After learning untold uses for dryer lint, worn-out panty hose, and used dental floss, we present the winners of the Yankee frugality contest. In our September 1990 issue of Yankee Magazine, our issue devoted to Yankee frugality, we asked for your own frugal tips and anecdotes. You responded with more than 200 letters, many of […]
By Yankee Magazine
Dec 01 2014
After learning untold uses for dryer lint, worn-out panty hose, and used dental floss, we present the winners of the Yankee frugality contest.
In our September 1990 issue of Yankee Magazine, our issue devoted to Yankee frugality, we asked for your own frugal tips and anecdotes. You responded with more than 200 letters, many of them typed or written on the back of envelopes, brown paper bags, used computer paper, and other imaginative stationary. You told us what to do with worn-out socks and panty hose, how to stretch tea bags, and the best methods for splitting and resewing sheets to make them last longer. You suggested a remarkable variety of uses for vinegar, mothballs, salt, baking soda, dryer lint, and the little balls of cotton that come in pill bottles. We received two poems about thrift and one recipe for road kill.
Your anecdotes were priceless. We heard about a man who stopped his clocks before going to bed every night and started them again in the morning and a family that always turned the lights out while eating dinner. We learned how to reuse helium balloons, refrigerator light bulbs, and dental floss. You told us how to make things last. Sylvia Brown of Hyde Park, New York, remarked, “Why I’ve even kept the same husband for 48 years!”
After agonizing over the entries for almost six months, we’ve finally come up with our three winners.
The some-expenses-paid trip to New Hampshire for the annual road kill pelt auction goes (appropriately) to William L. Stephenson of Decatur, Georgia, for a tale about a recycled rodent:
Annie Cutter, my wife’s grandmother, told an instructive tale of New England parsimony. While attending a church circle meeting near her home in Dracut, Massachusetts, she saw a lady near her strike her knees sharply with both hands. She squeezed her hands together firmly. After a few moments she reached discreetly under her dress and removed a dead mouse. She viewed it thoughtfully for a moment, then retrieved a used napkin from her plate and wrapped the mouse in it saying, “I’ll take that home for my cat.”
A coveted letter of introduction to a New England banker goes to George F. Watts of Palm Bay, Florida, who told us about the shoeshine rag he bought for 15¢ the day he joined the army — October 12, 1948. After using it every morning for 15,638 days, Mr. Watts entered the rag itself into the contest with these remarks:
According to my calculations, my cost is approximately $0.0000095 per day — a fair return on my investment. I realize my entry can’t be returned (costs money), but lest you find this story unbelievable, I am enclosing my faithful shoeshine rag. I know you will find a second life for it.
A free one-year subscription to Yankee was awarded to Edward Nortz of Youngstown, New York:
I was talking to an old lady, and she told me about her breakfast, which consisted of a piece of toast and a cup of tea. She said, “You know, that toaster of mine won’t make a a single piece of toast without wasting electricity on the other side. So I make two pieces one day and eat the second the next day.”
Thanks to all of you…now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to try out our new shoeshine rag.
Excerpt from “’Who’s the Cheapest of Them All?,” Yankee Magazine, August 1991.