27 February 2016

Please don't Feel Sorry for my Family

To the couple who recognised me in Coles this week, I'm sorry you chose to make snide comments behind my back rather than introducing yourself and chatting. I don't bite, I love to meet new people and I would have been very happy to chat to you for a few minutes and perhaps show you that my family hasn't missed out on a thing through living the Cheapskates way.

So please don't feel sorry for my family, there's absolutely no need.

Instead, turn your "sympathy" to the families living with the stress of debt, who are struggling to make ends meet; to the mothers who work because they have to and not because they want to; to the children who spend more time at day care than they do at home because their family can't survive on a single income and to the people who've never learnt to control their spending and therefore spend their lives a slave to debt.

I can assure you that yes, I am a Cheapskate, but my family has never suffered for it.

Our children were educated in private schools.

They all played sports.

They had music lessons.

Hannah had art lessons.

They were always well dressed, often in brand name clothes and shoes.

Our children always had Christmas gifts and birthday presents. They always received an Easter egg (or two).

They didn't miss out on school photos or excursions or camps.

They all went to youth group at our Church and participated in the activities.

They had birthday parties every year until they were 18.

So far both boys have had 21st birthday parties (Hannah turns 21 this year and is already planning her party).

Both boys have completed university without any debt at all. They own their degrees clear. Hannah is still training and finishes in July this year and will be debt free.

They had their mother at home when they were home. I was able to drop them at school and pick them up in the afternoon. I was able to help out in the classroom and tuckshop and go on excursions.

We always managed to have family holidays.

We live in a home we like, in a suburb we chose because we like it.

We are now a two car family - my daily drive and Wayne's 4WD.

We eat very well - better than a lot of far less frugal families.

My family hasn't suffered because I'm a Cheapskate.

Instead, they have had things and experienced things that they never would have if I had a different attitude towards our money.

We made a deliberate decision to change our attitude to money. We took a long, hard look at our lifestyle and realised that there were lots of things we didn't really enjoy or want that we were spending money on. Then we made the decision to ditch the things that weren't important to us so we'd have the money to enjoy the things that are.

It was important to us that one of us, as parents, would always be available to care for our children.

It was important to us that we spend time together as a family, doing things that would make lasting, happy memories.

It was important to us that our children have the education we wanted them to have.

It was important to us that we create a family home we wouldn't want to leave.

Have we made sacrifices? I suppose so, if you call not eating out or having takeaway every week a sacrifice. Or perhaps not having pay tv (we don't miss it at all). Maybe you think owning our cars and driving them for years instead of updating every two years is a sacrifice. We don't. Perhaps shopping for quality pre-loved clothing is a sacrifice - it's not. AJ had Billabong jeans he picked up for $12 from the op shop - the same style was still selling at Ozmosis for $110!

Maybe you feel it's a sacrifice to eat home cooked meals, prepared from scratch with fresh food. My family loves my cooking, they can tell when something isn't homemade and they let me know they don't like it.

But perhaps you believe is the biggest sacrifice is to live on a budget; you haven't yet realised that you should  control your money, it shouldn't control you.

So please don't feel sorry for my family because I'm certain that they're feeling sorry for you.

Follow on Bloglovin


  1. Oh Wow Cath, i cant believe the cheek of some people, i dislike judgements and i dislike people judging others, especially behind your back. You tell em xoxoxo

  2. Well said Cath. I admire what you have done in the past and what you are doing now to survive. A lot of people don't have the will power to change their ways but you certainly have and I'm glad you are proud of your lifestyle. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing you on the TV as I have learnt a lot from you and try to incorporate some of your ideas into my family lifestyle. Keep up the good work. Regards Deb C

  3. Like you, we live 'on the cheap'although not as frugally as you and we don't go without. Finding Cheapskates was a blessing for us & as a single parent of three teens I am forever grateful for that.

  4. Wow, that was sure rude of those people. They have no clue (and I doubt they have any interest in learning based on their behavior) about how truly "rich" your life and your family's really is in all the ways that really matter. My family loves that I was able to be home and homeschool our boys when they were growing up, make most of our meals from scratch, have the time to search out the bet deals, do lots of baking, do volunteer work and to really be able to be there for everyone. Yes it was a sacrifice but all of our children are now grown and doing very well in life. They have good jobs, volunteer in their communities, are happy and are really wonderful and well adjusted people. I feel the same way you do!

  5. I loved reading that post and what a great reply, I bet those people are in debt up to their eyeballs and are keeping up with the Joneses. They will also be working to pay off their flash house instead of being at home to enjoy it.

  6. Sorry to hear of your rude experiences. I would love to chat with you, but would be mindful of your private life. You have shared so much and offer so much wisdom. Ignorance is bliss, but they must uncomfortably aware of their situation. Well done on debt free uni, alas my children aren't going to achieve that, despite living away from home and working to support themselves. There is just not enough hours in the day for work and study committments. So any tips would be appreciated.

    1. We were blessed in a number of ways. They could all live at home and were happy to do so, we knew we'd have uni fees and had begun saving for them and as it turns out they weren't that much more than the school fees we were paying. We had a discount for cash, a discount for paying the year in full and a discount for something else that I can't remember - made them very affordable after 12 years of school fees.

      I would suggest that they start a separate bank account now and even if they just save a few dollars a month, save it and then pay it off their fees next year when they pay their deposit (do they still have to pay a deposit for HECS/HELP?). That will reduce the debt they'll owe. Can they request next year's fee schedule now and see how much they're going to be, then work out how much they need to bank each week to pay the next year in full? Depends on the course and may not be doable. They should also find out the discounted amount for paying the year in advance in cash.

