Other Interesting Articles

Sunday, March 21, 2010

No Impact Man - 3 Tips to Save Money + Contribute To The Eco-Movement

Image by MissMalaprop

We just finished watching the movie No Impact Man. The movie profiles an NYC urban family going full-on eco friendly - through incremental steps. I can't say we're interested in going to the lengths they did (we're NOT going to give up toilet paper!), however, there are a few really interesting ideas that we took away that will help us to reduce our spending and contribute to the eco-movement.

1. Use a Glass Jar as a Water Bottle - We really like this idea. It's better for you, considering you don't have to worry about nasty chemicals leaching out of the plastic, plus the water is colder and cleaner tasting. Check out this Harvard study for more information.

2. Buy Reusable Produce Bags - What a fabulous idea! I can't tell you how many times we've discovered rotten food in our fridge stored in a plastic bag from the supermarket. We're going to pick up some of these bags.

3. Use Natural Cleansers - we're going to mix our own household cleansers. Making your own products will save you money, make your household safer for your family and pets, and contribute to the eco-movement. If you want to do this too, make sure you do a lot of research first. Check out this site for more information.

Obviously we're not saving the world with these small tips but we think getting two benefits out of 1 small action is definitely worth it. Let us know about any documentaries, websites or tips that have inspired you to take action somehow and save money.

Friday, March 5, 2010

7 Ideas for Cost-Effective Fun

Some of the worst spending decisions are made when people get bored. In the spirt of helping you save some money and your sanity, we've put together this list of cost-effective fun.

Low-key Activities

Grab some takeout - check which restaurants in your community offer takeout discounts or specials during the week. Make a theme night of it by serving a special drink and dessert to accompany the meal. Push the envelope by renting a themed movie to watch while eating your meal.

Take the day off - take a day off work and grab some 1/2 price movie tickets to an afternoon matinee or any other cultural activity you enjoy. Often the cost of afternoon admission is much less than nights or weekends.

Check out the local library - you'll find excellent videos you can borrow for free and many libraries allow you to sign out magazines. Let's face it, magazines are expensive and once you've read them they are headed for the recycling bin anyhow.

Take a drive - arrange to drive somewhere local that has a landmark or park you've always wanted to visit - we like to go for an hour to an hour and a half drive. Consider packing a picnic. If you aren't much into landmarks, search for the best cup of coffee around your planned destination.

Deluxe Ideas

Treat yourself at the grocery store - treat yourself to lobsters, crab legs, parisian potatoes and champagne. We like to do this once every few months. The cost is roughly half what you might pay in a restaurant.

Think about going to a Hammam style spa - this may seem indulgent but luxury can still be part of a household budget every now and then. Select a facility that offers steam rooms, hot tubs, cold dips and saunas. Often these types of facilities have a reasonable flat fee and allow you to stay all day if you like. Call ahead for prices and try to budget for this well in advance.

Book a weekend away - check out services like homeaway.com or vrbo.com, they offer a great selection of rental homes. Consider renting a home that will accommodate extra people so that you can invite your friends along - enjoy their company and split the cost too!

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Low Can We Go? - Pilot to Reduce Electricity Consumption

Image by daveknapik

Since moving from a condo a few months ago (where our utility bills were buried in a high monthly maintenance fee), we are much more aware of our electricity use.  Lately, we've been considering how we could further reduce our monthly bill - we come up with an interesting pilot that we're employing for the next month.  Here are the details;

Operate in the off-peak hours 
We've adjusted our schedules to cook and clean in the off-peak hours. After examining how we measure up to the energy consumption of our neighbours (our utility company provides online access to plethora of charts) we've decided to try to lower our standing from the average category to below average.

Use timers 
Timers are nifty little devices that plug into your lamp & outlet and control when the lights go on and off. Not only are they convenient, but they also allow you to change exactly when you want them to be activated.

Boycott the oven
After some research, we found a typical electric oven uses about 5,000 watts! We decided to purchase a convection toaster oven that would allow us to bake many meals (even rotisserie chicken!) and avoid using the oven as much as possible. The toaster oven we chose uses only 1,500 watts, and takes the same amount of time to cook similar dishes - and we got it for half off!  In the end, we will cut our electricity usage by more than one third when it comes to baking - something we do a lot of. 

Stay tuned, we'll provide you with all the details on how we did. 
If you have any tips for us, please send em' our way!