A frugal inheritence: How Mom is making this Buy Nothing New challenge easy

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. It got me thinking about my Mom and the various habits and behaviours I’ve inherited from her.

You don’t have to look hard to find similarities.

Take for instance our shared obsession for punctuality. I can’t tell you how many times Mom took us to the movies where we sat in a completely empty theatre for the better part of an hour. And there have been several occasions when we’ve arrived at an event and didn’t have a seat. Not because we were late and there was standing room only, but because the chairs hadn’t been set up yet.

Thanks to Mom, punctuality is also extremely important to me. Extremely important, mind you, not extremist-ly important, as it seems to be with Ma.

Another area of similarity is our competitiveness. Mom plays to win. She stills talks about how she shot the moon twice in a game of Hearts we played over a decade ago. And even while I was in the hospital, undergoing cancer treatment and with one foot in the grave, Mom refused to let me win at Scrabble.

That’s my Mom, and I love her for it. If you’ve read last week’s post about Red Rover, you’ll see that competitiveness is a pretty common trait in my family.

The “Buy Nothing New” challenge I’m doing this year is a great example of how being raised by Mom is serving me well. People keep asking me how I’m finding the challenge and if it’s been a real difficulty. It hasn’t. And I think a big part of the reason it’s been so easy is because I’ve inherited Mom’s cheap/frugal nature.

Being frugal was a necessity while raising eight kids on a blue collar income. We were a family of coupon clipping, shared bedrooms and one box of raisin Glossettes a week that we had to split eight ways. And if you ever go grocery shopping with my Mom, stand back. I’ve never seen someone shop so quickly and yet still manage to track down every sale item in the store.

And being the third youngest sibling, I’ve been wearing hand-me-downs my whole life. And when I had outgrown them, the clothes got passed down to my younger cousins. Heck, I still wear a dress shirt I wore to my grade 11 semi-formal to work now and again. And while it’s unlikely I’ll ever win any fashion awards, my hand-me-down upbringing is making not buying any new clothes this year a piece of cake.

Yes, Mom’s cheapness has definitely stuck with me. My house is a mish-mash of Kijiji, Value Village and furniture I took from the old family home in Port Albert when Mom sold the place. In fact, I sleep in the same bed that I was conceived in. Some might call that creepy. I call it savvy… ok, fine, maybe it is a little bit creepy. (And just for the record, it’s not the same mattress – I do have some standards).

So I think I come by my simpleton lifestyle honestly. And I’m grateful to my Mom for making this Challenge an easy one. She’s one of the least materialistic people I know and her lessons have taught me to appreciate the simple things in life.

So here’s to you, Ma! May all your appointments be on time, your Scrabble games victorious, and your No Name brand toothpaste on sale.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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4 Responses to A frugal inheritence: How Mom is making this Buy Nothing New challenge easy

  1. Mom says:

    Thank you Josh, for the “kind” words but I must protest the use of the word “cheapness” as in “…Mom’s cheapness has definitely stuck with me.” Had I a choice in the matter I would have preferred “frugality” 🙂

  2. Rob says:

    “In fact, I sleep in the same bed that I was conceived in.”

    Hail Circulon?

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