We are still in a drought here in NC, 100 days or water or something like that (hopefully we will get some rain this week). So we are doing our best to conserve: shorter (and fewer) showers, shallower baths, turning off water while washing dishes, hands (of course no outdoor watering). We hope to shave a significant amount off our use. It is a good lesson for the kids too. Sophie is just getting to the age where she can wash her own hands, and this is adding to the difficulty of the task, but she is doing well (and enjoying teaching Will to do the same).
Since moving into the bigger house, I've been feeling a little out of sorts with our lifestyle. The house is too big in some respects (though I am sure that won't be for long as the kids get bigger). And it seems somewhat ostentatious for a family like ours, with the piddling income I get to be living so high on the hog. I've always benefited from my family, and have been able to work less and for less than a comparable person, while still enjoying having nice things (up to date computers, cars, etc..). We have been able to live pretty much how we like without too much concern for money. With the annual inheritance, our income seems to match our needs quite nicely. Of course, with the bigger house comes greater expenses (electricity, heating, insurance, security), and the cost itself wasn't entirely absorbed by donations and the sale of our old house. Add to that my decision to invest more heavily in a retirement fund, and suddenly, our finances are looking a little less comfortable.
I wouldn't say we are in any financial danger, but I am definitely feeling the squeeze. When I went over our credit card bill this month, I noticed few BIG expenses, and since we do almost all our spending on the cards (for the frequent flier miles) I am used to long bills, but the vast majority of the spending was in amounts less than $40: coffee, lunches, etc.. It doesn't seem like much, but it adds up. My goal is to limit that. Then put off some bigger purchases (house stuff mostly) and see how that goes. We are already cutting way back on Xmas and birthday spending, so hopefully this will pull us through until more money is coming in than going out. Teaching an extra class or two in the Spring should help there as well.