Useful Shopping Tips From 1958

Useful Shopping Tips From 1958

In 1958, even the Internet was a distant vision — but advice from that era is still useful when you’re trying to live a more frugal lifestyle.

There’s a longstanding online tradition of looking at advice books from an earlier era to see what pearls they can produce. Sometimes this is done in a mocking way, sometimes it’s done because the advice is actually useful. Today’s selection of shopping hints come from the latter category.

The advice below comes from Invergowrie Household Hints, published in 1958 by the Invergowrie Homecraft Hostel in Melbourne. The book’s stated aim is to impart “the knowledge of how to run our homes successfully without the least friction or weariness”.

Such sources aren’t foolproof, of course. Reflecting a very 1950s mindset, home-made cleaning remedies are repeatedly dismissed in favour of commercial alternatives, something that’s less in favour today.

But sound money management advice hasn’t really shifted in the Internet age, and that’s worth remembering when you’re stressing over whether or not you can afford the rumoured Apple tablet. Here’s the full shopping advice page:


1. If possible, shop personally. Pay cash where practicable, keeping a record of your expenses.

2. Buy at shops that have a good turnover, the foods are more likely to be fresh.

3. Look round your shopping centre, comparing price and quality of goods, and select the most satisfactory of shops.

4. Having selected your shop, gain the confidence of your shop owner, and he will help you in your selection of goods, not necessarily the most expensive.

5. Remember that the cheaper cuts of meat are nourishing, but take longer to prepare.

6. Buy fruit and vegetables of good quality. If you have the confidence of your greengrocer he will tell you the best times for buying fruit for bottling and jam making.

7. Buy foods in season, when they are cheapest and at their best.

8. Avoid buying cooked foods as you are paying for the labour as well as the goods.

9. Imperishable goods and cleaning materials are cheaper if bought in large quantities provided you have storage space for them.

10. A small vegetable plot is a good investment. A small packet of parsley seed is enough for a year’s supply. Mint, rhubarb and silver beet are easily grown. A lemon tree is an essential.

11. Buy good quality linen, cooking utensils etc. These articles get a lot of wear, and it pays to buy the best.

12. Never buy furniture or soft furnishings in a hurry. Remember you have to live with them. The outlay is expensive, so take time and trouble with your selection.

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.

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