Unplug and Save…Let’s do the Math!


I recently wrote about zero-effort changes you can make to your lifestyle that will immediately save you money.

Number 1 on the ways to save money list was unplugging devices when they’re not in use.  “The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode).“  So, let’s look and see how to save money on your electric bill and see much those cash-sucking energy vampires are costing you.

Let’s say you read that and thought “Hot diggity, I’ma save me some monies.”  You go, Glen Coco.

So, you start unplugging all electronics when not in use and take the money you would have spent on the monthly bill, save it, and at the conclusion of 1 year, invest it that $100 in a Roth IRA.

You simply put it in some low-cost S&P 500 index fund and forget it for the next 30 years.  How much would removing a plug from the wall for just one year save you over the course of your working life (we’re all overachievers, so nobody here is going to work for more than three decades unless they want to)?

  • A= Amount; what you’ll end up with.
  • P= Principal; the money you’re investing.
  • R= Interest Rate; We’ll use 8%, which isn’t unreasonable.
  • N= Compoundings Per Period; let’s go with 1.  It’s easy.
  • T= Number of Periods; how many years.

You would end up with an extra $1,000 30 years from now if, for the next year, you unplugged electronics when not in use.  Not super impressive, I know.  I mean, yeah, one grand isn’t too bad, but you’re not going to retire on it.  But what about if you added $100, (or $8.33 each month) to this account?  How much would you then have at then end of 30 years?

A little over $13,000 saved…

Boom!  That’s what I’m talking about.  And that’s assuming the costs of electricity and the number of gadgets you unplug stay the same.

Seriously, though, $13,000 is nice, and maybe come 2045, that will cover 2 or 3 months of expenses (for some people, that will only cover 2 or 3 months worth of expenses now).  But this is just one small change that results in a big piece of pie.  Combine a bunch of these small money-saving habits, and soon you’re looking at a pile of money big enough to swim in Scrooge McDuck style.  Although make sure it’s new currency because used money is filthy.

What do you’ll think?  Is this a big enough savings to make the unplugging of electronics worth it?

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