Living with less

Ruth Haag
Sep 10, 2013

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?


Finn Finn

Actually, I'm at home right now. Another unvalidated assumption on your part.


Well no, You kept talking about your lawyer boss and they usually work at least every weekday.

Finn Finn

Well yes. Ever heard of earned vacation time? I have four weeks.


Well, good for you. Those minimun wage workers don't get any vacation. They don't get enough hours to qualify.

Finn Finn

Well then, do like the rest of us did. Work hard, look for a job that satisfies your desires, and stop complaining about your lot in life.


I'm not complaining about my lot in life nor am I looking for a job. I'm long past that stage and I'm doing fine. My concern is for those who are less fortunate.


Oh dear, after nine years as a legal assistant you only make $11.00 an hour and you don't feel your entitled to any more? You poor thing. You ARE seriously underpaid!!! That's another thing that's wrong with this country. Not only do we have educated people not making a decent wage, we have people like you who settle for the scraps thrown to us. Sorry, love, experience and apparent dedication does deserve more than that. Just do a simple job search on Google and see how much legal assistants are making in other states. Your employer would hire an uneducated person to do the same work you do for a dollar or so less. You don't think you're worth more than that? Damn. And by the way, there is no "schooling" for legal assistants, aka secretaries/administrative assistants. There is, however, schooling for paralegals (very different job), who do make more money because of the same. Wow, keep the wool pulled over! LOL! Sheep...

Finn Finn

I wasn't going to reply because this story is now a day old but your ignorant and insulting comments should not go unrebutted.

First off, to correct your obvious error, there IS schooling for legal assistants, aka paralegals. They ARE the same thing, not "very different jobs" as you claim, and normally entail a two year course of study. My firm employs multiple attorneys and staff. With my 25 years of experience in law offices, the attorney I work for trusts me in every aspect of case preparation. I have the opportunity and am trusted to perform many tasks which paralegals would normally do and I enjoy it immensely. Your comment "people like you" (uneducated was the inference) "who settle for scraps" was an unnecessary insult and makes me wonder what kind of a person YOU are to be so offensive to someone you have nevered addressed before!

I am perplexed why you and meowmix and Pterocarya frax jump to the typical "sheep", "doormat" etc. B.S. when you don't even know the specifics of my situation. Amazing! but it seems "people like YOU" (envious of well off bosses [usually with college degrees] who live more comfortable lives than their employees) do that all the time. I'm not going to be a tiresome, jealous person. I have employment that I enjoy immensely. As stated, I am able to get involved in cases, perform many paralegal functions, enjoy the mental stimulation the work requires, and HELP PEOPLE who are burdened with legal troubles. I don't make a lot of money but I have no education either. I enjoy four weeks paid vacation, very good health insurance - PAID FOR, and could be replaced in a minute. I like my boss and the easy office environment of the firm I work for. The atmosphere is casual and there are no time clocks. I suffered a serious illness a few years back and was told to make my own hours in order to undergo my radiation treatments. My husband (who has no college either) and I, through frugal living, (eating at home, buying things on sale, refurbishing old furniture, NOT buying the flat screens, Ipads, or Iphones, etc. etc.) have paid off the mortgage, have no car loans, no credit card debt and money in the bank. And to be honest with you, it wasn't that hard! We take vacations that fit our budget, save for things we really want and don't nag / strong arm our employers or the government to pay us more so we can live a better life.

I get that some people are in dire straights and feel it is our duty as HUMAN BEINGS to help those folks. I DON'T sympathize with people who are in those straights because of their own behavior, the ones who "spend hard earned money on frivolities" and then b__ch that they don't make enough money to pay the bills. They aren't owed anything. Try some discipline.

You belittle me because of my salary and the way I live my life and I wonder why? What more am I "entitled" to? I've made my choices. I could have gone to a community college or taken night classes, but I didn't. That sure isn't the fault of my employer. Why do you feel the need to insult me because I'm happy with my life?


First of all, no one belittled or insulted you. If you take it as that, that's your issue not mine. I simply stated a fact: you are underpaid for the number of years you have worked for someone and for the work you do regardless of whether you have a certification in your field. Actually, that's a compliment! Good lord, if you can't see that, well, that's not my problem either.

Finn Finn

Your words "spoken like a true carpet that's been walked on" and "wow, keep the wool pulled over", were intended to put me in my place because I pointed out that many people who bellyache about not being paid enough to make the bills spend their money on unnecessary, often wasteful pacifications, and that I didn't feel anyone owed me anything so I too could afford such frivolities. Your comments were ridiculing and insulting and were meant to be. See, no door mat here. Have a nice day.


If you're insulted by some stranger commenting on a website, you have bigger problems than I thought. Besides, I was just working off of your comment: "spoken like a true liberal." As if all people who think they're worth more than they are paid, waste what they have. Pretty presumptuous on your part. And someone has pulled the wool over your eyes. But, far be it from me to tell you what's acceptable to you. Sorry, I don't believe eleven dollars an hour after nine years is acceptable at all. Talk about insulting. Whatever floats your boat, or canoe. You have a nice day as well :)

Finn Finn

You were ridiculing, and you know it.

