I have no doubt you have been told before that “in the olden days” people had to make do and do without.
And if it was your thrifty Grandma talking I bet she talked about old fashioned living, the way it had to be.
It had to be because in those days you didn’t have credit cards and many people didn’t have bank accounts, being paid in cash every week.
Once your cash was gone that was it. You might not have had much, but one thing you didn’t have was debt.
Living like grandma
Unfortunately many people no longer have access to a thrifty Great-Grandparents.
Because their Grandparents aren’t that old and didn’t grow up in the Great Depression or even through any world war.
As a result, our society reminiscences about old fashioned living without any real knowledge of what it was like to live it.
But there are people who are keeping alive the ideas and ways on how to live like the old days. These people are frugal folk who like the idea of living like Grandma.
Who are happy to and actively want old fashioned things to do. And they are onto something you know.
Because the old ways of living didn’t impact our environment the way it is being impacted now.
Environmental Old Fashioned Frugal Living
Old fashioned frugal living is the perfect way to reduce our impact on the environment and to do our bit for climate change.
Learning how to live like the old days, you don’t throw things away, you don’t buy new because fashions have changed.
And you don’t even buy the latest time saving device. Because with old fashioned living, you don’t want to be wasteful. Of anything.
Everything you have you want to make the absolute best use of it. You don’t want to keep using disposable items and throw it away because it’s going to go into a landfill.
You don’t even want to donate too much to charity or thrift stores. Because if you did you might be doing so to replace it with something new.
And these days, many things bought new have been manufactured and produced at the expense of our environment.
If you don’t buy new then you are not adding to the need for more things to be produced.
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How Old Fashioned Frugality Benefits You
Living like Grandma isn’t quite so easy as life can be these days. Nowadays you don’t need to lift a finger and things can still get done.
- You can get food made and delivered to your door.
- You can have someone choose your clothes for you through a subscription box process.
- Other people can mow your lawn, fix your car, care for your children.
But only if you spend a lot of your money on paying for these services. And of course you have little say in how these services impact the environment.
Old fashioned living gives you back control. Control of your money, control of your environmental impact and control of your life.
Living the old way, living stingy, you gain time at home through doing diy chores rather than paying for and outsourcing them.
You gain quality time with children and family as you do old fashioned homemaking things like baking bread, mending clothing, hanging out your washing.
The Benefits Of An Old Fashioned Life
For me the best thing about old fashioned living is the lower cost to you and your family.
- No more relentless spending in pursuit of the latest, biggest or best.
- No more chasing after the latest must have, latest décor style or new car.
And when those are no more, your financial situation will benefit. And the stress of constantly trying to find more money or more debt to pay for these things will fall away.
Old fashioned frugal living is perfect for millennial’s who are concerned about climate change.
You may not have lived through the Great Depression or WW2 rationing but some of the best frugal living tips come from those times.
Conversely, there are times when you can end up with a dose of frugal fatigue. What do I mean by frugal fatigue? It’s where you end up tired of being frugal, perhaps because you cut back too much or you’re just not having a great time.
Either way, all is not lost as my post on beating frugal fatigue will help you get right back on it.
✅ Do you need to save money right now? Want to embrace being frugal and how it can transform your finances? Then find out how to become fabulously frugal here.
75 Old Fashioned Frugal Living Tips For living like grandma
Old Fashioned Frugality In Your Kitchen
In Grandma’s day there was no plastic so if your aim is to become plastic free, your kitchen is a great place to start.
cook from scratch
Convenience foods and ready dinners are very convenient but they cost much more than making them yourself and they usually have a lot of ingredients and additives you wouldn’t put in your food if you had a choice.
You don’t need to be a top chef to make tasty meals and you don’t need a different recipe for every day of the year when you are cooking from scratch.
Starting a small garden can help you have fresh herbs on hand, and cut your grocery bill.
You don’t need so much room. A small place in your backward or patio can house garden boxes which can expand to smaller vegtables like carrots.
Dedicate your windowsill to a small herb garden, and have yummy simple ingrediants to add into meals.
These posts can help you with recipe inspiration:
bake your own bread
You don’t need an expensive bread maker to bake your own bread. Just 20 mins of prep,
some kneading and proving and your oven will do the rest. Baking your own bread is one of those old fashioned things to do that has truly stood the test of time.
use cloth instead of paper towels
Paper towels might seem cheap enough but over time they work out much more expensive than reusable alternatives. You pay more upfront for items like
To clean up the house, I started using old towels which I cut down to a smaller size which makes them easier to use.
