My Story

(going to see Phantom of the Opera in NYC, July 2012)

Greetings and welcome to my blog!

I was born, bred and buttered in poverty level rural Maine, the youngest of seven children, born to parents who were ages 52 and 46 when I arrived and who, themselves, grew up during the great depression. I am very thankful that I lived in this setting; it was a very rich experience indeed. I learned to grow a garden, gut a fish, collect eggs from the chickens, sew on an old treadle sewing machine, can vegetables and fruits, make jam, hem a skirt, swim in a lake, prepare wild game, identify edible wild food, bake bread, and a whole host of other activities that many people cannot (or do not) do. My parents lived this lifestyle out of necessity; I embraced it.

I have always been fascinated with money, finances and thrift. I can recall sitting at my tiny, handmade, wooden desk-with attached seat-as a pre-schooler, playing for hours with my mother's old check book registers. When I was 12, I used a coupon to buy a sale item at a local drugstore that was a pioneer of "double coupons." I ended up paying only two cents and a light came on that has never been extinguished: why would anyone pay for items that the store will give you for free if you know how to use the system correctly? I've really never looked back.

I was blessed to attend two years of Bible College in upstate New York (Word of Life) and then went on to get my BS in nursing at Indiana Wesleyan University. I married my husband with two years of college left, and my daughter was born half way through my senior year. My husband and I had 11 years of college between us, but managed to work two and three jobs each all during those years and we graduated with only one student loan, which we paid off within a year. It was important for me to marry someone who had similar money values, so this issue has never caused a rift between us. Mike and I have been on the same page from day one, living beneath our means, brown bagging lunches, shopping at yard sales, buying used cars and purchasing four homes in our 20 years of marriage that were well below our qualifications because we always chose fixer-uppers. We sold three of them at small profits and own our current home in Maine outright. We lived in Indiana and Maine for two years each, but spent the majority of our married life (16 years) in North Carolina. My husband is a Michigan boy. Currently, we have a modest amount set aside in savings and in a 401K.

This is not to say that our lives have been dull and boring, or that we never enjoy the "finer" things, Indeed, we go on regular vacations, eat out weekly, buy what we need and even most of what we want (though our wants tend to be less than some), give to the church and causes we believe in, and generally enjoy our lives immensely. We are currently living a dream: in 2012 we moved with our 3 sons to Hong Kong where we are both working in an International Christian School. Since then, our sons have all graduated and are attending college in the US. Our oldest child and only daughter was married this summer and is currently living and working in Wisconsin.

(photo credits: Lucas Botz photography, Minneapolis)

I believe that being thankful to God for what we have and consequently living a life of gratitude coupled with living below your means is the key to personal fulfillment. So, if you are looking for someone who has been thousands of dollars in debt and scraped themselves out of the bottom of the barrel, you will have to seek elsewhere; I am not your gal. (I recommend Dave Ramsey or Mary Hunt.) On the other hand, if you want the perspective of someone who has always embraced a simpler life, shuns debt, and believes that you can live well without spending much money, then welcome to thankful and thrifty.

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