Rules of the Great Depression: Do Without


For the past two days we’ve talked about the rules of the Great Depression.

  1. Use it up
  2. Wear it out
  3. Make do

And today’s is possibly the hardest.

Do without.


Do without.

There were many things folks went without during the years of the Depression. As unpleasant as that may seem, it couldn’t hurt for us to think about what we could do without…as painful as it may be.

  1. Eat at home: I know. I know. It can be so tempting to pick up something quick from the local drive-thru on the way home. And it’s okay to. But just not all the time. I crunched a few numbers and found that feeding my family of 5 at Chic-fil-a would cost nearly $40. To make a similar meal at home (which would yield leftovers) would cost me less than $15 (plus, it’s WAY healthier and I throw in some veggies as a side). It takes planning and a little creativity to cook at home. But if you cut one of your drive-thru escapades per week you could end up saving up to $100 a month! That’s $1200 a year. Adds up fast, huh?
  2. Meatless Mondays: This was an idea started during World War I (then called The Great War) to conserve meat so more could be sent to the troops in Europe. (It was actually Tuesdays for supper and one meatless meal the rest of the week making a total of 9 no-meat meals per week). It’s a great way to save a little on your grocery bill (and on your cholesterol total). Get your protein from eggs, beans, or dairy products.
  3. Sleep on it: Before you buy that big ticket item, give yourself some time to ponder it. Consider why you want that item and if you truly need it. Write out a pro/con list and do some research into the item (specifically check into the quality of it. It’s not worth buying if it isn’t going to last).
  4. Enjoy time at home: If you’re trying to keep expenses down you know how tough it is to afford a night out. So, be creative and figure out some cheap fun at home. Dig through the closet for the board game you haven’t played in 20 years, watch a dvd you just dusted off from the shelf, read a book out loud, or turn on the radio and have a dance party! (I have friends who run their own cooking contest with random ingredients from their cupboards!).
  5. Learn the art contentedness: It’s a beautiful thing when we can look around us and be pleased with what we have. When we aren’t constantly in the pursuit of more, more, more we are able to allow ourselves to feel a certain measure of peace. It’s extremely freeing when we can honestly say, “I’m okay with it and I’m okay without it” (that I got from Jeff Manion’s book Satisfied).
  6. Decide what’s important to you: During the Depression often the choice was between buying a pair of shoes or putting food on the table. They sometimes had to choose between paying the rent and getting medical attention. Not many of us are in such tight places as they were (although some are). However, when we say “yes” to spending money on one thing, we’re saying “no” to purchasing another. What we all have to do is figure out what it is that’s important to us and say “no” to those things which aren’t so important. Maybe that’s paying off bills or upping your giving to charitable organizations. Whatever it is, commit to going without the less important things so you can achieve your goals.

I’m sure you have some ideas of how to do without. I’d love to hear them! Or maybe you’ve been in a situation of having to think of creative ways to watch the pocketbook. Feel free to share below!


I’d love to extend an invitation to you! If you’re in West Michigan, I’d love to see you at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids for a book release party TOMORROW! I’ll be there talking about the Great Depression, giving away some fun prizes, sharing some snacks, and signing books. It should be a great time! Sign up for your free tickets HERE. 

2 Comments on “Rules of the Great Depression: Do Without

  1. Susie – I just read “A cup of dust” and found your blog…love both! I wish I had seen this sooner to attend the release party. Your writing is gripping and honest, I enjoyed every page. I also enjoyed your depression era articles, our nation as a whole has lost sight of enduring, withholding and trusting. We are pretty old fashioned and are trying to show our kids that it’s ok to not have everything right now.
    My tip for doing without is to do a spending freeze for 30 days. (Only groceries, gas & bills) We did it in January and honestly it was hard to unfreeze…even when the kids needed new undies!!! We saved way more in the last 3 months than I ever thought possible.
    From one West Michigan Susie to another, thank you and God bless you!


    • Hooray, hooray, HOORAY for West Michigan Susies! I’m so glad you left this comment. It always makes my day to meet a Susie friend!

      A spending freeze is a fantastic idea! We’ve done that before and it was a great challenge and required a good deal of creativity. But, yes! You don’t realize how much you spend until you do something like that! Glad you let the kiddos get new undies. 😉

      Have a super day, Susie!


So...What Do YOU Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: