I'll tell you right off the bat, this is a post that may only interest me.
I've worked diligently. And this is what I've got.
The blasted tv I bought, that jacked my electric bill up to $250, has been managed. The bill (which is an entire city bill including water, sewage, trash and electricity) was only $86 dollars and some change this month. The number one thing that helped was to begin to get consistent about unplugging the tv & dvd player not just turning it off. I've even done the same thing with my microwave. It only takes a moment, though I'm not as consistent about the microwave. It's a little harder to remember.
Beyond that, hypermiling is really working. I regularly got between 27 & 33mpg before, and now I'm getting between 39 and the highest I've gotten is 42.5 (a number I get more often as I get better at the techniques). It certainly helps that the gas prices have gone down. :) I paid less than 20 bucks for gas this week (the whole week). It made me happy. :)
Lights don't stay on in my house unless there is a need for it. In the daytime, I don't typically have them on unless I'm trying to read and it just isn't bright enough.
And now I'm researching switching to cell phone only and ditching my home phone.
That's the one that makes me a little sad, I like having a regular line, but I'm pretty sure I will get used to it. Once I stop frowning at it.
This whole thing isn't about depriving myself. But, if you look at your life, there's a lot of excess. If you have a cell phone, where someone can reach you all the time, do you really need a home phone? I'm not saying you do or you don't, I'm just bringing the question out for you to think about. I currently have internet, and phone with Verizon for about $90, and my cell phone is a pay as you go thing (which is ok since I rarely use it) and I usually have to "top up" which costs 32.50 every 2-3 mos. So lets call that $100 for phone/internet.
I researched T-Mobile and found a $50 plan that was right for me (am I sounding like a commercial) and if I switch my internet to Suddenlink, it can get a monthly rate of $20. Which is $70 + tax for my phone.
A savings of approximately $30. A total of $360 per year.
These little things are making a difference in my finances. It's fun to watch. And the main thing I hope to really take away from all this is just a simple awareness. I don't want to waste. And when you really start looking at it, you realize that you waste a lot, a lot. And in some cases, that waste costs you money. I don't want to waste stuff, I don't want to waste money.
I would call it being a good steward, but that sounds phony. It sounds like trying to make things sound religious, or putting a spiritual spin on something just... normal. So the goal, is nothing more special than just seeing how much stuff I can not waste. It's most easily measured by seeing the bills lower, or dividing the number of miles driven by the amount of gas purchased.
There are a lot of other things you can do to save money, and a ton of great articles about it. But one of the things I've learned is to not get wrapped up trying to do all of the suggestions. But to fiddle around until you find the ones that you can live with doing.
Long story short, all of your resources are gifts from God. I've been thinking about the parable of the talents, and I know the symbolism and I get the "heavenly meaning" in the "earthly story" but, at the same time I wondered what would happen if the master gave us talents to invest... would he return years later to find that we'd not only spent his talent, but used the income to qualify for a house too expensive for us, and a credit card with a $50,000 limit?
I don't know. And I don't want to condemn myself and just writhe underneath that burden. But I do want to do better. God is good to teach me.