Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saving the Moola: conscious choices make all the difference

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Jason and I are a little tight fisted when it comes to our money. I'm sure this isn't a revelation of any sorts to readers who've been with us for awhile! This winter, we noticed a slight increase in our rent bill, which includes rent, a fee per month to have Preston, water, sewage, etc. The slight increase was due to water. Apparently, we were using a little extra water somehow each month.

The slight increase caused us to have to adjust our rent payment each month, and this highly annoyed us. So instead of just complaining, we decided to do something about it.

And this started our journey toward making every moment a very conscious one. Jason started cutting his showers shorter, and I decided to flush less. Before ya'll think we're crazy {or rather, that I am crazy}, let me explain all of this.

Not that you think Jason is crazy since spending less time in the shower isn't really that crazy, but Jason does love his showers. He could spend an hour in there each night if I let him. I've always hounded him to some degree about his showers, but honestly, after we saw our water portion of our rent bill, I didn't have to say a word. He took it upon himself to spend five minutes or less in the shower. This is the goal, and he doesn't always hit it, but it's a good goal to have and he's much more conscious of the time he spends in the shower. We choose not to set a timer since we're not that concerned, but this is a great idea if you're someone who's not so conscious of time, even when you're trying to be.

Some of our expenses are weird - for instance, we use more TP than other couples who both work out of the home. Since I work primarily from home and Jason works at the lib and at home, when his company has work for him, we're using TP a lot at home and not at work. In that same instance, this means every time I use the bathroom, I'm using our bathroom. I'm using our TP, our hand wash, our water to flush the toilet, and on it goes.

Now that I'm expecting a child, I find I need to use the bathroom more than ever. So that doesn't really help matters! By not flushing every time I use the toilet, I'm seriously saving money. I flush, on average, one of three times I use the toilet, and it has never, ever been an issue. Obviously, if you're expecting company, I would encourage you, for the comfort of your guests, to have a flushed toilet. But most days of the week, it's just me and Jason. We have two toilets, and oddly, we each use our "own" and tend not to use the other person's toilet. While Jason is not such a fan of an unflushed toilet, he doesn't tend to use the toilet I primarily use and so I can not flush to my heart's content.

And wouldn't you know it - we've not only cut $5 from our water bill, we've cut $7 every month since we started this!! It's been several months now and our total rent bill has been decreased by $7 or so each month. Over the course of a year, that's a savings of $84!

Which brings me to the more relevant reason of why I'm sharing that conscious choices make all the difference: recently, we noticed our energy bill was crazy high. Even when I started making conscious choices to lower it, it was not lowered by what I had expected.

That's when things started to get serious. I made a vow that I would set the heat at 59 degrees, and I would not ever touch it. I always liked having our light over the oven on and the lights over our breakfast bar on. It just felt home-y to have these lights on. But when I realized this could be part of the cause of our energy bill increase, I turned off all the lights and never left them on unless someone was in the kitchen. I started turning off all other lights at night and in the early morning, if I was just on the computer and didn't need a light to read.

I have yet to see if all of these conscious choices will make a difference. I'm anxiously waiting for our bill to arrive around October 27.

But now that I can see how it's every moment that can make the difference, it's inspired me to really live every moment well. I'm a big-picture kind of person. I live my life now with the end in sight - what is my end goal? And what do I need to do now to get there? And I tend to forget that what I'm doing right now, that is unrelated to that goal, may impact that goal.

For instance, our goal is to have enough savings to cover all our medical bills and leaves from work for our child by Christmas, essentially, this year. We're cutting things out of our budget and cutting back on groceries. We're staying home more and making more things ourselves in an effort to save money.

But we weren't thinking about every day moments. Moments where one would normally flush the toilet. Moments where one would leave the toaster plugged in after breakfast because you just don't think of it.

It's those moments that absolutely can make or break you. It can affect your goal. Every moment brings a choice of some kind - whether you're going to keep using your computer, whether you're going to leave your TV plugged in {or on}, and whether you're going to line dry your clothes instead of conveniently using a dryer.

Making conscious choices usually mean you're shirking convenience. I'm not saying it'll be easy. Some days, it's easier to just throw the clothes in the dryer. Some days, it's easier to plop the kids in front of the TV and let them watch a movie. But consider how doing that will affect your end goal. Will you meet your financial goals? Will your kids grow up with the characteristics you desire them to have?

There is one quote that has been running through my mind lately: God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

I know I'm not qualified. God didn't call me to live this life because I was naturally good at it. In fact, my upbringing was just the opposite of the life I'm living now. But God called me to this life and he qualified me. I'm nothing without Him. I wouldn't be here, in this moment, living this life without Him.

If you have a goal in your heart, make sure you're doing everything you can to reach that goal and don't stand in your own way. Examine all your bills and really contemplate what you can do to help your family along. Complacency is not an option for being a winner in life. And when you feel discouraged, as we all will because life is never easy, know that you're doing this for a greater purpose. Whether or not you serve Him, you have a goal for a reason. Keep that reason in sight. Keep pushing yourself to get to where you want to be. It won't always be easy, but it's always, always worth it.

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