The Freedom of Frugality

Growing up, frugality was more of a lifestyle than a choice. Even though my parents didn’t necessarily practice penny pinching with the environment in mind, many of their cost-saving practices were eco-friendly as well.  My sister and I thought that showering consisted of getting wet, turning off the water to “soap up” and then following with a quick rinse.  We flattened aluminum cans for the recycling bin and took the compost out without any realization that we were helping the environment.  However, through the practice of penny pinching we did learn that our resources are precious.

baby-beach-walk.jpgAlthough it may sound like I lived a horribly deprived childhood, the truth is that many of our thrifty practices were quite adventurous. Instead of going to Maui, my family spent our vacations camping in Oregon rainforests or visiting relatives, where we often set up sleeping bags on the living room floor.  On car trips we had picnics at rest areas rather than swinging through fast food restaurants.  No one in my family ever belonged to a gym, but we enjoyed nightly moonlit family beach walks near my home to stay healthy and enjoy the outdoors. 

Roscoe Goes Beachwalking 

Now that I’m in my mid thirties, I’ve learned to appreciate my quirky saving skills and all the benefits they’ve brought to me over the years. Having the ability to prioritize my values and then differentiate between wants and needs has been an extremely helpful skill.  I was able to pay off huge graduate school loans in four years on a starting teacher’s salary because of extreme (and sometimes neurotic) tightwaddery. Most of the time, all that penny pinching had huge advantages for the environment as well.  I biked for transportation whenever possible and bought most of my clothing at thrift shops.  To cut grocery costs, I ate very little meat and rarely purchased convenience foods.

As a parent, I find that all that self-restraint ends up providing personal freedom in more ways than one. Financially, it has allowed us the freedom to take more time with our son and relax about the costs of having a child.  We want to model thriftiness and living simply right from the start with Roscoe.

With that in mind, we outfitted most of Roscoe’s nursery with used furniture, dress him in quality hand-me-downs and use cloth diapers.  Roscoe doesn’t eye his crib with disdain and will never care that another soul has worn his clothes before him, but the cost savings are phenomenal.


Even though as a teenager I swore I would live a more luxurious life someday, I now have a great appreciation for my frugal roots.  When Roscoe grows up a bit and resents the simple life, I’ll remind myself that in the long run, we’re giving him the gift of self-reliance, self-restraint, and an environment that’s just a little bit cleaner.

Roscoe Enjoys Cost-Free Fun on The Playground Slide 


  1. Hi! I LOVE your site. I came across it through Lindsay Kelly, who I’ve roped into reading my blog. Thanks for all the great suggestions! 🙂

  2. Being satisfied with the simple things can stop you getting into debt in our buy-now-pay-later consumerist society. 😉

  3. Excellent – especially the part that lets you relax about being a parent, instead of being nuts about costs. I’m appalled when I see those studies that say, “Wait, don’t have kids it costs $millions.” Very nice piece on living the good life – I’ll link this up in my ED round ups tomorrow.

  4. Kudos to you. I wish more people shared this point of view.

    These are the kinds of things my husband and I are doing in preparation for the arrival of our baby this summer. I’m currently struggling with the issue of baby showers. I love that people want to buy us things, but I prefer to get things used. People wanting to buy us baby gifts are somewhat befuddled by this.

    Also, I’m shocked with how many things people think you NEED for your baby. It seems that if they make it, people think you need it. We are hoping to minimize the toys and baby gear we buy for our little one.

    I’m enjoying your blog. I posted a link to it on my blog in my post today.


  1. […] Thrift, and how it has helped our family reprioritize and have more time together. […]

  2. […] was born into a family of cheapskates. At one point in my life this was a huge drag, but the older I get, the more I appreciate my […]

Speak Your Mind