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Meet a Reader | Sarah from Ohio

Hey everyone! Today we’re meeting a reader who found her way here because years ago, her mom sent Sarah a post of mine.

I think you’ll enjoy her pics of all the stuff she fits into her little hatchback, and…I think she’s the first reader who chose to answer the, “What’s your funniest frugal story?” question!

Here’s Sarah:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Sarah, I’m in my late twenties, and I live in Ohio with my partner and our cat.

Sarah on a rock cliff.

I was born and raised here but have been fortunate to have traveled a lot when I was younger partially due to the fact that my dad is from England.

I’ve been to eighteen countries, mostly in Europe, and hope to visit so many more!

man in London

My partner in London

I studied history in college but have worked as a librarian for a long time in a variety of capacities – university library, public library, and now remotely for a business after getting my master’s.

As folks could probably guess, books are quite important to me and I read about a hundred books per year.

selfie at a soccer game.

In addition to reading, I also love to play and watch soccer, bike, take pictures, do puzzles, hike, and, of course, travel.

cat on a puzzle.

COVID definitely put a damper on the travel in the last few years, but it also pushed us to explore areas closer to home which resulted in some wonderful adventures.

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

I remember my mom sent me one of your posts after I moved out so my guess would be about six years. I’m not sure if she still reads this blog but if she does – hi, Mom!

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

Frugality and financial wellness were well ingrained in my upbringing so it’s always been a part of my life.

I remember my dad teaching me about compound interest when I was maybe in kindergarten and my mom regularly taking me to sell our used books at Half Price Books and shopping at Goodwill.

When I eventually moved out of my parents’ house, saving money was already second nature.

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

This is a hard question to answer but a great question to ask. For me, the connection between frugality and sustainability is probably where my answer lies.

My parents highly emphasized sustainability to me – we didn’t buy new if possible, we repaired and reused what we could, and we recycled as much as possible to reduce our impact on the planet.

That, in combination with my parents’ frugal mindset, made me realize how important both of those things are and I’m honestly happier for it – I hate unnecessary stuff and try my best to reduce my consumption of things because it’s better for the planet, myself, and my wallet!

5. What’s your best frugal win?

Libraries are always my go-to answer for this but given that’s an obvious answer for me, I’ll say that working remotely has also been a big frugal win for me. I’m saving hundreds in gas and insurance, not to mention reducing the wear and tear on my car.

Because of its flexibility, I’m also able to save money in small ways, like not needing to take sick time for a brief doctor’s visit, doing laundry while I work, making phone calls that need to be made during business hours, not eating out for lunch, etc. – it all adds up!

A close second place definitely goes to my local buy-nothing group – I love that it saves so much stuff from the landfill and I’m able to find a good home for things I no longer need. I’ve also gotten some great stuff from it.

I almost always look there before I go thrifting for something I need before trying to find it new, which is how I’ve gotten a bookshelf, rugs, a workbench, chairs, full towel sets, gym flooring, lots of household goods, and more.

I always enjoy seeing what Kristen has gotten from hers as well!

6. What’s an embarrassing money mistake you’ve made?

When I started making my own money at my first job, I regularly over drafted my checking account (which pulled from my savings) and was hit with a bunch of fees because of it.

It took me a bit, but eventually, it sunk in that I was losing a fair amount of money that way (especially after a talking-to by my mom).

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

Travel, the occasional massage, and concerts. If I splurge, I try to make sure it’s on experiences or on good-quality wares that will last me for years.

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

Make-up and haircuts. I don’t wear the former and the latter is mostly done in our backyard with our trimmer. I’m also not a huge foodie so expensive restaurants don’t really tempt me.

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

Invest most and donate the rest.

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

The easiest part of being frugal for me is being surrounded by like-minded people in regard to frugality, whether that’s my family, my friends, or my partner.

On my first date with my partner, one of the first things we talked about was saving for retirement and good financial goals. As our relationship grew, that shared basis of understanding and openness around finances facilitated later discussions and decisions that we did together around money.

It even trickles down into smaller things, like date nights. One of my favorite things we’ve done together is bike to our local pizza place, pick up a pizza, and then bike to a park to eat.

The hardest part about being frugal for me is constantly questioning my consumption of things and being intentional about my consumption, purchases, and impact on the planet.

While I try my best not to buy anything new if I can help it, that doesn’t always work. I also try my best to support small, local businesses and/or companies that I know are sustainable and ethical, but again, that also doesn’t always work.

I can not make all my purchases 100% in line with my values and budget 100% of the time. I’m also human and susceptible to purchases that don’t end up being worth it for me.

There’s a quote that I try to remember – “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” – Anne Marie Bonneau.

Progress, not perfection, is important.

