Lessons from our grandparents

Two women knitting.jpg

Spending time with family over the holidays encouraged a lot of us to reminisce about the good old days. While some things may not have been better and going back in time isn’t possible, there are a number of things we all can learn from past generations. If you have grandparents who were a product of the Great Depression, you probably know they did things differently than younger generations.  Some of their skills and money management ideas are trendy today!

It’s the small things – Even a small thing can be a luxury and your grandparents will probably tell you there’s nothing better than an ice cream cone on a hot August day. Take time to enjoy the smell of cut grass, the sound of a baby’s laughter or the taste of a warm cookie fresh from the oven.

Keep your wants under control – Nothing kills a budget like a never ending list of wants. Worst of all, wants erode your satisfaction with what you already have.

Face to face is better than Facebook – They “went visiting.” They chatted with neighbors on the porch, they invited the pastor over for Sunday dinner and they didn’t stare at a tiny device in their hand every waking moment. They were good neighbors, recognizing that time and money are precious resources that could be used to help others in their community.

Save for a rainy day – Anyone who was a product of the Depression will tell you that you never know when a crisis will arise or how much money you’ll need to survive. That’s why a lot of these people were millionaires next door, secretly stashing away as much as possible but maintaining a simple way of life.

Two men and carpentry.jpgGrow your own food – A lot of our grandparents had gardens. Even in cities, folks with yards often grew backyard gardens and anyone with a windowsill could grow a pot of tomatoes. Gardening is back in vogue as it is cost effective, healthy and a good form of exercise. You’re guaranteed to know where your food came from when you pluck it from your own garden.

Embrace practical skills – Did your grandma sew or quilt? Maybe she canned green beans from her garden and baked a great apple pie. Generations before us knew how to do things for themselves. Your grandpa could probably change a tire and the oil in his own car. They likely knew how to repair things that were broken and entertain themselves without a smart phone or tv. They were Renaissance men and women who had to know a little about a lot of things to thrive in life.

Keep a family album – When was the last time you printed a picture and put it in an album? Your pictures are probably stored on a phone or computer. However, it’s not so fun to gather the family around to scroll through pictures on your phone. Periodically print a few of those favorites and put them in a family album, something that can be passed around, flipped through and enjoyed.

Conserve – Your time, money and possessions are precious resources. It especially seems like there’s never enough time and money to go around so don’t squander them on things that aren’t important to you. There weren’t green recycling labels on everything back then because people typically needed to find multiple uses for every object.

Get creative – Depression era folks had to use what they had to decorate their home, clothe themselves and feed their families. Instead of running to the store every time you think you need something, try shopping your home or substituting another ingredient in your recipe. You may be surprised at the creative solutions you find!

Tell us: What are your memories of your parents or grandparents? What did they do that we could learn from today?



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