The Little House Living Show – Episode 007 – Living Simple and Frugal When You Are Single
Thanks for joining me in my first full episode on saving money with the Little House Living Show podcast! My hope for this podcast is that it will be a new way for me to connect with you, my readers, and for you to be able to listen to my words even if you are driving or having a busy workday.
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What’s In This Episode?
In this episode, I’m interviewing my friend Laura from www.afrugalchick.com. She’s sharing all about her new book and how she lives simpler and more frugal in the big city. She’s also sharing about how singles can take control of their finances and the specific money challenges they face.
0:36 – Introduction
1:11 – How Laura and I met
2:26 – All about Laura and where she lives
3:28 – The struggle of convenience
6:31 – How finances are different for singles
7:30 – Prioritizing your finances
9:47 – Finding free things to do in the city
11:24 – Talking about money
16:42 – Deciding what’s important in a simple life
19:29 – How space can be freeing
23:18 – Laura’s new book, Singles
27:24 – afrugalchick.com
29:09 – Wrap-up
Links Mentioned in This Show
- Submit a Question for the Show
- A Frugal Chick Website
- Singles: Take Control of Your Own Financial Journey Book
- Little House Living Recipe Book
Subscribe to the Podcast
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00:36 – Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Little House Living show. I’m so excited that you’ve decided to join me today and I’m excited to have you listened today cause I have another interview. Today’s interview with is with a friend of mine. Her name is Laura and I’ve known her for I think almost 10 years. I think about the same time that I started blogging and she blogs at afrugalchick.com so make sure that you check that out after you listen to the interview. I’ll make sure that I put a link to her website in the show notes so you can have an easy way to find it. But welcome Laura!
01:11 – Thank you very much. I’m excited to be here.
01:14 – Yeah, I think this is going to be a fun little chat today.
01:17 – Absolutely. And you know we met in one of the biggest cities I’ve ever been in in my entire life.
01:24 – Yes, I remember that cause I was going through a little bit of culture shock. No, a lot of culture shock at the time.
01:30 – I’m from a city and it was a lot of culture shock. So Merissa and I ended up at a conference together in like downtown proper Chicago. Yup. And I mean not a burb, not something like the kind of thing where you’re sure you’re going to die in a taxi before you get to the hotel kind of proper downtown. So I was a little bit of a fish out of water. We have about 2 million people in the area that I live in, but it is not Chicago. It is not that kind of crowded. We do not have the amazing stores that they had and the architecture. And we stayed in a super fancy hotel. Yes. And we were there. It was one of those minimalist hotels where there weren’t even like drawers or anything in the rooms. All the furniture was floating and attached to the walls and it was very, very fancy. So I don’t think either of us were incredibly comfortable the first place that we met because wow. It was, yeah, there was a lot to that.
02:26 – Yes, definitely quite, quite different than you know, everything that I’m used to. But yeah. So do you want to start by telling the listeners a little bit more about yourself?
02:38 – Sure. So I live basically outside of Virginia Beach, Virginia. So I live in a town called Chesapeake. It’s a suburb of Virginia Beach. But the other big thing that we have here is the Norfolk Naval base is here. So it’s the largest Navy base in the world is actually where I live. And then there were four other Navy bases that are connected to it. So we about 2 million people here where I am, but they’re pretty spread out over seven different cities. So we have a really interesting vibe that we have a lot of big-city kind of perks. We have an opera, we have a lot of good theater, we have minor league professional teams. We don’t have any major league professional teams, but we get good concerts and things, but we don’t have like a proper downtown area or any of those kinds of things because we’re spread out all over the place.
03:28 – So you can live in the burbs and be about 10 minutes from what we consider downtown and not have to sit in traffic for hours and hours. So it’s a really nice mix of having the amenities of living in a huge city but not being quite sort of compacted and on top of each other the way that people usually are. And my experience here is really different than a lot of other people because I am single, I don’t have kids, I’ve never been married. And so the way that you live in a city when you’re single is really different than the way that you live in a city if you have a family. So there’s a lot of interesting perspective that comes from trying to be both frugal and kind of simple when you’re in an area that has everything that you could possibly want in the world available to you, and there’s nobody else keeping track of how much money you’re spending or what you’re doing with your time, you can make your priorities however you want to make your priorities.
