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?
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 900 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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191 Replies to “Where Are You Still Using Single-Ply?”
Got the point you are trying to make – about the need to re-evaluate our automatic choices.
One suggestion – as you mention – 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 – the using of toilet paper has also been grandfathered into most people’s current life. Instead of thinking about 1-ply vs 2-ply, I encourage you to think on paper vs bidet.
While I appreciate your insight into inappropriate frugality – that’s been obvious from over here in the bleachers for years – you’ve missed the point of Scott tissue:
Get Your Asshole Clean.
And just say no to toxins.
Charmin and the rest are too fluffy to wipe your ass correctly. I’ve tried them. Single ply feels like Sandpaper you say? I say perfect abrasiveness. Goldilocks abrasiveness – not too much, not to little.
Function follows form.
Also, smell. You want a perfumed rosebud? At least buy some legit perfume if you are oriented that way. Charmin and the rest are a mass of nasty chemicals that smell like industrial waste if you smell deeply enough. Bleah.
Just over the last year I can look back and say that I have been very very conscious of my time more than anything else. I’ve realized more this year, maybe turning 43, maybe 2 years left to retire from the military… Ive actually changed my personal mantra when people ask “are you excited to retire?” .. my reply, “nope, i’m living like I am retired now so when it comes there will be no difference”. So time is of utmost important to me. I would very much (since reading the 4HWW years ago) love to take a 6 or 12 month sabbatical, but alas that was not in the cards. So I strive to maximize my time and really, honestly, don’t give a shit about the money costs… for this reason… the money costs are tied to the money habits. If I can just manifest better money habits then I don’t have to think about how much things cost. Its the same thing you say in many if your books… simplify (not necessarily frugality) …. decision…. incision. So i find tweaking where and how I want to spend my time really takes care of the money question for me because if I am doing the most with my time I don’t think about the cost so much… and I have already built cost saving “normal thing I might need” into the equation.
so let me say this. my most important things to do for the day are as follows (assuming a work day).
– get up and protein and journal and dress
– some form of wake up / B vitamin booster (monster ultra green)
– drive casually to work (arrive before everyone else)
-spend my day (as a maker… not a manager) fixing all the computers and internets
– code for myself in between
– call my girl and my kids (all
of whom live in europe)
– eat my lunch of slow carb goodness… ive been making lentil and tomato soup for pennies on the dollar and its really delicious and filling and easy. or if i forget or Im just lazy then worst case scenario is mexican, better is subway WRAP, best is JimmyJohns unwich… all with unsweet tea. (im not getting paid by any of these organizations but I should be)
– i leave work and usually go straight to the pool for 800-1000 meters of laps (and this is the most astonishing because it leaves me feeling amazing even if I get there and I am tired and non-motivated…I always come out feeling great)
– go home, dinner (choices in the same order as above)
– code on my side hustle… call my girl again before she goes to bed. finish my work. ensure I take my eating time to relax and regroup (anthony bourdain series currently but usually some chefs table or something similar)
– light a fire outside (weather permitting) (sometimes involves cutting some wood… lately with a quality axe and patience……. gathering, chopping, feeling the burn)
– usually a glass of wine in front of said fire under the stars (something very visceral about burning shit and enjoying a glass of wine… like setting all of the days worries ablaze …. like reverse journaling)
– if time permits… I have been finally blessed with some hot tub relief just before bed (who knows how long it will be here but enjoying it while I have the opportunity) 10 min in, 10 min out… about 40 min total.
if I actually have to make any purchase I have found that dollar stores actually have a lot of “name brand shit”, so things like toilet paper, wrapping paper, small condiments, some beverages etc… granted not all of them are eco whatever… but really…. if you are washing a metal straw every ten minutes or just simply putting a plastic straw in the recycle bin… there is some exorbitant energy consumption along the way… the garbage truck… the water company pumping the water to your house. you can cut or optimize on one side but there is usually some counter balance somewhere along the ecosystem that you might not be aware of that is eating the cost. So super cheapest whatever i need. Honestly…. minimizing big bills and payments is my priority… everything else im pretty agnostic about. I dont have any allergies to anything and I have lived very comfortable with very little. I feel the more niceties I introduce… the more likely I am to get upset when those niceties are not cutting it. So one-ply paper…. how about whatever paper I can find is fine with me. its no problem as long as I dont have to spend all day looking for a particular thing… just give me the one that is the cheapest. Or id rather spend the 5$ instead of 2 hours trying to customize and find just the right fucking toilet paper. duct tape and coat hanger mentality. Frugal… maybe…. but am i in charge of my time. am i maximizing my time expenditure? Absofuckinglutely.
