50 Frugal Old Fashioned Living Tips You Can Use Today

Woman practicing old-fashioned living by putting on apron

Table of Contents

Old fashioned living tips to save money

According to a study from the EPA, over 292 million tons of solid waste was generated in the U.S. in 2018 alone.  This is an increase of over 3 times since the data was first reported in 1960.

That’s a lotta trash, folks.

But, you don’t have to be someone who participates in a throw-away society.  Too many people are driven by unnecessary consumerism, which leads to increased waste and higher debt.

If you want to learn how to live within your means, reduce your expenses, and be content with what you have, you can implement some simple and frugal old fashioned living tips from the past.

As cities expand, technology advances and culture evolves, the prudent and easygoing habits of our grandparents and their ancestors seem like an outdated and unattainable lifestyle from a bygone era.  But, they used these frugal practices for many decades and there is no reason why they can’t be used in modern times.

If you’ve struggled with keeping up with societal expectations, you may have more debt than savings.  Maybe you haven’t been saving for your future, and you’re getting stressed about retirement.

I’m here to tell you that all hope is not lost and it is possible to live well throughout your old age by implementing some simple old fashioned living tips.

What is old fashioned living?

When you think of an old fashioned lifestyle, you might imagine modest clothing, cooking from scratch, and simple living.

Rocking chair and quilt

However, old-fashioned living begins with a mindset that values being frugal, thrifty, and self-sufficient.

As someone who adopts old fashioned frugal living routines, your spending habits wouldn’t be swayed by current trends.  You wouldn’t go out and buy the latest gadget, outfit, or vehicle because everyone else is.  Instead, you stay focused on living within your means and minimizing wastefulness.

In order to carry out this principle in your own life, you’ll need to take great care of your belongings and keep up with maintenance and repairs.  This applies to everything from vehicles to clothing to household appliances.

You also want to be selective about what you buy.  If it’s going to last, it needs to be high-quality.  This doesn’t necessarily mean new, because many products manufactured decades ago will outlast something made last year.

People who lead an old fashioned life are do-it-yourselfers as well.  They aim to be as self-sufficient as possible, by growing their own food, doing their own repairs, and making their own clothes and furniture.

Some of these old fashioned living practices might sound too demanding to take on.  You don’t have to do everything and live like your grandma used to.  Even if you just implement a few of her frugal living habits, your bank account will still benefit.

Here are 50 old fashioned living tips you can try out for yourself.

50 old fashioned living tips for modern times

Just because you’re living in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice habits from decades or even centuries ago.  The same principles your great-grandparents used can still help you achieve your financial goals today.

These old-fashioned living tips can save you money, get you out of debt, and build your dream retirement.  Read through them and decide on a few you can start implementing in your own personal finances.

#1 Watch less TV

In general, watching television is not a beneficial use of your time.  After all, it’s not referred to as the “idiot box” for nothing.

Living an old fashioned lifestyle means using your time for meaningful and productive activities.

When you turn off the TV, you have more time for tasks that will save you money or help you learn a new skill.

So, cancel that cable subscription and break your binge-streaming habit.  You’ll keep more money in your pocket and get more stuff done.

#2 Simplify entertainment

In these modern times, it seems we always want to be entertained, instead of entertaining ourselves.

It’s fun to go to concerts, plays, and sporting events.  But, this kind of entertainment is very expensive – so much that the cost might end up on the credit card.

Back in the olden days, people didn’t have these options (or the money) to pass the time.  Instead, they entertained themselves at home with simple (and free) activities as a family.

If you’ve fallen into the belief trap that you have to spend a lot of money to make amazing memories and keep your kids happy, consider these ideas to embrace the old fashioned approach to entertainment:

  • play cards, marbles, darts, or board games
  • put on your own play in your living room
  • gather up some neighbors and play ball at the park
  • put on a musical concert at home and invite friends over
  • read aloud or take turns sharing spontaneous stories
  • have a contest to see who can be the most creative with a cardboard box
  • do a large puzzle together
  • have a picnic in the front yard (or on the roof!)
  • have a backyard campout
  • run through the sprinklers in the summer
  • build a snowman in the winter

#3 Make simple meals

An easy way to save money the old fashioned way is by sticking to simple, homecooked meals.

Bowl of soup with bread

Our grandparents and great-grandparents would often stretch their grocery dollars by serving soups and meatless dishes to their families.

Making recipes with few ingredients will save you money.  You can easily search online for dishes that only require 3 to 5 ingredients.

Don’t discount these simple meals from an old fashioned lifestyle.  With the right seasonings, these dishes are just as tasty as more complicated options.

You can even use vegetables from your garden to add nutritious flavor (see tip #6).

