Tightening Your Belt; Tips from The Great Recession that Will Help you Be Healthier AND Save Money

George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian almost exactly a year ago that a recession might not be a bad thing, and that perhaps there can be too much growth. He also wondered if we all have enough cars and cellphones, and don’t need to keep making them. Perhaps he should be careful what he wishes for.

It is also true that almost all of the things that we preach as being good for the planet are also good for getting recession-ready; use less stuff, lower your heating bills, reduce your use of electricity, make your own dinner — all these things that make less carbon dioxide also save us money. Most of them make you healthier too. Here are a few ideas:

Tighten Your Belt in the Kitchen

1. Ditch prepared meals right now Consumers have been led to believe that they don’t have the time to cook and it simply isn’t true. You can have a healthy meal on the table within half an hour. Prepared meals have unhealthy fats, more sugar, more salt, more preservatives, and more garbage waste than anything you can cook yourself.

2. Plan ahead: Yes, this is going to take a bit of effort, but once you get going it will be easy. Make sure you have a well stocked pantry. Canned or dry legumes, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes should all be on hand to make quick, nutritious meals.

3. Plan your week: Take the time to work out a menu plan for the week. Most people grocery shop once a week and they toss things into their carts, without considering what they really need. If you know what you are going to eat, and you have the right ingredients, you’ll be less likely to call for takeout, or head out to the fast food joint.

Brown Bag It If you eat your lunch out every day, you might not realize just how much it is costing you. If you have soup and a sandwich and a drink, you are probably spending at least of $10.00 a day, maybe more. Now think about how much further that $50-plus would go if you used it to buy groceries. I don’t normally spend more than $10 per day for all three of my meals that I cook at home. This is probably one of the quickest ways for you to start saving money.

There is no question that taking your lunch to work every day takes some planning, but once you get used to it, you won’t find it hard. As I mentioned in THIS POST , you should invest in a thermos. You should also invest in some reusable containers as well as a reusable bag so that you aren’t creating more waste.

ANDSqueeze Out The Last Drop

Less is definitely more when money is tight; it is better for your budget and better for the environment. Squeezing out the last drop of the things that we use means that less stuff goes to the dump as well. Here’s how:1. Use less than recommended: Are the shampoo manufacturers suggesting how much to use and then “rinse and repeat” serving their interest or yours? Try using less and less each time until you figure out the minimum you can get away with.2. Dilute it: So much of what we buy is mainly water anyways, why not just add a bit more? When you get to the bottom of a bottle, rinse it out and use that too.

3. Get the last drop: Leave bottles upside down for a couple of hours. Roll up that toothpaste tube.4. Use tools: Dig into corners with Popsicle sticks and old toothbrushes. Use scissors and cut that tube or bottle to use every bit.

Get Your Car Recession Ready

The car is one of the biggest expenses people have, and one where the changes you make can have a big impact on the amount you spend, and the greenhouse gases you generate.

Of course, the best thing you can do is ditch your car completely, and we have a couple of alternatives for that.The biggest and most cost-effective thing you can do is Throw away the keys and live car-free. According to a 2004 American Automobile Association study, the average American spends $8,410 per year to own a vehicle. That’s equal to $700 per month, and a lot of potential savings when you throw away your keys

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