Growing up I remember my grandparents talking about the Great Depression. It was a time when everyone had to scrimp and save and get by on less. The Great Depression was a severe economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to 1939, impacting not only Americans but individuals in other countries as well. My grandparents were children during the Great Depression. They saw firsthand how their own parents used frugal tips to survive.
Today the economy is doing much better, but those frugal tips still have a place in society. Being frugal like your grandparents, and their parents, you can save money, work toward financial goals and live with less stress. Today I’m sharing seven frugal tips you can begin practicing today.
There are a variety of methods our grandparents’ generation used to save money. The tips I am covering include seven common ares. These are popular ways people saved money during the Great Depression. A few of them are actions I personally saw my grandparents exercise and use in daily life. By practicing a similar lifestyle, in a way I feel closer to them.
While the economy is better now, I can still remember just a decade ago when the Great Recession and housing crisis started in late 2007. Regardless of how financially stable the economy feels or how stable your job may seem – it’s wise to live practically and spend smart. We will never know when hard times could hit again, and even if they do not hit anytime soon – that saved money can be used toward more important life goals and ambitions.
Let’s get into my seven frugal tips. Try practicing one or two of these tips and see how your actions can impact your budget. You may even find a new hobby or passion as you practice frugality like your grandparents did. You may also gain a stronger appreciation for what you have.
1) Took Care of Clothing: Not only can sewing and mending clothing save money – it’s a valuable life skill. I’m thankful my grandmother helped to teach me how to sew at an early age. One of my frugal tips is to mend or repair clothing instead of spending more money and buying new. To take it a step further – sew clothing completely by hand! This affordable sewing kit is a great starter for hand sewing.
When it comes to shoes, older generations would polish their shoes with wax. My grandpa showed me how to do this when I was in high school. Popular shoe polish brands include Kiwi Shoe Polish and Dr. Marten’s Wonder Basalm. You can also take your shoes to a cobbler for mending or for new heels or soles. Other ways I have found to make clothing last longer include washing in cold water and hang drying. A set of clothespins and a clothesline, or a clothes drying rack can help your clothing last longer.
2) Cooked from Scratch: Today we live in a society filled with fast food chains and pre-packaged foods. Time is of the essence, or is it? Cooking from scratch is not only a valuable skill but it can help you save money and even be healthier. Cooking can be intimidating but I promise it gets easier over time. My favorite basic, starter cookbook is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. In addition to cooking meals for my family I have made foods by hand such as sourdough bread, sun tea and even baby food.
3) Repaired Household Items: In addition to giving new life to clothing via mending, our grandparents’ generation fixed household items instead of buying new. A good example of this is with appliances. Instead of buying a new washer for $800, spend $60 for an hour of service from an appliance repairman. If you would like to DIY more, consider reading a book like the Home Depot Home Improvement 1-2-3 guide to teach yourself how to do basic home repairs such as window caulking, drywall, painting and more.
When it comes to modern conveniences, there are ways to repair items instead of buying new. For example, take your cell phone to a cell phone repair shop. Alternatively, if you wear eyeglasses consider buying new lenses to put in your old frames instead of an entirely new pair. By repairing you also support local business and your local economy.
4) Practiced Home Canning: With today’s modern conveniences, a lot of people are shocked I do home canning. It’s really not that difficult and there’s a level of enjoyment that cannot be matched that comes with preserving your own foods and enjoying them later. I’ve written an entire guide on everything you need to begin home canning. I’ve canned strawberry jam and applesauce and apple butter. Many people also enjoy canning and pickling vegetables.
5) Planted a Garden: During World War I and World War II, our nation’s resources were limited. Many goods and products had to be used for the nations’s military defense. In reaction, many Americans began to plant home gardens and grow their own food to eat. These gardens earned the nickname Victory Garden. You can plant a Victory Garden today and enjoy many of the same benefits. Gardening is an enjoyable hobby for adults and children alike.
Nothing tastes as good as your own home grown vegetable. Starting a garden can be as easy as planting a few seeds and enjoying fresh vegetables in the summer. One of the reasons I practice organic edible gardening is so that I can eat the foods I plant, be practical and save money! Start your seeds early using my milk jug greenhouse tutorial, or build a cold frame box to grow lettuce in winter. Order free garden catalogs online for inspiration or plant an herb garden to season your food naturally.
6) Reused and Repurposed Items: If there is one thing the Great Depression taught our grandparents’ generation it was to reuse and repurpose items. I mean to the point of extreme creativity! There are a lot of ways you can reuse everyday items but I will provide a few examples. Instead of throwing away newspaper bags or bread bags – use them to pick up dog poop.
Save toilet paper rolls for kids craft projects. Keep the rubber bands off of produce like asparagus and broccoli and use them around the house instead of buying rubber bands. Save envelopes from junk mail and use them to mail letters instead of buying envelopes. Other ideas include purchasing washable towels and saving plastic bags to reuse (this plastic bag holder is great for that!).
7) Didn’t Let Food Go to Waste: We already covered cooking from scratch and home canning and gardening. Another one of the frugal tips from generations ago is to not let food or leftovers go to waste. This can be as simple as eating leftovers before making a new meal or eating out. Alternatively, freeze meals or meat so that they will not spoil and can be eaten at a later time.
Other ways to reduce waste are to implement meal planning and don’t overlook the power of buying staples such as on my cheap grocery list. Something else that grandma did and that I am now doing – save fat drippings from food, such as bacon. An egg fried in bacon grease tastes much better than butter – believe me! You can use a special container to save the drippings for future use. Also, consider starting a compost pile to repurpose food scraps. There are backyard compost bins and even small kitchen compost bins!
I hope these frugal tips are helpful and provide some inspiration to live more frugally, appreciate our resources and be better stewards of those resources. Not only can using these tips from our grandparents’ generation help save you money, they can help the environment, reduce waste and make our planet a greener place to live.
Which tip do you already implement or want to try out?