Here are a few ideas for simple, homemade meals:

  • cheese quesadillas
  • mac & cheese
  • spaghetti with marinara sauce
  • broccoli cheese soup
  • vegetable quiche
  • cheese enchiladas
  • tortellini soup
  • bean burrito bowls

#4 Cook from scratch

When you take a walk through any local supermarket, you’ll find most of the aisles filled with processed foods that are full of sugar and fat. These foods are not only bad for your health, but they are also quite expensive.

Additionally, many people enjoy eating fast food regularly, which definitely puts a huge dent in their food bill every month.

Most people in the olden days cooked all of their meals at home, using fresh vegetables, beans, and meats. This is not only extremely healthy but is also a lot cheaper than buying frozen dinners, pizza, fast food, and other processed foods.

Making your meals at home also cuts down on eating out at restaurants, which drastically reduces your food bill.

There will likely be days where you don’t want to cook and the idea of going to a restaurant is a lot more appealing. So, make sure to prepare for these days by batch cooking your favorite foods and store them in the freezer.

Make sure to portion out each meal into individual containers so that you have easy access to your frozen foods as needed. Also, put a label on each container which indicates the type of food contained in it as well as the date that it was cooked.

#5 Meal plan

In the olden days, your ancestors couldn’t just hop in the car and run to the store for a box of cereal.  They had to plan ahead so that everything they bought would last them through the next month.

One of the best tips I can give you to stretch your food budget is to meal plan.  Planning out your meals by the week or the month will help you in so many ways.

The biggest benefit might be the amount of money you’ll save by eliminating last-minute restaurant runs.   Your meal plan will always inform you of what dishes you’ll be preparing and when.

Your meal plan will also save you time and resources. You’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store, and you’ll be intentional about using up what you already have on hand.

Also, a meal plan will help you stick to your grocery list.  You’ll know exactly what you need and what you don’t, so there’s no more guessing and wasting money on unnecessary items.

#6 Eat your leftovers

Stretch those grocery dollars by minimizing waste.  Have a leftovers night once a week so you can clean out the fridge and take a night off from cooking.

Don’t dismiss even a small portion that’s not eaten.  Every bite you don’t eat is free food for later on!

You can pop them right into the microwave for a quick meal, or create a whole new recipe by adding a few extra ingredients.

*Bonus tip*:  I store my leftovers in glass containers, then write the date on it with a wet-erase marker.  That way, I know what needs to get used up first!

#7 Wear an apron

How often have you splattered tomato sauce or oil on your outfit when you’re cooking at the stove?  This can create stains that are difficult to remove and just creates more laundry for you to do.

A ruffled apron

To protect your clothing and get the most wear out of them, consider wearing an apron when cooking in the kitchen.  This is how your grandma would keep her outfit clean and free of spots when making meals for the family.

Wearing an apron isn’t about making a fashion statement (although I bet you could find one that suits your style).  It’s about taking care of your belongings so they will last a long time.

So, don’t think you’re not old enough to wear an apron.  Take some old fashioned wisdom and protect your clothes so you’re not wasting money on new ones.

#8 Keep your pantry full with staples

Keeping your pantry stocked with basic ingredients will save you on those days when you forget to meal plan.  If you have a variety of staples on your shelves, you’ll always be able to cook a homemade meal.

Make a list of simple recipes your family enjoys, and start building a stockpile of their ingredients in your kitchen.

When you find these canned and dry foods on sale at the grocery store, load up as many as you can afford in your cart.  They have a long shelf life and will last you for many future meals.

Here is a sample list of foods you can store up in your pantry:

  • flour, sugar, baking powder & soda
  • rice, pasta and potatoes
  • dry beans, peas and lentils
  • canned tomatoes and vegetables
  • chicken and beef stock
  • a variety of herbs and spices
  • oats, cream of wheat, and cereal
  • nut butters
  • canned tuna

#9 Buy in bulk

If you can find a store that sells in bulk, you can purchase your favorite foods at a discounted price.

I like to go to Sam’s Club and buy large packs of meat.  The price per pound is lower, and I can make more meals with fewer trips to the store.

At Sprouts, I can buy nuts, oats, and dried fruits for a lower cost by filling up a bag instead of buying pre-packaged.

Also, always browse the clearance section to stock up on marked-down items.  Anything that has a close expiration date can be frozen.

#10 Use potatoes, rice, and pasta in your meals

To make sure her family had enough to eat without busting the budget, your great-grandma likely added filling, low-cost ingredients to her recipes.

Meat is typically the most expensive ingredient in a meal.  And, if you’re raising sons and feeding a hungry husband, you’ll be spending your entire grocery budget on beef if you’re not strategic about your meal planning.

Unless you’re on a low-carb diet or have allergies, serve up large helpings of rice, pasta, potatoes or bread with your meat dishes.

Your family will get full without a big price tag.

