Where Are You Still Using Single-Ply?

I recently had an epiphany.

It wasn’t in the shower. It wasn’t while meditating under a tree. It was while sitting in the bathroom.

As I held the toilet paper in my hand, I realized that it was single-ply. Clearly, I had long ago decided to save money by cutting this corner. “We are not in a position to indulge in such excesses!” I imagine I might have thought, shifting my shopping gaze from comfy double-ply Charmin to a war-ration house brand of single-ply.

Of course, here’s the problem: single-ply is a fool’s bargain. It’s a translucent sham. If you don’t want to shove your fingers directly into the pit of despair, you need to fold it over itself again and again, defeating any cost savings. And even if you did save $5 per month, isn’t the extra $5 worth trading 30 days of butt-sanding for 30 days of butt-caressing?

To make any headway with this, I first had to look backward…

My family didn’t have much disposable income. We ate a lot of TV dinners, we collected our soda cans for the five-cent redemptions at the beverage store, and we bought books on the discount “remainder” table at the local bookstore. To be clear—I never felt poor, but clear parameters around spending, and clear taboos around money, kept things from falling apart.

And our extreme frugality served a critical purpose at the time: it was important to the well-being of our family.

But now flash forward 35+ years. Optimizing for frugality is old software that’s been running in my head—unquestioned and unexamined—for decades. It became a default mode during formative years, and it got grandfathered into my current life, where it simply doesn’t apply in the same way. No conscious, comprehensive updates have been made in a very long time.

So, sitting with my pants around my ankles, I began asking about the rest of my life: where am I still using single-ply?

Where am I still choosing the lowest-cost or low-cost option without thinking about the downsides?

To dissect this, I’ve been 1) looking at how I spend money and where it’s provided outsized returns and 2) asking myself—as a recovering frugality addict—a bunch of uncomfortable questions.

1) Looking at how I spend money and where it’s provided outsized returns. Especially as I approach the new year, this pairs well with a Past-Year Review (PYR). In practice, it’s really simple. Look at records of your past spending and note down anything that you feel was money really well spent. Here are a few approaches I like: reviewing Amazon purchases for the year, looking at all of my photos from the past year, and looking at credit card statements. I’ve found the photos to be particularly useful. Equally helpful is looking for where the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze; in other words, where was the cost not worth it? These are things you can trim to make space for higher-value investments.

2) Asking myself—as a recovering frugality addict—a bunch of uncomfortable questions.

Here are a few I’ve found helpful so far: 

What purchases of $100 or less have most positively impacted my life in the last 12 months? Are they grouped in particular areas? In my case, as an example, nearly all answers were related to sleep, health, travel/experiences, or gifts for family and friends.

What might it look like to invest more than $100 into those high-leverage areas? What might it look like if I had to spend $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000 per year? I realize this might seem insane, but it might also be the most important question. The goal is not to unleash the Kraken of irresponsibility and spend like a drunken sailor. If you’ve been programmed to buy gallons of Costco ketchup to save two cents per serving, these questions are intended to stretch you in the opposite direction. I’m a fan of absurd questions, as highlighted in Tools of Titans in the context of Peter Thiel’s seemingly crazy question: “If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months?”

Here’s my commentary on this and similar “impossible” questions: 

“Now, let’s pause. Do I expect you to take 10 seconds to ponder this and then magically accomplish 10 years’ worth of dreams in the next few months? No, I don’t. But I do expect that the question will productively break your mind, like a butterfly shattering a chrysalis to emerge with new capabilities. The ‘normal’ systems you have in place, the social rules you’ve forced upon yourself, the standard frameworks—they don’t work when answering a question like this. You are forced to shed artificial constraints, like shedding a skin, to realize that you had the ability to renegotiate your reality all along. It just takes practice.”

Podcast guest and personal finance expert Ramit Sethi helped me think about high-leverage spending by introducing the concept of pulling “financial levers.” He recommended asking hypothetical questions akin to “If physical fitness and health are so important to you and affect everything else, what might spending 10x more per year on that look like? 100x? If you can afford it, how could you test it for a short time to gauge the results?”

One personal result: I combined my answers to this and the first question to gift my parents packages of sessions with a personal trainer (i.e., health + gifts to family and friends + 10x spending). After a short trial period, the physical and emotional rewards have been so great that I’m going to continue the program for at least the next year.

What indulgences were worth it? Which indulgences would I repeat? What do they have in common?

What indulgences were not worth it? What do they have in common?

Where can I spend more money to create frequent moments of joy, and where can I spend money to save time? What might a two-week test look like, just to dip my toe in the water?

Make an inventory of things you do on a daily or weekly basis. For an extra $100 per month, for instance, you can have the best toothbrush, toothpaste, laptop stand, socks, eye mask for sleeping, and more. For $10–50, you can also take many of your enjoyable vices from mediocre to world-class.

For saving time: What about wash-and-fold laundry? What about dog walkers? What about paying someone to clean the interior of your car? Commit to making a list of at least 20 ideas, and include the ridiculous. Brain dump now, edit later.

The above are all real examples from my life. The little things can make a big difference. In fact, in day to day life, the little things often end up being the big things.

THINKING ABOUT FRUGALITY, NOT THOUGHTLESS FRUGALITY

What might it look like to be frugal by choice instead of by default?

Once again, there is a time and a place for frugality. There are situations where survival-level spending habits are the smartest habits.

There are also times for asking, “If I spend this dollar, where is the highest-leverage place to spend it?” instead of, simply, “How can I avoid spending this dollar?”

As a personal example, I’ve decided that I’m happy to spend a lot of money on ethical and excellent food, but I’m rarely willing to spend more than $50 on a bottle of wine. I can easily tell (and feel) the difference between mid-tier and high-quality food, but fancy wine is like pearls before swine for this Long Island boy.

What might it look like to move from scarcity-based decision-making to outcome-based decision-making? Not to spend more, necessarily, but to better answer the questions of “Where should I invest more and where should I invest less?” and “Where does it make a meaningful difference?” Note that the wording of these questions really matters. Ask first “Where should I invest more?” and then only “Where should I invest less?”

What does your last year—not your childhood beliefs—tell you about where you might invest more for a higher quality of life?

Please do let me know your thoughts in the comments. For me, this is a work in progress, and I’m eager to learn from others.

Where are you still using single-ply?

Where has spending more, or reallocating funds, helped you the most? Or where do you think it would help you the most?

What other questions have you found helpful for thinking about these topics?

Recommended resources:
Forget New Year’s Resolutions and Conduct a ‘Past Year Review’ Instead
How to ‘Waste Money’ To Improve the Quality of Your Life
Testing The “Impossible”: 17 Questions That Changed My Life
Ramit Sethi — Automating Finances, Negotiating Prenups, Disagreeing with Tim, and More
Mr. Money Mustache — Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year
Interview with Peter Thiel, Billionaire Investor and Company Creator

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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179 Replies to “Where Are You Still Using Single-Ply?”

  1. Lovely comparison….one that i can certainly relate to …..I confess i was once one of those “extreme couponers” ….toting a binder of coupons to local stores to try to master the retail world. I realized recently that that exercise, in hindsight, helped me understand one of my “extremely cool skills”is that of focus and arithmetic. Both of these skills is helping to propel me forward into options trading in the stock market.
    Funny how a frugality based obsession can be spun into something so cool 🙂
    Happy New year Tim!

