Depression Era Habits to Start Today will help you start on the path of frugal living. Grandma and grandpa had the right idea when they watched where every penny went.
“People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.” – Naval Ravikant
Financial stress is awful. We could be going through life without a care in the world when a sudden storm comes up out of nowhere and knocks out our economic progress in an instant.
Instead of letting unfortunate life events cripple us with fear, look for the lesson that will put you on a better path.
Most of us know that the price for everything we purchase will continue to rise and our paychecks won’t increase at the same pace. It might be time for you to adjust your life so you can weather the storms on a more solid footing.
One of the things I always buy is organic cucumbers. It’s one of my favorite things to buy in the produce department. I was recently shocked to find the price at my local co-op for $4.49 a pound.
The price is so high right now because the demand for organic cucumbers outweighs the supply. Instead of going home with cucumbers that day, I doubled up buying cabbage because the price was $1.49 a pound.
Adjusting our approach to things is the key to pivoting into a better life for ourselves.
Why not start right now accessing where you are in life, and look for ways to cut corners using the wisdom of our ancestors?
Creating a Cozy Life Group:
Since you found this article, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 18,000 like-minded souls.
It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.
Here are the Depression Era Habits to Start Today:
Depression Era Habits Regarding Food:
1) Buy in bulk.
Buying in bulk is a thrifty practice that allows you to get a lower price for your staple items. No more running to the store to buy something you ran out of and paying a premium price as a result.
If you’re going to use this tip, make sure you learn the best ways to store food, so it lasts longer.
One of the new thrifty ideas I just learned about is a better way to store onions. Currently, I keep my onions in a basket drawer of a cabinet that I have. The best way to store onions is to put them in a cool, dark place.
To make your onions last longer, put them in lunch bags (like these on Amazon) and punch holes in them with a puncher. Secure the top of the paper bag with a paperclip.
Another idea is to buy in bulk and split the cost with friends and family.
One of my online friends let everyone know in her group that she was going to a farm to buy tomatoes to can. She wanted to know if anyone in her needed some. With multiple people buying the same item, they were able to getting a better price on the produce direct from the farmer.
2) Start a Victory Garden.
Have you ever read the history of Victory Gardens?
When World War I started the food supply became strained, and people put in Victory Gardens in their front and backyards.
They also planted gardens on public lands like the Golden Gate Park. The park had over 800 gardens, according to futurefarmers.com.
This gallant effort ended up producing over 40 percent of all the vegetables consumed in the United States. These Victory Gardens continued in World War II because of their prior success.
If you’re interested in getting started with your own Victory Garden – I wrote a post about it that you can find here.
The best way to get started is to join local gardening Facebook groups to find out the best things that grow in your area.
You’ll want to grow the most expensive things you buy at the grocery store.
For instance, a large bag of organic carrots costs about $6 in our area, but a small bunch of herbs costs around $3.00. I use herbs all the time, so that’s one of the first things I got started on growing.
You could also join local gardening groups and exchange crops with others when your harvest comes in.
Saving your seeds for next year is also a way to save money. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Composting all of your food waste, eggshells, and leaves is a great way to save on having to buy fertilizer for your garden.
3) Potluck Gatherings.
Instead of meeting your friends out at expensive restaurants, why not switch off having potlucks at your homes?
Potlucks are the perfect way to share the burden of hosting an event to all the attendees. Whether you have a few friends over or you want to have a large gathering – the expense goes down when you only have to provide one dish for everyone.
I asked our Cozy Living Members if I gave them $500 and had to spend it, what would they spend it on? One of the members said they would like to have a bonfire at their house and invite their friends. They would have their BBQ going. To them, this was heaven.
4) Make everything homemade from scratch.
There’s no need to buy any condiment, seasoning mix, or boxed anything when you can make a healthier version at home for a lot less money.
Have you ever read some of those seasoning mix labels? Some of the ingredients look outright scary.
One of my favorite things to do is to have my seasoning mixes already pre-made, so when it’s time for dinner, I can throw something together quickly.
Here’s my recipe for Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix.
Another bonus to making everything from scratch is that you can tinker with recipes until you find the perfect combination of ingredients that suits your family’s taste.
Making things from scratch also reduces waste in our landfills, and who doesn’t love that idea?
