Life goes on, and then suddenly, stuff happens.  For these 5 women, going solo reinforced a frugal lifestyle that has created both opportunities and meaning.  Here’s their best advice:

When Deborah DeHoff got divorced at age 40, the financial impact didn’t concern her.  DeHoff grew up so poor that her family often had to turn off the heat to save money.  She never got an allowance or went to the movies.  She rose early each morning to milk cows and bale hay.

“I vowed that my life would not be that way as an adult,” says DeHoff, who is now a certified financial planner and owns 10 acres—with two horses—in Elkhart, Indiana.

After her marriage ended, she persuaded her employer to help pay for a college degree.  That allowed her to shift from part-time work to a full-time career as a financial planner.

But the frugal ways of her childhood are ingrained.

“Frugality is a lifestyle,” she says.  “You have to make a conscious decision about every last thing you spend on.”

For example, she still never goes to the movies: Films, TV series, books, music, even internet access are all free at the public library.  She plans the rest of her financial life the same way.  A few more tips:

> Cut your own lawn.  “I won’t pay someone to do what I can do.”

> Shop with a list, and stick to it.  “If I need black pants, I don’t buy the blue skirt that’s on sale.”

> Buy in bulk.   DeHoff’s two horses, Monster and Sophie, are her only extravagance.  Even then, she buys their grain and hay in bulk and gets big discounts.

> Keep a loose-change jar.  Dump change into it at the end of each day; never raid it.  When it’s full, make a savings account deposit.

> Spend on what matters.  For vacation, DeHoff stays home and spends extra time with her horses.  “I don’t even go to Starbucks,” she says.  “Feeding the horses is more important.”


By Contributors: Bruce Horovitz, David Hochman & Claire McIntosh

For AARP Magazine, October/November 2017