Dorinda is a girl after my own heart…she sent lots of photos in with her interview answers. I love it!
1. Tell us a little about yourself
Hi! I’m Dorinda. I grew up on a wheat and beef farm in Kansas, spent seven years in north Dallas, and now reside in Colorado with my husband Greg (Mr. A) and our three young boys (ages 9, 7, 5).
Kristen and I share a birth year, but I married and started a family significantly later. So her kids are in college and my kids are in early grade school.
Family snapshot while out camping.
Mr. A and I are both computer techies who use our skills to serve the international missions community. While many people think of “missionaries” within the Christian community as pastors or Bible translators or maybe a teacher or a doctor, our missions team helps keep the computers-that-make-things-possible running behind the scenes.
Mr. A is a software developer while I work with computer training/business analyst projects as well as coordinate our volunteer events like the annual Spring Break Code-a-Thon for Missions. Between work travel and vacation, we’re often on the road 25-35% of the year.
Leading a session at a missions tech conference
I like hiking/camping, reading, being practical, finding adventures, sewing small projects, helping people, sharing Hope, and taking pictures to commemorate joy-moments. We live in an average three-bedroom house in the city (with mountain peaks in the distance outside our windows).
And I’m still a country girl at heart and love taking my family back to see Kansas sunsets and experience the small joys of rural living.
But if you were to know me for very long, you’d find that I’m also honest.
Life has been hard and stretching over the last few years as I juggle parenting, homeschooling, working in ministry, coordinating travel, and my own mental health journey through burnout and depression. I simply don’t have the capacity to #doallthethings that I’d like to do.
This picture is when my 3yr old fell asleep at a cafeteria table during a conference we were running. But it definitely represents how I feel many days! *laughing face*
I read the quilter and canner and amazing home meet-a-reader posts with a touch of envy, and then I have to stop myself and be thankful for the things I have in this season of life. There will come seasons when I have more time for creative projects and homemade things, but this is a season God has given me to pour into my kids, my family, and ministry.
In each part of life, I can acknowledge the hard AND look for the thankfuls. I can feel dejected over a rough day of whiny kids AND cherish the joy on their faces as we blow bubbles (which we’re doing to keep mama from yelling).
I can miss having lots of time to be creative or do things from scratch but I can enjoy the moments I do have here and there. I did can tomatoes this year for the first time (Mr. A is the gardener), but we certainly haven’t saved money by having the garden yet.
Boys and husband at garden
Our raised garden is completely covered by hardware cloth to help protect from deer, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and our abundant spring hail. The growing season is so short that it can make gardening a challenge, even when we do start plants indoors.
And I enjoy small sewing projects, though very much on the practical side–mostly mending. (A big thank you to the FG community on the FB page a year ago where you ladies posted some links to some great mending techniques! That upped my mending game considerably!)
Mr. A. stalked Craigslist a couple years ago and found me a Bernina 830 sewing machine – an amazing workhorse of a machine. He drove five hours round trip to buy it for me, negotiated the price, and then did all the clean-up work on the gummed-up gears himself.
Then I’ve used the sewing machine to make heatable rice bags that I sell for $5/ea on our local BST groups at Christmas time. (If I sell anything homemade, I make sure I pay myself at least $20/hr. My time is precious!)
The profit from that bought a new watch for Mr. A when his old one died, so he got blessed in the end too! And someday I’ll have the energy to tackle bigger projects. 🙂
Finding the balance between time frugality and money frugality is an ongoing consideration for me. I definitely watch for stock up grocery prices, but I don’t fanatically coupon. I can make a homemade loaf of bread for less than .60. But when I can pick up top quality, outdated bread for $1/loaf, I often buy instead of bake.
I make homemade broth by the gallons and cook most of our meals at home, but I’m also the average shopper who stocks up on spaghetti sauce and cereal and we get Burger King coupon deals when I’m exhausted.
This fall, my 9yr old and I rescued apples from a neighbor’s tree and turned them into applesauce and apple butter. I don’t always have the energy for those things, so we treasure the moments when I do.
Homemade apple butter on a slice of homemade bread
One of the things we do as a family for our mental health is get off-grid for 2-3 weeks of each year and tent camp in the mountains of Colorado and Montana.
Renting a cabin for that long would be expensive, but tent camping allows us to do that. (One of our family members has a permanent disability, so the NPS Access pass also helps us stretch the budget.) And camping gets us away from our technology!
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
Ooh… I know it was before fall of 2009, but I’m not sure when exactly. My college roommate recommended your blog and I’ve been hooked ever since – usually obsessively checking for it via Feedly during breakfast. 🙂 However, reading via Feedly usually means I’m not down in the comment section as much.
The blog has definitely found its way into our lives – chicken and biscuit casserole (which my picky eater loves!!!), Kristen’s pizza-making method, eyes on our sugar cookies:
4 yr old: It’s a moose looking through a bush for the yummy flowers it wants to eat.
…and countless jean repairs (inspired by Kristen’s ongoing repairs to her favorite pair of jeans). And this year’s “Meet a Reader” series has definitely brought me to comments more since I’m putting faces/personalities to the names.
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
I grew up in a frugal family. My grandparents grew up during the depression. My parents never made more than ~$20k/yr on the farm. I didn’t make more than $22k/year until after we got married.
