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I remember the moment that I decided that this personal finance blog would have an eco-friendly twist. I had popped to the shops to get eggs and some other things for impromptu cake making session. I’d dragged my whole family with me for the exercise.
Anyway, I’d picked up most of the bits we needed and then realised that I hadn’t picked up the eggs. I left my husband with the kids looking at crisps or chocolate probably and “nipped” to get eggs.
I only had about three choices: cheap, mid-range and fancy. The fancy ones were in a standard cardboard egg box and were free range but were also expensive so they were immediately eliminated from my choices.
The mid-range ones were about 14p per egg. These were again in a cardboard box and free range. They ticked my personal boxes for being able to recycle the packaging and being kinda nice to animals. The cheap ones were 12p per egg. Not even that much cheaper really but came in a plastic box and from caged hens. That was my dilemma!
I was stood looking at these choices for a long time. Occasionally the money saving part of me would win over and I’d pick up the cheap one. Only to be instantly disgusted at myself, put them back and then pick up the other ones. I’d then dither about whether I could call myself a personal finance nerd if I didn’t go for the cheapest ones. Those would go back too and I’d scratch my head a bit longer.
Eventually my husband rescued me and chose some eggs on my behalf. I can’t remember which ones he picked up but I remember the cakes we made and they were lovely. Anyway I realised that sometimes there are times when we have to decide what is more important to us. For me this battle between looking after my pennies and saving the environment is a common one. That’s why I have created this list. Here are 7 ways to save money and the planet:
More broadly this can be called “use less energy”. Turning down your thermostat buy just 1◦C will save you approximately £40 a year. Or you could get yourself a Nest Learning Thermostat and let that figure it out for you.
We haven’t got one of these yet, but it is definitely on my wishlist. It learns when you need the thermostat up and when you cope with it down and does it for you automatically. If you don’t trust yourself to do control the temperature of your house, grab one of these. It will do it for you.
There are other ways to save energy. For example, you could make sure that your house is well insulated, particularly your loft. Some councils offer grants to help you pay for this, so it may be worth doing your research. You could also use your tumble dryer less and stick your clothes on an airer or on a washing line. Line dried clothes are awesome! They smell fresh and the sun will bleach away the stains too.
Ok. Yes. This might cost you money to begin with. If you object to spending the money, then you can put it on your birthday/Christmas wish list. However, if you are the sort of person who is prone to buying drinks when out and about then this is a must.
I rarely used to leave the house with any sort of drink. Only if I was going on a hike or to a party would the thought of taking drink cross my mind. If therefore I was going shopping and I got thirsty I would just buy myself something when out. This could have been water or some sort of fizzy drink.
Most of these cost somewhere between 50p and £2 each. And most of them come in a plastic bottle. And I normally just threw this straight in the bin when I was done. None of this is good for your bank balance or good for the environment.
The solution is easy – invest in a water bottle. I say invest because you should get one that you love. One that you want to use all the time and show your friends. This way you will be more inclined to use it and remember to take it with you. Before you know it, you’ll stop buying drinks when you are out.
Like most people I love a hot beverage in the morning. And throughout the day if I’m honest. Now I’ve never been much of one to stop off at a coffee shop on the way to work but I know exactly how expensive they are. I also know that they love making you that drink in a plastic lined paper cup that will go in bin as soon as you are done.
Now you have two choices with this one. Go for the full money-saving option and make yourself a coffee at home. Use your fancy coffee machine and take a drink with you. Or you can take your mug into Starbucks and other places and get them to put your drink in your cup. Some of these places will give you money off your drink for doing this.
A bit too obvious? How many times have you jumped in your car to drive that short distance to the shop? I know I’ve done it. I still do it far too often now. There are alternatives though.
We are currently a single car family, and this has forced us to be a bit more creative with our methods of travel. When my husband has the car, I have taken to walking places or getting the bus. Some of these places are a reasonable distance away. Occasionally we end up walking as an activity all in itself and we have fun stopping and looking at things we find on the way or the kids will have a little snooze and I can pretend to have some “me time”.
Walking, cycling, taking the bus. All of these are better for the environment and you’ll probably find that all of them save you money too.
A little while back our oven died. After having a little cry about the sausages that were lukewarm in oven and no longer safe for consumption, I started planning what to do next. A new oven would have been a big and unwanted expenditure for us. But what else could we do?
The answer is YouTube. If your stuff breaks there will be someone on YouTube that can show you how to fix it. Our oven turned out to just need a new element. We watched a video and fixed it ourselves. We ended up only spending a few pounds and our oven didn’t end up unnecessarily in landfill. (There are some things that you shouldn’t try to fix on your own unless you are a pro. Be sensible!)
I am slowly replacing everything I own with reusable versions. Each time I come to buy some consumable item I have a little research and instead buy the reusable version instead. There are some truly fantastic products out there. I, for one, cannot shut up about my silicone cupcake moulds. They were a couple of pounds on Amazon and I use them so much. You may have to replace items slowly but in the end you will find that you are throwing away less and spending less. Plus you don’t ever run out of these things. They are always there.
Here is a short list of things that you might want to consider switching to reusables for: kitchen roll, rechargeable batteries for kids toys, razors, nappies, food wrap and toilet roll. Read my posts on eco-friendly bathrooms and eco-friendly kitchens.
Sometimes stuff does break or wear out and you can’t use it for it’s original purpose any more. But, that does not mean it cannot be used as something else. When our frying pans and sauce pans got to the point where they were no longer any good for cooking on. We replaced them, BUT we gave the old ones to our daughter and she now uses them in her mud kitchen.
Old fabrics are another great thing to save, particularly if you are a bit crafty. I’ve recycled old clothes into new clothes, dusters, patched up other clothes with them and even made birthday cards with them. Pinterest will provide you with a long list of uses for those old fabrics.
A few ideas to get you started. There will still be those “egg” moments but at least you can sleep a bit easier knowing that you can achieve your money goals without compromising your morals.
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.
Looking After Your Pennies is an eco-friendly personal finance blog written and managed by Charlotte Jessop.
I write on a variety of topics including frugal lifestyle, eco-friendly living, money making ideas and generally how to make your money go further.
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