When you’re trying to help the planet, it might seem like it’s an expensive lifestyle. Surprisingly, though, there’s actually so many things that you can do that will actually save you money instead! From the kitchen to general environmentally tweaks you can make in your home, there are plenty of eco-friendly ways you can start saving money today!
Start in the Kitchen
One of the best things you can do is to invest in reusable products. When you spend money on reusable products, you are investing in something that will last years. Whereas, when you buy single use products, sure you spend less in the moment but in the long run, you waste a lot. Some reusable items that you should definitely invest in are: water bottle, reusable bags and stasher bags.Likewise, you should also look into using glass containers. Glass containers will last a lot longer than plastic containers plus they are better for the environment which will save you money. They can be recycled forever whereas plastic containers can’t.
Cooking from homeis such a great way to save money. Want to help the environment with it? Meal prepping will save you even more money plus help reduce your food waste. When you meal prep, you know exactly what foods you need to make each dish. This prevents you from impulse buying food that ends up rotting away without you realizing it.
Shop in bulk
When you buy items in bulk, you spend less money in the long run. Plus, you reduce the amount of packaging you bring home. One large bag 10 lb bag of rice is less packaging than 10 small 1 lb bags of rice.You might also look to buying tea in bulk vs individually packed tea bags. Teabags might seem like a small thing to think about but if you’re drinking one cup of tea a day, that’s 365 tea bags sent straight to the landfill. Instead, buy tea leaves which are cheaper to buy in bulk and can be composted so they leave behind no waste.
Eco-Friendly Bathroom Tips
It might be an adjustment, but have you heard of a shower bucket? A shower bucket is basically a bucket that you keep in your shower to catch excess water. So much water is wasted in the shower so catch the excess and use it around your home to water plants or clean the floors.Something else that might seem different, but worth it, is investing in a bidet. A bidet will save you so much toilet paper down the line. Not only is it great for your wallet but it also cleans way better than using just toilet paper.Lastly, think about using an epilator instead of a razor. Disposable razors can only be used once before they should be replaced. Epilators can be used forever since they just need to be charged
Soap + Shampoo/Conditioner
Making your own soap is surprisingly easy! Mix 1 part water and 1 part castile soap from Dr. Bronner’s in a pump bottle. It’ll make a lot more soap for a lot less compared to buying it from brand name stores. Plus, there’s no plastic bottle to throw out after each use!Also, instead of throwing out shampoo and conditioner bottles, get shampoo and conditioner bars. They last much longer than your standard shampoo or conditioner bottle. And since they simply dissolve when they’re used up, they create with no waste at all.
15 Eco-Friendly Tips For Your Home That Will Save You Money
All Around the Home
Have you ever thought about how the junk mail coming to your home impacts the environment? It’s so useless! It comes into the home and goes straight into the recycling bin (I hope). Ask your delivery person to stop giving it to you by putting a note on your mailbox saying you no longer want junk mail. This eco-friendly tip will let the delivery people know not to give you any.
Saving on Electricity
Don’t forget to unplug unused appliances! Did you know that appliances that are plugged in use energy even if they are turned off? Save that money and help the environment by unplugging anything not in use. Things like tea kettle, fans and laptop chargers don’t need to be plugged in if they aren’t being used.You should also use a power strip when possible. It might seem annoying to have to unplug a bunch of outlets every day. Instead, use a power strip that you can turn off so the power doesn’t come through.
Saving Money on Laundry
Not only are there special tricks to saving time when doing laundry, but you can save money, too! Start by using dryer balls with your laundry. Dryer balls are put into the dryer help dry your clothes faster. Since your dryer isn’t running as long, it’ll reduce your electricity bill. Plus, this will reduce your need to but single use, disposable dryer sheets. Instead, you can add some drops of essential oil to the ball if you want to add some scent to your clothes.Also, don’t forget about hang drying. Instead of using a ton of energy to dry your clothes in the dryer, try to hang dry them when you have time. In the summer, they dry really quickly if you hang them outside. The rest of the year, invest in a sturdy drying rack.This eco-friendly, money saving tips might seem basic, but they can truly go a long way! They’re easy to do and you can implement most of them today and save money within a month. Your wallet and the planet will thank you.
