The Sum Of Small Changes

There’s a saying that it’s the little things that make the difference, and I completely agree.

Recently when my preferred milk (unsweetened almond) was in shorter supply, I decided to make what we had go further by making my morning porridge with one part water, three parts almond milk, instead of all milk.

The difference in taste was negligible for the first couple of days, then after I’d got used to it became the new normal, just what porridge is supposed to taste like.

Saving 50ml of milk a day doesn’t seem much, but over one year it’s 18 litres, and a saving of about £34.

Similarly, with the frozen berries I have with my porridge, I cut down to 160g instead of 180g, just to make them last longer.

Again the perceived difference was all but unnoticeable (about four or five berries!) but this adds up to 7.3kg saved in a year, and over £25.

Add these two minuscule changes together and you’ve saved £60 in a year.

This could get you a year’s Personal plan for a WordPress blog or a Flickr Pro subscription, a new (old) digital camera to enjoy, a roll of film every month, or 12 months of Disney+ or Netflix, depending on your preference.

That £60 could even stretch to funding five years of photography.


Any of these options (and of course you can add your own) can provide hours of enjoyment, for a small sacrifice, that’s entirely forgotten after day two.

For me, a bowl of porridge with slightly less milk and five fewer berries.

Much of the time we tend to just drift along doing the same things we did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

But when something outside of our control forces us to re-evaluate, we can take steps to change for the better.

Especially when it’s very small changes individually that accumulate to far more significant changes over a longer period of time.

What small changes have you made recently that will add up to something far more beneficial and significant over time? What other small changes could you make? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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14 thoughts on “The Sum Of Small Changes”

  1. Now you just might be overthinking things a little bit, Dan 🙂 You’re also missing on the nutrition that comes from the food you are not intaking… so unless you think you were eating too much, I’m not sure there’s real benefit (you pay less but you also get less nutrients).
    Real savings was what we did a few years ago when we switched grocery stores and started saving about 20% money (giving an average number because of course it varies). In this case we get about the same amount of food – but pay less. Sure there’s some items we don’t get anymore, but on the other hand there’s other things we didn’t get that we now do, so it worked well.

    1. The porridge was a minor example of how we can make a small change and it pay dividends over time. In reality eating four less berries a day I wouldn’t think has a significant impact on my overall nutrition.

      Your example of switching stores is a good one. There are people over here who constantly watch the prices of certain items in four or five of the major supermarkets, and only buy each item from the store it’s cheapest in. Trouble is the time you spend tracking them, and then visiting each store, outweighs any financial gain. I’m all for switching wholesale from one supermarket to another though, like you did, if overall it offers a significant gain.

      1. My husband agreed with Chris, until we noticed a significant decrease in our grocery expense. To be fair, we live in a small rural town that one can drive from beginning to end in 20min. The time I spend online monitoring email through sales is like- 5 min max weekly. There used to be a saying, “nickel and dime you to death”. It’s not really about the incremental amounts saved, it’s about the lifestyle value of decreased waste. It all adds up.

      2. Yes, the benefits often have multiple layers, not just financial saving.

        And yes the tiny amounts – positive or negative – make a difference over time.

        Those who drop a plastic wrapper or drinks can in the countryside might think “it’s only one piece of litter” (if they think at all) but if everyone did that, every time they passed by, the countryside would look like a landfill site.

        I’m trying to figure out the size of your town. You said “a small rural town that one can drive from beginning to end in 20min”. Assuming 20mph, this means the town is about 7 miles wide. How is that small and rural?? Over here a small rural town you can walk from end to end in 20 mins! The largest town of the three in our district is only just about 4 miles top to bottom.

      3. I’m sorry Dan. I typed min for minutes. So when I say “town” I mean city. We can drive across the city in 20 minutes, even with traffic. We don’t have “towns” here like England, in the general sense. We have roughly 22,000 folks here, distributed across acreage that doesn’t include the uninhabited areas it’s connected to not included in the stats below.. I apologize for going off the path in my comment.
        • Total 20.89 sq mi (54.09 km2)
        • Land 20.04 sq mi (51.90 km2)
        • Water 0.85 sq mi (2.19 km2)
        Elevation[2] 4,094 ft (1,248 m)
        Population (2010)[3]
        • Total 20,840
        • Estimate (2018)[4] 21,536
        • Density 1,074.70/sq mi (414.94/km2)

      4. Yeh that’s a bit bigger than what we’d call a small town. But then, for most British people I know who’ve been to the US, the first thing they say on their return is how big everything is, the buildings, the cars, the streets, the meals… We have to be far more frugal and economical with everything here on our relatively small overpopulated island!

  2. It’s so great to hear the still small quiet truths of adaptation and growth, vs the loud bell clanging of social media! I still have some hours as a nanny- but returned to making toddler mocassins, and really enjoy true craft-making again. As an aside, I lived in N. Yorkshire many moons ago (20yrs – 9 month period.). We don’t have porridge here (U.S.) . We have Cream of Wheat, Oatmeal, and in the South-Grits. disclaimer: that I am AWARE of ha. Good to see you and yours doing well.

    1. That’s such a lovely phrase, “the still small quiet truths of adaptation and growth”, beautiful!

      I thought you had porridge oats in the US too? Do you not have just pure oats you put milk with and heat up? Gets me off to a great start every day with added berries like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, cherries…

      1. We do eat oatmeal here but it’s not nearly as widespread as in Europe… and I think that’s a shame, because it’s so nutritious and good for your heart. I personally used to eat it quite a lot but recently I’m skipping breakfast altogether for the most part, in an “intermittent fasting” kind of way.
        But no salt on my oatmeal please 😉 Just honey. And the fruit is on the side 🙂

      2. Salt? Who puts salt in oats, it’s sweet not savoury! I’ve read quite a bit about intermittent fasting, gut health and so on, and have been doing my own minor experiments for a couple of years after feeling terrible (in my digestive system and the associated negative mental outlook) for too long. Porridge (made with unsweetened almond milk) with berries I believe is about as healthy as breakfast can get for me. I love muesli and granola but the sugar content is crazy high and wasn’t doing me any good. Honey is divine, but I rarely have it these days. Again I just radically reduced my sugar intake and honey on toast and yogurt at least once a day wasn’t helping.

  3. My partner and I go for a walk every day or most every day. The current provincial self isolation directive hasn’t changed that we walk but it has changed how we walk. Though our daily wander is most often local it has become more local. Taking advantage of each and every street, way, crescent, cul de sac and trail within a holler has been enlightening. We like to travel and often far and wide. I expect a motorcycle trip we have reserved for Europe this coming Fall will be put off. This Spring, Summer and Fall May very well be about the Little Big Adventure in our own backyard and I am beginning to get comfy with this redirection. Less might just be more.

    1. Thanks SteverinoB! (Is that all your first name or a pseudonym?) I love that phrase “Little Big Adventure”. It fits in very much with what we’ve doing in all kinds of ways in recent weeks – especially with our kids. We’ve barely left the village but had a surprisingly rich and rewarding time together.

      By the way I clicked through the link to your blog but the page just says “nothing found”. Is it the right link?

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