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Meet a Reader | Jen from England

Today we’re meeting Jen, who lives with her little family in England. I love meeting readers from anywhere, but it always adds a little extra fun when they live outside the U.S.!

Here’s Jen:

1. Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a 30-something former tax accountant, who has recently made the switch to be a stay-at-home mum.

Reader with her daughter in the sand.

I live on the North East coast of England with my husband of three years and our 10-month-old daughter.

baby in the water wiht her dad.

We live a fairly simple life and love spending time outdoors and with family, though most of them aren’t local, unfortunately.


Most of our free time is spent training for various races (triathlon for my husband, open water swimming for me).

England beach on a sunny day.

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

I can’t quite remember but I know I started when I was still single, so at least 7 years but probably a lot longer than that.

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

My dad was very careful with money so it’s something that I’ve always been aware of growing up.

However, when I first started working after university I was on a fairly low wage and didn’t really think about my finances or budgeting too much. This led to me making some unwise decisions (see below!) and I realised I had to start being really careful before I got into any serious trouble.

I never had huge amounts of debt but I certainly didn’t have any savings and would have struggled with any big expenses.

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

Over the last few years, we’ve been saving and planning so that I had the option of being a stay-at-home mum, rather than going back to work.

Being able to build up our savings, overpay on our mortgage, etc had meant that our outgoings now are a lot less than they could have otherwise been, so I was able to resign from my previous job in the spring.

a baby playing in a pool of water.

Spending time with my daughter will always be the best ‘why’ we have. We also find that being frugal often ties in with being green/sustainable too, which is something really important to us.

5. What’s your best frugal win?

I don’t think we’ve had many big wins, it’s usually all about the little things that keep adding up.

I’m so glad we were in a position to be able to buy our car outright though, as opposed to leasing or getting finance. She was second-hand, we’ve had her for 5 years and she’s still going strong.

When I think about how much people have to pay every month in car payments, we must have saved ourselves a fortune over those 5 years, and we have no plans to replace her anytime soon.

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

Honestly, buying my first house.

I bought it over a decade ago on my own, when I wasn’t earning a huge amount and I really stretched myself with the mortgage. I ended up getting a really bad deal and paying way above-average interest rates.

In hindsight, it would have been better to continue to rent for another year or two until I was earning a bit more.

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

It doesn’t apply as much since we had our daughter, as we have a lot less free time, but my husband and I love going out to fancy restaurants for special occasions. We’ve sampled quite a few Michelin stars in our area.

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

Anything relating to salons, beauty treatments, make-up, etc. As long as I have some soap and a flannel I don’t need anything else.

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

Probably what we do with any cash we manage to have leftover, 50% goes to our daughter’s savings and 50% goes to paying off our mortgage.

10. What’s the easiest/hardest part of being frugal?

The easiest part for me is being frugal with food. I’ve always meal-planned and hated wasting food, we eat very little meat and hardly ever have takeaways so I find it relatively easy to keep our food bills down.

The hardest part is keeping in mind that it’s a long-term thing. I’m often tempted to spend if we have a bit extra left at the end of the month, but I have to remind myself that paying off the mortgage, adding to a pension, etc will help us in 20/30 years. I can’t wait to meet my future self and reap the benefits of this!

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

I don’t think it’s unique to our area but I love how many free or cheap things there are to do, especially with a little one. There are so many parks, playgrounds, and sports pitches to use.

baby in a stroller by the beach.

We love spending a morning on the beach or going for a walk in the nature reserves. We attend free classes at our local libraries and socials at the children’s centres.

trail through the trees.


Several of our local museums are free and there are always sports sessions and entertainment days put on during the school holidays.

12. What is something you wish more people knew?

It’s not necessarily something people don’t ‘know’, but we’ve met a lot of new parents since we had our daughter, and I’m always a little saddened when it’s obvious they’ve gone out and bought a huge pile of stuff for their baby and it’s all brand new and expensive.

a person pushing a stroller.

They just don’t think to get things second hand and it’s a shame, there are so many used baby sales, charity shops, selling platforms, etc available and you can get so many good deals!

13. How has reading the Frugal Girl changed you?

beach on a cloudy day.

I’ll always be glad I found your blog, but probably not for the reason you think!

Reading it was the first time I’d properly come across home education and after hearing about your experiences, plus doing a lot more research elsewhere, we have decided to go down that route with our daughter in due course.

It’s something we probably would never have done otherwise.


Jen, I loved getting to know you a bit through your answers! Your little girl is precious, and I’m so happy that you are able to fulfill your dream of being able to stay home with her.

I agree 100% about getting baby things second-hand. Babies often outgrow toys/clothes/gear before they’re worn out, so there’s a lot available on the second-hand market.

I would love to know more about the open-water swimming you do. What types of bodies of water do you swim in? Do you do this only in warm weather? Do you race?

Also, tell me about the climate in your part of England. What is the weather like?

Readers, the floor is yours. 🙂

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Wednesday 12th of October 2022

I am retired now. I was a Stay at home Mom when our son was born, it was hard financially and SO WORTH IT. Those were the best years! AND, no one else raised my child!!!! I think it is a great investment and a huge JOY to spend those years with the kiddos.So many free things to do:Libraries, picnics,hanging out with other moms/kids/museums/the zoo, days at home with hot chocolate and story books.. you will remember these years forever!! I went back to school when my son was in fourth grade,I was able to attend nursing school at a community college,back in the 80’s you could complete a full nursing program in just 2 years, and it cost me $3500.(We had to borrow!) The hours were the same as when my son was in school.When I went to work it was part time and I was able to stagger shifts. There’s time for it all.. just NOT ALL AT ONCE!


Tuesday 11th of October 2022

What a lovely meet the reader post!

As a Brit, who used to live in Middlesbrough just south of Jen’s home, I’m obviously biased. Jen, you have some of the most spectacular coastline so near to you. Bamburgh beach is one of my favourite places.


Monday 10th of October 2022

For #5 your best frugal win, I thought you might just say "see #4" - I'd definitely call it a huge frugal win that you were able to make your choice to stay home! : )

I'd have to agree - for me too, my frugal wins are mostly a compilation of small gains. That's provided a lot of years for our recent HS grad to see how much it all adds up, so it's been good for our generational frugality!


Monday 10th of October 2022

What a lovely post. Thank you so much for sharing! Your money ethics really resonate with me, and you and your baby are adorable!


Monday 10th of October 2022

Nice to meet you Jen, thank you for sharing your life with us.

When I was reading the comments regarding open sea swimming, very impressive, I was reminded of a book I read by Lisa See called The Island of the Sea Women. This is a true story of women who swam/dove I think to get sea urchins to sell. They wore cloth outfits and in the winter for extra work they dove in waters off of Russia. Yes you read that correctly. Everyone in my book group loved the book.


Tuesday 11th of October 2022

@karen, Thanks for suggesting, put it on my reading list

Lisa K

Monday 10th of October 2022

@karen, I read this book too and loved it! I had never heard of this before and was so intrigued by the culture.


Monday 10th of October 2022

@karen, How interesting, I will add it to my reading list. Thank you

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