There’s a widespread misconception that eco-friendly lifestyle habits like cycling to work, eating organic, plant-based, and clean, and making green cleaning products are too costly, or not worth the extra time and effort. The same overarching response can be given to all of these complaints: so not true.
The financial consequences of leading an eco-friendly life
Embracing eco-consciousness in our daily lives isn’t always easy. Given the state of the planet and the global economy, however, sustainable living is proving more beneficial than ever before. Not only will you feel better, breathe better, and live better—chances are, you’ll be saving loads of money too.
1. Go cash-only
Since its advent, credit as a financial tool has allowed us to live modern lives in comfort and convenience. However, the lifestyle today’s society encourages often lead people to abuse credit and rack up exorbitant debt. For cardholders in the red, credit controls their lives, instead of freeing it.
As a result, many are turning back to the wise ways of cash-only budgets. This means that the cash in one’s wallet is all one is allowed to spend: no ifs, no buts. Going cash-only allows a person’s finances to become “real,” rather than just virtual points spent by swiping plastic.
Cash-only makes it so much easier to keep track of where money is going. Holding physical, countable notes helps one decide whether or not something one is considering buying is really worth its price. With cash-only, you become more careful with your budget, so it lasts longer and goes where it’s truly needed. Being savvy with your cash also leads you to buy only what you need, in turn helping you minimise waste.
2. Save the debt for big investments
Note that there are certain things for which taking up debt is recommended, like buying your own house, or student loans. Debt is also useful for investing in renewable energy, such as solar panels or wind turbines for your household. While upfront payments like these can be a bit hefty, the money you save over time outweighs the initial loan.
3. Stay mindful of the little things
There are plenty of ways people lose track of their spending, and it’s often the little things. Coffee, parking, fast food runs—many everyday little things cost $5 to $10 or less. People don’t think to add these expenses into their budget, but they do add up over the weeks and months. Not only that: when you constantly buy food from restaurants and coffee shops, you create so much food packaging waste.
Saving money involves living in a way that eliminates these little things that bloat your monthly bills. For example, you can treat dining out or getting takeout as a luxury, and allot a fixed budget for it. Fill your fridge and cabinets with healthy, wholesome foods and ingredients, and make time to cook and prepare your meals.
Keep it fresh by preparing your meals on weekends, and again sometime midweek. That way, you can have breakfast before leaving, bring your lunch to work, and come home for dinner. You’ll find you’ll want to make the most of your ingredients and create delicious, nutritious, and filling meals. Eating properly stops you from craving junk and fast food, which are a waste of money, calories, and material packaging.
Food is also one of the instances where cash-only works its magic. Suddenly, Starbucks isn’t so appealing when you need to get groceries and only have $25 left in your wallet. Identifying and eradicating these little unnecessary expenses makes you take your daily life into broader consideration. Gaining control of your personal finances extends outside of counting how much money you have left for the week.
4. Cut out needless money leaks
There are likely more money leaks in your life that are otherwise completely avoidable. This includes superfluous monthly utilities, car and appliance repair bills, cleaning services, and more.
For example, consider your current cable package. Do you really watch all of those extra channels? Would you really miss them if they were gone? Do you really need to run the air conditioner all day and night in the summer? Or could you get away with sweating a little bit through an open window? What about heating in the winter? Wouldn’t you prefer the sweet smell of a flickering fire over the chemical stench of a gas furnace?
Looking around you, you might find items that take away from your savings. Older cars and appliances requiring constant fixing can cost more than the value they provide you. A home that is too large to heat or cool, or that has faulty insulation, cracked windows, air drafts under its doors, and whatnot, wastes energy.
Take time to study and reconfigure your subscriptions to provide only what you need or are able to consume. Replace your oft-used but ailing machines with newer, more energy efficient units, as your finances allow. Repair and renovate your home until you get it running as smoothly and on as little power as possible.
Addressing some of these money leaks, like replacing your old car for a hybrid, or replumbing your toilets so they flush using gray water, may cost a bit of money initially. However, the savings you’ll be making over time more than compensates for that.
5. Embrace eco-friendly transport
Insisting on buying gas and driving, when you can easily walk or take public transportation, is a classic money pit. Keep in mind as well that sitting in traffic is a known health hazard. Massive amounts of noxious fumes are trapped in the cab of a car as it sits idly on the road.
If you live close enough to work or school, consider cycling to and from there daily. If cycling isn’t feasible for you at the moment, look up and try other eco-friendly options for getting around. Taking the bus, the train, or your bicycle, instead of driving, is not only cost efficient; it’s also light years better for you, for everyone around you, and for the Earth.
Eco-friendly is ultimately also wallet-friendly
Many eco-friendly lifestyle habits are also conscious decisions that end up saving you money while minimising your carbon footprint. You can go cash-only, eat only what’s in your kitchen, or ride your bike exclusively to and from work.
While some eco-friendly living habits may bring immediate results in the way of savings, changes that involved bigger investments from you will likely show show you how much you’re saving only a few months.
There are countless more changes we can make, however, to not only boost our personal savings, but also be kinder to the Earth.
What other changes in your day-to-day life can you think of that helps you save money while at the same time lessening your impact on the environment? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments!