June 23, 2013

Five Frugal Tips My Father Taught Me—Part 3

Today I continue the series about lessons learned from my dad on being thrifty.

Frugality Tip #3

My father taught me basic life skills and then some.  I’m not sure if it was because he was left to be both father and mother and he wanted to prepare us in the event that were to ever happen to us, or perhaps he was simply teaching us what we knew.  Or, it could just be because he was an excellent father—whatever the reason, Daddy taught my sister and me how to do a lot of different kinds of things.  He knew a lot about building and fixing things, and he tried to pass on that knowledge to us.  One day we might be installing new toilets, another we might be with him on a job site talking about blueprints, another we might be repairing the lawn mower.  Whatever he was doing, he tried to involve us.  I joke that I know how to bat my eyelashes at someone else and coax them into changing a flat tire for me, but thanks to my father, I am perfectly capable of doing so myself if the need ever arises. 

When he couldn’t teach us something himself, he would enlist the help of others.  Because we have such a large family, there was always an aunt, uncle or cousin who could help with instruction.  I have memories of my Aunt Sibyl teaching me to crochet, my Aunt Elma teaching me to smock, my Aunt Bessie teaching me to shoot hoops. 

My dad loved to learn, and he didn’t “dumb down” to us.  On family vacations we would be forced encouraged to do complex math problems in our heads.  Sunday lunch conversation often involved discussions about world history and current events.  We watched more documentaries than we did sitcoms.  When I would come home and talk about what I had learned in school, he would make sure I knew the rest of the story—what the history books didn’t cover and the complexities behind why things worked the way that they did. 

Because he gave me the gift of loving to learn, I not only have some fancy book learning and a nice masters degree on the wall, but I also have something more important--an interest in the world around me.  This has spawned my love of gardening (one of the best money saving hobbies around) and food preservation.  It has also given me the blessing of a career in which I am able to make money for our family while helping others. 

Take away--

  • Don’t ever stop learning.  Read.  Take a class.  Ask a friend to teach you something that he or she knows.  Knowledge is power. 
  • Teach.  Share your skills with others.
  • Don’t dumb down your kids.  Children are much more capable than we make them out to be.  Use big words around them.  Talk to them about concepts and ideas.  Make everyday experiences opportunities for growth and development.  Don’t just teach the boys “boy things” and the girls “girl things”.  It is just as important to know how to prepare a meal as it is to turn a screwdriver. 

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