Historical Ideas To Create A Workable Budget
Throughout history, people have faced many different economic crises. Some of them were much worse than the one we face right now. In doing so, we have learned how to deal with what can seem like an unhealthy amount of belt tightening. Since history is often our greatest teacher, let's take a look at how recent generations have dealt with troubling economic events, and see if some of their money-saving activities can be used today. (For more ideas, read 5 Painless Ways To Save More Money.)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

The Great War
World War I stretched from 1914 to 1918, and it had a profound effect on citizens in countries all over the world, including causing food shortages. An initial panic about potential food shortages compelled many consumers to over-buy and hoard precious supplies. This combined with the German U-boat campaign, which allowed submarines to sink merchant ships carrying supplies to people in Britain, made the shortage fears real and necessitated food rationing.

At first, the rationing was voluntary. When voluntary rationing wasn't enough, ration cards were introduced to legally limit the amount of certain foods and ingredients that each family could purchase. Posters also circulated that encouraged people not to waste food.

While U.S. consumers haven't been asked to ration their food, there is a great lesson in money-saving to be found in the idea of paying attention to portion sizes and avoiding waste. When you prepare food for your family, cook only the amount that you need according to standard serving suggestions, and buy smaller fruits so that you have only one serving size for each piece.

The Great Depression
The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1940, was a time marred by many negative economic events like a stock market crash, bank failures, unprecedented unemployment, food riots and squatters' camps. While the economic devastation experienced during The Great Depression left many with a constant fear of losing everything, it also brought valuable lessons about the value of self-reliance and the power of family.

Young people moved back in with their parents and pooled resources so the financial strain of the bank losses and crash were less devastating. Others committed to doing more for themselves like chopping their own wood for fuel, and canning and preserving their own fruits and vegetables. They also made sure not to waste anything, such as using ham bones to make soup stock rather than throwing them away.

Moving back with your parents, doing your own yard work, canning your own vegetables and preserves and finding a use for some of the things you normally throw away, are all actions that you could be taking now. (For more on the background of The Great Depression, read What Caused The Great Depression?)

World War II
The United States entered World War II in 1941 and was heavily entrenched in the conflict until 1945. With more than 12 million soldiers fighting for America by the end of the war, the U.S. workforce was drastically cut. This resulted in transportation and production shortages; families were encouraged to cut back and financial sacrifice was encouraged as a patriotic activity.

The government encouraged people to plant "Victory Gardens" to create a source of food that relied on no workforce to deliver. As many as 20 million families jumped on board and made room in their flower gardens and backyards to grow their own produce.

Clothes rationing was also introduced in some countries. Similar to food rationing, this meant that families were given coupons that allowed them a certain number of clothing purchases for the year. "Make-do and Mend" became a popular slogan which encouraged people to buy used clothing and to mend the items they already owned instead of replacing them.

Planting a garden, limiting your clothing purchases and mending items you own, are all still valid measures to help you weather current financial concerns.

70s Energy Crisis
In the 1970s, Americans began using more fuel than they had in prior years. Combine this increased need with fewer oil shipments, due to an embargo and increased fuel prices, and you have the Energy Crisis of the 1970s, which was highlighted by shortages in 1973 and 1977.

Consumers in the 1970s handled the crisis in a few different ways, including carpooling rather than driving and buying more fuel-efficient vehicles. The government also stepped up to help reduce fuel dependency by creating a national speed limit.

While we may not be facing the same sort of crisis we were in the 1970s, the money you can save by carpooling, buying fuel-efficient vehicles and driving the speed limit can make a big difference in your budget.

The Bottom Line
Our history is filled with periods of national economic hardship. Using some of the techniques that consumers relied on to get through these difficult stretches is a great way to help you get through those that occur in your lifetime, on both a national and personal level. (To help you save more, check out Save Without Sacrifice.)

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