Mastering Frugality – Depression Era Living Skills

The Depression was a famous time in our history, and many people marvel over how folks living during that time made do with very little at all and managed to survive. Items we take for granted and throw away easily today would never have seen such a fate during the Depression.

Taking the time to look at our own lives and how we live today, then comparing that to how Depression-era folks managed to get by can provide a valuable lesson in mastering frugality while improving our overall lives.

The cause of what set off the Great Depression remains somewhat of a mystery, though it is clear that folks between 1929 and through the 1930s had to rethink how they lived and ate to survive. Every possible morsel of food and what we today would consider scrap was used to its maximum potential. The last drops in a ketchup bottle would be used to flavor meat dishes, and every bit of a turkey was cut up and used. Sacks from flour or feed were turned into clothing and anything was reused as much as possible.

Socks were mended and when finally too worn to wear, were used as mops. Pantyhose were never thrown away, but rather holes were stopped up with clear nail polish or mended with thread. Clothing, when worn out, was cut up into rags, with the better material being used to make quilts. If a piece of thread or string came loose on a piece of clothing, the thread was cut off and added to the “string ball” that was used to mend clothing.

Many holidays were celebrated in spirit but no decorations or presents were to be had. It was considered a gift if you received an orange in your stocking on Christmas morning. If there was anything available for gifts, the children received those presents while the parents went without. When wrapping paper was used, it was carefully folded up and saved for another purpose.

While we do not necessarily need to go to this extreme of frugality today, we can definitely learn from the philosophy of using and reusing that Depression era folks were forced to live with.

Think of things this way: When you look at the average debt for an individual in the United States, a whopping $8000 at least, ask yourself whether all those things purchased were really needed? The answer is most likely not.

Would it be better to scrape that last little bit of peanut butter out of the jar before throwing the container away? Of course, it would. You can go a step further by washing out the container and using it for another purpose, such as to organize nails and screws in your garage workshop or as a pencil holder.

While there are many ways we can save money and be environmentally responsible, the point is to stop and appreciate what we have, instead of taking things for granted.

If you do decide to take some steps toward mastering frugality while incorporating some money-saving habits, then kudos to you!