Tag Archives: save money

Eco-Friendly Ways to Save Money

Today is Earth Day, so we wanted to not only bring you positive ways you can impact the planet, but how those changes can impact your savings account as well. We came up with 11 ways to save money all while going green.

1. Use the Sun to Save Money

You don’t need expensive equipment to do a little solar heating. Just open the curtains on the south side of the house during winter days to let the sun shine in. And open the drapes on east-facing windows in the morning (if they’re not shaded).

Of course, the opposite is true when you need to keep the house cool.

2. Drink Tap Water

Not only can a bottled water habit get expensive, it takes it toll on the environment as well. The Water Project says:

  • It takes three liters of water to package one liter of bottled water.
  • Water bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade, and if incinerated they produce toxic fumes.
  • Making water bottles for U.S. demand alone takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil.

We know not every state has access to drinkable tap water, so if you can, drink from the tap.

4. Develop Green Laundry Habits

There are a number of ways to save money doing your laundry — and almost all of them are also environmentally friendly.

Here are some of the best green and frugal habits, according to these various sources, along with the potential annual savings:

  • Wash in cold water ($40)
  • Use less detergent ($80)
  • Line-dry your clothes ($85)
  • Skip the fabric softener ($65)
  • Replace the old washer ($55)
  • Run full loads (savings vary)
  • Keep the dryer lint trap clean (savings vary)

5. Hunt Down and Put an End to Energy Vampires

The U.S. Department of Energy says energy vampires — electronics and appliances that keep using power when turned off — can add 10% to your electrical bill.

For example, phone chargers keep sucking down power even when you’re not charging, and a digital cable box can add more than $40 per year to your bill if you don’t unplug it between uses.

But who wants to run around unplugging things all the time? Instead, plug electronics into power strips that have an on/off button so you can easily cut the power to the TV and DVD player with a flip of a switch.

6. Walk and Bicycle More

If the store is nearby and you only need to carry a few things, walk or take your bike. 

Depending on how many places are within reasonable walking and biking distance, you can significantly reduce your car-related expenses — and you’ll put a lot less pollution into the air.

7. Use Public Transportation

Even if you own a car, you can save money using public transportation. Take the bus or train on longer cross-town trips that would eat up more gas, or to avoid paying for parking.

Here in Portland, Tri-Met is always looking for ways to do more for the environment. Choosing public transit in Portland eliminates over 200,000 daily car trips, which reduces carbon emissions by over 60%.

8. Get an Energy Audit

A home energy audit can identify easy-to-correct energy waste issues in your home, and many utility companies offer them for free or a small charge.

If the cost of a professional audit or assessment is too high for you, just do it yourself. The U.S. Department of Energy has a video to walk you through the process.

10. Stop Those Water Leaks

Leaky faucets and showers are bad enough, but constantly running toilets can be really expensive. A moderately leaky flapper can cost you $70 per month!

Given the potentially high cost of this wasted water, it’s probably worth $5 or so to buy and install a new flapper if you ever hear the toilet running in the middle of the night.

11. Vacation Closer to Home

Of course, this green habit can also save you a lot of money.

12. Dress Warmer

One of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill is to simply turn down the thermostat. You can knock $10 per month off your winter heating bill for each degree you lower the setting.

To do so comfortably, you may have to start another new habit and wear warmer clothes around the house.


Want to get a savings account started for all the money you are about to save? Connect with a Member Relationship Specialist today to find the one that fits your needs best by calling 503-275-0300 Option 3. You can also stop by our branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204.

Get Creative! Ways to Lower Holiday Spending

From our friends at BALANCE

Holiday spending is often a budget-buster.

The expenses can be numerous: presents, wrapping paper, cards, decorations, food, and travel, to name a few. Yet in these tough times, few people have thousands of dollars to spend. If you do not have the funds to buy everything you want, there is no need to despair. A little bit of creativity and energy can get you through the holidays without draining your wallet.

Gifts
Why spend $75 to buy a scarf if you can knit it yourself with $15 yarn? Making your own gifts is a great way to save, since supplies usually cost less than the finished product. Not only are homemade gifts cheaper, but many people appreciate them more than store-bought gifts because of the effort that goes into making them.

Are you not an experienced crafter? No problem. Writing a letter describing what the person means to you or framing a memorable photo are ways to give personalized gifts without having to break out a glue gun. Baking is another option that is easy for most people to do. Standard cookies or brownies can be dressed up with sprinkles and ribbons in holiday colors.

Offering your services is a great cost-saving gift, since it only costs time. Why not offer a free night of babysitting to your sister with three kids or a month of lawn-mowing to your parents? Think about what service you want to offer, and create a coupon that the recipient can redeem at a later date.

