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Bills Shmills: Health & Health Insurance

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Health & Health Insurance__

It’s another bill.  Health Insurance. It is just one of those requirements of modern life. Our choices are limited however, depending on the state in which we live. For now, we pay what we pay. There is not a lot of choice. For better or for worse my state of Massachusetts requires every resident to have health insurance. There are many advantages and disadvantages to the MA system, but one pro is that the new reforms put a cap on our yearly out of pocket expense which serves to save individuals from bankruptcy due to medical bills. Obamacare has similar protections. I’m thrilled that I do not have to worry that an illness or accident could put me in financial ruin. Since I work independently, that security costs me about $240 per month, and although your employer might be paying for your insurance, it is probably costing you even more than that in potential lost wages.

The down side of these regulations is that I have to pay into a system that is focused on the treatment of disease with pharmaceutical intervention instead of a system that promotes wellness.  Since our health system is a for profit industry, doctors are not rewarded when they keep patients healthy and instead are paid when their patients need treatment for illness. So, (oversimplification) we are paying monthly into a system that treats preventable diseases with pharmaceuticals to maintain ill health so that the wealthy can continue to profit from their big pharma investments.  This is not an ideal model.

This blog series is about reducing your bills, but since we have little control or choice over how much our health premium costs, this post addresses a mindset around health care and personal shifts that we can all make to reduce the monthly cost of health care on a national scale.

Take Responsibility for Your Daily Health:

We can stop the waste of money that is our health care system by first taking responsibility for our own health. We must get off of drugs and convenience foods and instead behave like the mammals we are. Eat food from the earth that our ancestors ate and move our bodies because they were designed to be moved. Become a discerning consumers of information. When we hear of a new health claim we can ask “who profits from this?” and “who paid for this study?”.

Eat Food
Do not eat processed food even if it says it is “heart healthy”. They lie, and there is no regulation to prevent them from lying. Prepare food using ingredients found on the outside edge of the grocery store… even better, shop for local vegetables at your farmers market, buy your meat and eggs from the local farm as well. Buy grains in the bulk aisle of the health food store. Buy organic. If it has a commercial or is advertising to children do not buy it. Populate your gut with health bacteria with supplements found at the health food store and by eating naturally fermented vegetables. Chopping, pealing, soaking, boiling, cooking, sautéing should be a regular part of you life. Do not use microwaves, ever. Enjoy the process of creating a meal. The alchemy of cooking can provide a substantial feeling of accomplishment and enjoyment.

Avoid Toxins
Sugar is a toxin that causes diabetes and is associated with a whole host of diseases including cancer. If you eat it do so like they did in the olden days: very rarely!
Conventional Cleaning Products are toxic. Stop using them. Rubbing around some toxic chemicals labeled as a cleaning product on your countertops and in your bathroom is not a virtuous act. If it “smells clean” it’s toxic. Use white vinegar, dish soap, baking soda and hot water to clean. These are all you need and are a lot cheaper. Clean should smell neutral.
Don’t wear shoes in your house. Shoes carry toxins from gasoline and bacteria from dog poop.
Check your skin care, soaps and beauty products. Most of them have toxins such as lead in lipstick and chemicals that behave like estrogen when absorbed through the skin. Don’t put petroleum based products on your skin. Stop using antibacterial soap and alcohol based hand sanitizer. They along with overuse of antibiotics are creating super bugs. Furthermore, we need our good bacteria on our skin and washing with soap and water is enough to reduce germs that cause the flu.
Do not get a flu shot. It is not necessary. What is necessary is cultivating a healthy immune system which is done by reducing stress, eating nutritious food, sleeping, getting enough vitamin D, and moving your body. The flu shot contains an undisclosed amount of chemicals including mercury. Mercury is toxic heavy metal and should not be injected into the body. Flu shots can have debilitating side effects including permanent paralysis.

