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Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
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You can save $100 or more every month going green

MMI Copywriter

Diane MacEachern

Special thanks to Diane MacEachern, author of "Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World" for providing this guest article.  Don't forget:  April 22, 2011 is Earth Day!

Want to go green but think it’s too expensive? Think again. You can actually SAVE $100 or more every month by making simple lifestyle shifts that have a big impact on your pocketbook as well as the planet. Consider these suggestions from "Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World."

Improve fuel economy - Improved fuel efficiency means you travel farther on every gallon of gasoline for a lot less money. For example, say you drive 15,000 miles per year. If your car gets an average of 20 miles per gallon, over the course of the year, at an average fuel price of $4.00/gallon, you will spend $3000 on gasoline. However, if your vehicle achieves 35 mpg, driving the same 15,000 miles will only cost you $1680 – a savings of $1320 in one year alone. In all likelihood, gasoline will only get more expensive. In ten years, you could save more than $13,000. Invest that money over time and your savings increase considerably. Get more fuel-saving tips here.

Bring your lunch to work - Lunchtime food packaging wastes enormous energy and other natural resources - think of all the plastic and paper you throw away after you're finished with a takeout salad, sandwich, or burger. If you spend $9 a day on lunch from the local Subway or sandwich shop, you're spending $45 a week, or $2, 250 a year to eat out. Much of what you're paying for – the wrapping – you throw away. The greener, money-saving option? Take food from home in reusable containers, including a durable lunch bag. (Need a lunchbox? Check out these.)

Buy reusables. Compare a sponge to a roll of paper towels. One sponge may cost as little as $.99. A roll of paper towels runs around $1.99. But one sponge lasts as long as SEVENTEEN ROLLS of paper towels. You could save as much as $33 in paper towels before you have to throw the sponge away. (Meanwhile, keep sponges fresh by washing in the dishwasher with the dishes; microwave on high heat for 30 seconds to kill germs.) 

Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. The CFLs may cost $2-4 more than the incandescent bulb you're used to. But the CFL uses 66% less energy and lasts ten times as long. So over the lifetime of each bulb, you can save as much as $30-$50 on electricity. (NOTE: Choose Energy Star-rated bulbs and don't turn them on and off frequently to make them last longest.)

Forget bottled water. Water is very cheap when it flows out of your tap, but it can cost as much as 10,000 times more when it’s served in a throwaway bottle. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it up at your own tap. If you’re worried about water quality, use the money you save on bottled water to buy a filter for your faucet.

Buy in bulk. You pay nearly twice the price for the same weight when you buy small, individually wrapped servings of a product rather than the bulk size. Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, shampoo, soap, conditioner, snacks, soft drinks and many other items offer a bulk or ‘economy’ size. Even buying a half-gallon container of juice is cheaper than buying individual juice boxes.

For more money-saving ways to go green, visit Big Green Purse

Big Green Purse

You might also enjoy reading this guide to energy efficient savings for your home, as well as the article "Go green on any budget: Ideas from the extreme to ones that save you green."

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Wondering where to begin on the path to financial wellness? Start by downloading the free "Tips for Change" eBook.

April is Financial Literacy Month, and the first and most important step in developing and following a financial plan is to examine your attitudes about money. Are you ready to accept responsibility for changing your financial situation?

Download the free "Tips for Change" eBook


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Managing your finances is one of the most important life skills you can learn. But odds are you didn’t have a class in high school called Financial Freedom 101. So where do we learn how to manage money?

Most of us learn financial lessons from our parents, family, and friends. These are people who we view as role models and mentors, and the choices they make – whether they realize it or not – can have a profound effect on our own financial habits.

With that in mind, it’s important to acknowledge your own role as a financial mentor. You don’t have to be an expert to be a mentor. The role of a financial mentor is to act as a guide. Here are a few simple, but effective, steps from Financial Literacy Month that can help your loved ones get on the right track.

Appoint a family CFO. While all members should be aware of the family’s overall financial situation, choosing one person as the family CFO to conduct the day-to-day financial tasks is a good way to stay on top of things. The appointed individual should be organized and a good communicator. They should be given uninterrupted time to do their tasks effectively.

Calculate your net worth. Make a list that includes your liabilities and your assets – which is essentially what you owe and what you own. When you know what you’re working with, it’s easier to set financial goals and determine a manageable budget.

Pay down your debt. There are two popular methods used to tackle debt. The first is to concentrate on paying off the debt with the smallest balance first, which can be very rewarding because you see progress quickly. The second method is to concentrate on repaying the debt with the highest interest rate, which will save you the most money in the long run. You should choose the method that you feel will be most beneficial to your own situation.

Expect the unexpected. You should always make sure you are prepared for financial emergencies. In addition to long-term savings, financial experts agree that consumers should aim to have three to six months living expenses saved for emergencies.

Acknowledge the benefits. In addition to improving your financial situation, you may also find your money management skills can benefit other aspects of your life. Make a list of the ways you will benefit by sticking to your plan. If you begin to feel discouraged or overwhelmed, simply look at all of the ways your life will improve by remaining on the path to financial freedom.

Finally, you should encourage your friends and family to follow your footsteps on the journey to financial freedom, and take part in the 30-step program themselves. It could be the best financial advice they ever receive.


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Update your account balances online. When you receive your monthly statement from your creditors, login to your MMI account and update your balances. It is important that we have the most accurate balance information possible on file. 

If you would like more information about signing up for a Debt Management Plan through Money Management International, visit MoneyManagement.org.


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Interested in following trending Twitter topics about all things financial? If so, check out the popular feeds on TweetForChange.com. In just one click, you’ll be able to see what is on people’s minds right now (in 140 characters or less!).  Social media expertise is not required!


About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit MoneyManagement.org.

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