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Discount Diva: Frugal mom busts myths about money

If you were fortunate enough to grow up with a frugal mother, thank your lucky stars this Mother’s Day.

Your thrifty mom gave you the gift of gratitude over entitlement, instilled generosity instead of selfishness, and cultivated a sense of contentment rather than anxiety. Well done, mom.

Leah Ingram had a frugal mom, but that doesn’t mean she always followed her advice. Nope, for a long time she lived like most Americans – beyond her means, over her head in debt and living in more house than she could afford. But thanks to her upbringing, she eventually came to her senses and turned things around. Just how she did that is chronicled in her book “Suddenly Frugal: How to live happier and healthier for less.”

Because she had experienced life as both a penny pincher and a spendthrift, she knew better than to believe what people who had never lived frugally feared about living a life of sensible spending.

“These folks had bought into the myth of frugality. To them, living frugally meant not living much at all,” she writes. “In reality, if you adopt a more frugal lifestyle, suddenly you will find that you are more in control of your spending and you will actually be able to live more on less.”

Here are what she calls the four myths of frugality, and how she disproved each one.

Myth 1: “Frugal people never have any fun.”

Myth busted: Frugal people have more fun than people who aren’t careful spenders. And not just the “isn’t it so fun not being harassed by collections agencies?” kind of fun. It’s the fun that comes from not being a slave to a job you hate, from being able to afford vacations because you didn’t blow your money on stupid things, and from having the financial freedom to do the things you love because you finally understand how to harness your finances.

Try this: Visit to keep track of all the free music happening this summer. Volunteer as a museum docent or theater usher to take in free cultural events.

Myth 2: “Living frugally means eating like a pauper.”

Myth busted: Actually, you will eat better than when you dropped $10 a day on fast food. You can even go out to eat.

Try this: Visit for a huge list of restaurants that offer free kids’ meals.

Myth 3: “If I’m frugal, I’ll never get to shop again.”

Myth busted: Not only will you shop, you will shop like a pro. You’ll snag more, pay less, and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Try this: Plan and save for big, recurring expenses, such as Christmas, birthdays and school supplies. Shop out of season for the best prices.

Myth 4: “My kids are going to hate me if I ask them to be frugal.”

Myth busted: Have you ever noticed how much children who are spoiled seem to hate their parents? Frugal parents don’t have a monopoly on child angst. In fact, your kids will likely be happier and respect you more in the long run if you’re don’t indulge their every whim.

Try this: Visit and find enough free activities to keep your kids busy every day of the year. Buy a family membership to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park for $40. You’ll get an unlimited number of trips to the museum for less than the cost of a single trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s.