    1. Most people will empathize with you. I guess it’s just human nature. If you approach them with sincere humility and ask them for a break, they will often find a way to charge you less.

      I was once poor due to a job loss and simply asked people for a little help. As an example, I did not have to pay for my daily morning coffee at Starbucks for weeks. In fact, they gave me free bags of beans that were recently pulled from the shelf. I told the attendant at the battery store I could not afford to by the big package of AAA.s on sale so he told me I could have a free small package if I promised to go online and created an account. I told my stylist things were tight and she charged me the children’s rate plus a coupon she found in the draw and refused the tip. I told the gym manager I had to cancel my membership and he said don’t worry about it and simply waved the monthly fee. And did you know if you are nice to the customer service agents on the phone, they will give you all sorts of credit? I didn’t. And on and on. One more. I mistook price per pound with price per package at my local grocery store and the attendant said don’t worry I’ll take care you, waved her card and punched in the smaller amount.

      So, what does this have to do with frugality? The lesson for me was that saving money is not always about control. It’s can also be about generosity. Take the time to pleasantly acknowledge and connect with the people that normally just take your money and you will be surprised at how much money you can save.

      One more reason why call centers should be as local as possible.

  2. Love this post to the blog on money mindset. Have enjoyed your conversations with R Sethi on this topic. His approach of spending wildly on what you live and cutting back on what’s not important to you rang a bell, moreso that some other approaches. I genuinely think if you can put aside the slightly woo-woo sounding stuff in it, 4-Hour Work Week fan, Denise Duffield-Thomas’ work is exactly what you’re looking for on the personal mental money process. Just go with me here on this…. she uses processes of reviewing, recovering childhood money memories that shape our present, identifying “BS” excuses that hold people back (Ramit Sethi encounters this with his First $1k students all the time) , crazy fears we don’t even realize we have (the personal perception of enormous negative consequences of having, displaying, spending, saving money) and coaches people on how to clear it up. It’s completely outlined in her books, no need for the personal group coaching that she charges pretty well for. It works, honestly.

  3. Apologies for going off topic but I’m curious if you will be doing an “end of decade in review” as well as your usual past year in review?

    1. I’ve definitely been thinking about trying to write a “What I Learned This Decade” post. Could be a monster, as I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I also think it could be a great exercise. TBD!

      1. Can only recommend… fortunately we backup all our photos and I looked at photos from end of 2009/start 2010 before writing my decade review. Photos are able to connect me to my thought patterns of that time again. Magical.

        Happy new decade everyone!
        El

      2. Was just looking at my pintrest of 5 yrs ago…I stopped using it so I know the timing. It also linked me with my thinking and interests of the time.

  4. Most things. I was so incredibly frivolous in my 20s that I’m now bound by obligations that really force me to consider every expense as necessary or not. The relief is that most things are not and it’s allowed me to re-acclimate to reading and studying that I’ve been putting off and has forced me to aspire to the person I incessantly advertise to others: the money conscious, long term oriented, intellectual type. Turns out I’m not that but I’m focusing more now and it started with frugality oddly enough.

  5. I’ve had a single-ply mindset about housing / officing for a few years.

    My wife and I are both full-time freelance copywriters. Until recently, we never invested in a home office. We’ve always had a one-bedroom apartment and worked from the kitchen table or the couch. A few months ago we finally decided to invest in a two-bedroom to have an office.

    We move Saturday. 🙂

    1. Huge congrats. This is a big leap that I’ve also made in the last few years — investing in locations explicitly and almost exclusively for doing work. It has made a huge difference for my mental well-being.

    2. Great move. I worked briefly from a bedroom, then went to a remote location: my basement. Solid productivity there but minimal natural light. Now I’m in our sunroom and love it. I had an office outside and paid rent for almost two years yet didn’t see a benefit to that particular space. I’m a copywriter as well. Kind of wish my wife was an AD.

      1. Have been working from home for several years (financial advice and brokerage). Having come from a corporate banking head office background, when I became self employed 17 years ago I immediately went and found office premises and rented premises for over 10 years. 5 years ago because of divorce, and some serious mental health issues that followed, I eventually had to give the office up and work from a home office (converted bedroom). And you know what, having the away from home office was completely unnecessary. It was a hangover from corporate life and way of thinking. Working from home requires discipline, but the many upsides, cost, zero commute time/cost, less office distractions etc makes it a no brainer for many if your work gives you the option.

    3. I work from home only 1-2 days a week, the rest of the time at an office. When I was home, I would set up my laptop on my dining room table. About a year and a half ago, I realized that I never used my living room, it was wasted space, so I got rid of the couch and coffee table and converted it into a home office. I’m so much more productive than I was in the dining room because I have a couple monitors, all my supplies nearby, and I don’t have to take it down when I have dinner guests or host book club.

  6. I once had a friend who became sick of explaining to people why they had a tea pot (Lota) in the bathroom. He finally started asking our friends, If you stick your hand in shit, do you just wipe it off with one-ply?
    Sieze the Bidet.
    Bidet is the day to change a frugal habit.

  7. I recently switched to single-ply TP so that I can have the TP last longer – which does work for a female. For a male, single-ply does not save you any real money. I find that one roll (1-ply) last 3 1/2 days, as opposed to 1 day (2-ply), assuming I’m home all day/night for all 4 of those days during the test.

    I’m still on disability, so for me, money is still tighter than I’d like it to be. This is why I work hard at getting better at writing. I spend money during Nanowrimo because it helps me work towards my goal of getting off of disability as a writer.

    After several medical issues (food reactions), we finally got my diet sorted. This meant huge changes – no more food shelf and I have to buy more fresh vegetables which means even more money on food. However, food either brings me up or brings me down. I have so many food allergies that I had to rethink this several times so that I can avoid depression. Its hard to look at what other people eat when socializing and feeling left out.

    I found having a NerdGeek Hanukkah Bush-Christmas Tree gave me joy.
    I ask myself, what do I need to have to survive in extreme financial dire straights? I prep for this by buying one special item 1-2 times a year, depending on cost.

    I double up. If I have to go somewhere to spend money, I make sure that I’m meeting someone there and have my work stuff with me so that I can spend hours there and get more bang for my buck. I get more done at coffee shops, so this works well for me. And, I feel like I’m not denying myself eating out treats when I do this.

    I’m working on cleaning up my space and learning what I can from the books I have, so that I can sell them. I want to reduce the amount of stuff I have so that I can make my home look and feel more like a home instead of a bookstore. My goal is to redecorate my home such that it looks like the house I would have bought if I could have afforded it.

    I try to only have in my life, what is going to work towards my ultimate goal of getting off of and staying off of disability. I want to be able to afford to do the things I really want to do.

    1. Sending you good energy and healing strength.
      One thing I have learned in my life is that whatever I focus on (good or bad in my life) gets stronger – like in that story of the two wolves. The wolf you feed is the one that endures so saying “my ultimate goal of getting off of and staying off of disability” still focuses on the disability and feeds that wolf. What I would recommend is to hold as a target the kind of life afterwards. “My ultimate goal is to have a life full of radiant health and prosperity” or something like that. Feeding the right wolf has been proven key for me.
      Good luck!

      1. Your philosophy will never make a deaf man hear or a blind man see. Your philosophy will never heal a person with brain damage. I know! New Age haters of my God and Believers in my God have both screamed their foul mouthed insanities at me in an attempt to demand healing. It just simply does not work that way! No amount of believing lies about me is going to make me get my MENSA IQ back! I already tried that! Your philosophy will never ever work in cases where its not “low self-esteem” or other lies we tell ourselves. I am not lying about me. I am not saying “I can’t do it, so I won’t”. I’m saying “I can’t do it yet, but I will try again and not give up.”

