December 6, 2009

How less than 20 hours a Year can Net you a $900,000 a Retirement Nest egg

Basic frugal living can save a substantial amount of money in the long run. I do a lot of pretty simple frugal things in my life that add up to make a sizable financial impact.

Below I give some examples of how savings from basic frugal living can add up
for you.

Here are 4 basic things I do in my daily life to live frugally:

Bagging my lunch :

I bag my lunch 4 days a week. It costs roughly $2.50 to make a lunch compared to about $6 to eat out. I could have a cheaper bagged lunch but I like higher quality lunch.
Time : 5 min x 50 weeks = 250 min = 4.17 hrs
Savings: $3.5 / day x 230 workdays = $805 / year
$ / hr = $193

Mowing my own lawn :
I actually enjoy mowing my own lawn. Its good exercise and a good excuse to do something useful outside.
Time : 20 min x 20 weeks = 400 min = 6.67 hr
Savings : $25 x 20 weeks = $500 / year
$ / hr = $74.9

Washing my car:
I almost always wash my own car. I don't wash it very frequently to be honest and I'm just ballparking a rough guess on how often I do it.
Time : 30 min x 6 times = 180 min = 3 hr
Savings : $5 x 6 = $30 / year
$/ hr = $10

Shopping thrift stores for clothing:
I might spend a half hour hunting through the racks and end up with 1 maybe 2 good items. Lets say I average 30 minutes per item and I pick up 8 items a year. I spend about $5 per item and would probably spend $20-30 for them new so figure a $20 average savings.
Time : 30 min x 10 times = 300 min = 5hr
Savings : $20 x 10 = $200 / year
$/hr = $40

Combined impact

Altogether I spend 18.84 hours doing these tasks. Thats not much time really. On average its less than 30 minutes a week. In total I save $1,535 per year. That works out to $81/hr savings in after tax dollars. Thats a pretty good use of time don't you think??

Now what is the impact of this over the long run? If I started this at age 24 and I do theses things for 40 years and invest all that money and get 10% annual returns, if inflation is about 3% annually then at the end I'll have just under $900,000 after 40 years! Of course I'd have to adjust that for inflation as well so it would be equivalent to about $280,000 in todays dollars.

Some notes: The math here is meant to be realistic and drawn from my own life, but these are 'off the top of my head' numbers meant for example sake. I don't know if its really realistic to assume 10% growth on the investments and 3% inflation rates, but I had to pick numbers. For reference, if you assume 8% growth then you'd end up with over $550,000. I haven't considered the tax implications of your investments so you can assume the money is taxable.

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