Use Less

By Salim Virji (Use Less) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s always interesting to look back at origins; how things begin. Often, movie prequels get horrible reviews – mostly because we are already used to the actors that play the older versions – yet still, we are drawn like flies to watch them. Weird, huh?

This is not a prequel. I am just as old now as I was when I wrote my last post – in fact, I’m older (but you knew that already). This is simply a look back at how my selfishness has helped change my view. With a slight twist, my selfish desire morphed into something else entirely. I now feel that if you’re going to be selfish, you should do it in a way that benefits others.

I know what you’re thinking – what is he talking about?!!

Here’s the story:

I’ve never been super awesome at handling my finances. I love to spend, spend, spend. My Myers-Briggs temperament is ESFP – the entertainer. One of the key aspects of that temperament that relates to my life almost perfectly is that we ESFP’s like to live fully in the present moment.

If you're going to be selfish, do it in a way that benefits others. #tinylife Click To Tweet

I see a lot of that tendency in our 4 year-old Trinity. She is usually so enamored by whatever adventure she happens to be on, that she pays very little attention to what is going on around her – you know, things like consequences…

Trin will often do the exact opposite of what she is supposed to do. She will do the exact opposite of what she knows would be a better choice. She’s not defiant, she just lives fully in the present moment. She doesn’t think about the future, just “where will this adventure I am on RIGHT NOW take me?”

grasshopper

By Illustrated by Milo Winter (1886-1956) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I used to handle our finances like that. Trin and I are a lot like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable.

However, the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized the error of my ways and have begun to make attempts to reel things in and live more responsibly. I have Melody to thank for that, and over the past 9 years, I have grown tremendously in that area.

I handle the finances in our home now – actually, I always have, I just do it a lot better now than I used to. We do not live a lavish lifestyle, and yet there always seems to be so little left after each paycheck. For the past year, I’ve really worked to try and find ways we can skimp and save and not feel like we are skimping and saving.

I used to think the way to get ahead, to build wealth, to no longer live paycheck to paycheck was to increase my income. However, as I look backward I realize that’s already happened a few times in my career – and nothing has changed.

While my income is our biggest wealth-building tool, I realized that my paycheck isn’t what is going to build wealth for me. We need to change some other things. Just as a start, I began paying closer attention to our utility bills because that is one of the largest monthly expenses in our household second only to our mortgage.

Water Usage

Our Actual Water Usage 🙂

I started looking for ways to conserve water, to use less electricity and gas. After just three months of working furiously to find ways to reduce our consumption, here are the results: We are using 13% less electricity than this same time last year, 25% less natural gas, and 74% less water. WOW! That graph I’m boring you with right now to the right is our ACTUAL water usage over the past 18 months.

I’m proud of the progress we’ve made so far. We are on a level-pay program with all of our utilities companies so we haven’t seen any savings in money, but beginning a trend of reduced consumption will ultimately result in actual savings. I’m looking forward to being able to share with all of you our first tiny house bills as I’ve seen many in Facebook groups do. I can’t wait to show you those next to our current bills. But the savings are much bigger than just money…

Tiny Bills

Actual Tiny Bills From a FB Friend’s Tiny House

So let’s get back to how in the world has my selfishness benefited others? Simple. We are reducing our consumption of natural gas, water, and electricity. We are doing this in a way that doesn’t actually cost anyone anything (meaning we are not out purchasing new appliances to achieve these great savings). We started this little piece of our adventure because I wanted to spend less money on something that seems and feels WAY too expensive to me. My motivation for wanting to do that is the purely selfish motivation that what’s mine is mine (or at least what’s ours is ours) and I got tired of giving it away.

It’s been said – and I am not attempting to open a can of worms relating to your particular political persuasion – that climate change is real. That the cause of climate change is man made. That we (globally) need to reduce our emission by 50-85% by mid-century to have any chance at solving the problem. I’ve seen a statistic that if we reduce our emissions by only 2% per year, that would do it. Of course, 97.4% of statistics you read online are completely fictional, right?

97.4% of statistics you read online are completely fictional. Click To Tweet

We’ve worked hard these past few months to reduce (at least this part of) our footprint and we have succeeded. We are using 25% less than we were last year. If we only need to reduce our footprint by 2% per year to help climate change, then you can accept that other 23% as my gift to you…

Please comment below!

Darren

Darren

Dad

In addition to working a full-time job as a project manager, Darren is a researcher, an experimenter, a builder, a general jack of all trades. He loves his wife and his children immensely and could not be more excited for this adventure for SO MANY reasons, but chiefly how it will bring our family closer together.

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