It’s Friday, so time for Let’s meet Financial Feminists. This week I have the pleasure of introducing Frogdancer Jones.
I was so keen to feature Frogdancer as she’s so different from the FIRE blogger stereotype of a single man who works in IT. She is a single lady in her 50’s who has successfully raised four (!!) boys on a teachers salary. To say I’m impressed is an understatement.
Handing over to Frogdancer
Please introduce yourself and your blog
Hello! I’m Frogdancer Jones from Burning Desire for FIRE. Based in Australia I’m a secondary teacher, where I have fun with English and Theatre Studies classes. I’m positively allergic to numerals and anything to do with Maths. However, money is important and financial freedom is a thing worth pursuing, despite the spreadsheets.
I was once married and I emerged from that situation 21 years ago. At that time I had 4 sons under 6, a heavily mortgaged house, $60 in cash and a gritted determination that the boys and I would succeed and thrive.
Fast forward to today and I live in The Best House In Melbourne with 2 of the boys and 3 dogs. I think I break all the stereotypes of the FI blogger, being a woman in my 50’s, unmarried, a mother of a large family and with an overwhelming hatred of numbers. I started the blog because of this. Women, particularly older women, need to share their stories and have a voice.
We don’t all need to be mansplained to.
What sort of finance blog do you write?
My blog pretty much puts the ‘P’ into personal finance! I’ve had a personal blog since 2007, so I’m very used to writing about my life and the things that interest me. Once I decided that there was room for a FI/RE blog written by a woman in her 50’s who came to these ideas late, it’s been very natural for me to write about the things in the personal finance world that interest me, but exploring them through my own life. So you get photos of my dogs, the things I do to save money, explanations of financial terms written from the perspective of a non-numeral person…I’m not your typical finance geek!
Some favourite posts are:
- The story of how Frogdancer Jones earned her freedom.
- Geoarbitrage – all the cool kids are doing it.
- Frugal Friday- In praise of just sittin’.
One of the things I was particularly proud of was winning the first Rockstar Rumble on Rockstar Finance with this post. Not bad for a female blogger outside of the US with a blog that was only a couple of months old at the time! I didn’t find out about the win until 2 weeks later because I was in North Korea, which has no internet access.
How would you describe your current stage of life?
I’m in a good spot right now. I’ve been single for 21 years, so I’m very used to running my life in my own way. Believe me, I’ve had some very turbulent decades, what with the divorce, raising 4 boys on a shoestring budget and steering us through the teenage years and beyond! But now, with the boys pretty much off my hands – it’s time for ME. Pretty happy about that, to be honest.
What are your dreams and plans for the future?
Now that it’s ME time, I’m focused on getting out of teaching to be able to do everything I want to do when I want to do it. As a teacher, my workday is set out to the minute – I’m a bit sick of that.
TRAVEL is a huge burn, especially to the UK. I want to get my house perfectly finished, my Magic Number in my accounts and then my days will be my own.
Feminism & Society
What is your brand of feminism?
How do I answer that? I wasn’t particularly aware that there are brands. I consider that by simply living my life as a single woman who has had a successful career, is well on the way to succeeding financially and who has brought up 4 well-adjusted, lovely men, that I’m demonstrating feminism without having to go out of my way to do so. Instead of just talking about it, like (sadly) a fair few of women my age have tended to do, I’ve gone out and lived it.
Do you have feminist in your twitter bio?
No. I don’t believe I need to. If anyone thinks that a woman who has been single for decades and has lived her life happily, without needing a man to depend on ISN’T a feminist, then they’re idiots!
Is the patriarchy real?
Oh yes. No doubt. It’s more covert than it was in my teens and twenties but it’s still a rabid beast. I’ve been fortunate to work in an industry where females outnumber males and I have had a female principal at the school for the last 10 years, but even so – you can’t help observing what still goes on both inside and outside the school gate. Bringing up boys has been very interesting in that regard, seeing what they unconsciously absorb both from society and from their upbringing. We’ve had some interesting chats over the years!
How do you feel about privilege?
As an Australian, I’ve definitely benefitted from being born white and middle-class. Everything, right down to my life-expectancy, would be vastly different if I was an Aboriginal or Torres-Strait Islander woman. When I was born was also fortunate, in that I got free University education. I was the first in my family to have a tertiary degree.
However, I clearly remember having a stand-up argument with my father when I said that I wanted to finish secondary school. His view was that I should finish year 11 and then go to secretarial school, because that’s what ‘bookish’ girls did. I’m pretty sure I have my mother, working behind the scenes, to thank for the fact that Dad and I only had the one ‘discussion’ about what I should do with my future and I was able to finish year 12 and sail off to University unimpeded. That’s how things worked in the 80’s, I guess.
NOW – I have to say that it’s interesting having spawned sons instead of daughters. They are beginning even further up the ladder of privilege than I was, by virtue of their gender and my education. (Though maybe the fact that they come from a ‘broken home’ might drag them a few rungs down. Sorry boys!!)
For their sake, I guess I’m glad that they don’t have to push through all the barriers and prejudices that women do. However, I hope and expect that they’re conscious of their good fortune in winning the birth lottery and that they are active participants in resetting the bar for equality in outcomes for everyone. They’re definitely feminists in their outlooks on life.
