Survival Wisdom From The Great Depression


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Categories: Survival

The nation's deepening recession recalls the lessons of the Great Depression, which shaped the lives and financial philosophies of many local elders.

As the nation heads deeper into recession, the longest and possibly most severe since World War II, it’s worth remembering that once upon a time, things were much worse. Those who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s emerged with experiences that would shape their lives and financial philosophies, providing lessons many passed on to their children and a lens through which they see today’s situation.

Wondering how can you survive an economic collapse and avoid poverty? Perhaps Robert T. Kiyosaki summed it up best when he wrote: "Poverty is simply having more problems than solutions."
Think about this from a prepper's perspective. Be prepared to have more solutions than problems. To ensure you have more solutions than problems, be creative, be flexible and adapt.

  • Families traveled to wherever the work happened to be. They stuck together as much as possible.
  • Life insurance policies were cashed in to try and survive for just a few months longer in their “normal” worlds.
  • If possible, homes were very often refinanced in an effort to save the family residence.
  • Clothing had to last as long as possible and women (mostly) became expert seamstresses, especially at alterations. One creative woman used the fabric from the inside of a casket to sew beautiful holiday dresses for her children.
  • In areas of the Dust Bowl, cattle were fed tumbleweed and moms learned how to can tumbleweed to feed their families. Some had to find food wherever possible to keep from starving.


  • During heat waves, people slept on their lawns or in parks.
  • Many stores allowed people to buy on credit and they just kept track of what was owed. Sometimes they were repaid, sometimes not. Some store owners ultimately lost their businesses.
  • It wasn’t unusual for people to live out of their cars and trucks.
  • When there was no cash, payment was made with eggs, fresh milk, or produce.
  • A family with a cow and a garden was considered “rich”. Those two advantages alone meant the difference between a well-fed family and one that was near starvation.
  • Many Americans were too proud to accept charity or government help.
  • It was important to maintain appearances. Individuals still had a lot of pride, regardless of their circumstances. Mothers still wanted their children to look their very best.
  • When the soles of shoes were worn through, pieces of rubber tires were used as replacements.
  • Thousands and thousands of entire families were displaced. Very often, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins ended up living in one house, or one vehicle, as the case may be.
  • Desperate people would sometimes beg outside of restaurants, and yes, there were those who could still afford a restaurant meal.
  • Many kindhearted farmers kept workers on payroll as long as they possibly could, even if meant paying them with produce.
  • Some families ended up living in tents or lean-to’s.


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