5) Don’t Let Food go to Waste.
Americans, on average waste one pound of food per day, per person according to The Guardian.
That’s a lot of food that’s being tossed in the garbage. I wrote an article on some good practices making sure food doesn’t go into the trash can. You can find that article here.
I’m a big believer in juicing. I think it’s so important to get the proper nutrients in your body, especially with the amount of stress we are carrying. I recently committed to making sure I juice every single day.
One of the side benefits of juicing is that I never waste any fresh produce. If I see something that is going bad, I simply add it to my juice for the day. I usually do a vegetable juice combination like carrots, celery, cucumbers, beets. I then add some greens or herbs. To sweeten the juice, I usually add an apple.
When I buy a head of cauliflower, it usually comes with leaves. I save the leaves to add to my juice the next day. It’s incredible all the things that I used to toss out that now gives me extra nutrients for no additional cost.
If you don’t have a juicer, the best ones to buy are a slow masticating cold press juicer. This juicer is the one I purchased for a reasonable price and because it’s so easy to clean. My previous juicer was a pain to clean, so I used it way less than I do this one.
6) Buy Local.
It’s essential for all of us to get to know the local farmers in our area and support them. Farming is in my family’s history, and they work hard!
I think a shift has happened in our collective thoughts about who we should admire in our culture. Teachers, healthcare providers, and farmers have all become rock stars overnight.
Not only does buying local help your community, but it also helps you feed your family better. Food doesn’t have to travel, so they can pack a more powerful nutrition punch because vitamins and minerals are lost along the way.
One of my favorite books is a memoir of a woman who lost her job and her husband in a span of a week during the last economic downturn.
She had to move to their tiny cottage on the lake in a harsh environment during the winter. Her food budget was small, but she was determined to eat locally.
I don’t buy many books anymore, but this book I just had to have for my library because I love it so much. You can find the book here on Amazon.
That book will give you ideas on saving money and eating the finest ingredients at the same time. She got to know all the people in the area and tapped into some ways to save money that were unusual.
One of the farmers sold her the ends of cheese at a discounted price because they weren’t popular with customers. She was able to purchase hand-crafted artisan cheese at a price that didn’t break the bank.
7) Use Less Meat in Recipes.
Meat is expensive, and prices are only going to go up. I love the idea of adding lentils, split peas, or beans to chilis, soups, and stews.
Use meat as an accent versus the main ingredient in every dish. Lately, I’ve been making lentil soup almost every day. I’m surprised how long one small bag of lentils has lasted and how tasty they are.
You can also substitute lentils in other dishes like meatloaf.
8) Buy Whole Chickens.
You can find posts online on how to make four different meals out of one whole chicken. I love that idea.
Think about all the different combination possibilities. You can start with just an herb-roasted chicken, use the bones to make chicken bone broth as a base for lentil soup, use shredded chicken for chicken salad sandwiches, and use the rest of the meat for chicken Alfredo pasta.
9) Save Vegetable Ends for Making Broth.
There are two different ways I make sure no part of the edible vegetables goes to waste. I either put the piece in a baggie to juice later, or I put it in the freezer, along with the other gathered pieces to make homemade broth.
Making beef, chicken, or vegetable broth is so easy. I usually make mine in my slow cooker.
You can find my recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth here.
10) Learn How to Preserve Food.
It’s tragic that canning, fermenting, pickling, and drying food is an art that has been lost because of modern conveniences. These everyday practices of yesteryear are making a comeback in a big way.
Having a stocked winter pantry filled with things you made yourself will give you such a feeling of accomplishment. Pasta tastes even better with homemade tomato sauce.
Here’s my yummy recipe for Quick Refrigerator Pickled Red Onions.
11) Forage in Your Area.
Where I live, berries grow in the wild. Blackberries are quite invasive. My yard has tons of blackberry vines popping up all over. Once I learned how good raspberry and blackberry leaves are for you – I started collecting them to make tea.
We have several mushroom hunter clubs in our area too. I would love to go out with someone knowledgeable before venturing off on my own.
There are quite a few common weeds that are also something you can forage for, as long as you don’t put pesticides in your garden.
