Savings Tips from the Past

Multigenerational family in an apple orchard smiling

With consumer debt higher than ever in the United States even after being adjusted for inflation, American families may benefit from some tried and true tips that have survived the ages.1   

Lessons such as, “Don’t spend money you don’t already have in your pocket,” “Don’t pay for something you can learn to do or to make yourself,” and “It doesn’t matter how much money you can make, but how much money you can save,” are all suggestions we can take from generations that came before us.2 Here are some other tips that could benefit families today:

Grow a Garden. Supplementing your food budget by growing your own garden could definitely help you slash your grocery bill. If you don’t have a green thumb already, start small and cheaply. Buy seeds for the produce you and your family already purchase regularly. Whether you have a spacious backyard or live in an apartment, there are ways for you to grow fruits and vegetables and herbs, either in a raised bed outdoors or indoors in a kitchen-garden. Search the Internet for tips and how-to videos.

Live simply. “Rediscovering the pleasures and satisfactions of certain features of old fashioned family life” is a lesson best taught by the worst of times, but you don’t have to be facing economic adversity to find happiness by living simply.3 Board games, playing music, dancing, and lots of sports are all inexpensive sources of entertainment that can be important for family bonding and help stretch the contents of one’s wallet. Children can be as content with a game of “Red Rover” or kickball as they could be at a pricey theme park.

Don’t Waste Food. We know generations before us have survived food shortages, and with over 40 million people in the U.S. going hungry every day, we’d be wise to take the advice of those who’ve lived through leaner times.3 While it is certainly in vogue to be mindful of your impact on your environment, one could argue we also have a moral obligation to buy, use and consume only what we need. Considering nearly half of the food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. goes to waste, and that a third of the world’s food supply gets discarded, too, the mainstream message is to find ways to eliminate food waste altogether.3, 4 Shopping smart, storing food correctly, learning to preserve and composting are just some of many ways we can reduce food waste at home.4

Do it Yourself. Being handy and resourceful are bygone skills that should not be taken for granted. People survived some of the hardest times in modern history because of their know-how and creativity. Today, knowing how to change the oil in your car or what to do to mitigate minor plumbing issues can save you tons of money you would otherwise spend with repairmen. Search online for video tutorials, digital repair manuals and more.

1, “Families Go Deep in Debt to Stay in the Middle Class,” August 1, 2019

2, “Life During the Great Depression,” viewed September 10, 2019

3, “11 Facts About Hunger in the U.S.,” April 20, 2019

4, “20 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste,” February 12, 2019