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Eco Friendly Gifts For New Moms

Eco Friendly Gifts For New Moms

It’s funny how these things work. All of the sudden recently, I had a bunch of friends expecting babies. It had been a while since I’d known anyone who was expecting a baby, suddenly I know a bunch. And it got me thinking about what kinds of eco friendly gifts are appropriate for new moms.

Handmedowns

Since I have kids of my own, and a habit of handing things down with family, this one is obvious to me. While you have to keep it safe and check for defects, damage and recalls on old items, there are plenty of baby things you can hand down to new moms, especially baby clothes. You know how fast new babies go through clothes. The very first thing I check with the various moms is whether or not they already have a source of handmedowns. If they need something I have just sitting, no longer used, there’s an easy gift.

A Home Cooked Meal

New moms are often exhausted. A home cooked meal made by someone else can be very welcome indeed. Make it something that can be frozen and reheated easily, so it can be served when convenient.

Playtime For The Older Kids

When moms have older kids, it’s hard to deal with them and the baby. If you can give them time to play away from mom and the baby, everyone gets a much needed break. If your own kids are in the same age group, so much the better.

Cloth Diapers

If the new mom is interested in cloth diapering her new baby, help build her stash. You may need to find out which cloth diapers she prefers. Don’t forget the cloth wipes to go with them! A wet bag is another great addition.

Baby Food Maker

If the mom is on board with making her own food for baby, get her a good baby food maker. I used a manual one for my kids, and it did a great job. If you made food for your own babies, make sure you share your baby’s favorite recipes.

Sustainable Toys

So many baby toys are plastic. Switch things up by finding sustainable toys for the new baby, especially ones that should be loved for many years.

Eco Friendly Baby Clothes

While hand-me-downs are wonderful, it’s nice to have something new for baby too. If you know the new mom is getting gifts from a lot of people, consider getting clothes for a somewhat older baby. Moms often end up with too many clothes for a newborn in my experience.

Feeding Supplies

You may need to know something about the new mom’s plans before picking out any feeding supplies for her. Glass baby bottles are a great choice if she’s going to use bottles at all.

A good breast pump is a great gift if she’s planning on doing any pumping, but not so good if she already knows she’s not interested. Don’t give her a hard time if it’s not her thing – there may be reasons you don’t know.

Baby Wrap/Sling

A good wrap or sling is an effective way to carry babies; so much nicer than relying on a car seat, and less awkward than always having baby in your arms. There are many wonderful options available to keep baby close to mom or dad throughout the day.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Add Bare-Root Fruit Trees To Your Garden

Add Bare-Root Fruit Trees To Your Garden

We bought a home a couple years ago. It’s so nice to get away from renting and be able to do what we want with the property – especially the garden. The very first thing we added to the garden was bare-root fruit trees.

Bare-root fruit trees have a lot of advantages. They’re cheaper than potted fruit trees. They’re much easier to bring home from the nursery. Nurseries often carry a larger variety of bare-root fruit trees because they take up less room, so you have more varieties to choose from.

The disadvantages include that bare-root trees might be a little slower to start bearing fruit. They may need more time to get established. Nurseries don’t carry them all year long in most places, because you must plant a bare-root tree while it is dormant.

The house we bought had no fruit trees or vegetable garden – only grass and decorative plants. Completely not what we want, although pretty enough. If I water it, I want it to fulfill a purpose, beyond just looking good. Some things we plant for the bees, birds and butterflies, some things we plant for food. Fruit trees were an easy choice to start things out.

Add Trees Early To Your Garden

If you want to grow fruit trees in your garden, they should be added early on. They take time to get established, but once they’re established, you only have to maintain them. They’ll last for many years.

The wonderful part about fruit trees is that they’re relatively easy to get started. When you’re new to a property, planting fruit trees is much easier than getting an entirely new garden started.

We followed the advice on the Dave Wilson website when planting our trees. We did two groups of trees – one group of four, and one of three. Trees that need to cross pollinate were put near each other.

Some of our trees produced a little this year, their second in the ground. We limited their production because they’re still young trees. And as often happens, some branches had too much fruit and had to be thinned anyhow to keep the branches from breaking.