Move about
It really is that simple. Our bodies are made to move, and so to maintain health we must move them. Cycling or walking to and from work is a great way to work movement into your life. Dance, gardening, martial arts, and yoga are also fun and rewarding forms of movement. Walk around your house or around the block. Do a few jumping jacks or a couple squats when you think of it. The bottom line: just move.

Say NO to drugs, especially Pharmaceutical Drugs:

Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, allergies, acid reflux, exema, or even potential for pregnancy? Ask your doctor what the cure is, or better yet, do the research yourself. A cure is not to be confused with “the treatment” which will inevitably be an expensive pharmaceutical drug that you will likely have to take for the rest of your life, that comes with a whole host of side effects.

Did your favorite news anchor tell you that the flu shot is shelf stabilized with mercury?  That your babies immunizations contain aluminum? That heavy metal toxicity is linked with a whole host of illness including thyroid disease, heart disease and diabetes?

Refuse pharmaceuticals. Become willing to make your health a priority. Health takes maintenance and self-awareness. You are a mammal and are subject to the laws of nature. No amount of technology or new pharmaceutical drugs will negate this fact.

Take Responsibility for Your Health and the Cost of Health Care:

We must also start asking our doctors, surgeons, and pharmacists how much it costs. Not how much our out of pocket cost is, but the total cost of the care and drugs we receive. If you knew that your 20 minute visit with a doctor was costing $200, wouldn’t you demand better care?

Refuse unnecessary treatment:
Just as with any other bill we can ask: what do I need? It may feel that you have already paid for it, but as we collectively stop consuming unnecessary and often harmful intervention, we will reduce the overall cost of health care.

The Health Care Industry does not profit when we take responsibility for our own health.  In fact they lose money when we are healthy because we do not develop diseases that need to be managed with daily drugs. As long as we have a system that profits from illness, the most costly treatments will continue to prevail over prevention, botanicals, detoxing and other lifestyle changes.

If your doctor suggests surgery, understand that just because it is suggested it does not mean it is necessary, best for you, or that it will even solve your problem. You can however count on it costing a lot of money.  Can you continue to live well without surgery? Do you understand the risks of being cut open? The risk of anestesia? Find out all of the other options including “alternative” options. Natural, non-invasive, solutions should be exhausted before going under the knife.

Appreciate your body’s innate intelligence:
Cultivate a respect for your body. If we are sick we must ask our body what it needs and respect the answer. This includes our mental health. Our body wants to be healthy and is capable of maintaining health. We can begin to let it do it’s work by slowing down enough to nourish ourselves, mind, body and spirit.  All acts of self care that we engage in bring us to a deeper awareness.  We begin to trust ourselves and naturally become more skeptical of the onslaught of fad, profit driven information.

You are a powerful and amazing being. Your heart beats and you breathe unconsciously.  Your cells communicate sending vitamins and nutrients throughout your body, cleansing your blood, attacking foreign invaders, replicating and rebuilding, all without your conscious awareness. Your liver cleans countless chemical toxins and sugars out of your blood stream and produces cholesterol to fuel your brain every day without fail.  Think of every cell, every organ, every muscle, every nerve, every bone, every joint that is working properly. It’s a miracle. Your life is a miracle. Take a moment to appreciate it, because it is so extraordinary.

The Health Care industry will try to make you forget the power of your body to remain healthy. The industry wants you to doubt your body so that you seek intervention that will ensure that they get a pay check.  Continue to connect with your body and trust in it’s wisdom and you will remain healthy. Seek traditional knowledge, eat traditional foods in alignment with your climate and genetic background, and seek traditional, drugless, chemical free approaches to maintaining your health.

Let your voice be heard.
We need more people promoting change, awareness, and common sense. Together we must steer this ship that is our Health Care System, toward Wellness Education and Illness Prevention.  Every doctor swears to the Hippocratic oath : “to do no harm”, yet every pharmaceutical drug comes with side effects thereby causing our doctors to break their vow every time they write a drug prescription.  As long as we have a for profit system that does not focus on drugless prevention, this will continue. Talk to your doctors and write to your representatives in Congress demanding that we take profit out of health care and fund research in drugless disease prevention.  We live in an imperfect world, it is what it is, but we are not helpless.

