8 Green Living Tips That Also Save You Money

by Kaylie Phelps

“Going green” is more important than ever as we learn the increasingly negative impacts of wasteful habits on the environment. Your weekly trash pickup makes it easy to forget how much waste you’re creating, but our landfills are the reminder: these sites are the second-largest source of methane gas emissions. And you may be surprised (or horrified) to learn that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean, according to a study conducted in 2016.

Though high prices on organic and all-natural products might make you believe that “going green” is a costly endeavor, you don’t have to buy stuff to live more sustainably. Eliminating waste in landfills and oceans starts with adopting frugal consumer habits. Living more mindfully will not only make you feel good, it will help promote a cleaner, greener planet. Consider these eight ways being more eco-friendly is also better for your wallet.

1. Eliminate paper waste. Since everything is digital these days, it’s easy to go paperless with practice. Save some trees and keep paper-waste out of landfills by going paperless whenever you can. Cancel magazine subscriptions you no longer use, opt for paperless billing for your monthly statements, and start using e-cards or e-invites for special occasions. Avoid buying paper plates and napkins, which are not only costly but create waste. Instead, invest in cloth napkins and reusable dishes, subscribe to newspapers and magazines online, and when you do use paper, recycle what you can.

2. Save energy. Saving resources is always great for the planet, but it also saves you money off your monthly utility bills. You can save up to 10 percent when you invest in a programmable thermostat to better control your usage at night or when you’re not home. Turning back your water heater a few degrees can save up to 22 percent annually, while only running the dishwasher when it’s full and turning of heated dry option also saves energy. Line drying your clothes not only cuts out the need for chemical fabric softeners but reduces your bill for running the dryer. Also, don’t forget to turn off lights when you’re not in the room and never leave the water running when you brush your teeth.













3. Use mobile coupons. If you’re considering ditching your weekly newspaper subscription, you might be worried you have to sacrifice access to valuable coupons. Not so! You can find coupons from Coupon Sherpa online and through their app for access to coupon codes, mobile coupons and local offers. Many grocery store chains including Safeway and Kroger offer a savings app, which allows you to digitally clip and apply coupons to your purchases.

4. Thrift and donate. Waste not, want not! Recycling goes beyond just bottles and cans; you can repurpose and recycle everything from clothing to housewares. Not only will you get a great price on gently-used items, you’ll help to keep clutter out of your house and away from the landfills. Check out your local second-hand stores or look into consignment sites like Swap.com where you can sell your old clothes and find great deals from others.

5. Eat green. Don’t let the high price of organic foods scare you away from healthy eating. Select produce including strawberries, apples and spinach is better purchased organic while you can save money on those fresh fruits and vegetables that aren’t as susceptible to pesticides, such as avocados, onion and pineapple. Rice, beans and other healthy food items are actually affordable when you purchase such organic store brands as Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value or King Soopers’ Simple Truth. You can also save money by cutting down on the amount of meat you consume weekly. Need help getting started? Check out this guide to frugal healthy eating via Frugalwoods.

6. Make your own cleaning products. The negative environmental impact of harsh chemical cleaning products isn’t exactly breaking news. However, it might surprise you to learn that some of the best ingredients for cleaning cost just pennies compared to expensive brand-name cleaners. Vinegar is a highly-versatile natural cleaner for carpet stains, water rings, coffeemakers and just about everything else. Lemon has long been used in households for its numerous antibacterial properties, and is a popular cleaning agent for wooden cutting boards and butcher block countertops. Ultimately, you can make your own cleaners with ingredients you likely have in your pantry for a fraction of the monetary and environmental cost of traditional cleaning agents.

7. Repurpose plastic. Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants to the world’s oceans, with approximately 8 million metric tons finding its way into the briny waters each year. Cut down on your plastic consumption by repurposing it as often as possible, or by swapping plastic containers for glass and other materials. Invest in a water filter instead of buying bottled water, and reuse containers and bottles for crafts and storage. When you go shopping, bring reusable cloth bags or opt for paper over plastic. If you end up with a collection of plastic bags, use them to line small trash bins instead of buying bags.

8. Carpool. Everyone likes to save money on fuel, and one of the best ways to do this is to only drive when you absolutely have to. Organize carpools for work or school, or take advantage of public transportation. In the warmer months, ride your bike or walk to nearby places. You’ll be cutting down on gas costs, reducing atmospheric pollution and in some cases, getting a good workout!


How to Buy Your Dream Home with a Reverse Mortgage

by Kaylie Phelps

While most seniors use a reverse mortgage to take cash out of their existing homes. Did you know that you can use a reverse mortgage to buy your dream home? While many of the same reverse mortgage qualifications apply. For example, you will need to be over the age of 62, the home in question will need to be your primary residence, you will have to show that you can service your homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and utilities. If you meet these criteria, then buying that perfect home for your retirement, and not having to pay for it, might be the option for you.

Here is how it works. Congress created what is known as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase. This loan helped to streamline the process for seniors to purchase their own home in retirement. Before this loan package was enacted a senior would either have to pay cash or take out a traditional mortgage first. Once this was done, then they could apply for a reverse mortgage.

The new approach basically rolls everything into one step. This makes is quicker and less expensive for seniors to buy their retirement home while not having to deal with the burden of monthly payments when living on a fixed income.

If this sounds like something you can use to purchase a new home, then you might be right. Just remember that you will still need to meet all the requirement of a reverse mortgage to make the dream a reality.

In fact, more and more people are waking up to the fact that this might be the option for them. Keep in mind that you will still need to make a down payment, but this is no different than any other home option.

One wrinkle is that the down payment option might be a bit more than a traditional loan. For example, if you are planning on buying a $400,000 home, then you will need to pay $159,000 as the down payment.

Another thing to know is that most reverse mortgages used for a home purchase are fixed- rate loans. This means that the rate will remain at today’s low levels, even as interest rates increase. It also means that the interest and principal will accrue over the entire time you live in the home. As such, you will want to make sure you check all the details associated with your loan to know how much you will owe when you finally do sell or move.

That being said, a plus of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase program is that these loans are regulated by the government. What this means for today’s borrowers is that the amount due will never be more than the value of the home. Think of this as insurance against the property market taking a turn for the worse.

What does this mean in the end? For starters, your age matters. If you are 62 and using a reverse mortgage to purchase a home, then your will have to pay a higher down payment than someone in their 80’s considering the same loan. The reason for this is simple, as you will probably live in the home for a much longer time than someone in their 80’s.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the interest rate is fixed and today’s rates are fairly low, over time you might be giving back some of the equity you have in the home.

There are plusses and minuses to this.

One of the plusses is that you are not making any mortgage payments – as such, you are saving thousands of dollars every year. While the downside is that if the value of the home does not appreciate faster than interest rates, then the bank will own more and more of your home.

While this is something to consider, most people looking at using a reverse mortgage to purchase their dream home know that they are giving up something to get what is a very good deal. In the end, make sure you look at all the details and talk to a counselor before deciding that such a loan is the right fit for you.

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