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20 (more) signs your parents were frugal

Consider yourself fortunate if your parents found clever ways to cut costs.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 14, 2012 9:02AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner blog Wise Bread.


Wise Bread logoIn August, I wrote an article entitled "30 signs your parents were frugal." That article was inspired by my own parents' frugality and by witnessing how a whole new generation of folks is instilling some of those same money-saving and self-sufficient ideals in their kids.


Image: Various socks hanging on washing line © Dolding Productions Ltd, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesWhether it's fueled by economic uncertainty or just the growing realization that there's more to life than stuff, there seems to be a quiet resurgence in simplicity that's encouraging to watch.


I think some of the wisdom, tongue-in-cheek humor and nods of understanding that readers found in those 30 signs can help us all embrace who we are and the traditions we come from, and learn the value in passing on that spirit of frugality to tomorrow's parents.


So, in honor of all those frugal moms and dads of yesterday, here are 20 more telltale signs that you may have been raised by frugal parents:

  • Carving pumpkins for Halloween isn't just an artistic endeavor -- it's serious preparation for a pumpkin-flavored cooking challenge.
  • You've secretly placed generic food items in brand-name containers to avoid conflicts with fussy kids.
  • You've "fixed" a scratched bumper with a strategically placed bumper sticker.
  • You can make a delicious stew from an unlikely and random assortment of leftovers.
  • You buy winter coats in the spring and Bermuda shorts in autumn.
  • You can quick-scan the items at a yard sale in five seconds while driving and without slowing down.
  • There's an herb garden on your kitchen windowsill.
  • You know the many secret uses of Super Glue, Armor All, mink oil and linseed oil.
  • You know the prices you see at used car lots, yard sales, estate sales and on Craigslist are just starting points.
  • You're amazed that people actually pay for water.
  • You pay as much attention to the price on the back of a greeting card as to the sentiment written inside it.
  • For you, dollar stores are on par with amusement parks.
  • You know how to meld many slivers of bar soap together to make a "new" bar.
  • You keep a flashlight and hand sanitizer in your car for Dumpster diving and picking up curbside treasures.
  • You mourn the loss of clotheslines across the American landscape.
  • You hold a loyalty card to one or more thrift store chains.
  • Your knowledge of various stain-removal methods could earn you an honorary degree in chemistry.
  • Depending on the store, you feel a cosmic pull toward the dented, dinged, mismatched and remnant sections.
  • You know exactly what each member of your family needs six months before they do -- and you can find it for half off.
  • Your ability to retain information on sizes, inseams, ages, birthdays and anniversaries is unrivaled.

See yourself in any of the above? Of course, these are just 20 random ways that our parents saved a few bucks and made ends meet. Surely there were hundreds (thousands?) of others that went unnoticed. Back in the day, saving money was less conscious strategy and more second nature.

What money-saving methods did your parents use that you may not have appreciated at the time but have since come to respect? What do you find yourself doing unconsciously that identify you immediately as the lucky kid of a frugal parent?


More on Wise Bread and MSN Money:

Nov 14, 2012 2:08PM
The most important thing my parents did for me was teach me to cook, sew, and clean house. I cant sew a full wardrobe, but can fix a button, or fix a torn hem. I can cook from basic items, and would if it was less costly to buy the fresh ingredients, then the pre-packed items. I know how to use vinegar, ammonia, and bleach to clean most anything around the house that you cant sweep up or vacuum up.
Nov 15, 2012 5:07AM
We didn't get a television until 1961, which was apparently when my father finally decided it wasn't just a passing fad.
Nov 15, 2012 5:17PM
My father was a TV repairman who recycled televisions-he would find them on the street , fix them and give them to friends and neighbors.  We didn't have a color TV until 1969- and it was used.
Nov 24, 2012 6:00PM
My frugal father would sharpen carbon steel razor blades on a hand held sharpener.  He also did rebuild radio tubes all during World War 2.
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