Use Manual Kitchen Tools
I love to be in the kitchen but I primarily like to do things by hand. There is such a sense of fulfillment when you’re working with your hands then pull out a loaf of chocolate chip quick bread knowing that you mixed it and baked it by hand.
Not only is it fulfilling, it also saves more money than you might think. Can openers, mixers, blenders, food processors and the like all use much more electric than you might think.
They also were not all that common during the war years. Instead, they used manual kitchen tools.
Instead, replace them with a variety of manual kitchen tools. You’ll save money and have the satisfaction of doing something with your hands.
Use Bar Soaps but Dry them First
Body washes are expensive not only in cost, but in the short time they last you. Bar soap, however, is cheaper to buy and tends to last longer than a bottle of body wash.
But did you know you can make bar soaps last longer and it’s really simple to do.
Simply open the package and allow the bar to dry out. It won’t look pretty, but it will last longer.
Do you still get the newspaper for the coupons or news? If so, don’t toss or recycle it.
In keeping with the slogan to use it up, there are a lot of ways to use newspaper around your home that you might not otherwise consider.
Reuse Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper of all sorts is another form of paper that has a ton of uses.
Before you toss that old roll or the scraps from opening a present, use it up with these ways to use leftover wrapping paper HERE.
Reuse Empty Milk Jugs
Don’t toss milk jugs either. There are a lot of ways to use empty milk jugs just like newspaper. Check HERE for a few ideas to help you get started.
One of my favorite uses for empty milk jugs is to make a milk jug bird feeder.
Reuse Empty Jars
My kids look at me strangely but one of my favorite things to reuse are empty jars. They were a staaple item to be reused during the World Wars as well.
Use them as storage or for crafts. There are a lot of different things you can do with an empty jar.
Reuse Coffee Mugs
Sometimes our favorite coffee mugs just become unusable any longer. When this happens, use it up!
Find a new way to use old coffee mugs instead! It may just surprise you what they can be used for!
Reuse Old Towels
We love to reuse towels in our home since there are so many uses for old towels. They’re good for so much more than rags!
Don’t Throw Away Old Sheets
Sheets are another great item that you can “use up” before getting rid of it. Again, there are more uses for sheets than old rags. You just have to know where to find ideas.
Cut Your Own Hair
Another skill we can learn from World War 2 is to cut our hair ourselves.
If you’re unsure, buy a doll and practice on it until you’re confident. Youtube is full of tutorials to help you learn.
Curl Your Hair with Rags instead of a Curling Iron
Remember that whole use less electric? Have you ever tried curling your hair with rags?
It’s super simple and gives you a curl that is more natural than a curling iron. Plus, you won’t damage your hair.
Use the Last Bit
One frugal living tip from World War 2 that I learned from my own grandmother was to use the last bit of everything. It surprised my husband the first time he saw me adding a bit of water to a pasta sauce jar to get the last tiny bit out.
By using the least little bit, you aren’t wasting any money on product that is getting thrown away.
Shower Less but Bathe More
Showers use a crazy amount of water; up to a gallon a minute. Where does most of it go? Down the drain.
Instead of allowing that money – and water – to be wasted, take baths more often than you do a shower. Believe it or not, you will use less water.
Barter with Others
Another frugal living tip from The Great Depression we can learn is to barter and trade as much as possible. It’s also a skill we have lost over th eyears.
Learning how to barter is a great skill to have and one that was very commonplace during The Great Depression and World War 2.
It’s a great way to get what you need without having to pay cash and helping someone get what they need at the same time.
or Borrow what You Need
If bartering is not an option, consider borrowing what you need instead. Just be sure to give it back in the same condition – or better – than it was when you borrowed it.
Skip expensive fixes
Expensive beauty items and powders are nice to have, but they are just that; luxuries that are nice to have.
During the Great Depression and World War 2, if those folks wanted those luxuries, they had to come up with a way to either make them or find them ro thewy had to do without.
Instead of doing without though, you can often find cheap inexpensive ways to fix the issue.
For instance, instead of buying expensive shoe powders to control foot sweating and odor, they would simply use cornstarch.
There are also tons of homemade beauty products you could make.
By finding inexpensive solutions to the products you normally pay a lot for, you can save more money for things that are more important.
Drive a Used Car
New cars are nice, but they’re also money pits. Within moments of driving it off the lot, you have lost thousands of dollars in value.
Adding to the loss in value are the high purchases prices, high interest on loans and extremely high car payments for most loans.
Instead of wasting money buying a new car, why not buy a good, solid used car?
You will pay considerably less and still have the reliable family car you need.
or Ride a Bike More Often
An even more frugal option and one that was utilized often during The Great Depression and World War 2 is to skip driving all together.
Ride a bike instead!
Not only is it cheap and frugal, but it’s healthier as well!
or Walk Even
Of the three transportation options in this list of frugal living tips from World War 2, walking is by far the most commonly used during those time periods.
If your destination is close – say 1 mile or under – there is really no reason you can’t walk. It’s free and it’s healthy. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Take Your Lunch to Work
One big lesson we can learn about how people saved money during World War 2 is that they weren’t eating out all the time. In fact,t hey rarely ate out because they didn’t have the money.
This included for lunches and of course, coffee shops were not a huge thing back then either.
Do yourself a financial favor; add up the amount of money you’ve spent on restaurants or coffee shops over the past 3 months.
Changes are good you could have paid a bill or three with the money that has been wasted.
Side Note: Trying to Skip the Store? Consider signing up for InstaCart. When you do, you’ll score a free 14-day trial to Instacart Express. You’ll get free delivery, coupons, deals and more just like you would in the store. Plus groceries delivered right to your door!
Downsize Your Home
This one may seem excessive to some people, but for others, the answer will be clear.
During World War 2 and The Great Depression, families did not live in homes that were bigger than they needed. Homes were built just large enough to fit the family.
Over the years though, we have taken the idea on that we need huge homes with more rooms than we could ever possibly use. The truth is that we are making ourselves broke by doing this.
Living in a home that is larger than we need only results in larger payments and much higher utility and maintenance costs.
Instead, consider downsizing to a home you can afford.
This isn’t one that I’m just telling you to do. I’ve done it myself when I downsized my daughter and I to live in a hotel full-time for 2017 and part of 2018. You can read about my adventure HERE.
If you do decide to downsize to a hotel, I also have tips for living in a hotel full-time right HERE.
or Become a Nomad
Have you ever heard the word vagabond? It’s a phrase that describes a nomad – or someone who moved around following cheap costs of living or the job market.
If you job allows, the nomadic lifestyle is extremely frugal if you do it correctly. Most live in RV’s and travel the country, however, living in a hotel and traveling can also be frugal if you choose the right kind of hotel.
Side Note: If you are considering living in a hotel full-time, you will want to choose an extended stay hotel. They offer cheaper rates for longer stays, full kitchenettes and more that appeal to long term stays.
I personally choose Woodsprings Suites when I have to say in a hotel for more than a few days. The savings is worth it and I have never had a bad experience.
You can check them out HERE if you are interested.
Buy Day Old Items
If you were to look in my freezer right now, you would see several loaves of day old french bread that I picked up for $0.25 each a few weeks ago.
The loaves are normally $1.00 each meaning I saved $0.75 on each loaf. Even though they were a day old when I bought them, they were still fresh and taste great.
Buying day old item isn’t shameful or anything of the sort. It’s frugal, smart and helps to reduce the amount of food being thrown out by the store.
If you’re not currently looking for those day old items, make it a new habit and you may just surprise yourself with how much money you’ll save.
Always Shop the Clearance Section
My kids and husband will tell you that I don’t go into a store wihtout swinging by the clearance sections. Usually I have them mapped out in the store so I can swing by them as I make my regular rounds while shopping.
Buying clearance items is a great way to save money on your groceries; especially if you buy clearance meats and produce. Just be sure to use them before they spoil since they will spoil faster than fresh. ver and over, but again, it’s a great frugal living tip form World War 2 that we can learn from.
Folks who lived during those times, knew how much money they did – or didn’t – have. They did this by keeping track of their spending.
With the days of debit cards and online transactions, it can be hard to remember to track each expense. Most of the time we simply swipe or click checkout and we’re done.
To make things easier on myself and to help myself remember to track my own expenses, I keep account ledgers like THIS one on my desk; one for personal and one for business expenses.
When I make shop online, I am able to write it down immediately. For things I spend money on away from my desk, I bring all receipts home then enter them at the end of the day.
Side Note: Before you shop online, make sure you have taken the time to sign up for Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Rakuten has a special relationship with hundreds of different stores and sites that benefits you very well. When you shop through Rakuten, Rakuten earns a small commission. They then turn around and give you a portion of this commission back as cash-back!
Yes, you read that right. They pay you to shop! Plus, when you sign up for a Rakuten account using THIS link, you’ll score $10.00 FREE with your first shopping transaction of $25 or more!
Grow a Garden
Gardening is a staple for those that are looking to lower their grocery costs and is one that people living in the Great Depression knew well.
