7 - 2007

Monthly Wrap-Up: July savings update – $291

As I mentioned earlier on this blog, I’ve been tracking my performance in all kinds of ecological and economical ways. Here are the first results.

July groceries were $318 – about $100 less than June. This is partly because we’ve been able to eat out of our garden a bit … and partly because we spent that $100 on extra dining out. Hot hot weather and tired tired parents equals “Let’s go out to dinner.”

I notice that we’re especially vulnerable to the siren song of a restaurant for special events … we bought lunch at a 4th of July event, went out three times with friends, and bought meals after “splurge” days at the Renaissance Festival and Cirque du Soleil (we’re not going on vacation this year, so our pricey Cirque tickets came out of our vacation budget).

My total grocery savings (what they measure on the register receipt — from coupons and store discounts) was $120.30 — 27 percent of all my purchases, the same as last month. I am using fewer coupons because I’m buying less packaged food these days.

Total Savings
I tally my various categories on a detailed spreadsheet that takes up more than 100 rows, so I won’t reproduce it here. But here’s the rundown:

The final tally:
Cash: $290.65 saved
Plastic bags: 43 avoided
Water: 218.8 gallons saved

The breakdown:

Freebies and discounts made up a chunk of savings — almost $180. I count in this category things I saved money on and would have bought anyway. I give us credit for these items in the amount of the difference between the lowest price I’ve seen (what I would be willing to pay) and what we actually paid.

The individual items in this category were:

  • 50% off item at Goodwill (a crock to make pickles) – $2.50
  • Mr Cheap’s free haircut (he bought 12, gets one free) – $12
  • A free garden hoe from Freecycle – $10
  • A free massage I received from a newspaper promotion – $30
  • Savings on a pair of shoes – $50
  • Savings at hardware store grand opening – $30

We used the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” rule and saved 118 low-flow flushes this month (189 gallons).

Navy showers (turning the water off, at least for the time it takes me to shave my legs) saved more.

Partway through the month, I hit the grand opening sale at a local hardware store and bought a low-flow aerator (1.5 gallons per minute) for my kitchen sink and a low-flow showerhead. The showerhead reduces flow to 1.5 gallons a minute and includes a switch to drop the flow to a trickle while I suds up. If I take 20 five-minute showers per month, I’ll save at least 100 gallons a month.

Utilities & Misc.
My laundry procedures (wash in cold only, hang to dry) saved about $12. This is a drop in the bucket, however, and my utility bills show that somehow we are using more energy than last year. I can’t understand this, as I am intentionally using fewer appliances, have switched out light bulbs for CFLs and have instituted a few new procedures to save electricity and gas:

  • Turning off the dishwasher on the “dry” cycle (we already have heated dry turned off, but I try to catch it and stop it so the fan doesn’t even go. We already use the water miser feature, which uses 5 gallons per load rather than 8, according to the manual).
  • Unplugged my office copy machine.
  • Put the TV and DVD player on a power strip that I turn off when we’re not using them.
  • Baking on a “bake day” and doing several items at once.
  • Using my oven’s “speed bake” convection feature, which does seem to reduce bake time by about 25 percent.
  • Turning off ceiling fans when we aren’t in the room.
  • Nagging Little Cheap incessantly to turn off lights.

I’m thinking about getting the power strips that let you shut off power to peripherals. I’d love to more frequently shut off our server computer — but it is old and I don’t want to wait for hours for it to power up so I can begin my workday.

Anyone have experience with the Smart Strip? Other brilliant ideas?

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