Posts Tagged ‘Conscious Consumerism’

10 Ways for Brave People to Save Money

June 23, 2009

First off, you must remember that the only way to save money is to NOT spend it. Fear of change is normal; accept it gradually and with an open mind.

1.) Cancel your cable

If your mental health can handle not watching your favorite T.V. shows and disconnecting from the vast majority of Americans who are seduced by the “bube-tube” every night, you might reap dividends greater than just saving money. If having to miss the Daily Show or the Colbert Report might send you into a depressive tailspin, you should at least program your thumb to mute commercials and avert your eyes when the ads rear their ugly heads. T.V. advertisers are very sophisticated at creating need and perpetuating the idea that you can’t be happy if you don’t buy what they’re selling. I know that smart professionals often think they are impervious to sales pitches, but the data shows that no matter how smart you are, you can be emotionally manipulated into thinking that you need something that you don’t really need.
So unplug. Turn off your T.V. and learn an instrument such as the harmonica or the drums. Read a book or develop an artistic ability. For thousands of years humans have entertained themselves. Why pay for others to entertain you when you can do it yourself?

2.) Go veggie

A vegetarian diet will pay dividends in your pocketbook as well as in your personal health and the health of the environment. Did you know that after car emissions, bovine flatulence is the number 2 contributor to greenhouse gasses, and therefore global climate change? Cut out the red meat from your diet first, and then think about the over-fishing that our seas suffer and cut back on fish. Even poultry is more expensive than beans and rice.
To make sure that you are getting all your amino acids, be sure to eat a variety of beans and rice. Quinoa is a great source of amino acids and cooks just like rice. Add peanuts and other nuts to your dishes to increase the protein. Add an egg to Mac-n-Cheese and bake it for 10 min (this was the traditional recipe before Kraft came along), or drop one in your “top-ramen” (be sure not to use the entire spice packet because it is over loaded with sodium and will increase your blood pressure and decrease your stress tolerance). Soy products such as edamame are a healthy and protein filled substitute to potato chips as an hors-oeuvre. Remember, the native Americans lived off the land and ate very little meat. The main reason white folk keep meat as their dietary anchor is because when our ancestors came to this land, they didn’t know how to eat anything else. Then they killed all the natives who knew how to eat the local vegetation, and almost killed all the bison, too. Every Thanksgiving we eat corn-on-the-cob to celebrate how stupid and short sighted our ancestors were.
Personally, I’d be a total vegetarian, but I just don’t hate vegetables enough. Once in a while I do eat meat, and I don’t sweat it. I wish I could kill my own game, but sadly, the opportunities to shoot and kill my own prey are few and far between these days. Plus, I’d need a large freezer to store the meat, and that wouldn’t save me any money at all.

3.) Make your own spreadable butter

Let soften 1 lb. of butter. Blend it with 1 1/3 cup canola oil. Add a pinch of salt and put it in a recycled tupperware container (such as the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” tub that you have washed and reused three times already to store leftovers) and refrigerate. Saves you money and saves you calories.

4.) Sell your old books to a used book store

If you aren’t planning on reading that copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” a fifth time, box it up with all of your romance and sci-fi novels and take them on down to the used book store.

5.) Ride your bike to the grocery store

Now, I know that you aren’t really into exercise all that much, and using calories to go purchase more calories seems like an oxymoron, but riding a bike or skateboard to the supermarket or farmer’s market will save you more than just the cost of gas. It will also prevent you from buying too much of those over packaged specialty items. You will find yourself buying more things in bulk, and less canned goods. You will buy powder juice mixes instead of frozen juice or boxed juice. I know some of you are going to laugh at this idea, but if you start to realize that your car is a luxury, not a necessity, you will be three steps closer to a sustainable lifestyle. You might also lose that gut without ever having to pay for a gym membership and a personal trainer.
Just be careful and use caution when riding/skating in heavy car traffic. Drivers are notoriously unaware of what’s going on around them.
I can already feel the fear in your heads crying out that “I’m too old” or “I’m too distinguished” to be seen riding my bike the grocery store. Is there a social stigma against being economical, athletic, and environmentally minded? These social stigmas are designed to keep your money flowing out of your pockets. Don’t listen to them.

7.) Wash and reuse your plastic zip-lock bags

These are one of those ubiquitous modern conveniences that are a slow drain on every pocketbook. How much do we pay for a month’s worth of sandwich bags? And everyday we throw them in the trash? Or do we drop them on the ground, where they run down the gutter and into the bay where they begin drifting slowly towards that new island of floating plastic debris in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is already the size of Texas?
These bags are completely reusable and very easy to clean. Just turn them inside out and rinse them off. If there is jelly or something cheesy/meaty stuck to them, scrub them with a dish sponge. Set them out to dry and then turn them right side out, fold them back up, and stick them back in the box.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

7.) Bottle your own water

Tap water is just as good as (if not better than) much of the bottled water out there. If your highly discriminatory taste buds can tell the difference between tap water and the geyser water that is bottled in wasteful plastic containers, find a tap attachment or jug style charcoal filter that creates the taste you want. I have found, for myself, that the Pur style faucet attachment works very well, and I have very picky tastes when it comes to my water. In any case, the convenience of bottled water can be reinvented over and over again by refilling the bottles with your own brand of purification.

8.) Use sponges instead of cotton

For the women out there, and perhaps the men who care about the women they love,  it should be apparent that the cotton industry has too long been run by men who extort women for their absorption needs. Tampons and pads are ridiculously expensive pieces of cotton designed (often by men) to handle a phenomenon that has been going on for a lot longer than commerce and the invention of money. Maybe it’s time to rethink the way female biology interacts with the American economy. Not only are there female owned cotton companies, but there is a natural and reusable alternative to cotton. A sea sponge needs to be rinsed out about every 3 hours and thoroughly cleaned and dried at the end of each menstrual cycle, but one sponge will last about six months.

9.) Plant a Garden

Acquire some seeds (most gardeners have plenty extra, so ask around), wrap them in a wet paper towel until they sprout, then plant them in some soil. Gardening can be very rewarding. I know that some people out there have branded themselves as black-thumbed, unable to keep anything alive. Just because your radish died in 3rd grade doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to cultivate. Gardening is so simple that our modern complicated lifestyles make agriculture seem counter-intuitive, but it isn’t. Relax, pay attention, and enjoy the process. Just let the plant grow. It really is that easy. You can get all caught up in the details of how much sunlight, how much water,  and what type of soil amendments to use, etc. In the end, a plant wants to grow and reproduce all by itself, so let it.

10.) Win tickets

College radio stations frequently give away tickets to local music events. Pay attention and call in. The listening audiences are often quite small for college radio stations, so you have a very good chance of winning. Just be ready to enjoy something “completely different” from your normal night out.

Taking risks and being adventurous are the keys to success in a turbulent economy. There is a revolution coming that will dethrone the old tyrannical ideas that are the foundation for much of our culture.