With the cost of living soaring, Shoestring Jane looks at 10 frugal living tips your grandma would be proud of.
It’s easy to feel anxious about the current cost of living crisis and wonder how you are going to get by. However, it pays to remember that, in fact, we have been living through a period when we have never had it so good.
Our recent ancestors endured two world wars and long periods of rationing. They had no choice but to make do and mend, waste nothing or do without.
Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from our great-grandparents’ thrifty ways to help us save money today?
Here are some frugal living tips your grandma would be proud of.
1. Stop accumulating stuff
While I am not suggesting you all become minimalists, reducing the amount of stuff you own and, more importantly, the quantity you feel you need will save you money.
In a consumer society, we are now so used to buying every possible gadget, we forget that most of them are recent innovations that humanity did without for thousands of years.
Our houses are rammed full of so many things that are rarely used already – do we really need more?
Consider this. If your grandma wouldn’t know what something was for, then you could probably do without it if push comes to shove. So before you buy, consider if you could manage with what you already own.
2. Choose reusables
Another thing our grandparents would baulk at are the number of single use items that exist today. Because everything was more expensive in the days before cheap mass production really took off, people used and reused everything they purchased.
You can save money when you choose reusables. For example, cut up an old towel into squares to mop up spills rather than purchasing paper kitchen towels. Invest in some bamboo pads to remove makeup and some washable sanitary pads.
If you have a baby, buy terry nappies. Take your own water bottle out with you. Splash out on a reusable bamboo razor to save buying the plastic ones that you throw away after a couple of shaves.
All of these things will save you money and, as a bonus, they are good for the environment too.
Estimated potential savings:
- Kitchen roll: £42 a year
- Make up pads: £8.40 a year
- Sanitary towels: £324 a year
- Nappies: £400 a year
- Razors: £50
4. Learn to cook
Our grandparents didn’t have microwaves, let alone ping cuisine. Cooking your food from scratch remains a much cheaper option and is healthier too.
Yes, it takes time, but there are ways to mitigate this. Choose simple meals and, when you want something more involved, make several batches in one go and freeze.
Then you will have your own delicious, home cooked meals when you need them.
5. Don’t waste food
Rationing and food scarcity meant that our ancestors wouldn’t have dreamed of wasting food.
Today, just in the UK, we chuck away almost ten million tonnes of food a year. Not only is this unethical when large parts of the world don’t have enough to eat, it makes no sense financially.
To help prevent food waste in your home, write a weekly meal plan and shopping list.
Be aware of what you have in, and incorporate what needs eating first into your plan. For more ideas on how to reduce food waste, check out this post.
6. Make do and mend
The term ‘make do and mend’ came from a WWII British Government pamphlet, which featured tips for housewives for extending the life of clothing items and making new things from old.
We can save a lot of money by adopting a make do and mend approach today, and not just for our clothing.
By making small repairs as we go, we can extend the life of our current belongings rather than having to replace them.
7. Get creative
The thriftiest people I come across are often the most creative. They are the sort that dive into a skip because they have spotted a piece of wood that is perfect for the new shelf they have been planning to make.
They will buy cheap clothing in thrift shops and upcycle them into a new garment. They see opportunities in what other people might consider rubbish.
For example, I came across a couple recently who made a patchwork carpet for their stairs with samples being thrown out by a retailer. It looked amazing – quirky and unique.
They also accumulated solid wooden furniture from charity shops and sales to create a free-standing kitchen rather than paying thousands of pounds to get one fitted.
Thinking out of the box to use what you already have, or what you can pick up second hand, will save a lot of cash.
8. Grow your own
With the price of even basic foodstuffs rising, now could be the time to follow our grandparents’ advice and dig for victory!
Even in the smallest of gardens, it is possible to grow things like tomatoes, courgettes, herbs and salads in pots and grow-bags.
If you have a larger outside space, you can grow a lot more. For inspiration, check out What Vivi Did Next on YouTube. She grows 90% of her own food!
9. Simplify your cleaning regime
These days we seem to be obsessed with killing germs. Our cupboards are crammed with various cleaning products for every conceivable job. If we fall for the adverts, we can spend a pretty penny on branded items to make our homes sparkle.
Our grandmothers and great grandmothers (yes, for it was the lady of the house that did all the cleaning) would have been confused by such an array of chemicals.
They had very basic cleaning supplies consisting of hot water, soap, washing soda, a bit of vinegar and a lot of elbow grease.
Not that I am suggesting you have to revert to those products (although many of us have). However, you could simplify your cleaning cupboard to just a few general purpose, supermarket own brands and save a ton of money.
For example, a 250ml can of furniture polish will cost around £1 and a litre of surface cleanser about £1.50. A 600ml bottle of white vinegar will set you back around 30p, and can be diluted with water to do the job of both.
10. On your bike
We have all seen the prices increase alarmingly at the petrol pumps. If you have a bike lurking in your garage or shed, this could be the time to dust it off, pump up the tyres and use pedal power to get around, for short journeys anyway, just as your great-grandparents would have.
Taking inspiration from our ancestors from the mid-20th century could save you a lot of cash to help you get through the cost-of-living crisis.