Could you really be stealing from yourself?

Stealing Your Own Money

by Rich Finzer

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With only one notable exception, every successful robbery requires two parties, the thief and a victim. By ignoring obvious methods of saving money, anyone can assume both roles and begin stealing from themselves. And a prime example is wasting energy or rather allowing your possessions to do the dirty work for you. Here are a few examples.

Fax/Printer/Scanner: I own a fairly sophisticated fax-printer combo. I don't use it very frequently and it took a while before I realized that the unit was still drawing juice, even during its "sleep" mode. These days, if the unit isn't actually doing any faxing or printing, I power it down.

Power Strips: My home is 145 years old and is sorely lacking in wall outlets. To compensate, I own and use several power strips. Again, it was surprising to realize that unless the power strip itself is powered down, it uses electricity even if nothing is plugged into it.

Underinflated Tires: My 2013 model SUV is equipped with sensors that indicate if the tires are underinflated. Driving on underinflated tires not only results in lower gas mileage, but also the tires wear out prematurely. I own a small air compressor, so I can inflate my tires at home and avoid shoving a pile of quarters into the air station at the gas station. The nearest gasoline retailer is located about eight miles from my home, so I'm not burning up extra gasoline while saving my tires. And speaking of lower gas mileage, there's a slick method for combatting that as well.

Ethanol-Free Gasoline: Here in upstate NY, filling stations have recently begun selling ethanol-free, 91 octane gasoline. Admittedly, this blend is more expensive, but my mileage has increased to the tune of about 25 percent (I'm serious). And it's become the only blend of gasoline I buy for my vehicles, lawn tractor, snow blower, string trimmer, and chainsaw. Each machine now produces more usable power because there's 10 percent more gasoline in my gasoline, meaning I'm no longer burning the chemical equivalent of denatured moonshine! Using ethanol-free gasoline will also extend the lifespan of older outboard motors, which were never designed to burn ethanol-blended fuels. I've never been a big fan of hard liquor and now my machines have sworn off the stuff as well.

Water Treatment/Softener Units: Because my well water contains high levels of dissolved iron and lime, I own a treatment unit that prevents my laundry from turning orange. It recharges itself every 48 hours and the unit is set to operate at 3:00 AM. My electricity provider gives me a price break on any power I use before seven in the morning. I save money on electricity, use less laundry detergent, and my whites remain pristine.

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Electric Eyes: For reasons of security, aesthetics, and saving money, I've equipped my outdoor spotlights and post light with electric eyes instead of motion sensors. My country home plays host to both a plethora of wildlife and a thriving bird population. I don't need a wandering deer triggering a motion sensor at four in the afternoon. I need those lighting devices to fire up at sundown. And outdoor lighting that's on constantly is a clue to thieves that no one is likely at home.

Central Air Conditioning: I confess that this strategy won't work in the desert southwest, but it's a viable option for folks living elsewhere. As I write this, our mid-summer temperature is 70 degrees. I don't need to cool my entire home, so I've turned off the central air. A trio of window fans is maintaining ventilation and I'm using significantly less electricity.

Viewed separately, my energy saving strategies may seem paltry, but taken as a group, I'm saving real money. In my mind, it's a real world example of eating an elephant. "Anyone can eat an elephant. You simply eat it one bite at a time."

Reviewed August 2017

Rich Finzer resides in upstate New York. During his 40+ years as a writer, he has published over 1,200 newspaper, magazine and Internet articles. His award-winning book; Maple on Tap is available through his publisher, Acres USA. His enovels Taking the Tracks, Dawn Toward Daylight, and Julie & Me are available through Amazon Kindle.

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