Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ask the Sluggy.....Answers Part 2

Meg B. asked....."What started you on your frugal road, and when? Have you always been primarily a SAHM,- maven -of -frugality?If so, as a college-educated woman, did you ever get grief for that choice? "

Lots of good questions so I'll dive right in.

I guess I have always been frugal, even as a teen.  Due to my home life as a teen money and food were a constant worry.
Then when I left home for school, after I moved out of the dorms my sophomore year again, money and food were a constant worry.  My father paid for my schooling yet gave me no money and I had to provide myself with a place to live and food to eat.

When Hubs and I married and struck out on our own money was tight.....very tight.  We had to watch every nickel and make choices between wants and needs. 
Then came kids and our money had to stretch even further to meet our needs. 
About 2002 we got comfortable with our income.  That was when Hubs finally got a promotion and his salary went high enough to let us relax a bit with tracking expenses.  We had also been carrying two mortgages from 2000 to 2001 which strained our financial limits a bit more but once the old house sold we were doing aok.
We experienced some lifestyle inflation at that point....nothing crazy--eating out more, buying more "stuff", etc.,  but we didn't worry about the money and spent a bit more freely.  I didn't watch my grocery spending and we started taking vacations that didn't involve staying with family and/or friends. 8-)

Then, as kids going to college(and paying for said kids)loomed on the horizon I got frugal again around late 2008.  I joined an online group called The Compact which was all about limiting consumer spending and going without shopping as an activity/hobby.  I went full-on compact and basically didn't buy anything that wasn't a consumable need for a whole year.  It turned my thinking around about the accumulation of 'stuff".

2008 was also when the economy imploded here in the US so it was good timing.  I started also couponing heavily in early 2009.  With the Recession companies were offering great deals on food and toiletries and HBA products, both rebates and high value coupons.  I got some amazing buys in 2009/2010 for little money, before companies started pulling back on the deals and the whole extreme couponing crowd took over.

As for letting my college education go to waste--I ended up getting a degree in a field that I decided for many reasons was not how I wanted to spend my life.  Yes, it's possible I could have become famous(lolz)and had great wealth if I had stuck with that career field but I would have lost much more and more important things in the end.  I probably wouldn't have had a great partner in life like the one I have and I most definitely wouldn't have had kids(unless I had become wealthy).

I have worked over the years at many jobs as the need arose for income.  My primary job however has been the care and feeding of my kids.  As Hubs income rose we were lucky to be able to have me pursuit those goals rather than being a 2 income family.  Yes, there were times when money was tight because of that choice but we both felt it was the best one for our family.  If I don't say so myself, my kids are turning out to be awesome people that I am glad to know.

If I could go back to those college years I may have taken a different major....maybe not.  Having a more marketable skill might have helped us out financially more but we did ok and I can't complain.
Even though I never really "used" my education, having it has broadened me, my world view and added to the person that I am today.

SAM from the blog, A New Frame of Reference, asked......."Here's one for you Sluggy. As an older mom myself, how do you navigate "mom" groups at school, sports, clubs, when they feel like they are sometimes a generation younger than me? I hear so many things that just make me feel dated and irrelevant so joining the conversations are sometimes awkward. I smile and nod a lot."

I had my first child at 32, my last one at 37.  Back then I didn't consider myself an "older mom" as my group of friends were having babies in their 30's when I had #1 son.  By the time my youngest was ready for school-real school, not Pre-K(and we have moved to a different area)I was 42.   I became a room parent for my Kindergartener and was by far the oldest mom of the group.  Other than having a kid the same age, I had nothing in common with these other women.  Not really because of the age different but more because of my lifestyle and outlook in life. 

