(me and my kid brothers)
My Frugal Beginnings – Learning the value of Trash to Treasure
On occasion, I get emails from readers asking me to personify more. I’ve written a few times, that this blog really wasn’t ever intended to be about me. My perspective is more focused on how will this information help others?
In truth, I’m a pretty private person and consider blogging about one’s self; well…. a bit self-indulgent. I never considered people would want to know about me and what makes me tick. There really is nothing extraordinary.
With that being said, over the years, I have gotten to know so many of you through emails and comments, I’ve come to feel I’m writing to friends. So, for those curious, I’ll self-indulge, and give you a little peek at my frugal life lessons.
I’m 50 something (old enough to be Mom to our average reader). The typical 70’s memories shaped my life. Pet rocks, handmade leather headbands, patchwork bell bottoms and Lava Lights were the rage. Barbie did not have bendable legs and every girl dreamed of Davey Jones, Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy.
We did not have Walkman’s, Video Games or Pagers. We made our playlists by setting a cassette recorder as close to the radio as possible hoping to catch our favorite songs, rode our bikes everywhere, loved congregating at Murray Pool, Roller Skating to Tony Orlando’s Knock 3 Times and had backyard sleep overs, where we wandered the neighborhood at night toilet papering our boyfriends houses and the only fear was of being caught.
While I would not say we were poor, like most families, my parents saved and scrimped pennies out of necessity. Cheap was good, free was better and expensive was out of the question. Coupons did not have bar codes and you could save up milk bottle caps for the entire year and use them to ride the rides at Lagoon for free.
During this time, dumpster diving was a weekend activity for us. Keep in mind, this was 40 something years ago. Dumpsters weren’t locked, fenced off, or full of broken glass. I’m not really sure if it was legal or not to harvest their treasures but, they were out in the open, ready to give, whatever one might be on the hunt for. Unsellable items from Craft, Auto and Home Improvement stores beckoned anyone willing to take the plunge.
For us, the treasure chest we sought, lay tucked behind the old Shag-Rug-La carpet store in West Valley. I remember the short 10 minute drive, that seemed like it took hours as a kid and Mom’s joyous shouts when we found an especially big piece of carpet or the right color or carpet style. On certain days we were searching for blue, red, green or gold. If I was lucky, we got to go to Baskin Robbins for ice cream afterwards.
Now, Dad is a bit of an artist. In fact, some of his paintings are adorning the walls of my home today. Looking back on it, I imagine that the floor of our basement was, to him, a giant blank canvas. Dad would crawl around on the floor, painstaking laying out and taping each piece in blocks of color and depth. Like colors on the color wheel, blending texture and color from one to the next. Finally, after months of work, he stretched out his wall-to-wall masterpiece and tacked it down, with a borrowed knee kicker, as secure and neat as any professional carpet layer would have.
This crazy, pieced together concoction, taught me so many lessons about money, art, creativity and love. In my mind, it’s still the most beautiful carpet I have ever seen in a home. I remember hours of play on that carpet and using the sections as a divider for various rooms for Barbie.
In my adult life, I do not carry this dumpster diving fetish with me, not even for a coupon. The thought, however, makes me crave a Pralines ‘n Cream Waffle Cone.
So, there you have it, my frugal beginnings. As I write this today, I hope that those of you with little ones, will take a moment to think about the memories, your day to day life, will leave with them and that those of you closer to my age, enjoyed a journey down memory lane.
What's your first frugal memory?
Posted by Joani