I Still Wear Shirts That Have Holes In Them

Over the last year, many people have asked how my life has changed with the increase in our business income. We’re still the same people, just with high incomes. I still wear shirts that have holes, and I am still conscious of spending money. Most people we meet have no idea what we make each…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

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I'm often asked why I am interested in being frugal even though I have a high income. To me, it's a no brainer. Frugal living tips save me money AND time.Over the last year, many people have asked how my life has changed with the increase in our business income.

We’re still the same people, just with high incomes.

I still wear shirts that have holes, and I am still conscious of spending money.

Most people we meet have no idea what we make each month, and most assume that we inherited a lot of money (since we RV full-time) or that we are hippies (funnily enough- also because we RV full-time, haha).

Recently, I had someone tell me that they’re surprised I don’t live on a plane (and own it), and another person thought it was funny that I still use coupons and look for discounts.

 

I like to be frugal.

For some reason, there’s a myth that people earning high incomes are not allowed to be frugal anymore. In fact, on an article of mine, 30+ Ways To Save Thousands Each Month, I had numerous people email or comment with questions like why would I cut cable or ever eat at home.

I have even had people tell me that I shouldn’t be allowed to use discounts, use coupons, shop second hand, or anything like that. That is just crazy! Why can’t I be frugal if I want to be?

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To me, it’s a no brainer- I still don’t want to be wasteful, and if I can find ways to save money, then I will.

You won’t become wealthy if you spend all your money. We still have financial goals, and we are still realistically trying to save as much as we can, while still living fun lives.

To me, finding ways to save money isn’t just about the money, it’s also about limiting waste, being more of a minimalist, and finding what truly makes me happy (which I realize more and more means that I don’t need to spend money on material things).

Here are some of the frugal (and possibly cheap) things I still do:

  1. I wear shirts that have holes in them. These are my favorite shirts, so I don’t care if there’s a hole or two!
  2. I have a very minimal wardrobe, and I hardly ever go shopping.
  3. I don’t have cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu, or anything else. We have a nice digital antenna in our RV that can find several channels wherever we are.
  4. We live in an RV which allows us to travel affordably for around the same amount as the house we used to own.
  5. I use the Ibotta app to save money at the grocery store without having to clip coupons.
  6. Instead of driving, I ride my bike to the grocery store if it’s close by.
  7. I pretty much only drink water, and sometimes I make my own passion fruit tea at home.
  8. I think about small or big purchases for at least 24 hours before making them.
  9. We have free entertainment outdoors by hiking, rock climbing, cycling, and more.
  10. I still use Ebates for cash back when shopping online.
  11. I don’t grocery shop when I’m hungry.
  12. I do not pay ATM fees.
  13. My favorite shoes are a $10 pair of sandals from Forever21.
  14. I use a fuel app for my RV to make sure that I’m paying the lowest price for fuel. My tank holds 80 gallons so even just $.25 makes a huge difference in price!
  15. We don’t have memberships to anything, like a gym, etc.
  16. I still churn credit cards for their rewards bonuses. We recently had a month with a lot of expenses so I signed up for three credit cards with rewards bonuses. Those bonuses earned me around $1,500 in cash.
  17. I plan my meals and eat at home as much as I can.
  18. I use every last squeeze of toothpaste and drop of lotion or shampoo that I can.
  19. One of my favorite things to do at home is to rewatch my favorite TV series. I’ve watched LOST completely 3 or 4 times now, and we’re currently rewatching True Blood.
  20. Wes picks up every coin he finds (once when we were off-roading, he picked up a penny that was tails side up- that ended horribly so we don’t do that anymore!).
  21. We use coupons if we come across them.
  22. I’m always looking for deals on items that I normally buy.

What frugal living things do you do? Do you believe that people with a higher income can’t be frugal and take part in the many frugal living tips?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. LaMesha

    This is great. I love Ebates and using coupons. The meal planning gets me though. Definitely something i want to work on more in the new year because it gets pricy and adds up quickly.

  2. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Hahaha, I identify with the clothes thing so much. If my clothes get a hole in them, I just do a slapdash job of mending the hole. I haven’t bought clothes in quite a while, which is a feat for a recovering fashionista.

    I really do believe that, in order to live frugally, you have to actually ENJOY living that way. Otherwise you just feel deprived and sad. I personally love it. I don’t see why people should adjust their lifestyle once their income increases, even to a higerh degree like yours.

