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Living With Less

April 21st, 2008 · 7 Comments · Current Events

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Take a moment and look around your home. Do you have multiple lights on? Is the television on while you are on your computer?  Do you leave everything plugged in even though you don’t use it regularly? Do you recycle? Over the last few years, Pete and I have tried to be more conscientious of how much we waste as a family. I would not say we are ready to join the Freegan movement but we do try to do our part to be mindful of not wasting.  We keep the thermostat set at 68. We drink filtered water versus bottled water. We turn off everything before leaving a room and unplug appliances not in use.  We plan out meals for the week and use our leftovers for lunches or turn them into a new meal such as a casserole. I am working to use sale circulars to determine our menus for the week to keep the cost of food down as well. When we first relocated to NJ we were renting a house. Last year we decided to move into a town-home which saved us $125 a month on rent and cut our energy costs by 40%. We will not be staying in NJ, so by cutting our costs while we live here, we can save for the house we plan to build.  I was watching an episode of Oprah from last week, where she challenged families to live with less. I was embarrassed for the Dominguez family.  They were so wasteful, that the father was borrowing money to cover their bills. They were paying $1000 a month just for gas and electricity. They were throwing away garbage bags filled with wasted food, while spending a minimum of $200 a week on groceries. I just thought it was a shame that the mother and kids knew there were financial problems, yet did nothing to help the situation. The family had to follow the following rules for ONE week:

1. No eating out and no wasting of food that is brought into the house.

2. No bottled water.  A Brita water filter was given to the family.

3. No disposable plates, cups, or napkins.

4. Only one hour of television a day. No IPODs or Video Games.

5. Computers could only be used for homework.

6. The thermostat is set at 69.

7. Only wash clothing that is dirty.

8. No shopping for anything other than groceries.

9. Showers are not to exceed 8 minutes

The family estimated they saved $400-$600 dollars that week by following these rules. The experience seemed to open the eyes of the mother and children to their financial situation as well as to the amount of waste they generated. I would be interested to see where they are in a year. Could your family follow these rules for one week? I would love to hear how you and your family are living with less. Please leave ideas in the comment section!

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Damien Riley

    My family wastes around 2-300 bucks a month eating out. Thanks for this great post full of ideas on how to save money.

  • Jennifer Robin

    We’re pretty much doing everything on the list. Almost zero food waste, thermostat at 65 (yes, I wear sweaters!) , compact fluorescent bulbs everywhere. I am appalled at people who live like the family you mentioned. Our public school system seriously needs to start educating children about energy conservation, etc. What to do about all the clueless adults, I have no idea.

  • Jillian

    To be honest I only do a few things on this list. 1 hour of TV? Never. Computer JUST for homework? Not happening. No bottled water? Can’t do. (I love love love Arrowhead distilled. It tastes so crisp and clean. I’ve had filtered water… not the same!).

    My only suggestion would be to start shopping at those 99cents stores. You can get a lot of the same non-perishables there they sell in the big-name markets. (Toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, shower gel, etc etc etc.)

  • Matt B

    Those are some good methods of cost effectiveness. Have you considered investment saving? The idea is that you buy something after careful planning that reduces the overall cost of the household to more than the cost over a period of time. Examples would be solar panels, rain catchers and anything that reduces the need for other things. One thing I looked at recently was the overall impact of bulk purchases which can work well in the USA as your meat prices are way way lower than the EU/UK.

  • Rachel

    I couldn’t do it, my family couldn’t do it lol. We thrive on the computer what with the blog, and my hsuband being a designer. The water filter is something I have been wanting to get, I don’t really have a care for which bottled water I drink.

  • fragileheart

    Hm… some of that stuff could really not work for me. Like the shower one – I lose quite a bit of hair in the shower and rather than let it all drop down to the floor of the bathtub and then into the drain, I will put it up on the wall and then dispose of it after my shower. But putting it up on the wall means I’m in there at least an extra 2 minutes. Hence I take 10 minute showers.

    The Television one I could definitely live with. Ever since Earth Hour… I’ve made it a habit not to have the TV on if I’m on the computer and vice versa. Besides, it just distracted me from reading whatever it was I was trying to read on the internet.

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