Sunday, July 7

My Frugal Grandfather

One of my readers suggested I post about my grandfather, who I lost recently.  So much of who I am comes from how he lead his life, so I bring this post to you in his memory...

Granddad worked in the same occupation, at the same company, for almost his entire life.  In the 1950s he was offered the position of plant supervisor for a new location his company was opening.  My grandparents and my mother (who was a toddler at the time) packed up their bags and moved from Omaha to a small town in Alabama.  They built a home which my grandfather lived in until we moved him to a nursing home.  He retired from the feed mill in the 1990s.

When my brother and I visited as children, there were days when we saw very little of Grandad.  He woke up at 3 AM every morning and left for work.  He usually got off work mid-afternoon and headed to another job.  The side jobs included maintenance at a marina and shopping center in town, cutting grass for several people, painting, and eventually ownership of a bowling alley.  Bowling was his only hobby, and he and three friends invested in building a 20 lane facility that included a driving range, go carts, miniature golf and batting cages.  He never made much money with that business but he loved it.

My grandparents were generally thrifty, but they spent money on experiences.  They were thrifty in their day to day habits.  My grandmother sewed, so she altered their clothes as needed, made some of her own outfits, and created amazing Afghan blankets.  My grandfather did all the repairs around the home.  He built a tile shower in the basement so he could bathe downstairs when he came home from work instead of dirtying up the home.  He liked cooking out and relaxing outdoors so he built a screened in porch, which he enlarged more than once over the years (it's pretty big!).  They rarely ate out.  When my brother and I visited we might walk to the Dairy Hut for a snack; occasionally we would go somewhere for breakfast or lunch.  We always ate dinner at the house.

They did spend money on certain things.  My grandmother only drove new Buicks with leather seats.  They took a lot of vacations, including trips to Vegas, Reno or wherever a bowling tournament was being held.

As far as investing is concerned, they were conservative - more so than I will ever be.  The vast majority of  assets were held in bank CDs.  Even so, there was a respectable (but modest in my opinion) estate left after he passed away.  And Debt?  I think the only debt my grandparents ever had was the mortgage on their house.

My grandfather was always working.  That's what I remember most.  But I do remember he did things to show his love.  When I was 18 I bought my first house.  My granddad came down for several days over the course of a month to completely remodel my bathroom.

I learned the value of working for what you have from my grandfather, but that it was okay to spend some of your earnings every now and then.  It's okay to spend money on nice things that you will appreciate and enjoy so long as you pay in cash and be frugal where it counts.

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