It’s surprising how little money we can get along on. – March 9, 1933 Will Rogers
From the date above it is obvious that Will penned these words during the height of the Great Depression. Many people during that period learned Will’s lesson first hand. Will was kind of like the Kennedy’s of his time. He made his fortune via the Ziegfeld Follies, his books, movies and daily newspaper posts. He was a rich guy but had an overwhelming empathy for those who struggle through life. I think if Will were alive today he would be one of the most avid bloggers around. I am trying to do that for him but of course I am having only a very meager success compared to him. (Here I am getting the infamous “big-head” so I have to get back to the topic of the day. 😉
What I mostly know about the Great Depression comes from stories from my father. During that period which basically lasted for about fifteen years the unemployment rate hovered 15% and reached a high of 25% in 1933. That is several times worse than what it is today. The long-term average over the last century or so is 5%. The Great Depression, like now, saw many people being under-employed as well as un-employed. The majority of people just did not have enough money to live like they did before the Hoover years. Many were struggling to stave off hunger.
But even today it is surprising how little money we actually need to “get along on”. I know that when I retired more than twelve years ago my living expenses went down significantly. One reason was that we moved from a high expense State of New Jersey back to the Midwest. Of course our expenses are now higher than what they started out to be primarily because of healthcare costs. But I also realize that I pay a pretty good sum for things I don’t really need to “get along on”. There is the satellite TV bill, the DSL connection, a couple of cell phones and an IPad that gobble up quite a bit of money. I also have more than my share of electronics in the house. We have two cars even though I fully realize that we could get by with one if we had to.
When I was a kid we almost never ate out in a restaurant. There was basically nothing known as “fast food” until years later; I know the kids today can’t imagine it but there were no McDonalds on every corner! I am certainly happy I am doing pretty well enough financially to afford all the stuff I spend on but I have to always realize much of what I spend on is not necessities.
My dad and my grandfather had it tough going through the depression so I need to always realize I and most of us around today have it better then they did. If I really had to get down to it I”m sure I too would be surprised how little money I can get along on….