Five Frugality Hacks Straight Out of the Great Depression
During the Great Depression, simple frugality was the only way to get by. There was a saying that everyone lived by: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." There's a lot we can learn about frugality just by looking at how folks managed during the Great Depression — and those old-fashioned ways are starting to come in handy again as we all face this financial crisis.
- Go In Together: If you can pool your money with someone else, you have more buying power. In many cases, that means you can get something cheaper. For instance if you can buy food in bulk, it's less expensive. If you need a tool or something else that you won't need every day, you can often go in together with someone else that needs the same thing, effectively halving the cost.
- Do It Yourself: Pretty much anything is cheaper if you do it yourself, from home repair to cooking meals. Of course, the trade off is time, but if you have the time, it's worthwhile to learn to do as much as you can for yourself. I've been working on this one myself — I still probably shouldn't be trusted with any car repairs, but I no longer have to call someone in to do some of my minor home repairs.
- Barter: Just because you don't have cash for a certain expense doesn't mean that you can't cover that cost. Instead, you can barter. Trade your skills for someone else's — maybe you need a babysitter and your favorite babysitter needs a professional haircut (or whatever your specialty happens to be). You can work out a deal where you both get you want without having to bring cash into the matter.
- Go to the Source: Buying anything from its source is cheaper — food is especially so. If you can purchase from a farmer or through a farmer's market, you often pay less for your food because there is no middle man getting a cut of the cost. Prices are even better if you can become your own source — if you grow your own garden, the cost of your food can be minimal.
- Reuse: We're used to throwing away all sorts of things that can be easily reused. From packaging materials to broken items, there's almost always some way that you can repair, reuse or repurpose anything that you're planning on sending to the dumpster. Clothing is a key example — it can often be repaired, handed down, altered, made into a quilt or even used as rags. There's rarely clothing that really ought to be thrown away.
There are far more approaches to frugality that were crucial not so long ago. There's plenty of room in the comments if you'd like to add your own.