Green Choices That Save Money

I’ve been settling into my new home and have been working on more ways that I can spend less and save more. As I have always considered myself to be a fairly green person I have tried to start adapting this home into that system so that I can feel more comfortable with the resources that this home is consuming.

There are many green ideas that I have been using for years that save money. I don’t own a dryer, to be honest I don’t even own a hair dryer. Why…because things dry by themselves, one of the first projects I completed when I moved was to install 2 new clothes lines. I dry outside when the weather is nice, these lines are actually across my front porch so I can use them all the time, things just take longer if its damp out. I also use clothes drying racks inside for items I don’t want flapping in the breeze or if its really wet and the moisture wont allow things to dry outside.

I try to use as few paper disposables as possible. Paper towels and napkins are great, I will admit I still buy them, but I try and use dish towels as often as possible for cleaning and wiping my hands.

Reusing items is a great way to get multiple uses out of something you are supposed to throw away. I will admit that I used to make fun of my mom for doing this, but I now reuse a zip top bag until it has holes in it or until its just too disgusting for me to keep cleaning and reusing. I also avoid using zip top bags as much as possible by packing my lunch in reusable containers such as lock n lock or Tupperware. For free versions of these I also reuse store containers such as butter and whipped topping tubs. These make great storage for leftovers, and as I mentioned they are free! Glass jars get repurposed as vases or storage containers in my craft area, and the rest go in the recycling bin.

I have also been working on not buying as many disposable waters and drinks, instead refilling a water bottle out of a filter pitcher or even your sink saves tons of money in the long run and I make a gallon of powdered low calorie drink mix and put it in a reusable water bottles as well.

Cleaning products have all sorts of nasty things in them. I’ve recently started looking into making a few of my own. Its way cheaper and has a lot less effects on the environment.

A great multi purpose cleaner is Dawn dishwashing liquid and vinegar. It cleans pretty great and is super cheap. Also there are tons of ideas out there to make your own dishwasher detergent, clothes washing detergent, hand soap, etc. etc. My cousin and I have been talking about these recipes for weeks, her family loves the new clothes detergent she has made, and the recipe made TEN gallons for about the cost of what one normal store bought jug would cost. As I work on making some of these I will share my specific instructions and costs with you.

I replaced my propane heating system with a new energy efficient heat pump. I felt that my budget just couldn’t sustain filling up a receptacle bimonthly for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Even with the heat pump I still try and be as thrifty as possible. I turn my thermostat back during the day when I am gone, and even when I am home, I keep it as low as possible. I will throw on a long sleeve shirt and will cover up with a blanket if I am sitting and watching television or whatever. Its not uncomfortable just economical. In warmer months I utilize the ceiling fans as much as possible to help with lower A/C costs. Having your home insulated well and having energy efficient windows are both things that help with heating and cooling costs as well. Change your filters every month! Proper air flow to your heat pump and A/C is crucial for efficiency! Filters are not expensive and will save you money in the long run.

Some people also choose to put there hot water heaters on a timer so that it only runs when they are home or close vents in rooms or areas that aren’t commonly used. As well as unplug fans, lamps, small appliances in the kitchen, spare room televisions etc. in rooms that aren’t being used.

Fix dripping faucets and toilets that run. Your not only wasting a valuable resource your wasting money. If your unable to fix that drip immediately collect that water to use on your plants or to water your dog. Outdoor water collection systems can be used to water gardens as well. I plan on making a rain barrel soon.

I could go on for days, but I hope these few tips can offer a common sense approach to saving money by being greener.

Making a List and Checking It 117 Times

As I work towards figuring out my new monthly budget I realize that more so now than ever it is very important to be “accountable” for where all my money goes each month. So I make a lot of lists and notes. I’ve always done this, I think it’s a genetic trait because my sister has notebooks full of lists and budgets. My friends make fun of me when I go on vacation, because I have a tendency to write down what I spend at the end of every day just to help me budget through the trip. Yes it sounds ridiculous, but it helps.

Anyways some advice I was given by my notebook writing sister on setting up a budget was to follow the 70/20/10 plan, which basically says 70% of your income goes to bills, 20% to savings that’s broken down into (10% for retirement, 5% emergencies, 5% specific goals) and the last 10% for debt.  I’m awful at percentages so check out this website it offers a more thorough explanation as well as great resources on how to save money in all types of categories.

