Relearning a Frugal Upbringing

Frugal this, frugal that. I have always read the frugal news articles and magazine tips about living frugal with not just a little disdain. I was raised by a grandmother, aunt and uncle who survived the great depression, where frugal was the way to survive without starving. That childhood ingrained in me the "frugal" mind set. Even though the depression was long over, my family still embraced a frugal lifestyle.


As years passed and I left their home to attend college and make my own way, these traits stayed with me, even though I developed some bad habits along the way. Skip down the road 20 years, I am married with a child of my own. Living the typical American family life, taking for granted everything I had and everything I wasted mindlessly. My husband had a tragic accident earlier this year and lost three fingers on his right hand. It happened on Valentines Day. We had been living paycheck to paycheck, mostly because of wasteful attitudes. All of a sudden, we were financially strapped, facing a severe cut in income.

Becoming conscious of what we had and how to stretch it out, kicked in my frugal upbringing. I now search the papers, TV, and magazines for ways to cut back. Stumbling upon this website was a godsend. It has only been a few days, but I have hope again. Scripture says something about training a child in right ways and they will never forget. Well, I guess I am living proof. I am very thankful for my frugal upbringing, and all you frugal contributors for helping me maintain a family.


Michelle from Labelle, PA

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 135 Feedbacks
December 11, 20080 found this helpful

I agree and can relate to everything you have written. I love the generosity of the ThriftyFun community. I've learned a LOT from this group.

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December 12, 20080 found this helpful

Happy to see others appreciative of Thrifty Fun :-) Definitely a Godsend and a wonderful community :-)

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By CArol in PA (Guest Post)
December 12, 20080 found this helpful

When I was young, I was a dorm parent at a private school. I observed how hard life must be for children raised in the lap of luxury. Some never get a sense of what is necessary and what is extra. I came to call them "poor little rich kids." IMHO, its easier to be raised poor then either stay poor or get rich than to be raised rich and become poor.


Thanks for writing.

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By Artlady (Guest Post)
December 12, 20080 found this helpful

I'm sorry to hear of your husband's accident. I hope he continues to get along well. This just reminds me that God gives us lessons in life and we never know when we'll be called on to use them.

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December 12, 20080 found this helpful

When I was just expecting my second child, we had old bills, one job in the family which my husband hated, and no credit (that's how it was then). I had decided to have my baby at home and knew I had to pay the doctor before delivery, and had to do everything to maintain my nutrition. I came across a USDA nutrition book at Goodwill, sat down and added up all our bills (most were fixed amounts).


We had an old 4 cylinder car which was paid for and we limited our trips to work and groceries. I went to a store that had bins of bulk food, and a butcher. I planned our menus to the serving by nutrition first and then found recipes I knew how to cook that we liked. I bought by ounces for all of us, it was that tight...My son wasn't in school so that helped. We had soup and bread, made turtle shaped loaves on bread day which was fun. I made cookies, etc. Our coffee was rationed. Everything was rationed. I made baby clothes and in those days babies didn't have as much stuff. I was going to nurse (did, 16 months, no supplementary bottles) so that saved us.
So many things considered 'necessary' now didn't even exist.

Every time you need something and don't have it ask yourself or an older person what was done in the 1960's, 50's, 40's, and so on as far as you can find out. You may find another way of meeting the need, substituting from materials on hand, or not needing it at all. I am sorry for your husband's injury, and the stress of it all, but creativity and researching back down the technology chain works wonders. Good luck.

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December 12, 20080 found this helpful

This site is truly a God send, for us all. Hoping and praying Susan is feeling better and home soon from the hospital!

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February 26, 20090 found this helpful

As I read these comments, I too had very frugal parents and grandparents. In those days I called them 'cheap'.
I have had many setbacks in the last few years but now I realize again, that I was guilty of waste.


Magazine subscriptions that I took that I never read but browsed through. Thrown away. Cosmetics that I just had to have...sometimes only the joy of getting them and only using them a few times and then added to the already full cosmetic drawers.
Clothes and shoes that I 'just needed'. They were good for a season and then when I lost weight.....gave them away. Others didn't have to buy and loved them.
God has given us this wonderful website to help us make the most of what we have without waste.
We must be good stewards to what He has given us.
It becomes possible with ideas from all of us to share with each other.
Thank you so much for your gift of this website and to all who share from their own experiences what they do to help us in our quest for a more peaceful life.

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

I'm from Nova Scotia, Canada and I absolutely love this site.

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November 2, 20090 found this helpful

I too came across this wonderful website and I can honestly say that the TF members feel like an extended family. There is always someone who will answer any requests, or just reading all the wonderful tips just make you feel part of a very kind community.


So many thanks to this fantastic website. helen

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

I too am from Nova Scotia and grew up very poor on a farm where we had lots to eat but not much else.We had to be in the garden to weed most of the summer as that s what it took to feed 6 kids also ate beef lamb and goats pigs.

