Waste Not, Want Not

In listening to NPR this morning, a story out of  St. Louis, MO, really caught my attention.  Cobbler's Business Steps Up During Thrifty Times featured small business owner Jeff Lipson of Cobblestone Shoe Repair and shared how he is busier than ever due to people repairing their shoes that are damaged or worn out rather than automatically buying new shoes. 

During the story, reporter Adam Allington from KWMU made the statement, "So is the silver lining to this whole economic fiscal credit brouhaha the fact that Americans might embrace a bit of old fashioned waste not want not sensibility?"  Allington's comment struck a cord with me on many levels.  Having to buy and use less is not only potentially good for the environment in a going green sense and can provide valuable lessons to adults and children alike in terms of wants versus needs, but shouldn't more of us be operating by the "waste not, want not" mentality anyway?

While many experts feel that the severity of the current economic situation may not hit people as hard as the Depression or other recessions, I'm of the opinion that we can all curtail our spending and improve our money habits not just because we have to do so, but because it is an overall prudent thing to do.  As adults, talking frankly about the current economy with children can benefit their future attitudes towards spending, saving, donating and investing.  Making changes in how we run our households, shop, travel and spend can not only improve our financial situations, but our quality of life as well.

So what to share with kids?  Biz Kid$, a financial literacy site and show, presents many money ideas in a fun format that encourages kids to be entrepreneurs and also educates them on the different ways to use their money.  Reaching out to friends and relatives, particularly those who lived through the Depression or their own tough times, is another way to gain insight into ways to live more frugally- check out Story Corps to search for relevant oral stories or seek out friends and relatives that could impart their wisdom.  Talk openly with kids and ask for their ideas of how to save money or streamline expenses- their creativity and ability to look at situations outside of an adult's perspective may provide some unique ways to cut expenses.

Prioritizing expenses and finding ways to pinch pennies can benefit everyone in today's tough times and using "waste not, want not" as a guide for spending is a great way to start making changes, whether you are an adult or a kid.