Remember, your health is your wealth!  Regardless of what is going on in the external world, we all have the freedom to nourish ourselves and cultivate our personal power.  In doing so we can live a life of health, contentment and joy in this imperfect world.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

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Bills Shmills: Transportation

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Transportation__

Everyone needs it, it’s how we get where we need to go.

When it comes to managing our bills for transportation, we must look at the cost and whether or not we are getting what we expect from the money we spend.

For wealthy people, the cost of owning and operating a car is a small percentage of their yearly vault of income. Gas prices don’t really matter all that much. However, for people living at or below the poverty line, the money spent on transportation can be 30% of their income. It is such a shame that our public policy has allowed for the building and expanding of cities and neighborhoods that require residents to own a car in order to go about their daily business. Driving for many is not a pleasure, it’s a grind of traffic, honking, & wasted time. What percentage of your income goes toward transportation? If you could free up some of that money, what could you do with it?

How much more money do you want every month? Lets set out to find that money by reducing the cost of your personal transportation. It is going to feel great to take back some your money!

Where do I go and how often?

How much of your going is for work and how much for pleasure or errands?  Is there a way to reduce trips, to walk, bike, scooter, bus, carpool? Does your schedule and distance traveled require an automobile? Can you reduce your daily distance traveled.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your transportation bill is to reduce use of, or eliminate altogether, an automobile. This might be difficult to wrap your head around. However, if you are bold, brave and inventive you will be able to reduce your need for a car.

What are my transportation options?

Personal Automobile: For 50+ years it’s been the dominant choice in America. Also, a very expensive choice!

Carpool: Does your neighbor work near where you work? Consider carpooling.

Public Transit: If you have it in your city, take it! It is way cheaper than driving and allows you to read or nap while you get where you need to go! If your city doesn’t have it, write your council members, mayor, governor and congress members to tell them you want public transportation to be made a priority in your town.

Bicycling: It’s good for your health, the Dutch and the Danes do it en masse all year round. In Copenhagen over 30% of people cycle to work/school every day! Many of our trips are under 5 miles, and 5 miles on a bike is quick an refreshing, often quicker than driving if you can breeze by traffic.  Children love cycling and there are now a handful of incredible cargo bikes available, some with electric assist, that can safely carry 2 or 3 children! My favorite is the Yuba Mundo which looks and feels like a regular bike but with an electric assist motor. There are also bikes based on the dutch bakfiets where there is a platform and bucket in front for cargo and kids. Any bike will do, but cargo bikes are great for grocery shopping and passengers. Bikes are relatively cheap. No insurance. No gas. Built in exercise. With electric assist, carrying kids and cargo is fun!

Low speed electric vehicles: These cost 1/3 the price of a car. They are electric and are meant for city driving under 30 miles per hour. Many two car families could painlessly choose to have one high speed long distance vehicle and one electric low speed vehicle. This is much cheaper to maintain and run with zero emissions.

Electric Scooter: So much of driving is done for the transport of one person, it is wasteful to transport one person in 2 tons of steel! Scooters are great around town. Put on an orange vest, a helmet, and have a blast! You may be an early adapter, but you will see more and more scooters and cyclists in the coming years!

Walking: We are low speed mammals. Walking feels great, connects us with our community and surroundings. A walk commute time is quite predictable and is enjoyable.

Hopefully your mind is rushing with new ideas.  Try out a new form of transportation, even once a week.  Bike with your kids to school for example. The most lasting change is often made with small shifts. What small shift can you make today to choose another form of transportation? What will you do with the extra money you save?

How can I reduce my transportation needs?

