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Depression-Era-Sayings and the 21st Century

Making a Frugal Dinner--Family Style

Four thoughts have guided my thrifty living for 20 plus years, and these four: make it do, do without, use it up, and wear it out have been our family guide.

I began mumbling these depression-era sayings when Michael and I decided to tour England for two weeks since he'd be there with the Navy.  Best of all, both sets of grandparents had volunteered to watch our two small sons. But what we lacked in the above plan were the funds. 

So to save, I began cutting food costs and investigating in the library in the 1980s about "how to reduce our overall spending best." During my studies, the thoughts of Great Depression Americans influenced me the most.

My mother and father's families lost everything during this time, and I guess my three siblings and I lived our lives as kids with the below sayings silently ingrained into us. Proverbs 13:18 explains why we should pay attention to the past. It says, "Poverty and disgrace are for the one who ignores instruction, but one who heeds reproof is honored." It is wise to look to times gone by for understanding.

These four financial maps gauge my spending.  They give boundaries to my consumption, and force me to pause, regroup, and often, NOT spend. So here they are--The Depression-Era-Sayings. They rhyme and are easy to remember.

  1. MAKE IT DO.  How can you use what you have for what you need now?

  2. DO WITHOUT.  Do I really need this item I am coveting?  Would something else work that I already own?

  3. USE IT UP.  Have I used my resources wisely?  Did I finish what I have before buying more?

  4. AND WEAR IT OUT.  Before I buy something new, have I worn out what I wish to replace?  Do I really NEED to replace it, or do I WANT more “stuff”?

By applying these four phrases and teaching them to your children, wonderful events will occur. Try putting these sayings into your family living, and watch your savings go up and your budget stay better on track.


Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.

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