Author Archives: femmefrugality

Around the World in 80 Books: Persia

Love how she's doing this reading challenge for under $20. Thinking I need to search my own library shelves for some Rumi now, too...

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge! It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:

$0- Library books: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Nigeria, New Zealand, China, Canada, Jamaica, Austria, Mali, Afghanistan
$2.75- Late fees on the book for Italy
$0- Free eBooks: Scotland, England, Portugal, Cyprus, Albania, Montenegro, Mongolia
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan, Autism in the USA
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$0- Reward for participating in Summer Reading Program: Black America
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country, Japan
$0- Paid review on an interesting read: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Grand Total: $6.73

I picked up today’s book at the library. It was one of the two Rumi options, and I blindly grabbed one as my children were about to terrorize my fellow bibliophiles.

Because I borrowed from the library, we’re still at $6.73. After today, I will have logged 31 books.


Love is my savior rumi arabic poetry

I read some Rumi in my teens. I liked it well enough, but I wasn’t overly into poetry back in those days. I appreciated it–it just wasn’t going to be the first tome I reached for.

I’ve recently rediscovered Rumi and his allegories and metaphors for love–the under-riding basis of virtually all spirituality and religion. I’ve scrolled through blogs and other websites dedicated to his poetry, and found new breaths of life.

And, yes, I realize Persia is no longer an empire in so many words, but Rumi lived across the Middle East throughout his life, and most of that was in Persia in the 1200s. Konya, which is now in Turkey and is where he wrote the vast majority of his works, may have been in the Byzantine Empire, technically. I’m not 100% on that.

So I thought I’d pick up a collection and give the holistic experience another shot.

I was left surprised. Love is My Savior is the first of Rumi’s Arabic works to be translated into English. Rumi bounced between four languages to express himself in different ways. Arabic provided some great opportunities for poetic license, and was often intertwined with Persian–the language in which he wrote most of his poems.

While I’m used to Rumi talking about love in erotic analogies, measuring one type of love just as great as another, what I’m not used to is him talking about heartbreak.

This book pulls largely from Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, named for his spiritual mentor, Shams. Shams and Rumi were crazy close, delving into the mystical aspects of Islam together, and perhaps loving each other in the way some of the more erotic poetry suggests. In the 1200s, when Rumi lived, there weren’t really as many prescribed lines surrounding sexuality. Heteronormativity was much weaker.

I did enjoy the book, but I have to admit, reading Rumi’s writings on heartbreak was…a little heartbreaking. I’m used to his words lifting me up and enlightening me. I’m used to reading about absorbing and producing love wherever we can find the means to do so. So it was discombobulating to read words that focused so strongly on his attachment to Shams, and the gut-wrenching pain he endured because of it.

Eventually, he learned to find an extension of that same love with his students. By working with them, he was connecting to the current of love that had flowed between him and Shams. The pure love of enlightenment.

But most of this book is a lament.

I didn’t hate it. Rumi is brilliant regardless of his mood. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. Here are some of the lines that particularly struck me:

Destroyed by your troubles, how you grieve and sigh…
By God! Listen to my proclamation!
He knows who caused your mind’s devastation.
From abasement, your soul will always rise.
You’ve abandoned all for love’s enterprise.
Be still. God is your helper. He’s the prize.
-From “Banner of Love”

My lover is a whale, and my desire
pure water–an ocean–with no end time.
Can a whale grow bored in a pure ocean?
-From “He’s Never Bored with Love”

Were you a lightning bolt or just a ball of flame?
You left me with no home here, all the same.
I worship you, but drunk I here remain.
Is that your grace, or is it my soul’s stain?
If I repent my sin, that’s sin…and shame.
If love is my savior, so when will I be saved?
Now reason shouts at me: “No! Don’t step off
the righteous path or it will be your grave!”
But isn’t death the only thing I crave?
-Love Is My Savior

Look! Our love shines on, past earth and heaven!
The days have kept our bodies far apart,
I swear by God, my heart is still with you.
My heart is tender when my love is new,
sad and grieving when lovers must part.
My heart sends you my messages of love–
no end. But I’m still thirsty! What to do?
My soul returns to the places I saw you.
Can I repent the sin of love this true?
-From “I Climbed to Heaven”


Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing
Australia: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson recommended by Aaron from When Life Gives You Lemons, Add Vodka
Romania: Anything by Andre Codrescu recommended by Abigail from I Pick Up Pennies
Croatia: Girl at War by Sara Novi recommened by Erin from TexErin-In-Sydneyland
India: Malguid Days by R.K. Narayan recommended by Michael from Stretch a Dime
Vietnam: The Refugees by Viet Than Nyugen recommended by Nicole from Adventures of a Semper Fi Family


The Feminist Financial Handbook

This book is so needed! Excited to be one of the first to get my hands on The Feminist Financial Handbook. Fighting the patriarchy and kyriarchy while building my wealth.

