Take a few minutes and think about all the little things you might do each day that would save some money, improve your health, and save lives — your own in the short term, your children’s in the mid-term, and the earth’s in the not-so-far-away-either term.
Little things, like..
Eating locally, or at least eating foods that are in-season. Drinking tap water from a glass, not a bottle that was trucked in from who-knows-where. Using that same water glass all day long, or heck, for however many days it takes until it gets dirty. Using cloth napkins. Using torn-up tee shirts instead of paper towels. Cleaning with baking soda & vinegar instead of harsh chemicals. Washing your clothes less frequently. (Such as when they’re actually dirty, instead of every time you wear them.) Changing some light bulbs. Walking instead of driving. Combining trips if you do drive. Turning the water off while you brush your teeth. Not using your toilet as a trash can. Recycling glass, paper, and plastic. Buying things with the least amount of packaging available.
Every. single. one. of those things can make your life easier, save you money, help you live a healthier life, or all three — and they’re all extremely easy to do.
As I was taking a shower the other day, I noticed that the shower wasn’t draining properly. There was some soapy water collecting on the bottom of it – just sitting there. So I turned off the shower for a minute while I finished washing my hair to let the water drain. When it had drained away, I turned the shower back on and rinsed off. That’s when it hit me — you know, I could save water by doing this. I mean really, do I need the water running while I put soap in my hair? Of course not. While that wouldn’t save us much money, since water is so cheap here, conserving water is always good, and frugality in one area often leads to frugality in other areas.
There’s a story that goes like this: Put a frog in a pot of hot water & it’ll jump out. Put it in a pot of lukewarm water and gradually turn up the heat, and it’ll sit there til it dies. The idea is that the frog won’t notice things are getting too hot for it until it’s much too late, because the increase is so gradual. Personally I think that story is more applicable to humans than frogs, but the idea can be used in a positive way too.
For example, take my 401(k) account. My aim is to eventually max it out, reaching the $17,500 limit. But that’s a huge amount. So I’m applying the frog-in-a-pot approach and increasing the amount that I contribute to my 401(k) a little bit at a time.
Increasing my contribution by a few percent when I got a raise was painless. I never saw the money, so I never missed it. But I’ve also been increasing it by a few percent every few months. It’s always a little bit of an adjustment each time my paycheck decreases, but since since the decrease is so little, it’s relatively easy to adjust. After all, it seems like such a small amount. I can just eat out a little less, or find a way to make a tiny bit more money elsewhere.
I still have a long ways to go before I reach the max, but doing it this way is so painless that I don’t even notice the increase in temperature.
It’s a lot easier to do it this way than it would be to go from cold (not contributing at all) to boiling hot (contributing the max). 1% at a time (or slightly more) will get you there, so consider putting yourself in lukewarm water.
Your retirement account & future self will thank you.
You know, sometimes we need to take the path of most resistance. It doesn’t matter whether it’s taking a risk by getting up the courage to start a business that has good chance of being successful, giving up what seems like a safety blanket by cutting up the credit cards, or cooking a meal at home instead of calling out for pizza. We just need to do it.
Many times the hardest thing to do is also the BEST thing to do in the long run. You become a successful businessperson, and learn things about yourself. You get out of debt, and begin building up savings. You stay in better health, and spend less money.
How do you know if something you’re resisting falls into this category? For me, I get this feeling in my gut. It’s almost like anxiety, but not quite. Maybe it’s more like a nagging feeling.
I just know that the more I resist doing something, the more likely it is that that is EXACTLY the thing I most need to do.