Financial Lessons We Can Learn from Our Grandparents

learning from grandparentsYour grandparents (or maybe great-grandparents) were better than you at saving money. If you think long and hard about that, most of you will probably agree with that statement. There are a number of reasons why they were better and some things we can learn from those facts. Let’s dive right into those reasons.

Awareness of Economic Downturns

Let’s start with one of the main reasons — The Great Depression. If our grandparents didn’t live through it, they certainly were made aware of it by their parents. Living through or near times of disastrous financial times, they were keenly cognizant of the potential for hard times. Knowing that any minute the income stream coul

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6 Responses to Financial Lessons We Can Learn from Our Grandparents

  1. jake says:

    What some call “The Greatest Generation,” I call “The Most Spoiled Generation.” Yes, the technology wasn’t what we have today, but for what was around at the time, the people were very spoiled by the government. The government did everything possible to increase consumption and look at the result – continuation of that policy to today. One of the only ones to stand up and try and get america off of that course was President Carter and he’s looked at as a villain. The spoiled mentality of those people has been passed on until it’s what we have now – a culture built on how famous you are and how much wealth you have. Our economy can’t withstand it, thus the HUGE bailouts. If everyone starts to dramatically reduce consumption, we can remedy some of this.

  2. John — You have delivered a good, common-sense article that is well worth reading. I agree that we can learn a lot about saving from the generations that came of age 50 or more years ago. My wife and I have long discussed with both horror and fascination the spending habits of our peers who, until recently, acted as though the gravy train would never end.

    I cannot agree with Jake’s comment that the Greatest Generation was in any way to blame for our current economic crisis. The “Greatest Generation” (i) survived the depression without a lot of comfort, (ii) fought and largely determined the outcome of the War that decided the fate of the 20th century, and (iii) laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement. That generation was not the cause of the mass consumerism of the last 30 years. Indeed, I would blame the need for ever increasing corporate profits far more than I would blame any generation of consumers, except to the extent that consumers over the past 3 decades have increasingly been lambs willingly being lead to the slaughterhouse of debt. I agree with John that marketing, and the psychology of marketing, has gotten the better of us!

  3. Something else to remember is that for many years in many cities in America, “Sunday blue laws” required limited hours or closings of certain stores on Sunday.

    I remember seeing this first-hand when I was a child, although there are still a few businesses that observe such customs as a matter of corporate policy.

    Reason to close on Sunday: give employees a day off to spend with their families and / or attend church.

    Reason to open on Sunday: working people had more opportunity to do shopping errands.

  4. Jay Corn says:

    Yes we need to adopt frugal spending habits to start saving. Instead of spending money at the mall I have started doing something as simple as watching bargain hunting websites for the same stuff at cut rate pricing.

  5. Carol says:

    I sort of agree with the comments of “jake”. I think our grandparents were not more inherently frugal, I think they were forced to be savers because of the lack of access to cheap credit. If they had the same type of credit access that we have had over the past 30 years, they would have been in the same boat we are in now.

    There is an article in the NY Times that had a time chart of the savings rates of Americans over the past 100 years ( wish I knew how to do the link thingy!). I was surprised to see that Americans have never been big savers. The highest rates of savings was during WWII, but that was partly due to the lack of consumer goods being produced at the time and also rationing during the war. As soon as the war ended and companies were free to manufacture what they wanted, saving rates plummeted.

    My grandmother was an adult during the depression years and admitted that she learned the hard way about wise savings. We found $3,000 in a pillowcase after she died, plus thousands in the bank. My mom, who was a child and teen during the depression years, never met a credit card she didn’t love.

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