Confessions Of A Frugal Millionaire

Unless you are an heir to a big fortune or you have won the lottery, you have to work hard to have money.  To accumulate wealth, you have to make more money than you spend.  The key is to keep your expenses low.  And there will be sacrifices.  Nothing crazy though.

At the Root of Good household, our clothes are not from the mall, we don’t dine out at Ruth’s Chris, or deck out our split level home with the latest from Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma.  We choose not to quench our thirst with Dom Perignon or Dasani.  Yes, we have made sacrifices.  At first we balked at some of these sacrifices, but we gave them a try.  You never know until you try right?

We have decreased our expenses by carrying our lunches in disposable plastic grocery bags (which also make great suitcases).  We refill disposable water bottles and reuse disposable straws and plastic utensils.

We keep our lawn care expenses low as well. If the weeds are pretty, why waste money on weed killer?  Makes no sense!  Dandelions are so pretty and the kids love making wishes and blowing on them!  We also keep expenses low buying store brand and finding substitutes where available.  We’ve substituted ground turkey for ground beef and pork, and canned tuna for fresh tuna when we make sushi.

In this turbulent era where it’s difficult to find the foods you need at the grocery store, and grocery budgets are tighter than ever, we have been forced to make one more difficult decision. Our portfolio is off more than a half million dollars from its recent high point. Needless to say, we had to make some sharp cuts now before our early retirement is totally ruined.

So let me just spit it out.

We gave up potted meat for canned cat food.  We confess, we struggled with this idea for a while.  But it dawned on us.  Our cat loves this tasty treat, why shouldn’t we give it a try?  If it’s that bad, then why are we feeding it to another family member?  Are we that much more superior than another living being?  We may face criticism for this culinary choice since we are trusting the tastes of our own cat, who happens to enjoy a steady diet of serendipitously obtained avian and rodent innards.

Much of that criticism will undoubtedly come from those who haven’t even tried a heaping spoonful of the puree’d goodness that comes in those small 5.5 ounce cans.  You wouldn’t trust criticism from a movie critic or a book reviewer who has never seen the movie or read the book would you?  In the same way, we can reject all of this criticism, for they don’t know the subject which they criticize.


Cat food should really be the frugal family’s go-to choice for nutritious protein.  At less than a quarter of the price of steak, seafood, pork and chicken, you can easily feed a family of five for under two dollars.  It comes pre-cooked in convenient ready-to-serve containers.  Just pop the lid off, dig in with a spoon, and you’ll feel like you are in heaven (without losing all nine lives!).

The versatility of cat food is often overlooked.  You don’t normally associate it with fanciness (unless you are buying that expensive top shelf Fancy Feast stuff – but who can afford that?!).  But try this.  The next time you throw a dinner party for your friends or business associates, carefully peel off a few labels from some cat food and then make a tray of cat food for your guests.  Serve right out of the shiny silver cat food cans.  Get some really small spoons for that extra fancy touch.  Enjoy the rich, creamy texture smeared across crackers, baguette slices, or toast.  Good accompanying cheeses are Gruyère, cheddar, or American. And don’t forget to serve with tooth picks. Those are fancy, too, and allow for excellent dental hygiene if any cat food gristle takes refuge in the confines between your molars.


Foie gras. Or is it? Chew on that one for a bit.
Foie gras. Or is it? Chew on that one for a bit.    // photo credit: Luigi Anzivino / wikimedia


The texture and flavor of cat food comes very close to the finest foie gras imported from France.  Considering the cost savings, it’s really a no-brainer to substitute the feline food cousin of foie gras.  At under $.10 per ounce, cat food is 99% cheaper than most foie gras which tends to retail at prices of $10.00 per ounce or more.  If you can find a better way to squeeze out 99% of the cost of luxury goods, please let me know in the comments below.  I’m offering a whole can of “foie gras” for whoever offers the best suggestion.

So far, I haven’t taken a side in the great debate on the best part of the cat food.  Some champion the translucent jelly surrounding the more firm meaty bulk in the middle.  Others prefer the meaty paste itself and care little about the jellied juices lining the inner surface of the can.  To me, it’s all the same.  Dinner.

True frugality comes in when we buy the store brand cat food.  Or you can buy in bulk at Costco.  They come in a variety of flavors.  There are so many to choose from, Ocean Whitefish & Tuna, Mixed Grill, Turkey & Giblets, Turkey & Gravy, and the list goes on.  But our favorite is Sea Captains Choice.  You can literally dine on a different meat flavor every day of the week.  Surprisingly, we find some of the flavors taste better than potted meat.  Cha-ching! You can taste the savings!

