Monday, April 27, 2009

Rumors, the New Flu and Pvt. SNAFU

Now that the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning of a stage 6 global pandemic connected with swine flu that surfaced in Mexico, there's been a whirlwind of rumors connected with the virus. To remind everyone to keep their cool, here's a reminder from the WWII Home Front. From Warner Brothers, the same studio that gave us Bugs Bunny, the story stars a sleepy Private Snafu, not the flu, but it illustrates how the baloney starts flying when rumor replaces fact. Keep that in mind in the upcoming days, and enjoy the show.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Flu, World War II and You

While this blog usually addresses savings and budget tips learned in WWII, we noticed there's great concern about the swine flu in Mexico and decided to see how the World War II Home Front coped with the flu. (World War One resulted in the great Spanish Influenza. WWII did not see anything so deadly.) During the Second World War, mass troop movements also created a perfect storm for influenza, with a severe outbreak during December-January in 1943-1944. In the first week of January 1944, for example, doctors reported 126,000 new cases across the country. The flu was even blamed for a subsequent lemon shortage, as ill people used the citrus in home remedies that winter. Then, posters like those above, were used to remind the public to take precautions against sickness. Today, the same good sense applies: cover your cough, wash your hands, and stay home if you're ill being among the sensible precautions to take. For the latest flu news visit the Center for Disease Control's website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Michelle's Victory Garden for You, Too?

First Lady Michelle Obama's new White House garden is the first one since Eleanor Roosevelt plowed a plot of lawn during WWII when patriotic Americans raisied 40 percent of all the nation's greens on similar home plots. The Obamas' garden has received all sorts of praise -- and even grumbling, it's reported, from large agri-business worried that America's recession-stressed consumers will trade convenience for fresh, home-grown produce. A Victory Garden is one more idea in your own budget arsenal. More about the gardens here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Savings is a Smart Idea

WWII was a savers paradise. With access to consumer goods restricted Americans squirreled away their pennies. We're doing so again. In the last year US personal savings rate have climbed from near zero to almost 4 percent. And the American Bankers Association is rolling out an educational campaign to teach kids savings tips. It's a good thing for everyone. So remember the slogan "The Most You Can Save is the Least You Can Do" and start saving for a rainy day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Verdict is Victory: Gardening Saves You Money

First time gardeners and even those hardened, hoe-in-hand tilling veterans are sometimes plagued with doubt. Am I saving money growing my own green stuff? Or is gardening an expensive indulgence? Good news today from the Wall Street Journal. Columnist Neal Templin reports that yes, a garden saves you money. The trick? Keep capital costs low, says his source, Cornell University's Lori Bushway, who says you can "easily triple" your investment. Reap what you sow!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eat The View: Turning your lawn into a garden

By now everyone's heard about the Obama's plans to install their own Victory Garden at the White House. The organization Eat the View is dedicated to inspiring people to grow more of the food they eat, saving them money and helping the planet. Check them out. Their enthusiasm is infectious.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Taxes to Beat the Axis"

It's getting close to April 15, and it is hard to believe that Americans once paid their taxes gladly, as a patriotic duty. Donald Duck did in Disney's 1942 WWII cartoon urging Americans to pay their taxes to "beat the Axis." (Donald's total income in 1941 was $2051. He paid S13 to the government) Whatever you may feel about the IRS it does take a little of the sting out of paying to remember that civilization - roads, schools, national parks, police - cost money. Like it or not, we're all in it together.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mint-ing Money

One of the reasons the 1950s and 1960s were boom years economically was because people learned how to save during WWII. Today, free personal finance sites like can help you learn how to save. Mint emails you whenever you exceed your pre-set budgets - tracking credit card, savings and checking accounts. It won't do everything for you, and it can't make you save money, but it shows you where you're spending cash and can help keep your savings on track. That's a Victory to us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Feats with Meat: How to Save $ Today

Rationing during the Second World War forced people into all sorts of compromises. Our recession is doing the same thing, so we thought it might be worthwhile to head over to - a how-to site for the hapless dudes among us - to discover if they had any suggestions for saving money on meat cuts. They did. Here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hot Chicks

Raising your own chickens, like WWII families did, is suddenly all the rage. The media's full of stories on how to care for your flock. But you might want to go back to a 1943 tome entitled "Chicken Raising Made Easy." Published by the US Agricultural Department during the War, it offers a step-by-step guide to get your flock to rock in your own backyard. It's not available on Google book search, but it is for sale as an E-book.

We have no cluck with that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yes, We Can!

Canning your own food is a great way
to save money. There are some tips on
this WWII poster, but if you find them
hard to read, here's the Ball Company's
website which has the basics, some
great how-to videos, and suggestions
on preserving your food. Who knows?
Maybe the Obamas will even can
the produce they are raising in their
new garden at the White House.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Spend $10. Save $650."

That's the promise of the Burpee Seed Company's version of a Victory Garden it calls a "Money Garden" -- $10 worth of vegetable seeds planted in a small sunny spot will yield $650 worth of produce. What are they not factoring in? Your time, for one thing and the cost of gardening equipment. That said, growing fresh vegetable in your own backyard is quite gratifying. And it can save a lot of money, if you plan properly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Depression Kids

The New York Times interviewed people in their 80s and 90s to find out how they and their families survived the Depression that lasted until Pearl Harbor. Ingenuity is the shortest answer. People weren't tougher then. They did what they needed to do to survive. And they shared.

The Victory Garden of Tomorrow

We've been delighted to stumble across the work of graphic artist Joe Wirtheim of Portland, Oregon. Joe designs modern graphic posters evocative of the "Can Do" spirit of WWII's Home Front, but updated for today's green world. This poster at left is about recycling, but he has many more you can see here that are for sale. We like his command to raise your own chickens. More people are starting to do just that. Keep 'Em Flying, Joe.