EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

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mariezzz
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our paernets and grandparents

Post by mariezzz »

sschullo wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:39 am
mariezzz wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:21 pm Grandparents never had cell phones. :D
My grandparents never had electricity. In 1938, 9 years before I was born, my parents installed electricity for the house, pump shed and the barn on our small family dairy farm in northern Wisconsin. In the 1940s, my dad bought his first electric starter tractor, Allis Chalmers C,(https://www.machinerypete.com/details/u ... c/19401018) and vacuum milking machines. He had up to 25 cows. We did not have an indoor bathroom and TV until 1955 when I was 8 years old.

80 years later my parent's grandson and his wife now have the farm which I was raised. They raised five children and milked 900 cows with 15 employees for years, and have no plans on retiring. Each cow has a computer chip which the computer reads their physical condition as they parade through the milking stations.

I learned all of my frugal thinking and practice from this environment.
No electrical wires running to farms was pretty typical at least into the 1950s. One set of grandparents had renewable energy into the early 1960s - they had batteries they charged at the windmill. No other electricity source. They also didn't have running hot water into early 1980s, when they sold the farm. Water was heated on the stove - didn't see the need for the expense of adding plumbing and hot water heater.
Other set of grandparents moved to a farm without indoor plumbing mid 1950s, but the first thing they did the following year (had to wait a bit because they used all their money buying the farm) was dig a trench, with pickaxe, to the windmill, to get water to the house, so they could have an indoor toilet. They did have electricity, and eventually, a party-line telephone (into the late 1970s).
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by stoptothink »

Even my grandparents weren't alive during the great depression, but I love these type of threads. I've pretty much done them all, including living without electricity, either during my childhood or while putting myself through 11yrs of school. I'm frugal, even by Boglehead standards, so some of this stuff I still do, but I'm only willing to subject my wife and kids to so much.

Reusing ziplocks bread bags,foil: check
Cold water showers: check
Hang-drying all laundry: check
Using yogurt containers as tupperware/bowls: check
Walking or riding bike everywhere: check
Sweaters, blankets instead of turning on heater (we have compromised all limits): check
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GerryL
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by GerryL »

BradJ wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:25 am Where we live, your sewer rate is based on your usage during the fall months. I have heard of people not flushing at the desired rate during that time for a cheaper rate.
"If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."
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GerryL
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by GerryL »

fru-gal wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:16 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:48 am - Keep soap remnants, all held together with elastic bands. Don't know how he combined them later.
If you take the old small piece of soap, you can attach it to the new bar when they're both wet, and it will stay attached.

Bottles of moisturizer, etc. are the worst for not being able to get everything out. I store them upside down when they're at that stage. They should be packaged in short jars instead.

Lots of hygiene and cosmetic products have wasted material you can't use, unless you dig it out and add it to new ones or keep it in a small dish.
I cut the plastic lotion bottles and tubes in half to reach all the goop that won't come out. It's a matter of principle.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by sschullo »

GerryL wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:45 am
BradJ wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:25 am Where we live, your sewer rate is based on your usage during the fall months. I have heard of people not flushing at the desired rate during that time for a cheaper rate.
"If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."
Oh yeah! the 70s during the energy crisis.
"We have seen much more money made and kept by “ordinary people” who were temperamentally well suited for the investment process than by those who lacked this quality." Ben Graham
ncbill
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by ncbill »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:48 am I suspect that the forum would not allow the length of my post re my FIL is I made a complete list... :D He was the true definition of a depression era child, turned into a hoarder, although his wife did not allow the living areas to be his collection areas...

Edit (added items):

- Prop open car hood with stick when working on engine because new hood struts cost money. Stick slips, lose fingers, oh well...
Yeah, I'm fixing up a nearly 25 year old Camry...my deceased relative was too cheap to replace the hood struts (~$20) or the stuck-open thermostat (OEM replacement under $20)...they must have been very uncomfortable during winter driving.

Still, I'm impressed with these Japan-built, 3rd-generation Camrys...fired right up after several months of just sitting...dead battery replaced under warranty (thank you, Interstate)
btenny
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by btenny »

My kids always laugh when I wash and reuse those zippered plastic bags and water bottles. I pay to have shoes and hand bags repaired. I still use my dads hammers and shovels that he used in 1930. I fixed my wife's avocado green can opener two month ago. We got it for a wedding present 50 years ago. She says it works better and looks nicer than the new one we bought for our vacation home. We finally got rid of our white velour sofa last year. It was never used much in our living room and then our den. I still have a few 45 rpm records and some reel to reel audio tapes and dozens of 33 rpm albums. My Mom bought 1/4 sides of beef and butchered it to save money. We were served tongue as my aunt liked it. We bought 3 day old bread direct from the bakery discount store. My Mom and sister and all their friends did their own hair coloring and curling. No way would they pay to have that done. It drove Dad and I nuts with the smell.

