About Me and This Blog

Hi there! I'm Penny, the woman behind this blog.

Come on, sit down. Why don't I tell you a little bit about myself...

How do I describe myself? That's really tough, because its hard to sum up all the different important, relevant aspects of my life in just a few paragraphs...

Well, as the name of this blog implies, I'm a parent who lives on a really strict budget, because we're "Penniless". To be honest, when I started this blog, my husband and I were closer to penniless, we were struggling to make it through the month, but in the nearly 2 years since I've had this blog, by following the extremely frugal lifestyle and tips that I share on this blog, we've been able to cut back our expenses tremendously and start building a savings account. On a minimum wage salary, living in a pretty high cost of living area.
I share money saving tips, from the basic frugal strategies (like budgeting tips) to the very extreme (like our family using reusable toilet paper- also known as family cloth).

My main focus on my blog is saving money in the kitchen because I, personally, think that that's the easiest way to make a very big dent with the least amount of effort, and because its something you can do every day. I mean, moving from a ~900 square foot apartment to a 484 square foot apartment with your family of 4 certainly saves a lot of money, but its a one time thing. We moved once and that continues to save us money every single month, but right now its more of a passive money saving endeavor; I can save more in my day to day life by cutting down on our food and cooking expenses. Another reason I focus on cutting back in the kitchen is because with many things, the best way to save money is to just not buy it, not spend money on it, and choose to do without, but, as everyone knows, we all have to eat; we can't just eliminate our grocery budget entirely. Instead, there are little things here and there that you can do to drastically lower one of the largest, recurring expenses most families have, and I share tips to help you do that.
And I guess the last reason why I focus so much on lowering expenses in the kitchen is because I love cooking, I love creating, and I love having people enjoy the yummy foods that I make. I don't mind doing things to save money in the kitchen, because it means that I have more excuses to putter away in the kitchen and make masterpieces and delicacies out of seemingly simple and cheap foods, and very often, my fancy foods end up being even cheaper than other people's run of the mill, non frugal meals, and I get a kick out of that.

One of my main mottos in my life, and I try to convey that on my blog as well, is that frugality and going without doesn't need to mean a depressing life in which you constantly feel deprived. I may have fewer expensive things, gadgets, and doodads than other people, but that's not what life is about. I am so incredibly blessed with so much goodness in my life; why would I choose to focus on the material things which matter so little in the grand scheme of things, when I have so many terrific things in my life that I can choose to be thankful for instead. I choose to look at my glass as not only being half full, but filled with the most wonderful drink in the world.
In order to enjoy my frugal life as much as possible, there are little things that I do here and there to make my life better that don't necessarily cost much money, if they even require any monetary outlay at all, because I think everyone deserves nice things in their life. I just try to remind myself, and others, that something doesn't need to be expensive to be nice. Loving time spent with people who matter to you and whom you care about doing enjoyable things can be totally frugal, costing nothing, but yielding great rewards.
In other words, my mission is to have as awesome a life as I can possibly have while still living beneath our (granted, rather limited) means, and to try to inspire others to do the same.

But what really matters to me in my life? For all that I do live an extremely frugal life, my main focus is really not money. That isn't the most important thing to me in any way. The most valuable things in my life are my husband of 5 years, Mike, and my 2 wonderful children, Lee and Ike, with a 3rd one on the way.

Because my children are very important to me, I'm willing to make some sacrifices. My children have never been to "official" daycare since they were born. For a few months, nearly a year ago, my children did go to a babysitter for a few hours a week when I was working as a cleaning lady, but that stopped at the request of my older son, and since then, I've had no regular break from my kids. Aside for playdates and the occasional times my husband stays with the kids after his long workdays so I can go out alone, I'm with my children pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yup, I do sometimes want "me time", but my children have asked me to please not leave them with babysitters, so I don't. (For the record, I don't consider this to be letting them control my life; I call it paying attention to their emotional needs, and not forcing separation before a child is ready.)
I stay home with my children and plan to home school them long term, though I've already started working on homeschooling my older 4.5 year old son. We home school not to shelter our children from the outside world, but because we believe that we'd be able to give our children the most complete, well rounded education that way, an education that focuses on their strengths and interests, yet helps them improve in the areas in which they're weaker. Basically, I think that as a mother of my children who has known them since they were just a tiny little flutter in my belly, who understands the ins and outs of their personalities, their learning styles, and their capabilities, I'd be able to give them a better education catered to their needs than they'd be able to get in the large (30-40 children) classes in the local schools.

By staying home full time, I do have more time (and possibly energy- then again, staying home with 2 kids isn't like lying on the beach- it takes emotional and physical energy) to spend on money saving activities than would a full time working mom. I supplement our income by my part time job as a magazine columnist (on the topic of extreme frugality- what else?) for an international magazine, and via this blog, both of which I'm able to do from home with my children around.

I started off just being interested in frugality, but I've learned to appreciate the "green" aspect in many of the money saving activities as well, and bit by bit, as I've learned more and had a little more spare cash, I've been focusing on making our life as chemical free and environmentally friendly as possible, and have gradually been eating healthier and healthier foods, as our finances will allow.

Pretty much since the start of this blog, I've tried to make our food as chemical free and unprocessed as possible, and then started to include more whole grains and learned to prepare our foods in more traditional ways, the ways our grandparents and great grandparents ate, instead of the rather unhealthy "Standard American Diet" that is very popular today. This means, though, that I shun the conventional views of healthy eating, the low fat, anti cholesterol diets, in favor of the diets my ancestors would have eaten. I eat butter, organ meats, animal fats (such as rendered chicken fat-shmaltz), coconut oil, and full fat dairy, and stay far away from vegetable oils like soy oil, canola oil, and corn oil, as well as soy in general.

