Friday, February 13, 2009

Stop wasting money

I don’t know about you but I am a fairly wasteful person and I am guessing we could all save lots of money and valuable resources if we all made an effort to waste less. Everywhere I look there is waste. My wife and I have a constant battle about turning off lights when we leave a room. Even if the yearly savings is less than $100 it would be 1-1/2 more dinners we could have at no extra cost. So what keeps us all from turning off the lights or using less toilet paper? I am considering switching to recycled toilet paper. I basically wipe my butt with one moderate-size tree a year. If we each purchased just one recycled 12-roll pack a year, we'd save 5 million trees annually.

Buying in bulk seems like a way to save money but I am convinced that it a waste for the most part. Buying bulk has its own time and place. Buy only in bulk if you know you are going to use all of it. For example, I buy toilet paper in bulk. I am 100% sure that there will be a day when I run out of toilet paper. In fact, it seems that the more I buy, the quicker I run out. Paper towels are one thing that I avoid using whenever possible. It is so easy to unroll 5-6 sheets to wipe up a small spill without even thinking of it. My wife and I arrived at a compromise by purchasing the select-a-size paper towels that have half-sized sheets for those smaller messes and I still shy away from using them.

Speaking of waste…..who needs so many designer handbags? I doubt that it really makes a difference if someone has a generic one or seven Louis Vuitton bags. How can this possibly improve the quality of one’s life? I like coffee as much as the next person but is the premium cost for Starbuck’s worth it when I can get a Dunkin Donuts coffee for about half the cost or better yet, Folgers home-brewed for about 10 cents a cup. I realize my time is worth a lot to me and sometimes I am willing to pay the premium. Bottled water, in my opinion, is one of the worst things we could have ever started buying in mass quantities. There is just no meaningful benefit to us or the earth by consuming it other than the fact that it’s very convenient. Water is free. Let’s start to conserve it a little more and we’ll have more to drink instead of throwing the plastic in the trash. Of course they are recyclable but if they weren’t made in the first place then we wouldn’t have to recycle them.

Payback period seems to be on everyone’s mind when making purchases that are better for our environment. One item with a small financial payback is getting a new low flush toilet but the amount of water it saves is huge. For our customers we are starting to put in these new dual flush toilets by Toto where it has a smaller flush for #1 and a regular-sized flush for #2. It’s the next best thing to the old saying “if it’s yellow let it mellow….if it’s brown flush it down”.

With my personal investment portfolio taking a big hit this year, I am naturally looking at ways to save money as I am sure that most Americans are these days. I know that paying rent for an apartment is the only option for many folks but there has never been a better time to be able to invest in real estate. You owe it to yourself to at least look into it if you can somehow muster up some initial start-up money. I have a good friend who teaches small groups of investors how to find properties, renovate them and then rent them for positive cash flow. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Let me know if you want more info and I can connect you with him. I am going to go check the mail now to see if my economic stimulus or bail-out check has arrived.

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