The frugal professor: NIU students learn skills to be financially stable

DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - A man known as the frugal professor shares his knowledge on how to save a buck and plan for a financially successful future.

"Growing up I was pretty much frugal, born and raised frugal and it was something that really stuck with me," said Tim Michaelis, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship in the NIU College of Business.

Michaelis earned his title as the frugal professor by taking his penny-pinching habits and sharing them with his students.

"A bag of rice, some frozen vegetables and may some frozen chicken and I will just prep my meals for the week and I get my meals down to $1 or $2 a week," Michaelis said.

"Compared to eating out four or five times a week burning like $200 a month," said Covenant Falana, Northern Illinois University Senior.

Falana took Michaelis' class last semester and learned the difference between the value of something and its cost.

"I've cut down a lot on clothes and shoes because I know that really, in the long run, isn't as important as other things," Falana said.

Michaelis' frugal lifestyle also inspired a research project highlighting the connection between frugality and successful entrepreneurs.

"Not one person has looked at this quality frugality and entrepreneurship and said ‘well maybe this is a good thing for people who have finite resources, can't give a lot of support and they are trying to start a business," Michaelis said.

Now he translates those frugal findings into specific strategies for anyone trying to get a better financial footing.

"I thought I knew how to save, I thought I knew how to budget but in retrospect, I really don't,” Falana said.

The next step in the research is to see if frugality contributes to firm growth or the performance of a business.