  3. I churn credit cards too for the bonus, specifically travel cards for airline miles and hotel points so we can travel cheaply. My husband and I have free Southwest flights through the end of 2017 and we didn’t pay a dime out of pocket to get them other than charging our regular expenses on the cards. I know churning credit cards is a little controversial in the PF world, so I’m glad to see another blogger also do so responsibly!

    1. I love credit cards points. They are the BEST! πŸ™‚

  4. You shouldn’t be ALLOWED to use coupons? WHAT?! That’s totally crazy talk. I guess we should tell Warren Buffet he has to move out of his old Omaha house and buy a mansion on the Cali coast, hah.

  5. Lindsey

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone saying you shouldn’t be allowed to use coupons lol. That’s a new one. I think some people assume frugality is some kind of end goal and not a way of life.

  6. That’s great that you still like to be frugal. No one should be able to tell others whether they have the right to be frugal or not, lol. Some of my favorite shirts have small holes in them too but I just can’t let them go. Glad to hear I’m not the only one πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I’m currently wearing a sweater that I bought when I used to work in retail. That means it’s probably 8 years old – and it’s my favorite! πŸ™‚

  7. I always love your perspective. A wise, and wealthy, person once told me that “People who live like they have money, won’t have it for very long.” There shouldn’t ever be limitations on people who can and cannot use discounts!

    Most of the clothes that I wear are older, and the ones I get new are nearly always on sale! The only reason I don’t wear shirts that have holes is because I fix the holes! Nearly every rip, tear or hole in a piece of clothing can be repaired.

    1. Thank you Rachel πŸ™‚ Yes, that quote is very true!

  8. There are a lot of people that have become wealthy by using coupons and being frugal. It’s a way of life and wonderful to continue, even after building wealth. You are being smart with your money!

  9. Gina

    I think such people haven’t really come to the understanding that the surest path to having some bank is to…keep as much of what you ordinarily bring in, in YOUR bank account as you can. Not transfer it to someone else’s.

    I don’t really think in terms of being frugal but I think about value. Trying to spend only where it brings me value, and to get the best value there that I can.

    We typically take $20+ off our grocery bill each week through store specials + coupons. We actually find it challenging to find coupons we’d use because we don’t buy a lot of processed foods. Still, we manage to work those deals.

    I have a few expensive pieces of clothing to “put on appearances” at the office, but most of the time I work at home. My idea of clothing staples are hoodies and sweatpants, which I can get for $10-15 new (I do have a bias in that I don’t like wearing used clothes.) I wear everything out until it’s too honey to be decent in public.

  10. I too was amazed at the whole “you shouldn’t be allowed” to be frugal argument. One thing that stands out to me was a Dave Ramsey quote that said something like “Most millionaires drive used cars.” That made a ton of sense to me.

    I admire your frugality, and I think I’ll share this post along with whatever your most recent income report is with the next person that tells me that my making money means I should live at or beyond my means….

  11. I’ve learned that although not being wasteful can be learned, it’s a lot easier to apply and maintain that philosophy if it’s ingrained in your personality. I always have to correct people that view my frugality as being cheap, when in truth the engineer in me values efficiency. Money should be applied efficiently no matter how much you have. It’s definitely possible to take it to an extreme, and you have to balance enjoying life against being too restrictive, but you should never lose sight of the value of money. I have no issues spending a bunch of money on travel or another type of experience, because that’s what I value, the key is to establish a lifestyle metric and stick to it.

    1. Yes, exactly! That’s how I feel as well.

  12. Michael

    I am puzzled. Why shouldn’t a higher income person be frugal? It is not your income that makes you wealthy – it is what you get to keep after all expenses that makes you one πŸ™‚

    I love my old t-shirts too. There is no reason to toss them unless of course you choose to.

  13. This is great! It reminds me of the founder of the clothing line Patagonia (makers of $400 jackets) who always says “We want our customers to realize that things get better with time. If something breaks you fix it. You don’t throw it away and buy a new one.”

    I always use discount gift cards. In 2016 alone I saved $1,000 on eating out, gas,and big purchases.

    Cheers!

