Five Depression-Era Tips You Can Use Today

Five Depression-Era Tips You Can Use Today

Although we live in a fast-paced, plastic-infused world, I know a lot of you want to slow down and live a simpler life.


My grandparents lived through the Great Depression, and in this article, I’m going to share some Depression-era strategies handed down from that generation.


We all know that the Great Depression brought major changes to the US, and it forced the closure of many businesses, left millions of people without jobs, and created crippling poverty worldwide.


People were forced to learn to live on tight budgets and in smaller spaces. While it was a harrowing time for Americans, the struggle wasn’t in vain. In fact, it left behind a legacy of triumph in the face of stark adversity and fostered a spirit of survival in many people.


I think these tips are a gateway to a simpler life that honors well-made items, and reduces waste. Here are a few of the lessons learned during the Depression that will still hold families in good stead today.


Make It Do or Do Without

Learn how to get the biggest bang for your buck by using everything you pay for. How often do you toss a product because it’s hard to get to the bottom of the jar, tube or container? A variety of rubber spatulas and a pair of scissors will ensure you use up every last bit of product you paid for. How about covering torn or stained furniture instead of replacing it? Or mending clothes or handing them down? Make what you have last as long as possible before throwing it away or replacing it.


See What Isn’t There

The Depression Era saw women learn to make dresses from flour sacks and it saw companies meet this need by making flour sacks sturdier and printing them with patterns and colors that became pretty, serviceable clothing and undergarments. This action allowed families to clothe their children and it showed them the compassion of big enterprise to meet the needs of the people they did business with.


Grow A Garden

Growing your own produce is still a smart way to cut costs. Since feeding a family is a major part of everyone’s budget, trimming costs in that areas is just a smart move.


Depending on the climate you live in, you even may be able to grow food year-round. You don’t need acres of land or a working farm. Try container gardening, vertical gardening or hydroponic gardening if you live in urban or confined areas.


Buy Used And Save The Difference

Secondhand stores, pawn shops, and consignment shops abound in the US! You can buy everything from clothes, special occasion apparel and furniture from secondhand and consignment shops.


A working lawn mower cuts grass in the same manner whether you purchase it for hundreds of dollars at a big box home improvement store or for pennies on the dollar at a local thrift store.


The same is true for kid’s bikes, video game consoles and household appliances. You get the same functionality without breaking the bank.


Learn To Share

Splitting the cost of living expenses and big dollar purchases that have single uses is an economical treat to your pocket. A riding mower purchased and shared between neighbors makes much better sense than one you purchase but only use occasionally.


An apartment in an upscale area with a roommate can yield not only cost savings, but often, a safer, more appealing living space.


While the Great Depression forced an economic reality many were unready for, people who were already living frugally tended to fare better. Those who weren’t living below their means learned to do so quickly.


Keeping your expenses to a minimum, learning to live within your budget, and implementing the above tips can help you establish lifelong spending habits that will hold you in good stead no matter what your financial situation brings.


Feature photo credit: By Unknown or not provided (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’d like to hear from you!

Which of these tips will you implement immediately? Leave a comment below!

9 Tips To Afford A Homestead: How We Do It

9 Tips To Afford A Homestead: How We Do It

I think there’s a lot of misinformation and myths that are around regarding homesteading, namely that it’s an expensive process, or it’s too hard to afford a homestead or you have to have a lot of land to start.


While a homestead, like anything, can be an expensive process, it doesn’t have to be, and I certainly know a ton of urban homesteaders making it work in tiny apartments and 1/4 acre plots.


I’d like to share with you how we afford to homestead. And we’re regular people, like you. 

9 Tips to Afford a Homestead. Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! Here's 9 tips! From FrugalChicken

1. Make the most of what you have

You can homestead anywhere – there’s purists out there that insist if you’re not doing it off the grid and on 50+ acres, you’re not a homesteader (I get those criticisms too).


But the truth is you can homestead in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn and you can homestead on a 100 acre plot of land.


It’s about knowing the homestead skills to produce more than you consume.


Work on learning how to make bone broth to use every bit of a chicken in your urban homestead.


Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) to assist in reaping a bountiful harvest (some CSAs will let you volunteer your time or work off some of the cost of your membership if it’s hard for you to afford). 

