Last week I saw a hitch hiker which got me thinking about my dad for 2 reasons – 1.) he used to pick up hitch hikers and 2.) he used to hitch hike to work. I forgot about that until I saw the hitch hiker.
This prompted me to think of all the sacrifices my parents made, which at the time I didn’t realize were sacrifices, so that we could have a house, do sports, family holidays etc.
One of these things was hitch hiking. At the time I thought nothing of it, as it was just what dad did. I now think we probably could not afford much else. He always got picked up by friends or someone who knew him (he was a good local AFL player, not pro but good enough to regularly be in the paper and frequently talked about and watched), so he didn’t walk the whole way.
As I pondered more I thought about all the things I took for granted as child that they did:
- Mum didn’t even have an engagement ring. I remember her getting a diamond ring and I know it was after all 5 kids. So for most of her marriage she had no ring.
- Her jewelry generally came from Avon, as did her make-up and things and she sold it for a while, which is how I suspect she paid for those little things she wanted.
- Dad had the same board shorts for swimming for probably 20 years. I am not exaggerating. There are pictures of him in them when I am young and he only stopped wearing them a few years ago and that is only because they were ‘killed off’ by someone else.
- They pretty much never got new clothes, always second hand or mum made them.
- Mum cooked everything from scratch, bartered with neighbors, had a vegetable garden, cut all our hair as well as some of our friends and their families too. Everything was either diy or done by barter.
- Some of our gifts were second hand. I remember the year I got a red bike and I LOVED that bike. I knew it was an old bike from a neighbor, but it was my own amazing bike. Mum scoured everywhere for bargains and things to ensure we got what we wanted, but it was within their budget.
- Mum preserved fruit and sent us up to the back of our school with our lunch boxes to pick the blackberries there so she could make jam.
- Dad had basically 4 pairs of shoes which he wore until they fell apart – thongs (aka flip flops or jandals), basic sneakers, footy boots and black shoes for church and work. They were polished when needed and all taken care of.
- My parents had essentially no time to themselves, didn’t celebrate anniversaries, go on dates or anything.
I am so amazed with all they did. The above is just a handful of things. They lived very frugally and I know that initially it was because they had no choice and it was that way for many years. I think I am so lucky to have seen an amazing example of frugal living and to learn money management from my parents.
I know I am much more selfish than them and I struggle to think of never putting myself first, ever. I sacrifice a lot for my children now I am a parent, but I am not sure I could ever do things as extreme as hitch hiking.
What were your parents like? Did they live frugally or are they on the opposite end of the spectrum? How did that affect the way you handle money do you think?