Practicing Self-Care

One of the biggest adjustments I’ve had with self-employment is taking time off. It’s really easy to become wrapped up in work when it’s well… right here. It’s easy to work for a few hours on a Saturday morning or a Sunday evening. It’s easy to work late on weekdays. Where do you draw the line? I have to draw the line myself. I don’t have paid vacation (at least in the sense that most people know it) so I’m not pressed by a superior to take vacation days before they expire.

I took about 10 days off this summer. But I have not become accustomed to regular vacation outside of that. I will take time off during the holidays and I have taken a few extended weekends here and there. In any case, lately I’ve been feeling a little burnout. It’s challenging to distinguish burnout from lack of motivation – at least for me. At first I thought I was just being lazy. Then I realized I had been pushing myself pretty hard since oh… mid August. Gee, maybe it’s time for a break?

practicing-self-care

This week I’m taking it easy, working a fewer hours and practicing self-care. What does that look like? Here’s what I have planned:

Massage Appointment
Haircut
Extra Yoga Practice at the Studio
Plenty of Sleep
Wearing Sweats as Much as Humanly Possible
Catching Up in Person with a Friend
Not Stressing Over the Little Things

Slice of Life: November 12, 2014

I am fully aware I have not been a frequent, nor consistent blogger as of late. But I don’t apologize for extended absences from my blog. I will, however, thank you for still reading! This fall has been a very busy season of life for me.

As I mentioned before I undertook training to become a Master Gardener of Cuyahoga County. My training lasted from late August through early November. It was intense, fun and I learned a lot. Now I’m working on a take-home exam for the course. Around the time class ended I took on another new venture which I hope to blog about sometime in the future, but for now let’s just say I’m still a little busy!

In other news, I also celebrated one year of self-employment this month. I didn’t make a big announcement on my blog when I left my full-time job last year to work as a freelance writer and editor, because frankly, the whole idea was a little scary. It’s still scary, but it’s been an extremely rewarding and challenging year. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to run a business. Some days I’m not sure if I’m doing this right and others I feel like I hit the ball out of the ballpark! I am confident more “ballpark” days are in the cards for me.

While I write for a living, I blog for me (and you). You sometimes see sponsored content here and I do make a little change from my blog with affiliate links, but for the most part this is where I write when I just need to write. Some days I may not have client work to do so I’m here to write for the sake of writing. Lately it hasn’t been that often, but that’s good because it means my business has been busy.

Lulu celebrated her 4th birthday this month as well. There was a bit of confusion as to her birth date and I actually told her “Happy Birthday!” four days too early. Haha! Her birthday gift was her annual vet appointment with several shots and vaccines to boot.

On a personal gardening front, the season is over here. This week I cleaned up my gardening tools, brought the hose in and did all the “winterizing” chores I could think of. Several weeks ago I also spent time (blood, sweat and tears) “double digging” my garden boxes and amending the soil for spring. This method is not for the faint of heart! But I will be ready to plant immediately next year!

How to Save Money on Gas & Electricity

Do you own a home or rent an apartment? Are any of the utilities in your name? Did you know you can negotiate utility bills and try to get the best price? I’m happily saving money on utility bills every month as a result of a little web research, an analysis of my current bills and a few phone calls.

Today I’ll explain briefly what you do. Please note this would apply to residents in Ohio who pay for their own natural gas and electric bills. You can do this in other states too, but I’m talking about Ohio today because that’s where I live.

how to save money on gas and electric bills

How to Save Money on Gas & Electricity

  • The process is the same for both utilities. First, look at your current electric and natural gas bills. Write down what you are paying per kWw for electric and per Mcf for natural gas. The rate is on your bill. If you are like me and had never done this before you are likely paying the “standard rate” which is basically whatever the utility service provider feels like charging.
  • Next visit your new favorite website, Energy Choice Ohio, and click on “Compare Offers” also known as the “Apples to Apples” comparison chart. Select residential electric service. Then you will see a list of rates and offers from different companies.
  • You can sort rates by price, by type of offer (fixed rate which is the same every month or variable which can go up or down). You’ll want to click on offers, read the details and note if there is an early cancellation fee.
  • When I did this in the spring I was paying 0.0636 cents per kWh for electric. I was able to find a 6-month fixed rate for 0.0599 cents per kWh. It my not seem like much of a different but it really does add up!
  • Once you find a rate that is cheaper than what you are currently paying you simply sign up online with the provider, or you can call them and sign up over the phone. Make sure you have your account number handy, along with the full name of the person on the account and service address. I signed up online and the process is really easy and quick.
  • After you sign up be sure to pay attention to your bill and make sure your new provider and price goes into effect per your new contract. I ended up calling my new electricity provider several weeks later to confirm the new price was going to kick in.
  • Lastly, make a reminder for yourself to check on prices again once your contract is nearing expiration. I use an electronic calendar for most of my needs so I simply made a reminder 6-months from the date I signed up and include the current rate I was paying and provider name. This way I don’t have to look this information up again.

Now it’s possible when it’s time to renegotiate a provider you won’t find a better deal. If you don’t mind a little legwork and research though, I think most of the time you are going to win when you do look into your utility pricing. You can lock in rates for a long period of time but I’ve only been looking at 6 or 12-month contracts as this feels most comfortable to me.

Companies are competing for your business and are willing to offer you a deal to get you to take their service. So for me, it feels like I already have an advantage on this playing field. Many service providers will also send you offers in the mail right before your contract is up for renewal, so pay attention to those mailings too.

One last disclaimer, if you decide to sign up for group pricing with your neighborhood on utilities you cannot negotiate prices like this. You are then on a group plan and locked into that which can last a long time. In my neighborhood the plan was for 24-months and there was no guarantee on what my monthly price would be. Know what you are signing or not signing (declining to join) when these offers come along.

energy choice ohio

Confused? More information is on the Energy Choice Ohio website, which I encourage you to check out. I’m not affiliated with Energy Choice Ohio in any way. I simply love saving money and wanted to share my experience doing so!