I grew up in a home where food was always a predominant issue.
My mom did her best to raise all four of us on her own with little to no help from family.
The Dad I Never Knew was pretty much non-existent, and that left her relying on help from food programs to feed us.
I realize there is a debate over food assistance programs, and I also understand that there are those who take advantage of the system which leaves some people thinking that the programs do not work.
But there are millions of kids like me who were fed through these programs. Regardless of your feelings about them, they are necessary.
I grew up with very little.
My mom would get her food stamps at the beginning of the month and go grocery shopping.
When she arrived back home with the mountain of bags filled with food, it would be like a celebration at our house for several days as we would eat like kings!
By the third week, food was getting low and we still had many days to go until we would have more food in the house.
The fourth week was always the worst!
My mom was very creative when it came to feeding us. She came up with some great ways to feed us on random things left in the cupboards by the end of the month after we had ravaged everything else.
My favorite was always homemade cereal which consisted of toast cut up in a bowl with a little milk.
But I can still remember trying to fall asleep at night sometimes very hungry and looking forward to school the next day where a hot lunch would be waiting for me.
We never literally starved like the children you see on TV in other countries, still, the effects of hunger did leave their mark on us.
This was the cycle I grew up in.
A few years ago she told me something that has become one of my biggest motivators for this blog.
She said she wished someone would have taken the time to sit with her and explain things like menu planning and couponing. She didn’t know better then so she did her best.
It wasn’t that she didn’t have enough food stamps to feed us, she just didn’t know how to make it stretch.
No one had given her these skills when they were handing her food stamps each month.
When I first moved out with my husband I carried on this same cycle.
Buy lots of great food and eat until it was gone without ever thinking of a plan for meals or how to make sure we weren’t wasting food that didn’t get eaten in time.
This was only one area of our spending and indulging that was out of control.
We were overspending in every area of our lives.
We made the decision one day that we wanted A Financial Legacy Worth Leaving in the hopes that we would not continue the cycle of poverty thinking that we had grown up in.
I didn’t want my family to be slaves to food or money. I wanted us to live freely!
The one area I saw that I could do something about was in our grocery spending.
I took some time to come up with a plan of action and that included a plan of what we would eat for one full week.
This one single thing has changed me completely.
I now see all the ways I was mismanaging our finances.
It’s no longer an issue of having enough money, but rather becoming intentional about how you use the money you have.
This is why I choose to be a frugal-minded person.
There is a freedom that comes when you Change Your Financial Perspective that I never expected!
It’s not about being cheap or how much money you have or don’t have.
It’s about thinking before you act and learning the skills and tips that will allow you to live an abundant life, and have money left over to save or bless others with.
It’s about not spending more than you have to whenever you can do something about it.
It’s about living for today, but always with the future in mind.
This is the kind of life I choose to live!
And might I add that taking that first seemingly simple step is all it takes to change the direction of things!
I make a menu plan and a grocery list at the same time so that I am only buying the things I need.
No more walking through the aisles grabbing every single thing I think we might need.
I encourage you to take the Grocery Challenge, starting with a menu plan, if you are looking for a quick way to find some extra money in your budget.
Please feel free to share your own stories in the comments section. I am very much encouraged by your willingness to share with me, and I read every single one of them.
Terri Bell says
I used meal planning and lists and food assistance programs raising our four children. It was the only way to make our income stretch enough to pay our bills. . But in 2000 our nest became empty. Just the 2 Of us and the lists were out the window. Reading this blog has made me wonder why I stopped. 20 years later it still makes total sense. I’m back to it from this day on. Thanks Kristie
Kristie Sawicki says
Ha! I totally did the same thing once my kids were grown and moved out. We had so much more extra money that it didn’t seem to matter. But then one day I was like why are you spending money you don’t have to spend? So back on a budget and watching for sales because I like to keep my money for a rainy day or retirement or to spoil my grandkids 😉
Jenny l Patrick says
I have heard that people don’t remember things that happened to them when they were little. Well I beg to differ with them as I was raised kind of like you except for the fact we didn’t get food stamps but commodities. Same why you ate a lot with food stamps we did with the commodities. It was party time at our house Friday thru Monday so our food wasn’t a priority. I got a job babysitting at age 12 so I could get food for my 2 brothers and a sister. My mom had got a part time job and she would sometimes give me 2 dollars to feed 4 kids. Peanut butter became our friend!!! I have to have peanut butter bread and milk in my house now or I panic! I hate mustard and ketchup as most of the time that was all in the fridge besides beer of course.
Kristie Sawicki says
Oh Jenny, I know this childhood you’ve lived through so, so well. I seriously still love peanut butter by the spoonful to this day <3
I'm so glad you survived and I pray you are living a much better life than the one that was modeled for you.
