Greening your Finances

check-writing

I was having a conversation with co-workers yesterday on the gradual disappearance of checks. For most people, whipping out a credit/debit card is easier and faster. Personally I don’t think I’ve written a check in almost 2 years because I use ING and they’ll first attempt to send the transaction electronically -then- they’ll mail a check for me. Gotta love ING.

There are a couple different things I’ve done over the last few years to prevent so much paper waste from my personal finance sundries. Here are a few ideas:

Ways to Green up your Finances

  • Switch to a bank that promotes electronic transactions over paper ones, like ING Direct.
  • Opt out of receiving paper statements. If your financial institution provides pdf copies, save those to your computer instead.
  • Consider a bio-degradable credit card. In December of 2008, Discover launched a bio-degradable credit card that breaks down when exposed to microorganisms, but was hearty enough to stand up to your wallet.  The article goes on to say

    “there were nearly 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the U.S. A stack of all those credit cards would reach more than 70 miles into space — and be almost as tall as 13 Mount Everests. If this number of credit cards were thrown away every three years, the stack of credit cards would reach almost 43 Everests high after a decade.”

  • Or consider a green credit card that promotes reducing your carbon foot-print and funds renewable energy.  Alternatively you could select one that donates to certain charity funds.
  • If you must send checks, buy checks made from recycled paper with eco-friendly inks. If your financial institution doesn’t offer either, I’d definitely ask them why.
  • Get rid of the check register and track your finances with a digital finance tool such as Mint.com. Not only is it easier, but you can receive bill reminders and view reports of your spending and saving habits.
  • Invest in Green stocks as noted by Mint.com and Treehugger.
  • Get direct deposit for your paycheck -and- your tax refund. Not only do you get the money faster, but you’re not wasting paper each week.

What other ways can you think of to green our personal finance?

Don’t forget to Tip this article.

The Modern Eco-Tupperware Party, Without the Tupperware

My mother used to sell Tupperware in the 70’s and 80’s.  Heck I -still- have some of her old Tupperware 30 years later, so I can vouch that the stuff can last for decades.  It was truly amazing, though I am unsure if the Tupperware of today is as hearty as it used to be.  Personally I’ve been converting to glass, stoneware, and Pyrex gradually (especially since pyrex lids are BPA-free)

These days there is a lot of talk about chemicals released in plastic when heated and all of the plastic in the ocean, so it’s much less desirable for parties promoting plastic storage these days.  What to do instead?

green-cleaningIn steps in Green Cleaning Parties.

And excerpt from their website:

A green cleaning party is a fun event where you and your friends learn how to make non-toxic cleaners from common ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.

Gather up your jars, they’ll show you how to label and mix your own cleaners.  They even have a kit so you can host your own party and help friends and family rid their homes of toxic chemicals and educate them on environmentally safe choices instead.

A sample recipe from their site:

All-Purpose Cleaner
suggested uses: hard surfaces like countertops and kitchen floors, windows and mirrors

2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups water
20-30 or more drops of essential oil (optional)

Tip: Warming in microwave until barely hot will boost cleaning power for tough jobs. Only microwave in a glass container.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other social circle party ideas, such as the Safe Cosmetics Party, Healthy Home Party, etc, courtesy of Activistas.

Eco-Geek Toys: Solar Phone Charger

phone-solar-chargerAngelo has a habit of either forgetting his phone charger, or forgetting to charge his phone, so he’s left with a dead phone and no way to charge it.  For Angelo’s birthday this year, I got him the Solar Phone Charger from USB Geek, so that he had the ability to charge his phone anywhere so long as it’s not raining.

It includes:

  • AC Power
  • Car Charger
  • USB Charger
  • Built-in Lithium Battery that can be charged with solar power
  • And supports multi-voltage output so it can charge most phones

The price wasn’t bad at all either, for only $32.

I like the fact that this can be used for multiple phones, so if I ever need to use it as well, I can.  I like that it can use various resources to charge with, so I don’t have 3 separate chargers (meaning less plastic waste) and he and I can share this one.

Seasonal Treats: Hot Cocoa

hot-chocolateCool weather is on the way, and in just a few weeks we’ll be feeling the first kiss of winter.

One of the best things about winter is waking up on a chilly morning under a bed of flannel sheets and a down blanket, and curling up with a cup of hot chocolate.  Growing up that was usually one of the larger brands like Swiss Miss, but below are a few organic, fair-trade certified brands that you might be interested in trying.

Lake Champlain – A Vermont based company.

Dagoba – Keep in mind that Dagoba has been bought out by Hershey when purchasing.

Equal Exchange

Trader Joe’s Conacado Organic Fair Trade Cocoa – Apparently loved by many, but I have not tried it myself.

Make your own

An alternative to purchasing organic hot chocolate, is to make your own with organic ingredients.  Try a few of these recipes (personally I am partial to actual chocolate instead of powder, but I’m providing one of each):

Parisan Warm Chocolate:

Ingredients:

* 1 cup whole milk
* 1/3 heavy cream
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation:
Simmer the milk, cream and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in the chocolate until melted. Don’t let it boil. Serve warm in demitasse cups.

Creamy Hot Chocolate:

Ingredients:

* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 pinch salt
* 1/3 cup boiling water
* 3 1/2 cups milk
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup half-and-half cream

Preparation
Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

Personal Tip: Try adding a chai teabag (I used Stacks in the past) to the hot chocolate mix.  You’ll swear it tastes like Christmas.

The Value of Planning

On my personal blog, I made a post recently that discusses the Value of Planning.

Here is an excerpt:

In addition to unexpected expenses, how about things you know are going to happen eventually? If you knew it was something that was going to happen, there’s no excuse not to prepare for it.

Right now my mustang is still on the original tires I bought it with in 2006. I’m going to need new tires relatively soon, so I need to figure out how much 4 new tires cost, and how much I can spare each month to put away for them. That way I’ll know my timeline, and I’ll be prepared, and I’m not dipping into my emergency savings because lets face it, this was not an emergency.

Stop by and read The Value of Planning.