It may seem expensive to start a garden, but there are ways to save money on it. If you learn how to regrow vegetables from scraps and to do things yourself like making DIY Raised Bed Garden Beds, you can save considerably.
Start a Compost Pile
Composting not only helps your garden to grow rich and bountiful, but it also helps you to get one more use out of things you would normally throw away.
If you think you can only compost cardboard and vegetable scraps, the number of things you can compost safely might just surprise you. Head over HERE for a quick list that I’m sure you’ll find interesting.
Find Home Remedies
A lot of things we run to the ER or the doctor for can usually be taken care of pretty easily at home. Things like simple burns don’t need a whole lot of medical attention.
Instead, look for home remedies that may work and try to treat simple things yourself.
You’ll save quite a bit of money over insurance premiums, co-pays and doctors visits.
Only Go to the Doctor When You’re Truly Sick
Speaking of doctors, make sure you’re only going when you’re truly sick. Too many of us like to run to the doctor at the slightest sign of a sniffle.
Instead, wait until you know your sick or better yet, call first. Chances are good your doctor won’t even need to see you to help.
Use a Swamp Cooler
Cooling your home in the summer can be incredibly expensive; especially if you live in a hot climate such as we do in Texas.
One way to help cool your home without using hardly any power at all is to use a swamp cooler. They were very common during the Great Depression years in some parts of the country.
How to Make a Swamp Cooler
To make a quick and easy swamp cooler, fill a Styrofoam cooler with ice. Set a fan behind the cooler and it will blow cool moist air into your home helping to cool it down.
You can also help the air circulate in your home to cool it down by adding one box fan in a window on one side of the house and another on the other side of the house.
Keep one fan facing inwards and the other facing outwards. Doing this will help move air through your home and assist the swamp cooler in bringing the temperature down.
Or a Hot Water Bottle
Another frugal living tip from World War 2 is to use a hot water bottle in the winter to stay warm instead of turning up your heat.
It won’t keep the room itself warm, but if you are under the blankets at night, it will help to keep your body warm.
Layer Your Clothes
Layering is a simple and easy way to keep yourself warm in the winter without turning up the heat. It was a common practice during the Great Depression when fuel or wood for heaters or stoves was expensive.
It is, however, so simple that most people forget you can add more than one layer. A sweater, jacket, socks and even shoes can all help to keep you warm when everyone else isn’t.
Or when you’d rather not crank the heat up.
Take Layers Off
Of course in the summer if you’re too hot, you can always take layers off. If you’re wearing jeans,. downgrade to shorts, if you’re wearing a heavy material top, downgrade to a tank top.
It’s far cheaper to change your clothes and it is to run your a/c. Combine a change of clothes with a swamp cooler and you’ll likely never notice the difference.
Side Note: One of my places to buy used clothing for myself and my girls is my favorite online consignment stores ThredUp. If you have never checked them out, you can do so HERE.
When you sign up for a new ThredUp account, you’ll be able to shop and you’ll score a FREE credit ranging from $10-$25 depending on what their current promotion is.
ThredUp is also a great way to sell kids clothes online too if you do have clothes that you or your kids have outgrown. Just be sure to check my tips for selling kids clothes HERE before you send your first batch in.
Line Dry Your Clothes
Clothes dryers were rare during the Great Depression which meant that they were line drying everything they could.
These days, clothes lines have gone the way of the dinosaur but if you’re worried about paying your bills, consider having one make a comeback at your home.
Your dryer is one of the most expensive appliances you own and because of that, line drying is a much cheaper way to get your clothes dry.
Plus, you get the added benefits of sun and a breeze on them which always makes them smell amazing!
If you don’t have room for an actual clothes line in your hard, consider buying a portable clothes drying rack for inside.
Wear Jeans More than Once
Do you wash your jans after wearing them justonce? Stop it if so.
Even Levi’s jeans themselves say that denim should not be washed every time. Not only are you wasting money but you’re adding more wear to the jeans making them not last as long.
Chances are good you can get two possibly even three wears from them before they truly need a wash.
Use Towels More than Once
My children drive me absolutely batty with towels. They seem to think they ocan only use them once then need to wash them.
This couldn’t be farther from the fruth.
Provided you dry the towel fully, you are good to use it a second – probably even a third – time before it truly needs to be washed.
Hang it on a hook on the bathroom door or hang it over the shower rod to dry completely.
Use it twice and dry it. Once it’s dry after the second time, give it a sniff test. If it still smells clean, use it a third time. If it smells musty or slightly of mildew, it’s time to wash it.
Work at Becoming More Frugal – And then Work at It More
If you have been working to save money and be frugal, you may think that it’s super easy to do and there isn’t anymore you can do.
