People Share The Cheapest Thing Their Family Had To Do While Growing Up.

This article is based on the AskReddit question "What's the cheapest thing your family did growing up?"

[Source can be found at the end of the article]

1/24. Instead of going on a day out to the zoo or the cinema or something like that we would go to Glasgow Sheriff Court to watch people get sentenced.


2/24. Growing up there were 4 of us kids and our parents would rotate "kid of the day" and on Fridays whoever was kid of the day got to pick where we "went to dinner." My step father would distract us in the basement while my mom cooked dinner based off the restaurant that was picked then when she was done she'd come downstairs and we'd all go for a ride around block then come right back home to "the restaurant." That was our going out to eat as children.


3/24. My mom bought some of those Guess triangles (the brand logo) and sewed them on some no name jeans for my sister for Christmas. And voila! my sister had designer jeans.


4/24. My mom saw no sense wasting money on Kleenex. Need to blow your nose? Use dirty clothing from wash basket. Or whatever you just took off. We also used whatever paper product was available for bathroom tissue. Paper napkin, paper towel. Used facial washcloths for sanitary pads when no pads on hand. We also bought canned veggies from a prison cannery.


5/24. We always saved wrapping paper. It really took the fun out of opening presents. You always had to be careful to not rip it and not crumple it, so you could use it as many times as possible.

When I grew up I discovered that wrapping paper costs about $3 per acre. But I still can't bring myself to rip the stuff.


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6/24. A family outing consisted of 'going for a drive'. We would all pile into the family car, and my Dad would drive to some place we hadn't been before to look around. We didn't stop for food or to shop, Mom would pack some snacks and drinks.


7/24. My dad wasn't happy with the service at our local hospital when I was born, so when my mom became pregnant with my younger brother in 1978, he went to the library, he took out some books on midwifery, and delivered John in their bedroom. I was eight years old and it seemed reasonable to me at the time. He did it again in '83 when Teddy was born.

The morning after Teddy was born, my mom handed me a bulging garbage bag and said "Mark, take this out to the garbage. Make sure you get it in the can with the lid on tight. It has my placenta in it. I don't want the dogs getting into it.


8/24. My dad and I would play "hit the log with the rock". We played it a few times a week when he got home from work and I loved it. I would get home from school before him and gather about 30-50 "good" rocks for throwing. Little did I know, dad was stressed at work with very little money and that was what he came up with to play a few evenings a week. My dad was embarrassed by this game and some of his home made toys although I look very fondly on these memories.


9/24. You know those horses outside the supermarket you paid a quarter to make it rock back and forth? My dad used to just put us on them and shake it by hand.


10/24. When my older brother was in preschool, he was told to bring snow pants because they were going to play outside that day (Minnesota). My family didn't have any for him so my mom sent him with sweatpants to put over his regular pants. They made him sit inside by himself.


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11/24. My grandfather saved all his old old glass eyes (he had one due to a war injury - it had to be replaced every couple of years). He saved them so we wouldn't use 'expensive charcoal' to create the eyes on snowmen.

Unintentional benefit? The hyper realistic snowman eyes scared the hell out of every passing motorist.


12/24. As a family, we would all pile into the family van and go see grandma on Vancouver Island. You need to take a ferry and pay per person to do so, so as a family with 4 kids, my parents used this trick. 2 of us kids would hide under a blanket in the back of the van and then my dad would just say "2 Adult tickets and 2 kids". This would save us about 50 bucks each roundtrip.


13/24. Dumpster diving actually gave us way more than people would think, Like my mom would dumpster dive the nicer florists in the upper income part of town around valentines day and they would throw out full bouquets of roses if they were there more than a few days, well before they wilted. So she would those, grab some cheapo vases from goodwill and get some ribbons and make some nice looking bouquet vases for half or less of the cost at a florist. She actually brought in tons of extra income that way.

There was also a used books/games store that would throw away old electronics that would sit too long or games that they had in excess. Numerous times we'd go behind their store and find boxes full of old games for current gen systems. Once even a newish looking monitor. We traded a lot of the stuff back to the other locations they had.

I've totally eaten dumpster dived food too. Once we found a huge box of those little individual bags of chips that came in different flavors none open or expired either.


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14/24. We got our bread at the bakery store, where they sold the stuff returned unsold from the grocery stores. And the grocery store didn't have unit pricing back then, so Mom would take me with her to tell her which items were cheapest per ounce. Ha, I used to lie about the green beans all the time and have her buy the second-cheapest brand because the cheapest brand was so lousy. I mean, I've eaten pieces of wood that weren't as tough as some of those beans.


