My partner Spock made himself a cup of tea just now, and I lifted the kettle to pour the remaining boiling water on the dishcloth.Trouble is, there is no water left. He puts the exact amount for his favourite mug in the kettle, not a drop more.
I recall a friend telling me that she felt like killing or divorcing her husband when he retired. He made it his mission to examine all aspects of domestic expenditure, and suggest helpful ways to economise. In addition, he gave unwanted time and motion “advice”. Spock has worked from home for a long time, but his penny-pinching habits have got worse with each passing year. He is not a mean person in many ways. He never comments on things I buy, gives very generously to good causes and likes eating out. He seems to get some puritanical pleasure in self-denial. The hair shirt is never far away. Nearly all his clothes are bought by me, because left to his own devices he would never bother.
Every so often he will go raving mad and splash out on a pack of underpants or socks from Asda. He buys only plain black socks so nothing gets chucked out until it’s full of holes. I recently bought him a pair of well-made lovely soft pants called “Comfyballs” (Don’t ask.) He was shocked to hear the price, so these were immediately consigned to his special occasions drawer. The mind boggles, what would this occasion be? A romantic tryst with a new mistress (dream on Spock!) or perhaps a prostate examination?
An ancient pair of cargo trousers (£12 from Tesco) has been reincarnated during the heat wave into a pair of shorts-no hemming of course. No designer suit could give him more pleasure than he gets from these. Oddly, although he will cling onto the most rancid old garments, he cannot understand my love of charity shop bargains.
An electrician friend told him that turning all appliances off at night could save a couple of hundred pounds a year for most homes, yet he happily has everything on standby. He can’t resist anything on offer, so we have enough toothpaste and cheap soap to last the rest of our lives. One big bone of contention is his soap, nasty slimy slivers that he tries to meld with my fragrant bars. His Mum used to boil up all the soap bits in a pan, so it must be some genetic thing.
In turn, he cannot understand why I save nice gift bags or classy carrier bags to re-use. Letters and cards are turned into notepads, tin foil that is clean will be reused. I snip the ends off tubes of make-up and shampoo to use every last drop. Stubs of lipstick will be squidged with a bit of foundation to make cream blusher. Legs are cut off old lycra opaque tights to make no VPL knickers. I have quite a stash of bubblewrap and delicate tissue paper that will surely be useful one day
My mother used to keep her home like a greenhouse, heaters on full blast. However, she would only turn on lights after dark, convinced that electricity poured like molten gold from the ceiling bulbs.
We are now faced with the need for bigger economies, so I am wondering what, if anything, Moodscopers are cutting back on? My contribution so far has been to use only the 30 minute setting on the washing machine, with a good dash of soda crystals added to the powder. Very few things require longer than that. We’ve been having more picnics this year, rather than eating lunch out.
I have to add that I have been desperately short of money in my time, and I know for some of you the rising cost of living calls for more desperate measures than these little tweaks.
Please don’t think I am being flippant about this, money worries are terrible and a big source of mental distress. We may have experiences and ideas that can help each other. I love making people laugh, but I know that some things are no joking matter.
A Moodscope member.