How living green proved to be frugal

My Story: Saving Money by Living Green

contributed by JL

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I had tried to live a frugal lifestyle before. I used coupons when I remembered. I stocked up on items when they went on sale, and I tried to follow a budget. But no matter how many books I read on saving money or following a budget, I couldn't do it very well. I'd be strict with my spending for a few weeks or months and then I'd get lazy and our grocery bill would quickly creep up.

I wanted to be a saver, not a spender. I wanted to be sensible with my money, but I couldn't do it. This was true until I turned "green."

I'm not sure exactly when I started to be interested in the environment, but I began to read books on living an eco-friendly lifestyle. I was suddenly passionate about being low-impact in how I lived.

Maybe my motivation wasn't strong enough before. Maybe the goal of "spending less" just wasn't big enough for me. Now I wanted to help save the planet. I guess this goal was big enough because it stuck.

I now live as "green" of a life as I can. By going "green," I have also become the frugal superstar I always wanted to be. Here are a few ways I'm living an eco-friendly lifestyle and spending less money:

  • I avoid packaging when I shop. I want to reduce what I send to the landfill, so it makes sense to only buy items that aren't wrapped in a lot of packaging. I also like to buy local, so that my food hasn't been transported long distances. This means I now buy a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables than before. I also buy dried beans and legumes and prepare them myself. This means I make almost all of our food from scratch. Sure, it takes longer, but it's healthier for my family (and the planet). It also saves a lot of money.
  • I now use reusable products when I can. This means handkerchiefs instead of tissues, cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, and rags instead of paper towels (most of the time at least). This has decreased my grocery bill even further.
  • I buy secondhand items. This gives perfectly good clothing and furniture a second life and keeps them out of the landfill. By shopping at thrift stores and garages sales or by borrowing something I'll only use a few times, I've saved a lot of money.
  • In order to avoid purchasing chemicals and bringing them into my home, I now make my own moisturizer from coconut oil and my own cleaning products from vinegar and baking soda. This has resulted in more savings and a reduction in my asthma.
  • I feel it's important to decrease our energy use at home, so our clothes get washed in cold water and hung to dry either outside on the clothesline or inside on drying racks. We also keep our thermostat set low and wear thick socks and sweaters in the winter. In the summer, we only use fans. The central air conditioning never gets turned on, and the whole family has adjusted fine.
  • I use the water collected in rain barrels to water our gardens.
  • Instead of driving everywhere, we try to leave the car at home as much as possible and prefer to walk or bike to do our errands. We save money on gas and car maintenance, and it's great for our health and the environment.

It's interesting to me that by choosing to live in an environmentally-friendly manner, I'm also helping my family's finances and health. Because I feel so passionate about this, I know I'll continue to stick with it and enjoy how great it feels to be living responsibly in all possible ways.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

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