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Use it Up

With today’s constant barrage of advertisements from the media, the concept of USE IT UP seems quite outdated.  Why should I focus on using up all of that creepy shampoo I got on sale versus purchasing what the Internet has me convinced I prefer?  Because when we do USE IT UP, we save dollars in two ways–from the past and future. By using it up, we teach our families and community a valuable lesson in living with less.

Saving from the Past

Living frugally helps cut down on impulse buying.  Most everyone likes to shop (I call that BUY–ITE–US), but sometimes we don’t give quality/quantity enough thought.  Then we end up with purchases where we might leave the tags on because we bought in haste and don’t really love it.  When we think about saving from the past, we need to give ourselves credit.  “I bought this curiously cheap shampoo–or whatever–because it was all I could afford at the time.  I need not spend any more but use it up.”

Saving for the Future

By using up our purchases from the past, we obviously don’t spend money which gives us more for the future. But how does one USE IT UP when you feel like throwing it away?

The Only Use It Up Rule

To use up whatever you need, simply DON’T BE  AFRAID.  Yes, don’t be afraid to try new combinations of food, fashion, household, and whatever else needs use.  Got some stuff in the refrigerator which begs usage?  Then fear not when putting that chutney or fancy mustard into your tuna sandwich.  Combine those shoes with a different outfit.  Put that polka dot blouse with the polka dot skirt and see what happens.  Wear that Christmas tie, NOT at Christmas.  Don’t fear when putting together; have fun. It is right and good to minimalize and have less.

Our Heavenly Father is The Master in using it up.  If you’ve ever hiked,  you might have noticed a “nurse log.”  That is a classic example where one thing has several purposes.  The old, fallen log becomes a fertile ground for new trees to grow–thus the “nurse log.”  And we, too, should look for multiple uses from our possessions.

For example, by pondering, I have been able to make my knitted dishcloths [The Frugal Catholic Dishcloth] into the following, thus using them up better:

  1. A cloth for cleaning dishes

  2. A cloth for drying dishes

  3. A placemat

  4. A cloth napkin

  5. A potholder

  6. A bathroom cleaning rag

  7. And a dish drying mat

Yes, go ahead and thoroughly use up what you have versus buying new. Find multiple uses, and don’t be afraid to try new combinations. (Even odd-sounding casseroles!)  God provides for His children in so many ways.  He is the Master of letting nothing go to waste, and we should think likewise.


Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.

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