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Living with less

Ruth Haag • Sep 10, 2013 at 3:00 PM

I watched with interest the attempt of fast food workers to raise their pay by going on strike.  Things were so good in the 1990s, that we all have become used to having some luxuries and start to think of them as necessities.   In the 1970s when there were economic hardships, we looked to those who had survived the Great Depression for lessons on how to live with less.  Now that there are economic hardships again, perhaps we can learn some lessons from the 1970s.

To put things in perspective, before the mid-1970s there were no credit cards.  Also, there was no easy credit with which to purchase cars and houses.  If a person didn’t have cash, then they couldn’t buy things.  Grocery shopping was an adventure.  People carefully totaled up each potential purchase until the weekly budgeted amount was reached and then stopped.  This was before inexpensive calculators, also.  

Here are some tried and true ways to save money:

Don’t routinely pay to have fun; save up for special events and until then take a walk for fun, or play in a public park.  

For a trip to another city, go to visit a relative and stay overnight with them (take a small gift to thank them, and clean up after yourself)

Accept offered used furniture from family members

Purchase furniture from a second-hand store, an auction or a tag sale.  If it is a little beaten up  fix it yourself

Look over the sale racks in all stores

Make food from scratch.  Do you know how inexpensive lentil soup is, and how healthy it is?

Get books out of the library

Instead of watching cable TV, read to one another from your library books

Mend your clothes

Check second hand stores for clothes

Children grow fast, pass gently used clothing around to family and friends

Plant a vegetable garden

Look over your bills and see if there is something that you can purchase cheaper, or perhaps do without

Seal the gaps in your windows, don’t replace them

Make gifts for people, rather than buying them

Put your children (12+ years old) on a clothing budget.  Figure out how much you should spend a year on clothing per child and then make that their budget for the next year.  Children faced with their own monetary clothing decisions often opt not to get the expensive must-have items. It will help them understand budgeting and shopping at discount stores

Use coupons only when you were already planning on purchasing the item

Dry your clothes outside

Unplug appliances, even your TV, when not in use

Use real napkins and wash them

Use real dishes and wash them

Walk on errands that you can walk on

Give the gift of time:  offer to clean or repair something for your relatives, or to take them on errands, in place of a gift

What if you want more money from your job?

If you are in a low paying job, work hard, learn all that you can and then look around for a better paying job that uses the skills you have gained  

If you want to learn more, but can’t afford schooling, volunteer in an area that you are interested in and learn from it

Accept extra work or offer to help with new projects at work

Make sure that you are clean, well-groomed and appropriately attired for your job

Arrive a bit early (maybe 5 minutes?) and be willing to leave a bit late (maybe 10 minutes?), but don’t charge your employer for the time

Provide positive suggestions, and don’t be offended if they are not followed

Ask for more responsibility

Find a way to disagree with your boss, without putting him or her down , undermining them or embarrassing them in public

Be willing to do all of the work that is necessary; mopping floors and emptying garbage are not beneath anyone

Always be cheerful

For the commentators:  How do you save money?  What have you done to advance yourself in a job?

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