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Embracing Old-Fashioned Frugal Living Like Grandma

Embrace Old-Fashioned Frugal Living

In the age of fast fashion, instant gratification, and ever-expanding credit cards, remembering our grandparents’ simple ways can seem quaint. For one, Grandma didn’t even own a credit card; only a few cards from specific retail outlets were available. It wasn’t until about 1995 that the credit cards we know now became widely available. But what if I told you that Grandma’s frugal wisdom could lead you to a more prosperous life? As a result of her advice, you may even develop a stronger sense of community — as well as a healthier environment.

You can forget about Marie Kondo and her minimalist mantras. Regarding frugality, Grandma did not declutter closets; she made the most of what she had, and they were not stuffed with clothing. It was all about mending clothes, repurposing old jars, and cooking a feast from scratch. The goal wasn’t just to save money; it was also about being resilient, self-sufficient, and respectful of available resources.

With that in mind, let’s dust off Grandma’s apron and discover the magic of old-fashioned frugal living. To get us started, here are a few ideas for incorporating her wisdom into our modern lives:

Kitchen Confidence

It wasn’t hard for Grandma to stretch a dollar. As a child during the Great Depression, my grandmother knew this all too well. It was more affordable, healthier, and more satisfying for her to prepare meals from scratch.

As a result of meal delivery plans and DoorDash, this isn’t as easy for us. To help, here are some pointers to keep in mind.

Meal planning and grocery lists.

With a grocery list, there will be no more impulse purchases at the supermarket. Moreover, planning meals and making a shopping list allows you to buy only what you need, which reduces food waste and saves you money. A tip I learned from my grandmom was to stock up on staples when they were on sale or when coupons were available.

Buy cheaper cuts of meat.

Meat costs vary depending on how it is cut and where it is purchased. A kilogram of beef costs $5.78 on average in 2022. By 2023, the USDA predicts an increase of 4% in the price of beef and veal. Therefore, consider cheaper cuts of meat, including Flanks, Chucks, Blades, and Beef Shins. Or, get your protein from beans.

Try your green thumb.

Remember those crisp lettuce leaves and plump tomatoes Grandma produced out of thin air? In reality, it was nothing more than soil and love. You can reduce your grocery bill by growing your own food, even if it’s just herbs on a windowsill. In addition, homegrown fruits and veggies simply taste better.

The art of cooking from scratch.

Don’t settle for processed, packaged meals; make your own delicious dishes from scratch. Baking your own bread, simmering soups, and roasting vegetables are healthy and therapeutic.

There is love in leftovers.

There was no denying Grandma’s love of leftovers. You can reuse leftovers to prepare tomorrow’s lunch, make a new soup, or create new dishes like casseroles and stir-fries. This will reduce food waste, increase menu variety, and reduce kitchen stress.

Make friends with the canning jar.

Grandma knew how important it was to preserve the harvest. Don’t let that old canning kit go to waste, or buy a new one. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and jams are not only delicious but also great ways to stretch your food budget.

Embrace the pantry.

My grandmother was known for he well-stocked pantry. It was like a convenience store. To make inexpensive meals, she kept inexpensive foods on hand. Having a well-stocked frugal pantry allows you to prepare meals on a budget.

Stockpiling whole grains, such as oats, rice, pasta, lentils, and flour, is a good idea. In addition, you can stock root vegetables that store well, such as potatoes, onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Sewing and Mending

It’s no secret that fast fashion harms the environment and our wallets. What about all these shoes that used to be leather and lasted a long time? Now, we pay the same price for shoes made of cloth! They wear out fast! On the other hand, Grandma was a master of making and mending. If you feel like it’s time for you to reclaim this practical skill, here are a few ideas:

Give clothes a second life.

Make your clothes look new again by mending ripped seams, replacing buttons, and giving them a new lease on life.

My grandmother’s tip? Be creative! Old shirts can be turned into totes, or patches can be added to give them a unique look.

My mom’s tip? “The key to having a lot of clothes that you don’t have to replace so often — stay the same size. Then, accessorize better.”

Embrace the art of sewing.

Whether it’s sewing clothes, bags, or even home decor, sewing can be a rewarding hobby. Besides saving you money, it allows you to express yourself creatively and personalize your belongings.

And, who knows? Maybe this can be a hobby that can also boost your income

Support local artisans.

Visit vintage clothing stores, secondhand shops, and local craft fairs. The pieces are unique and have character, and you’ll also support small businesses.

Waste Not, Want Not

Many grandmas followed the motto “waste not, want not.” In a world obsessed with conspicuous consumption, her resourcefulness has never been more relevant:

Don’t use more than you need.

We were constantly reminded not to use more than a nickel-sized bit of shampoo and a dime of soap every time we came over for a visit. Over time, I’ve realized how much I can save by following this habit. Now, I go through fewer bottles of dish soap and shampoo per year than the average person.