I stopped using any toilet paper a few years ago and just installed one of these [Moderator: link removed.] far more hygienic and saves a fortune plus much better for the environment!
Dear Tim, Happy new year.
It is really eye opening talk and very thoughtful.
I think for person who is successful and progressive like you it dose make sense to really consider this perspective . However , it is as I think more difficult to be considered for a lay man who went in the opposite direction, meaning going from high income to low earning due to storming terms .
Once upon a time I would get to the cashier and I would in my head know very closely the total dollar amount of my purchase. I needed to. The experience and embarrassment of not having enough money to pay taught me this. Now, years later, I am often surprised and shocked when I hear the amount. These past few months my awareness of this has bothered me. Why am I not as close to retirement as I want to be? Why am I filling my life with stuff? Stuff that is only brining me temporary joy. What I really want is to help my people and see them not struggle. So now I have begun and will continue more through this next year, to pay more attention to where my money goes. I will give myself more time to think about whether a purchase is “worth it” or not. I have started writing down where my money goes as well. Sometimes we spend without even thinking of it. All the apps and subscriptions that automatically renew every month or year. Some I have cancelled because I don’t even use them anymore.
My one great decision this year, that has brought me the most joy in a long time, is I purchased a new home with my parents. With medical issues they weren’t able to move and purchase much of a home. So together we bought a lovely home for them. It makes me feel so good for them and at the same time I am now saving more for retirement. They need the money now, I need the money later. That’s the plan anyway! Happiness comes from creating happiness to others. I am going to work on being able to do more of this in 2020.
Thank you Tim for inspiring my mind to really think about life.
Now that I think about it, over the past year I’ve invested more money into developing and expanding my mindset via subscriptions (apps, websites) instead of just using the “free” content on repeat. The subscriptions I’ve spent money on are Primed Mind, Headspace, Masterclass and most recently Waking Up. Each time I paid for a subscription and started devouring the content I asked myself why I hadn’t done it sooner. Great post, Tim!
Hi Tim, I am really happy to start reading your blog again now that it arrives to my mailbox!
These questions you posed to yourself, are really helpful. I adopted similar thinking of inspecting my own old scripts from your podcast with Ramit, his work, and other guests on your show.
It is a hard surface to scratch, to be honest. And as it turned out, rewiring old mental models is not an easy business.
I often pair those questions with your stoic comments on learning to be ashamed of the thin g s that matter 🙂
So this year I decided to cut down spending on clothes, since so many of past purchases were driven by the external motivation vs internal, and I rarely got enjoyment out of new stuff. Even though I have never really been a shopaholic or a fashion forward one. Capsule wardrobe and timeless classics works best for me and removes so much stress of trying to be liked and approved by others. And now I try to teach my son that too.
Also, I sometimes do a reverse analysis. For example, when I notice Something uncomfortable, for me it was avoiding throwing the food out, I would calculate cooking a precise amount, that often ended up being not enough at the end. So I had to realize that frugality mindset in the kitchen stopped working for me lo time ago, especially now I cook for my family. So I started to ask myself how the full meal for everyone to enjoy would look like? So I would not feel squeezed, and look greedy? how much extra would it cost if I cook a bit more, but so we can enjoy it? It really brought a different thinking, and made me even a better host, because before my frugality would translate into hosting guests as well. It was always a stressful endeavor. At the end it made me a more relaxed person, as I stopped subconsciously clenching onto this old belief. But at first it was very hard to even notice it.
Thank you as always for sharing. Looking forward to more of your thoughts!