Amy Dell says
Oh man, this hit home. Food choices were simple and sparce as a kid. My parents were what I would call “working poor”. I grew up with the same cycle of eating like kings and then eating random leftovers towards the days waiting for next grocery trip. I continued this cycle when I went to university, and when I got married. Hunger pains are a distraction even if you are not technically starving. It also led to childhood depression, anxiety, and blood sugar issues. Now that I’m doing well in my career and have learned to plan and budget for two monthly pay periods. Otherwise I become a food hoarder and end up buying too much of one item on sale and we end
up eating that 2 times a day.
My mom grew up in poverty as well. We never went without food, and I don’t remember going to bed hungry, but there were a lot of things in our home that were treats! Soda, for one, was a BIG TIME treat for us. My mom worked really hard, like you, to make sure we didn’t suffer like she did. You’re doing great, and I can tell you as a grown child of a frugal mom, your children will certainly remember it!
Kristie Sawicki says
Jill thank you so much for your encouraging words! It sounds like your mom did a great job!!
When all of my kids were home it made a family of 7. There was also a cat and dog to be taken care of. The night before my shopping for the week I took the weekly flyer, my coupon envelope and planned the week’s meals. When I cooked one night it many times left something that could be used for left overs/meal for another night. It was a much more organized way to know what we were eating for the week and with the nightly menu planned I could go through what I already had so I didn’t buy extra. I certainly made it a challenge to use as many coupons as I could and see just how inexpensive I could make my main meal.
Debra Hubbard says
Kristie thank you for sharing your story! I have four sisters, and we were raised the same way. I have grown children and grandchildren now, but throughout the years I’ve learned to manage our food budget and food. Our Grandmother was very frugal also, and we would observe the ways she prepared and saved food. One thing I would like to share is; our Grandmother would take leftover vegetables from the serving bowls, (even if it were just a spoonful of corn, and she would freeze it in a container, along with the other vegetables she had frozen. Then, when the container was full, she would make a pot of Vegetable Soup! It was delicious! Another way to make food stretch, is, if you have leftover pies from Thanksgiving, slice them as usual, and double wrap each individual piece loosely with Plastic Wrap, or Wax Paper; then Foil. (Wrap them well, and freeze them in a safe place in the freezer where they will not be crushed with other food packages). (After I wrap the pieces of pie, I put them in a plastic container to freeze). And when you want a piece of pie, just let it sit at room temperature until thawed. *They will taste like they’ve just been made; (if they’re wrapped and stored properly).
Wow. That was a very touching story. Thank-you for sharing. We always had enough to eat, but we did have to worry about whether we could pay next month’s rent or not. That was very stressful for me growing up. I have become frugal in my adult years and I think that has saved us financially many times. You might even say that I’m a control freak about money. Also, that’s probably why I am glued to financial blogs like yours 🙂
Kristie Sawicki says
Yvette I so appreciate you sharing your story with me! Thank you!
Dominique Goh says
We don’t really use coupons here as it is not the norm..but am looking at ways to stretch our grocery dollars too. 🙂 Will be following up to see how you feed your family on your budgeted amount.
food was an issue as I was growing up too. I think this makes me frustrated when my kids complain about not enough snacks or not liking a vegetable. I have to realize that they don’t understand what it is to be really truly hungry.
My family had many lean years like yours, but thankfully along the way my mom included us in couponing and shopping smart so we learned how to feed ourselves. It’s part of why I’ve always been frugal and why feeding my family is my number one priority. I meal plan now and only allow extracurricular activities that keep us all at the dinner table together.
Nina Armitt says
Thank you for making the world a better place!
Kristie Sawicki says
Wow, thank YOU! This was too sweet of you 🙂
Melissa Newell says
YES YES YES Kristie! I love this testimony and your words. We feel the same way you do “It’s not about being cheap or how much money you have or don’t have. It’s about thinking before you act and learning the skills and tips that will allow you to live an abundant life and have money left over to save or bless others with. It’s about not spending more than you have to whenever you can do something about it.
It’s about living for today, but always with the future in mind.”
I have shared these words on my FB page because I think so many NEED to see and hear it! Preach it sista!
Ruth @ Living Well Spending Less says
I love this post Kristie! The circumstances I grew up in couldn’t have been more different, but I could still totally relate. In my family it was totally taboo to talk about money, and when I ventured out on my own I had absolutely no financial management skills whatsoever, which got me into a lot of trouble! I think choosing proudly to be frugal is one of the bravest choices any of us can make. Thanks for sharing your heart & wisdom! xoxo
Kristie Sawicki says
Thank you Ruth!!
Amy Clark says
I’m so proud of you for sharing your journey towards intentional spending! Thank you for sharing this with us today!!!! xoxo
I love your transparency and heart for others! Thanks for being such an encouragement and inspiration to so many people!
Kristie Sawicki says
Lisa thank YOU!!