        My reality is that I have profound brain damage. The only thing I can do is recognize it, try to find its limits and figure out how to heal it and I will never heal it by pretending I am MENSA. I tried that. I’ve been over-achieving for years and failing while trying to pretend that I just didn’t try hard enough or that I let a tiny slip of reality into my thinking patterns. Your logic does not work when the damage is real and not mental. Sorry, but I do not have mental health damage disability. I have dead neurons disability caused by being shook as an infant on 2 different occasions, such that I literally passed out and stopped breathing. However, it was not so severe that I had the buldging eyes and so on. My brain randomly shows up. My brain is smart one second and stupid the next – literally. I focus on my brain so that I can figure out how it is working so that I can figure out how to fix it.

        I have noticed that sometimes my brain overwrites on top of data I have learned. This I took over 50 years to figure out! This is HUGE for me! Only three weeks ago, did I figure out that I have to do learning topic 1 and learning topic 2 back to back so that brain does not write topic 2 over topic 1. Topic 1 and topic 2 are very specific. In my case, its word puzzles (not word finds or crossword puzzzles, but the other puzzles in those variety word puzzle books) and medium sudoku and other sudoku variety puzzles. I also need to do creative writing back-to-back with learning complex maths. I have to review complex maths daily or I literally forget it such that I’m looking at the material as if its for the 1st time.

        Sure, I’m “studying” College Algebra. What I am really doing is reading it and attempting to make some sense of it so that it can incubate in the back of my brain for a year or two. After I get through college algebra once, I’ll go back to learning Intermediate Algebra/pre-calc for its round 2. Round 2 is where I learn it for real, and attempt to memorize as much as possible by working problems of the same type in several different math books or pdf files (legally obtained ones only that are labeled open source for private use). I also attempt to get faster at working such problems. I average one section every 3 days with 1 day off per week. I review the previous sections for a good hour or two every day.

        Next, I’ll relearn chapter 1 of college algebra while I go through round 3 of Intermediate Algebra/pre-calc because I need to know this stuff well in order to succeed in college algebra. I’ll slowly add another chapter of college algebra, averaging 1 chapter per month.

        While I do this “head banging” work, I’ll have to review all the stuff in the earlier algebra courses on a as needed basis too. I’ll have to review +,-,*,/ or exponents, negative and positive numbers and so on.

        Why bother then? Why not find your talent and focus on that? My talent is swearing at the TV and being a right git verbally. However, being a negative tell it like it is doesn’t do well for a blog either. And, I hate that personality! I’ve been working hard at not being that person for years and no amount of $ is going to get me to go back to that old version of me. OTOH, I will always be rooted in the very reality that others try to bury! I won’t bury it. I won’t swear it either. I’ll try to learn to accept it while I try to learn how to educate it out of me. Or, at least lessen it dominance on me.

        Thank you if you actually made it this far. Most people don’t as they assume I’m like all the other fools in this world. I’m not. My God told me He wasn’t going to divinely heal me. I took that as a sign that I should learn how to fix my brain so that I might be able to send snippets of what I learned, to someone else who might then come up with a better way of teaching people like me. Who knows? Maybe I’ll succeed, maybe I won’t, but at least I’ll be happy.

  8. My greatest teacher on frugality was my mother, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She lamented all the times she bypassed the expensive wine for a cheaper one as it “was all I could afford”, the expensive cuts of meat, the man she had a crush on she didn’t tell, and so on. People in her family are long-lived, to their late 80s and 90s, so she expected the same. When she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer at 66, she told me, Don’t wait, don’t put things off, buy the expensive cut of meat, buy the better wine, take that trip. She always want to come to Bali but always put it off because of the expense. Then she got sick. So when I had a chance to come to Bali 3 years after she died, I came and wound up living here and adopting an Indonesian daughter (who is turning out just like my Mum — so that kind of shoots down the Nature argument in the Nature vs Nurture debate). Anyway, the path you don’t take could also lead to a life-changing experience or encounter. And on the subject of toilet paper, why are you still using toilet paper? You would have seen those water sprayers attached to the toilet when you stayed in Bali. They’re much more economical, get you cleaner down under and save cutting down trees! Better all around.

  9. Thank you for this post. Having grown up to Indian parents, I am definitely a recovering too-frugal person. I have definitely regretted NOT spending money more so than spending. I will look forward to doing this review. I also have 3 young kids, so alot is money goes into their necessities (mostly at Target) and daycare.

  10. This reminds me of the old saying “they know the cost of everything but the value of nothing”.
    I have, this year, invested in a cleaner once a fortnight, an “indulgence” that I would not even contemplate previously. The difference it makes to our physical space and my mental calmness is priceless!!

  11. Fantastic post, Tim, and so timely for me. (Didn’t even know you blogged any more.)

    BTW, I was so happy to hear Gary Keller raving about 4HWW in your podcast the other day. He’s right — EVERYONE should read it. Preparing to go nomad/expat, I’m in a period of shedding stuff, and 4HWW was one of the few books I somehow couldn’t bring myself to donate. (Keller’s One Thing is one of the others.) And it’s because even now 4HWW remains so relevant to my life.

    (BTW, only ‘The Game’ had a similar effect on me. ‘The Game’ remains the most important book I ever read. And, frankly, whenever I see a roundup of people supposedly listing the book that most changed their life — and The Game isn’t mentioned — I silently think, “You freakin’ cowards are all lying. You KNOW that no other book came close to ‘The Game’ in changing your life — NOT Grove, NOT Drucker, NOT Frankl — you’re all too damn chickensh*t to admit that it was Neil ‘negging’ Strauss that turned everything around for you.”

    Anyway, when I first read your 4HWW, it blew my head off. I almost couldn’t believe it, but I desperately WANTED to believe it. And it hardly happened immediately, but almost everything in 4HWW wound up coming true for me.

    And I did the full circuit with 4HWW:
    1) Desperately wanting to believe
    2) Slowly executing
    3) It’s alive!
    4) Yeah, but — a Muse isn’t cool. A billion dollars? THAT’S what’s cool.
    5) Nowhere near a billion, but now have enough $ to realize that I’d still hate myself with a billion.
    6) Hey, wait a minute — what was that ‘Muse’ thing again? ‘Cause it no longer seems lame. In fact, it sounds wayyyyyy better than “grinding” til I drop.

    Or just waiting for Alzheimer’s.

    So I love this post because it feels like an update to 4HWW. One that perfectly matches where I am now.

    So here are some areas where I’m wanting to spend more:

    1) Personal training for me as well. I want to have some kind of personal trainer for the rest of my days.

    2) Hop planes whenever I want — and fly business for all hemisphere shifts

    3) Endless summer — figure out when the best weather is in my favorite cities, and live in them during those times. Keep the planet between me and SAD at all times.

    4) Buy all travel prioritization upsells. Lounges, CLEAR, etc.

    5) Cost no object for me as well for food quality. Unapologetically eat at absolute top of animal protein food chain for me and loved ones. Wild salmon, grassfed marrow, etc etc etc. Life goal is to be PETA’s public enemy #1.