An added bonus to switching to reusable products is you are being much more eco friendly.
eat at home
Eating out costs much more than the same meal made at home. When you are tired and cranky I know you don’t want to start cooking which is where your freezer meal from your batch cooking sessions will save you.
Cutting back or at least reducing the number of times you eat out each month can save you hundreds as it’s the biggest chunk of your food bill.
Cooking and preparing meals at home are made so much easier with the right kitchen tools. You don’t need lots of gadgets, just a few essentials that you can use time and again. These 4 are my essentials.
use your pantry to plan meals
By planning what meals you will be having for the upcoming week, you know what food you need to buy. When you know what food to buy you don’t end up throwing extras into your trolley just in case.
wash out your baggies
Plastic baggies do not need to be a throw away item. Wash them out and use them again and again. When they need throwing out replace them with these
homemade soup meal
Dinners can be your biggest expense in your grocery budget, especially of you are meat loving family. Our grandparents often stretched their budget by having a soup and bread meal once a week.
Check out this post for lots of easy slow cooker soup recipes, perfect for budgeting cutting meals.
stock a frugal pantry
A well stocked pantry is a beautiful thing. A frugal pantry is stocked with items bought on sale, in bulk or at a super cheap price. The same food for a cheaper price. You can use your pantry to make meals without going to the shops.
Related post: 7 Simple tips on how to organize a walk in pantry
Reduce your protein
Meat is expensive in comparison to your grains an pulses and most of us eat far more than strictly necessary. According to Dietitian Tracy Parker, writing for the British Heart Foundation, the average woman needs around 45g of protein a day.
That is for 2 daily portions and 1 portion should fit into the palm of your hand. Most of us eat far more than that so cut it back like they did in the old days.
eat cheap meals
Cheap meals were and are the mainstay of old fashioned living. They’re still tasty. Cheap meals are often made with seasonal vegetables, beans and pasta, rice or potatoes.
Read my post on extremely frugal meals, there are over 80 cheap dinners that you can try!
make your own meat broth
Making broth, or stock, from meat bones is a task every good housewife did in the old days.
Making a stock from chicken bones (or any other meat bones) gives you a fantastic base for soups, stews and gravy. Cover the bones with water and simmer gentle for an hour or two.
Water is basically free to drink at home and it’s also good for you. The more water you drink the less you drink of other liquids like soda, squash, coffee and alcohol. All of which cost money.
make you own biscuits
Snacks, savory or sweet, can add up to a pretty penny. Old school living never included popping to the corner store for a pack of biscuits or some candy. You made your own.
wear an apron
I cant tell you how many times I have got grease, tomato or other hard to remove stains on my clothes. All because I thought I was too young to wear an apron. It’s not one of those old fashioned things to do, it’s a very sensible thing to do!
Don’t be me, wear an apron and protect your clothes. They’ll last longer that way.
eat more meatless meals
Meat being the more expensive ingredient in many meals it makes sense to incorporate some meatless meals into your weekly menu plan. Mac and cheese, vegetarian chili, tuna pasta tray bake are all super cheap meatless meals.
Use recipes with few ingredients
Ingredients cost money. The more ingredients you have, the more expensive your meals and your pantry. Keep things simple and cheap like our grandparents did with 5 ingredient meals (or less!)
fill your oven
Make the most of the energy you are using with your oven on by filling it with more than one thing. Batch cook your favorite meals. Add some muffins to fill the space.
reuse aluminium foil
Amy Dazycyn from
This is a simple old fashioned living tip that our grandparents would see as just sensible household management.
reuse butter wrappers
This is a trick I learned from my Mother. Keep butter wrappers in the fridge and use whenever you need to grease baking tins. It’s much nicer than dipping your fingers in the butter (bleugh!)
always use pan lids
Pan lids stop the heat from escaping so you can turn the hob down further to get the same cooking results.
I’ve even cooked pasta with the hob off, just bring the pan of pasta and water to the boil then turn it off, leave the lid on and the pasta is cooked in approx 20 mins. About 8 mins longer than if you had the heat on.
build a frugal stockpile
Having a store of pantry staples is so helpful when your meal plan fails or you failed to meal plan. You can always make a meal from things you have in your cupboards.
