Steal Great Grandma’s Depression-Era Money-Saving Tips

When you are on a tight budget, you need to ensure that you get the most out of every dollar you spend. Here are some great tips from the tough times of the depression era that can get your budget back under control.

Making Ends Meet in the Modern World

Sometimes we think that life is tough in the 21st century. Maybe we can only afford one vacation this year, and or can’t afford to upgrade our second car to a new model. Our smartphone is two years out of date and the kitchen isn’t big enough for that second fridge we want so badly.

Life is tough, huh?

If your great-grandmother could hear all this, she would be shaking her head in amazement. If she lived through the depression era, then she knew what it really meant to live a tough life. In those days, you had to do whatever it took to make ends meet. If you ran out of money, there were no credit cards or payday loans to take up the slack. If you had no money, you didn’t eat. If you couldn’t pay the rent, you would be kicked out into the street.

Now that’s a tough life.

We are very lucky that we don’t have to live in such straightened times. But balancing the budget can still be difficult today. So we can do a lot worse than learn from great Grandma and the people who lived through the depression. If they survived, so can we. So here are 12 depression-era money saving tips that modern moms should take heed of.

#1: Buy What You Need – Don’t Shop for Fun

Shopping was different back in the 1930s. You didn’t walk into a store and browse around, picking up whatever took your fancy. You wrote a shopping list and walked up to the counter, and requested all the items on your list. The shopkeeper found the products and bagged them up, and you took them home.

Nice and simple.

No aroma of baking bread and roasting chickens at the back of the store to make you hungry, causing you to buy things you don’t need. No sales assistants offering you free samples of exotic dishes that you can’t resist. And no candy at the checkout, just begging to be eaten on the drive home.

We can all fight these temptations by doing what Great Grandma did – write out a shopping list of what you need and stick to it. Just go to the store and buy the items on your list, and ignore everything else. That will cut your shopping bill down to size.

#2: Negotiate Hard

The price written on the tag is not always the lowest price the vendor will accept, especially in smaller mom-and-pop stores. You can snag yourself some great bargains by learning to negotiate on prices. Fix a price in your head that you are prepared to pay and stick to it. If you start to walk out of the store without buying the vendor will often suddenly decide that your lower price is acceptable after all.

#3: Buy Used Products

The days of hand-me-downs may be gone, but nowadays you can get some great bargains if you are happy to use second-hand products. You may not want to wear second-hand clothes, but you can often get a fantastic bargain by buying pre-owned products.

For example, people often buy bicycles and exercise machines then never use them. You can buy them second half at perhaps half the retail price, and get a machine that is as good as new. Electronics devices that are last year’s model often sell very cheaply, yet may do the job just as well as the latest models

#4: Ration Your Use of Products

It’s very easy to be wasteful with products that come in tubes and bottles. Learn to ration how much washing up liquid, shampoo and soap powder you use. And when you get to the end of the tube of toothpaste, make sure you squeeze out every last drop before you throw it away.

#5: Repair Instead of Replacing

We live in a throw-away society, and as soon as something breaks down we throw it away and buy a new one. We can save quite a bit of money be doing things the old-fashioned way – repairing and mending wherever possible.

Instead of throwing things away as soon as they tear or break, see if there is a way to salvage them. You will be surprised how often an item can be restored to great condition and good working order, saving you a few dollars along the way. ​

If Great Grandma could make do and mend, so can you.

#6: Wear Warmer Clothes

When autumn starts turning into winter, we are often quick to switch on the central heating. But hold fire for a moment! Instead of turning up the heat, put on a sweater. You will find that you then comfortably delay the day when heating becomes a necessity.

Not only that, but when you do switch the heating on, you will be able to turn down the thermostat a few degrees. And that makes a big difference to the size of your heating bill.

#7: Use Your Washing Line

Yes, it’s very convenient to put everything in the tumble dryer, especially if the weather isn’t perfect for drying. But tumble drying is expensive. Get used to using your washing line whenever you can, and only use the tumble drier when rain makes it essential.

#8: Freeze Leftovers

It’s very easy to end up with leftover food at the end of the meal, and very tempting to just scrape it into the bin. But it is a much better idea to put the leftovers into containers and freeze them. You will not only be saving money on food, you will save yourself the effort of cooking a few meals, too.

#9: Wash Dishes By Hand

Using the dishwasher is a good idea after family meals, when you can fill it and use it economically. But if you have just cooked lunch for yourself, you are better off washing the dishes by hand. Running a half-empty dishwasher is an expensive way to get your dishes clean.

Wash dishes the old-fashioned way.

#10: Use Your Library

Your local library can be a fantastic source of entertainment, and it’s all free! Not just books, but also music, audio books and a whole lot more. Be sure to get yourself a library card and make good use of it.

If your kids haven’t discovered the joys of your local library yet, get them cards, too. They may discover a whole world of old-fashioned entertainment that doesn’t involve joysticks or chasing Pokémon.

#11: Entertain Yourself in Useful Ways

Going to the cinema to watch a movie is an expensive proposition - especially if you take the whole family and buy popcorn and drinks. Try to think of ways to entertain yourselves that are actually useful.

Why not get the kids involved in growing some vegetables in the back yard, or helping to do some decorating around the home. Like Tom Sawyer’s friends, they might discover that it’s more fun than they expected.

#12: Cook from Scratch

Prepared and processed foods are not only expensive; they are bad for you, too. Do yourself and your family a favor by cooking meals from scratch. You will end up with food that tastes great, is much healthier for you, and saves you money, too.

Love this! Stretch your budget with these amazing life hacks proven over generations. When you are on a tight budget, you need to ensure that you get the most out of every dollar you spend. Here are some great tips from the tough times of the depression era that can get your budget back under control. Make your money last much longer and get so much more value from every dollar.


Saving Money is Easier than You Think

So there you go…some great money-saving tips to get you started. No doubt you can think of many more, too. Just think like Great Grandma and imagine what you would do if you were struggling through the depression era. And then remind yourself how lucky you are to be living in the amazing world of the 21st century.

About the author


I'm a busy Mom who loves blogging and spending quality time with my family. I also love helping other people to succeed in saving and making money.