    6) Fly anywhere to see best friends, and events that matter to me. It embarrasses me to have a fat bank account, yet also have dear friends I haven’t seen in over a decade because I thought it “weird” to hop a jet just to have a beer with one of my most-favorite people. Going forward, I will hop planes just to have a beer with a wonderful friend. And I’m not waiting for Louis CK to return to my megalopolis. If I have to go to freakin’ Dubuque to see him — and apparently I do — I will go.

    7) Secretly start runing my for-profit business as a charity. The business wound up working better than I ever expected. But I can no longer get it up for grinding to figure out how to jam in more upsells, etc. It bores me. Yet it interests me to run it as a stealth charity. It will still look like a conventional business. But it will secretly make much less, because it is actually bleeding its margins into charities in the vertical. My weird, pro-social fantasy.

    Tim, thanks for all you do. It’s been a joy to watch you grow and continue to free yourself from the past. Even opening this post on the john is both wonderfully funny and feels like you continuing to free yourself from any need to keep up appearances. I learn so much from you.

    (btw, your blog comments never appear on Windows chrome, win Opera, or iOS Chrome.)

    1. Hi Bryan — Thanks so much for flagging the blog comments issue. We sent you an email to investigate further. Have a wonderful NYE!

  12. Pillows. I realised that somewhere along the line I had formed the view that you don’t buy pillows. I think I’ve always viewed certain domestic items as akin to body hair, they just sort of appear in your life naturally and gradually multiply as you get older. Towels is a similar issue. I don’t know if this is a frugality mindset though or just thinking that these things don’t matter. A bandwidth issue because there’s mire important things to focus on. Then before you know it you’re wondering why you’re getting neck cramps from the lop sided budgie in a bag you’ve been sleeping on and why the bath followed by a toweling down with a metre square of sandpaper has done nothing to relax the muscles.

  13. Loved reading this !! We joke in our family No cheap TP ( toilet Paper) and good quality select a size paper towels. I am going to ponder this further. I spend a car payment on my personal trainer ( 3x per week) It has turned my 56 year old housewife life upside down !!

  14. In your old podcast episode with Patrick Arnold, there was a brief mention of ursolic acid. Do you know of any recent developments regarding making it bioavailable as an effective supplement?

  15. My biggest “Two ply” investments have been in quality machinery and tools for my business.
    Nothing costs more than fooling around for half a day fixing a breakdown, because I thought I’d save a couple of hundred quid on a machine that should reasonably last five years.
    Spend the extra, it’s an insignificant amount in the long run. A breakdown or failure is never insignificant.

    The other one is on health.
    One example, I now go for a 3 monthly sports injury massage, which keeps me moving in a reasonable fashion.
    Not being in agony every day makes me a whole lot more productive, and makes the cost insignificant.
    (Actually, after less than 12 months, this one is turning out to be life changing on a few different levels, better sleep, calmer mind, more energy)

    I also spend on protein powder, and magnesium pills. Both these cost quite a bit, but more than pay it all back in increased productivity.

    There are other things too. Spending to take one less concern away, one less thing on my mind, is worth it if it means I can better focus on something that matters more.

    On a side note, I view this on a desktop mostly, at an increased size, (might get glasses next year….), and the black menu bar across the top of the screen is way to deep, and leaves too little to view your text.

    Happy New Year.

    1. About the magnesium pills.
      I now make magnesium water with Milk of magnesia (pure no additives) and carbonated water, You end up with Magnesium Carbonate. Absolutely dirt cheap, biggest cost is the carbonated water. Google the process.
      It works so well, I never get those agonizing leg cramps if I take it every day or so.
      I might take magnesium threonate for the brain but for the rest of the body it is the bicarbonate.

  16. Great comparison, but before you indulge in Charmin, consider this [Moderator: link to NRDC website removed.]. My family has recently switched to bamboo based toilet paper [Moderator: product link removed.] and have found that no doubling up is necessary.

  17. I stopped using single-ply so long ago that I can’t remember. I use the fluffy, puffy, angel stuff followed by wet wipes. About four years ago I was in Target coveting a beautiful Rachel Ashwell blanket covered in pink roses with satin trim. It was $50. I started to pass it by. I already had a blanket that was good enough. But something in my mind asked, “If not now, when?” When would I allow myself to have nice things? I bought it. I love using it. Later, I bought a baby pink KitchenAid stand mixer. I don’t bake. I simply needed that on my kitchen counter. Seeing it brings me joy. And I allow myself these indulgences. Finally. Because I am 71. And it is time.

    1. Ruth, I do bake. And while I am currently living in an RV (renovating a house we recently purchased), I returned a Christmas gift (one of those air fryer things, which is way too big for the kitchen in the rig!) and ended up getting a beautiful, deep-blue, ceramic Dutch oven.

      I’ve ALWAYS wanted one of these and never seemed to come across them at thrift shops or yard sales (where a lot of my purchases come from.)

      And it took me a while to relinquish that 1PM (one-ply mindset) but they just delivered it yesterday. Though I’ve not had time for a sourdough bake, I get that same hit of happiness seeing it in the stovetop, just waiting for me.

      Like you, it is time. I’m 54, doing okay in life.
      And I indulged.

  18. I haven’t seen “Brand X” toiletpaper in many decades….My frugal Grandad used to bring home cheap toilet paper from work that was basically “copy paper”….

  19. I guess I could upgrade my TP if I had our septic tank cleaned more often. But with 8 kids, I think I’ll wait till I’m an empty nester(which will be a while)…. washing hands is a must in our house 😉

  20. I sold janitor supplies when I was younger and as a woman often laughed at how many men complained about single ply “sandpaper” . This was good food for thought, like you I was always willing to drink the less than $10 bottles of wine, til I found the orphan rack at Binny’s liquor store and started buying $60 bottles for $20 now I am spoiled. It has been a great adventure.

  21. My wife has joined the slow home movement so this post is very helpful. Personally I am not focused on frugality but on the eliminating single use plastic wherever we can. Per your recommendation we will take a closer look at 2019 spending. Thanks for such a great blogpost!

  22. Loved the subject matter but…
    You have used the wrong word in your blog. Used where rather than why as it should be. …. sorry but distracting.

  23. Great Article Tim
    I have one question why are you not using a flexible spray water nozzle to provide the most hygienic clean ?
    Happy New Year May 2020 be another Amazing Year

  24. A few days ago I bought single ply for the first time after having been a loyal Charmin guy/family. My wife said, “did you know this is single ply toilet paper?” To which I replied, “yes…it was quite a bit cheaper than Charmin.” After a roll or two, I can’t wait for it to run out so I can get Charmin again! It’s just not worth the cost difference to not have the “comfort” of good toilet paper. Timely article on the other points too. Thanks, Tim!

  25. Other questions I find helpful to weave in as part of this excellent query: How are my purchases impacting climate change? Are there ways as an individual that I can take responsibility, such as by eating fewer animal products, driving/flying less, and buying less clothing and fewer consumer goods? What actions help me make a contribution to our planet’s survival?

  26. About the toilet paper question…. we put in a bidet for environmental and ecological reasons. Works well without cutting down really a lot of trees and uses a minimum of water.

    1. Hah! I had installed a simple bidet at our last house. And while reading this post (while in the bathroom) I thought to myself, why don’t I have one where I live now — ordering now on Amazon.

