How to Get Organized and Save Money

My Journey to Get Organized and Save Money

Over the past few months, I’ve had an influx of chaos, so I decided it was time to get organized and save money. During my research for finding the best tips and tricks for a budget, I learned 21 percent of Americans don’t have a savings account. Of the Americans that do have a savings, 62 percent don’t have over $1,000 in their savings.

I was pretty shocked by this news. With my personality I always thought it was important to save money. It was the only thing that could help me function at times, knowing I had money to fall back on. I wanted to help others get those same tools, so they too could have the security of a savings.

When I was younger, the solution for saving money was simple. Just don’t spend any. All I had to buy was gas to get to school and work. The other things such as food while I was out, entertainment with friends, clothes and gadgets were optional. For the most part I would have rather save money than spend it on that.

Getting organized to save money is not always the easiest, but with these nine tips, you can be sure to have a successful no-spend month.

Adulting is Hard

Of course, saving money as an adult is a bit more difficult. You have bills for one. For two, after you spent such a large amount of money on all that boring stuff, it feels like you’ve earned it to play a bit. As an adult, I have a weakness for food. When my mom made all my meals, it was easy to make good choices because it was a no-brainer. Occasionally, I would go out with a friend or on my lunch break.

Now that I have to cook for myself all the time, I have to make good choices from beginning to end. That’s a lot more difficult. I have to decide to buy wholesome ingredients, then actually go home and cook them. That’s a huge battle, especially when it’s easier and tastier to eat out. Plus, it’s a comfort thing. My mom’s food was comfort. Cooking my own food is never comfortable, but eating that greasy mushroom swiss burger “that I earned” totally is.

When I moved out on my own, I easily spent a fourth of my paycheck on food-both to cook at home and eating out. It was the only thing I’ve really worked on curbing back. One way I did this was cut down the amount of times I go to the store. Not only is it time consuming, but the more I went, the more I spent. I was always finding something that wasn’t on the list that I just ‘needed’.

My Solution to Save Money

I joined a pre-paid local community-supported agriculture program to get all my veggies once a week. I plan all my meals around what I get there, which makes it a ton easier. Instead of making whatever catches my interest on Pinterest that might have a bunch of expensive ingredients that I only need a tiny bit of, I can use more staple ingredients. Every 2 or 3 weeks, I make a trip to the store and stock up on meat for the freezer, dairy and other staples, along with any toiletries I need. This has been the biggest change I’ve made to save money.

Now that you know a bit about my story, here are my tips to prioritize and get ready for a no-spend month.

  1. Figure Out the Why

    There are many reasons to participate in a no-spend month. For some it’s to save money, for some it’s a way to find out exactly what you’re spending money on and why. A no-spend month can help you declutter your life, mind, and organize your priorities. For me I lend toward the environmental reasons. From using up the Earth’s resources for the production process to pollution in the manufacturing process and finally the disposal process- capitalism really puts the Earth through the ringer. Not to mention the human rights war fought in each step of the process. Knowing these costs help keep me focused on what’s important and helps me decide what I need to have in my life. You have to do the same in preparation of your no-spend month.

  2. Know Your Weaknesses

    And have a plan. For me, it’s obviously food. On a bad day, I really want that ice cream shake and mushroom swiss burger. Really, really bad. So what is going to be my reward instead? Giving myself time to read a book? Taking the night off to watch a movie I already own? Making myself a special dinner out of what I already have? Finally getting to that special upcycle project I’ve been itching to do? These all are great options to replace that ‘reward’ that wasn’t really good for me, my budget or future. Knowing my weakness can help me put a plan in place to avoid a fall. Even if I do fall, it’s not the end and the rest of the month still counts, so I have to find a way to get back on track as soon as possible. Also, I try to think about the thoughts behind that action. What was the true motivation that lead me to that choice, so I can address it and avoid it in the future.

  3. Take Back the Power

    Some times social conditioning can really take a negative toll on our life. Companies capitalize on that tiredness we feel from a rough day at work and the need we feel to be rewarded. They also capitalize on that anxiety we feel when we see a SALE that we just don’t want to miss. I don’t need a special outfit for that special occasion. Just because there is a once in a life time sale, don’t mean another opportunity won’t come around. The people and cat in my life will still love me even if I don’t buy that necklace or that new pair of shoes. Those things don’t define me. Getting rid of the stuff, so that the important things can fit was an important lesson I learned in my no-spend experiences.

  4. Practice the Pause

    Before I start a non-spend month, I practice saying no. Instinct tells me to indulge as much as possible before I cutback, but I find it’s much easier to practice before, so there’s not so much whiplash. Most people tend to have problems with cold turkey approaches, it’s important to kind of get in the groove before the no-spend month. Before purchasing or even eating anything, I ask myself is this something that I really need in my life? In my body? Will it improve my quality of life?

  5. Make a List of Necessities

    What do you have to pay for? These things include rent, utilities, debts and other monthly expenses. It’s important to know exactly how much money you have coming in and going out. It will make budgeting decisions in the future much easier.

  6. Take Stock of Food

As I mentioned earlier, this is the hardest category for me. Some no-spenders don’t buy any food at all. Instead they rely only on what they have in the pantry to cook everything from scratch. Others just buy fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy. This is a difficult category because it is considered a ‘necessity’ but there is a fine line. You have to find a strategy that works for you. Because my weakness is obviously food, I avoid the store at all cost and just use what I have. It inspires me to be creative to use what I have.  Cutting down trips to the store will help cut down on buying unnecessary items and also save gas.

7. Get rid of disposables

Rather than stocking up the week before you start a no-spend month, it should be about using what you have, instead of stocking up in preparation. It would be impossible to participate in a no-spend month with disposable items in the equation. Paper towels, napkins, paper plates, disposable cutlery is replaceable with permanent items.

8. Cut out luxuries

That latte you get every morning? It’s a luxury. That newspaper you read on the train ride? Luxury.

This will vary from family to family but, in general, recurring bills, gas and groceries would be considered necessities while lattes, restaurant meals, and new shoes would definitely be off-limits. But again, food causes a bit of a predicament because even groceries can be a luxury. Steak every night with cheesecake and bottled water would be considered a luxury. Learn how to cook a whole chicken, shred your own cheese, and cut your own vegetables. Single-serve and pre-packaged items have a higher mark-up and when there is a cheaper alternative it goes in the luxury category. Think what your parents and grandparents did. Those little things add up.

9. Get Creative

Creativity is essential in a no-spend month. Have a special event and you need something special to wear? Dig through your closet and get creative. Have a birthday coming up? What can you make out of what you already have as a gift or maybe even cook something special for that person. No-spend months are all about getting creative and using what you have. To me, that’s the part that makes it so fun. Anyone can go find a sale item, but not many people can see potential in what they already have.

Getting organized to save money is not always the easiest, but with these nine tips, you can be sure to have a successful no-spend month. Be sure to leave a comment with your best advice for a no-spend month.

Check out these other awesome posts for more tips and tricks to get organized this spring!

Ordering Seeds, Stay Organized – Little Sprouts Learning Garden

Organizing Tips for the Unorganized – Home Again, Jiggity-Jig

Free Ways to Organize your Stuff -They’re Not Our Goats

How to Organize Your Life When You Are Not – The Peculiar Treasure

For the Birds: DIY Bird Seed Container – Curbside Overhaul

Don’t forget to pin these tips for later!

Getting organized to save money is not always the easiest, but with these nine tips, you can be sure to have a successful no-spend month.

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How to Make Plarn

Why Do I Make Plarn?

There are so many reasons, I love to make plarn and it’s one of my favorite upcycling projects.  I have mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I’m actually going to show to make plarn.

Making plarn is one of my favorite upcycling projects. I've mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I'm going to show to make plarn.

Plarn is plastic yarn made from plastic bags. The beauty of this activity is that you can find the medium for these projects literally anywhere.  If you talk to a crocheter, their eyes will light up when you talk about their yarn stash. Crocheting with plastic bags is the same way, but instead of going to the store, you can walk outside and see these little treasures. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been having a bad day, took a walk and found a plastic bag just waiting to be turned into a beautiful bag for the homeless. It’s affordable, easy to find resource and it helps both humans and the environment.

We cut up 36 bags, to make 576 yards of plarn to make one bag for someone in need.

I also think crocheting with plarn is important for environmental reasons. Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags.  The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. These bags are considered the American flag because they are found everywhere, wreaking havoc on plant and animal life. The local landfill pays a hefty fee to keep them cleaned up around the landfill. Of the bags that make it to the recycling programs, only 1 percent are recycled. They often clog the machine because they are so light weight.

Also, we make plarn often as a family activity- our whole family gets together for a ‘plarn making factory’.  Crocheting plarn is a win-win-win. It’s a win for the environment, it’s a win for you because it’s free and it’s a win for who ever you create the project for.

Materials Needed:

Plastic Bags
Scissors

Step 1: Prep

You can find inspiration for this project everywhere. Go on a walk, get your family involved on your treasure hunt. Once you’ve collected a few dozen plastic bags then lay them out flat, fold them in half and cut the seam at the bottom and the handles off the top.

Step 2: Fold

Once you have an open rectangle, you’re going to fold it almost in half, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top. Fold the bottom flap again in half, then once more, still leaving that inch at the top.

Step 2: Fold Once you have an open rectangle, you're going to fold it almost in half, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top. Fold the bottom flap again in half, then once more, still leaving that inch at the top.

Step 3: Cut the Strips

Cut 1 inch strips up to the top of those bottom folds, leaving the 1 inch seam uncut.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral

Unfold the strips and you’ll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you’re cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral Unfold the strips and you'll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you're cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral Unfold the strips and you'll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you're cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 5: Crochet and Enjoy!

Hopefully you see how easy it is to make plarn! It’s easy and fun, get your friends involved and share the joy. Here are some other posts where I talk about my love for plarn!

Why I Love to Help Others

How to Find Your Beautiful Treasures

For the Love of Handmade

Don’t forget to pin these instructions for later!

Making plarn is one of my favorite upcycling projects. I've mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I'm going to show to make plarn.

 

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10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year

How to Have a Green New Year

There are so many resolutions for a green new year.  Some people choose not to mess with resolutions at all because they know how difficult it is to actually follow through. Making a resolution, especially one to be more green, really doesn’t have to be hard. The trick is to narrow down that resolution to a specific goal and make a plan. It’s also not about overwhelming yourself with resolutions, this can also make it difficult to complete the resolution. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for baby steps for a green new year and once you conquer those, come back for the tips to step it up!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

1. Reusable shopping bags

As Americans, we go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, costing retailers about $4 billion dollars.

Although people think plastic bags are “free,” not only do stores hide their cost in higher prices at the register, but plastic bags actually cost taxpayers .17 cents per bag in pollution clean-up costs too. In the state of California alone, public agencies spend more than $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.

As far as sustainable efforts go, I’m sure this ranks high on everyone’s list for a green new year, but there is always one small problem. We can’t ever remember to bring them… This used to be a huge problem for me, but then I started shopping at Aldi’s. For those who haven’t experienced this joy, one of the many joys of Aldi’s is they charge extra for shopping bags. Generally, stores have the price of bags built into the cost of its products, but at Aldi’s they encourage you to bring your own bag or they’ll charge you extra to buy theirs. This practice helped me into the habit of bringing my own.

Tips

But for those, who don’t have an Aldi’s to remind them, having a routine that makes it easy to remember your bags is extremely important. I would recommend always having your bags put back in the car. If you have two cars that might end up with you at the store, then stock them both with your own bags. If it’s too much of a struggle to get the bags back to the car, maybe have a spot by the door to store them, so you can grab them as you go out.

Another solution is to get bags that fit easily in your purse, pocket or on your keychain, so you can have them at all times.

Step It UP

Even without plastic bags, we still bring in tons of plastic items into our homes. To take this step to the next level, you can opt for plastic-shopping. Bring your own produce bags or bulk items sacks.

2. Take your own cup

It is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day of every year. One-hundred forty-six billion of those are dedicated to our morning coffee.

One way we can easily change this is to simply bring your own cup to get your coffee or drink your water.

Although, I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve been drinking from a water bottle for about a year now and I love it. I’m never thirsty or searching for the nearest water fountain because I always have a water bottle at my side.

Step It UP

Once you’ve started bringing your own cup for a while, it’s time to spread the joy so others can have a green new year. Having a New Year’s party or some other gathering throughout the year? Don’t use single-serve cups. Be an example for your friends and family with reusable cups and glasses. Sure it might require an extra step, but the benefits for our Earth and future are limitless.

