There is some background foundation I feel is necessary to share for my frugalness to make sense. My parents did it to me! LOL!! Seriously, they both grew up very poor. An example from my mother's upbringing is that when she married and moved out of the home they still did not have an indoor toilet! Yikes! I can not even imagine! They were a small family with only three children, so I am not sure what the circumstance were that lead to their poverty, but I am certain it had a huge impact on my mother's goals for her life. My father came from a family of eight children and grew up in the pulp wood business. He was packing a chainsaw at an age when most of us were still playing with toys. By his Junior year of highschool he was working full time in the pulp wood business to help support the family. Together my parents were some fit!! One thing I am sure of is that neither of them wanted to raise their families in poverty.... and they didn't. What they did do was instill in their children (2) a very clear sense of money and living within your means. They opened a Savings Account for each of us when I was eight years old and taught us to save and not spend everything we got. Our lives were not built on debt. Of course, my mother has mentioned to me before that early on in their marriage they did accumulate some debt and they had to formulate a plan to get out of debt. They still did the normal things like get a loan to buy new cars and such, but my dad worked extra to try to pay those debts off early. They saved money and paid cash and worked hard to build our home. When I was seven years old we moved into the home my daddy built (and without a mortgage). The only thing he contracted out was the brickwork, which they paid cash for. It was your standard 70's era ranch style brick home (3 bedroom, 2 bath, double carport/workshop). My dad was an Operator at Texaco Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. He always said, "Yes" to ANY overtime they offered him and he always worked holidays to get double pay (we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve). When the company would go on strike and my daddy was not working... well, he WAS working. He was never idle and without a job of sorts. He would find somethig to make money while we lived off their savings. I can remember him picking up aluminum cans and selling them for salvage and tearing down buildings just for the lumber. That lumber is the lumber that he built our home with. I remember many days of my daddy hammering the old nails out to prepare the lumber for builing our home. In fact, he had so much left in his barn that I used a portion of it to build and pay cash for my first home. Crazy, huh!? I can't even believe it sometimes. It is surely not of THIS WORLD. We are a spend it before you have it society, aren't we? But I was not raised that way and I pride myself on not becoming that way.
So, when I "came of age" I moved away for awhile, but I came back and started saving and building my first home... while I was a waitress and a bookkeeper. It took me three years!! ... but that was quick really. I mean, I made probably around $12,000 A YEAR. Other than gas money, car insurance, and other necessary expenses I would allow myself a whooping $20 to spend on the weekends. I used a Christmas Account to save throughout the year for gift giving. About half my lumber cost was free due to my daddy's hard work. Poor Cody met me right before I started building the house, so he got to be my free labor! ;)
And about Cody... he is my complete opposite! LOL! ...but he has adjusted and has become quite frugal himself. Poor guy!! We were both in college when we meet, but I couldn't stand college. I would rather work hard and make some money than worry about my grades everyday. Cody would rather chill his way through school and work about nine hours a week (compared to my 50+ hours)... COMPLETE OPPOSITES!! Once upon a time he wanted to be a Pediatrician, but somewhere along the way we decided that he could not handle baby saliva; therefore, he decided to become a teacher. Ha! Little did we know that he would get over that whole baby saliva thing and we would have so many kiddos! We could have saved a ton of money on doctor bills! Hmmm... I could afford to be less frugal. And that brings me to the current day reason I am so frugal.... because I HAVE TO BE! Because I believe in being a stay-at-home mom and because I believe my kids should have great things (nice clothes, fun toys, and fun times). That doesn't mean that I think they should have the best of everything, but they definitely do not want for much and when they do want for something I think it is a blessing. It is one of the best gifts you can give your children... to let them WANT something... to look forward to something... to desire something.... not to be given every desire upon the first request and especially, not to feel "entitled" to getting their requests met all the time. I know people that get their children something everytime they go to the store (~~not bashing anyone here~~) and those children expect it... they feel entitled to it. I just do not want that for my kids.
What I have learned is that my kids don't really care if they have everything new. They get just as excited about what they get as kids that get everything new. Kids adapt well to their surroundings. My kids actually like know that the things they get used have not gone to waste... they like to recycle. Funny really. We have several people that hand down clothing to my girls. Many times the stuff is like new. My kids get so excited because they get to wear "cousin Caitlyn's" or "cousin Ashton's" clothes. And I remember how much I loved to get my older cousins hand-me-down clothes when I was a kid. I never felt like it was second rate because I was so excited. It was fun!
