Woman's Year-Long Frugality Results In $23,000 Saved

Cha Miñoza
Hands holding hudred dollar bills.
Unsplash | Alexander Mils

Giving up the small, and often unnecessary, luxuries of life can be life-changing, as one woman proved in her "no-spend challenge".

Michelle McGagh, a financial journalist in London, made news when she challenged herself to a life of frugality for one year. The experiment taught her to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, inspire other people, pay off her debt, and save $23,000.

Scroll down to see her story.

Taking Control Of Her Finances

After noticing that she had been spending too much on things like coffee, takeaway food, and clothing, McGagh decided to do an experiment to help take control of her finances.

Committing to the challenge, the Londoner started biking everywhere to save on gas and stopped shopping for new clothes, or any other inessential item. She kept reusing her clothes, wearing them until she couldn't anymore. Cinema trips, nights in the pub, gym memberships, and even little supermarket treats like a KitKat or a cheeky cheesecake was cut out from her budget.

While the little luxuries were no longer an option, McGagh prioritized spending on the essentials such as their mortgage, utilities, life insurance, charity donations, basic toiletries, broadband, and mobile phone bills. Groceries were cut back to just $35 a week.

Her Savings Started Growing

With her expenses significantly reduced, her savings started growing. McGagh observed her disposable income increasing, and she had more money to pay their mortgage.

"I’m grateful to have disposable income to save and feel I should make the most of it — I hope I have encouraged other people to reconsider their spending patterns too,” she explained in a Telegraph essay.

Extreme Frugality Isn't For Everyone

Extreme frugality is unconventional and McGagh's no-spend challenge didn't sit well with everyone. Some people accused her of poverty tourism, which she adamantly denied, explaining that it was a choice to live in extreme frugality.

"This experiment was not about living in poverty because poverty isn’t a choice. I could still pay my mortgage, bills and food. The last year has been an experiment in extreme frugality and choosing not to buy, rather than not having a choice.”

Inspiring Others To Escape Consumerism.

Money in a jar labeled "House Fund"
Unsplash | Sandy Millar

When the challenge was finished, McGagh was $23,000 richer. Her new way of life also taught her to live in the present and value more important things. McGagh's experience, along with actionable tips about finance and savings are detailed in her book The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lives More.

Learn more about avoiding the traps of consumerism and growing your savings in her TED Talk below: