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Frugality: Nature or Nuture? 
Jul. 12, 2013 1:16 pm 
Updated: Jul. 15, 2013 1:01 pm
Well, of course, nurture. But if you were raised to be frugal, can you ever not be frugal?  Doesn't frugality feel genetic?  

If you have been fortunate in life to move from poverty to working poor or working poor to lower middle class or even middle middle class (the only socio-economic categories with which I have direct experience!), can you ever truly not have a frugal heart? 

Do you ever find yourself saying 'I am not paying $2.98 for that!' when you could, actually, pay the $2.98 without breaking the budget? 

Do you think about food costs other than when at the grocery store?  Food costs and non-food costs:  all of the stuff we buy at the 'grocery store'?

I think about costs.  I am not obsessed with costs, at least I don't think I am.  But I don't use a quart-size zip-loc when a sandwich size will do... because I know the quart costs more.  I'm imprinted to choose the cheaper option; the choice is automatic:  almost unconscious. 

I feel completely totally blessed and grateful that I was able to retire when I did.  Although I'm comfortable, I'm acutely aware that my comfort may not last forever, with inflation and all.  My income is fixed but prices are not!  So I continue to be what I consider frugal, even when I don't have to be... but wonder if I could be any different anyway?

Well, yes, I could be different, and I am.  I buy items now that I didn't buy in the past, or I spend more for certain items. 

  • I buy cage-free local eggs because they are healthier.

  • I spend way more on paper towels (which I didn't used to buy at all) because I like the dependability and absorbability of my favorite brand, regardless of price!  Oh, yes, I buy these primo towels..... but still watch for the coupons and the sales!!

  • I have a Keurig coffee maker and I buy k-cups.  (My name is Vicki and I am a Keuriger.)  I almost feel like I'm confessing.  My frugal heart (and my 'green' heart) thinks spending sixty cents for a cup of coffee that I could make for ten cents (or less) is almost evil!

So I guess I am selectively frugal.  I calculate and fret and wring my hands, but I can make what I consider a non-frugal choice, and go merrily on from there.  Those who were not raised in a frugal household or have not experienced the necessity of frugality won't understand, and those who were or have, will understand immediately.  The odd thing is, I never felt deprived; never longed for things I couldn't have.  I don't know why.    

I am so proud of members on the Buzz when they respond to another member who asks for budget-friendly recipes, or, especially, to those members who say:  this is all I have in the house until payday, what can I make?  Given the number of responses, and the eagerness to help and contribute, I'm thinking that quite a few of us know about frugality.  I don't usually have much to contribute to these posts since I've been an empty nester for so long, but can certainly identify.  I can remember buying whole chickens and cutting them myself because they were cheaper, and then saving the backs and wings in the freezer (the tiny freezer on top of the tiny fridge in the tiny kitchen in the tiny rental house) to make a meal of chicken and noodles!!  A 'free' meal!!!  Although a determined and totally committed chicken butcherer, not a very good one...we had some odd-looking chicken pieces! 

So, understanding that everything about finances is personal and subjective, just thinking about your own experience, what did you do in the past that you do differently now, related to how you shop for food or prepare food at home, or even the non-food items, like the paper towels??

Another of mine is light bulbs.  I can remember moving light bulbs around for weeks at a time.  I mean taking the light bulb out of the closet to put in the lamp because I was out of light bulbs.  Because when I was at the grocery store and light bulbs were on the grocery list but the cart was already full... well, the light bulbs got crossed off the list for weeks at a time! 
Jul. 12, 2013 2:56 pm
Oh my goodness! I could have written this blog! Frugality - I know all about it and I lived frugally for many years. I always prided myself on how I could "squeeze a dollar out of a quarter". I always got such satisfaction out of those meals that cost me only pennies. Now that we are empty-nesters I find myself buying what I want and what I like, regardless if it's on sale or not. I know if need be, I can go back to being frugal....
Jul. 12, 2013 9:12 pm
I was blessed to have been raised in comfortable people who came of age during the Depression. We were taught the value of a dollar. Many of the extras we had because we earned them. I shoveled stalls to help offset the cost of boarding a horse.......when I married we had five children and lived in a very nice area (read costly) because of the excellent schools. We ate well but I seldom bought soda or Twinkies and very few processed foods because I could usually make it better and cheaper myself. I suppose I learned to be frugal in most areas so I can splurge in others. I also only buy premium paper towels, with the coupon but I still buy the whole chicken and cut it up myself and use every single atom, including the bones.......I feel proud of myself for learning how to stretch a dollar and I still do it in most cases. And I hope I have passed the tendency to my children.
Jul. 13, 2013 5:12 am
I'm with Mother Ann and BigShotsMom. I was raised to be frugal even if I didn't have to be while growing up. That early training was a blessing when first out on my own and then later when starting a family. I definitely stretch that dollar when in the grocery store, in fact, that's why I'm on this morning. To look up homemade fish stick recipes. Buying whole fish and making my own was a much cheaper option then ready made, plus healthier IMO.
Jul. 13, 2013 9:20 am
We could totally be twins, except for the paper towel thing. I treat them like they are exhorbitantly priced. It annoys me terribly when DH grabs one for EVERYthing and leaves it wadded up on my counters. I use cloth every chance I get and save the paper for when only paper will do, and i do the exact same thing with the ziplocks! LOL! I cook everything from scratch, plus have our own chickens, milk cow and raise our own lamb,chicken and beef, have a garden and do a LOT of pretty frugal here!
Jul. 13, 2013 11:31 am
My parents were good teachers. Everything was made from scratch, we made our own pasta, and the only thing in a can were tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce. I make all from scratch, because I think it is healthier also. I also buy the good paper towels, and i'm the same with the ziplock bags. I'm retired now and our girls are grown and on their own, but I still use coupons and watch for sales. I kind of think we all have that in common.
Jul. 14, 2013 5:23 am
Loved your post. I'm probably older than you guys, but was brought up by parents who lived through the depression. My father could fix anything, and my mother could make a meal out of practically nothing. Yet, I never felt as tho we were doing without. I automatically went the same route with my cooking - remember days when my husband was in the army and money was really tight, peeling potatoes, having the potatoes with a meal one night and then frying up the peels that I had kept in ice water, to go with a meal the next! When my 4 boys came along, money still was very tight and the lessons I had learned at home helped me raise them on a secretary's pay. They say they never felt as tho we were doing without anything. Now that I'm an empty nester, retired, and luckily still able to keep my home, I do splurge - splurge on food when I see something I want, splurge on those paper towels that I NEVER would buy years ago. There are no sports fees to pay for, no piano lessons to pay for, no school clothes to buy or class outings to scrimp and save for, so I do pick up whatever I want. My kids kid me and ask if I still rinse out the plastic bags to resuse! (I don't.) It's a good time financially, not to have to figure out ahead of time what the grocery bill tally will be, but oh, how I miss the joy of having my family at home, and doing all the planning around them.
Jul. 14, 2013 10:19 am
Great post! We're retired, too. We budget $500 a month for groceries, and we use our credit card for that because we get 2% back on all groceries. We keep that credit card limit to only $500 so sometimes at the end of the month we're scrimping a little. Only two of us, plus 2 cats and 2 dogs, but we make out okay.....most of the time. Hah! Paper towels? Yup I have my favorite and will buy them if I have a coupon or not. I also buy heavy-duty paper plates. I try to stick to store brands for things like flour and sugar and salt and pepper. I have my favorites, but try to save where I can. I buy chicken breasts in bulk, then use inexpensive sandwich bags to store, then in a ziploc bag in the freezer. I do the same with ground beef, except I splurge on Press N Seal wrap to store my 1/2 pound packages in ziploc bags. We try to save where we can, but, dangit, sometimes a splurge just feels GOOD.
Jul. 15, 2013 1:01 pm
Coming from a household of mixed German,Pennsylvania Dutch, Irish, and Pure Italian decent feeding time was referred to as the feast. What we had in front of use was what we were expected to eat. Even if it were dandelion greens from the schools football field;that was usually the side dish to our Easter Sunday feast. Please don't get me wrong, those precious memories are tucked securely away in part of my brain matter that seems to get passed down to my children whenever. If one of my kids holds three fingers up at the onset of one of my "back then" stories, then I quickly realize this is Not the first time I had recited this fact. (I do recall those days of stuffing "school lunch" macaroni and cheese into a milk carton, not only to peak behind me and feel the 18 foot tall principal peering down at my milk carton stuffed full of The Hot lunch program idea of nourishing, well balanced entrees. Thanks for finishing out my babbling with me on my first "blog" response :)
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Thisni Caza

Home Town
Hamilton, Kansas, USA
Living In
Topeka, Kansas, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2004

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Mexican, Mediterranean, Healthy, Vegetarian, Quick & Easy

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About Me
I've been retired for about a year and LOVE retirement so far! I have three children: two boys and a girl, all grown. Five grands, all grandsons, ages almost eighteen to just turned nine.
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I cook for one or two most of the time and like to prepare multiple servings and either eat 'em up over a couple of days, or use a foodsaver to freeze the leftovers. We try to watch the sodium and cholesterol so we eat a lot of vegetables and very few pre-packaged foods. As a general rule, we try to avoid purchasing anything with ingredients we can't pronounce or very l-o-n-g ingredient lists.
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