Conscious Frugality through The Ages

by Katy on February 23, 2009 · 8 comments



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 the U.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.”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Magdalena February 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I no longer sew little flannel crawlers for my boys…they’re twenty-eight and thirty! And I wish my husband liked pumpkin,because it’s so much food for the effort. The biggest change for us is being able to get rid of excess furniture and goods, and live very simply. It’s not out of some holier-than-thou frugality and monastic punishment, but because it frees us for other things we really want to do. (I never want to polish silver or crystal again!)


Klara Le Vine February 25, 2009 at 12:06 am

I think even more important than how your frugality changes is how much have your kids learned? After all, isn’t that a big part of parenting, hopefully preparing your kids for their own adult independent living. I’ve been blessed with five kids, and see how they all have incorporated different things passed on from my husband and myself – and some things, I haven’t a clue where they got it from!!!!


Laura February 25, 2009 at 5:57 am

I raised my three children with the Tightwad Gazette books too!
I saved so much money using these helpful hints.
We even shopped at the thrift shop that the author (Amy) ran in her hometown. She lives only about 20 minutes away. She is a wonderful person. She has saved so many families thousands of dollars with her ideas.


Tara Morrison February 25, 2009 at 6:56 am

My son’s best learning example was with hotwheels cars. My son and I had gone to Target and he had a small stash of birthday money from grandparents and of course as we were checking out he spied the display meant to entice him into a purchase and he fell for it. Well 2 cars cost him just over 2 bucks. Later that week we were at Emmy’s our favorite thrift store and spied a ziploc bag of cars for only fifty cents, as he still had money he decided to make the purchase and when he went to pay with a 5 dollar bill the cashier asked for something smaller and when he didn’t have anything he gave them to him. As we were leaving he said I am never buying toys at Target.


tammy February 25, 2009 at 8:18 am

Living as an artist and agent with my own business has definately created a blanket application for frugality in all aspects of life. I did hit the big 50 last year so now I am wondering about this senior discount thing…hmmmm.


Kassie February 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm

My oldest son (15) won $100 in an online writing contest which paid him through pay-pal, this was 6 months ago. Recently his backpack broke, 1st he requested I find one at the Thrift Store, with no luck I told him to find a nice quality one online and use some of his paypal $$. After shopping around a bit he announced that he would not/could not pay $30-$40 for a new backpack and would I please keep checking the Thrift Store- max price $10.
I am still looking and he is still getting by with 1 strap!!


thenonconsumeradvocate February 25, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I should have written about how my frugality manifested itself when I was single and childless.

I lived in NYC. When I would go out with the gang, I would order rice and beans off the menu. I would then slowly sip a drink. The bill would come and my portion would be $5. I would bring lunches from home and pretty much only window shop.

I made $18,000 before taxes, yet put a couple hundred dollars per paycheck into a savings account.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a pay-what-you-will policy for admission, and The Museum of Modern Art was free as I had a friend who worked there.

Most expensive city? Only if you want it to be.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Klara Le Vine February 26, 2009 at 2:06 am


Part of my understanding of frugality is not just buying in thrift stores but also fixing – can’t a shoemaker fix the strap of the backpack??


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: