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How to reduce costs, save the world, and feel better about yourself

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The poverty line in the U.S. is floating just above $10,000 for a single person. Unfortunately, this is much higher than the global poverty line. I say "unfortunately" because it means that no matter how hard we have it right now, there are millions of people elsewhere that have been living in far worse conditions for their entire lives. It is important to keep this in mind as we strive to save money here at home. Never buy cheaper goods without considering the fact that they may contribute to a system that keeps other nations in poverty while making a gigantic corporation tons of money.

I am going to target everything we do on a daily basis with this Instructable in hopes that we can pare down our lifestyles to something that can be considered sustainable, both financially and ecologically.
 
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Step 1: Change Your Attitude

This is the most important step. You have to be willing to make the leap from "I want it so I must have it" to "Hmm... do I REALLY need that right now?" This may seem obvious, but it is a huge reality that is going to have to set in eventually. Not everyone can live the "American Dream" type life that has plagued our world for centuries. It is just not possible. The earth cannot handle it. This is a fact.

Don't get me wrong, I love the freedoms that being an American affords, but the abuse of these freedoms destroys so many more lives than the ones it enhances. We must change our state of mind so that our percieved luxuries include less waste and reliance on the suffering of others. But let's not get preachy. Let's get practical.
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Puzzledd4 years ago
Since you have a fridge, don't forget to stock it up with bargains. If you go to markets and supermarkets near closing time, you'll often get lots of good food at throw-out prices. Our freezer is always stocked with cut-price food we rarely pay full price for anything except the basics- milk etc.

Electric breadmakers have become cheap and they make great bread for a fraction of the cost of bakery bread. Plus you can use less salt/sugar and add healthy grains if you like (I use 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 bread mix with some oat bran mixed in - quick, easy, cheap and delicious) :)

Buy fruit by the boxful when it's in season and make jam or preserves to go on your bread- or grow your own if you can. Our tomatoes get bottled in the microwave for healthy pasta meals all year round.

And don't forget your local charity opportunity shops or garage/yard sales for bargains of all sorts- or Freecycle, if you have a local branch. It's amazing what people will just give way or sell for peanuts.

Thanks for the thoughtful 'ible - the more people who break the Constant Consumer pattern, the better for us all!
If I can chime in, bread machines are a waste of time and energy.
I use my hands to mix the dough every 20 or so days, and I make 6-7 large loaves every time, which I freeze as soon as they cool, and I have always fresh healthy bread.
It only takes about 10-15 minutes to thoroughly mix 5-7 pounds flour of different kinds (wheat, rye, ground oats flax seeds etc.,) which yields 8-10 pounds of great bread.

