Why we should make do and mend
Jul 7, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
If you’re like me, you don’t like to spend money needlessly. As the old adage goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. Despite the extensive history of the saying, it could not be more timely in my mind. Even though the 24-hour news cycle tells us the economy is forging ahead, I still feel like it’s unstable. Perhaps that’s the weight of student loans and past under-employment talking, but anymore it feels like the only thing to count on is change. Gone are the days of lengthy careers, with the stability of one employer that spans decades. We are surrounded by people who have pursued multiple careers and degrees before they’ve even celebrated their 30th birthday. Maybe that’s the new normal: the younger generations follow their passions more than the generations that came before. Or maybe the economic instability forced twenty-somethings to find new opportunities for themselves. How many people do you know who went back to school after losing their job?
All this change takes a toll on your spirit. I know it did for me. For as much excitement and personal fulfillment it brings, it does bring challenges. You can feel like you’ve lost direction (after all it’s hard to find a new purpose in life). But when that couples with financial strain it can magnify these obstacles. How can you manage when it seems like the outside world is unmanageable? Whenever I face this kind of stress I look to the past so I can figure out how to forge ahead. What I mean by that is I draw strength from the people who came before me, who often faced even larger life challenges. What did they do? How did they cope? What made them successful? I draw a lot of my inspiration from The Greatest Generation. And while the “can do” philosophy certainly helped, many other programs were created to support meaningful progress.
The “Make Do and Mend” program is one example. Started by the British Ministry of Information during WWII, its purpose was to help women make the most of their limited, rationed resources. Instead of begrudging the fact that your pants had a tear, people were encouraged to see it as an opportunity to decorate with pretty patches. That simple philosophy is pretty powerful: transform your stumbling blocks into opportunities. You’re probably thinking that sounds easier said than done. And trust me, it is. But the benefits are extraordinary. Since I’ve adopted this attitude we’ve saved money and actually had some pretty good bonding experiences as we learned how to repair things. There’s something really satisfying about the act of taking something broken and fixing it. Clearly the British authorities felt so too as they made an updated version of the WWII pamphlet for our more recent, 21st century economic downturn.
I challenge you to consider your footprint. Look at your expenses and think about your possessions in a new way. Are you surrounded by things you care about, that can accompany you through different stages of your journey? Before you decide to buy something think for the long-term and before you throw something away ask if it can have new life breathed into it? It requires more work and thought, but can result in some special creations. Consider the make do dolls that children received for Christmas during the War. Beautiful play mates were made out of old bits of fabric, wool, or torn toys. Thinking of the moms working diligently on these holiday surprises makes me smile. And even though I can’t begin to imagine their circumstances, every time I save something from the trash/recycle pile I feel like I’m paying tribute to their fortitude.
For our readers: tell me, do you find yourself making do and mending? How do you feel about it – does it bother you to reuse older things?