The Ecology of Money

Money fishingIn the past year, I’ve become much more aware of how I spend. I started a budget, I’m saving more, and I read a lot of great financial advice at places like Get Rich Slowly. Along the way, I’ve noticed that a lot of the messages hammered home by the environmental movement are the same as those used by the frugal.

Recently, I’ve used the bumper-sticker version of living green (reducing, reusing, recycling) to save some green as well (sorry, no more puns, I promise). Instead of throwing away old T-shirts, Maggie used them to start a rag rug. Others have been cut up and used to clean spills. Not only are we producing less trash, we’re saving money at the same time. This got me wondering about other ecological messages. How do they apply to saving money instead of saving the Earth?

  1. Minimize consumption – think of ways that you can stop spending money. This might be the hardest to do, but it pays the biggest dividends. The best way to save is not to spend. As a bonus, it’s usually also earth-friendler to consume less!
  2. Look for alternatives – don’t get trapped in your current lifestyle. There are often ways to combine alternatives to come up with something that works well for you. For example, dryer balls increase the efficiency of our dryer but a drying rack lets us reduce usage of the dryer entirely.
  3. Look at the big picture – you can save a lot when you take a step back. Large up-front purchases can reduce your long-term costs considerably. Compact fluorescent lights are a perfect example, but things like a crock-pot can save you just as much in the long haul!
  4. Study earlier generations – there are still a lot of people out there who lived through the Depression. Most of them have great stories about how they made do with less. Even if you decide that toilet paper is something you don’t want to do without, these people can often give you a valuable sense of perspective as well as useful tips for reducing costs.

So the next time you’re in a conserving mood, try saving water, heat, electricity… and money.

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