Frugal Living with Children – Lessons from Mom

simplicityWith Mother's Day fast approaching I am reminded of the many lessons my Mom taught me as a child. Be respectful always towards others, if you fall, pick yourself up and try again, and make the most of what you have. I was lucky to grow up in a family with six brothers and sisters, we learned to share and to be resourceful. It is this last lesson that I'd like to share some memories..

Eat At Home – A typical evening involved Mom in the kitchen and us kids doing homework or outside playing with friends. My Mom was a Nurse and went back to work once the youngest was in school so she did not have much time to prepare dinner.  The kitchen was off limits while she was cooking however, I would manage to peek under the lid of a pot or open the oven to see what was for dinner before being shooed away. My Mom was a great cook and did wonders with little, most of the time. She was not afraid, to our dismay, to experiment with left over ingredients and she came up with some interesting combinations that I know for a fact are not in any cook book. Let's just say that the sliced hot dogs in pancakes did not go over well! Friday night was usually leftover night which meant, sigh, casserole. To this day, I hate casseroles and will not make them. With nine people to feed we did not go out to eat very often but my parent's had a frugal solution. We would order pizza or subs from Danny's Pizza in Bethel Park, PA, the best Italian Subs I have ever had, and take it home to eat. I didn't know it at the time but we saved quite a bit of money because we did not buy drinks and if we ate at the restaurant we probably would have ordered more food.

Pack Lunch – With seven children and ten years between the oldest and youngest, packing lunch was more art than science for my Mom. It was more like an assembly line on the kitchen counter. Packing lunch is not only cheaper than eating out, it is often healthier!

Hand Me Down Clothing – I have two older brothers and up until 4th grade I wore hand-me-down clothes. I remember not being real happy about it but that is what our family did to make the clothes budget work. This may not work for today's smaller families, I had 3 brothers and 3 sisters, but there are alternatives to help stretch the clothing budget: 1) Repair clothing rather than replacing. 2) Shop at discount fashion stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshall's,  or Filene's Basement 3) Shop at consignment clothing outlets, 4) Trade clothes with family and friends.

Have fun on a Budget – Summer Vacations began with all nine of us cramming into a Ford Station Wagon and ended 12 hours later in Newton Mass. at our Grandmothers house. We would spend a week in Boston and a week at our Grandparent's lake cottage in New Hampshire with our cousins.  Those were the best vacations I have ever had. We would swim, fish, take the row boat out on the lake, and go deep sea fishing with my Grandfather. By staying with family my Parent's were able to keep costs down and to this day we are still enjoying reunions in New Hampshire with family!

Learn to Say No – Your Kids Will Thank You (When they are older!) – Perhaps the greatest gift my Parent's gave us was the word No. By that I mean we were often told no when we asked for something. Don't get me wrong, we lived in a nice home in an upper middle class neighborhood and had most everything we needed. On a birthday, my brother and I got new bikes which we helped my Dad put together. I can remember getting a flat tire on my bike and my Dad showing me how to repair the inner tube with a patch. I was taught how to repair things for a reason, I was not going to get a replacement if it broke. I have saved tens of thousands of dollars by fixing things myself or doing DIY projects around the house but more importantly I learned as a child that I am responsible for myself and am capable of doing just about anything I put my mind and body too!

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

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