I’ve mentioned in passing that I’m writing a book.

Well, I can now say that I’ve written a book.

That’s right, guys. It’s getting real up in here.

Now that the manuscript is done, I wanted to tell you guys a little bit more about the project, what it entailed and what comes next.

The Feminist Financial Handbook

Even before I was blogging about money, I was interested in personal finances. I’d read book after book on how to make my money better. There were some crazy great hacks. Like opening CDs before the Recession. Or investing your money starting young so you could take full advantage of the power of compound interest.

And I was all, “I can’t wait until I can do this stuff!”

I wrote out goals and future budgets, but something was missing. That missing thing was an income which met more than just my baic needs so I could do things like save and invest. I was great at money management; I just didn’t have enough green to do all the responsible things I wanted to do.

I now recognize that there were some systemic road blocks in my way at that point in my life. I also recognize that there are women out there who face far larger and more frequent road blocks than myself.

And that’s the piece of financial advice that seems to always be missing: When you’re motivated, disciplined and hard-working,  yet you can’t seem to get around these massive obstacles, what do you do next?

That’s what The Feminist Financial Handbook is about. It’s about recognizing oppression and its  effects on our day-to-day personal economies. Without minimizing these struggles, it looks at ways you may be able to get a leg up so you can do all those fun things like watch your wealth explode over a period of 30-40 working years through diligent investing.

It’s about being real about the real-life situations so many of us struggle with every single day, and finding ways to take action despite them.

Defining Wealth

The first part of the book looks at how we define wealth. Does money actually  make us happier? I don’t want to spoil too much, but the answer is sometimes.

In this part of the book, we also take a deep dive into the things that actually can make us feel more content, and counting them holistically in our personal wealth equations. Because while money scarcity is no good, a relentless pursuit of cash isn’t healthy, either.

Earn More

It’s no secret that women tend to earn less than men. The gender wage gap is real. But I tend to think the commonly cited reasons behind it are sexist and fictitious. Some of these arguments include:

  • Women gravitate towards lower-paying fields.
  • Women don’t negotiate.
  • Women carry babies in their wombs.

These are all poor justifications for paying women less, and some are straight up untrue. in the book, we tackle each one of them.

Gender is not the only reason for lower pay, though. Whether you’re a single mother, disabled, a woman of color, transgender, gay, or bi, society is going to punish you economically. It’s not right. But there are some workarounds for financial success, even within a system that would have you believe you’re worth less.

You’re not worth less, by the way. And this whole section of the book outlines why that is and what we can collectively and individually do about it.

Save More

Not only is there a wage gap, but there is also a gender-centric investing gap. This gap starts young, and can result in poverty in old age. We take a look at some of the basics of financial planning and how to become more aware of any internalized sexism that may be affecting your investing decisions.

We also look at how you or your child can go to college for free–or sometimes even get paid to go back to school. I promise this is real. These strategies have worked for me in real life, and are backed by a professional in the higher education industry.

And, of course, we look at budgeting. Not just budgeting, but judgement-free budgeting. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to spend the money you earn, or that you can’t stash it all away in pursuit of financial independence. But to do either one of these things, you’re going to need a budget.

When One Thing Affects Everything

Ladies, we put up with some intense experiences in our lives. Because of the normalization of sexism and other -isms, we suffer much higher rates of mental illness and domestic violence. Both of these areas have real, long-term affects not just on our mental health, but on our finances.

We also tend to make less money than our male counterparts when a child is diagnosed with an illness or is pronounced differently abled. And that’s on top of the gender pay gap.

This final section of the book looks at all of these things, offering up solutions for living a wealthy life in spite of the effects oppression can take on our bodies, minds and finances.

Pre-Order The Feminist Financial Handbook

Believe it or not, these are just some of the topics covered in the book. The pages take a deep dive into so many issues–issues not typically discussed in the personal finance sphere. Because they’re hard issues to tackle, and there aren’t always easy solutions.

But at the heart of the matter is hope. Hope that we can fight the system to build a successful career for ourselves as women in business or a fat e-fund as homemakers. Hope that you can build a wealthy life even when the system would stunt your cash flow. It affirms that you are worth it and capable no matter what society tells you, because there is no “right” way to be a successful woman with motivation.

Now that we’re getting ready to launch, you can pre-order today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I’d be so grateful if you could hop on board and join the waitlist so you can be one of the first to get your hands on a copy!

