About me

 Frugal in every way - from bargain house and decorations to baseline prices on food:

As the name of the blog indicates, I live in Durham, NC. I currently work full-time, but started serious bargain hunting when I quit my job in 2004 to go back to law school full-time. After graduation and passing the bar exam, I could not shed my frugal ways. I continue to seek deals on groceries and other household goods and generally enjoy having a financial nest egg that takes little effort besides being a smart spender.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - decorating on a budget can be easy if you do it right!

I like to include this picture to show that being frugal does not mean that you have cut out all conveniences and comfort. This room was totally furnished using clearance or sale items, including free items such as the basket and the coffeemakers. There is not a single regular priced item visible here, including the clearance laminate floor and paint color. The furniture was mostly clearance from stores such as Pier 1 Imports or Sears. I do not believe that bargain hunting and frugal living means that life's finer things are not within reach. While I do not eat caviar on a regular basis, I still enjoy gourmet cheeses and fine wines as well as indulge on my love of coffee. I also regularly splurge on nail polish. I just do not pay full price and think of ways to reuse items that other people may no longer need or that are not fashionable anymore in their current form, but can be modified.

One of the major investments for everyone is a house. So after you buy a house, you want it to look nice and be consistent with your taste. This means repairs, renovations and lots of decorating. I have spent money on my house, but I can honestly say that just like I got my house at a bargain price, everything I put into the house I have gotten a prices that were steep discounts from regularly priced items. The secret is to spend little, but make your house look like you spent a lot. It takes one thing - patience - bargains cannot be found when you need them. You need to allocate a lot of time to just waiting for the right item at the right price. And this does not just include Craiglist (although I have found a lot of things on Craiglist). I also visit regular furniture stores, thrift stores and auctions. If you have the time, seeking furniture and decorating items from a variety of sources can become a fun activity and a much more productive way to spend a Saturday morning than lounging on the sofa.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - we splurged on the sunroom, but furnished with free and clearance items
My career path:
I started off as a career academic in biotechnology research more than 15 years ago. This career allowed me to learn public speaking at national and international conferences. I enjoyed the research part of my job as well as the mentoring aspect, teaching students how fun science can be. I participated in many science fairs, grant review meetings and taught college and graduate level courses.

After losing one too many friends to cancer, I decided to tackle my bucket list and the one item that proved the most challenging to accomplish time-wise as well as financially was obtaining a law degree. I managed to get accepted at a top tier law school and finished with the help of scholarship support and well paying summer internships my law degree almost debt-free. Most importantly, I got a job in the IT compliance field while still in law school and this allowed me to tackle another item on my bucket list, working with computers.

Computers and I have had a love affair for decades. I was intrigued by the internet and the possibilities it offered when the internet was still in its early stages with the general public. Thanks to a lot of good friends who were all studying various aspects of computer science I got introduced to computer security, application development and general troubleshooting back in the late 80s. So by 2007 I finally had a full-time job in the IT industry and I am currently still working full-time as an IT professional with an emphasis on security and compliance.

My background:
I come originally from Germany, where my parents had a small business. Coming from a business background, spending went along with waiting for bills to be paid by clients. So a nest egg was important. I learned to live frugally from my grandmothers and great-grandmothers, who used to can their own vegetables and fruit and made homemade jams and breads. My mother made sure that there was always food on the table, but I learned early on that waste was not permitted.

I moved to the USA after high school and attended college in Texas, following by graduate school in Iowa. After a career in biomedical research, I decided to switch fields and became a lawyer with a focus on technology and privacy law. I am currently working at a large research university in the IT department, while taking classes towards a graduate certificate in Public Health since my interest is the privacy implications of the move towards electronic health records.

I am now enjoying my life, my family and my house in Durham, NC. Nearly every spare minute is used to either work in the garden and doing some home-improvement project. I started to blog in 2010 since I got so many questions about how I manage to find bargains and spend so little on everyday items. Right now, the blog is dedicated to product reviews, health cooking and bargain shopping.