Editor’s Note-I’ve noticed that most of the blog tour posts on #31DaysLWSZ seem to have all been written by women. I though Jon should give his view on the guy’s take on #31DaysLWSZ. EJ
The 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero has been going well!
On the first day of October, Emily (aka Jane Doe) informed me that we were starting the 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero Challenge. My response? “This is great!”
I spent too many years as a starving graduate student to ever be able to spend money freely. No portrait of Ebenezer Scrooge on the wall…yet! Emily has teased me for years about some of the lengths I will go to in order to save money. Hah! Her turn!
There may be a pair of Bob Cratchit gloves in her future.
We have been eating well in spite of drastically cutting our food bill. Not only have the grocery bills been less, but restaurant and takeout outlays have been zero dollars.One factor that has made the challenge easier is that we were well stocked with food and groceries at the beginning of the month. Okay, maybe we were a little over-stocked.
Unfortunately, we were not overstocked with frozen pizza or paper plates. My go-to easy dinner solution was only available once this month, and I washed way too many dishes.
I bought our daughter $20 worth of books at her school Book Fair.We are still buying paper towels. I continue to have my daily coffee.
So we have tried to bring a certain level of reasonableness to the challenge. It’s really made it relatively simple to commit to the challenge and save money.
So Let’s Talk Guy Stuff: Fuel, Power and Car Repairs
We’re also doing well on gasoline. So far we have only spent $114 in gas this month for both cars. I’ve also had to replace the brakes on my car, but I only bought parts and did the labor myself. Even though we were on the month of no spending, I bought premium brake pads. I like saving money, but not at the expense of safety and taking good care of our cars.
Historically, October is our lowest month for electricity consumption. So we will spend less this month on power as well as all that we are saving through #31DaysLWSZ. Last month we had a very economical $95 electrical bill for our 2300 square foot home.
I have been going around the house looking for any incandescent lights in operation. We have replaced most of the old incandescent lights with florescent and LED bulbs. The Heat pump thermostat is set to a balmy 67 degrees.
With 5 days left this month we have used about 700 Kilowatts, or about $70. Turning off lights, keeping the house at a reasonable temperature and taking shorter showers has paid off.
The Hunt for Incandescent October
We still have a couple of 100 watt flood lights to replace. I have purchased 15 watt florescent floods to replace them, which will be a significant wattage reduction from 200 to 30 watts. It hasn’t been a priority because the lights aren’t on a lot.
The next month should be interesting from an electric power consumption viewpoint. We are switching to Residential Time of Use (R-TOU) with our power company. This means that the power company will bill us at different rates for using power at different times of the day. It sounds complex, but it’s not. You get a discount for load shifting and trying to use power at off-peak times.
R-TOU requires some expenditures for equipment to help shift power usage effectively, like a timer for the hot water heater and a programmable thermostat. It also requires some shifting habits, like using the slow cooker and convection oven more often, timing showers and baths, and moving laundry day to the weekends.
We’ve started making the switches this month, even though we have not officially gone on the program. We feel this is not just money saving, but also ecologically responsible. When customers load shift, the power company can generate power in more efficient, less polluting ways.
Once the power company gets us hooked up, we should save a lot of money on our power bill. Off-peak electricity usage will cost about half our current rate.
This Guy’s Take on #31DaysLWSZ
Despite the current lack of snack food in our house, we have found the challenge a reasonable and easy task. No one has suffered great hardship from a lack of pizza and paper plates. I am looking forward to buying some ice cream and tortilla chips on November 1.
We have learned lessons that we can apply to our day-to-day expenditures. I think we’ve gotten an eye-opener on some of our spending habits, and we’ve had to come up with some alternative ideas to stay entertained. We had some family fun, even if I ended up watching way too many Disney Channel Original Movies.
As Ben Franklin said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
Emily and I made a commitment this summer to find ways to live more frugally that fit into our lifestyle and long-term goals. We’re looking for one new way to save money each month, and October had two. We tweaked our food buying expectations and we signed up for R-Tod. Not bad ways to reinforce the hull of the USS Jividen.