Frugal Living Sparks Debate
31 Days of Cheap Tricks began with a bit of controversy, or perhaps questioning more adequately describes the Facebook chatter. It caught me off guard, because I didn’t expect frugal living to stir debate.
My goal throughout this series has been to help you live for less.
Frugality is not controversial. How can it be? It’s personal and it looks different for each of us.
I hope I helped you explore ways to reign in your spending by putting an end to impulse shopping, and I certainly wanted to give you a few Cheap Tricks for everyday living. I consider cheap date night ideas and tips for thrift store shopping practical; however, the first post of this series was on making do with what we have.
Do you remember it?
I absolutely believe this is the number one way we can save money.
We live in a world where we think every need we have should be met. We are deserving, entitled, and might I even say coddled? We are treated and we treat ourselves in an overindulgent way.
It’s not bad to need.
Let me say that again. It’s not bad to need!
I know I didn’t mince my words, but I never once thought they would offend or be misunderstood.
That’s the thing with blogging, or writing in general. All of us opinionated people put our ideas and thoughts into cyberspace and people read them. We don’t get a second chance to explain or make people see things from our point of view. The words are in black and white and people read them in shades of red, gray, yellow, and pink.
Here’s where the disconnect happened.
I wanted to make the concept of “making do” real, practical for everyday life.
How many times do you run to the store for milk or bread or eggs in one week?
If you run out of any of those items, will you die of starvation before your next regularly scheduled grocery shopping trip?
My friends, it’s very doubtful.
Your kids can eat dry cereal for two days in a row and live to tell the tale. Maybe it will even become a story as big as a legend one day – like the one our parents tell us about walking miles uphill to school in the snow with only plastic bags covering their shoes.
It was just an example.
If running out of milk is a natural disaster in your house, by all means, buy a cow and keep her in your backyard.
We choose to make do.
What about the children?
Someone read through my post and became concerned that living in this (extreme?) frugal way would negatively impact her children. They would think they were poor and possibly become worried over lack of necessities, soggy Cheerios, and the like.
I really try to see both sides of the story. I’m wrong sometimes. I’ve eaten crow a time or ten and it never tastes good, but I can woman up and admit when I’m wrong.
So I thought about it. I thought about how we live.
By “normal” American standards, my family certainly doesn’t live in overabundance. According to world standards, we have enough, too much. Not every country is as wealthy as ours (blanket statement).
Is going without milk or other necessities negatively impacting my children?
I asked them.
My son said, “Well, I don’t even think about it. We’ve always lived this way.”
“Do you think we’re poor?” I asked.
“No. We’re definitely not poor. Plus we have a lot more than a lot of other people around here.”
Perhaps that comes from living in a not-so-wealthy community. It gives us a good dose of perspective. We have enough. We have too much at times. We have more than enough to be grateful for. We have so much, we can give some of it away.
So, while making do is a regular part of our lives, my children know they will have what they need, even if they are forced to wait to see their needs fulfilled.
The Impact on My Children
I will say that this lifestyle choice has made them sensitive to excess. They notice abundance. I’m not necessarily saying they notice it in a bad way. They just acknowledge it and know that while it’s nice, it’s not necessary.
I’m careful to remind them we all make our own choices for how we live. The things we all want and need and choose are different. It’s good for other people to live differently than we do. We’ve simply made a choice to live for less for this time in our lives.
Last weekend we attended an American Girl Doll Fashion Show. They sold cute little girly things at this event and my mom gave my daughter ten dollars to spend. At first she chose a pair of Christmas earrings. She carried them around until she saw a bright purple crocheted headband.
The earrings were $2.99 and the headband $6.99. She put the earrings back. My mom saw and offered to give her the extra money for the tax, but she said, “No, that’s ok. I really want the headband.”
If she took my mom up on her offer, I would never have given it a second thought. I probably would have taken the money, but my daughter chose to stick within her budget and get what she wanted most.
I don’t think that way of living is going to negatively impact my children.
Is it possible I’m wrong and fifteen years from now I’ll be eating crow? Yes, of course, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take.
It’s wise for children as well as adults to learn to live within their budget.
