Frugal Living » Lessons from The Great Depression

Lessons from The Great Depression

Tips and tricks that were used to help families survive the great depression can certainly be useful during today’s economic crisis. They might need a little updating but I feel there is something to learn from how people sacrificed and came together to help each other. Here are a few lessons from the great depression that can still be applied today.

Lessons from the Great Depression

Growing your own food

This is an obvious one. People back then, grew their own food, traded and sold it to friends and neighbors, much like a co-op. A lot of people still do this today. Even if you don’t have the property for crops or the room in your yard for a full garden, there are things you can do to help reduce what you do pay for at the grocery store.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Container gardening:

Plant an herb arranged, stacked and placed together in a sunny corner. Save space by growing plants in tipsy pots. Go completely weed-free and maintenance-free by gardening in grow buckets.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Food storage

When fresh fruits and vegetables are at their peak, check your area for a farm and get the bushel price. When the strawberry stands start popping up, stock up and freeze or can for future use. When green beans go dirt cheap buy a ton, just wash and freeze. Corn on the cob freezes wonderfully in brown paper bags with the husks left on.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Wholesale shopping

Want to get the case price for ground beef but can’t handle 80 lbs. at one time? Find a few friends and split it. While you’re at it go ahead and get the case price on chicken breasts. Maybe buy the great big bag of potatoes and split it with a friend. Not all things are cheaper when purchased in bulk so be sure to use your head and pay attention.

Stretching meals

Here’s a big one, we all should be doing. Think side dishes; add a salad to the meal even if you have a vegetable already. When you serve tacos, make rice, bean, and salad to go with.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of leftover taco meat you’ll have that can be rolled over into another meal, or will allow you to start cooking less because you don’t need to cook so much meat to feed everyone.  One of our favorite meal stretchers is one chicken, five meals.

Repair or Repurpose it

Don’t throw it out and buy a new one just because it broke. Whatever the item might be try to see if it can be repaired reasonably or repurposed for another use.

For example, old clothes can be turned into cleaning rags, or possibly saved to make other items, like making pillows or blankets from all those sweatshirts and t/shirts you’ve been collecting from events. Even old hockey sticks can be transformed into an eye-catching bench. Here are 20 crafty ways to recycle almost everything.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Use the public library

How-to books for everything you ever imagined. Get lost in a good book instead of paying to go out to the movies. You can also rent books and audiobooks digitally to your devices. Dvd’s can also be checked out from the library. Start a book or movie swap with your friends.

Necessity vs. want

Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. There is nothing wrong with going without for a few weeks to help stretch the family budget and pay down debt or work towards an actual family need. And I’m speaking about those new shoes or the new movie that just came out you want to go see. 

Don’t waste anything! Living through the great depression inspired people to be creative, you can do it too!


What are your favorite tips for surviving tough economic times?

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