  27. What a lovely thought-provoking blog! It’s made me reflect on my childhood programming around money. I didn’t grow up in a scarcity environment, but the idea of saving for one’s future and environment, and Investing in good quality, not excessive, long lasting clothes and shoes, was drilled into me and has stayed. I still feel off, dissatisfied, when I buy “fast fashion” items, and would rather have two excellent quality shoes that last me 10 years than a closet full of shoes that last me 1-2 years each. Never into the luxury category of course, but I have found brands that value good fabrics, longevity, excellent craftmanship and quality sewing. Also to this day I put any extra above my minimum bank balance into an RRSP or TFSA (Canadian retirement savings tools) or RESP (education fund) for my kids.

  28. I would’ve never imagined on 1/1/2019 I’d be commenting on a Tim Ferriss post about 1 ply vs 2 ply on 12/31/19.😊 I definitely connected with your food/wine analogy. My greatest asset for me is my time so I will pay for parking or park a little further away vs sitting waiting an unknown amount of time hoping someone leaves soon. Tried 2 ply multiple times but it just doesn’t last as long! Great post thx

  29. Toilet paper is not one of those things I skimp on. And I assign a lower mark to businesses that stock the cigarette paper-thin toilet rolls in their establishments. What a pain in the ass(pun intended) it is to have to layer the stuff 4 times to get to the adequate level of thickness. Few stop to think about why we cut corners in the areas we do. My dad still walks around the house turning off lights out of engrained habit. Even though modern day LEDs use 1/7 the electricity of incandescents, we still are forced to sit in mid-level darkness to satisfy the habits of a guy who was raised by depression-era penny-pinchers.

  30. I saw the Simpsons episode when Marge said family is going to save some money and they going to switch to single-ply toilet paper. Even i’m very far from American culture itself this moment of save mindset stuck with my whole life.

    1. You may be right about there being a relevant Simpsons episode but the thing that came immediately to my mind while reading this piece was a King of the Hill episode where Hank installs low flow, water saving toilets. After several days, Peggy Hill excitedly reports that she was finally able to clear the bowl with only three flushes of the tank.

  31. Good call.

    I generally try to spend a lot on things I use daily/often, like kitchen knives. (I have eventually aquired almost a full set of Global knives and love them – They might mean the difference between bothering to cook a decent meal, and ordering takeaway)

    I also spent a little on an AWESOME hand luggage, as I was travelling a lot during the summer, using a fancy-looking and wildly impractical leather bag. (€84 well spent, was happy for 2 weeks after, and still love it)

    UE Boom 3 speaker – I bring it everywhere and depend on it for priming myself in the morning for the cold shower. It’s water-proof, has nice bass, great battery capacity, and I depend on it for the most critical part of my morning routine. There’s always a cold shower available, regardless of where you might be. Having a tool to reset your mental state, make you more decisive and determined, is priceless. Yet, anyone can get it for approx. $130. It also floats.

    For the next year:
    *I will get a cleaner – I work pretty much 24/7. Spending the few hours I have to myself in the weekend to clean is a waste of time.
    *More rough thai massages – Grinding hard takes it’s toll. Staying mobile uses less energy and improves well-being.
    *Better nutrition – After being broke on and off for 5 years, I decided high-quality food would be one of my first things to spend money on after trying out the ketogenic diet for 3 months or so.
    *Outsource data entry jobs – They eat up my soul, steal my time, and makes me feel bad. We will invest in all kinds of data entry for our company next year, as well as an accountant and more. I’ll also implement this in my own life for things I want done.

  32. Point taken, but if we’re going to talk about mindful frugality, then you should consider the idea that a really great single-ply is comparable to, yet still cheaper than, a 2-ply. When Reviewed.com did their recent review of toilet papers, they picked Cottonelle (a single-ply) as their second-favorite of all the products they tested.

    What’s the analog?

    Sometimes the top-end of the bottom-tier product is better—and cheaper—than a top-tier product. A loaded Chevy may be a nicer car than a base model BMW. The catch of the day at Red Lobster may be better than (or at least comparable to) the redfish at Eddie V’s. And still 1/3 lower price.

    I think mindful frugality should really focus on the concept of value—marginal utility vs. marginal cost. That’s a key part of how you figure highest leverage.

  33. Tim, why are you using TP at all? A bidet is one of the best under $100 purchases you can make. Saves your ass (literally), money and wasted paper! I implore you to give it a try.

  34. I like the way you put it: scarcity-based vs. outcome based. Just read a book by Shannon Lee Simmons called Worry Free Money and she expounds on this idea. Of finding your hard line spending limits, which leads to happy spending instead of budgeting – which usually leads to ‘fuck it moments’ which I think is a result of wanting to buck the scarcity-based spending tightrope.

    Thank you for all that you share, Tim! Happy New Year!!

  35. I am always willing to spend a little more money (under $100) on a flight with shorter layovers and convenient times of day. I also grew up with the frugality-over-everything mentality and I am working hard to make choices that keep me from sleeping in airports or losing sleep to fly if that’s unnecessary.

  36. Last month I spent a lot of money to buy two courtside lakers tickets for me and my brother. They were scorer table tickets, so right in front of where lebron does his pregame hand powder ritual. Best seats in the house. I’m not a huge basketball fan but my brother is. The look of awe and joy on his face throughout the game was worth it all. I love my brother so much and to be able to share that kind of experience with him was priceless.

  37. Hey Tim, forget about single ply or any ply. You gotta try a bidet. At the age of 58, this manly man skeptic gave it a try after an interesting article in the Washington Post. I bought the Luxe Bidet (cheap!) on Amazon, the one with a warm water input (don’t even think about the cold-only version!). It is a TRANSFORMATIONAL GAME CHANGER. How can the US be so far behind so many other countries. It perfectly cleans your behind with heavenly warm water. What a glorious experience — AHHHHHHHHH! And you’ll soon save a lot of money by not purchasing nearly as much toilet paper. Read the ecstatic overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon. YOU GOTTA TRY IT!!!!

    1. P.S.: and you do not need to pat dry with “three squares” as an earlier post mentioned. We use small bidet towels — pat pat pat on your VERY clean bottom, and toss it in a basket for future laundering. It’s the same as toweling your bottom after a shower. You wind up using ZERO toilet paper!

  38. This year I got married… we were fortunate to get a lot of family support but had planned for something we were comfortable spending even if this hadn’t come through. Definitely a good exercise in figuring out what you do care about (live music, great food) and what you don’t (silverware, expensive wine, stationary). Best investment was £300 spent on hiring additional lighting in – really transformed the place.

    Thanks for the tips over the last weeks and years – the decade rounded off well for me. Hope to follow your thoughts and ideas into the new roaring 20s!

  39. Establish a $ value relative to certain decisions. A tipping point. When you’re young and broke, it could be $3. As you acquire more $ the number probably should go up. So for me, now, if the limo is only $20 more than the cab, I take the limo. I don’t have to go through any analysis. I made the decision once that $20 is my tipping point, so now I know what the right choice is, without the “frugality mind set” making me go through an analysis for each decision.

  40. probably a false assumption that spending more “always” leads to better outcomes, one can be fantastically healthy & fit without spending much money

  41. Tim, I highly recommend a bidet. They range in price from $20 for a simple one to $500 for a top of the line Japanese one that will heat the seat blow hot air afterwards. For a sinophile, I’m surprised that you haven’t latched onto one of these. Oh, and in addition to having a cleaner bung hole, tp usage will go drastically down.

  42. Okay this could to have come at a more appropriate time. We spent Christmas week with my family (3 daughters, spouses, 3 granddaughters) in Anaheim for a Disney vacation. We saved all year for it since we paid for the Air BNB and our tickets for 4 days of madness, intense walking and pain from being thrown around on rides that are made for kids or young adults.

