March’s (F)RotM. You’re in Trent Hamm’s House.

“Qwirkle.” “Belfort.” “Ingenious.” These aren’t even real words!


The biggest problem with Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar – aside from his repetition, impractical advice, stubbornness in the face of evidence that proves him wrong, unhealthy love of adverbs, repetition, comical overuse of the word “wonderful,” and repetition – is that there’s just too much to make fun of. We can read him only in spurts, then have to take a few weeks or months off or we’ll find ourselves making our own deodorant or recording awkward YouTube videos in one take.

Earlier this month, reader Kevin brought Trent’s latest to our attention and sucked us back in. A post called The Last Bit in the Container, which might be the quintessential Trent Hamm work. As long-winded calls to skimp (and scrimp) go, this one is the Trentiest.

It happens over and over again in life. You’re using a tube of toothpaste and you’ve used enough so that it’s becoming difficult to squeeze out the remainder. You’re eating a bag of chips and all that’s left are a bunch of crumbs at the bottom. You turn over your shampoo bottle to get a little for your hair and find that it’s not coming out very fast at all.

The container’s almost empty.

How is it possible that the biggest cheapskate on the planet can have no concept of economizing when it comes to words? You could take all the superfluous phrasing out of The Simple Dollar and use it to make another site. Several sites. The man has devoted terabyte after terabyte to saying more than the situation calls for.

The effort that he should expend on editing instead goes to arithmetic that tests the limits of his calculator’s display. Our own shows quantities no smaller than ±10-90. But if there’s a way to somehow save 10-91¢, Trent will find it.

I get 35 uses out of that shampoo bottle. If I stop right then, the shampoo is costing me 5.7 cents per use.

Trent is clearly slipping. He ratiocinated these figures to only a single decimal place. The Trent of old would never have admitted to paying 5.7¢ per brushing (excluding depreciation of the toothbrush) when he could avoid rounding down and claim to be paying 5.714¢ instead. Carnival of Wealth stalwart Paula Pant at Afford Anything observed that Trent made an egregious mistake, too. How can he contemplate spending 30 additional seconds in the shower getting an extra serving out of his shampoo bottle, while not factoring in the water he’s consuming during that time? Maybe he turns the water off while squeezing. Which would seem likely, for a man who counts out 9 squares of toilet paper per wipe. (We included a link so you could see the original source, but we warn you that that linked story Trent wrote is more than a little unpleasant. Let’s just say that the family that defecates together, gets visited by Child Protective Services together. Or should.) Trent isn’t done with measuring bathroom product expense per use, either:

Let’s say a tube of toothpaste costs $3 and provides a maximum of, say, 60 uses. This seems about right, since Sarah and I can get through a tube in about a month.

As Kevin put it, “It appears that he and the unfortunate Mrs. Hamm only brush their teeth once a day.  I guess this probably saves about 37¢ a month or so.”

Wait, we’re missing the big story here. This is the same hypocritical fat man who once wrote a post about how to save money by making your own toothpaste. (We already showcased that nugget of resourcefulness and ingenuity here.) Add stevia, cinnamon, peppermint oil, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide; buy a “small empty travel squirt container”, insert the former into the latter, and…

As soon as we’re done going through our backlog of toothpaste (purchased in bulk), I intend to use this as my only toothpaste.

He wrote that sentence 3 years ago, so if he’s telling the truth, that means he had at least 36 tubes of toothpaste in his pantry at the time. For him and his wife. As for their 3 kids, presumably they’re on their own.

When I reach a point where a squeeze doesn’t produce enough toothpaste to use, I’ll usually go down to the end of the tube and spend a minute or so rolling it up. I can usually get another ten or so brushes out of that tube if I do it.

We would have used the word “uses” rather than the misleading “brushes”, but then again we’re not the featured attraction at Financial Times Press, and that’s officially the most depressing independent clause we’ve ever written.

What kills us about Trent, every time, is that he couldn’t be more derivative yet thinks he’s being original. He seems to believe that he stumbled across this revolutionary new method of getting more toothpaste out of a tube – rolling from the bottom – and that his readers would stand to benefit from such a discovery. Just read this. Just freaking read this:

With no extra effort, I can get 50 uses out of the tube. That means my cost per use is $0.06.

For the last ten uses, I need to spend a minute rolling that tube up carefully to squeeze all of the extra into the end of the tube. This saves me $0.06 per use and I figure I’ll get another ten uses out of it. That means the one minute spent folding up the tube saves me $0.60. Is it worth it? I think so, since $0.60 per minute adds up to $36 per hour after taxes, a rate most of us would love to achieve.

Hey moron: You can’t extrapolate these piddling quirks of yours like that. It doesn’t work that way. He brags about how it takes him just 10 seconds to squeeze out another 6¢ worth of toothpaste (again, assuming that his cinnamon-stevia-hydrogen peroxide-baking soda concoction is still fermenting in the basement, and we can only hope there are a couple of ingredients in there that can chemically bond and turn Trent’s house into a mustard gas factory.) That’s not a functional $36/hour, unless you have 360 almost-empty tubes on hand and more teeth in your mouth than the standard 32. By the same logic, picking quarters off the street (assuming 3 seconds per pickup) is an effective $300/hour job. Why would anyone ever do anything else for a living?

This is what happens when you take a kid in a tiny Midwestern town, introduce him to fantasy role-playing games instead of teaching him how to throw a g.d. baseball, and leave him alone with his thoughts. He ends up becoming fascinated by minutiae, and the more minute, the better. Assuming the wife and kids exist (we’ve been skeptical, and would like to see tangible proof of at least one family member in those YouTube videos), how is he still at this obsessive point? How does the wife put up with it? Why does she put up with it? Does she consider the glass to be half full? (“He’s not smoking, he’s not doing drugs. [Of course not, they cost money.] I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about him cheating. I can deal with this. I’ll spend far more in therapy sessions than he’s saving in toothpaste, but I’ll figure it out.”)

Trent lives in Huxley, Iowa. When we find out his address, we’re going to break into his house one night, pour all the perishables down the sink, open all the windows so he’ll burn another kilowatt-hour or so of energy, then stand across the street and rub our hands with glee.

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