Saturday, December 11, 2010

Paradigms In Frugality


Several posts ago, I explored the idea of paradigms in our spiritual lives. I described the concept of a paradigm shift: describing a profound change in our frame of reference. Now I'd like to examine how to break out of our current habits in an effort to create new, more frugal habits.

So many of the things that we do are just habits. Some habits are very good. Most of us were probably trained as children to "close the door behind you when you come in the house." There are many reasons why this is a good habit.
  1. Save energy - don't let the heat out in the winter or the heat in during summer
  2. Keeps critters out and babies in. :)
In almost every case, developing a good habit takes work and purposeful thought. Good habits don't just happen. Bad habits, do. It's the law of entropy at work in the world around us. If we just let life carry us, we slip into bad habits like wastefulness and overspending. It is not an easy thing to do, but in order to really change our lives and create more frugal habits, we have to have a shift in our paradigms.

I have found that the best way to create new, purposeful, frugal habits is to consciously think about what I am doing and why. Here's an example: Instead of always turning the dial on my clothes dryer to the 70 minute timed cycle that it takes to fully dry a load of clothes, I tried turning it to 60 minutes. About 95% of the clothes were fully dry at the end of that cycle. A few things were slightly damp, but hardly enough to even bother hanging them out. Then, I tried drying a load of clothes in 50 minutes. Amazingly, about 90% of the clothes were fully dry! The items that were not dry were my thicker towels that easily dried out hanging on the towel bar in the bathroom from whence they came, and clothes with thicker waistbands or layers. In my laundry room, I keep a large drying rack and a stash of hangers hanging on a pipe near the ceiling. I simply hung up the couple of items that needed extra drying time and got them the next day. Now, I always set the clothes dryer on 50 minutes. This paradigm shift, this VERY simple change in my habits saves 20 minutes of electricity in our dryer. Our electricity is rather expensive compared to our other utilities, and it's like buying 3 loads of drying time and getting one free!

That was an example of money saved and only a little bit of time spent, here is an example of TIME and SANITY saved, which are extremely valuable in our busy lives. All of this for being willing to learn from others:

At the Grocery Store - Preacher Man recently accompanied the Littles and I to the grocery store. He was driving the car and was getting ready to pull in and park in the nearest space by the door. I stopped him and asked if he could park in a different area. He asked why and I explained that while the spot was relatively close to the door, it was a long, long walk to retrieve the cart we would need, and with two littles and many grocery bags in tow, it would make life difficult. He saw the advantage immediately and parked nearest the cart return, which is what all of us moms do, right? :) After we finished checking out, Preacher Man started steering a fully loaded cart the OPPOSITE way of what I was used to going. I followed him rather confused, not sure what he was meaning by that. Once we got to the door, I realized that he was leaving out the pharmacy door, which was directly across from our parking spot. All this time, I had been going through the front door, nearly doubling the time it took me to get back to my car. This is not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but when the weather is yucky, little ones are needing to get home, or the parking lot is full of snow as it will be in coming months, it makes a significant difference! I started laughing and explaining to him what a genius he was for seeing something I had been missing for all of these months.

Observing how others do things and even asking them to explain what they do and why is another excellent way to learn how to break out of our current paradigms. Other people see things differently, and sometimes better. Being open to new ideas and living life as an observer and a constant learner will be a great advantage.

Sometimes I wonder if the things that I am blogging about seem too elementary, especially to some of you seasoned homemakers out there. Then it dawns upon me that most of these ideas were new to me at one time, and I was happy to learn them when I did. Sharing and learning from others is the only way I have gotten to the place where I am today, and I hope you, my readers, will be eager to share your ideas and methods with me, as I post tips and ideas that I have picked up along the way.

Have a blessed day!

1 comment:

  1. It's not too elementary, and even those of us a little further along the living curve than you need periodic reminders of all of this. What I want to explore is the maddening way my frugal paradigms occasionally derail into a mini-blitz of spendthiftiness -- I can go for months and months doing perfectly fine, but in one day I can indulge or just make plain unwise decisions about purchases (not splurges, just not thinking things through in a smart enough way). I wonder how far along life's curve I have to get before I get past that????


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