You can use the healthy ingredients you choose, and you only need to run the oven for one hour, instead of using the bread machine every time for a tiny loaf.
Sasza3 years ago
We got a flat screen tv from someone's garbage. It was in perfect condition but the transformer burned out. My dad fixed it and we've had no problems with it since.
Denger5 years ago
I'd like to mention one thing omitted in step 7 above: turn off commercial television and commercial radio ...advertising is the root of all the evil we're talking about here. You may be surprised at how quickly you can lose the taste for buying unnecessary products and services when they are not 'in your face' all the time! If you must watch TV, watch your local PBS station, you'll probably learn something, (whether you want to or not)!
BeanGolem (author)  Denger5 years ago
I completely agree. The fall of capitalism will be a great day. (OMG! how unAmerican of me). haha. But seriously, who said that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness need capitalism. wtf.
Without capitalism, you can have life, liberty and pursue happiness, as long as you have the consent of the mob. Nice Instructable.
mrjoancroft3 years ago
I'm in FL, so drinking straight from the tap is like guzzling chlorine. So we have a filtered pitcher, and it rocks :] I don't miss soda.
tomglo104 years ago
Tap water has to have more required testing than does bottled water. That being said our city water usually , according to mandatory reports we receive, has 2 or 3 items on list below standard. Though it is monitored if it does not pass inspection nothing is done to fix it, except maybe a small fine.
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you'll probably lose more power with all the cameras and such, plus its hard to get a good view of everything with just cameras when you have many different hings crammed into a fridge...
sooper_elf4 years ago
Considering that pirated movies are kinda-sorta-pretty much-yeah they are illegal, I would like to point out that often, libraries have collections of DVDs and VHS that people can take out. And it's free.
Yeah, I totaly agree!!! They have pretty good movies at the library!!!!
Totysheep4 years ago
Hey, I'm a collage student so that means I dumpsterdive for a living almost. My boyfriend calls me a scavenger but it is as it is...I've found a cashemere knitted hat in a bus, Gucci umbrella in the train, free chouches (yes, plural) and an Ikea coathanger for in the hallway and many many more. It pays to be a scavenger!!!!!
I really like this post. I will be taking ideas from this and applying them to my everyday life. Thanks! ♥ Jessica ♥
juanoporras4 years ago
yo!! this has worked sooo god for me... always since I was a child I used to collect stuff from the street, I mean not any stuff, but stuff that I kew I was going to Use later, like bolts, nuts, wires etc, and I still do, so I usually when I go out I look around to see if there's any useful garbage or furniture, etc that might work, or probably to use the wood from that furniture to build something else I need.
Around 2 mothns ago walking around I found a laptop in the garbage YES A LAPTOP, It was wet and all that, but I took it home; it didnt have a hard drive and the screen was cracked... I inserted a HD then connected it to a monitor and it was good to go!!! actually is the one I am using right now and the best part is that it is faster than the one I had before!!
It feels good, I am saving money and recycling at the same time!
BeanGolem (author)  juanoporras4 years ago
 That's awesome! I pick up stuff all the time. I've found some great springs and small hardware. And a rubber snake once. hah.
last Sunday I found a V3 Razr and a DLink Wireless Router, Both in perfect condition :D.
BTW One Man's Garbage is Another Man's Treasure!! ;)
juanoporras4 years ago
hello, this are really good ideas, I am a student and sometimes I barely make it to pay the rent, but then I have very little money left to buy food, what I do is I go to the food banks that some churches sponsor weekely and I get some food from here, most of the food you are going to get is pasta and canned food, but if you have a litlle left you can buy some meat at the store and you are good to go.
I also ALWAYS buy food mostly meat by the Kg(or Lb) price, they fool you with the big number and you think thet is cheap but look again! and compare!, privately owned meat stores are the cheaper ones to buy meat from.

