How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Products

shop for eco-friendly products

Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22, which means now is as good a time as ever to brush up on your earth-friendly ways. Going green isn’t always easy, but there are little things you can do over time to continuously help our planet, including shopping. But, when it comes to your regular purchases, it can be difficult to know what is actually eco-friendly and what is a sales attempt. Making smart purchases does not need to be difficult or take a lot of time. Here is how you can easily shop for eco-friendly products:

How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Products

Shopping green is not the same as shopping smarter. Some products do not live up to the title and cost you more. Here’s what to look out for:

  1. Biodegradable is not always the way to go. Just because an item is described as biodegradable does not mean it will work. They actually need to be composted and do not work in landfills. So, unless you live near a compost or have one, you should not purchase biodegradable products. Instead, look for reusable items.
  2. Research “natural” and “organic” products. Labels and companies can be deceiving, and some will go as far to completely lie, as was the case with this company in Atlanta, Georgia. Items that are truly organic will include the official seal from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Natural Products Association, or the BDIH stamp. These marks indicate that the products have met the criteria to be considered natural or organic. While natural is not the same as organic, natural products are still minimally processed and better for our Earth than many other substances we produce. Anything that claims to be but is not is not worth spending the extra money on.
  3. Hybrid cars can be our best friend. for the most part, nature loves hybrid vehicles. Plus, the government gives you a tax break for having a hybrid; that is, depending on the car battery size along with make, model, and year. However, don’t just go out and buy a hybrid for the tax credit. What you could do, though, is purchase a used hybrid or put the money toward your current car. Tune-ups do wonders for your gas mileage, which, in turn, helps the environment. Not to mention, when it comes to car shopping in general, look for the smaller vehicles with the best gas mileage. Mother nature likes these the best.
  4. Reuse plastic and paper bags. As great as the reusable cloth bags are, you should also try to remember to reuse your plastic and paper bags as well. This not only saves you money but is a great way recycle as well.
  5. BPA-free plastics may not be what they’re cracked up to be. Don’t waste your time with BPA-free plastics. You won’t know for sure if the plastic products contain the chemicals. Skip them all together. Use glass or lead-free ceramic containers instead.

Now that you have an idea of how to shop for eco-friendly products, you can test it out for yourself. Just remember to look for the seal of approval for natural and organic, reuse items as much as possible, and resist buying items just because of their “eco-friendly” claim.

What would you add to the list? 

Last Minute Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner

last minute ways to save on thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is this week to officially kick-off the holiday season. This means time with family, overeating, and, if you’re similar to my family, watching movie marathons like The Wizard of Oz together. While you’ve been waiting for this day for quite some time, you may not have everything you need yet. But, don’t worry; there are quite a few last minute ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner.

If you feel behind on your Thanksgiving grocery list, don’t. Many first-time turkey-day hosts are in your same shoes, still deciding what will be on the menu. If you’re also concerned with the costs of this holiday, you’ll find comfort in knowing that grocery prices are actually lower and still falling this year. In fact, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of Thanksgiving day meal for 10 is $49.87 this year, a decrease from $50.11 in 2015.

However, we all know how we can get carried away when we have family and friends over. Hopefully, this list of last minute ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner will keep you on track.

Take no shame in using coupons

Check around your local grocery stores for coupons. With the holidays on everyone’s minds, stores are also sending out direct mailers filled with deals and savings. Use this route to compare and contrast store deals too. Even if they aren’t coming directly to your doorstep, the internet is a great resource for you to find coupons, particularly for those side dishes that can add up. Try Coupons.com, where you can save on a variety of products, even dish detergent for all those dishes accumulated during the family feast.

Don’t overdo it

One of the more difficult parts of hosting a large dinner is getting those serving sizes right. It’s easier to plan for having a bunch of food rather than just doing a little math. More often than no, we usually always overeat, right? And even after distributing leftovers, it still can amount to too much. You’ll end up wasting not just food but money as well. So, unless you plan on donating to a food bank, why not save everyone a little heartache and cut back on some dishes this year.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Sorry, I am not really calling you stupid. I know you are very intelligent! But, I find the K.I.S.S. method to be very effective in my life both professionally and personally. Instead of going all out and buying new Thanksgiving decor, save money by finding some DIY decoration tips online. It’s amazing what you can do with paper and scissors. You could even check to your online dollar store for simple items that will spruce up your home on a dime. Plus, your loved ones aren’t going to mind the lack of decor anyway. They care more about seeing you and hearing how your life is going.

