Pay Cash and Other Smart Things Your Grandparents Taught You

Always pay cash

Easier said than done, right?

We could argue that things cost so much more now than they did in Grandma’s day, and while that’s true, we also make much more money to compensate.

As a percentage of our income, some things do cost more. But when you look at the impact of racking up credit card debt – not only on our bank accounts but on our stress levels, it’s simply smart to adopt a “cash and carry” mentality.

Think about it.

While the concept of credit has been around a long time, credit cards didn’t hit the scene until the 1950s. And let’s face it, it can be a lot easier to rack up credit when all that’s between you and what you’re buying is a piece of plastic.

Before credit cards, you’d have to face an angry shopkeeper if you didn’t pay your bill. Plus, he’d shut off your “credit line” if you got in too deep, which in effect put a limit on what you could spend.

Don’t spend more than you make

In other words, “live within your means.”

This is easy to do if you’re paying cash for everything…but when the plastic comes out, all bets are off.

And the only way you’ll know what you can buy is to follow a budget. Whether you go with old fashioned pen and paper or go electronic, having a spending plan will help you avoid spending more than you make.

If you don’t know how much you can afford to spend on something, take a cue from Grandma and don’t buy it. Not, at least, until you’ve saved up for it and…paid cash!

Only buy what you need

You’d be surprised at what you can get by without!

Our grandparents didn’t have iPhones, laptops, or gasp, even cable TV, and they survived long enough to raise your parents, didn’t they?

Granted, you may need one or more of these things to do your job, but do you really need to buy the newest version iPhone, every time it comes out?


Bottom line, if you absolutely think you need something do yourself a favor and sit on it.

Wait for a bit to see if it’s just a passing thing, or your life really would be improved by adding “it” to your life.

Get creative; depending on what you think you need it could be possible to make it yourself, either from new materials or repurposing something you already have.

Not only is it better for your wallet, but you’ll also keep something out of the landfill…always a good thing!

Pay yourself first

It’s not greedy to pay yourself first.

You have to be able to provide for yourself and your family, so make saving a priority.

The best way to do this is to pay yourself first. 

Before you pay the first bill of the month, set aside a certain amount; either calculated as a percentage or as a specific dollar amount, it doesn’t matter which.

The point is to be consistent.

Throwing in a $5 dollar bill once every few months really won’t get the job done…the point is to be consistent. Set aside a certain amount of money every day, week, month, whatever for a rainy day.

When you pay yourself first you’re avoiding the common problem that many people face when they pay their bills first; they pay their bills, buy some groceries and gas, and then bam…there’s nothing set aside for the inevitable emergency.

So what happens?

Out comes the plastic, right?

It’s a never-ending cycle that could be averted if you do what Grandma did and put money aside before you pay anything else.

To make it even easier on yourself, have your employer set aside that money into a separate savings account. If you never get the money, you’ll never spend it, right?

Take care of what you have

In other words, “waste not, want not.”

What, exactly does that mean?

When you take care of your possessions you’ll always have use of them and until they’re worn out you avoid the need to buy them yet again.

It’s really simple.

Think about growing up. Did you inherit an older sibling’s clothes?

What about the furniture in your home? Do you have something that belonged to your grandfather?

One way our grandparents were frugal was to repair damaged items. From darning socks to creating a patchwork quilt of clothes that were no longer wearable, our grandparents knew how to make the most of what they owned.

Even if you don’t envision repurposing clothing or furniture yourself there are ways you can adopt this principle in your own life; instead of buying new, consider buying your clothing and other items in a consignment shop or thrift store.

Buy quality

Always buy the best that you can afford instead of going for the cheapest item.

Cheap items are nearly always cheaply made with fragile materials that aren’t durable.

Think durability when you buy anything – new or used and you’ll save more money than if you bought something based on the sticker price.

Also, if you buy cheap, it will end up costing you more because it won’t last as long, requiring you to replace it sooner than you might like.

“DIY” as often as possible

When you know how to do things for yourself you’ll always save money.

There’s a certain pride in knowing that you’ve made something for yourself or your family. A warm blanket or sweater, a beautiful chair or table…if you know how to make things – or repurpose old things – you’ll have a distinct advantage over someone who has to always buy what they need.