    2. Thankyou for your advice. We too paid school fees now we pay their rent,food and utilities. We have 2 sharing an apartment in Sydney this year which has already cut considerable costs.They support themselves otherwise and have saved some money.I will look into fee paying and suggest it. thanks again.

  7. Well said Cath you do a fantastic job and help lots of people every day.

  8. Being frugal is nothing to be ashamed of. That's for sure. I wish that I had done as well for my kids. But I do recall that the first time my kids had a family favourite as it is usually made for the market. They were not impressed with the experience. Home made was best. Pat P.

    1. Makes your heart warm doesn't it to find out your famlly prefers your home cooking to anything they can buy. I bought some biscuits a few weeks ago (Lemon Crisp - I love them), but the kids turned their noses up after 1 each - said they tasted slimy and left a taste in their mouths, then asked for Lunchbox Cookies. They guilted me into making a batch for them :)

  9. I'd much rather have the cash in the bank! People are so uptight and so worried about the next person that they forget about their own noose (debt) hanging around their necks. Being frugal to help provide for your kids via private schools and other things is something to be proud of.

  10. I look back at my 20s and well into my 30s and cringe at the amount of money I wasted. I wish I had been taught/discovered budgeting and frugal living as a teenager, but unfortunately I used to spend all that I earned. It's really only in the last 5 years that I have changed my lifestyle, and realise the peace and freedom being budget conscious has given me and my family. Thank you for your blog, and for your willingness to share your wisdom.

  11. Well said. So many people just don't get it, and never will.

  12. Some people have a real nerve don't they? I'm in the UK, but read every post that you and Wendy do. Somethings wouldn't work for us here in UK,but your blog gives me food for thought.The good Sensible advice you have on here has helped me no end.There is no "onesize fits all programme because my circumstances are different to yours or the next person's because we are all diffferent. Keep up the good work.

    1. You've hit the nail on the head Kim. I always advise that what works for me and my family may not work for anyone else's, we're all different and we're all at different stages of our journey to frugality. Take what works and build on it and you'll achieve your goals.

  13. That's appalling! Does nobody understand the value of good manner any more? Or are they disposable, too.

    I'm not sure how I would react in the same situation but your response here, Cath, is perfect.

    I know I'd rather be free of the shackles of debt than have a McMansion that's mortgaged to the hilt and a driveway full of leased cars.

    Keep up the great work Cath!

  14. Thank-you for sharing your wonderful insights, knowledge and experiences. Your sensible, practical, honest, smart money saving ideas and attitude is appreciated by so many of us. Some people just do not want to know! I would love to bump into you anywhere my friend ( and you would get a hug!) Cheers

  15. Very well said. I have had a few negative comments made towards our family and living cheaply. We are happy with our lifestyle and are teaching our kids to be mindful of spending rather than the endless cycle of work, consume, repeat. Haters gonna hate! x

  16. Hugs for you Cath, I just want to say, I am so glad of the day that I found your website and although I had already been living frugally since I was brought up with those values, I still had much to learn from you and I always recommend your site to others doing it tough. It has been such an awesome help. Thank you so much <3 <3 <3 Kathleen Burke

  17. Isn't there a saying "People only talk behind your back when you are two steps ahead of them"?
    I think your family are blessed to have you showing them where the true value in life lies.

  18. It is a pity isn't it that we now live in a society that has become -or so it seems to me- so judgemental. I feel for you Cath and that your chdn had to hear those remarks from obviously discontented folk. We, also, saved money so that our chdn could have tertiary education. Our only child [genetic reasons] spent five years at Curtin Uni and has no HECS debt. But being a 'mean mother' we walked to the local primary school as our neighbour, a Director of Education advised us it was the best south of Perth. And being a stay-at-home Mum ,I was able to be a parent helper -- in 1994 I went to Perth Zoo five times!

  19. How rude of someone. Your set up sounds more responsible than I ever was. If 10% of your common sense rubs off on my then its a win for my family ..xoxooxox

  20. Hi Cath, love the info you have on your wesite, and I'm trying to incorporate these ways into our life. I love the miracle spray and Audi has just opened in Adelaide (I checked them out quickly the other day and bought a few items we neded to try them out). Being frugal or careful with how you spend money is not something to be embarrassed about (as I suspect this couple are). At different times I've chatted with some girlfriends to find they love op shopping (like me), and are interested in things that are cheaper to make or do yourself, but still produce a result like a "bought" item.I make my own lasagne from scratch, but I was tired and running behind one day after work so bought one from the supermarket. My 4 kids took one bite and all made a face. They asked me never to buy lasagna again and that they only wanted the one I make , which is nothing special, but stil puts a smile on my face to think that much of it. I do think people would be more impressed, and probably jealous, if they realised that someone had low or no debt, while still having all the things that are important to them and their family. We are working towards this. You do a good job.

  21. You said this so well, Cath! Thanks for putting into words what I think many stay-at-home moms feel.
    Blessings, Leigh

  22. Both of my adult children were horrified the first time they purchased store-bought jam/jelly. They had never tasted it before as I always can all of our jam with home-grown berries. My daughter now grows her own berries so she can have home canned jam and my son will come and do chores around the place in exchange for my jam. The first few years my daughter was out on her own she was determined to be the exact opposite of us. She shopped til she dropped at all the high-end stores, she got her nails done once a week, coffees every morning but then the bills started coming- let's just say all these years later she has finally paid off those first foolish years. She quickly realized we lived the way we did for a very good reason.


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment...I just love hearing from you!

Just a couple of things:

Please don't use your comments to advertise your business or goods for sale, any such comments will be removed.