How Little Money…..


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….


  1. Yes, we indeed do have much. Could we do with less? We should, for our own good.
    For one thing, we need to be more thoughtful when we buy and discard all these wonderful electronics we love so much. Myself included.
    Our paper had an article this morning about e-waste. This is a huge problem that is growing by leaps and bounds. Not only are we polluting our own landfills with discarded electronic devices, but we and other developed countries are dumping the stuff by the boatloads in developing nations like China, India, and Africa. Apparently there are brokers who call themselves “recyclers” who do this exporting for profit. The electronics are then stripped of their precious (and toxic) metals to be sold to the factories that make new computers etc…and are often built nearby. The methods they use to do this are often crude and dangerous to the workers and the environment.
    I know this is just one area where our predisposition to excess is doing harm. We could probably make a long list. But, like everyone else, I can sit here comfortably enjoying my warm home and my entertaining electronics and never give a thought to the real cost of it all.
    I am sure we could use our money more wisely, but I don’t think we have the fortitude, do you?


  2. I just need to add that I am not proposing eliminating computers and phones etc…But, we need to give them a longer life. These gadgets are being replaced far to quickly and the mountains of discards are just excessive.
    We could probably give many things a longer life…like Bob’s sports jackets:)
    Sorry to be so “windy” today!


  3. Jane, you are on point with your comments. Perhaps I’m being judgemental, but when I see someone drive up in a Hummer, I just want to hit them upside the head and say “Dude, what were you thinking???”

    It’s so easy to forget that only recently have so many people enjoyed relative prosperity. My grandparents didn’t till late in life. My parents didn’t till late in life. We got there in our middle years. My daughters both graduated college thinking and living like they were entitled to it now.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that we failed them without meaning to, by making their lives too easy, up to and including paying for the college years. Their growing up years were nothing like my husband and my growing up years, In our quest to build their self esteem, I think we overlooked the importance of deprivation in building motivation.

    None of this is the fault of the government, the media, corporate America or anyone else. The buck starts and stops with the decisions we made at home, and looking back, is my one great regret.


  4. We sound like a bunch of old people here but I must agree with much of what you two say. I wonder how many iPhone 1, 2, 3, and 4s are in landfills right now simply because so many want the latest. I personally got my first iPhone (4) last year and plan on keeping it for several more.

    Maybe our “carbon footprint” needs to be expanded to include all of ecology. But I don’t think that would really have much effect. I’m like you Tamara, my eyes always roll whenever I see a Hummer, or most other monster vehicles. Someone called them terrorist’s vehicles in that they gobble up so much foreign oil.

    But getting back to my old people comment, it seems that every generation believes that the next ones are recklessly going too fast through life without regard to reality. Maybe that is so but….

    Thanks for all the thoughts ladies, I certainly enjoy your input. It makes my thoughts and blog more complete….. And, no Jane you aren’t being too windy…..


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