lot by the residents and OR team? Yes. But am I gonna pay anytime soon? No way!

7. Least frugal but trying to become more frugal – DoorDash

My favorite meal remains cereal.

But, we don’t have cereal every meal. And I have to admit that Selenid and I don’t cook as much as we used to. Chalk that up to having 2 toddlers that really sap our energy during their whole bath and bedtime routine.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for us to stagger downstairs, exhausted and hungry, deciding we are too tired to cook. Or drive for pick up. So we DoorDash instead.

And man, DoorDash fees are insane!

We are definitely not frugal about this. But it is something we are working on. Unlike other non-frugalities, this one doesn’t completely line up with our values.

8. Most frugal – Clothes

I am going to appropriately point out that I am only talking about myself in this category. Much like cars, I’m not a big luxury clothing person.

When I am home, I am always casual. At work, I am largely in scrubs like these. For formal clothes, I am looking to be comfortable and in style enough. But I could care less about brand or things like that (there are other areas where I may be brand-conscious but this is not one…)

As a result, I really don’t spend much on clothes at all. I tend to ask for gift cards for my birthday/Christmas and then buy anything necessary then.

And I’m not saying that Selenid is super brand conscious or buys a ton of clothes or something. I just know she’s gonna be shaking her head at me when she reads this…

9. Least frugal – Self improvement

I never was one to worry about self improvement. Or to really spend any time or money formally on it. And how did that work out? Well, I ended my training burned out following goals that were not my own.

But then I changed.

In the past 2-3 years, I have committed more time and spent more money on self-improvement that ever before. This includes things like books (many of which I discuss on Sorta Random Sunday), courses, meetings, and coaching.

And guess what? The return on that investment has been incredible. Non-frugal for the win!

10. Most frugal – Toys (making way for something not frugal…experiences!)

This goes for us as well as for our kids.

We have really begun to focus more on experiences rather than things. In fact, it’s become fair to say that we are downright frugal when it comes to things and toys for us and the kids (Don’t worry they have plenty of toys!).

However, we are reallocating money and are much more willing to spend bigger sums on experiences. This started with our recent vacation to the Bahamas!

And we are very happy doing this. It aligns much more with our values and joy as we continue to discover.

Does frugality matter?

I honestly don’t know.

Looking back, a lot of the frugal things I do probably don’t move the financial needle much. Some other do. Plus you can see that in some areas we are not frugal at all!

Like everything in life, it comes down to balance. As high income earners, we are blessed financially with the ability to be non-frugal with more than the average person. So spending money intentionally is okay. But we still cannot totally eschew frugality.

And this is a concept that is tough for many physicians. They spend as much or more than they make. And a vicious cycle is created at the expense of financial freedom.

I was headed down this path until I began my financial education and became passionate about helping all doctors reach financial freedom. And I can tell you that the path to financial freedom is much better!

Here are some resources to help!

What do you think? What are you frugal about? And non-frugal about? Do you think it makes a difference? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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