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How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression

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How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression

Recent economic times may mirror what American grandparents or great-grandparents went through in the Great Depression. While this time may be a challenge, it may be an opportunity to look back and learn how previous generations coped with tough economic times. Hopefully, we'll never need to relive their lessons learned, but at the very least we can appreciate their resourcefulness and gain perspective on our own situations.

Quit using credit. If you don't have the cash to make a purchase, then don't buy it. If you have credit cards, make sure to pay the balance off every month. If you can't pay off the balance, then cut up the credit card(s) and work on paying down what you owe. One of the first lessons learned by people who survived the Great Depression was to never borrow money unless you have a clear plan for how you're going to pay it back.[1] And when layoffs are a reality, expecting to pay for it with your Christmas bonus or your next paycheck is not a sound plan. If you don't have the money to pay for it right now, don't buy it.

Nurture positive relationships with family and friends. They will see you through difficult times. But you need to work together and stop being in denial and expect a free ride.

* Be honest with your family and friends that you are facing difficult times financially. And don't be ashamed--good people have money troubles.

* Discover ways to barter and help each other.

* Talk to Your Children About a Financial Crisis You don't want to worry your young children, but doing so in a forthright, reassuring way will be more helpful than keeping up a lie. Kids usually want your time and attention more than stuff, anyway.

* Get Adult Kids to Pay Their ShareA healthy adult should not expect parents to pay their way. And a healthy adult certainly shouldn't expect their children to pay their way. Baby boomers, it's time to grow up. If this has been the case, this is as good a reason as any to stop this enabling behavior.

* Have a Depression Dinner. Research what people ate during the Depression. It wasn't all pinto beans and corn bread.

Enjoy the Simple Pleasures. During the Depression, people still had fun, just not lavishly expensive fun. Children had soapbox derbies, teenagers had dance contests, and everyone played Monopoly, did puzzles, read, and listened to the radio. Get together to discuss philosophy or pray;play poker or make crazy quilt pillows; play instruments and dance. In those days, it took some imagination and ingenuity, but they had a lot of fun without hanging out at the mall, and you can too. Many of the friendships and alliances formed during the Great Depression on the basis of such activities stood the test of time.[2]

Do it yourself. When money is short, you don't really have a choice - either you do it yourself, or it doesn't get done. Learn how to fix and maintain everything in your home, in addition to your clothes and accessories.

* Sew. Learn how to mend torn seams, hem, sew buttons, and sew zippers. This will make your clothes last much longer. When you need new clothes, either shop at second-hand stores and tailor the clothes so they fit, or buy fabric and make your own clothes from patternsinstead of buying an expensive outfit just for the designer label. You can also apply your sewing skills to recycle old clothes into handy new things, like turning an old pair of jeans into a tote bag.

* Get in touch with your inner handyman (or handywoman). Do you know how to fix a running toilet? Pack a water shutoff valve? Change a clothes drier belt? Replace an interior doorknob?

* Change the oil in your car. While you're at it, you might want

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