If cats can enjoy human food, why can't humans enjoy cat food?
If cats can enjoy human food, why can’t humans enjoy cat food?

I can hear some of you laughing and maybe even gagging.  Remember, we are not trying to keep up with the Jones.  Yes, there are sacrifices, but if you like it, why not? And you’re saving money! Why should you care what others think?  We choose to live how we want to live and fortunately our sensible and frugal lifestyle has led us to an early financial independence.  Every time we hear “ewww, you’re eating cat food?!”, we write it off to that person’s jealousy manifesting itself in an insult vaguely veiled in the form of a question (like they are contestants on Jeopardy).

I hope you all enjoy this insightful post on April 1st.  Happy April Fool’s Day!  Keep all these tips in mind throughout the rest of the year and you, too, can be a frugal millionaire one day (and survive the current difficult times). Meow.  For other another great money-saving read on budget foods, check out Jonathan Swift’s recent essay, “A Modest Proposal“.


What sacrifices have you made?  Are you brave enough to choose the road less taken?

Also, happy April Fool’s Day! 



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  1. So funny you should say that!
    We’ve been using dog food pellets in lieu of Cocoa Puffs for years now. Add a little milk, and our 3 year-old gets all the great taste of cereal, but with more protein and less sugar. Good stuff!

  2. I do the plastic grocery bag lunch thing too, even when I am working on the road living out of hotel rooms. Some of the guys I work with poke fun at it, but hey, that’s a savings of $7 a day over the plant cafeteria meals AND I don’t have to wait in a stupid long line for my lunch.

    1. They can poke fun at our brown-bag lunches. I’ll poke fun at their ridiculously expensive, leased castles on wheels.

      Who will be financially free earlier?

    2. Nothing wrong with a plastic grocery bag for lunch. It’s a convenient and disposable method of transporting multiple lunch items. And you don’t have to clean it after you use it.

  3. We use lunch kits. They last for years and tend to insulate the goods inside from the elements (too hot or ?&*% cold) better than plastic bags. The only time I’ve seen catfood for humans was at a party when somebody as a joke put some out on the table with the rest of the party snacks. The only person who actually ate some was my friend’s girlfriend who was unaware – she thought it was paté(which I guess it is…).

  4. Have you done a cost benefit analysis to see if eating cats is superior to eating cat food? This is the kind of hard-hitting blogging that I come to see, not this easy stuff. Like, duh, there’s a saying ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ for a reason 🙂

    1. That’s true, cats are pretty cheap or even free. Of course after we exhaust our supply of neighborhood cats, we would inevitably have to turn our attentions to man’s other best friend. Woof!

  5. I’ve been on guard for April Fool’s Day pranks all day, but this post had me almost to the end. Well done, sir!

    1. Not right now. Do you know how hard it is to find Fancy Feast in stores at this point? Much easier (and cheaper) to just by the human stuff. Lol. But seriously, my cat is trying to talk me into switching to human food…. I am rationing the cat food since it is delayed from Amazon and almost non-existent in stores. :'( Think I could use baby food prep ideas for cat food? They really don’t eat a ton.

  6. Outstanding post!! Had me laughing all the way through it. Mad props to You and Mrs. RoG. Now, you want to talk Zombie Apocalypse, I’m your man! And that’s not only hypothetical. There’s a reason I have chickens.

    As far as the cost-benefit analysis goes, cat’s are useless for food, but dogs…you can teach dogs to hunt. Way better!!

    1. Shhhhh… Better keep your knowledge and preparation for the ZA quiet. Otherwise everyone will know who’s house to raid when the ZA does happen! It’s like the first rule of Fight Club.

  7. This was an April Fool’s joke in case anyone didn’t pick that up from reading the article or the comments.

    As far as I know we have never willingly consumed cat food.

  8. I have to say, I completely fell for it. I was sitting here, reading the article with a look of disgust on my face all the way to the end.

    Beings it is April 3rd now, I can say that my wife did not fool me this year. She usually tries, and has succeeded in making me believe she wrecked the car, was in the hospital, etc in various years. Now, every April 1st morning, I tell her, “I will not believe a single word you say today.”

