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10 Ways To Trim the Budget and Save the Planet!
Save Money, Help Yourself and the Planet
Yeah, the economy's making us tighten our belts a bit.
But maybe that is a good thing. Maybe by tightening our belts we can go back to what *really* matters in life. Like friends, family. Truly being grateful for what the Universe helps us provide for ourselves.
(And no, I am not talking about that hot little video game system called a PlayStation 3. I like video games, but geez!)
New to the idea of frugal living and think only your grandparents did that sort of thing because they were forced to? How about turning this concept on its ear and living frugally because you want to not only save yourself some of that hard-earned lucre (whether you work for someone else or are self-employed), but you want to save the precious blue and green jewel of a planet hanging out there in space. Yeah. The one you're standing on now. ;-)
Here's 10 introductory, yet powerful ways you can begin to save some green. (Many of these are my favorites!)
But I'm not gonna write this in a conventional way. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I'm gonna turn the ten-idea list on its ear and do it Dave Letterman style! ;-)
10) Rent DVDs. Taken a look at your theater receipts lately? Tracked how much you were spending on popcorn and other num-nums? Like the cost of a "medium" Coke (which we all really know is a "large" going incognito.), for instance. And the ticket prices themselves are nothing to sneeze at, either, these days.
So what's a movie lover like your own shining self to do? You love the experience of driving to the theater, solo or with Someone Special, getting the popcorn and the drinks, hearing the soft rumble of people talking quietly in the background before previews roll, the soft cushy seats. And let's not forget that new surround sound invention called THX, made specifically for action-packed adventure and sci-fi flicks.
But that experience puts a bigger dent in your wallet every time you start the car, drive to the theater, buy the tickets, the concessions. And if you're with a certain Someone you're romancing, perhaps a nice dinner is involved. Soon, you begin to wonder if you're going to have money left over for paying for groceries, utilities, and most importantly, the roof and four walls keeping out the worst of Mother Nature's meteorologically hormonal days. ;-)
What's that you're saying? I can't hear you. Oh, yeaaah!
Time to instead make a trip to your local video store. Now, I'm aware that not all video stores have the same amount of goods, as far as new releases go. However, there is nothing in the video rental "rule book" that says you can't or shouldn't rent those old favorites once in a while. I know I do, just because they *are* favorites. But another reason to rent old movies, whether they're favorites or new to your realm of experience, is that old DVDs are usually cheaper than new releases. Plus, now that TV series are being put on DVD, you can catch up on some of those missed episodes of "Heroes" or "Smallville" or even "Family Guy," which is even better than waiting for the rerun marathons on TV because those TV marathons are *still* paid for by commercials, and the DVDs give you uncut and unrated versions that the FCC thinks you shouldn't watch. ;-)
9) Rent Video Games. It's no secret that video games and the systems they're meant for are expensive. Just check out the price of a brand new game for the three major units (Wii, PlayStation, XBox) and you end up resembling a codfish with your jaw down to the floor. Yeah. Uh-huh. That's what I thought. You want the game anyway. So you plunk down that $50 and you take it home, thinking it's gonna be awesome. Okay, the game's unwrapped, you've popped the play disc in, you're an hour into the game. If you like it, great. Fifty bucks well spent.
But what if...the game stinks? The characters are hard to control, or the animation's not "WOW" enough, or the plot line's weird, or whatever is making you not have much fun?
Well, you can't take the game back once it's out of the shrink wrap. And your parents (or sig. other, or roomies) don't want unplayed video games sitting round gathering dust. And you know you don't want to play a sucky game.
So what to do? If you have a place around your area that buys used games (from the barely played to the ones that have been loved very much), you can take your game there. Or sell it on eBay or CraigsList. Find some way to get back at least a third of that 50 smackers you gave your fellow geeks-who-work-summers at the front of the store.
Lesson? Rent games to see if you like them first. That way, if you don't like the game, you're only out the cost of the rental, and not those original fifty smackeroos.
8) Make the library your friend. If you're like me, you're a bookworm and proud of it. However, being a bookworm has its financial--and spatial--disadvantages if you're on a lean budget. If you're a millionaire word-lover with room to spare, knock yourself out collecting your own library. But most of us aren't millionaires with four-thousand-square-foot houses and huge wood-paneled dens complete with fireplace, bookshelves galore and a nice cozy armchair. A lot of us have much less room than that, in our houses and our budgets. Yet we have this gigantic love of books.
What I've discovered to be helpful not only to my budget, but the space I *don't* have, is using the library as the resource it truly is, and checking out books, like video games, to see if it's a book I could truly use in my collection. This especially proves true for non-fiction. I like to study Shamanism, for instance, but I don't have the financial wherewithal to have every classic book on the subject in my own home for intense perusal. So it's off to the library I go. Sometimes I have to check out a book several times before I finish it, but it's free, and re-checking the book helps keep it in circulation, which tells the librarians that someone's still interested in the subject. But if I find a book title I really want in my collection, the library's the best way to find out if the title's worth purchasing for my own.
7) Treasure Hunt. One of my favorite pastimes for saving a bit of cash on clothes and other non-edible necessities is browsing stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army for dirt-cheap bargains. As they say, one person's "trash" is someone else's treasure.
"What about consignment shops?" I hear you ask. Well, I tend to stay away from those because the whole point of consignment is that the store owner takes a commission off each item in the store, and in my experience, most consignment shops generally charge way more than Goodwill or Salvation Army. Why? Because such store owners (usually sole proprietors) have the prerogative to be picky--even to the point of being snobbish--about what makes it onto their racks and shelves. I don't need that kind of grief.