3. Eating at the restaurant

Take out is full of single-use items that have no other purpose than to be thrown away. Generally, restaurants buy food in bulk, so while eating out might not be better for your health or pocket book, eating in actual restaurants is better for the Earth when it comes to packaging. You’ll get extra bonus points for eating at restaurants that serve locally-grown produce.

Step It UP

To take this step to the next level for a green new year, cooking at home is much better for your health and pocketbook. It’s tough to go from a lifestyle of eating out all the time to cooking at home, but it definitely gives you more control over where your food comes from, it’s quality, how it’s packaged and so many other factors.

4. Recycle cardboard

Cardboard is probably one of the easiest things there is to recycle, it also is more valuable for recycling companies, however many people still don’t see the value in recycling it. Recycling centers generally don’t take greasy or dirty cardboard, so it takes little effort just to put clean cardboard into the recycling bin rather than the trash.

Step It UP

Other recyclables take a bit more effort to recycle, but in the end are totally worth it. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to recycle cardboard, take a look at your current habits and see what else could easily be recycled. It will depend on your location and the services offered, but it is a great opportunity to help your local recycling company and help the Earth at the same time with minimal effort.

5. Don’t Litter

This one really should be a no-brainer, but there is no end to the amount of damage litter does to our eco-system. There is no reason to litter, just wait until you reach the gas station or your next rest stop before throwing that cup or cigarette out the window.

Step It UP

A lot of the pollutants out there might not be caused by careless folks, but rather trash that got caught in the wind. No matter how it got there, it can wreak havoc on animals and waterways. If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. It might seem small, but those pieces will add up. Your good example might inspire others to do it too.

6. Walk to places close by

Not just a suggestion for a green new year, but walking is good for your health and  cuts down wear and tear on your car. It’s up to you and your schedule, but a good goal would be to walk anywhere that takes 15 minutes or less to get to. If you have multiple stops within close proximity, you can park the car on one side and walk to the farthest location and work back toward your car.

Step It UP

Again, this is kind of up to an individual’s schedule. But try to add some extra steps to your routine and replace driving time. Plan your route to reduce driving or maybe make a commitment to walking any place within a mile.

7. Donate instead of throw away

Christmas just passed and if you’re anything like me, you have to get rid of some stuff to make room. It’s easy to just toss everything, but donating used items can be better for the Earth and your local thrift stores that probably use that money for charities.

Step It UP

This takes a bit more effort, but a minimalist life style can really be of great benefit for your every area of your life. It’s a lot less stress, requires less cleaning and effort in the long run, and is much better for the planet because you’re not buying as many new things.

8. Buy nothing one day a week

There are so many benefits to not buying things. Take one day a week to assess you budget and purchases for the week. Are these things you really need or that you have money for? Yes, there was probably a good sale, but when you stop and think that you could actually save 100 percent by not buying anything at all, it really is a no-brainer.

For me, buying nothing for a day, week or month is also about showing solidarity to the workers who make it. Especially in the electronics department, there is so many human right’s violations that went into making that. I try to live a simple life so that others might simply live. Buying less and letting go of the mentality of keeping up with the Jones’ is so freeing. I can focus on saving up for a house or investing my money, instead of living paycheck to paycheck for things I don’t really want or need.

Step It UP

Expand your buy nothing day to a week or even a month. This challenge really helps get your focus on planning ahead and only buying what you need, instead of whatever catches your attention. If you expand this practice to a greater length of time, maybe think of a buy nothing new year. Instead of getting new products made, you can purchase used products from thrift stores, Craigslist or maybe even check into a Buy Nothing New Facebook group or site. Finding a new sale is always exciting, but so it the liberation of buying things you don’t need. The hunt can go the opposite way. You can hunt at thrift stores or around your local stores and find the cheapest option.

9. Meatless one day a week

The benefits of eating less meatless are endless. A lot more of the planet’s resources are spent on meat as opposed to veggies. Going meatless once a  week is a great start to a more well-rounded diet. As a rule, eating more vegetables is better for your budget, too.

