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Meet a German reader | Lea

Today, we get to meet a reader who hails from Germany. I don’t have much of a travel bug, but I would like to go to Europe one day, and Germany is definitely on the list of countries I want to visit when I am there.

So, I enjoyed getting a peek into a German person’s life!

Here’s Lea:

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Miryam in a pink sweater, smiling.

I live by myself in a spacious flat I own together with my dog in downtown Stuttgart, Germany.

I was married and have three grown sons. The eldest is married and lives in Vienna. They have an 18-month-old boy – my first grandchild.

Lea holding her grandson.

me holding my grandson for the first time

The middle son lives in Stuttgart. He works in IT Business.

The youngest lives in Hamburg and started service in the navy for the next four years beginning on Oct 1st. He will be moving to Wilhelmshaven where he will be based.

A little boy sitting on a couch.

My husband and father of the boys passed away April last year.

I consider Stuttgart to be my hometown but I have lived many places though in my life. I was born in 1959 in Ghana, later we moved to Nigeria and when the Biafra war started, my mother packed up and moved with sister and I back to Stuttgart which is her hometown.

My father stayed in Africa because of his job as a journalist.

Miryam's balcony with flowers.

my balcony

My schooling took place in Stuttgart and in 1983 I moved to Israel where I met my husband. He was from Paris, France. We became full members of a kibbutz, the boys were born in Israel.

Lea in a dirndl.

in a traditional dirndl

In 1999 we moved to Stuttgart. The boys were then 11, 9, and 5 years old.

We both found jobs, settled down, and bought the apartment I live in. It is fully paid. I am debt-free. I am still holding the same job – two days/week as an accountant.

A German apartment building.

The building I live in was built in 1883 and still has many original features…door handles, window handles, even some of the glass, hardwood oak flooring, etc. Quite typical in Germany. It is a shared property. Mine is on the third floor.

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

I think it has been 4 to 5 years now.

3. How did you get interested in frugal living?

As a child I encountered it all – living in tiny flats, nice houses, a house with 36 windows but no glass in them, etc.

Once my parents were housesitters in the German Embassy for 6 months. The deal was for them to live there rent-free (ambassador was on a lengthy leave due to a personal crisis) but they had to make sure all the servants, butler, chauffeur, gardener, cook, etc would keep on working and not forget about their work….my mother always said, that these were the most boring and somehow exhausting 6 months of her life with never ever a moment of privacy.

I remember the meals with always the butler around.

A dog sleeping in the sunshine.

My parents are very adventurous people and it is thanks to my very frugal mother that we survived times when my father had no job as a freelancer or was being jailed for his writing. So being frugal was crucial!

4. What’s the why behind your desire to save money?

See 3. With big moves and upheavals in life, I simply had to learn how to manage my income every time I started at zero AND I am passionate about being careful with resources and keeping my environmental footprint as little as possible.

Owning as little as possible and keeping things as simple as possible saves me time and energy and worry and money

5. What’s your biggest frugal win?

I never bothered with a driving license and never owned a car. Public transport is very good here and as I live downtown I usually walk. My office is a 12 min walk, train station 10 min, and the walk to the shops and open-air market is 10 minutes.

My city is surrounded by woods, vineyards, and fields where the dog is allowed to be off-leash. I walk like 10 km on a daily basis.

Lea hiking in Bavaria with her dog.

hiking in Bavaria

Since my flat is spacious and I have three spare bedrooms I rent out one room to a lodger. Housing is very scarce and expensive in the big cities and even in small towns in Germany.

I never bought anything on credit. Either I can pay for whatever upfront or I wait till I can afford it.

I simply don’t care about material things. When I buy I tend to buy high quality and wear things out.

Miryam hiking.

I never had the urge to “keep up with the joneses”. Really never.

I am always open to hand-me-downs.

6. What’s a dumb money mistake you made?

I smoked for many years. This is probably the most stupid thing I ever did.

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

High quality food – organic, seasonal, locally produced whenever possible. For clothing, furniture, electric appliances and so on,  I buy “made in Germany” whenever possible.

I don’t mind spending more if I can support a small business that way.

I buy most things in person and almost never do any online shopping.

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

Jewelry, electronics, and cruises.

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

I don’t know. I’d donate 10 percent and save the rest for whenever or whatever.

10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers

Lea in Munich

in Munich

1. Don’t even  try “to keep up with the Joneses”.

2. Be as generous as possible with your money and time and take every opportunity to help others! This will pay off in the long run! And it makes for a better world.

3. Very strong and tightly knit family ties are important! If one of us is/was in need the family will help out.

11. What’s something that’s unique about living frugally in Germany?

I never ever in my life worried about health insurance. Every month 7.8 percent of my income is deducted automatically from my salary and by this I am fully covered. I don’t even think about it.

All these coupons, reward points on your credit card, buy one get two…..I think it does not exist in Germany – at least I don’t know about this.

A dog sleeping on a double bed.

When using my credit card it is deducted automatically from my bank account at the beginning of the month.

University and actually any kind of training for a profession is completely free in Germany. In fact the training and apprenticeships (usually a 3-year process) – you get paid while doing this. Not a full salary but every year more than the last year.

I think in Germany we are much more inclined to save on electricity and fuel and gas as it seems to be much more expensive here than in America.

__________

Lea, thank you so much for giving us a peek into your life in Germany! I especially love what you said about how being generous and helpful just makes the world a better place.

I’m amazed by the number of places in the world that you have lived; I have lived in one state for my whole life! Is Germany your favorite spot to live, or did you like one of the other places better?

_________

Readers, the floor is yours!

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Dicey

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Hi Lea, my stepdaughter's name is Lea, too. In English it means "meadow". It's not very common here. Is it a popular name in Germany? Thanks for sharing your story.

Ruth T

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Thanks for sharing, Lea! I really enjoyed reading your interview. Your building is beautiful! It was interesting to read the "made in Germany" part because "made in the USA" is a thing here and I've wondered if people in other countries care about buying things that were produced in the country they live in. And I prefer to buy things in person rather than online as well! Thanks again for sharing with us!

Zina

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Loved reading about your life! We live in Engelskirchen outside Cologne. We have lived in Germany for 16 years now.

Lea

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Hi Kristen!

First of all thank you for featuring the "Meet a Reader" thing. And for featuring me. That was an interesting and fun experience!

About your question whether I had a favorite place....I slept it over and thought hard about it. My conclusion: there are no places I would prefer. But I would love to again fall in love with the right man and have my family and babies and watch and help them grow and live their own life. So in that respect Israel was the "best" place. It is more about which stage in my life I am in than the circumstances and places. I am very thankful for what I had and have.

In terms of frugality and easy life - Germany certainly is the winner ! Life is so much easier here than in Israel. Much, much cheaper, travelling so very easy, much less dangerous, no yearly military service for men and so on.

Hope this answers your question.

Jenny

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

I also liked reading about your life, Lea, and seeing your photos. We are the same age and I am a recent widow, too, living alone in a paid-off home with one animal, working part-time. The differences and similarities are very interesting, and I thank you very much; also, thanks to Kristen for coming up with the idea of readers sharing more details to enlighten and help each other.

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