  • Do all of your shopping on one day.
  • Shop close to home. Instead of driving to the best grocery store, ask your local store to stock products that you want to buy.
  • Choose activities for yourself and your children that are close to home. For example, organize a piano teacher to come to your neighborhood once a week on the same day to teach all of the kids who want lessons back to back.
  • Move closer to work, or work closer to home.
  • Organize Carpools for shopping and activities.
  • Organize Bikepools so that your kids can bike with a group of other kids chaperoned by one adult.
  • Share your ideas with your neighbors, and ask for their ideas.

How can I reduce the money I spend on my car?

If transportation is costing you 30% of your income this is especially important for you. However, even smaller savings such as $100 a month add up over a years time to something significant such as a backyard above ground pool for summer fun or a weekend ski trip. Memorable moments can be made with this extra money.

If we need a car it’s important to remember that it is just something that gets us where we need to go. Our car does not need to be part of our identity. An engine in 2 tons of steel with wheels costs a lot to buy, maintain, and fuel. How much of your hard earned money do you want to spend on getting from A to B?

If your owning and operating your car costs you $500-800 per month you are either driving long distances, have low fuel efficiency, and/or have an expensive car.  Any of these three issues can be addressed and the cost reduced.

Your options are:

  1. Move Closer to Reduce Driving Miles — If we live within cycling distance of work or can utilize public transit we can spend less money and time commuting. I have expanded on the topic of where we choose to live in the post about housing. Choose a life that requires less daily travel. You’ll end up with more time and money. You may actually reclaim money to use really traveling: taking your family on a yearly vacation!
  2. Get an Efficient Car If You Must Drive High Miles — Do some calculations: How much you could save monthly by driving a car that gets 45 miles per gallon as compared to what your automobile gets?  The more miles you have to drive, the more significant your savings.  If the dollar amount you could save is in the hundreds of dollars, it time to trade in your automobile. Just make sure the cost for the car payment and monthly fuel comes out to be less than what you are currently spending. If you need a truck every once in a while, just rent one when you need it. Don’t be wasteful.
  3. Buy used or Buy/Lease an Inexpensive Car — A car is an appliance. We should stop using it to define who we are as people. It’s time to look deeper at who we are, what our values are, and how we want to live.

The % of your income that you spend on transportation should feel appropriate and in alignment with your values. You are on your way to making the changes needed.

What can you do this week reduce the money you spend on transportation so that more of your money goes toward something that would truly enhance and invigorate your life?

Align your spending with your values & goals and you will feel more free and more in charge of your life; making more room for Joy and simple pleasures!

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Education

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Education__

Wow!  The cost of a college education is getting out of hand!  I have a close friend who is 10 years younger than me who has $100,000 in student loans for a music degree.  His student loan payment is managed at $700 a month.  Yikes, that’s a lot of money for a young person who is still figuring out his career path.  Add on rent and health insurance and this man is barely eating…and how can there be room for music when 40 hours a week are spent working a dead end job just to pay bills?  This could be you in 4 years, so as painful as it might be to face reality, you will thank me later for helping you make a more informed decision.

In my ebook “Emancipate Your Money” I will take you through a three step process to ensure that you make the best choice for you when you decide to invest in an education.  First, Getting Clear about the life you want, Second, Choosing the right education for you, and Third, Actively Consuming the Education you choose to ensure that you get what you need from the experience. With these three points in mind you are more likely to get what you need from your experience.

You deserve to live a life of your dreams, and there is no reason why you cannot attain it. If you would like to dig deeper, please check out my ebook which will empower you to make the bold decisions that are best for you.

There is no such thing as a “self-made” person, so, especially if you come from a working class background, it’s time to ditch that worldview and take on a new one.  Asking for help and knowing your limitations is a sign of strength not weakness.  Do not invest in education blindly. You wouldn’t invest in a stock without knowing about it, so don’t do it for your education.  Keep in mind that we are never a finished product, and have great potential for growth. An education is meant to help us to grow and prepare us for a career and life that we want.

Surround yourself with great people in a great environment so that you will be challenged and allowed to shine. Hold fast to a clear vision for yourself and ask others for help along the way. Remain open to new information and feedback, you will need others to help make your vision a reality.

Cheers and Happy Growing!

