Welcome to Frugal Portland, a place where you can share your opinions and advice freely on all things personal finance related. All your opinions are welcome. I’m navigating my way through financial decisions and rely heavily on the thoughts and opinions of you, dear reader, to help steer me in the right direction.

About Kathleen

I graduated from college in 2004, with a degree in politics and not very much money sense. I moved to DC after working on a political campaign the summer after I graduated, and tried my best to keep up with each and every Jones I could find. I made some really great friends, fell in love, and generally had a blast.

In 2006, I made my first bad financial decision: I loaned a friend of a friend $20,000 for his business. But here’s the worst part: I wrote a check from my credit card. The “investment” turned out (to my surprise!) badly, and all of a sudden I had more credit card debt than I could stomach.

I moved back to Portland from DC right after voting in the 2008 presidential election. In 2009, I decided to get my head out of the sand, and take control of my finances. I charted my debts and interest rates, and worked out a plan. It was time to get serious.

In February 2012, I used a tax refund to drop the last bit of credit card debt forever. It was a powerful moment that turned out rather ordinary. I realized that nothing will change, life will go on as usual, and nobody was going to give me a sticker for paying off my credit cards.

Today, I’m able to take control of my money. I no longer stay awake at night wondering how I’m going to make rent. I wrote down the rest of my financial goals — pay off car, pay off student loans, save half my income, never have a car loan ever again ever — and realized that getting out of credit card debt was an important first step toward financial independence, but just that — a first step. I realized that to succeed, I would need to (of course) make more money, and (again, somewhat obvious) spend less of what I take home. I’m proud to say I’ve been successful on both fronts.

I believe that by being frugal and working hard, I will get to where I want to be financially, which is to say, comfortable. Successful. Independent. My future self does not own a yacht, but she also doesn’t need to be married to make ends meet. I believe that lacking money can stress a person out, but that making a lot of money is not the full solution. Studies show that there is no difference in happiness between the person who makes $50,000 a year and the person who makes $50M a year. There are far more important things than money, and money can’t buy the things that matter most.

I love Frugal Portland because of the community of readers (which, to my utmost surprise, consist of more than just my parents and my sister). I love connecting with people, and by writing in this space, I have been lucky enough to turn strangers into friends.

Quick Facts

  • I like to eat, and I love to cook. Bring me a bottle of bubbly and we’ll be fast friends. If you don’t drink bubbly, then any wine will do.
  • Don’t bring me food, though, because there are way too many things I can’t eat.
  • I make the best salted caramels you’ve ever had. Try me!
  • I believe in the power of vegetables. Perhaps because I like those salted caramels.
  • I love to read, and am working my way through all the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (and novels). My favorite so far is The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, but if you’re looking for a good book, that list is a great place to start. They didn’t give one out in 2012 — isn’t that weird?
  • I work in sales and marketing, and I love my job. I can only sell things I firmly believe will make a difference in the lives of others, and I am certain that our product does just that.
  • My sister is nearly seven years younger than me, and one of my absolute best friends. I count myself lucky for that reason alone.


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