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Archive for the ‘Snowflakes’ Category

We got our electric bill today.  I was very hesitant to open it…  we’ve had the AC in our bedroom turned on almost every night this month.  It’s been really muggy in Pennsylvania, with no relief from the heat and humidity at night.

We got a great surprise: The bill was only $4 higher than last month.  We used an average of 17 KWH per day, up from 15-16 KWH per day. I can live with that.

We have been making a real effort to reduce our energy consumption, and it’s starting to pay off.  We’ve been making one small change a month to see how it affects the electricity bill.

Yes, we used the AC for about 8 hours each day.  But we set the AC to 72 degrees, which was just cool enough to let us sleep. Cost this month: +$4

We’ve also started hanging our clothes up in the basement.  I still machine dry socks and underwear, mainly because my time is more valuable than hanging and matching a few dozen socks.  But we’ve been line drying jeans, towels, sheets and t-shirts.  Savings: $5

We’ve also been using the grill, which cuts out the electric oven and stove. We don’t have central air, but it sure is nice to not heat up the entire house with dinner. Unknown savings, but a nice, cool house.

Finally, we made one simple, silly change to our routine: We turned off the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher. I didn’t even realize this was an option when we moved in last year, because this is my first dishwasher. Duh!  We do the dishes every 2-3 days, so a family that runs the dishwasher more often could save even more. Savings: $10 per month.

We’ve now trimmed our electricity bill from $75-80 per month to $55-60. In my book, that $15-20 savings is well worth the minimal effort. We’re saving money and the planet at the same time!  I’ll admit that I no longer snowflake these savings – I just budget the $60 now, and have an extra $20 to put towards our retirement funds.

Other things we’ve tried, which made a much smaller difference: Switching to CFL bulbs, unplugging the TV and VCR when not in use (we don’t have cable, use them only for movies), and turning off the computer most nights. Together, these three changes may have saved us a dollar or two…  but these things do add up.

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Each month, we spend a bit less than we budget. I’ve vowed to roll this money into our debt and see how much faster we can pay down debt.

We’ve tallied the numbers.  Are you ready?

This month, we’re $203 over budget.  😀  We made $56 more than expected (the hubby got a small raise), and spent $147 less than planned on food, gas and house expenses.

Since the mortgage is our highest interest debt, we’ll apply the whole thing to the house.

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I am fascinated by snowflakes.

No, I’m not talking about snow and blizzards. (Although I do love snow!)  I’m referring to financial snowflakes.

I first heard about snowflake’s from PaidTwice’s snowflake primer here. But I’ll do my best to explain it as well.

Snowflaking is a spin on the popular snowballing method, where you take any extra income each month and pay down debt. (I’m simplifying things here, because snowballing doesn’t really apply to us.)

The principle for snowflaking is simple: Each snowball is made of snowflakes, or small amounts of extra cash. 

But small amounts of money can add up quickly. Take any money you can find, no matter how small, and apply it to debt. Saved $2 by buying something on sale?  Snowflake the savings, and add it to your debt payment. Found a quarter on the ground?  Snowflake it.

This would be great for us, if we used cash.

We don’t have much of a cash system in our house.  We budget x dollars for food, gas, ect. Everything goes on the credit card, we track how much is spent, and the card gets paid off each month. When the budgeted money is gone, we put the credit cards away.

But now that we’ve been working with a budget for a few months, something strange and wonderful has been happening. Each month, we spend a bit less. There’s always a few dollars leftover in each budget. I’ve been rolling that money into the next month’s budget, but it’s starting to add up.

Today, I vow to USE my snowflakes to better our financial picture!  I’m thinking we should send 75% to the mortgage, 25% into student loans. (Check out my goals for reasoning.)

We’ll sit down and finish our budget tonight. Check back tomorrow and see how many snowflakes we found!

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We’re trying to cut costs. When you only spend $200 a month on food, every dollar counts.

So WHY have we been going out to eat every Friday?

It’s simple: We go to a friend’s house, and they want to go out. Instead of saying “Gee, maybe we should try cooking tonight. We’re watching our money,” we get out the wallet and fork over some cash.

No more. I’m proud to announce that I just got off the phone with the friends. We had a heart to heart about money, and I explained that those $15 take-out bills were really hurting our bottom line.

I never would have expected her response. “Yeah, we’ve been meaning to cut back, too. It just hasn’t happened.”

Well, it’s about to happen!  🙂  We decided on the phone to make pizza at their house. She’ll supply the dough and sauce, and we’re in charge of the toppings.  I’ve already got a family-size pack of cheese and pepperoni, so this meal will cost me $0.

I might just role that $15 into the snowflake funds…

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