Posts Tagged ‘save money’

Summer is coming and if you live in Wisconsin like me, you’ve already experienced some summer heat this spring. Here are several tips for how to stay cool this summer while staying green and without going broke.

1) Keep your shades closed. Thermal curtains or light-blocking curtains are relatively inexpensive and can be bought at Shopko. These curtains will keep the light and/or heat out in the summer, reducing your need to artificially cool your home.

A storm took out one of our trees last summer and unfortunately, it was the tree on the west side of the house that produced nice shade for our home. So, now on warmer days, the sun beats in through our living room windows in the evening, heating up the whole lower level of the house. To make up for the loss of shade and natural cooling feature of our tree, I recently bought some curtains to block out the light:

2) Use fans. Fans still use electricity, but they use less energy than air conditioners. When possible, use fans rather than central air or an air conditioning unit to cool your home. On the especially hot and humid days when you do need to artificially cool your home, keep your thermostat set higher (in the mid-70s) and turn on some fans to cool you down.

3) Keep the cool air in! Caulk around windows and use weather-stripping on doors to keep the cool air in and the heat out. Also, add insulation with a high “R” rating to your attic. This is initially an expensive purchase, but will pay off in energy savings all year every year.

For more tips on how to keep your home cool without breaking the bank this summer, visit the All You blog.

How do you cool your home in green ways? Has much money have you saved?


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Many college students are eco-minded individuals who want to lead sustainable lives. But the challenge to live sustainably can be daunting, especially for those on limited incomes.

As a college student myself, I have been faced with this challenge for the past four years. Let me share some tips with you for how I made sustainable choices that also saved me money. Couponing.about.com has some great additional ideas that I will also share.

1) Buy used textbooks whenever possible. Used textbooks can be found at your campus bookstore, Amazon, Ebay or Half Price Books. Also check out Facebook to see if there is a specific page set up by students at your university to buy and sell textbooks from their classmates.

Renting is also another viable, green option.

And be sure to sell your books back to your campus bookstore or to Amazon at the end of the semester if you don’t intend to use the book again.

2) Walk to campus if you can. Save yourself the money for an on-campus parking permit (which typically runs about $100 per semester) and give yourself the exercise you need by walking to campus. If you’re like me and don’t live close enough to campus to walk, park your car in a parking zone on a city street off campus and walk a couple of blocks to campus.

3) Buy basic clothing rather than what’s trendy. It will cost you less, and you can wear it for more than one season. You can find lots of great stuff at secondhand stores such as Goodwill, such as these two shirts:

4) Shop Craigslist or Goodwill for furniture and other household items needed for your dorm, apartment or house.

5) Another blog, called Just Ask Asa, suggests using reusable plates, cups and shopping bags, rather than disposable paper and plastic ones, to reduce waste and to save money in the long run.

These are some of the ways I and many others have tried to live a frugal and green life in college.

How have you saved money while living green in college or as a young adult?

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Think Thrifty

We’ve all heard the advice “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Turns out this advice is not just good for our environment, but it can help save us some money, too.

Let’s focus on the second “R”: Reuse.

One of the best ways I’ve found to save money and “be green” is to shop for secondhand items whenever possible. What’s great about buying secondhand is that it reuses items, which saves resources compared to buying new products, which uses additional resources. This is great for the environment and, with the exception of antiques, can save consumers a lot of money, too.

There are SO many great stores out there such as St. Vincent De Paul, Goodwill and on a local level, Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe, among others, that sell secondhand items.

Additionally, there are awesome sites out there such as Craigslist, which is essentially a sold-by-owner type of online thrift store.

Most thrift stores sell a variety of products from clothes and shoes to furniture, kitchen utensils and books, making it easy to get what you need all in one place.

Here are a few photos of some of my more recent purchases from thrift stores:

A set of nearly new clothes for my god-daughter, which I recently purchased from Goodwill for under $5.

A chair I bought at Goodwill for about $15.

And a pair of shorts for myself for about $6.

Another benefit of shopping at thrift stores is many of them exist to do philanthropic work with the money they make. For example, Goodwill served more than 2.4 million people through its employment and training programs in 2010.

Goodwill also supports sustainable initiatives including training its staff to adopt green practices.

Still don’t believe shopping for secondhand items is worth it? Check out this blog post on Helium for more reasons and tips for going thrift shopping!

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Not only is living “green” good for the environment, but it can be really good for your pocketbook, too! As @do something said, “Being green saves you money. Being green saves you green.” That’s what this blog is all about.

For now, let’s start with food.

I am not strictly a vegetarian, but I do choose to eat some meatless meals. In addition to the health benefits and savings in cost, there are some huge environmental benefits to eating less meat. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog, eating vegetarian creates 1.5 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide per year than diets that contain meat. This has the same environmental impact as switching from driving a Chevrolet Suburban to a Toyota Camry!

The article also suggests that eating only 2 oz. of meat per day may actually be better for the environment than eating more than 2 oz. of meat per day and is also better than going vegetarian completely.

If you have a hard time thinking of ways to reduce the amount of meat in your diet here are some cheap, but tasty, meatless recipes to try!

Baked Potato Soup

1 garlic clove
1/2 t. pepper
2 large baked potatoes
1 c. half and half
1 small onion, chopped
3 T. flour
1 t. basil
3 c. chicken broth
1/4 t. hot pepper sauce
shredded cheddar cheese

Saute onion and garlic and half of potatoes in a saucepan with olive oil. Stir in flour, pepper and basil. Gradually add broth, bring to a boil stir for 2 minutes. Add rest of potatoes, cream and sauce. Heat through. Do not boil. Garnish with shredded cheese.

Berry Mandarin Salad


1/4 c. sugar
2 T. honey
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. onion
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 T. vinegar
1 1/4 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. celery seed or poppy seed
dash salt


1 bag or tub of spinach
sliced strawberries
chopped onions
toasted almonds
1 can mandarin oranges

Combine dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve salad. Combine salad ingredients. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can black beans, drained and lightly mashed
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 t. chili powder
1 pkg. wheat flour tortillas
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. cilantro leaves

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, salsa and chili powder. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spray hot griddle or clean, heated skillet with cooking spray. Place one tortilla on griddle or skillet and cook 1 minute. Spread 1/3 c. bean mixture and 1/3 c. cheese over tortilla. Sprinkle some cilantro over top. Place another tortilla on top and cook 1 minute. Press gently with a spatula and turn. Cook 1 minute. Remove from griddle or skillet. Spray griddle or skillet with cooking spray. Repeat rest of steps to make a total of three quesadillas.

Very Veggie Frittata

5 eggs
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. sour cream
2 sliced green onions
1 c. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c. red peppers, chopped
1/2 c. green peppers, chopped
1/2 c. yellow peppers, chopped
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1 T. butter

Beat eggs, 3/4 c. cheese, sour cream, onions, salt and pepper together. In a 9-in. skillet, cook mushrooms, peppers and onion in butter until tender. Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Cover and cook 4-6 minutes or until nearly set. Uncover, sprinkle with 1/4 c. cheese. Broil 2-3 minutes or until eggs are set. Makes 4 servings.

Margherita Pizzas

2 store-bought wheat pizza crusts
2 t. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 t. italian seasoning
basil to taste

Place one pizza crust on ungreased pizza pan. Brush with oil. Top with half the toppings. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes. Repeat with other pizza crust. Makes two pizzas.

Note: each pizza can be made for under $5 using a prepared pizza crust.

For more meatless recipes for under $5, check out the 5 Dollar Dinners Blog or share your own here!

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