Pick The Right Trees

Make sure you consider the needs of each tree, as well as when they produce when selecting your fruit trees. Cross pollination is vital for many fruit tree varieties. If you neglect that aspect and some neighbor doesn’t happen to have a compatible tree, you won’t get fruit from it.

You also want to consider when fruit ripens for each tree. You don’t want all of your fruit ripening at the same time, most likely. It’s much better to have your fruit ripen over time.

Where you live matters too. Some fruit trees need a certain amount of time below certain temperatures, or they just won’t produce. Talk to your nursery if you aren’t certain about what grows well where you live.

Also consider the space you need. Many varieties can be pruned to a smaller size, so that they’re easier to care for and harvest. The Dave Wilson site has tips on high density planting, which allows you to grow more fruit trees in a smaller space. This can be nice even if you have a lot of room in your yard.

And of course, consider what you’d like to grow. It’s always nice to grow particular favorites on your own trees. Home grown fruit always tastes better than the stuff you get at the grocery store.

Be Patient

One important thing to understand about fruit trees is that they won’t produce right away. Some will make you wait for years until they are mature enough to bear fruit after you’ve transplanted them.

While many will get going 2-3 years after you plant them, some take up to seven years before they can produce. We’re looking at that possibility with our cherry trees, although that’s the high end of the wait. I hope it will be on the lower side.

If you’re concerned that your fruit trees aren’t producing, check this table from Stark Bro’s Nursery. It can be quite reassuring to see that the delay you’re seeing is normal for your tree.

13 Eco Friendly Tips For Working At Home

13 Eco Friendly Tips For Working At Home

One of the things I like about working at home is that it’s a relatively eco friendly option. I don’t have to drive to work, so my van gets relatively little use. There are many other ways, however, that you can be eco friendly while working at home.

1. Reset Your Thermostat

Compared to a lot of people I know, I keep my house relatively cool in winter and warm in summer. My air conditioner doesn’t go off until the house is about 80 degrees F, and the heater goes off below about 68 degrees F. This saves a lot of energy.

While this may sound uncomfortable, it really isn’t. There is a ceiling fan in my home office, which uses much less power than an air conditioner. Moving air feels much cooler than it really is.

In winter, it’s a matter of dressing just a little warmer.

It doesn’t take much to get used to a house that is a little on the warm or cool side. The great part is that it makes it easier to go outside if you aren’t used to perfect air temperatures all the time. Use a programmable thermostat to make it easy to keep your home temperature just right.

2. Open A Window When The Weather Is Right

When the weather is nice enough, I open windows. The fresh air is good for the house, and it takes no power to open them up. When the weather is pleasant, it helps keep the house at a nice temperature.

3. Use Natural Light When Possible

Opening the windows doesn’t just let air in – it lets in light. You don’t have to open the windows to get light, however. So long as the curtains or blinds are open, you’ll get light.

If the weather is very hot and the sun comes in directly through that window, it may be more efficient to cover the window and use the lights in your house. Too much heat in through the window may make your air conditioner turn on more.

Make sure your light bulbs are CFLs or LEDs for the times you have to turn them on.

4. Print As Little As Possible

It’s amazing how little most people who work at home have to print. It’s very rare for me.

Most receipts and such that I get online and need to keep, I file online or on my computer. That way I’m still keeping track, but not using paper. When it’s no longer relevant, I need only hit the delete key, rather than recycle or shred the papers. It’s a much easier form of storage.

If you do have to print, try to use both sides of the paper. Some printers can handle this on their own for multi-page printouts. You can always save paper for printing on the other side regardless of what your printer can handle on its own. Anything that doesn’t have to be printed for someone else’s purposes can probably share the paper with another printout.

5. Let Your Computer Sleep

When you aren’t using your computer, let it go into sleep mode. Set the sleep setting for a reasonable time for the way you use your computer – 15 minutes is usually safe enough. You can let it turn off your monitor sooner than that if you like, but you’ll save the most if your computer sleeps when you aren’t actively using it.

6. Unplug

When your cell phone is done charging, unplug it if the charger doesn’t turn itself off automatically. Same for your laptop and any other rechargeable devices you have.