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Home Entertainment

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Home Entertainment__

Getting what you need for less + Utilizing your time to serve your joy & contentment.

Premise #1Unlimited is not often necessary, nor is it better.

Just like we explored with communication expenses, it’s important to consider how much we need of the things we have.  The cable or satellite entertainment provider shares the same view of the American consumer that the cell phone companies have: Americans want unlimited (and will pay too much for it).  Unfortunately for the consumer this is offered at the expense of quality, and we end up paying for more than we really want or need.  How many times have your heard someone say “there is nothing on”… even though they have 100+ channels.  This whole lot of nothing comes with an $80 price tag minimum which is a lot to pay for nothing.

Premise #2There are a finite # of hours in the day & it is important that we choose how we spend those precious few hours of free time.

Limitations are good because they make us more conscious of what we consume.  Most of us know that if we go to an all you can east buffet we will likely consume more food than will actually be good for us.  Cable or Satelite TV has a similar effect.  Since we are not paying for the amount we consume, we tend to consume more than is actually good for us.

Take a moment to assess the following:

  • What home entertainment do I consume?
  • How is my entertainment consumption contributing to my overall quality of life?
  • What am I paying for home entertainment and is it worth it?

To truly understand what you are using I suggest that for 1 month you log your consumption. Attempt to separate into 3 categories:

  1. Hours of *must consume* programs or games or music
  2. Hours of happened upon programs you enjoyed
  3. Hours of grazing (ex. channel surfing watching nothing in particular).

Now, as far as assessing the cost, the only hours that count in your calculation are from the *must consume* category. Everything else can be replaced with other free entertainment options.  Now you can assess if it’s worth the current price you pay per hour of viewing, or if there is a way you can pay less for exactly what you want.

The other categories of hours logged can be filled with NPR, YouTube, Books, Games, Sports or anything else you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t got around to. For more information on how to get more of the entertainment you want for free, to understand how the industry is changing and how you can take advantage of these changes please pick up my ebook “Emancipate Your Money” where I dig even deeper into freeing your money from your bills.

Here’s the breakdown of the solution I have found for my household. My TV entertainment consists of Public TV documentaries, YouTube, Browser Streaming and Netflix.
The benefits of my setup are: Low Cost, Very Few Commercials, More Conscious Viewing.

$40  RCN internet bill
$8    Netflix streaming account
$20  Public radio & television contribution
$15  Rhapsody music subscription (my husband also uses for work)
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$83/mo Grand Total is more than I need to enjoy quality home entertainment to enhance my life.
Good luck with your assessment!  If you have any questions or are looking for ideas or solutions please leave me a comment.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Communication

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Communication__

Okay, let me simply state the obvious:  We are paying way more than we should for our cell phone plans!  If you haven’t already figured this out, let me enlighten you just a bit:

We Pay Too Much For What We Get
In the U S of A, we do not have a high level of consumer protections, the result is simple to understand: when you are dealing with a multi-million dollar corporation, a.k.a. your cell phone company, you can assume that this giant corporation has figured out every legal way that they can take advantage of you.

For example, we pay double when we talk on a cell phone. Both people on the call pay for the minutes. In Europe it is only the person who makes the call who pays. We are also paying double what our European neighbors are paying for the same service. Sure, we might have “unlimited” plans, but do we really need unlimited?

We Pay Extra for Features that Should Be Included
A little known dirty secret is that your cell phone company has disabled your phone from performing tasks that it is built to do so that they can charge you a monthly fee to turn that feature back on. Every smart phone has the built-in ability to “tether” with a computer or become a “wi-fi zone” in order to share its Gigabyte Data (which you have paid for) with other devices. Companies are charging $10-15 a month to turn this capability back on. I cannot imagine how many billions of dollars they have stolen from American consumers who didn’t know that their phone was already capable of doing this. Since our consumer protections are so weak, it takes years for the government regulators stop these corporations from abusing the customers in this way.  There are applications created to bipass the blocks, but for the average consumer this is beyond their technical ability.

