Earlier this week, I told you about how I grew up with a father who had lived through the Depression, and how that had made me “naturally” frugal. (read the post here) Today, I want to tell you how his legacy lives on in my family still today.
For those of you wondering, my father passed away in 2007. He was 82 and had Alzheimer’s. I wrote about the process of letting him go in this post. I still miss him terribly.
Don’t forget to read the original post!
#1 – Keep the lights off, and choose your light switches carefully.
This law of frugality has stayed exactly the same for our family. The only thing that is different is that we DO use candles year round. (Sorry dad, I’m willing to sacrifice for the simple pleasures.) My husband (who, by the way, is an awfully lot like my dad) is forever going through the house shutting off lights whilst lecturing on the finer points of energy consumption.
#2 – Utility bills are still a challenge.
My husband, like my father, goes through every utility bill and decides if we can do better the next month and what our strategy will be to get the bill lowered. A couple of months ago it was the water bill. Shower times got cut back, settings on the dishwasher got changed, and we all looked for ways to cut back on how much water we were using. And it worked! The bill was lower the next month!
#3 – Some things we fix, some things someone else fixes.
My husband is not a handyman. He will fix some things himself, and our son has learned to do quite a few handyman jobs around the house as well, but they both know when they need to get someone else to do the work so it gets done right the first time. As I said in the previous post, being frugal can get quite expensive when you don’t know what you’re doing.
#4 – “Do we really need this?
I still question every purchase this way. However, I will say it is easy to convince yourself that you really do need things you really do NOT need. Many Depression-era children ended up with a hoarding problem as adults. The habit of keeping everything became a habit of finding a “deal” that turned into a habit of buying things they did not need.
I do want to take a moment here to talk about being frugal to a fault. Sometimes in a quest to save money, we do things that don’t make good sense or we don’t do things that in the long run will not have a big impact on our finances.
For instance, a high priced supermarket offers 10 cents off on each gallon of gas. In order to get that 10 cents off you have to buy a certain dollar amount of groceries every month. You also have to use their affiliated gas station, which happens to be out of your way. It sounds great, but when you do the math, you realize you’re driving across town and only saving a little over a dollar when you fill up, yet spending scads more than that shopping at that high priced supermarket. That does not make good sense.
On the other hand, perhaps you turn down a great opportunity for your family because you’d have to buy an extra tank of gas that month to get all of you there. If this opportunity will have lasting positive effects for your family, then think long and hard about giving up that opportunity. We cannot take our money with us when we die. Don’t spend your whole life waiting to live.
#5 – We don’t throw money around, and we don’t make a big deal about the things we can’t afford.
In fact, my husband will always correct me when I say, “We can’t afford that,” with, “We could afford it, but we choose not to.” Most of the time, we just don’t talk about the stuff we can’t afford. As I said in the previous post, that sort of talk tends to make people covetous.
#6 – Our kids aren’t handed a lot of stuff, and we spend a lot of time with them.
Our kids do not have everything their little hearts desire. I’ve found in families where the children’s whims are catered to, they are not very grateful children. They sort of expect to get scads of toys for Christmas, and a new gadget every time they go to the store. We have a whole nation of grown-up children expecting things to be a certain way for them, and I’m not interested in raising those kinds of adults.
We also try very hard to spend quality AND quantity time with our kids. I want to know who they are, and I want them to know I am there for them.
#7 – We splurge responsibly.
When we spend money on something that is not a need, we do so with careful forethought. And then we dive in! We enjoy the splurge, we try to find ways to bless others with the splurge, and we take some time before splurging again.
#8 – We don’t have any debt.
Yes, you read that right. In our marriage, we’ve made 3 purchases with loans – 2 vehicles and a small student loan. We never felt comfortable with any of them, and paid them all off as quickly as possible. The last one was paid off over 10 years ago, and we have lived debt free ever since. Some people don’t understand why we choose to rent rather than buy. Some people don’t understand why we aren’t willing to take out a loan for a vehicle. But, many times over we have been able to take opportunities that have come our way BECAUSE we have not been tied down by debt. It has been wonderfully freeing!