04:25 – Yeah. That, that makes complete sense because I, I mean, we’re not in a really big city where we’re at here, but we’re so much closer to so many different stores that I’ve never even been to before and everything is, you know, just 10 miles down the road. So its definitely is much more of a, you know it’s harder to stay away from that kind of stuff because it’s all over and it’s just right here. So close.
04:51 – Well, we enjoy convenience. Yeah. I think that’s almost everybody. And I know over the years I have marveled at Merissa’s life because if she wants a bowl of ice cream, she makes it and I just run down the street to the ice cream place and get a bowl of ice cream and then I’m all finished. But it would be a 40 minute drive for her to go get a bowl of ice cream. So it does make trying to live simple in some ways. It makes it easier. It’s way more convenient to be able to find all the ingredients that I would need. I eat whole, I try to eat whole foods as much as possible. I eat vegan about 85% of the time. Healthy vegan, I should say plant-based. Vegan can be Oreos are vegan. But I eat plant-based and I have 30 stores that I can go to to get Japanese sweet potatoes or the herbs that I need or those kinds of things.
05:41 – They don’t have to order them from somewhere. I can just kind of go out on a Friday afternoon, you go grab everything that I need to be able to get those whole healthier dues. Whereas if you don’t live near a city, those things can be a challenge for you to be able to try to find. You have to plan of time for a lot of those things. Whereas I don’t have that problem because I have all these conveniences around me. But on the same token, I have all these conveniences around me and that means on a Friday night instead of coming home and doing the frugal thing and making dinner, I can just run to a farm to table restaurant that’s by my house, still eat healthy. But then I ended up dropping 30 bucks my dinner. So it has its pluses and its negatives and honestly, as a single person, some Friday nights I will go drop that 30 bucks on dinner because I don’t want to sit in my house by myself.
06:31 – Yeah. I want to be out around people. I just actually wrote a book for singles, for their finances to help them with their finances. And one of the challenges that single space with their finances is whenever you listen to any of the big money people, all of who are really fantastic, and I don’t disagree with most of what it is that we teach, they say that all your kind of extracurricular spending needs to be cut off immediately. So you stopped going out to eat, you stop going to the movies, you just stop going to ball games. You stopped doing those kinds of things. Well, if you’re single, you cannot spend every Friday and Saturday night at home watching Netflix. It’s not a thing. It’s not going to work. You’re going to go crazy. You might have an extra 10 bucks, but you’re going to go crazy. So we have to learn that balance between having a social life, especially for those of us that hope one day maybe to meet somebody, I’m really not gonna meet somebody sitting at home watching Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime.
07:30 – So I need to go out and talk to people! But a lot of those things, you know, mean that I have to put the financial resources aside to be able to do that. And so simple living can help with keeping maybe grocery store costs down or not having six or seven streaming services like my friends do instead of only having, you know, one or two of those that I use for my television. Because of course having cable is now completely passe and nobody does that anymore. And so, you know, a lot of those decisions have to be made when you’re single and living in an area with tons of resources available to you.
08:03- Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think that really makes a lot of sense for anyone because it’s just all about like prioritizing your money. Yes, there’s certain areas that you can save in and that you should save in. But then, you know, like for us, we save money in different areas so that we are able to spend more money on experiences and travel and things like that because that’s one of our priorities. It’s something that we enjoy. It helps us, you know, be a part of our community and things like that. So that makes perfect sense to me.
08:33 – Well, it is a big part of being a community. I had one of the people who read my book sent me a message. She’s a pastor’s wife. They have a very tight budget every month, but people from the church are constantly inviting them to go out to lunch on Sundays after church and it’s them and their three kids. So they don’t mean please come out to lunch with us and we’ll pick up the bill for the five of you. They just mean please come out to lunch with us. We would like to spend time with you. Yeah. So how do you tell them no, that we can’t go out with you because we don’t have $80 to spend every Sunday on lunch. It can be a really delicate balance trying to make sure that you have the community and especially if you’re in ministry or you have, you know, say you’re a politician or something and you need to be out with people. Trying to find that balance between your budget and still accepting the fact that a lot of times money has to be spent in order for relationships to be maintained.
