I recently found myself folding tissue paper late one afternoon. Not tissue-tissues – that would be gross. No – this was birthday gift tissue paper. The Boy and I were clearing out the mess in the girls room while they were both away (our only opportunity!) and I found a bunch of gift bags and tissue paper. And since I don’t like to waste things, I grabbed them all, and took them to my gift bag stash.
That’s right – I have a stash of used gift bags and tissue that I’ve saved over the years, and I never intend to buy tissue paper if I can help it. If this seems ridiculously thrifty…then that’s why I’m writing about it.
Because do you know how much gift tissue costs? I’m going to be honest, and say I didn’t really know until just know, looking at Amazon, and it seems pretty clear that it’s not that much. Maybe 20 cents per sheet if you’re getting the “fancier” stuff, but your basic white or colored paper will come in at around 5-10 cents per sheet. And while I may work for the federal government, I have a decent paycheck. In theory I should be able to afford to buy new tissue paper. So what’s going on?
And it’s not just that. I have a large section of my freezer devoted to meat and vegetable scraps. Some of these are a little on the old side (let’s just say that their age can be counted in months), but I’ve kept them, and even moved them from point to point with the goal of making vegetable or poultry stock this fall (gotta wait until it’s not boiling hot outside, and will share my method when I do).
But looking again at Amazon prices (which are likely even a little higher than your local grocery store), I find that each quart of stock would run me about $3.50. The last time I made stock, I got about 2 quarts worth of usable product. So why go through the time and the effort for something that can be readily acquired for cheap?
I worried as I sat folding tissue paper that the Boy would walk in and make fun of me for doing something so seemingly unnecessary. But when he finally saw what I was doing, he shrugged and said it made sense to him. Perhaps it’s because both of our grandparents grew up and were young adults in times of economic hardship – my grandparents during the Great Depression, and his during the austerity times before, during and after World War II in Europe. Perhaps those influences in our lives are part of what makes this feel normal to both of us. Or perhaps it’s just that basic principle of “waste not want not”. Sure, we could go out and buy stock or tissue paper and gift bags. But if we save the things that we have, a) they don’t fill the garbage faster, and b) we have them on hand for that sudden moment when we need them. I wouldn’t have to make a special trip to the grocery store if I’ve already got stock in the freezer. Suddenly, late evening meals of hot soup are possible as a spontaneous thing.
I’m not perfect with this thrift and “using what I already have available” thing. I will (too) often buy myself a snack for the short drive home from work when it’s not that long a drive, and I’ve got plenty of food at home that will be there if I’m only patient enough to wait for it. But perhaps it’s because this saving of a thing feels like a concrete action that I’m taking that both saves me time, money (and a little sanity) is what does it. Giving up the commute snack would feel like a loss until the moment I get home. But folding tissue paper and organizing it along with other gift wrap feels like a win.
What kind of small thrifty things do you do or save? I can’t be the only one who does this kind of thing. The Boy likes to take a roll of toilet paper and the toiletries from the many hotels he visits for work. Are there any other satisfying little thrifty tricks I should be thinking about?