He’s in a completely different realm now. America’s Greatest Miser has done for cheapness what Michael Jordan did for playing above the rim. In a world of 2-handed set shooters, Trent Hamm’s thrift game consists of nothing but reverse windmill dunks, no-look passes and swishes from beyond the arc. The rest of us can only sit back in awe, because he’s playing a game we’ll never be familiar with.
He makes his own Play-Doh (3¢ worth of vegetable oil, 7¢ worth of cream of tartar, and you know we’re not joking.) The Christian Science Monitor has picked up Trent as a guest blogger, and his biography alone is enough to make a lion wince in pain:
The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense
You know why the Roman Empire crumbled? Because whoever invented Latin was too lazy to come up with heteronymous words for “to feel” (sentire) and “100″ (cent). The first English speaker who made the “cents/sense” pun should have been executed by elephant. Trent is the 30 billionth, and for what? So he can brag to his readers about his – wait for it – “cents” of humor?
He’s at least right in that The Simple Dollar is for those of us who need cents. Including its author. You wonder what unheated tarpaper shack he lives in that he counts the toilet paper squares he uses (9 per wipe.)
You don’t need to read the link – it’ll only encourage him – but Trent embarked on a rare moment of glee when he mentioned that his 3-year-old son and defecation partner (don’t ask) uses only 1 square.
Your humble blogger is mercifully childless, but is fairly sure that when a kid declares that he used only a singleton square for cleanup, any parent with a brain in his head would take that as a negative, not a positive. There’s a happy compromise between half a roll and a solitary piece, and that number is still far closer to the latter than the former.
A 24-pack costs $18 at Target (unlike Trent, we’re not going to go out of our way to comparison shop. Target was nearby.) That’s 75¢ per 1000-sheet roll. Trent expressed regret at his own profligacy, burning an entire .6¢ per session more than his even more budget-conscious son does.
Again, not a parent. But if you don’t think 3/5 of a penny is a bargain for ensuring that both orifice and digit remain clean, your children need to be apprehended and left in the desert to be raised by scorpions. From the same post:
Whenever I went to use something of varying quantity – salt, toothpaste, pepper, salsa – I strove to try to figure out the minimum amount that I could use and still get full enjoyment and utility out of the situation.
(Editor’s note: WHY? What the hell for? Doesn’t every human do this instinctively, so much so that the idea of consciously doing it sounds crazy [because it is]? Who cooks their eggs in the morning, pours on a pint of salsa and says, “Why do I keep doing this every day? I really don’t think I’m getting full enjoyment and utility out of the situation. Maybe I should cut back to a cup, see where that takes me.”) Trent continues:
Take pepper, for starters. I will put a large dose of pepper almost reflexively on anything I eat that isn’t sweet. The pepper grinder is a mainstay on our kitchen table.
Instead of simply grinding away over the soup we had for lunch, though, I tasted it first, added just two grinds of pepper, stirred, tried it again, and found that I liked the taste. Ordinarily, I would have just ground twelve or fourteen times without thinking about it.
If you find value in that discovery, well, we’re impressed you can still breathe. Right now your lungs should be saying to each other, “I’m trying to communicate with the brain, but there’s a big ‘No Visitors’ sign hanging at the stem. How about you? Any luck?”
So Trent discovered that he prefers lightly peppered food to heavily peppered food. It’s not quite “Darth Vader turned out to be Luke’s father”, but as far as The Simple Dollar climaxes go, it’s a hard and heavy one. Of course, there’s nothing Trent can’t turn into a paean to his 2nd-favorite topic, oral hygiene:
What about toothpaste? I usually put a big glob on the brush without thinking about it too much. Instead, I put just a tiny bit on my brush, spread it over the bristles, and started brushing. Almost immediately, I had a nice bit of foam in my mouth and my teeth felt wonderfully clean afterwards.
Where does this leave the critic? We can’t write “Wow, what a breakthrough! A small dollop of toothpaste serves to clean Trent’s teeth no worse than a ‘big glob’ does,” because we already made a parallel comment regarding his pepper discovery. Repetition is Trent’s forte, not ours.
Look at the key phrase above, I usually put a big glob on the brush without thinking about it too much.
You’re not supposed to think about it too much. The idea of forming a habit is that you don’t think about it at all. The average person Trent’s age has probably brushed his teeth 30,000 times. At that point, shouldn’t you have already figured out what works, and let your subconscious handle it?
Instead of buying baby wipes, he cuts and sews flannel squares and dunks them in soap. Instead of buying his kids craft supplies, he goes to his local newspaper’s offices and buys rolls of unused newsprint (which he then admits to using some of as wrapping paper for gifts.) He bakes his own crayons out of crayon nubs.
The melting point of crayon wax seems to be around 130 to 150 F depending on the color
If you think he’s being ironic, you don’t know our hero. Again, he’s not doing this for the sake of ingenuity. He’s doing it to save infinitesimal slivers of farthings. Peasant women in India, whose time is utterly worthless, will spend a couple of rupees on manufactured soap. But Trent makes his own.
None of these activities demand a huge amount of time, but they require mental bandwidth that could otherwise be devoted to higher-level thoughts. Instead of being preoccupied by questions like “How can I expand my website?,” he’s thinking, “Remember to scour garage sales for a silicon mold, a half-used box of baking soda and some peppermint drops.”
He’s too cheap to buy toys, or waste a few pennies filling up the Prius (it sounds too perfect, but he really does drive a Prius) to get free toys from The Salvation Army, so he gives his kids kitchen implements to play with. Excluding the serrated knives and meat thermometers, unfortunately.
Our latest hypothesis? The wife and children (never “kids”, because that vulgarism didn’t exist in the 1800s patois in which Trent writes) that he regularly speaks of don’t exist. It’s inconceivable that some woman stands there and nods approvingly as her loved one plays video games (“I don’t play video games that much at this point in my life because, frankly, I don’t have very much time for them. I perhaps play for four or five hours a week”), recycles dental floss, figures out how long he can leave the oven light on before it costs him a penny, and tells women that they can save money by swimming in their underwear. (Zero hyperbole, all real. Search his archives at your peril.) Trent Hamm is the Antichrist and must be stopped.