Gift-wrapping
Now that you have taken the time to choose economical gifts, you probably do not want to spend $50 wrapping them. Skip the fancy wrapping paper and bows, and look around the house to see what you can use. Do you have a newspaper? (The comic section is an especially suitable choice.) Computer paper? Shopping or supermarket bags? Cheap craft supplies, such as glitter and paint, can be used to decorate plain surfaces.

Cards
It is not uncommon for store cards to cost $4 apiece – or more. If you sent cards to 20 people, that would cost you $80, not including postage. Creating your own cards can help you save, but resist the temptation to buy the pricey supplies that pepper the scrapbook aisles of craft stores. If you create and send cards electronically, you avoid spending money completely. You can make your own or use one of the many free services available on the Internet. If sending electronic cards is not your thing, consider trimming your mailing list. You can probably skip sending cards to your third grade teacher and the second cousin who you never see.

Decorations
Like with gift-wrapping, you can avoid buying decorations by seeing what is lying around the house. Making a garland out of popcorn is a classic holiday decoration. Pine cones and acorns – available in abundance in many parts of the country – provide a perfect seasonal touch. If you are really craving store-bought decorations, consider waiting until after the holidays to buy. Most stores will be selling them at a deep discount, and you can use them next year.

Food
If you host holiday dinners or parties, you may find yourself spending a significant amount of money on food. Potluck dinners are an easy way to shift the burden of buying all of the food off of you. However, if you do not want to ask your guests to bring food, there are other options. Consider eliminating a full dinner and just providing appetizers and desserts or avoiding expensive items, like meat and wine. Look for where you can buy the cheapest food. Often bulk stores are cheaper than regular supermarkets, but not always.

Travel
Airfare is generally more expensive during the holidays, since that is when everyone flies. If you want to celebrate with far away family, why not have a “holiday” dinner during an off-peak time of the year, when airfare is cheaper? Whenever you fly, being flexible can usually help you save – you probably won’t have to spend as much if you fly at night or have a layover.

You do not need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. By being creative with your purchasing and not straining your finances, you can not only celebrate during the holidays, but afterward as well.

Energy Saving Tips for the Holidays

From our friends at BALANCE

The holidays can be an energy guzzler.

The Christmas lights are hung and turned on 24/7. The oven is busy baking gingerbread cookies, yams, turkey, etc. The whole family is at home and turns on all of the lights…and the television…and the computer. Between driving to stores to buy gifts and attend holiday dinners and parties, the car gets double its normal use.

Not only is all of this excessive energy use bad for the planet, but it drains your wallet as well. However, there is no need to turn off the lights on holiday cheer. Here are five easy ways you can reduce your energy consumption.

Skip the Christmas lights.
Instead of using Christmas lights, why not use decorations that don’t need to be plugged in, like garland and ornaments? But, if you just can’t live without them, consider purchasing LED Christmas lights, which use about 80-90% less energy than conventional ones.

Turn off your household lights.
With people typically on vacation during the holidays and friends and family visiting, lights tend to get turned on more. However, you do not need to eat in the dark to save energy – just walk around periodically to make sure that the lights are not on in empty rooms. Also remember to unplug items that drain energy even when they are off, like computers, televisions, and cell-phone chargers (when you are not using them, of course!).

Don’t drive more than you need to.
Instead of visiting the mall multiple times, try to buy all of your gifts in one trip. Draining your gas tank shopping can be avoided if you buy on-line, but sometimes the shipping fees are more than what you would have spent on gas driving to the mall. If you need to travel a long distance for a celebration, consider carpooling. You may not want to spend an extra 45 minutes with Aunt Marie, but you can ask her to pay for half of the gas.

Turn down the thermostat.
Heating is the highest energy expense in most homes, so not having the heater at full blast could save you hundreds of dollars. Certainly, you do not want the house to feel like a freezer, but why not try lowering the temperature a few degrees and putting on a sweater? (You may have received an ever-so-stylish one in holidays past!) When guests are over is often a good time to turn the thermostat down since crowded rooms tend to be warmer than empty ones.

Avoid excessive appliance use when cooking and cleaning.
You can use the oven more efficiently by cooking multiple dishes at the same time. Wait, but what if you have a pie that bakes at 400° and bread that bakes at 350°? You may be able to get away with baking them both at 375°. Or, if you only have a small amount to cook, use a more energy-efficient toaster oven or microwave instead. When washing dishes, consider doing it by hand, or, at the very least, only turn on the dishwasher when it is full.

By being conscious of and reducing your energy consumption, you can enjoy the holidays without breaking out in a sweat when January’s energy bill comes.

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