My Frugal Story by Jim of Bargaineering

My Frugal Story begins as a child. Growing up, my parents were frugal and it was a mindset they passed along to me. In 1978, my father bought a one way ticket from Taiwan to the United States to go to graduate school. Tickets back then cost thousands of dollars and my father looked to save a little money by purchasing a one way ticket. When asked what would happen if things didn’t work out, my dad said that they’d have to… he didn’t have a ticket home. Some would’ve called a one way ticket to a foreign country foolish, I’d like to think it was frugal. One year later, he bought my mom a one way ticket. Again, some would call that foolish but I thought it was a pretty good idea.

That frugality continues even today. My parents don’t own a clothes dryer. They air dry clothes in the furnace room because it’s always dry, almost always hot, and because it’s free. They turn off the HVAC system at night to conserve power. They turn off the lights when they leave rooms. They did all of this before energy prices rose because they were frugal. Why spent money on something you don’t need? And now, I do all those things too.

My parents learned this frugality from their parents and continued practicing it out of necessity. When you’re a twenty-four hour, several-thousand-dollar plane flight away from the closest family, your emergency fund is enormous. Your margin for error is microscopic. You aren’t frugal because you want to save for a family vacation, you’re frugal because you don’t want an accident to wipe you out. Frugal living was necessary for my parents to survive and provide a good life for their children. For me and my sister.

So, my frugal story isn’t really my frugal story, it’s merely another chapter in the frugal story that my parents continued from my grandparents. I hope that through frugality and smart decisions, I’m able to set the stage for my own children someday.

A note from Lynnae: Thank you, Jim, for sharing your story!


  1. Jack:

    I think it is amazing what types of things we can pass down to our children. We are always communicating something to them by the way that we act and I am glad that your parents communicated something so useful to you. I hope to do the same with my children.

  2. Tom:

    This is a very inspirational story. Your parents grew up in a different generation where if they didn’t pay for their electricity one month it would be cut off completely. I thought this was a great story. It really portrays how we have strayed away from frugal thoughts and into more of an I want it now mentality.

  3. Wonderful story of how you learned so much about living within your means at such an early age. Keeping cars for over 10 years, not running AC excessively and drying clothes outside are not the norm for many families, but will certainly provide so many savings. I wonder how much your parents were able to save by doing this over the years?

  4. Excellent story. My wife and I both grew up in homes that were frugal and have taken those lessons to heart and are living the same way. We do not have internet at home, no Cable TV, no washer/dryer, no land line, we turn the lights off when not in the room, no AC during the day during summer months, and heating only as necessary in the winter. All of these things, and more, have really added up and we have noticed how much this can save each and every month.

  5. Marci:

    Another example of how what we learn as kids at home can continue forth to our kids… Is it any wonder then that kids that are NOT learning this at home are having so much trouble later in life with learning to be frugal, to save money, to depend on themselves, to take personal responsibility? It takes a lot of personal fortitude to tackle these things later in life when one has not grown up that way. Thank goodness for bloggers who are there as forums to help those looking for that path to frugality :)

  6. "Mo" Money:

    I grew up in a similar frugal family. We grew our own vegatables, butchered our meat, canned food etc.. I still have some of those frugalities, as I always turn off the lights when I leave the room.

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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

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