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Better Living Through E Unum Pluribus

Crack open your piggy bank and you’ll see something interesting.

Embossed on every US coin—pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollars—is the phrase e pluribus unum, which means “out of many, one.” This motto describes our nation’s unity.

But let’s do something flippant. Let’s imagine that we can change around these venerated words to make them read e unum pluribus or “out of one, many.”

Why do this Latin switcheroo?

In order to coin a new phrase—a fresh motto that proclaims one of frugality’s great recurring themes:

If you rid yourself of a single large expense and replace it with several smaller ones, you often receive the same value at a much lower cost.

In other words, a simple replacement of the one with the many can produce huge savings. And since the Latin for our newly minted motto appears on every coin of the realm, everyone can remember it easily (you might even say that the words e, unum, and pluribus have been widely circulated).

In today’s post, we review e unum pluribus not by flipping coins, but by flipping through five informative charts.  As you browse over this material, a clear pattern will begin to emerge. Pay heed. Understanding this pattern can save you thousands per year on your household spending.

E Unum Pluribus No. 1: Cable TV

cable tv chart JPEG FILE

Logistics

Until a few months ago, Mrs. Moose and I were paying about $650 per year for cable. In return, we received 24/7 access to 250+ channels—only a few of which ever contained any content we actually wanted to see.

So we turned to e unum pluribus. We fired the monolithic cable company and replaced it with several cheaper sources:

(1) an amplified indoor antennae that delivers 38 local channels for free (a one-time cost of $40);

(2) a Google Chrome device that allows us to wirelessly transfer internet video content from the laptop to the big screen for free (a one-time cost of $35);

(3) Netflix ($96 per year);

(4) Amazon Prime (purchased on sale for $72); and

(5) DVDs borrowed from the library, RedBox, and friends.

Our personal list of content hardly stands as the last word on video. Many other streaming services exist: Hulu, Crackle, Sling, and HBO among them. The internet overflows with free video content: CSpan, CBSSports, FreeDocumentaries.org, OpenCulture, etc. So far we’re satisfied with our TV changeover. We certainly don’t miss cable. Annual savings: about $500.

E Unum Pluribus No. 2: Health Club

Health Club Chart JPEG

Logistics

I once spent heavily on club dues. Now I lose weight for free by exercising outside or at home on equipment that’s already paid for. My indoor gym includes a Nordic Track machine, dumb bells, and a weight bench. To spice things up, I sometimes borrow exercise DVDs from the library. Annual Savings: about $600.

E Unum Pluribus No. 3: Winter Heat

Furnance chart JPEG

Logistics

Staying warm in the winter doesn’t mean that you have to set the furnace at 72 degrees. You can save by heating people instead of empty rooms.

At our house, we use portable heaters, heated throws, and heated mattress pads. We insulate windows with crystal clear plastic indoor window kits. We wear sweaters. Annual Savings: about $400.

E Unum Pluribus No. 4: Dog

DOG JPEG

Logistics

We recently inherited a dog. Theoretically, we could replace her with a combination of pet alternatives: we could take the neighbor’s dog for walks, visit the zoo, manage an ant farm, head out for bird watching, or even harbor a hedgehog. While I would prefer to go in any or all of these several directions, Mrs. Moose has dug in her hoofs. So we’re dog owners for the foreseeable future. Annual Savings: zero, I’m afraid (but maybe you can do better than me).

E Unum Pluribus No. 5: Car

Car NEW JPEG

Logistics

We’re considering whether to sell one of our two cars. As the above chart reveals, getting by with one vehicle seems doable. Car shares are parked within easy walking distance of our home. We also bought year-long regional bus passes for just $95 each. Potential Annual Savings: about $1,200 that we wouldn’t have to shell out for insurance, maintenance, ownership taxes, registration fees, repairs, tires, gas, and car washes.

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Any way you flip it—whether by using some loose change or a few colored charts—e unum pluribus can save you major coin.

