Last Updated on February 19, 2016
The Great Depression was a financially difficult time. However, many people who lived during this era developed savings skills that allowed them to be financially successful after the Great Depression ended. Other savings skills resulted in traits like my grandmothers hatred of anything to do with soggy bread. Bread soaked in milk for dinner anyone?
Do you want to save money like Great Depression survivors (without resorting to meals of soggy bread)? Then follow these Great Depression Era Savings Tips.
One of the best savings tips for the Great Depression era was to go without. If you don’t need cable or if you don’t need to buy that new outfit, then do without. By eliminating the extras, you’ll be saving a lot of money that would otherwise be wasted. The mantra of the era was “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” When you do shop think about what you actually need vs. what you just want and can do without.
Grow a Garden
Many people grew their own garden during the Great Depression. This allowed them to feed their families without breaking the bank. If you want to save money, then make the investment of planting your own garden. Plant your favorite vegetables and fruits that you know your family will eat and then bask in the savings since you won’t be buying those items at the grocery store!
If you really want to save money as in the Great Depression era, then everyone needs to contribute. Obviously your young kids won’t be able to, but you and your spouse will need to be on the same page when it comes to savings contributions. If both of you are contributing from your paychecks, as well as being frugal with your remaining money, then you will quickly build up your savings nest egg.
Use a Clothes Line to Dry Your Clothes
One habit my mom kept on from my grandparents is avoiding using the clothes dryer, especially during the summer. Instead she hangs her laundry out in the backyard in the summer and in the winter she has a lines running across the ceiling in the laundry room. If you still want that out of the dryer softness, just throw them in the dryer for 5-10 minutes to soften them up!
Good to the Very Last Drop
Women in the great depression era would never throw out a tube of lipstick, toothpaste or even ketchup without scraping out every last bit. It may be more convenient to just throw it out, but you can save plenty just by using your products until the very last drop.
Do it Yourself
In the great depression people couldn’t just afford to go get their oil changed or call a plumber for a stuck drain. Learn how to take care of easy tasks yourself. Google is a great tool for the wannabe handyman (handy-woman).
You can also cut down on grocery costs by making food from scratch. Buying bread from a bakery was a luxury and bread can be easy to make and will save you a bundle.
Find Free Entertainment
If you live in a city the chances are you are surrounded with free activities around your community. Just check out this list of free activities in Toronto. The library is a great choice too. Borrow movies, books, music and even attend free classes. There is no reason to spend money on entertainment when there is so much around you to do for free.
Make Do with What you Have
During the great depression, people were not able to just go out and grab a new outfit on a whim. They often had to make do with only a couple of outfits and this meant patching tears, sewing buttons back on and other repairs to extend the life of their clothing.
Instead of simply throwing away broken or torn items or handing them off to a professional, fix them yourself. This goes back to google again. You can do it!
Make your Own Cleaning Supplies
Vinegar and baking soda will do most cleaning jobs around your home just as well as store bought. The best part is that they are both very low cost.
Bulk up Your Meat
When making a meal with ground beef, replace some of the beef with lentils. You can substitute up to half the amount of beef with cooked lentils. Our family favourite is to use oatmeal as a (gluten-free!) meat extender.
What are your best Great Depression era savings tips?
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Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!