I'm just curious. Can people be born frugal? I know certainly people can be raised frugal. But we all know people who are very frugal and their family or sibling are not at all. I myself feel like I've been frugal since I was a toddler. My brother who grew up with me in China and lived together for 20 years spend all the money he can get his hands on. It seems one of my sons is born frugal as well. The first time I gave him $5 to spend (he was 3) he bought a pack of candies, a cheap board book and put the rest into his piggy bank. I offered to buy him a new bed several times as he's been sleeping on a mattress on the floor, but he doesn't want one. He rarely wants us to buy him anything and is very keen on saving money.
Has anyone who was not frugal at all achieved it purely by learning, will power and lifestyle change? What's your secret? :)
Realizing lately that I was seemingly born frugal in kind of a spendthrift family. Really just couldn't see the point of buying new things all of the time when the old stuff was okay. At this time in my life, my two kids are quite frugal (and for a while it is partly out of dire necessity), but my son really takes the cake in this department. One time I bought him a silly little bathtub toy at the grocery store when he was about 5. The next day he said he liked it and he thanked me but then he added that he would really prefer it if I would not buy such things and put that $3 towards buying a new lego kit instead if I was going to spend it on him anyway. Now at age 8, he asked to approve of the new matchbox cars I bought for him (they were on sale!) to save for Christmas. I showed him, he liked them and I put them back away for Christmas. If they did not meet with his approval, I would have to exchange them because he doesn't want waste a single cent of Christmas... He has taught me some interesting lessons, but my daughter isn't nearly so frugal.
I was raised in a frugal blue collar family. My parents worked very hard and budgeted well to take care of our family's needs. There was little room for extras and I began working as a paper girl and babysitter young to help fund those extras for my sister and myself and continued working once I was old enough to be properly employed as a teenager. I was irresponsible and spent all of my money on fun extras and struggled as an adult making the transition from working class past to middle class present. Bad habits, unfulfilled wants & desires from my youth swirled together into fiscal irresponsibility.
Then my daughter entered the world and suddenly there was real reason to save and get my spending in check so that she'd never know deprivation and wouldn't miss out on opportunities because I selfishly and foolishly squandered away money. My husband and I paid off all debts. We cut up all of our credit cards other than one truly for emergencies and moved to a cash only plan. We started retirement investments and college savings. We saved an emergency fund. I stopped receiving catalogs in the mail and going out "window shopping" I worked for as an in-home child care provider for a time to quickly enrich our savings.
Now having become a homeschooling family and knowing we'd like to keep this option on the table for as long as possible while also enjoying life, I've gotten my spending and budget in check further and together my husband and I have become considerably more deliberate with our finances. After all you can spend $200/month on silly little "keep up with the Jonses" purchases you'll be giving away in the decluttering process next year or you can put that towards a vacation or another special item, paid for in cash. We've moved to a smaller, more energy efficient and consequently more frugal home. We'll be driving our paid off car until it can no longer be driven. We're saving a considerable amount of his income. We're taking into account the cost of orthodontics and rises in food & gas before they happen and funneling money to such accounts now.
As I've cleaned up my act my reasons for good motivation have grown and keep me on the right path. I can't say I'm always perfect or have completely left my spendthrift ways behind but being frugal and a saver certainly becomes considerably easier with time. The peace of mind of knowing a tire on the car can be fixed or a rise in insurance Rx co-pays we didn't know about can be handled or that my daughter can go to a birthday party with a gift should she be invited last minute is a good feeling and not something I'd like to lose through my own irresponsibility and poor choices.
Unschooling Mother to S, my 6yo "Moon Farmer"