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Meet a Reader | Florida Brooke

Happy Monday, everyone! Today we are meeting Brooke, a Florida reader who grew up near me in the Mid-Atlantic area.

She’s a Disney savings queen and an avid baker, and I think you will probably chuckle at the money mistake her husband made before they got married. 😉 

1. Tell us a little about yourself

I’m 49, and I’ve been married for nearly 24 years to the kind man who introduced me to Jesus (insert kissy face emoji).

Brooke and her husband.

Us at Little Talbot Island State Park when we visited for the first time in 2010

My husband and I were born and raised in the Mid-Atlantic (Delaware and Maryland), but we’ve mostly lived in Florida since 2010.

A florida road

I never get tired of these views on our Florida roads. Spanish moss is so graceful-looking.

I’m currently a homemaker, caregiver to my 81 year-old father (mostly long-distance with an in-person visit every month), and a part-time eBay seller.

Other interesting jobs that I’ve had in my life include working at a public library, being an assistant to a financial planner, and acting as a standardized patient at a medical school.

a t-shirt pillow.

I sewed library shirts into pillow shams for my in-laws as gifts.

I’ve recently suffered the loss of 3 loved ones (my mom and second dad died in 2020 and 2021, and another family member is now estranged from me), so it’s been a rough road.

A man with an Easter egg.

My second dad found the Easter egg I hid for him, haha. I used to do fun things like hiding Easter eggs for them, and those are among my favorite memories of my parents.

After these losses, it’s taking a long time to get back to doing the things I love (crafts and sewing, baking desserts, and planning frugal-ish trips to Disney World).

peach cobbler

My favorite peach cobbler!

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

I remember recommending Kristen to a friend around 2011, and I had been following her for awhile, so I must have started reading close to the beginning of the blog.

Cookies in a muffin tin.

I love to bake cookies in my mini muffin tin. They are the perfect size!

I have fond memories of Wednesday Baking and Food Waste Fridays – but I equally love the newer series, especially Thankful Thursdays.

Cookies with eyeballs

I have been influenced by Kristen, haha. Eyes make cookies so much fun.

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

My mom raised my sister and me on her own for a good bit of my childhood, and money was very tight.

Mom grew a garden to supplement our food, and although Mom found a way to meet our needs, we didn’t have a lot of extravagance. Going to Burger King or Shakee’s Pizza once a month was a special treat.

I learned to budget as a girl and to not outspend my income, and I’ve never looked back.

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

I have been a homemaker most of my marriage, and in the beginning we had to stretch a dollar to make ends meet. Over time, it became less of a necessity – until my husband left his career and went back to school in 2014 to complete his Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees.

(I was tickled to hear of Kristen doing something similar! And a special shout-out to 2-year colleges – LOVE them!)

We had a very lean almost-8 years during his schooling, including moves to Iowa and then Michigan, for my husband’s graduate school education, and starting over in each place was challenging and costly.

We relied on lots of help and my income to make ends meet and try not dip into our savings/retirement fund. These days we stay frugal to make up for those years of not contributing to our retirement funds.

5. What’s your best frugal win?

We have never had a car payment during our marriage.

(My husband did, ahem, charge a used car to his credit card a couple of years before we met, though.)

We’ve been able to save up and pay cash for vehicles, vacations, and anything else we’ve needed or wanted. We’ve also been able to be a one-car household for probably more than half of our marriage.

At times it wasn’t easy (think one spouse working and one spouse going to school and working a part-time job, on completely different schedules), but it was always worth the sacrifice to keep our costs down and not go into debt.

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

When we bought our first house in Baltimore in 2001, we made the dumb mistake of taking out a HELOC to pay for things like carpet, kitchen modifications, and…. furniture. 0/10, don’t recommend.

Fortunately, we smartened up pretty quickly and paid it off in a couple of years, but it still cost us a lot in interest, and we’re committed to saving up and paying cash for those sorts of things in the future.

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

Vacations – mostly to Disney World. I’m an avid researcher, and I think I’ve found a million ways to save money at Disney.

swimming hippo.

A swimming hippo at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.

I geek out over the details and research involved in the attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc., and my husband and I love to interact with the Cast Members. (We’re the people that are always asked by family members: “You’re going to Disney AGAIN??”)

I also travel once a month to see my father, who lives 2 states away, and we like to visit my in-laws in Maryland as often as we can, less often since the pandemic started.

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


I am blessed with a husband who prefers my face without any makeup, and really, I can’t be bothered with it.

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

Save it for retirement after giving a portion away. Boring but practical!

10. Share a frugal Disney tip with other Frugal Girl readers 

(A personalized question for Brooke, since she’s a Disney fan!)

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.

At Disney, don’t plan to go to the parks every day (and spend more on tickets). You’ll need the rest, plus there’s plenty to do outside of the parks for free or low cost:

Spend some time exploring your hotel (especially if at Disney…the details are amazing and most people are too busy to notice) and enjoy the perks like movies at night, pool activities, and walking and biking trails.

Alternatively, use Disney transportation to visit other Disney hotels (from Disney Springs, walk to Saratoga Springs and then take a boat back; take a monorail from Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian Village Resort and enjoy a Dole Whip).

Have fun talking with friendly Cast Members and relax with your family. Sometimes the best memories come from these quieter moments, not while chasing all the latest and greatest rides.

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

We currently live on the east coast of Florida, and when we moved here for my husband’s job I was shocked at how expensive it is, at least compared to the inland Florida city where we previously lived.

However, Florida has amazing state and local parks, and it doesn’t cost a lot to visit them (and some are free). Some of our favorites are Honeymoon Island and Little Talbot Island State Parks.

butterfly garden.

The butterfly garden at UF’s museum of natural history. This was free for me to visit when I worked at UF!

When we lived in Gainesville, we often visited the University of Florida campus and the natural history museum for free.

We once took my parents to see the bat houses at the university, and hearing my mom giggle when the bats emerged from their houses was priceless – and literally free.

Two people's arms with wristbands.

My husband and I took advantage of free student events while he was a student at UF, as evidenced by our wristbands.

Where we currently live, we can see rocket launches from our parking lot.

florida sky

our rocket-viewing spot!

We also currently live about one hour away from Disney World, and although that is not an inexpensive place to visit, we can drive to Disney Springs and walk around all day for just the cost of a few small tolls.


Brooke, thank you for participating! I love the story of how you guys have worked together to make your husband’s education happen, and I really like the picture of your hands together. 

Your peach cobbler looks so delicious; do you have a link to the recipe? I have some frozen peaches that I could use up that way. 🙂 

I am curious: what’s your favorite Disney park? What’s your favorite ride? And what’s your favorite time of year to go to Disney? 

Alrighty, enough from me.

Readers, the floor is yours! 

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Saturday 9th of April 2022

Really interesting post. I love Florida and Disney and I worked at Epcot on the International programme back in 1998-99. This summer we are visiting for trip number 5 but no Disney this time. We are going to the Panhandle for a week and then a week in Orlando. We will do some resort hopping though.

Anita Isaac

Friday 1st of April 2022

Your post is so interesting. You had a wise mom who taught you well. You are very blessed. We have taken our kids to Disney twice. The first time was around Thanksgiving and there were hardly any people there and they were mostly international visitors. It was great. Hubby and I got engaged at Disney. We went there for his birthday. There were gobs of romantic places to propose but he pulled out the ring on a bus. We actually met on a bus, I worked at Disney World the summer between sophomore and junior year of college. I just LOVE Disney World. I even have stock in Disney.


Thursday 31st of March 2022

In my sixth decade, and have never been to anything Disney! Sure would like to, though. I love Florida and have made a point of seeing as many different parts of it as I could- pretty magical place! Lots to relate to in this post!


Tuesday 29th of March 2022

Great thoughts on visiting Disney! I went there on a school trip in junior high. I'm not sure if we will ever go with my boys (10 & 8) since there are so many other wonderful places to visit.

I am amazed at your view of rocket launches! This nerd (former chemical engineer) would love to see one some day. We visited the Kennedy Space Center on my junior high trip. So fascinating!


Monday 28th of March 2022

Brooke, I enjoyed your post. I am truly sorry for your losses.


Tuesday 29th of March 2022

@Lizzy, thanks so much!

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