It seems like with most of the earth covered in ocean that we would never ever run out of water. Safe and usable water of course though is something that can be pretty scarce. Here in LA we’re in our third year of drought and our governor has asked us all to conserve water. There are incentives now to convert grass to astro turf and landscapes to desert type plants that use much less water.

I’ve always tried to conserve water but after buying a house it’s been much harder! If I could just not water the grass and garden then I would save a ton of water. Of course everything around me would be brown and dead too. Not really something anyone wants to see. We even have the hardiest grass possible. It’s this slow growing kind that is pretty tough compared to the usual lush grass that most people have. Saves a ton of water though and it doesn’t die easily. To really save water though we need to think of what we can convert to a desert landscape with plants that don’t need a ton of water to stay alive.

Better off in the long run
It’ll take a ton of work to dig up plants and convert the soil to be ready for new types of plants. There’s a small portion of our front yard that used to be a pretty nice garden but now is pretty ragged. The only thing I really like there is a hydrangea. Other than that there is a very spiky succulent (which I want to get rid of because I’ve run into it before), a tree stump, a lot of weeds, and some random small trees and bushes. It takes a lot of water to keep those things alive. If we have cacti or succulents instead then we would only have to water it once a week or every two weeks. That’s a lot of water and money saved!

Still visually appealing
It’s not quite what I initially think of when it comes to gardens, but a rockscape with cacti and succulents can be done beautifully also. Some of our neighbors have converted to it and it looks pretty low maintenance and beautiful. One house nearby has converted their entire yard while another just parts of it. Most likely the latter is what we’ll go for since we still want some grass.

Incentives
The water utility companies are offering residents credits for if they convert their lawn to astro turf or use desert friendly plants. It’s not enough to cover the cost of it all but it’s better than nothing!

 

It’s going to be a long time before we actually get this done! First thing we have to do is figure out how to get that tree stump out. We need to fix up that portion of the yard anyway and now is a pretty good time to turn it into something that saves water and money.

Have you converted your yard to save money?


With gas prices being at a lovely $4 per gallon here in LA it’s transformed the city into one filled with Prius cars. There are definitely way more Prius cars on the West coast than anywhere in the country. Everywhere you look you can find a Prius pretty easily around here! As we all know I have one of those! Gas prices will never go down and the gas savings and earth friendliness of the car drew me in. It’s not stylish at all, but I’ve never put much stock into how a car looks. It’s really more for getting me from point to point. Lately I’ve heard rumors about how the government isn’t getting enough money from taxes on gas because of the trend toward gas efficient cars. Instead they’re thinking of taxing people per mile driven each year!!!

Everyone wants to get their share! It’s pretty infuriating because it would defeat the whole purpose of making gas efficient cars and the entire reason why I bought a Prius! High gas prices are encouraging people to get hybrids and electric cars. Which in turn spur car companies to be more innovative to develop these new technologies and further them along. Now the government wants to basically slap all of us in the face and reward gas guzzling drivers? It’s just a rumor that I’ve heard about and I really doubt it would ever pass, but weirder things have happened. It would mean a lot of progress we’ve made will be lost.

How would taxing per mile driven work?
In theory every single person with a car would have cheaper gas at the pump because it wouldn’t be taxed per gallon anymore. What we would have to do though is log our miles driven once a year and report that to the government to find out how much more tax we need to pay. Most likely this would be lumped into the annual tax season and just be another line on the form to fill out.

Potential implications
If this proposed law ever came to the ballot it would be a pretty big deal. Can’t even imagine it. California especially has been pushing its agenda for a greener environment and here it is showing it’s greed. The reason why there is a such a huge demand for hybrids and electric cars is to save money. Some people do it because it’s green, but most because they’d rather save money. I bought a Prius to use less gas, save money, and not be at the gas pump all the time. If I was taxed per mile then some of the savings would be offset. Many people who live here in LA commute long distances for a good chunk of their day. Having to pay per mile driven would just be another nail driven into the coffin.

The people who own electric cars would definitely get the shortest end of the stick. Electric cars are still pretty expensive compared to a gas powered car. They spent a lot more to not use any gas at all. Wouldn’t be very nice to then tax them per mile driven.

If the demand for hybrids and electric went down then so would any incentive for car companies to keep pushing their limits. There are laws that make them raise gas efficiency, but many car companies have far surpassed those levels because of consumer desire.

 

I hope this stays a rumor and never ever comes to light again! Instead of buying a Prius I could’ve bought a more style car instead. I made my choice though because I want to be green and save money.

Have you ever heard of taxing per mile driven before?

 


Photo Credit: kainet via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: kainet via Compfight cc

The house I live in was built in the 1950′s and there are still some things I’m pretty sure haven’t changed since then. Well…I guess I could say that its changed in that it’s gotten older, grimy, and more beaten up by the long years but it’s still the original!

One of these original items that came with the house is a 50 amp electrical panel. Most houses now have at least 100 amps while a good amount have 200 amps. Since houses have become more modern so has the amount of electricity being used gotten higher. On the flip side appliances and lights are becoming more energy efficient and thus use less power. It’s a good idea for us to upgrade our panel because we don’t have any emergency breakers in place if there is a power surge or overload. This means that it could start a fire. Deciding between a 100 amp or 200 amp panel was pretty interesting. The cost of the panel itself is about a 700 difference and most of the costs are associated with the labor and installation. Would a 100 amp panel work for us or should we just pay the extra money just in case for a 200 amp panel?

