Fruclastically Frugal Interview #2

I am very honored to feature my lovely mother for this Fruclastically Frugal Interview. My mom was a huge role model for me when I was younger as I watched her persevere through some very tough financial times for us after her and my dad divorced. Above all, my mom taught me to put God first and to never, ever give up. She is one of the most kind-hearted people I know.

A short history on my mom: It was circa 1979 when my parents divorced. Mom had been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years and didn’t even have her drivers license. After dealing with some depression issues due to the divorce and living on welfare for a couple of years, mom pulled up her bootstraps, learned typing and some other office skills, and with the help of the welfare department got a job. She went through several layoffs, firings, quit a few jobs and had some other setbacks, but eventually found a long-term career in the health insurance industry. She wasn’t ready to retire at 62 when she was laid off from her failing company, but decided to try retirement and see how it went after her unemployment ran out. I’m happy to say that she just turned 70 and is still enjoying a happily frugal retirement that allows her to enjoy her kids, grandkids and hobbies full time.

1. When did you decide that you wanted to learn to manage your money better? It was 1982. I was somewhat newly divorced and having trouble managing on the lower income. I thought I didn’t make enough to live on. I was lamenting about this to a friend, and he gave me one simple piece of advice. He said, “Just pay the bills first.”Β  It was then that I realized that I had a lot to learn about money management, and my financial education began.

2. As specifically as you are willing to share, what is the range of income that you are currently living with/have lived with? My social security income is just about $700 a month, and then I take between $260-$500 a month out of a small retirement fundΒ  that I have.

3. Do you have a mortgage or do you pay rent? How much are your monthly expenses to cover housing? I currently own and share the housing costs with my second husband. We live in a small house (740 sq. ft) in the city and my share of the housing costs is $325 a month. My husband and I have totally separate finances.

4. What is your view on debt and what is your current debt load? I try and stay away from it as much as possible. We do still owe a small amount on our mortgage, but I don’t have a car payment and when I use credit cards I pay them in full each month.

5. How much of your income do you put toward savings/retirement each month? I’m in the “drawing out” stage of retirement now, but I do take whatever money I have left over from my spending money each week and put it into a savings account for unexpected expenses.

6. What percentage of your money is spent on non-essentials such as eating out/going to the movies? Well, kind of a lot, percentage wise I suppose. I spend about $30 of my weekly $65 in spending money on movies and going out to eat. The rest is spent on gas for the car and miscellaneous expenses.

7. What are your top tips for managing money on a smaller income? Pay the bills first. Stay away from the stores – don’t go unless you have to. And don’t allow yourself to be drawn in by weekly store ads or keeping up with the Joneses. Know the prices of the essentials you need. Never grocery shop without making a weekly menu and a coordinating list, and only buy what you need.

8. What is your advice to those who say they can’t live on less? Yes, you likely can. Don’t give up. Keep working with your budget to eliminate non-necessities and keep working to learn to live within your means.

9. What are your keys to successful budgeting? I think the number one reason I’ve had success in budgeting is becauseΒ  for years I’ve tithed and worked to keep money in its proper perspective. Once I started tithing my money situation improved immediately. It doesn’t make sense from a numbers standpoint, but I feel like God has shown me how to manage my money better because I’ve given him the firstfruits of my income.

10. What’s the main money goal you’re working on right now? Just staying within my budget to make my retirement money (I like to call it my ‘ol lady money) last as long as possible through frugal living and wise investing.

Thanks for reading as we share stories of the fantastically frugal. To share your own Fruclastically Frugal story, visit our Contact Page.

25 comments on “Fruclastically Frugal Interview #2

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Laurie’s mom. I’m sorry you had to live through such a difficult time, but I’m humbled by the attitude that you adopted to gain victory over it. It’s very impressive to me that you tithed through it all. I wish you all the best as you continue to enjoy your “frugal retirement”! (That cake looks delicious : )

    1. Thanks so much, Ruth – I’ll pass on your sentiments to mom. Yeah, she’s awesome, and the cake was delicious. πŸ˜‰

  2. Yikes, I didn’t see your mom’s name in there (but maybe I missed it), so I’m going to call her Mrs. Laurie’s Mom for ease of reference. πŸ™‚ I love your story, Mrs. Laurie’s Mom! You didn’t give up, you kept on going, and you found a way to thrive besides. Truly inspirational. Thanks SO much for sharing your story. πŸ™‚

  3. Laurie, your mom’s story and journey is so inspiring! I can’t even imagine what it was like for her to get divorced and not even have a driver’s license! It’s amazing what we can accomplish in life in the face of adversity.

    1. It was an amazing journey and I remember so well as she struggled, her victories and discouragements as she learned to drive and taught herself office skills. She is much of the reason I know that victory can be accomplished, even when it seems impossible!

  4. What a cool interview. I thought of my mom when reading this…she had to raise us on some tight budgets after the divorce. I could see her giving similar answers to a lot of these.

    1. Great comment, Adam! Love what you said about income not being everything and that one can always start over. I think no matter what the situation, there’s always hope!

  5. I can see where you get your strength from, Laurie. Your Mom sounds like a very strong, smart and loving woman. My mom was very similar in that she thought money was too hard and always left it to the “man” to handle. Some of that was generational but also how she showed loved. She got burnt many, many times, which was so hard for me to watch. Thankfully, a few years ago she made a change and took control. I’m so glad your Mom got a small (but smart and powerful) piece of advice that helped turn her financial life around.

    1. I remember being so encouraged when I read your mom’s story, Shannon. Such a blessing to have parents who have taught us so much, isn’t it? Thanks for your kind words, my friend. πŸ™‚

  6. I loved reading this! And the underlying message that you can still succeed even after surviving tough times is inspirational. I was also raised by a single mother, and I think financially it was a little easier for her because she had a master’s degree and a good job, but it was still tough as a single mom. I hope your mom enjoys every cent of her ol’ lady money- she’s earned it!

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