Use money-saving tips from the Great Depression to help you live frugally when finances are tight. Plenty of lessons learned from the Depression apply today, regardless of whether the country is experiencing a recession or depression.
Five Depression-Era Money Saving Tips
While times have changed since 1930s frugality was in vogue, the idea of saving money has not. People still need shelter, food and clothing, and want a little entertainment in their lives. Work hard to reduce debt and put some of these money-saving tips from the Great Depression into practice.
1. Shelter Savings
Housing is often the biggest expense, and the most important, on any individual or family's list of bills. This includes the water/sewer, heat and electricity bill, too. To keep housing costs low, consider having multiple generations in one home. Not only will the extra person(s) contribute income to the bills, but he or she may also be able to help with household chores and childcare duties. Apply for public assistance to help pay some housing and utility costs, if necessary.
Downsizing is an option that many people underwent during the Great Depression. Consider moving into a smaller apartment if you are rarely home or do not use every room in the house. If you own your home and have the room to spare, renting an upper or lower floor, or even a furnished room, is an option. Be sure to consider all the legal and personal ramifications before undergoing this saving option.
2. Food Savings
Next to housing costs, food is often one of the biggest expenses in your household budget. People who own their own home find that planting a garden with hardy vegetables is a rewarding activity, and delicious, too. Trade your harvest with neighbors to get a variety of foods in your diet.If you don't have a green thumb or a place with a garden, follow a tightwad grocery list and make easy inexpensive meals. Stock up on non-perishable items to cover you when the food budget runs out, as you do not have to worry about spoiling foods.
3. Clothing Savings
Hand-me-downs were common in families during the Great Depression. Repair any broken zippers, patch holes and sew buttons onto clothing in order to continue wearing them. Making a dress out of a flour sack sounds crazy in these modern times, but consider making play clothing for children out of curtains or even tablecloths, or repurposing a worn adult shirt or dress into a top or shorts for a child.
4. Entertainment Savings
Few people had the money or access to costly entertainment during the Great Depression, so they had to make their own. Although hayrides and barn dances are no longer common, the idea of community fun is something that still resonates with friends and family today.
Entertainment is a category in the budget cut first when it comes to saving money. After all, most entertainment is a "want" and not a "need" for survival. Try one of the following ideas:
- Playing board games and putting together puzzles
- Inviting friends over to watch a movie at home, rather than the theater
- Hosting a neighborhood block party
- Planning a potluck supper with friends and family instead of going to a restaurant with coupons
5. Cash Trumps Credit
People who grew up during the Depression may use different money saving techniques, but there is one thing that they agree on almost universally-always use cash, not credit, to purchase goods and services. Putting items on credit when no money is in the bank to cover that debt is something Depression-era citizens would not do.
During the Great Depression, bartering for goods and services was common, and people learned how to live below their means. Put these money-saving tips into practice and start living frugally today.