6 Eco-Friendly Habits That Will Save You Money

Getty ImagesShortening your shower by just a few minutes is a win-win for your wallet and the planet.
By Niccole Schreck

Kermit the Frog may have been mistaken when he said, "It's not easy being green."

Just like getting into the habit of sorting your recycling or turning off the lights when you leave a room, there are small eco-friendly adjustments you can make to your daily routine that will help you go green.

If you're shying away from going green because you're afraid it will be expensive, we're here to tell you that there are plenty of ways to be eco-friendly and save money at the same time.

1. Eat at home more often. It can definitely be tempting to just pick up some takeout after a long day at work instead of whipping up your own meal in the kitchen. But if you cut down on the number of times you eat out each week, you can save yourself money on both gas and food (not to mention you'll likely be eating healthier). Takeout often comes with a lot of wasteful packaging, so by ordering less Chinese and pizza, you will help create a cleaner Earth, and you'll reduce your carbon footprint by driving less.

Eating at home also doesn't mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen. With just a few simple ingredients, you can create quick and easy meals that will leave you satisfied. Pinterest is one great place to find recipes, and there are thousands of cooking blogs you can search online for ideas.

2. Use cloth napkins. Make your dinner table a bit fancier by using cloth napkins instead of the paper alternatives. This may seem like it will cost you more money upfront, but in the long run, you save and produce less waste. Cloth is durable and reusable, so when the napkins get dirty, just toss them in the wash. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Plus, they're a great way to dress up your table with fun colors and designs.

3. Switch to a reusable water bottle. San Francisco has already banned the sale of plastic water bottles, and many cities might follow their lead. According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, consumption of bottled water more than doubled from about 13 gallons per person in 1997 to 29 gallons per person in 2007. The majority of those bottles end up in landfills.

Break the habit of buying cases of water from the supermarket each week, and instead use that money to purchase a reusable water bottle. You only have to buy the bottle once, and you can wash it and fill it indefinitely. In addition to cutting down the number of plastic bottles in landfills, you could save more than $300 per year if you're buying a case each week.

4. Swap out light bulbs. Saving the environment and some money is as simple as switching out your apartment's light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use approximately 30 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional light bulbs. While fluorescent bulbs cost slightly more upfront, you'll make up the cost in the energy you save and the use you get out of them.

5. Hang toilet paper over the roll. The great over-versus-under toilet paper debate has finally come to a close -- and the answer is over the roll. It helps you use less toilet paper than placing the roll the other way. Because you can see more sheets, you pull less paper.

6. Use less water. Americans waste a lot of water. There are many ways to cut your water consumption, decrease the cost of your water bill and help the environment in the process. Here are some easy ways to use less water:
  • Don't leave the water running when you brush your teeth.
  • Shorten the length of your shower -- even a few minutes will help.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead or an aerator. You can easily take it with you if you move.
  • If you need to thaw frozen meat, chicken or fish, place it in a bowl of water rather than keep the sink on and let water run over it.
Take up any of these simple habits to contribute to a healthier Earth, and save yourself some money in the process.

Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment and provides tips on how to move.

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6 Eco-Friendly Habits That Will Save You Money

This advice applies to adults and kids alike. Plan out your shopping list before you head to the grocery store so you’re not tempted by impulse buys, and let any children along for the ride know that you plan on sticking with that list. Small expenditures add up to big money, so try to avoid giving in to any last-minute requests.

If your children continue to insist that you purchase their requested items, then ask them to bring their own piggy bank money. Remind your children they are only allowed to pick something they can afford. It's good practice for grown-up budgeting.

You might not have 20 hours a week to scour multiple publications for the best deals, but if you focus on searching for online coupons, you'll end up saving just as much. Search online for products with the word "coupon" afterward. For instance, if you're looking for Cascade dish soap, search for "Cascade dish soap coupons."

To make sure that you don't waste money on impulse buys, schedule your shopping around paydays. The day or day after you get paid should be your shopping day. Before you go shopping, make a list and make sure it has everything you'll need until the next shopping day on it. Now make a commitment to yourself that you will make what you're going to purchase last until the next shopping day.
Stocking your freezer with frozen meals can help you save money on lunch, since they cost just about $5 each. It can even be a healthier option because they help you practice portion control. Just make sure you're purchasing meals that have no preservatives, and watch out for sodium levels.
Don't waste your time making a sack lunch every day. Instead, prepare a week's worth of lunches on Sunday, and your body will thank you for the extra 10 to 30 minutes of sleep you'll gain each night. If you cook one big meal on Sunday, make sure it's easy to change up throughout the week. Chicken, rice and vegetables all cook quickly and taste great with different sauces and cheeses.
Most families throw away so much food on a weekly basis. A better idea is to turn your dinner leftovers into a lunchtime feast. Apps like BigOven help you use your leftovers to make yummy, new dishes. All you have to do is enter the ingredients you have, and the app will show you different recipe options for your leftovers. You'll save money using food that would have been thrown out.

If you know you have $400 to spend per month on your food budget, that's roughly $100 a week. Whether you shop once or twice per week or use cash or credit doesn't matter as long as you stay within your spending limits. Just be sure to only spend the amount you allotted per week.

Keep your shopping list in a set location so all members of the household can access it. Write estimated prices of the items you are going to buy next to each item on the checklist. It can serve a dual purpose as a price book you can use to guess how much you will spend.
If you've ordered from the kids menu at a restaurant recently, then you know how big the meals are – they're almost as big as meals for adults, and they can cost up to $10 each. If you have multiple children, an easy way to cut down on this expense is to have them share a meal. Not only does this lower the cost of feeding everyone, but it also cuts down on food waste.
Most stores are open late, and without the distraction of announcements, people and maybe even your kids, you can have your own Zen moment. When you are clearheaded, you're more likely to zone in on what you really need and leave out what you really don't. Plus, it's easier to give the cashier coupons without causing any delays for the people in line behind you.

We are a society consumed by all sorts of apps, but if you want to grocery shop, save money and still be lazy, let Favado, an app created by Savings.com, do the work for you. The app will tell you about items on sale from different stores, and if there is a store coupon or manufacturer coupon, it will also let you know that too. (Of course, you can just use it to scan the weekly ads to keep things simple.) And if you're already glued to your smartphone, it's easy to incorporate into your shopping routine.


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