Go Green - Save Money
Green and Frugal Family Values
There is no reason why green living and being frugal need to be mutually exclusive. Going green can be a BIG money saver in fact! It is MORE than possible to live with a light ecological footprint and live within your budget. Yes, some green gadgets and items might cost more money, like solar panels, rain collection systems, and organic food but there are numerous other ways to go green and NOT spend a fortune. This lens is dedicated to helping you go green in tough economic situations. Even if your finances are not particularly tight you may enjoy simplistic living!
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Simple Living in a Bad Economy
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about simple or frugal living is that it means great sacrifice. The object of simple living or voluntary simplicity, as it is also called, is not to live as cheaply as possible but instead to see just how well you can live on less. It is entirely possible to be content and have all of your needs met and satisfied by living in a simple and frugal manner, no great sacrifices required. A vow of voluntary simplicity can bring a sense of inner peace and certainly less financial pressure. Many simple living enthusiasts think of it as a challenge that they are eager to accept. It is almost an art form, living so well on so little. So what are some of the principles of voluntary simplicity?
Eating With the Seasons - Most green folks usually refer to this as eating local or the hundred mile diet. Not only is it a very green way to eat it is budget friendly too. Foods that have to travel long distances to our plate usually cost more, so do foods that never grow in climates like ours. Eating what is in season brings the freshest ingredients to our table and it helps us save money. Canning, dehydrating, and otherwise preserving in season foods allows us to extend local eating into winter months as well for relatively little money. You could be eating delicious meal of homemade pasta and canned tomato sauce in the dead of winter and what could be more delicious than that? Eating in season may also be simplistic in itself, a meal of flax crackers, smoked Gouda cheese from a nearby dairy and berries so fresh that they explode in your mouth can be a "gourmet" meal.
Simple living for many also means growing their own food. It gives us a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity for exercise. Even in limited spaces we can grow grape tomatoes in a window box or fresh herbs on the window sill. Food does get any fresher than when you grow it yourself.
Time for Things That Matter - Simplicity will usually mean forsaking many expensive entertainment outings. Not only are they pricey but they never seem to relax us the way they should. Instead, opportunities for neighborhood walks, hikes at a state park, and reading in a comfy chair at the bookstore become an escape. Simple living enthusiasts treasure moments, events, and time with their loved ones, these are the luxuries that matter. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once said, "One ought every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."
Simple is Classic - When evaluating new clothing purchases it is important to analyze every item and make sure it matches at least 5 other things you already own. For the sake of storage and for laundry day don't buy too many clothes you have no need for. Pants in several basic colors, coordinating shirts and sweaters in different styles, a few stylish dresses, no frills shoes in basic colors, we don't really need much. Choosing a basic and limited wardrobe allows us to buy quality items since we don't have to have such great quantity. Sturdy classic clothes in earthy or neutral colors never go out of style either.
If that doesn't sound like your style there is always the wonder of thrift stores and consignment shops. In fact much more than clothes can be found in places like these. You can decorate your entire home tastefully and affordably by buying second hand. With a good eye for timeless and beautiful pieces no one will know the difference.
As you can see there is no need to feel as though you must do without in order to apply the principles of voluntary simplicity in your life. You can live "rich" life on relatively little.
Self Sufficiency & Simplicity Books
Ways to Conserve Energy and Money
People are tightening their belts right about now with economy being so precarious. In addition to worrying about job security, investments, and daily expenses, it is also a concern that winter is just around the corner. Winter months usually mean hefty electric and/or gas bills for many families and they may be wondering right about now how they can stay warm without breaking the bank. There are many ways to cut your energy consumption and save some green while you conserve resources. Here are a few ideas:
Power Strips - Plug several appliances into one power strip and then make a habit of using the master switch to turn them off each night. For instance, you could plug your TV, DVD player, and cable box into one strip and then simply turn it off when finished. This is important because appliances and electronics still draw power even when not in use. They are often called energy vampires for this reason. Turn off everything that you can each night for big savings.
Motion Lights - Local hardware stores often carry motion sensing light sockets at affordable prices. They simply plug into a standard light bulb socket and then the regular light bulb screws into them. They sense motion and turn on and after the motion ceases for awhile they automatically turn off. This is a perfect solution for closets, garages, basements, and laundry rooms where lights may be left on accidentally. They pay for themselves quickly with energy savings, especially if you have children who are prone to leaving lights on.
Insulation - Take a trip to your local home and hardware store to see what type of insulation products they offer. You can find insulating blankets for hot water heaters and pipes, caulking and weather stripping for windows and cracks in the foundation, draft stoppers for doors, foam outlet inserts, and even foam blankets for windows. These items are relatively cheap and they help keep your home warmer so that the heater does not need to run as much. You can check for drafts on a windy day by lighting a candle or an incense stick in suspicious areas and seeing if it flickers or smokes. If it does you have a heat leak that needs to be plugged.
Get the Family Involved - Try setting your thermostat as low as possible, especially at night. Let your family know they can double up on blankets if they get cold and they can wear sweaters and warmer clothes during the day. Also make sure they are mindful of letting doors hang open for too long, make it a contest of sorts to see who in the family can up with the most ways to keep the house warm and save energy. Competition always stirs creativity!
Window Treatments - A lot of heat is lost through windows. Once you have caulked them or applied weather stripping, put up thick curtains or blinds, or both. Keep south-facing windows open and clean during the day to allow sunlight to enter for solar heat gain.
Making just a few changes can have a big impact on your heating bills this winter.
Second Hand Living
One of the easiest ways by far to save money and go green at the same time is to shop second hand. Shopping for previously used items is not only cheaper than buying new it helps to reduce consumption of new goods when perfectly usable items are already in existence. It reduces the amount of garbage entering the waste stream as well when we reuse and repurpose things. It saves you money too!
Some of the best places to buy used goods are garage sales, consignment shops, community sales boards like Craigslist, and thrift stores. You may also be pleasantly surprised to find free goods from local Freecycle groups. You can buy just about anything you need second hand.
Clothing - Seasonal clothing needs seem less daunting and constrictive on our wallets when we buy second hand. Many times you can find brand name or brand new clothes and shoes at second hand stores or garage sales. Make a few trips a month and keep a list in your purse or wallet of things you need and what sizes. Ask about special sale days at thrift stores where they slash prices by as much as 50-75% for one day only. By being vigilant you can find just about anything you need for rock bottom prices.
Books - Reading can be an expensive habit if you like to buy books as opposed to borrow them but second hand stores and garage sales often offer very low prices for people of all ages. You can find children's books especially, that have been well loved, for pennies. Online groups like Paperback Swap are also useful for finding the books you want for cheap or even free in exchange for one of your books you no longer need.
Kitchen Gear - If you like glass or ceramic food containers or refrigerator dishes like vintage Pyrex you can find some great deals at garage sales and on places like eBay. You can also cheaply stock up on dish rags, potholders, flatware, and dinnerware. Estate sales are ideal for finding complete sets of China for low prices and appliances such as crackpots and bread makers.
Home Dcor - Furniture can be a big budget breaker but it doesn't have to be. Take a look at second hand options and don't be afraid to ask for a deeper discount. Used couches, end tables, coffee tables, and bookshelves are all easy to find generally. You can even search for specific items on Craislist and view pictures. There is just no reason to by new when you can get used items for such great prices. Other things to look for include decorative knick-knacks, picture frames, chairs that can be recovered, or any well used furniture that can be revived with a new paint job.
Toys - This is one of the biggest money savers. Children generally don't mind something used as long as it is new to them and second hand stores and garage sales are havens for toys. Make sure to shop without your kids to stock up on gifts for holidays and birthdays.
There is no reason you have to sacrifice style or quality while shopping second hand and your wallet will be greatly appreciative.
What Do You Think?
How Easy Is Tt to Go Green On a Budget?
Cheap and Easy Entertainment
Entertainment can get costly for families and the travel required for many is not so green. If it just isn’t practical for your lifestyle or budget to make frequent trips to the movies, to the zoo, or too local museums it may be time to take another look at low impact, cheap entertainment ideas for the whole family. Spending time together and having fun are the most important objectives right? Neither objective requires a lot of money thankfully.
Family Game Night – You most likely have some good old fashioned board games lying around so why not get them out and start a family game night each week. If you don’t have any games you can buy one or two for $20 or less and they will provide fun for months to come. For younger kids you might try Disney Monopoly, Candyland, Life, or Operation. Older kids would like Sudoku, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, and Clue. There are many interactive DVD games that are fun for the whole family where you are quizzed on movie clips or famous faces and quotes. There are even dancing games that can provide fun and exercise.
