The ‘starve and stack’ method could help you save up to $50,000 in two years

Flickr | 401(K) 2013

If you’re looking to save money (and who isn’t?), you might want to try the “starve and stack method.”

It sounds extreme, but Nick Vail, a financial adviser and author of the Remove The Guesswork blog, claims this savings strategy can net you $50,000 in just two years.

While starting in the kitchen and limiting your food budget is one way to save dough, this plan doesn’t involve any actual starving.

So just what is the “starve and stack method?” It involves tightening your financial belt in the short-term in order to make big-time, long-term gains.


Vail says he got the idea from someone he sat next to on a plane ride. The man told him that instead of spending all of their per diem, a daily allowance for expenses incurred while traveling for work, he and his colleagues would eat on the cheap and “stack” up the leftover cash for their personal use.


Vail says that married couples should try applying the method to their own lives.  He says it’s worth considering living off just one spouse’s salary while saving the other’s completely.

He also notes that you can adjust the strategy to fit your lifestyle. If you can’t cover your bills on one person’s salary, then try to use as little of the second salary as possible.

Mark Lord Photography

Photo credit: Mark Loyd Photography

While Vail acknowledges that young people often have a number of priorities competing for their hard-earned money, including student loans and buying a first home, he stresses that they shouldn’t wait until they’re older to start saving. Conventional saving techniques, like making your own coffee at home rather than going through a drive-thru every day, are also super easy to integrate into this method.

Flickr | 401(K) 2013

He maps out a number of strategies to help you sock away as much cash as possible in a two-year time frame:

Max out work retirement plans. If you have a 401(k) or 403(b) available to you at your employer, those under 50 can invest up to $18,000 a year, pre-tax. And that doesn’t include the amount your employer can deposit. While you might think you’d rather be using that cash for a luxury vacation or new car, a study shows that more than half of people in their 40s wish they had saved more for retirement when they were younger.

Flickr | 401(K) 2013

Max out IRAs. In an IRA, whether Roth or traditional, you can invest up to $5,500 a year if you’re under 50.

Flickr | ccPixs.com

Brokerage Accounts. In addition to making the most of your retirement plans, Vail recommends utilizing brokerage accounts. While these accounts don’t offer the same tax benefits as retirement accounts, there are no limits to how much you can invest.

So what do you think? If you’re married, do you think you could live off just one spouse’s salary?

About the Author

Kate Streit

Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. More.

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