Strong Homemaker

Instant Gratification: Lessons From The Greatest Generation

The following is a post from Courtney, the Strong Homemaker. Courtney is on a mission to preserve and share her grandmother’s lessons of thriftiness, frugality and simple living

Let History Teach Us

A good woman is a thrifty woman. Before you roll your eyes in protest, this post is not from a PERFECT homemaker on a high horse. Just me, Courtney, the Strong Homemaker. I have made my fair share of monetary mistakes.

Let us dig into history for a moment. The year…..1929. The stock market crashed sending the whole economy into a downward spiral.

Great Depression

The 1930s, the Dustbowl. This lengthened the Depression. The year 1941….Pearl Harbor was attacked. Rations began.

Think about this for a moment if you will. My grandmother, one of my great inspirations for my lifestyle, was born in September of 1922.

She was one of seven children. This woman lived through The Great Depression, through the Dust Bowl, through World War 2. They were not very well off. Look at how much that generation gave up and “made do.”

Today’s Society

Think about today’s society. Would we be willing to give up as much today in this society of instant gratification?

The short answer to that, in my estimation, is NO. This is a problem. These lessons of thriftiness are being lost in a world of instant gratification.

Instant Gratification and Your Budget

Now, let’s look at that in terms of your budget! I know that before we had children, instant gratification was a big problem in our budget as a very young, childless married couple.

If you are struggling with money, I encourage you to print off a bank statement or transaction record, that is, if you do not keep a transaction register. By the way, a register is a good way to be accountable for each and every transaction within yourself. It allows you, by writing the register to take responsibility for each dollar you spend on a more personal level.

Why Use a Transaction Register?

Instead of a register, many of us simply use online banking nowadays. It might have been something you learned in your home economics class in high school. You can go into your bank and ask for a transaction register. Some banks will give them to you for free! In this little ledger, you can keep track of every deposit and withdrawal.


To hold yourself fully accountable,  save your receipts. Edit and look over your register once a day. It is imperative that you keep up with it. When you get your statement, you must reconcile it. There are plenty of videos out there on YouTube to show you how. Yes, it’s old-fashioned. Let me tell you why this is important.

Have you ever paid a bill, and it took 2 or 3 days to come out and somehow, simply because you relied on mobile banking….you didn’t notice that it didn’t get withdrawn…..and you spent that money elsewhere. Then, because of the delay, worst case, the payment doesn’t go through or your account is overdrawn? I admit I have done it. The action of keeping a register will prevent this.

Also, you will begin to see a pattern in your expenses by using your own ability to track everything instead of having mobile banking do it for you.

Necessity or Not?

For a month, save your receipts. At the end of the month write down each purchase that is not a necessity.

Example: Groceries are A NECESSITY…..but that huge bottle of wine your brought home with the groceries is NOT A NECESSITY.

Make a list, going through each and every receipt. At the end of a pay period, add that money up. Now ask yourself, “Was this (insert dollar amount here) worth it?” Next thing you want to ask yourself,  “Is this money better spent paying (insert debt or bill here)?”

Look at how many times you bought that fast food when you could have eaten at home. Look at how many times you impulse to spend. Make a commitment to spend less doing that.

Here’s the trick to this, trying to live within your means does not mean don’t treat yourself at all, ever. You will go crazy, or even worse, just give up on your commitment.

In light of instant gratification is the theme; if you want something frivolous or unnecessary, don’t just shrug and charge it to your credit card. Consider it. If it is expensive, isn’t it something you can save for? If the answer is no, it means you can’t afford to pay for it either–considering interest and other fees, it will cost more than if you saved up.

My husband and I are very proud of ourselves. We have come from in debt, to out of debt. We now saved money to purchase a 5th wheel travel trailer, in cash. For us, it was all about instant gratification. That was our downfall. We changed our habits, you can too!

I will leave you with a saying from my grandmother, and many of that generation. “Waste not, want not.


About the Author

Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.

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