A House of Cards – Card games are another great way to pass the time. Older kids would love to learn and play Poker, Hearts, and Gin Rummy. You can even invite extended family members or friend over for a monthly cards night. Younger kids can play Go Fish and War.
Movie Night – There is no need to go to the movies and pay $50+ for admission. Rent a movie from a local store or Netflix and have a movie night. Make some healthy snacks, prop up some comfy pillows and bean bags, and snuggle up together to watch a movie. Talk about it afterwards to get some good discussion going.
Get outdoors – Local parks are great sources of free fun. Why not make it a day trip for the whole family. Select a hiking trail that is comfortable for all and pack a lunch to eat midway. Make sure to stop several times to explore nature and maybe snap a picture or two for the family album. It you are near a park that has many different trails make it a goal to conquer all of them.
Reading Time – Kids love to be read to so why not make it a family event. Pick a book that everyone will like perhaps Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, or Eragon and start reading. You can cover one to chapters a week and perhaps have an older child or one of the adults take a few notes to review before each session. This is a great way to instill a love of books and reading and instigate great conversations.
Put On A Show – Set up a puppet show using a door jam, an adjustable shower rod, and a blanket and then let the show begin! You can even re-enact the story from your weekly reading.
Another idea for younger kids is to set up a Blue Clues adventure by creating and cutting out blue paw prints and hiding them on “clues”. Give them a notebook to write all the clues down and then help them solve the mystery. This is a fun way to have children guess what you will make for dinner or what book you will read them.
As you can see, family fun doesn’t have to be expensive if you get creative.
Frugal Luxuries - An Awesome Book!
Great tips and ideas for simple and frugal living that is easier on the planet. It is a great read!!
Cloth Diapers for a Happy Planet
And a Happy Baby...
Do you know what is in the diapers you put on your baby? Unfortunately most people don't know what is in the diapers they purchase for their small children. Since they are widely accepted as the diapering standard, they use them without ever considering alternatives. After all, cloth diapers are such a pain to take care of, and kids just wet through them, right?
Actually cloth diapers have come a long way. There are several options available for cloth diapering and there are several reasons to use them as well. Take a look at the following:
Cloth diapers are better for baby's skin. Disposable diapers are loaded with chemicals that can irritate baby's tender skin, Cloth diapers often sport natural fibers like cotton that are soothing to the skin and very breathable. They get fewer diaper rashes, which means less discomfort for baby and less crying.
Disposable diapers are also filled with toxic allergens. Your baby might even be allergic to disposable diapers. There are many things in them that can cause allergic reactions, such as problems breathing and rashes. If your child is having these problems you should consider cloth diapers.
Cloth diapers are better for the environment and your pocketbook. Cloth diapers are reusable from child to child, which means less waste going into our already overstuffed landfills. You should figure that in the years one child is diapered you will go through on average, 2500 to 3000 diapers. With cloth diapers you could easily get by with using only 3-4 dozen diapers and those diapers can be used on one or more subsequent children.
When you are done with your cloth diapers you can sell them too at usually 50-75% of the retail price of new ones. That means you can get back 3/4 the cost of using cloth diapers. Even after you factor in water, time and detergent you are still winning out compared to the $20 a week you spend on diapers.
Washing diapers is very easy too. It should not amount to more than a load or two of extra laundry each week. Wet diapers can be tossed into a diaper pail to wait for cleaning and diapers with loose stools can be shaken out over the toilet before they too are stored before washing. Odor issues can be controlled by placing a tissue with a few drops of essential oil at the bottom of the diaper pail or sprinkling the pail with baking soda.
Cloth diapers have also greatly evolved in terms of style and ease of use. There are many options available for cloth diapers including some all-in-one (AIO) varieties that closely resemble disposable diapers as far as ease of use goes. There are pocket diapers for parents who want to customize absorbency and there are one-size diapers for parents who want a diaper that will grow with their children. There are also diapers available to use for night time, and diapers to use while potty training.
You can also make your own cloth diapers with several patterns available online. That reduces the cost even more. It really is easier to use cloth diapers than you might think. Before you check them off as an option, give them a shot, you might really like the benefits and how happy your baby is in them.