10 Life Lessons from the Great Depression


Our economy is on the brink of total collapse. I’m usually not one to get into the doomsday/SHTF type of scenarios, but a full-on economic collapse isn’t simply a disaster threat we should look out for, but it’s a mathematical guarantee that the economy of the United States is on a downward spiral and at some point will be unable to sustain itself. It is highly likely that one day, a large section of the country will be living in a modern-day Great Depression.


In some ways, we’re going to be hit a lot harder during the next Great Depression than the original Americans in the early 1930’s were. Although innovation, technology and conveniences were beginning to become mainstream during the original depression, the early 20th century Americans were still only a few short years removed from having to be completely reliant on themselves for survival. Although it was very tough for millions of people to survive, our modern-day society is so removed from the idea of self-sufficiency that the idea of millions of people having to truly take care of themselves for the first time in nearly a hundred years is utterly terrifying to me.


A huge chunk of our modern American society will have a VERY hard road ahead. Many people today can’t wrap their heads around the idea that their job (if they’re lucky enough to have and keep one) may not be able to pay for everything they need. They’re blind to the fact that an economic collapse could very well disrupt our modern day food supply and make it difficult to even feed their family. In short, they’re living in denial. Many people are even still diluted enough to think that the GOVERNMENT is going to fix everything….somehow… right? Yeah right…we’ve all seen how well they fix problems.  


There’s an old saying that goes: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The Great Depression taught this country several valuable lessons; however the vast majority of Americans have failed to remember those lessons. Today we’re going to go over 10 of the most important life lessons from the great depression that we should all be using very day.


  • Credit is Cancer – Almost any financial disaster can be linked back to credit and debt. These two things are the cancer that can kill financial goals, strain relationships and can even lead to physical health problems due to the stress of making payments that seem to get bigger and bigger every year. If you really want to be financially secure, take a lesson from the Great Depression era. There simply wasn’t any credit available for most people during this time. If you didn’t actually have money to buy something, you didn’t get it, period. This may be difficult to do today for things like cars and houses, but there is no reason why you have to finance these things 100%. Save your money, put up large down payments, stay away from credit cards and installment loans. Remember, if it REALLY is that important, you’ll save up for it, if you can‘t, then it probably wasn’t worth the money anyway.
  • Build and continue to reinforce relationships and community – During the depression, people survived by banding together. Community gardening and food storage efforts, bartering, community security cooperatives and even community medical professionals were commonplace. Your first step to building community is right outside your door. Build relationships with people in your area. Explore hobbies together, laugh together during the good times and cry together during the bad. The times we are going to face will be extremely tough, and there’s no reason to try and face it alone.
  • Enjoy the simple life – We should all be taking a lesson from children. Children can find excitement in even the most common of activities. We adults however, especially preppers, seem to think that we can’t have any fun unless we’re spending a lot of money buying new toys, learning new skills or trying out the newest gear. Heck… anymore, even just going for a fun day at the gun range practically requires a second mortgage!  Even though this may require some lifestyle changes, try to find satisfaction in the simple things and in simple activities. I remember when I was very young and had my first pocket knife. I would sit on my folk’s deck whittling away on one project or another for hours on end, loving every minute of it and not spending a dime.
  • Become a DIY’er – Websites like Pinterest have turned the Do It Yourself hobby world into a virtual modern-day revolution. However, being a DIYer isn’t just a cool hobby for stay-at-home moms. Being a DIY’er could literally be the difference between surviving and being a victim during an economic collapse. There are so many simple things that we could be doing ourselves that would not only save us money, but would give us the skills to lead a relatively normal life even when disasters take away modern conveniences. A few examples:

Car repairs – Although modern cars are largely reliant on technology-driven parts, the majority of basic car repairs such as oil changes, tire rotations and brakes can still easily be done on your own.

Clothing repair – Sewing is unfortunately a skill that is slowly becoming extinct. Learning to sew can not only assure that you can repair clothes, but even make them yourself.

