Monday, February 28, 2011

Frugal Lessons from Grandma O

I didn’t appreciate my Grandmother’s frugal nature when she was alive. I would complain about the gifts bought from discount and second-hand stores. I never appreciated how these little things that she and my grandpa did really added up in the long-run. She was a little girl during the depression taking care of her siblings after her mother left. She knew what it was like to have very little so she made every penny count. So here it is. Grandma O’s lessons in frugality:
  • Don’t buy it if you can do without it. Grandma and Grandpa never had new furniture. Any new furniture in their house was given to them used as a gift.
  • If you have to buy it, buy it on sale and buy a lot of it. Grandma loved a good sale. When she found something on sale, she bought a ton of it. The lady stored canned soup and soda underneath her bed.
  • Spend some money on little indulgences. Grandma loved chocolate. I think that is where I get it from. She always had sweets around, little snack-size Kit Kats were one of her favorites. She would buy them and stash them around the house. I never left Grandma’s house without a goody. I think because she did spend a little on her favorite things she didn’t feel deprived.
  • Gardening and canning is a good way to provide fruits and vegetables all year long. Long after my grandparents cut way back on gardening due to their age and health, they could eat from a stockpile of things like canned green beans and frozen jams and jellies. I was really sad the day that my family ate the last jar of grandpa’s green beans. They were so delicious.
  • People need investments of time not money. This was obvious in my grandparent’s lifestyle. They would spend weeks visiting us, calling every week and talking to each one of their grandchildren, and generally pouring their time and energy into their loved ones. I never ever got the impression from my grandma that she was too busy for me or didn’t have time to spend. They kept themselves in great shape so they could keep up with their grandkids. My grandma was playing basketball with us when she was in her 70s.
  • "Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today” was my grandmother’s favorite expression. She usually used this to goad us into cleaning our rooms or other less desirable household chores. As I’ve grown older, I can see how this philosophy underpinned her frugality. When something needs to be done and you procrastinate, what can happen? A bill doesn’t get paid; groceries aren’t purchased so you eat out; or you don’t call a plumber and the toilet overflows. These are sometimes costly repercussions to procrastination.

I’m sure there is more. My grandmother had a profound influence on me growing up. I wish some of this would have rubbed off on me a little harder when I was younger.

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