Thursday, May 22, 2008
Economizing, that's a word right? It's been my focus this past week. There are things I can't change right now; rent, gas prices, my salary, etc. But there are things I can change.
For instance, my gas mileage. I've always kept tabs on my gas mileage. Every time I fill up I check my trip odometer, calculate out my mpg and reset the odometer. I've been getting 34-35mpg since we got above freezing. Not bad. I did an experiment last week where I kept my car under 70 mph for my 30 minute commute. It turned my 30 minute commute into a 32 minute commute and sent my mpg to 38. 38! That's an almost 10% increase for lowering my speed from a 75 mph avg to a 69 mph avg. With my 10 gallon tank, that's an extra 30 miles out of every tank. Or, saving one gallon of gas with every tank. I fill up 2-3 times a week, so that's 7-10$ I'm saving every week. (with prices around 3.50) That's most definitely worth an extra 2 minutes to my commute.
After the move in July I'll be only 6.75 miles away from work. That's bike-able. I drove the route yesterday and it took me over 20 minutes with traffic. I bike at an average of 12mph in town. That means I can probably bike that distance in a little over half hour. The route has sidewalks all the way too, so if traffic is unwilling to accommodate a bicycle I'll just go on the sidewalks. I'm thinking I might make a couple of "Bike-day's" after the move. Say, Tuesday/Thursday or Weds/Fri and leave my car at home on those days. There's nothing worse for gas mileage than stop & go traffic. I imagine 2 bike-days a week will save me close to 4 or 5 gallons of gas a week. Plus, I'll get an hour of aerobic exercise twice a week without gym membership fees. Hopefully the increase in good health will offset the occasional scrapes/bruises/strains. I got through all 5 years of college with only a bike for transportation. I've missed it a lot. I'm excited to get back into it. I went for a quick 4 mile ride last night. Nothing complained too loudly, and I did it in 20 minutes. 16 mph was my bike-trail speed at the end of last summer, I was happy to see I still had it this spring.
Economizing has happened with food too. Dave and I have been switching to a more whole foods diet, and I noticed last year lots of food went bad before we would get around to cooking it. I've seen a lot less of that this spring. We've gotten into the habit of eating and cooking with whole foods, so less is wasted. We keep a few staples on hand so we can always mix up a salad, and that's helped a lot, as I can toss lots of leftover veggies into salads. I made more soups over the winter too. Those are also great for using up leftover veggies and meats. We're not all the way there yet, we had to throw a sweet pepper into the compost bin last week cause it got too shriveled to eat. I should have tried to find time to make a soup with it. Maybe a corn/tortilla/sweet pepper chowder or something. But, we are most definitely getting more economical. We've decided to start baking our own bread this summer. I wanted to start before our move, but neither of us has a kitchen clean enough for baking. He has a mold problem his landlord let get way out of hand, and I have 3 roommates who refuse to do dishes. Baking might not happen till after the move on July 4th. We'll see.
Economizing extends to the handfasting planning. It's easy to throw all caution and financial limitations to the wind when planning something as once-in-a-lifetime special as joining two people in love, but at the same time, who wants to start out a new life with a new partner 10K deep in credit card debt? We are doing our whole event for a thousand dollars. 50 people or less, outdoors. The beautiful stone shelter at the park was 50$ to reserve for the whole weekend, we're going to make/bake/grow all the food we can. The lunch after the ceremony will feature home baked breads, homegrown veggies, meats marinated and grilled by my father, and lots of prep work from my mother and I on the salads. I'm growing most of the flowers for the decorating. Dave and I like lilies and wildflowers. Nothing easier. I've got some pretty bulbs planted that will hopefully yield some pinks and whites to offset the oranges and yellows of the lilies and wildflowers. Wedding cake was WAY out of the budget. Dave and I don't like cake anyway. We're having pies! My mom makes a pecan pie to die for, I make a pretty mean strawberry rhubarb pie, toss in a couple quick easy blackberry or raspberry pies, done. Daddy's bringing his ice cream maker for those that like a scoop with their slice. The ceremony is in the middle of July, fruit and berries will be plentiful, local and cheap. And who doesn't like pie? Easy and cheap, the homemade touches will save a bundle and make the whole experience much nicer and more personal. The week before will be a blur of baking and cooking.. but hard work is something I try not to shy away from. Specially when it's with and for those I love.
Economizing doesn't have to be painful, it doesn't have to ruin your happiness or your way of life.