The Great Depression was a period of severe economic hardship that lasted from 1929 to 1939. It affected millions of people around the world, forcing them to adapt to scarce resources and low incomes. However, some of the strategies that people used to survive the Great Depression can still be useful today, especially in times of uncertainty and inflation. Here are 10 time-tested tips for saving money like people did during the Great Depression.
Buy in Bulk
One of the ways to save money during the Great Depression was to plan ahead and buy in bulk. Non-perishable items like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and canned foods are cost-effective when bought in bulk and will save you more money later on if inflation continues. You can also look for discounts and coupons when buying in bulk, or join a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club.
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Another way to save money during the Great Depression was to avoid paying premium for established brands and make your own cleaning supplies at home. A simple mixture of vinegar, hot water, and a splash of lemon juice can work wonders on countertops, sinks, floors, and bathrooms. You can also use baking soda, salt, and borax for scrubbing and deodorizing. Making your own cleaning supplies will not only save you money, but also reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.
Use Everything in Your Pantry
Before buying more food, ensure you have used everything in your pantry. Shopping your own pantry before buying more will help save money and encourage creativity in the kitchen. You can also make a meal plan based on what you have and stick to it. Avoid wasting food by using leftovers, freezing excess food, or donating it to a food bank.
Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own food is a resourceful way to save on your food budget. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, planting seeds can yield amazing results. During the Great Depression, canning and preserving foods was also a common practice, which you may want to consider. You can grow your own herbs, vegetables, fruits, and even mushrooms in pots, containers, or raised beds. Growing your own food will not only save you money, but also provide you with fresh and organic produce.
Upkeep Clothes Yourself
Dry cleaning bills can accumulate over time. During the Great Depression, tending to one’s own clothes was the norm. Air-drying clothes, investing in a garment steamer, and grabbing a sewing kit for fixes are all ways to save. You can also learn how to mend, alter, or repurpose your clothes to extend their life span. You can also swap clothes with friends or family, or shop at thrift stores or online platforms for second-hand clothes.
Use Every Last Scrap
The “nose to tail” cooking method involves using every part of an animal, including muscles and organs. Buying whole animals, such as a full-bodied chicken, and utilizing leftovers ensures no scrap goes to waste. You can also use bones, skins, peels, and cores to make broth, stock, or compost. Using every last scrap will help you save money and reduce food waste.
Find Depression-Era Recipes
Recipes from the Great Depression era often relied on readily available ingredients like beans and potatoes, as meat was scarce. Searching for recipes from that time can inspire nutritious and economical meals. You can also use substitutes for expensive ingredients, such as oatmeal for flour or eggs for butter. Some of the popular dishes from the Great Depression era include bean soup, potato pancakes, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, and apple pie.
Use Less Energy
With the rising cost of energy, it is wise to use less utilities. Turning off lights, using candles, grabbing blankets instead of turning up the heat, and conserving car trips can all contribute to savings. You can also invest in energy-efficient appliances, light bulbs, and insulation. Using less energy will not only save you money, but also reduce your environmental impact.
Pay for Everything in Cash
Using cash ensures that you only spend what you have, avoiding credit card debt. This method helps you stay on budget and prevents overspending. You can also use envelopes or jars to allocate cash for different categories of expenses, such as groceries, bills, entertainment, etc. Paying for everything in cash will help you save money and avoid interest charges.
Learn How to Upcycle
During the Great Depression, upcycling was a way of life. Refreshing old items with a coat of paint, reupholstering fabric, or other DIY touches can help you salvage what you have rather than buying new. You can also turn trash into treasure by using old bottles, cans, cardboard, or newspapers to make crafts, decorations, or gifts. Learning how to upcycle will help you save money and unleash your creativity.