The U.S. may not technically be in a recession. After all, the U.S. Commerce Department says the economy grew at a 0.6% pace in the first quarter. But most people look at things more like legendary investor Warren Buffett, who defined a recession as when "people are doing less well than they were three months, six months or eight months earlier." For most economists it is no longer whether there is going to be a recession, but what type of recession it is going to be: short recessions like the one from 1990 to 1991 and the one from March to November 2001, or something like the Great Depression. No matter which it ends up being, one of the best places to look for sound advice is from those people who have survived the worst of economic times - namely your grandparents. Here are 10 ideas you may want to take from them:
10. Frugality Is Not a Bad Word
There was a time when a person who was frugal was looked upon with esteem rather than someone without the means to buy more. Many people seem to equate frugality with "cheapness," but that couldn't be further from the truth. Being frugal is simply getting the most out of what you have and purchase, and not purchasing things that you really don't need. While your grandparents learned frugality during the hard times, many of them continued to practice it even when times got better, which helped them build wealth. Learning to be frugal could help a lot of people who haven't learned to live within their means.
9. Use What You Have
In a consumer society, whatever problem you may have can always be solved by buying something else. If something breaks, go out and buy a new one. If something isn't exactly right, go buy something that is. In your grandparents' time, when something broke, they first took a look to see if it could be fixed. If it couldn't be fixed, before it ended up in the trash can, they would consider whether it could still be useful for something else. There is no reason to go out and spend money on something new if you can get the same thing accomplished with the things that you already have.
8. Doing It Yourself Is the Way to Go
When it comes to fixing things, the first people that your grandparents looked at were themselves. Instead of calling someone to fix something that broke, they fixed it on their own most of the time. In a society where we now hire people to do most basic repair and maintenance, it's important to remember that most repairs aren't nearly as difficult as they may appear and that you can do much of it on your own with a how-to book and patience.
7. Things Have More Than One Use
People tend to buy stuff with a specific purpose in mind and use it exclusively for that intended purpose. What your grandparents knew is that most things can have multiple uses throughout their useful life. That T-shirt can become a night shirt when the collar gets worn and can't be worn outside, and then a painting shirt when it starts to get holes and eventually rags when the holes get too big.
6. Debt Is to Be Avoided
In the age of credit cards, where spending what you don't have now is encouraged left and right, it's hard to believe there was a time when people actually believed that debt was to be avoided, but those are the words that your grandparents lived by. If they didn't have the money, then they would simply need to figure out a different plan on how to get what they needed. It might be borrowing it from a friend, saving up money or finding something that could be used instead. Going into debt to get it accomplished was not an option.