There’s a very fine line between being frugal and being a miser. While it is easy to judge one, it may take you an entire lifetime to draw that line for yourself. I grew up in a typical middle class family and there were some frugal habits of my parents that felt so annoying in my childhood. While I may disagree with some of them till date, I leave it up to you to decide which of these habits actually made sense.
At first, I was reluctant in sharing these lifestyle nuances with my social group. But, once I began, I realized many of them had a similar childhood. We are a generation of consumption, however our parents went big time on savings. At least fixed deposit is something that was very close to their hearts. The entire lifestyle was based around reduction of wastage, even if that meant compromising on luxury. Let’s explore the top 5 frugal habits that I can recall:
1. Soap With A Crown:
Nope, it is not a royal, your highness kind of a soap. I am talking about our very basic Hamam Soap. That big green cake of soap we used for washing our hands (pre liquid soap era). So is it just me, or every household to put a cold drink crowns on the soaps. It was long before I realized that they did it to prevent to deliquesce of the soap- its dissolution in water. Much later we had that base made of foam which would absorb water from the soap. But, that sight of putting the crown in a brand new soap just won’t leave my head.
2. The Soap Sandwich:
This one can’t just be my family’s ‘trick’ to reduce wastage. So we all waited for the moment till the previously used bathing soap would eventually die to a limit where it cannot be further used. What next? You throw it away and start a new one? Nope. You paste that soap over the new fresh soap. This would feel awkward for a few days till the fresh soap resists an oldie hanging on it’s back, but eventually, they’ll become one. Is there some philosophical lesson to be learnt here? May be?
3. The Waking Up Trick:
I don’t think I will ever understand this. So, when we were kids, my mother would wake me up by a kiss on the foreheads. Asking us to hurry up. Wrapping our covers and tidying up our surroundings, was the most strict she could get.
On the contrary, my father would just switch off the room fan. Simple as hell. This method would need to follow ups, no begging for 5 minutes more, no snoozing whatsoever. As soon as I would get drenched in sweat, I’ll wake up. When I confronted him once, he said that it is better for fan’s life and saves electricity. His exact words were, “Raat se pankha chal raha hai” (Fan is operational since last night). I am till date confused on how to perceive this barbaric act.
4. Toothpaste Conundrum:
Till date, I cannot take a decision on weather to discard the old toothpaste tube or not. I just can’t. As a kid, every time I planned to throw the old tube in the dust bin, my dad would appear from no where with a loud ‘NOOOO’. Then, he’ll exhibit and channel all his strength on that tube and take out just enough paste for brushing.
Apart from this, I was never allowed to use a new tube as well. I would always press that from the center and that was considered as a big mistake. So until I learnt to press it from the bottom, I was not accepted in my family. Fun fact: Toothpastes back then, had this disclaimer: Press the toothpaste from the bottom and flatten as you go up.
5. The Lather Head Wash:
This is something I do till date. By the time my shampoo reaches the stage where pressing the bottle would just release air and some funny sounds, I would be ready from some lather. Just add a few drops of water and voila! You are covered for a couple of more sessions. Frugality at its best.
You may be in denial for a few moments after reading this, but I believe it is all about celebrating those times. Just imagine, from the times you were concerned about your fan’s life, you are used to being glued on your screen almost all the time. Interpretation and underlying meaning of saving, wastage reduction has undergone a rapid change in just one generation. For now, let us leave both of these aside and immerse yourself in the nostalgia.