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Keep Calm and Carry On- Lessons from the Great Depression

Members of the military would still earn money but they would not receive checks until the government reopens.
On Wednesday, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would allow military members to be paid if the government shuts down.
“Be able to go to work and not have to worry about what is happening back home if you’re in a tent in Afghanistan. I so hope we will be able to pass this bill. I don’t want one more minute of stress on our military,” said Sen. Kay Bailey, R-Texas.
No matter what happens the military and law enforcement will continue to work. Also, there will still be mail service and social security checks will continue to be processed.
”  http://www.wcnc.com/news/local/Government-shutdown-How-will-it-affect-you-119338054.html


As a government shut down looms in our immediate future I have to wonder ya’ll why everyone is so panicked.  It’s then that I realize that many of ya’ll are too young to have known someone who survived the Great Depression.  Had you known or been raised by someone who truly knew what economic hardship was about you’d root hog or die!  There are lessons to be learned from the older generations about how to survive when survival is all ya can muster.  Since ya’ll probably don’t know anyone else to teach ya, guess it falls to me! So here are some simple things you can do ya’ll that will help ya feel more confident about carin’ for your family during these tricky times.


This is an old expression my Granny used to say about being prepared for the inevitable.  Granny  Madison used to be what ya’ll might consider nowadays as a pack rat or a Hoarder.  In this day and age of disposable everything from razor blades to celebrity marriages, we think there will always be a way to get a replacement for what’s not new and shiny.  If the last few years of economic downturn have taught us anything it should be that money don’t grow on trees ya’ll.  There may come time when you don’t have that extra dollar to buy your child a meal, because you spent it on the latest toy they played with for five minutes.   It’s not a happy-go-lucky way to live, thinkin’ about the future and what might happen if ya’ll aren’t prepared.  But as the old story about the ant and the grasshopper goes, wouldn’t ya’ll rather be the ant who stored up food for the winter, while the grasshopper starved?  Hard work and preparation are their own reward and in the end, being able to provide for your family during… oh, I dunno know a government shut down will bring you happiness.



    What I mean to say is that those of ya’ll who aren’t crafty, should learn.  Environmentalist hippy weirdos might have it right when they talk about reduce, reuse and recycle.  Reducing your “carbon footprint” saves ya’ll money in the long run.  Reusing products also saves ya’ll money.  And you guessed it, Recycling can also save you money.  By not buying products that have a lot of packaging like pre-sliced cheese, you’re not only helpin’ the environment but you’re savin’ those pennies for a rainy day!  By reusing a product’s packaging like glass jars to store leftovers, you’re saving the environment but you’re saving those pennies.  Recycling is my favorite thing to do- taking somethin’ you’d throw in the trash and recyclin’ it into somethin’ new gives ya’ll the satisfaction of saving those pennies, but also lets you be creative.  I’m what ya’ll might call a trash picker… I love makin’ trash into treasure and this was the best skill I learned from Granny Madison.



      Nobody, I mean nobody loves a sale as much as yours truly ya’ll!  If I find somethin’ on sale and I mean really on sale… not we’re-gonna-jack-up-the-price-this-week-so-we-can-reduce-it-next-week kind of sale.  I mean the rock bottom-discounted-slightly damaged but still good- we were gonna throw it in the trash but want to cover the cost kind of sale items.  If I can find somethin’ on sale like that… I buy three of them.  Because the good Lord has blessed us with things like Ebay and Craigslist ya’ll and if I can’t use it- somebody else surely can and will pay me for it! Can I get an A-men?  And don’t get me started on buying in bulk… woowee I love me some Sam’s Club!



        I know how difficult this one is for a lot of people in the US of A- we’re an instant gratification society.  And many of us (especially in the military) tend to live paycheck to paycheck.  But I can’t stress this enough ya’ll… YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED A SAVINGS ACCOUNT.  Ya’ll should save at least a month’s salary of the highest earner in your family.  It is so vital that I will go as far as to say that if you have to give up a luxury or even a necessity for a few months until you can set aside that cushion- do it!  Cause Sugar, if ya can’t ride it, or bed it, or eat it you really don’t need it.  For example we all love our cable TV, internet and cell phones- but giving those up for a few months until you have a savings account with at least a month’s salary in it is worth the sacrifice.   And you can reward yourself for that sacrifice when you turn them back on, after you have your pennies saved.  Think of our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, they don’t get regular cable, internet or cell phone services and they survive… you can do it for a few months to protect your family.  Think of it as a war on debt!