Home repairs – Being a homeowner can get ridiculously expensive. There are several things that can break or need maintenance in a modern home. Learning how to do even a few of these things yourself can save you a ton of money and prepare you for when calling a repairman simply isn’t an option.

  • The difference between frugal and cheap – A lot of people think that they have to be cheap in order to save money, especially during a financial disaster. This isn’t true. Frugal isn’t the same as cheap. Cheap means that no matter what, not spending money is the first option. That is not always the best choice. Sometimes you have to spend some money to fix a problem. That being said, frugality means that we try to use the resources we have to resolve an issue, but are willing to invest money, if that money will give us a good return on our investment. A good example of this would be gardening. Anyone can throw some seeds into the ground, but to really maximize your garden’s yield and productivity you need to invest a little money in it to buy quality seeds, improve soil and improve yields.
  • Appreciate your food and where it comes from – Sometimes it’s easy to take food for granted. We’ve been inundated with modern conveniences and spoiled with how easily we can procure food. Starting a garden is a great start to learning to appreciate your food. Learning to cook without a recipe is another valuable skill to learn. During a depression-like scenario, most of us won’t be able to afford to buy the same volume of groceries we’re used to, if we’re able to buy groceries at all. Preparing for that eventuality now is really the only way to be ready when we will actually need to be much more self-reliant for our food.
  • Stop killing our soil – During the Great Depression, many people tried to rely on their land as a way to feed themselves and their family. Unfortunately, many of these families went hungry simply due to poor soil management. Soil is fragile; it will produce for you only as well as you treat it. During the Great Depression, destructive farming practices turned thousands of acres of perfectly good farmland into what was commonly referred to as the “Dust Bowl”. This soil was unable to produce enough (if any) food to feed the people simply because it was not treated properly in times of abundance. Today, practices like mono-cropping and GMO farming are literally ripping the productivity out of our farmland once again. Although there’s not a whole lot we can do about that, we can do something about the soil in our backyards. Be sure that you are treating your own soil with care so that it will produce for you in both good times and bad.
  • Stop throwing stuff away – There is so much waste in this country today. It is estimated that the United States literally throws away over 165 Billion dollars in food every single year. This is a real shame. We all need to be a lot more careful about how much perishable food we are buying, how we are storing it, and how efficiently we are using it. Simply not wasting food could save your family hundreds or thousands of dollars every year. Additionally, so much of our “waste” food can be turned into valuable compost that you can use to add fertility to your soil.
  • Be organized – This may seem like a silly addition to this list but it’s actually very important. When your home is disorganized it has a real effect on your morale. After a long day at work, the very last thing I want to see when I come home is a messy house. It can literally but a scowl on my face. Keeping things neat and organized seems like such a small thing, but during a disaster situation, especially a long-term disaster, having a clean and organized home can provide a sense of order even when the rest of the world is in chaos.
  • Appreciate what you have – This is probably the toughest lesson we should all be learning from the Great Depression era. Striving to be better, whether that means as a parent, spouse or even just becoming better at skills or hobbies is important. Wanting more for your family is honorable. That being said, if you can’t appreciate what you have, you’ll never be content even if you exceed every goal you set for yourself. A lot of us may complain about life being hard and not being able to get ahead, but I think it’s important sometimes to take a step back and appreciate ourselves for the lives we’ve been able to build.


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1 comment

  1. Methane Creator

    History continuously repeats itself. Since biblical times, mankind has continued to war and fight. Chaos will reign initially during the collapse, but small cells or groups will begin to dominate certain areas I’m sure. All the politicians are corrupt and only care about what the lobbyists and big business will pay them to keep their profits. Your survival plans had better include enough neighbors, family, and friends with many necessary skills to weather whatever Satan and his legions throw at us. Hermits will not make it. Think before you throw something away as it could be re-purposed. What I may not be able to repair today, can be repaired and used by someone else in the future. Sure hope the Gov’t tests the Electrical Grid this month by turning it off for 72 hours. Best wakeup call we could have!

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