09:32 – Yeah. Yeah. I think it all comes back to that. Like what are your big priorities in life? Like this is the path that you’ve chosen. So you know, if the priorities need to be rearranged a little bit to make that work, then that’s what has to be done.
09:47 – Absolutely. But we do have an advantage being in bigger areas because we have a lot of free activities and that’s a huge thing, especially around here, because I live at the beach, so pretty much from April to October, there’s free concerts, there’s, you know, athletic events that you can go to that don’t cost any money. Almost every Friday night there’s some kid’s movie playing on a screen in some park somewhere. You can go take a picnic dinner and go sit down and do those kinds of things. So there’s actually some really great resources available. Oh by being in an area where there’s lots of parks and recreation departments and they’re trying to get tourists to come in and do things and we really get to take advantage of having those sort of things. Being in a city that, I mean it’s just my taxpayer dollars paying for it and I get that.
10:38 – But if, if I’m already paying my taxes, I may as well get free stuff. Yup. From paying my taxes. So every year, for example, the town that I’m in, we do our fireworks on July 3rd I have no idea why, but they always do them on July 3rd and before then, the Virginia symphony plays. So you take a picnic out there and you sit down and you get to listen to the symphony for free and then watch fireworks. Cool. And it’s a great night to go out with friends. It doesn’t cost any money and we can kind of hang out and have a good time. And I think people really underestimate their friends. I talk about this in the book. I think people underestimate that. Everybody kind of wants to save money even if they don’t know how to do it. Yeah. Money is sort of like the third rail of friendships.
11:24 – People just don’t like to talk about it. It makes people really uncomfortable. But I think if you’re willing to admit to people, you know what we’re trying to save or we’re trying to live more simple now and so taking the kids to this place where we’re going to have to buy cotton candy and they’re going to have to get souvenirs and this kind of stuff is not really an example of the simple life that we’re trying to lead. But we have this alternative activity that we really enjoy doing and so how about we go do that instead? It’s also 70 less expensive and most of the time people agree to go there to the cheaper thing. It’s not actually that hard to get people to agree to, but I think we worry so much about what people around us think. Yeah. That we don’t take that risk and trust that people are generally good kind people and understand what’s going on, when, who wants to spend money, when you don’t actually need to.
12:16 – Yeah. And I think we, we just assume people do. Yeah. I think that’s the thing is we just assume that people do. And especially for people like you and I specifically, and then I’m assuming for a lot of your listeners, you’re just kind of frugal by nature. Yeah. And so I take for granted that other people sort of see him process the world the same way that I do. They see things in their news feed on Facebook and it registers with them. Well it doesn’t. So they just think, Oh, it’s Friday night, I guess we’ll go see a movie because that’s the only thing they knew how to do. Meanwhile, all week I’ve been like, there’s a free concert here, there’s a free movie here. There’s, you know, this briefing that they’re doing over there. But it honestly has not occurred to them. Yeah. There would be anything like that to do.
13:04 – So they ended up, you know, kind of learning. And that’s why I ended up actually writing the book was because I bought a house last year and my second house and really struggled with it, like you name it, short of the house that I was buying, burning down everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. I lived in my house for two and a half weeks before I actually owned it. Wow. That’s, yeah, it was really fascinating process. So when I was trying to make the decision about upgrading to a bigger mortgage payment and trying to do those sorts of things, I reached out to my friends and discovered that most of them that are single, their finances were shambles. Because nobody was keeping track of them. But I also hadn’t been keeping track of them. Like I had just kind of avoided talking about money by strangers come and talk to me about money all the time because of my website.
13:52 – Yeah. So why can’t I talk to my friends about their money? If it’s a safe, nonjudgmental way. And most of them have ended up, you know, saying, Oh, you know, thank you so much because I don’t have anybody to talk about this with. And everybody always just because they’ve got their stuff together and I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t. When the stats are showing that’s not true. Yeah. The average American has over $6,000 in credit card debt. That’s crazy. And so my friends kind of like, you can see almost like a sigh of relief because they’re like, oh, I’m not weird. Like in this one case, people seem very happy to be average. Hmm. Because everybody else has got it too. And it’s not just that, it’s made decisions that you know, have created a struggle in that long run. And most people don’t know anybody who’s debt-free.
