No matter what your situation may be during the current economic storm, it’s important to know how to save money. Not only will you be better positioned should a job loss or worse come to pass, but frugal practices are often better for the environment and so are a good lifestyle choice.
Here are ten tips to get you started on the path to saving money while being environmentally friendly:
1. Buy things used instead of new. Buy things used as often as possible unless it’s a safety hazard (such as a mattress).This is especially true for kids, for which you can save a lot of money if you buy their clothes used instead of new. They’re going to outgrow the clothes in a few months anyway so you may as well save money on your purchase. Anything you buy used also keeps it out of landfills.
2. Look online for free items. People have many reasons to give perfectly good things away. Maybe they’ve moved, or are divorcing, or their kids are moving away to college. Maybe they’re the type of folks who upgrade their phones or computers every time a new one comes out. Check Craigslist.org and Freecycle.org regularly to see what free things you can find. There’s no better price than free! This is another way to keep good products out of the landfills.
3. Eat at home instead of eating out. A lot of times you’ll end up spending a lot less money if you eat at home instead of eating out. If you’re feeding a family of 4, you could easily spend $30 for one meal. If you took that same money and spent it on groceries instead you could cook several meals. The added benefit is that your family will eat far healthier, since you can pick top notch organic vegetables and other healthy alternatives. It’s tempting to eat out when you’re tired so be sure to plan ahead. Spend some time each week in meal planning so you always know “what’s for dinner.” Cook double on some nights so you can re-heat leftovers on busy days. And have a repertoire of super easy, no fail meals that you can throw together in minutes. What’s the green connection? Staying at home saves gas, and you avoid the extra waste that often comes with restaurant meal preparation.
4. Form a hand me down system with your family and friends. You probably have nieces and nephews that are older than your kids. You also probably have friends with kids that are younger than yours. You could all form a system whereby the oldest kids pass down their clothes, toys and outgrown furniture to the younger ones. Again, stuff re-used is stuff kept out of landfills.
5. Make things instead of buying them. If you know how to sew, crochet, knit, or even make soap, you have another way to save money. Instead of buying clothes, blankets or soap, make them! The clothes you make will fit your family better because they will be tailored to their measurements, and they’ll appreciate the extra care. These things can also become heirlooms; I still have sweaters that my dearly departed grandmother knit for me in her spare time. If you make soaps, you can control exactly what ingredients you use. There are thousands of recipes online for homemade beauty products, spice mixes, baking mixes, health remedies, even cleaning products. You can also check out fantastic books at the library with all kinds of do it yourself recipes. Making things yourself spares the environment whatever toxic manufacturing processes go into making these things in bulk for the public.
6. Look for opportunities to barter. If you go online, you’ll find bartering opportunities at bartering sites and places like Craigslist. This is another way for you to save money. Instead of spending cash on what you need, you can trade a service or something else of value. Bartered items help the environment by not going to waste.
7. Be a frequent yard sale shopper. When people hold yard sales they are usually trying to get rid of their stuff and get cash quickly. This is a good opportunity to haggle and get good deals on the things that you need for your family for pennies on the dollar. The trick with yard sales is to be organized, since the availability of items is unpredictable. You might have to buy things ahead of time that you store for awhile until you need them. Try to anticipate what your family will need in the upcoming seasons and keep running lists so you can remind yourself quickly. You can even partner up with a yard sale buddy. If you need a bread machine and your friend needs a new printer, you can scout for each other. There are lots of ways to save money on your everyday purchases. You just have to be creative and observant. Keep your eyes open for sales and other opportunities to save money.
8. Hold a yard sale. How about being on the other side of the transaction? You may have lots of things lying around the house and cluttering up the place. Practice some good feng shui and get rid of stuff you don’t need. Even if you make just a couple of bucks on each item that’s extra money in your pocket and less waste for the trash collectors.