Canned tomatoes, a can of tuna, some pasta and a few herbs and you have yourself a meal.
To save money build up a small stockpile of foods when they are on sale or at their cheapest price. Canned veggies, rice, pasta, oats and beans are all great to store for a good while.
turn bottles upside down
Sauce bottles are renown for being difficult to empty completely. Turn the bottles upside down to get the last drops out. You can also add a little water or vinegar to help.
have bread as a side
Bread is a great filler-upper (is that even a word?!) and much cheaper than meat. The old ways of living had bread on a side plate for most meals. Great for mopping up the gravy too!
don’t be a slave to expiry dates
There are a variety of expiry dates that we should be aware of. Do your own research as to which ones you must be a slave to and which ones you can be a little flexible with.
use more beans, lentils and potatoes
These are good filling foods and that’s how people got by in days gone by when money was tight. Simple foods but filling.
When you’re living like Grandma, you wouldn’t run to the shop for a missing recipe ingredient, you’d make do. Because in Grandma’s time the shops weren’t open past 5pm, nor were they open on Saturday afternoons or Sundays!
use your leftovers
Apparently we can waste up to 30% of the food we buy. If your monthly grocery budget is $300, that’s $100 straight into the bin. Make a real effort to use all the food you buy and learn how to reduce food waste.
Leftovers are another meal waiting to be made. Don’t throw them away, eat them another day. Think of your leftover meals as free meals.
Old Fashioned Living In Your Home
When you live by the Three R’s maxim of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” all of the following tips make good money saving sense.
The focus of the Three R’s is not recycle, or even reuse. The focus is on reduce in the first instance. If you reduce your consumption of things then you reduce your impact on the environment.
Reduce what you need and reuse what you have. Recycle only what you cannot reuse or re-home.
re-use plastic containers
If your food comes in a plastic carton, reuse it if you can. Milk jugs can be repurposed in many different ways. Large yogurt pots with lids are great for storing leftovers, as are ice cream cartons and margarine pots.
mend your own clothes
Don’t thrown away clothes that need a small repair or new button, mend them and extend their lives. Old fashioned frugal living was all about mending and making do.
Make your own clothes
Go one step further and live like they did in the old days by making your own clothes. You can re-purpose fabric or buy new from a fabric shop.
fix your own stuff
Learning how to fix your own stuff was essential in the odlden days, because you couldn’t afford to pay someone to fix it for you. Cheat and go modern by using YouTube to source tutorial videos and solutions.
make your own quilts
Clothes can be recycled and repurposed many times. Quilting is an old school living skill that is alive and well today. Quilting squares made from clothes, sheets and pillow cases make for a very unique and memory filled quilt.
If you want to be living old fashioned in a modern world then re-purposing old sheets and clothes to make a rag rug is going to be right up your street.
make your own cleaning products
Cleaning products are big business and you can buy a different product for almost every cleaning task. Not necessary to buy though when you can make them easily.
use soaps bars
Liquid soap was a thing in the old ways of living, perhaps because plastic wasn’t a thing either. Soap bars are much cheaper than liquid soap so fits in perfectly with old fashioned frugal living.
clean windows and mirrors with newspaper and vinegar
When it comes to cleaning windows, the old ways of living are still the best. Newspaper and vinegar give a great shine and leave them streak free. A little tip – use gloves otherwise you’ll have newsprint all over your hands.
make your own laundry detergent
Monday was laundry day many years ago. These days we wash more and use more detergent. Making your own detergent is the kind of frugal thing the older generation did all the time. Check Pinterest or Google for detergent recipes.
use the sniff test
The sniff test is one of the simplest frugal tips you can use to both save money and time. Don’t presume a piece of clothing is dirty, if it doesn’t look dirty then it probably isn’t.
The sniff test will help you determine if it needs a freshen up. If it doesn’t look dirty and doesn’t smell dirty then hey, it isn’t dirty. It can be worn again, and possibly again before it fails either the look test or the sniff test.
line dry clothes
Line drying your washing saves you money because you don’t need to use your dryer. It saves you time because you are not having to iron everything that comes out of the dryer (they seem to crease everything).
