Awareness Saves Money: Electric Style

The more aware we are of our spending the more we may be able to save money.

I have yet to perfect the art of tracking all my spending (honestly, I think I’m just still too lazy–feel free to give me a good kick) but I have found the perfect tool to track my spending on my electric bill.

It’s a website (and also an app for certain phones) called My Usage. Not all electric companies support this tool but for those who do, it’s perfect. Just go to http://www.myusage.com and click “Sign Up Now.” It will offer you a few steps to see if your particular company is supported. If it is, you can sign up and be able to view a graph of how much electricity you are using every single day.

My graph currently looks like this:

The usage is measured in temperatures and the red graph represents the average in “my area” (not sure what the area is exactly.)

I have this app on my HTC Hero with google phone (android powered) and check it every morning. I live in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with only 1 other person so my usage may be lower than some (it is also quite perfect right now outside so now air or heat is being used) but I definitely notice a difference on days I do laundry and use the dryer.

This app has just made me a lot more aware of how much electricity I am really using and how much it’s costing me. Turning off lights and keeping the usage down to a minimum whenever possible is now a thought that actually crosses my mind whereas if I didn’t have this app I probably wouldn’t really think about  it.

Basically, it just helps me stay aware. And awareness is powerful. Because it promotes action–even more powerful!

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How to Start Off and STAY on the Right Course

We all know the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” But really, it’s only the “right” kind of practice that makes perfect. I can practice wrong over and over and I’ll be, well, perfectly wrong.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

When we start off on a new goal, whether it’s a new career path, a new financial goal, a new way of living, a new relationship, trying to better a relationship, or just starting “life” out right in general, it’s imperative we not start off in the wrong direction. If we do start off wrong, we’ll have to back-track which leads to waste of time and other valuable resources.

So what do we do? How do we start off right?

1. Take your time and count the cost.
Don’t jump to a conclusion about where you’d like to be without giving it some time. Consider it much like a large purchase. A large purchase will take a significant amount of money. And a big “goal” will also require a significant amount of resources. It’s not something to decide on a whim. If you do, it will probably fade quickly cause you haven’t counted the cost.

2. Write it down.
Okay, I’m sure you’re tired of reading it but it’s so true. There is so much power in writing things down. First write down the goal or end-product you’d like to see and then take the time to write down  the specific steps it will take to get there. Those steps will probably be certain actions you need to take with due dates. This will give you a clear blueprint of how to get and stay on the right course all the way to the fulfillment of your dream.

3. Invite the help of others.
Start off right by having some support. And keep the support all the way through. Friends who hear your passion about something will help remind you when the passion is running dry later on.

4. Take frequent pit stops.
Some people say that if you ever take a break from working toward your goal you’ll give it up all together. I disagree. Sometimes you need to step back and take an honest look at the situation. Take a rest and look over your blueprint again and see the big picture. Find yourself in it and remind yourself why you’re working toward it. You’ll feel refreshed and energized and ready to get back to work to reaching it.

That’s just a few things I thought of on how to start and stay on course toward any kind of goal you’d like to reach.

What do you guys think? Any other tips on starting and staying on the right course?

Juggling It All

I remember there was this time when I was young when I found myself whining, “I’m boooooooooooooooored” to my mom and dad. It usually happened about 2 weeks into summer when I was tired of doing all of the “out-of-school-summer-fun” already. But it probably happened on the weekends too. I just didn’t know what to do with myself!

My how things have changed! I can’t remember the last time I said those words now. There’s just so much to do! Always. I am fairly certain I could keep myself occupied for 24 hours out of the 24 hour day if I could. Sometimes I hate sleep.

Our hours are filled with working, playing, learning, relating, eating, sleeping and a thing I like to call bettering. 😉 But whatever our hours are filled up with there’s one thing that is for sure–we don’t want to drop any of these. There may be seasons when we have to focus a little bit less on a certain area but we have to keep them in our lives regardless of how busy we are because that’s why they are there in the first place: they’re important to us.

So we juggle.

I juggle.
Today I juggled the fact it was a Monday with the fact I am moving this Saturday with the fact I had to be at work for 8 1/2 hours with the fact I want to spend time with my family with the fact American Idol was on tonight with the fact that since I am moving this weekend I need to get all my homework done before then with the fact my eyes hurt from already looking at a computer all day with the fact it’s such a beautiful day I just want to go outside with the fact I didn’t write a blog this morning so I want to tonight with the fact I got a new cell phone and I just want to play with it!

It could seem like it’s all so much that something’s got to give. But…it doesn’t. Necessarily. All of it’s possible. And yes, it’s a struggle, but when you set your mind and heart to it you can handle anything. And you can handle it well.

But it won’t just happen. We have to make it happen.

We have to set priorities and plans. Even if that’s a quick jot-down in the morning of what you want to do that day and how you’re going to get it all done. When you get into a routine like this the juggling becomes less and less of a struggle and more and more of an enjoyment. You feel satisfied. Accomplished. Energized. Ready to move forward some more.

We don’t have to give up things we love for other things we love or certain goals for other goals. We can handle more than we think we can…and we can handle it with a smile and with poise. 😉

How do you juggle everything in your life and keep a right heart at the same time?

