After over a year of blogging in this space, it finally occurred to me to post an "About Me" page. It's honestly overdue, as it's the first thing I read when I discover a new blog and it frustrates me when bloggers have one but leave it blank. I like to know where people are from, where they live, etc. This is especially important when they discuss prices of things where they live or their gardening habits as the physical location makes a huge difference in whether or not I'll be able to use their information for my own benefit!
As my brief Blogger profile states, my name is Nathalie and I live with my family in Central Florida, in the United States. More specifically, I live in South Lake County, about 30 miles west of Orlando (or about 45 minutes away from either Walt Disney World, Sea World, or Universal Studios!)
My family consists of my husband Greg, my teen daughter, who is a senior in high school in 2016-2017 but takes college classes exclusively, and our teen son who is a freshman in high school this year. Greg has 2 daughters who are grown, married and with babies, and I have 2 older sons, one who lives with his girlfriend in Orlando and tries to make a living as a jazz musician, and another who is in college in Daytona Beach, studying photography. Greg is the money earner and I'm the money manager :) I'm very lucky to be able to be a stay-at-home mom, or homemaker, as I have started calling myself, since the kids are one by one leaving the nest and I don't really intend to rejoin the workforce if I can help it.
I'm originally from France and have lived here since I was in college. As I have alluded above, I'm divorced from my first husband. We both worked at Walt Disney World when we were younger, and so did Greg, although we didn't know each other then (life is weird, sometimes!).
So what will you find on this blog? Well, I try to keep the focus on my frugal efforts... and failures. It really is an online diary/motivational tool for myself! If you find a post useful, I hope that you will let me know.
By the same token, I'm not really into trying to please anyone but myself and the format of the blog and repetitiveness of the posts (as well as the bullet point format) is something that I find pleasing and satisfying. If reading long lists of daily frugal efforts isn't your cup of tea, then you're in the wrong place, hahaha!
I find that posting those things publicly helps me with accountability a lot more than if I kept this blog private. I have also gained a small number of followers (for the most part fellow bloggers whom I follow in turn) who have been awesome in helping me feel motivated and connected to a larger world than my living room. I am a total homebody otherwise! I am discovering a middle-age passion for vegetable gardening and nature observing so I also sporadically post pictures of my veggies, my garden, and Florida fauna and flora, as well as our 6 cats.
What won't you find on this blog? Pictures of me or my family, my kids' names or even the specific name of the town where we live. I'm actually a very private person and I have a strong dislike for any kind of social networking (Facebook... ugh). I do use Twitter occasionally but it's mostly for retweeting things that might earn me some reward or contacting companies to complain about something :) Also, you don't find ads. I don't monetize anything although I do post the occasional referral link for Swagbucks or Bing Rewards, but when I do I always mention that it's a referral link. If I review an item, store, or service, the review is completely my own and almost 100% of the time I receive no compensation for the review, in cash or in kind. I say almost 100% because I did contact Ball back in 2015 to see if they would be interested in partnering with me as I learned to can, and they very graciously sent me several items. And then I failed at my canning attempts. Oops.
I wrote a comment on another blog a while back, which pretty much encapsulates my and Greg's life philosophy. I'm reproducing it below to help readers better understand the background of some of my posts:
There is a distinction between living on a limited income and living on a limited budget. Living on a limited income isn't something you have much choice in. You've got to make do with what you have.
Living on a limited budget has its challenges too because we could spend more in a myriad of things but we choose not to. We live on a limited budget (i.e. below our means although we could do better, as my husband has a good income) and we don't feel deprived at all.
We could afford many things but we just choose not to spend money on those things...
- We don't buy books or music; that's what the libraries or Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks are for!
- We don't have cable (although we do have Netflix and Amazon Prime)
- We don't have huge data plans on our phones (we mostly use them while on wi-fi anyway)
We rarely eat out- that's a total lie in 2016! But I've made my peace with it.
- We don't have expensive hobbies
- I don't get manicures or pedicures or haircuts (not difficult to do as I don't like getting those things anyway!)
- We don't care about fashion or trends
- We don't need the latest gadget
- My kitchen is from the 70s, including my wall oven. No granite counters or stainless steel appliances for me
- A lot of our furniture is from thrift stores. The rest is from Target, Walmart, Wood You or hand me downs
- I just don't care for our house to look like a magazine picture. Nothing matches and we don't care. I'm really NOT into decorating.
- We don't have a lawn service
- I fish things out of the trash that my family has thrown away so I can recycle/upcycle/reuse them
- I try not to pay full price for anything if I can avoid it
- I use coupons, send for rebates, participate in Swagbucks and Bing Rewards, use our credit cards to earn free to us rewards, use loyalty cards, subscribe to many e-mail newsletters from manufacturers, follow many blogs that deal with frugality via Feedly
- We bought a large house in a semi-rural area several years ago because the price was equivalent to what we were spending on renting an apartment closer to Orlando. We didn't borrow what the bank told us we qualified for, far from!
- We don't have any credit card debt or car loans
- We drive our cars until they die, even if that means we're spending more on gas because they are gas guzzlers. However, we definitely use them to haul things (and even people once in a while) and we keep up on their maintenance.
- We are lucky that we are in relative good health so we don't have medical expenses to worry about (keeping our fingers crossed!).
- Our kids can join activities if they're free or if they earn the money to pay for them. I don't "do" clubs or travel teams for anything. Time spent at home with family is what's important to us. However, I actually force them to join in school clubs or library activities or school sports so they do develop interests outside of just sitting at home. Our youngest son is currently volunteering at our local library branch several times a week.
- We don't pay for our kids' college education. We completely agree with the philosophy that we won't be able to borrow for our retirement whereas the kids can borrow for college. We spent years warning them about the importance of obtaining good grades in school and entering competitions so they could earn scholarships and lessen their debt burden. We tried to encourage them to choose career paths that might be lucrative, although my three older sons are strongly artistic so they picked their field of study accordingly. My daughter was just hired part-time at Walt Disney World so she can earn money for her college education. She's also earning her B.A. for free as she finishes high school and will benefit from a partial college scholarship that I had won for her in a raffle when she was in 5th grade. She's also entered numerous essay, speech, and artistic competitions and saved her winnings for college. My middle son is working at Universal Studios to support himself while attending college. Our youngest son has been in charge of taking care of our cats (feeding, grooming, cleaning up after, entertaining) for many years and does this without complaining so this year we opened a Prepaid College fund for him and are depositing the money that he would have received had he been paid for those chores throughout the years. I should have done that earlier, honestly, instead of leaving the money in savings where it depreciated.
Our plan is to pay off our house as soon as we can, so right now I send double the amount of our mortgage to accomplish that and we try to save for retirement as well. Hopefully our house will be paid off by the time our son graduates from high school. We're homebodies who like freebies :)
Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have plenty of time to shop at several stores around town to spend as little as possible on groceries and other things. I post weekly pictures of my groceries
and my food waste (ooh, I stopped doing the Food Waste Friday posts but I need to start again!) to help hold myself accountable... and because I love it when other bloggers post about their groceries and their food waste! I'm weird that way.
My ultimate ambition is for my kids to learn to be self-sufficient and live a frugal yet fulfilling life.
Thanks for stopping by! Please consider leaving a comment on a post, I love to hear about other people's experiences and discover new-to-me bloggers.
Nathalie, September 2015 (Updated October 2016)