The Great Depression Savings Rule: 10 Time-Tested Tips for Today’s Economy

Man working on diy project.
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The shadow of the Great Depression still looms large over the world, particularly in these precarious financial times. Nearly a century ago, it was the worst economic downturn in the industrialized world. Today, with financial instability reminiscent of that era, it is important to glean lessons from the past to navigate the present.

The volatility of stock markets and the increasing number of young adults living with their parents due to financial pressures remind us of the need for prudent money management.

Buy in Bulk

Planning ahead and buying in bulk was essential during the Great Depression, and it remains a smart move today. Non-perishable items like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and canned foods are cost-effective when bought in bulk and will save you more money later on if inflation continues.

DIY Cleaning Supplies

Avoid paying premium for established brands and make your own cleaning supplies at home. A simple mixture of vinegar, hot water, and a splash of lemon juice can work wonders on countertops, sinks, floors, and bathrooms.

Use Everything in Your Pantry

Before buying more food, ensure you have used everything in your pantry. Shopping your own pantry before buying more will help save money and encourage creativity in the kitchen.

Grow Your Own Food

Growing your own food is a resourceful way to save on your food budget. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, planting seeds can yield amazing results. During the Great Depression, canning and preserving foods was also a common practice, which you may want to consider.

Make Your Money Work for You

Upkeep Clothes Yourself

Dry cleaning bills can accumulate over time. During the Great Depression, tending to one’s own clothes was the norm. Air-drying clothes, investing in a garment steamer, and grabbing a sewing kit for fixes are all ways to save.

Use Every Last Scrap

The “nose to tail” cooking method involves using every part of an animal, including muscles and organs. Buying whole animals, such as a full-bodied chicken, and utilizing leftovers ensures no scrap goes to waste.

Find Depression-Era Recipes

Recipes from the Great Depression era often relied on readily available ingredients like beans and potatoes, as meat was scarce. Searching for recipes from that time can inspire nutritious and economical meals.

Use Less Energy

With the rising cost of energy, it is wise to use less utilities. Turning off lights, using candles, grabbing blankets instead of turning up the heat, and conserving car trips can all contribute to savings.

Pay for Everything in Cash

Using cash ensures that you only spend what you have, avoiding credit card debt. This method helps you stay on budget and prevents overspending.

Learn How to Upcycle

During the Great Depression, upcycling was a way of life. Refreshing old items with a coat of paint, reupholstering fabric, or other DIY touches can help you salvage what you have rather than buying new.

Make Your Money Work for You

The wisdom of the past can guide us through today’s financial landscape. By adopting these time-tested strategies from the Great Depression, you can make your money work for you, build a savings habit, and navigate these uncertain times with confidence.

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

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