Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

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Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:25 pm

Just being nosey!

Did you grow up as part of a frugal family so money saving, making things, make do and mend, thrift etc come naturally to you or is it something you'd had to learn for yourself. Are you frugal due to an event or having debt or is it just something you like to do to live a bit more lightly on the earth or just hate waste?

I'd love to hear as much or as little of your story as you'd care to share.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:42 pm

Here's my tale.

My parents actually were , and are, very good with money. The thing is I never knew anything about it until I was an adult as they got on with things and didn't really talk about it. I always thought we were really well off as my dad had a job and with it being the 80's a lot of my friend's dads were out of work. We had a house, a car and all that stuff. But my parents were working hard to keep things going. My dad worked overtime all the time, especially when interest rates went up. Sensibly though when rates went back down they continued to pay the higher amount to get rid of their mortgage.

Everyone thought it was very cool that my mum knit stuff, made my clothes, baked with us and all that stuff. It never even occurred to me that it was to save money! Same with days out and holidays, we always went camping, never ate at cafes (other than on the way home from holiday when we would go to the Little Chef) we'd always take a picnic and go to the beach - never to arcades or amusement parks. I just thought it was good stuff but it was all cheap fun. When I was a teenager virtually all my clothes came via my mum's best mate who was a shopaholic - I now realise that she gave us clothes so my mum could have something new too but I didn't think about it then!

But as I say, all of this was unknown to me. So I was rubbish with money. Went off to university, got a credit card, overdraft, loan etc. I did also have a full time job when I was at university so it wan't as bad as it could have been! Met Dan, moved in with him after a couple of weeks and the spending madness started! He had loads of credit cards (and rationalised having each one for a different reason), student loan, career development loan for his Masters and and some other stuff. We went mad buying stuff for our house, socialising etc. This went on for a few years. We bought our first house when we both had a job. Then I gave up work and the lightbulb came on!

So money saving became my job. We stopped spending £650 a month at the supermarket, eating out twice a day on top of that etc. I decluttered, sold things, slashed all our spending, put the car off the road, stopped getting haircuts, buying clothes, going out - all the usual stuff. To get rid of our £25k + debt. So that's what we did.

When we got out of debt we saved up for a car straight away which took 2 years, since then here we are! We're nowhere near as frugal as we used to be but there are lots of things I would never go back to doing again - things that seem like insanity now and can't believe I did it! But other things that we cut out when we had to have come back. So we have balance now. Saving will always come first but thankfully for the time being we have wiggle room and space for treats too.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  froogs on Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:48 pm

Ooooh a whole mish mosh here.

I'll start with my Grandma. She stayed at home. Husband a miner. Had three children. Knitted, cooked from scratch, sewed up holes. She made do and mended. Life was hard for her but she got on with it.

My Mum. Money was tight for us when my dad died when I was 10. Looking back though she did it all wrong. She microwaved ready meals, she bought us stuff from markets that didn't last two minutes. She still smoked and still had her bottle of wine a couple of times a week. All 'love' for us disappeared when my dad died and what was left was a determination to proove to the outside world she would bring us up correctly on our own. All fur coat and no knickers so to speak. Our diet was pants, we never went anywhere - home school, that was it. She never played with us. What she did was buy us chocolate and indulged our sweet tooth - that was her love. She basically couldn't be bothered but to the outside world she wanted to appear she was a brilliant Mum. Not sure what all that has to do with being frugal - maybe just trying to explain that she was bringing us up looking for short cuts and easy fixes, probably rife in the 80's when life was becoming 'oh so quick and easy'. Mum to this day thinks she did a good job because her peers tell her her children are a credit to her but what about me? I don't feel like I had a happy, loving or the slghtest bit adventurous childhood.

Me. When I moved out of home I was very 'keeping up with the Jones' ' Probably from my mum wanting everyone to think well of her. I had new everything. Easy come easy go. This was my early twenties. We had the salary to do it no problem. Then we got mortgages and had children with childcare to pay for and suddlenly we found ourselves not covering the outgoings which is why we ended up bankrupt when I quit work to try to childmind, earn some money and look after the girls myself. I have to say that although loosing our home was the most horrendous experience to date, I actually thank my lucky stars that we went bankrupt because it was a huge lesson. So of course the frugal way of living became a nessesity to get by but what living frugally does for me is enables me to get into perspective what is important in life. By living frugally I feel I am better mum than the mum and provider than I used to be. Takeouts regualarly, ready meals chucked in the oven. New this, that. Crikey, my kids now like nothing better than their own hats crocheted just for them, have homemade play dough and finger paints - take my cooking in their packed lunches... ooooh I could just give this way of living a big hug. It really has helped me develop as a person.

