THE BLOG

My Mother's Own "Cheap Week"

12/30/2014 06:22 EST | Updated 03/01/2015 05:59 EST
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My mother's response to my "cheap week." While she applauds my financial responsibility she is worried about the nutritional value of frozen vegetables.

I remember when I moved out of my parent's house for the first time. It was the 70s, I was 19 and ready to take on the world!

I didn't have a three bedroom apartment with laundry and a concierge. I was living with three other girls, two to a room. It was small, cramped and I became very good at making a can of soup stretch past two meals. Little tip if you just add extra water that soup can last for at least four days!

My roommates and I frequented sample sales, second hand stores and we were happy when we had enough money left over at the end of the week for a bottle of nail polish. Not the high-end kind, mind you!

Our lack of cash never hindered our enjoyment of life. It may have been many (many) years ago, but I remember happy times.

When I read my daughter's article about her "Cheap Week" it warmed my heart that she is as cheap as I was. It brought back memories of my own youthful financial desperation. It's good to know that she's inherited the family cheap streak.

I, too, had to be cheap, so why did I get concerned when I realized my daughter was tippy toeing around the poverty line?

Financial responsibility is good. Paying bills, contributing to RRSPs, refraining from frivolous purchases, is right up there with cleaning your teeth -- it's got to be done. Seems like all those financial conversations about not going wild on your credit card and don't spend money on extravagant things paid off.

However, my mother's heart was horrified that her money saving strategies led to her eating frozen vegetables instead of healthy fresh!

The idea of her eating cheap food, making her own laundry soap, walking 40 minutes in the cold instead of taking public transport made me think, should I help her out?

I want my daughter to be independent. I don't want to foster the attitude that society owes her an extravagant living.

She is gainfully employed. Her job, like that of many young people, is on short-term contract with no security and no benefits. The lack of benefits for my daughter means that an expense such as out-of-the-ordinary dental treatment would put her budget off so much she wouldn't be able to recover.

To her credit, she has never asked for help. She delights in being independent. But if she is offered help, she is not exactly shy about accepting it.

My husband and I are firm believers in letting the kids learn from life's lessons. They need to make their own way.

Both of us have worked hard all our lives. In fact, we had our own version of cheap week -- except it was called cheap life. Now, in our 60s, we want to enjoy this time of relative financial security.

My philosophy is that being a parent doesn't end when your child turns 18. While I think she should be independent, if I can help her out without sacrificing my own finances, then why shouldn't I? If I do help her, a caveat would be that any financial offer is a favour and not an expectation. It would curb my daughter's understanding that she should not rely on us to bail her out with any frequency.

So, I think I'll pick her up some fresh produce and possibly some laundry soap. If I had to survive and come up with creative ways to survive, then so should she, but maybe she could do with properly cleaned clothes and a healthy diet.

Now I have to decide just how much to help her, while keeping enough disposable dollars to fund my own late-blooming desire for frivolous purchases.

It's my time to ditch the cheap wine, go for a cruise and blow her inheritance!