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10 Depression Era Life Tips We Learned From Our Parents

6) Buy Everything Second-hand

There is a evidence that buying second-hand was the only way most families during the Depression were able to clothe themselves or own appliances. Without used clothing as a means, some families would have had an extremely difficult time acquiring clothing for the whole family. And, the previously unheard of used car industry got its start during this time. There was a second-hand market for just about everything.

Second-hand Clothing on Racks

Via/ Flickr

7) Make Homemade Toothpaste

A simple way to make a very cheap homemade toothpaste is by mixing 2/3 cup baking soda with 1 teaspoon salt and a few drops of food-grade peppermint oil (or any other oil that’s edible). Intuition tells us that perhaps folks during the Great Depression would have most likely left it unflavored or used a tiny bit of fresh peppermint leaf. Recipe adapted from DIY Natural.

Toothbrush Under Running Water

Via/ Flickr

8) Extend the Meat

You can use lentils or oatmeal to “extend” meat in a recipe. Some dishes this won’t work very well in, but most casseroles should be able to handle this substitution. We’ve also heard that cauliflower can be used as well. Various recipes call for replacing up to half of the meat with an extender.

Baked Casserole

Via/ Flickr

9) Homemade Furniture Polish

Making your own furniture polish isn’t difficult and it can really save you money if you are someone who polishes the furniture every week (ahem, some of us are more lenient). Just combine 1 1/2 cups olive oil with 1 cup of lemon juice and shake it all up to blend it. Recipe adapted from Everyday Roots.

Lemons on Countertop

Via/ Flickr

10) Don’t Buy What You Can Make

These days, we love the convenience of buying things already made for us. Hundreds of items around the house would once have been made my hand: everything from clothing to cleaning tools to cleaning agents to food and far beyond. If we were to apply just a fraction of this knowledge to our lives, we would end up making more and buying less.

Sewing Machine Needle and Foot

Via/ Flickr

In dire times, tips like these helped our ancestors to carve out a living from low-paying jobs, periods of unemployment, or bad crops. But, most of our parents and grandparents kept on using these tricks everyday. They didn’t stop saving money or resources simply because the economy had recovered. They were frugal when they could be in the hopes that they would have more for big expenses or for the things they really wanted. We hope you’ll try a few of these tips (if you haven’t already)!

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