The #1 Most Bestest Tip For Those Frugal By Necessity
Growing up I had very little of the normal things my friends had (toys, clothes, etc) and most of our married life my wife and I lived very meagerly paycheck to paycheck. My wife learned, by necessity, how to spend a little and get by . . . she became a remarkable coupon queen, etc. But prior to any money-saving tricks or budget-stretching techniques comes an individual's attitude and approach - how you see yourself and the world around you and live your life, inside not practically, is what I'd like to give a bit of attention to.
I can still see, in my mind, these 3 little half walnut shells with toothpicks for masts and paper sails glued to them sitting on my window ledge - they were, at one time, the closets thing to a toy I owned. I recall a birthday, I suppose I was about 8 or 9, when I got a softball, 3 comic books, and the kid across the street gave me an old broken truck he didn't want anymore. When I was little the biggest treat that used to excite me was when my mom would come home from the store with new nylons - back when nylons were a pair of individual stockings (before pantyhose) they packaged them wrapped around an 8X10 piece of light poster board . . . my excitement was that I had a blank piece of paper (rather than the edges of newspapers, etc) to draw on.
I had to come to terms, very early in life, with having my clothes made fun of and simply not having the things that so many other kids took for granted. I had to adjust my attitude and approach to life in such a manner that my lack didn't govern my sense of self and inform my association with others, I had to recognize that I was more, inside, than just the kid who didn't have much. Rather than mark me as bitter, angry, frail, etc, I sought to benefit from whatever life circumstances I found myself in, I took everything as an opportunity to learn, and grow, and mature.
And, we can learn something of ourselves and human nature from just about every life experience. There are things about being poor that you just can't know apart from the actual experience of being poor; I imagine when most kids visited aunts & uncles or grandmas, etc, they would actually visit with those family members - when we would visit relatives, I didn't participate much in the visit, we didn't have one ourselves so I would go right for the tv to catch just a glimpse of the shows all the other kids would talk about. If your clothes were not the latest fashion, you at least wanted to appear clean and tidy for school - but if you only have 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts you can only alternate so often, and you can't wash a shirt or pants every night or they will disintegrate and you won't even have them.
And, I suppose the biggest thing that people who have never been poor don't realize is, it's expensive to be poor. If you have enough money so you can budget how and when it's spent and if you own a car, etc, then you can spend less money than if you live meal to meal. I remember times when my mom would have a local cab company pick-up and deliver a couple of McDonalds hamburgers to our house - that's absurd and a giant waste of money . . . but we didn't have enough money for a car, there wasn't enough to budget shopping trips, but she had enough, that night, for a cab to bring us McDonalds and we needed to eat. It's often more expensive to be poor than to have money.
But, the point is, what did I learn from not having much? Well, first I learned (eventually) that the cab driver wasn't sitting on our dinner but McDonlads actually made their hamburgers like that. More importantly, I learned that you are who you are inside, that you become the 'you' that you are, not by what's happening around you, but by how you respond to what's happening around you. Some kid making fun of your clothes doesn't force you into who you become - it's how you, inside, deal with some kid making fun of your clothes that makes you the person you become. I knew I had a good working mind, I knew I wanted to help others if I could, I knew I appreciated music and storytelling, etc, I knew my point was as valid as anyone else's, etc - how could some punk interested to hurt others and make people feel bad to feel good about himself make me feel sad about being me?
So, certainly tips on using coupons, and budgets, and scrutinizing expenses, etc, are useful aids to collect and practice - but learning, growing, maturing, etc, as a person, a soul, from whatever course your life takes is (I think) the best advice. Today, every time I get ice for my glass from my freezer I marvel and am genuinely thankful to have such a device in my home . . . I can go to the sink, turn a knob, and fresh water pours out of a faucet! And if I turn the other knob, the water comes out hot! That is all astounding stuff - but only if you learn to appreciate it as astounding stuff, otherwise, you just take it for granted.
When you live, by necessity, differently than those around you, you either are troubled and become distressed by that, or you grow and learn about yourself and the things that truly matter . . . it's not easy becoming a mature soul while taking things for granted - I thank God that frugal living was and is a necessity for me.
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