WilliamB is one of the most faithful commenters here and thus, was one of the top-most-requested readers for this feature.
But WilliamB is also one of the most private internet people I know.
So, I sent an email request along with full permission to be as private as desired, and yay! I got an email last week with the interview answers.
No pictures came in the email (not everyone in the world is as obsessed with taking pictures as me, apparently), so I’m just going to sprinkle some of my own throughout in order to break up the text.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I shall take the bull by the horns and say upfront that I keep most of my personal information to myself. There’s a lot I just don’t want out in the Interwebs.
This is very much like how I interact with good friends – we spend so much time talking about things outside us (our friends, recipes, economics, history, books, politics, etc.) that we rarely talk about ourselves or our jobs.
I’m a city dweller, have a white-collar office job, own my home, have a dog and a car, and a family I’m close to.
I was a bit burned out on cooking before the pandemic and it’s only gotten worse since. There are days when slicing a melon seems like too much work for dinner.
2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?
I don’t remember, maybe 12 years? There are archives available so I’ve read every post.
3. How did you get interested in saving money?
A good question for which I don’t have a good answer. It’s not necessity, exactly.
I was brought up in a comfortable middle-class environment and my parents never talked about finances, neither during the lean years nor the fat ones.
But while there have always been things I spent money on, I didn’t throw it away.
I made a relative fortune – $40 – at a casino during a family trip when I was 12: every time an adult gave me $10 or so (I was guiding my blind grandfather, who liked playing the slots sometimes) I stuck it straight into my pocket.
Even when I was broke, I wasn’t poor. I may not have had available cash but I always had an education, the training to be a good employee, and a family to fall back on (whether I wanted them or not sometimes ;-> ).
4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?
Another good question for which I don’t have a good answer.
Part of it is an exercise in discipline. Another part is that I’m just not a flashy person; I’m the sort who would be the millionaire next door rather than the financial hollow drum. I like knowing that I have money set aside for needs and wants.
For example, this year my house has needed a lot of work, including a new roof, and because of good luck and good planning, I can get some of my wants done also.
The only picture I had of a roof!
One doesn’t always have good luck and good planning can help when the luck runs out.
For example, the roof needed replacing just a year after the chimney needed a lot of work, and I was finally able to find someone to install venting bathroom fans.
That I found someone after years of searching is great, that it was in the same year that I replaced the roof isn’t so great.
5. What’s your best frugal win?
Does being born to parents who value education and who know how to deal with the working world count? Because that gave me a huge boost in the life sweepstakes.
Aside from that, I’m most proud of a time when I found an outcome that made all three parties better off.
Both I and my co-worker/friend traveled to the same city for work, for separate conferences, and booked into separate hotels. My friend’s hotel was overbooked and there was no room at the inn.
Usually, the hotel pays for the guest to stay in a different hotel.
But my friend’s hotel was trying to weasel out of that, instead suggesting increasingly impossible solutions culminating in one that was actually fraudulent.
So I stepped in.
I told the hotel that this was going to be the deal: my friend would take care of finding a place to stay (with me, we’d been planning to make a night of it anyway), the hotel would not bill our employer for that night’s stay, and the hotel would give my friend a night’s stay at any of the chain’s hotels in the US.
It was a win-win-win.
The hotel didn’t have to pay a rival chain for my friend’s room. Our employer didn’t have to pay for that night’s hotel room.
And my friend didn’t have to pay for the hotel when we took another trip later that year.
6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?
I can think of two suits I never wore. I got suckered into them and, in the end, donated them with tags still attached.
7. What’s one thing you splurge on?
I feel like I have a lot of them but my top two are food and travel.
There’s been plenty of opportunities to splurge on food during the pandemic and I mourn the loss of travel.
I haven’t been to a new state or out of the country in over 2 years and it’s looking like it’ll be another 8 months before I get the opportunity.
8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?
Fancy personal care.
Extravagant haircuts, manicures; whatever it is that people get, I probably don’t get it. Even my father gets more manicures than I do.
9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?
Give some, save some. If you want me to spend a financial gift, you’d better give me a gift certificate.
10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers
FG has shared so many with us that it’s hard to think of one she hasn’t already covered.
Ah, OK, got it: negotiate. There are two basic steps to negotiation: the first is enlarging the pie, the second is getting a larger piece of it. I’m much better at the first than the second. My hotel experience above, is a great example of enlarging the pie.
Enlarging the pie usually involves either reallocating resources so they end up with those who value them the most (such as swapping baseball cards) or asking for something that is more valuable to you than to them (such as getting a comp’ed dessert when there’s been a problem with your meal – the dessert is more valuable to you than the cost is to the restaurant).
Ask if they can cut you a deal, or if there’s a discount (AAA? student? Rotary Club?) you could take advantage of.
Look for something you want that is cheaper for them to give you; for example, if the plasterers mess up doing your wall, ask them to paint the rest of the room as well. It may only cost them $100 in extra labor but you’d have to pay someone else $200 to do it.