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The Great Depression was a time of significant financial burden for most people in the country. In fact, there were more with less than they needed than there were those who had what they needed. Although times haven’t gotten as rough as the Great Depression, that period did teach people how to be frugal in many different ways that we can use today. Here are 22 frugal living tips that you don't want to forget!
22 Frugal Living Tips from the Great Depression
Don’t buy new. No one had money to buy new, and new doesn’t always mean better. Look for used items at a much less expensive price. This means shopping garage sales, Facebook groups, thrift stores and even consignment stores. I never buy my kids clothes new they grow out f them so fast!
Eat your leftovers. You have already cooked it why waste it? Last night's dinner makes a great lunch today and saves you money. Have a lot of leftovers? Make a meal out of it and have a leftovers night! They are popular to get kids to the table cause the good stuff goes fast! We invested in a good tupperware set for this reason.
Appreciate what you have. This is where want vs. need comes in. We buy a lot of things we want but don't need. You WANT a new couch when your current one is only two years old, and you want a different bedspread when your current one is still in perfect shape. You NEED to buy new clothes when you son hits a growth spurt. You NEED to buy food, just not the chocolate brownies at the bakery. Appreciate what you have and cut down on the want buying.
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Make your own meals. It is so easy to order take out, but making your meals every night saves a ton of money. I won't lie I fall into this trap more often than I want to admit. Right now, being pregnant it is so much easier to pick something up when I don't feel good, but hubby has stepped up to making easy dinners for us! You can also make cheap meals from bread.
Save a dollar. Every time you spend a dollar put back a dollar to save. This will prepare you in case the worst happens. While not always the easiest thing to do I have a few tricks up my sleeve for saving money. For one, I save every $5 bill I get which adds up fast.
Learn how to do things yourself. Even more so now, people can fix their cars, computers, and appliances. Use YouTube to fix your stuff instead of paying someone else to do it. I shared a list of things they handmade in the great depression that we now pay for. Can you make any of these to save money?
Spend time with people. Instead of going out and spending money, have game nights and spend time with friends and family. Campfires, backyard campouts and afternoons at the park are much cheaper than an expensive night out.
Buy your food in bulk. Buying food in bulk ensures you don’t run out. This is especially true when saving money on meat. At non-bulk prices, I can get boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound on sale. At bulk prices, I can get it as low as $1.39 a lb. That's a savings of about around $3 per 40lbs. I recommend Zaycon Fresh Foods for bulk meat purchases.
Related: 13 Items They Made During the Great Depression (But We Pay for Now)
Don’t use credit. Credit cards are evil and can get you into a real financial bind especially when you’re already lacking. You end up paying more on whatever you buy. We made a mistake not too long after our wedding of paying for a car repair on the credit card. While the amount was only $500, we paid on it for just shy of a year and paid almost $40 in interest. A tank of gas! Think about it for everything you put on the credit card.
Save for big purchases. The old saying “patience is a virtue” still applies. Save up for big ticket items. Why? Once you have time to do research on which brand is best. Two you won't pay interest and three it gives you a chance to watch the price waves, see when the item is the cheapest and save even more money. Then see if you can use sites like Gift Card Granny (it's free!) to get discounts gift cards to save even more!
Related: 8 Money Saving Tips from the Amish Lifestyle
Don’t throw anything away. Everything can be reused even those toilet paper rolls. Reuse, repurpose, and save everything! Your jean gets a hole? Turn them into shorts or even repurpose it into a skirt. If the clothes are too worn to repair, then they made great rags cut up to clean with, eliminating the need for paper towels and sponges.
Make your clothes. Sewing some pieces of cloth together isn’t rocket science and can be learned rather easily with online tutorials from sites like Craftsy and their sewing classes.
Layer up in the winter. Instead of jacking up the heat, layer on the clothes. Make sure you have on socks and use a blanket. Also, if you have a wood burning fireplace use that for heat as much as possible before turning up the heat.
Wash your clothes less often. Just because you wear it for a few hours doesn’t mean it is dirty. Wash your clothes less often. In my family we wear our jeans two days before they are put in the wash, assuming they don't get dirty.
Related: 60 Things to Make Instead of Buying
Save your grease. Saving bacon grease and grease from food like browned ground beef will save you on butter, margarine, or oil. Growing up, we always drained the grease into an aluminum can to use later as needed.
Grow what you can. Plant a garden and grow what you, have some room? Raise some chickens and collect your own eggs then, later on, you have your own chicken meat. If you have a farm, consider raising your own meat.
Skip the Disposables. Trust me I love my disposable diapers, but they didn't use them back then. Cloth diapers all the way. Learn 7 Reasons to Consider Cloth Diapering. If you are really brave, you can consider switching to cloth pads and even cloth toilet paper.
Wear an Apron. Ever watch The Waltons? Notice how the women in the kitchen always wear an apron? I thought it was silly, but if you think about it, it actually makes sense, it protects your clothes from stains and helps them last longer. Plus you can get really cute aprons today.
Related: Great Depression Cooking Tips That Will Save You Money
Use Homemade. Consider making your own cleaning products, and making homemade things like pasta sauce and even french fries.
Utilize your local library. From free books, DVDs, and even CDs you can take in free entertainment, and internet access, but it doesn't end there. Many offer computer lessons, homework help, children's activities, research help, and so much more.
Make more money. Any chance you can pick up an extra work shift, do some odd job and put the money in savings. You can also see how I earn an extra $210 a month in Amazon Gift cards to help our budget.
Sell it don't toss it. If you don't have a use for something, try to sell it first. It's better to get a little money for something than none at all. Also, think outside the box. Start a jar of buttons to sell for those that do buttons crafts, and the same goes if you drink wine, save the wine corks for those that do wine cork crafts.
Related: 10 Old Fashioned Money Saving Tips You Need to Try NOW
Don't buy what you can get for free. This is common sense but think about it from the terms of the great depression. Here is a story of my great grandma, no joke. She would go down to the bank and get a free deposit slip and use those to write letters and birthday wishes to family and friends. Why? Because they were free. My dad still has those. My grandparents saved the envelopes they would get in junk mail, the ones they would give you to mail forms back etc and use those to mail bills, and letters. You can start with these Free Baby Stuff – 39+ Must-Have Baby Freebies – they are worth $2,100+!
Have you been taught any frugal living tips from the Great Depression? I'd love to hear about them!
Find even more Frugal Lessons Learned From the Great Depression.
When I was little, my mom used to make meals that could be made into more meals, for example, if we had a pot roast on Sunday, she would dice up the leftover meat and vegetables and add a bag of egg noodles, voila, beef noodle soup on Monday, she also grew and canned most of the vegetables we ate, including potatoes, and she did make a lot of our clothes, and blankets from the clothes we wore out, I still have the one she made me when I was 7 years old and I treasure it, I don’t use it anymore because it is nearly 40 years old and becoming very thin is some areas but to me, it is priceless
The cost of new fabric is now high enough that sewing clothes from new cloth is more expensive than buying clothing from inexpensive stores. But mending damaged clothes is definitely a frugal skill I learned from my mother, who grew up during the Depression. We drank powdered milk and got all of our bread from the day-old bakery thrift store. If we traveled, we camped as much as possible and two of the four kids slept on the floor in sleeping bags if we stayed in a motel to avoid extra charges. On the road, we ate out of our ice chest for breakfast and lunch and had suppers at inexpensive diners, never ordering drinks or deserts. We had a party line telephone, though those aren’t available anymore in the US. We had simple toys, games, and sports equipment and played a lot together as a family. my parents spent their money on what they valued most, which was education in many forms. They put us all through college debt free.
Jolie Jones says
As a renter I have had to clean a handful of different toilets and have found that the toilets which have been used with a “let it mellow” policy never seem to get clean. There is a permanent ring where the water level is constant. The urine has etched into the glaze and the ring which remains never goes away and seems to collect everything. A good cleaning makes the ring lighter but never gone. I guess if you want to clean your toilets every day maybe that wouldn’t happen. But who wants to do that??
Lois Luckovich says
My late Dad was raised on his family’s 1915 homestead and drilled a lot of these things into me at an early age along with the nose-to-tail eating philosophy. The only thing I outright refused to eat was tongue, it had the consistency of a tire. This will be my first year in 20+ years of gardening on my own and I’m looking forward to it because I can grow what I want to eat for myself. I was taught the make-do-mend part of life too and greatly appreciate it