I can’t wait to hear what you think. It’s been a huge effort to produce, and I hope it opens up a lot of conversation about what we can do to make the economic plight of women better, whether we’re talking about society as a whole or ourselves as individual females.

This book was very much a collaborative effort. Because I cannot speak with experience to all the different issues women face, it largely features the experiences of others. These are the amazing women who gave so much of their time and heart to the effort:


You’ll Need to Consider These Things if You’re Going to College

This post is brought to you and contributed by Abby Locker.

nontraditional student

Making the decision to further your education is a huge one. A college degree, when obtained, opens the doors for graduates to pursue their career goals. Though not required for every field, going to college can help to expand your knowledge in an area you wish to work. Going to college brings with it a lot of personal and financial responsibilities. To ensure that the next few years of your educational journey are successful, it is ideal that you lull these factors around in your mind before enrolling.

Personal Lifestyle

Your studies will consume a huge chunk of your time. Unless you’re a new high school graduate, you’ll need to review your current responsibilities and lifestyle to determine where, if at all, college fits in. If you already have a full-time job, for instance, will you be able to handle your professional duties while also going to school on your time off?

How much time do you get off?

Is this enough time to fully engage in your education?

If you’re a single parent, do you have someone to watch the children while you attend classes?

Will class schedules interfere with your duties as a parent?

College Major

What is it you want to study when you go to college? This is not only imperative to determining how further education will fit into your current lifestyle, but also necessary for narrowing down your options for school. If you’re interested in fashion graduate programs, for example, you’d look for a fashion or creative arts college that focus on these studies. As graduate programs can be rigorous, you could review sample schedules or program descriptions to determine what the course load would be like.

Method of Study

Getting a college education has become easier than in previous times. Before, anyone interested in going to college would be required to physically attend school. Now, there are more options. Students can go part-time, attend night school, or consider online degree programs. As each method has it’s pros and cons, it is imperative that you make this decision, again, based on your personal lifestyle. If you work a full-time job, you’d likely prefer a part-time schedule at nights. If you’re a mom, you may prefer to earn your degree online.


Here’s a big factor for a lot of college students – the cost of tuition. Are you able to pay this on your own? If not, what options does the school provide for paying? Some offer internships, grants, scholarships, payment plans, and an option to apply for financial aid. If this isn’t enough to cover the costs, then you’ll need to consider borrowing the money such as by applying for a student loan.

Choosing a School

Have you weighed all the above factors? Is going to college something that you’re interested in doing? Now comes the more taxing part of the process: Choosing a school. There are literally thousands of schools across the country. Knowing which is best for you comes down to more than affordability, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Programs offered
  • Proximity to home
  • Size (class sizes)
  • Studying methods (online, night school, full- and part-time)
  • Student resources (career services, tutoring, etc)
  • Accreditation
  • Scheduling
  • Financial assistance
  • Clubs and organizations

Try to narrow your search down based on the above criteria. Then, schedule a campus visit to learn more. Here you can talk with administrators and get more in-depth answers to some questions you may have about the school.

Choosing to go to college does present some personal and financial challenges. Be that as it may, if you’re able to graduate successfully, the reward is great. To ensure you are making the most informed decision about going to college and that you select the right school, keep the above factors in mind.

If you can find a school that fits your schedule, is affordable, has programs you’re interested in, and allows you to continue living your day to day life without any interruptions, it’s worth enrolling in.

Adventures in Lawn Mowing

A few months ago, I moved into my own place. I had to buy a step stool to reach things like the blinds and my cabinets, but other than that I’m fairly self-sufficient. I built a bed frame by myself when Ikea told me I’d need at least two people to get the job done. I fixed the hinge on the door to the laundry. I’ve killed bugs that in the past would have made me cry out of pure fear.

Okay, I might still cry. But I kill them by myself anyways. Push through the tears.

Also, I have a lawn. Which is pretty exciting after living in the city for nearly a decade. The only problem is that I have to mow it.

That’s not really a problem in and of itself. When I was growing up, I had to mow our nearly-an-acre, hilly plot. I would load up my walkman with my favorite Rx Bandits CD and got the job done.

But to relive the days of my youth, I had to first get a lawnmower. Getting and storing gasoline in a container freaks me out, and I’m trying to save the planet. So gas mowers were out. I looked at electric ones, but they were too expensive.

Then, my friend recommended this gem.

orange push mower

It’s a great push mower. But I wouldn’t have told you that the first time I tried to mow my lawn. It was super hot out. My neighbor had been doing my side of the lawn for me for a couple weeks while I tried to get the mower situation figured out. So I needed to pay it back and mow his.

