When I have a full gallon of milk I pour myself a full glass without thinking, but when the milk jug has less than half of the gallon left, I pour myself just enough to quench my thirst.

The same goes for the car in my gas tank, I don't worry about my driving habits until the gas tank drops below the half-way mark, then suddenly I am the epitome of a gas conscious driver. Even though I can make more milk or grab more gas, I still try to lengthen the life of the last bit.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I have a 'scarcity' switch that kicks on telling me to make it last. But that switch doesn't seem to kick on when I have just pulled out a just filled up the gas tank or made the milk, nope, not until I am down to a the last little bit.

I realize it is a retraining of brain. When my family would go to grandmother's house she would rinse the paper towels and the paper plates and let them hang to dry for use later. Even though she would have a pile of plates getting dusty in the cupboard or a 6 pack of paper towels in the basement she could still use, her scarcity switch was on most all the time.

For her, the retraining of her brain was due to the depression era, in my opinion. She always said it was just because she was Scottish. Either way, she had looked at the things around her and saw that no matter how much she had, she wanted to make they lasted and found ways to keep using them until she couldn't any longer, even though she had an abundance stored away.

Sometimes I wonder if it is easier or harder to live with the 'scarcity' switch. I certainly don't romanticize the depression or the idea of constantly living with scant food and things. But I do think that the reality check of 'what if' can be useful even with an abundance.

However the downside to that is if your scarcity switch never turns off you could live in a very cluttered home.

Eventually their has to be some balance to this switch. just like you flip the switch to the room light on when you need and flip the switch off when you don't.

There has to be a balance found that allows you to control that scarcity switch and that comes with time, practice and maybe even a few reminders from others. Just like learning to flip the light switch off.


  1. Jadat Nilla // Saturday, December 20, 2008 9:22:00 AM  

    I think it mostly comes down to mindfulness. Simply being aware of the choices you are making will prove to be very beneficial. It does indeed take practice, and nodoby is perfect, but a little concentration goes a long way.

  2. Groovy Mom // Sunday, December 21, 2008 9:58:00 AM  

    You make a very good point about the "scarcity switch" in the brain. Even with this gas reduction, I'm less mindful of my gas usage. Not back to where I was before (I don't just aimlessly drive around - that seems absurd now), but a little more flippant about my driving patterns. Although I'm very much still lumping my errands together... just not with the intensity as I did before.

  3. Nanci // Sunday, December 21, 2008 8:09:00 PM  

    I just found your blog today after having just made the decision to change the way I live in 2009. With the increase gas costs this year we all have looked at ways to cut back on driving but overall I need to go back to our values whenn I grew up. I have read so much about my family during the depression and know how frugally they lived out of necessity and our country has moved into an era of excessiveness and it's time we make changes. I think the rest of the world looks at us and laughs at our situation that we caused ourselves. Only we can make the change one person at a time. Thank you for all your help I'm surely going to need a guiding light in the days ahead.

  4. ~Dawn C // Monday, December 22, 2008 12:15:00 PM  

    Little steps are the best way to train the brain. The smaller the piece bitten off the easier it is to make it part of a daily routine.

    Groovy Mom~
    I'm the same way about the gas price as well. Since it's below $2 a gallon I run around more than I used to when it was nearer $4.

    I wish you the best in your new year. Sometimes I think we in our humbling stage in front of the rest of the world.