About the author: Youmna Rab is the author and blogger at Sustainably-Yours.com. She has a passion for helping the environment and living sustainably. She loves teaching her friends, family and readers how they can help the environment too. When she’s not blogging, you can find her curled up on a couch reading. Find her on Pinterest and Instagram.
Working as a single parent can be a trying experience, so you want to make sure that your finances are as streamlined as possible. When unexpected emergencies pop up, your schedule, finances, and life are thrown for a loop. Take a look at these tips to help you strategize your budget as a single parent.
7 Strategies to Help You Budget as a Single Parent
Make a roadmap
Whether you’re co-parenting or raising your child alone, make sure you have a roadmap for your new life—both for your schedule and your budget. This will allow you to be conscious of the ins and outs of your finances and help you plan accordingly. Getting prepared and organized will also help you discover areas of opportunity where you could pay off debt faster.
Create an emergency fund
As a single parent, it’s absolutely imperative to have an emergency fund ready for when something unexpected happens. The rule of thumb is to have at least three months’ worth of expenses saved up, but the more you have in your fund, the better.
Find the balance between budgeting and having fun
Just because you’re living as a single parent on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to expel extra spending that you could use to have fun with your child. In fact, you should be analyzing your budget to add that into your spending. Work a set amount of money in your budget for fun and get creative. Plan around sales and large discounts and think of out-of-the-box ideas, such as enjoying a picnic in the park, having a pizza night at home, or exploring a free museum.
Study your financial documents
You’d be surprised at how much extra spending is wasted on things like utility bills, phone bills, cable, and internet. Take a look at your monthly utility bills, appliance plans, and other home-related costs and see where you could be saving money. This could be decreasing your data plan on your phone, getting rid of your cable and using television apps like Netflix and Hulu, or even decreasing your internet speed slightly. These tiny tweaks could save you hundreds every year.
Explore the tax breaks
As a single parent, you’re eligible for several tax breaks that you may be unaware of. If your income is less than $75,000 a year, you could earn up to $1,000 in tax credit for each child. If you have children in college, you may be eligible for higher education tax credits and tuition deductions.
Discover a new career
If you’re a newly single parent, there may be a learning curve in trying to take care of your family with one funnel of income. If you want to discover ways to make more money to provide for your family, consider if now is the time to explore new careers paths. Could you take advantage of an expedited technical college to find a new career? Consider speaking to a life coach or a career advisor about different avenues you could take.
Use your support system
Know that you’re not alone in taking care of your child. It’s OK to reach out for help when you need it. Independence is what we all strive for, but in order to take care of your child, you’ll want to use all avenues possible, and that includes your support system.
Kay Pascale is a writer from Durham, NC. When she isn’t writing, she loves to read, spend time with her family, and travel.
As parents, anxiety and stress often come with the package, especially before big and special events. It’s also relatively common for people when they are faced with new situations or something they may have a fear of. The good news is, one way to help you relax and soothe your nerves may already literally be laying at your feet!
That’s right, your pets and domestic animals can be great stress busters. Even better, sometimes you’re not even really consciously aware of how your pet’s presence may be helping you get through the tough times. In this article, we take a little look behind the scenes at some practical ways your pet may help your mental health.
How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves
Pets Help You Think About Something Else
If you’re feeling anxious and stressed, a common tactic recommended by health professionals is to find a distraction or diversion to focus on. Call it dog diversion, cat deflection if you will, but the presence of your pet can help you re-frame your thinking away from the thoughts or the situation that is bothering you.
