As the saying goes, “Everything old is new again!” As we enter a time of economic uncertainty, much like it was 100 years ago, we may be able to find some tidbits of info on how to navigate hard times by looking backward.
We’ve sourced some of the top tips from the best frugal living blogs and compared them to those promoted in the 1930s to see which ones are still holding strong and which we need to leave in the past.
Frugal tips from the 1930s to try
Grow and preserve your own food
Why it works: Inflation is hitting food prices hard. With grocery budgets stretched thin, it might be time to convert your yard into a produce-growing machine. Potatoes, carrots, and corn are all hardy crops that are easy to grow, while leafy greens like lettuce or spinach can easily grow in the smallest of container gardens.
Learning to preserve your crops is also an excellent way to keep your pantry full. Drying spices, canning fruits, and pickling veggies can allow you to enjoy the (literal) fruits of your labor year-round for a fraction of the cost you’d pay in the grocery store.
Repurpose instead of tossing
Before you chuck that jelly jar, consider using it for something new. During the Depression, many families would make do with what they had and use their creativity to find a new life for old items.
- Glass jars can become candle holders or drinking glasses
- Worn clothing can get turned into patches, blankets, or new clothes
- Wood beam scraps can easily get turned into tables or shelves
Learn to sew
While this might be harder to use in the era of fast fashion, lending how to mend clothing that’s still good can save you a lot of money. Simple stitches are easy to learn on YouTube and keep you looking sharp without spending more on new items. If you want to go even further, learning to sew and mend clothing can ignite a passion for clothing design that turns you into a talented seamstress or tailor, which are excellent trades to know if you need to make a little side cash quickly.
Frugal tips from the 1930s to avoid
Keep your money out of banks
During the Great Depression, many banks lost significant amounts of money, and some even had to shut down, leaving thousands of Americans out of their life savings and forever trusting the security of their nest egg to underneath their mattresses instead of banks.
Today, checking and savings accounts are federally insured via the FDIC up to $250,000 per account, meaning that even if your bank goes under, the federal government will reimburse you for whatever was lost. Plus, savings accounts and some checking accounts will offer compound interest rates that allow you to accrue more money simply by keeping your funds in your account.
The bottom line
With today’s economic conditions being ever in-flux, it might be a good idea to look to our past for ways of navigating the day-to-day. Many frugal living tips from the early 20th century still apply today and can go a long way toward ensuring your finances stay strong now and in the future.
Name: Carolina d’Arbelles-Valle
Job Title: Senior Digital PR Specialist