Were our grandparents better at saving?

Another interesting article in The Star-Ledger on Tuesday. Columnist Mark DiIonno talks about the World War II generation in the context of them also living through the Great Depression and, as a result, becoming great savers.

They didn’t spend their money on frivolties — they squirreled it away for a rainy day.

“They were savers, not spenders. When they spent, it was cash, not credit. When they invested, they did it with their money, not borrowed.”

My grandmother did the same. She had a husband and three sons when the Depression took hold in the 1930s, so she had to learn to budget, even while living in rural Pennsylvania. I never once saw her with a credit card; she always paid cash. She darned socks and repaired clothes, hardly ever buying herself anything new. That didn’t stop her from spending money on her children and grandchildren, but she always spent within her means.

The WWII generation didn’t buy bigger homes and fancier cars just because they could. Never buying above their means, these people stayed in their homes and expanded them if necessary to accommodate a growing family, then stayed there to retire, having paid off the mortgage.

“A house was where you lived, not a cash cow. You didn’t borrow against it for the annual family trip to DisneyWorld, or the Lincoln Navigator. You saved for the week at the Shore and a Chevy station wagon. Equity was when you paid down the principal month after month after month after month. A march down the timeline.”

Most people know I’m not one to buy $400 handbags or $200 shoes. I do my shopping at discount stores, with coupons. Same with grocery shopping and eating out (although food is my weakness and I’m sure I can do better there).
I love to save for a rainy day, and I’m doing just that. And I don’t have any debt. So if I can do it, you can, too.

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