Money tips through the decades: a financial voyage through time

The spicy stuff
May 4, 2020

Daria

Head of PR

Seeing as we’re all mostly stuck indoors, we have to seek adventure elsewhere...


Maybe you’ve been living vicariously through travel blogs or living your best life on The Sims, but here’s one trip you probably haven’t taken yet - an adventure through time. Don’t worry, there’s no risk of the Butterfly Effect happening and you ruining your parents’ first date.

Instead, we’ll take you on a voyage through the decades to explore how people approached budgeting, cutting costs and putting money aside in the past. So buckle up, we’re going time-travelling!

1940s

Sorry guys, it’s a rocky start to our trip. The 1940s were dominated by World War II, which followed on from a long period of economic recession. Times were tough to say the least, and brought along rationing and extreme frugality. Saving money was an incredibly important part of daily life. 

As you’d expect, the tips are all about making the most of what you have and maximising resources:

  • Try growing your own fruit and vegetables. If you don’t have a garden, try foraging for hedgerow fruits.
  • Make jams and pickles to make your produce last as long as possible. 
  • Save time and money by having more shallow baths.
  • Make do and mend when it comes to clothing. Re-use old wool, repair torn items and try making your own accessories. 
  • And lastly, here’s a 1940s alternative to dry shampoo: rub a terry-cloth towel over unstyled hair to refresh it in between washes.


1950s

Ah, the 50s. Kids are watching cartoons on 12 inch black and white TV sets, yearly inflation rate in the UK is 2.8% and an average price of a house is £1,940. If Don Draper were real, he would have just started his career in advertising. 

Here are some thrifty tips according to various books aimed at the housewives of the 1950s:

  • Look for bargains and don’t buy the first thing available. Be a smart shopper.
  • Shop seasonal and opt for foods that provide greater nutritional value. 
  • Use all of the space in the oven and cook multiple meals at the same time. This way, you’ll save time and cut the cost of your electricity bill. 
  • Don’t waste your leftovers as that’s wasted money. Save them for later, use them in other meals or make just enough food for your family. 
  • And here’s one just for kicks: peanut butter mixed with honey and raisins makes an ideal sandwich… apparently. 


1960s

If we had to make a highlight reel of the 1960s, here’s what it would include: The Beatles, hippies, Kennedy assassination, Moon landing, Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Marilyn Monroe, Vietnam, Martin Luther King, and skateboarding. Phew! That’s one action packed decade. 

Here are some lessons on frugality from the Flower Power generation: 

  • Don’t throw food away. Reheat and reuse. 
  • Drink tap water instead of bottled water.  
  • Save dessert for special occasions. 
  • Grow your own fresh herbs - they’re cheaper than the dried stuff. 


1970s

The 70s were a very mixed bag. On the one hand, they gave us David Bowie, Fawlty Towers, Microsoft, FedEx and Apple, but on the other, they brought poor economy, high inflation, employment struggles and strikes.

Maybe it’s because of the turbulent nature of the 70s were or perhaps despite it, a lot of the money tips still ring true today:


  • Live below your income rather than above it. If you start having more money at your disposal, raise your standard of living gradually. 
  • Make a habit of careful record keeping. 
  • Do the maths on your regular expenses, including your phone bill and utilities, then take steps to reduce the costs - e.g. make fewer long-distance calls and turn off unnecessary lights.
  • Plan your shopping trips. Know what you're buying and buy good value items. 


1980s

The decade that gave us: Pac-Man, Baywatch, MTV, CD players, mobile phones, Microsoft Windows, The Simpsons, padded shoulders, Doctor Who, *big* hair and much, much more. 

Now, put on some 80s tunes and visuals and let us dive into the money tips: 

  • Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. Think free community events, local parks, libraries, museums or just running through the sprinkler on a hot afternoon. If you’re planning a birthday, ditch the ‘Sweet 16’ vibe and opt for something more low-key, like assembling your own burger at a McDonald’s birthday party. 
  • Look after your Tupperware. It was all the rage in the 80s, so make it last. 
  • Ok, so this tip did not age well… Invest in Beanie Babies. 


And there you have it! If you plan on riding this nostalgia wave, let us know if you have any tips or if you have any film or music recommendations to help relive the old times.

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