Filling the Gaps

Remove window trim

Hmmm. . . I wonder what’s behind here?

 

Dear friends,

Last week I wrote about radical ways to save energy, and I finally had time to tackle a little project here.

For a long time I’d been curious about why the window in our guest room felt so cold and drafty, despite the fact that I’d had a new window installed several years ago. I decided to pull the trim off from underneath the window and have a look.

Here’s what I discovered:

A drafty gap in the window frame

Yes, my friends, that is open sky and sunlight that you’re glimpsing through our guest room wall. We might well ask ourselves — did the installer use a dull bread knife to cut the hole?

I happened to have a can of insulating foam on hand, and it was a simple (and quite satisfying) task to fill the gap:

Insulating foam to fill a window gap

I replaced the trim and felt an immediate difference. The window felt snug, and the draft was gone.

My daughter slept in the room this week and remarked on its comfort, and how it was no longer chilly at night. I wonder how much expensive, heated air has slipped through the hole, and how much hot air has freely flown in during the summer. (Do you think this is why our guests never stayed more than a night or two?)

But the gap is closed, and that is one small step in the right direction.

Hang In There

I know that sometimes it can feel like our efforts aren’t very fruitful, and that we have so many literal and figurative gaps to fill on the journey to financial freedom. But collectively, the things we do will start to make a difference. I promise.

Putting our finances in order is much like decluttering the house. We might devote 15 minutes a day to reducing clutter, combined with self discipline not to bring more stuff in the house. In the beginning, the task seems insurmountable and the piles never seem to decrease. But with time and dedication, it does get better.

One day we look around and notice an improvement. We have more room, and with less stuff we can really appreciate the things we have. It becomes easier to keep the clutter out because we’ve developed good habits, and our home becomes a place of calm, not a source of stress.

Small Steps Add Up

The same is true with money. We might decide to save more, and resolve to have the self discipline to stop frittering money away on stuff. Some of our efforts — like making a homemade pizza instead of spending $20 for delivery, for instance — might seem so small we wonder if they will ever make a difference. But if stay dedicated to being resourceful and thoughtful about spending, over time the many dozens of things we do will add up.

One day we finally pay off a credit card, and then another, and then the day comes when we no longer spend every dime on credit card payments and interest…and that will be just the beginning of even better things.

Little by little, our efforts will make a difference.

So let’s stick together in this endeavor — and let’s keep filling the gaps.

Sending you hugs and encouragement this weekend,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

19 comments to Filling the Gaps

  • Lisa F

    Oh my gosh! Ours isnt that bad, but we did discover a small hole in the wall. We had a handyman cover an old built in wall heater with drywall. We made sure he added insulation. I kept feeling a draft. Turns out he left a small hole at the base of the wall. That explained the chill!

  • Lyn

    I love reading the Northwest Earth Institute blog, as they are all about learning how to fill that gap between what we say is important and what we actually do. Every January, I come closer and closer to understanding the ‘doing’ part of the equation. Love your story about the gaps in your window. The comforters I have hanging over two particularly drafty doors certainly help, but we really need to fix the actual structures…

    I am going to try e-bay again…that is the ‘gap’ I hope to fill this week. I wonder why e-bay intimidates me so?

  • Kelly

    …thank you for the encouraging words. I really needed them tonight. We are trying to get out of debt…money is so tight since our business failed. For the last year we have struggled to hold things together. Now I am taking action and using your advice. It’s not an option for me to get a job outside the home so I am doing little things (collecting aluminum cans and selling some small stuff on ebay) All is going to pay down bills. It seems so little compared to what we need.

  • Lisa

    Our biggest unknown expense is a trip to Walmart to buy paper, and health and beauty products. I never seem to walk out of there for less than $100. This month I tried ordering online for what we need, but then some things we ran out of and I still needed to go to Walmart. Even though 95% of what we buy there are things we consume, I often wish we could consume less. That is a topic we really need to come to terms with, but I haven’t convinced my family of that yet.

  • Catherine Godfrey

    It’s funny you mentioned this topic when you did. We already had plans over the past weekend to go through the house & fill in any where it was needed. Hopefully not as much hot /cold air will get in or out.