If we won the lottery and had loads of money to burn I would now still be careful with the heating, still cook from scratch as much as I could and still crochet. I can't ever see myself frittering money away like I used to and I 'blame' my upbringing for most of my 'waste money attributes' I guess I didn't know any better. Two lessons I learned was 'top show' and 'short cuts'.

My kids are having a Mum who is around and hugs them, good quality home cooked balanced meals, opportunities to explore the world around them, makes sure they're warm and cosy by making them stuff that they actually appreciate, teaching them about education meaning a good job, saving, never get unless you have saved for it and ask them to question do they really need it and if it is a want, well save hard. If it wasn't for the bankruptcy I am sure I would have missed out on teaching my children basic values and they would have most probably ended up where we were. So yeah, greatful for the spectacular financial fall on my ass but it has taught me all I need to know for a good life, not least good values.
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:52 pm

Thanks for sharing froogs.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  froogs on Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:01 pm

You too alec. Sometimes I feel we have kind of similar out look on life, I just think I'm a few years behind you and still have a fair bit to learn.

It's a good thread. Don't feel you have to be as open as I have been though folks. It would be cool to read a little about why you're frugal, if you are Wink
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:02 pm

I don't have any children though so I think that keeps me from maturing and being too sensible despite my age... bounce

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  cat_smith on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:04 pm

I was brought up in a very affluent household. The heating is always on. Lots of food gets thrown away. My mum has a cleaner and a gardener and doesn't do much cleaning at all. The house is a 'show home.' She hates cooking but does cook from scratch everyday. We had a nanny and au-pairs while she worked (she's a social worker Laughing )

When I started work I started off like her. Trying to buy everything so I didn't feel ashamed when they came to visit. I was in a 60hr week, high flying job, so paying for it wasn't too hard. Once DH qualified as a surgeon our income was quite high.

Then came the mental health problems and I had to give up work. Thankfully we had no debts, and DH income is more than generous so covers all the bills, but I started feeling like I wasn't contributing anything. I was sitting at home watching TV all day and not doing any housework. I was still cooking, but throwing lots away. So in January I joined the Grocery challenge on MSE, and gradually frugality has moved into all areas. I'm now a fiend about heating and electricity. I've got lists of winter-proofing to get the house warm. I take the car out only for essentials and my food bill has halved. Thanks to flylady the house is also clean and tidy. DH is much happier, and so am I.
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:10 pm

Thanks cat.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  TP on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:36 pm

I was bought up in a household with mum and dad and 2 siblings. We werent poor, we werent rich, we had our own home and a car, 2 later on when mum learnt to drive and managed to go on holiday each year. Dad worked as a shift worker full time and mum went back to work when i went to school.

My parents today have alot more money,came into an inheritance, and no mortgage and no-one at home. Unfortunately they dont enjoy it, they just save it all and hardly have any luxuries. I find that sad, everything is basic. I would be embarrassed to write it all down lol. They could have alot more, enjoy more comfort, and it embarrasses me and i feel they are missing out. They havent moved on in any way and still act like they did when we were growing up. Wont change them though.

Oh well perhaps they are saving it all for their children Razz Razz Laughing Laughing

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  TP on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:49 pm

froogs wrote:Ooooh a whole mish mosh here.

I'll start with my Grandma. She stayed at home. Husband a miner. Had three children. Knitted, cooked from scratch, sewed up holes. She made do and mended. Life was hard for her but she got on with it.

My Mum. Money was tight for us when my dad died when I was 10. Looking back though she did it all wrong. She microwaved ready meals, she bought us stuff from markets that didn't last two minutes. She still smoked and still had her bottle of wine a couple of times a week. All 'love' for us disappeared when my dad died and what was left was a determination to proove to the outside world she would bring us up correctly on our own. All fur coat and no knickers so to speak. Our diet was pants, we never went anywhere - home school, that was it. She never played with us. What she did was buy us chocolate and indulged our sweet tooth - that was her love. She basically couldn't be bothered but to the outside world she wanted to appear she was a brilliant Mum. Not sure what all that has to do with being frugal - maybe just trying to explain that she was bringing us up looking for short cuts and easy fixes, probably rife in the 80's when life was becoming 'oh so quick and easy'. Mum to this day thinks she did a good job because her peers tell her her children are a credit to her but what about me? I don't feel like I had a happy, loving or the slghtest bit adventurous childhood.