14:45 – So I also like to be able to talk to them about what I have to do in order to get debt free other than my house, I don’t have any debt. And that was a long series of decisions and a lot of hard work to get to that point. Yeah. And most people my age that are single are just trying to keep their head above water, especially when you live in a city. And so it’s been nice to have some real Frank conversations with people about things. Because it really is just kind of a hot topic and I don’t understand why it is that way when you’re with your friends.
15:19 – Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Because we’re debt-free also. We, were everything except for mortgage-free last year and now we’re mortgage-free also since we’re just renting here, but since we became debt-free, it’s like when you bring that topic up, people are very interested in talking about, it’s like, it kind of opens the door to talk about other financial things and stuff like that. Whereas, you know, talking about money can be really awkward and whatever. But yeah. That, that makes a lot of sense because we found that to be true in our own lives.
15:54 – Yeah. I say all the time people don’t want to talk about money, but they want to know how you’re successful with it. Yeah. That’s the thing is nobody wants to tell me their financial situation, but then when they find out that I’m debt-free, they want to know every detail of how I did that. Yeah. And most of them don’t like the answers that I give them. You know, you have to stop spending money on things. In my case, I was running a business, I’m working two jobs, so it’s hustle and hustle is not fun. Like it is not, nobody should have the schedule that I did for two years. I was averaging five and a half hours of sleep at night, but I was single and so I could just put my head down and barrel forward and do it that way. And I paid off $24,000 in 18 months.
16:42 – That’s awesome!
16:42 – So it can be done. Just with a little bit of sacrifice, but people don’t like to be uncomfortable a lot of the time. And it requires just like being simple, being simple requires uncomfortableness a lot. And that’s a lot of why my life personally, I see things. I have Merissa’s cookbook, which I love. If you guys don’t have her cookbook, you need to go get it. It’s amazing. But there’s a lot of things in there that I look at it and I’m like, I can just go by that. I don’t need to make it. I can just go buy it. Because being simple, it takes sacrifice.
17:17 – Yeah. Sometimes with being simple, there are choices within that too. Like, like you said, for some people making certain things is not simple. And I completely understand that. It’s actually a question that I get asked quite a bit. If people should make this or buy it or something. And the truth is I don’t even make everything all the time because I just don’t have time for all of that. And so when I have it available to me just to buy certain things, I’m going to take that opportunity if I have the money because that point in time, it is simpler in my life to buy it instead of making it, it’s just a constantly revolving choice that has to be made.
17:59- No, absolutely. So, yeah, so it’s a, you know, a balance of time. It’s a balance of money, which really just makes it a balance of resources. I have limited money and limited time. So what can I do to maximize those things? Yeah, for me. And that was actually a thing when I moved into the house. So I’ve run my own, I’ve run the website for just over 10 years now. And the first eight years that I ran it, I ran it out of a 700 square foot, one-bedroom condo. So my office was also, my living room was also, my dining room was also sort of attached to my kitchen. And I know Merissa from past homes that you guys have had. You know what that’s like being in a small space and having to repurpose things. So I really, really wanted an office.
18:48 – I wanted a space that I could put, I’m also a musician so I wanted to have all my music stuff and my work stuff. So then at the end of the night, I can close the door to the office and my computer wasn’t sitting two feet away from where I also relaxed because that happened in the last house a lot. I’d be trying to watch TV after I’d worked 12 or 14 hours, but my computer, I swear it was just sitting there talking to me. To remind me that I had things to do. So the house that I’m in now is about 1400 square feet. It’s a lot bigger than the other house, and I was having coffee with a friend one morning and I was talking about the new house and he was like, you’re gonna fill it up. And I’m like, I have no plans of filling it up.