There were innumerable sticks in the yard. Those could be removed, but there were also tree roots, which couldn’t be. There was a massive hill on his side, which was no fun to take care of. And because I had taken so long to get this done, the grass was super thick.

After about an hour of exerting more energy than anyone would ever want to, I went inside to get a drink or five of water. While I was in there, I heard a gas engine rev up. My neighbor was remowing the lawn. That’s how terrible of a job I had done. Taking pity on me, he also did the part I hadn’t started yet.

I was pretty discouraged, and gave up on my frugality. I set up services with multiple landscapers, all of whom flaked out on me. My neighbor moved out, and I had to figure out what the heck I was going to do.

The other day, I tried it again. I got out the push mower I had given up on. I set out to do my half of the lawn. And you know what?

It wasn’t bad.

Yes, I sweat, but that wasn’t something I had been afraid of. I don’t really know why it was so much easier this time. Maybe the grass was shorter. Maybe it wasn’t as humid out. Maybe I had gotten stronger Maybe my side of the lawn has less tree roots than his did.

Regardless, I’m glad I tried again. I’m glad I proved to myself I could take care of my own self. And I’m super glad I was able to do it without using gasoline, without paying someone else to do it for me, and without spending money on a more powerful electric lawn mower.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. You might still be able to save money. And assert that you are the one with the power–you don’t need a machine or any other human being to exert that power for you.

Ways to Promote Your Small Business and Get Your Name Noticed

Today’s post is brought to you and contributed by Abby Locker.

Crushing on these small business advertising tips! Can't wait until people start recognizing my brand name.

Are you in the process of getting your business up and off the ground? The first few months and years can be challenging. It takes time and a lot of hard work to build a company that keeps pulling in repeat customers. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can promote your business right now. Even if it seems like the return may be minimal, you just never know until the customer makes the contact. Here are just a few ways that you can promote your small business and hopefully get your name noticed in your community niche.

Personalizing Business Items

When it comes to setting your business above the rest and generating a brand, it’s important to make sure you stand out from your competitors. This begins with creating signage and a logo that is distinctly yours and is catchy and easy to remember. Consulting with a graphic artist who specializes in advanced art and design is a good way to break away from the cookie cutter logos and signs that many businesses use.

Obtaining full ownership of the copyright and trademark of your logo is important. From there, you’ll be able to transfer the logo to your stationery and even a stamp. Personalized stamps come in handy when you’re trying to transfer your image to a new batch of invoices or envelopes. This allows you to create a fast advertisement that is effective for communication and helping promote your business when and where you need it.

Build Your Website and Online Presence

When starting a small company from the bottom up, it’s important to stay in touch with your customer base. This begins with having a primary portal through which your customers connect with you. This portal should offer a quick reference to your business and be available around the clock.

A professional website that is active and interactive is a great way to reach your customers, especially as a new and growing business. Your website can also have a forum where customers and pros can interact, get perspective, and have questions answered. Make sure that your website is directly connected to your email and phone so that you can stay in contact with any correspondence that comes up. Your website is also a great place for customers to leave feedback and generate testimonials. You can also create a portfolio that highlights some of your products or new projects that you’ve been working on. On your landing page, don’t forget to include any awards or organizations that your business is affiliated with.

Hire a Social Media Marketing Pro

While a website is a great way to promote your business, there are other forms of social media that are equally important. Connecting through social media is a great way to promote and market your content on your blog or website quickly and reach a large, broad audience at the same time.  Hiring someone in-house or as a freelancer to cover your marketing and social media requests is important. Choose a company or individual who will look into your business plan and expand from there. Make sure they cover any or all of the following:

  • Website support
  • Inbound marketing
  • Search-engine optimization marketing
  • Advertising
  • Logo design
  • Brand identity
  • Photo and video correlation

Ask the marketing pro if they can seamlessly blend all of your social media with your website and inbound communication devices. The goal is to make your company stand out, but you should be able to understand how to take care of the rise in customer inquiries and requests should your business take off rapidly.

Attend Public Meetings and Social Events

Old-fashioned social clubs are still one of the best ways to make yourself a solid member of the business community in your town. Virtual business is key to reaching customers through social media outlets, but face-to-face interaction is also important. Becoming a member of the local better business bureau and other small business organizations is important in the locals getting to know you and what you have to offer the community. This is a great way to build referrals and build your business through word of mouth advertising and interpersonal relationships.

Getting your business off to the right start begins with getting set up to fulfill supply and demand. Small steps will equal large-scale rewards in the future.