#11 Bake your own bread

Baking bread

I remember when bread makers were popular in the 90s.  Everyone seemed to want one to bake their own homemade bread.  I had one myself and tried my hand at baking a few loaves.

Because they were everywhere, it’s not difficult these days to find a good used one at your local thrift store.

Of course, these machines didn’t exist when your great-grandma was alive.  She would knead the dough by hand and bake the bread in her wood-burning stove. That was *real* old fashioned living!

But, in our modern world, you can still make your own healthy, home-baked breads but also save time and money.

A bread machine will knead the dough for you and maintain the perfect settings for consistency.  And, the simple ingredients needed are inexpensive and probably already in your pantry.  You can bake your own for as low as 50 cents a loaf!

Baking your own bread can definitely save you money, especially if you prefer organic, gluten-free, or other higher-cost loaves at the market.

And, although it can take a few hours to make, the process is almost entirely automatic.

#12 Make your own preserves

To keep the old fashioned standard of minimizing waste and maximizing self-sufficiency, a good idea is to can your own preserves.

Fruit preserves were developed centuries ago in order to save food in times of plenty and make survival easier in times of scarcity.  In our modern times, there are now thousands of food products made with preservatives to increase shelf-life.

However, most are not healthy options.

Canning your own preserves will allow you to make the most of your seasonal harvests, as well as provide additive and pesticide-free jams for your family. 

You’ll also reduce waste by using reusable jars instead of buying pre-packaged foods.

One of the greatest benefits, of course, is the money you’ll save by preserving your own foods.  You can buy plenty of fruit when it’s in season and at its lowest cost, and make enough preserves to jar or freeze for the whole year.

#13 Grow your own food

An excellent old fashioned living tip is to grow as much food as you can yourself.

There are lots of fruits and vegetables that you can grow in small spaces and even in pots. Of course, if you have a large yard, make sure to cultivate as many vegetables that you enjoy such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, beans, cabbage, pumpkin, etc.

You can also have an herb garden, where you can select fresh herbs whenever you need them.

Having your own garden will provide organic fruits and vegetables that are much less expensive than the grocery store, and you only have to step into your backyard to pick them!

#14 Make your own compost

Adding compost to your garden’s soil can help your tomatoes and vegetables resist common diseases, as well as improve their nutrition and flavor.

You can either buy compost at the store or make your own for free.  To make homemade compost for a healthy garden, simply add your meatless food scraps to a dedicated container.  These can include used coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, stale bread, and tea bags.

You can also throw in leaves and grass clippings from your yard.

#15 Brew your own coffee

Coffee has been around since the beginning of time. (Okay, Wikipedia says since the 15th century.)

Coffee maker

However, as a society, we’ve definitely gotten fancier with our java drinks.  Somewhere along the way, our brains were tricked into agreeing to pay $7 for caramel frappuccinos.

This is the kind of indulgence that would cause our old fashioned relatives to scratch their heads in confusion.

Living a frugal life leaves little room for extravagant pleasures like spending over $100 a month at a trendy coffee shop.

If you value your money and your time more than an 8-oz liquid delight that will last you 15 minutes, get up a little earlier and make your coffee at home.

And, for those who want to be just like great-grandpa, learn to drink it black.

#16 Drink more water, less soda

There are so many good reasons to drink more water and less soda.

First, your body literally needs water.  It does *not* need soda.

Second, water is free.  Soda will cost you every time.

There are many more I could list, but that’s all you really need to know to make a smart decision.

Do like grandma, and serve your family water more often.  Don’t worry, your kids will eventually stop complaining and get used to drinking it.

#17 Make substitutions

An important principle of an old fashioned lifestyle is learning to “make do”.  This means managing with the means you already have.

This can happen when you’re in the middle of making dinner and realize you’re missing an ingredient.  Sure, you could hop in the van and run down to Walmart to pick up that one item. (Well, it might end up being 3 or 4 after the impulse purchases.)

But Granny wouldn’t waste the time or the money.  Instead, she’d make do by finding an acceptable substitute in her kitchen.

You can do the same, just by printing off a list of common ingredient substitutions and taping it on your fridge.  Then, next time you’re in the middle of making dinner and realize you’re out of mayonnaise, you’ll just grab the sour cream instead.

Just like Granny would do.

#18 Buy generic

Most generic products do just as good a job as the name brands.

Unless you’ve proven to yourself that your favorite brand is considerably better than the generic option, try using these brandless products and see how they work for you.

You might just find you’ve been wasting money all this time.

#19 Go hunting/fishing

Man fishing

Going hunting for your food is much less common than it used to be.  Back in great-great-grandpa’s day, it wasn’t uncommon for a young man to grab his rifle and head off to the woods to get dinner.

Hunting for your own food these days is a little more involved.  You’ll need the right gun, some bullets, a hunting license, and time to spare during hunting season.  You’ll also need to travel to where your preferred game is hanging out.

However, if this is something you (or more likely the menfolk in your family) would like to try, this could be a great way to fill up your freezer with inexpensive meat.

If the thought of shooting a gun doesn’t appeal to you, you could pick up a fishing pole instead.  Catching your own fish will save you a lot of money compared to buying it at the grocery store.

Make sure you know the hunting or fishing laws in your area, and complete all of the safety courses required before venturing out on your first mission.

Also, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by failing to properly store and completely consume your bounty.

#20 Raise your own chickens

Having your own chickens seems to be a growing trend.  My husband really wants a chicken coop, but our HOA won’t allow it.  Darn.

If your neighborhood doesn’t prohibit it, or you live on a large lot of land, you might want to consider raising your own backyard chickens.

You’ll always have fresh, organic eggs and homemade fertilizer for your garden.  Chickens are also great for clearing your yard of weeds, bugs, and other small outdoor pests.

Of course, having your own chickens requires considerable cleanup and maintenance. This provides an excellent opportunity to teach your kids responsibility and work together as a family.

Finally, you could raise chickens for your own food.  Poultry from your own home-raised chickens will taste better and are healthier than those from factory farms.  (Just make sure you don’t get attached to them!)

#21 Buy your own cow

Many of your ancestors raised their own livestock to put meat on the table.

But, unless you live on a farm or a ranch, you probably don’t have the space or resources to raise cows yourself.  The good news is, you can buy your own cow from local ranchers.

Purchasing a quarter, half or full cow is a great way to buy grass-fed, organic beef at a fraction of the normal supermarket price.

This is because a rancher typically offers a lump sum price on the cow’s hanging weight as a whole.  There is no differentiation between the different cuts of meat.

So, although grass-fed ground beef will be similar in price at the grocery store,  cuts like ribeye and sirloin steaks will be much cheaper from the rancher.

To find ranchers near you, visit sites like Eat Wild or American Grassfed.

#22 Do your own household repairs

In the good old days, most people didn’t hire handymen to fix the things that went wrong in their homes. Instead, they figured out how to fix it themselves.

You can definitely learn to fix many things on your own with a bit of modern help such as YouTube or Google. It is possible to learn some simple plumbing, appliance repair, window repair, masonry, etc., by viewing how-to videos on YouTube. This will definitely save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Of course, if there is a serious issue, you should still call an affordable professional.

#23 Do your own car maintenance

There’s no need to pay someone else to wash and vacuum your car, or even change the oil.  Basic car maintenance is easy to learn and do-it-yourselfers will save hundreds of dollars over time.

Woman vacuuming a car

Here are a few more tasks you can take on yourself and keep your vehicle in top shape for less money:

  • swap out the wiper blades
  • replace the engine air filter
  • replace brake and license plate bulbs
  • fix tears in leather and vinyl upholstery
  • change the power steering fluid
  • clean the carpet
  • change a dead battery
  • change the brake pads

#24 Do your own home improvement projects

You don’t always need to hire a professional to tackle a home improvement project.  Depending on your skills, you can take on a wide range of tasks yourself that will give your house an upgrade.

Although a hired hand can expedite most projects, putting in your own elbow grease can save you hundreds of dollars.  From painting your walls a fresh, new color to swapping outdated fixtures for modern ones, you can update the look of your home at a fraction of a hired man’s cost.

#25 Take care of your clothing

Clothing is another area where many people spend a lot of money, especially by trying to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

However, if you’re enthusiastic about implementing old fashioned living tips, then it is best to make the most out of the clothing you already have so that you don’t need to buy clothes unnecessarily.

One way to make your clothes last is to hand wash them instead of machine washing.

Also, you can learn how to mend your clothes so that you don’t need to throw them out if they get a small rip or hole.

Just because a shirt is missing a button or a pair of pants has a broken zipper doesn’t mean you have to spend money on replacements.  Make the effort to learn how to mend them so you can get the most out of their wear.

#26 Make your own clothes

It seems like sewing is one of those discarded skills, kind of like penmanship.  Maybe that’s why sewing machines are easy to find in thrift stores.

Making your own clothes is a great practice you can embrace from the old fashioned lifestyle.  If you don’t sew and have never looked at a sewing pattern, this will take some time, practice, and patience.

Here are a few tips to learn how to make your own clothes:

  • Do a little research to find a machine that is simple to use
  • Make sure you have the tools you need, such as scissors, tape measure, pins, needles, bobbins, etc.
  • Read up on sewing terminology, so you understand instructions properly
  • Find some YouTube videos for setting up your machine and learning basic functions & techniques
  • Start with a sewing pattern designed for beginners
  • Use your pattern to guide your fabric choice
  • Join a sew-along, which is an online meet-up of other people all sewing the same pattern!

Learning to make your own clothes is a big commitment.  But, it is a skill that will serve you and save you money for the rest of your life. 

So, be patient with yourself and put in lots of practice.

#27 Make your own curtains and blankets

Woman sewing a blanket

Ready to update your windows? Making your own curtains is super simple and less costly than buying from the store.  You don’t even have to sew!

With some discount fabric from your local craft store and a glue gun, you can have new drapes up in a weekend.

The same is true for blankets.  You can make no-sew throws to dress up your couch and get cozy next to the fireplace.

If you want to take it a few steps farther, take up the old fashioned skill of quilt making.  You can cut out quilt squares from old clothes, sheets, and fabric scraps and create a unique family heirloom.

#28 Reuse disposables

To lower your household costs, start reusing some of your disposable purchases.  This old fashioned living tip will help you maximize your spending dollars.

Here are a few ideas to use disposable items more than once:

  • rinse out used Ziploc bags and reuse
  • wash empty household cleaner spray bottles
  • keep the same eyeglass frames and just swap out the lenses
  • reuse plastic food containers used for sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, etc.
  • save gift bags and tissue paper for future wrapping
  • recycle old t-shirts as garage rags
  • use old plastic toothbrushes for cleaning tight spots
  • put used dryer sheets in shoes or drawers to keep them smelling fresh
  • rinse out peanut butter jars to store a variety of small items

#29 Stop using disposables

Using disposable goods is convenient, but the cost adds up and the waste just adds to the landfills.

Buying nondisposable products instead will save you money and help the environment.

Here are a few ideas to make the swap:

  • clean with cloth towels
  • use cloth napkins
  • buy reusable sandwich bags
  • drink out of metal or glass straws
  • pack your lunch in a reusable bag
  • buy a reusable coffee filter
  • use handkerchiefs instead of tissue
  • replace bamboo skewers with metal ones
  • find reusable feminine hygiene products
  • use washcloths instead of facial wipes
  • use cloth diapers
  • read your magazines and newspapers online instead

#30 Make your own cleaning products

Did you know you don’t need a specific product for each cleaning task?

Your great-grandma didn’t buy Windex for her windows, 409 for her counters, and Clorox wipes for her bathroom.

Instead, she used regular household items to make her own cleaning agents.  A little baking soda and vinegar went a long way to keeping a clean home.

You can make your own cleaning products and save the money you normally spend on overpriced items at the store.  It’s cheaper, there’s less waste, and it avoids some of the harsh chemicals found in manufactured products.

For some inspiration, learn how to make these 16 natural, DIY cleaners.

#31 Do less laundry

My son likes to work out and play sports.  Just about daily I have to tell him to change out of his sweaty clothes because it’s stinking up the air I’m breathing.

Woman holding full laundry basket

However, most of the time we don’t do activities that get our clothes smelly or dirty.  We sit at desks, stand at counters, go to meetings.

And still, we automatically throw our day’s outfit straight into the laundry basket.

This creates unnecessary work and wastes time laundering clothes that don’t need to be washed.

Try this old fashioned living tip and take a minute to inspect your clothing before you presume it needs a wash.  It’s very possible it can be worn again (and again!) before it needs to be laundered.

Also, be intentional about keeping your clothes clean. Change into your casual clothing after you get home from work and wear a coverup when you’re dealing with messy tasks.  This will also minimize your laundry load and extend the life of your clothes.

#32 Air dry your clothes

Next on our old fashioned living tips list is cheaply drying your wet clothes.

You’re probably accustomed to using an electric dryer to quickly dry your clothes. However, these dryers use a lot of electricity which increases your electric bill significantly. Also, most dryers last only a couple of years which means you will have to buy a new one every 5 years or so.

Instead, you could put up a clothesline in your backyard or in any open space and line dry your clothes. This is completely free and your clothes will also have fewer creases and crinkles so you may not even need to iron them.

If your HOA prohibits a clothesline, you can place a drying rack on your back porch instead.

#33 Keep utilities down

There are many ways that you can reduce your utility bills quite significantly.

You can start by turning off any lights or appliances that you’re not using. For small tasks like reading a book or browsing on your phone, just use a table lamp and turn off the overhead lighting.

Also, go easy on heating and cooling your home since these add quite a bit to your electricity bill.

Instead, on cold nights, you can simply wear a couple of layers of clothes and pile on the blankets instead of heating your home. On hot days you can open your doors and windows and use fans while wearing light clothing as opposed to turning on the air conditioning.

One more small way to minimize energy use is by unplugging devices and appliances you don’t use often.  It’s not a huge money-saver, but every little penny counts with old fashioned living.

In order to save money on gas, you should batch cook as many items as you can. So, if you plan on baking a cake, you should try to bake other items as well at the same time such as bread, cookies, brownies, etc.  Just freeze what you don’t plan on eating soon.

