It’s Not About the Money

by Shawanda Greene

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No longer can I sit quietly while commenters on popular personal finance blogs dismiss the importance of scrimping on toiletries.   Apparently, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with meaningless cost cutting strategies.  Well, I’m not so busy that I can’t be bothered to restrict my toilet paper use.  Cutting a dryer sheet in half isn’t beneath me.  Everyone knows I’m stingy with my Eclipse Spearmint gum.

Although it’s a well known fact that I’m a scrooge, refusing a needy comrade a piece of gum isn’t about the money.  It’s about my time.  It’s about convenience.  It’s about avoiding the feelings of frustration that overcome me when I realize my stinky breath friend chewed my last piece of gum!

If you like gum so much, buy your own.

In 7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life: How to Live Well with the Money You Have, author Michelle Singletary mentions an individual who’d drill a small hole in the top of the toothpaste cap.  When squeezed, a thin line of toothpaste would dispense from the tube.  Thus, less toothpaste was used.  Extreme?  I don’t think so.  You only need a small amount. Using this technique, it’d only take a minute or two to extend the life of a tube of toothpaste three, maybe even fourfold.  I rarely spend more than a buck on toothpaste, so it’s not about the money.

Toilet paper, soap, lotion, deodorant, shampoo, and other miscellaneous toiletries aren’t items most of us can go without.  Have you ever found yourself without instant access to at least one of the aforementioned necessities?  Were you panic stricken when you hopped out of the shower and discovered there was nary a drop of lotion to moisturize your crusty soles?

Shopping isn’t a particularly enjoyable activity for me anymore, so running to the store is a fairly painful experience.  Besides, the more often you go to the store, the more likely you are to pick up something you don’t need.  That’s not financially savvy.  Think about it.

Judging by the number of bathrooms I’ve been in with toilet paper holders bearing a naked tube of cardboard, I suspect I’m not the only one who’s pressed for time.  I’ve concluded the proper place for a full roll of toilet tissue is on the back of the toilet, next to the toilet, or on the bathroom vanity,  but never on the toilet paper holder.  I’m very busy.

I’m sure you are too.

Which is why you should exercise restraint.  If you’re so busy you can’t be bothered to change the toilet paper roll, where do you find the time to get in your car, drive to the store, grab a load of crap you don’t need, wait in line… Do I really need to continue?

Try not to misunderstand me here.  Use as many sheets as necessary to get the job done then move on with your life.  Don’t scoff at limiting the number of sheets of toilet paper to five or six.  Depending on the number of ply, you might be able to get it down to three or four. There’s no need to make a toilet paper mitten if you’re going to be in an out.

When I was a kid, my brother would eat anything and drink everything I put in the refrigerator.  During the summer months, my mom would let my sister, cousin, and me walk to the neighborhood convenience store.  I’d buy candy, fruit punch, and the occasional pickled sausage.

Don’t judge.

Even as a child I was able to practice self control and save some of my treats for later.  Unfortunately, later never came because my inconsiderate and overweight brother would get to my stash before I could.  Just like now, it wasn’t about the money then.  If you’ve ever had your heart set on a cold icy grape soda, a slice of sour cream pound cake, or a pink pickled pig’s foot, and found out it’s been devoured before you could get to it, then you know it’s not about the money.

Perhaps I’m being unfair.  Maybe a stark comparison can’t be drawn between the emotions experienced when you prematurely run out of toilet paper and those felt when someone eats the last of the pork chops.  But I simply cannot be the only one who wants what I should already have when I want/need it.

Last week, a friend of mine requested I print two articles each totaling 15 pages.  At $5 for 500 sheets of paper, that works out to a penny per page.  Surely I can come off $0.30 to help a friend out, but let’s not get carried away.  I can’t have you using up all my paper, so that my supply is depleted when I get ready to print out an internet coupon.

Okay. Maybe it’s a teeny tiny bit about the money. But I maintain that wasting my time running unnecessary errands is the primary reason I felt moved to speak out on this subject. How about you? Where do you stand when it comes to saving time, and money, on the purchase of toiletries?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bakari June 25, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Your friend and printer story reminded me of Julius on “Everybody Hates Chris.” That’s 30 cents worth of paper you’re asking me for!

Good stuff! I appreciate the use of humor intertwined with helpful advice.

A hole in the toothpaste top. Wow!


Shawanda Greene June 26, 2009 at 4:01 PM

You’re right! I didn’t even think about that. I also think of purchases in terms of how long I have to work to pay for them.

I haven’t actually tried drilling a hole in my toothpaste caps, but I’ve got a drill and I’ve got toothpaste. So, we’ll see what happens.

Thanks for commenting.



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