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Lessons I Learned From My Great Depression Parents

2014 September 18
by Charlie

charlie_imageMy parents were products of parents that lived through the heart of the Depression. They had Great Depression living practiced every day of their life. Consequently, I am the product of Great Depression grandparents, which was passed down through both my parents. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

In talking with my wife about an idea on what to write about, she said, “Why not talk about things that you do as a result of watching your parents?” From our discussion, I realized that, ya, I do have a lot of what I consider natural tendencies, which originated from the Depression. Hopefully, my examples will spur up ideas for you to comment on how your parent’s money saving lifestyles impressed upon you.

  • Make my own window cleaner – I hate paying full price for Windex at the store, so I elect to make my ownwith this Windex recipe. In addition, I also make my own all-purpose cleaner and I reuse Swiffer bottles and fill them with my own solution. It doesn’t necessarily save a lot of money, but the savings will slowly add up over time.
  • Save unused old tires – have you recently reviewed lessons from Great Depression Parentsthe bill after getting your tires replaced? Have you noticed that there is a $10 fee for disposing/recycling your tires? You can opt out of that. I chose to keep my old tires and keep one old set in my garage. The other sets of tires I don’t use, that I just use at our local farm for the goats to utilize.
  • Shop the thrift stores – my parents have been using thrift stores since I can remember and our family was always about re-utilizing perfectly good clothing for our own family’s purposes. One interesting fact I learned, did you know that Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902? It was around even before the Great Depression. Hmm. I wonder what the thrift stores looked like during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s? Anyone know?
  • Cutting my drier sheets in half – ya I know during the Depression they didn’t have electric dryers, but the concept my parents impressed upon me was to be thrifty with what you have. Just because the manufacturer cuts the dryer sheet a certain size doesn’t mean you have to use the whole thing.
  • Cutting my paper towels in half – same deal here as the dryer sheets. You don’t have to use the whole sheet!
  • Growing my own foods – since growing up on a farm in NW Iowa, I’ve loved growing my own foods. So much so, that I started a community garden in our suburban community where we are growing tomatoes, corn, green beans, pumpkins, zucchini and a lot of different herbs. In addition, we do a little preserving of fresh veggies to be able to have year round.
  • Raising my own livestock – when I was 12 years old I bought eight sows from my dad and bred, fed, and sold all their offspring. I learned early on that I needed to work hard for my living and starting my own pig operation was my first attempt at financial freedom. Today, I raise about 50 chickens with my 3 boys, and actively sell the eggs to my friends, family and neighbors. Makes for a little side income and helps teach my kids a little hard work along the way. Check out my backyard chicken blog for more info.

These are a few of the things I learned from my parents, which was passed down from their Great Depression parents. I’d be interested to hear from our readers on ways you save money based on your parents example.

Always Ask for the Special

2014 September 15

This one is going to be short and sweet (I hope). My family and I had the chance to get away from it all this past week and it was a very welcomed break. While we were away, my brother, his son and I hit up a driving range that had a chip and putt on its grounds (for those of you who aren’t “in the know” about golf – a “chip and putt” course is one where most of the golf holes are less than 100 yards – so all you really need to do is hit a “chip” and a “putt”).specials

We visited this one-man operation last year too – and I remembered they offered a 2-for-1 deal where you could purchase a bucket of range balls and get a round on the chip and putt course for $10 (regularly, $12).

While I didn’t see a sign for this deal being offered this season – I asked the owner, “are you running any specials” today?

“Well, we did have a $10 range / course special last year,” he said, pausing for a moment. “But we could offer that to you guys if you’d like to do both.”

We took him up on his generous offer and it was a good reminder to me to always ask for the “special”. Specials are often recited to us without our asking at restaurants and other businesses – but (as always) it never hurts to ask and you might be surprised at who may be running “a special”.

Have you gotten any swell “specials” of late, just by asking?

Why You Can’t Be Trusted to Save Money

2014 September 11
by Aaron

I was skimming through Reddit and found this (kind of) offensive video on “Why American’s Are So Bad at Saving Money“. Here, have a look and let me know what you think in the comments section.

To the author’s credit, it’s true we aren’t doing so great at saving money. As the video states, in the 1970’s, American’s socked away about 12% of their take-home pay. Today, that number has dwindled to 5%.

