Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution

Work Sustainability into Your Long-Term Financial Planning

Saving the planet is no easy task. While insurmountable piles of trash and plastic pollute our natural landscapes and wildlife, companies keep producing what seems like infinite contaminating products and packaging. In a consumer-driven economy, however, one way for citizens to voice their opinion is to put their money where their values are.  

Though it might seem like an impossible task, you can make a difference. When you compare your contribution to the billions of other people on this planet, it may not seem likely, but if you consider how much trash your household alone contributes, you will realize that cutting down on your non-biodegradable trash and environmentally harmful products will, in fact, increase your sustainability and make a positive impact on the planet. Here are some ways to incorporate these goals into your financial planning.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Plan Out Home Upgrades

We spend a lot of our time at home, so it makes sense that this is the best place to start with some changes. While making improvements to your house is not easy or cheap, making the right improvements can both raise the value of your home and benefit the planet.

Solar panels are an example of a long-term investment that is expensive upfront, but they are generally worth it in the long run, both economically and environmentally. On average, solar panels cost $20,000 upfront, however, many states offer incentives that generally cut the cost in half and you get monetary benefits, like tax cuts, making up for just about all of the expenses. Plus, if you count the money you will save on energy bills, they will likely save you as much or more money than you paid for them.

Another home improvement is investing in a compost system, which will dramatically reduce the amount of trash you throw out. You can put biodegradable material such as fruits, vegetables, paper bags, as well as any product marked for compost or biodegradable. Investing in a compost can be a great first step for green living

Invest in Your Values

The next step for sustainability is to keep it in mind when purchasing items around your house. Except for food and other biodegradable necessities, try to only buy items that you can keep for a longer period of time. Obviously, this includes buying real kitchenware instead of plastic, but should also expand into every room, and even into home makeovers.

Think about the sustainability of all objects in your house, including furniture. When buying new furniture, try buying local or used. You can shop at furniture recycling stores, Craigslist, and even Facebook Market. This way, you give a second life to a piece of furniture that might otherwise have gotten thrown away, you don’t accumulate any unnecessary packaging or shipping. Plus, this can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and you can still end up with high-quality furniture.

If you’d prefer not to buy used furniture, shopping local is always another great option. Not only will this support your local economy, but the quality of the furniture will almost certainly be higher than mass-manufactured products. Shopping locally will still give you the benefits of using less packaging and reducing shipping costs.

Of course, not everything can be bought used nor is available locally. Mattresses, for example, should not be bought used in order to avoid bed bugs and other unsanitary threats. For these cases, you will need to do more research. If you are looking to buy an eco-friendly mattress, you should look for one made in the U.S., and you can look into organic mattresses that don’t have have the harmful chemicals

Make Eco-Friendly Purchases

Sometimes long-term planning is all about the smaller details. Much like investing in solar panels, sometimes you need to spend more money in the short term in order to buy less and save more in the future. To do this, find brands that use less packaging, don’t test on animals, and use natural products free of harmful components.

Beauty products in particular can contain harmful chemicals which you then put directly on your face. However, there are plenty of popular brands that don’t test on animals, as well as newer brands that use organic and chemical-free ingredients.

You can also get more creative when buying things that last longer instead of things you'll have to throw out. For example, instead of Ziploc bags, you can buy Bee’s Wrap. Bee’s wraps are an eco-friendly and sustainable seal for your food that can replace Ziploc bags in your kitchen. They are a cloth made with beeswax that you seal using the warmth of your hands. It is completely reusable, as you can wash it with soap and water after using it, and it can cover anything from fruits and vegetables to snacks and lunch meals.

By making similar purchases that keep sustainability in mind, you can gravitate towards a waste-free household and cut your ecological footprint. Whenever you can, forego wasteful packaging and be smart about your energy consumption. Little by little, these actions will add up and make an impact on the environment, and at the very least, you’ll know you’re doing your part to solve the problem, not contributing to it.