Ok, the one thing your friends book (the inevitable, K. Kelly) said its that the only things ai/whatever cannot create is experiences. So I have leaned heavily into that.
Some are local, and cheap, some involve other continents and are pricey. Some such, some are amazing. It’s worth the risk /reward!
PS, i hated road trips as a kid. Not any more!
Lessons learn: Tim is cheap or don’t be cheap like Tim 😃
Oh wow…always great to question your programming, and for me, frugality runs pretty deep.
I think the biggest thing I do currently is we don’t have a car. Looking at the figures, it has been really hard for me to justify the cost, even though we can afford it. We did just get a car share membership, so this will be a good experiment.
I think though for me the frugality or scarcity mindset runs a level deeper than spending. It’s my risk based decision making that needs some revamping. I stay in situations longer than I should or accept opportunities quicker than I should out of fear this could be the last or only gig. I do not just a plan for rainy day…I’m ready for years of monsoons. My downside is capped much better than I let myself believe. I guess I probably need to thank the fear for taking care of me and putting on steady footing but let it go as it probably at this point is holding me back.
Well said! Title was captivating. Just read an article about the Japanese form of money management Kakeibo which may compliment your article’s strategy on investing more and less given the projected benefit. Its not by chase for me read both articles today. Thank you.
Such a nice blog, keep doing you! I think your content is spot on and genuine and that is what makes you great.
I moved in with my s.o. a few months ago. But I live in a different city because I go to university there. I spend every day I don’t have lectures at our place. I used to have an apartment but I gave it up and got a place at a dorm because why spend hundreds of euros to have a place where to keep my stuff if I already have a place for that where I need them more and I spend most of my time away anyway. Plus our place is free so I’d have more money to spend on other things, like food and hobbies.
The surprising downside of living in a dorm was that one day I found myself applying the single-ply method to most of my purchases. Even though I had no need for it. I remember the exact moment – I was in the store buying food and thought “oh, I should buy that one instead because it’s cheaper”. And I was shocked. Why should I buy cheaper and lesser quality food?! Why did I think that? How did I get here??
I found there to be two reasons. First, I lived together with students who had little money so they had to cut down their costs and think about what to buy. Somehow their mentality that they need to spend less on food got transferred to me. And I didn’t even notice. Even thoug I didn’t actually spend much time with them, and if I did we didn’t talk much, the enviornment I was in made me feel like I should spend less because reasons.
Secondly, after moving in with my s.o. I found that I felt like I didn’t come to visit from uni anymore — I went to uni in a different town. I didn’t feel like I lived where I spent most of my time so I didn’t feel like investing in my life if I wouldn’t live there after uni anyway.
But what does my last year tell me where I might invest more for a higher quality of life?
It’s my hobbies and experiences. My parents do value experiences and have quite the expensive hobby of golf. But when they were raising me we didn’t have many opportunities and even though they are financially more free now, I don’t feel it. I don’t have the financial freedom yet for myself. I’ve cut down on experiences because I’ve saved money for “big experiences” whatever they were supposed to be. I felt guilty about spending money on a little fun, like museums or going to the movies, etc. Also putting an emphasis on MY in my hobbies. It’s time to do what I want not what I should want.
Love the post. Whenever I visit my parents (on Long Island), they always use single ply. I tell my dad he is doing well enough to upgrade to double ply. I will have to send him this article.
Sticking with reference to single ply, I bought and regularly use a Luxe Bidet Neo which you can buy on Amazon for $35. This thing is the cat’s meow. Of all the things I have purchased in the past 10 years, this is by the far the best investment I have ever made. In fact, when away from home, I truly miss my bidet. I do have a portable squeeze bottle bidet, but it ain’t the same. It took about 20 minutes to install. Buy the expensive TP and minimize usage by getting a bidet.
Tim I’ve started this year with asking three questions every morning when I journal:
1) what’s try most important question?
2) what would it look like if it were easy?
3) what’s the one thing I can do such that everything else is either easy or unnecessary?
It’s definitely narrowing down my focus to what matters.
