I’ve never met Carrie in person, but we’ve moved in similar internet circles for quite some time, since we both blog (She blogs at CarrieWillard.com)
So, I was delighted when she volunteered to do a Meet a Reader interview.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a homeschooling mom of 7 (with 3 graduates!) in a northwest Georgia suburb. I love reading, walking, and spending time outside.
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
Since 2008! I’ve been a fan for ages.
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
I’m one of those people who was born frugal (I think I take after my Scottish grandmother). I remember always trying to buy the sale item when my mom took me shopping. At a young age, I was very aware of the connection between spending money and someone’s labor.
Being frugal has also made it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mom for many years, and I’m so grateful.
4. What single action or decision has saved you the most money over your life?
Cloth diapering and breastfeeding my 7 babies saved me thousands of dollars.
5. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
For much of my adult life, it was sheer necessity. But one of the beautiful things about frugality is that when the stuff hits the fan, and it eventually does in everyone’s life, frugality helps you weather the storm with more ease. The frugal muscles you built in more prosperous times serve you well in lean times when stress makes it harder to learn new things or create new habits.
Also, I’ve learned a lot from the FiRE community (financially independent, retired early).
Scott Riecken’s book Playing With Fire encourages you to create a list of the top 10 things that make you happy on a weekly basis. Interestingly, most of the items that made the list require little or no money. Doing this exercise always makes me think!
6. What’s your best frugal win?
When I was just a teenager I read Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette books. She was my first frugal role model, and I never forgot her story and the principles from the books. I have my own copy of the trilogy now and I re-read it when I need inspiration.
Another powerful frugality habit I adopted is keeping a spending journal.
There is so much power in hand-writing things. It keeps me mindful of my choices. It also helps me make connections between spending that truly makes me happy (books, day trips with the kids, experiences) and spending that doesn’t (running through the drive-thru because I didn’t bring a snack or plan ahead for dinner).
7. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?
Not investing as soon as I began working! I drill into my children’s heads that they must take advantage of the benefit of starting early when it comes to earning compound interest.
8. What’s one thing you splurge on?
Experiences. I don’t eat out or buy expensive clothing, but I thought nothing of buying Coldplay, Smashing Pumpkins, and Jane’s Addiction tickets! Creating memories with my teenagers is priceless.
9. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
New home decor or clothing. Thrift stores have completely ruined me. I simply cannot pay retail for anything!
10. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
I’d log in to my Vanguard account and buy VTSAX! Stocks are on sale at the moment (wink wink).
11. What’s the easiest/hardest part of being frugal?
The easiest part is that my particular brain registers spending as painful. I do think some of us are “born this way”, giving us an advantage when it comes to saving money.
The hardest part is scratching my itch to travel. That will have to wait for when I no longer have kids at home, although I have taken several trips free courtesy of credit card flyer miles. I use a credit card to pay for everything, and pay it off weekly when I do my bookkeeping. I never pay interest, but I do enjoy freebies!
12. Is there anything unique about frugal living in your area?
Because of Georgia’s mild weather, we enjoy outdoor (free) entertainment nearly year-round. And yard sale season is from March-October!
13. What frugal tips have you tried and abandoned?
1) Making my own multiple cleaning products
It was ineffective and a waste of time. Now I clean everything in my house with a half teaspoon of original powdered Tide dissolved in a gallon of hot water. Nothing works better, and there are no plastic bottles to dispose of or to clutter up my house.
Couponing was a stressful, time-consuming task that took up too much of my bandwidth and made me grumpy. I was so happy to discover ALDI. Their prices are the lowest in my area and I love that shopping there reduces decision fatigue.
Carrie, I think I was born frugal too! And yep, I think that gives some of us an unfair advantage; it’s like our brains are already programmed to always be thinking, “Hmm, how could I do this more cheaply?” I am always, always looking for a money-saving angle. 🙂
And as I said above, I too have the Tightwad Gazette trilogy! I bet a lot of us here do.