I find it much easier to take money-saving steps when the payoff is readily apparent:
- Clip a coupon, save a buck at the grocery store.
- Take a defensive driving course, save 10% on my car insurance.
Where it's more challenging is when the payoff amount isn't really known, I just know that I'm saving "something." And if you throw in the fact that taking a particular step to save money is something I think of as a bit unpleasant, then it gets really hard to get and stay motivated to do what I know I should.
Those are the times when this blog really helps, because accountability comes in to play. And it seems "challenges" appeal to my competitive nature and help me stay interested.
Back in late-January when I was pondering our electric bill, I came up with a "Steam Free Mirror Challenge" for myself:
I am proud to say that except for one day when I was having a bit of rough morning and decided a steamy shower would be good therapy, every morning since starting the challenge my mirror has been steam free!
I know I'm saving on my electric bill, but I have no idea how much. My "payoff" is getting to brag here!
And now I have a new challenge for myself that I came up with while thinking about the rising price of gas: to only pump gas in the morning!
I know pumping gas in the morning when it is cooler (and therefore the gas is denser) can save you money (Edit note: I edited this from "quite a bit of money" to just "money" ... please see comments below). And I live in a hot place where the difference in temperature between the am and the pm can be 30 degrees. I know I should pump my gas in the morning. Problem is, I am not a morning person.
In order to pump gas in the morning on my way to work instead of on my way home from work, I am going to have to get my lazy self out of bed 15 minutes earlier.
I guess that's why it's called a challenge, eh?
EDIT - Additional comment: I'm also thinking about letting my tank get lower between fill ups, just so I'm dragging less weight (gasoline in the tank) around to improve gas mileage. After going through a 5-day widespread power outage and being unable to buy gas without driving over 30 minutes and waiting in line, I started filling up somewhere between 1/2 and 1/4 full. But I'm thinking maybe I should go back to waiting until it gets below 1/4 full to refill. Does anyone have an opinion on this?