This is a fantastic post, Tim, for two reasons: One, because I, too, am a recovering (and occasionally relapsing) frugalista. I put this post in my Evernote to revisit.
I’m laughing because the issue of two-ply is hotly debated among the sustainable factions in my family–it’s serious. We argue about who kills more of the rainforest to support their daily constitution–whether people still yank and whirl the same three meters of Charmin as they would one-ply Scott if you upgrade them.
But the real idea here is soul-recovery, and on this, I agree one million percent. Learning to spend generously on the things that mattered–that was a life-changing lesson for me. Thanks for the reminder:)
Single-ply. I read through it twice, then saved it as a PDF on my laptop with a reminder to look at it every day. Great stuff, Tim, great stuff.
In the late 70’s I read how Robert Redford always cuts his toothpaste tube when it reaches the end. Then he scrapes the last morsels of the toothpaste, so nothing goes to waste…I have been doing this ever since…Not sure how much I saved, but feels good! 😉
I think you definitely need to reassess your priorities if you are buying single ply toilet paper and $49 bottles of wine. 🙁
Re: Single Ply
I was trying to save house paint by rolling it on too thin, and then wasting time doing a second coat. I developed a system check for other areas of life and often remind myself, “Lay it on thick, don’t try to save paint.”
Would you consider doing an audio version of the blog posts? Really enjoy the audio version of Tao of Seneca
As a former lawyer who lives and travels in a camper van, I’ve learned a lot about intentionality when it comes to money. I haven’t paid for rent or a mortgage in years (thanks to getting creative with vanlife and using my house as an Airbnb rental), but I spent over $10,000 on international travel alone last year. 100% worth it. Even all the canceled flights I had to pay for because I kept altering my travel plans. Places I could spend less– meals out at mediocre restaurants due to failure to pre-plan meals. I also am happy spending a lot for high-quality food, but a lot of my expenses were at average places and simply due to convenience. Great post Tim!
Single ply/double ply? What about bidet? 😉
This totally got me down the rabbit hole of auditing my scarcity mind-set..
It got me thinking about where I am living or functioning out of scarcity instead of who I would want to be.
To me, the toughest is our kids – they’re still small-ish so I boss them around quite a bit to actually maintain sanity in daily life. However, that can get real ugly real fast if scarcity (of time, privacy, energy etc) picks up the microphone instead of love.
In the end, what really matters is the foundation of affirmation and security our kids get, isn’t it? It’s curious how the seasons we go through leave us with mental models that are actually already expired, but we just don’t realize it. Until we stumble on them and go “wait, what’s this?”
Thanks for the nudge!
Great article Tim, thank you. After a recent ‘digital detox’, I have been meditating on your question “where should I invest more and where should I invest less?” both in relation to money and also to time. My priorities and frugality mentality need to change…. Less material possessions and more life experiences; Less poverty mindset and more focus on helping others; Less work and more time with friends and family; Less fear about trying something new and more “just try it and see”.
Converting time and money into more quality and less quantity.
Consequently, in my attempt to confront some of that fear, try to do more for others and help improve life experiences, I hope you don’t mind my mustering up the courage to reach out to you via this blog post to ask if you might consider a JV book on migraines? My partner has suffered with this debilitating condition for over 50 years and we have spent the last 8 years researching, testing and trying every possible solution we could get our hands on. With an estimated 1 billion people worldwide thought to suffer, maybe your “4 hour body” style of research/experimentation with our experience, knowledge and willingness to experiment could combine to provide a “4 hour migraine solution”? There has to be a way to transform our challenging journey into a shortcut path for others to help them save time and money and improve their quality of life?
