How Would You Survive Another Great Depression?

My mother and father both lived through the Great Depression. I don’t remember them talking about it much but I do remember the effect it had on their lives later in life. My father always seemed overly obsessed with security. Oh, not the type of security where you protect your property from thieves but the security of knowing that you will have enough wherewithal to pay your bills, maintain your home and autos and retire comfortably. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, he only got to enjoy one year of retirement before dying of a massive heart attack. My mother couldn’t throw anything away. She had more empty butter tubs than anyone I’d ever met. She even washed and saved used aluminum foil and plastic bags. She spent a lifetime surrounding herself with “stuff” that weighed her down and caused her much grief as she sorted it year after countless year. It was sad to see.

Now our country is in the midst of a recession. Call it what you will but it appears to me like it is moving closer and closer to another Depression. I’ve been thinking about things we can be doing during the months ahead to prepare for the possibility that this is coming. Here are some things I’ve thought of. I’d love to hear some of your suggestions, too.

1. Pare down discretionary spending. For me, I mostly buy books and yarn. Well, I can certainly go to the library to check out books for free. I also have plenty of yarn in my stash that should keep me knitting for many months to come. I certainly can’t say I will stop buying books and yarn entirely but I know that these are areas I could drastically save money, if I have to.

2. Get out of the credit card habit. Luckily we decided this was wise about 5 years ago and have been steadily paying down and paying off credit cards since then. Now we use our debit cards for purchases unless it is something like a plane ticket. Then we use American Express and pay it off quickly. If you get in the habit of using your debit cards or cash now, if your income goes down later, you will have much less debt to manage.

3. Mend your clothing or learn to sew and adapt what you already have in your closets. During the Great Depression, people mended clothes and even shoes. Many a pair of shoes had holes that were patched with cardboard. I certainly have enough clothing in my closet that I can get by with what I already own. I also know how to sew. These days, “altered fashions” are all the rage. That’s where you take a ready-made garment and alter it to make it into something customized to your liking. In a pinch, I can always do just that. Places like Goodwill and Salvation Army are also good places to look for very inexpensive clothing.

4. Network among your friends. This can be valuable in many areas. Friends can often be great sources of leads on job openings. How about getting a group of friends together and have a clothing swap? One person’s cast-off is another person’s treasure. Have furniture that is no longer needed? Other families might need just what you are storing in the garage. If friends don’t need something, use Craig’s List and be generous. If you can give it away, do it. Put out the word at church and see if anyone knows of a person or family that has a need for something you have and vice versa.

5. Plan to have a vegetable garden this year. Even if you live in town, you can still do container gardening. Then check out a good book from the library on canning or freezing produce. Come winter, you’ll be happy you have all those edibles just waiting to be eaten. And if you have a bumper crop of something, share the wealth. That’s where networking comes in handy. You might not particularly care for all that squash but maybe another friend or neighbor does. They, on the other hand, might have too many green beans and would love to give you some of their crop.

6. Befriend a hunter. Hey, this isn’t as strange as it sounds. If you already hunt, you understand what I’m suggesting. If you don’t, let me just say that my son-in-law hunts and last year, the two deer he shot provided all the meat they needed for the YEAR! This year, he shot even bigger deer. I might develop a taste for deer meat after all.

7. Consider an emergency plan. During the depression, the folks that lived on farms managed a little better than the folks that lived in the cities, in general. My mother said that some folks sent their children off to live on the farms of relatives, knowing that their children would always have something to eat. Do you have relatives who still farm? You may think it silly now, but it might be prudent to just sound them out about the possibility of joining them temporarily if things get really bad. Similarly, talk to your extended family. Discuss what you all might do if things get really tight and one of you lose your home. Is there a fallback place they could go? Hopefully things will improve before it would come to that but…..several families living together, pooling their resources, could make sense in desperate times.

8. Above all, keep a positive attitude and know that God has this under control. There might have to be some belt-tightening for awhile, but just remember the song, “Tomorrow.” The sun WILL come out again.

  • I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

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