10 Old-Fashioned Money Saving Skills That You NEED to Learn

Old white barn with green trim in a field.

Are you looking for ways to save money and be more self-sufficient? Check out this list of Old-Fashioned Skills that you should learn today including gardening, bartering and mending.

A collage of photos including a white barn, drying herbs and home canned food.

This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for you convenience.

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10 Old-Fashioned Money-Saving Skills

  A lot of basic skills that were once common knowledge are now deemed old-fashioned or unnecessary, but we shouldn’t be so quick to discard them.

  If we took the time to learn how to do more for ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it, then we’d have more money and a greater sense of accomplishment that can’t be bought.

  Not to mention, the current situation that we are going through has opened a lot of peoples eyes as to how much is out of their control, but by practicing a few of these old-fashioned skills, you will not only save money, but also become a little more self-sufficient in the process.

  I personally practice a lot of these skills because I think it’s good to know how to fend for yourself if the need arises. So here are my top 10 Old-Fashioned Money-Saving Skills that I think everyone should learn!


  You can potentially get hundreds of tomatoes from one $2 packet of seeds, but how many tomatoes will that same $2 get you from the store? Gardening is a great way to save money if you can keep costs down by growing plants from seed and using natural soil amendments. If you are new to gardening or just want some more gardening tips, be sure to check out the links below.

Additional Gardening Resources:

Preserving Food

  Knowing how to preserve your own food is an amazing money-saving skill to have especially when you grow it yourself. It also comes in handy when you can find produce in bulk at rock bottom prices. Canning, freezing and dehydrating are the most common food preservation methods. Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation Website to start learning today!

Food Preservation Recipes:


  Foraging is something that our ancestors knew way more about than we do today. If you don’t know, foraging is when you find food that is growing wild like picking berries in the woods or dandelion greens in your backyard.

  I wish I knew more about this lost skill, but sadly my knowledge is limited. The best way to safely learn about identifying nontoxic edibles is to sign up for a local class or take a course on the subject. You could also find books from your local library, but I’d be leery of relying on photos alone as a lot of edible plants also have toxic look a likes. Check out Wild Edibles to learn more.


  Our culture is so used to spending money that bartering isn’t even on most people’s radar and I think that’s a crying shame. Bartering is when you trade your skills, time or goods for someone else’s. For example, I could crochet someone a hat in exchange for a couple of hours of babysitting or I could trade some of my surplus garden produce for piano lessons.

  Think about how much money you would save if you put this into practice more often. Also, there are lots of bartering groups on Facebook which would be a great place to start.


  Since clothing is so cheap and plentiful these days, sewing handmade garments is normally more expensive than buying off the rack, but having basic knowledge of mending and tailoring can save you tons of money. I don’t know how many times I’ve extended the life of my families clothes simply by sewing on buttons or mending seams. Check out Martha Stewart to learn the basics of Mending. Also, I really enjoyed the book Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh.

Cooking from Scratch

  It’s amazing how much money we spend on convenience food. I did the math and I spend $50 per month on yogurt and granola bars alone!! That’s insane considering I try to keep my food budget under $100 per week. So just by making those two items from scratch I could save TONS. Just think how much you would save if you started making just one new convenience item at home per month.

Resources For Cooking From Scratch:


  While my family doesn’t hunt or fish much, plenty of our friends do and I think it’s a wise skill to have in case you need to provide for yourself one day. Also, store-bought meat is expensive and being able to kill your own is a huge money saver! Of course it isn’t free to hunt, but it’s still a good source of quality meat on a budget. What would our ancestors have done without dear, wild turkey or fish to keep them going?

Keeping Chickens

Disclaimer: This was originally written in 2014 when egg prices were higher.

  Keeping a few chickens may not save you much money, but in most cases the cost of feed versus the cost of eggs/meat evens out. You can keep costs down by letting them free range, feeding them kitchen scraps and selling your extra eggs to family and friends. You could also collect scraps from friends or local restaurants to feed to your hens, but make sure they are getting mostly whole foods such as vegetables, grains, etc.

  Remember, your backyard chickens will produce higher quality eggs with a denser nutrition profile, which can cost upwards of $5 or more per dozen at the store, so it’s not fair to compare the cost of the absolute cheapest eggs that you can find to the price of keeping chickens.

Paying Cash

  Paying cash definitely seems like an old-fashioned skill these days, but it’s a great one to keep alive! Did you know that people tend to spend more when they use a card verses paying cash? Also, you can normally talk someone down on price when you have cash in hand. For more budgeting tips, check out The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

Going Without

  Did your TV break? Go buy a shiny new one and put it on the card! Did the car break down? Trade it in for a new one and pay for it later! It seems like our culture tells us we deserve everything instantly, but by doing so we’re missing out on valuable life lessons such as patience, resourcefulness, hard work and gratitude.

  Not to mention that delaying gratification allows you to avoid paying interest and save even more money. The next time you want to buy something, ask yourself if you can find it cheaper, make it yourself or go without or better yet try living by the motto made famous by the great depression: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

Which of these skills do you practice to save money? Do you have anymore to add? I’d love to know!

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Want more old-fashioned inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite articles:


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  1. Love the tips! Especially going without. I think if we stop and wait that many times we will realize that it is an item that we don't miss and really don't need.
  2. Good thoughts. Keep in mind when picking berries along the roadside that the property belongs to someone. Make sure it is okay with them.
      1. The problem is nowadays the environment is so polluted, you wouldn't want to just grab berries off the side of a major road. Commercial farms at least have to do soil tests / produce tests to check for contaminants, but if you live in a city it's probably best not to just go foraging in parks unfortunately.
  3. Great tips! We tried our first garden this year, aaaaand ... hopefully it does better next year. I do freelance graphic design and have traded services for haircuts and photography. Saves money!
    1. I'm sure your garden will do better next time! :) Just keep trying! That's awesome that you've traded your services for such practical things. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!
    2. For your garden to do better next year simply add compost(grass clippings table scraps minus the meats) Mix in some straw and horse or cow plops (poop) throw on some lime and turn it over once every two weeks. Turn your garden plot over at the end of the season and add the compost if you have it or a bale of hay turning it into the ground. When you plant in the spring put a heavy layer of straw over the base of the plants to keep weeds down. By the time you do this two times you will not believe how big and green your plants are. PS I am an old fossil who still remembers picking wild blackberries, canning tomatoes, and making pickles, and jelly or jams with my mom
  4. Great thoughts! I have friends that know how to preserve and mend.. I think I need to have them teach me! I can sew a button or mend a seam.. but that is the extent of any sewing ability lol. Thanks for sharing!
  5. I would like to expand our gardening to include lettuce, spinach, and radishes this year to save on the produce bill. We are blessed to be able to raise our on beef. I can't imagine what our grocery bill would be like if I had to purchase that as well. Thank you for the tips.
  6. I grew up in a household where my parents hired everything done. However I am now the wife and mother of five and we definitely don't hire anybody!! Learning how to fix things yourself is a lifesaver. We painted our house, put in our laminate ( which we bought with yard sale money), youtube can be a great resource. We also cut our own firewood rather than buy it. We heat with a wood stove only. I love your tips Missy.
  7. These are great tips. We had a small garden last year and want to do more next year. My husband and I used to exchange services with a local trainer. I would clean her house in exchange for training and massages. They were services I wouldn't have been able to pay for but go the luxury of enjoying for something as simple as cleaning! Do you have any recommendations on resources for starting with chickens? I would really like to get into this and would love fresh eggs.
    1. Hi Stephanie! There is a website called BackyardChickens.com that is a wealth of information. They also have an app that you can download to view their articles and forums. I hope this helps and good luck with your chickens!!
        1. Be sure to check zoning laws unless you live in a rural area. Many municipalities prohibit any type of livestock. Some cities, like ours, allow chickens in residential neighborhoods but with very strictly defined rules.