You would be thinking incorrectly and in fact, that is one of the biggest myths about frugal living around.
There is no such thing as being too frugal and you will never learn it all.
If you learn nothing from this list of ways to save money from World War 2, learn this; in order to really be frugal, you need to work at being frugal.
And then? Work at being even more frugal.
It may seem hard to do right now, but working harder is a sure fire way to help your family. If you’re currently stuck at home and working or you’ve recently lost your job, finding new ways to work will be the only consistent way to bring an income to your family.
This may mean taking a second job or starting a home based business, or finding a side hustle to earn money from.
Doing so will give you that extra boost you need to carry your family’s budget even farther.
Work at Home Ideas Anyone Can Do
- Learn How to Start a Money Making Blog
- 40+ Ways to Work from Home & Earn Free Amazon Gift Cards & Cash
- Home Business Ideas to Work from Home
I have written before about how your thoughts can keep you poor, but it’s especially true if you’re living in a situation like the whole world is facing during 2020.
If you are constantly living life with negative thoughts and actions, you will never get ahead. Those thoughts cause you to want more than you can currently afford and often act destructively rather than as motivating.
Instead, learn to be content with what you have right this second; and then use those wants and dreams as a motivator to push your self to new heights and successes.
Change how you think
Along with learning to be content with what you have comes that change of thinking I just mentioned.
Keeping your mind full of negative thoughtswwill only do your family harm.
Most folks that I have spoken with who lived through The Great Depression and the war years knew things were bad; but they did everything they could in order to stay positive.
Even when things were not all that positive for them.
See things in a new light
Here’s a secret; I hate spaghetti.
Yet I make it – and eat it – for my family. It’s cheap and filling plus once I dress it up, use gluten free pasta and get it on plates, it’s a quick and nutiritous meal for my family.
And as I’m heating my own plate of much hated spaghetti, I have learned to think of it as more than a meal I hate, but as something that allows me to feed my family good food without going broke.
If you care the same way about certain things. changing your way of thinking often opens ways to save money that you never would have seen if you had kept the same thoughts.
You might just be surprised at how many new ways to save you’ll find.
Leave credit alone
Credit is never a good idea, but it is especially a bad idea in a situation like they faced during the Great Depression and World War 2.
In a Depression, credit is an even worse idea since you do not know if or when you will be able to pay it back.
The last thing any of us want is to have creditors banging the door down while you’re already struggling.
We have talked about how the slogan of World War 2 was to use it up, but let’s take that a step farther. Waste was just not a thing during the Great Depression and the World Wars.
If you really want t take these frugal living tips from The Great Depression to heart, make a real effort to reduce the amount of waste in your home.
By reducing waste and finding new ways to use things, you avoid having to pay for more than you absolutely have to.
Part of reducing how much you’re throwing out is finding new ways to use old things. We have quite a few articles that can help you get started doing jus t that.
- 52 Uses for Fels-Naptha Soap
- 36 Things to Reuse Around Your Home
- 10 Uses for Old Towels
- 22 Uses for Sour Milk Clabber
- 39 Uses for Left Over Wrapping Paper
- 19 Uses for Apple Peels
- 40 Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar
- 14 Uses for Empty Bottles
- 10 New Uses for Newspaper
- 10 Uses for Clean Kitty Litter
- 14 Ways to Use Empty Milk Jugs
- 52 Things to Reuse
Make Your Hobby Pay
During the Great Depression, side jobs often coincided with hobbies. Woodworkers made furniture. Gardeners sold their product.
In times of need, if you have a hobby that is useful, make it pay so you have more income to work with.
Just remember to keep your prices reasonable.
Save for Rainy Days
Even in the worst of situations, saving money for a rainy day is always your best option. Financial depressions and crisis situations don’t last forever.
Having a rainy day fund, even if it only has pennies in it, will help you to rebuild when you come out the other side.
Repair instead of buying new
The other night, I spent 3 hours unclogging a severely clogged vacuum cleaner – thanks kids. Last week, I spent an hour taking my kitchen sink apart to repair my spray hose.
Could I have gone out and bought a new vacuum or spray hose? Of course and truthfully it would have likely been easier.
But by doing the repairs myself, I saved myself at least $75.00 on the cost of a new vacuum.
We have become such a disposable society that we simply toss most things when they break just to run out and buy a new one.
But by learning to repair things for ourselves instead of buying a new one, you could easily save thousands of dollars in just a few years.
Keep What You Have Maintained
In addition to repairing the things around you repaired when they break, keeping things maintained is even more important.
