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And now I’m interviewing myself

Right now, I don’t have any Meet a Reader submissions in my queue (if I missed yours, please comment and let me know!) so I thought, “hmm, maybe I should interview myself.”

Because maybe there are some questions in this list that I haven’t really covered before!

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Haha, I feel like most of you know everything I could say here, but I’ll see what I can do.

Kristen in a red tee.

I’m a 45-year-old mom of four kids (all adults except for the youngest; she will be 18 in about six months). I’m currently separated and walking through the divorce process.

Deleting a marriage can take a while, I’m learning. 😉

I start nursing school at the end of August, and once I graduate in the spring of 2025, I think I’d like to work with babies or children in some capacity in the hospital.

Kristen with a stethoscope.


Pediatrics, NICU, and labor and delivery are my top choices right now, but who knows? I may change my mind!

My careers so far:

  • 20 years of piano teaching
  • 15 years of blogging
  • 10 years as a church musician
  • 17 years as a homeschooling mom

Obviously, I wore many of these hats at the same time; otherwise, I’d have to be 80+ years old or so to have done all this.

You all know so much about me from my blogging years so hmm, what could I tell you about pre-blogging Kristen?

Kristen and her big brother.

This was a long time before I started blogging. Heh.

  • I always wanted to be a mom
  • I’m a classically trained pianist
  • I used to sew a lot of my own clothes
  • I started baking bread when I was 12 or 13 and I’ve never stopped since!
  • I cooked almost all the meals for my parents and siblings during high school (by my choice)
  • I was an avid reader for all of my childhood
  • I went to kindergarten at a private school but then was homeschooled until the end of high school
Kristen in a school photo.

My one and only school photo

  • I was a pretty mild kid and I usually did what I was supposed to do. Following the rules seemed like the easy route to me because rule-followers don’t get into trouble. Want to be parented less? Do what you’re supposed to do without being told. 😉

Kristen as a kid

  • As a teenager, I went to bed at 9:00 pm and got up at 5:00 am, by my own decision. I truly have never been a night owl. 

2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?

Ummm, since day one. I’ve read every single post. 😉

And since I usually proofread them before publishing, I’ve probably read each post multiple times. Good thing I’m a fast reader!

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

I think I was born with an urge to save money and conserve resources. I can remember that even as a kid, I liked to use up the last of a bar of soap, despite the fact that I never paid for the soap myself.

third day naturals bar soap

I can remember loving to read stories of kids who rehabbed things or made do with a little (think the first book in The Boxcar Children, where they found discarded items and made a little home in a train boxcar).

Also, in a lesser-known Louisa May Alcott book, Jack and Jill, I can remember how a character was outfitting her room with discarded things that she found in the attic, making it into a cute and cozy place, and I remember being delighted by this.

vintage copy of Jack and Jill book.

In a funny way, my life has come to mirror these stories I found so enchanting as a child. I’m not hunting in an attic or a trash heap, but my current home is outfitted with things from the abandoned house and Facebook groups.

Kristen's bedroom.

And while I would not have planned for this particular bend in my life path, I do find a lot of satisfaction in the way I have been able to cobble together a cozy home while spending almost no money.

Maybe I was built for this. 😉

4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?

At first, I wrote, “It’s a necessity right now.” And while that is true, it’s more than that.

First, the necessity part:

I don’t have tons of money, I’m paying for lawyer bills, and I’m going back to school full-time to get a degree so that I can eventually have a job with access to medical benefits.

This is not a recipe for monetary wealth. 😉

Kristen wearing a backpack, standing in her living room.


One day, I will have a “why” that sounds something more like, “I’m saving for retirement and financial independence!” or, “I’m saving up for a down payment on a house.” or, “I’m building up a six-month emergency fund!”

But that is not my reality right now.

My “right now” is that I’m trying to stay out of debt.

Sometimes, I feel really, really discouraged about that, but then I try to remember that I will not be in this distressing state of limbo forever. This is temporary, even if it’s a rather long sort of temporary.

Ok, that’s the necessity part. But also, a lot of my efforts have been me trying to make a lovely life for myself and my girls. 

