A depression might force us back to the basics

By Stew


My family and I are out of town this week, I am posting from my parent’s house. We are traveling to spend time with family and friends in another state. As we visit and reminisce, more than once, the conversation has turned to the state of the economy. Everyone is worried and we are all looking for strategies for surviving if things really get bad.

Let me emphasize – I am not in panic mode! My God is more than able to provide for my family and I through any financial difficulty and if He should decided not to provide? That is His will. However, we must be realistic. Proverbs says that “the wise man foresees the evil and hides himself”. The wise man does not panic, but neither does he take foolhardy risks. He is realistic about the problem and seeks a solution. That is the attitude that I tried to take as I interacted with various individuals. Positive, optimistic, but proactive. Here are some of the strategies for dealing with a “really down” economy that I overheard during the last few days:

Become a collector

One of my relatives said, “You know, I’m not really a packrat, but I have been holding on to more odds and ends these days. I’m not as quick to run to the store for a solution.” Obviously, this is not for everyone, but our grandparents and great grandparents survived the depression by finding uses for every little piece of metal or wood that was lying around. I was brought up to value a neat, clean yard and garage. Anyone who kept piles of stuff in the garage or on the back porch was considered a hermit, a miser or a redneck. As a result, we were conditioned to throw away anything that looked like junk – even though some of those items might still have value down the road.

If our economy continues to worsen, odds and ends might become valuable. Those hermits and misers and rednecks might have the last laugh . . .

Live together

This one could be tough for many of us, but the reality is that we could all survive with less living space. This does not just mean dwelling in smaller homes but many of us may be forced to move in with family members . . . parents, siblings, grandparents or :shudder: even in-laws! We have grown up in an independent culture. A culture that valued independence and retirement accounts – 401K’s, IRA’s and Social Security were supposed to take care of our parents and grandparents so that we would not have to be bothered. Retirement savings accounts are not necessarily bad, but we might have to change our lifestyle expectations. We could eventually be in a place where two or three generations are living in one household and all things will be held “in common”.

In preparation for such a time as this, most of us might want to begin cultivating better relationships with all members of our family. We never know when we might be forced to humble ourselves and depend on each other for survival. Forgiveness, loving communication, and gratefulness are all habits that we are going to have to cultivate in our lives.

Grow your own food

When I was a child, my family grew almost all of our own vegetables during the summer and even though we lived in the city, most of our neighbors did the same. Today, gardening is almost a lost art in our culture and for the last fifteen to twenty years, grocery store food has been cheaper than food we can grow ourselves. Food shortages and/or inflation could change this fact very quickly. Better be prepared.


There was a time in this country where one’s church was the focal point of life outside of the family. The local assembly was a place that truly met physical, educational, and spiritual needs. Those not fortunate enough to have a family could find aid within their body of believers. Boy Scouts, sports clubs, hobbies, and entertainment venues like the local bowling alley and amusement park might become a thing of the past.

Economic hardship is not all bad

Personally, I pray and hope that our economic troubles do not worsen. Our country has been greatly blessed with unparalleled economic freedom. And while it is true that we have grown fat and lazy and imprudent with such blessings, our country has also exhibited generosity toward those in need. Our lifestyle and technology has improved the lives of millions of people all over the world. As our lifestyle shrinks, we may not be as able to help those in need all over the world, but we will be forced to reconnect with our communities, our churches and our families for survival.

This is a good thing. Out of suffering comes blessing. Our riches have made it possible for us to neglect family relationships and abuse our neighbors while assuaging our conscience by sending money to Africa or southeast Asia. Our riches have made is possible for us to purchase the love and affection of our kids by giving them “things” in lieu of actually doing any real parenting. Hopefully our children will come to value time spent with them more than the Wii’s and fancy vacations that we will no longer be able to afford to give them.

Once again, I am optimistic that things can turn around, but if they do not, what plans are you making?

Photo by anyjazz65

5 Responses (including trackbacks) to “A depression might force us back to the basics”

  1. Miranda Says:

    I think that, right now, many people are getting back to financial basics. The current recession is providing a great deal of food for thought. Hopefully, we as a society can make the changes necessary to get us back into a mindset of responsible financial decisions.

  2. FinanciallySmart Says:

    Most persons are taking steps on having a better Personal Finance since the recession. Yes a depression might force us back to the basics if we are strong enough to know that it is for us to rethink and rearrange the way we are living.

  3. Queen of the Road Says:

    As a shrink who is drastically downsizing (selling our house and getting rid of most of our stuff to live in an RV), I recently posted an essay, The Upside of Downsizing.


  4. Matt Jabs Says:

    I love my church and will band together with them and/or with my family if things go south really quick.

    I too am making use of things I used to throw away and also have my own garden.

    My dad & I have talked several times about the family all moving back into his place. I think it would be fun!!

  5. DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad.com Says:

    Solid advice! I enjoyed this one. We could all use a reality check and a return to a simpler way of living.