7. Recycle

When you have to use paper or other recyclable materials while working at home, make sure you do recycle them.

This is easy in my area, as we don’t have to sort recyclables from each other. We get a bin for trash, a bin for recyclable, and a bin for yard waste. So long as those are kept separate, and the recyclables are reasonably clean, further sorting isn’t necessary here.

Make sure you recycle your old electronics too. I’m hoping to be able to replace my iPhone 4 sometime soon, and it will be sent for recycling when the time comes. The big reason I want to replace it is that too many apps I use are losing compatibility with it – the OS is too out of date. That and a slight freezing up problem here and there.

You can often find electronics recycling events in your area. My favorite is when it’s a fundraiser for a local school, so that the students benefit. Try to be sure that it’s a reputable electronics recycling company, as some have very questionable practices. Be sure to wipe all data before sending any electronics for recycling.

You can also recycle ink cartridges. Some office supply stores take them and give you a discount on new ones.

8. Drink Water From A Reusable Bottle

Water is the healthiest and most eco friendly option you can drink. You can get it from your tap, although you may need a good filter in some areas to improve the taste and remove excess chemicals. It’s cheap when you drink tap water, and using a glass from your cabinet or a reusable water bottle, makes for very little waste.

I prefer my stainless steel water bottle to a glass of water because there’s no risk of spillage. It can be knocked over, and nothing will come out. Between kids, cats, and my own occasional clumsiness, that’s a good thing. Stainless steel lasts pretty much forever. I’ve dented my bottle, but it would take a lot to break it.

9. Buy Used Office Furniture

My office chair is absolutely wonderful. Comfortable and ergonomic. I got it for $5 at a garage sale. Lucky find, but seek such finds out when furnishing your home office. You’ll save a lot of money.

You can also shop thrift stores or Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore. I’m amazed at what they have every time I go.

10. Repair Things

If something breaks, see if it can be fixed. My husband’s office chair had a wheel break recently, and he was complaining at first that he didn’t want to spend money on a new chair, but thought we would need to. I hopped onto Amazon, and found new wheels for the chair. The switch was incredibly easy to make, taking only a few minutes once the new wheels arrived.

Computers and other office gear can be harder to repair, but it is often possible. Some jobs may require very up to date equipment, but keep your electronics as long as you can rather than buying new every chance.

11. Make Your Own Lunch And Snacks

It’s not that hard to make your own lunch when you work at home. Keep some basic supplies around, and you can have a good lunch without a lot of waste.

I package dinner leftovers for easy lunches. They’re almost as easy as microwaveable lunches, but without the leftover packaging. I also keep easy foods to make for lunch around.

Do something similar for your snacks during the day. Having a supply of chopped veggies, for example, makes it much easier to grab a healthy, low waste snack. If you want chips or something less healthy, decide if your self control will let you have the big bag in the house to decrease the waste, while limiting your serving to an appropriate amount in a bowl.

12. Add Some Plants

Adding a few houseplants to your office makes for some nice scenery and can help clean the air. I like growing orchids. They’re just a little something to brighten my day.

13. Consider Solar Power

If your power bill is high enough, solar power may be a good option for you. How well solar will do for you depends on your area and electricity usage, but some people find paying for the panels cheaper than their electric bill had been. It’s still not cheap, but it might be your best deal.

Do you have any other tips for having an eco friendly home office? What works best for you?

12 Apps That Encourage Kids to Get Out and Explore

Kids get out and explore

As a mom or dad, you probably grumble sometimes about how much time your kids spend in front of one screen or another. And it’s true that kids spend way too much time in front of screens. However, there are some apps you can put on your smartphone that will encourage your kids to get out and explore.

Obviously, you need to decide how much supervision your kids need with each of these apps, depending on location and your child’s maturity level. Some of the apps mentioned here are free; others you have to buy.

1. Geocaching

If you haven’t heard of geocaching yet, the idea is simple. It’s called the world’s largest treasure hunt. The app helps you find geocaches in your area and navigate to them. People hide small things in the cache, and if you find it, you can take it and put something of equal or greater value in, or put the item back where you found it.

Geocaches are all over the place. The website tells me there are more than 8000 geocaches near my town. That’s not just in my town, of course, but in areas surrounding it. Still, I looked at the map and could see quite a few within a few miles of me, and a huge number along a popular local hike.

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Android

2. iNaturalist

Share your observations of plants and animals you observe to contribute to biodiversity science. You can use crowdsourcing to identify plants and animals you don’t recognize. You’ll connect to other naturalists who share your interests in the world around you.

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Android

3. Audubon Bird Guide

Do your kids love birds? Make it easier to identify them as you wander outdoors with this guide. You can log sightings and share with the community, as well as get help identifying birds you can’t quite identify on your own.

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Android

4. Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors

Based on the PBS Kids character, Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors offers daily adventures for kids. The app may have the kids use the compass, camera, microphone or sketch as they create a nature journal.

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Android

5. DIY Lake Science

DIY Lake Science is helpful in learning about lakes and freshwater ecosystems. There are hands-on activities, requiring supplies that are generally easy to get. There is also an “Under the Lake” simulation which allows students to explore what happens as temperatures change for different lakes.

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6. Star Walk 2

Build an interest in astronomy with Star Walk 2, a stargazing app which helps you identify objects in the night sky where you are. Move your device around and it updates as you go.

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Android

7. Redshift

Redshift will also help you identify astronomical objects in your area, and guide you to ones you’re trying to find. It also offers 3d “flights” to go to the surface of other planets and moons in the solar system.

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Android

8. Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go hit it huge when it came out. There have been problems with people not really watching where they’re going as they seek Pokémon. Some have played the game in inappropriate places, although the developers have put in some effort to keep the game out of such places. You have to walk to hatch your Pokémon eggs, guaranteeing that the kids will get some exercise.

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9. Ingress

Before the Pokemon Go app, there was Ingress. Like Pokemon, you will need to be aware of the potential safety risks as kids visit waypoints and how they chat with other players. Forming alliances with other players is a part of the game, so that your alliance can control more areas.

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10. Zombies, Run!

This app will encourage walking and running. You start out on your walk or run, your music playing as you get your mission. When the zombies start chasing you, it’s time to run. It’s a fun story combined with exercise.

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11. Fit For Battle

Another app that makes walking or running into a game. Shia the elf and Keg the dwarf will let you know when to speed up or slow down as they take you through the game.

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12. Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunts

Make exploring your area more interesting with photographic scavenger hunts. The first four hunts are free, then you have to buy further scavenger hunts. Sometimes you can get an addon hunt free.

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51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

One of the wonderful things about being eco friendly is that it often saves you money too. It’s really not the time consuming, expensive challenge many think it is. There are lots of simple, money saving things you can do to be a little kinder to the planet.

In the Home

1. Change your lightbulbs

As your lightbulbs burn out, switch them for CFLs or even LEDs. These may cost more, but should make it up nicely in savings. CFLs and LEDs can use 25%-80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last 3-25 times longer.

programmable thermostat

2. Use a programmable thermostat and watch your settings

A programmable thermostat can help you save money by changing its settings on a schedule. Your house doesn’t need to be kept at the same temperature when you’re away for hours or when you’re sleeping. It saves the trouble of turning the thermostat up or down yourself throughout the day.

Also try keeping your home a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter. For my family, a slightly warmer house means the kids are a little more willing to go outside during the summer. A house that rarely runs the air conditioner isn’t as much fun to stay in as one that is kept cooler. I like that little benefit too. My air conditioner doesn’t turn on until 84 degrees, which is comfortable when you’re used to it and use fans.

3. Shield windows that let in a lot of heat

If you know which windows let in too much summer heat, block them during the day. This can be as simple (and ugly) as putting large pieces of cardboard in the window. A mylar film can also help – the cheap way is to cut up a mylar emergency blanket. If you want things to look better, consider insulating window coverings.

4. Use fans instead of air conditioners

As I said above, I use my air conditioner very little. Ceiling fans, stand fans, box fans, whatever you have available, it’s cheaper to use than your air conditioner, and it’s amazing how much cooler air feels when it’s moving around the room.

ceiling fan

5. Dress warmer in winter

Rather than heat the entire house in winter, dress a little warmer. It’s much cheaper to put on that sweater you already own than to pay for the energy to run the heater.

