Frugal Living Tips From The Great Depression

These frugal living tips from the great depression will help you to get your home in order and save you money.

It’s important to remember that an economic downturn such as the great depression can happen at any time (the last one being in the late 2000s and early 2010’s) so keeping these tips on hand and being prepared is always essential.

The great depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialised world.

It lasted a full decade from 1929 through until 1939 and started due to a crash on the stock market which sent Wall Street into a panic, wiping out millions of investors.

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Mrs Hinch made cleaning go viral, and I get it, I love her, and I love cleaning a whole lot more because of her. However, the sheer number of specialised cleaning products on-offer soon add up.

In the great depression, nobody bought cleaning products. Instead, they made their own and you can save around $10 / £10 a month by doing the same.

Better yet, you’ll find that making your own cleaning products is actually more eco-friendly and will likely lead to less allergic reactions.

Keep A Herb Garden

Fresh herbs can be incredibly expensive, yet they have incredible benefits being able to add wonderful flavour to otherwise bland meals.

That said growing and maintaining a small herb garden is incredibly easy and can be achieved in the smallest of homes and gardens.

If running a small herb garden doesn’t sound right for you, then consider investing in some of the product waste reduction items that allow you to keep fresh herbs better for longer.

Grow A Vegetable Garden

Even with a small garden, you can easily take your new-found green-fingered lifestyle to the next level by growing fruits and vegetables.

Country Living have a wonderful post on the best vegetables to grow in a garden or on a patio.

They also cover the most cost-effective fruits and vegetables to grow that will save you money. A great example of this is Curly Kale.

Seeds can be purchased for between $1 / £1 and $2 / £2 and grown to a point in which they can begin being used in meals a matter of weeks.

Compare this to say the price of a small bag in Tesco, and you can see why growing your own fruit and veg can quickly save you money.

Learn Basic Sewing

As you’ll read a lot throughout this post, the great depression meant fixing, mending and making do.

There’s a couple of skills that we’re essential for achieving this, one of which being sewing.

With basic sewing skills, you’ll be able to repair old clothes, tailor second-hand items to fit, and repurpose items around the home.

You can easily buy an extensive hand sewing kit for under $10 / £10 online and follow tutorials on Youtube to learn the basic skill.

Fix & Upcycle Furniture

Similar to your clothes, furniture was restored and repurposed in the great depression. Nothing was ever thrown away, there was always a use for something, no matter what it might be.

It can be hard to see the potential in items at first, but once you get started the possibilities are endless.

Not to mention the incredible skills you’ll pick up along the way. For inspiration I always suggest Pinterest.

Do It Yourself

From cooking to cleaning to repairing pretty much anything you own. Everyone in the great depression did things themselves and avoided paying other people to do the work for them – they simply couldn’t afford this luxury.

While many of us describe ourselves as time-poor today, it’s incredible what can be achieved with some time management, dedication and the power of Youtube – which can teach you just about anything you could ever need to know.

Visit The Library

The library is just one form of free entertainment that people used in the great depression.

Not only is the library a great place to rent out books, but it’s also a great place to get involved with community activities and learn new skills.

Use Leftovers

As you may have gathered by this point in the post. No items were ever wasted during the great depression, especially when it came to food.

Leftovers that weren’t consumed we’re made into new meals for the following day.

That included everything, right down to the bones from the meat of the animal. Don’t Waste The Crumbs has some great details on how to truly maximise your leftovers and all of the foods you have to work with.

Avoid Putting The Heating On

Very few during the great depression could afford to put the heating on. Instead, they had to layer up and heat the home, and themselves using other methods.

Again, there’s a small handful of products you can invest in that can go a long way to helping you heavily reduce the amount of heating you need inside your home;

Hot Water Bottle


Draft Excluder

Heavy Curtains

More advice about how to keep warm throughout the year can be found online.

Don’t Buy New

During the great depression, very few people could afford to buy new. Instead, many repaired broken items or simply had hand-me-downs from family, friends and neighbours.

There’s a great community spirit in coming together and sharing items that perhaps aren’t needed all that often such as hedge trimmers, find out if there’s a local sharing service like this local to where you live.

The Netherlands –

UK – /

Avoid Disposable Products

Disposable products may be convenient, however, they are bad for the planet, and bad for your wallet.

In the great depression there weren’t such things as disposable products (nappies etc.) but if there were the majority wouldn’t be able to afford such a commodity.

The incredible lifestyle blog Eco Warrior Princess has some great ideas on how to combat single-use items and replace them with incredible eco-friendly, long-term money-saving products.

Wear An Apron

Many women in the kitchen in the era of the great depression (and for decades after) wore an apron to protect and therefore preserve their clothes while cooking in the kitchen.

Apron styles have come a long way since then and there’s now a number of great styles you can get online – it’s also a great and super practical gift to ask from a friend or family member for Christmas / birthdays.

Batch Cook

Batch cooking is still very popular today, the benefits of it during the great depression were to maximise the use of appliances – especially, the oven.

In order to reduce the consumption of electric and therefore electric bills.

Being organised and prepared with your meals can help you to batch cook foods too.

Today it doesn’t just help save money in the kitchen it ensures we can do the next point (cook from scratch) without it taking up the entire day.

Cook From Scratch

Ready meals or any kind of convenience food wasn’t around during the great depression, however, once again, if it was, it would have been a luxury many couldn’t afford.

Today, this is another product that not only costs you a significant amount more than cooking from scratch it also involves more materials, plastics and chemicals that are bad for the environment and bad for your body.

Take a look at this incredible list of frugal cookbooks I recently created. Cookbooks are a fantastic way to learn more about cooking while providing inspiration for frugal meals.

Surely, if you are still paying debt and need to pay your payday loans if you have any, make sure to set up regular payments to avoid higher interest rates. That concludes my frugal living tips from the great depression. Of course, if you’ve any frugal living tips from the great depression that I’ve missed feel free to share them down in the comments below.

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