Thanks for reading this and for all that you have done to change our minds and our world 🙏🏼
Kindest regards and a very Happy New Year to you and all your readers – Corinna Cope, UK
Hey you.I keep thinking about the mission trip I took to Kenya last year. It was a huge sacrifice financially and the amt of inoculations was insane. I had to get a toothache fixed while I was on American soil cause I didn’t want to need medical attention overseas. I walked into a holistic’s dentist’s office and she had a massive intake process along with a blood test. She spent about 45 minutes going through all the things on the forms: my diet, my habits, my sleep, my alcohol intake. I lied about how much I drink. I lied about the blackouts. She knew. She looked at my blood test and knew… I was probably drunk at that moment. She looked at me with piercing,glacial eyes and told me the things no one else would say, “I love you, I cannot let you destroy yourself any longer. You are destined for great things. God cannot anoint you and bless you if you keep poisoning your body like this. I will not treat you unless you get yourself into a 30 day detox program.” Ok. Listen. This dentist was NOT on my insurance. I could have went with someone else, paid a minimal cost to get my tooth extracted and be on my way. But the way she spoke truth to me… with great love and concern for my wellbeing… it was worth the hundreds of dollars. I don’t remember the cost. I remember getting clean, getting the tooth extracted and immediately feeling my body’s relief. It was no longer fighting that infected failed root canal. My blood pressure went back to normal. My hormones magically went back in balance. I no longer needed Zoloft. It was a freaking miracle. I owe her my life. No telling where I would be right now without her giving me the cold hard truth. I went to Africa and the minute I stepped on that ancient soil, I knew I was home. I can’t really explain it better than that. I felt the Lord’s delight in me serving with the gifts he had given me. I was exactly where I was supposed to be doing the thing I was built to do. I understood all my life’s trajectories and wayward paths were all so that I could be in Kenya, loving on the children in the orphanage. My whole life now is centered around Kenya and figuring out ways to get back home. You don’t want to know about the toilet paper in Kenya. Just. No.
Glad to see that you have flushed forward 35 years to 2 ply. The next step is a multi-purpose Bidet — really! Saves tons of TP, and in case of injury to back, shoulder, or arm, your don’t need assistance to WYA. You’ve been to Japan, I’m surprised you don’t have one!
Late to the party on this one. I’ve invested several times in cheap editors to help me with the final stages of a book proposal (#2). In all but one of the cases, their help didn’t move things along in ideas or in copy. In the end, I could have spent the same amount in one go on a really excellent book proposal “doctor” who helped ask (or answer) high-level questions. Instead, my frugality led to ten (no exaggeration) different people who didn’t help much. This is my year to level-up in that kind of expert help department.
You should considering the effects over time. You can become habituated too. Perhaps single ply for one week a year could increase your appreciation of the good stuff.
Hola Tim, me llamo Johnnathan soy de Venezuela, tengo 29 años. este artículo es genial, eres un campeón. He estado utilizando relativamente una capa con lo que respecta a vivienda. Espero un excelente consejo tuyo.
Hi Tim, We know you don’t run from any theme so what about your baldheadness?
Look Elon Musk, his photos in his 20′ almost baldhead and know in his 40′ he looks younger complete hairy than in his 20′, perhaps you could show us somenthing on yourself. Hack this if you can.
I’m fascinated not by the fact that you went so long using single ply but that it just took a moment of awareness to take notice and question. And then to extend that question to other areas of spending. Thank you for your recommendation on the book Awareness. How everything changes when we look at it from a different lens.
On my first trip to Europe in 1996 the toilet paper almost everywhere was single ply. On subsequent trips I took a couple of rolls of Charmin. No sandpaper tissue for my behind.
I actually prefer single ply because it grabs the poop off better. But I get your point.. I’m just not sure it would actually increase life satisfaction long term – I feel like that would take more of a mindset/perspective stance
Or even one better Tim, buy a bidet and reduce TP consumption from 75-95% Yes there is a high upfront cost… several hundred to over a thousand for the smart toilers that sing to you…but I calculated that it would pay for itself after 3-4 years. So I bit the bullet and got one for my GF’s Xmas gift. And you know what…it’s amazing! Changed the way we think about using the toilet. But comfort and frugalilty aside, this is the big question…
Why are we cutting down forests to wipe are butts!? Americans use on average 3 roles a week per person! Huge swaths of Boreal forest are being cleared every day for toilet paper (Kirkland brand being a huge customer). We need forests now more than ever.