One question I asked the owner of the house I just bought was if she ever put pesticides on the yard. I was lucky because the owner was the one and only person that lived in the house that she had for 30 years.
She informed me that she never used any pesticides at all. I was so happy about this because I use dandelion greens from my yard in my vegetable juices, and I also make tea out of the dandelion root. (As an extra bonus, she also had a fenced vegetable garden ready to plant. Yay me!)
To learn more about creating your own tea garden go here to this article.
Foraging is a growing pastime, so check to see if there are local groups in your area you can join. Meeting new people and getting some exercise is a bonus.
13) Become a Chicken Owner.
Having fresh eggs right outside your door is one of the best ways to learn to be self-sufficient. If you don’t have the room, or are not allowed to raise your own chickens, make friends with someone who does.
I buy my eggs from someone that absolutely loves chickens. Their pen is always in pristine condition, and she takes pride in serving the community by selling eggs.
If you’re able to raise your own chickens, it will benefit your family in ways you can’t imagine. There’s something magical about going outside with a basket to gather eggs and then cooking them for your family for breakfast.
Raising chickens will also give your children to take part in learning where their food comes from.
14) Learn to Batch Cook.
We all could use more free time, batch cooking not only does just that, but it also saves you money. One of the best investments you can make is having a separate freezer.
I can’t imagine living without my extra freezer. It ensures nothing goes to waste, and I’m able to cook multiple meals at the same time and freeze for later when I have a time crunch.
For an entire year, a freezer will cost you approximately $60 for electricity. That’s about $5 per month. I get way more savings than that for having one.
Depression Era Skills to Learn:
15) Learn how to Barter.
Bartering is a skill we should all learn. How much simpler would life be if we had friends that could help us with things in exchange for something of yours?
You could also see if there are local bartering groups in your area to join.
If you feel like you don’t have anything to barter with, think again.
If you know how to cook, you can exchange pies, bread, or casseroles. Marketing experts can lend their hand with small businesses to help them gain market share. You can even offer babysitting services in exchange for their expertise.
The possibilities are endless.
16) Teach Yourself How to Repair Things.
One of the best things about the time period we live in is the ease at which we can learn new skills.
YouTube is my go-to place when I’m trying to repair something. I’ve even taken apart my washing machine several times and figured out what was wrong. (I’m the LEAST mechanical person I know.) I will say at the time, the washer I took apart wasn’t one of those fancy machines, so it was more manageable.
17) Make Your Own Homemade Gifts.
Instead of spending money on gift items, why not teach yourself a skill at the same time and give your friends and family members something from the heart?
If you love to can, give them a basket full of your favorite canning items with the recipes attached to the jar. Artists can paint cute, rustic signs for their friend’s gardens. Photographers can offer to take family pictures at a fun location. The possibilities are endless.
The best thing to do is to become good at just one thing. If you do, everyone would rather have something you made versus something you bought.
18) Make Homemade Cleaning Products:
We’ve recently seen how fast cleaning supplies go in a national emergency. Now that you’ve tried your hand at making your own cleaning products, why not go all in and learn how to make everything you need to keep your world tidy?
You can make your own soap, window cleaner, toilet cleaner, etc. It’s a skill that takes a little bit of work to start, but soon you’ll find out how easy it is.
(Make sure you get your cleaning product recipes from a reputable source. If you mix certain ingredients, it can create toxic fumes.)
19) Make Homemade Beauty Products:
Most of us don’t realize how toxic the ingredients are in the beauty products we use. Make-up, perfume, and even toothpaste can have things in them that are not the best for our health.
I once had someone put a product on my feet, and within minutes, I could taste it in my mouth. That’s how fast things are absorbed in our skin.
20) Learn How to Sew.
Buying new clothes has become a national pastime. Fashion changes from season to season to get consumers to buy the latest trend.
What if we stopped going on that hamster wheel and just bought good, quality items to begin with? If you learn to sew, you will be able to repair your clothing easily.
One of my favorite ideas for frugal living is to wear your jeans until they are so worn they require patches. Some people have turned their jeans into works of art with this idea.
You could also make your curtains from tablecloths. I once used embroidered vintage pillowcases as a valence for my kitchen window.
Sewing is a frugal living skill that will come in handy.
21) Use Milk Paint to Refinish Furniture.
