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Q&A | Step tracker, Aldi vs. Lidl, hoarder homeowner, & mastermind groups

I have a collection of question from you all, so buckle up for some random topics!

What activity tracker do you use?

A lot of you asked this when I shared the screenshot of my steps for the month of May.

screenshot of walking app.

I have a Withings Steel watch that tracks my steps and my sleep, and their app is the one I use.

Kristen kneading bread

I know that’s not a very helpful answer because the app only works if you have a Withings tracker!

I like this watch because it looks like a regular, stylish watch; there’s nothing digital on the face. I also like that it does the bare minimum: it tracks my sleep and steps. I don’t care about heart rate or tracking a variety of activities!

withings fitness watch

The exact watch I have is not available anymore (I got it for Christmas several years ago), but the Withings Move is probably the most similar, feature-wise, to what I have. It just looks a bit more sporty.

If you want the gold/gray combo that I have, you could get the Steel HR but all of the current Steel watches do have a small digital circle display for the heart rate (my Steel does not track heart rate).

Just curious, have you been able to unearth any info about the previous homeowner(s) of the abandoned house that you’re able to share? Your finds/dig seem so archeological.


(In case you’re new, click here for a Q&A that will get you caught up on the abandoned house situation!)

From what we can gather, both from things we found in the house and from chats with neighbors, the previous homeowner had some eccentricities and maybe some mental health challenges. We also know she went through a really upsetting divorce at one point.

A cluttery house.

I figure that all this collecting/hoarding/obsessive yard-sale-ing was probably some kind of coping mechanism for her. She didn’t really seem to have used or displayed all the stuff she owned, but she must have derived some kind of comfort from buying it.

I don’t know exactly why no one else in the family took care of cleaning up/selling the house when the homeowner died, but I can totally imagine that the job felt overwhelming!

It looks like someone went in there and made an effort at one point (there were some things in bags and boxes), but maybe they just couldn’t sustain the effort required.

an old run-down house wall.

My sister-in-law and I are diehard “Don’t throw this away!” type of people, and even we could only sustain our efforts for limited amounts of time. It’s just SO MUCH STUFF and by this time, it’s all so dirty, it’s even harder to sort through.

So. I have compassion for the homeowner and also compassion for her children/grandchildren. I like to think that she would be happy to see that I am cleaning up and rehabbing her treasures, and I think she’d be gratified to know that her stuff came into my life at a time when I really needed dishes and furniture.

What do you think of Lidl? We are getting one soon. How does it compare? I have found everything you said about Aldi to hold true in our branch.


Let’s answer this with bullet points!


  • they have a bigger selection of items than Aldi
  • they carry some name brands (such as Dave’s Killer Bread and Clif bars)
  • they have tons of private-label items, just like Aldi does
  • they have some good sales, especially on produce
  • they are cheaper than regular grocery stores
  • they have a bakery
  • they have a rewards program


  • prices are a little higher than at Aldi
  • the stores are bigger (a little less efficient to shop in than Aldi)
  • they have TONS of special purchase items, which could lead to excess spending
  • the store layout always feels odd to me (I have a hard time finding things, but maybe that’s because I am used to Aldi!)
  • there’s no quarter cart-return system, so sometimes there are no carts by the door (this is never a problem at Aldi)
  • the Lidl in the fancy area has higher prices than the Lidl in the not-as-fancy zip code

Basically, I prefer Aldi because low prices are very important to me. But given the current price of gas, I will generally choose to stop in at whichever store I am closest to…if it’s Aldi, great. If it’s Lidl, that’s fine too.

Aldi shopping carts.

No matter where I shop, I apply my usual grocery tactics by watching sales, purchasing store brands, buying ingredients vs. meals, and so on.

And this is a good time to put out a reminder: your choice of grocery store and even your choice of what to buy at said grocery store matters way less than the fact that you are grocery shopping and then eating at home.

(For the price of eating out, you can practically buy lobster. At Safeway.)

Aldi Parmesan and prosciutto

So, yes, optimize your grocery shopping if you can, but remember that if you are eating at home, you have already done the most important thing for your food budget!

I’ve been a reader for several years now. I’ve never written to a blogger before, but I have a question that I was hoping you could either answer through email or a blog post. I’m a mom in my late 30s with kids. I currently work full-time, but my work is not as meaningful or as flexible as I’d like it, and I’m planning to start a side business one or two evenings a week to see if it’s something I could eventually transition to as my “main gig.”

The side business is related to my degree, which I have the credentials to do, but I’ve worked in a somewhat unrelated field for a few years now so I feel like there’s some skills I’d really like to brush up on as I get started. I first learned about mastermind groups through your blog, and I’d really like to join one that is geared toward professionals in my field who also run small businesses. However, I can’t figure out how or where to join one. Is it customary to pay a fee to join one? How do you find a group that fits your niche?