        Speakin’ of a war on debt, take a look at your credit cards. This one may be the hardest one for ya’ll to wrap your brains around, because we live in a culture where credit is looked at like the best thing since sliced bread!  What we don’t seem to understand is that credit cards aren’t free money… it isn’t even our money- we’re borrowin’ from someone else- an organization who doesn’t even know us, and frankly doesn’t care if the government shuts down, they want their money back.  Crazy ain’t it?  As Scarlett O’Hara said-I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow. Well folks with credit cards today is tomorrow and it’s time to think about it.  Even if you have several months of salary in savings, that can be null and void if you’re carryin’ a credit card balance higher than your earnings.  The best thing ya’ll can do with a credit card is cut it up, or hide it in a drawer only to be  used for dire emergencies and only with a solid plan of how it will be paid off.  In other words ya’ll… if you can’t pay cash for it don’t buy it.  If it’s an emergency like a vehicle repair bill or medical bill- don’t use a credit card to pay it off without a solid plan of how you’re going to pay it back within a year at the most, a few months in the least.  None of us are immune to lay-offs, or government shut downs… so have a plan and the money set aside to survive it.  One of my favorite people is Ms. Suzie Orman, who says somethin’ to the effect of pay yourself first then do triage on your bills.  Don’t be afraid to ask your creditors for lower interest rates or discounts or even reprieve from interest if your spouse is deployed.  There are lots of military discounts and advantages if you just ask about them… don’t be afraid to ask for what you’ve earned!



          Grandpappy Madison used to talk about the time his daddy made him go steal a chicken from a farmer during the Great Depression so his family of eight could eat for a week.  He made me promise I’d remember that stealin’ is wrong, but if ya got no choice, you do what you have to.  Granny Madison taught me how to garden, a Victory garden she called it.  Now I love to garden.  There is somethin’ so satisfyin’ ya’ll about growin’ and eatin’ somethin’ you’ve raised, nurtured and harvested yourself.  And gettin’ children involved in that process I believe helps them to grow wise while they’re growin’ a garden.  Vegetables grown in your own garden just seem to have more flavor than the mass produced ones from the grocery store and studies have shown are healthier and more nutritious as well.  Now I’m not here to convince ya’ll that gardenin’ is easy- truth be told gardenin’ is tougher than a two dollar steak.  But the rewards ya’ll  get in exercise, fresh foods, family togetherness and satisfaction of providing for your family cheaply will far out weigh the pitfalls.  Gardenin’ like all things in life takes practice, patience and a fine sense of humor.  For those of you who are novices, think about partnerin’ up with an expert gardener.  The thing about gardeners is that they’re real social people… they love tellin’ garden stories and sharin’ plants.  A community garden is a great way to use one person’s skills to help balance another- I have the worst luck growin’ corn, but I can grow more tomatoes than Carter has pills. So in my community garden I share my tomatoes with the lady down the block who grows the finest corn this side of the Mississippi!  And once your garden has been harvested, learn to can the produce so ya’ll can use it all year round.  Nothin’ finer on a cold winter day than a bowl of chili made with tomatoes grown in your garden that summer.  Also look for folks in your local area who have skills you don’t and share your produce with them.  I know a young man who hunts and kills pheasant- one of my favorite game birds.  In exchange for some of my prize tomatoes, he’ll give me a few of his extra birds.  So don’t be afraid ya’ll to share the wealth.


          The most important thing my all my grandparents who survived the Great Depression and the Great War taught me was self-reliance.  Truly you have to be able to rely on your own self if you expect to survive in this world.  And maybe it’s old fashioned and outdated for me to suggest some of these things to ya’ll, but I swear SGM Martha and I have been doing these things for years, and we’ve survived all of the government shut downs just fine.  We may not have enough money to set fire to a wet mule, but we have enough to take care of our own.  Remember the words of Winston Churchill- “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!



          5 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Carry On- Lessons from the Great Depression”

          1. AMEN!!!! AMEN!!!!! AMEN!!!! That’s how my mama raised me, and that is how we raised our young’uns!! However…..I now need to figure out a way to get this article to our youngest two soldiers…….I know…..if this happens and they call us on the 15th and ask for help…I can just copy and paste…..’cause they obviously weren’t listening for the first 20 years of their lives! Thank you Common Sense Martha!

          2. YES!!!! Someone with some common sense. Now to get this message out to those dependants who would rather blame everyone else instead of look inward and figure out what they can do to help themselves.

            1. I have to say Keri- there’s a difference between preachin’ and witnessin’… and sometimes being a livin’ witness to how to live right is far better than preachin’ to those folks who ain’t got ears to listen. I do my best to understand that some folks just weren’t raised the way I was… and all we can do is live by example. These dependents who place blame just need to be taught a different way- with some patience and a lot of love and some more patience. Cause I’ve found that those folks who need the most help are the ones most afraid of failure and it’s easier to blame someone else than admit they’re afraid. And frankly a guilty dog barks the loudest! So instead of focusin’ on who they’re blamin’… maybe show them how to do it better if they can’t listen.

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