Make it a potluck

One of the most effective last minute ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner is to turn part of it into a potluck. Ask everyone to bring one side dish and let them know you’ll cover the rest. You could turn this into a fun way to learn everyone’s cooking style or make sure that everyone is getting something they like to eat. Another option would be to ask guests to bring their own alcohol. Alcohol can really add up, especially when providing drinks for everyone in attendance. Box wine is a cheaper option, but it might be better to just let family know to BYOB. It can be another way to ensure everyone is enjoying the beverage of their choice as well.

Skip the paper plates

It might seem counter-intuitive, but purchasing paper plates and plasticware can add costs that may not be necessary. Although a time saver, they create an unneeded expense instead of just spending more time washing dishes instead. In my family, we help one another out with dishes so that cleanup takes up less time. Perhaps you can recruit a couple family members to help alleviate this chore by turning it into a game. Having fun together while cleaning at the same time? Sounds like a win-win to me.

These last minute ways to save on Thanksgiving dinner will hopefully relieve some stress off your shoulders (and keep your budget intact).

What would you add to the list? 

 

How to Stick With Your Budget

budget

Having a budget is great but not if you can’t stick with it.

Creating limits is one of the first steps in changing your finances for the better. Going through the process of developing a plan can be challenging but is time well spent. However, it’s useless if it is never utilized. If you already created a household budget, it’s time to follow through. These top tips will help you stick with your financial plan.

Dig Deep

Does your budget really suit your current needs? Perhaps it is difficult for you to move forward with your plan because it is not actually right for you. In order to determine this, ask yourself the following:

  • Is it too complicated? Too much content can be overseen. If you created multiple categories for your allocations, it may be too much for what you need. Try condensing if you feel overwhelmed with your objective.
  • Is it too general? “Save money” does not make for a good budget plan. Stating how you are going to do so does. Include details on what you need to do to get started and where you need to make cuts. Action items are a great way to encourage you to proceed. I like to create checklists for myself to keep me on track with all of my goals, including finances.
  • Do you have a backup plan? One reason your household may have a hard time following through with a budget is not having a process for when you actually do cut back on purchases. If you decided to take cable out of the picture do you know what you’re going to do with that money that would have gone to your cable bill? What will you do instead of going out to eat? Knowing this in advance will prevent you from falling back into old ways.
  • Is it realistic? Your budget may not work out if your income goals are too ambitious. If they are based more on fantasy and less on reality, you will have a hard time.
  • Do you have incentives in place? Rewards should go with your budget as a pat on the back for making it happen. These “awards” will be a little (or big) reminder why budgeting is so important (and why you should stick with yours). A vacation, a new outfit or a night out on the town are some examples of ways you can reward yourself.

Make It Fun

Budgeting is not typically enjoyable, but that does not mean you can’t make it entertaining. As previously stated, having a backup plan can keep any holes filled from your cuts, thus preventing abandoning your budget. Some examples include:

  • Turn your living room into a theater. Save money from going out to a play or a movie by creating your own in your very living room. Get the kids involved to put on a play, puppet shows the like. Record them for future nights of fun where you can re-live all the funny moments.
  • Do date night in. Part of the fun of going out to eat with your significant other is getting dolled up, especially if you never get to. But, you can have a night in and still get dolled up. Bring out the fancy plates, put on some nice clothes and cook a new recipe together. You’ll save money and make memories.
  • Create your own entertainment. Build a living room fort and have a picnic in it or plan a night of the week for family game night. You don’t have to always pay for entertainment; it’s often right under your nose in your very own home with the people you love most.

A budget needs to be on-going and monitored in order to work. By checking to make sure it fits you and your needs along with making it amusing, your budgeting process will go a long way. Keep in mind that you can have some flexibility when it comes to your budget as far as periodic adjustments go; just stick with it.

How do you stick with your budget?