Every Sunday my grandparents came over to visit, my grandmother toting with her a loaf of her freshly baked sourdough bread. I remember being a teenager, trying to sleep in on the weekend, and hearing the two of them come through the door. My granddaddy would always ask how the Cat Crop was doing (we only had two cats) and my grandmother would be talking about buying cheap toilet paper.
Buying things like paper towels and toilet paper on sale was a very big deal to my grandparents. It seemed to always make its way into any conversation. As a kid, I never understood their fascination with paper goods. The older I’ve become the more I’ve come to understand that their true interest was about finding a good deal.
My grandparents had lived through the Great Depression, through the hard times of the Dust Bowl, and many lean years on the farm in Southwestern Oklahoma. Saving money and stockpiling was simply a way of surviving and having a table full of food was security. My grandmother constantly lived like it was the 1930’s. Her pantry and refrigerator contained more groceries than her local grocery store, and of course she always had plenty of toilet paper to keep the entire neighborhood wiping for years to come.
My grandmother was also the first recycler that I ever met. She saved every butter dish, every Twist Tie, every bread bag that came into her house. She would use the bread bag to store her small umbrellas, tying them up neatly with one of her many Twist Ties. Twenty years ago, there was no such thing a curbside recycling, and she did her part to keep even the smallest of things out of the landfill. Besides, you just never know when those little plastic squares that your earrings came on might come in handy.
The older I am getting, the more I am turning into my grandmother. My refrigerator is so full I can never find a place to put the pickles. I find myself always searching for a sale, purchasing two of something just to save a dollar, and buying more groceries than my kitchen has room for. It’s like I’ve inherited some kind of grocery hoarding gene that is going to land me on “Oprah” one day.
Slowly but surely, I am creating my own stockpile of groceries and saving a ton of money in the process. Our garage proudly holds our grocery reserves. On the shelves sit stacks of Cheerios, beef ravioli, granola bars, and bottled water waiting patiently for the next natural disaster. And toilet paper. I have stacks and stacks of toilet paper. And batteries. And light bulbs. And red wine. Because, well, you just never know.
I knew I had hit a new phase of my life when I started talking to the Golfer about buying a deep freeze. I excitedly told him how much we could store and save and stockpile. He just stared at me with amazement and, I like to think, a little bit of pride. Yes, you know you’re getting older when buying half a cow and freezing soup for the winter excites you.
I am proud to be a sale shopper and find myself, much like my grandparents, telling anyone who will listen how much I saved. I now understand why they spent their days hunting down one good deal after another. It’s like this weird high that only you and the other coupons cutters and bargain hunters can understand.
Besides, I’d rather flush cheap toilet paper down the toilet than my hard earned money any day.