Hello, everyone! We’re back to America for this week’s reader interview. And next week, we’ll meet a reader from Finland.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Barrie and I’m a 36 year old stay-at-home mom of 2. My son is 6 and my daughter is 9.
I decided to stay home when my son was born because my daughter’s daycare woman decided to retire, and I was 9 months pregnant with my son and had no clue how I was ever going to find someone I trusted the way I trusted her.
The cost of daycare was so expensive, I basically worked to pay for it. So I went back to work for 3 months after my maternity leave so I didn’t have to pay back the benefits I used when I was off, put in my notice, and have been home since!
I was going to go back to work last Sept, but COVID happened and my kids didn’t end up going to school full time so that plan is put off for the foreseeable future.
We live in southeast MA. My husband and I bought my parents home, and built an in law for them, so they live with us as well.
We have a little over an acre of land and we’re tucked back in the woods so it’s nice and private.
We have a 16.5 year old dog named Freddie, and 9 chickens (only half have names! We have Nugget, Ameila, Pecks, and Fluffy, and then rest are unnamed).
We just got the chickens in Sept., so it’s been really fun learning about them! We get 9 eggs a day and I sold a few dozen but I’m not a good business person so now I just give away what we won’t use to family and friends.
We are currently homeschooling due to COVID, but it is definitely not my favorite thing to do, so we are exploring other options for next year! I was able to teach my son to read and he loves math and sciences.
My daughter is in 4th grade and I’ve struggled on how to teach her because she and I are way too similar and butt heads.
It’s been a long year.
I like to cook (and eat!) a lot! I love exploring new recipes on Pinterest and blogs.
I also really love to exercise. I gained a lot of weight after college and was really upset with myself, so we joined the Y and it took me a few years to actually go into the building because I was so anxious. I finally did 3 or 4 years ago, and have made the greatest friends!
I was devastated when everything shut down because that was my one release and break from my SAHM life.
But my husband bought me a (used) spin bike just before everything started shutting down (and now the prices on them have skyrocketed! We got a steal comparatively), we have a treadmill (well it’s dead right now but looking to get it repaired) and I have been slowly buying small exercise items (dumbells, rings, TRX straps, stuff like that).
We have built up quite the small at-home gym here, but unfortunately we don’t have the SPACE for it so it’s all in our breezeway/entryway and the treadmill is in the garage (which caused it to age prematurely), but it gets used and no one really comes over currently so I don’t mind.
We love to camp. We bought our (used) camper 2 summers ago and haven’t gone on a big trip yet but we do small weekend trips here and there.
We are planning on going to TN this summer with my best friend and her family, and I am really excited!
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
I believe for 10 years or so now?
I know I found the blog when my husband and I were living in our old condo, which we moved out of 10 years ago this October.
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
My mother has always been frugal. I grew up thinking we were poor, but now I understand they were just being smart with their money. We never had fancy cars or clothes, would borrow DVDs from the library instead of going to movies, would camp instead of stay at hotels, would stay at State Parks vs. private campgrounds, very rarely ever went out to eat.
So I grew up “this way”, but when I was a teenager I wanted to have what everyone else had, so I got a credit card and got myself into a lot of debt.
When my husband and I got engaged, we sat down and figured out a way to get ourselves out of debt before our wedding. We did it! We still have debt, but I look at it as “good debt”: our house, a small amount on our camper, my husband just got a new truck so we have an auto loan on that, and our mortgage.
But we have no student loans, no credit cards, and no personal loans. We pay off loans as soon as we can (usually years ahead). We have a financial advisor through my husband’s work and she said we’re doing well!
4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
I don’t like to waste money! I don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”. I don’t even know the last time I bought myself new clothes. I don’t care about fashion or makeup.
I just live a pretty simple life, I think.
5. What’s your best frugal win?
Buying our house.
We were able to sell our condo to my sister for what we owed and bought the house from my parents for what they owed. We added the in-law, which gave us 600+ more square footage, which increased the value off the bat.
Walking into the house we had quite a lot of equity. Now with the housing market being so high, we have even more. We also refinanced last year so we took our mortgage down from a 30 year, to a 15, and with the low-interest rate, we’re saving money there too.
We did take out a home equity loan to do some updating in the house, but that has been paid off.
6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?
Getting myself into credit card debt as a teenager. I used to charge EVERYTHING: going out to eat, new clothes, vacations.
I’m just glad we were able to take care of it when I was still relatively young.
7. What’s one thing you splurge on?
Chiropractor, massage, pedicures, and a house cleaner. I was recently diagnosed with chronic inflammation, and have been dealing with joint pain since my early 20s. So the chiro and massage help with that.
The pedicure: I just like getting my toes done 🙂
And the house cleaner comes once a month and it gives me ONE DAY where I don’t have to constantly clean to keep up. It’s so worth it to me.
8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
Clothes, shoes, makeup, hair, cars.
My wardrobe currently is pretty simple seeing as I stay home 90% of the day – black leggings, t-shirt, sweatshirt, and in the summer – capris, t-shirt, flip flops.
I just don’t care about fashion at all.
Also, it seems like every time I try to go shopping, I can’t find anything that fits right. So I just don’t bother. If we happen to go out somewhere (rare right now), I have a couple of nicer shirts.
Shoes – I can never find things that fit and feel comfortable so I just wear my Bearpaws in the winter, flip flops in the summer, sneakers when my backs acting up.
Make-up and Hair
I just don’t care. I get my hair cut once every 6 months.
My kids are still young and destroy my car so I won’t upgrade until they’re older. I did get a new car in 2018 because my old car was 10 years old and starting to go. We decided to upgrade and we got an ex-rental used vehicle, which saved us a ton of money.
9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
Oh geez…I honestly don’t know!
My husband “gave” me some money a few months ago to splurge with as a “thank you” for all of the hard work I do.
(I don’t want flowers, jewelry, clothes, etc, so he didn’t know what to do and figured giving me the money for me to buy what I wanted was better! LOL).
I didn’t touch it until a few weeks ago and I bought myself some griddle accessories for the Blackstone griddle I got for our camper, and a few small exercise equipment things, nothing extravagant. I still have ⅔ of the money!
If someone gave me $1000 right now I’d probably:
- go get my nails done
- get a new treadmill (mine died a few months ago)
- get new sneakers
- maybe try to get some new clothes. I’ve had the same sweatshirts for like 10 years.
10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers
Don’t waste food!! Buy what you’ll eat and eat what you have. I try to stretch our food budget by shopping at Aldi and then the local grocery store for their weekly sales.
I don’t buy name brands except for a few items that we prefer the name brand of (and then I buy them on sale with coupons!) and I cook almost everything at home.
I buy used (especially the Amazon Warehouse! If you haven’t, check it out. It’s usually in the warehouse because the box is damaged but the product is fine. You can save upwards of 50%!).
I also pick up items in the free section of the dump and sell them for a little bit of cash.
I realize you said A TIP and that’s several but I just really like to share ideas to help others.
Barrie, thanks for participating in this series! I have a question for you: I have never heard of a free section at a dump. Can you tell us more about that?