Author Archives: femmefrugality

How To Build Your Home On A Shoestring Budget

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

When it’s time to strike out on your own and find a suitable property, the thought of finding something that suits all your needs can be quite daunting. Building a home, on the other hand, can tick all those boxes and still come in up to 30% cheaper than buying a house.

For the most part, you’re in control of the entire budget and can choose all the elements you need in the property. While buying an existing property has the advantage of already being available, if you’re looking for a frugal option, a newbuild surprisingly might just be it. 

Consider Converting An Existing Shell 

There are a number of structures that might do when it comes to building the perfect home in a suitable shell, such as existing barns, old factories, and even shipping containers. These provide a solid structure at a fraction of the cost of constructing the exterior from scratch. A conversion could also save a substantial amount on the planning side of things, as the entire design has to work around the existing structure, as opposed to conceptualizing an entirely new idea. 

Opt For A Turnkey Solution 

Architect fees can run anywhere from 8% to 15% of the cost of construction on a newbuild, which is a substantial portion of the build. One of the ways to cut down on these costs is to ask the architect to only provide the bare minimum plans in order to get approved for the build. Usually, the fees creep up to the maximum when customers wish to have every area of the house completely mapped out.

The flipside, however, is that spending that extra bit on the architect fee can actually reduce the cost of construction. This is because there is no room for error as every part of the design is carefully planned. Pre-packaged home builder solutions offer future homeowners options that will include the entire cost of the project as a turnkey solution. 

Do As Much Of The Labor As You Can 

If you are able to clear out rubble on the lot or help dig the foundation, then it’s in your best interest to do so. This could also include painting and tiling if you happen to have the skill and right tools for the job. Even if it means coming in alongside a crew, this could potentially cut a day or a few days off the entire project’s time, which could have a positive effect on the labor bill. It’s important that you take on projects within your range of skills in order not to delay the project. 

A newbuild is not only a great way to get as close to your dream home as possible; it can also be a cost-saving enterprise if you know where to look.

Income Chart Updates & Harvest Season

I have such great news! In my third month of doing my ambitious income goal charts, I actually met my pretty ambitious goal! I count the income I book and earn rather than the income I receive as I have far more control over the former.

This was a really good feeling, and one I’m hoping to achieve next month with my Kesha/H.E.R-inspired income goal chart. I created it in honor of the two songs I couldn’t stop listening to in August: RWSM and Lord is Coming. Once I get these goals met on a consistent basis, I’ll be upping them until I get to my calculated “enough” number.

Harvest Season

If you’re wondering what changed, ultimately meeting my goal this month came down to a few happy surprises I had planted earlier in the year.

Investing Time in Future Work

I’m a contractor, which means my work and pay is inherently variable. I’ve learned over the years to never take for granted the times of feast, as there’s always a famine coming around the corner. Often when you least expect it.

Earlier in the year, when work was steady and almost something close to predictable, I started feeling uncomfortable. I knew this feeling of routine wasn’t permanent, so I started keeping an eye out for new opportunities. In one case, I even reached out to a friend who was kind enough to set me up with someone they knew was hiring.

Because I started those conversations in the Spring, I’ve been able to phase in new clients at an unrushed pace, smoothing out a lot of the bumps in the road I would have hit otherwise.

I’m so glad I started planting then. My life has been a lot less hectic because of it.

Unpaid Work

Another frustrating thing about freelancing is that sometimes you end up being at the short end of the stick as far as on-time payments go. This does not apply to my long-term clients; if it did they wouldn’t be my long-term clients.

Earlier in 2019, before I started creating my income goal charts, I did a couple projects with organizations I was expecting to pay on time. They expected them to pay on time. There was some sort of glitch and that didn’t happen, in one case. I don’t know what happened in the others.

I did eventually get paid, but it took a while. Since I wasn’t sure when these payments would be coming in, I didn’t count them as expected/earned income when I was making my charts. When they did come in, they were a happy surprise that boosted me over the edge.

Moving Forward with Income Goals

I’d like to hit this number every month! I’d like to get it consistent enough that I can up my income goals even higher. I’m glad I’ve had a chance to harvest the opportunities of early 2019, and I’m also looking forward to new opportunities as I head off to FinCon.

I launched a thing.

I’ve been hinting to you guys for months that I’ve got something fun rolled up my sleeves.

Well, today’s the day I finally get to tell you what it is!

Personal Finance by Women

In the independent financial media space, we’re a little more than 50% female. I think that justifies accurate gender representation when it comes to publishing opportunities, speaking gigs and features. I think that means we ‘ve got plenty of people with lived experience speaking to the issues of women’s finances that hiring those without to pontificate on the topic isn’t always going to bring you the best perspective and information.

Because I think all this, I thought it was time to launch Personal Finance by Women. Apparently a lot of other people think the same thing. Since its launch two days ago, Personal Finance by Women has tripled its membership — I’m still uploading profiles! And that was just from a couple mentions in online networking groups.

What does Personal Finance by Women do?