6. Check your furnace and air conditioner filters

The filters for your furnace and air conditioner gather dust as they’re used – that’s kind of the point. But over time the dust makes them less efficient and make your units work harder. Consider whether you want a filter than can be cleaned and put back in rather than disposable filters – the reusable ones cost more upfront but will save you money over time.

7. Check your weatherstripping

Weatherstripping around your doors and windows works best when it’s in good condition. It will make heating or cooling your home more efficient by limiting how much air escapes from your home.

8. Use the dishwasher

Generally speaking, the dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Modern dishwasher detergents even work better if you don’t do an excessive amount of rinsing, as they react with the food particles left on there. Don’t leave chunks of food, of course.

9. Wash clothes in cold water

Most modern detergents don’t need warm water to work – cold is just fine for them. Sometimes hot water is worse for stains, as it can set them rather than remove them. Save warm or hot water washes for when they’re needed, such as for family members with allergies who need to be sure that dust mites don’t survive in the laundry.

clothesline

10. Line dry your clothes in warm weather

If the weather is warm enough line dry your clothes when possible. If the weather is really hot, this can be about as fast as using your dryer, but doesn’t cost anything beyond the costs of the clothesline and clothespins.

Some homeowner’s associations don’t allow clotheslines, which is really a pity. Yes, clothes out drying are unattractive, but they shouldn’t be out all the time. Oh, and put your underwear and such in the middle row, between other things you’re drying, if you don’t want the neighbors to see them.

11. Install low flow faucets aerators

Low flow faucets aerators will help you use less water for many purposes. It won’t make a difference if you’re filling up a pot, but will help when you’re washing your hands.

12. Install low flow showerheads

If you don’t already have a low flow showerhead, you probably use more water than you need during your shower. If you want to go even a little better, choose one that allows you to decrease or increase the water flow during your shower – mine has an extra control that allows the water to be turned way down when I don’t need a lot, such as when lathering up.

13. Install low flow toilets

Low flow toilets can use quite a bit less water than conventional toilets. Most do a good job handling solid wastes. If you’re concerned, or want to try saving still more water, look into a dual flush toilet, which uses still less water for liquid waste, but has a high volume flush that is still efficient for solids.

14. Fix water leaks

Water leaks don’t seem like much more than a minor annoyance, but they can waste gallons of water a day. Most are easy to fix on your own – just make sure you turn off the water first. There are plenty of videos and instructions online to help you do the work… or call the plumber if that’s too much outside your comfort zone.

15. Charge your devices on a power strip

Many people have a regular place where they charge their cell phones, tablets and laptops. If you put the chargers on a power strip, you can turn it off when you aren’t charging anything, which saves electricity. You might not unplug your chargers between uses, but the chargers still use electricity even without the device plugged in. Using a power strip takes care of that phantom load, provided you turn it off when you’re done charging.

16. Turn off computers overnight

It’s not too uncommon to leave your computer on overnight, but turning it off can save money. At the very least, make sure that your power settings save as much energy as possible once you’ve left it alone for 10-15 minutes.

17. Pay bills online and go to paperless billing

Paying bills online is easy and cheaper than buying stamps to mail your payments in. Many companies even let you schedule your payments to go in automatically, so you don’t have to think about them so long as you have enough money to pay in your account.

18. Rent tools you rarely need

If you need a tool for a project and aren’t likely to need it again for some time, look into renting it rather than buying one new. Home Depot rents a wide range of tools for various projects, for example. You could also try borrowing from a neighbor so long as you’re sure to return it promptly and in good condition.

19. Make your water heater more efficient

Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. That’s hot enough for most purposes. You can also buy an insulating blanket for your water heater so that it doesn’t have to heat the water as often. Remember you can turn the water heater down when you go on vacation – not like you need hot water when you aren’t home.

20. Make your own cleaning supplies

Many cleaners are cheap and easy to make at home. MY favorite ingredient to use is vinegar. Watered down and put in a squirt bottle, it replaces many other cleaners. Baking soda is good when you need an abrasive, and there’s a helpful reaction if you spray vinegar on top of it. Best of all, such ingredients are much safer around kids and pets.