Wear an apron.

I remember my grandmom always wearing an apron when she cooked. An apron will free your clothes from spills, stains, and splatters. Additionally, they protect your skin from hot liquids and oil splatters, preventing burns.

Ditch the disposables.

Do you remember the cloth napkins and dish towels your grandmother always kept on hand? Get rid of paper towels and plastic wrap in favor of reusable alternatives.

Also, make sure you buy quality dishware and cookware that will last for generations, and mend your torn clothes instead of throwing them away. As a result, you will save money, reduce waste, and preserve heirlooms for future generations.

Use a clothesline.

Even if they had a dryer, grandmothers often dried their clothes on clotheslines. Many people recall running between their grandmother’s clotheslines as a child. A clothesline, however, saves energy and water. And this is also safer for your clothes.

Composting and recycling.

Make nutrient-rich compost for your garden out of food scraps and yard waste. Grandma taught her children the importance of feeding the soil and growing one’s own food. Make recycling a priority and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

Upcycling and repurposing.

In Grandma’s eyes, everything had potential. You can use old jars as storage containers, cardboard boxes as shipping boxes, and fabric scraps as patchwork quilts. There are endless possibilities!

Embrace DIY.

Almost everything can be DIYed, from cleaning products to furniture repair. She didn’t mind getting her hands dirty, and neither should you. In fact, I remember my grandmom had a spot in the basement to repair broken furniture.

To DIY — you might want to research and learn new skills to maintain and repair what you have.

Living Well, Not Just Spending

In addition to saving money, Grandma’s frugality was about living a meaningful life. It’s time to rediscover the joy of:

Experiences over possessions.

Explore your local park, spend time with loved ones, or give back to the community by volunteering. Don’t let things accumulate dust in your life; invest in experiences that enrich your experiences.

Some of my earliest memories with my grandparents were going birdwatching with them. I still cherish the time I spent with them.

Building community.

Support local businesses, barter skills, and reconnect with neighbors. It was important for Grandma to understand the power of community and the importance of helping others.

As a result, you can borrow tools from your neighbors instead of buying them, barter skills for services, and organize potlucks instead of eating out. Sharing resources will strengthen your relationships, save you money, and make you happier.

Be grateful for what you have.

No matter how little she had, Grandma always appreciated what she had. Every day, take a moment to reflect on your blessings, big and small. The true riches of life are a roof over your head, a hot meal, and the laughter of a loved one.

A grateful attitude fosters contentment and reduces consumption pressure by shifting your focus from what you lack to what you do have.

Don’t forget to share.

Last but not least, pass on your wisdom to future generations. The art of mending was taught to my dad by my grandmom, which they shared with us. Additionally, she shared her love of gardening and the importance of community. Set a good example for others by living a fulfilling life without needing the latest gadgets.

Living frugally isn’t about deprivation or sacrifice. The goal is to return to self-reliance, resourcefulness, and community values. Rather than focusing on dollars and cents, it’s about the richness of our lives, the strength of our relationships, and the connection we feel to our environment.

Take a page from Grandma’s book and see how her old-fashioned wisdom can help you live a happier, more fulfilling, and more sustainable life.

Remember to start small, celebrate your achievements, and remember that Grandma would be proud of you.


What are the benefits of living frugally like Grandma?

One of the main advantages of living frugally is that you can save money. The result is that you will be able to stretch your budget, pay off debt, and reach your financial goals in a shorter period of time.

However, living frugally is about more than saving money. Doing so can improve your relationships, reduce stress, increase your sense of accomplishment, improve your health, and improve your financial stability.

Furthermore, just like Grandma, you will become more resilient and feel grateful.

Is old-fashioned frugal living even relevant today?


It is possible to adapt many of Grandma’s frugal habits to modern life by following her example. Using them can help you save money, reduce waste, and live more sustainably. These tips on cooking from scratch and mending clothes are surprisingly relevant to today’s challenges, like rising costs.

I’m not sure where to start. Any tips?

  • Start small. Begin by implementing a few simple tips and then build upon them.
  • Focus on the areas you spend the most. How much do you spend on groceries, entertainment, and transportation?
  • Challenge yourself. Think outside the box and find ways to save money in everyday situations.
  • Seek inspiration. You can learn about frugal living from books, blogs, and documentaries. If you are fortunate enough to still have your grandmother — give her a call or stop by. I sure wish I still had my grandmother.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find out what your friends, family, and online communities think.

What if I feel like I’m missing out or sacrificing too much?

  • Remember your goals. Don’t forget to focus on the long-term benefits and financial freedom.
  • Define your priorities. Are there any truly important things to you, and how can frugal living help you achieve them?
  • Find the balance. Spend responsibly, but do not deprive yourself.
  • Enjoy the journey. Explore new skills, meet new people, and appreciate simple pleasures.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

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Deanna Ritchie is a managing editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 2000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 60,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.

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