The Bad Decision Mud Slide

Sometimes one bad decision leads to another.
Or…
Most of the time.

It’s an unfortunate scenario but I think it’s true. Do you agree?

I try to not eat sugar and on the third day I eat sugar and instead of continuing on with not eating sugar I choose to eat sugar…and lots of it.
I say I’m going to work out 4 times a week, but by Tuesday I’m tired of being away from home and skip “workout Wednesday” and instead of 4 times I’ve only worked out twice. And then why even go back the next Monday?
I make a decision to not take any money–EVER–out of my emergency fund (um, unless it’s an emergency) and put my tax refund money in there so I don’t touch it but after a hard first of the week at work I’m ready for a pedicure. And of course I wasn’t planning that in my spending money for that week so where did it come from? Oh yeah…my emergency fund. Thankfully that’s the only mistake I’ve made with this one but the opportunity to make another and another and another until I’m in a mud slide of bad decisions is definitely there.

Sound familiar? Maybe not. But it’s pretty familiar to me.

And it has to STOP.

And it can stop. It’s all about thinking rationally and being at peace and stepping away from the situation. Let me think about today…

I should have worked out but I didn’t. How do I stop the bad decision mud slide here and now? Go the gym tomorrow.
I shouldn’t have eaten 7 packets of ‘fun-sized’ m&ms. And the bowl of cereal. And the piece of chocolate pie. What now? I go cut carrots right after typing this and put them in a sandwich bag to munch on tomorrow.
I had planned to finish at least 1/2 of my biology homework for the week but I only finished about 1/4 of it because I got distracted by American Idol and Facebook and the internet in general. And now….Take a deep breath and realize I still have the rest of the week to do it. No biggy.

Sometimes we get to worked up about things we didn’t do or we messed up on it only prohibits us from moving forward. And instead of making the right decision the next time we make another bad decision because…well, heck, I messed up last time.

But take heart, the bad decision mud slide can actually be reversed and instead of going down the mountain you can make right decisions and it have the same effect but going UP the mountain. Generally, good decisions lead to more good decisions. And that’s when life get’s exciting.

Follow peace. And if you don’t have it–go find it. I promise it’s there. But you might have to step way back from your situation. Get outside. Go to a place you don’t go to often. Get away. Good things are waiting.

Motivation to Move Forward

Get up and get going.

Today I spent the day at an all-employee’s “Annual Celebration” for my employer and it was surprisingly very beneficial and inspiring. There were about 600 people in the room, and I couldn’t help but wonder if everyone was really internalizing all of the powerful truths they were hearing. Not because I think they are bad people or they lack motivation to keep moving forward but because I think in general most people just…

Settle.

Most people don’t necessarily care if they go “above and beyond” or if they get promoted quickly because of their hard work. Oh, they want to get promoted alright but only because of seniority…not because they’ve put the effort into it to deserve it.

I don’t know about you, but I hope you say, “God forbid” to that kind of thinking. There is so much more to do, to know and to experience than what you’re currently doing, what you currently know and what you’re currently experiencing.

As for me, I love where I currently am but I want to keep growing and learning. And if I have to create the motivation inside of me to move forward than so be it. But I won’t live a life without motivation.

You can do more than you’ll ever think is possible. Start the blog you’ve wanted to start–and keep it up to date. Start the business you always dreamed of. Go for that run you’ve been thinking about. Ask that girl out on a date. Start the reading agenda. Open up the Bible. Go to sleep on time.

Whatever it is you want to do there is a motivation somewhere to help get you going and moving forward. Find it. And embrace it. And then don’t stop.

The Sugar Detox

So last Monday I saw Ellen Degeneres tweet about a sugar detox she was going to do. Of course, I’m always thinking of doing these kinds of things, but I never have the motivation to kick me in the butt to start it. But I think Ellen is a pretty cool person and that if she could do it so could I.

So Tuesday morning I started, and I did pretty good–munching on celery and all that. First day wasn’t so much fun. My stomach was kind of cramping and the beginning of a headache was coming about. The headache continued on into Wednesday but I read that a headache would be normal so I was actually a little happy about it.

Wednesday night I decided to go to Buffalo Wild Wings with my good friend Chara and we had honey barbeque chicken and of course I dipped mine in ranch. I’m sure both of those things had sugar in it. But I continued on with the detox.

But I have to admit–this weekend hasn’t been so great. Yesterday I had some cake for my little sister’s party and then I had some more today.

All that to say, I think by now I’ve broken my detox, and it hasn’t even been a week. But I’m going to start back up now drinking lots of water and drinking my all-natural, light chocolate soy milk to crave any kind of sweet tooth.

The point of the sugar detox? Well, one: it’s healthy! You can get plenty of the “good sugar” you need from fruits, you don’t need refined white sugar. And two: I want my energy to be all nat-ur-al. =) I don’t want the fake stuff. When I’m awake I want to be fully alive and energized by my own body not some outside stimulate. (I gave up caffeine recently for the same reason but that can be another post…I’ve actually stuck to that one!

I find when I don’t eat sugar I am more focused and energized to do all the things I want to do in a day. And since today is all I have, I want to grab it by the horns and LIVE IT, not let sugar make me feel antsy for a little while and then groggy and gross afterwards.

What do you think about a sugar detox? Would you do it?