Personal Finance by Women is a social entrepreneurship venture which believes that just because you center the most intersectional of stories doesn’t mean you have to be a charity. There is value in these financial experiences, which contain something to be learned by all.

It’s not about helping anyone; it’s about empowering everyone.

To achieve this, we’re going to have lots of projects including:

  • Publishing and syndication of money stories centering intersectional writers who are paid fairly for their content.
  • An RSS feed featuring members’ content.
  • A bookshop featuring members’ tomes on money.
  • A financial literacy book basket initiative for charity auctions/raffles.
  • A source list for journalists attempting gender diversity in their sourcing efforts.
  • Service projects and initiatives in our membership’s various local communities.
  • Hashtags on Insta and Twitter featuring members’ content and further bolstering community.

How can I support Personal Finance by Women?

As I mentioned above, this is a social entrepreneurship venture — not a 501(c)(3). That means that while monetary support doesn’t get you a tax deduction, it does potentially get you other perks.

Those who become Early Access Subscribers on Patreon will receive access to original Personal Finance by Women content 24 hours prior to its public release.

You can also support by participating as a member, taking advantage of the fact that membership is currently free during launch. If you want to join as an ally, we’ll talk about how you can best support the initiatives we’re currently running. If you want to join as a woman or non-binary individual, we’re excited to check out your work!

The Costs of Performing Femininity

Last week, someone said something to me that stuck with me. It was hurtful, but the person meant it as a compliment. The words were not this eloquent, but essentially they told me the same thing my grandma told me back in 2004 when I attended her milestone birthday party:

“You clean up nice.”

When my grandmother said it, it made sense. I was a teenager who usually dressed in ripped up jeans, a hoodie and a beanie. To see me in full business casual was probably a legitimate shock.

But this person last week — I don’t feel like the similar comment was as justified. I’ve been “cleaned up” around this person before, and the way it was worded made me feel like my worth to this person was intricately tied to how much makeup I had on or the amount of jewelry that adorned my collarbone.

Without it, I wasn’t quite enough.

Performing Femininity

I was aware how much of a show getting girly was at a very young age. When I was a child, I loved playing baseball with the boys, hated brushing my hair and loved hanging out with the people I cared about. Eventually, cultural pressure kicked in and I switched over to the softball team. I started brushing my tangly hair on the regular. I don’t regret the latter.

When I was a teen, I learned to perform femininity to gain social acceptance. I am a cis woman, and I do feel better about myself when I’m all dolled up. Whether that’s because it’s what makes me happy or because it makes society treat me better I still have yet to figure out.

It’s inconvenient. It’s time consuming. And comes with other costs. Back in those days when I shocked the elderly by dressing up for birthday parties, I came across this quote that really struck me:

Femininity is not made for comfort or movement; it is made to accentuate the sexualization of a woman’s body — and that’s why things like holding the door open (so she doesn’t dirty her white gloves or expensive manicure,) pulling her chair out (so she doesn’t have to awkwardly move a bulky piece of furniture and risk getting it caught on her skirt or stockings and ripping something,) or holding her coat (so she doesn’t have to reach around and risk ripping the tight seams in her shoulder or upper back) are necessary to me, as an acknowledgement of how restrictive femininity can be, and of how difficult it is to walk around in these clothes, as a celebration of the beauty of femininity on the body, and with deep respect for the courage to costume and perform femme to begin with.

I’m not saying everything in that quote is morally right. Or that those who spoke the words are infallible human beings. Just that it was a thought that really made me think over the past 17 years.

The Costs of Performing Femme

Performing femme has a lot of economic implications for those who either do or don’t don the costume. If you’re not society’s whitewashed, caked on makeup, impossibly thin version of beauty, you’re less likely to get paid well at work or even secure the position in the first place.

There are those routine costs, too. The cost of makeup. The cost of clothing and unmentionables. Overpriced shoes that kill your feet.

As you’re getting ready for the day, the most feminine look is going to take the longest to apply — at least if we’re assuming femininity is defined by our society rather than us as individuals. When time is money, women are either waking up earlier to get ready for the day or spending time getting “pretty” when they could be working and bringing in an income. I’m aware the latter is a strawman’s argument, but this is a PF blog. Time is money is an important theme in our discourses.

Then there are the more dire costs of performing femininity as society defines it. Body image issues. Self-hatred and the need to address the mental health issues that come along with not being “enough.” Eating disorders. Potential of death if you take things too far.

Abandoning Aspects of Femme

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten far more comfortable in my own skin. I do feel better about myself when I’m dressed to the nines, but I’ve also started actually believing that my value is not tied to how well I perform femininity. Despite what the world may tell me.

Coffee mug reading "You should be more feminine. Me: Suck my dick."
When I landed in Boise, I spotted this mug at my friend’s house. The timing, y’all. Also this is why we’ve been friends forever.

I tried to wear heels a couple times after I had kids. I couldn’t wear them when I was pregnant because I’m super klutzy and would have fallen as my center of balance adjusted to my changing body. When I tried to resume the practice, it invariably ended in tears of pain. Eventually, I gave them up. Yes, I’m short. Yes, heels make me look even more bomb than I already am. But they’re not a necessary part of my femininity.

