Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

All … or nothing at all.

I’m pretty much an ‘all or nothing’ sort of person.

When I was two years old I was scared of dogs after I was bitten by one. Mum and Dad adopted a puppy when I was about seven to get me over the fear. It worked. When I was in my twenties, before I had kids, I bred and showed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for years. I had MANY dogs. Poppy and Jeff are descendants of the dogs I bred.

I wasn’t all that fussed about having kids. Then I made four of them within five years.

I thought I might like to try and make a quilt. How hard could it be? It’s only lots and lots of straight seams, right? Literally twenty-seven quilts later… (and I even made one that had circles on it.) 

Someone suggested I grow veggies to save money. Then my son grew very ill with depression and I thought that organic fruit and vegetables couldn’t hurt and might help. By the time I sold the house, I had well over thirty fruit trees and over 35 square metres of vegetable gardens. I had plans drawn up to grow a food forest in the front yard.

So you can imagine that when I dig my heels in and purchased Scout, my family was worried. But so far, I’ve been good. There’s still only one miniature wire-haired dachshund living in The Best House in Melbourne!

I have a new rule for clothes shopping. I don’t buy it if I don’t love it. We all have things that we bought because we thought they were ok, but they were so cheap!!! Then they live in the dark recesses of your wardrobe, barely if ever seeing the light of day, until they get donated five years later. Not so cheap if you don’t actually like them enough to wear them, right?

I’m VERY all-or-nothing when it comes to clothes shopping. In 2013 I was a thermomix consultant and I earned a free trip to Hong Kong. One day some of us took the train to the border and we went shopping in Shenzhen, China. I came back with fifteen dresses, jewellery, ugg boots that I still wear as slippers to this day, woollen jumpers and who knows what else? I could barely close my suitcase and I learned the lesson that you should ALWAYS buy a suitcase with wheels. However, I’ve barely bought any clothes since. I’ve been happily wearing my Shenzhen wardrobe.

In fact, I did my figures for 2018 on New Year’s Day. Last year I spent a grand total of $35 on clothes, mostly on a jumper and some t-shirts for the North Korea trip. The year before it was $0, unless you count $30 to get a pair of Aldi boots resoled. To be fair, this was when we were living through the bridging finance, when 54% – 74% of my take-home wage was going to the 750K loan on The Best House in Melbourne. Money was slightly tight.

However… this frugal heaven can’t last forever.

I may have run slightly mad over the last couple of days. Clothes will definitely last if you look after them, but they don’t last indefinitely. They get faded, stained or damaged. Shoes are durable, but eventually, they get scuffed and tired -looking. For the last couple of years, no one at work knew if Frogdancer Jones was going to turn up looking presentable or if she’d turn up looking as if she’d pitchforked clothes from the rag bag onto herself.

It was time to turn my attention to my attire.

I’m now the proud owner of five pairs of new shoes. Two pairs of flats have yet to arrive in the mail from Scarlettos, while I bought these beauties today. I used to walk past the shop for years and glance at the displays, but never even go inside, because I knew I couldn’t afford them so why go in and look?

The black boots are obviously for winter, though I wouldn’t be surprised if I wear the $60 Aldi boots for the fourth year. After all, they’ve been re-soled, right? Waste not, want not!

But today, I was primarily looking for clothes, particularly tops to go over the Bali pants Mum and Dad brought back with them after their last holiday. I thought I’d buy about 5 new casual tops that I can wear for work. Nothing too drastic…

But no one told me that stripes and linen were back in.

And – wait for it….. stripey linen.


I wandered into David Jones all unaware of this fact, and staggered out of there under the weight of many shopping bags, $800 poorer but with a new wardrobe that will make me look GORGEOUS! I was lucky that the Christmas sales are still on, but just between you and me… I’d have bought most of these things without the sale. Remember? I don’t buy clothes I don’t love.

Speaking of that, there’s been a site I’ve been stalking for two years that has clothes that I adore. Unfortunately, they’re mainly made for stick-thin people, but they have wraps and coats that cater for portly frames like mine. I haven’t bought a thing from them for two long years. I kept looking at their emails, then deleting, saying, “No. I’m not ready yet.”

However, it’s possible I may have spent the first day of 2019 buying  $400 worth of swishy and drapey outer-wear for autumn and winter from them. I guess I’m now set for clothing for the next few years. Woohoo!

I’m already aware that this time next year, when Future Frogdancer Jones is going through the figures for 2019, she’ll probably be wincing a bit. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of money on clothing and shoes this week.

But you know what?

