Growing Up Frugal (Part 1)

My Childhood

Growing up in an immigrant family, I had all the basics that a child needed…. A roof over my head, warm clothes, food in my belly and some toys, so I was pretty satisfied with my childhood. No, I didn’t have any of the fancy toys, clothes or trips that my friends or cousins had. I knew we weren’t wealthy, but I was grateful that all my basics were met.

Of course, I would build an extensive wish list inside. Hoping that one day I would be able to check each one off…..Dreaming that one day my Prince Charming would take me away. Being pragmatic even as a child, I knew that would never happen. Yup, dream on!


It was disheartening at first, as I began to give up school camping and ski trips willingly to help save my parents money. My baby sister was growing up and I knew that they would benefit from the extra cash that I saved for the family.

By this time, I was a teenager who fell in love with the mall. To save money from purchasing magazines, I would borrow the newest teen magazines from the library and studied all the fashion and make up tips.

Naturally, I loved the newest fashions. But, that usually meant it could be costly. Thankfully, I had learned to do some embroidery from my mother as a child. I was able to hand sew and fix many of the holes and tears that I discovered in the clearance racks. I was able to bargain for another extra 10% off too. I was only 15 years old.

Looking for sales in the clearance sections of supermarkets and drugstores helped me save a ton of money on make up and skincare. Drugstores and supermarkets often discounted the older labels and selections of products when the new ones came out. Discontinued shades of lipsticks or eyeshadows was the best! There weren’t discount outlets back then for me to search through, so this became a treasure hunt for me.

As a fashionista teen, I taught myself to paint and draw on my own nails ambidextrously. I also learned to bleach and dye my own hair as I got older. Others saw my work and even asked me to help them.

In grade 11, I joined the Sewing Class at our high school. I became ultimately obsessed with the sewing machine. I was doing so well that my instructor told me that I no longer had to hand in anymore projects, just the year-end one for my final grade.

As the year-end project, we had to sew our own Grad gown. It was a satiny baby blue with shimmery blossoms on the fabric with a matching chiffon shawl. I was very proud of myself!

Then, I saw what the older grades had created….. their own wedding gown!

Another life goal was created…..To be continued….

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28 thoughts on “Growing Up Frugal (Part 1)

  1. Lovely post!
    somehow I read a lot of my childhood in your post. Even I gave up expensive school trips and etc, because I knew that my parents couldn’t afford it, along with many others.
    This article Resonated a lot. Very well written! 🌸

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I wish I had been exposed to this level of frugality when I was growing up. My parents were big on not letting me spend my own money, but buying me what I wanted instead. So I kind of ended up with some sort of finance education, but not as good as it could have been. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

    XO Steph

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You described my daughter 🙂. As a single mom with a 15 year old I could not afford even discounted (although I did find money for new jeans now and than). She shopped resale stores and put together wonderful outfits and made adjustments. Friends would as where she bought them, she’d say it was a secret. It was hard but it did teach her to be financially responsible. She never complained. Today she owns her own home, which she bought on her own, takes the trips she never had to places she wanted to see.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. That is so neat. I was a fashion major in college, before switching to English Literature. I have always loved clothes & accessories. Anyway, I hope you’ll be posting a picture of that prom dress. It sounds beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love this! Isn’t it amazing how our little personalities are being developed even in the earliest years? We can see traits and abilities set us up for our best adventures in life.

    Your frugal side is awesome and I admire it tremendously. We live in a very throw away society unfortunately. Much value can be learned from appreciating what we have more and using our creative minds to create a masterpiece. I look forward to reading more of your story! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is amazing what we will learn who we can accomplish our floating visions! I have sewn my own skirts before, and attempted to stitch a dress, so I have great admiration for your creation of your Grad dress! Shimmery blue sounds beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love that instead of just dreaming or growing bitter about the limited resources you had, you developed skills and strategies that let you have beautiful things on a budget. I’ll bet your kids today also benefit from all the skills your teen self accumulated!

    Liked by 2 people

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