9 Frugal-Living Tips From the Great Depression


mendingThis post originally appeared on POPSUGAR Smart Living.

Scrimping and saving was a necessity during the Great Depression, when unemployment in the US skyrocketed to 25 percent. Although we are seeing better times, we can always take a page from that era and practice some of those thrifty habits. Restart these frugal practices, and your wallet will thank you!

Making your own: There are plenty of items we can DIY and don’t have to buy, such as certain foods and cleaning supplies. Not only will making some of these items on your own save you money, but it’s also better for your health. There are fewer chemicals in homemade cleaning supplies and food.

Using it up: Use everything to the last drop before you toss it. This includes everything from bath supplies to cooking ingredients.

Going to the library: We often forget our friendly neighborhood library has plenty of awesome freebies in store for us, from ebooks to DVDs. Don’t forget: the library is also a great quiet spot to enjoy free WiFi without the obligation of buying a cup of coffee.

Mending it: Instead of throwing away your items or handing them off to a professional, fix them yourself. Thankfully, we have plenty of online tutorials that can take us through the steps without us blindly figuring it out on your own. Check out these home repair projects you should tackle on your own.

Using less: Not only do we need to use everything to the last drop, but we also have to remember to use less of what we have. For example, you can always dilute your hand soap and shampoo with water. And you can use less detergent for your wash.

Growing your own: If growing your own food sounds intimidating, you can always start small. Explore foods that you can easily grow in a small space, such as herbs.

Needing over wanting: Apply the stranger test to purchases. Picture a stranger offering you the cash value of the purchase or the purchase to you, and figure out which one you would pick. If you pick the cash over the item, then you should seriously reconsider buying and just make do with what you have instead.

Reusing items
: Don’t throw away items just because you can’t use it for its original purpose. For example, there are plenty of things you can do with an old t-shirt, books, mason jars, and even maps.

Spending less on entertainment: Didn’t you know the best things in life are free? Enjoy free activities, and learn how to entertain yourself at home without spending a dime.

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  • betty marie waldeck

    very good to know stuff.

    • Merrilee Slaton

      When I was young (a child) we always used about a tablespoon of Shampoo or Conditioner in warm water works great.
      When you cook, make extra and put in a bag in freezer for another meal. Costs less and saves on utilities to.

  • aggie-

    how about cooking at home, saves lota of money and should be better for you

    • Merrilee Slaton

      Yes I can make a good meal for about $10.00 for a family of 5 or 6, depends on the kids being here, if we go out, even cheap, would be at least $50.00 to $75.00.

  • Francesca

    I love the one about picturing a stranger offering the cash or the item. I tried it and it works. Francesca of http://tasmanianminimalist.blogspot.com

    • Merrilee Slaton

      You can also make it a habit to go home and if you still want it the next day go back.

  • Merrilee Slaton

    I save on most things but not detergent. That is one area that if you want your clothes to be clean and look good I don’t think is a good idea.

    • Greg Convertito

      I make my own detergent, and have for a while. It cleans just as well, if not better, and I never end up with irritated skin because there aren’t any random fragrances that some company decided to put in my soap.

    • Donna Musick

      I also make my own laundry detergent, called Mom’s Laundry Sauce…cleans better, the soap does not stay in the clothes, smells better, and is easier on the washing machine…I also take free packets of hair conditioner, mix with water, soak a sponge cut in 4 in the solution, and when I dry clothes I squeeze out the sponges and throw them in the dryer, and I throw in a balled up piece of aluminum foil (never needs to be replaced) to remove all static cling…easy peasy and my clothes smell great.

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  • Sc B. McKinney

    I have been making my own detergent for about 2 years and not only is it cheaper but if you have the right recipe your clothes are very clean and without all the chemicals. I tried some that I found online where I would agree but the one I am using is great. I also make my own hand soap without all the chemicals and am looking for a dish detergent recipe that works. I have tried several that were horrible.

  • Mel

    I think its an Andy Stanley quote but put in your purse “I want is better than I owe” its true and very effective if its in the same pocket as your credit card.

    I love wikihow I’ve used it a handful of times already on household cleaning and general maintenance tips

  • Farmgal Val

    When I was single and still in my mid 20′s, living alone, I had to be very frugal. Now, since most people feel like their employment jobs are miserable hours wasted of their lives, I used to shop and seeing something like a very pretty $40 blouse but in my mind I knew I only made (back then) a bit over $5 an hour at my miserable job.
    If I wanted that blouse i would have to suffer almost 8 hours of work to buy it so it wasn’t hard to put it back on the rack and walk away.
    If you don’t work outside the home, think of everything you want to buy in your spouses work pay by the hour.
    Even today, my husband makes a bit under $20 a hour so if I want to buy something for $100.00 that poor man has to labor 5 hours at his job!

    • Picklepie6

      I do that too! But we should add 25% for income tax and sales tax –so make that 6+ hours.

  • http://www.frugalfroggie.com/ Beth@FrugalFroggie

    You have some great tips. Thank you for sharing.

  • Carolyn Parish Taylor

    I’ve done a variation of the stranger test except I weigh how much something cost vs how long my husband had to work to pay for it. There’s a lot of things that never passed that test.

  • Debbee Winegar

    I going to throw out our washer and buy a used one, because it cost so much for someone to come out and look at it, and then to come back and actually fix it, but I went online to YouTube, found out it was just the “dog feet”, it was a $5.00 part and I fixed it myself! Now we research everything on YouTube and have found so many tutorials to fix almost everything within reason.

  • Dan Tomkins

    The title says tips from the great depression..I don’t think they had free e-books and dvds and Wi-Fi at that time…