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How to Survive in the 2000s during the Greatest Depression Since the Great Depression

Updated on August 27, 2012

This is what Depression looked like in 1932: No shoes - No hope

Let‘s talk about this.

A depression is not great!

The term “Great Depression” is an oxymoron.

In fact, it’s one of the top five oxymorons of all time: right alongside ‘Jumbo Shrimp’, ‘Freezer Burn’, ‘Military Intelligence’ and ‘Microsoft Works’.

Let’s also agree that this current situation is nowhere near as stark as the 1930s when one person in four was out of work, five thousand banks failed, and hundreds of thousands of homeless roamed the land in search of food and work.

Today’s downturn is much like the one in the 1970s where unemployment was high and housing values were down - but the numbers in the 70’s and now, are not even close to the 1929-1933 figures.

Many of the people hurt in today's unsettled times say things like,

“This is horrible. My 401K is down to $78,000. Last year it was worth $185,000.”

“My house is worth way less that it was two years ago.”

“I’ve had to spend a thousand dollars more on heat this winter.”

Although there are many people who have been seriously impacted by this recession, for most of us it is really just an inconvenience. We have the funds to pay the heating bills, and the higher prices for food and gasoline.

If you are one of the unfortunate ones who has lost a job due to a layoff or company closing, here’s how I got through it, when it happened to me back in the 1970’s.

When I got laid off, I used the “Pieces” economic system. It’s not very pleasant, but it works.

Here’s the formula.

If you are unable to find a new job and your unemployment benefits are about to run out, take a part time Job. You will probably get twenty to thirty hours per week. Take a second part time job and work another twenty or thirty hours.

Clean your cellar, garage, or attic and take old, unwanted items to a Flea Market or Swap Meet.

At the end of the month, put all the pieces together and pay your mortgage. Don’t worry if you can’t pay the credit cards. It is far better to be up to date on your mortgage than the plastic.

If you don’t have a Flea Market nearby, consider a yard sale. For two straight months, I made mortgage payments with yard sale proceeds.

Here’s a few ideas for part time jobs:

Newspaper delivery jobs pay fairly well and are usually available everywhere. Check with your local paper. They will have openings for home delivery. The downside of this job is that you have to use your car - but the paper generally pays a good mileage rate.

Ask if they have any routes available that use ‘Company vehicles’.

Where I live, The Cape Cod Times has about a dozen trucks that it sends out every day delivering to businesses. This type of job is called bundle delivery. The driver fills a truck with dozens of thick bundles of papers and drops them at stores and schools. This work pays about $10.00 per hour.

Don’t neglect the fast food franchises. A huge churn rate means that there are always plenty of jobs waiting to be filled. You might be surprised to find that you actually enjoy this fast-paced work.

An unusual part time job that’s actually a lot of fun is demonstrating at your local supermarket, BJ’s, Costco, Sam’s Club and similar places. You’ve probably seen the demo people. They have a table set up and offer you a sample of Cheerios or Yogurt or maybe even a slice of Pizza. You can work two or three days a week doing these sampling jobs and be paid up to $14.00 per hour. Do some checking at your local stores for sources. If you can’t get info from the stores, simply walk up to the demo person and ask the name of their company. Most demonstrators will be very helpful and there usually are openings.

If you are young and having difficulty finding even part time employment, why not pay a visit to your Uncle Sam?

A career in the military benefits you and your country. All of our American soldiers are volunteers and almost every one of them is proud to do his or her part to keep our country safe and free.

See your local recruiter to find out what opportunities are open to you.

A little side benefit to working for your Uncle is that you get to buy yourself a new car and pay cash for it. My son, the Sergeant, bought a brand new jeep when he came back from an Iraq stint. He saved long and hard during his time overseas and when he got back Stateside, he marched into Classic Chrysler in Raynham, Massachusetts, put cash on the table and drove out with a brand new Jeep Wrangler.

No matter how bad everything seems right now, it will get better. We just have to wait it out.

Bad times are not cured by stimulus packages, tightening or loosening credit, granting tax breaks, or waving magic wands.

Bad times are mended by one thing only ---- time itself.

In time, things will be back to normal. In the meantime, try to relax and enjoy whatever blessings you have.

2007 Jeep Wranger - The Sergeant's coming home present to himself


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    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 8 years ago from Cape Cod

      You're right. What we have right now is depressing but not a depression. This downturn is stubborn and lengthy but we have the strength and resources to ride it out.

    • kappa022 profile image

      kappa022 8 years ago from Florida

      Nice advice, but I really don't think we're facing another great depression.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 8 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for the comments. The retail merchandiser job is a great idea. It could definately be another 'piece' of a mortgage.

      My only degree is a fairly large degree of craziness, but I know one thing about financial downturns - they are stopped by a sale.

      It all begins with a sale. If people start spending, orders start coming, manufacturers start contracting for supplies, workers get rehired, workers are able to go to restaurants again, servers start getting tips again, etc. the snowball effect takes over and times begin to get better.

      Fear of losing a job, a 401K, and so forth, have made people stop buying cars, appliances, computers, and even new toothbrushes. It may sound simplistic, but if everybody spends (I mean cash not plastic) it will go a long way towards getting us back to normalcy.

      If the banks could be induced into dropping ALL homeowners mortgages by ONE PER CENT, billions of dollars would be pumped into the economy and it would not require Washington printing any more Monopoly Play money.

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Good advice, but I fear pgrundy is right, the future this time around looks pretty grim.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 8 years ago

      Great advice! I've done all these things at some point in my life. I agree with you that we are not in another Depression, but I think it could still happen. This is different than the Depression and the collapse is more slow-mo, but I think it's worse than the recession during the 70s--I think there is more potential for systemic collapse. Hopefully we have a good team in DC that knows what it is doing. I would add another easy job to get is retail merchandising--You can go to and find jobs in any part of the U.S. It pays around $10-$15 an hour and you have to drive from store to store but it's easy and there's no supervision. You just show up, put stuff on shelves, count stuff. There's a huge turnover so it's pretty easy to get in. :o)

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      good advice

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 8 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thank you both for your services, and sacrifices to our country. I am proud of our all volunteer military. It's a glowing sign of a vibrant country. Best of luck to you both.

      Another benefit of a career in service, is that there are many civilian oppotunities open to ex-military in loss prevention, security and related fields. It's far easier for a service-person to get into these slots than one who has not had the benefits of military training.

    • Mrs Hozey profile image

      Mrs Hozey 8 years ago

      Excellent advice. After my husband's medical retirement period was over, we actually decided that he should re-enlist in the Air Force because of the tough economical times and the lack of decent paying jobs in our area. Now he's making more than what both of us made combined and we have a basically free roof over our heads.