I’ve always found it helpful to make a list of my monthly bills and list which pay period I pay them from. I also have a list of what is due annually/quarterly and the months I can expect those bills to show up. This helps me break down my monthly take home pay into what must go where and when I need to save up for things like car insurance which I pay quarterly. The rest I try to put in savings, and as wage increases have been available I have worked on increasing the amount that I put towards my retirement.

Lists can be useful in more areas than you think. I’ve realized by packing my kitchen contents for my move, that I just stock up on too much stuff. I’ve decided to really try and be diligent with sticking with a grocery list, and with not putting things on the list until I actually run out of what I have. Another tip that I’ve heard from others is to make a weekly menu and then shop only for what is on the menu. I know I am the world’s worst for buying fruits and vegetables with no specific purpose for them and then they go to waste. So hopefully sticking to the lists will help save me money and avoid the inexcusable amount of food that currently ends up in the compost bin.

Also for grocery budgets I found a great site that budgets the costs of meals served per serving. It lists all types of recipes and I really want to try to make a few of them, especially the bread. I’m excited about baking in my new kitchen, its nice to know that I could make tortillas for .04 cents a serving.

Seeing meals broken down by ingredients costs makes me think wow, I can make a lot of the things I currently buy a lot cheaper! Eating at home more is definitely one of ways I can save money as well as packing leftovers for lunch instead of the current frozen meals that I buy. I guess those suggestions are rather obvious but we have become such a society of convenience lovers that we are willing to spend so much more on pre-made, prepackaged unhealthy stuff. If we prepared more food from scratch or even semi-homemade we would not only see the money saving benefits but the health benefits as well. I have been fortunate to be able to supply the majority of my vegetable needs the last few summers, I really enjoy the process and who doesn’t love a good home grown tomato. Gardening has initial costs each year, but overall it saves a lot of money throughout the season, and if your fortunate enough to be able to preserve some of your harvest you can enjoy those savings all year round.

Shopping Around for New Services

Many unexpected blessings have come my way through a few major life changes during the past year. One of those being the recent opportunity to buy my own home. A side effect of this recent blessing was the major wake up call that I needed to be in better control of my monthly spending and financial situation. As a renter with lower monthly payments I haven’t led the strictest lifestyle when it comes to monthly budgeting, and even though I work hard at saving money. I could definitely have done a better job. So with my new payment schedule in mind I have been trying to figure out different ways to make changes in my spending to ensure that I can meet my obligations, continue to save, and hopefully have a little left over to enjoy.

Personally I am not a person who enjoys change, I have the bad habit of sticking with a situation that is familiar because of loyalty, laziness, or just because its familiar. When I began to look at what I was spending I realized there were easy places to make cuts I would just have to step out of my comfort zone and accept that change isn’t always a bad thing. Trying out new service providers is an easy way to get better deals on things that you pay for every month.

For example I have used the same phone/internet/cable company for the past 13 years, and as they have gone from a local company to a national company their prices have steadily increased. I called my old reliable company to say I was moving, and they said great thank you for your 13 years of loyal patronage, however because you are moving you are no longer grandfathered in on your current rates. Gee thanks. My new rates would increase my bill another $10-15 bucks a month, and that is the first year only, after 12 months it would go up again. So I decided okay its time to shop around. I did and wow… I signed on with a new company which will save me around $60.00 a month.

I’ve also driven a little farther to a gym that I liked, which was costing me $42.00 a month. I’m switching to a place right by my office which will not only save gas money, but the first year is only $200.00. Wow a $304.00 a year savings. I realize I’m sacrificing a pool, but I think it is definitely worth it!

Cutting out unnecessary extras can also help put money back in the budget. I had a monthly subscription to a premium movie channel, I maybe watched it once a month. Gone. Saved about $13.00 bucks a month, also had a by mail movie service. DVDs would usually sit unwatched two or three weeks before I would get around to it. Cancelled – that’s another $8.00 bucks a month saved. Yes those may be small things, but just think a year’s worth of that movie channel cost me $156.00 and that I can definitely spend elsewhere.