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2. Look for opportunities to buy land – inexpensively

We live in the middle of nowhere. And coming from DC, that was quite a change. 


But one reason for the dramatic move was the price of land – I bought A TON more land at 1/3rd of the price than our condo in DC cost us. 


And it meant we could afford to put down a bundle – over half the cost of the property. 


Now, before you think you can’t do the same, I have something to tell you. I’ve seen land for sale in certain states for less than $5,000 – and the owners would trade that land for a truck. 


Does that mean it’s glamorous? No. Affordable? Yes. And I would have snapped it up if it wasn’t 3 hours away.


The deals are out there, if you look.



3. Add what you can, when you can

If you have a bit of land, add fruiting bushes and trees, and harvest what you can. Plant as much as you can afford (hint: we only buy 2 trees at a time. You don’t need to spend a ton at once to start an orchard.)


Grow as much as you can. If you’re able to keep rabbits or chickens, do so for the meat and eggs, and make fodder on your homestead to reduce the feed costs.

Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! From bartering to making the most of what you have, anyone can afford a homestead. From FrugalChickenIf you live in an area that doesn’t permit chickens, perhaps city statues don’t mention rabbits. Perhaps they don’t mention quail. 


We have 10 acres. There was nothing when we got here except the house and two run down machine sheds.


We’ve started transforming the barns (mostly for free) and added dairy goats, chickens for eggs, and a small orchard.


Realize it’s a process.


Take tiny steps, no matter your living situation, to become more self-sufficient, and you’re well on your way to having a homestead.


4. Earn money through homesteading activities

Let’s say you own your home (even with a mortgage). Take a look at your expenses and your income. Are there activities you can do that will help pay for expenses so you can build a homestead?


This year I’m looking into hay and straw investment. It’s a little risky because I’ll have to store it, but since we have our own animals, we always have a need for it.


I know I can buy hay between $2 – $2.50 a square bale, and I can sell it over the winter for $5 or so a bale. The straw I can produce myself from a local source, and sell for around $2 a bale.


I know plenty of women who have a homestead and make soaps, beauty products, and other goods to afford their dream.


I’m working on my soap making ability, and might sell goat milk soap in the future if it seems like something for me.


5. Cut expenses where you can

Look at your budget – are there expenses you can cut?


One way we cut costs on our homestead was by selling a financed truck.


We could afford the payments – but we wanted to downsize our expenses. 


We switched it for older trucks that we can resell. We then purchase another truck, and sell that one. Rinse and repeat.


This brings in a healthy amount of money every month.


By producing veggies, cheese, and meat, you’ll save a ton on groceries and also eat healthy, real food. We save A LOT by raising our own groceries.Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! From bartering to making the most of what you have, anyone can afford a homestead. From FrugalChicken

You know how big corporations increase their quarterly earnings by decreasing their costs? Well, it works for us too.


That’s how our homestead began producing income – by cutting the expense of groceries.


To afford a homestead, I suggest this is where you begin, because it’s easy and accessible.


We’re able to partially feed our pigs from produce a local grocery store would otherwise toss.


It’s a win-win situation – they can get rid of their unsaleable produce without having to toss it, and I can feed my pigs fresher food than just hog grain. 


And now we can afford sustainable pork.



6. Become a DIY expert

Ok, maybe expert is a little too lofty of a goal. But you get my point.


Both my husband and I have had really bad experiences hiring out work, so we do everything ourselves, and it’s helped us afford a homestead.


Yes, sometimes that means hard work and things move at a snails pace.


But instead of spending thousands, we’ve spent much less to transform our homestead to afford what we have.

Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! From bartering to making the most of what you have, anyone can afford a homestead. From FrugalChicken7. Look at certain expenses as investments

At this point on our homestead, there’s not one animal or machine that doesn’t produce.


The one time I’ve allowed a monthly payment this year is on a new tractor (well, new to us).


Why did I break my rule about monthly payments?


Because it allowed us to add a new piece of equipment that would make us money – and the payment is extremely low, with no percentage on it. We can completely afford it.

9 Tips to Afford a Homestead. Think you can't afford a homestead? Think again! Here's 9 tips! From

Remember that straw I talked about?


Without the tractor, we wouldn’t have a prayer of producing straw.


The benefit we will get, and the money we will save and be able to bring in, made me reconsider my otherwise very hard and fast rule.


The more we run our farm like a business, the more we can afford, because no expense is a waste.


8. Look for deals – and wait until the right one comes along

I spent 2 years dying for a goat for our homestead so we could produce cheese and yogurt from a sustainable source (remember, you can produce cheese from store bought milk too!).


Every opportunity was just a little too much money or not exactly what I wanted – the wrong breed, not in milk, you get the point.


Then along came Dahlia, who was perfect – a great breed, a good age, in milk and very affordable. And healthy!


Next, we’re looking for a cow.


The advantage to waiting (and to having a tight budget) is that it gives you time to consider whether what you want is actually what you need. In other words, I was dead set on getting a dairy cow.


Now that we have Dahlia, and we have lots of milk, I’m wondering if a meat cow might work better for our homestead. (We’ve already decided against a bull – this is one situation where I’ll use artificial means to produce calves).




9. We barter

My famous phrase around our house is, “can you trade something for part of the cost?” and I make my husband crazy at times with it. 


But you know what? Sometimes it just works, and we’ve been able to knock the price off items because of it. 


As a concrete example, earlier this year, we purchased a certain car part at an auction.


We got a really good deal (which is why we took the chance), but when we got home, we realized it wasn’t going to work for anything we needed it for – until one day we needed an engine.


We were able to trade our “useless” part to reduce the price of what we needed.


My husband is color blind, so welding is difficult for him. When we need something welded, we have a friend we can call for help, and we usually trade services. 


Yes, cash is usually king, but sometimes a trade works just as well.


Do you still think you can’t afford a homestead? I sure hope not! As you can see, it’s a goal that’s easily within your fingertips!


I’d like to hear from you!

Which of these tips will you try to implement today? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!


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11 Secrets to Save Money on the Homestead

11 Secrets to Save Money on the Homestead

When we first moved to the homestead, money was very, very tight, and we had to learn to be frugal adjust our thinking to establish our homestead and stay above water.


We were overwhelmed by the amount of work and the discipline that comes with being frugal, but were willing to change both ourselves and our property to gain financial independence.


I’m sure you can relate.


Frugal living has become our lifestyle, and I use these secrets on my homestead every day. Not only will they save you money, but they’ll also empower you into a more self-sufficient, fulfilling lifestyle.


Imagine being able to shape your own tools, and not run to the grocery every time you want pizza (which is every day here). Life is just simpler when you’re frugal.


Incorporate even a few of these frugal tips into your homestead, and you’ll soon see the benefits.


A lot of these are apartment-friendly for the urban homestead. If you’re a family trying to adjust to the frugal nature of a one income life, these tips are for you!

1. Pallets, pallets, pallets

Pallets are beyond useful on the homestead for a variety of projects from chicken coops to flooring to sheds. We practically built all our horse stalls from pallet wood.


We also made sub flooring for our mud room from pallets.

The sub-flooring in our mud room. All done with pallet wood.

The sub-flooring in our mud room. All done with pallet wood.

It’s sturdy and does the job, and it was free. 


Not sure where to get pallets or how to use them? Read about our various pallet projects!


Before you use them though, make sure your pallets are safe to use in your projects!


2. Seed saving

This year, one of my homestead goals is to save more seeds. It’s easy and frugal, and you’ll be assured the following year’s crop will get off to a great start.


Pick the best produce from this year’s garden and save those seeds. If you’re not sure what to plant, here’s cold crop suggestions.


3. Shop sales for items you can’t produce yourself.


The day I came home with nearly 50lbs of sugar, I thought my husband’s eyes would roll out of his head. And when I find an amazing deal on flour, I’m not shy.


Here’s the deal:


Although you might feel ridiculous at first, you’ll soon see the benefit of this frugal habit.


Bulk buy when the item is on sale and you won’t spend more when you really need it!


4. Breed for sustainability.

Last fall, I placed orders for chicks to be delivered in March – seemed like a frugal idea for the homestead because we could then sell the eggs.


Over the winter, I’ve been hatching chicken eggs from a pair of hens bought last June.


I realized today that we now total over 30 chickens on the homestead, with more on the way.



The only cost has been to run the incubator, which isn’t very much. This isn’t for everyone, but if you keep hens and a friendly rooster, building and sustaining your homestead flock will make a big, frugal, impact.