19:29 – He was like, Laura, humans are like water. You just move into a space and then you spread out and you take over all of it and you fill it up. So I have been bound and determined since I moved into this house, not to fill it up. And I was just looking around tonight and the kitchen when I was making my dinner before I came up here to talk to you, I still have drawers in the kitchen that don’t have anything in them. I still have cabinets in the kitchen that don’t have anything. And then there’s tons of room in my pantry and I was like, see, I have not filled my house up. I have done a good job of just trying to enjoy having space and not having clutter. Clutter is stressful.
20:08 – Yes. Yeah. It was actually a couple of podcast episodes back where I said to not let your space define your stuff because that is what happens. You move into a certain size house or something like that and it really magically just a starts appearing in your house without you realizing how it gets there. But yeah, it’s, it’s important to know that we don’t have to fill up our space with more stuff. It’s okay for it to be a little bit empty and to have that empty open space
20:41 – Well and space is very freeing.
20:44 – Yes.
20:44 – I mean, I think anyone who’s lived somewhere that has land has seen that. And then it’s kind of that way inside to my downstairs. It’s just one big open room. It has very little furniture in it. And because I spend so much time looking for deals for people this time of year, last weekend, don’t judge me. I put up my Christmas tree and decorated my house.
21:09 – Hey, my husband would totally be doing that right now if I let him!
21:12 – So there you go. So for those of you, whenever you’re listening to this, that means that on November 2nd my Christmas tree was up. I was not even done doing Halloween things yet. And my Christmas tree was up, but I walked downstairs in the morning and it’s kind of like the center of the room because the room isn’t packed. Yeah. And it’s, I’ve got it on a timer so that when I get up, when it’s dark outside, I go downstairs and there’s just this beautiful glowing tree in the corner and it brings me so much happiness. Yeah. When I see it in the morning. But it wouldn’t work if the room was full of stuff.
21:48 – Yeah.
21:49 – It only works because the room itself is calling. Yeah. Peaceful to be in. And I enjoy that about having space now in the house and being able to do that. Whereas before it would’ve been, Oh look, there’s the tree next to the computer where I’m going to sit for 12 hours of work today. Isn’t that comforting? Yeah. Now I have somewhere to go where it’s a different, a different space.
22:11 – Yeah. Anyone that works at home knows it’s such a struggle because the work never ends. It’s always there and it always can be. I mean, there’s always more you can do if you open your computer or just start working. So, yeah, having a separate space to be able to have a relaxing time and working time is really important if you work at home.
22:30 – Absolutely. Especially for you guys that have kids, you know, trying to not have your work staring at you when you’re concentrating with them. When my nephews and niece come over I always try to just actually keep them away from upstairs. Then I’m not even tempted, I just keep them downstairs so I’m not even thinking about working. I can just concentrate whatever it is that we’re doing, which is usually playing my very old Wii that I have down there. So yeah, it’s, it’s just really nice to have that separate space for those of us that are lucky enough to be able to do that. And that just goes to show you that I don’t live in a true city because if I lived in the true city, my apartment would be 300 square feet and not having a kitchen and the shower would be over the toilet. So I definitely live in the suburbs and have a little bit of room for these things, which is nice.
23:18 – Yeah, that does sound nice. Okay. So you’ve mentioned a couple of times about this book that you just released, right? Just last week?
23:26 – Right, it came out actually on Halloween.
23:28 – Okay. So you want to tell us a little bit more about that?
23:31 – Sure. So it is called Singles, take control of your own financial journey and it is available on Amazon or you can head to afrugalchick.com and trust me it is all over that website. You will have no problem finding it. For those of you that are minimalist, it is on Kindle so you don’t actually have to own the book. And it is actually cheaper on Kindle because I’m the frugal chick and that’s what I do. So I wrote it because I was really talking to a lot of people that were just having problems with kind of the basics of their finances. It wasn’t specifically written for high schoolers, like a getting out of high school person or college, but that seems to be kind of what it’s gravitating towards is people that maybe are getting their first jobs or just heading away to school for the first time and are trying to figure out, you know, how maybe not to get into the credit card debt that everybody else seems to when they go to college kind of things.
