Give and Take

Another, and another, and another, creeps in this petty pace from day to day.
– William Shakespeare, The Scottish Play

Another jug of Tide™ laundry soap, that is.

Intent on starting my washing load, I still pause for just a few seconds to consider exactly how I came to have seven (yes, count ’em, seven) jugs of high-efficiency, low-fragrance Tide™ in my laundry cupboard.

Seven jugs of Tide laundry soap in my cupboard.

But I know exactly how.

Shoppers Drug Mart emails me links to download coupons to my frequent-shopper card. Coupons for bonus points if I spend over a threshold amount. Coupons for bonus points if I buy specific products.

Like say, jugs of high-efficiency, low-fragrance Tide™.  Just as, you know, a hypothetical example.

They watch what I buy and send me coupons for those products. And also for bars of 75% dark chocolate from Ecuador, oddly enough.  And I buy more than I really need, to earn the bonus points.

They make it so easy to accumulate points that, well, I do. The last time I checked, I had 200,713 points.

This, in a plan where the bonus structure tops out at 95,000 points.  Just an over-achiever, I guess.

But as I approach my impending and entirely self-regulated retirement date, I see these seven jugs of high-efficiency, low-fragrance Tide™ and my 200,713 Shoppers Drug Mart points in a new light.

I see that the pattern of saving for a rainy day will no longer serve me well.

I see that getting anxious about a dwindling hoard – whether of cash or drugstore points or jugs of Tide™ – is wrong-headed.

I see that it’s time to stop putting all the effort into earning points in whatever area of my life, and to pay at least a little attention to spending them.

Give and take, earn and spend, yin and yang. You can have one without the other, but it doesn’t make much sense.




  1. Tom Watson

    I could take a jug or two of that Tide (providing it’s HE) off your hands. In exchange for a few never-used telephone cords. You can pretty much name your price!

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Tom – Well, it is HE (I had to give away a jug of non-HE that I bought by mistake). As for trading, not so much. Although if any readers are interested in Tom’s unintentional hoard of telephone cords, I can put you in touch.

  2. Hoarding: see it in a new light since I read Douglas Coupland’s article in a recent Walrus mag. Everybody has their own irrational (to others only) hoard of stuff that can be quite revealing in a sweet way. He knew art curators whose walls were bare: they hoard minimalism.

    So, it’s not just the people who keep empty Jif peanut butter jars for 30 years: we all do it and try and you can’t stop us either!

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – No, I guess not. I’d settle for stopping myself. Maybe if I think of it like breathing – it’s gotta come in but it’s gotta go out again, too.

  3. John Whitman

    Isabel – It seems that big brother, or maybe it is big pharma, is watching you. As Samuel Johnson is supposed to have said, “It is better to live rich than to die rich”, so get out there and start using that Tide™. Retirement comes quicker than you think.

  4. Alison

    Enjoyed your writing, and had a chuckle. Been there, done that, and you are right, I don’t do it anymore now that I’m retired. I am now working my way through a wallet full of gift cards. Always an adventure, as I really don’t keep track how much money is left in any of them. I just keep producing cards until the purchase is paid for, or I run out of that kind of card! I should take you for coffee sometime!

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Alison – You’re on! As long as coffee can be tea. Gift cards are a subject unto themselves – the most efficient way known of turning money into money that can only be used in one place, as some have it. On the other hand, if someone just sent you 20 bucks, it would go without much of a ripple, but every time you use that Timmie’s card (or whatever) you likely think of the sender. Assuming you can remember . . .

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