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Meet a UK Reader | Joanne

Time to meet another reader! Joanne lives in the UK, so as I edited this post, I imagined hearing it with a British accent. 🙂 

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Blue sky above a garden.

My garden – with a very unusual blue and clear sky!

I’m 55 years old and I’ve been married 23 years in September and we have two sons aged 19 and 17.

My husband is an actor who also works as a market researcher, my eldest son is just about to start university, and my youngest starts VI form college in September.

We also have an almost 10-year-old Labradoodle who entertains us daily with his crazy antics!

Labradoodle with a blue bow tie.

I live in the middle of England about 12 miles from Birmingham. It’s colloquially called The Black Country due to its industrial past – Google it as it interesting how the area got its name.

I’ve done a little genealogy and all of my family on both sides are Black Country born and bred. We have quite a specific accent, very different to Brummie which is the Birmingham accent!! 

(edit from Kristen: I had to look this up. Here’s a YouTube video that talks about these two accents. And Joanne, do let us know if it’s accurate or not.)

I’ve previously always worked as an administrator in various areas including education and health care.

Unfortunately, a really unpleasant change of management at my previous job resulted in a huge change for me and I am now working at a small holding looking after cats in the cattery; rescue cats; chickens; giant rabbits; 3 goats, 2 horses, and a dog and cat grooming room.

A beige horse with a braided mane.

My favourite horse, Flossie – she hates all people except me! I’m her “person” apparently😄😄

I also resell on eBay and that’s is going really well too. I love my new job and lifestyle.

Chickens behind a wire fence.

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

I fell down an online frugal rabbit hole about 4 years ago and found The Frugal Girl.

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

It’s a case of having to be interested, to be honest. Our retail business failed in the 2008/9 recession and we’ve had to be financially very, very careful since then.

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

We need to be money-saving minded to ensure we are financially sound from one month to the next.

5. What’s your best frugal win?

I cook from scratch every day and have little or no food waste which makes me really proud.

Homemade pizzas ready to bake.

Friday night is pizza night!

I meal plan and have my groceries delivered weekly so that I’m in strict control of the food budget. I have a good food pantry which I’ve had for grad after an LDS friend explained the concept to me.

I also get free eggs and doggy grooming at my job which saves many ££££ 😄😄😄

6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?

I had, what I now like to refer to as a ‘starter marriage’ which ended after 5 years when I was 27 (no children).

I bought a small 2 up 2 down terraced house from the proceeds of the divorce with a tiny mortgage, which when I met my now-husband we decided to sell.

Jo's red house.

My house!

We spent the money from the sale wisely, extending our new marital property but I do wish I had kept that house and rented it out for the monthly income and to have a brick and mortar investment.

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

We have a takeaway every other Saturday and we always eat out at a nice restaurant for birthdays and our anniversary throughout the year.

It’s something we could eliminate but we really enjoy it and keep it within an appropriate budget.

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

Make-up and hair cuts.

I have my nails done if I can afford it as I have shockingly weak nails from years of nibbling, but I’m super low maintenance apart from that.

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

I’d convert it into ££ 😂😂 and then put it towards a family holiday.

10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers

Plan, plan, and then plan again in all that you do.

Food – meal plan and shopping lists

Clothing – buy used if you can and out of season if possible. I’ve just purchased via eBay a winter coat and boots which had I waited a bit longer would have cost me more.

Insurance – get quotes early and shop around

Track your spending and pay everything monthly if you can.

11. Is there anything different about living frugally in the UK as compared to other places, particularly the U.S.? We’d love to hear about it!

A farm fence under a blue sky.

a view at the farm

I think the one thing that I notice in reading The Frugal Girl and the comments is the amount of vouchers/cashback/coupons that seem to be available to you in the US. It seems that rewards and incentives are much more prevalent over the pond than here in the U.K.

Obviously, the NHS here in the U.K. means we get free healthcare which is a massive boon financially. I recently slipped on a wet floor in the cattery (my fault) and sustained a radial head fracture of my left arm.

(Here’s a photo of my bruised arm if you are the type who likes to see that sort of thing.)

So far I’ve had in-person A&E, orthopaedic consultant, and physiotherapist consultations plus 2 telephone checkups with zero outlay. I have no idea how we would have afforded this in the US.


Joanne, it was lovely to learn more about your life. Thank you!

I have a question about the two-up, two-down. I read the Wikipedia entry about these types of houses, and I was curious, did yours have its own bathroom? Or did you have a shared bathroom like the homes mentioned on Wikipedia?


Readers, the floor is yours to leave questions/comments for Joanne!

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Wednesday 1st of September 2021

Thanks for contributing, one of my goals is to visit England someday!


Tuesday 31st of August 2021

I live in a very similar house and our old outside toilets are still in the shared yard (shared between 8 houses)


Monday 30th of August 2021

Lovely to meet you and hear about England. Your new job sounds so great -- it is amazing how much work stress affects our lives and, happily, animals never gaslight or bully! I try not to waste food, too but you sound like a master . Hope to visit England someday -- thank you for sharing with us!

Joanne in the U.K.

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

@priskill, Indeed - I may have to clean up after the animals (and you all know what that means!!!) but they are never mean or bully or gaslight. Even the rescue cats we sometimes have who hiss and run away when I go into their pens all come around in the end and enjoy the cuddles I give them. I hope you can visit England someday! Xx


Monday 30th of August 2021

Hi Joanne! This was a lot of fun to read. I was immediately drawn in because our demographics are eerily similar ... we're the same age, we've been married about the same length of time, and our kids are about the same ages. I also would give almost the same answers that you did to the questions what do you like to splurge on, what are you not tempted to splurge on, and what would you do with an extra $1000. I love Flossie's braid, and that she loves you!

Joanne in the U.K.

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

@BJS, Hello my demographic twin!! Xx

Ashley Whitt

Monday 30th of August 2021

I find it interesting that people who have government-funded healthcare call it "free healthcare". I'm Canadian and I also love my free healthcare.

But Americans seem more likely to call it "socialized healthcare".

And while that is accurate, I think the fact those of us with it say "free healthcare" without thinking, speaks volumes.


Tuesday 31st of August 2021

@Ashley Whitt, it always feels to me that when US residents say ‘socialised’ they mean it in a bad way. Like “why do I have to take care of you if you can’t take care of yourself”. But I think that may partly be because healthcare is so expensive in the US, as if that’s the actual cost for that treatment.


Monday 30th of August 2021

To your point, when I was a kid and my dad was in the military, we did refer to our healthcare as "free".

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