My Frugal Father: 4 Embarrassing Ways He Saved Money
I grew up with a very frugal dad. And when I say frugal, I mean fruuugal. I suspect his economical genius came from his parents – they were pretty incredible examples. Some of the things my dad did in the name of saving money were slightly embarrassing to a younger me, but as I look back on a few of these things, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from them.
My dad was the king of cheap entertainment. While other kids were hooking up their snow tubes to their parents’ snowmobiles, my dad threaded a chain through an old dog food bag, put my sister and me inside of it and pulled us around the yard, in the snow. We were sure that we had the coolest dad, ever – I mean who else got dragged around their yard in a dog food bag for fun? Now that I have kids, I find myself entertaining them in the same cheap way – not necessarily with rides in a dog food bag, but rather by making stuff like our own Star Wars Angry Birds set out of cardboard.
DIY Lawn Aerator.
I have to hand it to my dad, he is pretty darn creative. When our lawn was in desperate need of some oxygen, being the cautious spender he is, he of course didn’t want to spend the money to have it professionally aerated. So he dug deep down into his savvy creativity and crafted an awesome pair of aerator shoes. These sweet kicks consisted of two scrap boards cut to the size of his feet with nails pounded all the way through to the other side. He strapped them on to his shoes and spent half a day stomping around the yard. I still remember watching him from the window with my mom and my sister. We laughed and laughed, but he got the job done – the grass improved. The lesson learned? If you need something done, do it yourself if you can – especially when you’re trying to pay something off or saving every penny in order to buy something your family needs. My dad was great at this.
My dad refused to be burdened by an auto loan, which meant we traveled on prayers, crossed fingers, and my dad’s ability to do minor auto repairs. My sister and I got really excited when my dad told us that we were getting a new car, so when we saw the ugliest of all thrifty wonders in our driveway, nothing could hide the disappointment that flashed across our faces. I instantly wanted to take back all the bad things I ever said about Clark Griswold’s station wagon, because this was much worse – it was a wagon too, but it was rusty, and it shook our faces off when we pushed it above 35mph. It was a champ in the snow though. We ended up loving that ugly wagon, for it served our family well for a long time, which was really all that mattered.
Tackle Box Purse.
My family did a lot of fishing growing up, and while all of our fishing friends had fancy tackle boxes from Cabela's or Sportsman’s Warehouse, our tackle box was a ladies' purse – a hideous one that my dad scored from a secondhand store for a few bucks. Imagine, if you will, a man toting around a lady-bag full of sinkers, fishing line, worms, and lures on every fishing trip. My dad could have invested in a nice tackle box, but didn’t, simply because he didn’t need it. All he needed was something to carry his gear in – the purse sufficed. Was it embarrassing? Um, kind of, yes, but it taught me a lot. It taught me that the $7 pair of earrings I bought from Modcloth compliment my mint colored blouse just as nicely as the $850 vintage Chanel pair I will only dream about.
My dad taught me that good memories aren’t made of fancy things. My family’s experiences didn’t include snowmobiles, quality toboggans, name brand fishing gear, or nice cars – but rides in a dog food bag around the yard and family fishing trips in the rusty wagon with my dad’s worm-filled purse are some of my fondest recollections.
What frugal things do you remember your parents doing?
What frugal things will your kids remember about you?