While there are many benefits to modern budgeting, like downloading an app, it’s easy to forget the simple and effective tips from our grandparents.
Armed with mottos like “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” during World War II, these generations had no problem living within their means and keeping debt to a minimum.
“Our personal debt is enormous and we really struggle to pay it,” says money blogger Cath Armstrong of cheapskates.com.au.
But in our day and age, where international holidays and expensive electronics are the norm, which of our grandparent’s tips can be seriously applied to our own budgets?
Bring back the envelopes
If you are part of the growing cashless society and finding it difficult to keep track of your money, Ms Armstrong suggests reconsidering cash.
“Our grandparents used to do this thing called ‘envelope budgeting’,” says Ms Armstrong.
“They had envelopes marked ‘groceries’, ‘milk man’, ‘petrol’, and because you all got paid in cash in those days, they’d sit down at the kitchen table and allocate the amount to each envelope.”
By using our credit cards and bank cards to purchase things, we can easily ignore just how much money were spending.
“Work out how much you need for the week, go to the bank once, take it out in cash, and if you have to, go home and hide it.”
One of the biggest ways to burn a hole in your budget is by buying lunch at work every day and eating lots of meals out.
Partly due to lack of choice, our grandparents would make as much of their own food as they could, including things like bread, and saved eating out for special occasions.
Ms Armstrong suggests cooking as much as you can at home and by planning your meals for the week, you’ll stay on track.
“Plan what you’re going to eat throughout the week. If you’ve got a plan, even if you come home absolutely exhausted, you can have a look at the fridge and it’s easy,” she says.
Make your own cleaning products
Many of our grandparents grew up without expensively branded disinfectant sprays or oven cleaners, instead using cheap staples like vinegar and bicarb soda to clean the house, says simplesavings.com.au‘s Suzy Freeme.
“We spend the most extraordinary amounts on cleaning products these days,” Ms Freeme says.
“It’s all about having a special cleaning product for every job in the home. That’s just insane.
“I have white vinegar, bicarb soda, washing soda, laundry soap and eucalyptus oil, and I clean with those.”
Instead of throwing away things like socks as soon as they get a hole in them, mend them. The same goes for furniture too.
“If you wanted a new piece of furniture, you didn’t actually get new furniture – you painted it, or stained it, or changed the handles on the drawers,” says Ms Armstrong.
Ms Freeme says to it’s important to “distinguish between a want and a need”.
“Our grandparents not only didn’t have the shopping options that we have, they didn’t have the income that we have. They just learnt to make do,” she says.
“It is just being able to see the potential in what you’ve already got on hand and have the ability to be a bit clever and creative, and turn that into something that remains useful.”
Do you have some old school budgeting strategies? Share them in the comments below.
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