I’ve never been in a paid mastermind, although I’m sure they exist.

Kristen's mastermind group

Me with my mastermind group at a conference

This is a little tricky to answer since I don’t know what your field is, but I think first I’d try to find other people online who are in your niche. Join Facebook groups, follow other people on Instagram in your field, and start to build relationships with like-minded people.

Once you’ve found those people, ask around about mastermind groups. You might ask your peers, or you might ask someone who is a leader in your field.

Kristen and Whitney with masks on.

My friend Whitney, who I met in my mastermind. We were at the airport, fall 2021, thus the masks!

For instance, if I wanted to get into furniture flipping as a full-time job, I’d find groups on Facebook where people rehab furniture, I’d follow people on Instagram who make a living doing that, and I’d also find groups related to running an online business (that group wouldn’t need to be in my niche specifically).

I’d try to make some connections from there and ask around to see if anyone is running a mastermind with openings.

And if all else fails, YOU could start one by inviting other people in your niche.

Our setup is very simple: we meet every other week on Zoom, we rotate moderation duties, and two people are on the hot seat every week, sharing updates about their last goal and sharing a new accountability goal. And the rest of us who are in attendance help answer questions, troubleshoot, and brainstorm about whatever challenges the people in the hot seat are facing.

So, it’s not rocket science, and I bet you could start one if push comes to shove.

Readers, if you have input on any of these questions, do share!

P.S. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just email it to me.

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Thursday 23rd of June 2022

My husband is in a mastermind group that cost $425/month to join when he started; now I believe it's close to $600 for new members.


Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Sometimes the differences between Lidl and Aldi vary from store to store. For instance, I got several bad packages of chicken from my Aldi so I just skip the fresh meat. But the produce section is fine, while the produce at my sister's Aldi gets fruit flies and is not fresh.

Initially, the Lidl nearest me had more actual groceries, but the junkity-junk in the middle of the store must have been selling better, so they expanded that section and shrunk the groceries down. Lidl has more specialty grocery items always in stock vs. Aldi. And their produce section is larger.

It's closer for me to get to Aldi than it is to Lidl, so I usually do not go to Lidl.


Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Thank you for the Aldi-Lidl info. Just what i wanted to know.


Monday 20th of June 2022

When you begin the clinical part of nursing training, you are going to want a watch with a sweep hand to take pulse and respiration (yes, they have very portable pulse oximeters and monitors nowadays, but you need to know how to do it manually because they won't always be available. ) Even digital watches can be annoying for that, because sometimes the LED faces dim or darken after 10 - 15 seconds.

I have worked with hoarders and their families when their hoarding gets to the point where it's a significant danger to the hoarder's personal safety to remain in their home. It's often not just "stuff". Most hoarders' homes are infested with rodents and insects, there are rodent feces everywhere, and sometimes human feces and urine as well (the bathroom breaks down or becomes inaccessible and they won't let anyone in to fix it). Some people hoard dogs or cats and there are animal feces, spoiled food, and even dead pets in the home. There is mold in the walls and carpets, rotted food in cabinets and refrigerators, rotted floorboards with holes. Stuff can be piled floor to ceiling with very small pathways and only one small area to sit or sleep.

Sometimes hoarding is triggered by unresolved issues--usually grief--they are trying to hold on to something missing in their lives. There is also a connection in some people with hoarding and gambling. A hoarder usually cannot control the urge to acquire and hold on to objects (and/or cats, or dogs). Families often think the hoarder "SHOULD" clean everything out, or sometimes families will do the cleaning up for the hoarder (which can cause a great deal of animosity between them), only to find the hoarding behavior quickly returns. So it's not uncommon that hoarders are estranged from their families, and when hoarders die, the families can't face the mess that's left behind. They are angry, bewildered and disgusted that the hoarder lived this way. The hoarder generally cannot control their hoarding behaviors, and the family cannot control the hoarder. I do believe that it is a mental illness and there's generally poor understanding that it is beyond the hoarder's ability to control. I think your compassion for both sides is very kind.

Nancy Stewart

Monday 20th of June 2022

Commenting on the watch used to count steps. I know it doesn’t sound frugal, but my girls gave me a certificate to get an Apple Watch two years ago, on my 83rd birthday. I live alone and they were mostly worried that I would fall down the basement steps. I waited two months till they announced a new model and then got the older version which does have the fall alert on it. Maybe a 6. I have fallen a couple of times, and I get a special ring tone asking if I fell and if I am ok. If I don’t respond, it would be a 911 call. I haven’t been unconscious and was able to respond. Two other times I was working intensely, like edging a garden bed or sawing something, and I got the special ring. I like that it counts my steps and May either tell me I did better this week than last, or one more short work and I would hit my goal. So I have to say for older singles, I honk they are worth having. Just be sure the fall alert is on the model a person selects.

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