Before we moved here I lived in a rural, fairly isolated community populated by people who had fled big cities in NJ and NY and/or retired older people who wanted to live in a quiet rustic setting far from popular culture.  Between 1986 and 1993 we had no tv reception(except for a few fuzzy channels over regular broadcast channels).  I limited my exposure to society(it is easy when you stay home and don't have cable and there was no internet yet there).  I turned my focus inward and enjoyed living a simpler life of gardening, cooking, making a home and tending to my kids and husband.  I had hobbies like canning, painting and sewing. 

The women that populated(and still do populate to an extent)our new hometown are like foreigners to me.  I remember when we moved in to this house a woman came to my door a few days after the move and invited me over to her home for lunch.  The lunch turned out to be a "buy Mary Kay products from me" disappointing.  Let me say that I mostly never talked to that woman again as she really wasn't interesting in being friends, she just wanted me to be a client.  8-(

Part of my not fitting in too may be because I am not a "joiner".  I guess I am like Grouch Marx who once said that he would never want to be a member of a club that would have him. lolz

I have NEVER been one to be part of a crowd or enjoy that crowd mentality.  I do my own thing and enjoy most people for one reason or another.  I don't run with a pack of women like many of my sex prefer to do.  I have never gone to the bathroom because my group of gals was going, I've never gone out with the girls to party(ok, maybe once) and I've never had shopping/lunch dates with girlfriends and gossiped about whomever was not in attendance.  It's just not something I enjoy.

I don't like to belong to organizations of any kind.  These always come with strings attached and brings out the "mean girl herd mentality" in some women.  I found this especially in the PTA here at the elementary school my kids went to.
I did 2 years in our school's vicious club and my time in that was one of the most depressing episodes of my life(really!).  I began to question my own self-worth and just felt so awful having to participate in any activity through it.  The people who controlled it only wanted folks there to do their bidding and have no say in what/how things were done. 

But enough of my PTA PTSD.....when forced to be around people I don't enjoy or have much in common with, if I can find common ground I'll try to feature that in conversation but if no one is interested having meaningful conversations I just smile and nod a lot SAM. 8-)

Sorry to be so wordy and going off on tangents but you folks asked for it......lolz



  1. Thank you. My mother was a SAHM with 2 master's degrees. She said she always felt badly for those women who couldn't make that choice. Well, one day, I overheard a dinner guest of my parents ask "Why is it so important your daughters go to college, though, if you know they're just going to be housewives?" Her reply: "My dear, if you have to ask the question, you'll never understand the answer." I still get grief, though.

    1. Love your mom's The college I went to use to be a women's college and by the time I attended the student body was just transitioning from the "go to college to get a good husband" to "be able to support yourself with a career" mindset.
      It is lovely to have that choice as an educated either work out in the world or stay at home and work on the homemaking skills. I wish all women had that choice today without the negative monetary repercussions it can have.
      You have to do what works for you and your situation. When I was younger I chose not to interact with women who looked down on my personal choice. Who needs someone dumping their baggage on you? lol

  2. Your honesty is appreciated. The next time I am in a group like that, I will strike up the conversation with the other smiling and nodding head, as chances are, they are about as stimulated by the conversation as I am. I hate the same experience with my first Pampered Chef party. We were all new to our new neighborhood and she had ids the same age as my older two (it's kid number 3 that put me in the generation gap as she was born a decade later). I thought we were going to have a girls hang out day cooking and sampling and getting to know each other. I had never heard of Pampered Chef before.

  3. I could have written some of the same things you wrote myself. A true introvert, I am not a joiner, and the times I tried were painful. Plus, as we adopted our girls late in life (mid- to late-40s) I really was often a full generation or two above most of the other parents I knew, and at a way different place in life other than raising kids.

    I too preferred to stay home and raise my children, although I did work part-time. But even that got in the way at times of how we wanted to raise our family. So, we often we without and/or didn't do or have what other families did, but it was the right thing for us and in the end it turned out well and we are all the happier for it.

