Saturday, January 11, 2014

What I Learned from my Post at the Mr Money Mustache Forum

Our New Year's Eve - grilling chicken for me during the snowstorm
As I told you about earlier - I posted our financial situation on the forum at  Within a few hours I had an abundance of great advice regarding our particular financial situation which is like so many in America.  We keep plugging along but we don't seem to be going anywhere.

If you register for their forum - you can post your situation under "Ask a Mustachian".  Use their suggested format of listing your income, expenses, assets and liabilities.  And then ask your questions.  Mr. Money Mustache is known for his views on how to gain financial independence using badassity as he calls it.  He started his site after seeing the abundance of sites recommending things like putting 20% of your income towards retirement, etc.  Why would 20% be a goal?  Why not 80% if you can get it there, quit whining about 1st world problems and make it happen!

His readers love when he talks about people who need a (hypothetical) punch in the face to wake them up to their financial drain.  He has strong opinions on how addicted we all our to our ginormously heavy hunks of steel we sit in alone to get to where we're going.  One of my favorite ideas of his is that I should be treating debt as if my hair was on fire and thousands of bees were stinging me.  That's how our grandparents felt about debt.  Debt could be useful - but if you had any it better be foremost on your mind until you zeroed it out!  Not something to be added as a budget line item for the rest of your life!

One of the first things suggested to me bounced out of the sleepy budget item:  electricity.

Our electricity runs from $130 - $240 or so per month.  Is that good?  Bad?  We keep the heat at 64 degrees and I'm wearing my goosedown parka to watch free antenna tv.  In the summer, we wait until we can't stand it anymore and then run the a/c at 78 degrees.  I thought we were doing our part.  

I learned through mrmoneymustache that my costs should be about half that per month.  Verified by my further investigation - we are using 1350 kilowatts per month to have the lowest bills in the year at $130.  The Mustachians all said I could focus on that area and get my kilowatt usage from 45 KWH per day to nearer 20KWH per day.  The level of excellence some of them have achieved is a mind blowing 5 KWH per day!  But, I'm not into all that survivalist type thinking.  I'm not ready for two showers a week, or plugging in my hot water heater hours before my shower so it can be unplugged.  But, what could I do to get to 20 KWH per day?  

So, where are we draining out electricity each month?

An electric hot water heater uses 350 KWH per month regardless of how much you are actually using hot water.  It keeps the water nice and hot every day, all day for us.  At quite a cost!  That amounts to 1/4 of our total bill.  And there are only two of us living in this house!

A big fan costs about 1 cent per hour to run.

A refrigerator costs about 47 KWH per month.  We have three running all the time plus a freezer.  What's in there?  We're doing some investigation on this one.

In general, lights cost about 60 KWH per month.  We have way too many of the old fashioned bulbs still around here - each of those curly weird lightbulbs cost about $1.  Each one I replace will save me $8 per year in electricity.  Guess what's on my grocery list for next week?

The dishwasher uses about 40 KWH per month and those are blessed from the heavens and will never be disturbed.

The furnace blower (we heat with propane central air) and the a/c use about the same amount of electricity - about 50 KWH per month.  Estimates are that it costs about 35 to 60 cents for every hour it runs.

Computers - about 36 KWH per month. Search for the "vampires" - things that suck electricity 24/7 while they aren't being used.  I'm trying some new habits of clicking off the six prong toggle switch every night.

The clothes dryer - about 30 KWH per month.  It costs about 60 cents per hour to run the dryer.  So worth it for many items, but I do hang all my clothes up to dry because I have the space in the general vicinity of the heater.  I've also been drying jeans about halfway and then hanging them on their regular hangers as if they were ready to go into the closet to finish up.  Jeans lose their longevity with all that dryer action.

At this point - I am going to have to tell my husband that he is correct...(cough....hmmm....ummmm....cough) in that our old water heater will have to be replaced soon.  It was here when we bought the house 28 years ago.  In the past six months, it has developed a very slow leak so I have a constant wet spot from it to the sump pump hole.  It's time. And Mr. Money Mustache says that even if it were in full working order, he would feel "hair on fire and bees stinging me" urgency to pull it.  It's draining away money faster than we can bring it in.

As far as bringing in more money - I'll add another post soon!  Incredible advice from common hard-working people - that's what you will find on

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