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6 Old-Fashioned Ways to Save Money

I am a bibliophile who loves to read about new concepts and ideas. The next step almost always involves testing them out in real life.

Regardless of your financial situation, it always feels good to save money and become a bit more self-sufficient.

Regardless of your financial situation, it always feels good to save money and become a bit more self-sufficient.

Old Is Indeed Gold

Previous generations lived through periods in history where families had very little money but lots of skills for stretching their income. Their ingenuity got them through the Great Depression and the rationing of World War II. Many of them had the benefit of having large yards or acreage where they could grow impressive gardens to help fill in the gaps when they couldn't afford to buy groceries.

Baking bread is a skill people consider a fun hobby to try these days—but back then, everyone knew how to bake their own bread and cook from scratch using basic ingredients. Old-fashioned skills have tremendous potential for saving money, even though our culture has moved away from reusing and wearing out to spending and throwing out.

Here are six old-fashioned strategies for saving money that still work as well in the 2020s as they did in the 1930s.

1. Plant an Herb Garden

While you may not be able to grow a garden full of potatoes and zucchinis, you can grow herbs in any space that gets a bit of light. They can be grown indoors year-round, which will help you create delicious meals in the winter months when the price of produce goes up. Herbs add flavor and nutrition to the simplest of dishes, and you may find you have a green thumb and want to move on to other plants that can be grown in containers.

2. Learn to Make Preserves

Survivors of the Great Depression knew how to take advantage of a good deal and preserve the harvest. While you won't need enough preserves to feed you all winter as they did, canning can still be a fun way to save food when you find an excellent bulk sale, and you can also give your creations away as gifts.

Canning supplies don't take up much cupboard space, and free information is abundant online about making anything you can imagine and sealing the cans safely. Jams, sauces, and pickled vegetables are all relatively easy for the canning beginner.

Learning to preserve food this way makes it possible to take advantage of gifts from people who have excess produce from their gardens or end-of-season discounts at pick-your-own farms.

Canned foods can be kept in any spare space, even the bottom shelf in your linen closet or the space under your bed, so they can be stored even when you're short on kitchen cupboard space.

3. Make Your Own Versions of Your Favorite Products

The internet is full of recipes and instructions for making your own versions of commercial products for half or even a quarter of the cost of buying the "real thing." You can make a batch of your own floor cleaner, laundry soap, spice mixes, or even your favorite Starbucks latte.

Even if you only give up your daily Starbucks and make a homemade version of your favorite drink, you could save a substantial amount. Add up your daily coffee habit and see how much it costs you over time. $20 per week at Starbucks adds up to over $1000 by the end of the year. That $5 latte doesn't seem so great now, does it?

4. Learn to Sew

You don't have to be able to sew yourself an entire outfit or quilt by hand to save a lot of money. Learning a few simple stitches for repairing holes in your favorite pieces of clothing, how to sew a missing button on, or hem a pair of pants, is enough to save you a significant amount of money if you usually depend on paid services for these types of jobs.

If you want to get a little more advanced, you can learn to take in a pair of pants or a skirt or change the neckline on a dress to suit you better. Thrift stores frequently sell clothes that need a small repair for even lower prices than their regular stock, so you can take advantage of rock bottom prices and take home things other people pass over.

Instructions for all of these are available for free online, and hand sewing supplies are very affordable. You can even find the basics at most dollar stores. If you prefer to machine sew, choose a portable one like the Camtoa handheld sewing machine as it is more cost-effective. I own one, and it is quite useful in getting small repairs or sewing done. It works a bit like a stapler. You press a button, and the machine automatically starts moving to the right.

A silk scrunchie made using the Camtoa portable handheld sewing machine

A silk scrunchie made using the Camtoa portable handheld sewing machine

5. Accept Free Stuff

The next time someone offers you something for free, just say yes.

If you can't use it personally, pass it on to someone who can. The person who gifted you the item will remember they can offload stuff on you in the future, and the person you gave it to will remember your generosity next time they have something to give away that you need.

Many things like electronics and clothing are considered disposable now, and consumers are happy to just get rid of things as quickly as possible, so they can go buy more things. This is advantageous for people who like getting something for free! Sign up for Freecycle, and you'll find an entire mailing list dedicated to the giving and receiving of free things.

A Few Etiquette Rules to Keep In Mind:

  • Don't be greedy. Don't take things just for the sake of having them.
  • Always show up. Pick up the items when you say you will.
  • Reciprocate. Be sure to offer items as often as you receive them.

6. Learn to Do Repairs Yourself

Some household tasks should be left to the professionals, for instance, anything to do with electricity. Other repairs can be completed by just about anyone with access to Youtube and a little bit of patience.

For example, a typical repair job for plumbers is replacing the p-traps under kitchen sinks. If you own a condominium or your landlord expects you to pay for your own repairs in your rental, it can cost up to $300 to have this done by a plumber or $20 for the part and about five minutes of work to fix it yourself.

Researching Is Easier Than You Think

Whenever you encounter a problem in your home, take a few minutes to research it online. It may be something you can do yourself, and you can potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars each time.

You don't have to have a sprawling homestead and a barn full of dairy cows to take advantage of old-fashioned methods for saving money. These strategies work just as well today as they did during the dirty thirties and will help you get through lean times or free up money to pad a savings account.

Regardless of your financial situation, it always feels good to save money and become a bit more self-sufficient. Check out these easy and inexpensive DIY projects below.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Kalpana Iyer

Any Further Tips to Save Money?

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 17, 2020:

I've always had trouble saving. If I have the money, I spend it. It is probably because we never had much and we always "need" something we can't have until there is a little extra. Just this month I bought two pair of leggings and wish I hadn't because now I don't have enough to pay some of the house bills. Oh well, I work it out someway.



Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on November 03, 2020:

It's so good to meet people who are fellow DIY enthusiasts. Thank you for commenting, Bill!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 03, 2020:

We do several of these already. We are big on DIY. I hate paying people to do things I could easily do. I have my dad to thank for that.

As for sewing - I think not! It's a great suggestion, but I'm all thumbs. :)

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on November 03, 2020:

Brenda, you still managed yellow and red tomatoes. I have not ventured into growing tomatoes yet. Will have to check it out soon. These are all activities I picked up during the covid-19 pandemic. Out of necessity, because I couldn't go out much. Thanks for reading and commenting!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 02, 2020:

These are great ideas. I wish I would have paid attention when Grandma used to can each summer, but I hear there are alot of easier methods now.

As far as gardening...i love to do that as long as I find time and have the space.

This year I only managed yellow & red tomatoes and I wish there was a way to keep them fresh all year...besides just for recipes and stews.

Sewing..well, I can sew a button. Other than that...i might as well give up.

I guess we are all good at something...but that's not mine.

Loved reading your work.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on November 01, 2020:

Wow, that's so cost-effective! I guess it's the lack of time and motivation that prevents people from trying to fix things themselves first. Almost all repair tutorials are available on YouTube nowadays. Thanks Denise for sharing your thoughts.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

I like the way you think. I've sewed my own clothes for many years and done some canning as well. But only recently have I needed to do my own repairs. Just this month our dryer went out. That is a $300 or $400 appliance to replace. This is a bad time to replace something like that and we thought we may have to do without it until I got the bright idea to check some YouTube tutorials to see if there is anything I can do to fix it. Sure enough, the heating unit will only cost $20 to replace and it will work like new. How about that?



Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on November 01, 2020:

The Internet can be a boon and a bane. Depends on how a person uses it. Thank you for commenting.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 31, 2020:

Great ideas! The internet has opened up a sea of opportunities and information. Thanks for sharing.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 28, 2020:

Hi Shaloo! Thanks for commenting. Yes, we too have started preparing all the restaurant-style dishes at home. Such a money saver!

Shaloo Walia from India on October 28, 2020:

Great suggestions! Lockdown has taught me that I can cook all that junk food at home and in a better, hygienic way.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 27, 2020:

Being self-reliant is the way to go! Thanks Mary for commenting.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 27, 2020:

Yes! It can be very therapeutic. Thank you for commenting Oe.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 26, 2020:

These are really practical solutions. I just pickled eggs which I am enjoying now. I do plant herbs and also make my own repairs and even do some repairs for friends. It's very satisfying.

Oe Kaori from Yokohama Japan on October 26, 2020:

My grandmother taught me how to sew and it was such a wonderful thing

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 26, 2020:

Yes, it is very gender neutral :) Something everyone can learn.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 26, 2020:

Thank you for commenting, Nyesha!

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 25, 2020:

Kalpana, nice article. I think a man could also learn these things.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on October 25, 2020:

Hi Kalpana,

Thanks for sharing these great tips!

- Nyesha

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 25, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy!

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 25, 2020:

Thank you, Ankita! Glad you enjoyed it.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 25, 2020:

You are correct in that these simple tips can save lots of money.

Ankita B on October 25, 2020:

Great tips, Kalpana. This was an informative read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I second what Lorna said. These are life skills which need to be passed on.

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on October 25, 2020:

Can't agree more, Lorna! In this day and age of dumping work on others, we are forgetting how much we can save by being self-reliant.

Lorna Lamon on October 25, 2020:

I can still remember the smell of my Grandmother's home baked bread and that lovely feeling of home that it gave me. She taught how to bake and I to make jam which I still make today. These skills are not only useful but essential and in particular with the state of the economy today. They are also life skills that can be passed on to future generations. An enjoyable and informative article Kalpana.