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Meet an Australian Reader | Emma

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Hello everyone! Emma answered my call for international readers, and I am so thrilled to feature her today.

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Hi, my name’s Emma and I’m 42.

I live about an hour out of Sydney on the east coast of Australia with my husband and two children, a 13-year-old and an 18-month-old. I’m currently working part-time.

Emma with her child, standing on a beach.

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

I’ve been reading the blog for seven years now. I find it relatable and practical.

I know it was 2014 because I was procrastinating over a particularly tedious uni assignment and I was looking up ‘how to be more productive’ when I hit on your blog series on the topic!

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

I suppose I got interested in saving money in school. We lost our family home when I was a teenager due to financial crisis and that really made me see what a precarious situation debt puts you in.

I’m deeply concerned with environmental issues, so a lot of the time I’m trying to save resources and the money saving is added incentive.

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

The why behind my money savings efforts is three fold:

  • I don’t want my children to worry about money for things they need
  • I want to create a secure and stable home (and help the planet!)
  • I don’t want to struggle too much in my old age to keep the bills paid

5. What’s your best frugal win?

My best frugal win was probably marrying my husband! He works in construction and he’s saved us a lot of money over the years on renovations and maintenance.

In terms of things, I am blessed with family and friends who pass their clothes on to me when they’ve had enough of them – I’ve bought very few clothes for myself for years!

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

A dumb money mistake we made was over-capitalising on fixing up our first home and selling it in a hurry.

It wasn’t a massive loss, but it was annoying after the labour we poured into it that we hadn’t been more strategic and forward-planning in what we spent on it.

A bit of reflection and conversation about where we wanted to be in a few years may have gone a long way!

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?

One thing I probably splurge on is good food. A local company currently delivers our fruit and veg for example – it’s not the cheapest but it’s great quality and local so I’m sticking with it while I can.

That said, we grew our own pumpkins for the first time ever this year and they were great and free 🙂

Emma's husband holding one of their children.

Our mandarin tree has been productive this year too, and the cockatoos didn’t destroy them all this year either!

(Are mandarins called mandarin oranges or clementines in the US? I’m not sure.)

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

I’m not remotely tempted to splurge on designer handbags or shoes. I just don’t get it, I’m sorry!

I’m all about comfort when it comes to footwear and I’ve been using the same couple of bags for years and they’re going great.

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

If $1000 was dropped into my lap today, I would put it aside for when our fridge gives up – it’s the only major appliance we bought when we were first married that hasn’t needed replacing yet.

Any money left would probably go on plants – I’d like to produce more food on our block.

Emma in her garden.

10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers

A frugal tip from me is keep on top of your bank accounts and automate your savings.

It’s really easy to tap the card and not realise how much you’re spending, but having a regular reckoning with your transaction history can be eye-opening!

But most of all, let go of other people’s ideas on what you should buy. Your money, your choice.

11. What’s different about frugal living in Australia vs. other places?

I don’t know if frugal living looks very different in Australia to the US, I’ve always found the blog posts pretty relevant to me here.

A cat looking at a kangaroo through a deck railing.

My cat meeting a native

We do live in a crazy place for real estate prices as most of the population wants to live on the coast, so rents and mortgages can take up a big chunk of income. I really feel for people just starting out trying to find affordable housing.

However, it’s also a beautiful place to live with plenty of free places to go nearby – the beach or mountains are both within a 10-minute drive from us.

(As I write however we are only allowed to exercise there if it’s within 10 kilometres from home, not picnic or anything due to the recent restrictions in our region.)

Emma's backyard

Our backyard has been a blessing during lockdown!

One thing I have noticed that seems different in the US- every house I’ve seen in Australia has an outdoor clothesline. People do use dryers, but it’s standard to hang stuff out in fine weather I think.

An Australian street in the fall.

a view of Australian fall

I don’t actually own a dryer – I just put wet stuff on some clothes racks on the back deck when it rains. Of course, it doesn’t snow where I live 🙂

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Emma, I am delighted that you shared with us. It was so interesting to get a peek into your life down-under; it looks like you live in a beautiful place in the world!

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Readers, the floor is yours; I’m sure Emma will be delighted to field any questions you have.

P.S. If you live outside the U.S. and you’d like to be featured, just send me an email, and I’ll send over the interview questions.

Homemade Finger Paint
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