My Frugal Life: Lessons Learned by a Single Mom

In my early thirties, I went through a divorce and suddenly found myself as a single mother of three small children. Fortunately, I was able to still manage to buy a small home with a backyard and continue working full time. My house was simple but had enough room for the four of us, with a "roomy" kitchen and even a small rec room for the kids. We were a single income family and had a mortgage, car, childcare, utilities, oh, yes, and food! I had to cut corners as much as I could. Looking back, I'm not quite sure how I managed.

  • To save money on utilities, I invested in a cordless phone with an answering machine. By doing this, I managed to lessen my monthly utility bill to just the basic charge. No caller ID or special features and, of course, the machine still allowed me to get missed phone calls. (The cordless part was a 'must have' for chasing small kids around the house!)

  • I did the same with each utility, examining how I could save, what was using the most energy/ electricity and seeing what options I could cut out. The Dryer, for example, was an energy user so, as much as possible, I tried to hang clothes on the line.

  • TV, of course, was important but not important enough to have extra channels and movies. It was basic cable or none at all.

  • I was lucky enough to have a garage but didn't use it very much, so in the winter, I rented it out as storage for someone's summer vehicle. The extra amount helped to pay bills during the winter.

  • I could not afford lawn care, so I bought a reconditioned lawn mower from a back yard mechanic for $50 and did it myself. That lawn mower lasted 6 years! What an investment!

  • I bought the children's clothing at second hand stores and sales racks and was never too humble to accept 'hand me downs' from friends and family.

  • And, finally, I searched for deals on food every week and often spent a sunday afternoon making meals for the week, like casseroles and spaghetti sauces.

It does pay to live through those times because even though situations get better (and they always do!), you learn the skill of "stretching a buck" and no matter how much income you have it is still a good habit to maintain (a rare trait in this wasteful society.)

Jules from Atlantic Canada

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July 7, 20060 found this helpful

I agree with you. We are a wasteful society. The answering machine idea is priceless. Much better than caller ID. You know who called and what they wanted without even answering the phone. Useful for even the spendthrifts.I applaud your efforts and encourage you to continue!

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July 8, 20060 found this helpful

I want to congratulate you on your successul efforts. So many times, I see people who do a lot less with more.

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July 9, 20060 found this helpful

You are an inspiration to me! I also have 3 children and have thought many times how I would make it if my husband and I were to divorce. It seemed as if it would be to hard but you made it and it shows that if there is a will there is a way. It sounds as if you and your children are happy and very successful. Congratulations on making a bad situation a success story.

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May 7, 20120 found this helpful

Wow. What inspirational ideas ... kudos! I agree with you ... wasteful society.

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