After you empty the oven, open its door and use the heat to warm up your home.  These small habits will definitely help you to save some extra cash on gas/propane.

Alternatively, you can get a wood-burning stove and simply get firewood to fuel it. In many states, it is free to take firewood from public land. If this isn’t legal in your state, find someone who has firewood on private land and ask if you can get some free of charge or at a low fee.

Lastly, preserve water and lower your water bill by using less of it.  Instead of letting cold water go down the drain while you’re waiting for it to heat up, catch it in your pet’s water bowl or a pitcher to water plants.

Also, fill up your sink one time with warm, soapy water, and let dirty dishes soak throughout the day.

#34 Use every last drop

I love to get the most out of every container.  Makes me feel like I’m getting the biggest bang for my buck, and that I’m wasting as little as possible.

You can do this too by simply turning sauce bottles upside down when they’re getting low.  Stand your shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products on their lids also, so you can get every last drop.

Use a pencil to press all of your toothpaste and other tube products toward the cap.

For jarred products like peanut butter and tomato sauce, use a silicone spatula to scrape out what you can’t with a spoon.

A valuable principle in old fashioned living is minimizing waste and maximizing your dollars.  Do what you can to use up every ounce and leave the container empty!

#35 Give handmade gifts

Homemade soaps

Buying gifts for family and friends can be fun, but also time-consuming and expensive.  And, who hasn’t just opted for Amazon’s 2-day shipping because you need to find something in a pinch?  Too often, that present you picked out on your lunch break ends up in someone’s drawer or the back of their closet (and … eventually in a garage sale).

Making your own gifts not only saves you money, it also requires more thought and intention. The receiver will almost always treasure your handmade creation more than the quick, store-bought option.

You don’t need to fight the crowds on Black Friday or spend hours looking for that perfect item.  Avoid the overspending sprees and take the time to create your own handmade gifts.  You’ll find that people appreciate the gift so much more.

And, you don’t need to be extra crafty to make great gifts.  I once wrote a poem for my mom and framed it.  She had it hanging on the wall next to our front door for many years.

Here are a few handmade gift ideas you could try:

  • Homemade soaps or bath bombs
  • Painted tile coasters
  • Baked goods or homemade candies
  • Hand-painted mugs
  • Personalized calendar
  • No-sew flannel blanket
  • Essential oil sprays
  • Knitted or crocheted scarf & mittens
  • Stamped tea towels
  • Faux flower wreath
  • Framed pictures you took yourself

#36 Make your own cards

Have you ever checked the back of a greeting card for the price, and gasped aloud?  It’s not hard to find one that can set you back $6-$7!

Why not make your own greeting cards to give with your homemade gifts?  It’s much less expensive and more meaningful.

My daughter enjoys making her own cards, and she can get very creative with them.  They can be just as valued (or more!) as the gift itself.

You can include the artwork, pictures, and heartfelt words that you think would be most significant to the recipient.

You can get as complex as creating popups, or as simple as gluing a picture on a folded piece of cardstock.

#37 Grow your own flowers

For Mother’s Day, my kids know that I really appreciate fresh flowers.  And, although they can typically be less expensive than other gifts, they are still a considerable expense because they only last about a week.

If you like having flowers around your home, for their visual beauty and pleasant scent, you could take an old fashioned tip and start growing your own cutting garden.

If you have even a small area in your yard or some pots in your garage, you can plant roses, daisies, daffodils, tulips, and many other varieties.  This way, you can have fresh-cut flowers on your table for the price of a seed packet.

#38 Use hand-me-downs & avoid trends

When my kids were little, I had to shop for fewer clothes as they got older.  That’s because when one outgrew their clothes, the next oldest started wearing them.  Then, when my youngest grew out of a certain size, I would pass those on to their younger cousins.

This is just simple, old fashioned thriftiness.

But, what about when they get into the teen years and are not willing to wear their siblings’ fashions?

One of the best things you can do is ask your family and friends that have older kids to pass on any pieces you think your own kids would like.  Perhaps your son has a friend with an older brother that has a good fashion sense and trendy style.

For yourself, choose to forego passing trends and instead create your own classic style. You can build a capsule wardrobe by investing in a few quality essentials that can be styled in multiple ways.  Your outfits will never be out of fashion and you’ll get the most out of every piece.

Stretch your dollars by shopping gently used clothing on sites like Poshmark and ThredUp.

#39 Take family photos yourself

If you value having your family’s portrait taken every year for Christmas, consider stepping in as your own photographer.

Family taking a selfie

You don’t need expensive equipment or technical skill.  Even the latest cell phone can take pictures just as good as a compact digital camera.  Along with a good tripod and great lighting, you can capture photos that turn out just as well as a studio photographer.