So I say skip the 1one ply vs 2 ply debate altogether. Go for the squirt! Cheers
Lol and great post; I can definitely relate. I’m going back to school and on a very limited budget, but I still buy quality items or services when I buy things. It makes a big difference in quality of life when you’re going through a tough financial phase (and anytime), and I’ve still been able to save a little money. Wishing you a happy 2020, Tim!
Tim is finally asking the right questions.
Not to venture off the big picture question, let’s think outside of the box. For example, blog title in hand; can we consider using little to no TP? For example, Brazil plumbs their bathrooms so that a sprayer (like those we have on our kitchen sinks) is next to the toilet. Imagina!!!
The two ply toilet paper nowadays oft backs up plumbing in my Florida apt I had lived in for two years; and now my low flow newly built California apartment. The United States is the only country that uses ‘messy’ toilet paper!! The other countries especially European laugh at us, politely behind our backs. They don’t use toilet papers, but bidets built into their toilets. Our hardware stores in the states bidets, electric and non electric can be purchased and hookups fairly easy. Although right now, I switched to a portable squeeze bottle bidet I found online. Two for $12. Took a bit longer for me to adjust and work it. Got frustrated as at my very antiquitated old studio apt with tiny bathroom was difficult. Then after a few months, my newer 3yr old apt which takes more flushes than the old ‘standard’ toilets especially when using toilet paper. Toilet paper contains cancer causing chemicals including formaldehyde. Plus all the gasoline chemicals going into transport from manufacturing plant to store. Also, municipalities have to add even more chemicals to aging out sewer systems which includes the newer versions of supersoft&superstrong toilet paper. It helps me cut down on searching and budgeting in one more item and transporting it to my place. Am still having flush annoying problems with the low flow, so until I can get saved up and purchase the top brand and ask staff to install, I will be attaching a no electric bidet for easier cleaning–this is the ‘times’ we live in today.
Started having a high protein soup for breakfast…mad energy all day. 16 oz of water to start…gobs of possibilities. Tally ho!
I really enjoyed this article. Having gotten to a place where money is no longer a problem. I too have some issues. Part if the problem was being so fugal in order to invest and grow wealth. Those habits and mindsets no longer serve me well. It takes real effort to change thinking and thus actions. As for interview techniques I would point you to David Feherty. I would watch any person he interviewed as he really pulls out the persons essence. He is on the Golf Channel but does not restrict his subjects to just golf and golf personalities.
In fact it was the plumber, called to unclog a toilet who told me modern toilets handle single ply best and Charmin thick would bring problems!
After a year renting a room instead of an apartment and with a part-time job just scraping by, I have learned to shop for food to get the best nutrition for my buck (as a vegan).
My possessions are in storage, and I’ve found it easy to live with a fraction of what I own.
I’m looking forward to spending money on the best organizational items from the Container Store. I’m 67, so asking and answering good questions to make good decisions now has a horizon. I want to do the best job I can for the thirty minutes or thirty years I have left.
I love that you are writing more Tim, love the podcast, but I miss your wisdom a lot.
I started getting a cleaner for my house. It was the best $$$ spent coming home to a clean house. And it also made me tidy up at least once a week. It was interesting that I had to get a new cleaner who was more expensive and didnt do the little touches- it lost its value then as I resented her.
Dr Liz C- Vet, Victoria Australia 🐶🦘🐎
I came to a similar realization in my 30s. Same backstory as Tim. It’s about the holistic ROI of daily habit spend.
Replying less than 10 seconds into reading this article. Got to toilet paper and this pop up comes up saying ‘hey do you want to read more about what I do?’.
Any chance that message can pop up, maybe another minute or two later? When I’ve actually read something?
Do you really think I’m ready to make a decision after 10 seconds? Tim, it’s creepy and needy. It’s like being on a first date and two minutes in saying ‘so you really like me, yeah? You want to go steady? Can I call my girlfriend now?
Cool the jets on the request for more information. Has anyone given you this feedback before? If not, man, start looking around your network and asking why…
I’m going to go back to the top and read the article now…I hope you don’t interrupt me again
I’m still spending single ply when it comes to face moisturizers. I think it’s time to just buy that super expensive anti-wrinkle cream before it’s too late.