I am more than enough without them.

I’m also a remote worker. That means I don’t have to get dressed up to go into work. It’s beautiful, really. I’m crazy lucky I can work in yoga pants without makeup on while earning a decent income.

Why do I do it without makeup on? Why don’t I put on real clothes while I’m clacking away at the keyboard in my own living room?

Because I am more than enough without it. And yoga pants are freaking comfortable.

Also, my skin looks awesome when I don’t wear makeup for a few days. So there’s that.

I’m leaving on a jet plane.

Yesterday I flew into Boise for a book signing. Usually when I fly, I do the yoga pants or leggings thing. I try not to look trashy, but I’m also not trying to get all made up when I know I’m going to look a hot mess after 12 hours of travel.

But the comments from last week left me feeling insecure. I really respected this person and thought their respect for me was a little deeper than the jewelry I was wearing or the way I did my hair on any given day. Complimenting femininity is great, but when the largest part of your value as a human being is attributed to your external presentation at any given second, it’s more than demoralizing.

So before I hopped on the plane, I got all dolled up. Full makeup. Girly clothes. Later, I even put on a bracelet and necklace.

Women in full makeup smiling in a selfie demonstrating the costume of femininity.

Did I regret it?


I wasn’t comfortable. My makeup melted throughout the day as I ensured I made flights, tried to catch up on edits on layovers and dragged my two bags throughout the entire airport because I’m too cheap to check.

While I had worked so hard to get “presentable,” the drunk dude sitting next to me and elbowing me throughout the entire flight stank to high hell. Reminding me that the standards for me and this guy were so far away from each other.

I’m going to continue performing femininity. I like the way it makes me feel. I like that people treat me better when I put on the costume. But just like the heels and the yoga pants, I’m not going to bother myself with it when it’s not worth it anymore. The next time I hop on a jet plane, I’m not going to perform anything. I’m just going to be me.

Because with or without makeup and stilettos, I’m plenty enough. Despite the economic realities our society places on us when we don’t conform, you are enough, too. I see you, and your value as a human being doesn’t go up just because you put on a costume.

Easy Peasy Low-Cost Life Insurance

Disclosure: This post was made in paid partnership with Bestow. Neither Bestow nor North American Company for Life and Health Insurance were involved in the preparation of the information in this article. The opinions and ideas expressed in the article are those of the author(s) and are not promoted or endorsed by Bestow or North American. You should always seek professional advice before making a financial decision.

Such an important step when you become a mom--getting term life insurance!

When I got my life insurance policy, I had a nurse come into my home. She took my weight, drew my blood and went over a long and complex form with me, assessing my physical and mental health.

It wasn’t a particularly convenient or fun experience.

But if you’re looking at purchasing a term life insurance policy today, you’ve got options. If you qualify, you could get a policy for as little as $5/month from Bestow. No medical tests. Easy questionnaire. And the entire process takes less than ten minutes.

I gave the platform a whirl myself, though I did not qualify for a policy. I have a couple preexisting conditions, so that’s not a huge surprise. These are low-cost policies, which will often mean they’re available to those who do not have many “negative” marks on their medical history.

There were seven sections of the application, reviewing basics like name and address all the way through lifestyle decisions, physical health, mental health and income information. From here, you’ll either be rejected or offered a final rate. Policies start at just $5/month, and are underwritten by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®.

What should I look for in an insurance company?

When you’re shopping for an insurance company, you want to be as sure as possible that the company will be able to pay out your benefits should you ever need to make a claim. You can do this by looking up its rating with an insurance rating agency. Scores operate similarly to the grades you received in high school; the closer to an A++, the better. Companies with lower ratings are less likely to be able to actually pay out the claims.

North American Company for Life and Health Insurance has an A+ rating from AM Best, and Bestow administers their policies online.

Why do you need life insurance?

There are many reasons you might need life insurance. You may want to provide for you family in the event of your death, aiming to leave them with enough money for the kids to attend college and to replace your income for several years as they adjust to lacking your income or work as a homemaker.

Of course, the primary thing you want to get them through is the mourning process. Giving them time to handle the emotional waves that come along with grief is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all.

You may want to support a partner or parent in the event of your death, which is another reason to take out a life insurance policy.

Why don’t I have to submit any medical records?

Bestow pulls your data as you give it permission to do so as a part of the application process. It pulls your health data and prescriptions in this way. Then it goes through an algorithm which decides if you qualify for coverage.

What else should I know before I use Bestow as my life insurance provider?

If you get a 20-year term policy from Bestow, you must be age 21-45. The other policies offered are 2-year or 10-year term policies, and you must be between the ages of 21-55 in order to qualify.

You will not be approved if you have any of these disqualifiers:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer—unless it’s basal or squamous cell skin cancer
  • Organ transplant
  • Diabetes before age 40—unless it was gestational diabetes
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • HIV
  • Undergoing dialysis

As long as none of the above apply to you and you fall within the age limits, you may qualify. Finding out is as easy as applying online, and shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes.

Have you purchased life insurance? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!