Friday, November 25, 2016

Scratch Paper


When my middle son, Dustin, came home for the Thanksgiving holiday, he brought back a stack of paper. After he took an exam at college, he asked the professor if he could have the equation sheet handouts the class was throwing away. Dustin took them, and used the school's paper cutter to cut each page into 6 pieces each. He brought them home to give to me to be used as scratch paper. I just love it when my boys bring me gifts.

I showed Dustin my new blog and asked him to get involved and figure the savings. Well why not? My life is boring, so let's have a little fun.

Savings analysis:
We had 300 small sheets (yes, we counted them one by one. I said my life was boring. We received no deadly paper cuts so our workplace safety practices were effective).

The original 8 ½ by 11 inch sheets of paper were cut into 6 pieces, so originally there would have been 50 sheets. We found a similar note pad from Amazon - 12 Pads for $6.37 for the bundle which is $0.531 per pad. $0.531 per pad divided by 50 pages per pad is $0.011 per page. (Dustin figured it out to the extra decimal place in these calculations because it is more accurate. He is studying to be an engineer and can do math correctly.)

So, $0.011 per page times our 300 pages is $3.30 that we saved. (We are not counting shipping in our comparison even though Dustin did drive home from school and carried the paper with him. We are also not counting the labor of counting the pages or cutting the paper. He is a "starving college student" and works for food.)

When we use paper here, we sometimes use both sides of the paper (except for toilet paper), doubling its utility. But in this case, we can't simply count ALL the pages as being usable for both sides. This is because the original 8 ½ by 11 inch sheets of paper had equations printed on one side. As you can see in the image, some of the little paper pieces have the equations taking up most of the room, so its backside can't be used. Others have little to no equations, allowing double-sided use. Still others have student-written scratch work taking up room. But that's ok, scratch paper is made for scratch work, and we didn't have to pay for that. Scratch paper with some scratch notes included for free is good, right?

The last frugality accomplishment to mention: Dustin did all the math in calculating well as writing the rough draft of this blog post. All I had to do was read his post and give him a glass of homemade boiled custard.

Were the savings worth the work? Collecting and cutting the paper was worth it to me because Dustin did all the work. Figuring the savings and writing the blog was also worth it because Dustin did this work too. Would I bother doing the same thing? I have done it before; however, there is something happening here that is more valuable than the $3.30 saved.

Dustin has an engineer's math brain and thinks in absolutes. One plus one equals two, always. Social situations are like a minefield to him. With this simple gift he proved he knows the difference between a present and a gift. A present is what I want you to have and gift is what you want to have.  An example of a present: you have gained weight, I want you to lose so I give you an exercise bike for your birthday. This is a bad idea. An example of a gift: you love chocolate candy so I give you a big box of Russell Stovers, which is your heart's desire. That is a good idea.

My son saw the paper going into the trash can and saw an opportunity. He thought, Mom is thrifty, she likes to recycle, this is a good opportunity to do something she would like. Then he made the effort, asked the professor, cut the paper, brought it home and presented it to me. I was thrilled. I loved it. My heart went pitter-patter. It might sound silly to you because all you see is a cheap $3.30 present, but as for me, I see a priceless giver.

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