Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Frugality is Simplicity

When I think of frugality and how we started down that path, I realize that it is really simplicity. Back in the 1950's and 1960's, it was a simpler time.

Breakfasts consisted of oatmeal, eggs, sometimes bacon, pancakes or an occasional sweet treat like a coffee cake. 

Lunches were egg or tuna salad sandwiches, bologna or liverwurst sandwiches, soup and grilled cheese and occasionally that dreaded "cooked liver" because it "had iron and is good for you".

Dinners were a small portion of meat weighing about 3 oz., a piece of boiled potato and a veggie. We had creamed corn a lot. To this day I can't stomach it. On Fridays, we had crab meat salad, stewed tomatoes, tuna salad, macaroni and cheese and occasionally a piece of fried fish purchased at the corner fish store. We sometimes had coleslaw or French fries with it. 

Not everyone owned cars so corner stores were prevalent. We did finally get a small supermarket in my teen years. If people did own cars, they mainly used them to go to work.

That was because we had so many things delivered to our home. The Freihofer bread man came in a horse drawn cart with bread, breakfast coffee cakes, sheet cakes and cookies. The milk man brought milk a couple of times a week. Another man brought his wagon which had a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. The knife sharpener man came every few weeks to sharpen knives and scissors. My mom even purchased some of our clothes from a truck that delivered them from their store. You would go right on the truck, look at what he had that day and make your purchase. I loved that truck. I always had hand me down clothes from my older cousin who lived downstairs. When Mr. Tezbir would come with that truck, my mom would buy me something new and I cherished those clothes. The insurance man came to the house to pick up the monthly premium. The Dr. even came to the house when we were sick.  All of these delivery trucks were just the norm back then.

Public transportation was either city buses or taxis. Once every couple of months, we would go downtown on the bus with my mom for shopping and lunch. When we got a little older, we could go with friends or a sibling. Otherwise you just walked to wherever you had to go that was in the vicinity of where we lived.

My days as a girl, when I wasn't in school consisted of roller skating on the sidewalks, biking, playing jump rope, building forts up in the woods, catching crabs in the creek, playing in the cemetery, reading, ice skating, playing tennis, and many hours playing board games. I think that is why I still love board games to this day. Three or four of us would spend a Saturday on the front porch playing Monopoly.

We had one of the first black and white TV's but we didn't watch it much. There was only programming a few hours a day and not much of it was kid friendly.

We spent our summers on Saratoga Lake swimming,  fishing, skiing and out on the lake in friend's boats. I still have some friends that I keep in touch with from those days. 

When I think of those days, they are fond and distant memories of simple times with entertainment that wasn't overly expensive. Food wasn't plentiful but it was probably the right portions for good health. We should all eat the way we did in those days.

We didn't have huge wardrobes. A few pants and tops sufficed for play and perhaps a dress or two for dressy events like taking ballroom dancing lessons. Wash was hung outside on the clothesline even on the freezing and snowy days. It was just left out there until it dried. I still have memories of my grandmother bringing in clothing off the clothesline that was so stiff, you could almost stand it up.

What  I realize as I think back on it is that my Mom and grandparents were frugal people. They did things simply and spent as little money as possible.

Time has gone by but things haven't changed a lot in our household. I still try to cook simple meals. In the winter, I cook heavier skillet and casserole dishes. But the rest of the year, a piece of meat and a veggie will suffice. For example, last night, I cooked 4 large sausages filled with red and green peppers and cheese inside of them. Our local Niagara Produce makes them and our son who picks up some of his meat and veggies there every Sunday gifted them to us yesterday. I served one for each of us on rolls with sauteed onions. That is all we ate. Tonight we will have the leftover sausages. Usually we have a piece of meat with a salad or veggie or fruit for dinner. We have potatoes occasionally but not all of the time. Our meat portions are almost back to what we ate in the 1960's. It's healthier and I spend a lot less for meat than I used to. Sometimes, we just have sandwiches like we will tomorrow tonight - BLT's. 

From now until October most of our meals will be grilled outside. A piece of meat and some sauteed veggies will fill us up. By keeping it simple we spend less money.

Our breakfasts are pretty much like they were in the 1960's and our lunches are usually inexpensive sandwiches, salads, or a snack.

I am not buying any clothes for us this year because we have plenty. Over the past few years I have cut my wardrobe down to mostly a few jeans and shorts, and about 15 tops. I have a couple of dressy things but they only get worn once every couple of years. I know what I will wear every day so it's simple. I still hang laundry to dry most of the time but not outside in the winter. I use racks to dry them.

We live in a rural area so we don't have public transportation. But we only use our car a couple of days a week. The car is over 3 years old now and we just turned 17,000 miles. Most of that mileage has been put on going across the state to visit family.

We don't have the delivery trucks today but Amazon Prime is perfect for most of what we need. We have so many more choices for food and competition keeps our out of pocket lower. 

We play board games and cards, read, do crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. We have the advantage of having movies come into our home via the TV and Netflix and Amazon Prime. We have cable TV with a lot more programming than our ancestors could have even imagined. We have computers, laptops, tablets, etc. My Mom back in the 1960's worked using the huge IBM computers if anyone remembers those. I used a Commodore 64 when they came out in the 1970's and my sons played Pong and Pacman with an Atari.

As kids we played outside a lot. We are not kids anymore but we try to get outdoors in the nice months and soak up the sunshine and fresh air. We walk, work in the yard, or just sit and talk. Sometimes we just go and enjoy the beauty of the Great Lakes.

Another thing our ancestors did is fix things themselves. They avoided hiring help at all costs. We  have been since the 1960's a Do It Yourself family. Hubby or I fix whatever we can and only hire out when we can't find a way to do it or Hubby's bad back makes it physically impossible. Having the internet today, you can learn to do most any repair.  

Basically we live simply and stay home a lot because 99% of what we do or need, we can do or order at home. I have made our home comfortable and beautiful so that we enjoy it every day.

So living simply is really frugality! All of the money that we don't spend, we can invest so that we can live our financially independent lives without the worry of money.

So many young people today are saving huge percentages of their incomes( 60-70%) every month  for 10-15 years and retiring early in their 30's. They want to live their lives doing something besides commuting and working to satisfy a boss all day long. I say bravo to them. They are doing it by being extremely frugal so that they can fulfill their dreams. Have you thought what simple living and frugality could do for your dreams?


  1. Loved hearing about your childhood! I didn't realize there were so many home deliveries. When I was very young, we had a milk man leave milk on a cooler on our porch, but I didn't know about the bread, produce, knife and clothes deliveries...how cool! I didn't think about Amazon providing the same services today, and that made me laugh.
    Sounds like a fun childhood! Sometimes I think that I was born during the wrong decade as I would have loved the 50's.
    Oh my husband has fond memories of playing Pong.
    Thanks for the glimpse into your life.
    Wish that we had been able to save so much in our 30's, but just have to do our best now.

    1. Hi Kathy,

      I did have a great childhood. My generation didn't even have an idea that we could retire that young through saving 70% of our income. We were happy to become FI at 54. Keep saving and you will be someday too.