Saving Money By Living Like You’re in the Depression Era

Growing up, my parents were pretty amazing at saving money. Just to name a few of things they did to save money, they brown-bagged their lunch to work, compared grocery store circulars from several markets before purchasing anything, organized food plans for the week depending on what was on sale, and joined our buildings’ co-op board so that they could be watchdogs on how the building was spending money, which would ultimately affect their maintenance costs and property values.

They instilled a lot of wisdom in me, but more than anything, the idea that has stayed with me the most is: it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you save. 

The thirties are a time for building your nest egg, creating a solid financial foundation for yourself and potentially your family. And since I don’t make a lot of money (right now…), I take this adage to heart.

Lately, I’ve been really contemplating every single purchase I make. I try to be mindful about each dollar leaving my wallet. From the smallest items (gum, a bottle of diet coke, etc.) to larger purchases like clothing or new shoes.

This reminds me of a quote my parents used to repeat to me whenever I wanted to buy something new (well, not always, but often enough that I remember it.)

They would say,

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Until today, I didn’t realize this was a common household aphorism during the Great Depression. But it works and always. Especially in light of the whole Marie Kondo organizing movement of keeping only items that “spark joy” and also of a surge of people adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. Check out this woman’s blog, Make It Do. She decided to not buy anything for a full year except what she used up or wore out.

For me, I’m not going to be as extreme, but I do want to be mindful about every dollar I spend, in much the same way that I try to be mindful about everything I eat.

Would you adopt a spending diet? What’s your relationship to money?

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