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Book Review - The Old-Time Art of Thrift

Updated on October 18, 2008

I was wandering around the internet a couple of weeks ago and someone mentioned the book The Old-Time Art of Thrift edited by Ken Tate. This sounded like a pretty good book to read and I am always looking for new ideas, so I borrowed it from my library. It was a very good book that talked about what things were like in the good old days.

The Old-Time Art of Thrift is loosely divided into five categories - using it up, hand-me-downs, stretching the menu, pinching pennies, and making our own fun. Within each category are a dozen or so articles, each written by a different person, typically one that had lived during the depression, when times were really, really tough. I have to say that these people really knew the art of frugal living. Except to them it was the only way to live, there wasn't an option of living frugally or not. If you wanted to survive, then you lived this way.

Each article is written as a story and they are very interesting and funny, with great ideas within them. Many ideas people talk about doing today - buying in bulk, handing down clothing, storing food for the winter, making do with what you have on hand and not running out for new, recycling (except it wasn't called recycling back then), cheap foods to feed many, and making your own toys.

I found the article on ration stamps very interesting as I really didn't know anything about them prior to reading this book. What a blessing it is to be able to go to the grocery store and get whatever we need, whenever we want it. Can you imagine only having one pair of shoes to last you the whole year? Can you imagine if you had to make your underwear out of flour sacks? Can you imagine having nothing but corn bread and baked beans to eat - meal after meal?

This book is filled with heart warming stories and great ideas and information about the way things used to be. When being thrifty was the only way to do things. In all the stories the authors look back on the tough times of the 1930's with fondness and even a little sadness at how things have changed. As if it was so much better to live back then than it is to live now.

In a way I kind of agree with them. There are so many options now, too many to choose from sometimes. There are also all kinds of pressures that go along with today's society, pressures that I don't think they felt back then. Decades ago the only pressure was to keep the small mortgage paid up and keep food on the table. Most food was home grown and what grew in the summer you made sure to save for the winter, when food wouldn't grow.

Reading The Old-Time Art of Thrift makes me wish I lived back then. But then again I frequently feel as if I were born in the wrong century. If you are looking for a book filled with ideas, but in an easy story telling format, this is the book for you. Enjoy!


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      ccmarie 9 years ago

      I found this book at of all things, a THRIFT store! I paid .50 and it was in brand new condition. I'm loving reading the little stories and am taking my time so I can enjoy it thoroughly - it definitely makes you think about the true necessities of life!

    • Juliet Christie profile image

      Juliet Christie Murray 9 years ago from Sandy Bay Jamaica

      Sounds quite interesting. Good review. It makes me want to go out and find it. I love reading those types of stories

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Hi Jennifer....this sounds like a really interesting book and one that I would enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing.

    • LouiseKnittel profile image

      LouiseKnittel 9 years ago from Ohio

      I have often wonder how it would be to live back then. I think that I would have loved it!