  8. We cook from scratch using whole foods by cooking once a month in a 12 hour session and eating from that stash all month. It's amazing! The food is so much better than I could make from scratch every night and we have out grocery budget for 2 adults and 4 kids down to about $300/month!!!
  9. I just keep coming back to your posts! :D This is a great list and several of them I could do more to work on. Thanks for the encouragement! Featuring tomorrow at the Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up. http://www.proverbialhomemaker.com/tag/mom-2-mom-linkup
  10. Congratulations Missy!! You had the most traffic and the people LOVED your post last week on Simple Saturdays Blog Hop...make sure you HOP on over and get your BUTTON to proudly display on your site. Sure hope to see ya this week too!!
  11. What a great article, I think we live in a throw away life and mending is not something that many people seem to know how to do it! I always had patches on the knees of my jeans before I got a new pair!
  12. I love foraging. We are so lucky here in Norway that foraging is still alive and kicking among the general population. It's a national pastime to pick blueberries in the forest and some also pick edible mushrooms (with caution). Going without is another great tip and thank you for that!
  13. I practice all of these excellent tips, except for paying in cash. I use credit cards that result in cash back rewards. The key is that I treat them like cash so that I am not tempted to overspend. If used responsibly, it is my opinion that this system works well as long as the balance is always paid in full on time. If you pay credit card or interest fees, it often costs more than the rewards. Another thing we do is honestly evaluate needs vs. wants. There are many things that we consider to be needs, but when it really comes down to it, many of them fall into the wants category. Thanks so much for the post!
    1. Yep. If you pay the entire balance every month you'll never pay interest, and a cash-back credit card is a great thing!
  14. Hi Missy, Really good tips.I really think we have lost the skill of doing without.If we did just that imagine our lives without debt. Ashwini
  15. I love this list. I get so frustrated when people complain about money issues, but have fancy cars, big screen TVs with a million channels, and go out to dinner all the time. Simplicity = freedom!
  16. "wary" or "leery", but not "weary"... ...I’d be weary of relying on photos alone as a lot of edible plants also have toxic look a likes... weary means tired : )
  17. Love the tips! Found this article on pinterest. I save by making my own soap, lotions, and hair products. Not only do the products last longer, but I also know whats in them without having to look it up. I get supplies on bulkapothecary.com. I can get a 16oz bottle of oil (grapeseed, olive, apricot, argan, etc) for around $4-$9. The way I make my products I only have to resupply 2 to 3 times a year. Great gift giving ideas too. Its very inexpensive to make labels and gift packaging. Tons of ideas out on the net. Bonus...fun activity with my kids that also teaches them DIY. Cheers!
  18. It seems God has to keep reminding us of things, like He's done throughout human history. I became nemployed in October, drawing unemployment which is 40% less. Before when both DH and I were working, still living paycheck to paycheck. Now with less $, living on less, all bills being pad, on a severe budget (we also have farm and also to feed) and still able to put back $200-$300/month savings. Goes to show, everyone over spends. It also shows when you become more responsible for all God has given, He provides a way. I employ most all of your tips, have for many years, just more so now. Thanks for the reminder! By the way, getting ready to set up my web blog Treasure of Adonai.
  19. Missy, you are so young and so creative. The world needs more people like you to help our new generation spend less and enrich their lives more. I make my own muesli cereal. We no longer buy boxed cereals. We use honey, don't even own sugar anymore. Better for you and lasts longer. We make our own detergent for $7.00 a year! We also make our own peanut butter which we use in the muesli. There is no comparison . Once you eat fresh peanut butter you will never turn back. I have fruit trees and I grow all my own herbs in turn making my own Italian seasoning mix for a fraction of what it costs in the store. It is stronger too. I share my figs with my neighbors or any plants that they like, in turn I get lemons which I squeeze and preserve and oranges which I use for juice. So you definitely can barter with friends or acquaintances who have fruit trees. Fruits in exchange for garden clean up, etc...I hope all this helps. I also work full time.
  20. I've always been a 'frugal' type person, starting "way" back in the 80's when I was a single mom. I've done without before, and since the "recession" in 2008 am back to living frugal more then ever. I make all my own cleaning products, laundry soap and fabric softener. I make my own body/facial soap and shampoo. Those items ALONE save me over $100 or more per year I bake my own bread, muffins etc. I do not have cable ( only internet service ) and I am on a friends cell service ( free line ) and only pay if I go over allotted air time/ data ( which I never do! ) I live in a condo, in a city, so I cannot keep chickens, and I have no where for even a container garden...but I'm looking to move to a more sustainable area and do just that. OH...and I also have no credit so cash is king! =) Thanks for the Great Article!
