My Frugal Life: Frugal From Necessity

When I started dating my husband, I couldn't believe my eyes the first time I went inside his parent's one bedroom house. There were 6 people in the family, all of the rooms were tiny. My Frugal LifeThe bedroom was so narrow all that would fit in there was a single bed with no space on either side. You had to get on top of the bed to make it. Mom and Dad slept on the sofa bed, some of them slept on pallets and one on a cot in the kitchen.


The bed was too small for Mom and Dad, and since my future husband was the only boy in the family, he got the bedroom.

The back of the house had no siding on it, so when you were in the bathroom you could see the house next door through the tiny cracks in the wall. There was no running water in the bathroom, so the toilet had to be flushed with a bucket of water. They didn't have a hot water heater so Mom had to heat water on the range to wash dishes and for baths.

A small gas stove heated three rooms, but the bathroom had no heating or cooling. The air conditioner was a big, noisy window unit that put moisture into the air instead of taking it out, so someone had to run outside once in a while, use the water hose and fill it with water.

They were forced to live a very frugal life and came up with their own frugal ideas out of necessity. They are a lot of the same tips that I have seen all these years later at the ThriftyFun website.


After the kids all married and moved out, Dad inherited a little money when his sister passed away, so they were able to buy a nice home. Dad has since passed away, but Mom continues to live a frugal life. She has no desire to use a newfangled computer, but she is always pleased when I tell her some of the thrifty tips I run across at ThriftyFun.

Amuck from Fairview Heights, IL

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June 15, 20090 found this helpful

Wow! This makes most (or all) of us sound rich!

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June 15, 20090 found this helpful

No kidding, Glenn's Mom. I guess I better stop complaining that I only have one bathroom and no room for an office :)

I remember when I was growing up, we briefly rented a older house. There was no refrigerator and we had no money to buy one but the house was fitted with old "ice box" cupboards that were open to the outside, with just a screen to keep the pests out. It was fun and novel for me and my brothers (I was probably 5) but I'm sure it was a nightmare for my mom.

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June 16, 20090 found this helpful

Wow, what a testament to frugal living!! You should publish this in newspapers nationwide!! There are so many young couples who have lived "beyond their means" and are losing their homes right and left. They want all the "bells and whistles" before they can afford them. If more folks remembered what life COULD have dealt them instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses or BE the Joneses, then possibly this country would not be in the mess it is in economically today.

This is a wonderful tribute to you husband's family! It affirms that when life gives you lemons, that you make lemonade. Thank you for sharing this story with the Thrifty Fun community!

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June 17, 20090 found this helpful

In the early to mid-1950s in the N. Central Fla. area, sometimes we had a 'frig and sometimes it was an ice box. Don't remember most of 'em except for one used a short time in my grandmother's country home; it had a separate compartment for the ice and was light green; the others just had the ice in the same section as the food. The ice blocks would last about 3-4 days. In Gainesville, where my Mom lived, a single mom supporting 3 others, we relied upon an ice box until the price per block rose beyond 35 cents; i think her salary was around $25-30/wk so w/all the other expenses including buying her own home, that was considered 'too much'. Then we switched permanently to an electric 'ice box'. For many yrs in Central Fla, ice box and refrigerator were interchangeable names for the same contraption - a 'chill chest' as called on Food Network's 'Good Eats' program.

Our bathrooms had no heating either. Our homes were heated by one multi-room kerosene heater; electric space heaters filled in where necessary :o) Altho others had them we didn't get an air conditioner; we just kept all the windows open for cross breezes. In the early 1960s we got our first fan, a floor model but i couldn't turn it on too high: my grandmother said it was too loud :o) A/c wasn't enjoyed until i'd grown up and left home. Good old days with happy memories :o)

Out here in the e. tx piney woods, during 'brown outs' or when well parts fail, water saved in recycled vinegar jugs is poured into the commode's tanks for flushing. It's like camping in your own home, relatively speaking. We've learned to collect water in larger tubs for dish- and hand-washing plus showers. Like the military only allows 2 gal/shower, we almost achieve that, in our quest to leave as small a 'footprint' as possible. When the water is running correctly, we still turn it off while teeth-brushing, hand-washing or showers until it's needed. Also, containers are re-used or re-purposed whenever possible.

When emergencies or necessities require our meeting our necessities like people have done for millennia it's hard to complain altho we'd like to :o) With time, we've learned 'making do' makes us stronger and better to deal with life's other surprises :o)

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Amazing isn't it, how this country was built with tiny living quarters and large families. Old log cabins ranged from 10x12 to 12x20, and families often had 8-10 children.Some cabins had a loft. How did they do it?

We have megamansions with more bathrooms than occupants, granite formerly reserved for public buildings, churches and mausoleums graces our kitchen counters. How is it we think of ourselves, that such could come about? Did we think poorly of those early families, or do we think much of ourselves?

I think we need to think: about life, about our daily needs, what is necessary, what summons happiness, and then strike a liveable balance.

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December 21, 20090 found this helpful

That sounds like my life as a child. Our family, Mom, Dad and my sister and 2 brothers and myself. We lived in a small 3 room house heated in the winter with a gas heater and no air conditioning in the summer. A kitchen with no hot water, one room for my parents to sleep and one room in which all four kids slept. We had no inside toilet and I remember having to get up and go to the outside toilet in the cold. With all that was still some fond memories.

We raised chickens and I remember raising up a loose board in the toilet floor to find an egg a chicken had laid. Our toys consisted of empty appliances boxes from the dump. A lot of our food also came from there when the local companies would throw out canned goods after taking off the labels. My Mother could most times tell us what we were having for dinner by the numbers on the bottom of the cans. She may not be able to tell us what type of beans but the label told her it was beans.

Life was hard and for a time it got even harder when my Dad passed away when I was 13. My Mother remarried less than a year later out of desperation but luckily the man was a good husband but he also died leaving her a young widow again.

My Mother had never worked outside the home so at an early age my sister and I were supporting my Mother and brothers. This caused a low of resentment on my part but with maturity I learned that my Mother did the best she could with the little education she had. My Mother and I had a long conversation about our past and all the difficulties shortly before her death. Over the years my Mother became my very best friend and I still miss her so very much.

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