Investing in a DSLR camera can kick your shooting skills up a few notches.  Find a good book or video to learn about more advanced settings you can adjust such as the aperture, shutter speed, and flash.

Although your great-grandma didn’t have access to a digital camera, taking your own family portraits is a great opportunity to use good, old fashioned principles by learning a new skill that saves you money.

#40 Use natural remedies

As an increasing number of consumers take a greater interest in natural and organic products, manufacturers are trying to meet the demand by developing more nature-based goods.

Ingredients such as honey, lemon, echinacea, elderberry, ginger, and lavender are being promoted by marketers as effective remedies that can conquer a variety of ailments.

This is great news, but the downside is that these “natural” products can be very expensive to buy over the counter.

Instead, you can make your own homemade remedies to help minimize illness in your home.

Here are a few simple ideas you can try yourself:

  • honey in warm water for a sore throat
  • homemade chicken soup to help with a cold
  • ginger tea for an upset stomach
  • lavender oil to calm anxiety
  • peppermint extract to treat a toothache
  • green tea to increase energy
  • garlic to treat warts
  • a warm bath with Epsom salts for sore muscles

#41 Spend more time outdoors

Before people got fit inside the local gym, families stayed in shape by going outdoors.

Kids rode their bikes, jumped rope, climbed trees, and spent long afternoons exploring in the woods.  Dad would chop wood and mom would tend to her garden. The whole family would go for nightly walks after dinner, and visit the local swimming hole every Saturday afternoon.

Back in the olden days, people didn’t think twice about walking a mile to the store and back!

There’s no need to spend your money on yoga classes and a personal trainer.  Instead, get some fresh air and quality time with your family by walking or biking your favorite trails a few times a week.

Kick your kids off the video games and send them outside.  Give them a ball and tell them they can’t come back until the streetlights come on!

#42 Exchange childcare favors with trusted friends

Having young kids that need constant supervision can put a damper on your date nights and a dent in your wallet.  Babysitters can set you back $50 a night, easily.

To help lower the cost of your child-free outings, suggest a babysitting arrangement with trusted family, friends, and neighbors.

Ask other moms you know if they’d like to form a babysitting co-op, where childcare duties are shared among the members. You can set up a calendar and sign-up list so everyone involved can enjoy nights out with their spouses without the added cost of a babysitter.

#43 Homeschool your kids

Mom homeschooling kids

In these modern times, there are many choices to provide our kids with an education. From public to private to charter to magnet schools, there are a wide variety of options to select from.

However, there is one age-old method of schooling that has grown massively over the last decade.  Many parents are choosing to homeschool their kids themselves. 

This parent-led home education practice has evolved from having a non-conformist reputation to being nearly mainstream in just a few short years.

There are several reasons you might decide to give your kids a home education.  Maybe the idea of your child being taught by educators that don’t hold your same values isn’t appealing to you.  Or perhaps your child is not thriving under the guidance of her teachers.  You may have even experienced the unfortunate situation where one of your kids is bullied or socially rejected.

Deciding to homeschool your kids is not a decision to be made lightly.  There is a lot of work and commitment involved, and you must be comfortable with taking on the responsibility of educating your children.

But, there are many benefits to this old fashioned education method, including:

  • you have more control over what your kids are learning
  • you can provide a consistent, positive, and nurturing environment
  • you can incorporate your values and religious beliefs into the curriculum
  • you can choose who your children socialize with
  • you have more flexibility with the schedule
  • you can give your kids a personalized education that fits their learning styles
  • the quality of education is not dependent on your address or finances

I homeschooled my kids for 5 years when they were younger.  It was a lot of work and a lot of fun.  We couldn’t afford private school and the public school system in our county was the worst in the country!

If you want to take your kids’ education into your own hands, like your ancestors from long ago, consider homeschooling.  You can give them the quality of a private education, without the enormous cost.

#44 Pay with cash

Those who lived generations ago didn’t have credit cards.  Instead, they paid for everything in cash because getting a loan or a line of credit was difficult.  The idea of being in debt to someone else was almost shameful.

This is a smart old fashioned living tip that will keep you out of debt.  Make a choice to only pay with cash.  If you don’t have enough in the bank, then you either save up or go without.

#45 Cut your family’s hair

Getting your hair cut at a salon or barbershop can cost you anywhere from $25 to $100.  If you have a larger family, this can really put a dent in your monthly budget.

If you want to cut costs and go old school, you can learn to cut your family’s hair yourself.  Find some video tutorials on YouTube or even ask a local hairdresser if she’d be willing to give you a few helpful tips.

When you learn to use a good pair of haircutting shears or hair clippers, you can save a considerable amount of money every year.

Of course, your family will need to be willing participants!