Me. When I moved out of home I was very 'keeping up with the Jones' ' Probably from my mum wanting everyone to think well of her. I had new everything. Easy come easy go. This was my early twenties. We had the salary to do it no problem. Then we got mortgages and had children with childcare to pay for and suddlenly we found ourselves not covering the outgoings which is why we ended up bankrupt when I quit work to try to childmind, earn some money and look after the girls myself. I have to say that although loosing our home was the most horrendous experience to date, I actually thank my lucky stars that we went bankrupt because it was a huge lesson. So of course the frugal way of living became a nessesity to get by but what living frugally does for me is enables me to get into perspective what is important in life. By living frugally I feel I am better mum than the mum and provider than I used to be. Takeouts regualarly, ready meals chucked in the oven. New this, that. Crikey, my kids now like nothing better than their own hats crocheted just for them, have homemade play dough and finger paints - take my cooking in their packed lunches... ooooh I could just give this way of living a big hug. It really has helped me develop as a person.

If we won the lottery and had loads of money to burn I would now still be careful with the heating, still cook from scratch as much as I could and still crochet. I can't ever see myself frittering money away like I used to and I 'blame' my upbringing for most of my 'waste money attributes' I guess I didn't know any better. Two lessons I learned was 'top show' and 'short cuts'.

My kids are having a Mum who is around and hugs them, good quality home cooked balanced meals, opportunities to explore the world around them, makes sure they're warm and cosy by making them stuff that they actually appreciate, teaching them about education meaning a good job, saving, never get unless you have saved for it and ask them to question do they really need it and if it is a want, well save hard. If it wasn't for the bankruptcy I am sure I would have missed out on teaching my children basic values and they would have most probably ended up where we were. So yeah, greatful for the spectacular financial fall on my ass but it has taught me all I need to know for a good life, not least good values.

my mums dad died when she was 10 and her brother 12. This was back in the 40's. Her dad was only about 45. She said it was a very sad time. I guess it was the same for you. Her mum had to go back to work also as there was a drop in income.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  lollyfin on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:37 am

I grew up in a family that was middle of the road i suppose. my mum and dad both worked, had a mortgage, my dad had a company car and my mum got a car when she passed her test (aged 38!). I didnt really want for anything and my dad was and still is a keeping up with the joneses person (i think it comes from his upbringing just after the war and not having much)
I got in a financial mess when i moved into my first home and had my first daughter when i was 18. I was on benefits, had no idea how to budget or cook so i lived on toast and biscuits and fed my daughter the jars of baby food, I feel so awful about that now but had no idea then. As i was on benefits i couldnt afford to buy things so got them from catalogues instead, it never crossed my mind to use charity shops then. it became a massive downward spiral for me, my income was going to pay bills so i had to borrow more to live and it just got worse and worse.
My OH moved in with me later on and we lived on his wage and had our other kids but were still carrying my debts from the beginning. I still had no idea how to budget or cook well and when we were both working full time we lived on ready meals and junk and never had any money left after we paid our bills and bought food.
We bought this house, signed all the papers and everything and the week before we picked up the keys the place my OH worked told everyone they were closing down! the day we got the keys for here was the last day that place was open, it was a nightmare. We had 4 little kids a mortgage, debts and no income.
OH found another job but it paid less and i got a parttime job at night and we just managed to scrape through.
He has been working offshore for 7 years and we are still paying off debts from those times, they have been moved around but are still there. We did go a bit mad (slow learners) when he went offshore and bought things nearly every month but still had no savings!
Over the last few years i have learnt to cook and discovered i love it. I also love penny pinching i suppose you would call it, im always looking for ways to cut down or back and i am trying to teach my kids how to shop and cook, what are good deals and whats just a bit of a con. I wish i had known years ago what i do now it would have made a massive difference to our lives but its not something my parents ever spoke about budgetting or saving money. I will do my best to ensure my kids dont have to learn the hard way they know all about paying for food, gas/elec and that if you borrow money you always have to pay back more than you originally got.
I am hoping we will be finally debt free in a year and mortgage free in 5 Very Happy as OH cant carry on doing the job he does offshore for many more years, probably not even in his 50s its just to physically demanding. So to avoid working him to death we are frugal now and probably always will be we even have a small amount of savings now
So thats my story sorry if it was a bit longwinded
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  Bitsy Beans on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:59 am

