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The #1 Most Bestest Tip For Those Frugal By Necessity

Updated on March 14, 2013

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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An Anti-self-help Self-help Series ~

"Why Do We hurt?"

"Believing You can Fly (I mean, accomplish & serve)"

"Recognizing The Reality Of The Circumstance Of Your Life"

"What Do You Believe In?"

The Saturday Matinée - movie recommendation series ~

"Mysterious Island"

"Horror Of Dracula"

"This Island Earth"

Most Recent ~

"The Consequence Of Christmas"

"Contemplating Christmas"

"A Found Man"

"The Beauty Of The Blues"

"Eric Clapton ~ More Significant Than You Think"

"A Theory On Relatingativity"

"Is Believing In God A Ridiculous Thing?"

And a Hubnugget Award winner ~

"Regular, Normal Christianity ~ The Premise And Definitions"


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    • Man from Modesto profile image

      Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

      My best frugal living tip is simple: don't waste money eating. Don't eat out. If you do eat out, don't order a beverage. If you are a couple, split a meal before taking home two half-full take-out containers.

      Plan meals. This helps in three major ways: First, It is really difficult to waste food that way. Second, when you know dinner includes rice on Tuesday and also on Friday (stir fry prefers cold rice), you can cook all the rice on Tuesday. This cuts down on the cost of cooking (electric or gas). Three: overall, it saves time. A well-prepared weekly menu reduces driving (& gas) to the market.

      Drive Saturday and buy all the ingredients except for half of the fresh veggies and fruits you will need. Buy the rest on a short trip Wednesday.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 4 years ago

      Hi Mickey

      Great hub! I too grew up with parents that were frugal but I would not say poor as dad was in the military but lower than middle class for sure. They saved, only paid cash, and took care of what they had for many years. As teens we want something..get a job! I am happy now for the way they raised us...I feel sorry for the young people of today as most do not have a clue unless they have had a similar up bringing or come by some smarts naturally.

      Take care my friend,


    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      You are right that people really do not understand poverty unless they have lived it. Here in America most people are used to excess in everything. Ones who live a d grow up poor-really poor-seldom use it as an excuse but a cause for positive actions and attitude. You have a great heart. Thank you for inspiring others.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      We also were brought up frugal and poor. I don't think it hurt us in the long run, and we sure do appreciate the little luxuries in life that others take completely for granted.

      We grew up being confident in our brains, and confident that we could better ourselves by intelligent, honest effort. That is a gift not all today's children are given, by a long shot.

      And I agree with vocal coach. What a handsome young man!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      What memories I relived while reading your story. One that I will never forget is eating bread and flour made gravy night after night, month after month. Three of us all slept in one bed and we thought everyone did. We didn't realize we were poor. Our clothes were all donated to us and we'd get so darn excited and squeal for joy. Thanks mickey for the frugal hub. And what a handsome boy you were!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I grew up at a time when nobody had much. It wasn't that they did not have the money so much as there was a war, World War II, and very few consumer goods were being produced. Shortly after, the whole country seemed to go on a spending binge. My parents were pretty frugal even after things became more plentiful and most of what I got were han-me-downs. Still, we probably had a more comfortable life than the one you describe. voted and sharing

    • MickeySr profile image

      MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      I recall, years later, thinking back about one of the places we rented . . . my sister had a bedroom and I had a bedroom, and I never realized it at the time, but looking back, there was no other bedroom, my mom was sleeping on the couch for 3 years. And again, all those things shape you - one way or another.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      When I was a kid, my parents slept on the floor so that my sister and I could have beds. All my toys were handmade or hand-me-downs. I think you're right that it shapes and changes you, either for the better or for the worse. You and I are lucky that it changed us both for the better.