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The past two years have been super difficult financially since I became a single mom. Childcare costs are just freaking expensive, y’all. Plus I was paying rent for our condo plus the mortgage on the old house up until October of 2021. Thankfully, since selling the house and finding a good daycare for my kids, I have been able to free up some space in our budget, but I had to make a lot of changes along the way to survive. I do my best to always be aware of the effect of my choices on the environment, so here are three easy eco friendly switches I’ve made that also save me money:
One of the first things I did for my budget was to go through my monthly expenses and cut out as many as possible. I found that my phone was compatible with Mint Mobile, and after testing it for 3 months, I was able to score a great deal on an annual lump sum fee. I just paid $360 for an entire year of unlimited talk, text, and data. It’s on the T-Mobile network, so I still get the same service I was getting prior to making the switch.
How is this sustainable, you might ask? First off, they don’t have physical stores – everything is online, so there is less of a footprint. Second, you can bring your own phone, no need to trade in a phone just because you switch providers. And third, you get a bigger discount if you pay ahead.
2. Cut Out Disposables
Have you ever sat and calculated how much you spend on disposable products each month? Things like paper towels, ziploc bags, saran wrap, feminine products, and more are purchased, used once, and thrown into a landfill. I am thrilled to make an investment once and eliminate those needs from my budget.
Recently I have been transitioning our food storage containers to glass and silicone, including snack containers (instead of plastic baggies). They are durable, easy to pack, protect my more delicate snack options, and most are dishwasher safe (ain’t nobody got time for extra dishes).
3. Get Creative with the Grocery Budget
Cold hard truth: I used to spend $120-$160 on food for us each week. WOW. That is SO not necessary for our family of three. Once I realized this was an area of my spending where I could absolutely downsize without sacrificing nutrition, I got creative.
I typically go to the local farmer’s market every 1-2 weeks from Spring-Fall for fresh produce and meal plan around whatever treasures I find there. After a few trips, I learned which stands to go to for the best deals. I have a mushroom guy, an apple guy, an exotic fruit guy, and a potato and onion family. One of my favorite parts about this eco friendly switch is that I can use my own reusable bags. Check out my favorite reusable grocery bags here.
I stock up on our favorites and usually budget for whatever insane deals I can’t afford to miss. One time I bought an entire box of bell peppers for $5. One time I bought two cases (24 packages) of organic raspberries for $15 total.
After I leave the farmer’s market, I head to Aldi for our non-perishables and plant milks. I use Instacart for curbside delivery, which also helps me limit my impulse shopping because I can see my total before I even hit “order.” During the winter, I do all of my grocery shopping from Aldi and Target curbside delivery, and the occasional Imperfect Foods delivery.
With this system, and meal planning to ensure I actually use all the things I purchase, we are able to keep our grocery budget between $40-100/week. Yes, $40 (during the farmer’s market season)! During the winter I keep our produce selection simple with apples, bananas, cuties oranges, spinach, salad greens, frozen broccoli, and frozen fruit for smoothies. Buying these basics from Aldi during the winter keeps the costs low and consistent.
We eat a 100% vegan, mostly whole food, plant based diet on this budget. We enjoy lots of banza rice (made with chickpeas), beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu, and fresh farmer’s market produce. It’s simple and easy to do, and my kids like the meals.
While this particular season of life is hard, and it’s tough to not be able to live according to the financial standards I’m used to (i.e., the privilege to actually save/invest a significant amount of money), it does bring me joy to find ways to make the burden a little lighter. This season won’t last forever, but while it is in my reality, I will find joy somewhere in the journey.
What are some eco friendly switches you have made to cut costs? I would love to hear them in the comments!