I keep old pictures in paper form. One of the best is a old picture from 1912. It shows my granddad and grandma and two giant black mules in front of their log cabin. My dad (age 7) is riding one mule and his brother is on the other mule and his older sister is holding the reins. Grandma is holding my Dads baby sister.
Last edited by btenny on Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
hudson
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by hudson »

I asked my mother about living through the depression; she said that because they lived on a small farm that it didn't impact her that much. There was always plenty of vegetables, milk, meat, and chicken. Her father had some property in a big nearby city. A dentist couldn't pay but there was no charge for dental services. Her father ended up losing all of his rentals because the renters couldn't pay.

My grandparents had only one vehicle. They walked to the grocery store and anything within two miles.
The doorknobs in the kitchen were packed with rubber bands. My grandfather never had any bank accounts; he kept his savings in a safe deposit box.

I saw my grandmother displaying and counting out a three inch stack of savings bonds. I assume that was part of her retirement plan.

My father said that he and his mother would live in a motel. She would clean rooms and her pay was no-charge for her room.

My mother, mother-in-law, and father-in-law lived a frugal lifestyle...all three were strongly influenced by growing up during the depression. My dad had a few stories, but he showed no signs of being frugal.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our paernets and grandparents

Post by randomguy »

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:49 pm
foamypirate wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:30 pm My in-laws (in their mid-50s now) washed and reused ziplock bags, until they split a seam. They have nearly $1 million in investments, and still wash and reuse to this day.
Presumably habits like those led to their having nearly one million dollars in investments.

PJW
Or habits like these are why they aren't worth 2 million since they wasted time on them instead of developing valuable skills😀 Besides frugal people don't have ziplock bags to wash. They are way to expensive.
btenny
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by btenny »

Actually frugal people buy steaks in bulk at low cost and repackage them in plastic to save money but still eat well. Plus most of us worked our a** off to get BS and MS or more college degrees so our skills are just fine. And we put our kids though college and pay for it so they have no debt to start their lives. And we use those zipper bags to keep leftovers for a nice lunch.

Good Luck.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our paernets and grandparents

Post by minesweep »

foamypirate wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:30 pm My in-laws (in their mid-50s now) washed and reused ziplock bags, until they split a seam. They have nearly $1 million in investments, and still wash and reuse to this day.
In today's world it's not just about saving money. For some consumers, it's about being green. With millions of tons plastic being dumped into the oceans and landfills every year it could be that some consumers are just feeling guilty, so they reuse those plastic zip-lock bags. It makes them feel good about doing something for the environment, even if it's just a small token gesture.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy - John Bogle | Learn every day, but especially from the experiences of others, it's cheaper! - John Bogle
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Glockenspiel »

Every things free wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:03 am I grew up in the cold of North Dakota. Lots of ketchup sandwiches. Simply white bread with ketchup.
Kim
I grew up in the cold of rural Minnesota and my parents made ketchup hotdish. Ketchup (a substitute for pasta sauce), macaroni noodles, ground beef (a luxury), and ground pepper. Not as bad as ketchup sandwiches, but your post reminded me of my childhood.
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dm200
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by dm200 »

Glockenspiel wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:21 pm
Every things free wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:03 am I grew up in the cold of North Dakota. Lots of ketchup sandwiches. Simply white bread with ketchup.
Kim
I grew up in the cold of rural Minnesota and my parents made ketchup hotdish. Ketchup (a substitute for pasta sauce), macaroni noodles, ground beef (a luxury), and ground pepper. Not as bad as ketchup sandwiches, but your post reminded me of my childhood.
Oh, yes - one of the things my mother and grandmother also canned was "Chili Sauce" (what they called it) - used instead of commercial catsup. It was not very spicy at all.
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Watty
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Watty »

On washing plastic bags.

I can remember having my school lunch sandwich wrapped in wax paper or wax paper bags.

No fancy plastic for us!
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dm200
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by dm200 »

Watty wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:35 pm On washing plastic bags.

I can remember having my school lunch sandwich wrapped in wax paper or wax paper bags.

