With Earth Day right around the corner, it's a perfect time to ask ourselves if we're doing enough to help the planet. While it might be difficult at times to discover new ways to be environmentally friendly while on a budget, doing so could actually save you a decent amount of money. So to help incentivize some of you to be a little greener, here are some great ways to keep the planet healthy and your wallet full.
1. Save Those Bottles & Cans
This may not be something you do on the regular, but recycling your aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass at a bottle return center could net you some extra cash. Although the return isn't huge, taking a trip every month or so to the recycling machine is an easy way to make a little extra cash. Just think of it as, you're going to the store to buy food anyway so returning the bottles isn't an extra trip but one that actually gives you money back. Keep in mind you paid for the bottle deposit so you're wasting money by not returning the bottles. Not only that, but you'll also be cutting down on pollution caused by waste.
A great way to spend that little extra windfall each month is to put the money towards your grocery budget (but don't make this an excuse to go over budget).
2. Consider Solar Panels
Maybe they look a little funky on your roof like you're looking for aliens, but your wallet will love how much they help you save. Many companies will now install the panels free of charge, though make sure you read through the contract and make sure you understand what you're giving up to get the panels. You can then sit back and let Mother Nature help you rack in the savings as you use less and less paid electricity and more of the sun's natural, and free, energy.
The savings don't have to stop there though. Take the money you've saved and look into investing in some other energy-conscious products for your home. Energy Star appliances, LED lightbulbs, and low-flow sink fixtures are just a couple of examples of things that can keep both your wallet and the environment a little bit cleaner. The savings you see on your utility bills can be placed toward savings for future home improvement projects and sometimes, if you have a lot of extra energy you can sell that back to the energy company.
3. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Green cleaning products are all the rage, but they can come with a bigger price tag than normal cleaning products. The good thing is, they are so simple to make yourself at home and you most likely already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. Better yet, making these products at home can help cut down on the environmental pollution caused by their manufacture and disposal. Eartheasy.com has some great examples of non-toxic home-cleaning formulas. Just take a moment to add up cleaning supplies each month and see your savings from making it yourself.
4. Carpool or Take Public Transportation
Wouldn't it be nice to not have to deal with traffic or gas prices? Public transportation and carpooling is a great way to save some money and reduce your carbon footprint. The savings don't just end with gas though. Fewer miles on your car will save you money on maintenance and repairs, and ditching a vehicle altogether (if you can manage it) will keep you from having to pay money on car insurance and registration fees.
With all that extra money, you can start saving up for an emergency fund or bolster the savings you already have. Of course, if you think you might need a car again someday in the future, you can put a little portion of that money towards the down payment on a new car or lease. Also, consider an alternative earth-friendly car to cut costs on gas and even service for that car. You should always take the future and the unexpected into consideration when planning your savings.
Also, if you have debt, the extra savings can be added to your monthly payments to pay down your debts faster. Your debt load can have an impact on your credit scores, which in turn have an impact on your access to credit in the future. The better your credit, the better chances you have of getting lower interest rates, which saves you money over the lifetime of the loans. You can see how your debts are affecting your credit by getting your free credit report summary on Credit.com.
So take some time this Earth Day and see if there is anything you can do to help the environment. Chances are, doing so could actually save you, or make you, a decent amount of money in the long run. In addition to saving money, your actions can help make this planet a healthier, safer place to live for all of us.
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