We can learn a lot from the depression era about living more frugally. The skills people had to use then can still help us save money now.
My Great Grandma had a very interesting life. She walked behind a covered wagon to Oklahoma, she experienced the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in some hard-hit areas of Oklahoma. Hearing her stories is something I miss greatly. She also was a frugal woman that could always make do with what she had.
I often think about the Great Depression and how resourceful people were forced to be. Things are pretty cheap now and our economy has been much healthier, though the last couple of years have been tough. Now it’s so easy to just throw things away when they are broken or when clothing has a hole in it.
However, I think we have lost some useful skills and a good mindset over the years. Making do or doing without is not something many of us live by anymore. It’s creating a lot of waste and wasting money we could use on other things, like experiences with our loved ones.
There is so much we can learn from the trying times of the Great Depression. The resourcefulness was simply amazing. Not only will these skills help us now to be less wasteful and save money, but it also can never hurt to be prepared to have to be more self-sufficient.
Depression Era Tips That Save Money
Make Your Clothes Last
New clothes would have been pretty much unheard of for most families during the Depression. Clothes were mended over and over again. We also should be taking better care of our clothes. Make sure you wash them correctly and if possible line dry. This will save you money and also is gentler on your clothes.
Use It Up
Be sure to use up every drop of personal care, cleaning, and food items. All of the products that we throw out with just a little bit left really adds up.
Make It Yourself
DIY wasn’t just a trend in the Depression it was a way of life. While you aren’t likely going to start grinding your own flour you can make your own bread and other foods from scratch.
You can also make cleaning supplies and even a lot of personal care products can be made from simple ingredients you likely already have on hand. We have the big advantage of Pinterest to help us figure out how to make our own products.
Borrow Instead of Buying
When was the last time you went to your local library? Most books and movies we only watch once so it’s silly to buy them when we can just borrow them from the library for free.
You can also borrow things from friends or family. Just be sure to take care of these items and be responsible, otherwise, people won’t want to share anymore.
There are also options that aren’t free but still save you money in the long run and use up fewer resources. You can use Kindle Unlimited for ebooks and if you already have Amazon Prime you can watch movies and TV shows there at no added cost. If you watch a lot of movies and read a lot of ebooks this will quickly save you money and means less clutter in your home.
Be mindful of the number of products you use. Soaps and detergents are some of the things we often use too much of. You really need a very small amount to be effective, sometimes using too much actually makes it less effective.
Reuse Everything You Can
When clothes can no longer be mended they can become rags, old food jars can store all kinds of things, junk mail can be scratch paper, there is almost always a way to use something in a new way to extend its life.
Grow your own food
Gardens were extremely important during the Depression. They still can help us to save money and to help the environment by reduced transpiration requirements for our food. Foraging is also a lost skill that can help your food budget.
Don’t Waste Food
We waste a lot of food these days, 30-40% of it! There are so many ways to use up food “scraps.” Soups and smoothies are good for veggie and fruit scraps. Meat bones can also be good for soups and broths. Citrus peels can clean your garbage disposal or be used to make citrus vinegar for cleaning. And even inedible scraps can go in a compost bin to make your own compost for your garden.
The biggest thing I take away from the Depression is that people were more careful with what they had and they weren’t nearly as wasteful as we often are. We can learn so much from that tough time and apply it to our lives to make them better and more frugal.