Personal – On Thrift

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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?

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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?

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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?

4 Comment

  1. Nicole says: Reply

    This is definitely a perspective of different worlds. Everything that you’re doing doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, or unusual, or even extra thrifty. It just sounds….normal. I was FLABBERGASTED the first time I spent time with a family and saw them throwing out tissue paper. From my perspective, questioning whether doing things like saving tissue paper is a “super thrifty” is like asking if pouring yourself cereal in the morning is “super homemaker-y.”
    We saved everything growing up – tissue paper, bags, boxes, even re-usable wrapping paper and ribbon. And I still try to do that.

    I also save plastic baggies. I rinse them out, dry them on the rack, and re-use them a few times. I did buy a couple vinyl reusable baggies, too. Plastic baggies are expensive, have a large production footprint, and are horrible pollutants because they are light enough to be washed into a water stream easily.

    Your mom makes those awesome gift tags out of old christmas cards, and I’ve started doing that as well. I have a pair of those patterned scissors that I use so they are extra festive.

    I am also in the habit of saving twist ties off bread, and the sauce packets they give you in take-out, especially soy sauce. Then, when I make a recipe that calls for soy sauce, I just tear open a few of those packets. And of course plastic bags (which I try to avoid getting as much as possible) become bin liners.

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Yeah, I do all those things too. Especially the grocery bags (which again – try not to get), but use them for various things. They’re handy to have.

      My only question would be the bread bag ties – are those actual twist ties (useful!) or the plastic tabs…which feel more mono-use?

      Also – at what point does saving all these things become hoarding? Because there may always be a “someday”…but if it doesn’t come soon enough, there’s just a lot of STUFF.

      1. Nicole Holstein says:

        I save the actual twist ties, but I’ve actually seen many re-use ideas for those weird plastic clip things on pintrest and other places online.
        And I actually got rid of most of this when I moved-just didn’t want to lig anything that was a “someday” thing, with the exception of the tissue paper, bows, and tags.

      2. maggie says:

        I can respect keeping the tissue paper/bows/tags, because that is never something I want to have to go out and buy. But getting rid of the rest was probably a smart choice. We don’t need to lug around with us all of our “someday”s.

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