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Q&A | Abandoned house updates, being the “higher-desire” saver, and more

First up, we have three questions from Cindy (the same RV-ing Cindy from this Meet a Reader post!)

What are you living on right now, while you’re waiting for school to start? Are you getting alimony… using benefits… ???

Nope; I am living on the income I make from this very blog.

I get paid a teeny tiny amount for every ad that is displayed, and since thousands of people read my blog, that adds up to enough to support myself. I don’t have money to burn, but I can pay for life’s necessities.

Like rent!

Kristen's rental on moving day.

For all of the years that I was married, I always had a job of some sort going, one that could be scaled to independently support myself (such as piano teaching).

My motive? I knew I’d want my kids and me to be financially ok if I were to be widowed. If we lost the main breadwinner, I wanted to know I could still feed and house us on my own.

Kristen and toddler Zoe, standing by a tree.

Zoe and me around the time I started blogging. Oh my, I look so young!

I didn’t really foresee that this circumstance (separation and divorce) would be the reason I’d need my own income, but here we are! And I’m thankful that I am able to take care of myself this way.

Kristen and Zoe in a boat.

Zoe and me last year

I have always thought it was important for stay-at-home moms to have some kind of income-earning plan in the event of widowhood. And now I’d add that it’s an important thing to have in place in case a marriage needs to be dissolved.

(To be clear, I am in no way denigrating people who use public benefits when they leave a marriage. That’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do, and I support it. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself to a place of physical and emotional safety.)

Also, when you list the WWA meals (which I’m glad you do), it seems like you’re buying a lot more groceries than you’re actually using. Are these going elsewhere…into the freezer… ???

This is an interesting question; I’m wondering how you arrived at this conclusion!

I have been slowly building up a pantry (like when I stocked up on the $0.99 packages of chicken and threw them in my freezer), but I don’t have a super huge stash of food here.

If you are thinking something like, “Whoa, Kristen is spending a lot to feed three people.”, maybe it would help to know that I’m including toiletries, paper goods, kitchen trash bags, and cleaning products in my grocery totals.

What’s the status on your brother’s Treasure House? Is it cleaned out now, and renovated?

And Jane said:

I am wondering what has happened to that old house you rescued so many things from. I am thinking it was on a property your brother bought? Are there still more treasures to be had? Did it get refurbished or torn down? That was a fascinating series to me!

It’s all empty now! And it is super weird to see it like that.

A refresher of the original condition:

A cluttery house.

Cleaned out:

abandoned house kitchen.

abandoned house.

empty abandoned house room.

It’s mostly gutted now too; those walls, ceilings, and floors were so dirty and damaged, there was no rescuing them. The house needed a total reboot.

gutted house.

I think there might be some structural repairs that are necessary, and after that, they can start the process of making the house into a liveable home again.

gutted house.

My sister-in-law has been posting some pictures of the progress on Instagram…the account is @treasure_haus. So give that a follow if you want to stay up to date!

tall ceilings in gutted house.

My brother has a full-time job, plus he owns another business, plus he has projects to do at his own house, so progress on the abandoned house may be on the back burner for a bit. 😉

new ceiling 2x4s.

Question – do you have a recipe for making home fried potatoes? I seem to remember references to making
better oven fries by cooking the potatoes first on the stovetop and then finishing in the oven.


Yes! Whenever I need to make a browned potato dish (potato wedges or potato cubes, for instance) I always par-cook the potatoes.

That makes it so much easier to get the outsides browned properly while also ensuring that the inside of the potato is cooked as well.

potato cubes

You can par-cook in the microwave or on the stovetop, and I wrote more about that in this post about making potato cubes.

Do you ever get tired of being the reasonable one? What are some of your thoughts to help manage this?

I thought of you and your readers this weekend when I found myself at the store and thinking “Why is it ALWAYS me who worries about the cost of things?”

Then I went to “Well, maybe I’ll stop worrying about it and just spend and my husband can be the one to rein back the spending.” but then that won’t get us anywhere good either because chances are he won’t!

Ultimately I know that this is my nature and I’m ok with it but it’s tiring sometimes. I don’t even like indulgence but yet somehow I feel like I should ‘get’ to be the one to indulge.

-Crunchy Cake

Well, once my divorce is finalized, I will be a single adult for the first time in my whole life. So, I will not have an issue with this because it will be…just me!

But yes, it can be kind of exhausting in the long run if you feel that you are always the one carrying the weight of being financially responsible, especially if you have two very different ideas of what financial responsibility looks like.

Three glass jars of coins.

Dr. Corey Allan, a marriage podcaster, points out that in a relationship, there is a higher desire and a lower desire person in almost every aspect of life (adventure, travel, money-saving, giving, etc.)

And the person who has the higher desire for something will, by default, end up being the person who does the initiating/takes on the responsibility.

For instance, the spouse who likes to travel more will end up being the one who initiates/organizes travel.

The spouse who has a higher desire for adventurous food will end up being the one who looks for new recipes, new restaurants, or new grocery stores.

two jars of coins

I don’t know what things will look like for me in the future, but I am fairly sure that if I get remarried in the future, I still will be the person who is most concerned about saving money.

(Honestly, if I married someone even more frugal than me, I might get annoyed. Ha.)

I am probably always going to be the spouse who sweats the money stuff more, and I need to make peace with that!

That said, feelings of resentment are like a little warning bell that shouldn’t be ignored.

So, if there are inequalities going on that are making you resentful, it’s probably healthy to address those to see if the two of you can come up with some creative solutions.

For instance:

Could you set aside a little fun spending money for yourself, to help you feel like there is room to indulge a little?

And at the same time, could you set up a fun spending money account for your husband to help corral his spending a bit (with the agreement that the fun money account is all he’s going to use for willy-nilly spending)?

A glass jar of coins.

If your relationship is healthy in other ways and has a good solid foundation of love, respect, and communication, then you guys can probably put your heads together and figure out a way to navigate this in a way that feels good to both of you.

Readers, do you have advice for CrunchyCake?

And feel free to have input on the other questions too. 🙂

P.S. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can leave it in a comment or you can email me (

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Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Years ago we agreed on an amount of money that my husband and I each got monthly to spend as we wished. It’s varied from 10% of our paychecks down to $100 a month, depending on what other financial responsibilities we have. It has saved a lot of resentful feelings when he wants another new electronic gadget or I want to splurge on yarn, or go to lunch with friends. One of our best decisions ever. After many, many, many years of shopping for groceries weekly, we started shopping monthly during the pandemic, like many other folks. I discovered I loved it! Saved us time for sure, but also money on the grocery bill since we weren’t grabbing a bag of chips or cookies or whatever on impulse when in the store. We live in a small town and have 2 grocery options- a warehouse type store and a Safeway so not much savings to be had by shopping around at different places. We’ve settled at about every 3 weeks now, with one trip in between for fruit, vegetables, and milk. We have a freezer full of protein (local beef bought from the rancher, local chicken bought from the farm, local fish bought from the boat) so unless we want pork or lamb for a change, we don’t buy meat at the grocery which makes it easier. We also have frozen fruit (either picked locally or commercial) and a few bags of frozen veg in the freezer to stretch between shopping if we run low. I keep a fairly decent pantry stash of grains, pasta, tuna, canned tomato products, canned and dry beans. I find it stress-relieving to know that we are fine for a couple of weeks if I’m swamped at work, or we don’t feel well, or an avalanche closes the road.


Tuesday 14th of March 2023

I'll have to reserve reading al of these lovely comments (as usual) until I have a few extra minutes. For now, I just want to observe that your brother's house was built in a time when things like lead pipes and asbestos were commonly used, as evidenced by the outlines of the 9" x 9" shadows of the recently removed tiles. For the sake of all of your health, I hope this work is proceeding with proper protection and disposal. We don't want any of you to risk your health!

Cin Dy

Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Are your children living with you? Are you receiving child support or will you be once your divorce is finalized?


Wednesday 15th of March 2023

Two of them are living with me, yes. The other questions, I can't answer right now because the process is ongoing (and it will not surprise anyone to know that opposing counsel is reading everything I write here.)

Central Calif. Artist

Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Kristen, is there anything your readers can do to cause your income from the blog to increase? I am willing to click on some of those little busy boxes if that gives you more kickback.


Tuesday 14th of March 2023

A food pantry can be a help in these types of situations. Grocery stores use them as write offs and you can always donate what you don’t use. Glad you’re pulling through without any alimony because that seems a little unfair that a judge didn’t rule that some type of alimony needed to be paid. Seems like women often get the short end of the stick after staying home to raise kids and the marriage dissolves.

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