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We all like the color green—green holidays, green money and maybe even a greener environment. But you’re on a serious budget. Even if you think expensive solar panels and energy-saving appliances are great, they probably don’t fit into your beans-and-rice lifestyle right now.
But if you’re serious about conserving, you can go green without going broke. Here are some easy ways to save money as well as resources.
Re-light your life
Old-school incandescent light bulbs are being phased out in the United States. Whether you think that’s a bright idea or not, it could help you save money in the long run.
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As your traditional incandescents die off, you can replace them with compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Not only do these modern bulbs use 75–80% less energy, but they also save up to $6 in electricity per bulb, per year. Assuming you have 40 bulbs hanging around, that’s a possible $240 in annual savings!
Buy in bulk
Overstocking a bunch of stuff you’ll never use isn’t very economical. When done right, however, buying in bulk is a dynamite way to cut out wasteful packaging and get a better bang for your buck—especially when it comes to non-perishable staples like toilet paper, toothpaste and, you guessed it, light bulbs.
If you’re not a member of a wholesale warehouse, look for ways to stock up for less at your local grocery store. You’ll save money by avoiding the name brands. And if your local store has bulk bins for stuff like nuts and oats, they are generally less expensive than their prepackaged counterparts.
Maintain, maintain, maintain
We all know location is key when buying a home. But when it comes to your home’s function and efficiency, maintenance is the word. Upkeep, when done right, is a relatively easy way to save some cash.
While you may not be able to afford a top-of-the-line air conditioner, make sure the well-loved beauties you do own are running at the top of their games. This will keep you from draining your emergency fund on expensive energy leaks or early breakdowns.
Recycling. You knew it was coming. But did you know you can get paid to recycle?
A vast majority of our cell phones, computers, MP3 players and cameras end up in the landfill each year. All this e-waste is toxic. Luckily, a few brilliant business folks figured out a way to make money by paying us for our unwanted electronics.
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All it takes is a quick online search and a few clicks explaining your smartphone’s condition, and presto, you’ll have an on-the-spot quote for last year’s hottest device.
Learn from the past
Take some advice from your grandparents. Most of them lived before all the modern “conveniences” of today. And they were much more environmentally friendly than we will ever be!
Think about it: Hand-me-downs were a way of life, clothes took time to dry on the line, and a good all-purpose cleaner consisted of vinegar, lemon juice and water. If you take the time to learn from the past, you may just help change the future.
And remember, it’s the (green) tortoise that wins the race, so it’s okay to start slow. As you build wealth, make it a goal to replace inefficient appliances, single-pane windows and gas-guzzling cars with leaner, greener models down the road.
Over a lifetime, your contributions—and your savings—can really add up.