Thankful for Frugal Living

We have to laugh sometimes when we listen to our kids talk about their “underprivileged” childhoods. They think back to the classes they didn’t take, the teams they didn’t play on, the stuff they didn’t have, the treats they didn’t eat, and they seem to think that maybe we were just depriving them.

Oh, what poor, miserable children they were! (Not really.)

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In all honesty, our children are pretty thankful for what they have (as far as kids go). They don’t complain about shopping the sale racks, and they understand why we steer clear of high-ticket luxuries. They don’t ask for a lot of spending money, and they’re grateful for the vacations and family outings we splurge on (and even the ones we don’t exactly splurge on). 

Still, sometimes they don’t realize the full picture of our financial life during those early years. They don’t understand that the reason we didn’t have cable was because we had to choose between paying for endless television channels and paying for food. We chose food.

They don’t quite get that one reason we didn’t do a bunch of classes and teams is because we couldn’t afford a second car to get us there. And even after we scraped enough money together for the extra car, we never could have managed the class tuition, team fees, and uniform or costume costs. We would have had to move into a tent. We chose to keep our house.

They don’t know how hard we had to work to shave the budget so we could pay for the community baseball team or what a burden it was to buy new clothes when they took a growth spurt. They don’t remember the years I spent babysitting for extra cash or how long we went without furniture (except a sofa and a television on the floor) because it wasn’t a necessity.

I have to admit that I’m glad they don’t know just how tough things were for us back then. That means we were doing our job of loving them well and not asking them to carry our stress. They never had the illusion that we were rich, but we had enough fun as a family that it really didn’t matter. And while they may bemoan what they didn’t have, I think they know they’ve had more than enough good stuff in life.

While a part of me wishes I could have given my children everything they ever wanted, I’m actually thankful for those very lean years. I learned so much during that time, and I think we gave our children gifts that were far better than anything we could have purchased for them. 

Things I Learned Through Frugal Living:

~ How to live on less:

Even though our income and spending has gone up over the years, we know we could cut back – way back – if needed. If my husband is out of work or if the economy takes a nosedive, we are confident in our ability to survive on much less money than we have now.

~ How to cook from scratch:

I didn’t have a choice but to learn to cook and bake. Convenience foods just weren’t in the budget. Basically, if we wanted to eat it, I had to figure out how to make it myself. During those years, I learned how to bake homemade bread and how to use every bit of a chicken by making stock. I got pretty good at planning menus around frugal meals that I could make from scratch.

~ How to be creative:

Since we didn’t have much extra money, I had to figure out how to do things like make dress-up costumes for the kids or teach math without all the expensive manipulatives. I also had to get creative with recipes when I didn’t have all the ingredients, and I had to shop my pantry for foods I could throw together when I suddenly needed a dish to take to a get-together.  

~ How to survive without “necessities”:

We discovered that things like a second car or furniture were necessities we could live without. I also found (for a time) that having a clothes dryer was a luxury I didn’t absolutely need. It’s amazing how many things you can live without when you don’t have any other choice!

~ How to be thankful for the little things:

Because we didn’t rush out and buy everything we wanted, our purchases held a lot more fun and excitement. We still don’t rush out and buy everything we want. Our kids regularly thank us for new stuff because they know we don’t have an endless supply of money. And even small things, such as doughnuts from our favorite shop, are extra special because treats like that aren’t commonplace for us.

Frugal Living Chit-chat

I think we’ll start talking a bit more about frugal living around here. As household managers, we have a lot of power over how much money flows out of our bank account. Becoming experts at saving money is a great way to serve our families and help our husbands.

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Comments

  1. says

    You are so right Amy. My husband and I often talk about how we were happy poor and we are happy comfortable with abundance and that the most important things in life are not “things” but family and friends. I also believe that learning that you can’t have everything you want immediately has helped our children to become the fantastic adults we enjoy today.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm recently posted…Try it Tuesday Two-ferMy Profile

  2. Kathy Hagle says

    I have been through lean times, and in that I have found ways to fit things in. And now I know what is most important in life. Though I wasn’t able to hide my sons from the stresses of lean times, they have now as young adults learned to balanced wants with needs. And that is a lesson I am forever grateful I was able to pass onto them. As my sons are now 26 and 22.
    When I was young adult, I didn’t know the true results of a frugal life. And so I would get the getcha giveme’s, wanting more then I would honestly need. Making due with a little gives you more ideas on projects and the courage to face challenges in life with a smile. And those things are something money will never buy.

  3. says

    I loved this post, and I would love to read more about frugal living on your blog! My husband and I try to be as frugal as we can be too. We don’t have any extra furniture right now–just a couch, a bed, a used dresser and bookshelf I got from a friend, and a table set we bought from the Habitat For Humanity store. It’s really all we need right now (living in an apartment), but as we think about buying a house, it is so tempting to want to go out and buy a ton of pretty furniture to go in it. We’re also not as frugal as we could be in the kitchen.. So I’m eager to hear what you have to say!
    Jane @ Devoted SONriser recently posted…21 Dates With God: While ExercisingMy Profile

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