Posted: 2009-07-22 20:00:00
Go ahead. Just try me. Send me a blank check (made payable to “Jeff Yeager, The Green Cheapskate“) and see if I succumb to the social pressures to buy any of the following:
1. “Green” household cleaners – Do you know about baking soda and vinegar?
2. A suit that costs more than $200 – As Warren Buffett said, “I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.” And at a thrift store, $200 will buy you a closet full of suits.
3. A cell phone – Pay to ruin the quality of my life?
4. Bottled water – News Flash: Bottled water may be unsafe, and definitely a waste of money and resources. Hate to say it, but I told you so.
5. A riding lawn mower – The only thing wider than the expanse of your grass, is the expanse of your … If you’re going to have a lawn at all, at least mow it with a push mower.
As a kid, I assumed that I’d grow up to be a fulltime soda bottle collector.
Back then, my home state of Ohio had a so-called “bottle bill,” a law that required refundable deposits (usually five or ten cents) on all soda and beer bottles. Collecting empty Coke bottles that people carelessly tossed out of their car windows became a lucrative sideline to my paper route. Combined with finding spare change in payphones and vending machines along my route, I had the most diversified income portfolio of any twelve-year-old in the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, bottle bills have never really caught on — thanks in large part to heavy lobbying by the industry — even though they still exist in some states and other states are pushing to enact them. Bottle bills are a proven, effective way of reducing litter and promoting recycling.
Sadly the demise of the bottle bill in Ohio caused my income to plummet and my career plans to change. But I’ve discovered that while today’s plastic soda bottles may not make you money, they can definitely save you money. Here’s how:
1. Get Juiced: Cut the bottom off some types of two-liter soda bottles and you can use it to squeeze fresh OJ and lemonade, just like Scott Amron. Savings: A plastic juicer at the grocery store will cost you around $5, or go high-tech with an electric juicer or a chic chrome plated citrus press and you can pay as much as $200.
2. Festive Patio Lighting: Feed your LED Christmas lights (aka “twinkle lights”) into colorful empty soda bottles and rope them together to use around the patio in the summertime. The result can be gorgeous. Savings: Set of 20 patio lights at Target, $25.
With the average American family of four spending almost $4,000 per year on clothing, think of the money you can save by extending the life of your clothes and hanging onto them longer. Here are some practical ways to do just that:
Launder Less Often, and Only in Cold Water: Many of us are guilty of over laundering our clothes, which costs time and money and is usually unnecessary. Washing and drying is often actually harder on clothing fabric than wearing it! Consider wearing apparel items more than once between laundering, and wash most clothing in cold water only; cold water costs less, is gentler on fabrics, and will get most clothes just as clean.
Hold the Bleach: Bleach can cause clothing to disintegrate more quickly. If you need to brighten white clothes, try using baking soda and hot water instead.
It Pays to Get Hung Out to Dry: Electric- and gas-powered clothes dryers not only cost a pretty penny to own and operate, but they cook and beat the life out of your clothing too. Drying your clothes on a good old-fashioned clothesline can increase the lifespan of some garments by as much as fifty percent…plus your clothes will smell terrific.
Zip Up Before You Wash: Metal zippers on jeans, jackets and other apparel items are like tiny chainsaws in the washer and dryer, ripping away at other clothes the whole time unless you zip them up first.
Don’t Let Small Problems Become Big Ones: Most rips and tears start out small, so check your clothes carefully after every washing to catch and mend snags while they’re still small and easy to fix.
Soggy Shoes: The lifespan of footwear is often cut short by the effects of moisture, even more so than by pounding the pavement. To make your shoes last longer, don’t wear the same pair every day. Give each pair at least a day in between to dry out from the moisture they absorb from your body and the environment. In humid or rainy weather, crumple up a couple of pieces of newspaper and stuff them in your shoes before you go to bed at night; by morning, the paper will have wicked-up the excess moisture. Frequently shining or sealing shoe leather helps protect it from moisture as well.