This week I had the opportunity to chat with Lindsey. Lindsey is a 37 year old frugal living enthusiast from London, England UK. She has some great tips for saving whilst living a fulfilling lifestyle with wife and pup.

Tell us a little about yourself, kids/pets/family? How did you first become interested in frugal living?

Hi, I feel that frugal living goes right back to my childhood. I lived with various family members who brought influences from both wartime rationing and modern day off grid living at different points when I was growing up. This has always impacted on the way that I view consumerism and waste.

I met my amazing wife in 2007 and we have been on an almost 15 year journey now of reducing our consumerism, being more frugal, reducing our carbon footprint and living more simply. It has been a pretty life changing experience for both of us. We don’t have children, but love animals and currently have our fantastic 9 year old Yorkshire Terrier dog who brings a lot of joy into our lives too.

living frugal with puppy

How has frugality affected you financially, Do you save a lot more than before you became more frugal?

When we started out together we both worked full time, and were slightly in the culture of spending to soothe the fact that we worked a lot and didn’t have as much quality time together as we wanted. We soon realised that this was not a good balance, and that we could work less and have more time together if we sacrificed some things financially. 

Originally we were saving to buy our first home, and for our wedding, and once these two major life events happened we took stock – yes we had a mortgage, but we had paid for our wedding and honeymoon outright because we were very frugal and did a lot ourselves (the catering, flowers, cake, favours for guests, my wedding dress alterations and customisation, etc cetera) making the wedding extremely affordable compared to the norm! We realised that as creative and capable women we could turn our hands to a lot of things, and that we had managed to save a lot in a relatively short space of time. 

Those realisations, along with some other life changes meant that we stopped working full time in less than 4 years of

 becoming a couple. We have never looked back! Money versus time has always been a huge priority for us, and time together always wins. From there on we have downsized our home, from a 2.5 bed house to a 1 bed bungalow, and still we want to go smaller. 

I have been a huge fan of the tiny house movement for over 10 years, the first book I read was Dee Williams “The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir” and it changed how I saw everything. I feel that we are on a very long journey to having a tiny house! Now we save more than ever and it has been a variety of lifestyle frugal changes that has made this possible. 

I would estimate that we save around 50% of our income and some months it’s more than that, which is phenomenal compared to where we started, which was around 10% or less of our income saved each month.

You share a lot of food content on your IG, what would be the most cost effective dish you make?

I share a lot of food content, because living as frugal as we do, it’s one of the consistent things that is easy to demonstrate frugality. When we do not spend a lot month by month, it’s generally a case of “look what we ate!” or “look what I made/read/upcycled”! I would like there to be more of the latter, and hopefully that balance will come now that I have more spare time, since finishing my MA degree very recently. 

I think the most cost effective dish we make is jacket potatoes with beans and a sprinkling of vegan cheese, it is so very frugal, usually costing less than £1 for both our meals! But generally mixed beans and rice is a great dish too and we eat a lot of that! We have not had take-out in well over 3 years and have not been out for a meal since 2019 – not just because we are frugal, but because we love cooking and tend to enjoy our homemade food more than anything we eat out – just a personal preference of course! But it has saved us a lot of money.

What’s your best frugal living tip?

Track your spending! So many people fail to realise how much is being spent until you start to track everything, we were totally experiencing that blind spot until a few years ago. Last year we did a low spend year challenge, and this year we are doing a very low spend year challenge. The absolute game changer, is that other than direct debits for all our stripped back essential bills, utilities and services, food budget etc, we track every other spend we make. 

It is a huge motivator not to spend, because we are accountable for everything. We write any spending on the calendar and I total it up at the end of the month.

We avoid spending by using the library resources of downloadable eBooks, amazing for massive readers like us, especially after we realised that books are one of the few things we consistently consume, and then making or upcycling wherever possible for other things we need. There are no “impulse purchases” in our home!

What is a recent purchase or decision you made that saved you money and how did you do it? 

Masonry paint, 2 large tubs for under £80 (147 aud), plus some external heavy duty paint bushes for £6 (11 aud). We then over the course of 6 weekends painted the exterior of our bungalow ourselves. It was a huge job, it caused some physical pain, but the savings was phenomenal. 

A professional job would have been somewhere between £1,000-£2,000 (1800-3600 aud) to paint the bungalow. We try to do jobs like this ourselves, wherever possible, approaching DIY with a safe but can-do attitude is really important, and has saved us a great deal of money over the years. I would never touch electrics, and nothing beyond the most basic plumbing at this point, but for other things, it’s amazing how much can be saved by trying something yourself. We have done all our interior decoration, we have replaced external render, laid floors, made curtains, re-upholstered a chair and I taught myself to tile a kitchen, and soon I will embark on replastering our hallway! Worst case scenario if it does not work out then you pay someone to do the job as a back-up. I have yet to need to pay someone to re-do any of

 our work.

What are some resources and/or strategies you use to help you improve your skills?  Do you have any favourite tools or resources you recommend (books, podcasts, apps ect)?

I really like YouTube, because I am a visual learner and it helps me to see all the steps in sequence instead of just diagrams in a book. 

I feel very inspired by reading about people’s own journeys, which helps that can-do attitude! Instagram is a huge motivator because I really feel to be in a community of frugality and low spending and it’s great to share tips and knowledge on that platform. 

People who consistently inspire me to be frugal are Frugal Jo on YouTube and Instagram and also Small Decisions,The Personal Philosophy Project which is a great inspiration for no spend and low spend challenges.

Do you have any advice for someone just beginning their frugal living journey?

Small steps! Every single change that you make, will benefit you, over time that small benefit gets bigger! It’s not about a life overhaul overnight, we have to change and adapt to things and that takes time. We have found a real positive gain in all that we have done, when we downsized and decluttered,

 we removed over 2,000 physical items from our lives, we are not quite minimalists now, but we are somewhere much closer to that than where we were 6 years ago. But saying that, everyone has to start out somewhere, if we had not consumed and filled our home

 with what we needed back then, then we might need to be buying things now. It is a balance. However, buying quality that lasts has been a very important lesson to learn over the years. Consuming – be it financial or swapping and upcycling, when it reflects

 what you need, not what you want, puts the resources for all in a much better position.

How can people find you?

I’m on Instagram – find me @the_frugal_quaker

Becoming frugal, a minimalist or a mindful consumer can sound pretty daunting, but it will change your life for the better. A fantastic starting place would be reading Cait Flanders book “The Year of Less“, I loved this so much I read it twice this year and feel there is so much inspiration in Cait’s journey, whether you are just starting out or have been making changes for years. It is all worth it!