I haven’t had a dryer for nearly 10 years now. Dryers tend to last about 5 years, if you are lucky. So I have saved myself the price of 2 new dryers, plus all the electricity they would have used.
turn your thermostat down
It’s amazing how quickly you get used to a slightly lower temperature when you turn your thermostat down. 1 degree might not be much but it will save you money. It works very well with the tip below.
wear extra layers
If you feel cold, don’t whack the heating on or up, put on an extra layer. I regularly wear 3 layers at home, primarily because my husband does not feel the cold and he can be in a t-shirt at the same time as my 3 layers! You could also try moving around for a bit to warm up.
get the last bits out of the tube
Like sauce bottles, tubes of toothpaste, cream and lotions can often hold onto 10% or more of their contents. Use a
Consider saving water with “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. Sorry if that sounds TMI! But it’s a good way to cut right down on your water usage.
Old Fashioned Frugal Gardening
Growing your own garden is an integral part of how people lived in the old days. If you didn’t grown some of your own food, you would struggle to feed your family.
Buying fertilizer, compost and special garden products is not required to grow good food. Your garden is where reusing things really comes into it’s own.
grow your own food
Whether you’ve got an acre or a few pots, you can grow a garden. Home grown food tastes so much better than from the store but more importantly it costs a lot less and you know what products have been used to produce it.
preserve what you grow
Your home grown harvest will come in gluts. Vegetables don’t stagger their ripening to suit your meal planning. Preserve what you can’t eat by canning, freezing, making jams and chutneys.
make gifts of your preserved foods
One of the best frugal living tips I can share with you is to make your own homemade gifts for Christmas and birthdays.
Christmas gifts can easily send you into an overspending spree yet people always appreciate the effort you put into the gifts you make so much more. You don’t need to be crafty to crank out gorgeous looking gifts.
Gain some inspiration from these posts:
trade surplus produce with neighbors
Growing your own garden means you will have veggie surpluses. They all become ripe at the same time. Zucchini/courgette is renown for doing this. When you have a successful crop your neighbors might not. Trade like they did in the old days and exchange surpluses.
grow your own flowers
Cut flowers are a luxury many living an old style house will not spend money on. Growing your own flowers means you can have fresh flowers for the price of a seed packet – peanuts!
use old sheer fabric to protect young seedlings
When growing your own food you’ll quickly realize you are in competition with birds and butterflies. They want to eat what you are trying so hard to grow and eat for yourself.
You can buy
store garden produce in women’s tights
Squashes and onions and other root vegetables can last all winter with the right storage solutions. Old tights are perfect for keeping them from touching each other while also free to have air circulating around them. It also helps you store them in a smaller area by hanging them.
use crushed egg shells to deter slugs
If it’s not birds and butterflies, it’s slugs and snails trying to eat your home grown veggies. They don’t like sliding over crunchy and sharp surfaces. An old school living tip is to use crushed egg shells around their favorite plants.
How to live an Old Fashioned Life
In the olden days, life was all about making do and being creative with what you did have, not going out and buying what you didn’t.
What you did have, you looked after, and you worked with friends and neighbors to manage the things you didn’t.
use both sides of paper
Many parents are used to insisting young children use both sides of paper for coloring before it gets binned. But do you insist on doing the same thing yourself when writing lists and notes?
use envelope backs for your lists
I actually ran out of scrap paper for the first time, ever, a couple of months ago! I like to be frugal so instead of buying a notebook I’ve slowly built my scrap paper store back up by saving envelope backs. These are the perfect size for grocery lists and to do lists.
reuse gift wrap
Big presents use a lot of gift wrap. Reusing these big pieces is exactly what the older generations would do. Waste not, want not.
make your own gift tags
I like being a little old fashioned in the modern world. I make my own gift tags the way my Mother and Grandmother did. I cut up old Christmas cards, then use
use alternatives for gift wrap
Christmas wrapping paper is an expense that not everyone could afford. Get creative and use more eco friendly alternatives. Newspaper, cloth, old sheets or reusable handmade gift bags are good.
make your own cards
Handmade cards are unique but can cost a pretty penny. Go old school with your card making and use scraps, bits from other cards. The more creative you get, the more unique the card.
use age old natural remedies
Many over the counter products have their base in nature so why not use the old remedies like they did many years ago? Hot water with a spoonful of honey can help a cough. Chicken soup is good for getting rid of a cold.
live in a small house
When you are living like Grandma, you don’t upsize your house every few years. Buy your house and make it your home. You’ll save thousands in mortgage payments and moving costs.
use fresh air as air freshener
The old ways of living included having fresh cut flowers from the garden to fill your house with scent. No need to buy air fresheners, if you don’t have flowers in the garden, open a window to enjoy the smell of the fresh air.
exercise for free
There are plenty of ways to keep fit at home or outside. YouTube has about a zillion different keep fit videos. Choose from yoga, HIIT, beginners, full body, cardio, exercise for seniors or zumba to name but a very few!
