Most Popular Post

Friday, 1 April 2016

Empty Pocket


Having been raised by parents who grew up during the Great Depression, I had a sense of the poverty and want of that time in Newfoundland history. People did not have money; their pockets were empty. Fisherman sold their salt fish to the merchant, who graded the fish, and sold food and supplies back to the fishers based on the value of their catch. Money seldom exchanged hands as the value of the fish was rarely enough to cover the goods the fishers needed for the coming winter. Most families were indebted to the merchant from year to year.



Max Braithwaite wrote about Saskatchewan, Canada during the Depression and referred to the empty pockets of the people who lived on the prairies at that time. During his first year teaching, he lived in the basement of the school, ate food provided by the families of the children he taught and was not paid until the end of the school year. He did not have a penny in his pockets.

In Prince Edward Island, Canada, Marion Reid wrote about the egg economy at that time. Farmers did not have any money unless they brought eggs to the store where they received cash for them. 



Today many people do not carry cash although it is not due to a lack of money. Rather, we are becoming a card carrying society and the need for cash is limited. Standing in line at a store check-out, it is obvious that few people carry cash and the people who do are often seniors. Rarely do young people make payment with cash. Bank cards have taken the place of currency for many people.

Times have changed but pockets are still empty. Will we become a cashless society? Will every exchange of funds for goods and services become electronic? With many of the transactions today being electronic in nature, it will not be a huge step to eliminate cash altogether.

If we pay for everything with a card, will we spend more than we would if we handed out our hard earned cash for a transaction? If so, we will be no better off than the generation who was indebted to the merchant from year to year. It will take discipline to live within our means if a cashless society becomes a reality. In some ways, times have not changed all that much.

26 comments:

  1. I use both my debit card and cash, since to me they are the same thing, coming from my checking account. Only occasionally for a larger purchase do I use my credit card, and I keep it paid off so that I don't end up in debt. Interesting to learn that it was no different in PEI than it was here in the States during the Depression. Those were definitely hard times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do the same as you, keeping the credit card for larger items and paying them off before the interest starts. I think that is the exception today though, Jan.

      Delete
  2. Hi, Marie,
    I agree with you. It is a reality that our world is going to be a completely cashless society. There is no stop. Having some of my cash cards, I get to know that I am losing my numeracy skills.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it will be too easy to over-spend when we don't actually pass out cash though I think there is a problem already for some people.

      Delete
  3. My parents were children of the Great Depression too, growing up on the prairies. We all loved reading Max Braithwaite's books! So funny!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I borrowed some of his books from a friend and I really enjoy them. They are specific to the prairies but the sentiment is pan Canadian and American.

      Delete
  4. Now we have exchanged merchants for bankers and though the relationship is superficially similar it has become impersonal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many merchants in Newfoundland went bankrupt carrying the fisher families from year to year when the fishing seadons were poor. Can you imagine the banks doing that for people today?

      Delete
  5. I always use my debit card and only carry cash for the grandson. I do use my credit card to pay for items I might want to return or to keep track of drug purchases. So essentially I owe no one but when I use straight cash I forget where I spent my money and that bugs me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a good way to live, without creditors. We always try to have some cash but it is hard to hold on to it.

      Delete
  6. Our grandchildren's children will one day look at a loonie the way my grandson examines the rotary phone he found in the attic. I just hope the gratitude and ingenuity that comes from having empty pockets never become obsolete.

    Your 'sunrise on the rocky shore' photo gives me a pocketful of pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that photo too, Heather.

      You are right about the curiosity about money among our descendants. My friend's. Grandson asked her recently what it meant to 'wind the clock.'

      Delete
  7. We're pretty well there already -- cashless, I mean. I like to have some cash on hand, but id possible I will pay by debit or credit to keep the cash on hand for an emergency.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the power is out the cards aren't much good. We almost need to have cash stashed away for such occasions.

      Delete
  8. I think I must be becoming one of those seniors who always has cash in my picket, rather then a credit card. But I do use a credit card for large purchases that I want to keep a track of, but always bay the balance at the end of the month. Pay interest to those crooks???? No way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mother always used cash. She lost her purse at the mall once with over $1200.00 in it, money for her car insurance. She got it back too because an honest man found it and turned it in at the information desk.

      Delete
    2. When I say cash in my pocket, I mean $20-40, never $1200! Your mum was very lucky that an honest man returned it to her!

      Delete
    3. Mom was really lucky that day. He was a good man for sure. Not too many would have done the same.

      Delete
  9. Who was it that wrote, "The more things change, the more they remin the same." Ezra Pound? Bater is the way to go, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is true, things don't change in any essential way, the elements may be different but the principles are the same.

      Delete
  10. That is so true about the credit and debit cards. I shop online for practically everything nowadays using my cards. I just have a small amount of cash in my pocket to pay for cups of coffee and snacks when I'm out and about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everything is OK until we lose the power.

      Delete
  11. I am very disciplined when it comes to using my credit card...notice that I say card, not cards. I only have one and make sure that anytime I make a purchase with it I delete the amount from my check book. I was born in the depression years and am very frugal still.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It doesn't hurt to be frugal. My parents taught me how to handle money and look for a bargain. We don't waste money either.

      Delete
  12. I hadn't thought of the fact that most people don't use cash any more.
    You are right.
    I find myself among them as I ponder "What's in my wallet." It's debit card and credit card and this card and that card.
    And....thinking back on the times that people used bartering, I'm thinking that it won't be long until those times are back again.
    I admire those who have come through the great depression. My parents are among them. They have a value of things and for things that we younger (I'm 66) ones don't have.
    Your photographs are splendid, and I wanted to take an extra moment to thank you for the care and the kindness that you take as you visit my blog. You are so sweet to come and visit me there, and your comments are always kind and heartfelt.
    I feel as if I know you, and I'm thankful for that.
    Have a blessed week.
    Love to you,
    Jackie

    ReplyDelete
  13. I enjoy visiting you, Jackie. Blogging is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete