Back in the 1950s, my grandmother raised seven kids on one income. My grandpa was an Army general, and the family’s only perk, since they moved often, was that they had low rent. Nevertheless, money was frequently tight for my grandparents.

How My Grandma Managed Family Money

After World War II, inflation was rampant, so she would dig through the bags of sliced bread at the supermarket to find the one that still had the pre-hike price tag.

At home, no food was wasted, ever. Instead, stale bread became pudding and French toast, while old fruit was preserved for the winter.

My grandfather would also keep an impeccably detailed log of car and house maintenance to avoid costly breakdowns and repairs. If something wasn’t broken, it wasn’t replaced. They kept TVs and ovens for decades.

What’s Worth Spending Money On?

Ways to save money weren’t the only things my grandma taught me, though.

The kids attended private school, where each sibling got a steeper discount than the previous. And come summer, the lack of seatbelt regulations allowed my grandparents to pack all seven kids into a car for a drive to the countryside.

Now don’t imagine some fancy resort vacation. Instead, everyone packed a sandwich, they took the scenic route to avoid tolls, and they spent a month at their parents’ place. Still, the kids got to play with their cousins and be around animals and nature.

Just Say “No” to Debt

Another important thing my grandma taught me? If the debt isn’t necessary, don’t mess with it. My grandparents never took on any debt except for their mortgage. There was simply no money for interest. So if a kid wanted something, he could either work for it or wait until there was money — that is, if my grandparents deemed the expense worthy.

You don’t take a loan to buy something unless it’s an investment. But, when times were tough, they kept their can-do attitude.

Other Things My Grandma Taught Me

Sure, my grandma could have found a job, but paying for daycare alone would have taken most if not all of her earnings. Plus, there would have been less time for her thrifty endeavors.

They only lived as a family of nine for eight years, from the time their last child was born until my mom got married. And as each kid left the house, things got easier.

Thankfully, with such a tight budget, they never faced any big emergency.

An emergency fund would have been useful! But because they never gave in to lifestyle inflation, most of the newfound room in the budget went into savings. This allowed them to have a comfortable retirement to this day.


Author: Pauline Paquin via Plinqit