Step It UP

If you decide doing one meatless day a week is doable, try to expand to do more than one day or as many days as you feel comfortable.

10. Water plants with leftover water

This may seem small, but it can make a big difference over time. Cooking water can be used in a variety of ways.

Leftover non-salted water is a great thing to use to water your plants. Let the water cool down before you disperse it on any plants. If you don’t have any plants that need watered, keep the water for making soup.

Salted or Boiling water can be used as a weed killer.

Ice cubes that fall on the ground are great for small house plants.

Step It UP

Install a water collection system. This can be a huge benefit for your water usage. Once the collection system is in place, you can free, non-chlorinated water. There are many uses for this rain water including using it for garden or agriculture, using it in place of water used for washing pets, cars, driveways and side walks, refill your pond or swimming pool, some people even use to wash their clothes and flush. For more information, check out this great link for Rainwater Harvesting 101.

I hope this list inspired you to live a green new year. Leave a comment below on your tips and tricks for a green new year!

Don’t forget to pin these for later!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

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How to Have a Waste-Free Holiday

Waste-Free Tips

Is it possible to have a waste-free holiday? It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and forget to be careful about the things we waste.  Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

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Why I Don’t Participate in Black Friday Shopping

Oh Where to Begin…

There are so many reasons why I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping, especially when it started on Thanksgiving.

Shopping on Black Friday isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s our attitude that worries me. I wasn’t always the anti- capitalism, corporations, money, greed or commercialism type. To some extent it was always true, but it was more because I was compassionate and wanted to help others. Commercialism has its place, but I could see when I was focused on getting more stuff, I didn’t focus as much on giving.

I can break down my reasons to not participate in Black Friday Shopping to three basic points.

There are many reasons not to participate in Black Friday shopping. Let’s make Black Friday the new Green Friday by working together to consume less junk.

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Why I Care About Our Environment

My Journey

Why do I care about our environment when caring for our environment is no easy task?

If you would have told me 15, even 10 years ago, that I would even put a moment of thought into my action into such a thing as Earth, I probably would have reacted in such a way that you’d think twice about letting me care about ANYTHING of yours.

But here I am, 24, and I sleep and live environmental issues. It’s all-consuming. It’s kind of struggle because I run into so few people who care or can understand my passion, but I just take care deep breaths and keep on, moving on. So how did I began my journey to care about our environment?

There are so many reasons why we should put in more effort to care about our environment. Learn more about my journey and reasons for environmental concern.

 

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Save Green Even When You Can’t Upgrade Appliances

Tips to Save Green for Renters

When you don’t have complete control over your living circumstances, it can seem impossible to save green, whether money or energy. Sometimes making these lifestyles can require more money, or maybe more control over your living situation.
The biggest hurtles to saving green are:
  • Heating
  • Air Conditioning
  • Lighting
  • Clothes Washer
  • Clothes Dryer
  • Refrigerator (if it was made before 2001)
  • Water Heater

All these are pretty difficult to control when in a renters setting or with low income. But with these tips, no matter where you can save both money and energy.

When you don't have control over your living circumstances, it seems impossible to save green, whether money or energy. With small changes it can be done!
This post contains affiliate links. The purchases through these links help grow the blog.

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5 Reasons to Start a Sustainable Living Blog

5 Plus 1 Reasons to Start a Sustainable Living Blog

Going green, sustainable living, environmentalism, advocating for a cleaning world aren’t just fads, a life phase or trend, it truly has to be a way of life, something to center your world around. That’s what environmentalism has been to me, which is why I decided to start a sustainable living blog. All the environmental issues were starting to consume me. I had to find a way to get it organized and share it with everyone who would listen. You might not be that passionate about it, but here are 5 reasons, you should consider starting a sustainable living blog.

5 Reasons to Start a Sustainable Living Blog- No Experience Required!

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Simple Repurposing Ideas to Add Purpose to Your Garden

Simple Repurposing Ideas to Add Purpose to Your Garden

As a rule, gardens are FULL of purpose from the flowers that bring joy to our life to the vegetables that bring us nutrients and the different plants that bring us health through medicinal properties. Why are we so quick to turn such a natural and green experience and environment into such a unnatural, new and shiny focus point?

Repurposing natural products is my favorite way of bringing the garden back its natural state of beauty.

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