How to plug money leaks when you’re surrounded by idiots

Since arriving at my childhood home for the holidays, I’m constantly reminded of two traits I dislike about my family: 1) They’re really loud and, 2) They’re wasteful. The former bugs me a lot, but not nearly as much as the latter.

On several occasions, I entered an empty bathroom to find the faucet running at full blast.

Bars of soap are subjected to accelerated disintegration when their left in a tub of bathwater for hours.

And it seems the proper artificially generated indoor temperature–even when you lie down for sleep at night–is 80°F (27°C).

My mother uses five times the amount of water as me to clean her dishes. (It’s funny how we both hand wash dishes.) Forever the financial educator, I told her she wouldn’t have to add as much dish detergent to her water if she simply used less water. Instead of welcoming this practical, easily implemented money advice, my mom barked, “Stop being so cheap.” Say huh?

Faucet Money LeakTo a certain extent, I admire my family’s laid-back approach toward life. But personally, I’m a worrier. Relax? I’ll relax when I’m good and dead, thank you.

In an effort to prevent a mental decline into complete madness, I plan.

How do you stop the abusive use of your resources when you’re surrounded by people who clearly don’t respect the time and energy required to earn an income?

First, accept that you won’t convince them to shake their wasteful ways.

Here are a few tools you can use to spare your wallet from careless housemates.

Mesh Sink Strainer

If your home isn’t equipped with a garbage disposal, a mesh sink strainer could save you a bucket of money.

You see, sensible people understand food clogs a standard sink. As indicated earlier, you may not be so fortunate to live with folks who foresee the consequences of using the kitchen sink as a trash can. A mesh sink strainer only costs a few bucks and catches garbage before it sets you back hundreds of dollars in plumbing costs.

Thermostat Lock Box

Many money saving gurus tout the benefits of a programmable thermostat.

I think they’re great, IF they’re not manually overridden by someone who wants the inside of their place to mimic sub-tropical temperatures during the dead of winter. Or someone who insists on sleeping under a thick comforter during the dog days of summer.

Slap a lock box over the thermostat. You may draw the ire of your homes other inhabitants, but they’ll adjust.

Pressure-Assisted Toilet

I first discovered the joys of a pressure assisted flush after using the bathroom at a friends. His toilet sounded like a jet when it flushed.

A few years later, I moved into an apartment complex owned by the same landlord. Now, I too experience the exhilaration of a loud, powerful flush several times a day.

Besides increased efficiency, the biggest benefit to a pressure-assisted toilet is it doesn’t back up as easily as standard toilets. So although you may be able to accurately judge how much toilet paper is too much, there are far too many people who can’t.

Electrical Outlet Timer

Did you know that your electronic devices draw electricity when their plugged in even if they’re turned out?

You could reduce your energy use by unplugging appliances when they’re not in use.

Yes, you could. And you just might. But will the others commit to this strange habit?

An electrical outlet timer can automatically shut of appliances after a certain time period elapses.

What tricks do you use to prevent waste in your home?

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About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.