The other day we received our electric bill for last month. It was a bit of a shock, and I went into panic mode for a while. I hadn’t looked at the bill itself, just the amount due. We have set up automatic payments, and I received an email saying that a partial payment was scheduled. That meant the bill was over $150, which is the highest automatic payment we had authorized. Our last few months of bills have been right around $120-$130. This time the bill was $170. Now, I accept that we are a large family in a large house and therefore consume more than your average electricity. On top of that, I am a stay-home mom, so I usually use electricity during the day. Usually it is laundry, cooking, or computer use.
Where did it go?
I started thinking about all the places we could cut back on electric usage. How did we use so much more electricity this month than last month? Was it the furnace, now that it is getting cold and we are running it regularly? Was it the dryer? I do about 2 loads of laundry per day, and hanging it out to dry would a) freeze my fingers off, and b) take forever to freeze dry. We don’t have an indoor clothesline, though I just found one online whose concept I want to replicate. I even know exactly where it can go – over the back staircase, whose ceiling is probably 15′ high and the space is completely unusable any other way. But, honestly, I used the dryer all summer because the clothesline is in the chicken pen and the rooster didn’t like my hanging out the clothes.
Let’s do some math
Once my little hissy fit was over, I actually looked at the bill itself. I found that we actually used less energy last month than we did the month before. What?! I knew that with my husband’s improved work situation we qualified for less of an energy discount, but it wasn’t that significant. I went line by line through all the charges and found the difference in the energy supplier. A little while back we were entreated to change our power supplier to one who provided renewable energy, rather than coal and nuclear energy. We were told that with the upcoming rate hike from our existing supplier we would not see much difference in our bill. It turns out that it made a huge difference. The new rate from the old supplier seems to go into effect for February’s bill, but I did out the math from what meager info I could find online about it. Our old rate was $0.06868. Our new supplier of clean energy was $0.09990. My calculation of the new rate came to $0.08561. So overall, we are still paying significantly more for clean energy.
How to prioritize
Now we have a quandary faced by many poor people. Do we prioritize our budget, or do we prioritize our values? Due to my husband’s work schedule, we haven’t had a chance to discuss it yet. My hope is that we will choose to prioritize our values, trusting that our finances will adjust to accommodate it.
Now here is the kicker. I have been trying to shift my internal relationship with money lately. I have been trying to feel better about money, to appreciate it and not think of it as evil, but rather as a tool that allows us to make choices. This higher electric bill indicates that I am on the right track. I know it sounds ironic, but when you stir the pot, debris comes to the top, and then you can skim it off and improve the quality of your creation. This electric bill is the debris coming to the top so I can deal with it and improve my relationship with money. Each bit of debris that comes up is an opportunity to make a different choice, to have a different attitude, and form or reinforce a better-feeling belief.
Redirecting the energy
I apparently have a lot of energy that I am willing to devote to feeling guilty about money, as evidenced by all the emotion I put into figuring out how to cut back on it. Now I need to learn to shift that energy in a direction that better serves me and my values. Yes, I can definitely buy some block-and-tackles, rope, and a bit of lumber and build myself a hoistable clothesline. That, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. It is the reasons I want to do it. Am I doing it so I can save money on the electric bill? Or am I doing it because I want to reduce our electrical burden on the earth and live a cleaner life? The first is a reason born of guilt and fear. The second is a reason born of love and a desire to make a better world.
Therefore, I say thank you to the Universe for bringing me a shockingly high electric bill this month. I will use it to align myself better with my values and move closer to abundance and prosperity. I want to be able to move out of a feeling of being poor and into a feeling of being free to make the choices that support my values. There are so many areas of our lives where we compromise and then justify it by reminding ourselves that we are poor. Maybe cause and effect is working the other way around, though. We are poor because we are not prioritizing our values, and we are prioritizing our money instead. Once we can shift that thinking, let us see how far it takes us.
Do you feel free to prioritize your values over all else? If so, has it always been so? How did you get to that place? If not, what is holding you back?