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Meet a Reader | Karen, one of the original readers!

Hello everyone! Today we’re meeting Karen, who usually goes by KS in the comments. Although she wasn’t here for the first post (pretty much no one was), Karen has faithfully reading my blog for many, many years. I consider her one of the originals. 😉

Here’s Karen:

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Karen on a sunny day.

I grew up on the East Coast and still live just about 30 minutes from where I grew up. My husband is also from the local area.

We live in a small-ish two-story colonial that used to be one of the low-income homes in the neighborhood, years before we moved in.

fall planter.

One of the things I love is that home improvements cost far less in a smaller home than they would in a larger one. So, putting on a new roof or installing new windows (which we’ve also done) cost us about half of what it otherwise would.

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

For many years! When I first discovered Kristen’s blog, I actually read the whole site all in one evening–like I would a good novel.

fall leaves.

I have since stopped reading many of the blogs I began reading at that time, but I am still reading The Frugal Girl religiously.

It’s always a bright spot in my day and Kristen feels like a close friend, even though we’ve never met.

3. How has reading The Frugal Girl changed you?

I have definitely benefited from the money-saving advice but what has benefited me, even more, is Kristen’s cheerful attitude and advice on life. One of the best life tips I’ve gotten from Kristen is that “nothing is all good or all bad.”

two cats on chairs.

I also love the Thankful Thursdays posts and the reminder to look for the good things in our lives, since the bad things are far easier to spot. Two things that are always on my thankful list are our two kitties, Dana and Muffy.

orange cat sleeping.

They bring us a lot of entertainment and joy!

orange cat on a wood floor.

4. What’s your best frugal win?

Buying our home. We moved in just before the market went haywire.

screened-in porch.

So, we got an excellent price and our home is now worth three times what we paid for it, so it’s a good investment.

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

Not planning out our meals and “winging it” at the grocery store–thinking that if I buy food it will magically turn itself into meals. More than once, this has caused us to fall into the takeout trap while wasting good ingredients.

Baked ziti.

Remembering that Kristen originally started her blog to hold herself accountable for avoiding food waste, I recently started a blog to hold myself accountable for meal planning and cooking.

The blog has definitely been a good motivator!

chicken stir-fry.

Plus, having leftovers to enjoy the next day is another big payoff of cooking.

pyrex containers of food.

6. What’s one thing you splurge on?

Home improvements. Our gas fireplace and screened-in porch are my two favorite “splurgy” additions to our home.

I’ve never been a fan of winter, but having a cozy fireplace to sit in front of on cold winter days has been a huge upgrade.

gas fireplace.

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

Fancy cars. We tend to invest in good, highly reliable vehicles and keep them well-maintained so they last us for years.

8. Did you ever receive any financial education in school or from your parents?

My parents always told us “you can do whatever you can afford.” Therefore, living within my means was ingrained in me from the time I was little. My husband and I live by this advice as well, saving up for purchases before we make them and avoiding carrying a credit card balance.

We do this in Quicken, with small set-aside funds that are earmarked for things like vacations and home improvements. We also have a rainy day fund to pay for unexpected purchases.

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

For me, the easiest part of being frugal is saving money–and the toughest part is touching the “rainy day fund” that I mentioned above. I never like taking the money out–especially for things like a car repair or a new water heater.

Yet, withdrawing funds for a fun vacation, like our trip to California last summer, is something that’s far easier to do.

golden gate bridge.

from our trip to San Francisco

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

a lake surrounded by trees.

We live in a cosmopolitan area that has a relatively high cost of living. I’m always amazed by just how high the household incomes are in this area, which is reflected in everything from housing costs to what it costs to eat out.


Karen, thanks so much for participating! I’m glad to have gotten to know you a bit better and I’m especially delighted to see your kitties. 🙂

I really like your point about how home improvements are cheaper with a smaller house; fewer windows, smaller walls, a smaller roof = less money out.

Plus, a smaller house is cheaper to heat and cool. Lots of frugal wins!

Readers, the floor is yours. Leave your questions and comments for Karen!

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Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

Don't forget a small house is easier to clean top to bottom, too ; )


Thursday 24th of November 2022

@Jenni, Very, very true!


Monday 21st of November 2022

My favorite renovations have been a gas fireplace and a screened-in porch too! We thought about adding on a granny flat but for the cost we could've bought another apartment so we decided to stay out of debt and squirrel away the money for retirement instead. I love living in a just-right sized house for my family. Kristen's blog is so positive and real- really a bright light in the internet world!


Thursday 24th of November 2022

@MB, Don't you love having one favorite renovation for the winter and another for summer!


Monday 21st of November 2022

Thanks for sharing and your photos were especially nice. I too love that you can make a smaller home nice and cozy and updated for less money. Am in process of a small kitchen and bath remodel which feels expensive regardless, but would be oh so much more in a larger house.


Thursday 24th of November 2022

@Jean, Yes, smaller homes do have a nice economy of scale. I hope you enjoy your remodels!


Monday 21st of November 2022

Very nice to meet you KS! Cute kitties…


Thursday 24th of November 2022

@Stephanie, Thank you! Niced to meet you, too.


Monday 21st of November 2022

I have thought what I learned from Kristen's blog and aside from the concrete things I have picked up a lot of attitudinal things which might be more important.

I try to be grateful everyday and when I am frugal I feel great about it now because I know so many smart accomplished people on this blog are doing the same thing.

Also great to meet you Karen from a fellow karen. I always use a lower case letter to differentiate myself.

Hope everyone has a pleasant Thanksgiving.


Thursday 24th of November 2022

@karen, Very lovely to meet a fellow Karen, or should I say karen. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

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