What You Can Learn from Grandma About Money on this National Grandparents Day

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Richine J. was just a six-year-old girl growing up in the outskirts of Salt Lake City during the middle of the Great Depression in 1933.

While she was too young herself to feel the effects of the Great Depression, she did bear witness to how her parents handled themselves – and their money – during uncertain times while raising seven kids.

It gave Richine lessons she would apply throughout life – right up to today, as a 92-year-old grandmother to 10, including Emily, who works at Marcus. So in honor of Grandparents Day, we chatted with Richine for a trip down memory lane.

We talked about getting by during the Great Depression. Allowances. The money mindset she’s carried throughout her life. And what advice she has for the younger generation. 

Can you recall how your parents made it through the Great Depression? 

“They did all kinds of things to make it in Salt Lake City. Dad would drive back to the coal mines in Carbon County from Salt Lake, in our little old dumpy car. He would even go back and get a load of watermelons, then sell them in Salt Lake City. He was very creative and tried his best to make a living for a large family. We lived on the edge of town in Salt Lake City. We had a garden, some farm area, some chickens. Mother would sell eggs, milk and cream. She made all our clothes. The garden provided a lot of our food. We were pretty self-sufficient.”

Did your parents ever talk to you about money – managing it, earning it, spending it? 

“We didn’t talk a lot about money but we certainly learned a lot about money, just by the way they lived.

“I can’t remember when, but I remember getting an allowance. It wasn’t very much. You know, 15 or 20 cents a week. And we made it go a long ways in our little town.

“We could buy a candy bar, a lollipop, and I loved sewing. I made clothes for my dolls. Mother sewed a lot and she would let me have her scraps, but I didn’t want her scraps – I wanted square pieces to cut my doll clothes out of because I would make my own patterns.

“So I would go out and buy a nickel’s worth of fabric. I was really thrifty. I took care of my money.”

"Save your money instead of spending everything you get."

As you grew older, what were things you valued that were worth spending money on?  

“Well, I always liked nice things – furniture, clothes, art – and I was willing to wait until I had the money. The opera, ballet…” 

Has your attitude toward money evolved over the years? 

“My philosophy is still the same: I only buy what I can pay cash for – except a car, although I think we even paid cash for cars; a home, and when I sold my home and moved here to my condominium I paid cash for it.” 

You’ve experienced a lot in life. What do you think today’s younger generation should be more mindful of regarding money? 

“Saving money. Save your money instead of spending everything you get.”

Do you get nostalgic about anything from the old days? 

“Education. I should say – I am so grateful that I was able to get a good education when it wasn’t so expensive. So grateful that my parents believed in the importance of a good education.

“Most people in Emory (Utah) only stayed in school until the 8th grade, but my parents went to high school – and my mom got a teaching certificate – and they believed in and knew about the importance of education. I am so grateful that I was able to share this and get an education as a result of this.”

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