I was originally going to share money-saving tips from The Great Depression, but when I mentioned that to my 90-year-old grandpa he laughed and said, “What money?”. So I switched gears and have come up with something a little bit different.
(See 10 Forgotten Money Saving Skills if you’re still interested in learning about old-time money-saving tips.)
As mentioned earlier, I sat down with my grandpa to discuss life during the depression. He was number 3 of 9 children and grew up on an 80 acre farm in Arkansas. He told me that life was full of hard work, but also strong community. He said that people were closer than they are today. I think that is probably true since hard times tend to bring people closer together out of necessity. A strong community is a great thing and so I wondered what other positive qualities people had to have in order to survive and maybe even thrive during the Great Depression. So here is a list that I came up with of Lessons Learned from the Great Depression.
Frugality is simply not letting yourself spend that which is not necessary. Obviously, during the depression money was scarce so frugality was the only option, but having this quality probably helped people get through the hard times with a grateful heart. If more people adopted this quality in their lives today then they would be a lot better off and you can bet that teaching frugality to the next generation would save them from a world of bad financial decisions.
Resourcefulness is the wise use of the material possessions that we have been given, even that which others may overlook. You can bet that everyone was resourceful during the depression because they knew that their resources were limited. This character quality would be a breath of fresh air in our throw away society today.
Industriousness is having a firmness of purpose with constant diligence and attention. Basically a person who is industrious lives with a purpose in mind and sets his mind to accomplish it. It’s a person who is almost always busy learning, creating or working on something. This was of great importance during the depression because it took a lot of energy and industriousness just to survive.
Endurance means having the strength and focus to keep pushing forward. This was a crucial quality to have during the depression. People didn’t know when things would get better, but they probably tried their best to push forward toward what the future might bring.
When creativity and resourcefulness come together great things happen. Knowing how to fill a need with minimal resources takes great creativity and I think people were probably forced to practice this skill during the depression. This is a skill that the current generation is lacking because we have everything we need all the time and I feel it is a great disadvantage to us. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.
When someone is determined you had better watch out because they will probably reach their goals with great gusto! I can’t imagine how parents during the depression were probably determined to feed their families and keep their homes full of hope instead of despair. This was probably a hard quality to maintain, but the ones that tried to practice it were blessed in the long run.
When hard times come, things are bound to change and those who embrace the change will flourish. Flexibility was probably key during the depression because husbands were out trying to find work and didn’t know where they would end up. I think being willing to try something new when you need to is a key survival skill.
Being grateful and content is probably one of the most important keys to happiness during the depression. Those who focused on what they had and how blessed they were probably had more opportunities come to them than those who complained and moped around because they didn’t have something. Again, maintaining this quality was probably a struggle, but worth it in the end!
The Great Depression was a time of need and scarcity, but I believe many families flourished because they worked hard and were grateful for what they had. Thinking about the Depression makes you realize the that the most important things in life are not money or material possessions, but relationships and memories.
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