Being raised in the sixties and seventies meant I was being raised by parents who knew about war time deprivation.We were never rich, but we had what we needed and appreciated what we got without feeling as if we were poor. As teens, we were given a sum of money each week. We were to use this for excursions, tuck-shop, extra clothes, and treats. We learned to pack lunches, walk 5 miles to school, and to budget our money to save money so we could get what we wanted. My first pair of jeans were purchased by me after I turned 18 and working. I purchased my own car to learn to drive in at 19. I learned a lot from my parents and grandparents about living with very little money.
After my marriage broke up, I was left with two children to raise on my own. Although money was tight, I always had my bills paid and money in the bank. The op shops were my main shopping ground. I grew a lot of my own vegetables and went to the fruit and vegetable markets monthly. I froze and dehydrated in season fruit and vegetables. I cooked my own bread, muffins, biscuits, cakes, and slices from scratch. I purchased flour and sugar in bulk. I used powdered milk. Named brands were considered a luxury and were given as Christmas day treats only.
When my own children turned 15, I gave them the equivalent of Social Security's youth allowance. They paid rent and electricity to me. They were responsible for purchasing everything else they would need, including food and educational requirements, with my guidance while they still lived at home. They both know how to budget and live within their means.
I have recently remarried, and as we are "starting out" again, we use our budgeting skills to pay our bills and save. Our wedding cost about $3000. Of this $1800 was paid for by the Government with a stimulus payment made to all Australians. We had outfits made by my maid of honor. They were designed to use again. The boys rented their suits. My dress cost $200 from a boutique shop and can be used again as a nice summer lace dress. Our reception was at a local Turkish restaurant and we had a belly dancer as the entertainment. The table decorations were flowering plants and they are still flowering twelve months later in our front garden. Photographs were taken by guests and burnt onto a CD for us to keep. Our cake was from Michels Patisserie and everyone said it was the best cake they'd had at a wedding. Our day was very inexpensive but beautiful and I wouldn't change any of it.
You don't need lots of money to obtain all the material goods you want and especially you don't need lots of money to be happy. You simply need to understand the difference between wants and needs and to learn patience.
By Linda from Canberra, Australia
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We are frugal not because it is stylish or in style. My husband and I are frugal because he works on a cotton farm and makes very little money, and I am on disability, a fixed income.
This is a page about living on a tight budget. More and more of us are trying to make ends meet on a tight budget.