2008-03-26

Frugality King: Living in San Francisco On $14,600 AGI A Year

Frugality’s not my strong suit. Revenue and business sense are stronger for me. Discipline to some degree. So when I read or hear about someone who’s really good at frugality, it’s interesting to me. There are lots of blogs that cover frugality better than I ever can and can offer more and better frugality tips. But I thought I might share news here and again on people whose frugality skills have really impressed me.

Money brings us the story of David Gross. The story was really a small part of an article on paying no taxes. Mr. Gross did something unusual. He turned his entire life upside down to take a stand on a position—his opposition to the war in Iraq. Deciding he did not want his tax dollars funding the war, he quit his $100,000-a-year job and launched a business from his apartment—with a specific goal of earning less and paying no federal taxes. He pulled it off. In 2007, his gross income was $29,000. With retirement-account contributions of $8,500 combined with other deductions, his adjusted gross income (AGI) was $14,600. Amazingly, Mr. Gross lives in San Francisco—one of the most expensive places to live certainly in the U.S. and to a lesser extent in the world. Consider that he nevertheless managed to tuck away nearly 30% of his gross income!

How’s he doing it? He’s apparently ditched his car and is walking everywhere, he’s cooking most of his meals at home, and his entertainment consists mostly of movies rented through Netflix. And that’s all the detail the article revealed.

How’s he doing it really? My take is that it’s his unique motivation. He’s got a cause bigger than himself driving him.

For the full article, see the April 2008 issue of Money. (At the time of this post, the title of the article, “How to Pay Zero Taxes,” was up but did not yet link out to the article.)

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