Old Fashioned Frugal Living Tips to Try Today

Old Fashioned Frugal Living Tips to Try Today

Frugality is making a significant comeback. With rising prices and economic uncertainty, people seek ways to pinch pennies. Interestingly, some of the best money-saving hacks come from past generations. Our grandparents and great-grandparents knew how to stretch a dollar. They made frugality a lifestyle out of necessity, like growing victory gardens, preserving foods, and repairing worn items. While times have changed, many classic frugal living strategies still apply today. Read on to learn old-fashioned tips to implement for spending less in critical areas like food, clothing, entertainment, and more.

Frugality gets a bad rap sometimes as being cheap or depriving. However, frugal living is simply being resourceful – finding joy and abundance in non-material things. Past generations intrinsically understood this mindset. Frugality allowed them to survive and thrive within their means through ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and community.

With high inflation, rising debt levels, and economic uncertainty ahead, frugality is coming back. However, many people associate frugality with hard times and scarcity. In reality, frugal living can be empowering and liberating. As overconsumption and clutter overwhelm our lives, frugality helps clear the excess and focus on what matters most.

This article covers old-fashioned frugal living tips that are worth revisiting today. You’ll learn budget-stretching strategies for food, clothing, entertainment, and more. While not every tip will apply to modern life, it inspires cutting costs and deriving joy from simple pleasures. Approach frugality as a way of life rather than a short-term fix. Curate tips that work for your lifestyle. The savings will add up. Most importantly, frugal living reduces reliance on money for happiness – offering purpose and satisfaction money can’t buy.

Budgeting Tips

Many tried-and-true budgeting methods used decades ago are still highly influential today. Here are some classic money management tricks to stretch your dollars further:

  • Envelope budgeting involves allocating cash to labeled envelopes for different spending categories like groceries, gas, dining out, etc. That category is tapped out once the cash is spent until the next pay period. Envelope budgeting helps avoid overspending.
  • Meal planning and grocery lists prevent buying items you don’t need. Plan all meals for the week first. Make a grocery list to match. Stick to the list without throwing in impulse purchases.
  • Entertain yourself and your friends at home by hosting potlucks, game nights, or movie nights. It saves money over going out.
  • Analyze non-essential expenses to cut. Cancel cable TV packages, downsize internet plans, and cancel unused gym memberships or subscriptions. Every little bit saved adds up.

Food and Cooking Tips

Past generations were pros at stretching food dollars creatively. Here are classic cooking tips that still help families eat well on a budget today:

  • Cook from scratch using unprocessed whole ingredients. Avoid costly packaged and convenience foods. You control ingredients for nutrition and cost.
  • Repurpose leftovers into new meals later in the week. For example, extra chicken can go into salads, wraps, or soup.
  • Grow your produce in a garden or containers if space is limited. Herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and greens yield a lot for little investment.
  • Preserve abundant seasonal produce through canning, freezing, or drying. Enjoy the flavors of summer berries and autumn apples all year long.
  • Make homemade baked goods rather than buying packaged ones. Simple breads, muffins, and cakes are cheap to bake yourself.

Clothing Tips

Our grandparents knew how to keep clothing budgets low and extend the life of garments:

  • Sewing and mending skills allowed people to repair worn items and sew clothing. Embrace these lost arts when possible to avoid constantly replacing clothes.
  • Host clothing swaps with friends, family, and neighbors. It refreshes everyone’s wardrobe for free.
  • Thrift stores and consignment shops should be your first stop when needing new-to-you clothing. Never pay the total retail price before checking secondhand options first.
  • Air dry clothing instead of using the dryer. It saves energy and prolongs the life of fabrics, keeping clothes looking nicer longer.

Entertainment Tips

Past generations had simple, often free, ways to have fun close to home:

  • Use the library for free entertainment. Borrow books, movies, music, magazines, and even streaming services. Most libraries offer so much more than just books.
  • Break out board games, card games, puzzles, and other family games for fun at home. Make it a regular family night activity.
  • Take nature walks at local parks, hiking trails, or botanical gardens. Getting outside entertains for free.
  • Volunteer within your community. Lend your time and skills to causes important to you for a purpose.

Frugal Living Case Study

Sarah was struggling with rising debt. She owed over $8,000 in credit card balances from dining out, shopping trips, and vacations. Her salary barely covered minimum payments, and she had no savings. Here’s how reverting to frugal, old-fashioned living changed Sarah’s financial trajectory:

  • First, Sarah started cash-stuffing envelopes to budget for necessities like groceries and gas, and seeing the cash dwindle curtailed overspending. She dropped cable TV and Gym memberships she never used.
  • Sarah started cooking economical meals at home, like beans, lentils, pasta, and casseroles made with essential whole ingredients. She baked her bread and brought coffee from home rather than buying lattes.
  • Buying secondhand clothing at consignment shops saved Sarah hundreds yearly. She also started sewing buttons, mending torn seams, and patching holes – making clothes last longer. Air-drying laundry cuts energy costs.
  • For entertainment, Sarah used the library extensively for free books, movies, and music. She played board games with friends over potlucks at home. Rather than vacations, Sarah took up hiking local trails.

Sarah paid off all her credit card debt in under two years through frugality! She continues living simply – finding meaning in people and experiences that money can’t buy.


Generations past mastered frugal living out of necessity. Incorporating their wisdom around budgeting, cooking, clothing, and entertainment helps us spend less and live more fully. Frugality reduces reliance on money for contentment. Approach it as a liberating lifestyle, not a chore. Determine which pragmatic tips suit your values and lifestyle. The savings earned allow for achieving goals and dreams not centered on materialism. What old-fashioned, frugal living wisdom will you revive?