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!
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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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