And please don't put words in my mouth. I acknowledged many people are having a tough time of it, but many people waste their money on things they don't need and can't afford and then whine that their employers don't pay them enough for the lifestyle they choose.

I expect people to act responsibly, and enablers, with your mindset, don't help things.


Enabler? LMAO! That is frigin' hilarious. Actually, people who settle for less than they deserve, such as yourself, don't help things at ALL. I AM educated, have tons of experience and I make around the same as you. Sorry, no it isn't acceptable. And if once in a while people aren't allowed to treat themselves because they work their arses off, well that's BS and you know it. I'm not saying people should buy luxury items before the necessities. Really? If you took that from any of my comments, you need a couple lessons in comprehension.


And by the way, a single mom making what we make, raising a child with no support can hardly afford to keep her head above water and food on the table. Oh, you have a husband don't you? That's why you're so content. I, however, worked my *ss off to put myself through school and still make half of what I am worth. So save your BS for someone else. But as you said, not happy then move on. I'm working on it, thanks.

Finn Finn

You're repeating yourself and sound like you're hyperventilating, so yes, please move on.

Finn Finn

I'm sorry nonconformist for my previous comment. It was mean and I apologize. You have strong beliefs, and that's okay. Good luck in your job search, but remember, keep a positive attitude. I wish you the best in your endeavors.


Well at least the iPhone payments are covered .And the rims I bought for car were really kinda salty in price.
But they sure look good along with this fine ass ensemble that I'm wearing along and the 200 dollar runners that were on sale.I cannot wait until I am old ...need to get paid now.
Anyone for some Belvedere.


No guarantee you will get old!


Some of you probably can't remember people talking about the depression but I can. I remember family members talking about what it was like back then. They would walk down to the coal loaders and hope that the men working on the trains might kick a few lumps of coal off the coal cars so they could pick them up for heating their furnaces in their homes. They would get up at the crack of dawn and drag their wagons down their just in hopes of getting one or two large lumps. They would go to the bakeries around Waterstreet to get the day old bread the bakeries would throw out and hope to get eggs at any chicken farms around. The families were big back then, too. There weren't any televisions just radios. They entertained themselves with fishing and they worked at odd jobs. No need to complain because everyone was in the same boat. Just like now. But everyone thinks now that they are OWED something by the US Government. We are so soft now, and we are OWED something....but WHAT? We aren't owed at darn thing.

We are not owed anything but a CHANCE at life, liberty and the PURSUTE of happiness. We aren't owed a job, a big salary or a the right at getting a huge salary to support our families on. Whoever told the kids of today that one lied through their teeth and someone believed it and passed it on.

so stop whining and get yourselves together. You can carry a billboard till hades freezes saying I need more money., Who doesn't., But that doesn't mean you have a right to it or that you will get it. Try working a second job. You may not like it, but if that is what it takes, then do it. But for heaven sakes stop crying about it. Put your big boy or girl pants on and do what you need to do to survive. A lot of people before you did it. Why can't you?


Not one person on here either pro or con have "whined" for themselves. Some of us understand and care about others. As for the great depression, I didn't have to hear anyone talking about it. I lived it. I was a child but I knew what hard times were and child or not we all had to work to survive. God only knows what would have happened to people if it hadn't been for President Roosevelt. My Mother worked at one of his programs. My father had been severely injured at work when a large tree fell on him crushing most of his bones. There was no such thing as disability benefits then. You just scratched out a living the best way you could. I do indeed know about hard times. That is why my heart goes out to those hurting today.


tk....the whining was referring to kids today...not commentors. I do care about people, when they act like human beings and not sniveling children with entitlement issues. Sorry to be a hard butt, but I am getting sick and tired of hearing about how everyone feels they deserve more and wants to work less for it. I was raised to work for what I got and I am proud of it. Kudos for living through the depression and the fortis and fifties. You should be proud of yourself as well. I salute you.

Finn Finn

APPLAUSE!! Many people these days, particularly the ones who don't make a lot of money, feel they are entitled to the same things their better educated, harder working, more skilled neighbors have. The jealousy and contempt for anyone who is better off then them is so unbecoming and earns no one's respect. No one owes me a college education, a good paying job, not even a nice home.

Help those who CAN'T help themselves. To the others, stop whining, take some pride in yourselves, and make it work without all the arm twisting.

Pterocarya frax...

By the way, if you are making the same money now that you were 9 years ago, there are really only 2 possibilities. Either you as an employee simply aren't doing a good enough job to earn a raise, or your boss is a jacka**. Many bosses fit the second explanation, and don't offer raises ever. Then they laugh everyday when they think "she is too stupid to ask for a raise".


Here, here!


Finn Finn....exactly. I don't mind helping those down on their luck. It's those who DEMAND help that frost my cookies. They don't help themselves let alone help anyone else. Just demand, demand, demand. They want NOW when it took me 30 years to build with blood,sweat and tears. I resent that. I worked for my life, now work for yours. No one handed mine to me.

As for raises....mine came from doing my job and going above and beyond. It was NEVER and issue. Got one every year I worked and they were on MERIT. My boss always praised my work. I don't recall ever being laughed at once in 40 years. You boss must be a jack%%%. Mine never were.


I remember my family members talking about the same thing. They called it the "Midnight Coal Company" in our town.


starryeyes...LOL yep