Hello, everyone! Today we are meeting a European reader, Julie. She told me she’s a little nervous, but I assured her that you all are lovely and that things will be fine. 🙂
1. Tell us a little about yourself
Hi! I will be 62 years old in August, and I’ve been married for 35 years with two grown up daughters aged 30 and 28.
I live on the edge of beautiful countryside in the north west of England. Our village is on the site of an Iron Age fort and has a hill in the shape of Queen Victoria’s profile!
Two years ago I retired after 38 years in the library service and now I spend my days volunteering and doing all the things I never seemed to have time for when I was working. I enjoyed my job but boy, do I love being retired!
I help run a pony sanctuary, as horses are a life long love of mine, and I am a director of our Community Sports Club.
Here’s me with Star, my heart horse at the Sanctuary.
I also do an afternoon a week in a charity shop and once a month help run a session for older people.
I have a border collie and a cat as well as 20 rescue ponies shared with the other volunteers!
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
I can’t remember but I found Kristen through another blog that did some sort of Fridge Friday post about using up stuff in your fridge before a re-stock and Kristen used to host this on alternate weeks.
(Kristen’s note: I think Julie is probably thinking of SimplyBeingMum! She and I used to alternate hosting Food Waste Fridays.)
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
My parents were savers so it always seemed normal to me. They would save for things they wanted, and credit was distrusted.
I used to save pocket money and birthday money for pony rides on the beach in summer. I was apparently very keen not to spend my money though and would earn rides by helping to lead the ponies and burying any droppings in the sand.
4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
I always saw money as a safety net for whatever life threw at me.
For many years I drove unreliable second hand cars that would go wrong and I liked the idea that I would be able to pay for any repairs without having to borrow money or put it on my credit card.
Now it means we have been able to help our daughters out in their difficult times.
5. What’s your best frugal win?
My degree cost me nothing, I even got a subsistence grant to go to university and I lived at home (not my choice really).
Also, when we took out our mortgage in 1987, interest rates were sky high. BUT my husband worked for a bank so we got a vastly reduced rate which meant we could afford a nicer house (where we still live).
6. What’s an embarrassing money mistake you’ve made?
I was “influenced “ into buying an expensive Zara trench coat which was too big (they didn’t have my size!) and I ignored the fact that loose belted coats always make me look like a rolled up mattress)
I never wore it but kept it in case I turned into a different shape, last week I finally took it to the charity shop where I volunteer to set it free!
7. What’s one thing you splurge on?
Travel, largely because my husband loves to travel. I love it too but find it hard to commit to the expense of it.
Below is Copenhagen, which we loved.
This is a castle on the north east coast of England which is spectacular.
8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
Any sort of invasive cosmetic stuff like Botox or fillers. I’m quite low maintenance. I don’t get gel nails or facials or expensive hair cuts and I’m happy going grey.
9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
I would put it towards our next holiday which is a safari in Botswana.
10. What’s the easiest/hardest part of being frugal?
I don’t think I’m as frugal as a lot of the readers here but the easy part is how natural it feels after so many years.
The hardest part is now we are both retired and aren’t going to be actively putting money away, it’s a bit unsettling!
11. Is there anything unique about frugal living in your area?
We have a Facebook group local to us called Random Acts of Kindness. People post things they no longer need for free and others can ask for stuff they need to see if anyone has it. It’s a bit like your Buy Nothing groups.
12. What frugal tips have you tried and abandoned?
Growing my own food!
I invested in potato bags, tons of growing compost, canes, seeds, plants etc. I got three tiny potatoes, one courgette and a few runner beans. I did not dare add up the cost of that produce! I am good at gardening but not growing anything except tomatoes .
13. What’s your funniest frugal story?
See above! Apparently my face when I found my three huge potato sacks had only yielded 3 minuscule spuds was hilarious 😂
14. What single action or decision has saved you the most money over your life?
Paying off our mortgage early.
15. What is something you wish more people knew?
That if you can manage to do it, having an emergency fund gives you so much peace of mind. I really feel for all those struggling with the cost of living and unable to save anything for a rainy day, like my youngest girl.
16. How has reading the Frugal Girl changed you?
I came across the Frugal Girl while trying to avoid good waste and it really helped me with that.
Also it feels like a safe space, I love Kristen’s feisty yet kind and empathetic personality, and the comments section is a joy.
17. Which is your favorite type of post at the Frugal Girl and why?
I love the posts about up-cycling furniture etc and the Friday posts seeing what everyone has been eating during the week. It’s fascinating to me how meals vary across the different countries.
I also like to see photos of the cats!
18. Did you ever receive any financial education in school or from your parents?
Not in school. My parents always told me it was sensible to put away money to enjoy later or for emergencies and they also taught me the value of insurance.
19. Do you have any tips for frugal travel or vacations?
Unless it’s for a very brief stay, we always self cater.
Also, you actually spend very little time in your accommodation so as long as it’s clean and well located, you don’t need luxury . My husband uses Trip Advisor a lot.
After an encounter with bed bugs a number of years ago we ALWAYS check the room and beds thoroughly. Apart from the toll it takes on your mental health, bringing bed bugs home with you is the opposite of frugal!
Julie, it was fun to get to know you a bit! I love getting peeks into what life is like in other countries.
Like you, I’m not very good at growing my own food, and I have made peace with it. My frugal strengths lie elsewhere!
I envy how simple it must be to travel to other countries when you live in Europe; there are so many options that are fairly close by. Even Canada and Mexico are quite a trip from where I live.
Also: your cat is so cute! I love her pink nose. Chiquita is a calico but she’s the dilute variety, so her colors aren’t quite as vibrant as Ginny’s.