thanks for your tips
Mako-chan45 years ago
You should TOTALLY check out the idea of getting a chest freezer and converting it into a fridge all you need is one of those external thermometers from a homebrew site!!! It works WITH nature and not against it! I say this because cool air sinks and since you open a chest freezer at the top instead of the front, all your cool air doesn't fall out and a bunch of warm air doesn't come striding in. I'm gonna do it for my sophmore year in college instead of a mini-fridge. (I don't think those wierd tiny fridges REALLY work... it might be pure suspision and malice for my last itty bitty cooling device but still...)
Mini fridges don't work, and if they do, it's because they take as much energy as a regular fridge.
lampajoo5 years ago
woah! I NEED my diet dew. seriously, though, your tap water is toxic. you shouldn't even bathe in it, let alone drink it. the amount of different chemicals in it is mind blowing. oh, the government says it's safe? n/m
We started growing tomatoes on our balcony this year and they started turning yellow and dieing. We looked it up online and discovered it could be salt damage from our water. We got a facet water filter and they perked right up. I will never live without one again!
is filtered boiled and sterilized in sum places.....prove to me its toxic....+ mountain killz spermz(jk)
belsey5 years ago
Your refrigerator tip only works if you downsize your fridge -- an empty refrigerator actually consumes more electricity than a full one (because more warm air can come in each time you open the door). So buy a smaller fridge, and yes, you will save energy. But fill up the one you have. I put bottles filled with water into my freezer for this reason. Although occasionally I'll use them in a cooler, they are in there to fill up space.
BeanGolem (author)  belsey5 years ago
An empty fridge can consume more if you actually open it. The idea behind my tip is that you keep as much food out of the fridge so that you don't open it as often. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people pop open the fridge looking for a snack at least several times a day. Cut back on the number of times you open the fridge and you'll save. You can also compartmentalize the fridge by hanging plastic strips from the shelves so that the section's air remains undisturbed.
Hanging plastic strips is a good idea. I'd heard that the average number of times a fridge is opened in a day is between 70 and 100 times, so I'm sure they would help. The best way to reduce the time the fridge is open is to keep it well stocked and well organized. And to decide before you open the door what you're getting. In the US the problem is in the big is better culture -- when I bought my smaller fridge I had to argue with the salesman, who tried to convince me that I'd save more energy with a bigger fridge (his logic: the difference in energy consumption between energy star and a regular fridge is higher if you get the larger model. Never mind that the smaller fridge actually consumes less!)
BeanGolem (author)  belsey5 years ago
I can't wait to have my own house and be able to choose my own appliances. Living with people who don't recycle, let alone believe that it actually works, is killing me.
It can be a challenge -- no matter how many times I tell them to do it my kids can't get into the habit of turning off the light when they leave a room. But they're great at conserving water... they never flush!
I use regular light bulb with motion detector switch in hallways which my son and husband will never turn of the light, also for safety and CF's at all other areas. I taught my son, 6 y/o don't let the "electric vampire" to suck all the energy, it helps.
your awesome!!! XDDD That ranks right up there with my "Your boiling you puppy!!!!" idea!!!!
Except your's isn't cruel or unusual!!!
I gotta write that vampire thing down somewhere...
gloflyer belsey5 years ago
Ditto with my kids. If I go somewhere and come home late, it is not unusual to see every light in the house on. We have CF's, but we still don't need to leave them all on.
Actually CF lights don't tolerate being turned off and on as well as conventional bulbs. They also don't tolerate heat as well (flourecents don't last long as canister lights) You're still saving money and electricity, but using CFs the same old way is actually shortening the life of the bulbs. Your kids "bad habits" are actually better suited to the new technology! Hopefully we can look forward to LED lights soon which are more efficient still.
LEDs are the best!
Praise be LED's!!
An empty fridge will still use more energy in the long run. Having a full fridge may mean you open it more often, but the dense food and liquid inside will "hold" the coldness much longer than a large space of air, thereby keeping the costs down. It takes more energy to keep light air cold than dense heavy food and liquid.
niceday88885 years ago
Nice instructable. Thanks for sharing your idea. I am able to work part-time by choice and still have enough to use by not over spending, which I have co-workers who work full time +over time and not able to make ends meets. It's all about decision. I always bring my own water in my "stainless steel bottle" for past 6 years. People think I am weird in the beginning, but now it is more popular and no body is laughing any more. I DO filter my water before I drink. I also hope there are more people who care. In the town I lived, recycle paper is mandatory, but not reinforced. A lot of people dump their cardboard box as trash and the town will discard for them. I e-mail to the town public service and mayor and did not even get any reply. I confront one of my negihbor who always put her cardboard boxes out with trash but not on paper recycle day and she said " the town will take it". Some people just lazy and don't care.
BeanGolem (author)  niceday88885 years ago
lazy people are frustrating.
foo232205 years ago
Great instructible. However I have a couple of things to add. Bulk rice is a great way to save money. You can buy a #50 bag at a costco or a chinese grocery store and it costs much less than if you bought that much at a grocery store, and rice goes with everything. Also, if you have to go a distance every day try getting a moped or motorcycle. My moped was $500, and got 100+ mpg. My current motorcycle cost $1500 and gets about 55-70 mpg. And motorcycle insurance is only like $300 per year.
cloudykate5 years ago
I keep reading about farmers' markets as a place to save money, but here in Portland OR they are more often a place to find expensive boutique foods, like tiny little goat cheeses rolled in "special" herbs raised by certified "master herb raisers", and fruits off "grandpa's certified pioneer-planted" trees, and on and on. Granted, there are some local truck farmers scattered among the stalls, but getting to them around the "greener and cooler than you" folks with their dogs and giant strollers for the kids is more trouble than I can handle. Then I need to go home and have a glass of wine, and consume any few pennies I saved. Am I just a cranky old lady, or have other people found this problem?
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