There’s an excellent article in today’s Vancouver Sun titled “Thrift is the key to retirement”. The gist of this article is basically this: live within your means. As someone who was raised by the ultimate thrifter, it seems almost laughable to me that we have to state this. Isn’t that what everybody does? Clearly not. For people who have been living large, facing retirement with a smaller income is scary.
My mom is the person who embodies the phrase “get blood from a stone.” She’s one of the smartest people I know and given that she’s only got a grade 4 education, that’s saying something. We grew up living small: we lived in an apartment, she drove a 76VW bug and dad drove a used van, we wore clothing that came from thrift shops and dumpsters, ate hamburger helper, watched a black and white TV and read books that came from the library.
But it wasn’t all ‘doing without’. My sister and I went to camp each summer. Mom bought a used piano and we took lessons. We had a family holiday to the Okanagan every year. We went on camping trips to Barkerville and Disneyland. My parents didn’t have super high paying jobs. In our early childhood, my mom did “day work” (cleaned people’s houses) and my dad worked in construction. Eventually they moved up to union jobs – dad as a meat cutter for Fletcher’s and mom as a care aid in a senior’s home. But it was my mom’s frugality that enabled us to have the things I remember so fondly from my childhood but also enabled them to retire well.
As well as thrifting our clothes and household items, mom cooked and baked from scratch, shopped food sales, cut coupons and canned food. I have vivid memories of mom canning cherries and peaches on our camping stove while on holidays – it was either that or take the fruit home and do it after work in our baking hot apartment.
I’ve incorporated a lot of this wisdom into my own life. I also cook and bake from scratch, shop food sales, cut coupons and can food (but NOT on my holidays!) I’ve learned that there’s something very satisfying about saving up for and having to wait for something you really want. Like trips to Scotland, for instance.
I realize that what my mom taught me was balance. You might not be able to have the latest in everything or take the biggest vacations but you can still have creature comforts and enjoy life. It has never felt like I’m settling for something less – in fact, I’m so uncomfortable with debt, that I don’t think I’d enjoy something for which I was indebted.
What about you? Do you think it’s important to live within your means now? Or, given that we cannot predict our future, is it more important to enjoy life now, whatever the cost?
I’m linking to Apron Thrift Girl for her Thrift Share Monday – check out how others are living within their means!