This strategy works at slashing many other household expenses. If you’d like to explore e unum pluribus further, draw your own chart for one or more of these common outlays:

  • Hotels
  • Air Conditioning
  • Airline Tickets
  • Trash Removal
  • Restaurants
  • Pubs and Bars
  • Downhill Ski Passes
  • Golf Club Memberships
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • Professional Sport Season Tickets
  • Monthly Parking

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9 Responses to Better Living Through E Unum Pluribus

  1. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom April 13, 2015 at 6:33 AM #

    Nice work cutting your expenses! (pets aren’t just a money choice)

    I love seeing if I can completely cut out a big expense. I can’t imagine how much money we’ve saved by not having a cable bill or fitness membership and we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything.
    Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom recently posted…Is Family Worth $400,000?My Profile

  2. Suzie April 16, 2015 at 8:38 PM #

    Interesting ideas. One thing I must mention. I tried lowering our thermostat to 66-67 degrees. Every year our master bathroom pipes freeze. We then have to leave the water in the sinks at a steady drip all day. So I put the thermostat at 69 degrees and left it there all the time, plus we opened up the cabinet doors and left them open. That did the trick for the rest of the winter (coldest February on record for our area – below zero temps). Don’t have any pets, or gym memberships. Must have car to get to my job but hubby works from home. Hubby insists on cable but he has to pay for it himself!

    • A Noonan Moose April 16, 2015 at 9:37 PM #

      I know from my own painful past experience that burst pipes cost more than a few degrees difference on the thermostat. Thanks so much for commenting Susie!

  3. Free to Pursue April 28, 2015 at 8:36 AM #

    I’m definitely a follower of “e unum pluribus”. We’ve done away with cable in favour of piecemeal entertainment, we often follow a partial eat in/eat out hybrid to handle dinner when we decide to treat ourselves and we most certainly fragment our spending on heating & cooling and transportation, with a significant penchant for free or less wasteful options.

    These behaviours are not just based on monetary considerations but on what brings us the greatest happiness ROI. Here’s what I mean: all you can eat versions of hedonism lead to mindless consumption. I think that’s why we can easily become fat, lethargic and mindless automatons in this instant-gratification-oriented society of ours.

    Taking an active role in life through conscious living is far more rewarding.

    Thanks for another great post Noonan.
    Free to Pursue recently posted…Top 12 Life-enhancing BooksMy Profile

    • A Noonan Moose April 28, 2015 at 10:19 AM #

      Great points! Like you, we’ve definitely been much happier since ditching the cable company.

  4. The Bearded Dragon September 7, 2015 at 8:42 AM #

    The common theme here seems to be that the easiest/most common option is the most expensive. This post is a nice illustration of how a little legwork can save you money with little to no decrease in the value of the services you receive.

    On a personal note, Mrs. Dragon and I bit the bullet and got rid of our second car about 15 months ago and it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought to make the adjustment. Of course, your mileage may vary but, looking back, it’s a decision we should have made years earlier. You can do it! Thanks for a good read.
    The Bearded Dragon recently posted…Financial Details of Our Belize TripMy Profile

    • A Noonan Moose September 8, 2015 at 7:06 AM #

      Great job getting rid of the second car! For now, our shedding of the extra auto is something that’s still under lengthy discussion. Thanks for the comment Mr. Dragon!

  5. Heather @ Simply Save September 7, 2015 at 10:18 AM #

    I like this way of thinking! Especially the fun visual. I couldn’t part with my pets, but it is also important to recognize their financial impact. I haven’t had cable or a gym membership in ages and don’t feel as though I’m missing out at all.
    Heather @ Simply Save recently posted…What’s A Purchase You Regret?My Profile

    • A Noonan Moose September 8, 2015 at 7:02 AM #

      I totally agree with you about not parting with your furry friends, Heather. Mrs. Moose and i believe strongly in frugality—but then again it’s very hard to pet a bank account. Thanks for stopping in!

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