These Smartphone Apps Make Green Living Easier

Making our lives a little bit greener is quickly becoming more important than ever. If you’re used to driving a gas guzzler or not separating out your recycling, though, it can be a little tricky to get started. Thankfully, if you’re like most of the world, you’ve probably got a smartphone or other smart device in your pocket, purse, or on your desk near you, and there are plenty of apps to help make going green a little bit easier. Here are some of our favorite apps to help you go green.

woman on smartphone
Photo by Adobe Stock/imagecore

Paper Karma

Unsubscribing from junk emails is easy — just click the spam button, and 9 times out of 10, your email service handles the process for you. Junk mail that shows up in your physical mailbox, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to shed — until now.

Paper Karma does all the hard work for you — simply download the app to your smartphone and scan your junk mail as it comes in. The app does all the hard work for you, by notifying the offending company that you no longer wish to receive their junk mail. It works for unsolicited catalogs too — or even ones you requested but no longer want, but the company doesn’t seem to get the hint and keeps sending them.

Energy Consumption Analyzer

We all get an electric bill every month, and depending on where you live you might get a water bill and gas bill as well. Most people don’t glance at anything other than the balance due — but these bills can be a wealth of information to help you keep your energy consumption down. The Energy Consumption Analyzer app helps to make that a little easier.

If you have electric, gas or water meters that are easily accessible, simply add them to your app and periodically go write down the current meter readings. The app does the rest — calculating your household’s average rate of energy, water or gas consumption. If you input the current cost per unit, the app will even calculate how much your bill should be before fees and taxes.

While it does require a little bit of work on your part, this app can be a great tool if you’re concerned about how much energy you’re using. Then you can work on reducing it.

UFO Power Center

If you want to be more proactive in moderating your home’s energy consumption, consider the UFO power center. While this does require you purchase compatible power strips for your home, this app enables you to track exactly how much energy your devices use as well as shut off power strips remotely that are not in use. You can even schedule specific outlets or appliances to shut off at non-peak hours to prevent them from using up and wasting electricity when they’re not in use.

While the power center requires an investment, once the initial purchase is made, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars on your power bill every year. And, as an added bonus, if you forget to turn off the coffee maker before you leave for work, you can simply log into the app and turn off the outlet.


Unless your city or town makes recycling mandatory, it can be difficult to know what to recycle and where to recycle it in your area. Can you recycle those old pizza boxes or do they have to go in the trash? What about 2-liter soda bottles? While you can call your local recycling center to get the answers — assuming you have a local recycling center — it’s much easier to just pop open your iRecycle app.

This app helps you separate recyclables from non-recyclables and uses your phone’s location to help you find local recycling centers. It’s also got a ton of information about ways you can make recycling easier in your daily life — from choosing package-free items to techniques for separating garbage from recyclable materials.


Say you want to donate money to help support climate protection organizations. Do you know which ones are actually doing good work for the planet and which ones are just pocketing all their donations to pay their CEO? While you can find end-of-year income statements for any non-profit organization in the country — all of that information is public record by default — unless you’re an accountant, it can be hard to navigate all that information. 

#Climate does all the hard work for you, listing the climate organizations that are helping the planet and deserve your support and warning you away from those that aren’t doing any good. Just plug in the organization you’re curious about and #Climate will collect all that information for you.

Light Bulb Finder

What’s the difference between an incandescent light bulb, an LED and a CFL? If you know, good for you. If not, take a moment to download the Light Bulb Finder app to your smartphone. This app has all the information you could ever need about the different types of light bulbs, from how long they last in relation to one another to the carbon footprint of each bulb and even how much money you could potentially save by switching to one type of bulb over another.

If you can find the old version of the app right now, you’re good to go — otherwise, hang tight. The minds behind Light Bulb Finder are currently working on a newer and more efficient version of the app.

Smartphone apps are just one tool to help make going green a little bit easier. Take a look at the ones we’ve listed above, or let us know some of your favorite green apps in the comments below. If we missed a good one, we’d love to know about it.