Recently it was ruled that Verizon can no longer block apps that could be used for tethering.  However, it is still legal for companies to lock and disable the functions that your phone is built to have.  In the meantime, many poor suckers are under contract for $35/month for Verizon’s MiFi.  If we look at our data usage we will often find that we use nowhere near the monthly allotment. Many people got a MiFi because they didn’t know that their smart phone is capable of becoming its own wi-fi zone. Everyday Comparison: Imagine if you bought a toaster oven but the bake feature was disables and the only way you could bake a few cookies in your toaster oven was to pay the company $10-$20 per month to get that setting (re)enabled. We would not stand for this, nor should we with our phones.

In my upcoming, affordable e-book “Emancipate Your Money”, I will walk you through ways to unleash your phone from the chains that your provider has placed on it.

We Waste Our Money Upgrading
When you get a “free upgrade”, it is not free – nor is it cheap!  Plans under contract are from $10 – $20 more expensive per month.  Over 2 years, that totals up to $480.  Now add that $480 to the price you paid your phone, and that is the actual price you paid!  Your phone was probably worth half of that.  The companies are so happy when you upgrade and sign another 2 year contract.  This is bonus money.
Fun fact:  Second quarter in 2012 Verizon’s revenue from mobile data was $6.9 billion!

Hopefully you now get it: YOU are being taken advantage of and the fat cat investors of the major corporations that you are doing business with are laughing their way to the yacht clubs.

How We Can Get What We Need for Less

  1. Next time your contract runs out, buy your new phone outright.  If you can’t afford a $500 phone now, don’t buy it.  Save up and wait or if you are smart with credit, buy it on credit for less interest than $10 per month and pay it off in less than 2 years. There are plenty of great phones that cost $250, so shop wisely.
  2. Discover ways to reduce your usage with Wi-Fi Calling, VoIP calling, Google Voice or Skype. Call from work if your work uses VoIP phone service.
  3. Utilize free wi-fi to reduce 3G/4G data.
  4. Text and Call for free over with Google Voice and the OBI VoIP device at home. Comcast, Vonage and Verizon will charge you $10/month for this! More details are in my book.
  5. Get a Pre-Paid no Contract Plan. Most pre-paid plans are available online only!  Some have unlimited data, minutes & text, others have limited minutes, or limited data. Whatever you need you are likely to find a plan that suits you for way less than you are paying now. My husband and I each have a plan that is 100 minutes and Unlimited Text and Data for $30/month!  Our Google Voice Phone # forwards to our cell phone. We have most of our long conversations on our VoIP home phone, and we utilize the data for texting with the Google Voice App, email, internet searching, music streaming, and navigation when we are out.  My husband’s phone, because it is pure android, meaning it doesn’t have carrier blocks, can freely become a WiFi zone which he uses every now and then to work on his computer while out.

Hooray! You are on your way to saving a bunch of money while still getting the communication service your need! I have just scratched the surface here in this post. Hopefully you understand now how vulnerable you are to the corporate predator. I go into more details about utilizing Google Voice and the OBI VoIP device in my book.  I really recommend this to everyone who has high speed internet at home. Check these services out!

The internet is also a common way that we communicate now. I have included our internet bill with my post on Home Entertainment.

*IMAGINE WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH THAT EXTRA MONEY*

My husband and I are saving about $60 per month which we happily spend treating ourselves to a dinner out at our favorite restaurants – stimulating our LOCALLY owned businesses AND We also now donate $25 per month to help a little boy and his family in Ecuador.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Utilities

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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Utilities

We are so fortunate to have electricity and heat in our homes!  My grandfather didn’t…what an amazing improvement in quality of life he observed as our country was being electrified!  We often take this for granted now, but if we just stop and imagine our lives without a consistent power grid or without oil to heat our homes we will quickly and appropriately experience the feeling of gratitude.