This can be particularly helpful for people with fears and phobias. If you’re anxious about being alone in the house, the presence of a pet with their super-sensitive radar to anything out of the ordinary will soon alert you if there actually is something or someone nearby. In the same token, if you have a fear of getting out and about, having a dog walk alongside you can help overcome those anxieties.
Pets Make You Move Around
Exercise is good for both our minds and body. Most of us already know that. What we often don’t realize is that even the very basic act of taking care of feeding your pet forces you to move your body. Combine a few yoga stretches when you’re reaching into the cupboard, or placing your pet’s bowl on the floor and it’s a win-win mind-body situation for both of you.
If you’ve got a dog, no matter what size, they’re going to need regular exercise. Likewise, a cat, even though we tend to think they look after this themselves, a piece of paper on the end of a string can help you both move and entertain yourself at the same time. Take their cue. Many pets instinctively know when it’s time to get moving (aka the cat crazies!). Take the time to get a little exercise at the same time your pet does, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Pets Help You Relax
Pets can help you relax in so many ways. There’s the physical act of stroking and patting an animal. This is a repetitive motion that both of you will are likely to find very, very soothing. There’s the humor in seeing your pet do something that is so outside of the behavior that we are conditioned into as humans that you can’t help but laugh. If you’ve ever clicked on any funny dog/cat/rabbit videos online, and who hasn’t, you’ll know what we mean.
Pets Can Help You Love
The love and companionship of a pet are unconditional. Their affection for you is based on knowing you treat them well and love them to bits. The look that a pet may give you, with soft knowing eyes full of love, believe it. It’s real. Studies have found that the same bonding process and endorphins that are firing between a parent and child happen between people and their pets. So yes, it is indeed mutual. Both you and your pet feel the love, and more relaxed and warm and fuzzy as a result!
Pets Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure. That’s got to be good news for anyone whose blood pressure potentially rises with their anxiety and stress levels. Even better, just your pet’s presence helps with healthier blood pressure. Anytime you do pat, stroke, or get in some daily exercise with your pet is an added bonus for your BP.
Pets are Social and Emotional Support
As many pet people will attest, a pet often intuitively and instinctively seems to pick up on when you are out of sorts. They may seek to reassure you or keep their distance. Both of which can be a good indication that you need to address your anxiety levels.
People who love animals also usually consider pets as a part of their family. If you’re feeling a little disconnected with other people, it is entirely possible to have a close connection with your pet and know that you’re not alone. The friendship of a cat curled up on your lap, or a dog by your side can do wonders to help with any worries around loneliness or isolation.
Pets Are Good Listeners
Did you know that there are therapy animals that help kids and adults with reading difficulties? There are many schools and libraries that recognize that the quiet non-judgmental presence of reading to an animal can help people with learning difficulties gain confidence and new skills.
What’s more, if you talk to your own pet they will respond. Okay, maybe not a specific answer that you’re trying to work out, but many pets such as cats and dogs love communicating with the people in their life either vocally, or through an affectionate rub, full body lean, and even the gentle head butt of a cat.
People Can Help With Your Pets Too
If you do have a mental health condition such as anxiety, stress, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), domestic animals can be recognized as part of a treatment plan. Check out information on emotional support animals (ESA). Your ‘ordinary’ pet can be elevated to be an ESA for you if its presence alleviates and helps you manage symptoms that limit your quality of life. Aside from the benefit to your health, there is some legal protection from discrimination for having an emotional support animal in rental housing and during air travel.
Do you have a pet?
Tell us about your furry friend in the comments below!
Is it even possible to find cheap maternity clothes on a budget?
Absolutely, if you know where to look!
Pregnancy is such an exciting time, but it can also be an incredibly expensive time as you get everything you need for a new baby. If you live on a tight budget, it’s probably already stretched to the max without adding the cost of an entire new wardrobe.
Your body is quickly changing and it won’t be long before your pants start to feel a bit too snug. You want to be comfortable, but you may not want to spend a fortune on a temporary wardrobe. Don’t worry, you can still find cute, inexpensive maternity clothes to fit both your bump and your budget.
Here are some tips to find free and cheap maternity clothes:
Shop From Your Own Closet for Free Maternity Clothes
Even better than cheap maternity clothing is free maternity clothing. Using your non-maternity clothes is the easiest way to dress your bump without spending a cent.
You might be surprised to find items that you already own that you can continue to wear well into your pregnancy (or even the entire time). Making some minor modifications can also extend how long you can wear your pre-pregnancy clothes.
Look through your clothes for things that are stretchy, flowy, or loose. Leggings, tunics, and maxi dresses are some of your best bets.
Look for waist lines that can be worn above or below your bump.
For shirts – think long and stretchy to cover your belly. I found super long tank tops at H&M that were perfect for layering under other shirts. This extends the life of many other shirts by giving some extra tummy coverage. As just an added plus, I also still layer these tank tops all the time for nursing.
For jeans – use the hair tie trick when they start to get too snug. Loop a hair tie over the button, through the buttonhole and back over the button. Confused by my description? You can see how ridiculously easy it is with this youtube video.
Use a Bella band. These stretchy bellybands will keep your pants in place after they can no longer be zipped and add a little extra bump coverage.
Some moms may find that they can get by with just their regular clothes and this can equal huge cost savings. Unfortunately, we all gain differently and if you’re like me, by the second trimester those non-maternity jeans stop mid-thigh and most pre-pregnancy clothes aren’t going to cut it.
Borrow Maternity Clothes From Friends
Your friends and family can be another great source of free maternity clothes. If you happen to know anyone who has already had a baby, they may be willing to loan (or even give) you their used maternity clothes.
Unless they are currently wearing the clothing or plan to in the near future, many moms will gladly share those maternity items that are just taking up space in their closets.
A few awesome friends lent me tons of maternity clothing for my first pregnancy. It was so kind and saved me loads of money.
Also, maternity clothes tend to be very forgiving size wise, making it really easy to share clothes if you’re even remotely similar sizes.
If you’re lucky enough to borrow maternity clothes, treat them well and try to return them in the same condition you received them.
But maybe you are the first of your friends to have kids or your friends are also pregnant or for whatever reason borrowing may not work out. That’s ok, you can still get cheap maternity clothes on a budget.
Where to Find Cheap Maternity Clothes on a Budget
Buy Used Maternity Clothes
Since they are used for such a short time that you can often find barely worn, second hand maternity clothes. You may be surprised at the high quality, like-new clothes available at consignment and thrift stores at a fraction of their original price.
For instance, I have found several Motherhood Maternity shirts in excellent condition at Goodwill.
I also found some awesome deals on used maternity clothes at Swap.com, my favorite place to buy used online.
Facebook marketplace and Buy, Sell, Trade Groups are also great places to look for used maternity clothes at some of the lowest prices around. You also may want to re-sell your maternity clothes when you’re done with them the same way. In case you’re not sure how to get started, here is a complete guide to selling in Facebook groups.
Hit the Clearance Racks for Cheap Maternity Clothes
If you want to buy new clothes and not spend a ton, head straight to the clearance section and buy maternity clothes on sale.
Target, H&M, and Old Navy generally have a good selection of maternity clothing available online and it’s easy to browse the sales. I’ve also found great deals on the Motherhood Maternity clearance rack.
Also, some discount stores like Burlington and Ross sell maternity clothing. Not every location carries maternity so you may want to call and ask before making the trip, but you can find excellent deals especially on clearance items.
When shopping clearance consider buying seasonal items early. Generally I’d wait to buy something until I need it, but that can be difficult with clearance since usually the marked down items are from the last season.
For instance, if you find out you’re pregnant in the fall, you may be able to score a maternity bathing suit or shorts for a great deal. You probably won’t find them on clearance in the spring or summer when you need them.
Finally, keep in mind when shopping that clothing doesn’t necessarily have to be maternity to fit. Just like the clothes you already own, look for loose and stretchy non-maternity clothes and go up a size if needed. Choose items that you’ll be able to continue to wear after your pregnancy.
So now that you’ve found cheap maternity clothes on a budget, you can move on to tackling other pregnancy tasks!
There’s so much to do to get ready for your little one! But hold on tight, they’ll be learning to talk and walk before you can blink!
Do you have any suggestions on how to save when looking for maternity clothes?
Post your best tip in the comments below!
This post was written by Rachel, one half of the team behindThe Moms at Odds. She is dedicated to their mission that there are multiple right ways to parent and those differences should be celebrated, not shamed. Rachel is a stay-at-home mom to two wild boys. In her limited spare time you’ll either find her blogging or folding laundry while binge watching Netflix.
As a blog mentor and digital marketing consultant, my business’s online presence means everything. So today I want to share some thoughts with those of you also running an online venture – whether it’s full-time, part-time, or you’re hoping to use it to eventually leave your current 9-5, evaluating your online reputation is an absolute must.
Making a decision to purchase a product or invest in a service isn’t an easy one. If you own a business, it is important to not just attract good customers, but to retain them as well. There is more competition than ever, and customers expect to be delighted and thrilled at every turn. If your business falls short, they will visit your competitor– sorry, but that’s reality. More importantly, a customer will tell twice as many people about a bad experience as they will about a good one. As a business owner, it’s critical to encourage customers to leave reviews, and to respond to every single one.
For example, let’s say you’ve got someone looking at Charleston townhouses for sale, hoping to soon move there from across the country. Guess what? They’re also likely looking at other area businesses as well! You have to make sure you’re staying competitive by managing your reviews because you never know just who might be looking at you online, even if they’re not currently in your target area.
Getting Customers to Leave Reviews is Easy–Just Ask Them
Before you begin looking for reviews, take a look at your competitors. Read what their customers are saying, and most importantly, look at how they respond. Are they proactive in their responses?
When you’re ready to start culling reviews, start small. Getting too many reviews at once looks suspicious and can diminish trust of potential customers. Aim for 1-2 reviews per month, increasing from there. You can incentivize reviews, but it is very important not to pay for them or go a not-so-legit route. You want good reviews that accurately depict a customer’s experience.
So how can you actually encourage a customer to leave a review? It is as simple as asking.
If you have a customer who always praises your work, ask them if they would kindly leave you a review. After you ask them, send them a reminder to encourage them to do so. When you send that reminder, include a discount or coupon thanking them for leaving the review, and encourage them to spread the word. If you have employees, be sure to train them to ask customers for reviews–make this a regular part of everyday business.
Include calls to action on your social media channels that allow customers to leave a review right then and there and share the positive reviews you’ve already received. Thank every customer once they’ve reviewed your business.
Another effective method to encourage customers to leave reviews is the “tip” trick. This strategy works by having an employee tell the customer “If you had a good experience and include my first name in the review, the company will give me a $10 tip!” – this offers customers a little incentive to leave a review, especially when they’ve had good service.
Building Your Online Reputation
After you begin to amass reviews, take a few minutes to respond to each one, even if they are negative. Never ignore a bad review—that can backfire quick. It is important to respond quickly, usually within 24-48 hours. Always, ALWAYS be polite, no matter what the review says. Be authentic, staying away from using canned responses. Address the customer personally and offer to make it right. Give them the opportunity to visit your business again, and, with any luck, change their minds about their previous experience.
Always be sympathetic to your customers and respond offline wherever possible. Contact the customer after you’ve responded to their review and provide an opportunity to make things right for them.
By encouraging your customers to leave reviews, you’re making it a regular habit. Provide honest dialogue, even when the feedback is not what you’d hoped for. You’ll create raving fans of your business before you know it.
Saving money and cutting expenses are never the favorite dinner table topic, but they are vitally important for individuals and families to discuss. And while there are quite a few drastic ways to save money on your monthly bills, there are actually quite a few small but simple ways to save that you can start TODAY. These seemingly easy adjustments probably won’t have that big of an impact on your day-to-day, but could result in some substantial savings.
Here are five very simple budget cuts that you can make today:
Change Your Thermostat
Did you know that adjusting your thermostat by just one degree can result in up to 10% energy savings? Keeping our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter is expensive, and takes a lot of energy. And, the amount of energy that you save by adjusting the temperature is substantial. Depending on where you live, the results could be even more staggering.
Part of the reason the energy savings are so high is because most electric companies charge in a tiered rating system, which means that higher users get charged substantially more. This is why even cutting back a little bit can have a dramatic effect, because it can move you out of a higher tier and into a lower one.
Start by seeing if you can handle a temperature of 68 degrees in the winter and 74 degrees in the summer. Throw on a sweater in the winter if it feels a little cool, and make use of a few box fans in the summer if it’s still a bit hot.
Continue pushing until you find a temperature that you are comfortable with, even if it isn’t perfect. If you want to take it a step further, try adding insulation to your attic, and making sure that all your doors and windows are sealed tight.
Make Coffee at Home
Grabbing coffee on the go is convenient, but it’s also extremely expensive. Cut this habit out and you’ll see immediate savings. And, it isn’t very hard to do.
Figure out how to make the equivalent of what you buy at home. If you drink regular drip coffee, this should be pretty simple. Get a cheap coffeemaker, and make sure it has a timer. Set it up the night before, so that your coffee is ready when you get up to leave. One of the biggest reasons people pick up coffee on the go is because they ran out of time to make it in the morning.
If you tend to prefer a fancier drink, like a latte, look into purchasing a used espresso machine. This will add time to your daily routine, as making a latte can take 5 minutes. But, you’ll save yourself quite a bit of money. You can also try purchasing a machine that makes the drink for you, like a Nespresso.
If possible, try cutting back on the expensive coffee drinks. Perhaps only grab one on a special occasion, or once a week.
Turn your Hot Water Heater Down
Similar to point #1, keeping your hot water heater warm takes a lot of energy. Your hot water heater has to keep an entire drum of water hot all the time, so that you have hot water when you want it. Depending on what temperature you have it set to, this ongoing process can take a lot of energy.
You would be surprised how hot you actually need the temperature set to. You might have the temperature set much higher than needed. Test different temperature settings to see how low you can go.
Cut Out On Subscription
Chances are, you have at least one monthly subscription you don’t utilize to the fullest of it’s extent. Perhaps this is a daily newspaper delivery, or the more obvious one: your cable TV subscription. Either way, try finding one subscription that you aren’t making use of, and get rid of it.
If you have an expensive gym membership, perhaps try making a portable home made gym out of a spare bedroom and picking up a few used dumbbells and kettlebells. Or make exercising a family event and workout with your kids!
The list goes on, but for most families, you’ll be able to find at least one subscription to cut out.
Stop Drying with the Dishwasher
Another easy one to put into place right now, stop using the dry setting on your dishwasher. While dishwashers have become a lot more efficient in their water usage, their energy usage for drying has not gotten a lot better. Dishwashers use a tremendous amount of energy when drying dishes, and you don’t really need to use them for this task.
Just wash, and then open the dishwasher up and let the dishes air dry. It doesn’t take any extra work out of you, except to just wait a few hours for the dishes to try.
Saving money is not necessarily a fun topic, but there are simple things you can do right away to start saving. Once you see how easy it can be to save money, you’ll have the motivation to tackle the bigger and more challenging money saving tactics.
Allen Michael is the founder and editor of The Stick Vacuums (https://thestickvacuums.com/), a website focused on helping others keep a clean home as efficiently as possible. Allen stumbled onto stick vacuums while trying to help his family keep their home clean with less work, and has since become an expert on saving money and time in your home.