No fancy plastic for us!
What ever happened to using wax paper?
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dm200
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by dm200 »

My maternal grandparents had relatives from "the city" (about 30 miles away). The "city relatives" often had usable clothing (dressy for farm folks) my mother and grandparents would accept. Then, my mother and her parents would return the favor with low or no cost fruits and vegetables from the farm.
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Will do good
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Will do good »

dm200 wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:21 am
fru-gal wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:16 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:48 am - Keep soap remnants, all held together with elastic bands. Don't know how he combined them later.
If you take the old small piece of soap, you can attach it to the new bar when they're both wet, and it will stay attached.
I do that now.
Me too :oops:
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Texanbybirth »

Will do good wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:53 pm
dm200 wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:21 am
fru-gal wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:16 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:48 am - Keep soap remnants, all held together with elastic bands. Don't know how he combined them later.
If you take the old small piece of soap, you can attach it to the new bar when they're both wet, and it will stay attached.
I do that now.
Me too :oops:
I use a bar of soap until it literally disappears in my hands.

I can also get at least two sandwiches worth of mayonnaise/peanut butter/whatever out of the jar when everyone else in the house is done with it. (I learned that one from my dad.)

I'm NOT an EXTREMELY frugal person, in my own humble opinion. I guess these are just habits I picked up as a kid and haven't let go of.
“The strong cannot be brave. Only the weak can be brave; and yet again, in practice, only those who can be brave can be trusted, in time of doubt, to be strong.“ - GK Chesterton
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Time2Quit
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Time2Quit »

Watty wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:13 am When I was a kid we lived in the suburbs and my parents would order half a cow and we would fill the freezer with meat.

We ate a LOT more meat in those days than people do now.
We still order 1/2 a cow and a some times a pig to fill the freezers. This way we know what kind of meat we are getting and the conditions they were raised in.
"It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor." --Seneca
btenny
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by btenny »

One of our recent frugal things is buying fire roasted salsa style tomatoes in a can.
It is about $1.30. We use it instead of the $3 to $4 Picante (or other brand) salsa in a jar that everyone sells. It is a great taste and just the right amount of spicy.

When I went to upper grade school we lived in town and I took my lunch in a kids metal lunch box. I was uptown in those days. It had a Tupperware sandwich carrier. My sandwiches were mostly peanut butter and jelly or maybe spam or a can of Vienna sausages. And some fruit.

When I was in lower grade school I went to a one room school with 12 kids and 8 grades. It was a little white school house. Half the kids in school spoke Spanish. We got a cooked hot meal for lunch delivered by the ranch cook.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by basspond »

Processing animals from shooting in pen or chopping off head, skinning (I remember the warmth of the body heat on my hands on a cold day), processing and having a smoke house for sausage.

No running water, kept water in sink all day to wash hands.

Made gruel for pets or table scraps

Used baling wire and a pair of pliers for a lot of repairs.

Used everything until it would go no more.

Stayed married even when they were sleeping in separate rooms.
fru-gal
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by fru-gal »

btenny wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:03 pm
When I was in lower grade school I went to a one room school with 12 kids and 8 grades. It was a little white school house. Half the kids in school spoke Spanish. We got a cooked hot meal for lunch delivered by the ranch cook.
Another one room school person, but too early for there being a lot of Spanish speakers.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Smoke »

Parents grew up during the depression, although specific things elude my memory, I always remember the pervasive attitude of scrimping and saving on anything. We lived in Queens/Brooklyn NY, Grand parents had 8 kids, ran their own business out of their living room putting up flagpoles by hand. Think wooden telephone pole types.
My Grand mother and her sister would take us shopping and they "Never" bought anything for full value. Haggle Haggle Haggle. I think they loved doing it. It was an art form to them. Something I would never do and have never done.

Banks and stock market were never to be trusted, hence every one in my family G-Parents Aunts Uncles and my Parents passed with nothing at the end, always scraped by their whole life.

