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The Story of Frugal Paradise


This is what happens when you spend too much time on Pinterest after you get engaged. I don't care, I still love it.

This is what happens when you spend too much time on Pinterest after you get engaged. I don’t care, I still love it.

The story of Frugal Paradise begins way back in 2007, when an unsuspecting Mr. Paradise knocked on the door of Ms. Paradise’s graduate laboratory in the sub-basement of the physics building in a small college town. Graduate school didn’t pay too well, about $20,000-$25,000 per year, but it was plenty considering their student lifestyles and habits. Both managed to sock away about 25% of what they earned. More than two years would go by working together in the sub-basement before they finally figured out it was time to give this thing a shot, after many overnight data collecting adventures with midnight trips for burritos and keeping each other awake with secret lab dancing. In 2009, Mr. Paradise realized that Ms. Paradise seemed “really into finance”, and they started managing their graduate school savings together at Vanguard. In 2010, Ms. Paradise graduated and went on to do a three year physical sciences residency at the local university hospital, netting a 50% salary increase to $51,000 / year. Although there would rarely be any more lab dancing, the romance continued and Ms. Paradise knew she had finally met the man of her dreams when he surprised her with a box of 50 Cadbury eggs for her birthday.


In 2012, Mr. Paradise popped the question at a bed and breakfast the night before they went to see the Cincinnati Western and Southern Open Final where Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic in two epic sets. Ms. Paradise took this opportunity to tell at least 50% of the people who attended the tournament that day about their engagement.

Mrs. Paradise nails Mr. Paradise with a snowball for a photo. He was a good sport about it.

Mrs. Paradise nails Mr. Paradise with a snowball for a photo. He was a good sport about it.

2013 saw a lot of changes for Mr. and Ms. Paradise. Mr. Paradise finished up graduate school and they officially became the Dr’s Paradise (although “not the kind that helps people”, as one of their friends likes to point out). Thus began the adventure of two enthusiastic young professionals with PhDs in atomic physics both trying to find jobs in the same city, a proposition they don’t wish on anybody. They decided to head abroad to Mr. Paradise’s hometown city and take a stab and living internationally (at least for Ms. Paradise) for a while. Ms. Paradise got a job at a small hospital paying $90,000 / year and Mr. Paradise took a post doc at a small university with a salary of $30,000. Although they now had significantly higher salaries, they did their best to continue living the student lifestyle. Later that year they tied the knot at Mr. Paradise’s childhood church, celebrating with about 80 members of their family and friends.

It was around this time that the Paradise family really started to get into finance and saving money toward retirement. A few excel spreadsheets later, it started to look like they might be able to reach financial independence earlier than age 60-65, but how much earlier?. While reading personal finance posts on Reddit, they kept seeing references to some “money mustache” guy. Who was this mysterious man who seemed so proud of his facial hair? Eventually they decided to check out his website, and came across the article: The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement. Then things really started to fall into place. If they worked hard, and saved hard, was financial independence really just around the corner? In 2014, a very exciting job offer as an assistant professor was extended to Mrs. Paradise at the hospital where she did her original residency, and the Paradise Family made the big decision to move back to the city where they had spent most of their young adulthood.

Mrs. Paradise’s new job paid $150,000 / year, and Mr. Paradise did another post doc for a year with a salary of $53,000 / year. However, his true dream was to be a physics teacher at a small college or university. Given how charming and intelligent Mr. Paradise is, he scored an assistant professor teaching position at a university only about twenty minutes from town, with a salary of $63,000 / year. Things were really coming together for the Paradise family. With their current salaries, it looked like they might be able to reach their version of financial independence in their early 40’s if they kept on track. So far, they were really loving their jobs and ecstatic that everything was coming together for them career-wise. Never again having to search for two jobs in the same city seemed like a pretty solid idea. They didn’t (and still don’t) plan to quit their jobs once reaching financial independence, but having the freedom to absorb unexpected financial trouble or to not have a financial crisis if one of them was let go sounded very appealing.

Toward the end of 2015, the Paradise family decided they’d be staying in their current city for the long haul, so they bought a house and settled in. It was about this time that they had the idea to start up Frugal Paradise, and share their experiences with others in the financial blogging community. So far, it’s been a pretty fun ride, and they look forward to making new friends and learning more about others on the same path to financial independence. And who knows, maybe in the future there will be another member of the Paradise family to join them on their journey 🙂

And this is why we had to buy a king size bed.

Aaaaand this is why we had to buy a king size bed.

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