It would be possible to serve the “necessity” part of frugality with very little effort.

I could:

  • eat very simple, cheap foods
  • own very few clothes
  • have a bare-bones house with no decorations
  • go without things like earrings and unnecessary black dresses 😉 
  • never travel anywhere

That would definitely keep me out of debt, but it also would suck some of the joy from my life.

So instead…

I rehab furniture and pick things up from the Buy Nothing group so that I can “feather my nest”.

View of Kristen's living room.

I use a credit card with airline rewards so that I can fly places for free. I stay in hotels for super cheap with my brother’s discount.

I buy clothes on clearance and pick up jewelry from my Buy Nothing group so that I can have fun outfits for very little money. 

Kristen in a black dress.

The afore-mentioned unnecessary black dress

I make my own bread and my own yogurt, and I cook a lot of things from scratch so that I can eat good meals for cheap. 

bread cooling on a rack.

I want to save money and stay out of debt AND I also want to have clothes, lovely food, and interesting experiences.

Frugality lets me meet both goals; yes to savings, no to deprivation. 🙂 

5. What’s your best frugal win?

Hmm. I’ve written about a LOT of my frugal efforts here, so I’m gonna think back to pre-blogging days.

When I was a teenager in the 1990s, I saved up $10,000.

This is kind of impressive when I think about it; I never had a high-paying job, but I did faithfully work as a teen and I saved almost every bit of money I made.

Kristen and her grandparents standing by a piano

me, fresh out of high school

When I got married and moved out of my parents’ house, I used that money to buy my piano.

I then used it to earn money for many years, by teaching piano lessons and also by using my piano skills to play for churches, weddings, funerals, and so on (owning a piano makes that possible because to play for those things, you need to be able to practice at home beforehand!)

black piano.

I also deducted the cost of the piano from my self-employed piano-teacher taxes.

So, between the tax deduction and the fact that I used the piano to earn money, I earned my $10,000 back many times over.

I also think of the cost of my camera and lenses in a similar way. Because I used them for blog purposes, they have paid for themselves multiple times over as well.

Kristen using her camera.

I mean, I suppose it would have been possible to build a blog with a point-and-shoot camera.

But I know part of the appeal of my blog is the visual aspect, and I don’t think the whole experience here would have been quite the same without my good camera gear.

6. What’s an embarrassing money mistake you’ve made?

Well, the first one that comes to mind is the time I broke my whole stovetop. But I already blogged about that! Heh.

cracked glass stovetop

I still shudder a little when I look at this picture!

A small pre-blog mistake I remember: the first time I ever got a credit card, I didn’t understand how hard and fast the due date was. My previous experience had just been with paying a mortgage and a car payment, where there is a grace period.

So, I got a credit card just for the $25 welcome bonus (an awfully small bonus, now that I think about it), made a small charge on it, mailed the payment in a day late, and got hit with a $15 fee.

It hurt a little, but it wasn’t the end of the world, obviously. And it was a pretty painless way to learn a lesson about how credit cards work.

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

Things that foster relationships.

I will spend money on traveling mainly if it’s going to enable relational time.

I will pay for an experience or a fun class if it’s going to be something I do with a person important to me.

I will pay for a puzzle or game if it’s something I can do with others.

I will pay for a meal/coffee out if I can share it with people I love.

8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?

Like a lot of you, beauty-related stuff is not terribly tempting to me. This is not a holier-than-thou type of thing; it’s more of a reflection of the fact that I am really pretty lazy when it comes to beauty habits.

Basically, the bar for me to be like, “Mmmm, no, that’s too much work!” is very low.

makeup on a sink.

I manage to do a pretty basic makeup routine, and I remember to put lotion on my face at night, but that’s about it.

Sometimes I see people online using ten skin products before bed and I just know I would never keep up with that.

And same goes for a makeup routine; I fill in my eyebrows, use a little eyeliner, and sometimes use a bit of foundation or mascara. If I’m feeling really extra, I use a little eyeshadow, but that’s every once in a blue moon.

eye shadow

In this case, my “I don’t want to bother” attitude pays off because I spend very little on beauty products.

Ooh, I thought of another thing I don’t splurge on: purses.

And again, it’s an effort thing. I cannot be bothered to move my possessions from one purse to another all the time!

So, I have one purse and one wallet; they’re both Kate Spade, both purchased at consignment stores for something like $25.

a pink Kate Spade purse.

9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?

Easy; that would go toward legal expenses.

One day I will have a more fun answer than that. 😉

10. What’s the easiest/hardest part of being frugal?


Going back to what I said earlier, I find a lot of satisfaction in living a rich life on very little. I like that I know how to eat good food, have a beautiful home, wear nice clothes, travel, and own high-quality items while keeping my costs to a minimum.

A frugal life of deprivation would be sad to me, but I feel like my life is the opposite of that. I have things that are valuable; I just don’t pay a lot for them!


My answers are really of the “right now” variety. It’s sometimes hard to feel like there is a point to all my frugal efforts because the legal bills are outpacing my efforts.

(I try to remember that the legal bills would be there anyway and that I am always better off by being frugal than I would be if I wasn’t frugal! Frugality still minimizes the damage.)

Also, the state of financial limbo I’m in is hard. It will be much more rewarding to be frugal when the fruits of my efforts are truly all mine.

11. Is there anything unique about frugal living in your area?

Since I live in a pretty heavily populated suburban area, I have access to almost every store you can imagine. This means it’s very easy to pop in to pick up deals and freebies without spending much gas or time.

Kristen with a starbucks coffee.

me with a birthday freebie

Similarly, there’s a lot of inventory on Facebook Marketplace and Buy Nothing groups, so it’s not hard to find free or cheap things close by.

We have a good library system here, and there are lots of free parks and hiking trails, but based on what you all say, these things are pretty common all over the U.S.!


Annnnnd that’s the end of my interview with myself.  I hope maybe you learned a little something new about me. 🙂

If you have questions, leave ’em in the comments!

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Tuesday 25th of July 2023

It sounds like it's still in place in some states, but with particular rules, like that you have to be 62 or older. It's definitely something a local attorney would be able to answer.

Central Calif. Artist

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

@Kristen, buckle up, because 62 comes FAST!


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Obviously I have no desire to delete my children; I just want to be free of the marriage.

A thought for you and me and Jean and really everyone...I think that all of us who have been touched by divorce can remember that our situation is not necessarily the same as other's.

For example...

Some children are glad their parents stayed together; some children desperately wish that one parent had left sooner.

Some people are bad spouses but not bad parents; some people are rather abject disappointments in both regards.

Some people are healthy people but are just not a good fit for each other, whereas some people are dysfunctional and would not be a good fit for any healthy human.

Some people's marriages had a lot of good parts to look back on fondly; some people have trouble searching through their memories to find even a handful of good parts.

Some people can be friends with their ex-spouses; some people have been too traumatized for that to be possible.

Some people are able to work things out amicably; some people cannot navigate a divorce without the help of attorneys.

There are just so many variables to each situation, and no one can really know the ins and outs of a person's marriage/divorce unless they're inside of it.

Central Calif. Artist

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

@Kristen, very well stated. This is why you have such a successful blog —clear, non-judgey, straightforward explanations.


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Orange growing tips and pics would be nice as yours looks so cool! Just bought a small lime tree at Walmart on clearance for kicks so we will see how this experiment goes!


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

I don't have any good tips to share other than that I try to make sure it has adequate sunlight, and I put it in a sunny window over the winter. It spends summers outside!

I did buy some citrus fertilizer spikes this spring for that and also for my lemon tree, but it's too early to see the effects of those, probably.


Monday 24th of July 2023

You said you have four children? I know you write about three girls very often but I don’t remember a fourth? Hope it’s ok to ask this.


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

I do. The oldest one is currently estranged (not by my choice or desire), so that's why the general absence.

Ruth T

Monday 24th of July 2023

This was great. You continue to inspire and encourage me. So thankful for all you do here!

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