The Frugal Habits From Our Parents We Swore We’d Never Adopt – But Did Anyway

Money management and personal finance are often learned behaviors passed down from our parents.

Many of us may have grown up watching our parents pinch pennies, save every receipt, and hunt for the best deals, only to roll our eyes and vow never to live like them when we become adults.

But as time passes and life throws us curveballs, we may find ourselves adopting the frugal habits we swore we’d never do.

Someone posted on Reddit, “My mom did all sorts of things, like use toothpaste to the very end, and turn out every single light in a room even if we just were leaving for a minute. She was born during the depression, so those were the things she was taught growing up.

What things do you now do that when your parents did them, you thought they were excessive, but you now find yourself doing to be frugal/thrifty?”

Here are some of the best responses.

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

1. Save Bacon Grease

One person wrote, “Save bacon grease and aluminum foil that isn’t too badly burnt.” Someone added, “I thought saving aluminum foil was insanity years ago…now I always save it, one of those kitchen items I hate spending money on!”

Why throw something out if you can reuse it? Less waste and less money are a win-win in my book!

Related: 7 Ways to Reduce Food Waste in your Home 

2. Wash and Reuse

“Wash and reuse empty glass jars and big yogurt cups,” wrote one person. They added in a later comment, “My dad and I used them as seedling starter pots. I use the big yogurt containers (the quart size) as food storage for things like soups.”

What a great idea! Especially if you can throw them in the dishwasher to clean them easily.

3. Use a Safety Razor

“Like my dad, I now use a safety razor. Instead of the 12-bladed monstrosities that cost an arm and a leg, I can buy 200 double-edge safety razor blades for $10. Seriously, modern razor cartridges are like $4 a piece,” wrote one man.

4. Sneaking Snacks and Drinks

“Sneaking snacks and drinks into movie theaters. My father did that when I was younger, and I thought he was being soooo cheap! Now, if we go to the movies (one of our treats every few months) – we bring in our own drinks and candy. I am not paying $5 for a small soda!” wrote one person.

Those snacks and drinks really add up! Why not if you can sneak something into your pockets or purse?

5. Freeze Bread

“My mom puts bread in the freezer to make it last longer, and I used to bug her all the time to quit doing it because if it’s in there past a certain point, it tastes a little different. Now that I live alone and can’t finish a loaf of bread before it gets moldy, I’ll freeze it, even though I hated when my mom did it,” someone shared.

Why wouldn’t you freeze bread? If you have leftover food, then freeze it, so it doesn’t go to waste!

Related: 22 Little Things That Can Add Up To Big Savings 

6. Keep the House Cold

“keep the thermostat below 65 in the winter. Just put on a sweater!” someone wrote. Someone else added, “Curling up with a blanket is cozier than having the room hot already! Plus, it’s more flexible – what if you get home and you’re all sweaty and warm? It would suck to have a house already heated to 78*!”

It definitely feels different when you are the one paying the bills! The cold doesn’t seem to bother you as much.

Related: 10 Frugal Tips for Staying Warm During a Winter Freeze 

7. Coupons

“Coupons! I thought they were so lame as a child. Now I try to use coupons and sales whenever possible,” someone wrote.

With so many stores and coupons available on an app, then there is really no excuse not to use them.

Related: How To Get Cashback on Purchases 

8. Fix Cars

“Working on my cars. My dad could keep an old clunker running when we all thought it was dead. Now I work on my own and my kid’s cars. I can do almost anything bolted to the outside of the engine, and with YouTube, you can almost always find a video somewhere by someone who has the same problem as you and how to fix it,” one person shared.

You can probably find anything you need to learn on YouTube, although some things are better done by a professional.

9. Using Something as Long as Possible

“Using something for as long as possible, and (if possible) fixing it instead of buying a new one,” one Redditor answered. Another added, “I was very wasteful as a kid. Now I regret it because it wasn’t my money I was wasting.”

Kids don’t really understand the meaning of money or the purpose of keeping items as long as possible. As adults, they understand it better.

10. Garbage Picking

One person shared how they were embarrassed when they went garbage picking with their father: “When I was a kid, my dad would load me up on “garbage picking” adventures. I can clearly remember being sooooooooo embarrassed, and shrinking down as small as possible in the VW bug as we trolled the neighborhood on trash night looking for “treasures.” It’s a fun, frugal hobby of mine.”

I love finding great things in the garbage! One man’s trash is another’s treasure.

Related: Upcycle: The Best Way To Find Quality, Value, and Fulfillment 

11. Shutting Lights

“Turning out the lights is a big thing for me. Even at work, it annoys me when people leave the lights on in their office,” one person wrote.

Why waste electricity and money if you don’t have to?

Related: As Electricity Bills Rise, Homeowners Look to Lower Costs

12. Living With Old Furniture

You may not have understood why your parents didn’t buy new, nice furniture but there was probably a good reason.

One person wrote, “Live happily with some horrible furniture. Growing up, our house looked decent — it had some respectable stuff — and some totally clapped-out bits of home decor. Some of it hung around for long enough to go from ‘dated’ to ‘antique.'”

Now that they are adults, they changed their view, “Now I have two cats and a small child and no plans to replace the trashed sofa and understand why stuff didn’t get replaced in the kids-spilling-on-it years. The sofa’s very comfortable, and a new one would look like hell quickly anyway, so… I don’t replace furniture/decor stuff unless it’s needed or I can radically improve it and maybe even profit from it (in miniature ‘buy old solid wood side table for $25, sell current Ikea side table for $50’ side hustles).”


We hope you enjoyed this Reddit picks list of frugal things our parents do that we used to think were weird but have since adopted. Also, check out these top ways to make a hundred dollars quickly.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.