Monday, 30 December 2013
At the start of 2013, I decided to categorise my spending throughout this year, so I could see exactly where all the money goes.
This included all payments made directly from the bank or on debit cards, those made on the credit cards (always paid off in full every month) and also any cash payments, as far as was possible. Cash payments were particularly difficult to track since they tended to be rather small and easily forgettable - at the end of each month, I could never fully reconcile the cash left in my wallet against the ATM withdrawals I'd made !
So, with today being the penultimate day of the year, and I'm confident that I won't spend any more money in 2013, here's a breakdown by percentage of my total annual expenditure. Click on the chart for a larger image.
Thursday, 5 December 2013
With electricity prices becoming increasingly expensive, and likely to continue to rise way above inflation, we recently concluded a seven-week long experiment to monitor the energy consumption of most of the electrical appliances in our home.
The plan was to identify those energy consumers for which there may be scope for a saving, by either changing their pattern of usage or replacing older appliances with more modern and efficient units.
However, replacing any items would only make economic sense if their total capital costs could be recouped from the predicted savings in their currently-measured operating costs within a period of say five years maximum, or if they should become faulty or breakdown in the future. We don't intend to discard otherwise serviceable appliances simply because they may not be quite as efficient as the very latest designs on the market.
The five years is actually slightly longer than the period in which I'd normally expect a payback against any such renewal purchase - three years would be nearer the mark. However, with energy price inflation over the past five years running at around say 8% compared to more 'general' inflation at around 4%, i.e. twice the rate (and no signs of this trend ever coming to an end - see my previous post), then every £1 worth of electricity energy today will actually cost £1.48 in five years time, whereas that unit £1 cost of appliances today will be just £1.22 at the end of the same period.
To put it another way, cash in the bank in today's money to be spent on future appliances would have been devalued by 18% but cash kept aside for future energy bills will devalue by a whopping 32% after five years. Therefore, it may make economic sense to bring forward certain renewal purchases because the time they will spend consuming less energy in the future will produce exponentially greater annual savings.
Anyway, back to the testing. We already had a couple of simple plug-in energy monitors that we'd bought for our micro-generation experiments, and we first established there would be three categories of consumer in the house to be monitored during the experiment :-