While trying to figure out if we even needed a 200 amp panel we discovered how little energy we actually use! My green habits have paid off for something! We looked at what we currently use energy for now, and also projected any potential items in the future. We also had to keep in mind that we wouldn’t actually turn on every single appliance/device we have at one time.

Calculating the amount of amps we actually use
There are websites and guides that help with calculating how many amps something uses. It’s a general estimate but it’s better to go a little over than not estimate enough. For everything we currently have we would only ever use 50 amps if everything was turned on! Our major appliances are all gas and barely use any electricity. Even adding central air wouldn’t put it over 100. An electric car charger could get us closer, but usually those charge at night when nothing else is on.

Finding a reputable electrician
The electrician we are thinking of going with is also of the old school variety. Honest and knowledgable they’ve already helped us a lot and we haven’t technically hired them yet! Of course we won’t know how good they are until they actually do the work. The one thing that really shows how honest they are though is if they try to upsell you with the reasoning of “just in case you need it later.”

 

It’s really tempting to go with the 200 amp panel just because we would definitely be covered for almost anything. Realistically though we would never install central air, and if we did get an electric car it would charge at night only. $700 is a lot of money to do something. If the difference was smaller then perhaps, but in the end it is money spent. The 100 amp it is! I tend to like to be safe rather than sorry, but in this case there’s just not a lot of justification for the pricier option.

I’m saving $700 today by doing research and not paying more money to get a bigger upgrade. It’s always easier to just go with the larger upgrade because you’re definitely going to be covered, but if it’s not necessary then that’s a waste.

Would you get something just in case or only what you currently need?


Photo Credit: howangcturtle via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: howangcturtle via Compfight cc

I’m the kind of person who loves to cook at home and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately since I’ve been trying to save money! A good portion of my paycheck was definitely going towards pricy restaurants and impulse lunches when I first started making money. Since then I’ve reined myself in a lot and have been making meals at home a lot more. Dinner on the weekdays is usually made at home and I also try to bring lunch as much as possible too. I haven’t cut out going out entirely, but eating out less does make me appreciate it a lot more when I do!

One side effect of trying to be frugal and making more meals at home is sometimes failed recipes! I usually follow a recipe when I’m baking or trying something new for the first time, but usually when cooking I throw things together and hope for the best. Luckily for me usually it turns out decently well and I’ve gotten to that point where I can wing it mostly. I hate wasting food though and when something comes out not quite right…I have to think of some creative ways to not just throw it out! I end up doing some really funny and weird things to avoid that. Of course if its truly inedible I’ll just toss it!

Feed it to a pet
I’m sure this isn’t good for a dog or cat…but I’m sure people do this! I don’t have any pets but I probably would try this if I did. Okay, I’m definitely not recommending this at all of course…

Give it to my husband
Yep, my husband will eat things I’m not willing to eat. He also finishes off whatever I can’t fit in my tummy. It’s a pretty good system here.

Bring it to work
Best thing about coworkers is that they eat almost anything! They might not finish everything you bring but through the day one by one they’ll at least try a little bit of whatever. My coworker just brought in these strange sweet garlic corn puffs she didn’t want. As expected we each tried a piece through out the day. Only one of us actually liked it! We ended up throwing out the rest but at least some of it got eaten. Needless to say that if it tastes really bad I wouldn’t say I made it.

Put it in the freezer and decide what to do later
Sometimes I don’t know what to do with it and I just stick it in the freezer for later. Figure I can either eat it later or try to incorporate it into a different recipe if possible. A temporary solution but sometimes it works!

Eat a little bit everyday until it’s finished
Much easier to handle in small amounts if it’s not so tasty! I bought it and took the time to make it so I always feel that I should eat it. I basically think of it like nasty cough medicine. Take the meds as fast as possible because its good for me.

 

What are some funny things you end up doing to not waste food?


Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight cc

It’s been almost half a year since I moved into my new home! A lot has been fixed up inside and outside but the garden and yard need a lot more help still. We focused mostly on the interior and fixed it up as much as possible. In that time the weeds and plants had a good amount of time to grow wild before we even started tackling it. Now months later it’s pretty unmanageable and it’s time for me to admit that I do need help with it. My husband and I have been trying to weed and take care of the garden every weekend as much as possible and weeknights too. It’s a much bigger yard and garden than a lot of our neighbors houses and it’s more than the two of us can handle. It’s about time we hired some gardeners and paid money to save time.

Time can be more valuable than money
Usually when saving money it’s best to try to do everything yourself and not pay for something expensive. In other cases, like this one, it’s more valuable to pay someone else to do it and save us valuable time. Our weekends have been sucked up with gardening and we’re not enjoying it. If paying someone else to do it works then I think it’s valuable time we save! We’re obviously not doing very well on our own either. For $120 a month we can have gardeners fix up our yard every week! It’ll certainly be worth it for us to save a few hours every weekend and enjoy it instead. We have to work the usual 5 days a week and our weekends are important for unwinding.

Making money to make our lives easier
Saving money important, but of course we work our butts off to make money so that our lives will be better. In the end money is a way to get what we want. I’m all for using some money to offset something I consider unpleasant. If I would be happy living on a deserted island somewhere in the middle of nowhere then I wouldn’t need money at all. Unfortunately I live in the US where money is needed for everything.

More time to focus on other things
Time is money right? By giving myself more time to do other things I can potentially increase my money flow. First of all by using the time to unwind I’ll be much better rested for my full-time job. My main money maker of course. Then of course there’s also side projects I have more time for. Whether it be writing a blog post, doing some home diy repairs, or finding random items to sell on ebay, I have more time to do all that.

 

When do you think your time is worth more than the money?