My mother always said, “a penny saved is a penny earned” as she sat at our dining room table clipping coupons from a stack of mailers before her weekly trip to the grocery store. Growing up, I would always roll my eyes at this statement and grumpily revolt when my parents’ frugal ways got in the way of my plans. In our family, most of our clothing was hand-me-downs from cousins and siblings, birthday celebrations were modest affairs, and none of us got sparkling new cars when we turned 16. As a child I despised frugality to my core, lusting after shiny toys and the more luxurious lifestyles of my friends.

However, I hit a turning point after graduating from college and starting a new job as an accountant at a public CPA firm. The hours were long and the pay comparatively meager – after rent and bills, there wasn’t a ton of money left over for extravagances or even saving for a house. I began to realize that my parents were, in fact, very wise people. It took a lot of effort to earn money, but with the swipe of a credit card or an impulsive shopping spree, the little I accumulated disappeared in the blink of an eye. When it came to finances, it felt like I was treading water; I managed to keep up with payments and student loans, but could never take the next stroke forward towards financial independence. That’s when I got into budgeting.

I got married seven years ago, and my husband and I realized, at the pace of our savings, it would take us 10 years to afford a down payment on a house. We were spending too much and not stashing enough of the cash, so we decided to get serious about frugal living. Today, we’ve paid off all our student loans, have zero credit card debt, and have almost finished paying off the mortgage on our first home. Curious how we did it? On our blog, we share tips and tricks that we have used to save money, pay down debt, and gain our financial independence.