Strangely enough both my Brother and I both got into investing, but because of growing up in a family with those attitudes we both can make the "Indian ride the Buffalo" to this day.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.
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dm200
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by dm200 »

My Grand mother and her sister would take us shopping and they "Never" bought anything for full value. Haggle Haggle Haggle. I think they loved doing it. It was an art form to them. Something I would never do and have never done.
That was never part of my family "culture" - and was criticized. They believed in charging a fair price - and being charged one as well. Not that they didn't look for "bargains".
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Smoke »

dm200 wrote: Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:06 am
My Grand mother and her sister would take us shopping and they "Never" bought anything for full value. Haggle Haggle Haggle. I think they loved doing it. It was an art form to them. Something I would never do and have never done.
That was never part of my family "culture" - and was criticized. They believed in charging a fair price - and being charged one as well. Not that they didn't look for "bargains".
I agree about a fair price, and I will walk away from a deal if the price is too high. Even if afterwards they come back with a lower price, then I know they were trying to gouge me and will not do business with them.
I think the Haggle thing was more of a inter city thing, unlike in the countryside. After all it takes two sides to Haggle.
I can recall my Grandmother inspecting an article of clothing and putting it back on the counter and telling the store owner behind the counter it was too much, turning and walking to the door and the store owner calling them back with a lower price.
Sometimes this would go on 2 or three times, till the price got lowered enough.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.
Workinprogress
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Workinprogress »

Smoke wrote: Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:57 am Strangely enough both my Brother and I both got into investing, but because of growing up in a family with those attitudes we both can make the "Indian ride the Buffalo" to this day.
That is a good one that I have never heard before. Thanks for sharing.
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Taylor Larimore
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Bogleheads:

When I was young (6-19) my dad was manager of the Miami Laundry. Once or twice a year he would take me to the company's "service department." There I could have my choice of clothing that was not picked-up by its owner.

For many years I wore only used clothing and was very happy. I like to be neat and clean but I never buy expensive clothing, shoes, accessories or designer labels.

Best wishes
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
btenny
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by btenny »

Fru-gal. Where was your school? My one room school was in southern Arizona along the Gila river. It was in the middle of nowhere and still is today. Think 20 miles to a paved road and no people. That area was Mexico until about 1848 and the Gadsden purchase. So there are indigenous Hispanic and Indian families that have been there forever. Plus we had Mexican braceros working for us on our farm. So we had a camp for the workers and their families. Those kids went to my school. We were there because my Dad bought some land and homesteaded some more land to build a big farm. The kids liked it. My Mom hated it. We had a outdoor shower and a big two room house. It was an open floor plan. But we had TV via a 40 foot or so antenna. I remember rotating and aiming the antenna to get a better picture so we could watch Ed Sullivan. So the kids I thought it was fun and we were happy. But it was really hard work for my parents.

My parents and aunts and uncles suffered greatly during the depression. They lost the family farms. My Moms father died in late 1929, my Dads father died in 1935. So the families lost a lot. My parents and aunts and uncles migrated to California and the west like the Grapes of Wrath story to start over.

Good Luck.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by bearcub »

Reuse the tea bag if having more than one cup. :beer
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by pdavi21 »

I don't do any of these things, and I am one of the lowest spenders on this forum.

I mostly just over analyze my expenses and choose to go without most stuff (i.e. new clothes, multiple cars, eating out, home upgrades, healthcare, paid entertainment, etc.).

We are really blessed to live in a time when spending below the federal poverty level actually yields a pretty luxurious lifestyle thanks to technological innovation.
"We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity." -Stephen Hawking
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by chestnut »

GerryL wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:49 am
fru-gal wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:16 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:48 am - Keep soap remnants, all held together with elastic bands. Don't know how he combined them later.
If you take the old small piece of soap, you can attach it to the new bar when they're both wet, and it will stay attached.

Bottles of moisturizer, etc. are the worst for not being able to get everything out. I store them upside down when they're at that stage. They should be packaged in short jars instead.

Lots of hygiene and cosmetic products have wasted material you can't use, unless you dig it out and add it to new ones or keep it in a small dish.
I cut the plastic lotion bottles and tubes in half to reach all the goop that won't come out. It's a matter of principle.
After emptying by keeping the lotion upside down, I fill it with hot water multiple times in the shower and rinse my body with it - excellent moisturizer.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our paernets and grandparents

Post by ladycat »

sschullo wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:39 am
mariezzz wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:21 pm Grandparents never had cell phones. :D
.... In the 1940s, my dad bought his first electric starter tractor, Allis Chalmers C,(https://www.machinerypete.com/details/u ... c/19401018) and vacuum milking machines.
Small world. My grandfather worked at Allis Chalmers, I'm guessing during the late 30s - 50s.
mancich
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by mancich »

I love these threads too. My parents divorced in 1977, and we lived with my Mom. She stayed in the house and had to work two jobs, despite getting financial support from my Dad. My mother could make a dime go further than anyone I have ever seen, which is why I am so frugal and track my spending carefully, despite our comfortable income. Fun thread, thanks
lexie2000
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by lexie2000 »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:48 am
- Carefully unwrap presents to save wrapping paper.

