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12 frugal lessons from the Great Depression

Posted 04/11/2016 8:08 am by


Mother and children during Depression

During the Great Depression, frugality was considered a virtue and the phrase “Use it up, Wear it out and Make it do” was the guiding principal in most households.


Times were tough. This meant that everything from bits of strings to worn out clothing was saved and re-purposed in some manner.  Not only that, but every last bit of food from a can or bottle was swished out with a bit of water and used to flavor a soup or stew.  Printed chicken feed sacks became skirts and flour sacks became underwear.  Nothing was wasted.


These days, most of us are too young to have lived through the Great Depression. On the other hand, many individuals who were children or teenagers at the time have chronicled their life during that era, bring it back to life in vivid detail.


Something that rings true in many of these memoirs is that as youngsters, everyone was poor.  No one felt specially deprived since everyone was in the same boat.  And if one family was worse off than another? Neighbors help neighbors the best they could.  Children, parents, and grandparents formed extended families that made do.


Times were hard then, yet family values were strong. Things are different now yet one thing remains clear:  a second Great Depression could happen at any time. For that reason, as citizens of the world and as preppers, we need to learn from the old ways and to embrace the time-honored frugality that was a way of life for our parents and grandparents.


Money does matter


As much as I would like to say that money does not matter, in the here and now, money is the currency of trade. It is required to buy food, put clothes on our backs, and to pay for the shelter of our homes.  Plus, the last time I checked, you also need money to pay taxes (whether you feel you get good value from those taxes or not).


Here on Backdoor Survival, I have written about family preparedness as a lifestyle. I have tried to impart choices that you can make to ensure that you and your loved ones live a good long time in good health and within a safe environment. From time to time I throw in an occasional essay or rant too, because after all, we all need to get the angst off our chests once in a while.


So where does that leave us? Here are a dozen old fashioned tips for conserving your hard earned cash so that you have a little extra left over for those extra preps as well as a few lifestyle treats that we all need every once in a while.


  1. If you already have it, use it


Think about it. Over the years you have accumulated lots of stuff. Some of it may be a bit shop worn and out of style, but the stuff is still serviceable. If it still works, use it.  You may even begin to think of you oldies but goodies as trusty friends.


Don’t give in to the bombardment of ads encouraging you to go out and purchase the latest model or the next best thing.  If money is burning a hole in your pocket, use it for something you truly need, not something you merely want.


  1. Shop for a bargain and get it cheaper


Research all of your major purchases and some of the minor ones, too. Check out the online reviews and also the recommendations of friends so that you can be an informed consumer. Ask the clerks at the store when the item of interest will go on sale. Believe it or not, you will sometimes be offered a discount on the spot. It happens.


Here is related hint: watch for price protection and price matching.  Did you know that if you purchase something on Amazon.com and the price is reduced within a seven day period they will give you a refund. You do need to ask but doing a spot check may be well worth your time, especially on large purchases.



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