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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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. 🙂