. . . make it do, or do without!
A phrase that became famous first during World War 1, made popular again during the Great Depression and then again during World War 2. Around the time the United States entered WW1, Calvin Coolidge is said to have created the phrase to encourage Americans to make do with shortages and rationing from the war. However, he “was quoted as saying ‘Eat it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without”. The phrase was later changed to “Use it up.”
During these three periods of history, those that were able to stay in their homes embraced the ‘Victory Garden’ ideals and raised whatever food they could. There was no money for items such as shoes or clothing. Everything was used until it just couldn’t be used anymore.
In these days of high inflation and food shortages, we may have to take some points from our parents or grandparents who lived through the depression and/or food rationing during WWII.
Use it up
That means don’t throw things away unless it absolutely can’t be avoided. For example, don’t throw away a jar of peanut butter unless it is completely empty. Add a little water to the bottom of that bottle of shampoo or facial cleanser to get the last drop. Cut open that pump bottle of moisturizer to use up the last few applications.
Learn to use leftover food in new ways. Take that last serving of chili and stretch it with macaroni or rice to make an additional meal. Add the leftover broccoli or asparagus to a salad or fritata/omelet. Save your vegetable trimmings in the freezer, and use to make stock. If they aren’t good for stock, start a compost pile for your garden.
Many frugal practices involve repurposing materials for new uses. Bread bags can be cut in half to use as sandwich bags. Old towels can be cut into washcloths. With a little thought and creativity, you can reuse the things you’ve bought and save yourself from buying again.
Reuse those things that you normally would throw away. I used to mock my mother for washing and reusing storage bags. Now I think she was on to something.
If you know how to knit, you can even use the yarn from an old sweater to create a new item for your wardrobe!
Wear it out
Learn to mend. Learn to sew on buttons. I still have a button collection, and have had one for decades. Learn to sew if you don’t already know how. Lots of clothing items come with extra buttons and yarns. Save them to use for repairs.
Create new items from old clothing, such as shorts from jeans, quilts from baby clothes or favorite t-shirts.
Learn how to repair things in your home if it is at all possible. If you can’t do it, find a local reliable repairman or handyman. Be sure to maintain your expensive purchases in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. And remember that the new refrigerator or washing machine isn’t always better.
If your kids’ clothes and shoes are outgrown, then find someone who has clothing to trade, or just needs clothes for their kids.
When your clothes are worn out, use the cloth for rags. And save the buttons!
Make it do
Don’t trade in your cell phone if it is still working. Same with your car. We don’t always need to buy the newest model.
Instead of buying books and DVD’s, get a library card and borrow them.
If you don’t have a particular tool, or ingredient, use your ingenuity to find something else that you DO have that will do the job. For example, if you don’t have a rolling pin, would a wine bottle or peanut butter jar work?
Tape can be used for purposes other than wrapping gifts. Like making your own lint remover with a toilet paper core and tape with the sticky side out. Or to cover a small cut just until the bleeding stops. A piece of sticky tape works great to remove crumbs from your keyboard or pieces of broken glass from the floor.
I once made a book bag for my daughter out of old jeans, and covered an ink stain on a favorite pair of jeans with an embroidered flower. Old socks are great as dust cloths – just slip one over your hand and dust away! I remember my mother making outdoor planters out of old metal chicken feeders.
If you don’t have butter, perhaps you can substitute lard, oil, bacon grease, or vegetable shortening, depending upon the food you are preparing. Substitute some oil in place of an egg (it often works).
Perhaps use half as much ground beef or turkey in your homemade chili, or substitute the meat with extra beans and maybe some mushrooms or frozen/canned corn.
Remember that a want and a need are two different things. Can we do without the extras? Of course we can. Do we really need a laptop, notebook, AND smart phone?
Get rid of cable and get a streaming device instead. Switch to a lower-cost substitute like Hulu or Netflix.
- This is what I did as a young wife on a strict budget ($25 a week in 1968 – and that included ingredients for packed lunches and cleaning supplies). I got the flyers from my local stores, found out what was on sale, and planned my meals around the sale items. I bought really good bread from a bakery and meat from a butcher. I only shopped once per week.
- Make things from scratch. Make your own pasta sauce from canned or fresh tomatoes instead of buying the expensive jarred sauces. Yours will be better and less expensive. Try making your own bread, tortillas, salsa, cakes and cookies. Refrigerator pickles are delicious and easy to make. Ditto refrigerator jam.
- Eat the food you prepare, at home, rather than getting carry out or going out to eat. Carry your lunch to work.
Tips for making it do: