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11 Crafty Tips From The Great Depression That Save Time And Money

Russell Lee / Library of Congress

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

That was the mantra that inspired a generation of Americans raising their families during the Great Depression.

When the country was facing drastic numbers of people out of work and struggling to make ends meet, we worked smarter and harder.

That generation's wisdom lives on today, and following it could make your life a lot easier.

1. Find a use for old fabrics

In the 1930s, children started sporting dresses and shirts made from old pillowcases, animal feed bags, and potato sacks. And why not? It was a waste to just throw out that leftover fabric.

You don't need to dress your kids in potato sacks, but learning to turn scrap clothes into new outfits is thrifty.

2. Get help from your neighbors

When you needed help around the house that your family couldn't provide, calling a professional was out of the question.

You could save money by calling a neighbor to lend a hand. These days, Craigslist makes it easier to find a handy neighbor, just remember to be safe and smart.

Women sporting flower sack dresses.OPA

3. Sit on big decisions

It's easy to spend money without thinking things through (so, so easy). Instead, take time out to consider if you really need something. That's what our parents and grandparents did.

Take a 10 second time-out before chucking something into your grocery cart, and give yourself at least a week to mull over anything more expensive than $100.

4. Add salt to your coffee

This old trick is coming back in style now that people are trying to avoid expensive coffee shops like Starbucks. Salt gives cheap, bitter coffee a smooth taste.

Add just a pinch to your coffee grinds and you'll notice a difference.

5. Share with your neighbors

To save money, poor farmers would share a "party line," a connected phone line that would ring on all of their dials.

These days, you probably have your own phone, but the idea is the same. If there's a big purchase you absolutely need, see if your neighbors will split it with you.

Not only is this easier on your wallet, you might make a new friend.

6. Reuse every single container in your home

Jam jars, plastic containers, cans, wooden fruit boxes, mesh bags. You can find a clever use for every single one of these online, so why would you throw them out?

Live by the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Containers are an easy way to start, because we can always use more storage space.

7. Fix your own appliances

It used to be common for people to mend their own home appliances. These days, everything is just so complicated that it seems impossible.

Helpful websites like iFixit give step-by-step guides to repairing everything in your home. Just remember that in most cases this will void your warranty.

8. Make home remedies

We're not suggesting you stop seeing your doctor, but you can help treat yourself using natural cures from your own pantry.

Whether you're living with IBS, joint pain, or insomnia, natural cures can help.

You can even make natural medicine like onion cough syrup to save money at the drug store.

A little preparation goes a long way.Wikimedia

9. "Stretch" ground beef and other meats

When beef was expensive, families would mix the meat with substitutes like lentils and oatmeal to shrink their grocery bill.

There are lots of recipes using these substitutes that taste just as good as the real thing at a fraction of the cost.

10. Use what's in your cupboard

The staples you already have in your kitchen are probably being underappreciated right now. Products like baking soda are so versatile you can use it in every room.

Look up creative ways to reuse tea bags, Ziploc bags, and Lysol wipes to get the most bang for your buck.

11. Put up with less

Ultimately, our parents and grandparents would have loved to enjoy all the comforts we do, but they worked hard to provide more for their families instead.

If you want to do the same thing, it will mean going without all the little luxuries that we want but don't really need.

Do you remember any thrifty tricks from your own grandparents?

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