    The thing I hated the most (other than the lines, but fast pass is great) was the toilet paper! I swear the Air BNB and Disneyland must have ordered from the same source. Horrible 1 ply toilet paper! We have been using Kirkland brand for many years and I was fine with it, but recently my husband says he wants Charmin. After our trip, I am not frustrated with his luxurious request any longer!

    As for transferring that idea to other areas of our life, I thought back to the pictures over the year that I was editing and organizing on the long ride back to NoCa from SoCa (11 hours), and what struck me the most was the activities with 2 of our granddaughters who live close. We bake, we sew, we garden……..and those are the best times. We make fairy gardens and the 5 year old loves to pick berries, heck they both Pyper and 11 year old Ally volunteered to clean out our chicken coop one day when they were over. They were playing “farmers”. We live in an older home in an older neighborhood in our small town and have a good sized lot.

    This post was really thought provoking for the new year. Thank you so much.

  43. Tim,
    my father is absolutely obsessed with you. I had introduced him to you about a year ago. He now has read your books, listens to your podcasts as he mows his many apartment building while he thrives on his side job as an entrepreneur, and keeps structured notes of all of your interviews and wisdom so he can look back on them. He is the absolute best father, friend, lawyer, husband, and continuously strives to grow personally mentally and physically. It would mean the world to me and be so amazing to him if you could send him an email. He is passionate about health wellness and longevity as he ages. He repeats all of his favorite points in your podcasts to all three of his kids and to my mom. Recently we have heard of the podcast describing how to goal set for old age with Peter attia. Thank you for your time and reading through this. I humbly appreciate it and appreciate your passion and work you bring to your followers.

    Thank you kindly,
    Lexie
    [Moderator: email address removed.]

  44. Thanks. Great thoughts in the replies. I was surprised to hear no comments about our most precious commodity, time. For many, like myself, it takes getting older to viscerally understand how short our time on this planet is and how our money should be spent to maximize doing things we really want to do, or not doing things we really don’t want to do- ride a bike to work, take the long way to work if it keeps you out of traffic, buy a nice bed since you spend so much time in it, buy a Tesla because it has the same total cost of ownership as a Civic and keeps you out of the shop- everyone’s favorite way to spend time, Quit your soulless job and get one that feeds your soul. Garden if you love gardening but pay someone else to do it if you would rather be playing tennis or guitar… You get the point. It took me way too long to figure out how much of my life-time was single ply.

  45. My wife and I try to evaluate spending decisions based on “value.” If spending a little more (or a lot more) actually brings you addition value that you think is worth the cost, then spend it. But if the extra cost doesn’t really bring us added benefits that are worth it to us, we’ll spend the money elsewhere instead.

    Two examples: For toilet paper we get the two-ply, but we get the least expensive two-ply we can find at the market, price-compared by the square foot and bought in the 48-roll pack. Spending more doesn’t get us more. In fact, buying Charmin is actually counter-productive as it often clogs the toilet.

    For hotels, we rarely spend more for a 5-star hotel with spa and amazing restaurant because we never use those amenities. But we gladly pay more to be in the heart of a historic city, because great location really enhances our travel experiences.

    Great post Tim!

  46. Would like to point out that this thought exercise can be used to spark business ideas that you feel deeply connected to. E.g. for me sleep is major, similar exercise 4 years ago led to the creation of a muse. So I guess another question could be: What would you be willing to spend more money on, if it existed?

  47. I used Cottonelle 1 ply….. have to my plumbing jams on multioply tissues and Cottonelle does the job well…its not like some of those truck stop tissues that tear when you just look at them

  48. This resonates so hard with me as I do my Decade review. I went nomadic ~8 years ago and vowed that I’d spend what it took to get the best version of everything that powers my adventures. That leads to benefits of lighter weight, better warranties, smoother performance. This year I feel like I really pulled it all together when I flew to several countries with a packraft and paddling gear in my backpack. Investing in quality goods meant that only weighed 19 lbs and I paddled a friggin’ boat that I can fly with! LOL, it was a thrill.
    I’ll next be upleveling my van-home. I went from super cheap to mid-range, which has already saved me a ton of time and aggravation.
    All this is in part due to an entire business built on outsourcers and working about 15 hours/week (4HWW started it all!) and paying life changing income to my staff. That right there is the best investment I could have ever made! I call outsourcing active-passive investing. Thanks for the long and steady inspiration!

  49. Well really the whole idea of “toilet paper” is ridiculous. Even in modern times, other cultures and nationalities have deal with this nappy problem in much less wasteful ways. For instance ieven n my wife’s background in modern Beirut, Paris of the middle-east, you had a hole and a hose. First, you have to squat (much better for your elimination position according to Yogi Vithaldas and others), then when you are done you use your “non-polite” hand, depending on your cultural preferences, to gently – and very efficiently I might add, rinse your off your “parts” and then merely pat dry. But anything is better than, as one Reddit, comment described as “scrubbing peanut butter out of a shag carpet with a paper towel”!

    Anyway, the mechanization of this milleniums-old ritual are the Bidet, Toto and other Japanese spinoffs including one that will eventually sing to you or ask you if the water is warm enough I would imagine. Or – a hole and a hose – made bespoke if you must.

    So paper? even if from recycled material is an incredibly carbon-heavy idea. And one that has to go ASAP, right now – for sure!

  50. Here are the 10 best purchases I made in 2019:
    6/10 being under $100

    1. elastic shoelaces
    2. Atomic Habits book
    3. Wood hangers
    4. Kitchen drawer organizers
    5. OXO broom & dustpan set
    6. Duvet cover with a zipper!
    7. Thursday Boots
    8. Ooni pizza oven
    9. Sonos surround sound
    10. Peloton Bike

    Link in bio to the reasons for each.

  51. This title was ripe for puns….I applaud your restraint sir.

    Growing up with cheap parents, I constantly heard, “you can buy it when you’re older and making money”. This made me focus on the value of what things were worth and if we can stay in the groove of the topic, so to speak, I tried sanding my bottom once or twice but found I could not spend enough on my hiney (I highly recommend Cottenelle with cleaning ripples) and am currently saving for a Toto S550e (hashtag worth it).

    I love stories like this for cheap people to come out of their fog and see that money is not to be saved and coveted in it own right but for the things it can help you accomplish and the comforts it can afford you so you can focus on giving back to others.

  52. YES YES YES, buy Charmin Ultra Soft! And buy Viva paper towels. I am a retired school teacher and was a single parent and was always living hand to mouth. I am retired now, finally debt free, and several years ago decided life was too short not to buy Charmin and Viva. I too, will spend money on quality healthy food and drink. If you really want to indulge, budget for live flowers always. marlo willis , Fernandina beach, fl

  53. Great to see you writing more. I love your prose and writing style.

    As a frugal person myself, I can relate to shedding my midwestern mindset of a penny saved is a penny earned.

    I like to think that money is only one of life’s currencies. Time, relationships, experiences… these are other currencies as well.

    They are currencies that inevitably lead to better health and more overall wealth. So when I am spending my money, I try to find ways to do so that will buy me more time, give me fresh experiences and improve existing relationships or help me to cultivate new

    Knowing that I am investing into another part of my personal “currency” portfolio helps me to spend without worry.

