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Ways to Save Green, Both Cash and Planet

Image: Micheile Henderson

As a follower of Christ, generous hospitality is a high virtue in my home. But in order to be both generous and hospitable, to be as Paul says, “a cheerful giver,” (2 Cor. 9:7 NASB), it helps to have both the spirit of God’s generosity and the wisdom to manage finances properly. 

Being generous comes easy to me, but being wise about money management… Well, that’s another story.

Next to “improve fitness,” improving finances ranked high on the list of people’s resolutions for 2024. Confession: This one didn’t make it onto my list, which goes to show you just how intentional I am about my finances. 

However, these spirit-infused, creation care minded ideas just might help me make some progress in this area of my adulting.

Money-Saving Habits Start in the Heart

Part of the challenge of improving my finances begins with changing my relationship with money.

Paul told his followers

But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after

1 Timothy 6:10 MSG

If I look to finances as the source of my security, instead of God, I will never feel as if I have enough. But when I trust that God is the only true source of security, then the burden and anxiety of scarcity in my life is replaced by a sense of God’s abundance. God promises that in him, I have all that I need.

Even if my financial situation hasn’t changed.

This issue starts in the heart. Without this faith-level change, I can adopt all kinds of saving practices, maybe even store away a healthy little nest egg, and still feel the grip of anxiety.

Now, here’s the thing. There are lots of habits we can practice that benefit both our pocketbooks and our planet, and the mystery of spiritual formation combines both grace and discipline. So, assuming you’ve taken care of this whole heart issue business around money, let’s get onto the business of sustainable finances.

How can you pair up pennies saved and planet saving? Here are a few ideas:

Make a Budget and Spend Intentionally

Somehow I missed Money Management 101 in high school and college, so I didn’t grasp the concept and freedom of developing a budget until late into my 20s. Instead, we paid our bills if possible and whatever was leftover we spent or used to pay down our ever-growing credit card debt. When money got tight and I’d suggest cutting back on our spending, my husband would decide instead that we needed to go into financial lockdown and maybe sell a vehicle. It was kind of like living on the last lane of Monopoly and praying you didn’t land on Park Place.

Oh, what fun!

But a budget showed me just how much money was coming in, who needed to be paid each month, and where to put what was left. Itemized spending showed me the ridiculous amount of money we were wasting on non-essential, impulse buys, and opened my eyes to ways we could save without, you know, selling everything we owned.

Just simply being conscious of our spending habits helped me do better.

Forget Replace—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Every millennial I know learned this principle for the planet’s health, but it’s also a key to financial health. Instead of buying new, consider buying second-hand items from thrift stores or online. Instead of replacing items, consider repairing them (YouTube revolutionized our lack of handiness). Even recycling responsibly can save you money in the long run.

Wise Energy Consumption Translates into More Cash in Your Pocket

Using energy-efficient appliances, turning off the lights and electronics when they aren’t in use, and optimizing your home’s energy usage reduces your utility bills and your carbon footprint. 

If you’re already in the market for new appliances or a new vehicle this year, consider purchasing the most energy-efficient brands or perusing the electric vehicle marketplace. Energy upgrades to your home and automobiles might earn you extra tax credits, too.

A Change to Your Commute Means Spare Change, Too

You can save money, reduce fuel expenses, and lower emissions by utilizing public transportation, carpooling, or walking or cycling to work. And, if you walk or bike, bonus points! You’ll take care of improving your fitness too.

Invest in Sustainable Businesses

Align your creation care principles with companies and funds that prioritize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. You can “green up” your investment portfolio and choose financial institutions that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices, which will fund a better future while simultaneously benefiting your retirement package. Win win win!

Simplify and Minimize

My husband and I tend to be spenders at heart, but we’re also impulse shoppers. Great combination, right? My kryptonite is buying books. I love to buy books. But I don’t have to buy alllll the books, right this minute… even if I really want to.

Simply living more simply can help you reduce any unnecessary expenses. I’ve taken to pausing, even for just a second, before putting something in my cart in-person or online, to be more mindful of my consumption habits. Do I really need this? Is this an item that adds genuine value and quality to my life? These questions help me save money and save resources.

Eat More Plants and Plan More Meals

Meal planning and plant-based diets are great ways we’ve adopted in our home to save money on our grocery bills and simultaneously cut down on food waste. Consider buying in bulk and shopping local while you’re at it, which can save you money, give you access to fresher and more affordable products, and reduce packaging waste.

Let’s make 2024 a smart and sustainable financial year together! What money-saving and sustainability tips do you have? Join our Instagram community and spread the love!

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