#46 Make your own furniture

Centuries ago, your relatives didn’t hop in their SUV and drive down to IKEA for some new furniture.  If they lived in a little house on the prairie, they likely just made it themselves.

Making your own furniture might sound like a huge task to take on, especially if you’ve never done it before. But, if you want to be skillful and self-sufficient like your old fashioned ancestors, you can start with simple projects like a small table or a footstool.

You don’t need to be a masterful builder before starting.  Once you learn some foundational principles of carpentry, you can apply that knowledge to simple designs.

Building your own furniture can save you a significant amount of money.  You’ll also experience a sense of pride and accomplishment in your creations.  Also, even your simplest piece can be an heirloom that’s handed down for generations.

#47 Brew your own beer

My husband has been brewing his own beer for close to ten years.  He says a glass of beer averages out to 50 cents a serving.  He’s also made his own mead and distilled beverages.

A glass of homebrewed beer

If you enjoy having beer on hand for a drink with dinner or entertaining, you can make your own, just like your forefathers did long ago.

You can start off with a kit to learn the basics, and then start investing in essential homebrewing equipment.  To save money, browse online classifieds for used pieces.

#48 Get your books from the library

I know downloading an e-book right to your Kindle is super convenient, and provides immediate gratification.

But, how many times are you really going to read it?

Save the ten bucks and pick it up at your local library instead.

If you have fellow bookworms in your family and social circles, consider organizing a book swap.  You can trade your favorite writings and discuss the best parts.

So much better than filling your brain with Netflix.

#49 Buy second-hand

Even though your thrifty Nanna would get every bit of use out of her belongings, she also knew that many people would throw out perfectly useful items for new replacements.

Sometimes, someone’s trash would turn into her free treasure, because she knew that an item’s value wasn’t always dependent on its age or beauty.

Her old fashioned wisdom could serve you well in these modern times when it seems most are constantly upgrading to newer cars, houses, fashions, and even spouses!

You can be a savvy shopper by taking advantage of second-hand deals. Browse thrift stores, garage sales, and classified sites like Craigslist and NextDoor.

Buying used saves you money and reduces wastes in the environment. Finding that perfect prize at the right price can take diligence and patience, which strengthens the discipline of delayed gratification.

But, when you do, you’ll feel like you won the lottery.

#50 Downsize to a smaller house

You can alleviate a lot of financial stress by learning to live in a smaller space.

By downsizing your home, you lower your housing, utility, and tax costs.  And, you develop the wise, old fashioned value of living below your means.

Living within the boundaries of your income is a habit not just developed through practical application.  It’s also fostered by a mindset that focuses on gratitude and contentment.

Old fashioned thinking is established in the belief that you make do with what you can afford.  You work hard, spend a little, save a little, and are grateful for what you’ve been blessed with.

If you can’t afford that 4-bedroom, 3-car garage on a 1/4 acre, you’d be wise to adopt this wisdom for yourself.

Why should you use these old fashioned living tips?

Living out the principles and values of an old fashioned frugal lifestyle is just as relevant today as it was a century ago.

These money-saving tips will still help you stretch your budget and achieve your financial goals faster, regardless of your income or net worth.

An essential step toward achieving financial freedom is being debt-free.  Living frugally will help you put more money towards your debt and be disciplined about not acquiring more.

Being out of debt frees up more cash for saving.  By implementing old fashioned money habits, you’ll be able to build savings faster.  This is especially important if you’ve gotten a late start on your retirement fund.  The sooner you can put more money into an investment account, the faster your savings will grow with compound interest.

Besides these financial benefits, old fashioned living can also help you develop a productive and healthy money mindset.  No longer are you comparing yourself to everyone around you, and falling into the trap of lifestyle creep.

Instead, you learn to live below your means by spending wisely, practicing self-sufficiency, avoiding debt, and reducing waste.  You strengthen self-control and focus on being intentional with your finances.  And, as a result, you experience less stress and increased contentment.

No matter your current circumstances or future goals, using frugal tips like your grandma will help you be smarter with your money!

Try old fashioned living for yourself

Today’s world offers so many distractions.  We can get caught up in busyness and end up neglecting what we most value.

Choosing to live a simpler life, like in the olden days, will be challenging.  After all, you still need to go to work, put food on the table, and raise your kids.  Selling all of your possessions and moving to a farm out in the country is probably not a viable option.

But, if you can apply the basic principles of old fashioned living to your modern lifestyle, you can still benefit from this old-time wisdom.

Slowing down, being mindful of your spending decisions, valuing resourcefulness, and learning to be content and “make do” with what you have are all habits that will serve you well.

Once you implement some of the frugal living tips listed above, you will be on track to being more in control of your money and building the retirement you dream about.

And, you can then pass on your own old fashioned living tips to your grandchildren.

Other posts to help you save money:

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50 Frugal Old Fashioned Living Tips You Can Use Today

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