If you’ve followed the Palmer family story over the past few years you’ll know that money is tight at the moment.
We’d gone from being a high earning power couple to having our lives changed forever thanks to our second Daughter, Dorothy. Mrs P had developed Post Natal Depression which took her from her high profile job, which has meant that she’s been an amazing stay at home mum, but we’ve lost an income.
I’ve moved jobs twice in the past two and a half years. The first move was to a company that was progressive, offered me the progression and leadership I needed for my career but I ended up working more hours for less pay and away from home nights on end. After my amazing boss left, it was my chance to get my career back on track and earn my worth too.
There have been times throughout the two and a half years where money has been so tight, I’ve struggled for fuel to get to work, Mrs P has coppered up to buy some bread and milk and I’ve sold my favourite DSLR under value so I’ve got enough money to get to the airport for work.
It’s been really tough but 100% worth it for this little one. (Disclaimer, she’s not little anymore!)
I like to think of myself of someone that looks forward and tries to plan as much as possible. While neither of us could have prepared for the incredible highs, we’ve protected ourselves from the terrible lows.
We started by expiring as many contracts as possible and trying to get early settlements from those like gym memberships and overpriced insurances. We had to stop visiting the fancy places and the brand new Ralph Lauren clothes for work were now Primark with the odd trip to an outlet.
Looking at how we could reduce costs, we also looked deeper at our home. This was one of the biggest costs on the balance sheet each month and the first thing was to re-negotiate our mortgage. With spiralling utilities thanks to high water usage, heating on most of the time and everything plugged including inefficient bulbs. There’s also the things that you don’t consider that cost less than you think but combined are a big hit, XBox live membership, Audible books, Amazon Prime………… the list goes on and includes fastest internet speed and TV package.
Our house really was a money pit
One of the big things that we did was move to a smart meter and tariff. They say that what you don’t know won’t kill you and unfortunately, that is so wrong. Our usage was off the charts and we got obsessive. You don’t consider the cost of the kettle boiling once, but when the daily cost is nearly £6 for a heavy use day, times that by 31.
I must admit I did turn into one of those clock watchers to start with. It was so addictive, constantly watching what we were using and then going to switch off TVs left on, using the kettle less and making a conscious decision to be frugal. I’m an analytical person in work and home, so it really did give me the data to make changes.
The first thing we did after making the changes was to invest in a smart thermostat. I know it seems silly but we didn’t have a thermostat and the heating was always on when we didn’t need it. This included the water too. At least this way we could control it and the heating was used only when it was needed and even then in ECO mode.
We cancelled all of those little contracts that just eat money in small amounts which made a big difference and then we changed all of the light bulbs to cheaper more energy efficient ones. Over last Christmas, we turned off the heating in rooms we didn’t need and made a conscious effort to wear more clothes to keep warm.
These moves made a huge difference and allowed me to move jobs the first time. I took an 18k pay cut to follow my dream career and also be at home more for my family.
British Gas invited me to play their Smart Meter Maze Game and it really does sum up what we were achieving. The minute we turn one light off, the teenager turns on another then another and another. It’s like a constant battle!
The harder you try the harder it gets!
I happened to be quite good at the game actually I suppose it’s all of the practice that I’ve had. As you can see from above my score is pretty good 🙂 Give it a go if you think you can beat me 🙂 Share your scores in the comments below.
https://britishgas.co.uk/the-source/your-home/smarter-living/Smart-meter-maze-game try to beat my score of 23250!
Just because we’re being an energy conscious family doesn’t mean we have given up on spending and adventures. We now have the freedom to be able to take control of our finances, carry on having family adventures with one more but also take a wider view of our carbon footprint and our impact on the world. We’ve got two daughters who will be living in the world that we leave behind and with the impact of global warming, it is a concern. We’ve looked at Solar Panels but for now, we’ll keep an eye on our usage, control what we spend and live a cleaner more conscious lifestyle.