Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's All About Saving Money

I've now shifted to taking AC Transit (bus) into San Francisco 4 days a week in order to save money on gas as well as wear-and-tear on our 2nd car. In the past 3 years, I've driven my car less than 3,000 miles. So the net impact of high gasoline prices for me personally is about an extra $10-15 per month, since I fill up the gas tank about once every 6 weeks now.

Based on these facts, I called an auto insurance agent to get a quote for insuring the second car. I'm paying nearly $1000 a year to insure my car, which means that my car insurance costs more than all of the other combined costs (gasoline, and maintenance) for operating my car!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lee's Deli Does the Right Thing

Whenever I don't bring lunch from home, I make it a point to go to Lee's Deli in San Francisco for two reasons:

1) They're cheap - I can usually get lunch for under $5

2) They "pay" me for using reusable containers
a) Soup - I bring in a SF Soup company reusable soup bowl, and they give me 50 cent discount every time I use it.
b) Salad - I bring in a Quizno's take-out salad container, and they round down to the nearest dollar, which averages to a 50 cent discount per lunch.

Also, I never accept either a paper bag or plastic utensil from the cashier.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

We recently received notice from our water company, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) that our water rates will be headed higher, thanks to a drought. Naturally, my response is to cut back on our water usage, which averages about 16,000 gallons (55,000 liters) per month year round. Here's what we're doing:

1) Lawn Sprinklers - Roughly half of our water usage during the summer months comes from watering our lawn and garden. Last night, I cut the number of sprinkler minutes from 10 down to 9, and set the timer to go off one hour earlier (which will mean less evaporation). Every week, I will check the lawn/garden, and reduce sprinkler time by 1 minute as long as our plants stay in good shape.

2) Bath - I've cut the amount of water I use during my nightly bath by 50%. This means no more soaking in the tub.

3) Toilet - Last month, our upstairs toilet broke. In order to flush it, I have to manually open the water valve at the base of the toilet. Due to the time it takes to fill the tank, I now flush the toilet only after Russell. Punky and I pee into the toilet, both in the morning and at night.

4) Dishwasher - I only run the dishwasher once a month, down from once every 2 weeks (it's an energy hog!). When I wash the dishes by hand, I now use a reduced flow of water.

5) Car Wash - I no longer wash the cars. I never did, anyway.

6) Laundry - I used to do my laundry without mixing my clothes with the rest of the family. Now I mix my clothes with the others, which I think means the washing machine is full most of the time.

I'll let you know what happens to our water usage in a couple of months.