When in Doubt, Shop Like Your Grandparents

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Everybody’s heard about the last few months representing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But look around you. And talk to people who actually lived through the 1930s for a reality check. They’ll tell you that folks today—even ones who have “scaled back” of late—are living quite extravagantly by comparison. How many cars did pre-WWII families have? How often did they go out to dinner? Do you think your grandfather had a gym membership? Did your grandmother get manicures once a month? Or ever?

And therein lies a simple trick for saving: If your grandparents didn’t have it, then you probably don’t need it. So many of the things people buy today would have been thought of back in the day as absurd luxuries only for the richest of the rich. I mean pet clothing? Come on!

From time to time, the Cheapskate Blog will list some things that Depression-era folks never could or would have bought—and that therefore, you really don’t need. Call it the Grandparents Rule. Here’s the first list:

More than 1,000 square feet of living space per person residing in your house
More toys than fit in one big toy box
More jewelry than fits in one big jewelry box
More shoes than you have toes
More sports jerseys than those of teams on which you have personally been a member