When my girls were growing up, we did not have much money. This meant that I had to find ways to cut corners everywhere, from utilities to food to clothing. I did this happily enough, knowing my daughters were learning useful skills and how to earn what they wanted.
It was not always easy. Often we did not have extras, and sometimes not even the necessities. I often went without things I needed make sure they had what they needed. I was fine with this. Raising them was the most important job I had. I did not need much, and I was able to find ways to meet their needs.
We were poor.
And that was okay. We were pretty happy.
I had always wanted to take the girls to Disney World, but I was never able to. My mother and stepfather were able to bring them to Story Land and Santa’s Village, which was wonderful for them. And for one long weekend we, with the bestest, rented a cottage on the ocean. It was great!
I homeschooled, and ran a day care from my home for much of their growing up years. I did both as frugally as possible.
And I tried to be sure the girls were happy. I loved raising them and watching them grow into the smart, independent young women they are today.
They took away a lot from their meager upbringing. For instance:
- How to be strong.
- How to save for things they wanted.
- The value of hard work.
- The ability to live frugally.
- Great social skills.
- A good idea of how children should be raised fairly, while expecting them to behave well for the most part.
- Some business practices, many childcare and secretarial skills, as well as cooking and cleaning skills. In Zowie’s case, editing skills. Also some sewing skills. And, of course, many others.
- How to care about others, often more than themselves.
They are amazing young ladies. And I am proud of each of them.
How did I make their growing up years happy when we had so little money? Oh, let me count the ways:
- I encouraged friendships. They spent time away from home with their friends. Their friends spent time at our place. They got to hang out within our and surrounding communities without constant adult
- I gave them freedoms. When they were five, they were free to walk up the road to the park where there was a summer rec program. Did I watch them as they wandered to their destination? Only for a minute, then they were out of sight. When they were young teenagers we moved, and the local park was further away. I allowed them to go their on their own – together, of course – as well as to the school to play. And in their mid teens, they walked together, and sometimes with friends, all the way over to the next town where they would visit with friends for long weekends, hang out at one of the parks, walk around town. They had some freedoms. Children need that. They need to know you trust them, and they need to be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn from them.
- When they were little they put on shows, with friends and cousins, and invited all their favorite people to watch. An art show that the daycare children joined in with, a circus, a fashion show, a rendition of MacBeths cave seen with the three witches, and a ‘band’ performance. We would make up programs for things, invite people over, and make snacks and beverages for everyone to enjoy.
- We used to run through puddles in our bare feet, and get the other children in the neighborhood together for baseball games and Frisbee. And I would set a tray of snacks out on the back step for them and the neighborhood children when they played outside without constant adult supervision. We would watch meteor showers in our back yard, as well as fireworks.
- I read to them. They read to me. And I allowed them some educational freedoms, so they could learn according to their interests.
- Also when they were little, the boys in the neighborhood would come over to do crafts with them.
- And as teenagers, I began letting them invite their friends over for cookie decorating parties, ornament making parties, and gift making parties.
- Zowie did cheerleading for a bit when she was little, with a friend of hers. Her friends’ mother called me and told me about a program at the YMCA where she could get a scholarship. She also went away to a bible camp as a teenager, and spent summers on campus for the Upward Bound program. She also spent a lot of time many miles away, in her best friends town.
- And Skye joined the high school softball team, even though she was homeschooled. I had a hard time getting Skye to do too much outside the home, so this was momentous. Though she was very social. Go figure.
- We went on day trips to camp anytime we had the chance, though this did not happen often, and I would bring them into the woods and the fields to explore. And my parents used to take them camping and fishing once in a while.
- I never did get them on my stepfathers motorcycle he had when they were little, but I tried. I think it was too loud and scared them. It was a Harley.
- We went on picnics, and once invited their Meme over during the winter for an indoor one. it was much fun! They would spend nights and weekends with her and my stepfather, and later would spend weekends there to watch over my grandmother while my parents would go away for the occasional weekend – which they were paid for.
- They went to church with their Nana, and Sunday school. And when their Nana moved away they would go spend long weekends with her and other family members. Sometimes I would go.
- Dollar stores were my best friend when they were teenagers. They would have their girl friends spend nights with us on their birthdays and, to do something special for them all, I would make up gift bags for each girl. These gift bags had themes. For instance, I made up manicure/pedicure bags one time, hair care bags another, body care bags, etc. They would spend the evening pampering themselves, and sometimes would ask me to do their hair. Usually I would make a chocolate mayonnaise cake from scratch, with peanut butter frosting, and I would pick up ice cream. Chips and dip if I had a little extra money. And order pizza if we were doing particularly well that month.
Etc., Etc., Etc.
We lived happily doing our stuff.
It wasn’t always peaches n’ cream. There were issues like there are in every family. But the good far outweighed anything negative, and I truly enjoyed being a mother and raising my girls.
Here are some tips for living happily:
- Have a positive outlook. A positive attitude.
- Be truly thankful for what you do have.
- Get out of the wasteful mindset. Use it up. Reuse things. Be more eco-friendly. Make it a game, and have fun with it.
- And check my article How to Happily Live a More Frugal Life over on my Frugal Living channel. Be sure to subscribe while you are there! And share this blog, as well as that channel with those living frugally!
So, my questions is:
How do you live happily while living frugally? Let us know in the comments below, or share your experiences with me personally by emailing me at email@example.com. I always respond to emails.
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