My Parents - impressionable children during the Great Depression

My parents worked long and hard all their lives. My father taught school, and my mother only went back to work after her youngest child was in high school.

Now, you know of the modest income teachers make, yet well into retirement, they are debt free and have more assets than they ever dreamed of.

They live entirely on social security, and I don't know anyone that feels comfortable about doing that, yet they live debt free in comfort and style. So how did they do it?

My parents are successful at money management. They understand and play the money game very well indeed. They use many of the skills they learned from their parents to live debt free:

  • Both worked when they could. My father took odd jobs during many summers when he wasn’t teaching.

  • Both never settled for just doing okay, they strived to better themselves as opportunities presented themselves. My father retired as one of the highest paid teachers in the State of Michigan – early investment in education and experience paid off over the long haul.

    My mother was in charge of the office of a private school and served with the Board of Directors – quite an accomplishment for a high school graduate.

  • My father worked longer than necessary to maximize his retirement income. This is another form of investing that paid off.

  • Both of my parents recognized the value of an education and both made efforts to see that my father had a graduate degree. This was perhaps the most important investing they did in the early years of their marriage.

  • They focused on saving money steadily, and made low risk investments like certificates of deposit.

  • Saving was a way of life for my parents. They were teenagers during the hard economic times around WWII, and they knew what financial ruin felt like firsthand. They were determined to do better.

  • Dolls that my mother played with as a kid were cleaned up and given to her year after year for Christmas. How about that for frugality?

  • Insurance poor was one way my mother described the family. They made certain that they had insurance to cover unforeseeable expenses like accidents, illnesses and natural disasters.

  • They enjoyed a garden. With three months off in the summer, my father had time to plant and tend a garden. There were peas to shuck, tomatoes to can, and herbs to dry for year-round use. We had beans, radishes, carrots, peppers, broccoli, turnips, spinach, corn and a range of berries as well.

  • Everything had a use. Grass clippings were used as mulch for the flowerbeds. Leaves were turned under in the garden each fall. They knew the meaning of “waste not, want not”.

  • Homes were purchased at least cost, repaired for necessity, remodeled for comfort, and then sold to upgrade to a nicer home by investing the appreciated value.

  • When they first married, my parents they lived on $15 a month for groceries. They purchased carefully to live within their household budget and stay debt free.

  • While on a summer teaching assignment, my father rented a room in a woman’s home to save money that would otherwise be spent on a hotel or apartment and meals out.

Okay, you get the idea. My parents were frugal and did without a lot of wants, but fully met all of their needs. And, all the while, focused on successfully raising three children, having a comfortable debt free lifestyle and providing well for their retirement.

These people were my firsthand trainers, the ones that I saw on a daily basis. I was counseled and advised by them, and learned by observation and practice. If they made bad decisions, I saw it and learned from it. If they made good decisions, I saw that too.

Done with My Parents, back to Debt Free Training

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.