    1. Patagonia is one of my favorite brands – that’s what most of my clothing is! πŸ™‚

  14. Natasha

    Teach the people Michelle! I’m so focused now on protecting my money because I learned the hard way. It’s amazing the amount of money I’ve wasted over the years, not on myself, but helping other people who were making bad money decisions. Why did I allow myself to be manipulated? Why were they comfortable in threatening my livelihood because they didn’t pay me back? Why was I the answer to their prayers? All questions and more I had to ask myself and forgive myself about. I might as well had taken my money to the shredder. Keep being an inspiration!

  15. Damie

    I am a firm believer in purchasing secondhand and diy wherever I can – household cleaning supplies, hair products, etc. I did it when I had more money, I’m doing it now in the rough patch I’m in, and I will do it when I’m out. It’s not just frugality: I know most things are wants and not needs, and that it’s kinder to the environment to use what we already have.

  16. Nothing wrong with being frugal and not wasteful, for sure, but with no debt, and if indeed, you make close to $100k per month from your blog then I would live a little.

    Deals are fine but clipping coupons? Why not give those to others in need?

    Just me! πŸ™‚

    Mark

    1. Whoever said I wasn’t living? And, I never said I clipped coupons either. You may want to read my blog a little more πŸ™‚

  17. Sarah

    Thanks for this. I’ve been so discouraged today. This boosted my spirits.

    I shop at my grocery store online so I can save what items I normally buy to a list and watch for them to go on sale. Most of my items never have coupons because I buy generic or shop the perimeter of the store.

    Also when I do this, I pick up my order at the store and don’t even have to go in and it’s free!

    1. I need to start grocery shopping online – I’ve heard so many great things about it!

  18. This is great list, Michelle. i would say, its an eye opener for high spenders.

    Thanks for sharing…

  19. Maya

    That’s so funny, I was just writing an outline for a post about things I don’t spend money on anymore. I do a lot of the same things you do. I think there are too many people out there who start making a lot of money and spend it all. I don’t ever want to end up like that.

  20. It’s your money, you can do with it what you want! As the old saying goes “Waste not, want not.” I’m of the opinion that why would you spend extra money on something if you don’t have to, regardless of how much money you have? You do you! πŸ™‚

  21. I’m becoming more frugal as life moves me along, and there is no shame in clipping coupons. I watch too many shows where people send less than $10 on groceries, and I think its smart. I’m not a fan of big corporations, so if I could get things for free I would go the extra mile. If someone here knows how to that in Canada, let me know!
    I’m also wondering if you’ve lost friends or family because of your income… like some lottery winners, I’m sure some people show up in your life expecting a handout, or new car lol.

    1. I LOVE those coupon shows πŸ™‚

  22. I use coupons. I buy 95% of my clothes in a 4-5 hour shopping trip day to resale shops and Goodwill every 18-24 months (usually less than $100 on clothes total including shoes each year unless I’m splurging on something specific that I’ll wear forever like a simple dress or good tennis shoes). I also think at least 24 hours about any unnecessary purchase. We spend on quality so we don’t have to buy the same thing multiple times in a year. Frugality isn’t just for the broke! πŸ™‚

  23. Yaz

    Great post Michelle, it’s great to see that you can still enjoy the simple things in life even when you’re earning great money πŸ™‚

    I’m converting a van to live in at the moment and always researching ways to keep the dream going – thanks for proving it’s possible!

    1. So awesome! You’ll love van life πŸ™‚

  24. I do a few of the things that are on your list. I plan on using more coupons next year.

  25. Frugal without a cause. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a big part of what got the two of you to this point. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  26. Ryan

    When I hear about a person who makes a high income who is also frugal then to me that’s a person that I know is going to be able to keep their money for the long term. Making lots of money is only one part of the equation. You gotta know how to keep it ok nice you get it too! Good job Michelle! Keep being the example!

    1. Thanks πŸ™‚ I appreciate your comment. Thanks for being a reader!

  27. Carrie

    The whole not being able to use coupons what a joke. I try and use them every time I buy groceries. As far as clothing my daughter just borrowed a pair of polar fleece socks that are over 20 years old. I got them in 9th grade as a Christmas gift she wondered where I gotten them and wanted a pair. So funny.

