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Go Green and Save Green: Balancing Frugality, Time, and Being Green


Go Green Save Green 2I’m excited to be participating in the Go Green & Save Green Series with several other green bloggers this week!  We’ll be talking about different areas of green and natural living, showing you how to go green while saving money at the same time!  Be sure to check out the great links at the end of this post!

The Balancing Act

This week we’ve all been talking about how to save money and the planet at the same time. (Check back tomorrow for all the links from the series this week!)

Often, though, its hard to figure out how to balance your money, your time, and your stewardship. I want to talk a little bit today about how to figure out that balance (or at least how to think about that balance. I don’t know if it’ll ever fully be figured out!)

Visualizing the Balance

Here’s a Venn diagram I created to help with visualizing these goals, how they relate, and how I might best balance them in any given situation:


The interplay between these three things is almost always complex. For example, making your own bread is money saving and earth friendly (less packaging; healthier for you). However, it takes time, especially at the beginning when you’re learning how to make it. Often these three things can support each other –a lot of choices that are earth friendly are also money saving. Conversely, they can play against each other –a lot of choices that save money take more time.

Finding the Balance

There’s one more important consideration here. We each have different resources the Lord has given us, as different as the circumstances he’s placed us in. That means the desired balance between saving time and money and being earth friendly looks different for everyone.

At this point in my life, frugality rates highest out of these three categories. I’m a stay at home mom, so I’ve got more time than money right now. (Although not much more!) If I were a working mother, my desired balances would be different.

Here’s some questions I ask myself when I’m thinking about this balancing act –for instance, whether or not I’m able to add something new to my life or routine, or whether I’m going to buy one product over another.

  • How much time do I have?Do you work outside the home? How many children do you have? Do they go to school or do you homeschool? Are you involved in other activities (church, charity work, etc.)? For many of us, time is our scarcest resource, and so the ideal balance for us is heavily weighted toward time saving. For a small number of us, money is more abundant than time; for most of us, there’s precious little of both!
  • How much money do I have?  Do you have some money left over after the bills are paid and the food is bought? Or are you living pay check to pay check? Some of the things that save money take an initial up front investment (such as grinding your own grain). You’d be able to make up the initial investment in the money you would save, but you still have to have enough money to make the investment in the first place. (That’s one reason I haven’t started grinding my own grain.)
  • Is it responsible? Something could be a huge time and/or money saver, but could be really bad for the planet or the health of your family. For example, I’m all about saving money, but I do pay more to buy children’s shampoo or natural toothpaste without loads of crazy chemicals. In this case, I feel it’s best to buy things that cost a little more to avoid the negatives. On the other hand, we’re not in a financial position to be able to afford something like local, free range organic chicken.
  • Do I like doing it?  I think this one is important because if you like doing some of these things that are green (earth friendly) and frugal (money saving), then you are much more likely to spend the time it takes to do them. I really like making my own lotion, gardening, and redoing furniture, so I’m  happy to do those things, even though they take more time. They end up saving me money, are healthier for my family, and are good for the earth.

I hope this gives you some helpful ways to think about how to balance your time, your money, and your (kinda) crunchiness!

What are some other ways you’ve come up with to work through some of these tough choices? Anyone else have a diagram to share? :)

Check Out These Other Great Posts in the Go Green & Save Green Series:

Stacy from A Delightful HomeCreating Your Own Herbal Remedies with Eucalyptus Essential Oil

  1. 09/16/2011 9:43 pm

    Oh what an awesome post!! Such great “Green” tips!!

    • Kate permalink*
      09/17/2011 7:18 pm

      Thanks Alicia!

  2. 09/19/2011 5:14 pm

    Great ideas! I keep trying to explain why “living simply” is sometimes more time-consuming, and the diagram is a good way to explain it. If something (like hanging out laundry, for example) is earth-friendly and time-saving, I consider it simple, even if it does take more time out of my day.

    • Kate permalink*
      09/19/2011 9:30 pm

      I agree. Lots of the “simple” things take more time, but at this point in my life, its worth it to me. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels like that! Thanks for stopping by, Kristina!


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