My mum came from what was traditionally working class background and my dad was very middle class. However growing up we didn't have a lot. Furniture was always second hand, my clothes were all made by my mum and she cooked everything from scratch. However we were living in an affluent area and people made the assumption we were fairly well off (didn't help that my dad worked for Porchse and brought one home every night from work. Mind you he used to disable the engine because he was so paranoid about it being stolen Shocked the car actually cost more than our house Shocked Shocked) so I encountered a lot of reverse snobbery from people thinking I was posh, yeah right going camping for a weeks holiday with only amenities was a single shower in shed and a porta potti.
Anyway cue me meeting my H and we both spent more than we earnt. Ran up credit cards and store cards and had nowt to show for it. FIL kindly paid one lot off but didn't learn our lesson and ran them up again but not as much as the first time. So when we moved house some of the equity we made went to clear debts and we've not touched a CC since. Mind you the overdraft takes a bashing at times and I recently went through the figures on paper again and we are doing OK but H is a swine for his little food shopping trips etc and it's these where any spare money Gershwin wasted. I took a pay cut to become a CM when DD was born so frugality is a mix of refusing to pay over the odds on things, prefer to know what's in my food and a tiny tiny tiny bit is necessity. My attitude is be frugal so you can spend the money you can afford on the things you like rather than all on food shopping which just a few short years ago is really where it went.
I think me being at home helps, I have more time to be frugal, batch cooking from scratch, making do and mend I have the time to deal with. I cannot imagine fitting it all in with 2 small children and working full time. It's a full time job being a housewife or should I say domestic technician Wink
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  lollyfin on Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:32 am

I think the official term is actually Homemaking Executive Very Happy
where we got our phones actually put that down as my occupation Shocked
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  knitmylife on Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:22 am

my parents were very poor in their early marriage days. after about ten years my father changed his job and suddenly we were quite comfortably off. lots of holidays and everything we had every wanted.

i was a single parent to my two sons when i met my current husband so i was used to making do. hubby and i have never had any money although not particularly in debt either just odd bits here and there. we had five children so not surprisingly things were expensive.

the children always had everything they needed, i always cooked from scratch and they always had a holiday every year.

now we only have one left at home we are probably the most comfortably off that we have every been but still have no spare money - lol.

i like to cook from scratch, source the cheapest ingredients, shop carefully. love a bargain. dont waste money. always get the best deal.

i would still be frugal even if i won the lottery its a way of life. i actually enjoy it x
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:55 pm

Thanks for sharing your stories everyone. I like how there's a common theme running through that frugality has helped enhance our lives as well as saving money.

In terms of my job title I go for good old fashioned housewife or haus frau if I'm feeling jaunty.

As someone mentioned it, if I won the lottery (not that I do it) I would buy a house on the prom, knock it down and build a Huf Haus. But other than that I would still be pretty frugal.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  Anne on Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:05 pm

Both. :-) Wish I'd asked my gran more now though. Wasn't so intereseted in it when she was alive, so didn't really ask her much. She was baddly affected by the great depression in the 1930s. My grandad was unemployed, with no or very little government help. They lived in Poole and my gran was an accomplished fisher woman, so used to fish off of Poole quay to enable to put a meal on the table for her, grandad, my dad and his baby brother. If she didn't catch anything, they didn't eat. Simple as that. If it wasn't fish, then it would be cockles. When grandad got a job, he cried. I often think about her now. She had to be frugal because of circustances, it's a shame she never kept a diary.
Anne x
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  Teresa on Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:30 am

my parents, more my mother was a keeping up with the jones type and i guess my dad must not have been much better, easy come easy go kind of attitude. i had anything i wanted when growing up, but looking back we didnt have the days out/holidays or time together as a family, my dad did work away but i recall him spending most weekends in the pub, as did his friends. in fact i have only been on 1 holiday with them when i was 5, we did have a weekend away when i was about 9 on the coast. Their poor money management has rubbed off on me and i really didnt want to be like them with lots of debts etc i actually found that just how i ended up!