We:


OMG, I forgot all about this until I read the post. My mom made us unwrap all our Christmas gifts very carefully so that she could reuse the paper and the bows.

My mom always made her grocery list dependent on what was on sale that week and stocked up when she could get something at a really great price (something I picked up from her and still have a tendency to do today).

I never drank "normal" milk until I went off to college in mid-70s. We always drank powdered milk. We never drank orange juice in the morning. We were either given the syrup from canned fruit as our "juice" or we were given Tang.

Eggs were always fried in bacon grease that was saved from the occasional times we'd get bacon - this was actually tastier than eggs fried in oil.

Bread was always purchased at the bakery outlet shop.

My mom reused baggies, foil, cottage cheese containers (to store leftovers), etc. One year I bought and gave her Tupperware as a gift (so she could easily see what leftovers she had in the fridge), yet she continued to use her cottage cheese containers instead of the Tupperware. :confused

She also saved rubber bands, twist ties, paper clips, pens, pencils, paper, paper, and more paper. She would cut 3x5 sized cards out of Christmas cards she received to use as recipe cards, etc.

I know that there are tons more examples, but I have been out of the house for over 40 years and have mental-pause - I can't remember them.

My mom was born in 1926, will be 93 years old this summer, and still has a hard time shaking her frugal ways despite her high net worth.
lexie2000
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by lexie2000 »

Sorry, I kind of screwed up the quote in my previous post and I don't know how to correct it.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Colorado13 »

dm200 wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:13 pm
Glockenspiel wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:21 pm
Every things free wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:03 am I grew up in the cold of North Dakota. Lots of ketchup sandwiches. Simply white bread with ketchup.
Kim
I grew up in the cold of rural Minnesota and my parents made ketchup hotdish. Ketchup (a substitute for pasta sauce), macaroni noodles, ground beef (a luxury), and ground pepper. Not as bad as ketchup sandwiches, but your post reminded me of my childhood.
Oh, yes - one of the things my mother and grandmother also canned was "Chili Sauce" (what they called it) - used instead of commercial catsup. It was not very spicy at all.
I had forgotten about the ketcup! The hotdish was common in our household growing up, but spices were not. I grew up eating very bland food and not even really knowing how to use spices on my food...
n00b
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by n00b »

Thanks for the memories of ketchup sandwiches and rubber bands on the doorknobs!

My grandmother would recycle holiday cards by gluing a fresh piece of scrap paper over what had already been written on the inside before writing her note. :)

She also washed paper towels in the washing machine so that she could reuse them.
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by nhdean »

I wouldn't say this was being frugal, but more security from living through the depression. My Grandparents were born in 1903 and 1912. They were starting out during the depression. After losing his garage and Hudson and Willy's dealership because of the war, he bought his first farm. As a kid there were two wall freezers always filled with food in addition to the normal food they kept on hand. During Easter we always got an Easter basket and on top was always a silver dollar. I never realized why until I was much older. I don't think they were trying tone frugal. I just think they always wanted to make sure their family were taken care of regardless of the situation at hand. Looking back, I consider them lucky to do as well as they had given the circumstances. They were able to bounce back from losing just about everything. They always seemed have an answer to any situation that arose.
littlebird
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by littlebird »

dm200 wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:37 pm
Watty wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:35 pm On washing plastic bags.

I can remember having my school lunch sandwich wrapped in wax paper or wax paper bags.

No fancy plastic for us!
What ever happened to using wax paper?
I still use wax paper. It was saved from obsolescence just in time -so I’ve heard - by the invention of the microwave oven, in which aluminum foil can’t be used.
Raabe34
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Raabe34 »

I lived a couple blocks away from my depression era grandparents in an extremely small town and we can check a whole lot of those boxes.

