Our cat eats too much. At least he seems to be eating all the time, since we moved house and he started staying inside most of the time. He’s always trying to get food by whining and whining, unless I ignore him and he reverts to more constructive and healthy hobbies like tearing toilet paper into pieces. Anyway. The 12-pack of catfood, which once lasted a week, now is empty before you know! According to a guide, a cat like Spooky should eat more or less 250 grams of food a day. So I began to make a sign on the writing board on the fridge every 50 grams I gave him and now I’m sure I’m not giving him more than it’s healthy.
Just out of curiosity, I made calculations about how much he costs us in catfood if we stick to the right amount every day. In this case we have to buy 76 packs a year, which means more or less € 300. What if instead, hipotetically, we gave him 300 g a day? That’d make 91 packs per year, € 360 totally. Wow! We can save € 60 a year simply by keeping track of our cat’s eating. Which totally makes sense, since he’s a recurring cost (I hate to call my lovely hand-muncher a “cost” but you know what I mean.) And the central point of recurring costs is that, well, they are recurring – you don’t care much about what you’re spending a single time, but you start caring if you do some maths. It’s a ah-ha! moment.
So, how much can you save by being careful about recurring expenses? € 60 might not be a lot of money, but what about saving € 60 a year in other fields as well? It might sound tiring and cheap to have to check every area of expense, but really it’s just a matter of taking a habit, of thinking about those everyday actions we usually take for granted. And sometimes not wasting is enough to save, so it’s just common sense.
Water is one of the things most taken for granted in the Western world, object of much wasting, especially by showering and flushing. Do we really need long showers? Wouldn’t we be clean and relaxed enough after a few minutes? I’ve also read in more than one on-line place about a tip for not wasting the water from the shower which is not hot yet: just gather it in a bucket and use it for flushing. (Not recommendable if you have guests though.)
Electricity and heating in the winter are two areas where being careful and reducing consumption can really save a lot (many old condos in Italy still have central heating and some flats are so hot that people have to open windows!) so a programmable thermostat is a must. (20 °C is the healthiest temperature.)
Anything you use on a daily basis might be used in less quantity. One doesn’t have to make terrible sacrifices: just choose the areas where reducing is possible and maybe smarter, the possibilities are more than one thinks.
Using your washing machine? The measure of detergent that’s really necessary is always inferior to the one recommended by producers, which, at lower temperatures (30/40°) can even be harmful, leaving residue on clothes. Try and find the right quantity for your machine and water type. If you use Colour-Catcher and the clothes you’re washing are not so bright-coloured or not so new, use just half a sheet.
There are also expenses which can be just cut. Many of us pay yearly subscriptions for magazines they then get tired of, or for TV channels they stop watching that much after a while. Just set your priorities. If you love to buy/rent dvds, don’t pay for more channels on tv (I, being a film lover, do buy a lot of cheap dvds on http://www.play.com, where I can find films which aren’t released in Italy).
Readers: what do you do about recurring expenses?
[Picture: it’s him! The hero of this story.]