And with toys... well, if we go to a yard sale or thrift store we let them "shop" and they love it. Now that does not mean they don't get new toys... they do... too many in my opinion. And you would be surprised at the new things that you can get secondhand. It is because we live in a time of excessiveness. People have too much to use it all (my family included). People just buy things as gifts to sort of meet a qouta. Grandparents (etc.) want to buy for the kids, but don't spend enough time with the kids to know what they like and just buy a bunch of random "stuff". That "stuff" becomes next months yard sale (at our house, also). A $50 dollar item gets sold in a yard sale for $5 and it is such a waste.... except when we get the bargain! LOL! Like today... I bought my kids three large floor puzzles and a Twister game. I also got a completely new and unused 3D folding paper dinosaur by Milton Bradley for 99 cents. Okay, so I had to through in some of my bargains... (I actually got a lot more, but I will spare you the details, but I get a lot of extra learning things for schooling for really cheap). Actually, it is quite fun, but I really do it to be frugal... to stretch our money out. It all comes back to this... I am a stay-at-home momma to FOUR kids and their daddy is a school teacher. If I want to stay home without an additional income of some sort it REQUIRES being frugal... or in debt. I don't see debt as an option.
And back to the house thing... I am sure you are wondering more about that, so I would like to touch on the high points here. By the time I was 23 (I think) I had built and paid cash for my first house. It was on my parent's land because they had 11 acres. It was small... about the size of an apartment, but it was all mine and all new and very well built... and very cute, if I don't say so myself. It was a one bedroom with one luxury... a walk-in closet! ;) Hey! A girl has to have the important stuff! There were five rooms: the living room was 12x14, the bedroom was 12x12, the kitchen was 12x12, the dining room was 8x12, and then a small bathroom. Anyway, it was about 300 square feet of living area with a six foot porch across the front. It was perfect for a single person or a young couple and it was made to be added on to as life changed. I lived there for a year by myself and then, Cody and I married and he moved in after dating for four years. After about three years we bought (or financed) a piece of land (8 acres) and had the house moved about 30 miles away. Five years after marrying we had our first child and brought her home to live in the little house. The dining room got transformed into her bedroom and we squeezed a dining table into the little kitchen. It was time to add on.... BUT, my daddy had had a five bypass heart surgery shortly after the house was moved and I decided that MY plan would have to change. My daddy was my "builder", but I was not going to risk his life to add on to that little house and we just could not do it without him. We put the house and land up for sale. When Savannah was 8 months old we got a buyer and found a house to buy. We closed on both on the same day. With what we sold the little house for we paid off the land and put $30, 000 cash down on our new (hundred year old) home. Did I mentioned the new home was a foreclosed home (yep, another bargain.... LOL!!)? We got it for almost half what is had sold for ten years prior to us buying it. It had sold for $120, 000 and the bank had it listed for $86, 000. We offered $78, 000 (not expecting them to take it)... they did... we put down our $30, 000 and financed the remaining $48, 000 and that is the ONLY debt we owe currently. I did do one thing that kind of breaks my "cheap rules"... we financed for double the length of time we thought we should on the advice of our realtor (30 years). I am glad we did because it gave us room to have unforeseen "financial breathing room". Our mortgage on a 3, 500 square foot home is ... drumroll please..... $311.33 a month! And yes, we pay more than that. To pay it off in 15 years we would need to pay $425. We vary what we pay because there have been some unforeseen things arise... replacing some rotten wood on the exterior, repainting this massive house, ripping up and replacing the kitchen floor (hidden under 3 layers of flooring), repainting every room, adding a fireplace, and purchased and additional 1/4 acre making our lot 1 full acre and half a city block... most of it NOT necessary, but we wanted to do it. And we have added a few kids to the mix! :) So, we have at times only paid our mortgage amount and at other times sent in an extra $20.... or paid the $425... or made a large payment of several thousand dollars from our income tax return. Now we pay $500 a month and I am dying to see how much income tax we will get back. My goal is to put half of it toward the mortgage and half of it in our savings account. We have a bigger goal.... to pay off the mortgage and be completely debt-free. I think we might be able to do it in the next couple of years and knock that 30 year mortgage down to a little over 10 years! Whooo hooo!! I'll keep you all posted on that one!
Wow! So much to add to this post.. maybe I should give it to you in a series.....
(and that's where I leave you hanging)