  54. Great post. I love starting at TP and working outwards–so to speak. I would like to take you back to your original thread and spin it differently. I was listening to a British marketing expert that laughed at our aisles and aisles of Toilet Paper. I will paraphrase his comment. He said something like…”When you are out digging in the garden and come in to clean up, do you grab for a dry paper towel and try to get your hands clean?” No, use you water (and soap). So, why at the end of a bathroom visit, do you use a dry paper to clean yourself?” He said in Europe the wet wipes are a much larger section of the store shelves vs. dry paper.

  55. The toilet paper analogy is an interesting one, but the theme is something I’ve seen articulated throughout different aspects of our lives. The most recent one being the comparison of free traffic to walking and paid traffic to taking the bus, where the former, while free like walking, requires 10x+ time and effort to pull off. The name of the game is time, effort and money, and the increase for one usually means the decrease of the others (and vice versa).

    Of course, depending on the availability of each humans might choose to prioritize one element over the other, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s always a good idea to keep those 3 elements in mind when making decisions.

  56. Ah! I stopped reading the comments so I could post fresh. As I have changed my mindset to one of abundance, I often find those childhood frugality lessons popping up. They are insidious, until you find yourself buying the cheapest option or staring at unit prices and say Why am I doing this? Because its what my family, my mother taught me. OK I was keeping on a tight budget because I was a grad student, getting a second degree with no earned income and I am older than Tim. Graduated in Dec, and blissfully letting go of scarcity mindset while I create my new career. It is insidious programming and it just pops up, as on the toilet paper issue. I will review my years purchases to see what brought me real pleasure. Here’s #1: a glossy white one drawer file cabinet with two smaller drawers on top for storage, no hardware, no handles, low profile and I love it so much! For a week it sat in my living room and every time I went by, I just touched the finish! #officegeek . But pure pleasure and worth X3 price of regular file cabinet. Onward!

  57. Toilet paper and Bidets are last years news, anyway.

    These days, the only way to wipe is the Way of the Bear, and a bear wipes with a Rabbit.

    Yes, a Bunny Rabbit.

    One day, Daddy Bear was leaning against a tree finishing his morning ablutions, when what should come bounding across the woodland floor, but a Bunny Rabbit.

    “Happy New Year” exclaimed Daddy Bear, somewhat taken aback by this unexpected visitor.

    “Sssame to you” stammered a clearly uneasy, and slightly nauseous Bunny Rabbit.

    As Daddy Bear stared down upon the furry little critter, and idea started forming in his mind.

    “Mr Bunny”, he exclaimed, “If I may be so bold as to enquire, does Sh*t stick to your fur?”

    “Why, yes, it does, quite badly as it happens” replied a still somewhat disconcerted Bunny Rabbit, “Why do you as such a question, Mr Bear”

    A devious smile crossed Daddy Bears face, and without so much as a grunt in the way of an answer, he shot out a large hairy paw, quickly grabbed Bunny Rabbit under his soft little belly, and wiped his Arse with him……..

  58. As someone who gets serious joint pains from eating foods with oxalates (such as one serving of spinach) I advise you to research this common problem and also take note that sesame seeds are high in oxalates.

  59. The harm of the single-ply lifestyle for a fellow frugal person like myself isn’t just the saving of money, it’s the fear of change. Holding back my spending means less vested interested. It’s a self protection mechanism. I.e. Wanted to get in the best shape of my life, so I ditched a $10 a month gym membership and switched to paying $140/month. Within two months I could see my abs for the first time.

    As a recovering single-plyer, I’m learning to put my money where my mouth is by shucking out money in the areas where I want to see real change. For me, it’s been fitness. For you, well let’s just say your buttonhole is about to be living its best life.

  60. Anyone for whom this matters:
    Some of the multi-ply TP is cushy on the tushy because it’s sourced from endangered trees and leading to deforestation. Don’t quote me, but I believe Cottonelle is one example. So, while I get this was not the point of this post, for the environmentally conscious, going from the cheap single-ply to the luxurious multi-ply leads to another consideration. I don’t have a recommendation (yet) — I’m still trying to find the best option for my ass and our planet.

  61. My parents still turn the thermostat further to the left than seems physically possible. My father bragged the bedroom temp got to 45 degrees once. He could see he breath! Then they will spend $10,000 on stupid trips – with all their “savings”. LOL.

  62. Although I never got any scarcity issues from all your written work, the tentacles of our childhood reach out in so many different directions and ways. It all comes to not being enough; financially, physically, intellectually, ad infinitum. I saw a post on Amelia Boone’s Twitter feed about “everyone struggling with something” As you can see by all the comments you and your work have genuine human value and have been a huge factor in leading me in directions that I would not have researched or pursued. Thanks so much. BTW, double ply.

  63. We need to stop using crazy deforestation toilet paper. The 100% recycled toilet paper by seventh generation is soft enough. Stop deforestation! We shouldn’t wipe our asses with the last natural wonders of the world. Bamboo toilet paper is also soft.

  64. I know this isn’t really about toilet paper, but tp creates an ungodly amount of waste and environmental damage. But don’t despair, Upgrade your butt with a bidet! Genie makes a bidet toilet seat that you can install in your home in about 15 minutes. (30 if you’re too smart to read the instructions like me!). $150 or so. Post bidet, you use a tiny amount of TP to “check” and dry. Main benefit? the “pit of despair” is actually clean, with the feces washed away as opposed to smeared into a barely noticeable coating. Happy New Year.

  65. Tim, the hidden nugget in this post is, “What if you had to spend $100,000?” For those of us who saved liked mad and then retired early, learning to spend again is a real issue! (I know – first world problems) – But there is almost no advice on the InterWebs about breaking the frugality habit. I have a monthly spending budget and I never come close – in fact I’m still saving! Suggestions??? Sources?

    1. Dave Ramsey has an interesting You Tube on this. Basically, he pushed someone in the same boat to stretch their comfort zone mildly (I’m not so sure it was mild). He asked the person to identify what they would normally spend on a vacation and then double that (say buy a better cruise if that is your thing). Another thought might be to say that every month that you don’t spend to your budget, you donate the surplus to somewhere (food bank, Red Cross, insert your favorite charity here). If you are comfortable giving away the surplus rather than spending it on yourself, then maybe you don’t need to spend more on yourself.

  66. Yes, Tim! Podcasts are amazing, but your words, and how you make them flow with giving us head nods and grins are where your secret sauce lies. Long live 2-ply!

  67. Great article! My family culture is super snobby and though I often think about it, reading this gave me practical tips for breaking it down and finally addressing it.
    As for tp… look up “who gives a crap”. It’s an ethical brand with great packaging, gives 50% profit towards water sanitation in developing countries and is the best recycled paper product I’ve ever used.

  68. I definitely get “in the weeds” on frugality from time to time. Thankfully (usually), my wife can break me from the mindset. I’ll be hunting down the aisle looking for the cheapest cost per unit on the price tag and she’ll say, “You like this one better, it’s worth the extra $0.05. Chill out and put it in the cart.” It’s a work in progress but I’m getting there.

    1. I second that. To be true to the post’s initial subject, a bidet/toilet-attachment (from e.g. Tushy or Squatty Potty) will turn “the pit of despair” into a thing of the past, and probably be a candidate for “a $100 or less purchase that has impacted you the most”.

  69. I purposely buy single ply for the septic because . . . actually, after reading your post, my reason makes no sense. I’m a changed man.

  70. The manufacture of bathroom tissue — particularly the soft, fluffy kind marketed for American bottoms — is one of the most “environmentally destructive” processes on the planet, according to the NRDC.

