Expert Interview with Karrie Truman on DIY Life

It seems the mantra for frugal bloggers is that pinching pennies doesn't mean scrimping on happiness.

And Karrie Truman, founder of, agrees.

"People work hard for money, and it should be able to enjoy their hard work," she says. "Living on less doesn't mean a lesser life but a more fulfilling one."

For Karrie, choosing the DIY approach for everything from raising her own chickens to making homemade cleaners allows her to spend more on her kids, hobbies and bucket list, not to mention it gives her freedom from debt, bills and money stress.

Here, Karrie shares about homesteading, the benefits of backyard chickens and some of the most effective ways she's found to save money. Read on:

Tell us about Happy Money Saver...when and why did you start your site?

Happy Money Saver was started as a simple blog in 2009 and has evolved through the years. I really just started my blog to share money-saving and coupon tips with my friends and family. Suddenly strangers started following my blog and it kept growing. What kept me going was emails I'd receive from other mothers struggling to put food on the table, affording college and family necessities. Teaching them to save a couple hundred dollars a month is a big deal for a lot of people on a tight budget. And it made me feel good to know that I could help them a little bit on their journey to save money.

Your tag line is "happier lesser after" has living on less been fulfilling for you and your family?

Every day, we're faced with choices regarding how we spend our money. Sometimes, in the case of bills, we have no choice and must pay up. Nodiv just wants to work to only barely get by every month. My goal has always been to help people save more so they get to spend more on choices they want too. All that extra saved money can go to fun family activities and good times. Spending time on family and not on bills is my goal.

How does one live a country dream in the city? How have you brought pastoral sentiment to your urban home? Why was it important for you to do this?

I am a country girl at heart. And it has always been my dream to have a few acres of land to farm and raise animals on. Right now I don't have my big family farm, but there are lots of things we do to keep the spirit alive. Anyone can live a more self-sustaining life by starting gardens, growing herbs, canning and preserving fruits and vegetables. I am able to raise chickens for fresh eggs right now, and that feels really great. It's also important to learn to make your own homemade products when possible.

What are some easy ways we can get our feet wet with homesteading?

Start small and enjoy the simple miracle of growing something. Get some vegetable plants and herbs that you will use. Something just feels good and satisfying about eating or using something you were able to grow.

How has keeping chickens saved you money?

To tell you the truth, raising chickens hasn't always saved me money, but I knew that going into it. I wanted to raise chickens because I enjoy knowing where my food comes from. Keeping chickens has also helped my kids learn responsibility and how to care for things. I consider my chickens an investment in life lessons for my family. They understand the circle of life (not all my chickens have made it) and how to be responsible for something.

What are some unexpected ways it's cost you money?

I probably spoil them more them more than I should. Chicken treats, trying out different feeders and waterers. I can't help it, though, and I think most people who keep a little flock get a little strange about their birds.

What other homesteading techniques have you found most effective for maintaining a frugal lifestyle?

One of the biggest savings I found has been through making homemade products. My most popular posts are things like myhomemade laundry detergentDIY face-cleaning wipeshomemade chapstickcleanersbathroom fragrance sprays, and other beauty products.

I love it when my readers email me to say they made my recipes and that it has saved them tons of money!

Freezers meals are also some of my most well-loved posts. People love all the money and time they save. Saving time is just as important to some people as saving money. Making 50 freezer meals in a weekend can free up tens of hours later that month to have family fun. And it can save money too.

What have been some of your favorite money-saving tips that readers have shared with you?

I have the best readers in the world. If they find something, they'll share it with me and others. I've tried hard to keep my site a fun place to read and share ideas. I answer all my email myself, and I think people who save together bond, and so I get all sorts of ideas and suggestions. These can range from recipe ideas to having me look into which toilet paper is the best deal for your money. Let's face it: Toilet paper is not a sexy subject, but my readers want to know.

What money-saving ideas have you tried, but then ditched because they either didn't save you money or weren't worth the time and effort?

I experiment all the time with homemade items. My poor husband comes home some days and rolls his eyes when he sees me in the kitchen looking like a mad scientist trying out new recipes. I also make sure to cost everything out to make sure it's worth my readers' time and effort. Sometimes things at the store are just easier to purchase, and it's important my readers know that. Like I said previously, saving time can be just as important to some as money.

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