We can all certainly take a leaf or two from our grandparents' books when it comes to being frugal and thrifty.
Live Within Your Means
Living within your means is something easily said and a lot harder to follow. To do it, it is just a question of making a budget and spending less than what you earn (net after taxes). The main thing is to focus on your needs, not your wants, because it is easy to let our impulse spending get out of control. In addition, our grandparents certainly knew how to avoid lifestyle inflation. If you have already lived happily with a set amount of money before, why change now? You will not really miss the extra income if you do not get used to it and it is a lot more satisfying to see your retirement account grow.
"Use It up, Wear It out, Make It Do or Do Without"
This rather catchy phrase was used quite a number of times during the Great Depression and is the perfect counterpart to the word 'frugal.'
Use It Up
As a society that enjoys stockpiling, trying different things and always being dazzled by the next new must-have, it can be hard to shut out all the marketing noise. However, if you've stockpiled a whole range of products such as shampoos, use up your stash before trying a new brand or going out to buy yet another 10 on sale.
Wear It Out
The best example of this would be an automobile purchase. When you buy a car, buy it until it is absolutely worn out and destined for recycling at the junk heap. Don't fall into the trap of wanting a new car every 3 years just to keep up with the Joneses.
Make It Do
What you have may not be perfect, but if it is able to do the job with a little coaxing, don't bother buying anything. For instance, let's say you run out of your favorite brand of ketchup in the house, but you have an old generic bottle that has been sitting around for a while that you don't really like. Make it do by adding flavorings such as spices to change what you don't like about it.
If you simply have nothing that is usable, find a creative way to do use something else. Perhaps you ran out of that commercial fertilizer for your plants. Why not try making your own at home by using egg shells, which are full of calcium, or your old coffee grounds? It would certainly help the environment.
Cook at Home
During the Great Depression, eating out was a rare treat. Today, it has turned from a treat to a routine habit, as seen in 2011 where 40.6% of American food budgets in general was spent on eating food away from home. If you must go to a restaurant, at least cut back on how frequently you go. Ask for water rather than an overpriced alcoholic beverage.
There's no need to feel like staying at home is a punishment rather than a treat. Our grandparents were just trying to keep food on the table and didn't have the luxury of big-box malls to shop at. It can be nice to wind down and relax rather than always being on the go. Find free things to do like playing a sport with your friends, trying a new recipe at home, taking a book out of a library, or learning a new skill such as a new language that could potentially increase your earning income in the future.
The Bottom Line
Being frugal doesn't mean being cheap, it means being smart with how you spend your money so you are able to save more for your future. After all, you spent a lot of time earning it. Our grandparents know best.