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Meet a Reader | Nicole from the Carolinas

Today we’re meeting Nicole, a nurse who shares a blended family of six kids with her husband.

1. Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a mid-30s woman born and raised in the South. We call Upstate SC/Western NC home. Most of my life has been spent here with just a few vacations outside of the South.

reader and her husband.

All of my extended family except my sister lives within 3 hours as well.

I was married at a young age for 15 years, and 3 years ago went through a painful divorce. I got married in 2022 and we have a blended family of 6 kids, most of whom are teenagers.

Nicole and husband.

Riding motorcycles is one of our favorite ways to spend time as a couple. The Blue Ridge Parkway has some amazing views!

Here’s our whole family at our wedding in 2022. We had a small intimate ceremony at our church and we took photos outside at our friends house.

wedding photo.

I work as a nurse in a hospital and plan my schedule around my husband’s so we can enjoy our time off together.

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

I found Kristen’s blog through my sister who used to read a lot of blogs, back in 2008. Now I follow 1-2 blogs through Feedly where I can click only on the content I’m interested in. Saves time!

I keep coming back to the FG because of Kristen’s focus on simplicity and contentment. Also, I like her consistency with writing and posts. It feels like catching up with an old friend when I read.

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

I was raised in a single-parent household with a mother who was naturally frugal out of necessity, then out of preference. So it has come naturally to me to be a saver.

Also, I’ve had many many lean years of just barely scraping by.

Now I have a job that pays well and I always have opportunities for overtime!

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

In one word? Intentionality.

I crave the security of having savings to not have to worry about a $1000 unexpected expense. And I love to share experiences with my husband and kids, so much more than gifts/material things.

Christmas cookies.

I plan most of our family activities. This was Christmas cookie decorating – we had our 6 kids plus they each invited a friend. Add a few grandparents and it was a party of 15-20. I made all the cookies and icing with the help of a few kids.

I like following the Dave Ramsey plan and ideas, but mostly I enjoyed Rachel Craze’s book “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” which focuses a lot on contentment in your life in order to save and win with money.

My husband and I are very intentional about our money so we can do the things that matter most to us. That includes cash-flowing college expenses, computers, cars, and vacations for all of us.

5. What’s your best frugal win?

It’s hard to choose just one…I refinanced my home after my divorce for a 2.5% interest rate. I did not upgrade my home even though I wanted to in the last 14 years. Now as we prepare to sell it we are looking at a good chunk of money to payoff our new house.

Another is driving my minivan for 10 years because it was reliable and paid off.

Mostly, though, it’s just saying no to little things over and over if they don’t matter, building the habit of saving instead of spending, and living on less than we make.

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

For the first 10 years of my previous marriage, we used credit cards rather than cutting expenses more extremely.

I now know that it took an emotional toll on me because I have a need for financial security to feel safe, and I wish we could have been on the same page about cutting expenses instead of regular splurges (like eating out).

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?


Not extreme, but we take regular (every month) weekend trips or more expensive local activities to enjoy with our kids. We’ve never been out of the country or flown with all 8 of us, but there are so many places and things to explore within an 8-hour drive.

kids on stand up paddleboards.

Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding: we got the boards as gifts and find low-cost lakes to boat in

Also, the kids enjoy more expensive activities (top golf, amusement parks, etc) so we build that into the budget for our family time, rather than doing it whenever they want.

mini golfing.

Local public park with a free mini golf course. We share the gear and can enjoy over and over.

Also, I splurge on giving, by intentionally giving to those who are in need, such as a friend who is having her third baby soon and needed a larger vehicle. I gave her my minivan to her for a steal; I could continue to drive it, and it is reliable, but I want to bless her.

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

For my husband and me both, clothes and shoes.

We prefer more classic styles (jeans and tshirt) and wear them as long as we can. We both wear uniforms for work.

I don’t spend much on my makeup, hair, or nails and I can’t believe how much people pay for this regularly.

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

I’d use it to finish some renovations on our new house.

My husband’s house had an unfinished walkout basement so we are finishing it and we will have enough space for all 8 of us to live comfortably together.

kids on a bench.

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

Hardest: Saying no to what looks or sounds good right now such as eating out, coffee, smoothies, new clothing, in favor of saving for what I really want.

Easiest: momentum! As you start saving and having a cushion, it gets easier to snowball and continue it.

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

We live in an area with so much beauty and enjoyment to be had in all four seasons.

kids by a hiking sign.

Hiking as a family to celebrate my birthday

There are many free outdoor activities such as lakes, rivers/streams, and hiking trails, and there is beautiful scenery all around. We often choose these things for our “entertainment”.

Bikes in a field.

A family property we get to enjoy as a large family by pitching tents and bringing air mattress. Bike riding is another frugal activity we love.

I would say that overall we have a lower cost of living compared to many areas of the US. Being in a rural area means it’s not very walkable, but there are many farms which have CSAs or sell their produce and meats to neighbors.

