Frugal Living Tips from the Great Depression: What Can We Learn?

Frugal Living Tips from the Great Depression (1)

The Great Depression took its toll on many Americans, leaving them with little money to support their families. However, there are many things that we can learn from history, especially from those who lived through this difficult time. There are many frugal living tips from the Great Depression that can benefit modern society, especially with the inflating cost of living. Let’s take a look…

Frugal Living Tips from the Great Depression

Grow Food

People that have extra space ought to take advantage of it by growing food.

Growing food on personal property can help save a few bucks on grocery bills, especially if it is a product you buy regularly.

Many people can easily grow carrots, potatoes, etc., in their gardens depending on their climate. 

One of the most useful ways to grow food to save money is to grow herbs.

Many people use herbs daily, but it can cost a lot to keep buying fresh and dried herbs from the grocery.

It is very easy to grow common herbs like basil in a small garden or by a kitchen window.

Make Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are easy to empty out to keep a home clean, but they can cost a lot of money in the long run.

Many people do not realize that hot water and vinegar can do the same job as most basic cleaning products.

Diluting white vinegar in hot or warm water in a spray bottle can be a great multi-purpose cleaner.

However, white vinegar is best to disinfect spaces after using a soap-based cleanser.

Vinegar will not cut it though for heavy-duty cleaning, but people can still save cash by using a homemade cleaner.

A paste made out of water and baking soda can remove grease and water stains.

It is especially useful for cleaning a dirty oven top.

However, you should never mix baking soda and vinegar because they will react and create gases.

Watch Your Lights

People have a bad habit of leaving lights on when they are not in use.

Leaving a light on for a few hours may not seem like much, but leaving lights on when no one in the room is a huge waste.

A basic money-saving habit to learn is to always turn off the lights when leaving a room.

You can take advantage of ‘smart home’ technology by setting timers on lights to automatically turn the lights on and off at certain times to save money on the electric bills.

Be Careful with Water

Water bills can get really expensive when people are not careful, and water waste is more common than most people think.

It is estimated that 1.7 trillion gallons get wasted every day in the world.

Water waste can happen in many parts of the home. For instance, a leaky faucet can easily add to a water bill.

There are many simple ways to save water.

For instance, taking shorter showers and turning off the shower when soaping, shampooing, etc., can save a lot.

Try to only use the dishwasher or washing machine when there is a full load that needs to get done. 

D.I.Y When Possible

A lot of people from the Great Depression could not afford to pay people for their services.

That led them to do many of their chores by themselves, which was surprisingly doable.

A lot of basic chores that modern-day people do often get done by businesses, such as laundromats, car washes, mowing the lawn, house cleaning, etc. 

Asking other people to do work often costs a lot, especially since many of the employees will expect a tip.

You can save a lot of money by putting aside some time and energy into doing these chores yourself.

Stay Away from Fads

A great example of frugal lessons from the Great Depression people can learn from is to not follow trends.

Back in the day, women could not forget about their shoes and buy new ones just because of the latest trends.

Instead, they chose pieces that would last them a long time.

Today, people can adopt this mentality by picking more staple pieces in their wardrobes.

Basic attire like plain, well-fitted shirts, blazers, jeans, etc., will never go out of style.

Plus, buying a good quality basic piece means it will be used regularly.

Therefore, it would be better to invest money into better clothing that will last a long time instead of spending on low-quality fad items that are only trendy for a few months.

Go for Reusable

Disposable products are bad for people’s wallets and the environment.

Disposable products get thrown out after one or a few uses, so it just goes to waste.

Housewives in the Great Depression always chose reusable products for their homes so the money they spent would last for a long time.

For instance, they opted for cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.

That way, they would simply wash the cloth napkins after they get used instead of throwing them out and buying new ones.

Some other examples of reusable items millennials can get for their homes are hand towels, tablecloths, beeswax paper (instead of cling wrap), etc.

Avoid Credit Cards

When possible, try to avoid credit cards.

Many people from the Great Depression could not use credit cards. They could only spend money when they had cash on their person.

ATMs were not around either, so people could not simply withdraw cash.

Only spending money that is on hand is a good rule of thumb for people to follow today.

Credit cards can be a trap for some people because people will not see how much money gets spent.

They will only see the card getting swiped.

Spending physical cash can be more efficient because people will physically see how much money they have and spend, making them less tempted to waste cash.

Cook Food

Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways that a millennial should take from this article is to learn how to cook their own food, not order it.

Ordering food can easily cost a person $20-50 a day. However, $50 can easily be groceries for a whole week for a single person. 

Cooking food does not have to be difficult.

People can start out by learning the basics and mastering easy recipes, like pasta and sandwiches.

It takes some practice, but many people will quickly realize that they can make most food as good as regular restaurants.

Borrow When Possible

There are many instances where people will need an item that they may only use once or rarely.

For instance, a power washer is a great tool to have to clean up sidewalks and walls, but it may only get used every 6 months.

Instead of dishing out hundreds of dollars to buy one, people can borrow one from a friend or family member and return it afterwards.

All in All

The Great Depression forced people to overcome the recession by being frugal. While modern-day people may not experience the exact same struggles, the youth can still learn from their frugal habits by incorporating them into their everyday lives. Easy tricks like making food, cleaners, buying reusable products, etc., can make a huge difference.

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