With the turning of the calendar to a brand new year, many people have resolutions on their minds. Most of us would like to lose a few pounds (gained over the holidays), start or finish a personal project, find ways to reconnect with friends and family, and make more time for ourselves. And with the economy still in a slump and the Euro circling the drain, many people are still looking for ways to cut spending in 2012. But since most of us have already cut in obvious areas (like giving up premium channels to go back to basic cable and stopping the major shopping trips), you may have to get creative if you want to find ways to squirrel away a few more bucks this year. So here are just a few resolutions that will help you save money, and in the process, do your part to save the Earth, as well.
1. Eat in. There are two main reasons people choose to dine outside the home: it’s easier than cooking and it allows for socialization. But you can still get both of these things when you eat in if you opt to host potluck dinners rather than eating out. Although you may want to cook a little something, you could easily get family and friends on board to create a slew of dishes while you serve up something simple like appetizers, drinks, or dessert. You’ll spend a lot less money, get all of the socialization you crave, and you’ll still have the ease of getting a ton of great food without having to cook it all yourself.
2. Conserve energy and water. Kick off the New Year right with an in-home energy audit. Simply call your utility provider (or a private firm) to set up an appointment and then use the report to seal any leaks. This will help to ensure that all the “bought air” stays in and that you’re able to maintain a constant temperature in your home with less use of energy. You can also use CFLs, power off electronics when they’re not in use, and even stop phantom drain by unplugging electronics. As for water, consider installing low-flow toilets and aerated faucets this year. There will be some expense up front, but you could be eligible for rebates from the water company and the savings on your utility bill over time will make up for the expense. Finally, place a cistern outside to collect rainwater for your lawn.
3. Use public transportation. There’s no denying that cars are a major expense (and generally a major affront to our environment). Save some money this year by looking into alternative forms of transportation. Even if you’re not too keen to utilize the subway or bus system, you could at least try to put together a carpool for work (which will help everyone to save a few bucks).
4. Hike and bike. When it comes to getting yourself around town, you can save money and get going with your fitness resolution at the same time; all you have to do is dust off your bike or pull out your trusty walking shoes and get a move on.
5. Shop locally. Forget about traveling hither and yon for this consumer good or that. And forego online orders that require shipping (and all the transport it entails). Instead, make an effort this year to find local shops that deliver quality goods (food, home goods, etc.) at less cost. You may find that you like these items even better, you’ll save money on transportation (or the added cost of having items shipped), and you can support your local community at the same time.
About the Author
Sarah Danielson is a contributing writer for Ian B Thompson Chartered Accountants Sheffield, with 25 years of experience in accountancy.