12. How has reading The Frugal Girl changed you?

Kristen has taught me so much about how to work with what you have.

Back in 2010 when I had more time at home and less money, I learned how to bake yeast bread and gave it as gifts and fed my family well. Menu planning and keeping up with the fridge food also trying not to waste food.

Those are true life lessons.

Also, in more recent years, I have enjoyed reading Kristen‘s posts about launching her teens into adulthood and her bravery in going back to nursing school.


Nicole, there are several parts of your story that resonated with me; like the fact that you got married really young and then ended up divorcing. I’m so happy to hear of your remarriage and I wish you a happily ever after with your new guy!

I loved the pictures of all of your kids together; seeing the happy new life you’ve made after a tough divorce is heart-warming.

Also, I read with interest that you are a nurse. What kind of nursing do you do?

And lastly, it made me smile to see the eyes on your Christmas cookies. 🙂

Readers, the floor is yours!

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Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

Glad to meet you! I also have learned to be frugal the hard way, but it is a better life with more control and a savings account. Congratulations on resisting the "instant redecorating" trend--can't believe how many magazines tout the remodel every year. Upgrading when necessary is much more important than the remodel of the moment, and cheaper in the long run, and easier to live with and enjoy. True for kitchens and for personal fashion. If your daughters are interested you can learn to do each others' hair and nails--not difficult, and another life skill that can make money in a pinch. It might also help them learn to be frugal about such services and appreciate the beauty of natural skin, healthy nails, and simple haircuts. I think the over made-up women in movies and TV are scary and not very attractive. Anyway, enjoy your beautiful home area and your family. In a few years you will have happy memories. As for college--it is still a good investment in a child's potential and future, expanding job options and preparing for future choices. My husband, a college physics professor, likes to brag about his students. They are creating the future in ways that are possible only with advanced training, in all kinds of fields. They are pilots, astronomy telescope managers, medical researchers, computer engineers, and many other fields. My own former students are journalists, writers, and producers, helping readers and viewers understand current events and many issues that affect our lives and our futures. They are not all making big bucks, but they are doing valuable work that gives them ways to use unique talents. My own college degree helped me find better paid jobs to support myself, even in hard times. So many options are available to young students now. And more good news: there is no longer a window that closes on college. My own university had a strict rule that students who enrolled had to graduate in seven years or they would never be allowed to return. It is no longer that way, good news for people who discover a passion later in life.


Wednesday 24th of May 2023

@Kristina, I am very supportive of a college degree and higher education, but I strongly believe the child has to have an internal drive as well as the external pressure and encouragement from parents. I expect that likely all 6 of our kids will go to college, likely a 4 year degree but we would be open to community college/trade school as an option as well.

Anita Isaac

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

Thanks so much for posting. Loved all the photos and the smart moves you have made. You are kind, generous and level headed. I just put the book you mention on hold at my library. Good luck to you and your lovely family. You don't mention any pets? You should have a cookie contet like Kristen does.


Wednesday 24th of May 2023

@Anita Isaac, Thank you for your kind comments. Personally I have nothing against pets but I'm more of a baby person. I love kids of all ages. And I've told my kids for years if they could take care of a pet without my help, they could get one. They have a dog at their dads house lol. Maybe in the future but not wanting one right now.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

Hi Nicole!

I enjoyed your post and the beautiful photos of scenery and your family. I wonder if you have been teaching/encouraging your large blended family to help with cooking and baking? I’m sorry you had to go through a hard divorce and I hope you find may years of joy with your new life family. Blessings to all ya’ll.


Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

@Vickymac, Thank you for your kind comments. I have taken the responsibility of food for my family. With that I manage it all but have learned to delegate. The two oldest girls (both 18) cook dinner for the family once a week alternating weeks (one this week, one next week). I have them find a recipe they want and send it to me and I make sure we have the ingredients or add them to the grocery list. When I am working more, I have ordered Aldi grocery pickup and have one of them pickup and put away groceries. The majority of the time I plan, shop and cook for us. But these are ways I have lightened my load when needed. My DH doesn't have much experience/ability in the kitchen but he is willing and able to do a few easy standby meals and I have him do that usually once a week. I have recently started trying to loosely follow a system (Mon mexican, Tues soup, Wed chicken, etc) because I get tired of coming up with dinner ideas! No one else seems to mind eating the same meals every few weeks so I've been rotating old favorites and mixing in new things as well. The baking is done mostly by the older kids when they want something. Or about once a month I will bake something especially for holidays.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

@Vickymac, Oops, many not “may”.

Erika JS

Monday 22nd of May 2023

Nicole, you have a lovely family whose joy is easy to see in the great photos. And what a loving person you are to give your van to a needy person! I so enjoyed hearing all about your new life and wish you and these lucky kids all the best.


Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

@Erika JS, Thank you for your sweet comments!


Monday 22nd of May 2023

What a beautiful family ! Thank you for sharing such wonderful inspirations for so many frugal fun family activities! Good to meet you, Nicole!


Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

@Martha, Thank you!

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