Is the need to be frugal inherited or learned? I’ve always wondered. My mother’s family was well known, as my daddy would say, for being “tighter than Dick’s hatband.” My great grandfather Klutts would jack up his Model-T Ford and put blocks under each axel so that his tires were off the ground. He believed this would make the rubber last longer.
The fact that Mother also had these tendencies to save and make do seemed to be a constant aggravation to my dad and if something new arrived at our place, it was usually because she had not been consulted about the purchase. He would tell me in secret, “We might be getting a new car, but don’t tell The Dutchman.” I could barely sleep at night, holding the secret, but being an onlooker in my parents’ dance of frugality, I knew better than to make a peep, even to my sister who couldn’t keep a secret if you held a gun on her.
So I grew up ripping the zippers out of old clothes, yanking nails out of lumber and sanding the rust from lawn chairs and repainting them every summer. I keep my olive oil in a Patron tequila bottle recycled for the purpose, I cover pieces of packing styrofoam with fabric to make message boards and if my husband ever throws away anything I deem useful, I’ll pull it out of the trash. If I cannot use it, someone at the Helping Center can. My beloved always smiles and says, “I thought I threw this away,” and my response is, “You did, but I can’t.”
I passed the frugal trait on to my son, but genetics being what they are, he has mutated somewhat. His innate tendency to save only applies to his money, but it is certainly all right to spend mine. Must be the Irish in him. He is a wise boy, though, because his fiancé is of German decent with a frugal streak that rivals his. I truly believe it to be a match made in heaven, but their poor children will never have new bicycles.