What does the sleek Tesla Model 3 in your neighbor’s driveway have to do with cutting down on household expenses? The monthly payments on the $43,000 hybrid car are not cheap.
While researching the best ways to reduce expenses, we quickly discovered that green consumers not only nurture their environmental conscious, but also save a lot of money. Three of our top five ways to reduce unnecessary expenses involve adopting consumption habits that protect the environment.
- Adopt an eco-Lifestyle
Here are a few ways the green consumer can save money by reducing, reusing and recycling.
Reduce – Reduce waste by avoiding disposable items. Recyclable plastic and bamboo plates and cutlery can be reused at parties and picnics. Many coffee shops will give you a discount if you bring your own cup. Cut down on your gas bill by using public transportation or carpooling to work.
Reuse – Buy secondhand clothes at thrift shops. By shopping at the Salvation Army, you can recycle clothing while donating to a good cause. Host clothing exchange get together with your friends each season.
Recycle – Some stores will let you trade in your used cell phones, computers and other goods for a discount towards a new item. The Apple Give Back program will give you credit toward a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac when you trade in your old one.
- Use a Smart Energy Meter
Over 50% of US households are already reducing their electricity, gas, and water bills by monitoring energy use with a smart energy meter. These devices keep track of your energy usage in real time. By knowing how much energy you are using at different times of the day, you can adjust your energy usage accordingly. For example, you could run the washer or dishwasher during low energy usage times. Advanced meters will even automatically turn on your washing machine when electricity prices are the lowest.
- Trim Your Weekly Food Bill
Since food is considered a necessity, many households do not try and reduce the food budget. By simply changing the time you do your shopping, you could halve your grocery bill, for example:
Shop for fresh produce at farmers’ markets – You can save as much as 75% on your fruits and vegetables. An hour or two before markets close, prices are slashed to clear out perishable food.
Buy end of day baked goods – Many bakeries cut prices in half at the end of the day to sell off baked goods that will be too stale to sell the next day.
Grow your own food – A vegetable garden can supply you with fresh produce year-round. Can and freeze vegetables, jams, and dishes for the winter months.
Sign up for weekly organic food delivery – These services deliver fresh organic fruits and vegetables to your home every week. Often, they will deliver what is in season, so put on your chef’s hat and be creative. There are many yummy recipes for zucchini squash and brussels sprouts should they end up in your bundle.
Clip Coupons – Good old coupon clipping is still an effective way to reduce your food bill.
- Reduce Monthly Debt Payments
Are you paying high interest rates on your debts? Many lenders want your business and they are willing to offer you lower interest rates in order to win it. When interest rates are falling, more lenders will be open to refinancing your debt.
Refinance – Home and car loans
Consolidate – Credit card debt and student loans
Other options to reduce credit card debt include:
Do a balance transfer – Transfer the balance of high interest rate cards to those with lower interest rates. Many credit cards will offer you attractive deals such as zero interest rate charges for 12 to 18 months for transferring your balance. Do remember to check for balance transfer fees. In some cases, they will be waived during sign up campaigns.
Request a rate reduction – Your credit card company is competing to keep your business. Many are willing to negotiate lower rates to stop you from transferring to a competitor.
Before switching lenders, talk to your existing bank. They may be willing to lower your rates to keep your business.
- Lower Entertainment Expenses
Do you make full use of all your subscriptions? Club memberships? If your payment method is already registered, you only have to click on the mouse to get what you want. Instant gratification also means that advertisers can easily lure you into emotional buying decisions.
Even if you already have an online music service you love, an offer of 10 albums for $0.99 is too good to pass up. But how often do you forget to cancel the introductory trial period. Reduce your entertainment bills by following these steps:
Cancel magazine subscriptions if you do not read every issue – If you read Time, Wired and Vogue every month, you could sign up for an online newsstand for under $10 a month and read all your favorite magazines.
Tune into your music subscription fees – Many music lovers have a Spotify account but have also signed up for iTunes, or other services when a free month or other incentives were offered. Choose the service you use regularly and cancel the others.
Change club memberships – If you only use your gym once a week, consider cancelling it. But wait, you do need to lose that extra 10 or 20 pounds. Here’s an alternative. If you only do the yoga and aerobics classes instead of the monthly membership, buy the card for 10 visits. If you only use the swimming pool, consider visiting the community pool instead. If you and your partner belong to different clubs, buy a family membership.
Buy annual or seasonal memberships – How often do you visit the opera, symphony, or local theatre? Would it be more cost-effective to buy a seasonal membership? Benefits may include discounts off of related event tickets, items at the gift store, bar refreshments and parking. Exchangeable tickets can be exchanged or sold if you cannot make an event. Sporting event tickets can be sold for a premium for games you do not plan to attend.
Take the green consumer challenge and see how much money you can save by adopting environmentally friendly consumption behaviors. You could end up with enough spare change to cover the monthly payment on a new hybrid car.