Susannah first volunteered for this series in March, but it took her a while to send her answers and photos back because…she got a puppy! And as it turns out, puppies are indeed a lot of work. 😉
1. Tell us a little about yourself
Hi! I’m Susannah.
Originally, I’m from Washington State, but I’ve been living in Massachusetts for the past 10 years since I graduated from college.
I’m a freelance writer living on the southern border of Massachusetts with my partner (who is a software engineer working remotely), cat, and adolescent puppy (7 months). I love the flexibility and autonomy that come with owning my own business.
We bought our home about 10 months ago and moved from a small/medium city condo to a 2200 square foot house on 2 acres. We’re pretty rural for Massachusetts and we’re enjoying small-town life while still living within 30 min of two larger cities!
This is our first home so it’s both exciting and overwhelming.
Since we do not plan to have children, this house could possibly be our forever home, although we dream of retiring to Vermont one day.
We’ve done a lot of work on it already, adding solar panels, putting in wood floors, and switching to heat pumps/mini splits for A/C. We also got the property fenced for our puppy.
It took us 8 months to find the right house and have an offer accepted, but it is the perfect place for us. We have lots of plans for it in the future, but a lot of that will have to wait until we build up more savings.
We are enjoying our land and we started our vegetable garden with raised beds this year. This was my first time growing anything from seed. My mom HATES gardening so I never did any growing up and I have lived in cities for the past 10 years. It was like magic to see my green beans producing.
My puppy loves them and will park her butt next to the plant when she wants you to pick one for her! I am going to feel bad when they’re done for the season.
We also planted 15 fruit trees this year. I love to make jam and pickles, and I’m just generally excited to be producing some of our own food. We do not want livestock, however, as we love to travel and the pets already complicate that a bit.
My partner grew up in a family raising beef cattle and he does not want to get back into that life!
My dream is to become a self-sustaining novelist. I always have several projects going. Right now, I am working on a novel, a couple of short stories, and a blog (www.friendsofgreengables.com) with my friend, which I describe as “homesteading lite.”
Sometimes it’s hard to work on my own projects after writing and editing for clients, but I try to make some time for it every day.
I also have tons of hobbies. I knit, spin, cross-stitch, bake, cook, preserve, and enjoy both board games and video games. My partner and I met through a board gaming group so that’s what we do with our friends when we get together.
Our house is great for having people over and we have lots of friends nearby!
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
Since college, I believe–about 10 years! It’s been fun seeing the evolution and the constants 🙂
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
My upbringing. My parents have always been frugal (I am the youngest of 5) and I grew up buying clothes from thrift stores, shopping the sales at the grocery store, and relying on old cars.
As an adult, I have fully embraced paying more for quality items, but I still love a good bargain!
4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
If you save money, you can do more with it! I want to enjoy my life now as well as when I’m retired. Anything can happen and I don’t want to have any regrets because I didn’t do something I wanted to do, like travel or try a new skill.
I am far less frugal than I used to be (I was living on about $500 a month in college!) but I am constantly looking ahead and thinking about what I want my life to be like now and in the future. Seeing some of the struggles my parents are having with paying for health issues etc, even with healthy savings, makes me think about how important it is to have a nest egg.
Also, my income is not always steady as a freelancer. I need to have a cushion in case a client takes their time paying me or I have a slow month. The upside is that if I lose one client, I’m not losing all of my income.
5. What’s your best frugal win?
My college education.
I was fortunate enough to do my first two years at community college during high school. Not only did that save me two years of tuition and housing, but I graduated two years early and got to avoid the giant lecture classes at the university. I went to an inexpensive, but quality state school and got my BA just before I turned 20.
Pell grants and savings from my first job as a dog bather helped me, and I was privileged to have help from my dad. When I graduated, I owed him about $3000 for money I had borrowed for living expenses, which I paid back pretty quickly.
Knowing so many people with heaps of debt, I am grateful for everything that came together for me. I do not take the privileges I have been given lightly. I’m also glad I made the practical choice and decided to go with a cheaper state school and to live off-campus. I didn’t even apply to any expensive schools.
6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?
Not applying for scholarships to help me with my university tuition. I’m sure I could have done even more to offset the cost of college, but I was absorbed in my community college coursework and working on the weekends!
7. What’s one thing you splurge on?
I have a few splurges, but I would say that pets and travel are the big ones for me. I am involved in dog sports and dog shows, and I definitely spoil my girl! I’ve traveled extensively and I have never regretted spending money on it.
8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
A few things! Makeup, handbags, brand new cars, and new models of electronics.
9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
I would probably use it toward my next quarterly tax payment, as boring as that is.
10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers
Get to know the normal prices of items like groceries and clothes. That way, you’ll know if a sale is actually good or just a way of making the regular price seem like a good deal! Also, learn to DIY some things and buy in bulk if it’s practical for you (I whisper sweet nothings to my chest freezer that it’s my favorite appliance!).
That’s all from me! Thanks so much for this opportunity and for continuing to blog 🙂
Susannah, thank YOU for participating!
Your radish made me chuckle because when I was a kid, my mom let me plant a row of radishes in the garden, and I could not stop pulling them up to check on them. I am, apparently, not the same type of radish-grower that you are. 😉
Also, as a fellow self-employed person, I hear you on the quarterly tax payments. The next one always seems to be looming in the distance.