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

Ohio has really great libraries.

sewing machine

A sewing machine I borrowed from the library

The local libraries around me have things like:

  • free puzzle exchanges
  • tax assistance
  • plant exchanges/seed libraries
  • access to telescopes, driver’s ed kits, sewing machines, tents, pieces of art,
  • passport applications
  • notary services

The list goes on and on!

pile of sweaters

Sweaters I repaired using my library’s sewing machine

The libraries also provide access to services with free e-books/e-audiobooks/e-magazines/movie streaming, resources like Consumer Reports, language learning, databases for homework help and research, and more.

I can’t even fathom how much money I’ve saved by using my library but I’m sure it’s at least in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.

I really love the Peter Golkin quote, “My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”

I take that to heart:

bike at library

12. What is your funniest frugal story?

My partner and I were looking to purchase a new media console for our TV. I looked on Facebook Marketplace and found a used one that was in good shape and matched our existing furniture.

I messaged and asked if they’d be willing to come down a bit in price. They responded and declined my offer, saying they really wanted to get the full price they listed for it (even though it wasn’t in perfect condition and it’d been listed for over a week).

I moved on to other options but while I continued to research, my partner found the exact same posting on Craigslist. My partner then reached out via Craigslist (his last name is different than mine) and respectfully offered a price, but one that was even lower than my original offer.

Tv console cabinet.

Lo and behold, they declined my partner’s offer but then promptly messaged me on Facebook and were willing to take my offer. We picked the item up that same day. It did have more cosmetic issues than the person let on, so I don’t feel too bad.

And in the end, everybody involved seemed pretty happy. The media console works perfectly for our space and the price we paid was fair.

13. What single action or decision has saved you the most money over your life?

When I went to grad school, I decided to go with the cheapest online program possible. I knew it would have some drawbacks but I didn’t have to take out student loans and the final degree was the same as if I had chosen a more expensive school.

14. What is something you wish more people knew?

How much hatchbacks can haul!

pumpkins in hatchback.

I have a Mazda3 and I’ve hauled so much stuff in it, it’s become a running joke between myself and my partner to see what we can cram into it.


When we moved, we fit almost everything in it (across multiple trips), except for the obvious things like the couch and the mattress.

There was even one time I was picking up a dresser from a Facebook Marketplace listing; the seller didn’t believe me when I said it would fit in my car and lo, and behold, it did!

15. Which is your favorite type of post at the Frugal Girl and why?

Five Frugal Things are what got me hooked on the blog, but I’m also fond of the Thankful Thursdays.

Both frequently remind me that it’s often the small things can count the most, like a warm cup of tea.

mug of tea.

16. Do you have any tips for frugal travel or vacations?

I’m a big fan of the Going newsletter (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights) for flight deals and Rick Steves for reasonably priced recommendations on experiences, accommodations, food, and more.

We also try to shop at a local supermarket when we travel for simple things like snacks and breakfast – if we’re traveling closer to home, we stay at places with a kitchen to save money on meals.


Sarah, thank you! My friend Budget Girl (whose name is also Sarah) is always instagramming about all the things she fits in her hatchback, so your post made me think of her. 🙂

I love your cat! She looks almost identical to our cat, and so of course I had to show the pictures to my girls.

You look very tall in your photos; is that at all a challenge with a hatchback?

What’s your favorite genre of books? and do you have a favorite book of all time?

(One of my faves is When Breath Becomes Air, which is on my list of favorite medical memoirs.)

Readers, the floor is yours!

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Wednesday 19th of April 2023

What a fun post! Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I wish more people knew about hatchbacks too. There are way too many unnecessarily huge vehicles on the road!


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

Yes to the hatchbacks, and Mazdas!

We have a Mazda5, and I love that car so much. I can put an entire bike in the back if I have all the seats down!

Technically, it's a "mini minivan" - it has sliding side doors like a minivan, but it was built on the chassis of a sedan, so the "footprint" of the car is much smaller than an actual minivan. It has 3 rows of seats, but there's no way you'd fit adult-sized people in the third row - I occasionally transport some early-elementary-sized children in that row.

I'm kind of sad, actually - because of my genes, my kiddos are adult-sized at just 14 & 11, and the reality is that we're going to have to get a bigger car, probably before my younger child is in high school, as they barely fit in the middle row bucket seats right now, and they're both still growing.

But we'll definitely keep this car, and replace my husband's Toyota sedan instead (it's older, and can't hold nearly as much).


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

Sarah, shout out from Celina, OH! Loved your post.


Monday 17th of April 2023

My husband and I love hatchbacks, too! We bought a dishwasher and when my husband pulled our Ford Probe to the loading dock door of the store to pick up the dishwasher, the employee didn't think it would fit. It did!


Monday 17th of April 2023

Sharing my love for Ohio libraries as well ! I am lucky to work in a great one in SW Ohio. I love the check out receipts that show how much money you have save by using a library.

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