21. Replace old appliances with Energy Star models

As the time comes to replace your old appliances, make sure you choose Energy Star models to replace them. This rating is available for many appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, TVs, computers and more.

Cooking/Dining

22. Eat out less

From bringing lunch to school or work to just eating more meals at home, eating out less can save a lot of money. It’s also a good way to know what’s going into your food. There’s also less food waste when you eat out less.

chayote squash soup

23. Cook from scratch

There are times when using prepared foods in your kitchen is a real help. However, these foods are usually less healthy, cost more and have more packaging to throw into the trash than foods you make from scratch. Meals you make yourself usually taste better too.

24. Eat less meat

Meat is usually one of the most expensive ingredients in meals. Meat production creates a lot of greenhouse gases, so eating less of it is good for the environment as well as your wallet. It takes time to learn how to cook more meatless meals, but there are plenty of resources out there:
http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/healthy-habits/meatless-recipes
http://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g1186/vegetarian-recipes-0309/
http://www.marthastewart.com/274485/quick-meatless-recipes/@center/276948/dinner-tonight
http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/healthy-meals/meatless-recipes

25. Eat your leftovers

Most Americans waste a lot of food, especially when it comes to leftovers. You can pack up leftovers for easy lunches, or even freeze meals that reheat well so you don’t have to eat the same thing over again right away.

26. Use a pressure cooker

A pressure cooker can be used to greatly decrease cook times, up to 70%. That means they use less energy to cook your meals. You can cook roasts, chicken, soup, chili, desserts and more. I like to pressure cook artichokes.

27. Quit using paper towels

Paper towels are convenient yet wasteful. Cloth towels are generally better at cleaning up spills and cheaper to use.

28. Don’t use disposable dishes

Do your best to avoid using disposable dishes. While this is difficult when you go on a picnic or have a lot of guests over, it’s not impossible.

29. Use cloth napkins

Rather than use paper napkins, make the switch to cloth. They cost more initially, but will save money in the long run. Keep a nice set for company, and don’t stress too much about stains on the ones you use daily. Cloth napkins don’t add that much to your laundry – mine would be a very small load if washed alone, but they aren’t. They get washed with other things.

30. Use reusable drink bottles

From your daily coffee to drinking water, providing your own reusable container is better than getting something that has to be thrown out. Some coffee shops will give you a small discount if you provide your own cup.

I adore my stainless steel water bottle. Not only will it last just about forever, but I can go anywhere and carry it, rather than look for a drinking fountain or buy bottled water. Mine is insulated, so even if I leave it in the car for a time on a hot day, my water is still cool.

31. Plan your meals

Another source of food waste is forgetting to use ingredients you’ve already bought. Plan your meals before you hit the grocery store, not after, so that you have the ingredients you want when you want them. It’s so wasteful to think you’re going to use that broccoli in a meal, only to realize that it went bad before you got to it. Much better to buy it, knowing what day you’ll use it and what you’ll use it with.

32. Buy in bulk when reasonable

If it’s reasonable, buy things in bulk. Obviously, if it’s something that will go bad before you can use it, bulk is a bad idea. It’s also bad if you don’t have storage for it. But when storage and spoilage aren’t a problem, bulk saves money and product packaging as a general rule. It also means you don’t have to buy that item at the store as often.

For You & Your Family

library

33. Borrow books from the library

Borrowing books from the library is a great way to keep up on your reading without spending a fortune. Many even allow you to borrow ebooks on your Kindle or other device. Some also rent movies on DVD.

34. Check out resale and thrift stores before buying new

Resale and thrift stores can have great finds at great prices for clothes and other items. It may take some time to find the right shops for your tastes, but that can be part of the fun.

35. Make your own skin care products

Many store bought skin care products aren’t as kind to your skin as they should be, and may contain chemicals that do more harm than good. It’s easy to make certain kinds of skin care products in your own home, and they’re often wonderful for your skin.

36. Make your own shampoo

Homemade shampoo is easy to make. Some go as simple as using baking soda to wash their hair and use an apple cider vinegar rinse. It works well for some people, but others say it can be damaging. There are recipes for pH balanced homemade shampoos out there as well.

