18 November 2009

The frugal consumer: admirable or merely annoying?

While I do not watch television much (honest statement), when I do, it seems that I pay slightly more attention to the commercials than the programming. It might have something to do with my weak attention span…who knows.

I noticed an advertisement by the fast-food empire, McDonald’s, that features a young couple. The male half of the couple is ultra-frugal and over the span of 10 seconds or so he demonstrates to his understanding, but more common-sense wife, that he is contributing to the household economy through his frugal endeavors. One of these endeavors involves a large homemade contraption to squeeze the last droplet of toothpaste out of the tube. The wife, on the other hand, takes frugal matters into her own hands by simply picking up lunch at McDonald’s. Happy ending, fade to jingle.

I have seen the commercial twice and the first time did not realize that it was a McDonald’s commercial because I was so consumed by absorbing the husband’s economical creativity. He is indeed a man after my own heart. I am a frugal person myself. Genetically programmed that way -- thank you very much daddy.

But clearly, this commercial is no-so-gently poking fun at the frugal people of the world as evidenced by its depiction of one of the husband’s “getting-my-money’s-worth” projects gone badly awry.

Now, I can totally relate to getting the last droplet of any product out of its bottle. I realize that I may be setting myself up for ridicule, but this is my true confession. I routinely swish water in the bottom of shampoo bottles to get the last of the shampoo before the bottle goes into the recycling bin. In my estimation, I get 4 additional full lathers. I swish water in the bottom of the laundry detergent bottles to make use of the last of that product, producing one or two basins full of soapy water for my delicate hand wash. I flatten toothpaste tubes with the back of my toothbrush to push the gel all the way to the top and don’t throw away the tube until it is beyond my ability to squeeze. It gives me an extra 5-6 toothpaste squeezes. Getting the last of the skin lotion out of the bottle is somewhat aggravating, but in my experience, there is about 2 weeks worth of product remaining after the first sign that the bottle is “empty” that I can coax out with gravity and a little shaking.

Cristy and I are on opposite poles of this spectrum. Actually, I’m at the extreme end of the spectrum and she’s somewhere in the middle. But she tolerates my frugal behavior, precisely like the understanding wife in the McDonald’s commercial. I wonder if my obsessive attention to economy is as ridiculous as the commercial makes it seem? It’s doubtful that I’ll change anytime soon.


  1. I think frugality is a good thing...and I doubt yours is inappropriate. I do not have that gene...thanks MOM! LOL.

  2. I can totally relate! Although I think I got my frugality partly from my Dad's genes it's also a statement for how I feel about what I have. I don't have a concrete view on our creator but I do have a great appreciation for my life, our world, my "blessings". Its been my lifetime view that one of the greatest ways you can give thanks for what you have is by not wasting. By honoring its value and doing what can be done to not waste, you show gratitude and appreciation. So more than being frugal you are being grateful. I mean, how much monetary gain is there really to rinsing out a bottle or squeezing a tube?
    It is my belief that if you live your life that way with things and more importantly with people, you will always have an abundant life, in every way.
    I do love my toothpaste...so I will squeeze squeeze squeeze!!!! And I do love my boyfriend so....nevermind! ;)

    P.S. I may use this idea for a blog posting. It's something I feel very passionate about. Thanks!