I grew up thinking that everyone carefully washed aluminum foil for re-use, abhorred the use of paper towels (Here! Use this rag!), and added cooked wheat kernels to chili and meatloaf to make the meal more filling.
16 yr old me driving the combine during wheat harvest
4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
We try to live simply to honor those who are supporting us in missions and to free up funds to make a difference in the lives of people around the world. As part of living simply, some areas of our budget have less wiggle room than many families, so I try to stretch dollars where I can. I also want to use our finances to bless those around us: the homeless in our area, the neighbors on our street, the teachers in our school, and the community at our church.
My little kitchen helper as we make food for a staff dinner
5. What’s your best frugal win?
Oooh… probably marrying a man who can do automotive work. 😉
Seriously, Mr. A-mazing does all the work on our vehicles (including replacing the engine on our minivan two years ago) and that saves us so much money! Also, his proactive work means that our vehicles are super reliable for our road trips.
Our first Plymouth Grand Voyager van (which he had before we got married) carried us on road trips until it hit 360,000 miles and we decided to retire it. That van was also our only vehicle for the first eight years of marriage, so the bikes and jogging stroller were kept busy with grocery runs and errands.
We still try to walk or bike as much as we can.
The 360,000 mile van at the Tetons
6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?
Vehicle-related again. Paying too much for my post-college car. I had never car shopped before and ended up paying too much at a used car dealership. I paid in cash and it was a good car; I just overpaid due to their sales tactics and my inexperience.
7. What’s one thing you splurge on?
When Mr. A and I first started backpacking, we researched and bought our main backpacks on Craigslist. But those didn’t fit us well and I ended up with nerve damage. We eventually ended up going to a full-service camping store and finding packs that truly fit. (It’s a God-provision, frugal-win story on how we got Mr. A’s $400 pack for $175 brand new, but you can’t tell all the stories at one time!)
Our boys have traveled with us on over 125 miles of backpacking trails.
8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
Beauty stuff. Perfume. Purses. Designer clothes. Anything that would put us in debt.
9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
My counselor is advising me to take one day a month and give myself a complete break from responsibility. So I’d probably put it towards childcare costs to make that happen more often. Or better lighting for my kitchen. It’s a toss-up. 😉
My favorite lookout from the trailhead five minutes from our house
10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers.
Use your goals and your talents to find your own unique ways to be frugal. If your food budget is an area where you’re frugal, find a few meals that are easy and inexpensive and rotate them in regularly.
Example: I can make taco soup to feed 10+ people for about $4. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and easily vegetarian. And super quick. I can toss together a salsa chicken freezer meal (feeds four adults) for about $1.50. Or chicken noodle soup for a family for $2.
Having recipes like that allows me to stretch our budget, splurge on some meals, and easily bless the families around me when they need meals. (Probably my Midwest hospitality coming out there – dropping off a meal is my go-to way of blessing people.)
In May, a friend gave me lots of frozen chicken and egg noodles and rice she didn’t need. When several friends were hospitalized with Covid later that month, I turned that food into meals for 50+ people for a total of $8 out of pocket. The boys loved helping with the food deliveries and making encouraging signs!
the boys at a friend’s house as we dropped off food and decorated her porch
11. Is there anything unique about frugal living in your area?
For our house location: yes. We live less than three-fourths of a mile from two grocery stores, two thrift stores, a fabric store, a dollar store, and more. Two grocery stores keep the price of milk down 😀 and I don’t have to go far for what I need.
For our town: We live in a bit of a tourist town, so many activities are priced for tourists and out of budget for us. Sometimes I’m able to find free/low cost access to such activities if someone has planned a group trip and didn’t have enough sign-ups and puts out the word on the local FB B/S/T sites.
I definitely appreciate our vibrant freebie group communities. And if you can learn to dress for cold weather, you’ll have the trails and wilderness to yourself (and some activities at reduced prices!) on cold days instead of sharing that space with a gazillion people on the “nice” weather days.
Our boots on a hiking trail at a mountain resort area
Mr. A. and I enjoyed a 10th-anniversary getaway at a mountain resort that is popular during the summers and the winters, but our visit was in that in-between time where it was too cold for regular outdoor fun, but not enough snow for snow sports.
We enjoyed hiking as well as indoor roller skating, archery, and rock climbing at cheap prices. (And this was funded because I stumbled across some succulents on clearance, fancied them up, and resold them on FB as teacher thank-you gifts!)
So to Kristen and to all of my fellow readers: thank you for sharing your lives and your joys and your encouragement with me over the year(s)!
May you find joy-moments (even in the hard) and share joy with others (even in the midst of mundane) as you travel your journeys!
Dorinda, I just want to say that I love what you would spend some of that imaginary $1000 on. When you are a parent and in particular, when you are the primary caretaker for kids, the feeling of constant responsibility can get wearing. So, I think spending money on some Days of No Responsibility is such a good idea!
Readers, the floor is yours!
P.S. Unless I missed someone’s submission, Dorinda’s interview is the last one in my queue. So, if I’ve emailed you questions and you still want to participate, fill ’em out and send them back! And if you’d like me to send you the questions, just email me and let me know.