The one I can add and I didn't realize it until adulthood but we spent a ton of time over there. They were our babysitters most of the time and stayed the night frequently(my grandpa is still my favorite person I've ever met, sorry rest of family) and when we bathed my younger sister went first, then me, then grandma, then grandpa in the bath with the same water the whole time, this was during the 80's. They had the water but didn't want to "waste" it.
eddot98
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by eddot98 »

This thread, though at times funny, just makes me sad. Before my father died, he told me that my mother would be okay financially if he died first. That’s about the only time I knew anything sort of specific about my parents’ financial affairs, until my mother died some 15 years after my father did. Well, was he wrong. As Executor of her “estate”, I found out exactly the extremes my mother went to in order to stay afloat financially. A granddaughter basically bilked my mother out of the little bit of money that she had from a quarter of her mother’s house that was left to her, so my mother played the 0% interest balance transfer game with credit cards, mostly to keep the granddaughter’s horse lifestyle going. Why the banks gave credit cards to a 75 to 80 year old widow with no assets and a home that she didn’t own and was living in under a Life Estate, I will never know. She probably transferred balances 6 or 7 times without paying interest until it finally caught up to her a few years before she died. Then, she made the minimum payments. Luckily, she was the only card owner, so since she had only a life Insurance policy to bury her, the debts, about $20,000, died with her.

My mother was as honest as anyone and probably felt that she wasn’t doing anything wrong, but it certainly was extreme.
UKFred
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by UKFred »

One of my uncles used to borrow the previous day's newspaper from a neighbour and read it. One day I offered to give him that day's paper and my uncle refused, saying that he wouldn't have anything to read the next day.
HIinvestor
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by HIinvestor »

We refused to get touch tone for our home landline phone because it would have been an extra charge and pulse was just fine with us. Finally, our local hone company gave us a package deal—touchtone phone, landline, dsl internet and basic cable for one price that was lower than we had been paying for these items unbundled so we finally gave in and have touchtone!

Of course, nowadays having a landline plus cell phones is extravagant and many folks cancel the landline. We have a package and like having the copper wire landline in case we have a power outage (which we gave with sone regularity); the wired landline works during outages. We told them when they switch our phone to digital, we will cancel service as it won’t work during outages.

I refuse to buy business cards as does H; we print them as needed instead.

H does our yardwork and most of our home maintenance. We did hire a company to take down our huge trees and haul away the debris.

H’s family raised animals to eat—chicks, rabbits. My family never raised and slaughtered animals, but ate reconstituted powdered milk and scrambled eggs. To this day, I much prefer drinking water over any powdered milk, and taking a calcium pill.
SGM
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by SGM »

Hiring drunks to work the farm which was far from the nearest stores. They worked a few weeks until they had enough money to go on a binge. When they ran out of money they came back to the farm to earn enough for the next binge. The workers never saved a dime and had no vehicles of their own (thank goodness).

Gaining a city wide reputation in the 1940s thru 60s as someone who would haul any throw away material from the destruction of a home, mansion or stable to reuse as a builder. Materials included bricks, good wood, intact walls and floors, windows, doors etc.

Moved whole cabin to the farm to make a home for the bookkeeper who worked for sixty years and still lives in the home. Outside walls of the former cabin is lined with rocks from clearing fields for planting crops.

Made own butter and cream. Owned a hotel that was an early version of assisted living. Any food left over from the restaurant was brought home to feed the family. Any food not eaten fed to the pigs.

Buying day old bread and used green cars with Parks Dept written on the doors.
zeal
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by zeal »

A lot of previous posts cover some of the things I do, which I learned from my parents. They are baby boomers, while 3/4 of my grandparents all served in the military during the war. Here are some of the things my parents do and things I do as well:

-Rather walk around in the dark than turn on a light--use natural light during the day, and once it gets too dark to see then just go to bed. Lights and electricity in general are always used sparingly.
-Almost never buy fruits and vegetables. They have a large vegetable garden which they share with neighbors in times of plenty. There are also wild apples, cherries, and berries that grow around the yard.
-Bartering--my dad is a self-employed contractor and doesn't always work for money. My mom is an excellent baker. They'll often build/bake things for neighbors as gifts but also in exchange for things, like the neighbors will care for their home and pets while they travel to visit family.
-In the winter, since using the woodstove for heat anyway, they'll use it as a stovetop for cooking meals too.
-Men pee outside, far from the house. Toilets aren't flushed until there's something brown in them.

These aren't really extremes, but sensible ways to save money and enjoy life. That said, I did some more extreme things while in college to save money when I got my first apartment... Never used lights/TV, cold showers only unless I showered at the gym, used the bathroom at other places as much as possible to save water/sewer costs, I would even pee off the balcony if I woke up in the middle of the night (my apartment faced the woods out back, so the only worry was next-door neighbor's balcony, which thankfully was always empty), covered windows in plastic to save on heating/cooling costs, charged phone/laptop while on campus... If I hadn't brought up the idea to my parents first (who wouldn't allow it), I would've lived in my car that year and skipped the apartment altogether. Pretty much the only thing I used the apartment for that entire year was storing milk, eggs, and jelly in the fridge, scrambling the eggs, and sleeping on a memory foam pad on the floor.

