View Full Version : How does family "stack up" to you in the frugal department?

1-18-11, 1:22pm
I'm not suggesting or intending for this to be a competitive or one-upmanship topic of sorts, just an insightful thread as to how family (immediate/extended) compares to your SL values, frugal ideals, and environmental responsible wisdom.

I've given this one a great deal of thought. For example, let's look at the Johnson's, a large family with 5 grown adult children (three girls/two boys). The Johnson's were your typical family of the 60's, raising their children like most other families during that period. (Saving, being thrifty, relying on one vehicle, living in a plain simple average home, eating at home, shopping for sales, clothesline drying, canning, gardening, etc).

With the children long out of the home and all with families of their own, a divide can be seen as to how each child lives and exists in a modern- ever-changing world, even though all were raised the same way.

Take Evelyn for instance, she's the oldest of the Johnson five and takes after her mother. (Uber frugal and old-fashioned). She recycles, buys nothing disposable, cooks and bakes, stays at home, and pinches every penny. Cloth diapers/rubber pants when her kids were babies, clothesline user.

Marilyn, second oldest of the five is also frugal, but unlike her sister Evelyn who sees living to pinch and save, Marilyn is more of a spendthrift. She and her husband live in a larger home, drive two newer vehicles, and go on two to three vacations each year. Diaper service when her kids were little. Umbrella clothesline user.

Yvonne, third down the line has fallen out of step with frugality. Carefree living with an emphasis on convenience is her motto. i.e. Disposable diapers, all the modern bells and whistles for her kids (cell phones, ipads, computers for each child, etc). No clothesline, eating out, etc.

Robert, forth in command is a car buff, buying up old classics and restoring them from the ground up, his wife Heloise, more modern than his older sisters. Average home, higher than average spending, no concern for sales, thrift, or saving. Lots of restaurant outings, weekend getaways, and all the toys any family could want. Pampers when their kids were babies. Occasional clothesline user.

Edward, baby of the family is the brain of the siblings. Chief Surgeon at a major hospital, world travel, a 6300 sq ft home in a ritzy subdivision, high-end Mercedes, his wife Theresa (a corporate secretary), convertible BMW, kids in school and college, a power boat in one garage stall, a full-sized SUV for weekend outings in another, and a full-time housemaid. No expense spared. Everything convenience.

I chose to use my fictitious family as a means of clarifying the direction I was going in relation to the thread question- "how does family stack up to you in the frugal department". Hoping for a fun and light discussion.

P.S. (I didn't intend to create a biased like segregation between any one child (i.e. job title/income level) as a way of standardizing the level of frugality practiced within each household).

1-18-11, 1:31pm
As far as I can see, I am the only one in my family who is interested in any of this. I notice particularly that none seem to have any ability to make long-term plans for the future. Discussions like this go completely over their heads. None seem interested in The Tightwad Gazette, Your Money or Your Life, or these forums (well, they might be interested in the forums, but would probably skip all the stuff about simple living.) >8)

And edited to say: this doesn't refer to my brothers, who are both financially responsible (but not necessarily interested in simple living) -- but is more about the next generations.

1-18-11, 1:44pm
I am the oldest of 3. I am very thrifty now but less so earlier in my career. However, most of excess spending was on collectibles which were sold at or above purchase price. I love my old car, simple house, etc.. I really hate shopping of all kinds now Retired, no debt, and very comfortable.

My brother is a spendthrift who always thinks he is missing the greatest deal out there. He is now upside down in mortgage in the worst area of CA for foreclosures. He would like to retire but cannot financially. Been married 3X but thankfully no kids.

My other brother spends carefully but he also saves and since has never married, he is the only one he has to support. He had a new house built on the foundation of the family's older home and keeps his old trucks forever. But other than electronics and carefully limited spending in Las Vegas, he is a rock.

1-18-11, 2:30pm
My sister is far better than I! And my parents too... I am learning in mid-life how to be frugal. My sis lived in Egypt and then left her husband and raised her kids as a single mom, so she was compelled early on to figure it out. No idea how my brother lives, as he is out of touch with us.

1-18-11, 4:59pm
I'm probably the least frugal of the bunch. I have areas of tightwaddery, and I'm financially responsible enough to have a lovely FICO score, but I can throw money around with the best of 'em. My father and sibling were/are the frugalistas, my mother less so. Most people in my life balance frugality with indulgence; I really don't know any ostentatious big spenders.

1-18-11, 5:37pm
I am certainly trying to live a simple life - but not NECESSARILY frugal! I cook most meals from scratch (obviously using ready made pasta etc when required, although I also make my own).

However, if I see a great pair of shoes or a handbag (I'm a sucker for both) and I can afford them, then I buy them. If I like a piece of art and I can afford it, then ditto. I do not use credit cards, only debit cards... I do not use HP (hire purchase) agreements. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it.

