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January 2024--Frugal Siblings by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.

Updated: Jan 30

My Daddy used to preach, "Money doesn't grow on TREES." However, after 75 years of life, I'm afraid I have to disagree, even though he and my mother were survivors of The Great Depression in the 1930s. And why would I say that? Well, money does grow on trees if you know how to save and not spend. So here is what my three baby-boomer siblings, Marjorie, Bob, and Becky, have to say after observing our Mom and Dad live frugally for all those years.

1. Do you feel you had a frugal upbringing?

Marjorie--"Frugality is a fun challenge."


Becky--"Carefully, but not overly frugal."

2. In what ways were you raised frugally?

Marjorie-- "Keep money in the bank vault."

Bob--" As Marjorie stated, we were instructed to save and never had fancy clothing or possessions. For the girls, there were lots of hand-me-downs. And we were also encouraged to work and find ways to earn money to buy our unique items. I was required to make all college spending money and had to pay one-half of my medical school tuition. I learned to pay debts or bills to others before buying items for myself. "

Becky--"Dad loved nothing more than a bargain, so he shopped at bargain stores. Mom bought vegetables in bulk in the summer at the farmer's market. They were both very organized and took care of everything, so stuff lasted. Going out to dinner was a treat; if

we did, it was to the local cafeteria. By the time I was in High School, Mom and Dad were more comfortable and not overly austere. I never felt like I went without, but neither were our parents extravagant."

3. How did this thrifty upbringing shape you?

Marjorie--"Take care of what you have."

Bob-- "Money, for the most part, was a by-product of hard work and work well done and not a coveted goal in my life."

Becky--"I don't like to shop except for food. I think that is more my personality than a result of my frugal upbringing. Mother loved to shop, especially for clothes."

4. How has being raised frugally affected the way you are now living? Explain?

Marjorie-- "Be as organized as you can."

Bob-- "I can enjoy very nice things in life, but do not seek the best and finest material items to find happiness. The finer items in my life are lovely but do not define who I am. I am just as happy having a clean, cheaper motel room than spending larger amounts on a luxury hotel, which I do not do except on rare occasions when required for a meeting. The exceptions are that my wife and I have a nice house and own two nice cars. We also carry very little debt because we buy items when we can afford them and when we can pay for them quickly. We live within our means and do not seek to impress others with an impression of being wealthy."

Becky--"I don't remember when I didn't look at price tags. I always go to the sale rack first. In junior high, I started shopping for clothes at our hometown's local clothing discount shop, The Bazaar. There was such pride in finding a nice outfit for very little. I still have that in me. I also married a man who is extremely careful with money. (He was raised frugally in a sibling group of five boys.) My husband and I were self-employed and, therefore, had no extra benefits from work for most of our lives. So, discussions about spending have always been a common topic in our household. A lifetime of living within our means has made this senior citizen phase of life more secure. We have been debt-free for 15 years."

5. What are your final thoughts?

Becky--"Avoid debt if you can. Pay off credit cards. Buy used cars."

So there you have the actual testimonies of my thrifty siblings. One remarkable aspect about growing up frugally is that one passes it on to their offspring, as evidenced by the above blog title. One sad example I learned about NOT growing up frugally is that you don't know how to cut back when times are lean. Unfortunately, I've seen many friends run through inheritances or divorce money because, as they shared, "I never learned to be frugal growing up." Living frugally and teaching our family members likewise is a vital life skill worth knowing.

Marjorie Bob Martha Becky

Proverbs 21:20

"Precious treasure remains in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it."


Martha Wild King, M.Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.

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