Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Thanks Mom

Family, Holidays, Living well on less $

My mom was an amazing woman. Her priorities were God, Dad, us, others, then herself. She was kind, generous, and a whiz at managing money. Since the economy is in the news so much these days, I will focus on her money management talents.

To use an expression I once heard, she could pinch a nickel so hard the Indian was riding the buffalo! That is no longer politically correct, but thankfully the nickels have changed now too. The updated version would be she pinched a nickel so hard Jefferson was riding the buffalo! I am sure if she had been sent to Washington, she could have balanced the budget.

I grew up in a blue collar household located in a gold coast suburb (Shorewood), yet my parents never argued about money. Mom elevated frugality to an art form. She used coupons and stuck to her budget. (She used an envelope system ala Dave Ramsey.)

Most mothers back then still cooked meals, and she was no different.  We ate up leftovers and did not waste food as many do today. Sundays we splurged and had lunch out at a modest restaurant after church and munched on popcorn for dinner. She would joke that it was against her religion to cook on Sunday! (I follow that same practice.)

Her philosophy of money management was to skimp on things that don't matter so you could splurge once in a while on something that would greatly improve your quality of life. That is how we ended up with a dishwasher back in the 1950s and a color TV in the mid 1960s. You may snicker at those two items being a luxury, but trust me, they were not the norm--even in Shorewood.

One of the items we saved money on were clothes. Mom sewed her clothes and most of my sister's and mine. She taught me to sew and I made my first dress in 3rd grade.

Another other area of savings were vacations. I think we started camping in 1958. Even though mom was not really the camping type, she saw that it was a relatively inexpensive way to see the U.S.A. We would pack up our huge cabin tent and head out to Mt.Rushmore, the Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, etc. Those are fond memories.

I had some girlfriends who were from much wealthier families than mine. There wasn't jealousy or envy about that fact; that was just how life was. One in particular has been my friend since the 1st grade. Her parents owned a popular resort up north that was frequented by Green Bay Packers and other local celebrities. She spent each summer up there.

Her mom took her to Chicago each year to purchase all new school clothes. Because I was always interested in fashion, that was a wondrous thing to me. They also had a housekeeper who did all of their cooking. My friend seemed to have the ideal life at the time.

Recently my 1st grade friend mentioned how she thought I was the privileged one when we were growing up. She wished her mom sewed her clothes, made oatmeal cookies, and above all, she wished she could have traveled like we did on our camping trips!

In looking back at my life, I have to agree. I was privileged. I still am. So much of who I am and what I value was influenced by my Godly mother. If she were here today, I would rise up and call her blessed. She left a pair of large shoes to fill.

If your mom is still here, be sure to tell her all that is in your heart this Mother's Day.


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