This is especially important for things such as your car.
No joke. I once blew up a 1988 Honda Accord because I didn’t maintain it correctly. In my own defense, I was really young.
But things like your car, home and electronics for instance, require regular care to stay at optimal performance.
Maintaining things was incredibly important during the war years and they are just as important now.
Get Rid of Disposable Products
As the 2020 toilet paper wars rage on, have ou considered what hwill happen if you run out of other disposable items your family uses?
Things like disposable feminine pads, disposable diapers and more may all be hard to get ahold of at some point.
Making the change to reusable products now, while they’re easily accessible, is the best option for both finding them and for saving money.
There are ton of ideas for reusable products that you may decide you want to use. Others may be across the line of where you are comfortable. That is perfectly okay if something is. Even one product replaced will save you money.
Some ideas are:
- Reusable cloth menstrual pads
- Unpaper Towels
- Family Cloth
- Cloth Diapers with Reusable Diaper Covers
- Reusable Makeup Pads and Face Wipes
- Reusable Baby Wipes
- Reusable Swiffer/Mopping Pads
- Reusable Cleaning Wipes
- Wool Dryer Balls
Focus on the big picture
It can be incredibly easy to lose sight of what matters when you’re faced with a financial crisis. During The Great Depression, a lot of folks had this happen.
But, we can learn the lesson from them that losing sight of the big picture can cause financial struggles, depression and worse.
It is important to remember that any bad financial situation will not last.
Focus on the big picture – getting your family safely and securely through the situation to come out the other side in a better place – and things will go much more smoothly for you.
Keep Your Items Longer
How many times have you used something once or twice only to have it sit? Eventually you just toss it, sell it or donate.
Then, a few months down the road, you need it gain and buy another. And now that you’ve purhased something you one owned, you’ve wasted money.
The solution is pretty simple. If you suspet you will needf an item at any point in the future, keep it.
When you keep your items longer, you avoid having to repurchase it later on.
Get Creative for Fun
I’m sure we’ve all seen the photo of the kids rolling tires down the street during the Great Depression.
They were getting creative!
These days though, we get bored and our first instinct is to rent or see a movie or to go out and do something that usually costs a lot of money.
Instead of going to spend money though, why not get creative with your fun?
I’m certain you’ll think of some really great ideas if you put your mind to it.
While getting outdoors will lend itself to some creative fun, it also has other benefits that people liing during World War 2 and the Great Depression recognized.
Being outside can help you find food, grow food, be healthier and even calm the mind.
Learn to Dehydrate Food
Preserving food is a great way to help build a stockpile for an emergency and learning how to dehydrate foods is the simplest preservation method around.
Learn to Can Food
Did you grandparents have a cellar full of canning jars filed with yummy goodness? There is a reason for that. Canning is another easy method to preserve the harvest and the finish product lasts for years.
Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be a pro and it’s no longer as intimidating.
Learn to Preserve Food in Other Ways
Canning and dehydrating aren’t the only ways to preserve foods,. There are options such as pickling, cold root cellar storage and more.
Learning these different methods gives you more options for preserving food in your own home.
Learn to Hunt
Hunting is a great way to provide food for your family and the cost is generally low.
Deer, rabbits and squirrel all make great family meals if your family will eat wild game. In fact, one of my favorite wild game recipes is this slow cooker venison roast recipe.
Learn to Fish
Not too long ago, Steve and I went fishing for 10 days in a row. Why? Because it’s a great way to fill your freezer with fresh meat.
We fisherd for 10 days and spent far less per meal than we would have at the store for fresh fish. In fact, I was even shocked at how low our meal cost was.
So if you have the necessary fishing supplies, grab your poles and head out to your nearest lake.
Use Food Scraps
Food scraps can be a huge boost to your grocery savings. Not only can you regrow them but you can often make different things from them.
If you want to save money like they did during World War 2, learn to use food scraps as effectively as possible.
Finally, be grateful for what you have. You may not have everything you want just yet, but you’re well on your way to having it.
If you can learn to be content and grateful with what you have, it will strengthen your family and home.
And that will help you make it through anything.
Looking for more frugal living tips? You may enjoy these:
Have you ever used Fels-Naptha soap? It’s so much more than a laundry soap that these 52 ways to use Fels Naptha might just shock you! In fact, I think you’ll love these for Fels Naptha so much it will be a new favorite!
Who says you can’t store fresh foods for an emergency? These 75 foods you can freeze for storage are great for building your pantry for regular use or as a pandemic food supply!
Skip paying high prices for butter and learn how to make homemade butter instead. This homemade butter recipe is so simple even a child could do it!