How Going Green Can Help Fight Debt

by Jen Myerscough on August 9, 2017

in eat, Green Resources

…from guest blogger, Michael Benson

How Going Green Can Help You Fight Debt

You’re likely already familiar with many of the benefits surrounding going green, which include, but are not limited to, limiting the use of scarce resources, preventing further global warming, and saving various wildlife species. However, you may not be aware that in going green you can actually double up and fight both climate change and your debt at the same time. How does going green benefit your wallet? Allow us to explain.

You’ll Save Money On Everyday Expenses

It likely comes as no surprise that going green will save you money on everyday expenses like the cost of utilities. What may surprise you is just how many dollars you can save by making simple life changes. When you’re struggling with debt, every dollar saved is a dollar that can be used to help pay off the money you owe. With just three changes to your weekly routine, you can save $2,055 or more per year.

Carpooling ($650-1,300/year)

Unless you’ve been gifted with a work-from-home position, commuting is a part of your daily routine. Commutes are costly, especially considering over 10 million Americans commute an hour or more and an estimated 3 million Americans suffer through mega commutes of over 90 minutes in length. It’s estimated that commuting costs the average american $2,600 a year. This cost can be reduced by half or more, simply by sharing rides with neighbors and co-workers.

If you live within Saint Louis County you may be able to take the Metro to and from work for $78/month. That equates to about $2.6 per day, which is $8 less than the average commuter’s cost. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft may not make sense on a per ride basis, but they can actually save you significantly if you’re willing to ditch your car entirely.

Cooking at Home ($1,200/year)

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a night out at one of St. Louis’s many dining hot spots. Green Dining Alliance certified eateries like Bailey’s Range and Mission Taco are good every once in a while, but Americans have taken eating out to the extreme. In fact, Americans spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they did on groceries ($52.503 billion) in 2016, and this shift in spending impacts the environment as well. The more we eat out, the more we use transportation to obtain food. Not to mention, the more we use containers for takeout and leftovers, which often are not recyclable.

Controlling what you eat and how your food is prepared allows you to effectively manage your environmental footprint and your budget. The average restaurant meal costs around $15 and that isn’t including the tip. On the other hand, the average home cooked meal ranges from $4-9. Assuming a $6 per meal savings you could save $1,200 by eating in instead of eating out for four meals a week.

Reducing Energy Usage ($205-$650)

Last, but not least, there are a several small changes you can make around your house that add up to big savings. Simply switching your light bulbs to energy efficient light bulbs can save you approximately $75 per year. Depending on your water usage, the bulk of your savings could come from reducing the temperature on your water heater. Reducing the temperature by 10°F can save you 3-5% on your water heating expenses. Washing your clothes in cold water will save you ¢64 per load, which adds up depending on how often you wash your clothes. Even plugging your electronics into energy saving power strips can save you $100 per year with your game consoles alone.

You’ll Foster a Money Saving Mindset

A reduction of living expenses is an obvious benefit to going green, but the benefit that may not be so apparent is the shift in mindset. Going green is the act of optimizing your use of resources. As you build up the discipline to manage your consumption of goods, and avoid splurging, you also gain solid financial management skills. You learn to maximize the use of things you have bought and reduce additional expenditures through the act of recycling.

Too often, we spend our money on things that provide only a burst of enjoyment with little intrinsic value. When you look at purchases through an eco friendly lens, you consider not only the price, but the overall value of what you’re buying. Do you really need to drive out to Starbucks for a daily dose of coffee, or would it be more valuable for you to invest in a coffee maker for your own home? Do you need a new coffee table or could you re-purpose the old door you have in the basement to create a coffee table? While the aforementioned savings above are an incredible benefit to going green, the discipline you develop to balance your financial expenditures is what will ultimately propel you to financial freedom.

Therefore, if you’re struggling with debt, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to set goals to develop a green lifestyle. Even if you aren’t struggling with debt, it’s nice to be able to bolster up your savings with additional emergency funds. Start small with things like unplugging vampire electronics and washing clothes with cold water. You can then work your way up to things like reducing your restaurant expenditures and joining a carpool. Make a resolution to go green. The environment will thank you, your wallet will thank you, and so will St. Louis Earth Day.

 

About The Author

Michael Benson is certified as a CPA, an attorney, and a Series 7 investor. Michael works as a bankruptcy attorney in downtown St. Louis at A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC. He has a passion for merging green living habits with good personal finance skills.

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