March 3, 2011


It cannot be a secret by now that I dislike spending money. Most of the time. Or, when it comes to food, dislike liking to spend money.

I'm a little conflicted about how to refer to my condition; "cheap" sounds like I'll feed my kids tuna out of a can for every meal to save money.

"Frugal", on the other hand, as well as frugality, living frugal and, of course, frugal living strike me as adjectives that describe someone more committed, more serious, more virtuous, and - let's face it - better than me. Someone qualified to offer advice, rather than to report good intentions and (mostly) failure.

No advice from me. (Excuse me while I get some coffee and try not to wake up Miss and Jr with my stealthy silence)...

I wouldn't mind some advice from you, though. For instance, when I posted about the lastest Project Grocery fail last week over at BlogHer, and complained about Canadian couponing and how sucky it is, Denise (who just jumped into the money-saving madness that is American extreme couponing) tracked down for me - more on her later.

So here's the beginnings of a breakdown of some of the ways I'm trying to practice home economics (like that one? Me neither. Although it does have a nice, vintage housewife ring to it.):


Meet my new best friend. I hope.

This is officially known as a Belkin Conserve Switch F7C01008q Energy-Saving Surge with Remote.  I like to call it Belky.

I've been wanting to do this for a long time - ever since the power bill has been addressed to me and not my landlord, really, but was always put off by the hassle of reaching under and around AV components to unplug them.

No longer! (She said enthusiastically.) Now the surge protector is controlled by a handy-dandy switch at normal human usage height. I get the greatest happy bubbly feeling every time I turn this beautiful switch off. Because of this:

That's right. We're now on time of use billing for our power. (Also, can you read this? As my childhood friends can vouch for, analogue clocks don't speak my language. I'm the girl that regularly got up at four in the morning thinking it was seven. I'm sure it wasn't annoying at all.)

So, now that I've had government assistance translating the above into Mrs-speak, I get great satisfaction out of not only turning off all of our phantom-load stuff overnight when power's the cheapest, but also during most of the day when it's most expensive. Take that, On and Mid-Peak rates!

Besides turning the power off whenever we're not using it, we've also changed when we use it.  We now do non poop emergency laundry on weekends or after nine at night, and we run the dishwasher after nine.

This is clearly the intention of Time of Use billing, and (like when I used my Shopper's Optimum Points), makes me feel like I'm being manipulated. Icky. The hoped for happiness of a reduced power bill makes up for it.

Am I being naive? Is our reduction of power consumption actually going to translate into real money saved? Or are we chumps?

I had grand plans of covering all of my cheapskatery in one post. Obviously this isn't going to happen, and not only because Miss heard my typing and got up at six.

(Update: I've continued this post with some miserly thoughts about heating our home.)