My children have grown up in a household that knows the value of a pound. Two are on message, one not!

1-18-11, 5:40pm
Both of my parents were very frugal - more so than me. But it was a different time. I know how to live very close to the bone, but at the moment don't have to be cut-throat frugal. But even when 'spending more', I'll always be more frugal than 97% of other Americans.

My brother is financially responsible, but married a woman who literally scoffs at being frugal. She is not an excessive buyer except at Christmas (egads!), and in general, not careful with money. She used to always take unnecessary jabs at me for being frugal. I didn't much like that. She worked to be able to spend how she wanted, and also inherited some $. They have some sort of 'separate funds' relationship, and they are still together after 30+ years so something must be working. (I think that's called 'damning with faint praise'.)


1-18-11, 5:42pm
I'm the oldest and an average simple liver at best. Not a tightwad by any means, but I do watch where it goes to make sure what gets spent gets spent on our priorities. One younger brother's family is very frugal as far as what they pay for anything, but funny thing is they are also horders. NEVER miss a garage sale and I've never seen either of them leave a garage sale without buying something, need it or not. They have a house stacked full of stuff (some, like me, would call it junk) that all cost a quarter or less. Another brother is not so much frugal as plain old tight a$$. Drives DW and I nuts. He's a leach. Will come to our house over the holidaze, spend a week consuming the best we have and head home without EVER buying so much as a bottle of wine or taking someone out to lunch. Not that its required, but it would be nice to see some kind of gesture that shows he's appreciative. My parents were very frugal and very independent, but also very generous so I'm not really sure where that came from. Ahhh...family.

1-18-11, 7:29pm
I am certainly trying to live a simple life - but not NECESSARILY frugal!

That's an important distinction.

iris lily
1-18-11, 9:18pm
Select cousins and uncles and aunts, ones I identified with, were all frugal. I had plenty of support for that lifestyle.

My cousin who's gotta be in my estimate worth $10 million has a job cleaning his daughter's school. He thinks it is good money.>8) >8)>8) But I love him for that.:)

Mighty Frugal
1-19-11, 8:20am
We are five as well. 3 girls 2 boys..hmmm..
Eldest (sister)-very frugal. Modest income. Her dh has trouble holding a job so she knows how to scrimp and save.
Second eldest (sister)- great income. She spends a lot of money but makes a lot. So no debt but not much savings. Divorced with two kids that she spoils
Third eldest (me-girl)- Pretty frugal. make a great income. Good savings and dh and I buy everything we want but we don't want that much
Fourth eldest (brother)- great income but his wife doesn't work. His kids want a lot but he is naturally extremely frugal. Being frugal is the only way he could have stayed afloat with 3 kids and a wife
Youngest (brother) he and his wife had a great income and splurged. Cruises twice a year, BMW and Merecedes int eh driveway. Spend Spend Spend. Their great income has dwindled to almost half (still very good) but they are drowning in debt.

Mrs. M. I know you wrote your family is fictitious but they were very interesting to read about!

1-19-11, 8:49am
Frugal starts and stops with me I'm afraid. My brother and his wife definitely don't know how to handle money and have filed bankruptcy in the past. My niece spent time with my parents last summer. She wanted french toast for breakfast and grandpa insisted she help him make it. She agreed and went directly to the microwave so she could turn it on for him. She'd never had homemade french toast! Fast and easy indulgences are what they seem to be about.

My parents have saved a ton of money over the years creating their retirement but they still waste so much! For example, their on their 3rd motor home in about 5 years-each one bigger and more expensive than the last. Plus now they own 2 houses and are making plans to build the third. Two of these are 7 miles apart!

My parents like to brag about my money skills. I'm mediocre compared to most of you. But we've done things like this remodeling project for cash and I can get $100 in groceries for $25 almost any week I want to. Dh and I just don't waste money on a lot of bells and whistles. I learned a long time ago that I'll never keep up so why compete at all? I know people who can't even by fever medicine for their kids without a loan but we can buy a new-used car for cash tomorrow if ours dies.

From my experience a lack of money for necessities is one of life's biggest stressors. I'm thankful for a few bucks in my humble, used pocket so I don't have worry about what ifs.

1-19-11, 9:01am
I love thread topics like this! You guys never fail to pull out all the stops. :) Easy reading it is, especially when in the company of a great morning cup of coffee!!!

I'll admit that DH and I are less frugal and simple than our parents are/were, not by very much albeit, but less just the same. On the bright side, compared to distant/extended family (both sides) were running close seconds with the old-timers! Much better than average. :)

My oldest sister and I are as equal as it gets, baby brother and his wife, close seconds, baby sister and her husband, completely out of touch.

