Squeezing and Shaking My Way to Manolo Blahniks

Today's last bit of toothpaste is tomorrow's new pair of shoes

The holiday season is upon us, and many of us will be fortunate enough to get away for a much-deserved vacation. Maybe it’s off to warmer climes, lounging on the beach and ordering $10 beers from the beach boy. Or off to snowy slopes where you can sip an $8 apple cider by the fireplace in the lobby of a ridiculously expensive hotel. And if it’s a staycation for you this year, you might at least treat yourself to a $32 steak at Fleming’s or Sullivan’s or a day in New York to see the tree in Rockefeller Center (Amtrak, cabs, lunch and a little shopping — a couple hundred bucks at least). Some things you just have to pay for, expense be damned. [SIGNUP]

I personally subscribe to this notion of financial surrender. A handbag can’t possibly be worth several hundred but if you must have a Coach, pay you will. And shoes: You know there’s a little cobbler in the workroom at Manolo Blahnik laughing his ass off because someone is going to pay $800 for a pair of shoes. I am guilty. I’ve sipped the cider and worn the footwear. Hell, if I were ever kidnapped my husband could sell my shoes on eBay for the ransom money. So why is it that someone so adept at price-tag amnesia must get the last drop out of everything? Yup, the last itty bitty little bit out of every bottle, box and carton.

I can’t help myself. I see the last half inch of cream at the bottom of the moisturizer bottle or at the bottom of the ketchup bottle and it’s game on. I take the new bottle of ketchup and, after a reasonable amount has been used up, precariously balance the old one on top, leave for an hour or so and, voila, mission accomplished. The last coffee ground is a greater challenge. It’s that damn metal rim around the top of the can, designed by a tricky bastard for sure. I shake and swirl, shake and swirl and then use the ice tea spoon to scoop out every last coffee ground I can retrieve from the bottom. And when I throw the can out, I’m still pissed at the metal rim. Mascara: I will not throw out the tube until the last pathetic clump has been coaxed out of the tube. Speaking of tubes, how about toothpaste? Used to be able to roll up the bottom but now I have to place it on the counter and knead down the length of the tube so all the paste is at the head. Then bend the end over so the last drop pops out and onto my toothbrush.

The stub of a soap bar in the bathtub? Squeeze it into the new bar. The last of the mayo or the peanut butter? Get the spatula and make sure you scrape under the rim. Laundry soap? Pick up the cardboard flaps so you can shake out every little granule. Cooking spray? When it starts to sputter, hold the pan and the can upright and spray until you get that toxic aerosol mist. Then, and only then, can you be sure that you have gotten it all.

Frugal or psychotic, who’s to say? I’d like to think that my efforts allow me the luxury of a splurge every now and again. By getting the last drop of everything in my household for a year or so I probably save enough money for, what, a pair of shoes? Not exactly … more like a coffee from Starbucks. Nope, it’s the Maxwell House challenge, good to the last drop.