Buying furniture is expensive. There’s a way to have a fantastic looking home for very little money. You can buy thrift store furniture that is made from real wood and use milk paint to make them beautiful.
I love my milk painted furniture. Everyone asks where I got my furniture because it’s all unique.
Most of my furniture came from either thrift stores and garage sales.
22) Start Your Own Business.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start your own business. You can start small and build it on your off-hours.
As we recently experienced, you can’t always bank on having a job in a continually changing economic climate. Why not start a side job, so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket?
Who knows, maybe your side job will net significant results, and you can live the life of your dreams!
Creative Small Business Ideas You Can Steal is a post I wrote about this topic. The key is to do something a little bit different than the competitors.
How to Start a Small Jelly and Jam Business will give you ideas on creating your own business with food products. It’s worth the read even if you want to do another type of food business.
Depression Era Ideas for Inexpensive Housing.
23) Family Compound.
Recently I went to the home of someone that lived in an apartment on her family’s small farm.
Her parents lived in the small farmhouse on the front of the property, and tucked away in the back were multiple apartments.
What was so unique about this housing situation was that both her siblings lived in the apartments, along with their families. Her grandmother and aunt occupied two other apartments.
When you walked into her home, you would have never believed you were in an apartment. There was a sizable sunk-in living space with a massive fireplace. She said every apartment looked exactly like hers.
The family built a playground for the children in the courtyard of all the apartments. Everyone loved living together because they all helped one another. Whenever someone needed a babysitter, someone was always available.
My mom recently moved across the country to live in my sister’s house. She bought a house that has an apartment over the garage for her son, a daylight basement living quarters for my mom, and then the rest of the house for her husband, daughter and herself.
Because of their decision to leave a state in which housing was expensive and relocate to a cheaper area, my sister and her husband were able to purchase a multi-family house for way less money than their previous home.
I think we are going to see more and more family compounds in the future. It makes financial sense as well as being something good for the soul.
24) Smaller Home.
Downsizing your life might be the perfect way to reap a big payoff.
In the Cozy Living Group, I share photos of cottages and cabins, both inside and outside, for ideas on how to create a space you love.
When I first started the group, I made a conscious choice not to show large homes or rooms because I didn’t want to add more pressure to a culture that says “bigger is better.” It’s something I don’t believe in.
You can have the tiniest of homes, but if it’s filled with love and joy – no mansion can compare to it’s value.
Downsizing can mean working fewer hours at your job, less upkeep, and fewer things to buy to fill up space.
One of the things I did before buying my new home was to ask the owner for the last year of her power bills. I wanted to make sure my house was well insulated. I made the mistake of not asking the owner of my previous home that question.
I was pleasantly surprised to find her power bills very reasonable throughout the year.
Even though you’re buying a smaller home, you want to make sure there aren’t any financial surprises that go along with it.
25) Tiny Homes.
Building a tiny mobile home is all the rage right now. I love the concept of them because they allow people to take them with them wherever they go.
Make sure you look into the property laws in your area before going this route. I know that some areas of the country are making it more challenging to have one.
You can also have a tiny home built for you that isn’t mobile. There’s a shed company in my area that makes the most amazing tiny homes. They feel so spacious because he builds them tall and adds a lot of windows. He also adds a front porch, back porch, and a balcony to the loft bedroom.
My neighbor will be building her tiny home this summer. She bought the acre property next to me a year ago and started putting in her food forest. It took her a while to sell her home, but now she’s ready to build her retirement property.
26) Rural Living.
I think in the future there will be more opportunities to work remotely. That’s great news.
Do you know there are still rural towns that have homes that sell for around $60,000? Imagine having a house payment like that.
There was a couple that moved from San Francisco and started working remotely in a small town. They were able to build a life they loved running their own business.
Because they were located near a national attraction, they were able to purchase homes inexpensively and remodel them for tourists to rent out during the busy seasons. The rent they receive during the busy times ends up paying the mortgage for the entire year.
Those houses are part of their retirement plan. They have several different businesses they operate out in the middle of nowhere. All their family and friends that thought they were crazy to give up their lives and forge their own path are now joining them on leaving the rat race.
We’ve reached the end of Depression Era Habits to Start Today. I hope you enjoyed it.
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