    1. Love your sock story. Awesome!

  28. Michael Murray

    So. You shouldn’t try to save money, just because you make a lot of money. Bet those same people don’t feel that way, about Government waste! There’s a great book, by a Dr. Stanly. His first name escapes me at the moment. but it is a study of TRUE Millionaires. Most of those folks live a lot like You do. I was fortunate enough to work at a car lot, the first time I read that book. the owner, owned five lots in total. I ask Him if I could pick His brain about what they said was fact in the book. He was loaded by the way. Turns out, He lived around the corner, from my parents, still shopped at good will and told Me, the only reason he got a new car every year. was that he got them wholesale and People expected that, in His business. But he preferred to drive his old 1979 pick up, most of the time, when not on business. He scrimped and saved to get where he was at the time, more or less raising his siblings, after his father died at a young age. What most People don’t understand is, You and People like him are the 99% of the 1%.

    1. Love love LOVE your comment. Thanks for sharing.

  29. What do you think of True Blood? We started the series last year and LOVED IT! Now we’re on to Grimm! I’m liking it so far and can’t wait for our road trip up to Portland later this week to check out the area where it was filmed. I agree with your viewpoint on frugality and have found that making more money has made me more frugal. I’m more aware of money if that makes sense and it just seems wasteful to spend money just because we have it. We don’t pay for things we don’t need even if we can afford them.

    1. True Blood is one of my favorite shows ever. I’m sad that I finally finished it (I never watched the final season until recently).

  30. I sew to get rid of the holes lol !! I do many of these things as well. If we go out to eat I try to only go to a place we have a coupon for. If gas is “expensive” to me I will only fill up a partial tank and then when it’s low I fill up the whole tank. I hardly ever rent or go to the movies, the library is my best friend!

    1. Haha, I need to learn how to sew better!

  31. I have seen many people who throw their old clothes just because they’ve started earning good income. Even I don’t like such people who ditch things which helped them to grow big, i still wear old clothes no matter how ugly they look. Buying new clothes is just a waste of money according to me, why should one spend money unnecessarily on buying clothes when the old ones are still usable. Thanks for pointing out such a basic thing which people ignore.

    1. Yes, if the old clothes are still usable then I’ll definitely still wear them πŸ™‚

  32. Kaitlynn Marie

    I use my sisters Hulu and Netflix accounts. If I don’t have to pay for them, why should I? We live together, so it’s not that big of a deal. I’m also currently wearing a shirt that has several holes that was a hand-me-down from my older brother that I’ve had for about 12-14 years or so? He moved out when he was 16 and I got several of the things he left behind, and he’s going to be 31 in January so I’ve had it for a very long time, and he had it for a while before that. I actually have a few shirts I got from him from that time still. I am a firm believer in keeping things until you physically cannot use them anymore. Got a pair of dress pants that I’ve had since I was 13 also, come to think of it.

    1. Yes, same here! Plus, if you still enjoy it then why would you get rid of it?

  33. Tyler DeBroux

    I love this post! I have the same outlook as you when it comes to spending money. I enjoy spending money on life experiences but get very little satisfaction from material things. I also primarily only drink water and also a couple of glasses of milk throughout the day. Other types of drinks such as soft drinks are generally overpriced, not to mention unhealthy. I’ve found that the best method to save money me is simply by putting a certain amount of my income into an account which I don’t allow myself to touch. With the remaining income I use it to pay any bills and any basic living necessities. Then i use whats left over to put towards a future trip, a class, or some other type of experience.

    1. Yes, I pretty much only drink water as well. A lot of people think it’s just me being cheap, but I like water the most! πŸ™‚

  34. christine

    I’m a little late to the party but I’m just getting back into reading blogs again (and hopefully soon starting up my own again) BUT I LOVE this post. My dad (a very wealthy guy) is one of the most frugal people I know. He drives older cars until he HAS to replace them and rarely spends money on frivolous things and cooks almost every meal at home for his family of 5. He does this so that it frees up money for him to spend on things that matter to him, like travel and his family. It’s nice to hear that even though you’ve increased your income so much that you’re still able to live a simple lifestyle! πŸ™‚ As always, I love reading your blog!

    1. Thanks Christine! Your dad sounds like an interesting guy πŸ™‚

  35. Can’t wear used clothes – that’s ridiculous and a problem with the state of the world now! More people should be reusing and buying second hand instead of new things being manufactured and damaging the environment constantly. Plus I think it should be celebrated if high earners do this and promote it – then perhaps the low earners will copy and stop trying to keep up a lifestyle they can’t afford. It could help people avoid debt!