"Thrift comes too late when you find it at the bottom of your purse."

When I have a full toilet paper roll, I pull off more squares of TP than when the roll gets smaller, in order to make it last longer. The same goes for milk, I grab the big glass when I have just made it and the smaller glass when I have only a little left. Even though I can make more milk or grab another roll of tp, I still want to try to lengthen the life of the last bit but only when I see I am down to the final 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 new bottle of dish soap, nope, not until I am down to the last bit and shaking and squeezing the bottle like a maniac.

Over a period of time I realize it will happen and that it is just a retraining of brain, but it is frustrating to not think about making something last longer until I start to see the last bit slosh around at the bottom.

When my family would go to Grandma's house she would rinse out the paper towels and the paper plates and let them hang to dry until she could use them again later. She would never use them again to give us kids but she would use them for herself to wipe down the counter or the paper plates to eat off of herself. Even though she had a pile of perfectly decent, washable plates getting dusty in the cupboard or a 6 pack of paper towels in the basement she could still re-use these items until they couldn't be used again.

For her, the retraining her brain got was during the depression era. She always blamed it on her Scottish background. Either way, she come to a point that when she looked at the things around her she felt she needed to find ways to make them last longer, even though she had an abundance stored away.

Sometimes I wonder if it is easier to live with the scarcity switch on after you have had outside influences force it that way. I certainly don't romanticize the depression or the idea of constantly living with scant food and things. But sometimes the push from outside our control can be a good thing - in moderation.

Right now my goal is to just get into the habit of flipping my scarcity switch on and off and the appropriate times, much like I have gotten into the habit of switching on and off a light to a room.


  1. frugalurban // Saturday, July 25, 2009 3:14:00 PM  

    I completely identify with this! And I like the way you phrase it. I often try to "flip on my scarcity switch" by using smaller containers of things. I always keep about 1/3 cup of butter in a little dish on the table rather than putting the whole pound out there, so it doesn't look like we have a lot. And for the dishsoap, we have a gallon stored away, and a 250 ml dispenser on the counter. It seems to make things last a little longer, especially when it's extra work to fill up the dispenser! Great post :)

  2. bugbear // Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:30:00 PM  

    yep. Also, sometimes a little forethought and preparation can save you using up things unneccessarily fast.

    One example in my life: I've discovered that about a teaspoon and a half's worth of automatic dishwasher soap does a fantastic job an an entire load of dishes. So I poured the soap from the pour box into a plastic tub, and put a spoon next to it.

    Now when I get the dishwasher ready I just spoon a heaping teaspoon of detergent into the detergent dispenser and I'm done.

    This doesn't amount to huge savings, even though it probably makes the detergent last twice as long (saving $3.00 over the course of two months is not huge, really).
    but it *is* savings and it is better for the environment, and it *is* easy, so I do it.