Mighty Frugal, glad you enjoyed my make-believe family. :) Am really enjoying reading about everyone's simple/frugal lifestyle comparisons.

1-19-11, 9:26am
I have one sister and comparing us is kind of an apples and oranges thing. She lives in Hollywood and owns a successful high end art gallery. Her soon-to-be XH is a music producer. She spends a lot more than I do, but has a lot more money than I do also. I don't think she has a ton of debt, actually. She doesn't like debt either. Admittedly it's hard to think of a person who has a closet full of $1500 shoes and a 9 year old son who got an iphone for Christmas and a trip to Spain for his birthday as frugal, but in the grand scheme of things, she's more prudent than most of her friends.

I am frugal, but don't have a lot of money. That's a temporary situation as DH is in school, but frugality is just part of who I am, so I'm sure it will still be true when we have more money.

My dad is frugal with the exception of his gazingus pin, Apple computers. Mom is getting more frugal, but she grew up with a lot of money and was married to my dad, who makes a lot of money, for 40 years, so it doesn't come naturally to her.

iris lily
1-19-11, 9:40am
oh, I see--you are asking about siblings.

My brother is a middle of the road spender. He wants to pay off his mortgage and he is making good headway there, but he is 47 years old and so it's not as though he'll reach that finish line early.

His wife is scary spendy. Just hugely spendy. For a while she was into those baskets made in Indiana and she filled my mother's basement with them. Each time she goes out in the car she stops to buy some sort of fast food thing and she's always running aorund in the car.

1-19-11, 9:56am
So good to hear from you Stella and Iris. :)

Iris. Not just siblings... :) Cousins, aunts, uncles, you name it. Rellies/family in general. :D

1-19-11, 12:37pm
Everyone in my family was super frugal except my Dad. He was known as Debt-Man, super hero of the consumer masses! He left my Mom and us 3 kids when we were young (and kicked us out of the house and didn't pay anything to my stay at home parent Mom - no child support, no alimoney, no part of his military pension, no part of the house sale) and so I was basicly raised by my very frugal, all cash, all the time Mom, who passed on those values. My sister (brother has passed away) is more of a spender than me buying lots of expensive sporting goods (skiis, kayaks, bikes, etc...) and doing expensive adventure travel kinds of trips (skiing, kayaking, bike riding :-)!). But she has no debt, a paid off place, and tons of moo-lah in the bank and investments. She did all that on a modest income, by living below her means and saving alot of her income and never getting in debt.

Now my Dad's second wives family was a totally different story. Much older than sis and I but mega-mega consumers. Giant McMansions, very expensive cars, and every "toy" you could possiblily imagine - new boats and RV's and jet skiis and motorcycles (several of those), gambling trips to Vegas where they would drop $10K playing Poker, etc... all bought with big debts. The funny thing was that my Dad's wife (she was also a big spender and neither saved a dime) felt that because my sister and I choose to live very modestly, had some savings, and didn't have any debt that we should be left out of any inheritence and it should all go to her adult kids because they had so much debt and we didn't. Uh... we also didn't have all the fancy stuff they had either. I have seen that kind of mindset amongst several other people -"I should get more than you because I have big debts from buying all this stuff and you don't really need it because you live so frugally". I'm like: "HUH??".

1-19-11, 2:11pm
My parents are quite frugal, but always generous to their kids and granddaughter.

My takeaway from growing up frugal (and occasionally broke) was that I did not ever want to worry about money. After years of living on student stipends, DH and I have stable jobs with reasonable salaries and no debt. We max out retirement accounts and save off the top. I am mindful of what I spend money on, but don't nickel and dime day to day purchases. We travel, and have some nice things that others would consider spendy. That's what we save for!

My siblings are much younger and still learning to navigate the adult financial world, but they are savers at heart. Our cousins are more spendy. One makes a lot of money and can afford it, and the others all try to keep up on their more modest salaries. I am glad we live far away, out of that fray.

DH's parents are in the frugal-but-generous camp too, and his siblings have lifestyles and values similar to ours.

1-19-11, 2:22pm
Mother=spendthrift (she's gone now, but she LOVED knick-knacks--I think that's why I don't have any. Also, one time I counted and found she had 25 blazers--25!!! What does anyone need 25 blazers for?)

MIL=EXTREMELY frugal. Would jump in the ring with a store manager trying to gyp her out of a couple of pennies.

DH=spendthrift: joke is that no matter how much he leaves the house with, he comes home with a dollar.

ME: Not extremely frugal, but maybe by some standards. Definitely not a spendthrift. All my furniture is second hand. I wait until Christmas to see what clothes I get and then fill in the holes with second hand stuff, or stuff on sale.

