8 Great Depression Money-Saving Tips We Should Follow Today
The Great Depression was arguably the most difficult period in American history. While it may have happened nearly a century ago, that doesn’t make the lessons people learned throughout it any less valuable today. Families who survived the bleak decade between 1929 and 1939 definitely had to get creative in order to make ends meet.
Even those of us who are thankfully much better off today could benefit from the penny-pinching habits folks honed back in the day. After all, having extra cash in case of emergency — or to splurge on something fun — is always a good thing. Chances are, you’ll remember your parents and grandparents passing along a few of these tips to you from their own experiences.
Take a look below to see the best money-saving lessons people had to learn during the Great Depression and how you can use them to keep more money in your wallet today, too.
Grow your own food.
Growing food was one of the best ways to make sure family’s kept their bellies full during the Great Depression, and is definitely something more of us should still do today. Plus, fresh vegetables, fruit, and even herbs taste so much better than the ones you find for at the grocery store.
You can also start composting to help make more use of your old food scraps as nutrients for your plants. Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council for their easy composting tips.
Make most of your meals at home.
Eating out on special occasions is nice, but grabbing lunch or even just a cup of coffee on a daily basis can start to weigh on your bank account fast. We understand how it might be more convenient to hit up a drive-thru, but if you’re really looking to save cash, you should just keep driving.
You can also try to make larger portions, having leftovers throughout the weeks is sure stretch your buck.
Pad your meals with hearty lentils.
Since meat was expensive during the Great Depression, families relied on budget-friendly beans and grains to supplement their meals. Adding more lentils to your diet won’t just help you save money — especially if you grow them yourself or buy them dry rather than canned — but are also great for your health, too. According to Healthline, they’re packed with tons of healthy vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein, and will help you stay fuller longer.
Don’t replace broken items, fix them.
Replacing things was definitely a luxury most people didn't have in the Great Depression. Today, we can easily do a little digging (hello, Google!) to see if it would be cheaper to fix something before tossing it out and buying a whole new product — even if you need to hire someone to help. It could be as easy as mending your socks or spending less money to fix your TV instead of shelling out for a brand new one.
Think twice before throwing things out.
If you can't fix something, take a moment to really think about if you can get more out of the item before you toss it into the trash can. Chances are you’ll uncover at least one extra use for them. For instance, ratty old clothes can be saved to be cut into rags and even chicken bones left behind on the dinner table can help create a savory soup.
Buy secondhand — and keep an eye out for freebies.
Finding a free meal at a soup kitchen or other discounted deals on food and clothing were essential for families throughout the Depression. It was pretty much unheard of for someone to buy a brand new item for their home.
Today, whether you’re visiting neighborhood garage sales or your local Goodwill store, there are plenty of amazing finds that can save you extra pennies. You can also find groups on Facebook that offer swaps and totally free items up for grabs.
Don’t let pride keep you from accepting help.
No matter how hard things get, our pride can make it difficult to accept a helping hand. Instead of wallowing in any guilt or feeling like a charity case, remember that we all get down on our luck now and then.
People in the Great Depression often thought of creative ways to pay kind friends, family, and even strangers back with things like teaching them a new skill or offering their time for things like babysitting, which we can still do today.
Really learn the difference between "want" and "need."
This is one of the most difficult lessons to learn, and one that those who lived in the Great Depression learned the hardest way possible. But if you look back at your purchases for even just the past week or few days, how many things could you have really done without? That’s money you could put to use on more essential items and emergencies ( ...or something even more fun later down the line).
That’s not saying you should feel guilty about splurging on the occasional non-necessity. Things like cheap tickets to movie theaters helped people keep their morale up throughout the difficult decade. We still need that same type of escape to make sure we don’t take life too seriously all the time.