This year, my mom turns 100 in heaven and I am remembering lessons she taught me. At 49, she had to start over after losing her husband and son. It couldn’t have been easy. Everything had changed. Income was radically reduced, her social connections were all connected to my dad, and of course grief was ever present. Money had to be incredibly tight, but I don’t remember her ever letting on.
She grew up in The Great Depression and was the master of stretching her budget and making leftovers good and fun. Taking a lunch to school and work was MANDATORY, eating out was a treat, typically with a coupon or the early bird special. Water was ordered because a couple bucks for a drink seemed expensive.
I know some people believe that if you want to be a millionaire, you should live like one, and they encourage spending money like you have it. My mom saved over half a million dollars before she passed and helped me pay for private school and having both my kids attend college. All this as a widow who worked as a secretary.
Prices are higher right now, and as I look towards retiring (9 years from now), I am returning to my frugality roots. I am eating at home more. I always bring my lunch if I’m not going out for business. Leftovers when you are cooking for one is a challenge I am embracing. Mixed with her frugality, my mom always bought the best clothes (they last longer), the best car, and when she needed something that required an expert, she paid for the best. When she needed an attorney to help with my dad’s estate, she hired the top Estate Attorney in Anaheim. The lesson: Save where you can, but when you need an expert, hire one.