However, are they FULLY conscious of just how privileged their gender and skin colour makes them? I’m not so sure about that one… Privilege in these areas is so entrenched in society, even in a country as multicultural as Australia. I think that it might be a realisation that comes with more maturity, as they get out into the world and start to observe how things are outside their middle-class bubble. They’re all in their early 20’s at the moment.
How do you get your news?
I used to watch the nightly news every day, but two years ago I made a conscious decision to switch it off. I get a lot of my news from the Facebook echo chamber and from a couple of emails that summarise what’s going on and I can choose which stories to follow. Anything that’s important or earth-shattering, I’ll hear about. I’m lucky to work with people who are very politically-minded, so I pick up what’s going on from them too.
What are your thoughts on the mainstream media?
In Australia, it’s becoming more and more narrow, with only a couple of outlets controlling the whole space. This is obviously a concern and is one of the reasons I switched off the news. The sheeple don’t seem to care, though.
Please share your top 10 blogs you follow with us.
Is it ok if I shared podcasts with you instead? I have a 2-hour commute every day, so I plug in a podcast and off I go. I listen to things other than personal finance things, but here are the ‘money’ podcasts I subscribe to, in no particular order. The last 3 are ‘bonus’ podcasts, with nothing to do about money.
US Focussed Money Podcasts
Choose FI. I’m a member of some all-female Facebook groups who get a bit ranty about this podcast, saying that it’s too testosterone ridden. Personally, I don’t think this is an issue. They’re two guys – obviously, they’re going to see things from a male point of view. I think that they’re making an effort to get guests in from all walks of life and some of their guests have been really interesting.
FIRE Drill – FI/RE from the Millennial female perspective. Again, they have a wide array of guests and some of them have opened my eyes to what’s possible nowadays, particularly in the digital space. It’s a wonderful world out there…!
Lifelong Learning podcast – this is a newish podcast that I’ve only just started listening to. Kate Nesi is a librarian with a huge interest in personal finance and she’s managed to snag some of the biggest names in blogging, as well as many women who aren’t as well-known, (at least, by me!), to come onto her podcast for hour-long interviews.
Non-US Focussed Money Podcasts
UK FI pod, of course! I was very excited to see this come out. I think that we need far more non-US centric information out there.
Mad FIentist – he doesn’t bring out new episodes very often, but when he does they’re usually very good.
Aussie Firebug – this guy has a blog as well, and he goes into detail about his investing strategies. I could wish that he’d pronounce ‘ask’ properly instead of saying ‘arks’ all the time, but apart from that minor quibble, it’s interesting to hear how someone else is tackling investing in this part of the world.
A useful podcast to listen to if you’re just getting up to speed with the personal finance world and how it all works, is Dough Roller. A couple of years ago I simply went through all of the eps and downloaded those that were applicable to me and my part of the world. I learned a lot, but I unsubscribed because he sometimes takes a while to get to where he wants to go. I’m not a patient woman. But for the basics, it’s an excellent resource.
The funniest podcast I’ve ever heard – hands down – is Cumberbin’s Treasure. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the actors and it’s about a budget airline in England. It only has 5 seasons and I would have been devastated when I came to the end, except that I was laughing too much.
Casefile. True crime told in unemotional detail by an anonymous Australian narrator. I binged on this when I discovered it and even though the subject matter is horrifying, the podcast itself is meticulously researched and very professionally done. Like Aussie Firebug, there are the occasional mispronunciations, but the content of the podcast is worth it.
Welcome to Nightvale. A reader of my personal blog put me onto this one. It’s been going for 4 years. When I started, it took me a couple of episodes to get a handle on this strange little town in the middle of the desert, but once I did, I binged on every episode to get up to date. Took me 3 months, I think! The podcast is simply the community radio show of the town, read by Cecil. It’s wonderful.
Is talking about money feminist?
I think talking about money is SENSIBLE.
What is one awesome thing in your life now?
I think that the best thing in my life right now is appreciating the perspective of age and how, particularly as a woman, every decade keeps getting better and better. It wasn’t until my 40’s, when I learned to notice the little joys in life and focus on them, that my life became so much happier.
Now, in my 50’s, life is even better. I’ve sorted my finances, my kids are raised, I’m at the stage where I don’t give a tinker’s cuss what anyone else thinks about what I want to do – so life is wonderfully free.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Getting a handle on your finances and working to become financially free is truly one of the smartest things anyone can do. One of the main reasons that I’m living the peaceful, happy life I have now is that I put the hard yards in when I was younger and paid off the house, avoided credit card debt like the plague and started educating myself about money and investing.
I used to say only 2 things in life can undo me – romance and money. Up till now, the romance thing has passed me by, but I knew I could darn well make a difference in the money side of life if I kept my eye on the long view and made lots of tiny decisions that aligned with that. Worked like a charm.
How can people connect with you?
People persuaded me to go on Twitter @frogdancer3
I’m on Facebook as Frogdancer Jones.
Thanks for this opportunity to have a chat with your readers, Ms ZiYou.
Ms ZiYou Back Now
All I can say is wow – I want to grow up to be as awesome as Frogdancer one day.
Moreover, I think it’s really important we hear make sure women of all ages voices are heard.
If you identify as a feminist – female or male – and would like to be featured on Let’s meet Financial Feminists – please get in contact.