24:26 – Yeah. And then just how to do really simple budgets. But the thing that I really wanted to do with a book was set it up as kind of a choose your own path sort of thing. So the book really, it can be read just sitting down and reading it, but it’s kind of meant to be put down and picked back up again. So there’s a whole chapter on like negotiating your current expenses. So before you look at cutting anything, call the cell phone company and talk to them maybe about trying to cut your cell phone bill or you know, is there a cheaper gym membership or those kinds of things that you can do that will help cut back on your expenses. And a lot of it really does have to do with living simply. So many of my friends pay for gym memberships they don’t use or memberships to the movies here locally and they go, you know, once every two months, but they’re paying 9.99 a month for it or the boxes. Oh my gosh, the boxes. My friends, they get boxes every month in the house that have makeup in them or books or whatever that they get from places and they open the box and they’re all excited and then they never use anything. Oh, that’s it. These subscription boxes. Yeah, so I tried to focus on a lot of those things in the book that just sort of, it allows you to decrease your spending and income, reuse your savings, and kind of get your debt paid off. So if you’re debt-free and your budget is four spreadsheets long that have all sorts of things that connect with your retirement fund and everything else, the book is probably going to be way too simple for you.
26:00 – But if you know somebody who is getting out of college or you’re just getting out of college, or maybe your financial plan is to take your bills and shoved them in a drawer somewhere, because if you can’t see them, then obviously they’re not real. Yeah. This might be the exact perfect book for you to pick up because it’s really just kind of a really slow, simple, basic look at how to handle your finances. Just kind of on your own level, at your own speed. There’s nothing about mortgages, there’s nothing about how to invest your four one K. It’s literally just kind of how to live a simple life with a simple budget. And then you can pick up Dave Ramsey or somebody else after you get done with that and he can tell you what kind of life insurance to get and how to get your mortgage. But this is really more like how to keep a roof over your head and how not to let your student debt swallow you whole and that kind of thing. So it’s just a nice, simple, easy, hundred and 50 page book about how your finances don’t have to be confusing and they can actually be fairly simple and easy to figure out.
27:03 – Cool. That sounds great. It definitely sounds like there’s a lot of different types of people that would be able to use it. So that’s awesome. And I think you’re going to let me review a copy and give a copy away?
27:15 – I am, I happened to have mailed that this morning. So it is on its way to you and yes you will have a copy of it to give away on your website.
27:24 – Okay. Sweet. So yeah you guys can watch for that on the blog as well. I’m just another chance. But otherwise definitely go over to afrugalchick.com and look for the book Singles and take a look and you want to tell us just a little bit about your website too and what you do on there.
27:43 – Sure. So my website is all deals and a little bit of financial information. So there’s probably 90% deals. So right now it is all black Friday Cause we are in November of 2019 and there are lots and lots and lots of black Friday stuff going on. So there’s kind of two ways to look at the website. My mom won’t even open my email that I send every day because she says it makes her spend money because I find good deals on things. And then she can’t help it. The other perspective that hopefully most of my readers go with is they have things that are going to buy already and hopefully my site can help them find the best deal on them. So you already know that you’re getting, you know, something for Christmas or you’re looking for the best deal on a kitchen aid mixer or some of those things that can really be a huge help in your life.
28:30 – The site is there to hopefully help you find that at the lowest price that you possibly can. And I do specialize in finding deals online. So for those of you that happen to live, to where you can’t run to the mall on Black Friday morning, or if you have kids or if you don’t want to go to the mall on Black Friday morning, then you can do your shopping online and you don’t have to worry about having to be out somewhere and waiting in the dark and those sort of things. If you don’t happen to enjoy that particular challenge, you can shop in your pajamas and I will help you know where the best deals are on everything that you want.
29:09 – Awesome. Well, that sounds great. And I will put links to all of these things to Laura’s book and to her website in the show notes. So all of the Little House Living listeners can check it out. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me today. Laura, it was awesome.
29:27 – Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it. We will talk to you later.
29:30 – Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to this latest episode of the Little House Living show. I hope that you enjoyed this interview with Laura and you’ve got some ideas and some be sure and check out her website and her book. Everything is linked in the show notes. Thank you again for listening. And I hope that you spend this week making the most with what you have!