In the United Kingdom, one of the surprise hits in the book world is David Kynaston's Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 (2008, Walker & Company), which documents the way Britons adapted to the dire shortages after World War II. With recession worries growing, many are looking to it for tips and taking other steps to save money. According to the Telegraph, the economists say that "there is a slow-down in the housing market, which makes everyone feel less confident financially. And credit will be harder to come by. We should all be tightening our belts."
The Telegraph's Eithne Farry notes that It's not quite as onerous as it sounds. Recession thinking tends to be practical but prosaic: Switch off the lights when you leave the room. Turn the heating down and put on a sweater. Take your shoes to the mender rather than throwing them away.Others are starting allotment gardens. Geoff Stokes, of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardens, says that demand for allotments has been so huge that some London boroughs have a 10-year waiting list.
"Fresh air, exercise and fresh food, what could be better?" he says. "And because so many younger people have started working on allotments, and mothers come with their children after school, there tends to be a real community spirit."
Here are some tips from Austerity Britain 1945-1951 that might come back into vogue:
1. Turn Over Old Cuffs and Collars
If a shirt cuff or collar looks frayed, instead of throwing the shirt away, simply turn them over.
2. Refashion Old Sheets
There is an old phrase, "sheets sides to middle," which refers to the fact that bed-linen tends to wear out more in the middle. During the war, women would cut threadbare sheets down the middle, turn them over, then sew them back together. (Check out how to refashion a men's shirt into an apron.)
3. Make the Most of Leftovers
In the spirit of thrift, nothing should be thrown away. Therefore leftover vegetables become bubble and squeak; the Sunday roast becomes Monday's cottage pie.
4. Create a Soap Ball in the Kitchen
Collect tiny fragments of soap from elsewhere in the house, then stick them together to form a soap ball for the kitchen or scullery.