At eleven, my daughter wants to be a surgeon. I realize that decision will change forty-two times by the age of eighteen, but if she wants to go to medical school (or any other type of specialized training), there will difficult decisions in her future. She’ll have to make hard choices. The earrings vs. the headband are practice for when it’s concert tickets vs. medical books.
For us, the Cheap Tricks work. We make do as much as possible and occasionally splurge. It’s how we live for less.
I most certainly do not believe everyone who reads this blog should worry about money or feel bad about spending it.
Buy all the milk you want!
If it’s your desire and you have the financial means, live in opulence. I will be happy for you. I will celebrate your life with you.
This series is specifically for those who want or need to live for less.
If you need a Cheap Trick or twenty-five, click on the image below and you will be taken to the home page of money saving mania.
If you’re worried your low-income or desire to live on less is messing with your children’s psyche, talk to them. Find out what’s going on their head, but I can almost guarantee they don’t lose sleep over the empty milk carton.
How does your spending or lack of spending impact your children?
Have you thought about it?
As a substitute teacher I had a junior economics class, and the first question they had to consider was the difference between Wants and Needs. Everyone should do this class!
I’m so glad I found this web site! I’m 50 years old, and my nest is 2/3 empty, but it’s a treat to find young moms who have figured this thing out! Kids are much happier with LESS than with more. When a family is having to tighten its belt, it’s perfectly all right to allow the kids to feel that, too. It really won’t ruin them, and it sure does make them more sympathetic when they see others in need. Thank God for children who are being taught how to make do and how to be creative in order to have the thing they need. Adult life will not be so terribly difficult for them. They have learned to make adjustments and how to deny themselves a thing or two here and there, and they are kinder, more considerate, and surely a lot more content with what they have. God bless you all!
Emily Thompson says
awesome!!! Kids are better off when they learn money doesn’t grow on trees at a young age!!! The example of your daughter is just wonderful!
This is awesome. As a young, frugal couple who can’t wait to expand our family, I look forward to passing our frugal lifestyle on. We are SO blessed and by teaching our kids to value a dollar, we believe they will be in a different position than we are in. Thanks for sharing!
robin lorraine williamson says
hey fringe girl love the post constantly being frugal because we are low income and awaiting my disability looking for anyway to help my family thanks for sharing and kids do appreciate what we do to take care of them
This was a wonderful and beautiful post!! I tell my kids that things are too expensive all the time. I also “make due” when it comes to food in the pantry. It’s life. They shouldn’t have everything they want. And, as someone who grew up poorer, it gives you a real appreciation for the things you do have, especially those things money can’t buy, like family and friends.
I seriously cannot believe people were so negative about what you were doing! You have excellent points in this post and in your series. I am constantly trying to live with less and do with less. It’s actually not hard. It’s society that makes you think you need so much stuff that is just not true. I’m proud that we’re raising our daughter to appreciate the little things and not live in overabundance. I think it’s one of the best things you can do for your children. Amen to you! Keep rocking your frugal world!
Auntie Em says
My frugally raised children (we called ourselves tightwads, being disciples of The Tightwad Gazette) are now 26, 27, and 30. Between them, 2 are buying houses, 2 have college degrees (1 paid completely with scholarships, one half scholarship/ half mom and dad), and the 3rd is in college again. 2 paid cash for their cars. All are gainfully employed; none charge consumables on credit cards, and all are fine with shopping garage sales and Goodwill. And they all thank us for raising them the way we did. The moral of the story? I believe our tightwaddery made us be creative, depend on one another, appreciate the many things we did have, and not be slaves to advertising that tells us we must HAVE in order to BE. Don’t buy any guilt, Sister! You’re doing great.
Thank you, thank you for your Cheap Tricks! I am (possibly overly) excited when I discover someone who makes-do like we do. We talk often with our children about our lifestyle choice. My husband chose to be a pastor. We chose to home school. And these choices have limited the cash flow. But we are not poor; we just choose to intentionally spend the money God provides, being thankful for His continual blessing.
Tricia, read this when you have a moment…http://www.theminimalists.com/debt/
I found your post truthful and inspiring. After I read your first post, I was at the point of needing a few things at the store. Just a few. We had odds and ends in the pantry and freezer and I decided to postpone my trip to the store. I was surprised to find how many days we could go without milk, eggs and juice. We made iced tea and drank water, we had some interesting suppers, and we MORE than survived. Thanks for the idea.
I never saw any controversy. If people feel uneasy about reading a post then maybe they should not read it. I try to live pretty frugally, ok maybe a splurge here and there. If we don’t have mini muffins for a few days the kids are fine. They know when its pay day, they know if I need to stretch the budget but they never worry about not having enough. We live in an area with a bunch of very comfortable developments and we live in the townhouses, but I don’t think my daughters ever feel they need a huge house or anything. You are teaching your children great values Trish!
The Domestic Fringe says
The issue didn’t arise on this blog, but on another social media site in regards to the very specific post about “making do”. I chatted with the other person and we were able to see each others’ point of view; however, I wanted to address the issue, because it’s something I’ve thought about since the topic came up.
You must read these interviews with Amy Dacyczn’s kids. When she was writing the Tightwad Gazette newsletters she got loads of hatemail on her kid related articles.
Great series by the way!
One example of abundance:
We live on a budget and really only buy groceries we plan to use. However, when someone asks for food I can usually fill a grocery bag or two without running to the store and without affecting my menu plans. That is abundance and we are blessed.
Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says
Oh, girl. It is SO important that everybody learn to live within their budget!!! How in heck do you think the whole country has gotten into the mess we’re in? Way too many people, both young and old, seem to think they’re entitled to have every whim granted without any effort on their part. Ain’t gonna happen without severe consequences. I grew up poor as a church mouse and I have access to more money right now than I ever dreamed, but that doesn’t mean that I spend indiscriminately. I pick and choose what I spend my money on and I still look for bargains. Its the difference between money in the bank and the sense of security that brings, versus instant gratification. I sincerely believe you are doing your kids one of the biggest favors ever by teaching them to know the difference between need and want, and to be aware of and appreciative of what they do have compared to so many people in this country and around the world. You just keep on teaching it, and if others think their little ones are going to be damaged beyond hope by a little frugality, maybe they need to take a hard look at what their spending habits are doing to their little ones AND to themselves.. (Departing soapbox now. 🙂 )
I raised my children without television. Where we live there is no reception and we chose not to pay for cable. This was before hulu or netflix. My children missed the Power Rangers fad and many other shows. I worried that it would negatively impact them, but now my children are adults and guess what? They choose to not have television in their homes either.
We lived with less, growing up. Lots less. Now I worry that my living with “more” will create an entitled, spoiled child. This balance, its hard! Its important to let God lead as you steward his money, and to remember that it does look different for everyone, as you said.
Toni Leake says
Oh my!! We don’t run out to the store every time we run out of something…we become creative. And by creative I don’t mean we do without food. Instead of eating a bowl of cereal, we eat waffles. Is that going to warp my kids? NO. It’s called being grateful for what we do have b/c somewhere else someone is not getting to eat cereal or waffles. America is such a spoiled country and it’s I want, I want, I want NOW. It’s all about perspective. Thank you for sharing Tricia!
I have 5 children and we live on one income. There are times we have to do without. However, we have a home, food to eat, and clothes to wear. My older children know what’s up when we have soup and sandwiches for dinner or when there’s no cereal or milk (heaven forbid!) They know, on pay day, they’ll have cereal again. It’s not a big deal. My children aren’t materialistic. They get the things they want on Christmas and on their birthdays. We have computers and an internet connection and free books to read from the public library. We are not missing out on anything.
All over the world, people survive on rice. Not having Cocoa Puffs is not going to damage my children. I want them to understand how blessed they are. That happiness does not depend on stuff. That sometimes, life is hard, and you can make the best of it and laugh. Which we do. Often. They are loved and they know it. What more can we ask for?
Wow. Controversy? Now, I must dedicate days to reading everything you wrote and all of the comments. You, my friend, a pot stirrer? Hmm.
Love, love, love this post!