7 Tips from the Great Depression

Posted: October 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm by Skip Kelley

When I was growing up, my family and I would always visit my grandparents—whether it be for Sunday dinners, family parties or just going to say “Hi” and to spend time together. One day we were sitting in the living room talking while the adults were sipping on hot coffee and eating Royal Dansk cookies—I’ll bet that you remember those Danish butter cookies that were in the round blue tin like I do, right? As we sat talking, my grandfather stood up and walked to the closet, reached to the top shelf and brought down some old photo albums.

As he reached for the photo albums, however, I couldn’t help but notice the mass amounts of toilet paper and water jugs buried in the closet. When he sat down I asked him, “Grandpa, why do you have so much toilet paper and water in the closet?” He looked at my grandmother, smiled, and then looked back at me and said, “Let’s take a look at these pictures. Sometimes they can tell a better story that I can…”

As we sat looking at these timeless photos I found myself questioning so many things. There were pictures of my grandfather in his youth that looked like a scene from the movie Cinderella Man—no one with jobs and families with children barely making enough to get by. These were hard times. But how did my grandparents, your grandparents and all of our relatives make it through the stock market crash that hit its lowest and worst in U.S. history? Below are some “getting through it all” tips from the old-timers that hit hard times:


  • Fix it yourself: This popular trend of DIY (do it yourself) has made a comeback. When something breaks, don’t buy it new again, fix it! If that doesn’t work, try building something new.


  • Reuse items: When an old t-shirt rips or gets a hole in it, use it as a dust cloth or a rag in the garage.


  • Shop with a list – not your eyes: Make sure you stick to the items that you wrote down at home when you’re at the grocery store. Don’t get mesmerized by pretty colors and images on boxes. Extra toilet paper and water are probably a better buy.


  • Grow your own vegetables: Imagine the taste of something with no preservatives and being able to walk to your garden or balcony and pick your own tomatoes for your salad.


  • Buy generic over the counter drugs: Take a brand name box of aspirin and compare the ingredients to the local drugstore brand, you’d be surprised at the indifference.


  • Pay in cash: It may not be the easiest way, but it sure makes a difference. Purchasing items in cash will change the way you spend as a consumer. Handing over a piece of plastic to the cashier is much easier than cash from your wallet.


  • Believe in the possible: At the end of the day my grandparents held onto a deep belief that they could get through anything—anything was possible. So they got to work and made it happen.


  • Give at least one of these tips a try and see how much it makes a difference not only in your pocket but in your life. If our relatives could do it, so can we. Here’s a challenge for you: Every time you use one of these tips, write down how much it would have cost if you would have chosen a less savvy route.

    Take care and enjoy the richness of life!

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