So it's off to Goodwill and Salvation Army I go. Besides, these two fine charity shops are inexpensive for a reason: they help people in need. And people in need aren't likely able to afford the best right off the bat. Plus they help keep certain stuff out of the landfills that way. So that's double, even triple-duty.
6) Make your own household cleaners. Keep track of your receipts for mainstream household chemicals and you'll see how each bottle of name-brand bleach, laundry detergent, kitchen cleaner, etc adds up. Remember, you're not just paying for those harsh chemicals that make you breathe funny, cough violently and possibly induce other unpleasant reactions within your body as well as the planet, you're paying for all of the advertising campaigns and research that Dow, S&C Johnson, Procter&Gamble, et. al spend money on. Yeah, you're paying these companies to entice you to buy their stuff, pretty much.
To shut off the flow of money to these greed-hound health-stealers, but still keep your house sparkly fresh, nothing beats homemade cleaning solutions. An author I recommend who has spent her life being both health and cost conscious when it comes to these matters (as she is very sensitive to many chemicals and perfumes) is Annie B. Bond. She's got oodles of helpful hints, and these hints will not only help your health, but they'll save you money.
Now, if you feel you must buy name-brand cleaners, try and go for those who are genuinely eco-friendly AND friendly to the human body. "Method" (I've mostly seen this brand in Target stores) is a very good eco-friendly name, as is "Full Circle," whose 'Free & Sensitive' fabric softener works just as well as that one with the adorable teddy bear. "Seventh Generation" is another well-known name in the eco-friendly cleaning sphere.
5) Hang 'em high. As long as we're on the subject of cleaning household items and keeping it budget-and-planet-friendly, you can't go wrong by hanging out your laundry on the clothes line. Don't have one yet? No problem.
A small investment down at your local hardware store (like Menards or Lowe's, if that's what it takes) will reap much larger financial rewards by doing the following:
A)It will keep energy costs way down. Even an EnergyStar dryer still takes electricity to run. It takes coal to run electric plants. Electric companies charge by the kilowatt-hour.
B) Hanging your clothes out also gives you that spring-fresh scent--naturally! (though any bath towels you have might feel stiff after line drying, so you might want to consider eco-friendly fabric softener for that very reason.)
C) It is also said that sunlight is somehow antibacterial. (That's another brief hub for another time.) I am not sure where I read it, but considering how good my clothes smell after they're done drying on the line, I wouldn't doubt the sun has that one extra power besides giving this planet life and giving me my RDA of vitamin D.
4) Financially repent of your vices. Want to really slash your budget? Kick two of the most financially and physically harmful addictions out there: smoking and drinking. If you hadn't noticed, cigarette prices have gone way up in the last two or three years. Alcoholic beverages have also followed suit. Kick these habits and you'll not only save money by not buying cigs and booze, but you'll save yourself the worry of lung cancer and liver disease, on top of other benefits of quitting.
3) Spend extra on food where it *really* counts. If you're like a lot of people, you depend on what most of society thinks is quick, cheap and easy when it comes to feeding your family: convenience foods. But I entreat you to stop and think of what those convenience foods contain and what a lot of the processing of foods does to the nutrient content.
Frozen pizzas or tv dinners may be cheap and in the sales flyers every third Thursday, but imagine yourself thirty years later: still broke and in the doctor's office every three months to check your A1C levels and your feet because all that processed food and very little exercise put you on the road to diabetes. Why still broke? Because diabetes testing equipment--the strips and the meter--are NOT cheap. I know because I watched my mother get diagnosed and go through the continual worry of how to pay for such stuff at a time when my parents could have been socking away that money. Trust me, this is not a road you want to be on.
And it's not just the processed foods that sock it to you physically and financially. If you replaced every non-organic food in your diet with organic, you are not only contributing to making organic food cheaper by voting with your dollars (thus making organic food more available to all, expense-wise), but you're contributing to better health for you and yours on many levels. Why? Because organic food is grown (or raised, in the case of animal products) without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and other potential carcinogens and hormone disruptors.
In a sentence: An investment in organic food = a healthier you and a healthier planet.
2) Eat more dinners round the family table. Studies have shown that dinners eaten at the table are more likely to be savored, fewer calories consumed, and healthier food is more likely to be present. Plus, if you eat around your own dinner table, less money is likely to be spent eating out, and more attention is likely to be paid to your family. Things are talked over at the table, jokes and stories are told, thus reducing the stress that drives people to psychological burnout and the desire to plunk down $100 a session with a therapist when all that's needed is a good cry, a hug and some time to rest, recuperate and be reminded that you have people who care about you.
1) Dig In. One of the most rewarding ways to save money and get closer to Mother Earth is to grow a garden. Not only do you get the emotional satisfaction of working to produce vegetables, herbs and fruits for your family table, the financial, spiritual and bodily rewards are nothing to sneeze at, either.
Growing your own produce and herbs allows you to avoid having to pay hefty prices at the grocery store several times over, because not only are you bringing fresh food into the house, you can also learn canning and preserving which allows you to enjoy your garden's bounty long into the winter.
Yes, there will be some initial financial output for seeds, tools, mulch (to prevent erosion and slow down weed growth), and canning supplies, but it is SO worth it when you're in the middle of winter, and you've got successful results in the pantry, and dried herbs in jars, ready to be put in sauces, gravies and pasta dishes. And as I said before, your grocery bill will be seriously slashed, your physical and mental health will improve, and emotional satisfaction will go through the roof.
These are just ten ways to get started with saving money and preserving our beautiful planet, and there's more where these came from.