Outdoors/In the Garden

37. Plant trees

Trees in your yard can help save money by shading your home in summer. Plant them where they’ll help keep the worst of the sun away during the summer. Trees also make the house look better, and if you plant fruit trees you even get some fresh food out of the deal. That said, fruit trees may not grow tall enough to be great shade trees. Still, there’s nothing like fresh picked fruit from your own tree.

38. Grow your own vegetables

I admit it, our luck at this one has been horrible lately – chalk it up to poor soil and a cinderblock fence that tends to overheat the plants in our garden area. But when it works, you get delicious vegetables you’ve grown yourself, and it can save you money.

The key here is to not overspend on setting up your garden. Don’t spend a fortune setting things up, especially if you’re a beginner. Start simple and build it up over time.

Tomatoes are generally easy to grow, as are some salad greens. We’ve had some luck with some volunteer strawberries which appeared in our garden a few years ago – seriously, we didn’t plant them, but they grow really well for us.

39. Compost

Composting is especially good if you’re already growing your own garden. You end up with wonderful fertilizer for your garden, all from things you were throwing out anyhow. Be aware of what you put in – meats and such may attract rodents, but yard waste and uncooked vegetable scraps are generally okay. You can also compost cardboard and many other things. provide links

If you don’t have a garden, many communities now have yard waste or composting bins. They may be very limited or very generous in what they accept – check first.

40. Xeriscape and use native plants

Xeriscaping can cut down your outdoor watering costs tremendously. Changing your landscaping can have significant initial costs but can pay back when you rarely have to water. If you live in an area where droughts are a problem, check with your city or water district for incentives to xeriscape. Incentives can take a nice chunk out of the expense.

mulch

41. Mulch

Using mulch around your plants cuts down on weeds and cuts down on how much water they need by trapping moisture in the soil.

42. Get a rain barrel

A rain barrel can help keep the cost of watering your yard down. This can be great if you’re in a drought prone area. It’s not a lot of water unless you get really serious about your rain barrels – 50 or so gallons go quickly, but it’s a help. Please check the laws in your area – you aren’t allowed to capture rainwater in some areas.

43. Mow your lawn with a reel mower

Using a reel mower rather than an electric one or gas powered one can save a lot of money, and current reel mowers aren’t that hard to use. They’re also much quieter than powered mowers.

Driving/Transportation

44. Carpool

Carpooling to and from work is best if you have coworkers who live nearby and are on the same schedule. It isn’t for everyone. However, when it works you get to split the gas bill, have a little company on the way to work, and pollute less. When you can make carpooling work, it’s a really great deal all around.

45. Bike to work

This only works if your work is close enough and if you can handle being a little sweaty after your ride. Still, it can be a good money saver plus you won’t need to spend so much time in the gym.

46. Use public transportation

If you live in a region with good public transportation, this is one of the best ways to get to work and possibly to run errands. Take a look at the options in your area and decide if it will work for you.

47. Choose a more fuel efficient car when you replace your current one

When the time comes that you need to replace your current vehicle, be sure that fuel efficiency is one of the factors you consider. Over the life of the car, this can be a huge savings and it will pollute less.

48. Drive sensibly

If you keep to the speed limit, and don’t accelerate or brake aggressively, you will probably save on gas. Some cars now tell you what your average mileage is, which can be a great motivator to do better.

49. Check your tires

If your tires are properly inflated, you will get better gas mileage in your car. Check your tire pressure monthly.

Getting Rid of Stuff

50. Recycle your old electronics for money

Old electronics don’t belong in the trash. There are companies that will recycle them properly, and some will even pay you. It’s easy to find places that will take in your old cell phone – other electronics may be more difficult.

Amazon Trade-In
YouRenew
Cash For Electronic Scrap USA
uSell
Mail in Mobile
Gazelle
Nextworth

There are many other places you can recycle or resell your old electronics – just make sure that you have securely deleted your old personal information before you send old phones, tablets, computers and such in.

51. Have a yard sale

When you have things to get rid of, have a yard sale so that others can use the things you don’t want anymore. Call up a thrift store for things that don’t sell or if yard sales just aren’t your thing.