I’ve since canceled my chick orders, saving a few hundred dollars – and we still get a ton of eggs for our homestead.


Not sure which breeds to buy? Here’s 5 great chicken breeds to start your backyard flock.


[Since writing this article, we’ve been fortunate enough to go all out and bring along a breeding pair of pigs on the homestead as well as goats – we now have a frugal, sustainable supply of meat, milk, and cheese!]


5. Keep tools in good repair and fix instead of buying.

I can’t tell you how many handles my husband has busted with the various homestead DIY projects we have going on.


This frugal activity is huge on the homestead, and not as difficult to learn as it seems. 


Our handheld tools are older hand-me-downs or auction finds. Instead of buying a new tool, he just reshapes and attaches a new handle (remember that pallet wood?).


It’s a frugal and important skill for any homestead.


6. Butcher and preserve meat yourself.


While not everyone can produce their own meat, but if you have an apartment homestead on a rental property, this one’s still for you.


You can save a TON buying meat in bulk. Next time you’re at the store, examine the prices of pork shoulder or loin sold in bulk cuts.


If I buy chicken, I only buy the whole chicken and butcher it myself. It’s a lot easier than it seems, and is an unbelievable money saver (think chicken breasts for $0.95).



Looking for an amazing video about butchering? Check out this one by the Portland Meat Collective.


You’ll see how frugal homestead butchering can be (and you might be inspired to start preserving meat by brining, drying, or canning!).


7. Make your own cheese, yogurt, and bone broth.

Cheese, yogurt, and bone broth are all super easy and frugal to make, with a little practice. (Have you gotten my free cheese making book yet?)


If you have a raw milk source, you’re in business, but even if you have to use store-bought milk, you can still make your own cheese and yogurt on your homestead.


It’s easy, and it’s frugal for any homestead.


From one gallon of milk you can make several types of cheese and yogurt. You can even make your own cheese press like this one!


Bone broth is one of the easiest and most nutritious pantry staples you can make. Once you start, you’ll keep making it because it takes little effort, but yields big results.

8. DIY your cleaning supplies.

Aside from the frugal aspect, making your own laundry detergent is a great idea.


You’ll avoid dangerous chemicals on your homestead, and you can use your favorite scents using essential oils.


laundry detergent


Use my tutorial to craft you own laundry detergent.


9. Save on grain with sprouted seed.


The first time I saw a fodder system in use on a homestead, you could see the explosion in my head a mile away.


It revolutionized my feed program.


When you sprout seeds for your livestock, you’re taking advantage of a natural process that at least triples (some say up to 600%) the nutritional value of your feed.


It’s a simple and frugal idea for any homestead.



For the full explanation and space saving tips, check out my guide to growing fodder at home.


10. Don’t be afraid to barter.


You’d be surprised at what might transpire – and anything frugal for your homestead is a great idea.


When we sold our old tractor, a neighbor asked if we would accept an ATV instead of cash.


After blue booking the value of the atv, we found out it was worth 3 times the value of the tractor, enough that when we sold our truck, we could trade the ATV for a new truck or as partial payment.


We turned a $700 tractor into a truck worth several thousand dollars – pretty frugal.


You can barter eggs for meat, vegetables for services, you name it. You never know, and the money you save goes right in your pocket.


Finally, know the value of your goods or services, and don’t be afraid to ask for an even trade.


11. DIY repairs.


YouTube is a wonderful (and frugal) resource where you can find the answer to pretty much every repair question you have.


When we repurposed the abandoned barns on our property, YouTube became our go-to resource. We’ve been able to turn our shed into a great new horse barn, and an old pier and beam barn into an updated car shop.

Reusing old wood and pallet wood

Repurposing an old barn

(We’re lucky because we don’t need to ask county permission to do our own repairs on our homestead.)


If you have a plumbing issue, before you spend money, see if it’s an easy repair you can do yourself. It pays to be frugal, and you might learn a new skill for your homestead!


These are 11 easy ways to save money, but incorporating them all into your life at the same time can be overwhelming. The most important way to incorporate these tips into your life is to start slowly, and to start with the tips that make the most sense for you and your family.


I’d love to hear from you!

What’s your best money saving tip? Email me, or comment below!

save money on the homestead