It’s amazing what you can do.
I set a goal that I would become a fulltime vagabond in 5-7 years. I needed to work at least another five years in order to draw any pension from my present employer and I was six years away from qualifying for social security. Although both retirement checks would be small, the combined total would make possible retiring to the vagabonding life. Most people would not think it possible, and yes, for many people, it would not be enough to live on. However, I have a highly developed skill . . .
Oh yeah? What’s so special about you?
I’ll tell you what’s so special. I can live on just about nothing. Well, perhaps I exaggerate. You decide.
In order to pull off my plan, I needed start-up money for the trailer, tow vehicle, and certain equipment (another post!). I knew I couldn’t increase my income during those 5-7 years, because my work is so demanding that a second job is out of the question. I’m a low-energy person. If I push myself and don’t get a lot of rest, I become ill.
I had to cut back expenses. In a Big Way.
I realized the first step was to analyze my spending. I decided to use my credit card for every possible purchase — groceries, bills, gas for the car, restaurants, clothing. I rarely write a check or use paper money. When the bill comes each month, I pay it off in full and scrutinize the expenditures to see what I can cut back on.
All my bills get this treatment.
The most obvious place to save money? The power bill. My four bedroom, two bath house was costing me about $180-$230 a month for electric. Ridiculous! I keep vents closed. Doors to unused rooms are kept shut. Drafts are eliminated. I do not turn on more than one light at a time. After all, I can’t be in two places at once! When I walk out of a room, the light is shut off. I do not use a light when opening the curtains brings in natural light. I do not use a porch light. I do not linger in the shower singing to the steam or run hot water shamelessly while at the sink. I hang my clothes in the breeze, when available. And the biggie: I don’t turn on the heat pump.
That means no air conditioning at all!
In case you’re from Outer Mongolia and don’t know this, the state of Georgia in the United States is hot and humid. Let me emphasize that…. IT’S REALLY HOT AND HUMID!!!! It also can get very cold. (Okay, Northerners, I know, it’s nothing like you deal with. Georgia has three days of freezing temps and snow. Within a week the dandelions are in bloom and robins are pulling worms).
I never turn on the heat. The thermostat is a relic, an artifact of a former era.
I dress warmly. I do use a little electric heater but I never run it where I’m not. Where I go, it goes or it’s turned off. I never run it at night; I pull up the covers. Spike and Bridget snuggle up which helps a lot.
I do not cook. This is a big savings because I’m one person. I can’t stock the refrigerator without a lot of waste unless I eat the same thing for a week. My analysis revealed eating out was cheaper than turning on the stove/oven to cook for one. (at least the way I cook). No more dishwasher-running or dishpan-washing.
Do these changes make a big difference? Oh yeah.
My “budget billing” (the annual usage averaged to get monthly amount due) . . . is . . drum roll please . . . $34.oo.
I never thought I’d smile at an electric bill!
I apologize for the lack of photos in this blog. I hope to remedy that very soon! Thank you for coming back anyway.
wow!! i am IMPRESSED, sue!! sounds like you have “frugal” down to a fine art. up here, having no heat on all winter wouldn’t work…but more “power” to you!!!!
Theresa, As a former upstate New Yorker, I know very well how cold it gets. I don’t think I could survive a winter WITH HEAT in NY after so many years in the South.
How long did it take before the electric company came out to check there meter and put a graph recorder on ? LOL
Bill, I expected the police to come to see if I was lying motionless on the floor!
Woo Hoo! You go girl!! I’m trying to cut my electric bill too. It’s hot down here and I can only take off so much before I need to let the A/C do its thing. LOL! Keep it up! Cheers! ~M
Merri … Now if I could just figure out how to run my van without gasoline…
I am impressed with your efforts 🙂
You will do fine…..
Kay Julia, I’m impressed with me, too. (Can’t you tell?) Thank you!
I am impressed too!!! Your sense of humor is wonderful. I can’t believe how you saved. I understand the frugal part…after all you are a Sutherland of Scottish decent.
I’m surprised at your energy savings. I ran an electric space heater for some of this winter when the heat was broken, and it was just as expensive as using gas heat for the whole house is. I ended up saving only because I got a rebate for not using gas (there was none for not using electric!) Like you, I bundled up warm and kept heat low and only in the room I was in (65 max, usually 62-3.) I guess because you have electric heat, too, it did give savings.
There are probably many differences between your situation and mine. I have not turned on the heat pump at all, not even once, for about six years. I don’t know what kind of outside temps you had when you kept the thermostat in the low 60s. It’s all about how hard your heater has to work. I also am not in my house during the day, 5 days a week, so I’m hardly using any power. I go to bed early in the winter so the little heater isn’t running very long. I used the heater to heat ME, not the room, since my winter evenings are sitting in one place, either reading a book or online. Other things are probably different, too… My fridge is on, turned low, to keep it from growing moldy and stinky, but I hardly ever open the door because I rarely use it. If you have more than one person living in the house, it’s a lot more difficult to make a big difference.
I’m glad you’re reading my blog.
I am preparing to go full-time RVing this year. I had hoped to do it with my wife but she died Jan. 4th this year from a rapid onset of Pancreatic Cancer. So as soon as the house is sold and all the affairs are finished I’ll be on the road in my 33′ motorhome with my dog Mitzi. I read withinterest how you are trying to save money on utilites. I live in a duplex that my wife’s mother lived in one side of for her last 8 years she was alive. The gas bill for her side of the duplex was very high during the last 6 months that she lived on her side and I complained to the Gas Company. They tested her meter and said that it was working fine. I said that there must be some problem because her bill was almost as high as ours and we ran a gas dryer on our side for both my wife & mine & her mom’s laundry. They came out and discovered several leaks in the delivery line up to the meter and wound up replaceing all the pipe from the street to the meters, (both ours & my wife’s mom’s) The bill was still very high after they replaced her meter. Then one day after she had passed away I was over on her side and was near her gas water heater. I could hear something running like gas flowing. I shut the gas to the water heater off, but I could still hear something running. I shut off the water into the water heater and the sound stopped. All this time a broken hot waterpipe under the concrete foundation had been leaking. So after getting a plumber in to replace the broken pipe the gas bills have been next to nothing. Hope you liked my long story.
What a story! You had me speed-reading to get to the ending to find out why the bill was so high. I’m sure readers of the blog will enjoy reading your mystery story, too!
I’m so sorry you lost your wife to cancer. I had an uncle with the same type and he went quickly, too. It must be difficult for you. It’s good to hear you are looking to the future. Best of luck to you and Mitzi on the road… Sue