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Tuesday, April 16

The Evolution of a Thrifty Miser

Last week my grandfather passed away.  His demise was not a surprise to my brother and me.  We placed him in a nursing home in 2011 after his dementia started threatening his well-being, but since the start of this year his health started declining rapidly.  At 86, he lived a long, productive life.

My frugal ways have been heavily influenced by how my grandparents lived.  One generation removed from their German roots, a strong work ethic was always obvious when we visited as kids.  My grandparents moved to a small lake town in Alabama from a rural town just outside Omaha when my grandfather's company offered him the supervisor position at the local feed mill.  They built a house and stayed in that house their entire lives.

After his day job was over, my grandfather did side jobs.  Lots of them.  He was the maintenance supervisor at the local marina, building docks even though he couldn't swim and was scared of the water.  He also was the maintenance person at the shopping center his lawyer friend owned.  He cut grass for most of the neighbors on his street.  He wasn't afraid to put on a new roof, build a shower, or add an enclosed deck to a house.  When I bought my first house at the age of 18, he came down to Birmingham nearly every day for two weeks to help me remodel the bathroom.  I use the term "help" loosely:  other than handing him the tool he needed or driving to the hardware store for supplies, I was mostly an observer.

For fun, my grandfather loved to bowl.  The vacations my grandparents took were usually to attend tournaments.  Granddad won hundreds of competitions over his career.  I'm sure the prize money helped to subsidize their trips.  Eventually, in the late 80s, my grandfather and three of his friends opened a bowling alley. It was awesome going there growing up.  There were the batting cages, the go cart track, the mini golf and the arcade.  We didn't use the driving range.  By investing in his hobby, my grandfather was able to enjoy bowling whenever he wanted at minimal cost.

Now that I have had a few days to reflect on his life, I realize where my own habits started.  It's funny that it never occurred to me before.  Between my own father and my mother's father, I learned how to live a good life that doesn't cost much to live.

Where do you get your inspiration?

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