    1. Haha awesome. I edited the post to make sure everyone knows it’s an April Fool’s joke. I wonder how many readers I’ll lose if they think we really eat cat food?

      1. Great question! My mind immediately started thinking about the show “Extreme Cheapskates”. Some of them have good concepts, but most take it way over the edge. I was just thinking, “Huh… Well to each his own I guess.”

        1. I watched a few episodes of that show and thought the same thing. Or more often “wow, they are saving $0.07 per day and doing something gross or spending a huge amount of time to achieve those savings.

  9. I have never tasted cat food to my knowledge, but I grew up on Brunschweiger (liver pate). Probably similar.
    I was fine until you suggested canned tuna for sushi. Seriously doubting your foodie cred at that point. Made the move to cat food seem, well, not so surprising.

    1. The canned tuna in sushi is a rare treat! It’s over twice the price of cat food after all. And in terms of quality, one a small step up from fancy feast’s Captain’s Choice Dinner.

  10. I fell for that hook, line and sinker! I’m going to give myself a bit of credit as it’s the 12th April, and have completely forgotten about the possibility of April Fools.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only post I fell for. (Lost credit again!).

    Nice post. 🙂


  11. Well played. I did picture the RoG family cleaning off the well served pictures of “Foie gras” the only frugal way possible – by consumption, with a small silver dinner fork of course. The post hinted at the stealth millionaire rubric as well – nicely played.
    Just checked, Nepeta cataria is cheaper than other stimulants, including most forms of caffeine. I ordered some grow lights and will be setting up my hydroponic garden today.

  12. I went from thinking you had gone off the deep end to the biggest laugh I have had in a month! I enjoy your blog and perspective on life.

  13. I hear they even come in varieties for your stage in life. Weight loss version, fancy feast, and even a special elderly version. The bigger question, why waste money on wet cat food when the dry stuff is cheaper.

  14. Bravo, bravo! Nice one. Best April Fool’s post I’ve seen yet.
    Cat food smells awful especially on our cat’s breath. No thanks….

    1. We’re living large with the $3-4 boxes of 40 count kitchen trash bags we use for all cans. We even get the fancy kind with a drawstring! Literally throwing money away but we can afford it I guess 🙂

  15. Aw I read this too late in the day and knew it was a April Fool’s joke. I never sniffed cat food or even opened a tin, but I am curious about the dog food. They have the dog food logs where they pack a huge amount into a dense log…it smells like expired summer sausage! Curious…

  16. I read this and for the first few paragraphs was like, that is so weird, I didn’t know that.. and possibly went a little too far in being frugal?

    It then dawned on me it was April 1st. Easter hides it well :)!

  17. Nice joke! I was fooled for awhile, and kinda grossed out I have to admit! But then again, cats are pretty picky. Maybe canned cat food is delicious? Nah!

  18. lol that was a good one there. I almost fell for it! Keeping groceries expenses low is also one of the challenges of our household but with all due respect, we probably won’t venture into pet food although I hear that dog biscuits are pretty delicious!

  19. An oldie but goodie here Justin! Good frugal money-saving tips.

    Next year I think you need to step up your game — you shouldn’t be paying anything for meat!

    It’s literally free — pre-killed and lying all over the road! There’s a huge variety too — deer, possum, squirrels, maybe even the occasional livestock animal. Just cut off the bad/rotten parts and you’re good to go! 😉

    1. Mr. Tako, don’t joke. I am from North Carolina myself. During college a buddy had a summer job working for NCDOT – two man crew, main responsibility was cleaning road kill off highways. He claims no less than 20% of incidents were “cleaned up” before they arrived. Said they usually responded within a few hours.

      1. lol. This actually happened. My dad saw a deer got hit by a car. He brought it home and we had it for dinner. He’ll do the same with squirrels, raccoons, rabbits and any other animals freshly killed.

      2. There is a waiting list here in Alaska for people to get a road kill moose…Those babies can fill a freezer and then some. FYI, moose burgers are excellent, no joke.

        1. I’d eat it. Or at least try it. I bet it takes a long time for a dead moose to go bad, especially if the weather is chilly.