I’m really looking forward to hearing what the beautifully dressed women in The Danger Zone* will say when I keep turning up in wonderful clothing, day after day after day. After day. (Yes, I did run a little crazy…)

I’m looking forward to walking into my wardrobe after my shower in the morning looking forward to creating my outfit for that day, instead of thinking, “Ok, what’s not in the wash? What can I get away with wearing?”

I’m looking forward to finally wearing clothes that look like ME, instead of clothes that are old and were always bought with an eye for price rather than anything much else. Those clothes are a real downer to wear when that’s pretty much all you have to choose from.

There are around two and half of you who have been reading this blog for a while. You’ll remember that I class myself as a value-ist. I only like to buy things that I hold as adding great value to my life, while I’ll be dragged kicking and screaming before I’ll waste money on things that I perceive as NOT doing this.

After I hit publish on this post, I’m going to pour myself a shiraz, then I’ll go into my wardrobe and start culling all of those faded, stained ‘ok, but so cheap!’ clothes. When that’s done and my new clothes are all washed, ironed and hanging up in there, my wardrobe will be a thing of beauty.

And so will I.

* The Danger Zone is the nickname that our little section of staff room 2 is called. I share it with Blogless Adrian, Blogless Liz and a group of young twenty-and-thirty something girls who all look fabulous. Fortunately, they’re all fabulously nice as well. It’s a happy place.






  1. Snoskred

    Seriously, good for you. I’m so happy for you, I’m doing a little dance over here. 😉 I did have my own little Boxing Day spending spree, but nothing compared to my 2017 spree after I lost 25kg.

    I’m a stockpiler and the lady at W Lane thinks I am cuckoo because I bought so many identical things in her store this year. I have 8 vests and at least 8 pairs of the same jeans hidden away in my cupboard, because they are perfect for work and I will never see them again in the store. I’m wearing the same 2 vests and jeans for the time being, until I wear them out, at which point I will pull out a couple more. Some of them I got for incredibly low prices in sales, some as low as $10.

    If I see a thing I need and I know I love it and I’m going to need more of them and I need to keep buying it, I will bookmark it and check the price regularly, when it is on special I strike. 😉 Like a cobra.

    Clothes can and do add value to our lives. If one feels good in what one has on, it tends to add an extra layer of happiness to ones day.

    And you know what else? Some of it lasts for years upon years. I have t-shirts I bought in Target nearly 20 years ago which I still wear. They are mostly round the house wear now but they still exist and I remember the happy times I had wearing them various places. 😉

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Some of my 10 and 20 year old clothes are saying goodbye. They’ve served me well…

  2. Kristen

    For me, striking a balance between “I need to declutter!” and “I’m on a spending freeze!” can be hard. I went on a declutter-rampage a few weeks ago, and I was surprised by how many clothing items were stained or ripped, had shrank, and just otherwise were completely tired. The clothes weren’t even good enough to donate, so most were trashed. However, I’m also motivated to cut back on spending, so I had to make sure I still kept enough to get me through for as long as possible. Time to get creative with outfits!

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Ahhh! That’s what I should have said I was doing for the last 2 or 3 years : “Being creative with outfits.”
      I like your thinking!

  3. OthalaFehu

    I liked this post and not to make something all about me, but I figured this is relevant so I would share.

    I have a tattoo on my stomach that says ‘Severitas’. It is Latin for severity. It is lesser know virtue meaning if you are going to do something, do it all the way. For me it has a lot to do with Cato the Elder ending every speech regardless of topic with the phrase ‘Carthage must be destroyed’.

    I find the ability to narrow focus to an almost single minded nature can really help accomplish goals. I think we share this trait. Cheers!

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Last year one of the books I read was ‘SPQR- A History of Ancient Rome’ by Mary Beard. I blame that huge tome for making me miss my target of reading 80 books in 2018! My favourite Cato the Elder quote? “Wise men learn more from fools than fools do from the wise.”


      • OthalaFehu

        If you haven’t read them, The Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough are great. My wife even wrote her a letter when we finished them.

        • Frogdancer Jones

          I think I’ve got one or two of them to go. 😊

  4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    Enjoy the new wardrobe! I love that refreshed wardrobe feeling that people share, it’s more appealing than new car smell! 🙂

    I envy your ability to select clothes that are stylish and YOU. I go from feast to famine as well but what happens in between is I completely forget how to pick clothes to suit my frame. Forget flattery even, I plain forget what simply works and what doesn’t work for me, so I have to start the dang learning curve all over again every time. It’s an annoying selective amnesia that means I just keep wearing the 10-20 year old stuff entirely because I’m avoiding having to figure it out again.

    • Frogdancer Jones

      Haha! I just stick to one simple rule nowadays – don’t buy it if you don’t love it.

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