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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Little Old Lady Habits

I call these my little old lady habits. There the sort of things that I do that I imagine a little old lady, living on a fixed income, does in the privacy of her own apartment to make the money stretch. Things like saving the used tea bag in the fridge, to use again for tomorrow's cup; or carefully washing a sheet of foil, to use again and again; or airing out a sweater after wearing, before folding and putting away to wear again next week, in lieu of washing with each wearing.

My little old lady (the who who lives in my head) does all of these things with grace and style. She may be reusing a tea bag, but her tea is drunk from a lovely tea cup. Her sweater may be old, but it is a beautiful and classic one, lovingly cared for to extend its life another decade.

What makes this little old lady so lovely is that with the money she saves by keeping all of her habits, she is generous at the red bucket during the holidays; and in church when a little more is needed for new hymnals; and with the homeless man on the highway corner needing money for a sandwich. She gives with all of her heart.

My little old lady habit, today, is how I portion out my butter. It's one of those quirky things I have done for years. As my bread is toasting, I take the butter from the refrigerator, measure my portion, and slice off.  I use about half-tablespoon of butter, total for 2 slices of bread. It's enough, without being wasteful of our dwindling supply of an expensive commodity. Most of the time, I am not terribly precise with measurements; but with my morning butter I am. I set the butter, in two portions, on the plate, and put the butter dish away while I wait for my toast.

You may call it a quirk or a little old lady habit. With my mind's eye, I picture a little old lady performing the ritual of morning toast-making, just in this manner. She's careful with her home-keeping supplies. She's never wasteful; but always manages to enjoy what she has. This is the little old lady that I hope to become.


  1. Yes, that's what we do too. I think we should give it a different name though! We're not little old ladies and yet we do the same habits day after day because we know it's the responsible thing to do. The Thrifty and frugalistic lady.

    You should have seen me last night with a chapstick container that was "empty". I use a toothpick to scrape around the stuff that can no longer twist out of the container and then I put what comes out on my toothpick into chapstick container that I have used for a while so I can roll it down and push what was in the "empty" one into the somewhat used one. You would be surprised what is left in that "empty" container that we often just throw away.

    Your jam looks delicious. What kind is it? I would guess strawberry rhubarb?


    1. Hi Alice,
      Yes, I think especially the husbands would not like to be called "little old ladies"! I had this lovely piano teacher when I was a girl. She was a little old lady, but she was wonderful and sweet and everything I hope to grow old to be. So, I'm fine calling my habits that.

      There is always so much left in the bottom of the tube, isn't there? With my shampoo, I was very surprised with this last bottle that I kept rinsing it with a little water and there was enough sudsiness to wash my hair for an extra 3 times. I color my hair, so I don't use the cheap shampoo (it strips color out too fast). I look for shampoo that's specific for colored-hair. It costs more than Dollar Tree shampoo. I try to make 1 bottle last 1 year, as a way to compensate for paying a few dollars more per bottle.

      Close -- it's vanilla rhubarb. This one has turned out to be a favorite for me this year.

      Have a great day, Alice!

  2. What a beautiful picture you paint of a little old lady and what a nice way to think about your frugal habits.

    Unfortunately, in my experience many as they age do things that sometimes make sense and sometimes they don't. Sometimes these habits are a safety concern or don't really save the money they think they do. And no amount of reasoning is going to change them. And yes, some of this applied to my parents, but also to several others that I have close contact with.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Let's hope that if we become dangers to ourselves that we have loving family who will step in to help us or get us help. My grandmother did one thing that alarmed me, a lot. She would keep a tea kettle on the electric stove, heating all day long. These weren't the whistling kind of kettle, so she wouldn't necessarily know if the water was boiling. I was always fearful that she would burn her house down, by leaving the kettle on, and maybe a potholder on the counter next to it, or something. I could not convince her to turn the stove off in between times of using the kettle.

      I hope that your day is off to a great start, live and learn!

    2. Little old frugal ladies, unite! :)

      I am seeing similar behaviors as June with my mom. Interesting, because I have been catching up on continuing ed training for my field, and have chosen a lot of cognitive-based courses. Some of the habits are just that--habits that once made sense financially but perhaps don't any longer. Some, I think, are due to less mental flexibility--it's just too much information to take in to make behavioral changes, what with trying to concentrate on other areas which also need her attention. I'm sure there are other factors that I'm not thinking of, but my OT geekiness is coming out, making me think of possible causes. :)

  3. I enjoyed today's post, I have or practice all of those Little old lady habits. : )

    1. Hi Carol,
      Now why am I not surprised?! ;-)
      Have a great day, Carol!

  4. Lili,
    I love this post. Not everyone will understand and that is OK. It is a heart thing :)My Mom used to run some soapy water in the sink to put the dishes in after she used them to let them soak. She did not have
    a lot but she had enough...If she wanted to give to the church, a homeless man, buy a special grocery item or give a grandchild money to buy a $5 dollar hot dog at a little league game she could do it! She was not wealthy but she was very rich. I hope your day is richly blessed.

    1. Hi Patti,
      That is such a lovely memory to have of your mom. I love hearing of people like that.
      Have a wonderful day, Patti!

  5. Interesting that we equate being frugal to "little old lady". I'm sure there are old ladies who are not frugal, especially those who have never been frugal all their lives. Some even proclaim that they hate frugality, I've heard their words with my own ears. But to those of us who love frugality, and know the wisdom of being careful with our resources, from generation to generation, we benefit and everyone around us benefits too. By being careful and appreciative, we see the glass as half full. We know there is always enough for ourselves and everyone.

    I have made it my thing to constantly preach frugality to my children, my DIL and SIL, and grandchildren. They get my latest new frugal tip everytime they visit. I'm convinced little changes in daily habits can make the difference between financial stability and bankruptcy, retirement and working to your last breath...

    Enjoy your day!!


  6. I think it is hard sometimes to be frugal but not cheap. All things you described are frugal, so as to be generous to others. That is the balance I strive for too.

  7. I like that. And there is nothing better than a slice of toast with butter and jam. :)


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