Nine Lessons from the Great Depression We Can Use RIGHT NOW | USTaxAid

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Nine Lessons from the Great Depression We Can Use RIGHT NOW

Written by Diane Kennedy, CPA on March 22, 2020

I have stories from my family that have been passed down from the Great Depression.

My mother’s family was on a farm in North Dakota. The kids never knew anything had happened when the country was in the grips of a horrible economic event.

They just didn’t have fruits and vegetables from other areas. For example, an orange was a special treat at Christmas time. Other than that, they worked on farms, same as before. They ate from the big gardens and had their own meat and eggs, same as before.

My Dad’s side of the family had a harder time of it in Northern Ireland and in Texas. The Texans got hit by the Dust Bowl. The older family that was still around when I was a child talked about the starvation and death. It was a horrible time. And it changed them forever.

What lessons can we learn from that time as we look at our own looming economic downturn?

That’s what I’m going to be focusing on with coaching, blogs and emails in the near future.

Assess. Adapt. Implement.

And, above all else, keep your positive attitude. There is still brightness in the world.

Leaders will be rewarded as never before because they are so needed. You can be such a leader.

There are a few other things that I’m going to be doing. We will start the Tax Minutes again. There is a YouTube channel for those 60 second tax tips. I hope to have those going this week. Look for an email on that. Send me your questions and I’ll cover that. Best way is through my Facebook group, Diane Kennedy’s US Tax Group.

I’m also going to do more in-depth coverage of business and real estate tax, accounting and asset protection strategies and processes with a free monthly webinar.
You will get updates and notices for all these important announcements by staying enrolled at

For now, let’s talk about some unexpected life lessons from the Great Depression that you can use right now.


Reuse, recycle, repurpose, repair.

At this level, recycling is no longer merely separating your plastic from your paper when you take out the trash. EVERYTHING has more than one purpose. Before you throw something out, ask yourself – what other use could this have? If you don’t have a use for it, who would? It’s not the time to discard things that still have good purpose.

Business idea: Start a Blog to show other people how to do this with videos, blogs, Instagram pics…people want and need this information!


Learn a new trade. Start a new business. Change your business.

We can’t ignore the fact that many people have lost their jobs right now and we don’t know when (if ever) they’ll be coming back. If you’re currently laid off or sheltering in place, now is the time to learn a new skill set. Start a business online. Move your business online. Learn a new trade helping people right now. Even these huge storm clouds have silver lining – the sheltering in place time to learn and evolve your business is one of those silver linings.  It’s a real growth opportunity.

There is huge opportunity in change. Many of the big, long-lasting companies were started in the Great Depression. Why not make yours one of this generation of new growth businesses?

Business idea: Help others start or change their business to one that will prosper in the new business world.


Check the ROI on everything.

ROI means Return on Investment.

It’s tempting to just cut every expense you have, but wait a minute.

Is there a return on investment for that expense? For example, if you spend $500 and it gets you back $1,000, that’s not an expense, it’s an investment. If you spend $100 and it gets you back nothing, now that’s an expense.

The $100 expense is actually more costly than $500 investment. That’s because there is no return on the former.

An investment has a return. An expense means you just have an expense.

This is how the biggest businesses got their start in the darkest time. They didn’t just shut down. They got strategic with their resources.

Business idea: Teach basic financial literacy. Help people learn how to budget or pay off their debts.


Build community.

Someone once told me that friends are the family you choose. However you define family, keep them close. A mutual support community in times of stress will make all of you stronger.

I’m not sure there is a business idea here as much as an idea on how you can help your neighborhood or your family. Stay close. Find ways to support each other. You will be happier for it, and so will the people you care about.


You will have to do new things.

Learn a new skill or business. This is when it’s better to have fallback positions. If you have a business now, chances are your business will need to adapt and change. What new skill do you need to make that change?

If you’re stuck inside your home for a week, or more, you’ve got an opportunity to learn new skills.

  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

If you started a business at some point in your life, you probably know that there are jobs you had to do that you never expected to do. Answer the phone. Handle your own social media account. Learn the basics of programming.

At home, it might mean you learn how to do some basic skills like repair, cooking or gardening.

You may find a brand new hobby while you’re at it.

Business idea: If you know a basic survival skill, you can teach others in person or online. Others need this information and you can either charge them directly for the time or set up an affiliate account so that when they click through to buy your recommendations you receive an affiliate fee.


Watch your supply of basics.

There are basics you will need. If we have an uncertain supply chain, that means you need to stock up and inventory. The US is known for implementation of a “just in time” inventory system. That means stores don’t have a lot of inventory. They order just in time. It keeps costs down but it also means that there isn’t a lot of merchandise available when you need it. It works great as long as the system works. But if it stops working, you need to keep your own inventory.

Business idea: There is a big business in prepping. If you can help people source the things they need, you can make money.


Know the difference between want and need.

Business owners know how to delay gratification. It means knowing the difference between wants and needs. It seems simple, but it’s not. A lot of people will get this wrong and that could mean a big difference between surviving and prospering in what comes next.


Factor in small pleasures.

Don’t forget to laugh! Do some fun things. If you’re sheltering in place, that could mean getting out for a walk, safely away from crowds. I like gardening. I like spending time with my family and my pets.

What do you like to do? What small pleasures do you and your family still enjoy? Take the time for them.

Bad times don’t last. People do. Relationships do. This isn’t forever.

Together, we’re stronger.

Please stay in touch. What are you doing to right now to prepare yourself for what’s coming?

You can find me on Facebook at Diane Kennedy’s US Tax Group.

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