My mom raised me and my siblings as a single mom on one salary without a lot of extra money. She did a great job with what she had and always tried to give us the best she could afford. But the most valuable financial gift she gave me didn’t actually cost her a cent. It was the gift of frugality. 

My mom is definitely someone who knows how to “squeeze water out of a penny,” as the saying goes.  And while I may not have appreciated (or even realized) it as a child, I absolutely realize the significance of that gift now that I’m an adult with a family and a budget of my own. 

Thanks to my mom’s influence, I love saving money. By making the money you already have go further, it’s like earning more money without having to pay taxes on it (since you’ve already paid taxes on what you’ve earned). For instance, if you earn $100, after taxes you’d most likely only get $75-$85 of that money, but if you save $100 on a purchase, you get all $100. 

Even during times in my life when income flows pretty steadily and I see abundance, I still have a notion deep within to save money on whatever I can. This prevents the abundance from being wasted, and puts it to good use by giving, saving, investing for the future, etc. To help you do the same, I want to share some of the frugal principles my mom passed down to me. 

Splurge and Save at the Same Time

As a child, I remember going on a vacation every year, usually to some place fun like Disneyland. Even thought she was only living off one income, my mom figured out a way to make it work.  Our trips usually entailed money-saving techniques like staying at less expensive hotels and packing our own food to eat.  I can’t tell you how many times we’d pass a restaurant while on vacation only to stop on the side of the road to eat our packed sandwiches. We even cooked Top Ramen in our hotel room with a small burner! 

Sometimes I resented it, but if you ask my husband today, he’ll tell you more often than not we pack our own lunches when we go places. Eating can be the most expensive part of a vacation, but it’s often not the thing that creates memories. 

In addition to packing our own food, my mom would always find the best deals.  I had to laugh when my husband and I recently took a vacation to New York City, and I had coupons and discounts lined up for pretty much everything we did.  People were amazed at the great deals we got on plane tickets as well as our hotel room (plus we stayed with friends for some of the trip). 

It may take some prep-work, but taking a nice vacation without breaking the bank is a very enjoyable experience, especially after you get home!

Be Practical

This may be one of my favorite lessons learned from my frugal mom. Sometimes I wish I could buy everything I want, but many of the things I want really aren’t practical.  I’ll never forget the time I saw a “New Kids on the Block” bed set during a phase when I was obsessed with that singing group.  I begged my mom to buy me that bed set, but she told me no because someday I wouldn’t like “New Kids on the Block” anymore, and then it would end up sitting in a closet.

I was appalled at her suggestion that I may not always love “New Kids on the Block” and promised her that day would never come. Well, here I am over 20 years later, and I can tell you I no longer like “New Kids on the Block!” My mom was right (I know she loves those words). 

The bed set purchase wasn’t really practical, and neither was my bright idea to buy a convertible for my first car.  My mom reminded me that we lived in Seattle, and I would likely only be able to put the top down a few times a year. She suggested I get a car with a sunroof instead.  I did just that and was able to open my sunroof many more times that I would have been able to put a convertible top down.