Save Money, Save the Planet – 5 Simple Things You Can Do Now to Save Money and the Environment

It is an amazing thing that many of the things you can do to save money are also things you can do to save the planet. Simple changes in your life can add up to bigger savings in the bank, and a smaller carbon footprint. Make these simple changes in your household and you can feel good that you are helping the environment and saving money!

1. Use cloth instead of paper.

The corporations are trying hard to get us to use disposable everything. It adds to their bottom line if you use something once and throw it away, and then need to buy more. What adds to their bottom line takes away from yours, so do your best to move away from disposable anything.
About a year ago I started using cloth towels instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. I hardly notice a difference in my laundry, but my bank account can see the difference.

2. Walk whenever you can.

I’ve recently moved into a small town and I can walk everywhere. I walk to the post office, I walk to the library, I walk to the grocery store. My car sits in the driveway and I am not using gas. Plus, when I walk to the grocery store I am less likely to buy what I don’t need, I know I’ll need to carry it home! Walking is an all around winner. When I walk I am saving money, saving the environment, and improving my health!

3. Using Baking Soda and Vinegar to clean.

Instead of using toxic chemicals to clean, try using products you can eat! Baking Soda and Vinegar are cheap,and I buy in bulk so there is less packaging to throw away. I know the products are safe for my family and for the environment. Yes, sometimes it takes a little more elbow grease to clean without chemicals, but I see that as a benefit also, I am using more calories to clean!

4. Drink Tap Water

Despite the popularity of bottled water, the truth is, in most places treated municipal tap water is just as safe, or even safer, than purchased bottled water. If you really can’t bring yourself to drink water straight from the tap, then invest in a good inline water filter and use your own refillable bottles.

5. Buy Used

You can get multiple benefits by buying used items. You save money, you keep something useful out of the landfill, and if you buy from a thrift store that supports a charity you can be supporting a worthwhile cause at the same time. I bought all my cloth towels and napkins from a thrift store and they were practically new and cost almost nothing. In fact, 4 cloth napkins cost less than one roll of paper towels!

There you go, 5 simple things you can do right now that will save you money and help the environment!

Save Money by Going Green

Get Great Yields From Home Conservation Projects

Investments in home-energy conservation can produce extremely-high yields in the neighborhood of 10% to 40%. In addition to the satisfaction that comes from regular monthly savings, we can also feel good about conserving energy and lessening our impact on the environment. The idea is that we treat yearly savings like earnings; we can thereby associate a yield with these home-improvement investments.

The problem that we attempt to solve is these investments tend to be small in size for many investors. With the exception of increased wall and attic insulation, most projects fall in the $100-$700 range. Luckily for us, Berkley National Lab has provided a great table for identifying a large number of the very highest-yielding home-conservation investments that are applicable to most home owners. This table, seen below, contains the estimated costs, savings and yields for the selected home-conservation projects.

money_saving_energy_conservation_projects

The yields are very impressive. The idea is to start at the top of the list (with the highest yields), and work your way down choosing projects that pertain to your personal situation. For example, you obviously don’t want to replace a brand new appliance; however, if you where going to replace one of the listed appliances anyway, the additional expense of opting for one of the Energy Star products listed can result in a great return.

Other important considerations are the number of years before you sell the home, the increased value of the home that results from the improvement, and the yield that you get on your reinvested savings. The math can get a little messy, so a calculator has been set up where you can enter your personal situation.

There are some important foot notes in the above table that involve taxes, inflation, incremental costs of appliances, and others. In regard to the three appliances and thermostat, the yields apply to the additional cost of opting for an energy-efficient appliance.

John R.

Thanks for the guest post John! To read more about alternative energy and conservation (and how it can save you money) visit fuelefficiency.org.

Taxes are Illegal?

The man sitting across my desk had been a client for years. He had come in to tell me that he would not be using my services ever again.

“Why?”, I asked.

He had found a lawyer who had told him that income and social security taxes were illegal. All my former client needed to do was file some forms with the government and he would effectively “untax” himself.
“Anyone can do it,” my client told me. “It is just that the government has everyone believing that taxes are required. All you need to do is file the proper forms, and you won’t ever have to pay taxes again. And it is perfectly legal.”

Unfortunately I never saw him again so I have no idea how the whole scheme worked. But every year I have people tell me that taxes are illegal, or unconstitutional, or only for corporations. And every year I tell them that the IRS has said over and over again that taxes are legal, and constitutional, and for everyone with income.

I was looking at a website today, that will sell you a package to “untax” yourself for the small sum of $700. The package will include all the forms you need to send to the government so you will never have to pay income taxes or social security taxes again.

Judging from the page and pages of double speak, the main argument of this website, is that paying taxes is voluntary. They also state that the 16th amendment was never properly ratified, and that wages are not taxable because they are not defined as “income” in the IRS tax code.

Before you fall for this type of scam, please take a moment to read what the IRS has to say about these frivolous tax arguments(pdf file).

If you don’t like reading IRS documents I’ll sum it up for you here. Taxes are legal, the 16th amendment was properly ratified, and wages are income under the law. You can’t avoid taxes by declaring you are not a citizen, by filing any type of “untaxing” paperwork, or by submitting a zero income tax return.

If you choose to use any of these arguments on your tax return the IRS can impose a $5,000 penalty for preparing a frivolous tax return in addition to any other fines or penalties that may be due for underpayment of tax and failing to file a tax return.

The Top Tax Protester, Where Is He Now?

Irwin Schiff is arguably the most prominent tax protester in the United States. He is the author of two books, has presented seminars and appeared on national television promoting his ideas about the legality of the income tax. Most if not all of the tax protester arguments you will hear today originated with Irwin Schiff.

Today Irwin Schiff is a guest of the United States government, serving over 12 years for his 2005 conviction for filing false tax returns, assisting in the preparation of false tax returns filed by other taxpayers, conspiring to defraud the United States, and income tax evasion. He has also been ordered to pay over $4 million in back taxes, fines and penalties.

If You Told People The Truth About Income Taxes You Would Be Out Of A Job

I can’t tell you how many times I have had people tell me that I must know that paying taxes is illegal, and the only reason I don’t tell people is that I would be out of a job. If only it were true. The truth is, if I knew a way that people could legally earn income without paying taxes, I would be more than happy to share it with all my customers, and I am sure they would be more than happy to pay for that information. In fact, I would be the most popular tax adviser in my state.

Buy a New Car With Help From The IRS

Now is a great time to buy a new car. The recession has hit the major car dealers hard and they are offering great deals on new cars. And to make the deal even getter, the IRS is allowing a deduction on your 2009 income taxes for state and local sales and excise taxes you pay when buying a new passenger car.

There are a few qualifications.
The deduction is only good for purchasing a new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle. Taxes paid on the purchase of a used car will not be deductible.
You must purchase the new car after February 16, 2009 and before January 1, 2010.
You can only deduct the taxes paid on purchase prices up to $49,500. This doesn’t mean that you can’t deduct the taxes if you buy a more expensive vehicle, the deduction is just limited to the taxes on the first $49,500 that you pay.
The deduction will start to phase out if your income is over $125,000 and you are a single filer, $250,000 for joint filers.
The deduction is only good for your 2009 income tax return.
You don’t need to itemize to be able to take the deductions.

How will this work for you? Well, lets say you purchase a $30,000 vehicle and you pay 10% in state, local and excise taxes, or $3,000. You will get to deduct $3,000 from your taxable income for 2009. That will save you $450 if you are in the 15% bracket and $750 if you are in the 25% tax bracket.

Not enough to make me run out and buy a new car, but not a bad deal if you are going to buy one anyway!