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Summary

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 32 with her husband and daughter. 

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day - as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends - they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over 70 percent of their joint take-home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog. 

In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a 66 acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it's also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don't stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture's promise that we can buy our way to "the good life". Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums. 

Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn't for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age 32. While not everyone wants to live in the woods or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life. 

©2018 Elizabeth Willard Thames (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Disappointing.

Might be useful if you're middle class and in debt. Not really a frugal book, more a story of well off people being sensible. If you're on a low income there is zero information that's useful, unless you have no knowledge of being frugal at all. Even then there are many more useful books than this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thoroughly enjoyed this book

A recommendation from a twitter account I follow. I would 100% recommend again.

Elizabeth and tells her story in such an open and inspiring way. She offers advice, some of this relates to US audience but there are many equivalent here in the U.K.

A great read.

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Inspirational

Loved the audiobook. I have been a long term reader of the blog and enjoyed learning more about Liz's back story. As a mom, of similar age to Liz, expecting baby number 2, being frugal will enable me to go back to work on a part time basis. Reading the book and the blog strengths my resolve to do this and gives me confidence that I can do this.

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Interesting and alternative

I’m always interested to hear stories from people who are living a little differently from the norm. If you’re craving something a bit different from your life, this an interesting and sometimes emotional account of the impact that frugality had on this particular family. It certainly made me think about aspects of my life and wether or not I’m living up to other people’s expectations or maximising my own potential happiness. It’s an enjoyable and thought provoking book and I would certainly recommend giving it a listen.

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Wonderful

I absolutely loved this book! I follow Lizs blog and have done so since 2014/2015. So wonderful to get the backstory to all her decisions. Highly recommend as a guide for living a life less ordinary!

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  • C. Brown
  • 17-03-18

Lovely memoir, great narration

The narrator does a fantastic job of capturing Liz's cadence and spirit. The book is bright, energetic, fun, and refreshing. More memoir than how-to, this book paints a picture of a decade-long approach to achieving one's dreams and discovering who you are and are meant to be.

Liz credits her privilege to how hey were able to do what they did, and is open and honest about the role of privilege in their lives and how that inspired them to do other things with their privilege that drink expensive coffee and buy expensive clothes. This kind of admission is a rare thing to find in "self made" stories, and I appreciated that she recognizes their approach won't work for everyone, but this is still a great, entertaining listen.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Aaron
  • 08-03-18

Great story and content

I thoughly enjoyed this memoir style story as it was very approchable and relevant. I enjoyed both the narrator and the writing voice that was full of wisdom and humor. A great book for some one interested in either the early retirement or minimalism movement.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Kay
  • 22-05-18

More of an autobiography than finance book

Downloaded this because I heard great things about their story from a few podcasts and thought it would tell the story of how they became financially independent. I am not a follower of their blog, so I don’t know or care about the frugalwoods personal lives per se, but wanted to hear how they achieved FI. After a few chapters of listening to what was more of a personal journal entry about college and moving to New York, getting jobs, etc. I grew bored. I started skipping ahead chapters in hopes to get to some meatier info, but a few chapters in and I learned very little and stopped listening. Maybe it picks up later but if you’re interested in learning more about FI I would suggest looking elsewhere.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Williams
  • 26-04-18

Very wordy for simple thoughts.

Oh my goossshhh the back story is killing me. It goes on and on and on and on and oooonnn . The information is good for ppl that have absolutely no money sense— but it’s mostly just common sense? I was hoping to get some cool money life hacks out of this book but all I’ve gotten is a life history lesson on the author.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Cecelia
  • 06-08-18

Self-congratulatory, pollyanna garbage

Actual tip in the book: if you're spending $300 on yoga, don't.

More spoilers: buy a $450k house in Cambridge mass as a source of rental income. Then you can quit your job!

Hang your clothes to dry, watch your thermostat and - gasp - use Craigslist for furniture.

There is absolutely nothing radical in here that you can't find in a quick Google search or common sense.

Plus the first 2/3 is fully a irrelevant personal history about the author's early career search.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Lemke
  • 23-04-18

No practicalities, just a story.

didn't get into any real detail at all, just a series of anecdotes. well written and entertaining for that it was.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Britney
  • 10-03-18

Excellent

Beautifully written, outstanding narrator. Very helpful and inspiring. I'll be reflecting on this story for a very long time! Thank you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kristin Swineford
  • 07-03-18

A refreshing take on personal finance

I just listened to this book in two days. Highly recommended for the money nerds out there!
Unlike a lot of finance books, this one reads like a novel and I truly appreciate the raw honestly of this author’s story. Well done.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Carolyn G.
  • 22-05-18

millennial discovers the world

A thoroughly bizarre and condescending exploration of how to 'budget' and invest by someone with tons of money. wide-eyed discoveries included that you don't have to buy all your baby stuff new and that you an omit vanity purchases. Offensive for its stupidity, arrogance, and egomaniac.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel Luna Scarano
  • 29-06-18

Good story but really annoying

I really like the ideas of frugalwoods, but she is such a type A worry wart that it’s really painful to listen to. Just a warning

1 of 1 people found this review helpful