One of the main reasons for studying how people survive, whether economically or physically, is to find lessons we can apply to our own lives and circumstances. For many years, economists have been predicting an economic collapse here in America. If you are one of the 93+ million Americans who are out of work, your own personal economy has already collapsed.
Now it’s time to consider how you will earn money, whether you are currently out of work. In the days of the Great Depression, it was common for grocers and landlords to provide credit to their customers. Today? That would be a rare occurrence.
From the Depression, there is an abundance of stories of neighbors and church families showing up at the door, laden with bags and boxes of food for a needy family. When a desperate mom was asked by her child, “Mama, what’s for dinner tonight?”, the response was, “Whatever the neighbors decide to bring us!” I wish I could imagine that happening today, but our communities and families have become so fractured over the past few decades it would be a rare event.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Great Depression is the ingenuity of the Americans who lived through those tough times. Many continued to find ways to earn money, even when their own circumstances were dire.
To earn money, people made homemade fudge, pies and bread and sold them. Eggs could be sold for 25 cents a dozen. If a family lived near water, they could catch and sell fish, clams and crabs. Some families grew, picked, and sold homegrown produce, and some even started lunch truck wagons.
You could also earn money selling newspapers on the corner. Kids earned a little extra if they were promoted to “Corner Captain”, a sort of Great Depression multi-level marketing program where a kid brought in other kids to sell papers and earned a bit extra himself. Odd jobs were also a popular way of making money, washing windows, loading coal, even sewing and altering clothes.
In every case, it was a simple matter of looking around to see what people needed, what they wanted, what made them feel good about themselves and about life.
So, what skills do you have that might offer a service during a severe economic downturn? What knowledge do you have that would be helpful, even vital, to others? What products can you produce? What skills can you teach?
Ingenuity is something which can never be stolen by thieves, confiscated by a government, or lost to flood or fire. It is possible to survive during a Great Depression and there is plenty to learn from those who lived through the last one.
Always Safe, Always Prepared