15/24. My mom once gave me a plastic pasta strainer from walmart for my 12th birthday. We were really poor at the time, she wasn't just like a terrible person

She also refused to buy paper towels and tissues cause they were "too expensive" so we used a lot of toilet paper.


16/24. My mom would put a large plastic bag in her purse when we went to Chinese buffets. She'd put multiple of the same items on her plate and put some of each in the bag. She'd keel going until the bag was full. Chinese for lunch for like a week afterwards.


17/24. This was back before the days of cell phones, when a payphone cost 20 cents to make a call. My grandparents would take us somewhere and drop us off. Maybe to eat, or play at the park or whatever. So we needed to call them to let them know when we were ready for them to pick us up, but they didn't want us to have to spend the 20 cents for the call.

So we would make the call, let it ring two times then hang up, then call again, let it ring two times and hang up. Since the calls weren't connected, we'd get our 20 cents back, and my grandparents knew we were ready for them to pick us up.


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18/24. Well, when money was tight, my mom always made "bubble cheese", which looking back now is hilarious & sad.

Basically, she'd be like, "Who wants bubble cheese!?"

And of course, I did.

What's bubble cheese? Taking a piece of bread, buttering the bottom of it, putting it on a cookie sheet, putting a piece of cheese on top, putting it in the oven, and watching the cheese "bubble".


19/24. We had a large garden, and most of our meals came from that. Mom also had some grapes, so she canned grape juice. It was mainly water, and some grapes floating in the top. When you poured, you used the canning lid to hold the grapes in.

One night a week our meal was "stuff", which was crackers, lunch meat, some grapes or apples, and some sliced cheese.


20/24. My parents would buy 25 lb bags of rice, oats, and other grains to save money. One such time, we opened a bag of rice and some of it was wiggling. It was infested with maggots. We tossed all the rice in the freezer to kill the little guys, then put it all in water, because the maggots float. Skim the floaters off the top and you're good to go.

We were poor, but my brother and I never went hungry. Thanks mom and dad!


21/24. Back in the days of VHS, instead of buying tapes my mom would rent them and then make a copy using some weird method of like hooking up the camcorder to the VHS player while the tape was in there...still not sure how that worked. But she was pirating movies before the internet.

I didn't really realize that it was bad until one day at the store I saw It Takes Two on the shelf and screamed "mommy we have to copy this one!" and she was all like "shhh no we don't do that!" was shady but hey she was a single mom, money was real tight


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22/24. I remember seeing a neighbor help my dad remove a broken hot water heater when I was maybe five years old. It was never replaced until my brother and I had it done as adults. What we had for hot water was an old gas log in the basement. When you want a bath you go down to this thing, open the door, light a match (no pilot light), and turn on the gas, whoosh. Then go upstairs and wait twenty minutes and you had hot water, viola. But...wait twenty five minutes and the pressure relief valve would release all the hot water on the floor, usually putting out the flame (but the gas was still on.) So, shut off the gas, wait a few minutes and start all over again. Seriously nuts. No lack of money, my dad and mom both worked and we had a better than average income. Looking back I wonder how we didn't die in an explosion.


23/24. My Dad would buy something, keep the receipt and use the item for up to a couple of weeks, then return it.

For example, I remember that some relatives were coming to visit for a week. My Dad went to the store and purchased an air bed. Brought it home, set it up, put sheets and pillows and blankets on it, and the visiting family used it for a week. After the relatives left, my Dad put the air bed back in the box, got his receipt and returned it to the store.


24/24. I grew up in a poor household so there's probably quite a few, but these are the ones that stick out the most:

Hand-me-downs. I was the last of five kids, with a 15-year age gap between me and the eldest. I got everyone's old stuff. The worst was the old-fashioned hockey stick, that my sister had broken in half 15 years earlier because she wanted a new one. My mum refused and stuck it back together with duct tape. 15 years on I had to use that old hockey stick too.

We didn't buy dusters. Old underwear was ripped up and used as dusters and cleaning cloths.

Only allowed 1 bath a week, which was 'family bath'. As in, my mum would have the bath first, then me and my other brother would fight who got to go in 2nd or 3rd (using her old water...not in the bath at the same time), then my dad would go last.

Using the discount supermarkets. These days everyone uses (and boasts about using) Aldi or Lidl, but when I was a kid it was the height of embarrassment.



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When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.

These are those stories.

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