The other day I was reading an article on provident living. By the third paragraph I knew I had learned prudence.

It comes from my childhood experiences with toothpaste, toilet paper - or napkins - ketchup and other such goodies.You see, in the Hansen home, we would sometimes get our toothpaste from a tube that had been cut open, scraped and used to its last drop before it was thrown out. If that wasn't enough, we would use baking soda for paste until Mom could get some more Crest. Some people might think that's a strange substitute, but a quick look at a box of baking soda will show you that, yes, the stuff can be used for cleaning teeth and not just for baking goodies or deodorizing your refrigerator.

I can't count the times napkins were substituted for toilet paper.

We used the last drop of hair-spray, deodorant or bar soap. We never threw out a piece of soap - it just dissolved. When I left home, I was shocked to learn that many people would rather throw the stuff out and not bother with it.

As for the kitchen, how many of you can say you had hot dogs cut in half as substitute bologna sandwiches? Or a grilled cheese sandwich on a dinner roll or hamburger bun?

I used to think my mother wanted to embarrass her kids every time we opened our sack lunches in the school cafeteria. Little did I know.

My father used to get in on the action as well. His specialty was to put a few drops of water in the ketchup bottle to make it last longer. He also liked to concoct a French dressing with mayonnaise and ketchup. It never really looked like the commercial kind, but it tasted just as good.

As for leftovers, we always had them - and we ate them too. Nowadays, I bite my tongue when I see friends dump enough food for another meal down the garbage disposal. The difference is that at home we ate leftovers. In my apartment leftovers get left out - until they finally find their way, mold and all, to the disposal.

It's no wonder we have to empty the trash almost every day.

This provident living stuff also carried over into appliances in my home. My dad would come up with some fancy device - out of such things as a coat hanger and rubber band - to keep the washer operating.

He cleaned and took care of things to make sure they lasted forever. A worn and blackened pan quickly became shiny and new after he took a wire brush to it.

I knew we weren't a poor family. We had everything we needed and most of the things we wanted in life. I just figured that my mom was too busy to bother with certain household details until it was absolutely necessary. And I thought Dad was kind of cheap - probably because he grew up on a farm with 13 brothers and sisters.

At a young age I determined to be different from my parents and save my children from embarrassment. But will I?

I admit I am not as prudent as I was taught to be, but through it all I have learned something that is very important: provident living. We may not have everything we need for the rest of our lives. I know now that I can take care of myself, have some foresight and be frugal. I've been taught by my parents. I hope I can be just like them. Thanks Mom and Dad!