    “Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age,” NRDC scientist Allen Hershkowitz told the Guardian in 2009. “Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.”

    https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/Costco-toilet-paper-boreal-forest-sustainability-14079814.php

    Get a bidet.

  71. Many years ago I stumbled upon “Your Money or Your Life” (book). It changed my outlook on income and outgo dramatically. I moved on to playing the Cash Flow game for a while which gives a nice experiential zing to getting saddled with a non-producing debt. I don’t totally buy into Rich Dad, Poor Dad any more than I’m fully in the Financial Peace universe but each have merit for me.

    Now that I’m getting older I’m trying out retirement budgets and realizing I will spend more on health than on food. This is not classical insurance or the deductible. It is more like red-light therapy, cryo therapy, frequency specific microcurrent, neurofeedback, sauna etc. In our remodel of our home to make it an age in place kind of thing, we are allocating space for a therapy room as well as a dojo/workout room. We spend quite a bit of adjustable lights (ie can change color for day/night), but I think it is worth it.

    We may not eat or host a lot, but cooking real food as opposed to consuming processed food does require some space to make it easier to do the right thing, so our kitchen will be large for the house we are in, including a fridge just for ferments (microbiome stuff). I’ve learned that cutting corners on an efficient workspace is a slippery slope that leads to bad habits, so for me, investing in things that focus on good habits is critical.

    Thanks for this. I always love your thoughts and those who contribute to you.

  72. For some remain incognizant of what tissue lay ahead.
    They pull from the roll with such vigor and dread.
    They ignore what may be single nay twine.
    Regardless thy thickness.
    Regardless thy ply.
    It’s the same yard and a half
    every damn time.
    My best advice is to try a bidet
    It will cut paper costs without delay.
    How refreshing it is to spare trees and save money.
    It also conserves water and feels great on the hiney.

  73. I’m a physician and I once asked one of my gastroenterologist friends what toilet paper he recommended. He recommended single ply Scott. I, however, buy the fancy two ply stuff. It’s just more comfortable. However, my OB/Gyn friends do warn that it leaves “clitty litter.”

  74. Not sure it counts the same. I only use 1 ply TP as Kleenex Cottonelle does not come in any other variety to my knowledge. But then again it is not the penny-pincher option either and it out-performs many 2-ply and 3-ply TP products. Might be worth also asking the question

    When it the single ply not just “Single-Ply”?

  75. Honestly, I’ve looked for ways to cut plastic purchases and toilet paper is a HUGE offender in my house. We go through A LOT (single, double, or triple ply doesn’t matter) of TP, and to buy the big ole batch means the giant plastic wrapper around the 24 rolls, the plastic of four packs, the plastic around the individual rolls. The single-ply does come in a giant cardboard box (paper=trees, but it contains 100% recycled material and is recyclable), and each roll is wrapped in paper… more trees! It’s a trade-off I’m still working through. Thanks for all of your words, ides, interviews— you’re a badass.

  76. Whao, already so many comments… I’ll bring my humble two cents anyway! First of all, thanks for bringing that up Tim, habits die hard, even harder when unexamined.

    One of the way I function is to think in terms of ratios. The main one: Price – Quality. What is the best quality I can get for a reasonable amount, or one I can afford. I don’t mind waiting for two years to get the best quality possible, and buy it once and for all (!) rather than buy it every few years again and being stuck with shitty stuff that breaks all the time.

    And most of the time, during that temporal buffer, I might actually realize it’s not what I want before I buy it, I take time to study my options, ask questions, research. So when I eventually buy, it’s usually a sensible choice. I have dozens of books on my Amazon list, and a few times a year I go through the list, edit it, and then buy it.

    Quality over quantity, also implies sustainability. I think (emphasis on think) long-term investment, instead of rushed spending (wasting resources). It’s about maximizing the gain from the effort.

    A few examples:

    I’ve lived with very little money for many years, being fulfilled. I worked for a local newspaper to meet interesting people and get free tickets to concerts and other events. I would teach, and while my students were taking exams, I would write articles, getting paid basically twice… I cooked my own food, bought only proteins when half-priced (btw same with toilet paper, drunk tap water, I buy a 24-rolls quality pack half-price, which is not much more than regular), I ride my bicycle around whenever possible (cost close to zero after a couple of years), almost never buy clothes full-price, I found out that I can eat almost half of what most people eat and be completely fine. Why over-eat and then spend time, money and energy to lose weight…

    To conclude, I feel very lucky to live in a country and a city that allows me to do those things, I know it’s impossible for a lot of people! On top of that, I don’t have to feed or support other people, which makes it easier.

    However, I’m convinced that most people can benefit from taking a couple of hours – even once a year – (a tiny investment!), to reconsider their habits and see if they’re making SENSIBLE CHOICES (according to their own will), or just FOLLOWING (being used by, enslaved by) unhealthy habits, advertisement, fashion, industries, customs, “friends” or anything that want YOUR MONEY and not YOUR HAPPINESS…

    Thanks again Tim, sorry for the long new-year’s eve babble, I’m glad you sparked that text

  77. This is a great article. This is not actually relevant to your meaning, but I still want to point out that single-ply is also septic – safe, breaks down easier, and even in a city with sewer can save money on costs of managing clogs, especially when you have lots of children and an older home with old pipes. There are still good reasons to use single-ply.

  78. Yes! So true. less is more. Buy quality and enjoy it, relish it, consume less and experience more. Thank you for ALL you have done. Contribute = Receive.

  79. Many of our boomer parents pass on frugal vmeme possibly from their war time parents.
    As a child I was instructed to use 3 pieces for number twos. Today I still apply this minimalist principle to many things and although the paper is thinner these days, I have fun folding it into a triangle then over and over so it ends up being multiple ply thick and can “usually” withstand more than one wipe.

  80. This is a fantastic post, Tim–I always enjoy your thoughts and perspective. It’s a great time of year to reevaluate the “one ply” areas of our lives. When I read your post, I looked at things deeper and wondered how many people live “one ply” lives in their jobs, relationships, etc.; maybe part of it is because we don’t think we deserve better. I grew up in a environment with a high panicked, scarcity mentality, and “one ply” is a very hard thing to shake off sometimes regarding material things and beyond. Thanks for the reminder to look for the times I can and should be going “two ply”, both in toilet paper, and in life. Have a wonderful new year.

  81. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I too have been looking at redefining my spending habits.

    I have increased my valuing of myself, increased prioritizing joy, relaxation and fun with friends. I have always put increased value on whatever saved my valuable time relative to the time I spend working for that amount of money and relative to the joy and inspiration that I feel.

  82. Love it and what about the opposite question. What do you spend your hard earned cash on because society says you should but you get little benefit from?!?

  83. I seriously was just thinking along these lines recently. Even am working on a post about it! Only I call it upgrading my life. I realized that I was “making do” with utter crap – and getting zero results. Obvious now, but wasn’t for a while. And I’m a Taurus, so I naturally have champagne dreams lol. So one thing I started upgrading are my vitamins and other supplements – using pharmaceutical grade instead of off the shelf. For one thing, you really can’t trust most off the shelf brands, and for another, they just throw anything in the vicinity of what they call it in there! I’ve been taking the wrong magnesium for I don’t even know how long – and why it’s even in supplement form beats me, since the body doesn’t even absorb it well. More money for the company? Who knows.

    Thanks for the post, Tim, as always! <3