Edit to add: I also never plugged anything into the wall except fridge (always plugged in) and oven (only plugged in ~10 min/day to scramble eggs), and would purposefully open the fridge only twice/day to get out milk eggs and jelly, make my daily meals, then put them all back.
jminv
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by jminv »

My European grandparents went through the depression years and managed to survive WWII. They were extremely frugal but a lot of what they did was already covered here. In addition to the crazy things already mentioned, I have a few more that are a little interesting. I wish I had heard more, but my father was very quiet about his childhood so I learned more about it from some of his other siblings after he passed.

When my grandparents married and were working in the city they made sure that their home was far away in the countryside because it was less of a potential bombing target, they could have a 5 acre 'garden' for food in case of a war, and it was cheaper. They made sure to also buy a real dump since they could fix it up themselves over the years. Even though they were professionals with full time jobs, they intensively farmed their garden with their children as the labor. No mechanized equipment since if there was another war there would be no fuel and the government would take the tractor for scrap or other uses, anyway. I realize that it's small farming in relative terms, but they also had full time jobs and were well off financially. They had a huge root cellar and kept food on hand to last the family for at least two years. They ended up selling the excess each year, using the kids to run a farmers market stand on fridays and the weekends.

As I mentioned, they deliberately bought a very run down building to save money and for a 'weekend project'. What they meant was a project of some sort running every weekend until their kids left home. They salvaged all the materials from elsewhere, for free. They did this by demolishing homes on weekends with the kids not running the farmers market. They demolished the homes for free in exchange for getting to keep all the materials. They built a large storage area to hold all the scrap while they waited to use it or waited for a buyer (farmers market doubled as decoration/building supplies market).

Once my grandparents were older and the kids left home, they eventually bought a place with less maintenance and ditched the garden. They had tired of the repairs, gardening, and running a market themselves while still working full time monday to friday.

My father was given one bicycle as a child. It was an adult sized one and my grandfather modified it so a child could use it very awkwardly. This was so the one bicycle lasted his whole childhood. A bicycle probably seems like a luxury but it was really a business tool for him to make deliveries. It had the effect of decreasing the productivity of my grandfather's free labor but since he didn't value my father's time (or his own) it didn't matter.

My grandfather had old two cars that he was constantly working on to keep running. They were identical so if one part failed, he could take it off the other to get to work and then scrounge around at the junkyards later for a replacement. He felt that if he didn't have a replacement on hand, then he would have to pay a higher price for a replacement. This way the junkyard people would know it wasn't as urgent (and he could get to the yard in the first place) and he could shop around for the best price. He would get behind on fixing the cars since he had full time job, farmers market, and demolition business so the 2nd car wouldn't normally be in an operable state, reason why he just didn't go to work in the second car. Sometimes it would mean taking parts off the car that had been running to get the car that hadn't been running going again instead of vice versa. He did this up till the day he died.

They never bought anything new. They went to the opposite extreme and bought things that were so depreciated they required constant maintenance. This was partly because my grandfather could fix absolutely anything and also because they just didn't value their time. The kids basically had extremely worn clothing and one pair of shoes each.

The children often received outright charity from strangers visiting the weekend farmers market/flea market. They thought they were an extremely poor, down on their luck family so it was pretty clear that the level of frugality of my grandparents was not the cultural norm. My father told me that it was extremely embarrassing. Although it was not a deliberated strategy, it also had the effect of bringing in more income as people who didn't know better offered somewhat above market prices because they felt bad bargaining kids in such a bad state down to the market rate.

My father took the view that they way his childhood played out was a huge waste of time for his parents. He thought his father would have had a much more successful career if he wasn't constantly worrying - and dealing with - all the other things he had going. It would be one thing if my grandfather enjoyed it, but he didn't. As it was, they were professionals, made good money, and my grandfather had several commercialized patents. He spent a great deal of time earning pennies on the dollar. It had started out as a kind of post-depression, post-war frugality and insurance policy which he understood, but it never stopped. My grandmother was too meek to put up any resistance to what was going on.

