Nov 5, 2012

Lessons of frugality from my childhood (part 1)

As I told in a previous post, in my childhood we lived on a very tight budget. Well, it was the 80s, in Portugal. The country had been out of a dictatorship in the 70s, and life wasn't easy (monetarily speaking) for most people. My father is a schoolteacher and at the time teachers, in general, were badly paid. My mother worked in her parents’ small grocery store. In spite of the economical struggles, I remember a happy childhood, filled with good memories…

I thought it might be interesting to remember (and to share) some of the details of our simple (and happy) life.


Fortunately, we never lacked food. Still, we always ate at home. Always. I think I’m not lying if I say I never ate at a restaurant during my childhood/early adolescence (excluding, perhaps, at wedding parties). But food was always yummy, as my mother is a fabulous cook. And a great part of what we ate came from my grandparents’ 'farm'. Tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, green beans, figs, plums, persimmons, nuts, eggs, and even meat (this was a great opportunity to learn some new words in English – “persimmons” is just awesome :P).
When we had to eat out, we always took our packed lunch with us and had a picnic. It was healthy and a lot of fun!


In our family, clothing would pass from cousin to cousin, from sibling to sibling and even from aunt to niece. I only disliked wearing my older brother’s clothes. Excluding that, it was quite pacific. At school no one really noticed or cared about clothing, as we were all equally ‘unfashionably’ (but cutely!) dressed :P
We almost didn't have stores to buy clothing nearby (shopping centers had not yet arrived to our area) and so, sometimes, for special occasions, my mother would order a dress from the local seamstress. I always loved these dresses - so lovely and naive looking :P


I have great memories from vacations (except that time, when I was 6, and I lost my 2 year sister… - oops! - but don’t worry, she was found pretty fast). Happily, we live at about 30km from the beach. We would go camping for about 20 days, in a park near the beach. These were simple vacation plans, but on the night before leaving to the camping park I could not sleep with excitement! And we also had some getaways with the extended family, with picnics and a lot of play. All simple, but (at least from a child’s point of view) pretty fun :)
There were also some years where we couldn't afford to leave home. And yes, I know those years were not so fun. I filled my diary pages with: ‘Booooring!’ But a simple day out in a park or at the beach was enough to have me happy again. “Look diary, I made a drawing of the duck we saw at the lake! And look, here's a drawing of the cake I ate!!” (for those who may be wondering – I have my diaries since I was 8 years old, and it’s a lot of fun to (re)read them).


(to be continued!) - So, see you pretty soon :)


  1. I loved this personal account and cute photos - can't wait to read more :)

    1. Hi dolly,

      I’m so happy you liked it :) It was very nice (and fun!) to remember and write about my childhood experiences. And looking at these old pictures always makes me smile :P

  2. I so wish that I would have kept my old diaries... they would be hilarious to read now.

    I can't wait for Part 2!

    1. Hi Shelley!

      Yep, they are hilarious :P While decluttering I found old diaries I didn't even remember existed, and it was a lot of fun. I’m happy you enjoyed this :)

  3. I have almost all my old diaries, including the second diary I ever had. You were such a cutie and yes, we had less and were so much happier!!!!!!!

    1. Hi! Thank you for stopping by :) Those diaries are precious! And I'm so grateful for my happy childhood!