One thing that stayed with me is I always said when I grow up I will never weed another garden or eat any kind of animal. But I have grown a flower garden and I do eat a small amount of meat. I try to be saving and do without when I have to but can't say I am frugal. Pennypal

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August 15, 20100 found this helpful

When you grow up poor you appreciate life and you have a story to tell.You learn that every cent counts and if you are short of one cent to buy a loaf of bread,you can't get it and you go to school without lunch.When you go to school and your friends buy a packet of chips and you don't have and you trail behind them if they will offer you.When you don't have a jersey during winter and it is bitter cold.Learn to appreciate what little you have,you might be the lucky one.

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November 16, 20110 found this helpful

I look back and see myself a lot in some of these posts. I wish somehow the kids today could read these. If you tell them things we had to do it shocks them. For instants the outdoor potty things we had to live with. I didn't know this was here until now. It's great.

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November 16, 20110 found this helpful

My hubby had to settle for butter and sugar sandwiches for school at times.

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March 12, 20120 found this helpful

Unfortunately a lot of the lessons learned growing up - cooking, sewing, mending, etc. - are not taught anymore. It easier to be frugal on a food budget when you can stretch it using learned kitchen magic (like cutting up whole chickens) instead of buying pre-made, precooked, and packaged foods. No one sews buttons on or fixes zippers or socks anymore; they toss them and buy new. I still have my mother's wooden darning egg, and I use it to mend my hand knit socks. Or I use "afterthought" heels which allows you to pull out the worn heel and re-knit a new heel very easily.

I think we've all gotten spoiled; we want it right now and we don't want to work for it. That's the unfortunate lesson now.

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March 3, 20190 found this helpful

You are so right. No one wants to wait(and save cash) for anything. My husband and I always worked, but didn't have high paying jobs. But we paid cash for everything and NEVER paid a cent in CC interest. Now young people refinance their big homes, and never gain any equity. I hope they can survive another depression or recession, because, historically , they turn up ! This Thrifty Fun site should get a service medal !!!!!

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February 13, 20220 found this helpful

I learned to sew in high school and made most of my clothes for years, including maternity clothes. I've used those clothes for scrap for all kinds of things.

Unfortunately, sewing won't save you money anymore, unless you can find the fabric for free. It's cheaper to buy off the rack. The last time I had to buy a spool of thread, it was something like $3. Patterns can be $15-plus, and fabric is anywhere from $6 to 20 a yard or more.

My niece had a skirt she'd borrowed from a friend, and she wanted to make one like it. It was a simple A-line. The friend had paid about $8 for it. We bought fabric, a zipper, and some ribbon trim, and it cost around $18. We laid out the first skirt and drew a pattern, and we used thread I already had. So even without a pattern and thread, which might have added another $15 or so, it cost twice as much as the original.

I still think people should learn to sew, but I only sew, using up my scraps, for mending and crafts. When people who knew me back in high school ask if I still sew, I say, "Yes. For therapy."

Spending the morning in my sewing room, listening to the music I like, is like therapy for me.

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March 13, 20120 found this helpful

My friends say I was born in the wrong era but because of where I lived and the time that I was born my parents taught use what was truly needed. And it was easy for me to take it one step further when I became disabled and much poorer financially than my parents could have ever imagined falling upon one of their children.

I learned to sew because, until I was in 5th or 6th grade before more than my underwear and socks were store bought. We made most of our bread until I was in junior high, even after that we made bread at least every couple of months because my mom knew that was important.

My friends have knick named me the human calculator because I can always calculate the better price per ounce or item down to the fraction of a cent. I even canned most of my childhood with my mom, fall was the time we canned all the pears, peaches, apples, and jam that had to last until the next year.

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February 22, 20130 found this helpful

I think it is important that we, as parents, instill in our children the understanding of needs vs. wants. After all we are the ones that are raising the "I want it now" generation (even though we try to blame it on outside sources like the media). My child will have way more than I had growing up but I plan to teach her the importance of being grateful for what she has and to teach her to sew and create those items she wants. The thrift store will be her own treasure box and the ability to cook her own healthy food will be her sanctuary from all the processed junk that is available so easily. She will know that in most instances those things we want now we won't want later and that saving is a necessity.

This site is great, thank everyone for sharing.

Jeana P

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June 27, 20130 found this helpful

Love Thrifty Fun and all the posts on living frugal! You meet such nice frugal people on here who know what's important! Frugality can be "almost" a game and you can WIN in it too,if you use your God given wits !

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November 19, 20150 found this helpful

I've recently found this site & I love it & all the great ideas on it.

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April 19, 20160 found this helpful

Welcome to the Thrifty Fun family - you will find very many interesting articles within this magazine to help you and yours survive in this 22nd century. I know I have been a member for many, many years have learned somethings and have contributed some things also... when you have no family [as myself] you really get involved with reading the many things you will soon find within these pages.

Again welcome to the Thrifty Fun family from me!

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