Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Toughing out Frugality (Repost)

As I'm still treading water mentally, I'm going to enjoy another day on the couch with my feet up and instead treat you to this repost of an article I wrote about this time last year for my Writing Up blog. It's a good reminder for me, and hopefully will be a good one for you.

Everyone always seems to be looking for easy, painless ways to save money. I know I certainly am. I'm starting to think, though, that there is very little to be gained from such ventures. In order to notice significant savings, savings that will genuinely affect your life and future, you need to make bigger changes.

Saving on energy

I can't believe how many articles I've read on unplugging chargers and eliminating phantom loads. Do you know how much this can save you? Maybe $20 a year. Now, I'm not the kind of girl to say no to $20 a year, but let's think about the big picture here. The majority of electricity is used by central air, laundry, and refrigerators. So, to effect real savings in your energy budget, you need to be hotter, do less laundry, and stop staring into your fridge. But consider it: being just a little bit hotter for a month will already save you what you would have gotten by chasing all your phantom loads.

Saving on gas

How easy is it for me to say, don't drive. Walk to the store. Ride a bike to work. Carpool. Do I do any of these things? No. I would like to, and I have good intentions, but they don't end up happening. I tried playing the games the articles suggested: tires inflated, less junk in the trunk, regular tune-ups, and I'm sure all these things help, but I haven't seen the change in my pocketbook yet. The one big change I've managed to keep up with is to not use my car's air conditioning. I've read dozens of comparisons of the relative virtues of air vs. open windows but how about just accepting that in the summer, you'll be a little hot when you drive? How about wearing seasonally appropriate clothing and parking in the shade? Now, it's only May, and I may not be so glib in July, but at least I can cut back. And maybe driving will become so unappealing that I'll get off my butt and take a hike.

Saving on household items and decorating

I think the Saturday Night Live sketch did this best when it said "Don't buy stuff you can't afford." Honestly. Rather than spending 5 hours arranging silk flowers for $15 to save on the $30 pre-arranged flowers, why not just skip the flowers until you have money to pay for them?

None of this is fun advice, and please don't think I'm preaching because this is as much for me as anyone else. I've spent months reading everything possible on pain-free ways to cut a budget and I'm starting to think I'd do better by going back to believing in Santa. If I want to save money, it's going to hurt. I'm going to feel it. It's time to hunker down and get used to it.


Ewokgirl said...

I found your blog through the Frugal Homemaker's blog, and I wanted you to know that I've really been enjoying it.

story girl said...

Thank you for your comments ewokgirl! Let me know if there's anything you'd like to see more of.