so right now for us being frugal is through the need to be. cut a long story short we are on a massively strict budget too due to burning the plastic, spending what we didnt have and saying oh put it on the CC we will pay it next month and it never got paid, also helping a close family member with some debts (transfering them to one of our 10 CC's!!! Shocked ) and then there was a life changing event in the family which ment this person couldnt afford to pay the payments any more! but being honest i was probably spending some of their payments and only making minimum payments as we didnt have enough to live on once we had paid our own minimum payments! God reading that back i really dont know how i slept at night!!! needless to say when i tallied up all our debts the best option for us was bankruptcy. We do have an ipa but the way i see it, i know exactly when i will be debt free, the way we lived before, we would never be debt free.
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  flibsey on Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:40 am

originally necessity. I was sort of taught to be frugal by my mum, she raised me on benefits as a single parent until she met my step dad. life was still frugal due to mortgage commitments, one income and whatnot... hen things got better for a while, then worse again lol.

then i went to uni and didn't really see the money as something i had to pay back, so lived like a nutter for a year.

james and i had about 6 months of living well and without worrying about money before I gave up work due to pregnancy.
we've pretty much been skint ever since!!!
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  PurpleIvy on Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:02 pm

Well, I was brought up quite frugally, as another poster said, we always had a picnic if we went somewhere. Stayed with friends and relations and returned the favour for holidays, that or camping.

My grans had it tough through the war, as one of them took on a lot of her hub's responsibilities collection insurance premiums. My dad had a scholarship to a private school, but had fun made of him because his uniform wasn't right. At one stage I believe he had to wear a pair of his mum's shoes. This would be just at the end of the war, dad would be 12 and along came another baby. Both grans did stuff out of necessity, make do and mend I suppose you would say.

When I was young (about 6-9) I remember going to Grandma's and she had lines of bottled fruit in her pantry, jars of jam under the stairs in the dark. She always had a stash of bags of sugar and packets of tea in there, bought when a penny cheaper! She would go to all the different supermarkets and get things at the best price. I remember she was an early user of a freezer, a real boon to her, much easier than bottling all that fruit. She started to get a half pig or a lamb sometimes too. Everything was baked fresh, veg from her garden and so on.

I have the fondest memories of going with my mum, auntie over from Canada and their cousin, to clear out my gran's house after she died. The only thing we had to buy was fresh milk. And she had been out of the country for 5 months! There was fruit, veg, meat and so on, so plenty of food. Sideboard provided brandy for our coffee made from beans in the pantry (the house was 5C inside when we arrived.) chocolates. We made beds up all in one room downstairs and made up the fire (no central heating) and had a proper girly time! There was plenty of firewood and coal, so we were fine.

I'm a bit like that really! I always have a good freezer/pantry of stuff, as I hate 'having' to go shopping, so tend to 'shop from the freezer' to get what I want.

I am frugal most of the time. I didn't go back to full time work after the children came along, so part of my remit was always to make the money go as far as possible. Home made food of course! I made lots of clothes esp for dd when she was small and did all the curtains and so on myself. My gran and mum made us lots of dresses and jumpers when we were younger.

I don't take it to massive lengths like some, but on the other hand, what I can save on food and so on can be spent on other things. I try never to buy anything at full price!




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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  alec eiffel on Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:03 am

Thanks for sharing your stories everyone.

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  knitmylife on Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:34 am

that reminded of me when we had a day out this summer with my eldest dd and youngest dd plus baby we took a picnic with whatever was in the fridge plus drinks and a flask.

a family next to us with two adults two children and a baby bought pizza for everyone and it came to £30!!! they didnt even have a drink!!!!

my weekly shop was that xx
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  marciared on Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:11 am

I have always been frugal never had much money. I am trying to get back into work but I will only earn the minimum wage so still wont have much spare.
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  bildanto on Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:45 pm

I was brought up in a low income household as a child and when I started working full time I went a bit mad at first and overspent, never went into debt though if I hadn't got it I wouldn't buy it. After my second child was born I decided to be a SAHM so the lack of my wage which incidentally had been the greater of the two wages meant for the first time I had to start watching the pennies. Now nearly 11 years later I enjoy the challenge of living well on not a lot. I used to be snobbish about where I went food shopping not any more saying I wouldn't be able to get what I wanted from the cheaper stores well that has gone out of the window it is Aldi and Lidl and farmfoods for me, I spend so much less on clothing and I make an effort to reduce all my bills. Even if I came into the lottery now I think I am so entrenched in the mindset of being careful I wouldn't go overboard again.
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  TP on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:49 pm

what was your job bildanto?

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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

Post  bildanto on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:29 am

I worked in an office


Last edited by bildanto on Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:42 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : privacy)
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Re: Frugal through choice or necessity - what's your story?

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