My other grandfather rose out of the slums, so he knew extreme poverty. He escaped by being bright, getting noticed, going to a school for bright kids who were noticed, and then getting a secure job with the government. He rose fairly far. He could definitely make a dollar stretch so there was a lot of tension with my grandmother, who loved to spend and was terrible with money. He ended up putting her on a cash allowance per week so he could build his savings without having to deal with the checkbook drama (she would basically not record transactions to try to hide them and then play mathematically dumb when confronted). What actually happened after my grandfather put her on a cash allowance is that my grandmother then gave the kids basically nothing for lunch at school, a terrible set weekly menu for dinner with the cheapest ingredients, bought kids second hand clothes and shoes, etc and then spent the balance of the cash on herself. Once the kids were out of the house and my grandfather passed away, my grandmother frittered away the savings and life insurance in no time but had the federal pension to fall back on. In my own life, I eventually decided to enjoy more of my money and be less frugal after contemplating on my grandfather's experience. I fully expect my heirs to spend down what I leave them, so although I still save and try to be as frugal as possible, I like to enjoy life some too.
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dm200
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by dm200 »

littlebird wrote: Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:00 pm
dm200 wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:37 pm
Watty wrote: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:35 pm On washing plastic bags.
I can remember having my school lunch sandwich wrapped in wax paper or wax paper bags.
No fancy plastic for us!
What ever happened to using wax paper?
I still use wax paper. It was saved from obsolescence just in time -so I’ve heard - by the invention of the microwave oven, in which aluminum foil can’t be used.
I think that that bread once came in wax paper wrapping as well - before the plastic now used.
quantAndHold
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by quantAndHold »

Dad, who grew up during the depression, never met a bit of food that had gone bad. During the last year that he lived on his own, he gave himself food poisoning three times, from eating stuff in the fridge that should have been thrown out. Every time I went to visit, I had to clean out his fridge.

When we were kids, mom sewed all our clothes. When I got to about age ten, clothes made in sweatshops started appearing in stores, and buying clothes was cheaper than buying the fabric to make the clothes. So, no more homemade clothes.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
jerryk68
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by jerryk68 »

There were no zip lock bags or aluminum foil in my house growing up and sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper or used food containers like bread wrappers or plastic containers like cool wip. We never ate in restaurants as my parents thought it was a waste of money.

We lived in a large city and my parents paid for everything in cash. They didn’t have a checking account until they were in their late 70’s. They would walk (did not own a car) to different offices like the electric or gas company office and pay the bill in cash. They didn’t have a mortgage as they payed cash for everything including their house. Usually when Abe or George left my mother’s purse the presidents were happy to see the light of day. I didn’t consider myself poor or deprived but thought that everyone lived like we did. I thought everybody had just two shirts. The one on your back and the one on the clothesline drying. Who knew???

I don’t know if this was a result of the depression or my Dad’s WWII experience as he would never talk about his war experiences but I later learned through research that his unit liberated a concentration camp. He always talked about people in the world not having enough to eat and we as kids were never allowed to waste any food. We had plenty to eat but if you requested or took food for your plate you had to eat it or you sat at the table sometimes for hours until you did or you ate it the next day. Food was never wasted. All of us kids were members of the “clean plate club” and as a result I still eat everything on my plate. I never enforced this rule on my kids.

My kids call them family “ism’s” sort of like Jonesism‘s or Smithism’s if your last name is Jones or Smith. The rules in my family get pasted down from generation to generation in that you live well below your means and pay your bills in full when due. No credit card debt, no car loans. You buy stuff when it goes on sale and you always help your family. As I write this, I am long retired relaxing wearing my threadbare pair of shorts that my father would be proud that I still have and wasn’t wasting money buying the latest or greatest style or color. Somehow the way you grow up never leaves you.
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Sandtrap
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Re: EXTREMELY frugal things from our parents and grandparents

Post by Sandtrap »

Grew up on a small farm. Did not know we were "not rich".
Parents were not "frugal", they were "surviving", per se.

Most everything already brought up, grocery bag book covers homemade, wax paper, saving string, saving every container that could be washed, hand me down clothes and toys and all else, collecting bottles for 3-5 cent each at the grocery store for "spending money", farm work.

Country life. I did not "feel" poor or in need.
But, many habits carry over 'till today, like many other here. Not frugality, just comfort zone.
Fortunately, DW is similar is some ways, tolerant in others. (me saving every empty container, washing out milk cartons, etc)

Lately, I've stopped saving as many things. . . . oh dear. . . . lifestyle creep! :shock:

FWIW: my mom saving bacon fat to cook fried chicken later resulted in the tastiest fried chicken ever, despite cholesterol!

j
Last edited by Sandtrap on Wed May 01, 2019 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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