  • Lois

    What a horrible thing to find that the installers left for you. I can just imagine how much more comfortable that room is now. I have found several areas in my house that were leaking cold air and took care of them. The instant they were filled the rooms were much more comfortable and I am sure I will be saving quite a bit of money as well from the repairs.

  • Cindy

    I have found that my biggest weakness is items on sale. If it’s a great buy, then I think I need it. I keep reminding myself that it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, even if it’s free, if I don’t really need it, then don’t get it.
    I unsubscribed from the Groupon and other daily deal emails because I found they just encouraged me to spend money. Even though I sometimes found good deals there, other times I spent money on items, usually experiences, that I could have done without.
    Here’s a fascinating article on why people who spend more time on social media tend to spend more money. I can think of twice when something I saw on Facebook encouraged me to buy an item. One time I bought it and haven’t used it since. Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw something else and clicked on it and it was on sale and inexpensive, so I thought I would buy it. Then I stopped and thought about it and realized I already have something similar so I closed the website and didn’t purchase.
    http://www.9news.com/story/tech/personal-tech/stories/2015/01/14/price-of-social-media-envy/21770527/

  • Tricia

    Thank you for the encouragement. There are a few simple things around the house that I need to do and I have just kept walking past them. However after this post, I am adding them to my to-do list for this coming week. Being able to cross them off my to do list will be so rewarding.

  • SanDandy

    I agree. We all need to pick one thing that we can do and do it. Then pick something else. Pretty soon it will be done.

  • Laura

    I took today to finish cleaning up my basement and garage. Oh, how the organization feels good! So glad it’s done! Thanks for the inspiration this month, Eliza!

  • Yikes! I can’t believe they just left a big hole in the wall like that! Kudos for fixing it.

    And you are totally right about all the little things adding up. When I first set out to get my financial house in order I discovered that I was spending over $100/month on pens & stationery – most of which I never even used!

    But these days being frugal is pretty much second nature for me, though I still need to keep myself honest. In that spirit I decided to tally up all of my spending for last year and I just posted it if anyone is curious and/or has suggestions for how I might trim further.

  • Jennifer

    When our family started to change our diet, we had to do baby steps to be successful. We started by eliminating pork from our diet and eating more legumes. Then we focused on reading labels for known toxins. Shopping took forever at first but now I am familiar with ingredients and more efficient. Even though we have eliminated so many of our favorite foods and limited our food choices, we now eat almost 85% organic and are never sick. Baby steps work and we are passing our habits onto our children! Thank you for the motivation! 🙂

  • Lynn Louise

    When I stop in the store to pick up 1 thing that I need, I almost always find another or several other things that I “need”. Today I stopped at the dollar store to pick up some laundry detergent which I needed. I spent another 10 minutes walking around looking at all the new arrivals. Surprisingly, nothing appealed to me. It didn’t take me but a minute to tell myself “you don’t need or want that” and I walked out of the store with only the detergent bottle. The second hand store that I frequent is right next door to the dollar store and I always stop in just to look around. And buy. But not today. I know I have enough clothes and household items. I don’t need anything more. So I headed home and ended up using the time that I would have spent in the second hand store organizing my closet. It made me feel better knowing that I didn’t bring more into the house. And I actually have a small box of clothes to donate.

  • Rosemary Carstens

    This is great, Eliza! I find you have me thinking more continuously about where my money is going and especially my “casual” spending. I realized the other day that every time I get in the car to run an errand or go somewhere I think about stopping somewhere for a cup of coffee or something to eat, or about stopping at Hobby Lobby or a clothing place to look around–which always ends up meaning spending. I plan on keeping up this program for myself in February too–my main plan being to see if I can keep from using my credit card for anything but gas and business-related expenses that will be tax deductible. I’m making my old winter coat do even though I’d love a new one. I seem to often waste money by being too tired at night to prepare fresh vegetables or salad stuff that I bought and finally has to be thrown out. I’m trying to do better about that, making a little headway! So keep encouraging us!!

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