In the spring, I discovered that I am very sensitive to gluten, and have cut gluten completely out of my diet and saw amazing results and have felt healthier and more alive and pain free than I ever have until now (even with being pregnant!). I haven't been diagnosed as Celiac, and I probably will never be, because you have to actually be eating gluten regularly for the diagnostic test for Celiac to actually give accurate results, but I will never knowingly eat gluten again. I suspect that one, if not both of my sons also are sensitive to gluten, so I try to make gluten free for the whole family as well, but am not vigilant about it though.

More recently than that, I noticed also that I react badly to dairy (other than butter), so I've cut that out of my diet, and even more recently, we eliminated white sugar (and brown sugar) from our house as well, because of health reasons and because I think it causes my children to not act their usual selves, and have replaced it with healthier sweeteners as well as cut back on sweeteners in general.

We tend to eat lots of vegetarian and vegan meals to save money, but aren't vegan or vegetarian at all.

I'm constantly changing, and this blog reflects that. I blog about the changes I make in my life, which is why this blog is always evolving, but this blog has never lost its original aim- to teach people to have as great a life as possible while still living within their means.

One last thing- my privacy and the privacy of my family is important to me, which is why there is some information that I don't plan on ever sharing on this blog. That includes my name and the names of our family members (every name used on this blog, including Penny, is a pseudonym), frequent personal photographs, our religious beliefs, and where we live. Questions about that won't yield any results, so there's no point in asking, as I just won't answer.
I've seen first hand the negative repercussions of bloggers being too public with their family's private information and don't want to risk that happening to me. I don't keep this information a secret because I have something to hide or because I'm embarrassed of the life I lead, but rather, because there are some very unscrupulous people perusing the internet, and I care more about my family's well being than about satisfying everyone's curiosity.
The only thing I will say about our location, etc... is that I'm an American girl, born and raised in the US, who moved to my current location approximately 5 years ago to marry my husband, who grew up in this country, but also was born in another country. The country where I live is a non English speaking country, with a different mentality than my own... and there are many pluses and minuses about living here, but the biggest plus is that all my immediate family lives locally (they moved here 2 years before I did), which is really a boon.

15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Hi Is the reason why you can't tell us where you live because you homeschool and it's illegal there?

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    1. Pretty sure it's just plain stupid to disclose your location on the internet....for any reason

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  3. Congratulations!
    And I am telling you from experience (my own failure) I have raised myself "normal American kids" under American standards ( I am not American, my husband is)
    And with what have I ended with? With selfish children with an enormous sense of self-entitlement and unwilling to make sacrifices neither for themselves or for others. I have only realized this after seeing how much better my friend's children (who have been raised in frugality, discipline and order) have turned

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  4. JUST found your site, busy at work but will explore more later. KUDOS to you for protecting your privacy - VERY difficult to do in this day and age. Kudos too, for your frugality AND for sharing what you learn. Live simply so others may simply live! and then teach us how! thanks!

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  5. Hi, very similar to our life. We are going to home school our to children and Am so excited. They are only 2 and 4 at the moment but we do lots of little projects at home on our farm like at the moment we are raising 4 chicks and watching the caterpillars on swan plants grow- they love it. A really proud moment of late was seeing "father Christmas" at the science centre and when he asked my 4yo what he wanted for Christmas my son thought about it for 30 seconds then said "that's ok, we have plenty of stuff".... Every parent in the queue was raising their eyebrows in surprise! I think the best and easiest way to achieve this is by getting rid of the telly - easy as

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  6. Just stumbled upon your blog, and am really enjoying it! We are soon to be first time parents, and are facing a lot of the same challenges and excitement. Love hearing your story!

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  7. Thank you for your site and frugal suggestions.

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  8. Thank you for your smart and frugal suggestions!

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  9. I try to remain anonymous online more lately too, there just seem to be so many people who live to mock/attack online...I suppose it's easy to vent your spleen or something.

    I teach underprivileged gifted kids as my volunteerism now I can't afford to give money away, one little 11 year old wanted to know everything about how to make money to help his mother ( who has sorely neglected and abused him ) I went home and asked my rather privileged 18 year old if he would get a job to help me pay down my mortgage- his look was priceless!

    I do think a lot of people are going to have to wean themselves off their consumer addictions- to everything, entertainment, fast food, constant medications and medical procedures...and maybe they will grow up and demonstrate better values as a result.

    ~Tracy

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  10. Hello I just want to congratulate you on this amazing blog ! I'm trying to be more frugal myself and I read a lot about this subject these days, so I can find advice and tips from "people who know" !
    Frankly I am amazed at everything you do. Your frugal charts for instance, so useful ! And so many other things I would never have thought of !
    Congratulations, you're an inspiration!

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  11. Hi Penny,
    I am a mother of two girls and grandmother of 4 children. I was born and lived in Venezuela until 1974 when I came to live in the US. I get the feeling that you and your family live in South America. I just want to say congratulations for a job well done and that I am so jealous because unlike you, my daughters live far away from me and for that reason I feel that I have been robbed of the privilege of having a close relationship with my grandchildren. I perceive you as a woman who determined what was important to her and took all the actions needed to make it happen. I love cooking so much and appreciate and thank you for your generosity in sharing your time and knowledge with other people. Muchas gracias!

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  12. Thanks for your ideas and recipes. I think what you are doing is great. You are very wise!

    Thanks again!

    Jim O

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