3 Principles of Personal Finance We Can Learn from The Greatest Generation


Fact: Our grandparents and great-grandparents were better at saving money than we are.

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While there are many reasons for their success, there are three core principles of personal finance that we can learn from them. These principles are tried and true, and something that many of us have lost sight of.

Economic trends may come and go, but saving money never goes out of style. Let’s take a moment to rediscover three principles of personal finance that have withstood the test of time:


Our grandparents were shrewd and they were frugal. While it’s easy to joke about this generation being full of “cheapskates,” ingenuity goes beyond just being resourceful: It is at the crossroads of creativity and dexterity.

How we can apply this to our lives today:

-If something breaks, try to fix it yourself.

-If a newer and “better” version of something comes out, wait to buy it until your current model no longer works.

-Put away the checkbook and try to solve problems creatively.

-Teach yourself skills that expand your practical knowledge.


The Greatest Generation took control of their finances because they were accountable for every penny they spent. The popularity of credit cards has diminished the need to keep track of every expense, as it has created a “swipe and reconcile later” attitude. Our grandparents were attached to their money because spending it was a tangible experience.

How we can apply this to our lives today:

-Use real-time tracking to keep your budget under control.

-Analyze your spending on a daily basis. Looking at credit card statements that are 30 to 45 days old will not help you take control of your finances today.

-Only ask or accept credit when it is truly necessary; learn to live within your means.


Because The Greatest Generation lived through The Great Depression, they learned to be truly grateful for everything that they had. Experiencing disastrous financial times made them painfully aware of the potential for future hardships. Our grandparents combined their grateful attitude with an unwavering work ethic and then used those skills to gain financial security and independence.

How we can apply this to our lives today:

-Drop the self-entitlement attitude: You only deserve what you have worked hard for.

-Be thankful for what you already have.

-Carefully analyze your “wants” versus “needs”.

-Combine a grateful attitude with an unwavering work ethic.

-Pay attention to your emotional attachment to spending money. Ask yourself, “Will purchasing this item really make me happy?”

While our grandparents and great-grandparents may have been better at saving money than most of us, it’s not too late to follow in their footsteps. With a little foresight and consciousness, we can begin down the path towards financial wisdom.

Morgan is a freelance writer and blogger living in Southern California with her two daughters and flock of backyard chickens. You can read more of her at The Little Hen House.

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