More Downsizing: Less Waste & Expense

As I get further down the road of understanding and accepting the concepts of what it truly means to minimalize, or downsize my life, I find myself coming up against questions that are a bit tough to figure out answers for. Whether or not I needed 25 pairs of socks was actually one of the easier answers. NO! Do I need to live in a 12’x13′ bedroom, plus a 10’x13′ office? Apparently, I am able to consolidate down into not only one room, but a room that I’ve further shrunk to a paltry 8’x13′.

Then there are the various living expenses. Since my roommate is away from the house up to 75% of the time, I usually don’t run the AC or the heat. Sure I keep the thermostat at a minimum level so I don’t fail to wake up some morning here in the Northern Arizona wastelands frozen to death. Not sure that I’d actually be waking up if that were the case! Plus we have cats in the house, and besides the fact they are freeloading dead beats who only provide the occasional leg rub when they expect to get fed, I don’t feel comfortable leaving them when I’m away in a veritable ice box of a house. So, the temp gets set about 58 degrees F or so. The cats feeders seem to diminish during these cold days, so I guess all is working along those lines.

Same goes with water usage. Having started to capture the cold water while I’m waiting for it to warm up saves gallons of water that we are able to use on plants, pets, etc. Actually, I’m quite surprised at how much water just runs down the drain while we wait for it to heat up. Similarly, I’ve discovered I’m able to use less hot and cold water in the shower if I do a couple of things. One, I make sure the door is closed completely so as not to permit the warmed air to leave the bathroom. If it’s warmer while I’m in there, I have less need to use the hot water to keep warm. Two, once I get water all over and have the shampoo going in the hair, I turn off the water completely.

Since the room is relatively warm from the hot water steam, I don’t feel terribly uncomfortable taking my time lathering up and cleaning my body. When it’s time to rinse, the water is turned back on and the soap all goes down the drain. I’m sure this won’t save the planet, but every bit definitely helps. If everyone in water starved areas like here in Northern Arizona took these steps, we’d definitely have plenty of water to go around.

In addition to consuming (and wasting) less water the bills have shrunk dramatically. To be honest, these water saving habits haven’t negatively impacted my lifestyle that much. Better for the earth, better for my pocket book.

Another round of cost cutting considerations deals with entertainment and Internet services. At nearly $140 a month, I’m wondering what I’m truly getting from Dish Network. That amount doesn’t even get me every movie channel, and no pay per views or movie rentals. Yes, I have HD, and admittedly it is very pleasant to watch. But in the spirit of all the great stuff I’m learning from Leo Babauta I have seriously been questioning the amount of time I spend watching all that high def “entertainment”.

More often than not, I’m finding myself not watching a lot of the shows, movies, etc that I used to not be able to live without. Still though, way too much of my time is getting wasted in front of the screen doing nothing enriching. So I ask you, is it worth spending that much money on something I know is not really that good for me? What are my alternatives?

Well, there’s my Netflix subscription. I think they just raised their prices a buck and I might spend like $19 or so for Blu-ray discs and streaming via the Internet. I’d have to check, but I probably watch 5 to 8 discs a month. Clearly from a rental perspective that’s a great deal.

But their streaming service is another story. Though I have to say, not Netflix’s fault. My ISP, NPG Cable out of St. Louis, I think charges me $65 a month (and I own my modem 🙁 ) for a reported 10Mbps connection. Well, I do several Speedtest’s every week, and the only time I get in the mid 9Mbps range is from my computer to NPG’s server up in Sedona. Anywhere else on the planet is in the 2.5 to 3Mbps range.

If you’ve tried to watch online video of any quality, you know that 3Mbps is not nearly enough bandwidth. So, I end up paying way too much money for less than sub par performance. The challenge with living in a semi rural area, however, is there are few other competitors. Qwest Communications offers DSL, but only at 1.5Mbps. How pitiful is that?

Here’s the kicker to the ISP thing. I just purchased a Droid X for my Verizon Wireless service, and was able to drop my Broadband Connect service. I think that saves me like $20 a month or so. Yes, I was using BC to bluetooth tether my BB Storm to my netbook when I was away from home. And that allowed me to go away for several days to a couple of weeks at a time and maintain all I do online.

Now, however, with the Android OS, I am able to tether my device to the computer and use a program like Easy Tether to provide Internet services to my computer through my unlimited data plan for the phone.

The speeds?

Well suffice it to say, on one tethering test, I was able to watch a Netflix stream on my computer at an acceptable viewing quality. Much of the time, NPG Cable doesn’t even provide enough bandwidth for me to watch acceptable video. Unreal.

So, in addition to saving the $20 on the wireless data plan, I’m seriously considering ditching the BS $65 I spend on home Internet. Haven’t made the decision just yet, but am seriously considering it. Will let you know when I make that choice. It should be soon.

Okay, enough of this rambling on Thanksgiving Eve (is that an actual term?) Trusting you are all grateful for the amazing people and things you have in your life. Don’t worry about the less than satisfactory stuff. Keep pushing through and going for what you know to be good. All that noise will be left by the wayside.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who observe it!