I wasn’t born frugal. I wasn’t born in to a frugal family either. My parents had tough times BUT they were entrepreneurs and they always had a solution to their problems. They also had a goal and that was to be rich. Both died multimillionaires but they had absolutely no idea what it was like to be frugal. In fact, my father’s accountant used to come to his office once a month and I recall my dad making fun of him because the accountant packed his own lunch. Dad always sent out daily for his lunch. I know that because I was the errand girl who not only picked up his lunch items but also coordinated his lunch meals
I do remember some lean times growing up. For instance, there was this one Easter holiday where my mother didn’t have the money to buy my sister and I Easter Sunday Church clothes. My mother’s solution was to go and ask her father (my grandfather) for $100 or so in order to buy us new clothes. No Goodwill or thrift shopping. Top of the line for sis and me.
Which gets me to the next topic. My parents weren’t frugal BUT they were extremely cost effective. They wanted top shelf quality (because they wanted to be and look rich) but they didn’t want to pay top shelf prices. My mother mastered the art of buying stuff wholesale. That trait I did inherit from her. I would follow my mom around as she would seek out furniture outlets, discount outlets and at times, she would actually go straight to the manufacturer itself and buy whatever she wanted directly from the source, thus eliminating the (expensive) middleman/person. I inherited that trait from my mom also. I know how to look rich but not pay the rich person’s price.
My parents would buy homes in foreclosure, yachts that were repossessed, Mercedes Benz or Cadillacs that were turned back in to dealerships for non-payment, designer clothes at basement bargain prices, discontinued furniture or discontinued styles. My mom would do the same thing when it came to food items. She would go directly to the head baker, head chef, main food processing center and buy whatever gourmet food she wanted at wholesale prices. I’m guilty of all of the above.
It wasn’t until I was in my forties however, separated from the family fortune, when I first learned about frugality. It was the recession of the mid 1990’s when elderly people were eating dog food. Money was tight. Jobs were scarce and I was forced to make due with whatever little money I had. At that time, there was this frugal newsletter going around for $12 a year ($1 a month). It was written by Amy Dacyczyn and it was called ‘The Tightwad Gazette‘. (Promoting thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle) I was astounded at the things I learned out of those newsletters (which Amy eventually turned into a book) I had no idea that there were good, frugal, cheap ways a person could live and still maintain a great quality of life. To this day, hubby and I still make our $2 pizza every Friday night, still using the recipe we learned from Amy!
Here’s a video I made about it back in 2015:
Once I became solvent again, I stuck to my frugal ways. I sort of enjoyed them. Who doesn’t like saving money? It can be fun. When it came time for investing, I followed some of the advice my dad gave me (he was a self-made multimillionaire) and I followed some of the advice I gleaned off other self-made financial gurus, such as Suze Orman and Peter Schiff. I’m always reading self-help books, financial best sellers or listening to podcasts about retirement, investing, saving and just plain making it on one’s own.
I live a top shelf life at bottom shelf prices and am frugal to the core. The best part about being frugal is that you are never done learning. There’s always some thing, some new way to be a little bit more frugal than you were the day before. Bring it on! I love it!