  4. I could have asked these questions when my sons entered school in 1998 and 2000. I was the older mom, college/graduate degrees, stay at home, etc. We didn't spend our money like most other people, drove an older car, didn't take fancy vacations, etc. All these years later one son just graduated college without student debt and the other is halfway to his degree, I've never taken Dave Ramsey's workshop but I adopted one of his slogans: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Thanks ladies!

    1. Let's hear it for the older mom! I just saw a study that said older moms are better at many things. lol

      Having a college education isn't just about making money/having a career in the end. The learning and exposure to other ways of thinking/other cultures, etc. benefits people it so many more ways and enriches one's life. It's not just about a paycheck for me.

  5. Hi! Thanks for being so open and honest in answering such personal questions. It is rare that a blog does that. My favorite posts are when you talk about genealogy and trips and menu plans.

    And about mommy groups, I live in New York and though I do not have kids pretty much all my friends do. It is so competitive amongst that crowd that I do not even know where to begin. $1000+ strollers, $300+ diaper bags, the quest to forever remain thin, etc.

    1. This is why we hotfooted it out of the metro New York/New Jersey area as fast as we could! lolz
      The funny thing is where we moved to in the Poconos in PA saw most of it's new residents come from that area. 9 times out of 10 they would move back to Jersey or New York within a year because they couldn't handle the big change.
      It's all about status with a large part of that area's crowd.

      Thanks for commenting and reading.

  6. Oh Sluggy. I lived right near you. It's such a shame we never met. In fact CB and my daughter would probably have got along great. When she was little, I was an involved mom. Girl Scout leader! Chris was even a soccer coach for a couple of years. We had people in our lives related to those activities but they were never really close with us, nor were they very much like us, but it's all we had at the time. We felt more in competition with them than anything (as did our daughter with their kids). Eventually that all died off as friction between us got too uncomfortable. We withdrew. I've made more friends in AL in two years than I did in 25 years living in NEPA. I miss my house but not the mentality of the area. I may have to make a trip up that way soon which may include a swing by your place, the Garden Drive Inn flea market and some other old haunts of ours.

    1. Yes it's too bad we never connected when you lived here. sigh
      Let me know if you ARE coming up here(why???lol). I've got a spare bedroom..... ;-)

  7. Now that your kids are out of the house, do you plan on working now? I'm just curious.

    We could survive on my husband's income but I like working and I'm good at it. It's very important to me to keep up my professional skill set so I could support my kids if something came up. My mom couldn't support all if us and I think it contributed to the vicious abusive cycle.

    1. Well seeing as I am 56+ yrs old there are few options for me to have a "career" outside the home now. And at my age, near retirement age not sure I'd want one anyway. lol Sure I could go get some low paying job now but it wouldn't be worth it for so little pay. The thing(besides the arts which nobody wants to pay anything for)that I was really good at was waitressing and my old tired broken down body couldn't handle that for very long these days. lolz

      At this point I am much more useful taking care of our home, money, etc. You'd be surprised even when your kids are grown how "needy" they can be. lolz

      If my marriage had broken up when I was younger I would have been able to support us by working. I even had a "just in case" plan in the back of my head involving moving in with my oldest brother(he had a 3 bedroom house and remained single his whole life)and having my mother babysit if needed. It was possible I'd be working 2 jobs and we wouldn't have had an easy life but it would work. I even planned it out on the contingency of not receiving child support(not that I didn't think Hubs would send it but it was a possibility).

  8. I really enjoyed the story about how you became Ms. Frugal. We too had hard for a while and then got a bit more money and spent and then went back to frugal. It just makes more sense to hold it then spend it.

  9. Boy you are so much like me when it comes to friends. I am not a joiner either. I do like people. I love you and can't wait to meet you sometime. I would have invited you over for chicken salad and a coke.

  10. I love you, Sluggy! I just felt the need to say that.

    I understand people getting grief for choosing to stay at home even when you have an education. Hubby has gotten that, too. Worst of all from HIS family! I say screw them. We get to live the way we want to.


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