  21. My parents are from India and strict vegetarian for religious reasons. They came to this country in the 70's and lived in the Midwest. Partially from habit, partially from lack of availability of their native food and partially from mistrust that their food might accidentally be exposed to nonveg., my mom cooked almost everything from scratch. I had no idea that people didn't make yogurt at home, my mom made it every two days and we had it every night with dinner. If you looked in our pantry for a snack, it was filled with basics, packs of various lentils, sacks of rice, oats, flour, sugar etc. We had drawers and drawers of spices, bought in bulk and grinded her own spice mixes too. My mom made our bread and roti's (like tortillas). We snacked on nuts, fruit and granola like mixes my mom made. We had two fridges, both filled to the brim with vegetables and had two vegetable entrees with every meal, it was the main item. She also made indian sweets from scratch because there wasn't really a store back then to buy them at, in my city. My parents were very well off and both doctors but immigrants, alone in a new country where you couldn't even call home, so it must have been quite a money saver now that I think of it. I remember being a bit embarrased when I was young because friends would come over and think it was so strange. The only thing store bought we had was loads and loads of ice cream in the freezer, I guess coming from a warm country, they liked that, and cereal for us kids. Unfortunately, my sole job making dinner was prep/chopping vegetables, so I'm an expert chopper but I went to college not knowing how to cook and ate a lot of unhealthy junk. I learned, long after college, to ask my mother to teach me every chance I can and I'm still learning! Wish I paid better attention when I was young. What I thougt was Boring was actually frugal, healthy and fresh!
  22. Frugality is a mindset, but it is something you can learn. I think the thing that turned it around for me is that being frugal allows you to manage your resources. You start with a positive -- controlling your money instead of your lack of money controlling you. Most of what I do I learned from reading The Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn. Before there was blogging, she started with a newsletter. The contents of her newsletters were compiled into multiple volumes in book form. Do the frugal thing and check the books out from the library!
  23. I never really thought much about these things as money saving skills. The things that I do, are because its just something I enjoy doing. I love crafting and sewing so mending our clothes gives me a mommy break to craft. Same kind of thing with bartering. I do paper crafts and I have a friend who makes jewelry. She was going to have me make her daughters invitations and I liked some things she had made so we just traded :) Same thing when I posted a picture of the beautiful fabrics I found at a thrift store, she commented wanting to know where I found them because they matched her nursery décor and wanted a diaper bag. So I made it for her in exchange for jewelry as mother's day gifts. And I'm a big fan of going without. We don't have cable. Netflix and Hulu have all the shows we watch. If it isn't on there, I don't need to see it lol I know most people say well you have to pay for internet, but here's my logic. Paying for internet also helps keep cell bill down because of data. Netflix, Hulu, internet, and lower cell plan are still cheaper than paying for cable and a large data package. One other way we save a little is hang drying our clothes. Mostly lately its been of necessity because our dryer broke down and we're saving up for a new one (delayed gratification instead of paying more for it by using credit). But since its old that's a lot of saved energy. The only exception is socks and delicates but I save those for when I visit my parents and borrow theirs :) I'd be going over anyways so no wasting gas in the car and not paying $1.50/load to dry at laundry mat
  24. I grew up in a home where we did all that and more. Right now I am cleaning for my haircuts and touch ups. I love it. And our neighbor has a cherry tree that they never pick so every year we ask and get free cherries. I am much older than you and we had to make do. I and more so happy to see young people like you living providently.
  25. Thanks for sharing this. All of these tips are great. I particularly liked the “Mending” recommendation because it can be applied to so many situations. So many items we buy can be easily repaired or refreshed. That conserves money and landfill space, and there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment that accompanies each successful repair or refreshment effort.

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