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Frugal Tips From The Great Depression

Updated on March 8, 2015

Many people would argue that we are out of the recession, although many Americans, are not so sure. There was a bit of relief from the first recession in the late twentys, then the full depression hit many several years later. There are still so many people without a job, 47 million Americans on food stamps and the stock market is now something many people just do not trust. There is talk of an impending student loan bubble to burst and statistics that over 65% of Americans believe we are heading for a full blown depression. So what do we do with all this uncertainty? For me, the message is clear, I am trying to live as frugally as possible and I have found so much useful information from those that survived the Great Depression and I would like to share some of their great ideas with you.

Waste Nothing-This is something that most people from the depression express is important. This goes for food, just don’t make more than you can use. For clothing, hand down your clothes and when you have to buy new clothes, try used and second hand clothing options. For larger purchases like cars and furniture, the way you take care of them will decide how long they are useful. Take good care of your car by keeping up with maintenance and dare I say fix things before running out to buy a new one.

Stay Out Of Debt-In our debt driven society, this may be hard to do, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you really want something, save for it. By the time you have saved the money, you may realize that you do not want the item. If you are already in debt, well start with the higher interest rates ( credit cards ) and pay those bad boys down.

Grow Your Own Food-Many of us do not have the room or know how to grow our own food, however you can always put a dent in your grocery bill while ensuring organic food for your family. Lettuce, spinach and tomatoes are super easy to grow, as well as not needing a whole lot of room. I never buy salad stuff in the spring, summer and fall and I only have a small porch to work with. These all grow great in container gardens for those of us that live in the city. Beyond saving money and health of the food, there is a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment with a good crop of veggies you grew from your own hands.

Don’t Keep All Your Eggs In One Basket-In this way, I am talking about money. While many may argue against keeping all your cash under your mattress, although everyone should have an emergency cash fund on hand at home if they need it. Beyond that, diversify your investments and savings. Do not put all your money in the market which we all know is so unstable. Also, maybe have more than one bank or bank account, remember the banks were closed were over two weeks after the market crash and people were not able to even get their hands on their money. So, spread your money around and always have some on hand.

Be Creative With Your Frugality-The most important thing I learned from researching the Great Depression was the creativity the families found to survive. They found super cheap recipes to fill their families in times of hardship, check out the video below, this is a great cheap recipe. Also, find alternative to high priced cleaners by making your own, an example is vinegar and water instead of newspaper. Repurpose anything you can before you decide to throw it away. Re-use gift bags and even the wrapping paper, or better yet, have your child make their own with construction paper and crayons. Stickers work instead of tape. Learn skills to do more yourself to save your family money and entertainment can almost always be found for free outside or in your community. Though times are rough, we do not have to suffer, just get creative and find a way.

So here are some of my tips I have learned. What are you guys doing to save extra money, please comment and let me know, I am always looking for good ideas.


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    • kaiyan717 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from West Virginia

      Thanks for reading Jennifer, I agree that debt free is the way to be. I have been credit free for over seven years and have no desire to get back on that train. I think we can learn a lot by those that made it through the Depression.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Suchey 

      5 years ago

      Good pointers. We've learned the hard way about avoiding debt and pay cash for everything. If all you have is $1000 for a car, spend $1000. Save up more money and then trade up. Keep doing that until you have the kind of car you really want, debt free, no interest. ;)

    • joym7 profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      Great hub kaiyan. I also write about frugality but you have mentioned few good points here.

    • kaiyan717 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from West Virginia

      I thought that older woman was just the cutest thing and she has about 20 of so videos, there is one on dandelion salad that I loved. I too go the bulk and stockpile route, I hate to pay full price for anything, it physically hurts, lol. Thanks for reading and the input, cheers.

    • c mark walker profile image

      Charles Mark Walker 

      5 years ago from Jasper Georgia

      A sad but useful article with common sense suggestions that we should all heed. People who lived through the depression era tend to horde. Understandable when you start to lose things that are precious you tend to keep anything you have left no matter what it is.I pray this new depression ends very soon.......good article

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      All good suggestions. I like to buy groceries and household items in bulk when they are on sale and keep a stockpile to save money and gas on extra trips to the store. I loved the video, especially the woman's story about what they used to do during the depression. Voted up and shared.


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