Alert
Close

Introducing AARP RealPad: The Wi-Fi Tablet That Makes It Easy to Share, Learn, Connect and Play. Learn more

Highlights

Open

10,000 Games Galore Sweepstakes from AARP

AARP Auto Buying Program

Contests and
Sweeps

$10,000 Games Galore Sweepstakes

Sept. 3, 2014 - Oct. 14, 2014
Play AARP Games for a chance to win $10,000!
See official rules. 

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular
articles

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

What I Really Know

About Saving Money

A grandmother touches others' lives by living frugally but fully

En español | I watched my 90-year-old mother-in-law live on $19,000 a year for the past 30 years, in California. How did she do it? She was fond of saying, "It's the little things." For example, she used one paper napkin for all three meals, neatly folding it and tucking it under the corner of the microwave after breakfast and lunch. She reused gift bags. Nothing useful was thrown out. Coupons, of course, were meticulously cut and redeemed.

See also: Ways to save big with coupons.

A frugal mother-in-law lived on $19,000 a year for 30 years and lived well - family photo

Wilma Williams, right, with one of her 12 grandchildren. — Courtesy of Christine Williams

She used only flat sheets on her bed, so she could rotate them and wash only one a week. That way she kept her washing down to two loads a week.

She lived without the expense of a car. Her apartment was within 2 miles of her work and grocery store, so she could walk.

She never had a credit card.

Wilma was a giver of time and financial help. At church, she volunteered, tithed and made monthly contributions to several missionaries. She gave Christmas gifts to her three children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Without fail, at Easter, Halloween and Valentine's Day each great-grandchild received a card with a dollar enclosed. She remembered our birthdays with checks, too.

I believe that it was in giving that she received. As she continued to touch others' lives and was willing to do without, she was blessed until the end with the ability to live frugally but fully.

One of her favorite quotes was, "It's not how much we have, but how well we live, that brings happiness." It worked for her!

Also of interest: Fun ways you can make a difference. >>

Christine Williams is a reader from Carmel Valley, Calif.

Your Turn! Tell us what you really know about Grandmother's cooking. Email your essay of up to 400 words to whatiknow@aarp.org. Or mail it to "What I Really Know," AARP Bulletin, 601 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20049. Please include your name and a phone number or email address.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Exclusive annuities for members from AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Homeowners Insurance
Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points