There are ways to reduce your power use… this information is not new, but I am consistently surprised that people are not employing these simple energy saving tactics. It is helpful to imagine that your power does have a source, so every time you flip on a light switch (depending on where you live in the world) a coal firing plant burns, a hydro-electric plant is turns turbines, a nuclear plant fuses, a wind farm is turns, or solar panels are utilize the sun or draw from batteries.  Many of these sources create varying degrees of pollution or negatively impact the area at the source every moment that they are utilized for power.  This is just a fact, when we turn on our lights there are negative consequences.  So aside from saving money on the power bill, we can reduce the negative impact of our power by simply only using it when we need it.  Here are some ways:

Reduce Electricity

  • Get compact fluorescent light bulbs or other low watt bulbs
  • Unplug your computer, cell phone chargers and other electronics when not in use. They draw power even when not in use.
  • Plug your TV and entertainment system into a power strip that powers down completely when not in use
  • Turn off your lights when you leave a room

Reduce Water

  • Do not run water when you are not actively using it. (ex. turn off faucet while brushing teeth)
  • Use lower flow shower heads / shower every other day / use efficient toilets or retrofit with low dual flow flushers
  • Landscape with draught resistant plants
  • Fix drips or running toilets

Reduce Heat & Air Conditioning

  • Live in a smaller place
  • In the winter utilize an automatic thermostat and lower the temp while sleeping
  • In the winter wear layers including long underwear and opt for wool or cashmere sweaters and coats over poly blends for warmth and durability.
  • In the summer wear breathable clothing.
  • Allow your body to adjust to the seasonal changes by spending some time outside everyday and adjusting your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer.
  • Eat seasonally to help your body adjust to the changes in season.  Mother nature has given us food to help us adjust.  Fresh raw veggies and fruits in the summer a cooling. Warm root vegetable stews and meats keep us hearty and warm in the winter.

Extras

  • Utilize local and federal programs for insulating your home
  • Utilize local and federal programs for putting solar on your house

Small changes over time make a big difference.  Decide to apply one of these suggestions this week and you will be on your way.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills shmills : Home

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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Housing 

Mortgage/Rent is a big expense.  Finance professionals will tell you that you will spend 30-45% of your income on housing.  That’s a big chunk of change, especially if you live in a two income house.  What happens if your spouse loses her job?  All of a sudden your income/mortgage ratio just jumped up to 60%. This makes survival very difficult and losing a job extremely scary.

Unfortunately the booming housing market and a culture of “bigger is better” duped many of us into buying bigger newer houses that we didn’t really need in the first place.  Instead of enhancing our lives and being a home for us and our loved ones, for many the house has become a prison, preventing the changing of jobs or schedules because of the burden of the house payment.  Many families need two full time incomes to survive, providing less time to spend with children, friends and contributing to their community.  This also contributes to individual and family stress.  Granted many people love their jobs and are embraced and fulfilled at work, but in my experience many more people just put up with work, and sadly as a culture we are working longer hours in jobs that are unfulfilling.

If you are in a position that you are underwater on your home and stuck, I’m sorry for you.  The best thing you can do is enjoy the house you have and be thankful to have a nice roof over your head.  Once you get back up to owning 20% of your home you will not have to have mortgage insurance which will be a nice relief and free up money for you to spend on YOU! Be sure to see if you are eligible for refinancing which might get you a lower percentage rate. Whenever possible pay extra money toward principal to reduce the time for payback and the total interest paid. A hundred dollars every month could take years off of your loan.

Now, for those of you who are in the market to rent or buy a new apartment or home, I encourage you to think about what you need first and what you want second.  Many families have found that living in a smaller house makes them closer.  Also, living in a smaller place helps you streamline your belongings and makes it more likely that you will have only things that you love in your place. Your mantra can be “bigger is not necessarily better!”.

Opt for location over space. You will never regret the time you save not having to commute that you instead spend with your loved ones. Eliminating unnecessary stuff will help you find the space you need. Make your city an extension of your home by by utilizing public parks as your big back yard and local restaurants for large gatherings.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.