Monday, October 13, 2014
A Yankee Lifestyle for Today
The hardscrabble life of the early settlers to Cavendish and other parts of New England required that they “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Yankee thrift was key to survival.
The founding Cavendish families-Coffeens, Duttons and Proctors- had to live within their means as credit cards, mass produced goods, and even “labor saving devices” were unknown. Fortunately, they were not continually bombarded, in all directions with advertisements and other strategies to make them want to spend money.
If we could channel John and Suzanna Coffeen, or the other “first couples of Cavendish” these are suggestions they might make as to how we can adopt their guiding principles of thrift:
Differentiating between Needs and Wants: Ask yourself the following questions before making purchases:
• Is it essential for my health and well-being? Food, housing, clothing, medications and means of mobility are essential. Within that are elements that separate a need from a want. Things like sodas, snack foods, luxury clothes and cars are not essential. Nuts versus cake for food, water over soda, are examples of choices that meet the need in an affordable and healthy manner.
• Do you measure your self worth by what you have versus who you are? Do you want something because someone else has it or is it something you need?
Adopt the Buyerarchy: Use what you have; borrow what you need; swap; make it yourself; try a thrift store and buy only when you’ve tried the other options, and then when it’s on sale. Use cash, versus a credit card, as you’ll spend less and are smarter in your selection.
Develop social capital: Volunteerism was key then and it continues to this day. Activities, such as a barn raising or a sewing bee, were opportunities for people to socialize, check in on their neighbors and get something done. Basically, if you want to make sure someone is going to be there when you need the help, be there for others.
Downsize Possessions: What brings us joy and contentment is our connections with one another not the pile of stuff in the closet. The more stuff you own, the more it owns you.
- • Significantly reduce or eliminate TV: By not watching TV, you reduce exposure to advertisements, reduce energy bill, and more time to do other things, like take a course at the local adult learning center on basic home repair. If you don’t want to give up TV, consider switching to video streaming which generally doesn’t have ads and is considerably cheaper than a cable bill.
• Use the library: Don’t buy what you can borrow. Libraries aren’t just for books, as you can borrow videos, books on tape and use computers to check e-mail.
• Board games last longer than video games and you can play them when the power is out.
• Take advantage of local opportunities and enjoy nature
• Entertain at Home: All of the first families owned inns/taverns, so they definitely entertained at home.
Spend Time with Those Who Share Similar Values: If your closest friends prefer to spend their time shopping and maxing out their credit card, chances are your going to feel it’s the “norm” to do likewise. We are very influenced by the company we keep so if you want to keep your costs under control, socialize more with friends and family who feel the same way.
Check out the Cavendish Connects Pinterest Board for lots of ways to be Yankee Thrifty.