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Jun 06

5 Green Living Tips to Fatten Your Wallet

This is a guest article by Debbie Dragon. What’s up, Debbie?

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Sometimes the recommendations for living a greener lifestyle cost quite a bit of money to implement.  Sure, you can power your home with windmills and a solar panel roof – but the cost of implementing such a lifestyle change puts it out of reach for the typical household.  There are many ways living green can save money, though, and add more of it to your budget.

To see exactly how much the following green-living tips can save you, enter your numbers in a budget calculator – then use your savings to reduce your debt or take a vacation!

Make Your Own Meals:  Save Thousands Annually (Potentially)

The United States Consumer Expenditure reports show that an average family spends about $4,000 a year on restaurants and take out meals.  Not only can you reduce your food budget by thousands by preparing your meals at home, but you’ll start paying more attention to the quality of ingredients you buy, and perhaps plant a fruit or vegetable garden to further your savings and health.  Preparing your own meals is healthier than eating in restaurants, and will cost significantly less.

Try Carpooling: Save $650 to $1400 Annually

Cars aren’t that great for the environment, and with the high costs of filling up, they’re also not so great on our budgets!  If you’re commuting 30 miles a day, and your car averages 23 miles per gallon – you’re looking at about 6.5 gallons of gas a week.  At $3.95 a gallon, you’re spending $25.76 a week to get yourself to and from work.  If you look at the cost of commuting 52 weeks a year, you’re in the $1,300 range for gasoline—and this doesn’t count any other driving you may do, or any other car ownership expenses.

You can reduce the effects of driving on the environment and save money by carpooling.  Share a car and a gas bill for commuting with a friend and you’ll save about $650 a year.  Find a couple more friends, and increase the savings in each of your budgets and reduce the number of cars on the roads day after day.

Recycle Your Electronics: Save a Few Hundred Dollars

What do you do with cell phones and charges you aren’t using anymore? How about laptops and other gadgets once they’ve worn out?  If you’re like most people, you toss them in a drawer out of sight or toss them in the trash.  Instead, recycle your old electronics and get cash.  Try Gazelle.com, or YouRenew.com for details about trading in phones and electronics and how much they’ll earn you.  Throwing electronics in the trash is potentially toxic and not a good move for the environment – so look at methods for recycling them before tossing.

Stop Buying Bottled Water: Save Over $240 Annually

Instead of buying bottled water at $4 or more a case, purchase a water filter that lets you purify tap water.  Not only will you reduce the amount of plastic containers you waste each week, but the savings can really add up.  If you tend to spend $5 a week or more on bottled water, you’re looking at over $260 annually.  Purchase a $20 water filter for your faucet, and keep refilling your glass.  The filters are much less expensive to replace than what you spend on bottled water; and you won’t have all of those plastic bottles to fill up the landfills.

Hang Your Clothes to Dry: Save $85+ Annually

The clothes dryer is one of the biggest consumers of home electricity, to the tune of about $85 a year, according to the California Energy Commission.  Simply hanging your clothes on a dryer rack or outside on a line can save electricity—good for both the environment and your budget.  Further savings are found by air drying clothes because it helps your clothing last longer.  When clothes are tossed in the dryer after each wash, they tend to wear out much quicker than when they’re air dried.  With the average family spending $900 on clothing annually, you could potentially save another few hundred dollars a year by air drying clothes instead of tossing them in the dryer.

Debbie Dragon is a finance writer providing articles for Vertex42.com, which offers a large selection of free spreadsheet templates and financial calculators.