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I was raised by frugal parents. I didn't realize we were so frugal until I grew up and shared stories of my upbringing with my friends and classmates.

I was raised by frugal parents.  I didn’t realize we were so frugal until I grew up and shared stories of my upbringing with my friends and classmates.  My mother and father barely threw anything away and always tried to have a second purpose for things (I am the same to some extent, it’s better for the environment, anyways).  We also shared a lot of things that normally aren’t shared to such a degree (for example, a combo meal’s drink would be split into a few cups for us all the share).  However, I got to do things a lot of other kids my age probably didn’t get to do, like travel to Japan and South East Asia as a kid, or go to places like New York City when I lived on the West Coast.

I didn’t realize the high cost of overseas travel for a family with children.

My parents really saved their money for things that they found important, like traveling.  We never ate fancy dinners out, I never got to watch a movie as a kid until I went with my friends, I never got to eat at White Spot let alone have a Pirate Pack (those who live in Western Canada will understand, basically this is “the” place to be as a kid).  I also never got those fancy birthday parties at McDonald’s where you get to invite your entire class.  I never got any allowance and was jealous of other kids who got $50 a month for, well, existing.

Related: What’s the Difference Between Being Frugal and Being Cheap?

Are We Our Parents?

Just as we are affected a lot by our parents (after all, we watched their every move) for things like how they raise us, whether they set boundaries, whether they positively reinforced good behaviour, whether we went to organized religion on a regular basis, I think we are affected by what they do with their money.

Now, I shamelessly use coupons, I go straight to the sale section of a store, and I don’t like paying full price for clothes or anything.  I also make my lunch every day and only eat at a fancy establishment once in a while, like for birthdays.  I save my money for traveling.

How Do I Know If My Parents Were Frugal?

To answer that question, Wisebread came up with two handy posts that can help you decipher if you were raised by frugal parents.  Check out 30 signs that you were raised by frugal parents and 20 more signs that you were raised by frugal parents.  If you need more indicators, MSN Money has another post of 30 signs that your parents were frugal – the reused yogurt containers and the neatly folded gift wrap definitely rings true for my childhood (and admittedly, now too! haha).

Or The Opposite Could Happen

Just like many things in life, the opposite could happen.  I have a close friend who is pretty darn frugal.  She goes for $25 hair cuts (pretty hard to find when you have long hair these days!), refuses to buy things at full price, and is pretty good at saving her money.  Her mother is a spendthrift.  Her mother spends money on designer clothes, designer purses, and make up and facials.   Her mother invites her friends out for meals and pays for the entire group of people.  She refuses to follow in those footsteps and wants to be self sufficient and organized with her money.  Her mother definitely lives above her means and lives pay cheque to pay cheque.  My friend invests in stocks and doesn’t live above her means.  She doesn’t go out to expensive meals regularly.

Related: How to Avoid Frugal Fatigue as a Couple

My Conclusion

Generally, I think we adopt our parents behaviours, values, and belief systems, but sometimes the opposite can happen.  Perhaps it is a conscious decision of whether or not we value the same things that our parents value, and whether we accept or reject these values that we are brought up with.  Perhaps it is akin to religious values or spirituality.  We grow up with their values and as we get older and become adults, we formulate our own thoughts about these beliefs and consciously decide to reject or accept these.

However, I’m not a psychologist, so what do I know!

Readers, do you think that you are the product of your parents’ frugal upbringing?

Article comments

Steve says:

I am extremely precise with my budgeting. Nearly my entire life has been guided around saving and making choices that made good financial sense. I am debt free and owned my own home by age 30. My sister, while not terrible with money, is not terribly good either. She has never had savings, and carries moderate amounts of consumer debt. I’d say she is very close to the textbook average person.

Our parents were TERRIBLE with money and well, just about everything. Father had drinking addiction, mother had gambling addiction.

I always saw my parents as an in your face example of how not to live your life, and I was determined to be nothing like them.

My sister never felt that way. Considering we grew up with parents who had general labour jobs and other serious issues, we still had I’d say lower-middle class upbringing/lifestyle.

My conclusion is its mostly guided by the personality of the child/teenager that sets the tone for adulthood, and the environment influence is less. I think I would have turned out much the same if my parents had been good with money, and my sister would have been the same as well.

Phil says:

Yes, most definitely. My parents were quite frugal as I can relate to many of the points you mention in your up bringing. The bonus for me and my son is that my wife was raised on a farm and here parents were even more frugal than mine. – Cheers.

Money Beagle says:

I absolutely attribute a good portion of my financial habits to my parents. They stayed out of debt, did not indulge, made sure they could afford things when they did, had no credit card balances, and saved for retirement…all things I now practice. It starts young, too. My daughter (who is 3) was asking for something and my five year old son told her “No, we don’t have the money for that.” LOL!