We’ve been very frugal since our first child arrived 41 years ago. Frugal about everything regarding ourselves ( we have been liberal givers, though). Having also been diligent savers and investors, at age 68 and retired, we find ourselves quite well to do. Now, every day I remind myself and my wife “There is no someday anymore. Today is someday”. With money not a consideration, the question is simply how do we want to spend our time? But, it does take a conscious effort to overcome those long engrained frugality habits that would try and keep us from doing some things we would never have dreamed of in the past but now can easily enjoy. (Also, when you reach your upper 60’s, it becomes quite clear that, best case, you’ve got 20 years. Better not put things off to “someday”
Office Chair. If your office chair cost lest than $1,600, you either bought your chair as a demo model (kudos), or you sitting on single ply. During these covid times, a BodyBuilt rep, after interviewing you on the phone about your chair uses and your size (yes, office chairs come in sizes) will schlep chairs to your house, will arrive in proper PPE, and let you sit on them in your driveway. If your office chair does not have both: a) an inflatable lumbar support, and b) the entire back of the office chair will raise up and down vertically (to get the inflatable lumber into your lumbar area), you are definitely sitting on single ply.
~Tuffy Warrens, Author and Tim Ferriss Fanboy
(protip – ask if you can buy the demo chair you liked, right then and there, and you can get into the chair for far less than new, if you still want frugality.)
Tim – Love everything you do. And I love and agree (for the most part) with this part of your post… “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 would never spend $50 on a bottle of wine either, but I also find it hard to justify in my head spending $10 on a box of cereal (Magic Spoon) or $200/mo on meat (Maui Nui). I buy organic… nonGMO… sustainable… ethical as much as possible, but I those prices still seem massively inflated when I can buy a box of organic, nonGMO, etc. cereal for $3-4 or a pound of organic, free-range, local bison for $10. I’m not saying the products you are recommending aren’t healthier or better… I’m sure they are… but are they THAT much better?
Talk me into it!!! Explain your justifications. As the single earner in my family, it’s hard to justify these things… especially when it’s probably mostly for me (I doubt my daughters who are leaning on vegetarian will eat ‘Bambi’ even if ‘Bambi’ is destroying Maui.)
Thanks again for being you!!!
Hi Tim Ferriss and Hi Team Ferriss,
I want to first thank you for the incredible work you have achieved in so many fields. In fact, I rely on the digital ecosystem that you have created (unconsciously) around me to conquer my day!
So to comment on your post, I would, say that a lot has to do with whether you got acquainted with the financial value of things in your childhood (for me, at least).
Without going through therapy, the family framework sets the tone for how you might end up (unconsciously) spending the money you are given or the money earnt.
So the anxiety that comes with the lack of financial means (real or imagined) is hard to overcome, generally putting you in race to overspending.
It took me a lot of discipline to stop the leakage, but eventually it helped me rewire my perception of my own value. It finally came down to deserving earning more, just because I perceived myself as worth it and then spending more, with a smarter spin.
So using simple-ply is definitely an option to remind oneself of the over consumption evidence! It’s a climate change issue!
Thank you again.
When I was cutting back on my bills so I could venture out to work for myself I found that I could save over $1000 a year by not paying professionals to do trivial housework. Stuff like replacing drains under the sink, fixing my clothes washer, AC unit, built a fire pit, put in garden beds and drip system, painting, fixed the garage door opener, and epoxy coated my kitchen counters, stuff like that. I know it seems like an extreme waste of time. I agree except I gain an intense feeling of accomplishment when I finish a project. That feeling rolls over into my work, where I feel like I can accomplish anything I set out to. I would never recommend this to others unless like myself you are curious about how everything works and enjoy making something. This gives me unlimited projects to work on during my downtime because there are so many ways to upgrade a house.
“sleep, health, travel/experiences, or gifts for family and friends.” Ditto.. I don’t know what I lack, basically nothing anymore. But I also don’t know what I seek.
