Many of our grandparents lived through the tough times of the Great Depression and WWII rationing and it taught them frugal habits.  They never forgot how to live within their means and to “make do” with what they had.  Back then,  it was just common practice for people to grow their own food in backyard gardens, and line-dry their clothes winter and summer.

Not all of us have a plot of land suitable for growing veggies or room for an outside clothesline, but we can still benefit from the money-saving habits of our ancestors. Here’s more of what the past can teach us about saving money in the present.

Leave the Car at Home More – People used to walk everywhere. Now, it’s become too much of a habit for us to jump in our cars and drive to the store, even when the store is just around the corner. Leaving the car at home occasionally offers health benefits as well as saving us money on gas. And there’s nothing wrong with letting the kids get to school under their own steam most of the time.

Make It Do – Fix it instead of buying a new one. Our grandparents darned holes in socks, mended small tears in clothing  and repaired lamps and radios. A recent commercial on TV shows the handle of a BBQ lid coming off in a man’s hand and that seemed to be all the excuse he needed to go shopping for a new BBQ. If the rest of the BBQ is so old that it no longer works, fine but a handle can be fixed and will cost  little more than your time to repair.

Use It Up –  Does that jar of peanut butter look empty? Look again. It’s not a lot of fun scraping the inside of jars, but if you can get enough peanut butter or jam for one more piece of toast, that’s money saved. I remember my mom continually scraping so-called empty containers  to get every bit of food she could from them. Likewise, a seemingly empty dish soap or shampoo bottle would yield at least one more washing by adding a bit of water to the bottle and swishing it around.

Save For What You Want – Our grandparents avoided debt like the plague. They saved up for the things they needed and if they still couldn’t afford something, they just didn’t buy it. I know this is a foreign concept in modern society but it’s worth consideration, in view of fact that most households carry a staggering  amount of debt.

Re-Think It – We baby boomers have started to reconsider consumerism. We have  houses full of non-essential stuff that we’re now selling, giving away and throwing away. Did having all or any of it ever bring us contentment? Not in the long run. The thrill of a new purchase soon wears off.  Technology, especially, will always be one step ahead of us. Before long the latest in cell phone and computer technology has been  made obsolete by something even better so, as long as they’re still working, learn to be content with the electronics you already have.

Before you buy something new, consider two things, 1) Do I need it or just want it? If you don’t need it, you can live without it. 2) Can I afford it or will buying it put me further into debt?

When it comes to saving money, we can extract valuable lessons from the way our grandparents lived. It only remains to be seen if we will take advantage of those lessons.

Marlene Alexander

Marlene Alexander

Marlene is a freelance writer and blogger. She maintains a free budget decorating site called Dollar Store Style and writes content for client websites.