Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The American Frugal Housewife

When we went to Monticello in December, I saw a book in the gift shop I wanted called The American Frugal Housewife, but for $14.95 this frugal American housewife wasn't buying it.

I checked my library and of course they didn't have it. Rather than pay for them to get it for me, I was able to read the book online at Project Gutenberg. This wonderful resource for difficult to find books works for me. Bonus: No fines from overdue library books! (Not that I would know anything about that.)

If you're interested in The American Frugal Housewife, it is kind of like the Tightwad Gazette of the mid-nineteenth century. Some of its advice is not applicable to modern life, but some of it is still very astute.

It is wise to keep an exact account of all you expend--even of a paper of pins. This answers two purposes; it makes you more careful in spending money, and it enables your husband to judge precisely whether his family live within his income. No false pride, or foolish ambition to appear as well as others, should ever induce a person to live one cent beyond the income of which he is certain. If you have two dollars a day, let nothing but sickness induce you to spend more than nine shillings; if you have one
dollar a day, do not spend but seventy-five cents; if you have half a dollar a day, be satisfied to spend forty cents.


In early childhood, you lay the foundation of poverty or riches, in
the habits you give your children. Teach them to save everything,--not for their
own use, for that would make them selfish--but for some use. Teach them to share everything with their playmates; but never allow them to destroy anything.


  1. hey, this is a goldmine! I LOVE reading housekeeping books and I always love a recommendation. And I totally agree about blanching at a pricey book :) I always check my library first.
    I'm bookmarking that Gutenberg site. Thanks!

  2. I love the old fashioned housewife advice books. My mom had one when I was growing up and I got such a kick out of reading it! The other funny one in her collection was a WWII cookbook, with crazy recipes to make with rations and a lot of organ meats.

  3. What a great tip! Thanks for sharing. I'm still browsing the WFMW list, there are so many great tips, I think it's my favorite blog hop.

  4. If you have a kindle or an iPad - it's free :) this is a great book that I highlight the heck out of- some great advice and interesting adages that are probably dangerous now- I find those the most interesting- to see how far things have come since then and what things are relatively similar


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