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My Frugal Life: Live Within Your Means

Raising three children as a single mother is never easy. But the key to contentment is learning to live within your means. I never owned a new car, a house of my own, and worked in trade for most of my furniture. Yet that never really bothered me as I centered my life around being the best mother I could be and raising good well rounded children, my God-given responsibilities.

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I worked a lot of part time jobs to avoid the cost of child care. By doing so, it also allowed me time to be a part of their activities in their school years. The boys played baseball and basketball and many times I sold the pictures and decorations right off my walls to a friend to pay for their ball fees or team photos. I had a neighbor remark to me that the children she was raising were told by no uncertain terms that they COULD NOT AFFORD to let them play sports. Mine were told that we'd find a way to pay for their activities. And with God's help and sacrifice on my part, we made it!

Fortunately, yard sales came into existence the year my first son was born. Play clothes were purchased at them and they all had clothes they knew were to play in and NEW clothes were used only for church and school. As my first son outgrew his nice clothes, I had a close friend with a son a little younger and I took care of them and sold them to her in order to re-invest in new ones. This was a policy that I used with all three and they never lacked for nice clothes. When my daughter was small, I cleaned for a friend in trade for many of her daughter's clothes. I cannot see why many young mothers refuse to dress their children from yard sales. Obviously, my daughter learned from example. She now has a 10 month old son and, other than the new clothes at birth, he also has been raised in yard sale clothes. And many can't believe it-by the way he is dressed. It isn't that they could't afford new. She chooses to do this so that she can stay at home with him, rather than work. Children learn by example and she followed my leading.

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There were other things that helped see me through child-rearing days as well. I taught myself to decorate cakes for my oldest son's birthday. Baking and decorating cakes for others has seen us through many of my children's high maintenance years. Three high school graduations, two beautiful weddings, baby showers and many many birthday parties. I didn't call for professional help. I chose to do it myself! And a lot of money was saved. Cooking at home saved a lot of money as well. Eating out was done in moderacy. I feel that the money saved far exceeded the dread of cleaning up the messy kitchen.

Sometimes I wonder if the situation had been different, would I have chosen to live the same lifestyle? I honestly can't say. But I think that a lot was learned in those years and three great children were the reward for MY FRUGAL LIFE!

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By Sharon Shearer from Ravenna, Ky

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September 7, 20070 found this helpful

Sounds like you did a great job & taught your children many valuable lessons along the way!

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 7, 20070 found this helpful

It is so sad that mothers today sell out their children for material things. God bless you and your kids for your stand.

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September 7, 20070 found this helpful

I think it's silly to buy all new clothes and in fact my two children mostly wear previously owned clothing. I believe in recycling anyway and that's just another way of doing it. The money I save on their clothes can be used for more important things.

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Sounds like you've done a real good job, Sharon. Thanks for sharing your story!

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September 7, 20070 found this helpful

You did well to put the kids' needs ahead of convenience for yourself. I think cake tastes much better when it's made by a loving person, rather than just another machine-made thing full of artificial stuff. You have my respect, and as you've already seen, none of that effort was wasted on the kids' minds. Atta Way! you awesome sister!

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 9, 20070 found this helpful

I read your story and almost cried. More women should follow your fine example. God Bless and take care.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 10, 20070 found this helpful

What a wonderful story, many of us can learn from you. That's the old way, many people would like to forget. May God richly bless you for your "sticktoitness". Jamish

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 12, 20070 found this helpful

God Bless You!
Thank you for sharing!

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September 12, 20070 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing your life story with us. You must be a wonderful Christian woman who believed in putting the needs of her family first.

I too was raised in a home where my parents had to pinch every penny. Times were tough back in the late 40's and everyone didn't bring home the big pay check, even though you could buy a bag of groceries for $10.00 or less. There was no such thing as a garage sale, but I remember that my mother sewed and made a lot of my clothes, and also shopped at the Salvation Army for bargains.

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My parents never gave it a second thought of finding a treasure in the garbage that someone threw out to the curb for pickup. I know that I asked my parents for a toy refrigerator and stove because I liked to play house as a little girl. Well, wouldn't you know it one day my father found a child size stove and refrigerator along side of the road and brought it home for me. When I saw it, my eyes lit up and I was so overjoyed. All it needed was a good cleaning.

As I grew a little older my mother taught me how to knit and the basics of sewing and how to read a sewing pattern. My mother never learned how to crochet. I had a favorite aunt who was an avid crocheter, and she taught me how to crochet. I always had a desire to learn how to do things for myself, and to this day I would rather learn how to make it myself, than to spend the extra money.

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August 8, 20090 found this helpful

Living simply is sooo much easier than trying to keep up with the "Jonses". I enjoy the challenge it sometimes is. By living frugally, I have all my needs met. I'm also a firm believer in tithing. And I know that is why my needs are met. I do what my bible tells me to do (or at least I try to). God will never forsake you. Ditto to all who posted on this topic and God Bless each of you. That's another reason I love this board. I've learned so much.

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July 30, 20110 found this helpful

Buying new clothes (or toys) for young children is absolutely ridiculous. In my experience, anyone with young kids is desperate to fill a bag with grown-out-of clothes and pass them on. Anything to clear some space! And clothes which have been through the washing machine a few times are soft and faded and lovely. When a new bag of clothes arrives from my cousin (who has four sons and in turn got them from a friend) my son is delighted - a whole new wardrobe of exciting t-shirts.

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July 30, 20110 found this helpful

Sad, that sports cost too much for many families.

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