DD1=spendthrift/frugal: Likes to spend in some areas, but hates to spend in others, like eating out he thinks is a waste of money. But, he has a bit of a penchant for "nice things." I attribute that to his zodiac sign: Taurus

DD2=simple liver, pretty frugal. Has a low-paying job that he loves (works for a community college as an advisor/teacher, but not much money in it). Moved to a "simple living" state: VT. Spends less than he makes. Loves the concept of simple living. Walden is one of his favorite books.

DD3=Used to be a spendthrift, but I have to say, I'm so proud of him because his life model now is, do your job, pay your bills, have a little fun, and save the rest. He doesn't have a car, no lofty career ambitions except for his music. I would never have predicted how he turned out, because he was probably the first and youngest metrosexual I knew! At age 3 he "demanded" the nicer clothes. He was never happy with the way I folded his socks. And he would always ask for an advance on his allowance. But now, he is living comfortably within his means.

DD4=Definitely frugal. Again, so proud of her! Works for a non-profit. Makes ends meet living and working in Manhattan on $26k a year. Buys thrift store. Shops co-op. Makes gifts. No car. Has everything she needs. Dresses beautifully with great style, but it's all "eclectic"

Fun topic!

1-19-11, 2:32pm
Oh yeah, forgot to add that my ex-DH of 17 years (together 20) was also very frugal and a most defininte simple liver! Even more so than me. Made for a very easy divorce with neither of us in debt except that I kept the house and bought him out and he kept the sailboat which was paid for. Unfortunately I'm was spoiled by his frugal ways and haven't been able to find someone who shares those same values.

1-19-11, 9:10pm
My parents and grandparents were very frugal and I learned alot from them. I, too, am very frugal, but I would say that I am more generous with my money regarding loved ones, and charitable to those in need. Both my parents and grandparents could be stingy and cheap IMOHO. My younger sister and my only sibling does not handle money well at all. In fact, her finances are a total mess and she recently filed for bankruptcy....

1-20-11, 11:13am
Good morning everybody. I'm lovin this! I wanted to start this thread on the old forum but never got around to it. So glad I started it now.

Individuality is a strong thing isn't it. We can be raised and brought up in many different environments related to home-life, yet once we remove ourselves from that lifestyle and structure not everything we learned and were taught "sticks". I find it so interesting that some of us continue on with tradition, while some steer away from the old, while others go on to become even stronger in areas.

1-20-11, 6:55pm
I have 3 brothers, 1 sister. I am the middle child. My siblings all have the usual accoutrements - cell phones, cable tv, newer cars, frequent eating at restaurants, dryer rather than clothesline, typical American diet. I never thought about it much, but I am the only one interested in religion/spirituality, gardening (tho' my dad was a keen gardener) and I am the only one who is not overweight... and they are all also very good cooks, while I am not particularly.

The oldest is my brother; earned his BA; he worked hard for various non-profits till he was laid off 2 years ago; he and his wife aren't huge spenders. I don't think he is interested in voluntary simplicity per se, but he is DIY kind of guy. No kids.

My sister is the next; she has two kids. She has a MS, is an elementary school principal. She never took time off when her kids were little (no judgement intended; I was back at work a few weeks after my dd was born.)Her husband has his own company and they have plenty of money. She is not a spendthrift, but would not be interested in simple living. She enjoys the comforts of their life and the opportunity to travel and have a nice house (she is kind of a Martha Stewart type, in a nice way.)

Then there's me, I have an MS degree, worked full time for many years (sometimes two jobs) to pay off our house and school loans. DH is a musician and in our early years together he was full time with a touring band. After dd was born (when I was 41) we both went to part-time. We're both tightwads (maybe me more than him.) I'm more interested in the self-reliance side of simple living - gardening and preserving, DIY (all the tools in the house are mine) saving energy, etc.

My younger brother has a BS and while both he and his wife work hard at decent paying full-time jobs they are always strapped for cash. No kids, and they just take one not-extravagant vacation per year. They are always broke - I have no idea why.

My youngest brother is also married, no kids. He is a contractor and the most concerned with material things (fancy cars, house, big screen tv, expensive wrist-watch, all that.) His wife also works full-time; they plan on having kids sometime.

I think what has made me different from my siblings is that I'm not a very social person (I was pathologically shy as a kid) while they are all very social. So I've always been more interested in things that I can do on my own, including sewing, crafts, reading, gardening, and so on, that lend themselves to a simpler lifestyle. I'm just more introverted in general.

1-21-11, 11:38am
Hi Gardenarian. Great post. I've enjoyed reading everyone's entries immensely. In my mind, before I started this thread I was thinking to myself, "families (as in siblings) will all be on the same page in relation to spending, saving, and frugality. Boy was I ever wrong.