          The closest I’ve come to intentionally eating roadkill is finding a 12 pack of Yoohoo chocolate milk cans busted open in the middle of the road. I was going to pick them up and get rid of them. Then I realized 5-6 of them weren’t busted or leaking at all. So I rinsed them off and we drank them. The cans were scraped up and had some dents but the seal was still good. No shame in that kind of “road kill” 🙂

  20. Dammit! I need to start reading these blog posts before blindly following advice. We’ve been taste testing cat food all afternoon. My kids were crying but we are so motivated to be frugal that we didn’t even question the validity of the post. Well I guess you got me😞

  21. Reading this on April 4th so I give myself a bit of a pass, but you totally got me.. had to post to give you kudos. As I was reading I thinking to myself “okay maybe this guy might be a little bit insane”.. lol have a good rest of your week.

  22. Cat food? OMG. Gross! I can’t stand the smell of it. I don’t eat a lot of meat, anyway. That’s the best way to save on meat–eat less of it. Most people eat too much, and it’s really not good for you. Just one of many reasons why our healthcare costs are through the roof.

  23. I was lucky enough to never need to make any extraordinary sacrifices. Basically just worked hard and achieved financial success at a young age. I believe in growing my income more than focusing on increasing my savings rate.

  24. Reading this quite a bit after April Fool’s and totally fell for it! AHH!
    This was great
    I wonder what the nutritional composition of cat food is…

  25. as much as I appreciate the “openness” of this article, I just can’t come to terms with being a millionaire and yet eating ‘canned food’ – be it cat’s.
    What is the point of all the wealth if one can’t afford or has to give up on fresh food? Maybe its not in the culture/ society of where I come from (India)… for me, the REAL value of wealth is to be able to afford – (1) fresh, clean and best ingredients ( cooked-food – be it at home or outside
    (2) able to have a roof on top
    (3) able to wear clean, nice, un-torn clothes …

    I seriously think a millionaire (in any country) should be able to spend on above three – or else being a millionaire in ‘worldly sense’ has no meaning left.

    1. Hi Mohit,

      Justin is being humurous in his posts most of the times.

      I also come from India and I know food(especially the kind of it) is something which is dear to most people. There is a famous saying in India: “You live to eat” is more important than ” You eat to live”.

  26. ahah 😀
    Last year you wrote about cat food.
    This year also cat food.

    When you bring that next year, i start to believe you 😀

  27. This is exactly why you need at least $5M USD like Suze Orman says to retire early. Imagine if your medical expenses increase. You can no longer really reduce the food budget since you’ve already moved to cat food. FIRE is all about flexibility and I’m concerned that your portfolio is simply not big enough to sustain the frivolous spending I witness through your blog posts. Please for the love of Suze Orman reconsider this early retirement BS and go back to work.

    1. No need to reconsider early retirement. If worse comes to worse, RoG family budget can be further reduced by skipping eating altogether. Not only does not eating at all save money, it also saves time, helps with weigh loss, and frees up storage space for important material used in scrap booking.

  28. Can you talk about your networth early this month so that we can save great in this times of unemployment. I’ve been following you from your very first post an want to see how you manage expenses now.
    I’m so sure you are safe as you have already moved some bond funds somewhere in 2018 timeframe

  29. We’ve been eating Alpo burgers for years, we always stock up when they go on sale down at the Walmart. But never thought about cat food. Do they grind up the cats or are they sliced? Bet it tastes just like possum! Those are a local favorite, but you have to pick out the pieces of gravel or you’ll chip a tooth. Are you from Arkansas too?

  30. Absolutely classic post! Legendary frugality my friend. As Jerry Garcia once said, “ weeee will survive, weeee WILL survive, we will get by!” Touch of gray video.

    In a year or two (maybe three) we will look back at this and say holy @#$&, those were some crazy times!

  31. I got you beat on cheap cat food for meals except I’m serious. I do intermittent fasting sometimes. No food is pretty cheap! Great post by the way.

  32. Potted meat, yuck! My brother gave that to me one time as a joke.

    Another way to save money? Buy a pair of hair clippers and skip out on paying $20 a cut for the whole family each month.

  33. HAHA! this is funny. Was doing a check on your finances for comparable to ours in this crazy market/pandemic time and happened across this post. Looks like you all have almost recovered for the year! All the best to you all!

  34. Funny story, on the serious side I didn’t retire early like I wanted I waited till I was 65. Could’ve been out at 55 but I kept my business going working as little as possible and every year I waited my portfolio grew by 100k plus appreciation so lm still happy. I try to teach others about saving and investing but few have the discipline or when I post articles about the same I rarely get a like. Post about being in Florida at my winter home or at the beach and people respond. If they only realized.

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