Try these hacks: Commit to doing something unusual that you’ve never done before: learn a new language in 90 days (try an app) so you can take a trip someplace when the pandemic is over, read poetry i that language, write a letter to yourself, an editor, a Redittor in that language. Then spend 26 cumulative hours volunteering for your local foodbank or other food charity. See how poverty and hunger, daily hunger, is handled in your community. See who you are after that.
Your article definitely hit home for me. I’ve had a similar epiphany in my mid-late 30’s, and funny enough one of the things I did WAS upgrading to 2-ply! My mindset also stemmed from childhood. My mom was master of recycling before it was “cool” so much so that she reused milk bags (we got our milk in 1 litre BAGS) and we had our lunch sandwiches sealed up in them. To this day I am very thankful for the frugality that was tattooed in my brain but I realized that spending the time and efforts in ALL areas just made life less enjoyable without that much savings.
At the time of my epiphany I remembered the 20/80 principle and decided to upgrade those things that affect my daily life in a big way. Wine obviously was not one of them since I am from South Africa and fully understand that exporting excellent wine from a country where the local currency is worth much less than the USD so excellent wine is absolutely NOT tied to the price. For example, I’ve NEVER had a bad Pinotage no matter how high ($50) or low ($9) the cost.
Things that I realized must be spent more on includes
• Kitchen utilities like the Zojirushi rice maker
• Good quality knives
• A spacious and useful fridge (think Samsung or GE Café 4 door different temp settings for sections in the fridge, AMAZING!)
• Living in the Caribbean now includes all things YETI, including the dog bowls!
• Containers that actually seals and all from the same brand to allow for optimal storage.
• A good quality vacuum sealer (drop the milk bags tho)
• A solid trash can that reduces smell and makes for easy cleaning.
• GOOD quality rice! It’s a staple so I want to enjoy it.
• Vacuum machines! Note that the most expensive does not equate to best quality. Thanks Robomax! (Took us 30mins of YouTube review videos to find, time well spent!)
• Next up was exploring all the kinds of SPF things because a white greasy face from the regular brands did not make me feel comfortable or good. Great find to mention: Heliocare (the sunscreen and the capsules), also SuperGoop facial mist 50SPF. It’s hard work to live on an island where the sun always shines LOL.
• TRAVELING in general you won’t ever find me using anyone else but American Express. I’m generally a bank and credit institution hater, never satisfied with anything (for good reasons that I won’t go into here) but wow, Amex saves time, reducing stress and customer service is just top notch. It helps if you have the platinum charge card and the yearly cost for the card is 100% justifiable.
• Amazon subscribe and save – note that the “save” here refers to saving time and not money (go ahead and search for ripoff reports, you’ll see what I mean), but in the end I don’t want to keep track of what I need when because the next thing you know you’re sitting on the white throne reaching for the empty space where TP should have been. It saves time and I’m happy with it.
• Sunglasses! If the perfect shape and fit with polarized lenses costs a little more, I don’t refuse to buy.
• Good quality bath towels that lasts forever without frazzling out or looking like a dog towel (Thanks Chortex of England honeycomb towels!)
• Washing machine that does all of the things, dryers not really worth a big investment but a bad one may burn your linen.
The list goes on but I realized I’m writing a journal here..
As to your note about doing something in 6 months rather than 10 years: It’s mostly a mindset (~80%). We had a 5-year plan to change our life by moving to a Caribbean island. We realized it can be done in less than 2 years so we did it. We are now bored by the question from friends and family asking “OMG how did you do this??”, our answer always being “plan-prep-do” like everything else you really want to accomplish.
Thank you for your always-inspiring and thought provoking blog articles, podcast, books, etc. I always come back for more to see how I can improve my world.
– coffee machine – espresso…replacing my moka pot that had the rubber broken: huge return on health
– my simple cast iron – great value …i do all in it
– another brand of vitamins….i feel great
– headphones….still to evaluate return on investment
– my garmin watch….
– gel inside soles of my running shoes
‘Single ply’ are all my long overdue house projects: painting, change a faucet, lights swiches with variable ones