Thursday, September 3, 2009

8 ways to save money, and go green

I’m always talking about how going green can save you money. And it’s true. If you’re trying to cut back on expenses, the easiest ways to do so probably also are eco-friendly.

Here now, 8 ways to save a little money, and making friends with the environment at the same time …

1. The most obvious of money-savers: Turn off the lights and other appliances using electricity — and even unplug them, if possible — whenever you’re not using them. Air-dry your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. You could even forgo buying a dryer and save yourself a few hundred dollars. You’ll be a lot happier opening your electricity bill at end of the month.

2. Buy in bulk. I’m not talking Costco or Sam’s Club bulk, people. I’m talking about things like rice, dried fruits, nuts and other grains, and even cereals from the bulk bins at the grocery store. Not only are you saving cash — cuz that pretty box does add to the price — you’re also cutting down on packaging.

3. Stop with the bottled water already. Investing in a reusable bottle — or three — is a great way to save. The cost of those cases of plastic water bottles adds up quickly. Reusable water bottles are much cuter too.

4. Grow your own food — at least as much as you can. If you have a small porch or yard, you too can grow herbs and veggies in pots. My roomie and I just ate our first beautiful tomato of the season, and there are more jalapenos growing that I can count! Herbs are plentiful too. And all of this in pots. The startup costs are there, for sure — seeds, potting soil and pots — but definitely worth it in the long run! The pots you can use forever — or repurpose things around the house into pots to save a few extra bucks!

5. What you can’t grow: Buy locally and in season. I know it sounds crazy and unlikely, but I swear it isn’t: Buying produce from your farmers market can be cheaper than buying it in the grocery store. And it tastes better. When it’s in season, prices tend to go down. I’m not saying everything is cheaper, but there are certainly a lot of deals to be found.

6. Make your own cleaners. Baking soda, vinegar, water and lemon are among the few things you need to clean your house without ever coughing up money for cleaners — green or otherwise — at the store.

7. Ride your bike, walk or take public transportation. The cost of having a car adds up — maintenance, gas, insurance. So funnel that money into your savings instead.

8. And last, but not least, buy used! Websites are great sources for often gently used furniture, appliances, bikes, cars … pretty much anything. It’s win-win-win: The original owner makes a few bucks, you save money over a new product and the Earth is saved from one more landfill item and the resources to create another one.

- RedEye