Thrifty and Nifty {Guest Post}

Today my guest on the Thrifty & Nifty series is Amanda aka Lady Bowen, a dancer, healthy eater, and world traveler with a penchant for good reads.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

An early start is key — I feel so much more optimistic about the day when I get up early. Next comes a short run on a nearby levy alongside the creek, with views of the foothills and buttes of Upper Bidwell Park. After a quick shower, I’d make breakfast for me and the hubby, preferably something yummy and healthy, like whole wheat pancakes with sliced almonds and local organic white nectarines so sweet they make maple syrup redundant. Then, if I had my druthers, I spend the whole rest of the morning reading and studying. I always have several study projects going that I work on intermittently. There’s a a bit of a formula to any current mixture: two parts spiritual, one part language, one part language history, and one part either world history or science.    

After a salad concoction for lunch, the afternoon would be spent with friends swimming at a local swimming hole and enjoying the scenery and sun. There would be a lot of laying on towels on the banks of Chico Creek, eating organic Crenshaw melon, chips and guacamole, and salted jicama (my new favorite snack.) Knowing me, I would have a book with me, too. A Victorian mystery is always a perfect choice for a leisurely afternoon.  

The evening is best spent with my husband at home, watching the latest installment of Sherlock.

Do you like your own handwriting?

What handwriting?  I’m always on the computer.  

What are you listening to these days?

I tend to listen to audiobooks most often.  I just downloaded Augustus by Anthony Everitt. I am currently listening to The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters.

If they made a movie about your life, who would play you? What would the movie be titled?

A mix of Emily Blunt and Rachel Bilson. Think Rachel Bison’s height and build with Emily Blunt’s coloring. The movie title would probably change twenty times during production and end up as “The Adventures of Bookworm Ballerina in Belize”.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by books, magazines, and blogs. I have an addiction to tearing out pages from magazines. It might be a cute outfit, shoes, an exercise I’d like to try, a table setting for an upcoming party, or a hair or makeup look I’d like to imitate.  

I have a very difficult time ever throwing away these clippings. I have some from 10-year-old Lucky magazines. I still find them inspiring.

What is your money philosophy, and how does it affect your daily living?

My husband and I have been planning a move to Belize for a few years now. In harmony with that, we have tried not to spend money on things that won’t help us get there or help us once we get there. For example, I love love love winter boots. But I generally don’t make huge investments in them because they’re not appropriate for a tropical climate. But a barely-worn pair of fashionable comfort shoes (they do exist) at a thrift store? Score!

We do spend money on hobbies and things that are portable and low-maintenance. I love ballet and have bought a couple DVDs to practice with abroad. We won’t buy a new car, but we have spent money getting our SUV ready to take down south.  

We also try to keep our living arrangements relatively simple.  We live in a duplex and have never tried for a backyard. We don’t keep pets or plants (for long). Spending money (and time) on those things just doesn’t contribute to our goals.  

What sacrifices have you made to create the life you live now? What benefits have come from making these sacrifices?

Well, I’ve had to abandon my lifelong dream of having a whole room as a walk-in closet.  That was pretty hard.  

Seriously though, probably the hardest thing is remembering that just because our friends are doing something that costs money doesn’t mean we should expect to be able to do the same thing. There’s so many ways to spend money that society tells us are worth it or necessary for the experience. Just because something is worth it doesn’t mean you need it.

We love traveling and could easily have racked up debt scampering all over the world.  But we have to pace ourselves and take trips when we have saved for them.  

The benefits are so worth the sacrifice. We don’t carry debt and have the financial flexibility to go off and have a real adventure like living in another country.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, financial or otherwise?

Peter Fonseca, a leading soloist with American Ballet Theater, said in an interview for The Dancers’ Body Book, “So many people just consume and consume and don’t put anything out. I think the answer is to be absolutely minimal in what you take in and prolific in what you put out.”  

This is especially helpful in a performing art like ballet, but it seems to apply to everyday life as well. Over-consumption is ubiquitous and an easy pattern into which one can fall.  Being a person who gives more than gets is rare and a rewarding goal in finance, friendships, and even most hobbies.  

Any money-saving tips you’d like to share?

Think of potential purchases as a percentage of your income to put them in perspective. Suddenly, $250 for $1,100 boots isn’t as good a deal after all. Probably.  


I live with my husband in a smallish university town in Northern California. We are due to move to Belize, Central America in August of this year. As we live off my husband’s earnings, I spend the bulk of my free time volunteering, running, reading, and shopping.  Our shared love of travel motivates us to keep life simple and cheap, without sacrificing style or taste. It’s an adventure!

You can follow Amanda’s adventures in travel and healthy eating at


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