where financial independence meets frugal food, sustainability, & decluttering



Hi Y’all!

I’m here to write about finding the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early).

I live in Austin, TX with my hubby of 22 years, a kiddo, a handsome cat, and two little mutts.

We are late-to-FIRE having just discovered it in our mid-40s. So we are pursuing Financial Independence Retiring Eventually. As in, we just don’t want to have to eat dog food in our eighties. But better late than never right?



“Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.”

Louisa May Alcott, U.S. novelist


When I discovered the FIRE movement in January of 2019 I had an epiphany. The lightbulb moment. I was 100% totally on board with finding our way to Financial Independence (FI). Even if we are late to FI at least we will have a plan to retire eventually which is way better than our previous plan. There was no plan. We just expected to have to work until we die.

After finding FI I was so excited to share it with everyone I know. I wanted to shout from the roof tops “have you heard about this do you know about this?!”

Turns out giving your friends and family information they didn’t ask for is obnoxious! Especially when it comes to talking about personal finance. So The Useful Root is a place for me to get it all out and spare my loved ones. 

Since we are late to FI our saving timeline is short. While getting to FI is our goal, it’s important to us to enjoy life now with our kidlet. Finding joy in the messy middle of the journey is where it’s at.

I’m here to document our FI journey, keep track of our progress, and share our wins and fails. You’ll find stuff on what we’re learning about getting to FI and how it it relates to frugal cooking, decluttering, and sustainability. Cuz I’m into that.



I was born in France, spent 8 childhood years in Australia and landed in the U.S.A. at age 9. At 39 I became a proud American citizen. I’m a learner and self-improver and I enjoy cooking for friends and family. Glamping in our little RV brings me great joy. Though I am not blessed with a green thumb I am an aspiring vegetable gardener.

I have followed a not-so-traditional path. After high school I worked in the retail and restaurant industries for a few years. Mr. Root and I moved to Austin to open a restaurant. I was 22. We got married a couple years later. After 5 years of running a restaurant we left the industry for good (it was hard!)

I bounced around at various jobs and landed an administrative gig in higher ed. It was there that I gained the confidence to actually attend college to get my bachelors degree in business. Being in my mid-30s I had the lovely classification of “non-traditional student” (old). As the first in my family to attend college I was also a first generation student.




We are a dual income family. My job at a state university provides a pension and health insurance for the family.

I have always been a hard worker. I knew how to earn money to pay the bills. But my knowledge about money stopped there. I have never been a saver, budgeter, or investor.

There was no plan for our money. We lived paycheck to paycheck and financed the rest. I assumed there was nothing else but a traditional path to retirement and that we wouldn’t make it. I was hoping for a hail mary, a windfall, to land in our laps somehow (lotto?)

Beyond the minimum requirement withheld from my paycheck I was not contributing to retirement accounts. Our emergency fund was measly. We had credit card and other consumer debt. That bachelors degree left us with student loan debt.

Once the kiddo came along my money-anxiety was a constant buzz in my mind. Nothing was being saved for Root Jr.’s college. We read Dave Ramsey’s Money Makeover and tried to do better. Despite our efforts, our attempts at budgeting failed.  



Fast forward to January 2019. I fell upon a NYT article featuring people embracing the FIRE movement. I was intrigued but a little discouraged too. I thought this FIRE thing was great but unfortunately it wasn’t for me because I was not a millinneal software engineer earning a six figure salary.

But I kept reading more and discovered blogs, books, and podcasts telling stories of how all kinds of people at different income levels, different amounts of debt, different ages, with kids or without were striving for some form of financial independence too, whether they were actually retiring early or not.

Maybe it was the not-so-traditional approach to personal finance that made sense to me. The breaking up with consumerism, the refusal to keep up with the Jones’s that was so appealing. 

What really blew my mind was the revelation that the principles of FI can intersect with decluttering, sustainability, and frugal cooking, all things that are important to me. It made my brain sing.

The more I learned about FI the more I knew it was absolutely what I wanted for my family. So we are learning and doing and here to share it with you. I hope you’ll share your money, cooking, and life hacks with me too.

Thanks for stopping by ~ Amelia 🙂