Conscious Frugality Through The Ages

by Katy on August 4, 2010 · 5 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

The Complete Tightwad Gazette

I was given a copy of Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette when I was on maternity leave with my younger son in 1998. I inhaled it like a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I was so obsessed with the book that I even got my sister hooked. (In retrospect, my “Amy says this” and “Amy says that” talk must have become a bit tedious to those near and dear to me.)

As a parent of a newborn, I had ample opportunity for tremendous savings. I made my own baby food, (pureed pumpkin) and put in a big garden. I shopped from thrift stores and garage sales, and said buh-bye to the awkward and expensive double stroller.

Matching suites of baby furniture? Don’t even think about it!

Fast forward ten years, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for Ms. Dacyczyn. But my money saving opportunities have shifted. No longer are my frugal efforts focused on diapers and wipes, but on skateboards and summer camps. (Host one of theU.K. Socca Camp coaches and your kid attends almost for free!) Clothing is still from thrift stores, and I still prepare pumpkin dishes. But the pumpkin puree has been most definitely replaced by pumpkin pie.

As my children age, the money saving opportunities will evolve. I’m sure high school and college will present their own challenges, but I look forward to the challenge.

And that senior discount? Well . . . I only have nine more years before I hit age 50 and can take advantage of 40% off senior days at Value Village.

I can hardly wait.

Parenting is one of the biggest opportunities to spend or save a fortune. Public vs. private school, new clothes and toys, pricey vs. free entertainment, day care vs. at home care. The list goes on and on. For me, the price of having kids has not been expensive, but it has most definitely hindered my money making potential. Which I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Has your conscious frugality changed as your family members have grown up? Please share your insights in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Ann August 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

As my sons went through private school (worth every penny for us) and are now in college, school expenses were, and are, a big part of our budget. Since we can’t control tuition and fees, we have to look elsewhere to save. Textbooks can be outrageously expensive, so if my sons can’t borrow from friends, getting them on-line is a must. When they were in grade school and high school, I found that often items were on the supply list that were never used, or hardly used. So I had no problem questioning an item or holding off buying it. Thankfully, they wore uniforms for 12 years, so clothing expenses were pretty low.


Robin August 4, 2010 at 10:22 am

My sil sent me those books and the best use I found from them is the recipes! The homemade granola is a huge winner!


Molly On Money August 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I just discovered the ‘Tightwad Gazette’ about 6 months ago. I purchased it used as I figured Amy would approve! I pass it to my friends as to offer bits of inspiration. I just finished ‘Your Money Your Life’ (the idea came from you when you were offering it as a giveaway) and was pleasantly surprised to see how often he quotes Amy and her book considering she started her quest of frugality while taking one of Joe Dominguez workshops!
Keep suggesting books!


Donna Korzun August 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Now that my husband and I are empty-nesters, the shift has been to changes in food prep, bulk buying and cutting utilities. No more school clothes or the like but focusing on issues close to my heart such as green living and leaving a lighter footprint on the planet. Frugality continues to be important today as it was yesterday.


terilyn August 5, 2010 at 10:19 am

We were married young and had 5 children before age 30. That made us extremely poor in finances, so being a tightwad was just a normal part of life. I remember when those battery operated plastic barbie cars came out for kids. They were way too expensive for us to buy, and I felt like such a horrible parent. I cried over having to buy second hand for the kids, and having to only buy clothes on clearance or at tag sales.

But, looking back 30yrs later, I can see it really wasn’t a bad thing. It taught all of us to enjoy each other rather than things. We had a game night, almost every night, because we couldn’t afford cable or VCRs or going out. We read books from the library, and went to bag sales at thrift stores to buy clothes. And we thought it was fun. We became thrifty from necessity, not choice. And I personally felt terribly guilty about it at the time. But it taught my kids great lessons.

Now a days, I can afford to buy a new outfit from a store. But honestly, I hesitate to do it. I still only buy clearance items or deeply reduced sale items or else used. That is because I KNOW that I don’t have to pay retail for things. I know how to get reduced price flooring, furniture, cabinets, etc. I know what salvage stores are and that even there you can find some things that they are willing to part with for almost nothing. I dumpster dived at a furniture store for my recliner, the carpet in the bathroom, and the carpet in the mud room.

They say old habits die hard, and I guess only buying (and stockpiling) groceries on sale, or only buying used or deeply discounted is an old habit to me. Or maybe I have just become a cheapskate over the years.


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