Hello! Today we are meeting Paige, a reader who is also a writer, a business-owner, and a super-frugal-DIY-hair-dyer. 😉
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a mom of three young men ages 16-25 who make me laugh more than any comedian ever could. I live with my husband of 26 years near Boston, where I’m an author, blogger, and own a small business.
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
I started reading The Frugal Girl in 2015. I loved getting a peek into how Kristen handled Sonia’s special diet (with such grace) because my husband is a vegetarian (I’m not), and my youngest is a persnickety eater.
I’m constantly re-jiggering meals to meet all the “requirements,” which has always felt not-very-graceful.
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
I realized in my 20s that to save for what mattered to me, I would have to save money on stuff that didn’t matter at all.
I often say our pool was paid for with the tuna fish sandwiches we brought for lunch instead of eating out.
4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
When we started our business, we had no choice but to reinvest our profits into them, and because we had three young kids, we needed to watch our personal spending very carefully.
While it felt awful at the time, having very little personal money and no plan B was a significant driver in our company’s success.
5. What’s one thing you splurge on?
I don’t care what it costs, if someone needs help (tutoring) or to develop skills (college, camp, etc.), I will write the check.
6. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
Salon hair color. I refuse to go gray, so in my 30s, I paid a hair stylist to help me choose an inexpensive, pharmacy-boxed hair color that matched my “younger” shade. I still use this $3.50/box brand.
Because my hair would often turn brassy, he even taught me to dump ½ of the white developer cream and replace it with the same amount of distilled (or filtered) water. Every time I do this (every three weeks if I don’t want roots), I think about how much I have saved over the years.
7. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
I’d add it to our “BFF – Brothers’ Fun Fund.” I have a policy that if my kids ever want to visit another brother, I pay their travel expenses. They also know it’s an emergency fun that any one of them can tap into if necessary.
I’d like to build this account up enough so they can use it for the rest of their lives.
8. What’s the hardest part of being frugal?
For sure, turning it off.
I go overboard even as things have eased up financially. For example, we’re taking a cruise later this year, and even though we can afford a balcony room, I fretted over whether to get the inside cabin instead (surprise: I sprung for the balcony, but not without pause).
Also, I’m not sure if I’ll ever buy brand name Cheerios or not buy (secondhand) clothes from Poshmark.
9. Is there anything unique about frugal living in your area?
I love pickleball, and my town has converted dozens of public tennis courts into pickleball courts.
If you haven’t tried pickleball, you’ll be stunned that you’ll be immediately “not bad.” Right from the start, you’ll play well enough to have fun.
10. What’s your funniest frugal story?
When my kids were little, restaurants were a rare treat.
I remember when my oldest was about 10, he read the fine print of the kids’ menu at Red Robin and discovered their policy that if a kid was still hungry after they ate their kid’s meal, they could order another meal for free. Well, he was always still hungry.
When he pointed out this policy to the server, they always looked confused because they had never encountered this situation. I’m not sure if they still have this policy or if, after they met my son, they discontinued it!
11. What single action or decision has saved you the most money over your life?
Investing money automatically using paycheck deduction. We were automatically forced to live on less because the money was invested before it ever hit our checking account.
12. What is something you wish more people knew?
Your twenties are your shot.
If you want to follow your dreams, in my experience, your twenties are the time to do it. It becomes infinitely harder (not impossible, but harder) in later decades when you have dependents.
If you want to read more about this, you can read a free (frugal!) copy of my book Drift: How to (accidentally) create a life you don’t want.
Use the passcode: friend (all lowercase)
13. Do you have any tips for frugal traveling?
One thing I know at 56 that I wish someone had told me at 31 is that kids don’t need fancy vacations.
In our town, most families go on grand trips during school breaks. I always felt guilty when I saw vacation photos of my kids’ friends riding camels, parasailing, and eating fancy food.
But here’s the good news – kids don’t need that at all. They just need you to be there. So watching SpongeBob on your staycation counts. Staying one night in a local hotel with a pool does too. So does playing Uno at the park.
To quote Kristen, “Ha!”
14. What’s your best frugal win?
Working while my kids were napping, at school, and all weekend when my husband could take over.
My husband and I built a profitable business on the “crumbs of time” I was able to work when my kids were little. I LOVE what I do, so this may not work for everyone. I’m glad many employers are waking up to this because many skilled employees who want to stay home with their kids still have (some) time to devote to a career.
Paige, I chuckled when you mentioned off-brand Cheerios, because I have always thought all the store-brand Cheerios were oddly dusty. So now I want to know: which off-brand do you enjoy?
Also: I think we all will want to know: what’s the brand of hair color you love? $3.50 is a great price!
And just so you know, sometimes I was not all that graceful about Sonia’s dietary requirements. That time when she was put on the temporary FODMAP diet on top of all her other restrictions? I stood in the grocery store trying to figure out some options and almost burst into tears. It’s tough working around multiple food issues, so please don’t feel alone in your struggles.