5 Financial Values That Would Make Gramps Proud

Our grandfathers’ generation was many things – some great, some not so great. But if there’s one thing they kind of nailed, it was finance. Most of them likely lived (or their parents lived) through the Great Depression. So their relationship with money was shaped by different, and probably much tougher, financial times.

They were brought up on the less is more principle. When bringing home the bacon meant bringing home the bacon. And when staying out of debt, getting the tools out, and investing in quality was a measure of one’s character and resilience. In today’s chuck-it-out, can’t-wait-for-the-next-iPhone, get-someone-else-to-do-it society, it’s easy to lose sight of such simple values. After all, we’re the grandparents of the future – so here are five ways to keep the legacy alive.


Many of our grandfathers lived by the ‘if something breaks, fix it’ rule. Closely related to the ‘if you can do it yourself, do it yourself’ rule. With this mentality, they did extraordinary things like renovate their own homes, resole their Grosby’s, grow their own food, and basically wax, patch, paint, and oil everything they owned.

Back when times were lean, self-sufficiency and creativity helped people survive. But even if you’re better off than your grandfather’s generation, practicing resourcefulness still goes a long way. Think about new skills you could pick up, how you might leverage your network to get stuff done on the cheap, or any side hustle ideas that could make you some extra cash.

Financial awareness

The old notebook – remember those? My grandfather has hundreds of them, all filled with information on his daily, weekly and yearly spendings. Down to the cent. He knows exactly what he uses his money for, which means he knows exactly what his limits are.

This kind of meticulousness works wonders when you’re trying to save or budget. These days, you’re more likely to swap the pen and paper for any number of great money tracking apps – but the principal still applies. Tracking your spending will help you stay out of debt and in control.


If your Gramps is anything like mine, you’ll agree that birthdays are wildly underwhelming. The old five-buck note. The brand-less cap from Kmart. A fresh pack of butter menthols (kinda delicious). Of course, I’m being a brat. Luxuries were scarce in his day, and it’s actually amazing how far he could stretch five dollars, how practical his attitude towards caps is, and how much he appreciates the little things.

Frugality definitely isn’t cheapness. More like thriftiness – knowing how and when and why to save a buck. And understanding that wasting less means gaining more. This attitude might have been born out of necessity for the oldies, but it doesn’t mean we can’t follow suit. So go dumpster diving, shop at Vinnies, learn a craft, freeze some stuff, or cook a week’s worth of meals. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save.

Saving for a rainy day

It’s safe to say the Great Depression was more than a rainy day – it was an economic thunderstorm. And for many people, the idea of future prosperity just wasn’t on the cards. Saving for tough times made absolute sense. And it should for us too. One day your car might cark it, and on the next you might lose your job. Drastic yes, but the point is, you just never know.

How much you put aside depends. But it doesn’t have to be huge – every little bit counts. Look at what you’re spending your money on and see where it’s possible to cut down. While Gramps might have wads of fiddies stashed in his sock drawer, it’s probably safer to put your money in an emergency fund.

Negotiation skills

Show a grandfather a new purchase and he’ll probably ask how much you paid for it. This isn’t nosiness – they’re just seasoned hagglers. They grew up knowing that you have a right to negotiate, the value of things constantly change, and that most shop owners don’t really want to see you leave empty-handed.

Negotiating might seem a little scary or weird at first – especially because we’re so used to buying things online for a fixed price. But next time your sniffing for a bargain, have a crack. You can easily haggle for products like TVs, entertainment systems, fridges, cameras, and more. Because really, there’s no harm in asking.

So go on, make ‘em proud.

Doug Whyte is a freelance writer and copywriter. He’s worked in branding agencies, digital publishing and written a bunch of articles for a bunch of publications.