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5 frugal lessons from the Depression

Improve one part of your house at a time
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Improve one part of your house at a time

Then: The '30s reintroduced deferred gratification. Ads offered one-element makeovers such as the installation of a linoleum floor or the addition of a fabulous piece of furniture. Magazine articles showed how to save money by moving around a room's existing elements or adding a new bed skirt or curtain to modestly improve a bedroom's or bathroom's appeal. McElvaine says part of the frugal mindset of the '30s was the precept that people shouldn't be wasting money in hard times. It became socially unacceptable to flaunt relative wealth; expensive new furniture would be noticed by the neighbors.

Now: With home prices continuing to fall, it's difficult if not impossible to refinance to pay for a grand remodel (as seen on TV). Today's homeowners need to adjust to a new reality of small housing improvements over longer periods of time.

A bathroom remodel could take months if a homeowner replaces just one element per month. By slowly transforming a room, you'll improve it without raiding savings or going into debt.


 

 

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