But, can you blame us?
read more…

3 Types of Hobbies

2014 September 8

matthewAccording to Wikipedia (just to flaunt my credibility from the start), a hobby is an “activity, interest, enthusiasm, or amateur pastime that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, typically done in one’s leisure time.”  I like how the definition implies that the activity is life-giving. Along with the definition, the site provides over 250 ideas for hobbies that I’ll share from.

A friend of mine gave me advice recently in considering hobbies. He said there were three hobbies that I ought to try and have: a hobby that improves my health, a hobby that makes money, and a hobby that stimulates my mind. read more…

The 2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown Challenge

2014 September 4
by Aaron

goodwill-14Hey thrifty friends! We are excited to announce our 2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown Challenge! What’s all the fuss about you ask?

Last year, our man Charlie had the brilliant idea of holding a thrift store challenge where each participate (three thrifty guys and a thrifty gal), would purchase a “valuable” item at their local Goodwill store which they believed might turn a profit. The person with the highest profit would end up winning the Challenge (last year, it was our resident thrifty gal).

For the 2nd installment of the Goodwill Smackdown, we are going to do things a little bit different.

Here’s how this year’s contest will go down: read more…

Ask the Credit Expert: What’s the Ideal Credit Score?

2014 August 29
by Guest

credit expert“Kay” is Kayleigh GaddorCommunity Manager at Credit Karma.

Dear Kay:

Should I leave a credit card open if I’m never going to use it again?


Unless that card has an annual fee, the answer will usually be “yes.” Closing a credit card reduces the overall amount of credit available to you, which affects your credit card utilization rate, a significant factor of your credit score. Having more credit available to you is generally a good indicator of overall creditworthiness, which lenders like to see.  Just keep in mind that you may need to occasionally use the card throughout year to keep the account active (and of course, make sure you pay your bills to keep it current). read more…

Ooma Safety Phone Review

2014 August 27
by Charlie


Over the last two and a half years many of you had heard my enthusiasm about the Ooma Telo home phone system, which has been saving my family money hand over fist. Thus far, the Ooma Telo has saved us over $750 over my previous phone service.

However, I’m not here to repeat my glowing reviews about the Ooma home phone service. No…I am proud to announce a new service that Ooma is offering! It is called the Ooma Safety Phone, and it is just as easy to setup as the basic Ooma Telo phone system. This little device can be used for elderly friends or relatives if you are concerned that they might fall or young kids that are left home alone and might need to contact a parent quickly.  read more…

Does Cub Foods Really Have Lower Prices?

2014 August 25
by Laurie

The following post has been brought to you by Cub Foods

laurieWhen we lived in the city, Cub Foods was our “go to” grocery store. The local store there was clean and inviting, the staff was great and the produce was always excellent in quality. After we moved to the country nearly two years ago, however, we had a “budget epiphany” and have since done the majority of our shopping at another store with notably lower prices.

Although most other things about this particular store are good, I’ve never been very happy with the produce selection, and have missed the great produce I always found at Cub Foods.  However, with the money savings of a good 15-20% that I get at the big box store grocer, I just couldn’t bring myself to start shopping at the local Cub Foods here.  For a big family on a budget, cash just has to be the deciding factor in where we choose to grocery shop. Cub always has terrific weekly deals, so we’d often stop in there to scoop up their great weekly specials, but the majority of our shopping was done at the big box store with the low, low prices.  read more…

How to Get Rid of Junk Mail (for Good)

2014 August 20
by Aaron

no more junk mailA few weeks ago I came home to spot a large full plastic bag sitting on the front steps of our house. I thought it may have been a package my wife ordered or some nice baked goods from the neighbor. After getting closer, I discovered what it was:

The Yellow Pages phone book.  read more…

NEW: Grab Your Free Credit Report

2014 August 18
Comments Off

aaron_image1I remember one of the first times my credit report was pulled for an auto loan (yes, that one that I should have never gotten into). After it came back clean, I remember feeling a sense of pride that I was “staying on the straight and narrow”. I remember the loan officer talking about how it was costing the dealership money to pull it but it was something they needed to do to check my “credit-worthiness”. Do you recall the first time your report got pulled?

FREE credit reports?

Which leads me to tell you about another new offering that our friends at Credit Karma just came up for their users: FREE credit reports. Right now, Credit Karma offers free credit scores to those who sign-up on their website.  So, the credit report is an added bonus to users.  read more…