Our grandparents didn’t have TVs, never mind cable and Amazon Prime, Netflix and all the other streaming services. You could go really old school and get rid of your TV, but a half way house would be to cancel cable.
cancel or reduce streaming services
Many people have already pulled the plug on cable yet have 3 or 4 different streaming services which cost almost as much each month. Frugal people don’t insist on getting rid of all streaming services and cable, but do reduce them down to the essential package.
make door curtains
Front and back doors can let in a lot of cold air, especially when it’s windy. Our grandparents didn’t have the luxury of double or triple glazing. They made thick curtains to stop the drafts, for doors as well as windows.
use one bulb
Reduce your energy costs the easy way, stick to a main overhead light in each room rather than 3 or 4 side lights. Alternatively, if it’s just you and a good book, turn the main light off and use your favorite side light.
create your own free entertainment
Going to the movies or a show is easy entertainment but comes at a price. The old ways of living included lots of entertainment but the old style way. They made their own shows, told stories and listened to the radio. All basically free.
swap babysitting duties
Babysitting is expensive and can double the cost of one precious night out. In the old days, babysitting was a favor given and returned without cash being involved.
My Mother was a member of a babysitting circle. They had tokens they swapped between each other as payment so the favors didn’t need to be a straight swap between two families, it could involve others.
Disposable diapers/nappies are extremely convenient but they cost a lot and are not environmentally friendly. Our grandparents had no choice. It was cloth diapers or nothing.
And the same diapers were handed down to subsequent children making them very economical.
pay with cash
When you use cash, you can’t go into debt, which is a huge plus for me. Credit cards are a relatively new form of money and certainly the older generations did not have access to them when they were younger. It was cash or nothing.
save up for things you need
It sounds obvious when you say it, but if you need something, save up for it and buy it. This is what our parents and our grandparents did. Buy now and pay later is very modern and is not good when it means debt.
DIY your haircuts
For many people getting your hair done is a nice treat and activity that takes up a couple of hours. But it also sets you back a few pennies (make that a lot at roughly $50/£40 each time).
Cut your own hair or get your partner or friend to do it for you and you will save a significant sum of money every time. And have fun doing so. YouTube tutorials are your friend here.
do you own basic car maintenance
Cars are complicated machines but there are plenty of basics you can do to keep costs down. Washing your car, checking the tire pressures and changing the oil on a regular basis all help keep your car running smoothly and save you money.
look after expensive appliances
When you spend thousands on a new boiler/furnace it doesn’t make sense to save money by not servicing it. On the olden days, people had to keep things working and going for as many years as possible. They couldn’t afford to replace expensive appliances and they couldn’t get credit.
Read up on the old days
There are fictional books that give you a good account of what life was like living an old fashioned lifestyle. Books like the
Then there are the books that are filled with frugal tips and insights into the authors money saving life. These books are an amazing resource for more detailed help on living like the old days:
Our grandparents didn’t have cars and thought nothing of walking a couple of miles to the store and back again I can be guilty as you of jumping in the car for a very short journey usually justifying it by saying I don’t have time.
The truth is I didn’t plan my time and my errands well enough and that’s why I take the odd short trip.
Walking is great exercise, and free, save money and get more exercise by walking to those short errands and leaving the car behind.
how to live an old fashioned lifestyle and be eco friendly
With the worries of our impact on the environment, embracing a more frugal way of living, one which not only saves money but saves the environment makes good sense.
We are all much more aware of how what we do can damage the world around us.
What better way to get the feel good factor than when we become more eco friendly and save money?
Old fashioned living and living like Grandma is becoming the new fashion. Jump on board and enjoy saving money.
These posts will inspire you:
Start your old fashioned frugal journey by building your frugal foundations:
Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!
Last Updated on 19th July 2023 by Emma