Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saving Money on your Sewer Bill...

My kids are responsible for rinsing and loading the dishwasher every night, alternating turns.  One evening, as my son was doing his job, my husband noticed the water was turned on pretty high.  He stopped my son to talk about conserving water and our water bill, to help him see the wisdom in the water resembling a “trickle” as he scrubbed the dishes before the dishwasher. 
Water Conservation: "The trickle"
This conversation went even further as he explained HOW the sewer bill is calculated in connection to the water bill.  (I love listening to my "math teacher" husband explain the practicality of math!!)

I found myself riveted, as I have wondered for years HOW they calculated that bill.  It was an “Ah-Ha” moment for me.
HOW is your sewer bill calculated?
This notice arrived on our water bill the month after this conversation took place....what great timing, huh?
In the winter, you are NOT in an “extra water consumption” mode….such as watering lawns, gardens, washing your car or house, using slip & slides, filling kiddie pools, or having your kids run through the sprinklers.  In the winter, you are in a “basic water needs” usage time.  So for a certain chunk of time in the winter they are measuring your water usage that comes out of your faucet.   (For showers, cooking, toilet needs, washing hands, and laundry.)  So when winter is done, they have a pretty accurate idea of how much water is actually going down the drain heading off to the sewer!!  The charge of this calculation is reflected on your bill throughout the year.
So those extra long WARM showers that I am inclined to take in the winter, will just end up costing more ALL year long!!  (This information, in the back of my mind, helps keep that “simple pleasure” under control-- beyond the cost of electricity to heat the water!!)

Happy Stretching Pennies….

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cheaper Drinks and Food at the Airport...

I married a man who is the youngest of 9 children.  Several years ago, we started a new “tradition”.  Whenever one of my sisters-in-law turn 50 years old we have a 3 day/2 nights “Girl’s Retreat”.  We happen to live far away from the ‘main cluster’ of family….soooo….in order for me to attend, I must FLY to the retreat.

Luckily, the timing of this little “Retreat” is around tax return time in order to assist in the purchasing of a plane ticket.  (This month was the 4th annual party.)  We try and get the least expensive plane ticket within the time frame I can get away…..(though I would imagine most people already do this.)  This is NO exception.  I’ve gone the roundabout way and have a silly layover in an illogical place instead of a direct flight.
As I sit in the airport, I am flabbergasted at the prices of things.  I saw a small breakfast menu item at a café that cost as much as any nice sit-down restaurant!   Drink prices also dumbfounded me.  They do NOT need to be double/triple the price of a vending machine!  It’s like they KNOW you are “trapped” and at the mercy of their prices!  I’m here to say you are NOT!  Food and drinks while flying do NOT need to break the bank.  In fact, a simple “meal” can be done for less than $1 WITH a little planning.
Drinks are the easiest to solve.  No.  I am not suggesting that you only drink from the drinking fountain!!  I remember the 1st time I flew after 9/11.  I brought a *new* plastic water bottle with me.  I wasn’t familiar with the new security measures.  I had to either throw it away or drink it.  Well…as you can guess: I drank it.  When we finally reached altitude and the seat belt sign came off, I was the 1st in line for the bathroom!!  I have since learned to bring an EMPTY water bottle with me. 
After I make it past security, I fill it up at the nearest drinking fountain—then drink when I feel like it.  (Who wants to pay $2-$3 for only ONE water bottle????  That’s insanity!)  Drinking only water can get really old.  The one water bottle can be a solve-all.  Think of it as your TOOL to a variety of drinks.  A little forethought goes a long way. 
I bring a handful of my favorite ‘single serving flavors’ from my local grocery store….OR from my local dollar store.  (Most times you will pay more for these type items at the grocery store…so usually I opt for the dollar store.) 
This way no matter what you’re drinking, it is 10 cents or less!!
Meals are a bit trickier.  I’m not a miracle worker.  I can’t produce a ”fresh” home cooked meal in an airport.  But… I can suggest a way to keep your belly satisfied for under a dollar until you get to your destination.  What’s something you can easily get in the airport for FREE?  HOT WATER!!  Any little café or little restaurant has a coffee pot filled with hot water or has a hot water spicket. 
The red handle is the hot water spicket at the cafe inside the airport I asked to use.
Consider packing along a “Cup o’ Noodles”.
   When you are hungry, bring it to a little café and ask them to fill it up with hot water.  They will gladly do it.  Then go find yourself a seat.  By the time you sit down, your soup will be ready to eat!! 
Think about it….it already comes with a “bowl” or “cup” and finding a plastic utensil isn’t too hard.  Ask for one at the café you just got the hot water from!  Wala…dinner for under $1 at the airport!
Ponder this idea and let me know if you can think of any other “Add Hot Water” meals to my list….

Happy Stretching Pennies….

Update February 2013: I attended another Girl's retreat...and this time I learned that you can enjoy a cup of noodles while in the air!! 
I just asked the stewardess if she would fill it up with hot water....and I enjoyed a nice easy dinner while on a flight!!