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Learning from the Financial Wisdom of Family…


My sister is visiting from Kansas City with her husband and four kids for the next two weeks. I’d love the fact that she visits more if she wasn’t… so… well…


She’s debt free other than her mortgage – and even then, she’s paying it aggressively. I’d love to tell you that her husband makes loads of money and that’s how she’s able to be a stay at home mom to four kids and remain debt free but…

He doesn’t.

My sister has found ways to live below her means and actively seeks new methods to spend less. She purchases clothing and toys for the kids at garage sales in nice neighborhoods then resells them when the kids outgrow them (sometimes, she actually MAKES money on this!), doesn’t waste money on cable TV or other ‘necessities’, drives an older yet reliable car, and she cooks fabulous inexpensive meals at home (my home cooked meals are inexpensive but they are far from fabulous).

She’s the annoyingly good at being frugal but not cheap.

Naturally, I spend this time around her basking in her infinite financial wisdom, asking questions, and learning from her example…

…and I am also the queen of England.

Sorry folks, sibling rivalry is alive and well.

So, I do the second best thing, I make my mom ask the questions and I pretend not to listen.

My advice, befriend someone frugal – even if it is your sister. I find that I don’t learn as much from the books or the internet as I do from those who may not have it all figured out, but they do a pretty darn good job.


  • Reply jaye |

    I’m kind of a stay-at-home mom, too (I work from home, but part-time). We have a lot more time to look for bargains, drop stuff off at consignment shops, etc.

    I have 3 sisters and a step-sister, so I’m pretty sure I know how you feel. I also know how she feels. I’ll bet she’s a little jealous of the fact that you write a blog that inspires 2000+ readers!

    Just a thought.

  • Reply Steady Plodder |

    I like the way that you phrase that your sister is “annoyingly good at being frugal but not cheap”. I find it sometimes tough to balance these two things!!

  • Reply Amy |

    It takes a certain mindset to have alot of fun with frugality. I enjoy and actually relish every little thing that I do to save money and I, like your sister, actively look for additional ways to play the game. My husband and I live way below our means on purpose (800 sq. ft. 1 bedroom condo (paid for), 1 car (almost paid for), lots of homecooked meals) but we try and go to Europe once a year (experiences before “things”). I’ve been saving rebates in our “Ireland” account; every time I get one I’ll say “here’s a half pint” or “Look, honey, a ploughman’s lunch!”

    That being said, it’s totally different HAVING to do it rather than WANTING to do it.

  • Reply Kari |

    One way to get perspective on this situation – cost of living. It’s a lot easier to live frugally in Kansas City (MO or KS) than in San Diego.

    It is certainly possible to live frugally in San Diego, but the cost of living is so much lower in the midwest, it’s a huge advantage. I learned this the hard way after moving from rural Minnesota to Seattle, Washington…once I got over the sticker shock for housing, gas prices, etc. I learned to adjust. Now I love Seattle and can’t imagine leaving.

    Beks, this is meant to be encouragement…it’s tougher to make ends meet when you live somewhere expensive, but you are making it work! Good for you.

  • Reply lizzie |

    Wow, what can I say? Here I am, always in AWE of YOU and your frugality!!! But, come on, I know you have just as much fun crunching the numbers and seeing how much you can save too :-).

    Jaye-I am jealous…..

    Amy-It started out as having to, now fortunately, I WANT to.

    Kari-That’s why we moved to KC from SD. Though with our loooong cold winter this year, I can see why so many people are willing to put up with the cost of living in SD!

  • Reply shannon |

    Hey..I have a ‘perfect’ sibling as well! I know how you feel.

    Love your blog. I have some debt of my own that I’m working on..but I am just starting my journey. Thanks for the inspiration!

So, what do you think ?