To celebrate World Environment Day on June the 5th, we are sharing some great ideas for more sustainable personal finance management! It is often said that living a sustainable lifestyle is reserved for those who can afford it. However, a sustainable way of life really doesn’t need to break the bank!
Small, actionable steps that promote financial wellbeing and align with sustainable best practices are possible, even when our budgets are worn thin. So here are 5 ways you can affordably help the planet.
1. Budgeting for responsible spending
One of the most important steps toward financial wellbeing is budgeting. Budgeting allows you to control your money, rather than the other way around. Making informed decisions about what you spend on, and when, will give you clarity on where to cut back and how.
Start by categorising your expenses into essential and non-essential categories.
Essentials are anything from rent to insurance and groceries. Using a spreadsheet, like this one, is a good starting point.
Non-essentials can include things like dining out or ordering take-out, taking Uber (or taxis), and streaming services.
Once you’ve got your budget organised, you can start making sustainable decisions about the products you consume. Opting for quality over quantity and investing in durable, eco-friendly products that are kinder to the planet can save you money in the long run.
Additionally, making a list of cheaper food with a smaller carbon footprint can go a long way in helping the planet. A general rule of thumb is that meat, dairy, and poultry have higher carbon footprints and are more expensive than veggies. Buying more veggies means you can eat less meat and shop affordably, whilst getting in your 5 a day! Here’s a handy calculator the BBC put together to help you with sustainable grocery shopping on a budget.
2. Buying second-hand
Did you know that 18.6 million tonnes of clothing are sent to landfills and incinerated every year? No wonder thrifting has become the cool kid on the block! Second-hand shopping is expected to surpass the fast fashion industry by 50% in 2030!
Buying second-hand gives clothes, books, and other perfectly usable products a second chance in life (or third, fourth, or fifth). It's kinder to the planet, your wallet, and your community too! Most second-hand shops are run by charities, after all.
This also applies to electronics; refurbished phones and laptops are often up to the same factory standards as new products. — refurbished phones and laptops are often up to the same factory standards as new products.
Set yourself a challenge: the next time you need to buy something new, see if you can find it second-hand first. Check out online marketplaces like Vinted, Depop or Preloved, to buy and sell your clothes!
And, if you’ve always loved that dress or shirt, but it’s looking a tad scruffy, then why not repair it? Basic sewing skills can easily be picked up for free on YouTube.
3. Choosing sustainable transportation
Everyone has to get from A to B. However, travel is a big contributor to global emissions — from day-to-day car trips to flights around the world. According to the International Energy Agency, transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels and accounted for up to 37% of CO2 emissions in 2021.
The best way to reduce your reliance on carbon-fuel-intensive travel is to plan ahead. You can calculate your emissions on the World Land Trust website. Going on a weekend away to the Cotswolds this summer? Save money by booking public transport options in advance, or even try carpooling. Good for your wallet, and the planet.
4. Reducing your energy consumption
The cost of energy has skyrocketed in recent months. With the Energy Price guarantee set to fall away in June, it’s even more important to be more energy conscious. Whether you’re living with your parents, with flatmates, in student accommodation, or on your own, you can make your life more sustainable and save money at the same time by looking at your energy use.
Always remember to unplug or switch off appliances you’re not using. It’s estimated that certain products can use up to 6500 hours of wasted electricity per year. Try to adopt the mindset of “If I’m not using it, should it really be on”? Remember, saving power saves your money and the planet.
5. Long-term planning and goal setting
Constantly optimise your budget to work with your lifestyle, and make changes where you think are necessary. It may seem obvious, but regularly checking what you're spending and why, can help determine how much you have to go out with friends at the end of the month.
Setting clear, actionable goals is an important part of long-term financial sustainability. Think of long-term planning and goal setting as your vision of where you would like to be, and budgeting as the mechanism to help you get there.
Say you want to replace all your groceries with locally sourced items, planning what you need and where to buy from will give you a sense of how much you should budget.
Socialising, accommodation, and cost of living may not be things you've navigated previously. By planning for your time at uni, you can create a clear path to success. Seek advice from peers and administrative staff, and get jobs that help you balance your costs with a sustainable lifestyle.
It’s a wrap!
Embracing sustainable money habits is not only about improving our personal financial situation but also about taking responsibility for the greater good. By setting up habits, you can become more conscious of your own footprint, and help others achieve the same.
Start small, and embrace uncertainty. Remember, the journey starts with a single step. Blackbullion empowers you to budget while living the lifestyle you want. Join our budgeting app waitlist, to help you manage your money and have fun while doing it.